SCBWI's Blueboard - A Message & Chat Board

How to query

Discussion started on

Poster Plus
  • ***
  • SCBWI Member
  • SCBWI PAL
  • SCBWI Region ohiocensouth
Hello all!  :new  I’m just starting out with submitting to children’s magazines, and I was hoping you could help me understand how a magazine query works.  I haven’t been able to find anything on the board about this previously, but please let me know if I’ve overlooked a post or a reference!

I have so many questions…  It seems standard for a magazine to ask for a cover letter, an outline (including scope and treatment for non-fiction), and a writing sample.  But, I can’t seem to find guidelines beyond that.

Is there a general advice on how detailed the outline should be?  Is paragraph-by-paragraph good?  Not enough?  I want to give a full understanding of my idea, but I don’t want to overwhelm anyone, either. 

Should it include anticipated references (is that the "treatment" aspect)? 

Should an opening paragraph always be included? 

Thanks in advance for all your help!
   
#1 - November 18, 2016, 05:54 PM

Global Moderator
Poster Plus
  • ***
  • SCBWI Member
  • SCBWI Region westcentny
Hi Becca -- I'm sure someone with more magazine pub experience will help you out, but in general, follow the submission guidelines for each publisher. Some may want an outline and query, others may just want you to send the completed article. Ev Christensen keeps up a great website with links to loads of kidlit mag submission guidelines: http://evelynchristensen.com/mags.html

Good luck!
#2 - November 18, 2016, 06:10 PM
BLACKOUT -- available now
DESERTED -- available now
SISTERS DON'T TELL -- available now
www.deenalipomi.com

Member.
Poster Plus
  • *
  • SCBWI Member
  • SCBWI PAL
  • SCBWI Region minnesota
Hi Becca,

Welcome! I've written a lot for magazines, but I don't have a lot to say about your question because I haven't done a lot of article querying. However, I have a great resource to suggest: A Treasure Trove of Opportunity: How to Write & Sell Articles for Children's Magazines by Melissa Abramovitz. It contains an entire chapter on queries! Ev's site is great, too.

Good luck!

:) Sara
#3 - November 19, 2016, 06:52 PM
"No furniture is so charming as books."
--Sydney Smith

http://saramatson.com/

Member
Poster Plus
  • *
  • SCBWI Member
  • SCBWI PAL
  • SCBWI Region losangeles
Hi Becca,

I got some great advice on these boards when I started querying magazines several years ago. Here's what I did:

1) Query letter: My opening paragraph normally was the lead paragraph for the article. I made sure it had a strong opening hook to grab the editor's attention. Second paragraph had the nitty-gritty including title of the proposed article and word count. If I was writing sidebars, I explained these briefly. Next paragraph: I would describe any experience I had with the topic and/or experts I planned to interview. If I had access to strong visuals, I mentioned this as well, for example my own photos. My final line was an overview of writing experience I had for children.

2) Outline: No more than a page. I listed my proposed title and again put in my opening paragraph. Then I developed my outline, listing the major topics I would cover with a few bullet points for each. Again, you are not writing more than a page. Then I also included my bibliography so the editor could get a sense of my research. This did get its own page.

Good luck, Becca!

Kirsten
#4 - November 20, 2016, 06:04 AM
Kirsten W. Larson

--
WOOD, WIRE, WINGS (Calkins Creek, 2020)
http://kirsten-w-larson.com
Authors and illustrators ... join me at SubItClub.com!

Poster Plus
  • ***
  • SCBWI Member
  • SCBWI PAL
  • SCBWI Region ohiocensouth
Thank you all!!  I really do appreciate the responses!  :yourock  I've spent a bunch of time getting my writing samples and ideas together - now to start querying! (ahhhh!  scary!)
#5 - November 20, 2016, 05:35 PM

Poster Plus
  • ***
  • SCBWI Member
  • SCBWI PAL
  • SCBWI Region ohiocensouth
...one other question: I have an idea for an activity to go along with the article that I'm proposing - should I send two queries, or do I pitch both ideas at the same time?  The activity will be considerably shorter and not have the bibliography (at least to the extent that the article does).

Thanks!!
#6 - November 20, 2016, 05:54 PM

Global Moderator
Poster Plus
  • ***
  • SCBWI Member
  • SCBWI PAL
  • SCBWI Region carolinas
I'd pitch the activity with the article.

Another resource that might answer some of your questions: http://vijayabodach.blogspot.com/2016/09/query-letters-personal-journey.html

Good luck, V
#7 - November 21, 2016, 06:56 AM
TEN EASTER EGGS (Cartwheel/Scholastic, 2015)
www.vijayabodach.blogspot.com
Author of over 40 books and 60 magazine pieces

Poster Plus
  • ***
  • SCBWI Member
  • SCBWI PAL
  • SCBWI Region ohiocensouth
Vijaya - thank you for pointing me to your blog post!  It was so good to hear that you queried having mostly scientific publications.  That's exactly where I"m at!  I have one children's title with a book packager, but, other than that, I have only academic articles to my name.  Your query example was very helpful, and I think as a result of your blog post, I'll include one of my journal articles along with a more kid-focused example (which has never been published) as writing samples.
#8 - November 21, 2016, 10:55 AM

Global Moderator
Poster Plus
  • ***
  • SCBWI Member
  • SCBWI PAL
  • SCBWI Region carolinas
You're welcome Becca. It's kind of neat that you are in a similar boat as I was. Smooth sailing to you :sailboat
#9 - November 21, 2016, 02:39 PM
TEN EASTER EGGS (Cartwheel/Scholastic, 2015)
www.vijayabodach.blogspot.com
Author of over 40 books and 60 magazine pieces

Members:

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.