For Kidlit Zombie Week this year, I want to share how I’ve been reviving my old “dead” stories.
When I started writing for children in 2018, I wrote many stories. I also received lots of helpful feedback from critique partners. Some manuscripts I decided were OK for practice but not good enough to pursue, so I set them aside.
In 2019 I began submitting my work to children’s magazines. (Many children’s authors get their start with magazines, and these publishing credits are helpful to include in query letters.) I revisited one of my early dead-and-buried picture book manuscripts. The story centered around a boy’s interest in sailing and using his imagination. The stakes were not high. For these reasons, I decided Laundry Basket Boat would work better for a children’s magazine than for a picture book. In June of 2019, I submitted this story to Ladybug magazine. They responded with a “revise and resubmit” offer in March of 2020.
I revised, based on the editor’s stellar suggestions and with the help of my critique groups. My original title was Laundry Basket Boat. After making the suggested changes on the story, I renamed it Gavin Sets Sail. The story was accepted for publication soon after I resubmitted. I’m delighted to share that this story will be published in the July/August issue of Ladybug magazine–my first published story!
I’ve since dug up many of my older picture book manuscripts and revived them based on the specifications of children’s magazines. Highlights High Five is a magazine that my children and I love. We look forward to reading it every month and often reread old issues.
Stories submitted to High Five must be 160 words or less and paced so that they fit on four magazine pages. It’s been a fun challenge to chop up my old manuscripts and tweak them to fit these requirements. One of my stories is about a giraffe who makes several “gaffes” by misunderstanding common idioms. With a little zombie magic, I was able to take this “dead” manuscript and snip it into two snappy, silly magazine stories. One of my writing goals is to be published in High Five, so I’ve submitted many stories to them. Full disclosure: I’ve received many rejections as well. That’s to be expected with magazine submissions, just like any other submissions. My fingers are still crossed that my yes is coming!
What about you? Maybe you have stories that started as picture book manuscripts but didn’t go where you wanted them to go or do what you wanted them to do. With a little bit of finagling and finesse, maybe these dead manuscripts can be tweaked and fine-tuned into stories for children’s magazines.
Wondering how a story for a children’s magazine differs from a picture book? Please check out further reading here:
How’s your Kidlit Zombie Week going? Do you have any zombie manuscripts that could be revived to submit to children’s magazines? Did you attend last night’s #KidlitZombieWeek pitch practice on Zoom? If so, how did it go? Please feel free to comment below and to join the conversation on Twitter today (6/17/21).
Thanks for joining us for Kidlit Zombie Week and thanks for reading!