Writing Nonfiction for Children's Magazines - 6 Tips

by Suzanne Lieurance

It used to be true that one of the best ways to break into the children’s magazine markets was with nonfiction.

Today, many children’s publications have in-house writers who create most, if not all, of their nonfiction.

Yet, it’s still possible to sell your nonfiction articles to those children’s publications that do accept nonfiction from freelance writers.

But you’ll want to follow the 6 tips, below, to have the best chance of acceptance.

And, of course, you'll need to follow each publication's guidelines carefully.

6 Tips for Writing Nonfiction for Children's Magazines

1. Study the markets

Each children’s magazine is different, with a different style, voice, and variety of subject matter.

Take time to study the markets you wish to submit to, and you’ll know which ones are the most appropriate for the articles that you wish to write.

2. Study Past Issues

Besides studying current issues of each publication you wish to write for, look at several past issues of each publication.

Make a list of the various nonfiction article titles in each issue to get a “feel” for the way various authors narrowed their focus for each topic they wrote about.

One of the big mistakes most beginning children’s writers make with their nonfiction articles is that they don’t narrow the focus of the article enough.

If you want to write about camels, for example, don’t propose an article that tells anything and everything about camels.

Instead, focus on just one aspect about camels and develop your article around that.

3. Include Subtopic Headings in Your Article

These will break up your article into “chunks” which are easier for young readers to read.

These subtopic headings will also “lead” the reader through your article.

They will also make your article “look” more like nonfiction instead of fiction.

4. Give Your Topic an Unusual Slant That Will Appeal to Kids and Editors Alike

You want to create a slant that is fresh and new and one that will appeal to both kids and editors.

When you do this, your article won’t sound so much like a textbook.

And articles that sound too much like textbook material are not in big demand with magazine editors.

5. Consider Topics That Will Relate to Themed Publications

Many children’s magazines have a theme for each issue.

And, even for publications that do not have themed issues, editors still look for topics that can be used for holiday issues as well as other seasonal issues.

For example, most publications feature some sort of back-to-school articles in their August or September issues.

In the summer months, these same publications tend to feature articles that give vacation tips or crafts ideas and games to keep kids occupied during the summer.

So be sure to include some of these types of article ideas in your queries (since most markets will want queries for nonfiction).

6. Look for Lesser-known Publications

Competition is fierce for Highlights, Spider, Cricket, and most of the very popular publications for children.

You’ll automatically increase your chances for acceptance if you query publications that don’t receive so many queries.

Now, try these 6 tips and it shouldn’t take you long to start receiving acceptances from the children’s magazines that you query.

A Few Children’s Magazines to Try

Ask – Nonfiction magazine for children 7-10 years old

Faces – Query only, be sure to study the guidelines

Fun for Kidz – Each issue has a theme

Issues in Earth Science – A resource for teachers

Scout Life - From Boy Scouts of America

US Kids – Publishes two magazines, Humpty Dumpty and Jack and Jill

Suzanne Lieurance is a freelance writer, award-winning author, speaker, and writing coach.

For more writing tips visit her blog at writebythesea.com, and get your free subscription to her Morning Nudge for writers now at www.morningnudge.com.


Karen Cioffi said...

Suzanne, thanks for this list of tips on going about submitting nonfiction to children's magazines. I wrote an article a while ago, but never submitted it. The ghosting keeps me busy, but one of these days...
And, I like #2, narrow the focus.

Carolyn Howard-Johnson said...

Love your badge for this. It looks like a Children’s magazine cover! How about a new book on this kind of freelancing. I want to read it. The whole thing! Include you picks for magazines to submit to!!!!
Hugs, Carolyn Howard-Johnson

deborah lyn said...

Thanks for these meaningful tips, Suzanne! New opportunities for me to consider plus staying away from the areas of heavy competition (exactly where I went initially.) I really appreciate the list of lesser-known publications.

Only One Life

By Terry Whalin  @terrywhalin Sometimes during my day, I will take a few minutes and watch some YouTube or Tik Tok videos. Whenever I watch,...