Topic: Magazine Author
Margo L. Dill
Blog & Website www.margodill.com
Contact Inform:ation: firstname.lastname@example.org
Margo Dill is a multi-published author of articles and books for children. Some of her most recent achievements slotted for publication is a middle grade novel, Finding My Place and sold a party plan, titled "Fall Festival," to Highlights for Children and a science article to Fun for Kidz.
She also enjoys writing for adults. Recently she has been flexing her adult article writing muscles.
JESSICA: What critique groups, organizations, or affiliations have you joined to further your career? Which do you think have benefited you and how?
MARGO: When I first started writing, I joined a weekly critique group that met in an arts center in O’Fallon, Missouri. Joining a critique group was the best thing for my writing. I learned from people who had more writing experience than me. They taught me to be a writer and an editor. After that, I joined the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, which I highly recommend for any children’s writer. You are instantly connected to other children’s writers across the country, and they supply you with the names of editors, their wish lists, and publishing houses. I also am a member of the Missouri Writers’ Guild and Saturday Writers (a chapter of the Missouri Writers’ Guild.)
JESSICA: Did you take classes, read books or use other tools to learn how to write for children’s magazines?
MARGO: I took a correspondence course through the Institute of Children’s Literature. I found out about them through an ad in a Family Circle magazine that said, “You can write for children.” The great thing about this correspondence program is you work one-on-one with a published children’s writer, who has already gone through all the experiences you are as a beginning writer.
JESSICA: How long had you written before you succeeded in publishing a children’s article/story?
MARGO: I actually entered a short story contest for Calliope: A Writers’ Workshop magazine. I won honorable mention in the contest, and one of the prizes was getting my story published in their magazine. This was in 2001. I started the correspondence course in 1999 and finished in 2000, so it took me about a year to get my first children’s story published.
JESSICA: What did you write for Highlights? How did you target the magazine?
MARGO: For Highlights, I wrote a party plan, which they are not publishing much of any more. I read that they accepted party plans in their guidelines, and I was a teacher and had a Fall Festival in my classroom one year. I decided to write down different activities, games, and crafts we did at the Fall Festival for Highlights, and they accepted it. They still haven’t published it, but I am hopeful. They pay on acceptance, so that part is good at least.
JESSICA: What did you write for Characters? How did you target the magazine?
MARGO: I wrote a short story about a boy, who was saving money for a new dog. Characters was a new magazine that I read about on-line. I read their guidelines, and I knew they accepted realistic, contemporary short stories. So, I sent mine in, and they accepted it.
JESSICA: What did you write for Fun for Kidz? How did you target the magazine?
MARGO: Fun for Kidz is a magazine that has a theme list posted on their website. I had an idea to write a short science article for young children, and it was about materials expanding and contracting when the temperature becomes hotter or colder. I saw that one of their themes fit my science article, and I sent it to them with a cover letter stating which theme I thought my article fit.
JESSICA: What did you write for Pockets? How did you target the magazine?
MARGO: Pockets also has a theme list on their website. I know they accepted games, puzzles, and recipes, and they were often in need of these items. I had read about Pockets in a children’s newsletter, and I was familiar with the magazine through church. I looked at their theme list, and I wrote a recipe to fit one of the themes. Then I wrote a puzzle to fit another theme.
JESSICA: What did you write for On the Line? How did you target the magazine?
MARGO: On the Line is a Christian children’s magazine. I wrote a poem after 9-11 called, “Start Small.” It was about how children wondered what they could do to help in a world where things seemed to be going crazy. The message of the poem was for children to start small by starting with themselves—being nice to their friends and saying they are sorry when they make a mistake.
JESSICA: Have you written for publications that offered no payment?
MARGO: Yes, when I first started writing, I wrote for magazines that paid in copies a couple times. I was just thrilled to get my articles or short stories published; and I needed the clips, so I could get paying jobs. I usually tried higher paying markets first; and then if I was rejected, I tried markets that paid in copies.
JESSICA: What is the most money youE?ve receive for work?
MARGO: The most money I have received has been for writing educational testing items, such as nonfiction pieces or short stories for standardized tests. Children’s magazines do not pay that well, but magazines such as Highlights and Cricket pay the best.
JESSICA: Do you have an agent? If yes, at what point did you begin seeking one? If no, have you begun to search for one?
MARGO: No, I do not have an agent. I am going to have a middle-grade, historical fiction novel (set in the U.S. Civil War) published next year by a small publisher, White Mane Kids. I tried an agent when I was first sending this book out, but then I found White Mane Kids without an agent. However, I am writing a young adult novel right now; and when I finish it, I plan to send it to agents first. I have met some agents at writing conferences, and I will send it to them first, following their guidelines, of course.
JESSICA: What pointers can you give a children’s writer seeking publication in magazines?
MARGO: Read the magazines and the guidelines carefully. One of the biggest mistakes new writers make is sending submissions to a magazine without ever reading the magazine first. The second biggest mistake is that some writers don’t read the guidelines carefully. I usually read the guidelines in the Children’s Writers’ Market first and then also on the magazine’s website. Guidelines are often updated on the website, along with tips from the editors, theme lists, or special requests.
JESSICA: To what do you attribute your success?
MARGO: Luck. No, just kidding. I guess it would be persistence and practice. When I get rejected, I try not to let it bother me. I send it away again to a different magazine. I also have learned a lot from going to writing conferences and belonging to a critique group.
JESSICA: Is there a magazine you aspire to write for?
MARGO: I would love to be published in one of the bug magazines—Cricket, Spider, Ladybug, or Babybug. I’ve sent them stories and articles before, but they have rejected me each time. I will keep trying!
JESSICA: Do you find it easier or more difficult to write fiction or nonfiction and get it accepted?
MARGO: I think fiction is harder to write and harder to get accepted, but I still love it. The thing I like about nonfiction is you can often query an editor first and see if they would be interested in the article before you write it. With fiction, you have to write your story and hope some editor will love it as much as you do.
JESSICA: Do you write your pieces with a specific market in mind?
MARGO: Not with fiction. With fiction, I just write what inspires me at the time. With nonfiction, I usually write a query with a certain market in mind, and I target my query for that magazine.
JESSICA: Is there anything else you'd like to share with us about how to write for children's magazines?
MARGO: Writing for children’s magazines is just as difficult, if not more so, than writing for adult magazines. There are fewer children’s magazines, and many of them have themes your articles have to fit in or staff writers, who write a good percentage of the material. You need reliable sources and interesting quotes for nonfiction articles. You need exciting plots and an authentic voice for fiction.