You submit an article to a children’s magazine. Several weeks later, you receive a form rejection. This news sucks. It's not only depressing, it's vague. The letter doesn’t explain why your work was rejected. The chance to re-submit to this market is slim because you don’t know how to improve your article.
Children's magazines reject articles for a variety of reasons. Some editors will reject a piece if the research isn't sufficient. Other editors may find the subject of a submission inappropriate for the age group.
At Kid’s Imagination Train e-zine, we rarely hand out rejections but if we do, we give an explicit reason for the rejection. When it comes to nonfiction, there are three top reasons for turning a piece down: the word count is not within the expected range, an expert review is missing, or the vocabulary and grade level is too advanced.
If the word count is over 500 words, the writer needs to tighten the piece. This can be achieved by removing unnecessary words and irrelevant facts. If the word count is too short, then the author will need to do a little more research and add pertinent and interesting information.
For KIT, all nonfiction requires an expert review. Depending on the topic, a writer can find experts listed on a university website or a zoological website, or associated with a professional organization. Having an expert review gives the assurance that the research presented in the article is accurate.
Often times, KIT receives articles that are too advanced for our audience. Our readers are kids ages five through twelve, but sometimes we get pieces that are more for high school students. Writers can use the Flesh-Kincaid scoring tool (http://www.readabilityformulas.com/free-readability-formula-tests.php) to calculate the grade level. If the score is too high, the author can lower the level by turning compound sentences into simple sentences and by using grade-appropriate vocabulary.
KIT doesn’t send out form rejections. Our philosophy has always been to explain why a piece is not ready for publication. We offer suggestions for improvement. Writers who submit to KIT often get a second or even third chance to submit their work again—and this indeed is good news.
I'm excited that my debut picture book Maggie and the Summer Vacation Show-and-Tell will be released this summer. For news and updates, check out: www.themaggieproject.blogspot.com and www.randilynnmrvos.com