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Write From Home
Kim Wilson
P.O. Box 4145
Hamilton, NJ 08610

E-mail: kim @ writefromhome.com

Give Your Manuscript a Boost!
by Christine Collier


Add Something Extra to Catch the Editor's Eye

We all know how hard it is to sell a fiction story. A look at any child’s magazine will reinforce this statement. You are lucky to find two fiction stories among several nonfiction articles, puzzles and fillers in any magazine. I have discovered in the last few weeks when I added something extra to my story it increased my chances of a sale substantially.

I’ve sold three fiction stories and one article recently because I gave my story a little extra boost. This also applies to nonfiction. An article describing how invisible ink has been used by prisoners of war for hundreds of years was enhanced with simple and safe invisible ink recipes a child could make themselves. An article about Venus Fly Trap plants has a true or false questionnaire concerning the most interesting facts. A questionnaire often makes the child read the article again if they don’t know the answer. I also could add a sidebar about seeds versus plants and how to set up your own terrarium, etc.

 
Write the Story with an Activity in Mind
You can actually plan the activity before the story is written. I did this with my latest sale. In this story the little girl wants to bake cookies for her grandmother and wants no help from her mother. She will use a tablespoon of baking powder instead of a teaspoon and ruin the batter. I actually wrote the kitchen math quiz and cooking terms quiz before I wrote the story. The little girl is not familiar with kitchen terms such as “grease” the pan or “cream” together the ingredients. Explain how fractions such as half a cup of butter and one quarter cup of milk are the same fractions we use in math class.

If you write an activity before the story you will have a small advantage. However, don’t worry if your stories were written long ago. It’s very easy to go through and create a word scramble, crossword puzzle, word search, true or false, or yes or no quiz, or match the definition with the correct term. I enjoy this process very much. Not only does it increase the amount of money you’ll get from the sale but it makes the story come alive. It also makes the child concentrate more on what they are reading if they see there is an activity included.

 
Endless Ideas
The ideas are endless. What if your story had a spelling bee as the central plot of the story? It’s so easy to add a short quiz with each question having one of the words misspelled. Have the child circle the word that is wrong. This will sharpen the child’s spelling skills as well.
 
Another idea is to add simple recipes. In my case I could have added the cookie recipe the little girl was making for her grandmother. Give an icing recipe and decorating tips. Explain that you used food coloring for the icing and that you can mix different colors of food coloring just as you do with water color paints.
 
In another quiz I wrote down eight significant words used in that story and then scrambled them. It took just a few minutes. Crossword puzzles take a little longer to create. You may have programs on your computer that help in this process as well as creating word search puzzles. I know Excel has crossword puzzle forms that can be imported into Word.
 
If you draw there are endless ways available for you to enhance your story. For example what about creating a maze? Children also love hidden pictures puzzles. If the story is for very young children, draw pictures and have them circle the one that does not match. Of course everything will tie in with the story or article they have just read.
 
What about a game that somehow ties in with the story? Make it a very easy game in which the child can use everyday household products. Kids love jokes and riddles, cartoons and fun facts or factoids. Newspapers are interested in short little stories and activities like this as well.
 
Another endless possibility is to include craft projects. If you can tie a craft in with the story or article you have just submitted you have a much greater possibility of making the sale. Children’s magazine, hard copies and online, love new and interesting crafts. Think of craft projects and stories for all the different holidays. Submit them a full year ahead of time so you’re always working on the next holiday.
 
Since I’ve started thinking of how I can “ boost” my submissions a single story submission seems somehow boring. If you are getting constant rejections and need a little boost, give it a try!

Christine Collier is married and the mother of three children. She has one grandchild and two more on the way this summer. She's completed the basic and advanced writing courses at the Institute of Children's Literature. Collier is published in several magazines and her book of short story mysteries The Writers Club was published this past fall. She's currently working on the sequel Mystery in our Shadow. Here again, the women of the Writer's Club will find mystery, this time getting their co--authored book published.


 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

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