Magazine Moxie: Use Theme Lists
Margaret Shauers

Get a serious reading on every submission you make. Honest Injun! You can. More and more editors are issuing theme lists, not only to long-time contributors, but to any writer who asks for one and sends a Large Self-Addressed Envelops (LSASE) or checks the magazine online. You must meet the magazine's focus, quality, reading level and word length to be accepted (ask for current guidelines too), but just hitting a needed topic will keep your work from hitting the immediate "rejection" pile.

Make double sure you avoid that pile. Refer to the issue by name in queries for magazines that require them. At magazines where unsolicited manuscripts are considered, pop a sticky-note on your manuscript's first page. On it write, "For consideration in Issue #7" or "For consideration in the Ecology issue."

Even with the help of theme lists, you will still face stiff competition, especially at high-profile magazines like those in the Cobblestone Publishing group. Even less well known publications such as R-A-D-A-R receive up to 200 competing manuscripts for each of their 13 themes every quarter. But hey, any odds are better than practically zero! Which is exactly what you face when sending material off with a guess and a prayer - at least with those magazines that follow distinct themes for all issues. Some theme lists are highly detailed; others are as brief as the above mentioned "ecology issue." The best theme lists give deadlines for each theme. Other good ones, like the ones from R-A-D-A-R and its all nonfiction older-sister Live Wire, have one deadline for all 13 quarterly issues. You can submit at any time before that date, but anything arriving even a day late will be kicked into the next quarterly "cycle." Since the themes will change, late arrivals go back to near zero possibility. For magazines that have theme lists but no deadlines, ask the editor if you're working on the same dateline she is when you submit. She'll usually tell you what issues she's working on when she either buys or returns your manuscript.

If you're just beginning to write, meeting theme deadlines (and they are "received by", not "mailed by" dates) is good training for when you get firm assignments and editors actually hold pages open for your work. Using theme lists as idea starters can help writers at any experience level. It's great to try something new once in a while. You'll find hundreds of ideas on theme lists--and you'll always know which topics editors consider "current." Even if your idea doesn't end up matching the magazine that issued the list, you'll have something new to offer elsewhere. Always check your inventory against new theme lists. Check both unsold manuscripts and already-published pieces on which you own reprint rights.

The children's magazine world is filled with religious magazines. Most religious magazines (not all, so never assume it) use reprints. Baptists don't read Methodist publications, and vice versa. Sometimes you'll need to change the slant to meet a new editor's needs. An article is a reprint if the same basic characters and story situation are involved. A totally different article can be written from nonfiction research, of course, but the new material must be significantly different in order not to be considered reprint.

Several magazines--R-A-D-A-R, Live Wire, Straight, With, Pockets and Touch, to name a few--put you on their regular mailing list once you actually submit. Each quarter or year, you'll have a new theme list to work with. Other magazines include theme lists with acceptance or rejection letters if you have something submitted when the newest list comes out. At some magazines, you'll have to send another LSASE whenever you want a new list.

Even if you do have to send for each and every theme list you get, you'll find them worth the postage. Increase your acceptance rate! Send for one or more of the theme lists below today.


The following magazines have theme lists available. There may be more out there. Whenever you submit to a new market, ask about theme lists in your brief cover letter.

Cobblestone Group Publishing
all magazines are at
7 School Street, Peterborough NH 03458 (a few of these will be '98 debut magazines):

Footsteps (formerly African-American Heritage & Achievement), Frank and Diahanne Lucas, Co-editors. Grades 4-middle school.

Appleseeds, Susan Buckley and Barbara Burt, Co-editors. 3rd & 4th grades.

Calliope, Denise L. Babcock, Managing Editor. Ages 8 to 14.

Cobblestone, Lou Warnycia, Managing Editor Ages 8-14.

Faces, Denise Babcock, Managing Editor. Ages 8-14.

Odyssey, Denise Babcock, Managing Editor. Ages 8-14.

Hopscotch, Boys' Quest and Fun For Kidz,
P.O. Box 164, 103 North Main St., Bluffton, OH 45817: Becky Jackman, Editorial Assistant.

Hopscotch: girls 6-12.

Boys' Quest: boys 6-13.

Church Of The Nazarene
all are at 6401 The Paseo, Kansas City, MO 64131:

Discoveries, Virginia folsum, Editor. Ages 8 and 9. i

Power and Light, Matthew Price, Editor. Ages 11-12.

Wonder Time, Lois Perrigo, Editor. Ages 6-8.

Celebrate, preschool

Assembly Of God
all are at 1445 Boonville Avenue, Springfield, MO 65802-1894:

Club Connection, Kerry Clarensau, Editor. School age girls Missionettes clubs.

High Adventure, Marshall Bruner, Editor. Boys 5-17 in Royal Rangers.

Partners and Story Mates, Box 1212, Harrisonburg, VA 22801-1212--both are edited by Crystal Shanks. Ages 9-14 and 3-8.

Counselor, 4050 Lee Vance View, Colorado Springs CO 80918: Janice K. Burton, Editor. This religious publication for 8 to 11 year olds.

Crusader, Box 7259, Grand Rapids, MI 49510: G. Richard Broene, Editor. Religious. Boys 9 to 14.

Touch, Box 7259, Grand Rapids, MI 49510: Sara Lynne Hilton, Editor. Religious. Girls 9-14.

Guide, 55 West Oak Ridge Drive, Hagerstown, MD 21740: Randy Fishell, Editor. Seventh Day Adventist. Ages 10 to 14.

Pockets, Department 9, 1908 Grand Avenue, Box 189, Nashville, TN 37202: Lynn Gilliam, Assistant Editor. Nondenominational religious. Ages 5-11.

Shining Star, 615 S Washington, Carthage IL 62321: Mary Tucker, Editor. Nondenominational religious. Used by teachers of 4-12 year olds.

With, Box 347, Newton, KS 67114: Carol Duerkson, Editor. Mennonite publication for older teens.

Yes Magazine, 4175 Francisco Place, Vancouver BC Canada VSN 6H1: Shannon Hunt, Managing Editor. Camps of Canada publication for ages 8-14.

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About the Writer:

Margaret Shauers has been a freelance writer for 40 years with work appearing in both the secular and religious press. Her online marketing column, Children’s Writers Marketplace appears at http://www.write4kids.