Posted by: nancyisanders | October 13, 2010

Periodical Challenge

How is the Periodical Challenge different than trying to break into a magazine?

Usually, when I want to experience breakthrough into a certain magazine, I focus on writing a filler such as a puzzle, recipe, rebus, craft, or activity.

For instance, I have written for Better Homes and Gardens, Star Wars for Kids, Pockets, and other magazines. How did I break into them? I sent them fillers! They gobbled them up.

When I taught at the Greater Philadelphia Christian Writers Conference this past summer, many of my students wanted to experience breakthrough into a certain magazine. I asked them which manuscripts they kept submitting. ALL of them replied that they wanted to get a fiction manuscript accepted.

That was why it was being rejected, I explained. You see, a magazine usually only needs 1 fiction story each issue. That’s 12 a year. Those are prime spots and fill up quickly from their stable of regular writers. So even if their stories were fantastic, they probably were rejected because the magazine already had all the fiction it needed.

With this in mind, many of my students brainstormed ideas for fillers instead. Puzzles and crafts and recipes. Then they met with the editor and pitched their idea. They came back to me after class with stars in their eyes. For the first time, (some of them had been submitting to this editor for years) they had a deadline and a word count and an assignment to write for that magazine!

(You can purchase the CD of the class I taught on writing for magazines at the Philadelphia conference. Just click on the link to the conference and download the list and then look for my CDs under the Continuing Session category.) Here are the titles of my workshops:

C8A Build a Successful Writing Career
C8B Writing for Children’s Magazines
C8C Create Fictional Characters Kids Love
C8D Write for the Beginning Readers Market
C8E Yes! You Can Write Picture Books

(If you want a specific title, please make a note on that when you order the CDs, so they’re sure to give you the right workshop.)

So if you want to experience breakthrough into a certain magazine, try submitting ideas for fillers to them. You could even try pitching them a list of 3-5 ideas for fillers to see if they nibble and offer you an assignment to write one.

But for those of us who are taking the Periodical Challenge, we’re taking a totally different approach. We’re targeting the publisher of our dreams and writing the manuscript we’re passionate about! We’re going for the gold! Who knows? We just might see our dreams come true!


  1. I tried to buy your CD on fillers, but I couldn’t find it. I see your name, but no workshop titles…

    • Thanks for pointing this out, Margaret! I posted the individual workshop titles up in the blog today. -Nancy

  2. I just realized I don’t need to ask for the query letter example again since I have your book and the cd’s for most of your workshops.
    Thanks a bunch for your input.

    • Oh great, Marlene! Glad you have these resources at your fingertips. -Nancy

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