Hi! Let me introduce myself. My name is Humphrey. I’m a cat. I’m also a writer.
What?! Sure! Hey–you’re a writer. What’s there to say I can’t be a writer, too? I wanna get published! I wanna get famous! I wanna earn money to buy extra cans of tuna fish! I wanna write! Just like you.
One of the ways I’m trying to break into the publishing market is by writing for kitten magazines. I collect ’em. I go to thrift stores and library book sales and garage sales. I buy stacks and stacks of ’em. I read ’em lots, too. They help me get familiar with the magazines I want to write for. I study the stories and nonfiction articles and puzzles and recipes. I type ’em out. I read ’em again and again. It helps me learn exactly what kind of articles go in each different mag.
Some writers I know organize their magazines alphabetically in neat little pocket folders or file drawers. Not me. I stash mine all over the house. I store Kitten Pockets under my couch. I stuff Kitty Highlights under my kitty bed. Next to the fridge, I stack a pile of Sports for Kittens. I keep ’em handy!
As I read through them, I write down purrfectly delightful ideas that pop into my feline brain. Some writers I know organize ideas in a pocket folder or write down ideas for different magazines on index cards and file them in a file box according to which magazine the idea would work for. Not me. As I read through the stack of magazines I’m currently targeting, I write my ideas down on the back of catfood labels. I store ’em in empty tuna fish cans. Not only do these ideas jumpstart my brain when I’m thinking of topics to pitch to an editor–they smell good, too!
When I pick three to five ideas, I paws and think of ways to develop each idea into an article or puzzle to fit the magazine I’m targeting. Some writers I know draw a story web to develop each idea. Not me. I draw a ball of yarn. Then I draw about 8 pieces of yarn sticking out from the ball. In the middle of the ball I write down my idea. On each piece of yarn that sticks out from the ball, I write down details that pop into my head to help me develop my idea.
Then, when I have three to five story yarns prepared, I contact the editor of the magazine I’m targeting. I usually only target magazines where the editors say they accept e-mail queries. Hey, I wanna break into the market and get published–not get lost on the bottom of some mega-kitten magazine’s slush pile!
Here’s a sample of the e-mails I like to send:
I have been studying your magazine, Wee Kittens. I see that you feature a nonfiction article about dogs in every issue.
I got your writer’s guidelines from your website and see that your next theme is on “Dogs are a Cat’s Best Friend.” I was wondering if you might be interested in receiving a nonfiction article to fit into that theme on any of the following ideas:
1. Gifts to make for your Poochy Pal
2. Dog Heroes: Interview Spot, the celebrity dog who donates millions to cat charity
3. Top Ten reasons cats and dogs should be friends
I’m looking forward to hearing from you,
my phone number
After I send my e-mail, I wait about two weeks. If I haven’t heard back, I send a second e-mail and simply state that I’m checking to see if the editor received my original e-mail (and paste it at the bottom). If I still don’t hear back in about two weeks, I target a different magazine and start the idea process all over again. I don’t wanna wait around forever. I’ve only got nine lives, you know!
So there you have it: This cat’s point of view about breaking into the market and writing for kitten magazines.
-Contributed by Humphrey, Nancy’s 22-pound writing buddy