I guess you could say that my first experience at targeting a publisher was done without ever hearing the phrase “targeting a publisher.” I was a novice.
Until that one memorable night when I was in my early 40’s, I had never given a thought to writing for children. I remember lying in bed and telling my husband out of the blue I had a strong, even overwhelming, desire to learn to write for children. I now know that this was the prompting of the Holy Spirit.
The next morning I couldn’t shake the feeling. I searched through my son’s bookshelf, hoping I had saved at least one magazine. There it was! A magazine for kids ages 4 to 8 that we subscribed to years ago. I sat on the floor and read the feature fiction story with delight. As I read, I felt a surge of excitement well up within me. This is the kind of writing I wanted to do! It felt so right. Already story ideas were filling my imagination. Within a short period of time I enrolled in two Saturday how-to-write-for children classes at our community college. I read book after book on writing for kids and I wrote like crazy!
I purchased a writers market guide, then sent for one particular magazine’s guidelines and a sample copy. I even ordered a subscription. The subscription form asked for the child’s name that would be receiving the magazine. With a smile I wrote, Sheryl Ann Crawford. I left the age line blank as well as my birth year (o;
I became familiar with the kinds of things they published. There were rebuses, puzzles, poems, crafts, feature fiction and retold Bible stories. This was the publisher I would send my first fiction story to! I had a good feeling about my style being a perfect fit for this magazine. I had no idea that there was a phrase for what I had been doing. I had been targeting a publisher.
My story was accepted! Then the editor asked if I would be willing to write a feature fiction Thanksgiving story. I’ll never forget what she said to me after accepting my second story. “Sheryl, your writing style is a perfect fit for our magazine. We would you like to be one of our assignment writers.” I almost fainted.
To this day I continue to write for my favorite children’s magazine. It has been one of God’s greatest blessings along my writing journey. While I wait for months for word from a book publisher about a manuscript, I write for my favorite magazine. When I receive yet another rejection letter, I write for my favorite magazine. Without ever hearing the term “targeting a publisher” that’s exactly what I had been doing.
I knew what I wanted to write.
I knew the age I wanted to write for.
I knew my style/my voice.
I found a magazine that seemed like a perfect fit.
I studied that magazine like I was studying for a college final!
I followed the submission guidelines.
My stories were accepted.
I became an assignment writer!
Wasn’t God good to keep me right on target?
Contributed by Sheryl Crawford