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writerterri
11-29-2005, 06:56 AM
Hmm let's see, it's winter and the story is for children and the story has a winter theme.


Dear Author:

Thank you for sharing your ms with us.

When you send a ms to HIGHLIGHTS, you compete with hundreds of other authors. You win this competion when your piece seems to be the best for our present needs.

All editors have preferences. Our wisdom and judgments are limited. What we reject here may be eagerly accepted elsewhere. Many a noted writer has climbed to success on steps built with early rejection slips. Don't get discouraged!

We are returning your ms because:

__The story is well written, but lacks a fresh approach.
__Its language or concepts are too mature for our audience.
__Its age-range appeal is not wide enough.
__We do not publish serials or continued stories.
__Has too much discription or narration.
__It lacks a strong plot.
__We avoid stories glorifying war, or involving crime or violence.
__We have on hand or have already published a similar piece.
__Its length preludes consideration.
__It involved stereotyped roles.
_x_ It is not suited to our present needs.
__We do not publish material that requires or encourages a reader to mark on our pages.
__We prefer a presentation that goes well beyond the information available in a textbook or an encyclopedia, or on the internet.
__We believe this story depends on photos that are problematic or unavailable.
__It doesn't include a bibliography.
__We do not believe your subject appeals strongly to many of our readers.

Sincerely,

The Editors

I have to look at the bright side, I could have gotten a worse answer. If you want to read the story it is on the share your work thread under children's, titled "The Snow Day Mystery". I think it is on page 2.

LieselGarmach
11-29-2005, 07:00 AM
Of all the reasons listed, the one checked appears to me to be the one I'd most want! Your story was well-written, it's not outside the target audience, and there's nothing else on that list that applies.

I'm sorry it didn't make it but at least you know it wasn't through any fault on your part. It just isn't what they need right now. They may have several other winter day type stories on hand.

Keep trying!

PattiTheWicked
11-29-2005, 07:47 AM
It also might be that right now they're putting together stories for their May issue or something. Do you know what kind of lag time they work with? Perhaps you could query them again in a few montsh for NEXT winter?

Birol
11-29-2005, 09:48 AM
Odds are they are currently putting together a spring or summer issue, but I didn't seen an editorial calendar associated with their guidelines.

Jamesaritchie
11-29-2005, 10:12 AM
Winter is the worst possible time to submit winter fiction to most magazines. Odds are extremely high that Highlights had already bought all the winter fiction they need by the middle of September. Maybe before. Which means some of the winter stories may have been submitted as early as the middle of May, which is the right time to begin.

Magazines operate on long lead times, and writers have to do the same. For most magazines, you sell winter fiction in the middle of summer, and summer fiction in the middle of winter, and holiday fiction at least six months before the holiday. Counting at least a month for the story to work it's way up to the editor, a holiday story should probably be submitted six and a half to seven months before the holiday, and general winter fiction should be submitted no later than the first of Septemer.

And even if it gets submitted in the last part of the window, there's a good chance the editors will already have bought as much as they need before they read your story.

Generally, it's always wise to think six months ahead. The rule of thumb is Spring/Fall, summer/winter, Fall/Spring. Winter/Summer. And it's better to be early in the season than late.

johnnysannie
11-29-2005, 04:07 PM
Magazine lead times are incredibly long. I just sent the pictures to accompany an article of mine that has been accepted for a regional magazine for the March 2006 issue - editor/publisher had to have the pics now.

Save your winter story and resubmit in a few months!

writerterri
11-29-2005, 10:45 PM
Thanks all! I didn't even think of that. I'll resubmit this spring, early.


Terri

Inspired
11-30-2005, 05:31 AM
I don't think I'd do that.

Highlights holds on to stories for a long time. Yes, the timing isn't the best, but if they really wanted it, they would've kept it and used it next year. They definitely do that sort of thing.

If they rejected it, you'd have to do a major rewrite before resubmitting.

JMO, but it's based on what I've heard elsewhere.

DenimSoul
11-30-2005, 06:16 AM
Yes, I think that's it. Magazines like retail stores I think work ahead so right now they are probably lining up stories for their spring or summer issues. Might be a good question to ask a magazine editor someday if any of us gets a chance. The Snow Day Mystery is really a good story and I think it will get accepted when you resubmit it.

Inspired
11-30-2005, 03:18 PM
Here: http://www.institutechildrenslit.com/rx/tr01/robinson.shtml

Scroll down past the introductory babble. Marlita (a well-known editor in children's lit) is from Highlights and she says that you don't need to worry about the seasons with Highlights. If they want it, they'll keep it for later.

Not trying to be a party-pooper. . .

Jamesaritchie
11-30-2005, 06:07 PM
Here: http://www.institutechildrenslit.com/rx/tr01/robinson.shtml

Scroll down past the introductory babble. Marlita (a well-known editor in children's lit) is from Highlights and she says that you don't need to worry about the seasons with Highlights. If they want it, they'll keep it for later.

Not trying to be a party-pooper. . .

I know what they say. I also know no editor keeps an infinite number of stories lying around. Particularly seasonal stories. "If I like it, I'll keep it for later" always means "Unless I already have fifteen of the same kind that I'm keeping for later."

And when an editor has the policy of keeping things for later, it takes a very short time to be holding more than she can use in the next two or three seasons. When this happens, she will have to start rejecting stories of that type.

No matter what editorial policy is, as a writer, you always have to pay attention to lead time. Even an editor who does just hold things until later soon has to make the choice of holding more than she can ever use, or of rejecting stories because she's already overstocked with stories of that type. Both amount to the say thing as "Sorry, doesn't fit our present needs."

cwgranny
12-01-2005, 04:18 PM
Highlights doesn't buy for an issue, they buy for their file so if they have enough winter stories, they have enough for the next few years. Really, they do. Both Highlights and the Cricket group buy stories for YEARS in advance. Highlights JUST THIS MONTH ran something of mine that they bought in 1999. If you resub in the spring, you'll be rejected in the spring.

I tried to read your story in Share Your Work but I must be doing something wrong with the password. If I can figure out what, I'll offer some recommendations. But, resending to Highlights is not going to sell the story. If they had wanted it, they would have bought it. Children's magazines are what I do -- http://www.kidmagwriters.com -- I know two Highlights editors well and have interviewed two others. This is one topic you can absolutely trust me on, that rejection letter was NOT about the time of year that you sent the story.

Children's magazines don't work like adult magazines. I started out writing for adult magazines in the 1980s and it's very different (except at a few of the very high end kid mags like Boys' Life and Sports Illustrated for Kids). Some kid magazines are almost garage bands with tiny staff (like Moo Cow Fan Club and even the Hopscotch group) and they are practically making stuff up as they go along.

I know James must think I'm following him around just to disagree with him, but on this one, I promise I am not being disagreeable. Highlights does buy to file years in advance. And really, that not even one of the worst things you encounter in children's magazines. The Cricket group buys all rights, buys years in advance, AND pays on publication.

writerterri
12-04-2005, 09:24 AM
Thanks again for the wonderful insite. I've learned a lot.

Boy, this is harder than I thought, but I wont give up. I'll try another mag for children if I don't shorted it and resubmit.


Terri

emerald dragonfly
12-06-2005, 07:42 AM
You are such a sweet person! I would keep sending them stories. Sooner or later they'll discover your talent. :Hail:

Jamesaritchie
12-06-2005, 09:41 PM
Highlights doesn't buy for an issue, they buy for their file so if they have enough winter stories, they have enough for the next few years. Really, they do. Both Highlights and the Cricket group buy stories for YEARS in advance. Highlights JUST THIS MONTH ran something of mine that they bought in 1999. If you resub in the spring, you'll be rejected in the spring.

I tried to read your story in Share Your Work but I must be doing something wrong with the password. If I can figure out what, I'll offer some recommendations. But, resending to Highlights is not going to sell the story. If they had wanted it, they would have bought it. Children's magazines are what I do -- http://www.kidmagwriters.com (http://www.kidmagwriters.com/) -- I know two Highlights editors well and have interviewed two others. This is one topic you can absolutely trust me on, that rejection letter was NOT about the time of year that you sent the story.

Children's magazines don't work like adult magazines. I started out writing for adult magazines in the 1980s and it's very different (except at a few of the very high end kid mags like Boys' Life and Sports Illustrated for Kids). Some kid magazines are almost garage bands with tiny staff (like Moo Cow Fan Club and even the Hopscotch group) and they are practically making stuff up as they go along.

I know James must think I'm following him around just to disagree with him, but on this one, I promise I am not being disagreeable. Highlights does buy to file years in advance. And really, that not even one of the worst things you encounter in children's magazines. The Cricket group buys all rights, buys years in advance, AND pays on publication.

And what happens after they've bought stories for years in advance? Do they have an infinite number of stories on file? Not even Highlights has a budget that allows the editor to pay for an infinite number of stories that won't be used for years. There always comes a point when the editor has as many stories of a given type as she can afford to buy.

Highlights pays on acceptance, which means they can't hold stories indefinitely, and can't buy hundreds of stories they may not use for years.
I have had stories refused at Highlights solely because they already had as many on file as they wanted to pay for, and I have writer friends who have had the same thing happen.

Years in advance doesn't mean infinite. Highlights pays up front, and no editor wants two hundred stories sitting in a file that have already been paid for. It shoots the budget to heck and gone. No matter how many years a magazines buys stories in advance, it doesn't take very long until they have several years worth of stories in stock. Timing your submissions so that one or two or three or ten of these in-stock stories have been used greatly increases your chances of a sale.

That's why I say that no matter what the policy of the magazine is, a writer needs to follow lead time. Not doing so greatly decreases chances of a sale.

Even when an editor buys stories years in advance, she still uses those stories at a predictable rate, and at a predictable time of year. So timing your submissions to match the time when a goodly number of those stories comes out of the files and goes into the magazine does increase your chances.

I have had children's stories rejected because they were overstocked, and I quickly learned that timing means just as much at Highlights, or at Boy's Life, as it does at any adult magazine.

I've also sold stories to the Cricket group. They pay pretty well, but they do want all rights, and that's a real pain. Of course, another trouble with magazines that pay on pub is that they can hold stories indefinitely, since they don't have to pay for them until and unless they use them. They can stock stories a hundred years in advance, if writers will let them. When you don't have to pay for a story until you use it, filing hundreds of them doesn't harm the budget.

Anwya, true, this story probably wasn't rejected because of time of year. But when an editor checks off that particular item, it can mean that. Of course this story would be rejected if submitted again in teh srpng. If the editor wanted to see it again, she would have said so.

But I know how children's magazines work, I've sold to them, I know some children's editors, and for a short time I even bought some children's stories. Buget matters, and you can only buy and stock so many stories when you have to pay for the stories in advance. When you buy for one year, for three years, or for tens years in advance, there comes a point when you've spent as much money as you're allowed to spend. From that point on, you buy stories pretty much as you use them. When you use ten stories from stock, you then buy ten more.

You only start stocking stories for future years again when you've brought the stories you already have for years in advance down to a managable level.

Even many adult magazine also buy holiday and seasonal stories years in advance. A lot of adult magazines buy seasonal and holiday stories years in advance. But as a writer, you still have to submit according to lead time, else your chances for a sale greatly decrease.

Highlight uses seasonal stories in season, and holiday stories in holiday issues, just like the adult magazines. And the best time to sell any magazine, any pay on acceptance magazine, a seasonal or Holiday story is by submitting that story so it can be used to replenish those stories they published. This most often means six months in advance, no matter what the buying policy is, and no matter how many years they stock stories in advance.

I know what editors say, and I know well how the children's market works. I also know that buying stories takes money, and editors have a budget they have to follow. Buying years in advance changes nothing. Children's magazines often buy years in advance, and so do adult magazines. But as a writer, your story stands a much better chance if it arrives according to lead time, at least with pay on acceptance magazines.