Nancy's Books

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Picture Book vs. Magazine Article, part 1/Calls for Submissions

I was recently asked the question about how to determine if a poem or group of poems should be submitted to book publishers or the magazine market. [This blog is the first in a series is for you, Krista, and others who are wondering about the differences between a picture book and short story manuscript.]

As for poems, they can be geared toward the magazine or book market. Submit individual poems to magazines. If you submit to a book publisher, send poems that are centered on a particular theme. Check Jack Prelutsky, Shel Silverstein, and Judith Viorst’s poetry books—and others, of course, to get an idea of how they used a theme for their work.

You’ll need enough poems for an entire book. The number varies with publishers. Boyds Mills Press has a poetry imprint, Wordsong, that publishes poetry books. Many of the big publishers do also.

Keep the content concrete, something the child can see in his/her mind. If you’re submitting one poem and the poem is long enough and filled with action, it might work as a picture book. Try dividing the poem into 14 scenes (pieces of action). Illustrators need to draw action with each double-page spread.

Next week, I’ll continue the series with part II.

Call for submissions for adult writers:

The Nelson Algren Short Story Award competition is open for submissions until February 1. This competition is open to all legal resident of the 50 United States or the District of Columbia who are over 18 years of age, and there is no entry fee. Stories may run up to 8,000 words. Prizes: “One grand prize winner will receive $3,500. Four finalists will each receive $1,000. Five runners-up will each receive $500.” Note also: “All contest entries may be considered for eventual Tribune publication pending notification of the author.” (Thanks to the PayingWriterJobs list for reminding me of this imminent deadline.)

Call for submissions for young writers:

Creative Kids Magazine. We are looking for the very best material by students (ages 8–16). Material may include cartoons, songs, stories between 500 and 1200 words, puzzles, photographs, artwork, games, editorials, poetry, and plays, as well as any other creative work that can fit in the pages of the magazine.

All work must be original. Upon acceptance of a work, we will request that a legal guardian sign our standard contract granting copyright permission. The contract will be mailed with notification of acceptance.

Submission Guidelines at

Check out more contests on my blog:


  1. I'm looking forward to reading more about the picture book vs. magazine story dilemma. I sometimes take what I think is a picture book to my critique group only to find they think it's a story. I also wonder if a story can be turned into a picture book by reworking it. Thanks for writing about this.

  2. If the story has universal appeal, it can become a picture book. Publishers sink about $50,000 into the first run of a picture book. With that type of investment, the story MUST work for a wide audience.