The spring 2009 issue of Alphabet Soup marks the first birthday of this
Australian magazine for children aged 6 to 12 who love reading and creative writing. The magazine is published four times a year. A free sample of the magazine (issue 1) can be downloaded from the website (www.alphabetsoup.net.au).
Today, I am delighted to introduce you to the magazine’s editor, Rebecca Newman
...Good morning Rebecca! I can feel how excited you are about this first birthday celebration of your magazine. Congratulations! It’s quite an achievement.
Thank you, Mabel! My team and I are thrilled that the spring 2009 issue marking our first birthday is here. The year has certainly gone very quickly.
Rebecca! Our readers are waiting so I’ll get straight into our interview. I would like to focus on what the submission process might mean for both the magazine editor or production team and the contributors.
...For example, do you aim for a similar mix of content – stories, puzzles, book reviews, poetry, author interviews and children’s contributions – in each issue?
Yes, we include the same elements in each issue of the magazine: one traditional tale (folktale/fairytale/myth), one other story, a page of poems, book recommendations, a page of writing tips, a Q&A with an Australian author or illustrator, a crossword/word puzzle, and the ‘Write On’ section (stories, poems, reviews and artwork by children).
How do you determine what you’re looking for and select contributors?
Alphabet Soup is for children aged 6 to 12, and currently the majority of our readers are children aged 9 to 10. I do keep this in mind when I’m reading submissions. It’s very important that submissions keep within the word limits. If a manuscript is too long we can’t use it, even if it’s brilliant – we just don’t have the space!
...We choose stories with strong characters, an original story idea and good use of language. Due to the age range, we don’t use stories that have violence and swearing.
We have received queries from a few writers about serialising longer stories (printing half in one issue and the other half in the next), but we are not going down this path at the moment.
...Although the Curiosity Corner article suggests a theme for each issue, we don’t require stories and poems to adhere to the theme. (It’s a bonus if it does match the theme but we’re looking for good quality stories – and we’re not too worried about whether or not it fits in with a theme.)
...Poems can be free verse or rhyming – if the latter, rhyme should not sound forced.
...We can only use 2 adult-written stories and 1 to 2 poems in each issue – this means we can only accept 8 stories and 4 to 8 poems per year. It’s important to remember this if we don’t accept your submission. While we do need a supply of fresh material, we can’t accept as many manuscripts as we’d like to!
What guidelines do you offer potential contributors in terms of content, style, length and format? Should they have researched the publication? In the first instance do you prefer a query letter or a copy of the manuscript?
Writers can find the guidelines on the magazine’s website (www.alphabetsoup.net.au). It is strongly recommended that you read an issue of Alphabet Soup before you submit work! (You’ll find a free sample of the magazine – issue 1 – on the home page of the website.)
Stories need to be under 500 words, and poems under 250 words. We accept submissions from emerging and established writers.
...We prefer submissions to be made via mail or email, with a copy of the manuscript attached. And it is important to remember that our audience is Australian children of primary school age!
Should contributors include with their manuscript, a cover letter, something about themselves and what makes them an expert in their area or what piqued their interest in the topic they have chosen to write about?
Contact details in a cover letter or email are essential. We also need to know if the piece has been published previously (and where) for copyright purposes, but we don’t need to know if you’ve had other work published. We will consider your submitted manuscript on its own merits.
...If you’re submitting a story that includes scientific or historical facts (even in a piece of fiction), we need to know that the information can be verified, so it would be useful to know if you are an expert in your area.
...We’ll generally contact you within two weeks of a submission.
Do you accept photographs or illustrations from contributors?
As the magazine has two illustrators, we don’t accept photographs or artwork submissions from adults. Children may submit artwork for the Write On section of the magazine.
To what extent do you rely on submissions by invitation and unsolicited manuscripts?
About 40% of the manuscripts we accept are unsolicited. So we do read all stories and poems coming in!
How important is the ‘Write On’ section for contributions from under 12s?
Children will tell you this is the best part of the magazine! We love reading through children’s submissions of stories, poems, reviews, letters, and artwork. (Write On is not a competition – there is a writing competition in another section of the magazine.) We try to include as many pieces as possible in Write On, without it feeling too cluttered. It’s a great opportunity for children to see their work in print alongside adult writing.
...Submissions need to include a permission form signed by a parent and the child. You’ll find the permission form (and the guidelines for submissions) on the website at www.alphabetsoup.net.au or email or ring us, and we’ll post one out to you!
...If you are on our email list, we usually email our subscribers a competition cover sheet, and a Write On permission form after each issue is posted. Children do not have to be subscribers to enter the competitions, or to submit work for Write On.
Well, that’s where we finish for today. Thank you, Rebecca for your insights into the thought and planning that goes into the publication of Alphabet Soup. I wish you all the best as you continue to develop and grow your publication. Enjoy the rest of your blog tour.
I’ve enjoyed the opportunity to share my passion. Thank you, Mabel, for having me here.
Blog tour dates:
1 September Dale Harcombe (Write and Read With Dale) http://www.livejournal.com/users/orangedale
2 September Sally Murphy (Sally Murphy's Writing for Children Blog) http://sallymurphy.blogspot.com
3 September Claire Saxby (Let's Have Words) http://www.letshavewords.blogspot.com/
4 September Mabel Kaplan (Tales I Tell) http://belka37.blogspot.com
5 September Dee White (Teachers Writing Helper) www.teacherswritinghelper.wordpress.com
6 September Robyn Opie (Writing Children's Books) http://www.robynopie.blogspot.com
7 September Sandy Fussell (Stories Are Light) www.sandyfussell.blogspot.com