For the past year or so, I’ve been trying to break into a certain glossy women’s magazine. I’ve sent multiple queries, but every one of them has been rejected. Many of them have been the “good kind of rejection,” although if you ask me, “good rejection” is an oxymoron. I’ve gotten several personal rejections, where the editor said I was getting close, but my idea wasn’t quite right for their magazine. Encouraged by their words, I kept sending out those queries.
But the rejections – good kind or not – kept coming.
Then one day, I was reading through a recent copy of the magazine, hoping to find something that might help me finally break in. And it jumped out at me: Anecdotes! This particular magazine accepts short, humorous stories and funny kid sayings. As the mother of a two-year-old, I had an abundance of those to share.
I’d always read that these magazines receive thousands of submissions from their readers, so I wasn’t just competing with other writers for one of these anecdote spots. I knew my story had to be top-notch to be considered. And “top-notch” to most editors means that they don’t have to edit it very much. So I made my story match the ones they’d already printed. I counted the number of words in the anecdotes in the magazine and edited mine to match. I also noticed that many of their anecdotes included a title, so I made sure mine did too.
I typed up a few of my son’s cutest moments and emailed them to the magazine. Within a month, I received a response – they were going to print one of my little stories and send me a check for $25. It wasn’t a huge sum of money, and it wasn’t the way I’d dreamed of breaking into this magazine, but it was a start.
The next time I queried the magazine, I mentioned in my cover letter that an anecdote I’d written had been recently published in their magazine.
And that query was accepted! Coincidence? Maybe, but I think that my small success with anecdotes has led me to succeed in bigger and better things too.
Diane Stark is a former teacher turned stay-at-home mom and freelance writer. Her work has been published in more than a dozen Chicken Soup for the Soul books, as well as many regional and national magazines. She is the author of “Teacher’s Devotions to Go,” a devotional book for teachers. She can be reached at DianeStark19-at-yahoo.com.
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