Since it is National Poetry Month, I thought it would be fitting if I addressed our next generation of writers. Most writers start off as avid readers, so the highest calling as a writer is to write to children. I could think of no one better to do that than Pam Zollman. Pam is the former editor for Highlights Magazine, and speaking at the upcoming Blue Ridge Christian Writers Conference in May.
THE MARKETS FOR POETRY FOR CHILDREN
Are there any?
By Pam Zollman
Poetry is a hard market, whether you’re writing for children or adults. One reason is that it looks so easy to do. However, what most of us write is not good poetry. It doesn’t have meter. It doesn’t flow. Excellent poetry is easy to read, but hard to write.
There are basically four types of poetry markets for children’s writers:
- · poems for magazines
- · rhyming picture books
- · middle-grade and young adult novels written in verse
- · poetry collections
The Magazine Market:The magazine market is hungry for short poems, usually ten lines or less. Some pay per line, but most pay a set amount per poem. This is a good way to build publishing credentials. Highlights, Cricket, Humpty Dumpty, Jack and Jill, and Turtle are examples of kids’ magazines that use poetry on a regular basis.The Picture Book Market:
The picture book market is much harder to crack, even when the manuscript isn’t in verse. Most rhyming manuscripts are poorly done. The author often allows the rhyme to dictate the story. So the manuscript often lacks focus, or sometimes even a coherent story line. The author usually must contort sentences to force rhyme. Study these popular stories: Down to the Sea with Mr. Magee, by Chris Van Dusen; Red Sled, by Patricia Thomas; My Cold Plum Lemon Pie Bluesy Mood, by Tameka Fryer Brown; Oh Brother, by Nikki Grimes; or Mrs. Biddlebox, by Linda Smith.
The Middle-Grade and Young Adult Novel Market:
There aren’t as many novels written in verse, because they are much harder to write. These books are spare, but powerful. Some good examples are: Hugging the Rock, by Susan Taylor Brown, Love That Dog, by Sharon Creech; Planet Middle School, by Nikki Grimes; and Out of the Dust, by Karen Hesse.
The Poetry Collection Market:
Poetry collections don’t tend to sell as well, which makes this a smaller market. However, there are plenty of books to study in this category: Where the Sidewalk Ends, by Shel Silverstein; Here’s a Little Poem, by Jane Yolen; The Frogs and Toads All Sang, by Arnold Lobel; and BookSpeak! by Laura Purdie Salas.
Kids love rhyme; they love the sound of words, the alliteration and figurative language of words. As long as this stays true, then there will always be a market for excellent poetry for children.
Pam Zollman is the award-winning author of 40 children’s books and numerous short stories and articles. Her middle-grade novel Don’t Bug Me!(Holiday House, 2001) has been translated into other languages. It was a Sunshine Sate Young Reader book, in the Florida Battle of the Books, and was one of Bank Street College of Education’s Best Books of 2002. A Chick Grows Up(Scholastic, 2005) was an honor book for the Maryland Blue Crab Readers Choice Award in 2006. Many of her books are included on school and library reading lists, and her Life Cycle series for Scholastic have been translated into Spanish. Her short story, “Millie’s Garden,” won first place in Highlights for Children’s annual fiction contest in 1996.
To see Pam Zollman in action, visit her website connected with her business in Travelers Rest, SC called The Writers Plot.