I thought it might be useful to take a look inside what happens to put together a children’s magazine, so asked Rebecca to give us the inside story. Over to you, Rebecca.
Thanks Sally. I could go on for pages and pages about how we put an issue together, but I know the importance of word limits, so I’ll restrain myself!
Each issue of Alphabet Soup is 24 pages long, including the cover. And we include the same ‘sections’ in every issue.
A typical issue includes:
Ø a Q&A with an author or illustrator (this issue it’s Mark Greenwood)
Ø a page of book recommendations
Ø a ‘traditional’ tale (e.g. fairytale, folktale, myth)
Ø another adult-written story
Ø a page of poems
Ø a word puzzle page (e.g. crossword or word sleuth)
Ø writing tips for kids (from the Book Chook)
Ø ‘Curiosity corner’—an interest article (e.g. scuba diver, air traffic controller)
Ø 6–7 pages of kids’ writing—book reviews, stories, poems, letters, artwork and the three winning entries of the latest writing competition
Ø info about the latest writing competition, rules for submitting kids’ work etc.
Often the interest article will suggest a theme for an issue, but stories and poems may not always adhere to the theme. We prefer to publish good quality writing—so if we have two items, and one doesn’t follow the theme but is a better piece, we’ll go for that!
The material for an issue is gathered over a number of months. (On 4 September our blog tour makes a stop at Mabel Kaplan’s blog to talk about submissions and how we select work.) I need to finish editing the text before pages are sent to our two illustrators, so that they know exactly how much space they have for artwork. I try to get this done as early as possible for each issue so Greg Mitchell and Annette Flexman aren’t too rushed.
I interview our authors or illustrators by email. Australian authors are a friendly bunch and very generous with their answers. Sometimes their responses are so interesting, it’s hard to know what to leave in and what to cut! But we do have to leave some of it out, as the Q&A is only a double page spread—and there needs to be room for illustrations as well. (Greg Mitchell has had fun drawing caricatures of our authors!) We particularly enjoyed talking to Mark Greenwood for this issue, and we decided to print the uncut version of the interview on our blog: http://www.soupblog.wordpress.com/.
And of course, working on the pages of kids’ writing is always the best part—kids write amazing stories, poems and reviews. We try to fit in as many pieces as we can, without the pages becoming too cluttered, and if we can’t use work, we hold it for a later issue. In the spring ’09 issue, we’ve also included kids’ artwork for the first time.
After all the artwork is scanned in and the magazine is finished, the issue is proofread by our production manager, Katie Lennerts. Her eagle eyes always spot errors we’ve missed! Then we race the disk down to the printer, and start all over again with another issue. Three months rolls around very quickly!
Thanks Rebecca. Sounds like lots of work. You can read more about Rebecca and Alphabet Soup by following her blog tour at the following stops:
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