An update from Cath
Unfortunately Pearson Education no longer publish the school magazines. I’ve kept this article up as general information.
Today, I’m interviewing freelance editor Petra Poupa. Petra edits Pearson Australia’s school magazines: Explore and Challenge.
Briefly, what is the purpose of the magazines?
The main purpose is to provide engaging articles in a magazine format for use in classrooms and for independent reading.
How long does it take to put together one of the magazines?
It takes around three-and-a-half months from selection of content to print. However, the four issues do overlap slightly, so there is an element of pressure.
Do you prefer outlines, pitches or the full submission for consideration?
We consider only full submissions from writers who have not been published in the magazines before.
How familiar do you need to be with a writers’ work before you consider commissioning a writer?
If a writer has been published in the magazines a few times and we are confident that they can write for that particular age group in an engaging way, we would then accept proposals or outlines from them.
On average, how many unsolicited submissions do you receive?
It depends on the topic. For some topics we receive a flood of submissions and many might be similar; for others we may need to commission most of the content from our regular writers.
What are common mistakes or turn-offs in submissions?
I think the introductory or first paragraph has to be immediately appealing; this will encourage me to read further. A common mistake is to write in a text book style, which is not the style of our magazines. It’s a good idea to become familiar with our magazines before submitting. Aim to hold the reader’s interest throughout the article rather than providing a series of facts or a summary of Wikipedia. We appreciate a writer who can present an interesting twist on a subject, not just the obvious. For example, if the topic is Vikings, rather than providing a short history of Vikings, such as you might find in a text book, look up the local Viking re-enactment group and interview them.
Is it worthwhile submitting pieces unrelated to the topics on the off chance that the topic will occur later on?
No. Preferably keep an eye on our upcoming topics and write to them specifically.
Are there sections of the magazines that you find harder to fill with quality content?
The Make and Do section (in each magazine) can be challenging. This section requires coming up with fun but affordable hands-on activities. The author also has to be able to provide photos of kids of the appropriate age participating in step-by-step procedures.
What are your technical requirements for photos?
We accept only publishable quality photos. Digital photos must be at least 300dpi resolution for print. Jpeg or Tiff formats are acceptable.
What is the best way to submit photos when emailing an article?
It’s a good idea to attach only a few sample photos. Then, if we accept the article, we will ask for more.
When selecting material from authors you are unfamiliar with, do you have a bias towards those with a publication record? Are you interested in seeing brief CVs with submissions?
A publication record is great, however, each article is read and accepted or not on its own merit. I think a CV is only useful if it’s related to your publication/writing record.
Do you ever encounter articles or pieces that you want to use, that require significant rewriting? Do you work with the author to achieve this, or do you do the rewriting?
Yes; sometimes I rewrite, sometimes I might make suggestions and ask the author to do so, other times it’s a combination of both.
What’s the best way to contact Pearson Education with pitches and queries?
All submissions, both fiction and non-fiction, should be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org or posted to Pearson Australia, Magazines, PO Box 460, Port Melbourne, Vic 3207
When will the topics for the 2011 magazines be available?
They should be on the Pearson website by the end of this month (May 2010).
Petra, thank you!