The other Magazine editors (Claire, Jen, Kitty, and Martha, to be specific) and I were going through article submissions today, and it made me think we need to get a little more articulate in our submission guidelines, which can be found here. I thought I might try out some ideas on you.
Many of the unsolicited manuscripts we see are college or grad school term papers, most often unrevised for publication. Think: when was the last time you willingly read beyond "In this paper I shall prove" in a magazine article? Certainly, academic work can be the basis of a fine article--Horn Book reviewer Vicky Smith's "A-Hunting We Won't Go," an essay about anti-hunting bias in children's books, appeared in the Magazine in 2004 but first saw light as a paper for the Simmons' children's literature degree. But in rethinking the piece for us, Vicky boiled down the survey into an argument. We love a good argument, and I don't just mean the bristling sort of debate Marc Aronson and Andrea Pinkney had in our pages a few years back. I mean an article--whether research-based or speculative--that has a reason for being, that wants to tell us something new and convince us it's worth our attention. Hey, I think I'll extend this criterion to the book review section!