Chicken Soup publishers recently sent a call for submissions for a new preteen book that they plan to add to their series. I have a story I think might work, so I ran it through my online critique group. According to them, it will work but only when I put in a little more of my own work. S I must scratch that 'easy submission' thought.
Another member of our group has subbed two stories that she would like to submit to the Chicken Soup book. Both are good ones that would appeal to preteens, but she also was told she needed to change this or that by those who critiqued both stories.
The big question I have is whether the publishers want stories that are as told by an adult about the days they were a preteen or if the stories should be written from a preteen's viewpoint, happening in today's world. They're two distinctly different types of stories.
There are very few eleven and twelve year olds who would be able to write a story polished enough to be accepted into a book like this, so that leaves adult authors who most likely are going to delve back into the past for a story about their own preteen years, or perhaps that of a sibling or good friend. Those who are now mothers of preteens might have an edge here, since they witness preteen behavior on a daily basis.
If the story is written by an adult who is reaching far into her past for the topic, she must be very careful to tell the story without becoming preachy. It's something we adults tend to do--try to teach through a preach--when we are writing for children. And that's something editors of children's books and magazines really hate. They'll toss a story like that out faster than a wink. It's better if a story has a message that children can figure out on their own. Kids are smarter than we sometimes are willing to admit.
All this brings me back to my original confusion. Which kind of story is Chicken Soup looking for? There's only one way to find out, and that's to keep writing and sending the stories to them. Maybe by this time next year, we'll know which kind of stories made it into the book.