How to Get Published

When new writer’s fail to be published it is often because they break the golden rule of being published. You have to submit to get published. It looks so easy on paper but to put it into practice is one of the hardest things a writer has to do. There are a lot of things you can do to help you get over the sting of rejection and actually increase the chances you will be accepted for publishing. For this article I’m going to discuss getting short stories, articles, or poetry for magazines that from here on out will all be referred to as articles.

1. First and foremost you need to do is to make sure that the article you’ve written is “publishable”. Make sure you have gotten all presentation errors dealt with (typos, punctuation, grammar, capitalization,âÂ?¦etc).
Post your piece for critique on a writer’s forum, present it to your writer’s group for critique, or give it to beta readers to critique (not members of your own family but friends, teachers, or someone who can give you an unbiased response).

2. Do your research. Writer’s Market, searchable databanks, writer’s forums, writer’s websitesâÂ?¦etc, to find magazines that are looking for the type of article you’ve written. I can’t even begin to tell you how much time and heartache you’ll save yourself if you do your research and rule out all the editors that you know up front will reject you. Resist the urge to spam editors. It just wastes your time and postage and it can really get you off on the wrong foot with some editors for a long time.

3. Make sure you have a professional submission package with targeted editor by following the submission guidelines, using the correct font and spacing. Publishers often have their submission guidelines posted on websites or you can also find them in the Writer’s Market or other writer’s recourses. Never try and catch the editors’ attention with colored paper or fancy font. That normally will get your submission thrown in the trash or returned without even being read. Another rule of thumb is to send the article by regular not certified or mail that will have to be picked up and signed for at the post office. Don’t ever fall into the trap of thinking you don’t have to follow the guidelines to the letter because the editor will overlook them because your piece is so good. The only place that is going to get you is rejectionville which doesn’t even come close to an editor’s desk.

4. Do your research. Never write ANY data or facts that you have not checked recently. To write knowledgably about something you have to know what the most recent data is. If you get your facts wrong and the editor catches it s/he may want you to verify them with resources and s/he will be very unimpressed if you can’t. If the editor doesn’t catch it and it is published you can not only open up yourself to litigation but you could also find yourself more or less black-balled by the publishing community. This of course is most important in non-fiction. This goes without saying; NEVER lie about research or make up percentages and always give your research resources. Use your common sense at all times.

5. Don’t get so caught up in “just the facts, ma’am” that you forget your reader and your intention of keeping them interested. Be sure to keep your prose at the level of your reader. There is nothing that a reader will put down faster than an article filled with facts they don’t understand or are presented in a confusing way.

6. If time allows: Before the final revision of the article put the article away even if for only ten minutes but preferably until the next day to do the final editing and revision. That way you have given yourself some time to look at it more objectively and can catch mistakes much easier. Another way of making revision easier is to read the article aloud to yourself or someone else. That way you’ll know if it reads smoothly.

7. Check out your local resources. Some writers get their first break with a local newspaper, newsletter, or magazine. It gives you experience at writing and gives you the publication “buzz”.

8. Don’t give away the rights to your work unless you are sure that you fully understand what you are doing. Never sign a contract you don’t fully understand. If you have questions that can’t be resolved to your satisfaction by asking the publication or editor (this goes for ANY contract or negotiation) don’t sign anything until you’ve consulted a lawyer or someone who has explained your rights and obligations fully.

9. Unpublished means just that. You can not have ever published or in some cases even posted the piece anywhere. You may need to ask for clarification as far as posting an article in a writing forum for critique but in some cases an editor will even consider that prior publication. Anytime you publish something whether for free or compensated that publication or site has first rights no matter what you wish to do with the rest of the rights. If you give away all rights to a piece, exclusive rights, or even all prints rights you no longer can use that piece in any type of publication without first asking for permission to do so even when you still hold copyright.

10. After it is sent and while you are waiting get busy on your next project/projects and don’t worry about the rejection or publication until it comes. Remember, you can expect many rejections on most projects before you get published but if you don’t gather those rejections you aren’t doing the work you need to do to get accepted. In my experience if you start out with magazines that have a lower reader scale and e-zines you have a better chance of being published even if there isn’t any payment. It also helps increase self-confidence and builds your reputation to start out with

Becoming a successful writer isn’t an easy road. Ask any author or freelancer that has taken it. It does have it rewards and that is why we do it. I write because that is what makes me feel alive, happy, and interested in life so the hurdles are worth it. Getting to that first publication isn’t easy nor is the second and third but seeing your name on that byline is definitely worth the challenges.

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