Getting published is easier than you might think. There are steps a writer can take to increase their chance of getting their work into print. Here are some basic tools.
The publishing world is like most other businesses, sometimes success is a matter of being in the right place at the right time. Or, in the case of magazines, having your submission cross the right person’s desk at the best possible moment. But there are things you can do to increase the odds of getting published.
Research the Publication
Study the magazine and understand their philosophy, audience and style. Make sure you read the publication before trying to fib your way through offering to be part of their viewpoint. Review their guidelines and submission process. Follow it to the letter.
Write for Free
If you haven’t been published yet, donate your work to local or regional papers, magazines, organizational newsletters; anywhere that you can make a knowledgeable contribution. You won’t make money, but you will earn writing credits. And in the publishing world, that’s better than money. It’s validation. Proof that your work is credible. The more writing experience on your resume, the better.
Send a Proposal First
Before you spend hours or days creating the perfect article, query the editor. Your idea may already be a work in progress with the magazine. Or it may not fit with the editor’s outlines or projected content. When submitting a query:
- KISS: ~ That old adage, Keep it Simple, applies to submissions. Most editors are very busy people. They don’t have time to wade through several paragraphs in of a query to find your story suggestion. One or two sentences of introduction are all you need. Add a few more sentences outlining your article, the number of words or lines, and a reason you feel the story will fit well with the magazine (and the section to which you are submitting, if applicable).
- A second, short paragraph can be added to include (briefly) your qualifications. If you can, detail a few examples of your work. List the publication, title, and the date it was published.
Do Things “Write”
The only time you should submit a completed article is if the publication requests submissions to be in the form of a completed article or if you have a very polished product that is written in the magazine’s style.
Style is everything when it comes to a magazine. Each publication has a personality. Make sure your writing and content reflects the proper look and feel.
Building a good relationship with an editor is essential. Be prepared to be gracious when you receive the inevitable “No thank you”. You wouldn’t be a real writer if you didn’t get rejections. Just because you get told “No” on one submission doesn’t mean the next time won’t strike gold.
Be Persistent, But Don’t Be a Pest
There is a difference between tenacity and annoyance. Know when to temper your attempts and communications with individual publications.
Double-check your work. Have someone else read it. Double-check it again. Make sure your thoughts are organized and make sense. It is imperative that your article is grammatically correct. Don’t rely on spell-check. The less work the editing staff has to do, the more they will want to use your stuff. Grab your readers with an interesting first sentence and summarize your article at the end.
Space for articles is diminishing, especially in print. Depending on the type of article, word length can average 400-800 words. Verify recommended word count for specific story topics with each publication.
Keep Submitting. Here’s where the persistence is important. There are a multitude of media outlets that need good articles, information and freelance writers. Keep digging. Keep submitting. You will get published.
Achieving success as a writer is similar to trying to win the lottery. Not that getting published is a gamble. But you can’t “win” if you don’t “play”. You must write and submit. And then write and submit some more. If at first you don’t succeed….