So…you love writing? Is your greatest dream to be published? There IS something affirming about having someone else (besides your mom!) like your work and want to put it in print, whether online or in a traditional print publication.
I’ve been blessed to have dozens of articles, stories, and reviews published over the past fifteen years in online publications, books, and print magazines. Now that I work as an editor, I’m often asked, “How do I get published?” As much as I’d like to, I can’t give you a quick answer to that, but here are a few tips.
Be willing to start small. If you’ve never been published, start with submitting to a local publication. Move from there to e-zines or online newsletters, even a letter to the editor. Don’t be too proud to start small. You’re building your resume’! On that note…
Be ok with no pay for a while. Don’t eschew writing for free if you’re previously unpublished. Experience is golden at this point. Understand that editors love writers who have been previously published, because an objective source has affirmed this writer’s work. You do NOT have to list whether it was paid or unpaid work–no one needs to know that but you!
Put in your apprenticeship. Be prepared for a lot of hard work and rejections. If writing is what you want to do, work hard and don’t be half-hearted about it! Take some courses to fine-tune your skills. There are so many writing courses online these days!
Also, it’s fun to explore a writing style or genre before you really commit. For instance, since I’ve homeschooled for years and love reading and discussing children’s literature with my own children, this seemed an obvious area of interest. However, when I took a children’s literature writing course, I realized half-way through that I had no interest in writing for that market. I still finished it, and learned valuable skills that can be applied to other markets.
Be purposeful in your submissions. Study the market you’re interested in writing for. Luck has little to do with this. You can’t just send queries and articles out willy-nilly. Editors are busy, and have little patience for that! Most publications will have writer’s guidelines on their website. Follow them. It’s normal practice to send a query letter first, NOT an unsolicited submission.
Don’t forget why you started. If you’re getting bogged down by the technical aspects of writing, remind yourself periodically why you started. Most writers feel they have a story to tell, a compulsion to write, and they will continue to write, whether it’s ever printed or not. If you’re a writer, you know.
For myself, I periodically have to put assignments aside and write about whatever’s on my heart. And I’ll tell you what–that is usually some of my best writing. That which flows out of a passion to share and a need to express.