How Do I Get There?

Written By: jOakes

The Proper Routes to Publication:

To publish a book — fiction (novel) or nonfiction: Find an agent that specializes in the genre, theme or topic of your manuscript. Send a query letter first. Your query must be as well-written as the book itself! (You can find good examples of query letters online or in books such as “Writer’s Market.” Generally, they should be only one page.)

To publish an article in a magazine: Contact the magazine and ask about their submission policies and the specific editor to whom you should pitch your story. If you are new to the magazine, offer to send your resume’ and writing samples. If you have been previously published, send a copy of your printed article(s) as opposed to the typed original. (It’s more impressive this way.)

Or, simply write to the magazine – by either email or snail mail, and be sure to include your writing samples. If you already have an article written, send it to the proper editor – again, with your resume’ and writing samples. The latter situation is unusual – unlike books, magazine articles are rarely written in advance. If your article has already been written, however, assure the editor it has not appeared elsewhere (*there are exceptions to this) and that it will not be appearing in another publication.

To build a resume’: Write for any publication you can, but only if it’s reputable and compatible with the themes of your work. The good news is that there are many opportunities for beginning writers to be published without pay. This eliminates much of the more experienced competition, who will only write for money. Thus, they are “priced out” of certain magazines with small budgets. Take advantage of this gap. Then, once you have been published, begin to keep a folder of all of your work, which will go towards your resume’ and could lead to *paid* work.

To publish a short story or poem: Find publications (usually journals or anthologies) that fit your work – and vice-versa – and, after reading their submission policies, just send the story in. You would never do this with a novel, for which you would need an agent; just as you would (almost) never use an agent to sell a short story or poem. (Collections of short stories are an exception.)

*reprints sometimes are acceptable, particularly if a lot of time has passed since it last saw print, so long as you are straightforward about the fact it already ran. Naturally, time-sensitivity is an issue, so only “timeless” pieces are likely to be reprinted.

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