Wednesday, November 7, 2012

How To Get Published, Part Two: Random Tips

Maybe I should have organized this list in some way instead of throwing out random information. But organization is not my thing, as you would know if you've seen any of my outlines (Actual example: "Chapter Twelve: Something happens. It's important.").

So here are some random tips about getting published, mostly in magazines because that's where I have the most experience.
  • Almost all of the places where I’ve been published were in publications that I actually read several issues of. The places where I just sent in a story or article that fit the word count without seeing the magazine itself have almost all been rejected. I’m guessing there’s something significant there.
  • It’s better (for me at least) to have a long, unbroken chunk of time to work on the research part of the publication process. Take an evening and flip through a Writer’s Market Guide, going to websites, comparing guidelines, editing several pieces, and printing them out right then to send. That way it actually gets done.
  • Contests are sometimes okay. But you usually have to pay a fee and a ton of people enter. On the other hand, researching a publication takes more time and is harder, so fewer people do it, and they need a regular stream of good content. I’d say your chances are better there (although if you’re tied to a certain favorite genre, like sci-fi short stories, your market is much more limited).
  • Do what you know, what you love, and what other people have told you you’re good at. I work with teens three times a week, so that gives me authority to write to that audience. I love fiction. And sometimes I say funny things, so over Thanksgiving Break I’m planning to try to find more humor markets to break into. What I’m not going to do is write travel pieces, romance stories, or car mechanic advice columns, because right now, that’s not what I’m good at.
  • Even if you really want to be a best-selling novelist, don’t turn up your nose at small markets. Fun fact: I’ve made more from articles, one-act scripts, and devotionals over the past three years than I have from my two books. They add up, people.
  • I usually do the College Application Strategy when it comes to sending in manuscripts. In high school, your guidance counselor tells you to apply to several different schools, including some you’re pretty sure you can get into, some that are more middle range (might accept you or might not), and one or two “stretch” schools that probably won’t accept you, but hey, might as well try. Same things works for freelance writing. Send in most of your stuff to smaller publications or places where you’ve been published before…but don’t forget to challenge yourself by trying a few that are new or harder to get into (but don’t be surprised if you’re rejected).

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