After class today, two writers asked The Question. “How do I get published?”
They are learning to expertly shape stories and novels, but have never submitted their work.
I like their approach: first write. Then publish. Some writers seem to think it should be the other way around. Some write so quickly, in such a fervor to get published (or to self-publish) that they don’t learn their craft.
The first thing, I tell them, is to craft the very best work you can, and that is only possible if you are soaking up examples of stories, articles, poems, or other works, according to what you enjoy and want to write. And if you are practicing. A lot.
My classes are devoted to helping people overcome their critic so they can produce good quantities of work, so that they can practice, so that their skills can improve by leaps and bounds.
If you simply spend your time thinking about writing, or dribbling out a word or two here and there, you are not going to cultivate the skills to excel.
There are no shortcuts for learning the craft. Reading, writing, looking at what works and doesn’t, sharing your work and getting feedback: these things will serve.
Once you’ve traveled that path for awhile, you should submit your work, share it, publish it. As Kim said today, “But there is so much information out there about getting published. How do I know where to start?”
Back when I started freelance writing, in pre-Internet days, the very best resource was the Writer’s Market. I loved that book. I marked it with highlighters, scribbled in the margins, spilled tea on the pages, read all the helpful hints, and followed the guidelines. It made a world of difference, helping me publish short stories and articles nationally and internationally.
Today, you can still get the Writer’s Market in book form, or, you can subscribe to it online. It lists hundreds of publishers, of many different stripes and genres. It outlines what each publisher is asking for.
As you will soon find out, each publisher has different needs and guidelines, as well as their own personality, so to speak. It’s all about finding the right fit. The same goes for literary agents whom you might be seeking to represent your work.
Another great choice for today, especially when it comes to short story markets and lesser known publishers, is Duotrope.com. The submission calendar is a great feature, highlighting upcoming themes and deadlines. I love browsing the quirky themes. They offer interesting story ideas and give you the chance to tailor work to these markets.
A quick scan today produces “Revolutions,” “Taste and the Tongue,” and “The Beatles.” As with Writer’s Market, there is a subscriber fee, waived in the trial period.
Studying these resources gives you a wealth of material, but funnels that material nicely. There are a world of places to get published. A galaxy! But you need a systemized approach, determination, and willingness to devour publications. Find the stories that sound most like yours. If the publication doesn’t resonate with what you like to read and write, then go on to the next.