Thursday, July 26, 2012

How Do I Get Published?

Will I Ever Get Published?
So you’ve worked hard, polished your writing, submitted to magazines, and yet—you’re still unpublished. You might throw your hands up and cry, “What’s it going to take to be published?”

All published writers have experienced rejection. And rejection. And more rejection. It’s a necessary step to get published. The thrill is so much greater when you receive your first acceptance letter or phone call. 
While getting published seems a mystery to aspiring writers, it’s not. No magic formula exists—just good old fashioned hard work and perseverance. 
I’ve blogged about writer education through conferences, books, and online sources. Just as important is time spent in research, both for topics to write about and magazines to submit. One published author I know uses a 1:1 ratio, meaning for every hour she writes, she spends an hour in research. She reads writer’s guidelines to find magazines that fit her writing style or to discover an idea for a new topic. I’m not sure how many other writers would endorse this, but starting out, the ratio looks reasonable, at least until you build a good list of magazines and have queries or manuscripts submitted. 
Regardless of whether your aspiration is to be a novelist and not write for magazines, doing so is important to:
·      Build your credentials.
·      Hone your writing skills.
·      Gain experience working with editors. Along with building credentials, this shows potential book publishers and agents that you have successfully worked with editors in the past.
·      Build your confidence level. Being published on any level fuels future success. Also, if you always have a query or manuscript submitted, it’s harder to give up when a rejection letter comes in. You’ll have hope the pending submission will be accepted.
One concern among unpublished writers is cost. I can remember trying to justify spending $20 for a Writer’s Market guide or for a Writer’s Digest magazine subscription. Now, if you’re willing to log extra time in research, many of the same educational tools or magazine submission guidelines can be found online. 
Below is a link with a couple hundred (maybe more) magazine and book publisher submission guidelines. Don’t be concerned if they’re not a paying market. Remember the objectives above. I can’t vouch for all the media listed, but I have been published with a few, and many are willing to work with new authors.
One example is Christian Devotions. Even if you don’t think you could write a devotion, study their guidelines and see if you can think of an idea to write about. If you want examples, click on my page above “Sampling of Published Articles” for past devotions I’ve written. 
It’s important to read the submission guidelines carefully to discern if what you’ve written will fit the magazine you’re submitting to. Some magazines want query letters first. Often, you’ll get ideas to query about based on a magazine’s mission statement. Be patient as response times vary.
I stumbled upon this video of Stephen King giving writing advice to new authors. I thought you might enjoy it.
Now, I want to hear from you. What was your first published piece?
© Laura Hodges Poole


  1. Great advice. Thanks, Laura.

    <>< Katie

  2. Does that meaning of Christmas thing I wrote that my dad sent in to the local paper when I was 10 or so count?

    1. Sure, if it was published, include it in your total count. If it's your only writing credit, I don't think I'd mention it specifically in a query letter.

  3. Thanks so much for this great advice Laura. I saw you over on Faith Filled Friday linky. I am so glad I come over for a visit. Nice site you have here. Visit me anytime at

    1. You're welcome. Thanks for stopping by for a visit. You have a nice website. I enjoyed reading through it.

  4. Thank you for sharing your advice Laura, I really appreciate it. Very timely and part of an answer to prayer - God is good :)

  5. Awesome material here! When I first started writing my books, I was getting contracts for 4 at a time and it ate up all my time. I decided one year to focus on magazines for my vitae and made a goal of 12. Not many, but I met it and it gives me a more rounded look.