Once you begin writing, it is natural to seek publication for your work. In fact, some professional writers such as Norman Mailer and many others have claimed that it is a rite of passage to seek publication. These individuals and many others see publication as a stamp of approval for doing all of the work required to create a good story, and often see no other reason for writing.

The problem for most new writers is that established writers will usually get first chance at available slots in publications and first attention from book editors. This leaves the newcomer standing with manuscript in hand wondering how to get published.

What can a newcomer do? Well, many writing teachers and workshops emphasize the importance of starting small. Write a few short stories or poems first and submit them to various online or print publications. By slowing gaining a small number of publication credits, a new writer can establish a reputation and name, which will later be useful when submitting manuscripts to larger markets.

Online publications are especially useful. There are many new ezines that appear every year and most are eager for writers. Ezines in general don’t pay very well, with very few exceptions. Most of the smaller publications will offer some kind of honorarium that may ranged from one to several dollars. The ezines that are exceptions will pay handsomely, but stories submitted to those markets face much steeper competition.

Sometimes it is better for newer writers to stick with the smaller markets until they have a firm grasp on the craft of writing and have built up a small portfolio of publication credits. At the higher paying publications it is common for the editors to have several thousand submissions a month to sort through. Of those, the editors are only able to buy three or four fiction submissions per month.

One of the biggest rules of how to get published is to think small. Even if you want to start out writing novels, there are small novel markets to start in. The age of POD publishing has spawned many new book publishers and while it is true that a writer can self-publish, many would argue it is better to be published by even the smallest house than to publish your own book.

There are several reasons why. First, even the smallest house will put some effort into marketing, which gives the writer an extra set or two of eyes and ears to help sell the published book. Second, some of the more established publishing houses seem to frown upon authors who have previously self-published.

The decision to self-publish or not is one that each individual author has to make on the road to publication.

The only other hard and fast rule of how to get published is to start somewhere and be persistent. There are many would-be writers who begin writing expecting every editor to immediately purchase everything they write. Many of these writers wind up disillusioned after only a few submissions because breaking into print is harder than they thought. Writers who give up too early doom themselves to never being published. For most writers, it is only through perseverance that they are published in the first place. The great writer of Westerns Louis L’Amore tried several hundred submissions and rejections before his first acceptance. Stephen King has reported a nearly similar experience saying that he had collected a thick stack of rejection slips before his first break. If either of these men had given up because of a few rejection slips, neither would have gone on to successful careers.

To recap, the three most important pieces of advice for how to get published are:
1. Submit your manuscript.
2. Don’t be afraid to submit to small markets first.
3. If you get a rejection slip, submit the manuscript somewhere else.
4. Keep submitting manuscripts until you succeed. The old advice that winners never quit and quitters never win applies especially to writing.

~Hilvetika