How to Find Publication Success
Updated: Dec 26, 2022
Don't take the tough road. Here are my 3 Tips to help you succeed.
An empty email box is worse than a rejection slip. Does that give you a hint how long I have been sending editors my pitches? Now the rejections are silent, as in, no response, but it happens, and you know this.
But when you hit gold and an editor selects your piece, you feel like this is it. I am on my way.
I wrote a Valentine's Day piece for the San Jose Mercury News over 20 years ago. It took a master's degree in English and Creative Writing for me to give pitching a second chance. I am not an expert at pitching topical articles, and I am not perfect at writing them. But I know I am great at delivering advice and giving readers information they want and need.
I am by no means a publishing queen, but I have learned a thing or two to get my work in print. It may have taken me decades, but lesson learned. I hope you find my advice encouraging and motivational.
Tip #1 - Read What You Write.
This may seem like a no brainer, but there are writers who submit to a literary journal, magazine or publisher for their debut dream novel and do not research what type of work the editors are seeking. Now, it is second nature for me to look up the journal or magazine and read a few of their pieces to see if what I want to write for them will work and will not be turned down. The bonus: these publications almost always showcase an article or two of the type of stories or pieces they are looking for.
I subscribe to Freedom with Writing. They send me listings every week on who is accepting submissions for magazines and websites. This week I found one I want to write for:
"Viator,s looking for Lunar New Year pitches--personal essays with a travel hook. They pay $250. Pitch by the first week of January. Details in the Twitter thread here."
“Publishing is a business. Writing may be art, but publishing, when all is said and done, comes down to dollars.” -Nicholas Sparks
Tip #2 - Find Your Niche or Your Trending Story
Are you an expert in the healthcare industry? Does your personal experience allow you to share your knowledge and advice? Have you been into makeup, and fashion since your teens? Maybe you are obsessed with music and want to share everything you have learned and discovered about musicians or their music?
What do you know inside and out that you would love to share?
What can you research and discover and share your findings with others?
Those are called niches and can be almost anything, but if you want to get your writing published the best advice is to find a niche that interests you and everyone else. Health and wellness or lifestyle tips and tricks are platforms that will never go out of style.
On that note, they published for a high school love story, a tribute to Martin Luther King, Jr. and marginalized women along with a piece about how growing up on an Indian reservation shaped who I am today. You can read my LMU My Take article, Tar on the Wall here.
“Nothing stinks like a pile of unpublished writing.” -Sylvia Plath
Tip #3 - Network
Getting published in your local university school newspaper seems easy, but not when there are editors and journalists trying like you, to get noticed. My MLK piece worked because I tied women of color who migrated to Hawaii and now called it home to MLK's "I Have a Dream" speech. They offered me a position with the paper but found school too grueling to write for the paper 'for free' at the same time. However, knowing the editor and their style of articles, I pitched my piece, sent it in and with revisions it was accepted and published during Black History Month.
My LMU article came by chance. I knew a fellow writer who I volunteered with at USC's Book Festival the previous year. The same process took place. I pitched a few ideas, and they liked the idea about my childhood friend and home and how their influence directed my path as a writer.
Find a book club of like-minded readers to shape your writing.
Network at work or socialize with other writers who are doing what you want to do.
Find the writers you adore and follow their social media channels. Just when you think no one is paying attention it will be a huge surprise when someone responds to your DM.
“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” –Maya Angelou
Find Your IN Anywhere You Can
My publications came by reaching out to those I know for advice and tips to get published.
A year later I have two publications and a book on my publication resume. You have to use the resources you have until you can build a network of associates who will bring the work to you.
Now I have the courage to pitch bigger pubs than I would have if I had not been published this year. So, keep reading, and read more if you can. Write what you love, and want to share with others, and most importantly, network and open your writing to the world.
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Merry Christmas everyone. Be Blessed.