Jumping right into publishing can be really intimidating. I still remember when I got the acceptance email for my first book in the Fall of 2015; I was totally ecstatic, but also terrified. Where was I supposed to start? Besides being an author, what did being published mean? Was I doing the right thing?
When I was younger, I had a lot of help from teachers, family, and friends as I developed my writing process, but I didn’t have any mentors that explained the publishing process. As a result, I’m not super proud of my first moves as a published author. It wasn’t until college that I started to realize just how broad and layered the publishing industry really is. From social media to self-publishing, literary magazines to traditional publishing houses, and so much more, the publishing industry proved to be a much more complex system than I had initially anticipated. Luckily, with the help from some college courses and really amazing professors, I was able to begin refining my writing and publishing journey. So, I’m hoping to share some advice with you so you can avoid some of the mistakes I made.
#1 Start expanding your online reputation.
No matter if what kind of publishing you’re planning to do, having a social media presence can have a lot of benefits on your reputation. First and foremost, it provides an opportunity to create a community of potential readers and supporters. Also, by beginning to market yourself and/or your work, you appear responsible, disciplined, and professional to other literary magazines and publishing houses. As I’ve witnessed and learned, having a social media presence informs publishers that you are dedicated to success, which means profit for you and for them.
#2 Subscribe to some literary magazines (especially ones you enjoy!)
Not only will these subscriptions give you new material to soak up and read, but it’ll also give you some examples of what these magazines are looking for when their publishing new issues. Additionally, these magazines will also recognize their subscribers when they apply for a job or submit something to them for publication. This may not guarantee you a job or publication, but it can help your chances and will assist in building that writer network.
#3 Research alternative and online publication opportunities.
Learning about the publishing industry comes with time for sure, but it also comes with research. As I’ve mentioned, there are a ton of websites and communities that are hubs for calls for submissions, new opportunities with publication houses, and inquiries from other writers that are looking for a writing community. By gaining an awareness and entering into new communities, you’ll have access to tons of resources! I’ve included links to some great websites below.
#4 Consider making a Submittable account.
One of the options listed above, Submittable, has been a life changer for me! After signing up for a free account, you can discover new publishing opportunities, writing contests, and more. Once you find a magazine or journal that you’re interested in, you can submit your work per their requirements. Once you submit your work, you can track your progress as it moves through review with the magazine/journal.
While not all literary journals and magazines are present on Submittable, there is still a significant pool of great magazines/journals. If you’re looking just to build your reputation and your publication experience, Submittable is a great place to start!
I have a lot more I could say on my experience submitting to small literary presses, but that will be for another post…
Have more ideas and advice? Comment below!