4 ways to increase your chances of getting published

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AT TIMES, trying to get work published can seem overwhelming. Other times it can seem easy. And still at other times it can seem totally disheartening.

The biggest problem writers face when trying to get published is getting emotional about the whole process, being reactive instead of proactive.

Beginners often send out a single piece of work at a time to a single publication or blog. This may be a story they feel is their very best, and so if it gets rejected, they often take that as a rejection of themselves, their talent, vision, or style, when this is almost never the case.

To prevent getting emotional about publishing and to best optimize your time, we recommend the following 4 ways to increase your chances of publishing.

1. Develop a “publication mindset.”

A publication mindset is an attitude: you’re proactive in the publication process rather than reactive, able to put yourself in the place of an editor reviewing your work.

Having work rejected is never fun, however, once you get into a publication mindset you see that rejections are just part of the game, and as soon as it happens, you’re ready to send out the story to 5 new markets, or you have 5 new stories ready to go.

Getting into a publication mindset is a single strategy that involves the following elements:

*Visualizing what the editor will think when he / she receives your submission – Put yourself in the editors’ place. Even if you think your story is the a perfect fit, do you think they’re going to take it seriously if you don’t present in a professional, thoughtful way – a way that shows you’ve read their publication and submission guidelines?

*Ability to deal with rejection – The best way to deal with rejection is to submit stories and pitches on an ongoing basis. That way, whether a piece is rejected or accepted, you’re automatically sending a thank you note, then you’re moving on, ready to resubmit to a different publication or to send a new story.

*Learning from each rejection - Another way of dealing with rejection is to look at each one as part of the learning process. You don’t need to dwell on it, but simply ask yourself: Was the story really an ideal fit for the publication? Was the story as good as it could be or could you have done further edits?
Was your pitch / cover letter as good as it could have been?

*Continuously researching new and relevant markets – The most obvious way is to search the links page at your favorite blog or magazine. Another way is to study the bios of the contributors at blogs and magazines where you’re submitting. What other publications do they mention?

Always bookmark new blogs or magazines you find that seem like potential markets for submitting. Another trick is to to email the urls of the publication to yourself, labeling those emails consistently or giving a consistent subject to the emails such as “travel writing markets.”

*Ability to stay organized so that you are continuously submitting pitches and multiple submissions – Previously we’ve written about using a submissions log or a submission manager, basically a simple spreadsheet that allows you to quickly view and organize potential markets, contacts, and submissions.

*Understanding the hierarchy of getting published at different websites, magazines, and newspapers, and honestly assessing your position – The more you get published and the greater the readership of each blog, magazine, or newspaper that publishes your work, the higher up you move on the hierarchy, and the easier it will be for you to publish or “place” work at bigger and better-paying markets.

2. Always present yourself in a professional way.

All too often, travel writers tend to view and / or judge other writers or editors via their work, looking at them as “the competition,” getting emotional and egotistical, or defensive around them. Always remember that there’s a difference between a writer and his or her work. Consider writers and editors your colleagues. Your only real competition should be with yourself, to write better and to publish more.

The following are several key places for you to show your professionalism. In general, take up as little of the editor’s time as possible when dealing with:

* Pitch / query
* Follow up
* Thank you letter
* General communication
* Invoicing

For examples of what NOT to tell an editor, please check 3 More things Never to Tell an Editor.

3. Become a social media ninja.

Social Media is broad concept with many different elements and definitions, but at its core is the idea of using internet technology to facilitate connection, communication, and user-generated content. While each social media platform is slightly different, the end goal of all social media is to connect you and your writing to other people, and to invite them to connect with you.

The more time you spend on Twitter, Facebook, StumbleUpon and other social media applications, the more you’ll see how writers utilize them to network with one another, share leads and opportunities, and in general, develop online communities that simply aren’t available to those not there participating.

4. Dedicate time to your blog.

Simply put, writers who blog well and often are more accessible, relevant, and interesting than writers who don’t. Two examples who come to mind immediately are Sherman Alexie and Susan Orlean.

For new writers pitching Matador, the first thing we look for is their blog, the kind of writing they have there, and their following. If you don’t have a blog, get one now, for free at WordPress or Blogger and get your thoughts and links out there. It will expand your internet visibility and chances of getting published.

*MatadorU’s curriculum goes beyond the typical travel writing class to help you progress in every aspect of your career as a travel journalist.

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  • http://musictravelwrite.wordpress.com Michelle

    Great tips, as usual! The amount of organizational skills someone has to possess to be a freelancer (writing, music, art, anything) is phenomenal.

  • http://matadorabroad.com Tim Patterson

    More organization, less ego.

  • http://exilelifestyle.com Colin Wright

    Great tips! I’ll be submitting some writings all over the place (and especially here) once I leave the country, so I’ll be taking this advice to heart.

  • http://www.tvrotsyourmindgrapes.com/ Marissa

    I’m starting to take my “fun” writing a little more seriously and this is all great advice. I was particularly fearful of rejection which was a big factor in me not submitting anything until just recently but then I realized that nothing will get published if I don’t submit anything. Logical concept there, I know.
    Thanks again for the tips!

    • http://matadorabroad.com Tim Patterson

      Yeah, getting over rejection is a big step.

  • Alan

    Very nice article. Speaking of blogs, I’ve completely neglected mine, haha!

  • http://www.alittleadrift.com Shannon OD

    Great tips and it’s getting me motivated to actually think about going down this road. For the past bit of time I have just been working on building a base of blog readers – now though it’s time to think about publishing content! Thanks for the advice!

    • http://matadortravel.com/travel-community/david-miller David Miller

      Glad to hear you’re getting motivated Shannon. That’s what’s up.

  • http://thelonglayover.blogspot.com Carlo

    Thanks David. More incentive to get my a$$ in gear and get that website built! Superb tips.

    • http://matadortravel.com/travel-community/david-miller David Miller

      word up Carlo. funny, after writing this i went back and started really looking at my blog. thinking about a total revamp / new direction.

  • http://Travel-Writers-Exchange.com Travel-Writers-Exchange.com

    This was a great article. Thanks for the reminders, especially the one about being “proactive” instead of being “reactive.” Writers often take rejection hard. Come to think of it, most people take rejection very hard because they feel they are being rejected.

    If writers view rejection from a writing perspective it would make things easier…You are not being rejected, your writing is. It’s a great time to step back and put yourself in the editor’s shoes. You can improve your writing and submit to the publisher. Who knows, your writing may be accepted the second or third time!

  • http://matadortravel.com/travel-community/simonemarie Simone Marie

    Thanks for the article. It’s really thorough and spot on. I spend a good deal of time submitting work, but this piece truly motivated me to get a blog going! Does anyone feel that WordPress or Blogger is better? Curious about people’s experiences. Also, do you think editors prefer to see blogs over personal websites, or vice versa?

    • http://collazoprojects.com Julie

      Simone- I think WordPress is best– allows you lots of different template and plug in options, and there are plenty of people here on Matador who can provide tech support if you need it!

  • Tori

    Great article.

    So I have to get a blog…

    I feel like the decision of who to blog with is a BIG decision, like Simone asks, any advice on which free blog sites are better?

    • http://matadortravel.com/travel-community/david-miller David Miller

      Thanks Tori. The question of which blog to utilize is definitely important and not necessarily easy to answer.

      WordPress is by far the most versatile and powerful when it comes to SEO. But for people without a lot of tech savvy but who, say, have a certain artistic vision for what they want their blogs to look like, Blogger might be a better choice. With WordPress you have to choose only one of a number of themes, whereas in Blogger you can move elements of your blog around in different ways and can look at them in a preview screen before making final changes. It’s a great setup for people who want to ‘play’ with how their blog looks / works.

      Then there are newer blogging systems such as Posterous and Tumblr. These systems have streamlined everything into one super tight system so that you can literally post your blog in seconds. Tumblr, in particular has really (in my opinon) sweet designs as well. They just look cool.

      The disadvantages with Tumblr and Posterous is that they’re not set up to have multiple pages, just a single blog homepage with archives, and because of certain elements of the info you can add to posts in the backend, they’re not necessarily as powerful when it comes to SEO.

      The bottom line for me anyway, as a writer and an editor, is that the best blog for you is the blog that facilitates you writing and adding to it as much as possible. You need to like the way it looks and works, otherwise you’re probably not going to be using it for long.

  • http://therangelife.wordpress.com Christina Koukkos

    David –

    Yet another fantastic set of reminders and tips! Your articles are some of the most straightforward, practical and useful advice for aspiring writers that I’ve come across.

    For me, at first it was the fear of rejection that kept me sitting in my cube and my writing sitting on my home computer. I overcame that fear – though the rejection still smarts! – only to find a new one. I call it the paralysis of professionalism. I’m so neurotic about writing the most eloquent, well researched, concise, perfect pitch that I constantly second-guess myself. A single idea can swerve between, say, a 2000-word narrative essay for Newspaper X and a 100-word FOB service piece for Magazine Y. All this means that I can rarely actually finish a pitch. Talk about a barrier to getting published!

    Does anyone else have this problem? Any tips for molding a pitch into an idea without driving myself crazy?

  • Ahmed Eid

    Thanks David for this amazing tips , which answer a lot for me :)