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4 Ways to Increase Your Chances of Getting Published

by David Miller Aug 15, 2009
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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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