The First Steps to Publishing: A Complete Breakdown of Looking for the Most Eligible Bachelor(ette)
By Meagan Jones
The “Writer’s Workshop” blog posts are meant to be a collage of writer’s tips, tricks, and strategies, including the first steps to publishing, writing prompts, strategies for writer’s block, and a general jumble of ideas to help you in your quest to create and publish.
“So you want to publish,” the old woman’s gnarled hand beckons you forward. Her long nose is speckled with dark spots, and one of her olive green eyes drifts lazily to the left. Her silver hair is knotted into a bun, held together with pencils (as a true artist’s should). She sits on a rocking chair, covered in quilted blankets, directly in front of a crackling fire. It is boiling in there, yet you walk forward.
“Yes,” you say, and the old woman nods.
“Good,” she says, “Now throw your work into the fire.”
The first step to any part of publishing is – wait for it – having the courage to do so. It’s great; you’ve finally managed to complete a draft of that story that’s always been bobbing around in your head, and you’re thinking it’s about time to send it out. There are plenty of eligible bachelor(ette) literary (and art) magazines out there, and at least one of them must want to accept your work.
But how do you start looking for the best ones to submit to? And yes – unless one of the magazine’s requirements is that you must only submit to them, and only them, you should be looking through several websites to find the perfect matches (for a good list of literary magazines and publishers, I would personally recommend the website Poets and Writers <pw.org>, which has a large database of possible magazines). Looking down the list of eligible websites, a few may catch your eye.
Here is the best advice I can give you:
If you’re interested in the magazine, submit to them.
If you are not interested in a publication, if it doesn’t catch your eye, if you look through the type of work they publish and it doesn’t sound like your story/poem/art, this magazine is not for you. I cannot stress that enough. I’m not trying to discourage you from submitting to the magazine. But if you don’t like the content, then chances are, you just won’t feel that same twinge of satisfaction when your work is published. It could also mean that your specific work might not be the right fit for the magazine itself. Do right by your story, poem, or artwork and give it the home it deserves.
Once you become interested in a magazine or publisher, read.
Read, read, read.
I know, I know. You’re not here to read. You’re here because you want to publish. But remember: this is your bachelor(ette). You want to know as much about them as you can. An editor’s biggest pet peeve is when a submitter sends an email with the title “Dear Mrs. Carter,” when there hasn’t been a “Mrs. Carter” on staff in four years.
In essence, make sure you know everything about the publication. It will really help, I assure you. Knowing the most about your magazines will let you know whether or not your work will be the right fit, according to what the editors have published already.
Ultimately, though, whether or not you decide to submit to a particular publication depends on what you want to submit. Choose a magazine or journal that best fits the aesthetic of your work. If a journal mostly publishes long, flowing poems, then it might not publish your fast-paced flash fiction. Think about your piece and what it wants. You don’t want it to feel out of place with its Bachelor(ette) after all.
(I say as we shamelessly hope that we are the perfect one for you)