Three Things Aspiring Writers Need to Know about Getting Published
Getting published is the goal of nearly every writer. Whether you’re an aspiring novelist, a frustrated freelancer or a poet-in-waiting, you want to see your work in print (or on a popular website) so that it can be seen by as many readers as possible. Maybe you’d like to make a few bucks off your writing as well.
In order to reach this goal, there are a few things you need to understand. I’m going to tell you the three that I think are most important.
First, write often. Daily if you can. Doesn’t matter what you write or whether it’s ever seen by another living soul. Write something. Set up a blog, write on Medium, or just save your stuff on your computer. Or a journal. Just write.
Writing daily is the best way to hone your wordsmithing skills. You’ll become a better writer, and the development of a writing habit will serve you well when you have that blockbuster novel idea, or the next article subject that you want to pitch to Reader’s Digest. And you never know, the silly things you write about today, just to keep in the habit, might be the seed of an article or book tomorrow.
Good writers are also incessant readers. Read the kinds of books and articles you want to write. If poetry is your thing, read the classics as well as some works by today’s poets.
If you don’t feel you have time for a lot of reading, check out some audio books. You can purchase books through Audible or Amazon, but you can also download an app like Libby and use your library card to borrow audio books.
Listen while cleaning house. Listen on the way to work. Listen while doing yard work. Listen in the shower. You’ll gain just about as much insight from listening as you would from using an actual printed book, but it’s easier for those of us with busy lifestyles.
Your reading will help you better understand things like point of view, voice and tense. You’ll know what has worked for other authors and might work for you. It will make you a better writer and one more likely to land the attention of an editor.
Know the Rules
Some of your reading should be books about writing. There are certain rules, some written, some unwritten, about writing for publication. Know what is expected of you when you query a publication about an article idea. Know how to determine when and how to pursue an agent and when to reach out to book publishers directly.
Learn about style guides and writer’s guidelines. Read books, poems and articles previously published by the market you wish to write for. If it’s a periodical, review at least one or two recent issues before making a pitch. Perhaps most importantly of all, learn how to write a good query letter.
Here’s one extra tip: Don’t be afraid to experiment. Once you know the rules and understand the reasons for them, take charge of your writing career and make your own decisions about when breaking the “rules” is appropriate. Some of the best novels, short stories, poems and articles were born out of a writer breaking out of the accepted mold.