How to Publish: Build Your Portfolio

If you’re already blogging and working on a newsletter to send out, you’re also going to need a collection of published material to show potential publishers. There are a few investments you can make to speed yourself along with this.

Knowing the Magazine Market

First of all you should consult a recent version of the Writer’s Market Guide. This doesn’t mean you need to pick up the latest edition, though that will surely be the most helpful. You should consider picking up last year’s edition if you’re looking to save a buck or two. These guides will provide you with a great reference to magazines and journals who may accept your work. They’ll tell you who accepts unsolicited manuscripts, who pays the most, and how to submit your manuscript. They also provide articles and sample query letters to speed you along.

This is all essential information that will help set you part from the pack of writers scampering to get their works published. Remember, if you’re trying to break in that plenty of experienced writers are submitting work to these editors and so enjoy an advantage. Your best asset to stick to the rule as precisely as possible. This means ordering a trial issue of the magazine, reviewing the guidelines carefully, and making the editor’s job as easy as possible.

Press Releases

Of course it’s rather tough to start out with submitting articles to a national magazine. A better bet may be submitting articles to local newspapers. Find the smaller paper in your town that may need some freelancers and offer your services. It couldn’t hurt. However, another way to slice this is to offer a nonprofit organization with their press releases.

I did this with a local church and ended up writing a pretty significant feature for the local paper. The church paid me a nominal fee and the community noticed that this church had a lot going on, which turned out to be a real win-win for both of us. I have a long list of releases I wrote this church and now can offer these as writing samples that have been published, even if many of them did not have my name hanging on a “by” line.

Publishing Online

And if either of these sounds a little too intimidating, remember that you’re working on blogging or at least networking a little online. Search for some online magazines that you may find interesting. These sites rarely pay their writers, but their guidelines are a bit more flexible since the online format is very forgiving to wordy writers. Expect rejections here all the same, but be sure to keep plugging away, as publishing online is a great way to gain some exposure for yourself and to give publishers a simple way to access your writing. 

Dealing with Rejection

The down side of writing articles is the roller coaster of acceptance and rejection letters. The rejections may come fast and furious at first, but remember that even the best writers have to deal with rejections from time to time. There are far too many writers competing for the same spots. There is a lot you can do to increase the odds of getting published, but rejection is something you always have to deal with, so steel yourself for it.

The up side is your collection of published work will give you valuable experience, look great on your future book proposal, and contribute to building your platform of readers. If they recognize your name in the book store after reading a great article you’ve published pro bono online, they may be more inclined to pick up a copy of your work.

Coming Up: How to publish an e-mail newsletter at no cost whatsoever.

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