If you’re serious about making writing your career, knowing how to get published in a magazine is key to building a solid portfolio so that you can land quality writing gigs or a high-paying writing job. If your end goal is to eventually write books, having published work in magazines can also reveal a level of sincerity to literary agents that otherwise wouldn’t.
Why You Should Submit to Magazines
Getting published in a magazine will not only boost your confidence as a writer as you work toward your long-term writing goals, but it will also build your online presence as a writer and author. Here are just a few reasons you should pursue getting published in a magazine.
It Builds Your Online Presence
Building your audience as a writer doesn’t happen overnight. Even with a bestselling book, there’s often a great deal of marketing and press that happens before an audience is built and a book even gets close to the bestseller list. Not every publishing company will have the funding to push your book as hard as larger houses, so it’s best to play it safe and start marketing yourself as a writer or an author as soon as possible. Publishing short pieces in magazines will not only get your name floating across the internet, but it will hopefully encourage readers to find you on social media so you can market to them further later on.
Published Work Leads to Writing Jobs
If you’re looking to work for a publication in the future, or you’d like to write for a company, your college essays won’t work as writing samples. However, getting published in a magazine adds credibility to you as a writer. A published article means you are talented and professional enough to make it past at least one editor, which instills confidence in employers that you can handle a writing position. Additionally, published pieces also indicate a level of passion and seriousness that unpublished work just can’t match because it takes time, editing, and research to get published.
It Makes Your Query Letter Stand Out
While it’s not impossible to get a book published without having previously published work, it most certainly helps add credibility to your query letter. When submitting your book idea to a literary agent, you’ll need to attach a query letter that provides a bit of information about you, and a summary of your book. You’ll also send something similar to magazine publications during the submission process. Agents and editors certainly take experience into account when considering pieces to publish, and that experience paired with the level of writing you’ve attached will certainly work hand-in-hand when they are deciding to publish your writing.
Getting Published in a Magazine Boosts Confidence
Getting published in magazines will boost your confidence as a writer. Let’s be real. Getting a book published is a long, arduous process. Not only does it take months and sometimes years to write a novel or a book, but landing an agent for it can take just as long. Even if you’ve landed an agent, you still have to wait until they’re able to find the right publisher for it. And, even after all that waiting, you still have to wait at least a year to two years before your book will finally hit the shelves. It’s extremely discouraging to receive rejection letters for your book, and it can feel impossible to get your book published when the end of the tunnel is so far off.
Getting shorter pieces published periodically as you work on longer projects will help keep you motivated and encouraged as a writer. Plus, you’ll most likely make some great contacts by interacting with editors, and potentially other writers who have been published in the same magazine. You’ll also most certainly learn a thing or two about editing your work based on the feedback you receive from magazine editors, which will only reflect positively on your other writing projects.
Getting published in a magazine will help solidify that you’re heading in the right direction with a career in writing. It will give you a sense of dignity and pride in your work, pushing you to get better and keep writing. Not only that, but it will give you evidence that you are who you say you are, a writer inside and out.
Publication in a Magazine Makes You a Better Writer
The submission and publishing process for magazines will help get you acclimated to the process as you prepare to dive into the book publishing world. It will teach you how to handle the submission process, query letters, and how to take rejection letters in stride. You’ll learn how to professionally communicate with editors, how to receive feedback, and how to translate an editor’s feedback into your writing so that it improves it overall. Every editor is different. Some editors are gentle and encouraging with their feedback, while others are more stern and blunt. You’ll learn how to not take feedback personally, and how to have a successful, professional relationship with both easygoing and difficult editors alike.
Steps to Getting Published in a Magazine
Submitting your writing to a literary magazine or any other kind of magazine isn’t as hard as it might seem. In fact, only a few simple steps stand between you and magazine publication, and the hardest one is writing the content. Check out the steps below.
- Write a Solid Article: You don’t necessarily have to have a finished article before choosing the magazine you want to submit to. It’s sometimes good to have an idea of the publications you’d like to be published in beforehand so that you know what they prefer to publish. Once you have an idea of what kind of essay or article you want to write, you’ll need to get it on paper and make sure you polish it up as much as possible. Write something you have adequate knowledge about rather than something you simply researched and regurgitated. Have a writer friend review the essay or article for you and provide feedback. Revise the piece until it’s as polished as possible.
- Find the right fit for your essay or article: When you’re ready to submit your finished article, don’t just submit it to every magazine possible. Do some research to find the best possible fit for your piece of writing. For example, if you’ve written a flash nonfiction piece, you should research literary magazines that frequently publish that kind of content. Spend some time reading their content to ensure your essay makes sense. No one likes a rejection letter, so don’t increase your odds of getting rejected by submitting to places that would never be interested in your essay or article.
- Find the submission guidelines and follow them precisely: If a publication is accepting submissions from the public, you’ll usually find a submissions page in the footer of their website or the main navigation. If you can’t find the submission page in the navigation or footer, try typing the name of the publication in Google along with the word “submission.” Don’t submit to magazines if they aren’t open for submissions. This will only annoy editors and possibly ruin your chances with them in the future. Once you find the submissions page, you should see information about that magazine’s submission guidelines. These guidelines will usually tell you what kind of content they are currently looking for, as well as the formatting instructions. Be sure to read and reread the instructions carefully, and follow the guidelines exactly. Failure to follow the submission guidelines could automatically withdraw your chances of acceptance. Plus, it’s annoying. Whether the magazine is asking for a specific email subject line, or that you send your document in a particular file format, do exactly that and you should be fine.
- Write a mini query letter: If you’re not familiar with query letters, this is a brief message that you’ll send along with your essay or article. Unlike book query letters, which tend to be on the longer, more detailed side, magazine query letters are a bit different. First, keep your query letter formal and brief. You’ll most likely be sending your letter as an email with your article as an attachment, so it should be short enough that your reader won’t have to scroll to finish reading it. You should say hello and use the name of one of the editors if you know it. You can find a list of staff for the magazine on the About page on most magazine websites. Next, briefly let the editor know what kind of content you’re submitting, and include a 150-word bio of yourself as a writer. It’s also a good idea to mention at least one article you’ve read from the magazine and explain why you feel your piece would make a good fit for publication as well. You won’t need to add a synopsis of your short story, essay, or article. It’s already short, so they won’t have any trouble breezing through and figuring it out on their own.
- Use writing submission websites: There are tons of writing submission websites out there that list all the open calls for submissions from publications all over the world. If you’re not the kind of person who reads a lot of magazines, or who enjoys doing a lot of research online, it might be easier to hop on one of these websites to find open calls for submissions.
- Submittable: This is one of the best places to seek out open calls for submissions as well as writing contests. Using this platform is free. You can create an account, fill out your profile, and then search for open submissions after that. You can submit through this platform and track your submissions as well.
- Poets & Writers: This is a great website to not only read about writing and read other people’s writing but also to submit your work. Here you can find information on literary agents, writing workshops, groups, and so much more. Not only will you discover open calls for submissions, but you can also find open writing contests that often come with cash prizes for winners.
- New Pages: This website looks very similar to traditional classifieds and provides an ongoing list of calls for submissions, information on literary events and writing workshops, and has an extensive list of literary magazines.
If you’re interested in getting published sooner rather than later, consider submitting to magazines. Getting published will not only boost your confidence as a writer, but it will also help you build your writing portfolio and online presence. Good luck out there!
Mel Beasley has a bachelor’s in creative writing and journalism from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. He brings 9+ years of digital marketing and writing experience to the table by writing for publications such as Lumina News and Encore Magazine. He spent 2 years as a college-level writing tutor, and is a certified writing tutor through the CRLA, which is a prestigious cert recognized by the Association for the Coaching & Tutoring Profession. He is a professional SEO blogger with experience writing for brands such as Boardworks Education and The Greater Wilmington Business Journal. One of his latest website and marketing projects has been building the website for the now New York Times Bestselling author, Nina de Gramont.