by Ellen Buikema
There is nothing quite like the joy of seeing your words in print. Getting your poetry and short stories published takes effort and persistence. But if you take the right approach with the composition and submissions process, you’ll have a better chance of finding a home for your poetry and prose.
But first …
Before you send your work out into the world of editors and publishers, workshop or share your writing for feedback. We all need suggestions for improvement. You don’t need to agree with everyone, just listen and decide what feels right to you.
A finely crafted piece has the best chance for publication.
Reach out to fellow writer friends or acquaintances and ask for their feedback. Remember to return the favor with an offer to critique their writing.
Writers meet at a variety of places:
Check online groups via Google searches and Social Media sites. I’ve had good luck with Facebook writers’ groups as well as MeetUp.
When I moved to a new town and couldn’t find a local writers’ group, I joined the local Arts Guild and started a critique group.
Just like Field of Dreams, “If you build it, they will come.”
“If you don't have time to read, you don't have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.”
― Stephen King
If you’d like to be published in literary magazines, you should read literary magazines. Look for online and print magazines with a strong focus on your area of interest.
Reading these publications will help you have a better idea of the kinds and styles of poetry and prose that editors are looking for and being published in different markets now. You can use your research to find niche markets your poetry fits best.
Buying and reading literary magazines helps support and keep these publications running. Also, the fewer places there are for you to submit, the fewer chances you have of getting your poetry published.
Reading a variety of poetry and short story publications will help you begin the research side of the submissions process.
Think about the publications you’ve read where you can picture your work fitting in perfectly.
If you write using a specific genre or poetry style, submit to publications that cater to your niche. You’re more likely to be accepted in these magazines than if you choose places that publish a broader range of works.
This advice also applies to calls for themed submissions. In this case a magazine produces an issue in which all pieces focus on a certain topic, word or theme. Writers have an opportunity to submit works that fit the theme.
Poetry anthologies—collections of poems from different writers, often published by small presses—are largely based around themes. Search for anthology calls for submissions too.
Check the guidelines.
Format as requested.
Proofread and then proofread again.
Be at peace with rejection.
Magazines send out calls for themed writing. Look here to find announcements:
Be careful when publishing work on a personal blog, discussion forum or other online publications.
Magazines generally only accept submissions that have not been previously published, and count blogs or other websites as publications.
If you post to a website that invites you to publish your writing for feedback, you may risk the work being considered previously published—therefore unacceptable.
Have you published your writing in a magazine or journal? What advice do you have for writers who want to get their work out into the world?
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Author, speaker, and former teacher, Ellen L. Buikema has written non-fiction for parents, and The Adventures of Charlie Chameleon chapter book series with stories encouraging the development of empathy—sprinkling humor wherever possible. Her Works In Progress are The Hobo Code, YA historical fiction and Crystal Memories, MG Magical Realism/ Sci-Fi.
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