Publishing Your Work
Once you've worked through all the steps in the writing process, you might want to consider publishing your work. After all, we read essays, stories, and poems because we want to share human experience and learn more about the world. Publishing our work allows us to be part of this community of readers and writers.
The following suggestions for publishing your work are taken directly from Toby Fulwiler's The Working Writer:
1. Publish it for your instructor, which you do, in fact, very time you hand in a final draft or submit a writing portfolio for review. Prepare your manuscript exactly as directed (see Guidelines for Creating Final Portfolio), keeping in mind that it stands for you and will speak for you. If your writing is included in a portfolio, arrange the writing carefully and include everything your instructor asked for in the best final form possible.
2. Publish it for your classmates in a student-edited anthology for the whole class to read at the end of the term. With your instructor's permission or help, ask classmates to each submit a best piece. Then get help with editing and designing a cover; and distribute your class anthology the last week of class.
3. Publish your more interesting papers in the school newspaper, literary review, or English Department magazine to share your writing with a broader community than even your writing class. Whichever publication you submit to, study it carefully to see what kinds of papers it publishes, on what topics, and in what forms or genres. Notice the format it asks for and the deadlines it requires.
4. Publish your writing for our family. Papers written about personal experience are especially appropriate to share with your parents, grandparents, brothers, and sisters. Consider presenting your story in a nicely bound edition to your family as a holiday or birthday gift. In addition, many families have a relative who collects family memorabilia and stories--perhaps your writing could be included in this collection.
5. Publish selected pieces in local newspapers, especially if you have written research essays about local subjects or profiles of local people. Select those publications that seem to publish works similar to yours. Before mailing your manuscript, send a letter of inquiry, called a query letter, to the editor and ask about his or her interest in your topic. This will save you both some time: if the editor wants to see your piece, it will now be expected rather than arriving uninvited; the editor won't have to read a piece he or she has no interest in, and you won't have to write an article that has no chance of being published.
6. Think about sending your writing out into the larger world, to journals, magazines, and small presses that publish work of like subject or form t your own. Consult Writer's Marketplace or The International Directory of Little Magazines and Small Presses or ask your reference librarian for other listings. Again, match your subject, topic, and genre to the publication, and pay close attention to instructions for submitting manuscripts (usually found in the front of the publication).
You can submit your writing to the Effective Writing Resource Page for possible publication through e-mail. For each submission, include your name, address, phone number, and e-mail address. If your piece is chosen for on-line publication, you will be contacted and asked to resubmit the work on disk. Send submissions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Visit these sites for more information about publishing your writing:
Guidelines for Submitting Your Writing
If you would like to submit your writing (essays, short stories, or poems), consider these tips before you begin the process.
1. Research the market. Find places to submit your work in publications like Writer's Market, Short Story Writer's Market, Poet's Market, Poets and Writers, and Writer's Chronicle. Not only will they tell you where to send your work, they will also give you submission guidelines and tell you what kind of writing they do and do not want, and they will tell you if they accept writing from beginning writers or only more advanced writers.
2. Write a cover letter. Make sure you follow business letter format and include your name, address, phone number, and an e-mail address if you have one. Find out the editor's name and send your work directly to him or her. This way your writing won't get lost in the shuffle and you will demonstrate that you took the time to learn about the publication before submitting. In the body of your letter, tell the editor what you are sending, provide a very small amount of background information that includes a list of publications that have already published your work (if any), and end with a polite closing.
3. Put your essay, poem, or short story in the proper format. Use a 12-point font and always use a plain, easy-to-read font. All essays and short stories should be double-spaced and have a one inch margin all around. Attach a cover sheet with the title and your name, address, telephone number, and e-mail address. Make sure your name and the page number appears in the header of each page of the rest of the document. Poems should be single-spaced and you can simply type your name, address, telephone number, and e-mail address directly on the page with the poem.
4. Send a self-addressed stamped envelope (listed as SASE in writing publications) with your submission so that the publication can get back to you with their answer. Make sure your envelope is large enough to return your writing and make sure you have provided sufficient postage.
5. Make sure your outside envelope also has enough postage. Be sure to have the packet weighed at the post office.
6. Keep records. I keep an index card file and each card, I write the name of a poem or story or essay. Each time I send it out, I note the publication name and the date of submission. When I received notification from the magazine, I mark my card with the results and the date. This way I know exactly how many times I've sent a piece of writing out.
7. Keep in mind that getting published is a difficult process. Not all good writing gets published, so don't be discouraged if your work is not immediately accepted. This does not mean your writing is not good. Keep trying. You may not have found the right market yet.