A Beginner’s Guide to Getting Published

I’ve received inquiries from acquaintances and actual strangers alike asking me how to get published on certain sites. So although I’m definitely no expert, I’m going to explain what has and hasn’t worked for me. 

I. Get Ready For Rejection

The hard truth that nobody likes to acknowledge is that you’re going to be rejected much more frequently than not. It’s important to realize this early on and really accept it if you’re going to continue to write.

That’s why I felt dealing with rejection needed to be my very first point.

I’ve been writing for years and years, and even though I’ve been able to publish some of my work on various websites, those only make up a small portion of pitches I’ve put out. Nine times out of 10, I receive a rejection email, question my skills in an overly existential manner, give up writing for a few days, and then get back to it. Sounds like fun, I know.

Though it’s definitely not pleasant, it’s the reality of writing, especially when you want to get paid for it.

II. Pitch, Pitch, and Pitch Again 

You know how I literally just said you’re going to get rejected A LOT?

Yeah, well, in order to be rejected, you need to pitch.

It doesn’t matter if you don’t think you’re “qualified” to write for a certain site; send out a carefully worded pitch and cross your fingers. As the saying goes, “You’ll miss 100% of the shots you don’t take,” – so take the shot and breathe.

The world isn’t going to end if you get rejected. Sure, you’ll probably feel really bad for a little bit but that’s how the process goes. If it makes you feel any better, J.K. Rowling (you know, the author of the very successful Harry Potter series) was rejected by 12 different publishers before someone took an interest in her manuscript.

For us, that number is likely going to be a lot higher but you know what?

All the sadness and fear and rejection is completely worth it once you receive a letter of acceptance.

So start working on those pitches and send them out into the world where people can actually read them.

III. Know the Person You’re Pitching To

And if not the person, the publication.

Knowing what type of work a certain site publishes is so important when it comes to being published by them. For example, you probably wouldn’t be successful pitching an article about WWE wrestling to Teen Vogue – and that doesn’t mean your writing is bad, it just means that it’s not the type of material they’re interested in.

In order to get to know the publication you’re pitching, read a handful of their articles before sending off a pitch. Observe things like the various authors’ general word count, tone, topic, and sentence structure. Although these may seem like irrelevant observations, they can make or break your acceptance from a certain publication.

So do your homework before you dive in.

IV. Don’t Go Straight For the Top 

If you’ve never gone ice skating, you probably wouldn’t want to try for the very first time at the Olympics. The same thing goes for writing.

If you’re a new writer, you should try pitching small publications rather than large ones. Pull out your pitch list and cross off Huffington Post, New York Times, Forbes, and Vice until you’ve perfected your craft. Instead, start looking for smaller, unknown publications. Though you might not be garnering millions of views per month, you’ve got a better chance of having your work accepted when you’re not competing with hundreds of already established writers.

A good way to find these publications is to punch your niche topic into Google followed by “write for us.”

You’ll be amazed at what you find.

V. Just Keep Swimming 

Last, but not least, is the most important advice of all: Just. Keep. Swimming.

Don’t give up; it’s a hard road to getting published, I know, but it’s more than worth it once you are. You’ll never get there if you don’t keep writing, though, so even if you feel like the odds are stacked against you or you’ve received your 200th rejection letter: don’t give up.

Keep reading, writing, and pitching and, I promise you, you’ll eventually get to where you want to be.

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4 thoughts on “A Beginner’s Guide to Getting Published

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