Christian Writer Training Course 2, Lesson 5
Many good writers are unable to get published because they do not know how to go about in this business of getting published. Their articles are interesting, the subjects are relevant, and any publication would be proud to print this kind of material, but still they remain unpublished. The problem is that they did not market their product properly.
A few centuries ago when the number of periodicals was small it was easy to find one that fulfilled one’s requirements, but with the thousands of publications around, it is difficult today for the beginner to get to the appropriate publication. Further, many are so ignorant about market realities that they want their articles and other writings to be published in the commonly available commercial publications immediately. They do not realize that these are professionally produced publications, and a writer can get published in them only after gaining considerable experience and expertise in specific fields. A beginner should not overestimate his size, but should rather find a publication that is more suitable for his standard and send for publication there.
There are at least five things that you should know about getting your writings published:
1-Choose the right publication
2-Send the carefully prepared manuscript with a covering letter
3-Do send query letters
5-Advance as you gain experience
Of these, I will explain two of the above in greater detail:
1. Choose The Right Publication: Most countries today have a wide range of publications. Our country has several thousand English periodicals plus a higher number of periodicals in other languages. The total number exceeds 40,000 ! These contain an unbelievable range of publications right from the most primitive to the most advanced.
In this crowd you will find from general to highly subject-oriented publications. One publishes on a wide variety of subjects while the other publishes only on the different aspects of one subject. You will find that they have a diversity of levels. Some publish almost any articles written by the beginner while the other publishes even the articles of the expert with great caution. Some will accept articles submitted by outside writers, but others publish only articles written by their editorial staff, while still others publish only invited articles.
What is important to understand is that in this crowd somewhere there is a publication that suits your level. In fact there is a possibility that there are dozens of publications that publish submissions from the beginner. It is your responsibility to search the market thoroughly to discover several magazines that accept submissions from the beginner. Make a list of these publications. You will be deleting as well adding to this list throughout your writing career.
The easiest place to get published is the Letters To The Editor column. Unfortunately many writers do not recognize the power and the impact of this column. They feel that after all a letter is only a letter. While a letter is surely a letter, this need not always be so. Letters published in these columns can become a powerful medium for speaking to the people of your society. Researches and surveys have found that Letters To The Editor column is one of the most read columns in periodicals. Somehow people have a strong attraction to what others like them have to say on different issues. Therefore what gets published in this column is sure to be read by a lot of people. Think of the impact that you can create by publishing letters regularly in this column. What’s more, most editors will publish letters on any subject without editing or altering them even if the letter is critical of the publication and its stand.
Many publications publish submissions only if they agree with the policy of the periodical, but this does not usually apply to the Letters column. This gives a lot of liberty to the writer of the letter. This means that even if the subjects of your interest are such that they do not find a regular place in any publication, you can still place them in front of thousands of readers through the Letters column.
For example, suppose you read horrifying reports of ragging in professional colleges and feel disgusted at how tens of thousands of innocent young people are subjected to humiliation and torture every year, you can start a national campaign through the Letters column of newspapers. You can stir thousands of people, bringing this primitive, brutal, and beastly practice to and end.
As a beginner you should try to use the Letters column of the local newspaper and other available publications both for gaining writing experience as well as to get your name established among the readership.
2. Send The Carefully Prepared Manuscript Along With A Covering Letter: Except for the Letters to the Editor column, you should send all your manuscripts to the editor with a good covering letter. It is not sufficient to send the article alone because it does not bring you in proper contact and rapport with the editor. You must realize all editors are human beings and only a personal touch will gain proper attention from them. This is becoming more and more true in this generation where the number of writings that call for the attention of the editors is increasing at an explosive rate.
The covering letter must be a brief and polite one that calls the attention of the editor to your writing. If this is your first ever submission to him, then introduce yourself briefly in this letter. Give some information about your background and also any publications that you already have. Also, if you have been reading his publication for some time, include some helpful and honest comments and observations about that publication. A typical letter might look something like the following:
Street Of The Infamous,
It is my privilege to send an article titled “Thirty Ways To Get Published” for consideration for publication in your periodical. This is my first ever submission to your publication.
I have been fond of guiding my friends to write, and I have published a lot of guidelines on this subject in my college and school magazines.
I have been reading the Daily Trumpet now for almost six months. Your editorials are very timely, to the point, and enlightening for the new as well as the old readers. Please continue to give us this good material.
I am enclosing a Stamped Self Addressed Envelope, for returning the article in case you find it is not useful for you.
I. M. Helper
I have not shown the date and retur
n address on the sample letter above, but you must include them too. Including the Stamped Self Addressed Envelope or SASE is necessary because most publications do not return the rejected manuscript unless you enclose SASE with each submission.
NEVER send the same manuscript at the same time to more than one publisher. If more than one editor decides to accept it, you will be faced with several unpleasant possibilities. The first is to inform one publisher that you are withdrawing this writing from his publication even though he wants to publish it. He might accept your request for withdrawal, but never expect him to show interest in your writings in future. After all, who would want to waste time on something about which he is not sure whether he will get it or not.
Modern-day Editors Have A Very Demanding Live, And Writers Who Make It Tough For Them Will Automatically Get Rejected !!
The second possibility is even more damaging. If two or more publications accept the writing and publish it without first informing you (and this happens many a times), you will run into a messy copyright problem. What’s worse, you loose your credibility with all those publications. Never play with these things. You have to remain in the field of writing for a long period.
If you were commissioned to write on a topic, then always include a copy of that letter with your manuscript and covering letter. Busy editors can always forget that they had commissioned someone to write, and it is not always easy for them to locate the copy of the letter that they wrote to you. Further, in a large publication your submission need not always go to the person who originally commissioned you to write it. A copy of the original letter will, however, place your writing in its proper perspective.