NCWA blog welcomes Carly Fierro!
I’ve been a professional writer for over a decade. Getting published is a lot like fishing: it’s a numbers game. The more bait you put in the water, the more likely you are to get a bite. It doesn’t matter if you’re a poet, playwright or novelist.
Technology advances have created an influx of publishing opportunities and a committed writer will find one that takes the bait. However, this still takes some planning and organizing on your end. If you’ve ever submitted a manuscript to a publisher before, you know it can take months to get a reply. Keep trying, and take advantage of the technology at hand to succeed!
Draft Your Spreadsheet
Track every single query or submission you send. An ongoing spreadsheet should include the name of the publisher, the name of the contact person (if applicable), website, what you submitted, the date, and the publisher’s reply. Keeping accurate records will help avoid embarrassing duplicate submissions. This is especially helpful once you start submitting regularly.
Most publishers give a timeframe of when to expect a reply. Mark this on your spreadsheet and follow up. If you don’t get a reply after a second email, mark this publisher as non-responsive. It’s possible that the website still allows submissions even though the press is closed. If this is the case, you don’t want to waste your time with them in the future.
There are a number of avenues for finding new publishers. You are probably familiar with the Christian Writer’s Market Guide. A number of other guides are published continuously, such as WritersMarket.com. Consider subscribing to their emails as online-only presses offer many submission options. If you have a personal blog, look into guest blogging as a way of increasing your on-line presence. Carve out a niche of time each work day to submit or set a daily goal. It might seem like a lot, but I specialize in a non-niche writing market and have found that writing five submissions a day is doable.
Keep an eye on publishers who do not accept simultaneous submissions. Respect their wishes and put them on your spreadsheet as a future possibility. However, the majority of presses do accept simultaneous submissions. Be sure to notify all publishers immediately if your work is accepted elsewhere.
Writing and submitting are equal halves of one whole and demand the same attention, so it’s best to always have a work in progress while submitting completed pieces. This is how a writer creates a lifelong career and ensures continuous publication. I know that this takes a lot of time and effort, especially if you have demanding family or career obligations. However, dedicating time to your craft can lead to a happier, healthier life, and small changes can greatly increase your productivity and output.
Carly is a writer and copywriter who currently works for a company specializing in contractor software. She’s been published in USA Today and Central Penn Business Journal, as well as on a number of blogs. You can follow her writing at Pongra.