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Are You Ready to Publish?


Getting published requires a huge amount of administrative work -- preparing submissions, researching your market, tracking submissions -- and inevitable rejections can take a toll. Before beginning to try to publish, it’s important to evaluate where you’re at as a writer. Consider these six questions before embarking on the next stage of your writing career.

Do you have a large body of work you would like to publish?

If you have only one “finished” story, wait to begin submitting. First of all, this is a good sign that your work and your confidence would benefit from a longer gestation period. Secondly, should an editor reject your work, but ask you to re-submit, it’s best to do that right away, before he or she forgets you. If you get a request for more work and have nothing else to send, you’ll have squandered an opportunity to forge a lasting relationship.

Have you received feedback on your work?

Giving and receiving feedback is an important stage in the evolution of any serious writer. Furthermore, if the work has not been read and evaluated by others, it is less likely to create a professional impression. At the very least, someone else should have read your work with an eye for grammar and spelling.

Are you ready to commit time and energy to administrative work?

Can you afford to spend time researching journals, creating spreadsheets, and addressing envelopes, or will you be sacrificing time that might be better spent honing your craft?

Have you done your research?

While I’ve found it to be unrealistic to subscribe to -- or even read -- every magazine and journal I submit to, it is important to at least be familiar with the market. Spend time at the bookstore thumbing through journals, pick up a copy of Novel and Short Story Writer's Market, and visit the websites of journals to be sure your work fits their needs.

Are you prepared for rejection?

Do you feel secure in yourself as a writer? With some lucky exceptions, most writers encounter a lot of rejection before earning recognition. If you’ve been writing for a while, have a schedule for writing, and a network of supportive fellow writers, you’re more likely to weather the inevitable failures. If you still feel somewhat fragile, it might be better to focus on establishing a writing life before exposing yourself to the whims of the publishing world.
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