“I’ve written this great article/short story, and I am submitting work to magazines for possible publication, but I’m not sure how to go about that—isn’t it pretty difficult?”

Submitting work to magazines is not as mysterious or difficult a process as you’d think; in fact, it can be quite easy if you follow a few simple rules:

  1. Do your homework: know and follow the submission guidelines! Most magazines have submission guidelines in their hard copies and on their websites. If they require double-spacing and you send in a single-spaced document, expect a rejection slip fairly quickly. Also, some magazines prefer that you send a query letter, just like you would with a book publisher, outlining your article or story, its intended audience and the reasons it’s ideal for their publication. Send in your writing first, before a query letter, and you could blow your chances at publication with that magazine.
  2. Make sure your work is as error-free as possible. There are several ways to do this, of course. Most word processing programs have a spell/grammar check function, so you can start there to catch the most obvious mistakes. Keep in mind, though, that these programs aren’t perfect and will miss errors that the human eye can catch—and they also sometimes suggest “corrections” that are, in fact, grammatically incorrect. So use your own eyes to read behind your spell/grammar check, and then have friends or family read behind you.  A simpler and usually not prohibitively expensive means of proofing and perfecting your work is to hire a professional editor through a firm such as FirstEditing.
  3. Be prepared for the possibility of rejection: no matter how excellent, well-written and timely your work is, there’s no guarantee that a magazine will pick it up.  There are lots of talented writers out there who can attest to the mountains of rejection slips they received before that first article or story published.
  4. Don’t get discouraged. No matter how often your work is rejected, submit it to more magazines. Rejections aren’t necessarily a reflection on the quality of the article or the writing abilities of the author.

Learning While Submitting Work to Magazines

When a publisher rejects your work but suggests improvements that make it more marketable, listen to them. 

These people are the leaders in the magazine industry for a reason! If no explanation for rejection is given, ask why.  Submitting work to magazines is not easy. Try to learn during your journey.

It never hurts to ask the submissions editor why your article was rejected and how it could be reworked to suit their needs.

You might not always get a response, but sometimes this sort of persistence and willingness to revise your article to meet the magazine’s current needs can result not only in publication but also in the formation of a long and fruitful relationship with that magazine.

Article submission to magazines isn’t complicated, but it can be an endeavor that requires patience and persistence. Use these simple guidelines to start submitting workn to magazines for publication.  Oh, and good luck!

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