freelance writing

Getting Your Article, Short Story, or Poem Published for the First Time

Writers in the Grove is a creative writing group, focused more on supporting each other’s writing passions through education and writing opportunities. Some of us are also published from time to time. While the group’s focus isn’t on how to get published, we do cover that topic occasionally.

This article serves as a general tutorial and guide to help you get your work published for the first time, taking you step-by-step through the generic process of submitting your work in article, story, or poem formats, not novels and non-fiction books, though the process is similar.

The process begins with craft, learning as much as you can about what you are writing and preparing to submit before you begin the process.

Know The Craft of Writing

Each writing genre has specific standards for writing format, form, and function, and it is part of the development of your craft to learn these.

Understand, editors don’t want to reject anyone’s writing. Their job is to accept and reject those that don’t pass through their filters. Many editors are inundated with dozens if not hundreds of submissions weekly, sometimes daily, so they’ve learned to reject for simple grammar mistakes or be the rare ones to see past the poor language skills to find the gem of the story. Present your best work so you never give them an excuse to reject your work.

Improve Your Skills with Writers in the Grove

Writers in the Grove offers a chance for you to bring your short story or poem to our group to read in the second half of our weekly workshops. This is a great opportunity for gentle feedback, but also practice your reading skills.

We also produce two author reading events annual, Lend an Ear and Wintersong, a chance to submit and read a 4-minute piece before an audience of 50-100 people, again, another excellent opportunity to read publicly and get public exposure for your work.

  • Learn How to Spell or Use Spell Check Wisely: Some editors are forgiving about the occasional spelling mistake, others are not. If you regularly misspell words, learn them or pay close attention to them when you use them.
  • Learn Punctuation Rules: Learn how to use punctuation, and understand why you use commas, colons, semi-colons, hyphens, and quote marks, and how to constrain yourself from using exclamation points.
  • Become a Grammar Guru: Learn sentence structure, prepositions, clauses, and how to use and not use them. Writing is a non-stop class in how to use the language. Learn to use it to craft the words into a symphony.
  • Edit Brilliantly: Edit your work. Never submit a first draft. Craft your draft. Only submit your best work, so edit with a strong and graceful hand.
  • Get Feedback: There are many groups dedicated to helping you publish, giving you the high-powered review and critique you may need to succeed in the marketplace. Writers in the Grove members will give you gentle feedback, designed to encourage rather than discourage, though we will give you a harder review if you ask, we are not publishing experts nor editors, just writers with experience. In addition to our group, look for groups focused on publishing in our area or online to improve your professional writing skills.
  • Network and Build Relationships: Some writers rarely submit their work for publication. Editors invite them to submit because they have established a connection, a relationship, and reputation for quality work. Look for opportunities in your community to attend other writing groups, conference, and workshops to get to know others in the business. Travel to writing conferences, and find a way to connect with those who are buying your work.
  • Take Classes, Read Articles, Study Books, Learn Writing: You are never too old or experienced to stop learning about your craft. Luckily, the Portland area is stuffed with exceptional colleges and educational facilities offering writing courses, workshops, and events. Don’t forget the Willamette Writers and their monthly activities and annual conference.
  • Learn What Publishers Want and Need: As with everything, writing is part of the supply and demand economy. You have to give them what they want to buy. Carefully study their publication. Read through their guidelines for writing and submission as well as their want lists to give them just what they need.

Your Writing is Now a Business

Did you know that many short stories were picked up by agents and publishers to be turned into novels and movies? Orson Scott Card’s famous, award-winning book, Ender’s Game, started out as a short story. It not only became an international bestseller, with numerous sequels, but also a movie. (more…)