I often get questions about how and where and when to submit work for publication. It’s a broad topic that deserves a broad answer. But since I don’t have time for that, instead, here are five quick tips for submitting your writing.

  1. Be a reader before you are a writer. Subscribing to every magazine you want to submit to might not be feasible, but buying a copy or two or at least reading several back issues online will help you get a better feel for the voice, style, and personality of a publication. Then, when you submit a finished piece or a query letter, you’ll have a better idea how to present yourself and your work. After sending out queries for years, I finally got a break with a magazine I had been reading and subscribing to all those years.
  2. If a monetary payment is not offered or required (by you), think about what other forms of payment are worth your effort: a publishing credit, an audience, an opportunity to write about a particular topic, having editorial input (don’t underestimate this one), your voice in the conversation, interacting with future editors or publishers, and more.
  3. Treat every submission as if it is your most important. Because it might be. In my experience, published work leads to more published work. You may not go from a blog post to a book contract overnight, but each article, story, or poem you write helps to build an audience and increase your exposure, and it could be just what someone else with another writing opportunity for you is looking for. That means take the time to self-edit or ask a friend to read it before you send it. Spend the time to get it right. (And don’t forget that subscribers receive my free self-editing eBook.)
  4. If you are working on a long project (like a book), consider how you might use leftover research or bits from the cutting room floor to transform into an article to submit for publication. This will allow you to get feedback on your topic, will keep research or paragraphs from being wasted, and will provide some short term goals to work on while you push ahead with the larger deadline.
  5. Shoot for the stars, and always have a plan B. It’s easy to put all your hopes into a dream publication when you aim high and take a submission risk. If you don’t try, you’ll never get published in The New Yorker or The Atlantic Monthly or your version of “dreamy.” You’ve got to try. But those publications get thousands of submissions. The odds of yours hitting the desk of the right person on the right day are slim. So aim high, and then have a plan B. And maybe a plan C and D. Don’t let your work flounder once it’s written. Keep working to find it a home, or alternately, keep working on it. Maybe the “no” from a publisher was actually a gift of opportunity to take your work to the next level.


While not everyone is ready for publication, there are many opportunities for writers at all stages to submit work on collaborative blogs. While most do not provide monetary payment, there may be other reasons you would benefit from contributing to a collaborative blog, especially if you are just starting to send out your work. Here are four collaborative blogs currently accepting submissions:

You can also find weekly poetry prompts (or why not try a short story or essay) at Tweetspeak Poetry. While they don’t accept submissions for publication, you can respond to the prompt in a comment and possibly have your poem featured for publication on their site the following week. Here are more details: Tweetspeak Poetry Writing Prompts.

Finally, as I transform my website into a resource hub for writers and readers and everyone who likes a good story or has one to share, I will be accepting submissions for three different features. I will pay $25 each for posts submitted and accepted in the How to Bring Words to Life category (5 tips, tricks, hints, or principles about some aspect of writing or word culture in general – 500-750 words) and in the Read and Respond category (personal essays, not reviews, in response to books or other published writing that positively influenced you and may be of interest to others – 750-1,000 words). As well, I will continue to pay $10 each for posts submitted for the In Your Own Words feature, where you join me in my weekly word project to write about your word of the week (500-750 words). Find more details on the Write for Me page.

And don’t forget we have one chapter dedicated to sending out your work in On Being a Writer: 12 Simple Habits for a Writing Life That Lasts*.

Photo by Tim Norris, via Flickr, used with permission under the Creative Commons License.

*This website uses “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”