I recently had an article published in Trail Runner Magazine’s online publication, Inside Dirt. Upon announcing this exciting news, I was asked how I went about getting published. I thought I’d share the process here for anyone who’s looking to write for publication. But first, a little background to set the scene:
I’ve dreamed of being a writer since I was a kid. My sister and I used to write stories for each other; I remember writing a series called “Sammy the Seal” and criticizing her stories because they had no pathos, no twist in the tale. As a young adult I wrote for my local newspaper, college paper, you name it. Then I graduated and got a job as an editor. Writing career over. Years of proofing, correcting, and modifying, ensued. My creativity was put on hold.
When I started blogging I realized how much I had missed the creative process, the art of crafting and revising my own work. As I’m sure many of you do, I wake up frequently with an idea in my head that cannot wait and I have to get up and write it down. I still use pen on paper. The physical act of writing is part of my process and I find that typing does not provide the same stimulus.
I came to the realization that I wanted to write for the publications I read: Trail Runner Magazine, Run Washington, Washingtonian, Outside, National Geographic.
I got in touch with the magazines’ editors and pitched my ideas. Some they liked, some not so much. After all, it’s a process. I wrote. I revised. I submitted. Sometimes I revised some more.
And then, I would see my article in print and be blown away. Every time.
Here are my tips for those who are looking to write for publication:
- Read the publication. (I’m assuming you already do, but just in case…) Get an idea of the types of articles they print, the style of the writing, the overall tone.
- Visit the publication’s web site and look for submission guidelines. Some publications have very precise guidelines, others are more relaxed.
- Have a clear idea of what you want to write about and why. No editor wants to hear, “hey, I’d like to write about running.” They want to hear, “there’s this race that’s not well known but is amazing because…”
- Stick to your word count. I once went way over, thinking my article was just too good to cut. It was hacked to pieces. No writer likes to experience that. On the other hand, it was a great lesson and I’ve never gone over my word count since.
- Proofread. Or, if you’re not good at editing, find someone who is.
- Meet your deadline. There is no excuse for tardiness.
- Don’t expect to get rich. Payment for articles varies. Sometimes online publication doesn’t pay at all. You have to decide if the exposure and experience are worth it. I have written articles for no pay when I’ve considered the exposure from that publication worthwhile.
Do you have other tips for writers?
Do you write for publication?