How to find a publishing home for your writing

Now that you have imagined, written, revised, polished, and crafted a piece to the point of being ready to send it out into the world, some writers pause here and hesitate, unsure about how to find a place for their work.

Depending on what it is that you’ve written, you have plenty of options and most of them unpaid. I used to be a freelance journalist and although I did make money for a decade, it never came close to a comfortable salary, which is why I’m now a professor. At least I have steady, livable pay and benefits. However, even if you have a day job and write on the side, don’t expect anyone to pay you for your labor. It is a sad state of affairs that we writers must labor for “love,” and not electric bill money, but if you want to be published outside of your own blog, you must accept this reality as the norm.

Having accepted this fact, you can now search for consumer magazines, local and regional publications in your geographic location, newspapers, blogs, and literary journals that will gladly review your stuff and either reject or accept it. Most pay in exposure, some provide contributor copies, and even fewer pay cash (and the cash is usually under $50 regardless of the length of your work).

A terrific starting point is the Poets & Writer’s Literary Journal Database. You can simply search by keyword or your genre, or click over to the advanced search to limit your results by such categories as circulation numbers and acceptance rates. This area of the P&W site also includes sections on writing conferences, contests, small presses, agents, and jobs. It is my go-to place for my students as well. When I assign them to write for publication, we spend a class period analyzing the journal listings, journal web sites, and submission guidelines of a few publications so they understand what to look for and how to evaluate the publication for compatibility with their work.

If you seek a publishing home for a creative nonfiction, fiction, or poetic piece, I recommend starting at the P&W database. Happy hunting!

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