Neil Slevin, How to Get Your Work Published

Neil Slevin is a 27-year-old writer from Co. Leitrim. An English teacher, in 2015 he completed an MA in Writing at NUI Galway and he is now pursuing a writing-based career. Neil’s poetry has been published by The Galway Review and Boyne Berries, as well as numerous international journals, including Scarlet Leaf Review and Artificium: The Journal. His flash fiction appeared in The Incubator. Neil is passionate about writing and editing. Last year, he edited Sin’s Entertainment section, and the paper’s culture column, ‘Resonate’. His OCD keeps people in line.

Writers need somewhere to accept their work to generate momentum for their fledgling career. Here are eight steps to take when submitting your writing for publication.

Writers write; we know that. But they often struggle to promote their work, and to find a wider audience to read it.

Furthermore, when starting out, writers usually find it difficult to find a home for their writing (e.g.: the Man Booker prize-winning author whose first novel was rejected 78 times!)

Thankfully, if you wish to have your work read by the masses, then there are some very practical, simple steps to follow. Below is your path to publication:

1: Research opportunities

Start by researching what publishers are available, and which are the ones most likely to be interested in receiving your work based on your genre, style and subject matter.

Good Irish websites include Writing.ie, Creative Writing Ink, and Paul McVeigh’s blog.

For an international audience, try Duotrope (an American database of all publishers in the U.S., plus publishers from Canada, Great Britain, and more).

2: Set clear goals for yourself

Decide what you want to achieve with your work: know who you’ll submit it to, and how to format your submission.

3: Personalise your submission

Refer to your contact by name, acknowledge the publication he/she works for, evidence your familiarity with it, and briefly explain why your work will complement the publication overall.

4: The follow-up

Check the publication’s guidelines re. how long it takes to review your submission; do not contact them until this expires.

  • If you don’t receive a response, email your contact with a gentle reminder – “I’m just wondering if you’ve had the time to read my submission…”
  • If you receive a rejection, thank the contact, wish them well with the publication, and ask if there is anything specific stylistically/thematically that they are looking for in future issues.

5: Further follow-ups

If a. persists, take a different angle with your next follow-up. Make contact again but avoid asking about the work you previously submitted.

One possible angle is to inform your contact of some good news you’ve had – i.e. being published somewhere else, winning an award, etc.; include a link to this information so the contact can access it.

If you are determined to be published by a specific publisher, continue to monitor their submission calls; tailor new or revised submissions to exactly what they are looking for.

6: Success/“Not today”

When you’re successful, reflect on your journey; consider how you will repeat but also improve on this in future submissions.

If you’re rejected, analyse your rejection:

Was your work good enough?

More often than not, this is the case. Writing is subjective; it is incredibly difficult to measure and subsequently rank a text based on its overall quality.

Your relative success or failure in submitting work is dependent on the submissions editor’s taste, yes – but even more so on your submissions approach.

7: Tomorrow

If you do have to say “Not today” to yourself, ensure you execute step six thoroughly. Seek advice and feedback from fellow writers, re-assess the market, and remember that tomorrow is a new day.

8: Never give up

Repeat steps 1-7.

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