Once I've written something, How do I get it published?


The first thing you have to do is make sure it is typed up in a proper manuscript format. There really is a right way (and, essentially, only one) to format a manuscript for submission. The rules for manuscript formatting have very good reasons for them and you need to follow them closely if you want to have the story you've written looked at, much less considered for publication. The Science-fiction and Fantasy Writer's of America (SFWA) have several articles on their web site on manuscript preparation:

After you have your manuscript neatly typed up or printed, you need to know where to send it. There are several good sources of market information including The Literary Market Place for book publishers and Writer's Market for book and magazine publications. There are also a number of online resources for finding market lists.

One resource that is often overlooked is your local book or magazine shop. For short stories, find those magazines that have published stories similar to what you have written. Look up their editorial address in the magazine and write them asking for their submission guidelines. If it's a magazine you are not very familiar with, take the time to read a few issues to make sure that your story fits what they publish.

Don't just pick one market; find every market you can in which your story might fit. List them in order of descending priority. Most folk would recommend rating them by pay rate, but other factors may be more important to you.

Once you have your manuscript and your list of markets, put your manuscript in a properly sized envelope along with a Self-Addressed Stamped Envelope (SASE). If you don't need to have the manuscript itself returned, use a business sized SASE, otherwise make sure the SASE is large enough to comfortably hold the manuscript and has sufficient postage. Then mail your manuscript to the first market on your list. Do not mail copies to more than one market. Do not use certified or registered mail. Send the manuscript via first class or priority mail (depending on its weight) to one and only one market.

While you are waiting for the response to this submission, begin working on your next story.

If, as is most likely, the story is rejected from your first choice of market, make sure the manuscript is in good condition or print out another copy and send it to the next on the list. If the editor suggested revision of the story along with possible interest in buying a revised version, you need to think whether you can do the revisions as suggested or whether you would rather just move on to the next suggestion. Remember, though, that a suggestion of revision is not a guarantee that the editor will buy the revised story. The decision of revise or move on is one that only you can make.

Back to David L. Burkhead's page

Back to thoughts on writing page