03/06/2013 09:02 am ET Updated Mar 08, 2013

New To The Literary Scene? 3 Places You Can Start Earning Publication Credits

By Writer's Relief staff:

At some point, everyone’s the new kid on the block. For writers, this situation can be extremely daunting. You may be wondering, “Who would want an unpublished writer?” or “Where do I even start?” While these concerns are legitimate, you shouldn’t let them deter you.

Rest assured that every author started out as an unpublished writer. There are many editors of literary magazines, and presses that not only accept books, short stories, poems, and novels of writers new to the scene, but encourage submissions from unpublished writers. With so much talent yet to be discovered, it would be to an agent’s or editor’s disadvantage to only consider work by well-known and published writers. As we like to think: There’s a place for everyone!

Online Literary Magazines And Journals

We’ve been hearing a lot of hesitation when it comes to online journals, so let’s set the record straight. As a new writer, an online journal can be your best friend. Because online journals don’t run on the same budget as print journals, they have much more leeway in terms of who they publish. Long story short: They’re willing to take more risks with new writers.

If you do your research such as reading the archives of the online journals you’re planning on submitting to (another perk to submitting online!) you could end up building yourself a pretty impressive portfolio. But be sure you know the rules of previously published writing before you submit: What Is Considered Previously Published Writing?

Printed Lit Mags And Journals

While online literary magazines are becoming increasingly important to current and emerging writers, print literary journals do publish new writers as well (though the number of print publications is dwindling). We’re certainly not going to pretend it’s easy to get published in print journals, and generally speaking, about one or two out of 100 submissions actually makes it all the way to the printer.

With that in mind, you can imagine that literary editors only have eyes for writing that is exciting and new. Your background probably matters very little to editors, and what’s important is, first and foremost, the quality of your writing. And, of course, how well you research and target your submissions.

Local Newspapers, Private Publications, And Specialty Publications

What better place to start than home? Sometimes, submitting your work to local publications can help you and your community at the same time. Win, win!

While having your work published in a small hometown paper may not give you the same rush as seeing your name in The New Yorker, smaller publications in your area can be a jumping-off point. However, if you’re not sincere about participating in your community with like-minded readers/writers, then you shouldn’t! Community publications tend to have a certain voice and, of course, a sense of community, and if you’re not truly a part of it then we suggest taking an alternate route.
Writing for a specialty newsletter is another option. Many businesses, clubs, and religious organizations often issue community bulletins and newsletters. There may also be several local magazines (periodicals, smaller poetry journals, publications about local living, etc.) that you could write for, so keep your ear to the ground!

Chances are, where there are writers, there are outlets for writers, and once you have a few smaller publications under your belt, you’ll be prepped for the big leagues.

For more from Writer's Relief, click here!