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March 02, 2015

How to Get Publishing Credentials


Many aspiring writers believe they will publish their very first book and become a mega rich best-seller. “J.K. Rowling and Stephenie Meyer did it,” they say. “And so can I!” But this is an unrealistic expectation. Their success is a one in a billion occurrence. (I don’t know the exact statistic.)

For the rest of us, we have to get there one step at a time by building our credentials, first. What are publishing credentials?

It’s your writing resume. Everything you’ve ever published makes up your credentials. The more you have, the better. And if you can get published by a magazines with large readerships like The New Yorker, that is even better!

Here is a list of 50 literary magazines: Top Literary Magazines

Agents always advise unpublished writers to get published in magazines, even by writing articles. And they say it as if it’s easy. I have yet to be published in a print magazine and it’s not for the lack of trying. My biggest problem was that magazine editors also look at previous credentials.

I asked myself all the time, in frustration, “How will I get published at all if magazines won’t even publish unpublished writers?”

What did I do?
                                             
I started small. First, I sent out poems and flash fiction to ezines. Ezines are magazines that are published online only. There are a ton of them out there looking for every kind of story. I received a lot of rejections, I won’t lie, but I was also able to publish several of my flash fiction stories.
FYI: Many of these don't pay, but don't let that stop you! Credentials are more important than money.
Here are Dark Fiction Markets.

Also check out Ralan.com for Sci Fi and Humor.

Aside from sending to magazines and ezines you can also send to anthologies. Anthologies are great because they are like magazines but are often sold as eBooks, too. Check out Spark Anthology

Check out Shannon Lawrence's blog The Warrior Muse for even more contest/submission opportunities.
TIP: You can also try your state and hometown newspapers. And write for newsletters of your writing groups/organizations. 
Freelance Writing Jobs is a great place to find people/businesses looking for freelance writers.


Building credentials is something that never ends for a writer, because even when you publish books or eBooks, each one is helping you, so start today! Aim higher with each publication and don’t stop.


QUESTION: How did you build your publishing credentials? 


78 comments:

DRC said...

I've been working on this for some time. I'm lucky now to be able to add professional web-copywriting to the list. It's slow progress but it's great when you can write these things down on a submission...very worth while doing.

sage said...

Good ideas. I haven't been in any of those 50 publications, but have been in a large number of journals and special interest magazines. My first publication outside of newspaper was in an academic journal which was "peer reviewed." I was very excited to get the word of its acceptance.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Good list! And yes, Shannon does a great job compiling her list every week.
I started out with no writing credentials, but since that first book, have built up a list outside of my novels. Online, there are always opportunities.

Sarah Foster said...

Great tips! I've been meaning to get around to this since I have about a million poems just sitting around (and maybe one good short story). I really need to focus on getting some things published in the near future. Luckily (and thanks to blogger buddies) I've been published in two anthologies, so it's a start!

betty said...

This is good advice for writers on how to build up credentials. Its kind of like any type of job one seeks. Employers want to "hire" people with some "experience" and its always hard to break into some type of career without those credentials.

betty

Madeline Mora-Summonte said...

It really just takes time and patience and persistence. My first published story was in a small, now defunct, literary magazine, and I worked hard to get that. :)

I love writing "short" - flash, hint, micro, etc - and the Internet has opened the door to so many publishing possibilities for all of us, no matter what we write.

Pat Hatt said...

There is lots to be found online. I read once that with all the books, unless you are already rich or a somebody(i.e. a washed up celebrity) then you have the same odds of becoming a Rowling or Meyer as winning the lottery.

Unknown said...

I really have to get back into applying my work to magazines and online sources.
You have shared some awesome links, Chrys. This reminds me to get moving with my credentials. I started last year, thinking I would apply to all sorts of magazines. I actually did enter some poetry contests but that was about it.
This is something we should all think about so thank you for reminding us!

Unknown said...

I know what you mean! when I wanted to work in TV they barely looked at my resume b/c you needed prior 2 yr experience...well how do I get that? I broke down a lot of doors to intern, and then decided I didn't want to be an assistant in the end. As for publishing credentials, I never was pubbed in a magazine or anything, but I worked for my college paper...not that that counts lol

L. Diane Wolfe said...

There are a lot of websites and ezines accepting guest articles. Many don't pay, but it's a good place to start.

Chrys Fey said...

It is slow progress, but very satisfying when a submission is accepted.

Chrys Fey said...

I haven't been in any of those 50 publications either. It's tougher to get into them. Newspapers are a great source to break into.

Chrys Fey said...

Shannon is a godsend with her posts!

You are amazing Alex! Not many can do what you did.

Chrys Fey said...

Two anthologies is a wonderful start! And with a bigger audience. Sometimes with ezines, although your work is published, the audience is tiny.

Chrys Fey said...

It sure is just like seeking a job. Sometimes it's even harder!

Chrys Fey said...

I agree, it does take all three of those things. The internet is a fabulous way to get published these days. :)

Chrys Fey said...

Online is a writer's treasure chest! :)

Chrys Fey said...

You're welcome for the reminder. I've slacked off with my submissions to magazines and ezines, but I still have a few flash fiction pieces I can submit.

Chrys Fey said...

Oh, but I bet you got a lot of good experience with your college paper.

Chrys Fey said...

It is a good place to start, even without pay. :)

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

I keep thinking of writing short stories but haven't yet. I've written many articles for the newsletters of the writing groups I belong to.

Kelly Hashway said...

I started out writing short stories. I still do, but not as often because life has gotten so busy. They're fun to write though.

~Sia McKye~ said...

Written mostly non-fiction articles but they're not under my fiction name and they're a bit old now.

Some great info and links, though. :-)

Sia McKye Over Coffee

nashvillecats2 said...

I just enjoy blogging, I have three books published, it's a hard business to be in and very competivive.

Lidy said...

Great ideas Chrys. Building publishing cred is beneficial if you want to get more exposure and improve your writing resume. I've been gathering lists of sites, journals, etc to pitch to but am still trying to figure out what great article idea(s) to pitch. In the meantime, there are some future writing submissions to prepare for.

Lisa Thomson said...

Thanks for the links, Chrys! I was exactly the same as far as being rejected b/c I hadn't been published before...well, where do I start? I wondered. I haven't submitted to magazines in a few years but I should try that again. I've had tons of online publication which has built some credibility, I think the print is still king. Great topic!

DL Hammons said...

This is a work-in-progress for me. Twice I've had short story's accepted for publication...and both times the magazines (one was an ezine) went belly up before printing. Not a lot of stability on the fringes. :)

Carrie-Anne said...

I have a few essays or stories published in anthologies which were created through the writing blogosphere, and years ago had work published in school literary magazines and an e-zine. I'd like to try submitting to literary magazines and such, though when you're on a budget, it seems like a waste of money to spend like $15 or $20 on an entry fee if you don't even get accepted.

Cherdo said...

As always, great advice and resourced, Chrys! Thanks so much for your hard work and expertise. :-)

Chrys Fey said...

Writing for newsletter is a good idea!

Chrys Fey said...

I haven't written short flash fiction in a long time either. But they are a lot of fun.

Chrys Fey said...

I've tried to write non-fiction articles and even tried to publish them but didn't work out.

Chrys Fey said...

Publishing is hard and competitive. A blog, if it gets enough visitors, can be considered a good credential. :)

Chrys Fey said...

Building a list is always the best first step. I wish you luck with your articles and future submissions. :)

Chrys Fey said...

It's a catch-22 for sure. I haven't tried sending to magazines or even ezines in a long time, but I have sent to an anthology or two with no luck. I need to get back in there and send out my flash fiction. :)

Chrys Fey said...

That sucks! I'm sorry! I've had articles accepted but then never published, and one short story accepted that I had to pull. It is definitely a work-in-progress for many writers.

Chrys Fey said...

That's great, Carrie-Anne! Blogging has open up many avenues for me, too. I've always been published in a couple of anthologies thanks to the blogosphere. :) I always avoid the contests, etc. that ask for entry fees.

Chrys Fey said...

Aw, thanks, Cherdo. And you're welcome! :)

dolorah said...

I have been published in some e-zines, and while I did not get paid, the writing credential and the experience with editors and deadlines was invaluable. Thanks for those links.

Elizabeth Seckman said...

This is definitely a save and refer to post! A must share :)

Mary Kirkland said...

These are great tips and info. Before Yahoo Contributor Network closed down its site, I had almost 300 articles published there that I had been paid for.

Arlee Bird said...

This is outstanding information that I'm going to take note of. Just getting published somewhere is a gold star and if you get paid all the better. This post goes into my use for later file--I hope it's sooner than later.

Arlee Bird
A to Z Challenge Co-host
Tossing It Out

Donna McDine said...

I started out with the non-paying markets first then to small magazines. While I did have publishing success I've allowed it to fall the wayside for book marketing efforts and children's books. Great tips. Thanks for sharing!

Christine Rains said...

Yes! That is exactly the way to do it. I started off small too. My first paying publication earned me $1. I still have that dollar! I use Ralan.com to find places to send stories.

Dixie@dcrelief said...

This is great. I'm copying a link to this so I can return this week and read up!
Thank Chrys.

TBM said...

Wouldn't it be nice to say I published a story in The New Yorker. I'm dreaming about that for a minute...I'm back. Good advice! Patience and a thick skin is a must.

Stephanie Faris said...

Freelancewritinggigs.com I see jobs on there ALL THE TIME, offering to accept new writers for little to no pay. It's a great way to build your portfolio. I'd look at the name of the publication/website and try to go for those that sound impressive. I see people telling new writers they can't even freelance write until they've done a lot of work for free and that simply isn't true. I started at $.01 a word and worked up from there. I had to make up my first samples because it had been 20 years since I'd written anything non-fiction and they didn't want to see my fiction work.

Chrys Fey said...

Yes, the experience is invaluable even if you don't get paid. I was never paid when I published in e-zines but I didn't mind, because the goal was to get my name out there and build my credentials. :)

Chrys Fey said...

Thanks, Elizabeth! :)

Chrys Fey said...

300? Wow! And you were paid for them? *HIGH FIVE* ;)

Chrys Fey said...

I'm glad you think this post is useful, Arlee. :D

Chrys Fey said...

I only had success with ezines, so you were more successful with that than I was. ;)

Chrys Fey said...

$1? Well, that's more than I ever got. ;) I'll have to check Ralan.com. Thanks!

Chrys Fey said...

Awesome! You're welcome, Dixie!

Chrys Fey said...

Yes, it would be nice! I sent several poems for them and every single one of them was denied. lol

Chrys Fey said...

Thanks, Stephanie! I'll add that link to the post. :) And no, it's not impossible to get paid when you're a new writer. If you're good, they'll pay you if they want what you're offering. :)

Kelly Steel said...

Thanks Chrys for all these awesome tips.

Tonja said...

I'm one of the fiction editors for the Licking River Review. We're accepting submissions in different categories. It's not paid, but it's a nice line for the resume.

http://artscience.nku.edu/departments/english/outreach/review/guidelines.html

I don't think you have to have a previous publication credit to get your novel published. If you're writing novels, getting short fiction or an essay or article published isn't the same skillset as writing a novel (except for the composing of sentences). Am I missing the point? :)

Chrys Fey said...

No, you don't have to have previous publication credits to publish a novel, but it doesn't hurt. And a lot of agents actually look at this. That doesn't mean that you'll get rejected if you don't have credits, though. The point is getting your name out there. Agents like to see this, and having a nice resume for any type of job, even writing novels, is a good thing. If an agent sees you've been published by several big magazines, they may be a bit more interested.

Chrys Fey said...

You're welcome, Kelly.

Peaches D. Ledwidge said...

I started out in school - non-paying, then I got paid.

Carol Kilgore said...

I was a newspaper and short story girl :)

Beverly Stowe McClure said...

My first published work was in children's magazines. I sent non fiction and fiction. Now, in addition to my novels I like to submit to Chicken Soup Anthologies. They're short stories and they pay good.
Great article. Thanks for the tips.

Anonymous said...

I wish I had been more persistent building credentials before my first book. I only had one published poem. Now, after several books, I've become interested in writing shorter pieces.

Denise Covey said...

Hi Chrys. Thanks for all the links. Yes, flash fiction and ezines abound. I've managed to get published in a print Fiction magazine in Australia and in travelling print mags as well as winning some online writing comps. It all helps, but I have a hard time remembering them when I'm submitting. My first love is flash fiction and short stories, but getting them accepted is, as you say, not guaranteed. :-)

Chrys Fey said...

That's awesome! I only published a few articles in my high school paper, but I wanted more.

Chrys Fey said...

I like that!

Chrys Fey said...

I've never attempted a Chicken Soup story. I think I need to give it a try. Thanks for your comment, Beverly!

Chrys Fey said...

Although you've already published many novellas/novels, it's never to late to send shorter pieces to magazines. :)

Chrys Fey said...

Good for you! I've never one a competition/contest before, so I think that's great. :)

Optimistic Existentialist said...

Persistence pays off - I admire you writers so so much.

Yanting Gueh said...

I was just researching for short story journals yesterday (came up with two for my current story). Your post is perfect! So timely for me. Thank you, Chrys!

Fi said...

Interesting article. I need to get back into writing short stories because, as you say, that's definitely one way of coming to the notice of magazines. My credentials at the moment come from my plays and I have the extra visibility raised by my blog, but I need to work on all of that. Thanks for sharing.

Chrys Fey said...

Aw, thanks, Keith! I admire you too. :)

Chrys Fey said...

That's great! I hope you find more places to submit your story.

Chrys Fey said...

I think it's neat that you've written plays. That's something I'd never be able to do.

Sheena-kay Graham said...

I have been published locally, mostly poems. There is also my ghost writing which is approaching it's second year early 2016. I also got into an anthology created by a fellow blogger.

Chrys Fey said...

Publishing locally is a great start and has many stepping stones. Plus it gets your name out there with the locals which is a great idea.