Knowing the Market

Many people see publication as a game of chance- “I have a 0.2% chance of getting published in this magazine, based on the amount of submissions it receives monthly.” While many people see it as a math problem to be solved- “If I submit my essay/article to 50 magazines, then one of them is bound to publish it.” But maybe it doesn’t have to be so difficult. Maybe there’s no tricky formula or ritual to getting work published. Maybe all it takes is a little knowledge and a lot of determination. Writer Laura Maylene Walter describes her long path to publication in an article on her website.

“So how did it happen? A few of my writing friends have asked me this very question. Some wanted to know whether I submitted to a particular editor, or if I had been solicited, or, basically, if I did anything special or flashy to encourage the staff to pluck my essay from the thousands they surely receive each year.

The answer to all of those questions is no. The truth is so simple and so expected that it feels unnecessary to even write it down, but here it is:

I read the magazine consistently for years while steadily improving my own writing, and then I finally submitted a strong piece that matched the magazine’s aesthetic.”

When Walter got her first rejection from The Sun, she didn’t abandon the magazine out of embarrassment or disappointment, she kept on reading and ensuring that her skills and style developed in line with The Sun’s aesthetic. She didn’t send a submission in until she was truly, deeply confident that it would be published because it was exactly what the magazine wanted. I’m sure this is not the case for all writers or publications. Sometimes, especially for big publications, the game of chance still comes into play. But knowing your target publication inside and out should significantly increase that chance. Walter leaves readers with this tip:

“Getting an acceptance from The Sun was about more than writing and submitting that one essay. It took years of developing my writing and gaining not only hard-earned confidence in my work, but also a true familiarity with the magazine itself. In this case, that advice every other writer has heard so many times really is true: Know the market you’re submitting to, and submit your strongest work.”



2 thoughts on “Knowing the Market

  1. Allison Miehl March 12, 2015 / 3:19 am

    This is a really important thing to keep in mind. Writers face a lot of rejection, which can be discouraging, and I think they should keep in mind that getting rejected by a publication doesn’t necessarily mean that your work is bad- it could just be that it doesn’t match the publication’s “aesthetic,” as Walter put it. Being part of the audience for a magazine or website before trying to contribute to it is extremely important, because you know exactly what readers are looking to get out of reading it.


  2. rdomitz March 13, 2015 / 8:00 pm

    Every time I write, I feel like I dip into this vast reservoir of memories. Inside the pool are all of the experiences in my entire life, “What have I seen before that can help me create visuals for the reader?” Characters are people I’ve built from the qualities of people I’ve known, places are from where I’ve been or read about. I’m sure that every writer feels this in some way. What I’m saying is “Other writers have been rejected, other writers have been accepted.” and a writer who realizes how different they are from the other 99.98% of the submissions, have an easier time being the latter.
    This is where Miss Walter’s advice of a little knowledge and determination kicks in. It was her persistence, and acuity towards her market that allowed her to hone her submissions into successes.


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