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.”