When I started my MFA in Creative Nonfiction in September 2015, I was a little overwhelmed. In turned out that launching my writing career didn't just mean I had to write a book (!) and maintain a blog, I was also supposed to start submitting articles to other publications. Turns out that getting shorter pieces published, whether it be online or in print, is essential in building your author credentials before your book is ready to go. Even if you're not working on a book but are looking to bring more exposure to your blog, getting published somewhere can definitely help. Trying to be a good student, I started a new list on my iPhone called "Article Ideas" and got writing.
As I'm sure any writer will tell you, the first thing that happened was I got a LOT of rejections. (I wrote about that experience in this blog post if you're curious.) After getting about a hundred-million rejections, I FINALLY got my first published article in The Huffingon Post and, not long after, I placed an article in She Does The City.
I still have a long way to go and am still getting lots and lots of rejections, but I've learned one very important thing that I'm going to share in the hope that it helps some of you:
Don't be afraid to bypass the submission process and email the editor directly.
Now, that being said, there is a right way and a wrong way to go about this.
DON'T stalk them on social media and DON'T send them a PM on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram. ONLY contact an editor directly if their professional email is listed on the "Contact" page of their publication's website. This indicates that they are open to emails, DO NOT contact anyone whose info isn't voluntarily listed publicly in this way.
OK, now that I've gotten that out of the way I will say that both those two first articles got published because I'd emailed the editor directly. If you decide to go this route, keep it short and keep it simple. Professionalism and basic proof-reading goes without saying right guys?
Here is a template you can use that is similar to what I sent in my first queries:
Dear Mr/Ms So-And So,
Below is a submission to (NAME OF PUBLICATION) titled (TITLE). This piece is (SHORT ONE PHRASE DESCRIPTION) and I think it would be a great fit for (NAME OF SECTION OR VERTICAL WHERE YOU SEE YOUR PIECE FITTING IN.)
(TINY MICROSCOPIC TWO SENTENCE BIO.) E.G: I have a B.A. in English from Blank University and my work has previously appeared in Generic Magazine.
Thank you for your consideration,
The most important things to remember are:
1. Keep it short and to the point.
2. Indicate what section or vertical your piece belong in. This shows you are familiar with their website and have given thought to how your content fits in.
3. Copy/Paste your article at the end of your email instead of putting it in an attachment. The less clicks people have to do to get to your work, the better.
Now it's time for a disclaimer!
This is what has worked for me. I'm sure there are people out there with different, or even better advice. In fact, I have no idea what my MFA professors would think of my approach but I wanted to share what has worked in my personal experience. I'd love to hear your opinions and advice in the comments! As always, there is no one right way of doing things!