Why You Should Always Reach Out to Small Publications | LET’S GET PUBLISHED

Starting small is going to pay off much more than waiting for the Huffington Post to publish your essay.

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Everyone wants to get published in the Huffington Post.

I’m not really sure why. I’m guessing it’s because millions of people read their articles daily. Mostly their essays and blog posts, probably. When I had a goal to publish an article there, it wasn’t just for exposure. I felt I had something important to say, and I wanted that message to reach as many people as possible. I wanted to help someone, to reach out to someone I would never meet, if I could.

No, I never did get a feature there. That’s not to say I never will. A huge mistake many aspiring writers make is thinking they’re going to be one of the lucky ones, one of those random people who gets published  on a website with millions of readers just because they have a message for the universe.

And hey, you may very well be one of the lucky ones, I’m not here to crush your dreams. But I’m telling you right now, you’re going to have much more luck starting small. I don’t care how many times you’ve heard and ignored this advice. It’s coming to you again, and I hope you’ll take it to heart this time.

So. What’s so great about reaching out to publications no one has ever heard of before, anyway?

They will notice you, invite or refer you

Pitching or even just offering your “services” to small publications, you’re much more likely to get a response, and they’ll be much more likely to say, “Hey, yeah, you can totally write some stuff for us.” Big publications get thousands upon thousands of submissions every day. If it’s a small or brand-new publication, you might be the only one they get today – and that stands out.

What if they’re not ready to take you on just yet? This happened to me about a month ago. The editor referred me to someone else instead, because he had the time and courtesy to do that, and I can’t say it didn’t lead to more awesome things thereafter.

You need all the experience and writing samples you can get

Want to be a freelance writer or journalist when you grow up? You’d better be able to show that’s not only what you want, but what you’re fully capable of excelling at. It’s not necessarily all about writing for as many websites/blogs/magazines as possible, but the more work you have to show for your effort, the more places your name appears when someone Google searches you, the more promising of a career you will have. Eventually.

Small publications need material and exposure. You need published work and exposure. It is a partnership like no other, and if you can gather up the courage to reach out instead of waiting for them to notice you first, they will be impressed, grateful and probably willing to take you up on your offer (but do know in advance, you’re not going to get paid in anything but experience, more often than not – never underestimate the value of that, either).

You never know where it will lead

I have been the managing editor of College Lifestyles magazine since July 2015. Ever heard of it? Maybe not, because it’s still a relatively small online magazine. But I didn’t apply for a top staff position and randomly get picked for it. Way back in 2012, I reached out and applied for a writing internship position. After six months doing that, I moved up to an editorial position. Eventually, I became the assistant managing editor, and so on.

These things don’t happen in places like the Huffington Post. It doesn’t matter how good of a writer you are or how hard you work. Everyone wants to work there, get published there, be part of that team. Okay, so I’m not working for Seventeen or Cosmo. That doesn’t really matter. I’ve made more connections over the past three years than I probably ever would have as a lonely features intern at a magazine everyone has heard of before. You form professional and personal relationships. That gets you places, whether you believe it or not.

So where do you find these kinds of small publications, anyway? That’s next week’s post. Come back soon for more, and while you’re waiting, check out our other posts in this series. You are always welcome to give suggestions on related topics or ask questions in the comments or on our Facebook page.

Happy writing!

Image courtesy of Novelty Revisions.

How to Take Over the Internet: Writer’s Edition

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It’s every writer’s dream, to see your name (real or penned) all over CyberWorld. Google yourself: what comes up? The first thing that comes up when you Google me is my Twitter account, which is sort of a let-down unless it gets more people to follow me (not that my tweets are interesting or anything). College Lifestyles talks about me a lot, which I appreciate, since my life outside school and work with CL is virtually non-existent (emphasis on “virtually”). I’ve run with Team World Vision. Awesome!

There are specific keys (not key words) to plastering your work all over the Internet without being a total jerk about it (but really, those people exist, and dear God I hope I’m not one of them). If you want your writing recognized (and why wouldn’t you?!), you can’t keep it to yourself. Keep the three P’s in mind: pitch, produce, promote. And repeat.

Know what you need to (and can) give up.

The more time you spend writing, the less time you have for…well, everything else. The more time I take out of my day, the less time I have for life’s current necessities: running, eating, sleeping and studying organic chemistry. If I want to make it a goal to write X number of articles this summer, I will not have as much time as I’d like to run long distances or sleep enough (which I never do anyway, so whatever). I can’t, however, give up things like food or passing chemistry. Identify what you need to let go of, what you can wave goodbye to, and what you’re willing to put on hold in order to make writing your current priority. When you make time for your art, you make more art. It’s a simple formula, really. This one is my favorite:

Taking over the Internet = (coffee) + (chocolate) – (sleep) + writing – (Facebook).

It works. Sort of.

Always be on the lookout for opportunities.

I’m always reading articles, and as I’m reading articles, I’m looking to see if publications are looking for submissions. Does someone need a writer? You don’t have to pay me (though that really would be nice). Pitch everywhere – some will say no thanks and some might take you up on a small offer. Seek, strive and succeed. I really like alliteration.

Take advantage of waves of motivation as they roll in.

As I’ve said on many occasions, it doesn’t do you any good to try to write when you’re not “in the mood.” Spurts of inspiration really will come and go, so hold onto them when they’re there, and don’t sit around and wait for them to show up when they’re not. The unwritten law of inspiration: it always hits you when you least expect it, at the most inconvenient times. I get really good ideas when I’m in the shower. You can’t write down an idea while you’re in the shower. The second you stop staring at a blank page, something will come to you. And when it does, run with it.

Never be ashamed of what you’ve published.

Even if it’s a fan-fiction short story, hey, at least it’s something. Something is always better than nothing. Be proud of anything and everything you publish, and share it with everyone you know! The more often you get your work “out there,” the less awkward you’ll feel about posting links to it for your friends to see. Promoting your work is similar to actually putting it together: it’s not easy at the start, but it only gets easier from there.

If your Bucket List is telling you to get off Facebook and open up a new Word document, listen to your Bucket List (even though it’s an inanimate object, it’s okay in this case. I promise.). Don’t let your delicate writer’s brain waste away because other peoples’ lives are more interesting than yours (side note: so not true). Creativity is like a muscle (here we go again with the thousand and one ways my dietetics major keeps appearing in this blog): if you don’t use it, you’ll know it – and you’ll regret it later. Literally.

Keep creative and keep writing. Is there a meme for that? Probably.

I spend way too much time on the Internet. Obviously.

Love&hugs, Meg<3