Sometimes as a writer in 2015, it may feel as if there is no hope of ever getting published. While this isn’t a new phenomenon for any writer, it is one that in the digital age should be approached differently than in the past. As the world declares that “Print is dead,” and while we may all tend to agree, there is a romance that all writers are drawn to of the craft and the eventual distribution of our stories and words. I’ve compiled a list of some topics that should be considered in the 21st century when approaching publishing:
- Don’t ignore mainstream publishing. While there is something inherently impractical about approaching book publishers in an age when books aren’t being sold, rest assured that books are in fact, being sold. In 2013, Neilson reported that 501.6 million print units were sold. So publishers are still searching for writers to print. From small, indie publishing presses to the New York Times, don’t be hesitant to submit your work. As Dr. Janet Wondra describes, her friend who produces art sends a sample of his work to The Louvre with every installation. In his words, “They should know what I’m doing.” So should every publishing press that you can find an address for. Just because society has deemed print dead, doesn’t diminish the romance all writers seek: reviving the printed word.
- Do consider self-publishing and digital publishing. Not in contradiction to the previous statements, but rather in tandem with them. Research self-publishing, there are plenty of outlets that offer writers a chance to publish and promote short stories, novels, poems through their websites. Digital readership rose 43% in 2013 according to USA Today. From digital E-Books to self-published books, people are still reading, just in different formats. So don’t hesitate to publish via websites or online literary journals. But do be aware of your rights to the work once it is published online. In many cases, once it is out there, it is a difficult task to claim ownership about what happens to it. So investigate the copyright, first.
- Don’t consider blogging a lesser form of writing. In the not so distant past, many published writers and readers alike, considered blogging the navel-gazing work of someone less intelligent than himself or herself, don’t hold onto this view. Many writers begin blogging and gain traction and attention from readers, which eventually leads to a publishing deal. It is the easiest way to consistently force yourself to write, while showing your writing to someone other than yourself. Which leads us to…
- Do use social media to promote your writing. Half of any profession is marketing and networking, in some form or fashion. The vast spaces of the internet lead you to a world of strangers that may latch onto your writing by simply clicking on a link to your blog or a story that was published, and then travel to the nearest (local, independent, please) bookstore and purchase your book. So learn to tweet, facebook, blog, retweet, instagram, and all the other new ways to communicate with the world that will exist in the 20 minutes before I publish this, it’s in your best interest, I assure you.
- Most importantly, do get people to read your writing. Whether you find a local book club, an expensive writer’s conference, a MFA program, someone you had a creative writing class with in an undergraduate program, find them and get a second opinion. Revise, edit, do spell-check, revise, get feedback and do so with the help of a friend. Because after all, it is still all about the work produced. Whether published online or in print, if your work is not as good as it can be, then what’s the point?
So keep writing, keep reading, and keep chasing the dream of getting published—because it can be a reality, the 21st century offers us a chance to take control of our writing credits in a way unlike any other time before. That’s exciting for us all!
Cassandra Morrison is a MFA Candidate in Creative Writing at Roosevelt University and serves as a reader/editor for issue 42 of Oyez Review.