Ask the cubicle expat: How do I get published?

September 27th, 2007

Dolly writes: I’m currently reading your book and was inspired to try the freelance-writer cap on for size. I’ve just submitted — and got rejected from — my first query to a magazine and was wondering if there are concrete tips to getting published. I’m not ready to hurl my keyboard into traffic over my rejection just yet, as it was my first submission, but I want to appear professional and competent about “the biz.” If you could lead me to a few websites or offer me some tips, I’d be eternally grateful!

Dolly, first of all, don’t give up over one rejection. Even seasoned writers get rejected, and more often than you’d think. You’re wise to want to learn the tricks of the query submission trade, since half of getting published is playing by the rules. The information you’re asking for could fill an entire book or class, and since many exist, I thought I’d point you toward some of my favorites:

Mediabistro. Articles, blogs, and classes (online or face to face). Be sure to see the “How to Pitch” section (available by subscription only, which I believe is $50/year), which tells you how to approach a number of newsstand magazines.

The Renegade Writer. Blog, book, and classes. Also check out the authors’ new book, Query Letters That Rock. This may be all you need to get going.

The Writer’s Market. Website and book, though you’ll get more current info if you subscribe to the site. Outlines how to approach most major magazines and offers a few articles to boot. I do prefer Mediabistro’s “How to Pitch” section though. (See above.) Online classes on everything writerly.

WriteHabit. This is my friend Angela’s site, and it’s a fine resource for fiction, short fiction, literary, and creative nonfiction writers. Loaded with lists of lit journals seeking submissions, contests, and writing programs.

How to Become a Famous Writer Before You’re Dead. I just picked up this fun, sassy, insanely informative book by Ariel Gore. Worth reading just for the pep talks and brazen self-promo tips.

Entry Filed under: Ask the Cubicle Expat

4 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Ariel  |  September 27th, 2007 at 7:05 am

    I’m fond of this post from Lifehacker about how to turn your blog into a book:

  • 2. Michelle Goodman  |  September 27th, 2007 at 8:38 am

    Interesting. Thanks for sharing, A. I haven’t done a tipster-y post about book publishing, but I will at some point. Meanwhile, people, a few basic pros/cons to consider before you self-publish:


    -Retain all revenue.

    -Retain all creative control.


    -No publisher to offer editorial feedback, distribution (meaning you can get on Amazon, but good luck getting into bookstores), PR (meaning good luck having your launch party in a bookstore), and yes, even clout (in most cases, self-publishing hasn’t arrived quite the way indie music or film has).

    -It’s hard to get people to buy books. It’s even harder at the prices you must charge when you self-publish (by virtue of such self-publishing services).

    -It’s very hard to get picked up by a traditional publisher once you publish something yourself. In case you were wondering. And especially if your DIY book doesn’t sell well.

    Not that I’m biased or anything. ;)

  • 3. Meg H.  |  September 27th, 2007 at 10:48 am

    good resources! Thanks!

  • 4. Here to Create » Ho&hellip  |  January 31st, 2010 at 8:02 am

    [...] saw How to Become a Famous Writer Before You’re Dead recommended on the Anti 9 to 5 Guide blog, another terrific resource for aspiring independent [...]

Leave a Comment


Required, hidden

Some HTML allowed:
<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Trackback this post  |  Subscribe to the comments via RSS Feed

Who I am

Hi, my name's Michelle Goodman and I've been freelancing since 1992. I'm author of My So-Called Freelance Life and The Anti 9-to-5 Guide. Read my full bio here.

Books I've written

My other blog

Popular articles

My Twitter handle

Posts by category