The bad news is that there are millions of writers and authors seeking to have their work published. The good news is that there is actually two parts of good news. First, the marketplace has never offered more opportunities to a writer to have his work published than now. The second piece of good news is that most of the writers submitting their work do not have the foggiest notion how to go about securing a publisher and because you will have read this chapter you'll have put the odds in your favor.
You saw in previous chapters that there are specific markets for the respective genres: newspapers and some magazines for opinion pieces; literary journals for literary and personal essays; consumer magazines for general articles; university presses for scholarly books; and so on. But finding out exactly where to submit isn't always easy, especially if you want to consider a national audience. Fortunately, there are a number of resources at your disposal to compile a list of potential publishers.
Once you determine the types of publishers that comprise your market, you need to investigate further to determine which specific ones will be receptive to your project. For instance, newspapers provide an excellent market for op-eds but not all newspapers publish op-eds or take submissions from freelance writers.
Identifying Your Market
Years ago, you could amble over to the library or a bookstore and peruse the shelves to survey the publishers of books in your subject or to make a list of periodicals where you could send submissions. But today, this is no longer the most practical solution and you have other options available.
There are a number of books listing book publishers, magazines, periodicals, and journals that you can purchase at the bookstore or examine in the library. Some of these books like Writer's Market contain publishers in almost all the genres while other books are more specialized, such as The International Directory of Little Magazines and Small Presses.
A number of these resource books have websites, such as Writer's Market (
Because of the fluid nature of the publishing industry, publishers' requirements, submission procedures, personnel, and interests can change frequently, so the information provided in resource books and general websites is not always accurate. It is always wise to review the website of each publisher you have targeted for your submission.
Know Your Market
The standard and best advice is to be familiar with the publications and publishers where you want to send your work. For book publishers, it's fairly easy. You can visit their websites, examine their catalogs, or even peruse their books at the bookstores. For example, if it's a biography you have written, you can make a list of publishers that publish biographies by going to the biography section of the bookstore, library, or booksellers on the Internet.
For periodicals and journals, it's suggested you review a copy or two and perhaps buy a back issue. Unfortunately, you may find it a strain on your budget to purchase these issues, so you might want to consider other options. There are a number of ways other than reading back issues that will enable you to familiarize yourself with these publications:
Consider the periodicals to which you subscribe or read as a potential market for your work.
Never fail to leaf through an available magazine whether waiting at the doctor's office or browsing the shelves of a bookstore or library.
Check the listings in resource books and websites to see which publications provide free back issues.
Visit the website of publications where you might be able to read a portion of an issue online.
Review the writers' guidelines provided by most publications either at their websites or available upon request.