During our latest meeting we talked a little about the business side of writing—where to submit your work, how to make sure a publisher or publication is legitimate, how to safeguard your work while seeking publication, etc. There were varying levels of experience with these concerns in the room and we’d like to dedicate a session or two to exploring the topic in depth, but here are a few resources that may come in handy in the meantime if you’re getting ready to send out your work.
Poets & Writers Magazine maintains databases of journals, contests, small press publishers, and literary agents, all carefully vetted. It’s a great source of reputable places to publish your work. In the contests database you can filter out anything with an entry fee (“reading fee”), and many of the journals have open submission periods without fees. (I have Opinions about reading fees; hit me up with yours in the comments!)
Writer Beware keeps track of predatory contests, publishers, and literary agencies to avoid. The site also offers advice on a range of topics, including how to determine for yourself whether a contest, agent, etc. is legitimate before giving them your money or your work, how to tell the difference between a scam and the cost of doing business, how to copyright your work, and how to take legal action if you’ve been scammed.
Query Shark critiques actual query letters! There are hundreds of thoroughly annotated query letters you can read through to get a feel for what makes a successful query letter and what doesn’t work.
NaNoWriMo’s “Now What?” page offers resources and advice on editing and revising in addition to querying and publishing.
Finally, two pieces of advice I’ve picked up from more experienced (and actually published) writers:
Do your homework. If you’re looking to publish your work somewhere, see what the journal you’re submitting to or the agent you’re querying has handled before to make sure they’re the right fit for your work. And always read and follow submission guidelines.
Never undervalue the work you do. Others will do that for you. They’ll pressure you to take only what is offered, to write for little or no pay, for “exposure”. But you know how hard you work. Your time and your craft are worth investing in. Don’t let anybody tell you different.