If you love to write there’s no better feeling than seeing your work in print, whether it’s short stories, a poem or even a novel. Excitement aside, it can also be a great way to boost your earnings or top up your pension pot, particularly as any money made from creative writing competitions is tax free. Turn your hobby into a money-maker with our simple tips to getting published.
Short stories or poems
Many magazines – including Yours – publish short stories and poetry in each issue, and there are also more specialist fiction titles. It’s worth having a trawl through the shelves at your newsagents and buying a selection of them.
Familiarise yourself with every magazine you want to submit to. This will help you get a feel for the ‘house style’ and the types of topics they cover. For example, do poems tend to rhyme or not? Roughly how long are they? Do their stories generally have happy endings? Are the main characters usually of a certain ageor gender?
Obviously you don’t want your work to be identical to something recently printed, so try to read your work with a critical eye to see if it fits with a title’s particular style.
You can also look out for short story or poetry competitions in your local press or magazines, but be aware there is often an entry fee.
What to send
Find out if there are submission guidelines and stick to them, particularly when it comes to word counts –sending too many words could mean your story is rejected. And it goes without saying that you should check and double check your spelling and grammar throughout.
Most publications prefer a typed entry to a handwritten one, so if you don’t have a computer, visit your local library and use one there.
Enclose a covering letter addressed to the editor, with a brief synopsis of the story, a short biography if you’ve had anything published previously, an accurate word count and your contact details.
If you’ve already written a novel that’s the hardest part over! Self-publishing has never been easier or cheaper, and there are numerous companies ready to help. Publish Nation (0208 265 5930, www.publishnation.co.uk) offers an e-book publishing deal for £125 or a paperback for £150. You can also create a print-on-demand book for free with Create Space (www.createspace.com) the idea being that copies are only printed when an online customer wants to buy one. This is a cheaper option, but most of the sales profits will go to the printers.
If you want to go down the traditional route, look for publishers that print books similar to yours. Check their submission guidelines and send them exactly what they ask for. Most libraries keep copies of the Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook which lists contact details for literary agents and publishers and is packed with lots of advice.
You can find the Yours submission guidelines here: