Publication is the common goal for nearly all writers. There will always be a few who write only for their own satisfaction, those that have no desire to share their writing with the world. For the rest of us, publication is the gold ring on our childhood carousel rides. Round and round we go, even as adults, reaching out for the treasure.
I've listed 5 things that will increase your chance of publication. There are others that could be added to this short list but work on these to begin with and see what happens. The first two deal with the actual writing while #3 concerns continuing education. 4 and 5 are ones that are of prime importance. Be as objective as you can in rating yourself on how you do with each category. Rearrange this list for yourself. Put the ones you want to work on most at the top.
1. write with passion: Fiction or creative nonfiction that has no passion, no emotion coming through, ends up sounding wooden and boring. If you want your reader to react emotionally, you must write in that same way. So often, those in my online writing group tell a writer that they felt no emotion in the piece. The writer obviously cares about whatever they are writing but it's got to be shown. Not told. Don't tell me you're happy about something. Show me. It's not always easy for us to let our emotions hang out like laundry flapping in a spring breeze. Many of us work at keeping our emotions in check. Not when you're writing. Let your emotion come to the surface and share it with your readers. If you care, they'll care but you must show that you care.
2. active vs passive: We talk about active vs passive verb use over and over in the writing world. You know that an action verb promotes an image while a passive one sits like a lump. Recently, I critiqued a nonfiction story someone wrote to sub to a new Chicken Soup for the Soul book. There was a pretty good story but it got lost in a sea of passive being verbs and repetitions of words. Rewriting the piece with many active verbs and eliminating the repeated words would make the story one an editor might look at more than once. We need to be careful to not become a reporter in our fiction and creative nonfiction. Don't list the happenings as you might in a newspaper article. Use action in every way you can to make the story come alive for the reader.
3. continue learning your craft: I've said this many times and you'll hear me say it again. As writers, we never reach a point where we know it all. We need to make time for reading about our craft, attending occasional conferences and to learn by reading the critiques that other writers give to our work and the work of our fellow writers. This last one is reason enough to join a critique group. Learning our craft is an ongoing process. Don't disregard this important tool.
4. sort out markets: There are so many markets for writers that it can be mind-boggling when you start studying market guides. It is to your advantage to sort them into lists of possible markets for the type of writing you do along with those that would be the most likely to publish your work. Seeing an actual copy of a magazine or ezine is even more helpful than just reading a market guide reference. Read at least one entire issue, more if possible. You'll soon see the type of writing the editors are looking for. Star the ones on your list that you think might work best for you.
5. study guidelines: I've harped on this over and over. I'm going to do it again because I think it is of prime importance in your chance of having your submission accepted. Many markets will give lengthy and explicit guidelines for what they seek. They do it for a reason--to keep from getting submissions that come nowhere near what their publication wants and to let you, the writer, know clearly what they want and what they don't want. The publications that have lengthy guidelines run the risk of writers taking one look, maybe scanning, and then flipping them off. Too long some will say. You become your own worst enemy if you do that. Why go to all the work of writing and submitting if you're not going to follow the guidelines given? On the opposite end are the publications that give either no guidelines or very few. Either they are very broadminded and accept a large variety of things or they aren't even sure themselves what they want. In the long run, you're more likely to get published by the market that gives longer and more detailed guidelines--if you study and follow them.
5. study guidelines