Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Publish Your Work to Build a Platform

In The Frugal Book Promoter I advise the shy writer to promote by what they love to do most, writing. Yes, shy writers can promote by sitting behind their computers. There is a litany of ways to get your message out there and they’re all listed in the book with a little advice for how to break into each of them.

Those ideas include publishing in anthologies and lesser-known or beginning journals. The emerging writer has a better chance there. And you don’t have to sacrifice quality. New or small or online does not necessarily mean that a journal isn’t respected.

One of my poems about morning glories and chicken poop was just published in Writings from the River( Edited by Frederick Bridger, it is Montana State University’s journal (so it has the academic cache), but they specialize in a Midwest sensibility which this little poem (borrowed from my childhood experiences) had in abundance. By the way, they will soon be publishing under the name Front Range Review. I had a similar experience with Mary, a journal put out by St. Mary’s College here in Los Angles.

I also had the luck to publish with a brand new journal Pear Noir ( When one submits to something brand new, one has no idea of what to expect. It turned out to be beautiful and this note today is mostly to urge you poets and short story writers to submit to them. When I received this well-designed volume, I was surprised to see that a fellow UCLA instructor, Les Plesko, was also published in it along with quite a few recognizable names in the literary world.

So, one can luck out. But even if the newbie journal doesn’t turn out to be all that you’d hope, it is always a thrill to have someone think enough of your work to want to include it. And you develop a platform as a credible writer when you publish.

Keep in mind that payment for some of these journals is often very low. Sometimes they pay only in copies. I wouldn’t submit, though, if they don’t offer at least one copy in return for using your work. It feels a little scammy; you want to see your work, after all, and you shouldn’t be forced to buy a copy to see it. In fact, that’s one of the ways you can determine the difference between an authentic literary journal and one that will publish anything to get unsuspecting authors (especially poets) to buy lots of copies or one big, thin-paged, unedited and generally awful volume.

On the other hand, it is nice to buy an extra copy or two to support the people who cared enough to publish the very best--YOU.

Keep Writing, Promoting and Yes, Editing, Too!
Carolyn Howard-Johnson

PS: All of these literary journals will qualify for Poets and Writers list of published poets (and other writers)--even if they don’t presently have them on their list of publications. It is a nice little literary touch to be listed among the nation’s greatest authors on that magazine’s sites.

Carolyn Howard-Johnson, author of This Is the Place; Harkening: A Collection of Stories Remembered; Tracings, a chapbook of poetry; and two how to books, The Frugal Book Promoter: How To Do What Your Publisher Won't and The Frugal Editor: Put Your Best Book Forward to Avoid Humiliation and Ensure Success. She is also the author of the Amazon Short, "The Great First Impression Book Proposal". Some of her other blogs are, a blog where authors can recycle their favorite reviews. She also blogs at all things editing, grammar, formatting and more at The Frugal, Smart and Tuned-In Editor blog.

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