There are a lot of publications seeking submissions these days. To put your best foot forward, make sure you read the publication's writers guidelines. Then take an objective look at the work you want to submit. Do they match? If they are not a complete match keep looking for other places to publish that piece.
Another crucial point is to make sure you format your submission EXACTLY as the publication requests. There are general rules here you need to stay within. For example, many nonfiction publications want your manuscripts to be double spaced with one inch margins all the way around. For Poetry, however, many publications want the manuscript single spaced.
Each publication has unique needs. They know exactly what helps them get your work to their readers. So, follow their manuscript submission guidelines EXACTLY. This is no place to skimp. If you are having trouble formatting your manuscript to the exact format, it might be time to consider outsourcing the manuscript formatting. There are a lot of excellent services online that are very affordable.
If your material is geared toward any holidays, make sure to check when each publication needs it. Many publications need Christmas articles for instance in the beginning of the year.
Another tip a lot of writers miss, is to make sure your writing is edited properly. Be sure your English and grammar are where they need to be for the publication you are interested in.
Today, in our fast paced society, too many writers are pushing themselves to get work done quickly. This leaves a lot of grammar and other issues that need to be addressed and corrected before you submit your work for publication.
I know a lot of writers feel it's too hard to polish their prose. I look at it this way. My goal is to be able to help others with my nonfiction writing. Now, if I can't get my articles and books published, then I won't be helping anyone, will I?
For many years, I truly disliked the polishing process. I discovered, however, that if I truly wanted to write, and I truly wanted my writing to be helpful, then I had to learn to do what ever it was the publications I wanted to be published in wanted me to do.
So, I set out on a new journey with my writing. I started hiring people to do the polishing and editing. I made sure they did not change my voice or intent. I learned to 'let go' of my writing. I started to think of it as a grown child, going off to college for the first time. I was still Mom, though now in a different way.
Once I 'let go' emotionally from my work, I discovered something really amazing. I started for the first time to look at the edited and polished manuscripts, and discovered they were not that different from my original work. A tweak here, a correction there. I started to dive into learning about what publications and publishers were looking for.
Then, I had a win win all the way around. I enjoyed doing my writing. I learned how to edit and when I needed a 'second eye'. I soon began to enjoy the entire process. My work was getting published more and more, and my creativity soared. Plus, I was achieving my goals. It doesn't get much better than that. So, put some time into learning what the publications you are interested in want. Then, give it to them. Soon, you will be seeing your work getting published again and again.
By following my suggestions above, you will put yourself in the top of the thousands of submissions these publications receive each year. That will put you closer to getting published, and once you are published it is so much easier to simply do it again and again.
Go ahead. Put your best foot forward and get your writing published. The first time is the hardest because the whole process is a big unknown. Once you have even a small article published, a light bulb goes on and you begin to get published more and more. Enjoy!
My main source for markets is WritersMarket.com. I use them almost all the time. There are times, however, when I need markets they don't cover. Here is a list of current publications seeking submissions that I like.
Accepts General Submissions in the following:
Spring 2011 Story Contest with $6,500 in prizes
The Narrative Library $25,000 – Book Award Series
Story of the Week
Poem of the Week
$5,000 Narrative Prize – for new and emerging writers
Cartoons and Graphic Stories