Get Published: An Easy Guide To The Publishing Industry For Beginning Or Intermediate Creative Writers

Want a quick overview of the publishing industry so that you can get published? Whether you’re writing a novel, nonfiction book, or memoir (or whether you write short stories, poetry, or personal essays), you’ll love our simple explanation of how to get published.

The publishing industry is a confusing place! From the outside, it can seem like a wonder that anyone gets published! But with a little light reading, you too can obtain the information you need to get your writing published.

This page is a great primer for beginning or intermediate writers who want to get published in the following genres:

  • Novels
  • Nonfiction books (self-help, how to)
  • Memoirs
  • Short stories
  • Poetry
  • Personal essays and narrative nonfiction

Read on to find out how you can get published with reputable publishers who can help “make” your writing career!

Submit to Review Board

Step 1. Write Better = Get Published More Easily

The first step, if you want to get published, is to write as well as you possibly can. That means putting in your time at creative writing classes, conferences, groups, and more. Focus on improving your poetry, short stories, nonfiction, and novels. Here are just a few of our many craft and technique articles to help you get published!

Five Things You Can Do—This Week—To Become A Better Writer

Reading Like A Writer: Are You Maximizing Your Reading Time?

Creative Writers: Building Confidence In Your Craft

5 Ways To Make Your Characters More Three-Dimensional

5 Ways To Write Characters That People Care About 

Literary Locales: What Great Books Teach Us About Setting

Be Honest: 5 Self-Editing Tips For Increased Objectivity

How To Come Up With A Great Title For Your Book (Or Story Or Poem)

The Need For Speed: How To Write Faster In Five Easy Steps

Four Things Writers Can Learn From Fairy Tales (Besides Never Eat The Free Apple)

Organization And Creativity: How To Free Up Brain Space And Be A Better Writer

Is Your Short Prose OR Poetry “Literary Enough” For Literary Magazines?

Are You Ready For Publication?

It’s Time! How To Stop Revising And Start Making Submissions 

How To Create Must-Read Excerpts From Your Book

Step 2. Do Your Research

Your next step in your path to publication depends on your genre.


If you’re writing poetry, short stories, or creative nonfiction pieces like personal essays, the widest market for your work is going to lie with literary magazine publishers. (Learn more: What’s a literary magazine?) In other words, if you want to get published in a short format, the first step is to understand how to submit your writing to literary journals.

First, use our articles to help you research the RIGHT literary journals for your creative writing (OR, contact Writer’s Relief because we can do the research for you and save you tons of time and frustration).

How To Determine The Quality, Reputation, And Desirability Of A Print Literary Journal

Online Literary Journals: How To Determine Quality And Reputation

What’s Cooking? The Writer’s Relief Recipe For A Successful Submission Strategy

Writers: Our Top 3 Secrets For Getting More Acceptance Letters

What You Must Know To Make Effective Submissions To Literary Agents And Editors

How To Find Literary Journals To Get Published In

Research Your Way To Publication: Using Your Local Library

5 Things Your Writing Submissions Say About You Without Your Knowing

Short Prose: How To Get Published In Literary Journals

Does Your Author Bio Really Matter?

Do-It-Yourself Submission Strategies: The Writer’s Relief Method

16 Steps To Make Your Publishing Dreams Come True

Poems: Get Published In Literary Magazines

Are You Ready? A Checklist For An Upcoming Publishing Rush

Summer Solutions: 6 Submission Shortcuts You Should Be Using (And 3 You Shouldn’t)

How To Choose A Writers Submission Service Or Program

Making Submissions: A Guide For Frazzled Writers

5 Online Submission Mistakes That Could Lead To Rejection From A Literary Journal

The Seven Signs Of A Successful Submission Strategy

What Is Considered Previously Published Writing? 

Casting A Wide Net: Submitting To A Range Of Literary Journals And Magazines

The No-Compromise Approach To Writing For The Market

7 Sneaky Culprits That Stop Writers From Making Successful Submissions

Get Ready! 5 Steps To Take Before The September Publishing Rush

The Smart Writer’s Guide: Save Money On Submissions

Literary Magazines And Journals: Your FAQs Answered

Cover Letter Must-Haves For Personal Essay Submissions To Literary Journals

Before you submit your writing, be sure you understand how to interpret submission guidelines.

Then, write a cover letter for your submission. Your cover letter should be basic and should include the name of work(s) you’re submitting and your author bio.

If you receive an offer of publication from an editor at a lit mag, be sure you understand literary journal contracts and rights and how to negotiate contracts.

Not sure how your writing is protected by law? Learn how copyright law and freedom of speech protect you here.

Also, consider the submission process Through The Eyes Of An Editor.

If you’re not sure if your short work is the “right” length for literary journal submission, read this: Short Story Or Novella? What’s The Difference And Where To Publish Shorter Fiction.

If you’re not sure whether you should be writing a novella or not, check out this article.

If you ever decide to turn down an acceptance, it’s vital that you do so strategically and professionally. We explain how to make that call and how to correspond with the editor so you don’t burn any bridges.

If you end up with a double acceptance (congratulations!), here are some tips on how to handle that.

Here are some tips to help you identify and target your ideal reader to boost your odds of getting published.

At Writer’s Relief, we’re busting the myth about not making summer submissions! In fact, savvy writers make a point of submitting their short stories, poetry, and books during the summer months. Here are the reasons why.

Whether you know it or not, you are writing for an audience. Who is your audience, Writer?

Need more help? Our submission strategists here at Writer’s Relief can help you get published in literary journals. We’ll do the hard work so you can focus on your writing! Contact us today.


Read up on the industry and find the right advocates for your unique book.

8 Publishing Lies (And The Truth Writers Might Not Know):We debunk typical bits of misinformation about the publishing industry.

Traditional publishing. If you’re writing books, we recommend you start by finding a literary agent (read the article if you don’t believe that finding a literary agent is the best way to get published in book-length form). If you’d like to find a literary agent who can help you connect with the major players in the publishing industry, visit our Free Publishing Took Kit Page On Finding A Literary Agent. (Note: Writer’s Relief helps authors submit to literary agencies. Visit our Services page.)

Self-publishing. You may also consider self-publishing your book to get it published. Like traditional publishing, self-publishing has its pros and cons. Be sure you do a LOT of research on self-publishing so you can connect with a self-publisher who is honest and effective. Read our Free Guide To Self-Publishing in our Writers Tool Kit Pages. Self-publishing can be a great way to get published!

Collections of stories, poems, essays, or other short pieces. There are many different routes to get published if you’re working on a collection. Although literary agents tend to be slightly hesitant (in general) about taking on a collection of short stories, and very few literary agents would consider a poetry collection, there IS a way to get your collection published. Read on!

How To Publish A Poetry Book, Chapbook, Or Collection Of Poems

How To Publish A Collection Of Essays

How To Publish A Collection Of Short Stories

Need help identifying the best literary agent for your book so you can get published? The Writer’s Relief team has been helping writers of all levels connect with literary agents since 1994. Learn more about how Writer’s Relief can prepare your submissions and query letters, identify the BEST literary agents for your book, and much more!

Step 3. Prepare For Rejections As A Sign Of Your Submission Success

Although it seems counterintuitive to suggest that rejections are a GOOD thing, we at Writer’s Relief truly believe they are. Rejections are signs that a writer is knocking on doors and actively pursuing his/her goals (instead of just waiting around and wondering why nothing ever happens).

Here are some resources to help you maintain a positive attitude in the face of rejections:

Famous Author Quotations About Rejection

True Stories Of Unbelievable Rejections

Five Literary Flops (And How They Changed The World)

Rejoice in Rejection: An E-Book For Writers

5 Things You Shouldn’t Do To Get Published (And One You Should!)

Step 4. Build Your Author Platform

If you’re hoping to go beyond having a few publications and would like to make a name for yourself as a writer, it’s important to establish a reputation in the writing community for strong writing. Learn more about how to develop your reputation as a writer (before or after you get published!).

More Articles And Resources For Writers Who Want To Get Published

The History of Literary Journals And Magazines

An Overview of Literary Agents

An Agent Gives Advice To Help Book Authors Get Published

How To Get Published

How To Be A Successful Ghostwriter

Achieving Your Writing Goals: The Dos And Don’ts

5 Ways To Improve Your Writing Career Without Writing

7 Things You Can Do To Get Your Writing Taken Seriously

How To Make Your Own Writing Luck

Closing Notes

This page has been a labor of love to help do-it-yourself authors. We hope you’ve found it helpful in your search to find a literary agent for your novel or nonfiction book! If you liked this page, let us know. And let your friends know.

We like to support the literary community—and we need to know that our efforts are helpful.

Please take a moment to like, share, email, tweet, or stumble this page! And if you’d like to repost any of our articles, you can! Just contact us for details.

We wish you all the best as you try to get published. Let us know how we can help!



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“Getting that first poem published was the hardest threshold to cross. My team at Writer’s Relief kept encouraging me…then came the acceptance! We celebrated…then I continued writing, and Writer’s Relief continued doing the wonderful work they do!”

—King Grossman, Writer
(Watch King’s video testimonial here!)

“Every piece I have sent out with their help has been accepted for publication! I am looking forward to working with the team on getting my new novel out into the world.”

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  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

WHY? Because our insider
know-how has helped
writers get over 18,000 acceptances.

FREE Publishing Leads and Tips! Our e-publication, Submit Write Now!, delivered weekly to your inbox.
  • BEST (and proven) submission tips
  • Hot publishing leads
  • Calls to submit
  • Contest alerts
  • Notification of industry changes
  • And much more!

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