Getting Published on the Internet for Beginners

by Greg Knollenberg
The Internet Writing Journal, August 1997
Whether you want to get published for fun or for profit, aiming to get published online is a worthwhile endeavor. For beginners, Internet publications offer a chance to get published in small niche publications with a worldwide audience.

You Have an Advantage

If you have a computer and Internet access, you already have a big advantage. You don't even have to worry about rushing; you already are a step ahead of those who will come online later. There are plenty of markets online. Many of them focus on small niches, which makes your chances of getting published even greater if you have a speciality. You are not going to find a richer resource of publications anywhere that is easier to access than on the Web. However, you do need to approach submitting to online publications a little differently than you would submitting to offline publications.

Why Should I?

When pursuing writing as a career, it is crucial to establish yourself. The more people that read your work, the better. The Internet is growing. More people are spending more time reading online, which increases the chances of your work being read. According to a report by Price Waterhouse in June 1997, more people are spending time reading online in place of time they used to spend offline reading books and magazines. A third of the people surveyed use the Internet in place of reading a book, newspaper or magazine. Say you are published in a small ezine that only 100 people read a month, but a few months later that publication is being read by 1000 people a month. Your poem, article or short story will be in the archives which people can access. On your bio you can mention this publication, which will be more renowned now then it was when you originally were published. This requires some foresight because you have to decide which ones are going to stay around and continue to grow in readership. Remember that this is the World Wide Web; people often forget that. If your work is published online, it easily could be read by someone from another country who might never have read your work offline.



What About The Risks?

There are risks with publishing your work online just as there are with print publications, probably even more so. The biggest fear of beginning writers is plagiarism of their work. The Internet expands this fear because a bilingual person in another country could possibly reprint your work in another language as his or her own -- without you ever knowing about it. Furthermore, not all countries respect the copyright laws of other countries, so your remedies may be limited. However, are your concerns any different then the large commercial companies, newspapers and publications that have gone ahead and taken this risk themselves? You have to decide for yourself if the rewards outweigh the risks. I believe that they do.

You may also be concerned about the privacy of email. Several software tools currently allow encryption of email content until delivery to the other party including Eudora and Pegasus. Crackers and thieves looking for information in email are more likely to be interested in credit card numbers, social security numbers and other personal information rather than articles, poetry and short stories, but the software is available if you are concerned.

How do I Start?

Study the markets. You need to research and find the markets that print the kind of articles or stories you write. Make lists of the publications you like and don't like. Check them periodically, checking the ones you like more often. Note how often a publication updates its site, how long it has been in existence and if it lists what is coming in the next issue. These are indicators that the publication has staying power and will not suddenly disappear or fail to update its site for five months. Whether it has advertisements or not is not a good indicator of viability, because there are free online services for swapping or running advertisements on web sites. How often a publication updates and archives its content is a much better indicator.

Where Do I Find Out About the Online Markets?

The Writers Write® database is a great place to start. The publications listed in this database are actively seeking writers. However, not every publication is listed here. You need to know how to search for additional markets and opportunities. Learn how to use the search engines and directories.
"Try keywords like 'writers guidelines fantasy' or 'submissions fantasy' or 'submissions guidelines fantasy' and other combinations."
Use more than one search engine and learn how they work. If you are a beginning fantasy writer and you are looking for a publication to submit your short story to, first run a search on Writers Write® for fantasy. Start making a list of the publications you like and which you see as possibilities for submissions. You also can try searches on the search engines. Try keywords like "writers guidelines fantasy", "submissions fantasy", "submissions guidelines fantasy" and other combinations. You will find many publications that print stories and articles related to your area of writing. Check your resources frequently so that you have an updated list of the places where you can submit your work for possible publication.

Network

The Internet also provides a great way to network with other writers around the world through email, mailing lists, newsletters and online chat. New writers' groups have formed that are solely Internet based. These connections and contacts are great ways to stay informed of policies and the likes and dislikes of editors at specific publications. Establish contacts with other writers with whom you can share information. Find information outlets that provide directly you with the information you need about online markets, and about changes and opportunities on the Internet.

Submit and Then Keep Writing

Once you have submitted an article or story by email, do not sit back and wait for a response. Continue writing and researching. Work on your next story or poem. You most likely will finish another piece before you have heard back from the last place to which you submitted. This way even if your work is rejected, you will now have two pieces to submit instead of one. You also should keep track of your submissions. There is a method described on Writers Write® which tells you how to do so with pen and paper or by using spreadsheet software on your computer. By tracking your submissions you will be able to stay organized and focused on your goals.

Eventually you will have a more developed bio. You also can promote yourself by creating a homepage on which you can list your publications. You never know who might drop by to visit. Some publications will give a link to your homepage if they publish your work. This allows readers who like your work to find more of it. Homepages can be created on all levels -- from pages created using free services found on the Web to complete web sites with your own domain name. However you decide to do it, it is nice to be able to have a place where your readers can learn more about you and your work. If you get enough visitors to your site, you could even run a mailing list informing your readers of your new work as it gets published.

The Opportunity is Yours to Take

Finding a niche is the way to start. Once you have some work published in two or three publications that are well grounded, you should have a solid source of loyal readers. If you pick a niche which is in a growing field of interest, you might even find yourself considered an expert in that particular field. Getting established online is important, especially now. It is the continued growth of the Internet worldwide that you are betting on as you begin to establish yourself. With all the online activity, the picture for online writing looks very promising -- and you still have a chance to get in on the ground floor!



**Greg Knollenberg is the CEO of Writers Write, Inc.

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