How to Get Articles Then Books Published eHow.com
If you're just starting out, you might as well know the truth now--you have to be "famous" (at least well-known) to get published by a major publisher. At the very least, the magazine or book publisher needs to know you personally or know your best friend personally to consider your manuscript. It is difficult to convince them to take a chance on an unknown unless you have unique credentials to cover a topic that fits in with their general themes. One intern at a major, glossy magazine finally told me what I always suspected, "We never read unsolicited manuscripts."So, if you're not famous, or somehow "in" with a major publisher, you'll have to start with a small one. Follow these steps to work your way up to national magazines and book publishers:
Build your portfolio by offering a story for free:
I finally began earning money as a freelance writer when I called a local magazine and offered them a story I did on a friend who beat the Guinness World Record time for paddling down the Mississippi River. The editor replied, "That sounds very interesting, but we have a limited budget and won't be able to pay you." I assured him that was fine. I just needed to get my foot in the door. The editor later assigned articles that paid. From there, other editors read my articles in the magazine and began calling me.
Contact editors by name at national magazines:
It's almost pointless to send a query letter to an editor without addressing it directly to them. I find up-to-date contact information by sitting on the floor of bookstores and libraries and skimming through magazines looking for the names of the current editors, or I call publishers to find out who the submissions editor is.
Write a query letter that proves to the editor you know their magazine:
The query letter introduces you and your work to a publisher. I've had the most luck when I begin the letter commenting on an article or book they've published or by launching right into my story. For example, one successful query letter began: "Inevitably, most kids ask for a dog. And who can blame them? Dogs like Lassie adore you, keep you warm when you're caught in a blizzard and drag you out of burning buildings when you're unconscious. But by the time we’re adults, we’ve learned the truth: dogs urinate on your new wall-to-wall carpets; dig holes in your leather recliners to hide their rawhide bones, and bite your neighbor’s kid."
Learn how to use a digital camera:
Magazines and newspapers need images to make their pages come alive. I always offer to provide the photographs or image myself. In one case, for a historical piece, I told the publisher they'd find the ideal image to go along with Shays' Rebellion in the New York Public Library image database.
Get out from behind your computer and network:
Meeting people in the industry is important. You can't spend all your time behind your computer and expect to be "discovered." Attending a writer's conference or taking a writing class improves your chances finding work. My journalism instructor at the community college helped me find work at her newspaper.
Give readers topics they want--but stay true to your voice:
Only when you have developed an audience can you can branch out and truly say what you want to say. When it came time to write the humorous account of how a homeless dog found his way onto my disabled daughter's couch, I wanted to find a publisher first before finishing my harrowing search for just the right pet. Having learned that I needed to think about what publishers are looking for, I analyzed the market, including who my "readers" already were and who I thought they would be, and wrote a book proposal for my memoir, "Anything But a Dog!" The book proposal worked and "Anything But a Dog!", which is truly my "voice" telling the story I wanted to tell, found a publisher.
If you are writing a non-fiction book, you'll need to learn how to write a book proposal--publishers want to see those before you submit your entire manuscript. My book proposal for "Anything But a Dog! The perfect pet for a girl with congenital CMV (cytomegalovirus)" is available for viewing on my blog, "How to Get Thin and Famous (or at least published!) at: http://howtogetthinandfamous.blogspot.com/
My book proposal incluces marketing ideas that you'll need for your fiction or non-fiction:
Excerpt of Book Proposal that secured a publisher for my memoir, "Anything But a Dog!"
Link to my e-how article: