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Writing Tips (Part Four): Five "Simple" Steps to Getting Published

November 3, 2014 | Richard Scarsbrook | Comments (1)

1. Write the best darned story / memoir / article / poem/ novel or whatever else you want to write.

 So. . . get writing!


2. Re-write and revise it until it cannot possibly be any better!

 Cut it!  Revise it!  Rework it!  Finish the job!


3. Send your work out to publishers!

First, get your manuscript into a proper, professional format.  A good resource for this purpose is:

The Writer’s Digest Guide to Manuscript Formats, by Dian Dincin and SeliGroves - With plain examples, this guide shows you how to properly format queries, proposal letters, articles, short story and book manuscripts, play, TV, and movie scripts, etc.

Writers digest guide to manuscript formats

Then, research and find out what magazines/journals/publishers will be most receptive to the kind of work you have created. Some great resources for this are:

  • The Places for Writers website - A one-stop-shopping website for Canadian writers, run by the lovely and talented Barbara Fletcher.  Literary news, contests, calls for submissions, grants and funding, literary organizations, and so much more.  Just about anything useful to a writer on the web is listed here. I use it as the home page on my computer. 


  • The Canadian Writers Market (ebook), by Sandra B. Tooze (McClelland and Stewart) - I consider this to be the one must have book for anyone trying to get their work published or otherwise sell their writing. It lists book and magazine publishers, prizes and awards, agents, grant programs, professional and casual writers’ organizations, etc. I used this book for finding the “right” magazines for several of my early short stories, as well as for finding a publisher for my first novel.

Canadian writer's market

  • Poetry Markets for Canadians, by Marie Savage (Mercury/League of Canadian Poets)- Similar to above, but focusing exclusively on poetry, which most other guidebooks mostly (or completely) ignore.


  • The Canadian Writer’s Guide (Fitzhenry and Whiteside)- Chock full of advice on various topics of interest to writers, including creating, editing, and marketing your work.  Contains a decent listing of various Canadian magazine and book publishers.



  • The Writer’s Handbook (Annual), by Sylvia K. Burack (The Writer, Inc.)- The US equivalent of The Canadian Writer’s Guide, useful especially for it’s listing of US magazine and book markets.


4. Enter your work in writing contests and competitions.

This is a legitimate way to get recognition for your work and potentially get published in other places. 

Beware, though, there are many writing contest scams that exist only to take your money (especially with poetry, it seems).  If you aren’t sure about the legitimacy of a competition, Google it to see if anyone has reported problems with it.

Generally, legitimate contests are run by reputable literary magazines and established arts organizations. Again, the Places for Writers website has an excellent listing of these contests.

Many of the writer’s guides listed above will also list legitimate writing contests and competitions.


5. Network with other writers, publishers, editors, etc.

People in the writing business are generally a friendly lot, and getting to know others in the industry can be a very rewarding thing to do. 

  • Join a Local, National, and/or Online writers’ group or organization to take advantage of both the camaraderie and the other services they have to offer. The Canadian Authors’ Association, The League of Canadian Poets, The Writers’ Union of Canada, and CANSCAIP are just a few national organizations for writers.


  • Attend literary festivals (such as Word on the Street, Harbourfront International Authors Series, the Eden Mills Writers Festival, etc.) and go to public readings – Word, Now, Eye, and other newspapers and online sources list public poetry and fiction readings.  Local libraries, colleges, and universities often host author appearances as well. 


  • Listening to your favourite authors read is fun, and also a glimpse into how they are “hearing” their own words when they write them.  Attending readings is also a good way to meet other people in the writing world.


During his residency, Richard will work on three new books: a novel called Meet Me at La Bodeguita del Medio, a short story collection titled Rockets Versus Gravity, and a poetry collection called (d)Evolution. Through workshops and one-on-one meetings, Richard will draw on his years of writing and teaching experience to help developing writers find their voices and perfect their works.
Writer in Residence Program