OK, maybe just get published on the internet. Whatever.

How to Get Published on the Internet and Take Over the World

OK, maybe just get published on the internet. Whatever.

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Or maybe just how to get published on the internet. I may have gotten a bit overzealous with the whole world domination thing.

I’ve been publishing my work with submissions-based websites for about a year-and-a-half now and running my own submissions-based site for a little over 6 months, and while there is still PLENTY I have to learn about this industry, there are a few things I’ve picked up along the way. So if you’re interested in getting published on the internet and {possibly but probably not} taking over the world, listen up.

1. Put yourself out there. Yeah. Just … submit some shit. I know that sounds so basic — Really? Submit some shit? Gee, thanks. — but it’s true. You won’t get published unless you start sending your work in to submissions-based websites. What’s the worst that could happen? They say no? OKAY. So they say no. Aside from maybe a bruised ego, you’re no worse off than you were before.

It’s as simple as that.

So where should you submit? Check out Beyond Your Blog. Lots of great info there.

2. Join blogging groups on Facebook. There are tons of them. Seriously. Conduct a search. You’ll see. Request to join groups that focus on the same writing niche as you. Interact with other bloggers, get to know them — and I mean genuinely know them as people — and see what groups they’re in. These groups are goldmines of information and networking opportunities.

3. Go to blogging conferences. I went to my first conference last year, AND I WAS TERRIFIED. Seriously. I thought I was going suffer death by anxiety attack. I didn’t. And I actually won an award there. Go figure.

Look up blogging conferences online, save up your money, and go. You might be scared shitless, but you’ll be glad you did it. And you’ll probably make some great connections as well.

4. Read and follow submission instructions. Guys, seriously. Most submissions-based sites have clearly detailed submission instructions on a “Contact” or “Write for Us” page that, if you know how the internet works and can read, will spell out everything you need to know and do in order to submit to a website. If you don’t know how the internet works and/or can’t read, you have no business blogging, so there’s that to consider.

Editors hate when they receive submissions that completely disregard the carefully articulated instructions they’ve laid out for interested writers. Don’t be the object of hatred. Don’t.

5. Avoid publicly bad-mouthing editors or websites. Remember those groups I told you to join? Yeah, about that. You should probably watch what you say about websites and editors in there. Editors are like Robert DeNiro in Meet the Parents. They’re everywhere, Focker, and they will take you down. They will take you down to China Town.

And by that I mean they won’t be very happy, which could jeopardize your chances of getting published, not just on those particular websites, but on others once word hits the street that you like to talk smack about websites and their editors.

6. Avoid incessantly bitching about how you can’t get published on certain sites or how the types of posts certain sites run are “beneath you.” There are some bloggers out there who will complain until the cows crap in the butter churn about how they can’t get published on a certain site or think certain forms of writing are not as good as others. Well, listen carefully because this is important:

Form does not dictate quality of writing, and not every writer is suited to every website.

Good writing is good writing, and bad writing is bad writing. Doesn’t matter whether it’s a novel or a list post, a personal narrative or a Web comic; if it’s good, there’s a home for it somewhere, and if it’s bad?

Well, maybe that’s the problem.

Some serious self-critique of one’s own writing and a good editor for hire can help.

7. Avoid falling into the “them” vs. “us/me” trap. I’ve heard rumor that some writers believe there are secret blogger cliques out there hell bent on keeping other bloggers from succeeding and editors who will only, without question, publish certain people. I’m not going to say these secret societies don’t exist, but I sure as hell haven’t been invited to the party.

The fact of the matter is there are groups of bloggers out there who have formed friendships based on writing style, niche, or shared projects. They’re not out to get anybody or beat them down. They’re just doing their own thing and supporting one another, and complaining about them, insulting their craft, or blaming them for one’s problems isn’t a productive use of time.

Nobody wants to work with Negative Nellies, editors included. So don’t be one. Instead, recognize that there’s a tribe out there for everybody, pull up your panties, and get to work.

8. Understand that good writers make it look so easy. But it’s not. There’s nothing easy about this game. You’ve got to work hard. HARD. And nobody owes you a thing.

For every acceptance you get from an editor of an online publication, expect to receive at least 5 rejections. Don’t believe me? Just ask the unpublished drafts sitting in the back end of my website or in my Google Docs. They didn’t make the cut. But I kept submitting anyway. And you should, too.

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9. Don’t hound editors. It’s OK and even encouraged to follow up on a submission or an email if you haven’t heard anything in the time frame they’ve given you — shit happens, and things get lost in the shuffle — but to do it unprofessionally or excessively or to flag an email as high priority and demand a response is to more than likely sever your chances of getting published on that site.

Editors don’t have time for that nonsense. There’s a lot of behind-the-scenes work they have to do that few people truly realize, and you may just wind up overwhelming them and clogging the gears even more.

10. Do proofread. For the love of all that is sacred, look over your work three, four, and five times before sending it, and have a writing buddy do the same. Slow down and take your time. If an editor receives something with a ton of typos or grammatical errors, s/he is going to be exhausted just thinking about having to prep it for publication, and it wouldn’t be surprising if s/he passes altogether.

11. Do realize that just because you receive a rejection, it does not mean that’s because your writing sucks. It could be because that particular piece sucks, but it could also be because the website has recently published or scheduled something similar, has found that the audience is not engaged with the topic lately, does not have it in the budget to offer compensation at that time, or can’t fit it into the editorial calendar, just to name a few possibilities.

12. Do familiarize yourself with sites and their content. I’ve received all kinds of bizarre submissions, from ones the writer thought I’d enjoy because I run a “cat blog” (Nope. I don’t.) to ones the writer thought my conservative Christian followers would enjoy (Uh…). If the editor ever, at any point, finds him/herself uttering, “HAVE YOU EVEN READ THIS SITE BEFORE?” it’s not good.

13. Don’t be afraid to invest in yourself and your craft. If you’re really serious about freelance writing online and find yourself having difficulty gaining traction, you may want to consider taking a blogging course, hiring a consultant, or joining a workshop. If you just want to do it because you enjoy it, AWESOME. But if you want to do it because you enjoy it AND want to get paid a little something as well, it just may be worth forking over some time and dough.

14. Understand that even successful, established writers churn out mediocrity sometimes. Just because somebody’s been published in the most prestigious of online magazines or print publications does not mean they shit gold. Everybody has their hits and their misses. EVERYBODY. If you start focusing on and obsessing over your misses, thinking they’re ALL hits or thinking they must mean everything you’ve ever created is garbage, you’re never gonna make it. Cut your losses, move on, and maybe revisit them for a makeover at a later date.

But no matter what, keep writing and submitting. That part’s non-negotiable.