There has been a proliferation of options for would-be writers to be published in recent years due to the development of digital technology and social media platforms. Many publications are now both online as well as in hard copy, with others only accessible online. Whilst this offers more choice for those wanting to publish their work, it can be confusing and harder to decide where to target.
This article discusses some key points about getting published, covering a range of possibilities, not just academic ones. Those considering publication will find advice here about options, tactics and strategies.
The key is how to take those practical steps that will move you from publishing ambitions to plans and tangible results.
1st Step- Self Reflection
- Are you ready to write for publication?
- Do you have previous publications? What and where?
- Why do you want to publish anyway? Professional, personal reasons or a mix of these
- What type of outputs do you have in mind?
You may be:
- Focusing on getting academic work published, such as turning a thesis into a book and/or academic papers. This is important for anyone intent on an academic career
- Considering non-academic writing to disseminate your research to wider and more diverse audiences
- Aiming for both academic and non-academic publications
- Planning to pursue writing as a career or as a secondary activity
Or you may just want to know a bit more about getting published.
First, let’s consider turning a thesis into a book and/or articles
This entails moving from an academic product to a publishable one and the associated challenges.
Things to Do:
- Identify and research the main publishers in your field both for books and journals
- Identify and look at relevant books, conference paper collections, special journal editions and online journals
- Make a list of target publishers/journals and read their submissions policies
- Consider what might catch their attention and what your work’s USP is
- Map out what is/are the potential target audience(s)
- Build up a portfolio whilst you are doing your thesis: articles, conference papers, blogs and so on to raise your profile
- Draw up your own publishing/ action plan/timetable
- NB. Include expected time(s) you aim to be ready as well as your target publisher’s deadlines.
Be realistic with your timescale!
Don’t forget to talk (offline and online) to people who have published. You can learn a lot from them.
This will include:
- Developing your academic and professional networks
- Expanding your links and contacting those who can offer advice and support
- Joining relevant groups that offer advice and discussion forums
- Consider the boredom factor- you may be tired of your thesis by the time you complete
- You may need a break but don’t leave it too long – your work may ‘go cold’ and you could struggle to get motivated
- You have to reach a wider audience than your supervisor and examiners
- Your material may be interesting at a certain point- seize the moment
- Bring out its uniqueness -is there anything going on in society/world that you could ‘hitch’ a submission onto?
- Length and style will depend on who you publish with
What not to do:
- Write a book or article and send it unsolicited hoping for a positive response. It will probably not be looked at
- Send a summary of your thesis to publishers to get them interested. They will want a book proposal instead
- Send out any work without it being looked at/edited by someone else such as tutor or colleague
- Be too optimistic about how much you can do in a given period
Importance of Social Media
Most of us use many forms every day for many purposes. You can consider how to use social media as a platform for your publication ambitions, such as:
- Raise your profile as a researcher/ writer/expert
- Aim to become an identified source of knowledge in your field through the ‘usual suspects’- Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn etc
Self-publishing is increasingly acceptable, no longer considered purely as ‘vanity publishing.’ It can work well for both fiction and non-fiction
This route does require an investment of time and money and a lot of ‘DIY’ work: editing, layout, sales, distribution, marketing and PR
Popular Press and Media
Do you have information that might make a ‘good’ media story or be part of an existing one?
Various media outlets from TV, radio and press might be interested in your work when ‘big’ events take place nationally or internationally. You could approach them about a written piece
Newspapers and magazines are possible publishers of your work as well as academic journals.
Local newspapers and radio are interested in material about the area and are often keen to promote local people.
You would clearly have to write in a different style but you can practice this.
The key is to read the publications you are aiming to submit to so that you grasp their styles.
Remember: Universities have Communications and Publicity offices keen to get academic work ‘out there’ as stories. You could contact them for some leads.
Final tip: Cast your net wide and take a look at the vast range of publishing outlets and platforms that now exist both for academic and non-academic works.