I have been blogging for over ten years, but have just recently started to spread my wings as a writer. When I began to consider where I might submit, I was overwhelmed by how much was out there. Websites like Scary Mommy and HuffPost offer sharp writing by talented men and women on a huge platform, garnering thousands of hits per day. Bloggers clamor for exposure like that. Writing for sites of that size and stature became a goal, but I needed a starting off point.
It’s said that you should write what you know, so I decided to start in the places I know- small, local publications that catered to an audience of my New Jersey peers. I approached the editor of a local print magazine first. In the coming year I would find myself writing for them, as well as blogging for another local magazine, writing for a large-but-local healthcare system and contributing to a parenting blog that caters to New Jersey mothers.
I mistakenly made the assumption that writing for smaller publications would be easier somehow- I mean, these were New Jersey people. They made Jersey Shore in this state, how difficult could it be to find someone to publish me?
As it turns out, it was a little difficult (and I am glad for that, but more on that in a second). It took me several tries to get published in the first magazine I approached, and close to a year to have my first print piece published in the second. In the beginning, my work was heavily edited as I learned to set the proper tone and meet word count criteria. I had a lot to learn and sometimes, I can even admit that criticisms stung a little bit.
Here’s why this was all fantastic: writing for “smaller” websites and publications allowed me to stretch my legs as a writer. I am able to receive criticism and learn techniques from truly talented writers and editors. It may seem like baby steps to write for a site with just a few hundred hits per day or a small Facebook following. But baby steps are good! These sites become the foundation for what lies ahead for you as a writer, and we all know that the blocks at the bottom are the strongest of all. It can sting a little to have your writing worked over, but on the other hand, how amazing is it to hear “Wow! We really like your voice- let us show you how to really shine!”
The pond might be a little smaller, but the fish that are swimming there are just as talented as the fish in the bigger pools. A huge platform like Scary Mommy receives a massive amount of submissions and the true standouts and talents will be published. The same system works with the smaller publications. It is a case of quality, not quantity. Page hits do not always equate to raw talent, and I have been lucky enough to be among the ranks of some amazing writers and creators. I have had to chance to learn and grow under their tutelage and editing, and have even become friends with some of these connections. My fledgling little resume is more shiny and bright thanks to the confidence these editors have shown me, and I am becoming a better writer for it.