Not too long ago, a woman named Kathleen Myer wrote a book. She titled it How To Shit in the Woods. Some publisher actually published it. It sold 1.5 million copies. If Kathleen could find a publisher for a book called How To Shit in the Woods, then you can publish an article from prison.
Getting published is a process. It’s like learning to ride a bike. You start off on a tricycle, then you graduate to a two-wheeler with training wheels. After you take off the training wheels, you go about ten feet and crash. The next time, you go forty feet and crash. Sooner or later, though, you do it! And before you know it, you’re popping wheelies and riding with no hands.
The process for getting an article published is simple. The first step is research. Decide which publication interests you. Then read it. I mean really read it. Check out the focus of the articles. In other words, what kind of stuff is the editor of the magazine looking for? If the articles focus on the music industry, and you write about car stereos, it’s probably not a good fit. Then note how long the articles are. Are they short and to the point? Or long and rambling? If possible, get your hands on past issues and examine them.
The second step is to write. In other words, practice. LeBron James got to be ‘King James’ by endless hours of practice. Writing is the same as basketball. The more you write the better you’ll become at writing. And read. For a writer, reading is similar to training wheels on your bicycle. Reading helps you learn how to balance your words, because you observe how other writers put sentences together.
The third step is to get rid of the training wheels. That means submitting what you’ve written. You have to send it out. Let the editors see what you can do. And when you do send it out, be professional. Proofread. Check your spelling and grammar and syntax. Be sure to include a cover letter, introducing yourself and explaining why you think your article would interest their readers.
The fourth step is to cultivate relationships with editors. In the business world, they call this ‘networking.’ In other words, let editors know you’re a writer, that you’re available, and what kind of stuff you like to write. Networking pays off, as demonstrated by two events in my life. One, Dave Babbs, the editor of the Cocoran Sun, was kind enough to offer me a gig in this issue because of our relationship. Two, Craig Coscarelli, the chief paralegal at the Law Offices of D. Craig Hughes, hired me to write articles for a new prison newsletter called the State & Federal Criminal Law Review.
Both these opportunities were the result of networking. Networking is the way you make your own ‘lucky breaks.’
Putting it all in a nutshell, the steps to getting an article published from prison are:
- · Do your research before submitting.
- · Practice your writing, not only by writing but also by reading.
- · Present yourself as a professional.
- · Don’t be afraid to submit your work. Editors need articles. If it’s rejected, either re- work it or move on to your next article.
- · Network.
Finally, write with passion and never give up.