The Quest

Last week, I picked up my first copy of the student paper published at Ohio State, which is one of the largest universities in the world.

I read the day's op-ed column, which was written by a journalism major. It was trite. It was pretty dull. It lay there like a dead fish. On E2, it would have scored a few votes and gotten maybe a 5+ rep before fading into obscurity.

Was that the best the paper's staff, culled from a student body of 50,000 or so, could put out that day? I guess so. I went back to E2, and everything in the New Writeups short list was fresher, more entertaining and thoughtful.

Which leads me to believe that you guys rock, and that it really shouldn't just be our little secret anymore.

And I am bloody well tired of seeing trees die for the sake of dull stories, articles, and editorials.


Here's the quest: if you've never been published "for real" before, or if you've, say, published academic articles or newspaper pieces but never sent your poetry or stories anywhere, for the next six months, try to get yourself (or your "off" genre, be it poetry or fiction or nonfiction) published. If you've had your work appear in just a couple of little or amateur markets -- submit to professional ones.

I know that E2 has folks who've published -- but I also know talented noders who've never even tried. The object of this Quest is to get you to stretch yourself and maybe try something that seems a little difficult or scary -- which will make your future writeups here that much stronger.

I most want to see you try to get published on real honest-to-goodness paper -- a newspaper (student, monthly, or regular daily) or print magazine, anthology, journal, or 'zine. Any publication works as long as it involves your stuff being subjected to editorial review and selection. I'll count an electronic market if it pays you something for your work.

The Quest isn't retroactive; materials accepted and published before this Quest's start date will not count; neither will self-publishing of any sort (not that there's anything wrong with self-publishing, but for the purposes of this quest, being submissive to editors builds character).

There are three ways to fulfill the quest:

  1. Submit revised versions of work you originally wrote for E2. I say "revised" mainly because you'll have to change your work to avoid icky First North American Serial Rights problems that may arise, especially for poetry and fiction. Some publishers won't care that a submission's been on the web; others will. Some might make you take your writeup off the server for a time, so if it's a high-rep writeup, you might want to take the serious revision plunge.

  2. Write new stuff for the publication you're aiming at. Then, after it's been published, share it here at E2. If you can't share it due to publishing restrictions, create a daylog talking about the experience.

  3. If you've been published in several genres or are well-published in one genre and don't desire to branch out -- help the others out by writing and noding helpful essays or how-tos on any aspect of writing or submitting work to market.

It won't be easy. Sending something off to a faceless newspaper or magazine editor is daunting, particularly when you consider you have to put submissions in proper manuscript format, write query and cover letters, and all that good stuff. The "real" world of publishing isn't like E2; there are no guarantees of publication, and sometimes things can take a glacially long time (which is why I'm running this over a six-month period).

Keep track of where you send stuff, and what the responses are. Daylog your final experiences with trying to get published.

Let me know if you're participating in this quest. I'm gonna be all teacher-like and want to see proof of your activities. Once I know you're in on the quest, I'll send you an email address, and you'll send me scans of your rejection letters, acceptance letters, and, if you're especially lucky, a scan of the first page of published work. I'll also, of course, want to see proof that you're actually the person whose name appears connected to the publication.

So. What do you get from all this, aside from a paper publication you can proudly show to friends and family and maybe a bit of cash from the publisher? Chings and XP, of course!

Well-written daylogs or other writeups dealing with your quest to see your work in print will be upvoted and chinged. What other writeups? Well, if your experiences inspire you to do an essay on how literary rights work, or on how to do research for an antiquing article, have at!

Proven rejection letters will earn you 5xp each, and proven acceptance letters will earn you 20xp. Work that you place, publish, and then (legally) post to E2 afterward will be chinged like all get-out and gifted with a 50-point bonus (limit of three per noder).


Err ... I'm confused. What counts, again?

The idea here is to get your stuff published if it hasn't been published before. Any type of writing counts, as long as you haven't published that type of writing before or published it in your target market before.

For instance, if you're already on the staff of your student newspaper -- more newspaper stories in the student paper won't count. But a nonfiction essay or review in a journal or 'zine would count. As would a short story or poem.

By the same token, if you've published poems in a little 'zine but you've never tried to get a nonfiction article published -- try to get your nonfiction out there. Hit up the editor at your student newspaper, for instance.

See? It's all about doing new things, writing-wise.


How to get started

Read the writeups in Writing and Publishing.

Start your market research in places like:

  • the bulletin board at your local coffeeshop or your campus' English or Journalism department
  • (message me if you know of other good online market lists)

Hang out in Writer's Bar & Grill if you have questions (or have experience and would like to field questions or just chat).

And start sending out your stuff!

But remember, kids: avoid the vanity presses. Never, ever pay to see your work in print (unless you're intending to become a publisher, but that's another topic and not for the faint of heart.) (And, of course, make sure it is your very own work you're sending out. If you think we're mean to plagiarists here, you ain't seen nothin' yet).


The quest starts today, January 27, 2004 and ends at midnight server time on July 27th, 2004.


Quest Sponsors and Supporters

Me, Chiisuta, Lord Brawl, and other eds and admins to be announced.


Quest Submissions

  1. Braunbeck
  2. Chiisuta
    • Rejection letters from: Boston Review, New Millenium Writings, Missouri Review
    • Acceptances from: Mochila Review for She's Got Legs
    • Quest writeups: Freelancing
  3. Lucy-S
  4. Scriblerus
  5. Servo5678
    • Acceptances from: GamingWorldX (column writing, 1st column based on "Sonic Heroes"), (the same)
  6. cmyr
    • Rejection letters from:
  7. legbagede
    • Rejection letters from:
  8. 61061
    • Rejection letters from: Tundra, Acorn, Bullfight Review,
    • Acceptances from: Eclectica, Mindprints
  9. Jay Digital
    • Acceptances from: Dragon Magazine for 2 articles on half-elemental template classes and on shadow templates ("Shady Characters" ran in #322)
  10. metacognizant


Related Tips From Noders

smartalix says We at Electronic Products are always looking for good engineering articles; the only catch is that we don't pay anything as we're an industry trade magazine. It would help a newbie get a byline, though. (Message him if you're interested).

ideath says I'm making a limited run of a book made of the responses to the 100-word challenge on my homenode. no editing, just to get people writing, so it surely shouldn't count - but i'll send you a copy once i have moved and gotten printing and cutting and sewing done.

Chiisuta says I have a tip for the bottom: I just got a really sweet gig freelancing from a listing i found on in the writing section