5 Alternatives to Publishing a Book

I was sitting at Chipotle ignoring my son last week. In all honesty he was ignoring me too. We weren’t mad at each other…we were just reading the short stories printed on the cups and the bag from our lunch out.

Chipotle: Cultivating Thought

And then something awesome happened; my 15 year-old and I discussed the stories we just read. Imagine that! Conversation with my teenager! And all because of a story on a paper cup.

That’s the power of a published story.

Which got me thinking; you don’t always have to publish a book to be a published author!

If you want to test the waters and see how people respond to your writing, or if you know you want to publish but you don’t have your book together yet, check out these options for great ways to get published without a book.

Guest Blogs

Find bloggers with a similar audience as your ideal reader who are looking for content contributors. Very often they will have a page outlining their submission guidelines. You may or may not get paid for writing guest blogs, but you will increase your following and begin to grow your list of places you’ve been published.

You can search “blogs looking for contributors” to begin with, and then narrow it down from there. You can also look into becoming an expert at sites like about.com and wikihow.com.

Devotional Submissions

Most devotional books or booklets are comprised of submissions from a variety of authors. This is actually how I have most often been published—although it does help that devotional/inspirational writing is my bailey wick.

FreelanceWriting.com is a good resource for finding writer’s guidelines and website links for devotional writing (any kind of freelance writing, really). Simply use their search bar and search for “religion” (without the quotation marks).

Another option along these lines is writing for the Chicken Soup for the Soul(tm) franchise. Look at their submission guidelines at chickensoup.com for their requirements.

Short Story Contests

Another way to test out your writing and story telling abilities is to enter short stories into short story contests. This is a great way to get more readership if you win. Personally, I find I like blogging and story submissions better than contests, but many of my author/clients love entering contests for the thrill of the sport. (Just be wary of contests with large submission fees, those always look scammy to me.)

I also found a listing of magazines that take submissions for short stories. You can find that here.

Fan Fiction

Fan Fiction is defined as fiction written by a fan, and featuring characters from a particular movie, book, TV series, etc. This is an interesting way to get readers for your work because you almost have fans built in. Fair warning though, fans are very serious about reading fan fiction, so you must remain true to the characters and create an excellent storyline because fan fiction fans will not let you get away with a poorly written or poorly executed story. You can learn more about writing fan fiction at this Wiki-How Page.

Contribute to Magazines or Newspapers

If you are eager to get some excellent practice publishing, contributing to magazines and newspapers is a terrific way to get some experience. Begin by searching online for magazines or newspapers who are looking for contributors (again, freelance.com is a good place to look). And here is a link for literary magazine writing.

Before you do any writing, study their submission guidelines, read articles from past issues, and make sure you understand the audience and the magazine’s needs. Next you will need to write a query letter explaining to the editor your idea, your skills, and your experience. It might take a few tries to be successful, but in this field, persistence pays off.

Even letters to the editor works as a good way to get your feet wet in the publishing pool.

[Tweet “Being a contributor is a great way to build your resume and fans.-Alane from MyPublishingCoach.com”]

These ideas not only get you published, but they also help you build an audience which is a valuable tool when you are ready to publish and promote your own book.

Your turn: Have you published your writing in places other than your book? In the comments below tell us about it!
This is filed under the second step in the self-publishing process: #Publish