Lazette Gifford
Publisher & Editor

Getting Your First Sale

By Suzan L. Wiener
2007, Suzan L. Wiener

Do you crave that first sale? Do you envy other writers who seem to get their work published effortlessly? Believe me, published authors work hard to get their poetry, etc. into publications. Even if they seem like they are overnight successes, they aren't. Years of revising and submitting again and again go into that occurrence. Some writers have had their work rejected many times, but still keep trying. Nothing is easy and nothing is a free ride. That is the difference between a published writer and a non-published one. The one who is willing to persevere and continue sending in manuscripts despite rejections is the one who will eventually be published.

After three years of trying to get published in Modern Romances with my poetry, I finally can say: "I made it!" I was just about ready to give up when the acceptance came in my mailbox. It was almost as if someone didn't want me to quit, because it was that day I had seriously made the decision to stop sending them my work. I thought for sure I was getting nowhere, but I had noticed that an editor would write a nice "Try again" on my rejected poems. That meant something to me and I'd keep them nearby so I knew I was making progress. I did get discouraged quite often, but my husband and my writer friends helped me continue. Even when I didn't have faith in myself as a writer, they did. When at last I saw my work in Modern Romances magazine, I realized all the rejections had paid off. How? By teaching me my craft and constantly improving my work. I paid more attention to rhyme, meter and other aspects of my poems. I created more exciting conflicts in short stories and watched my grammar and spelling to make sure it was as good as it could be.\

I also studied the work of other poets and short story writers who interested me and were regulars in their publications. I made my work original, letting it stand on its own. I learned a lot from them as to form and style. And, even though the editors never commented on any rejected pieces except for that occasional, "Try again," I felt they helped me enormously -- to study and learn in order for me to become a published poet.

Of course, if I had given up, my poetry would have stayed at the beginner's level, which meant my work might never have seen publication. The old saying "A winner never quits and a quitter never wins" recounts a very important lesson. Perseverance is the path to seeing your work online or in print.

Following these tips below will help you to get your first sale and many more of them as well. 

  • Don't just wish that you could be a published writer, make that wish come true by doing your homework. Research your markets and create riveting characters. Make editors want to buy your stories, and readers want to read them all the way through.

  • If you don't have a writer's group in your area, get together online with one already in existence or form your own.

  • Read all the books you can on being a published writer. Here is a link to find well-known books that will help you in your quest to see your work in print:


  • Don't send in your work the moment you write it. Instead, stay away from it for a few days and then come back to it. You will probably find things in it that can be revised and typos you didn't see before. You will have a fresh outlook on it.

  • Most importantly, if your dream is to be a writer, be one. Don't just daydream or hope that it will come true. It won't! You have to be the springboard to make it work.

If you follow the above tips, you are bound to see your first sale. You will know the thrill of holding your first check in you hands. I know how it feels first-hand, and it's wonderful.