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Critical Thinking, Thoughtful Writing, Second Edition
John Chaffee et al.
Guide to Publishing Your Work
Why Submit Your Work for Publication?

One of the problems students often face in college writing classes is that of audience. When you write an essay for an English class, for example, who are you really writing for? Often, it might seem like you are just writing for one person: "the teacher." And, literally speaking, most of the time you are just writing for that one person. After you complete your essay, you hand it in, and the instructor reads it. Then the instructor hands it back with a grade on it. This situation is obviously very artificial, but it is hard to work around.

College and university teachers will often highlight the idea of audience with each new writing assignment, but even then it might feel like you are still dealing with an "ideal" audience or with some abstract group of possible readers. Questions of audience are still important, however. For instance, how does the likely audience for one’s writing differ in the case of say, an opinion piece about gun control versus an essay on Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein? But even with an imagined audience in place, you might feel, as a writer, like you are still handing work in to just one person, so whatever the ideal audience might be, the "real" audience is still just that audience of one.

Deciding to publish your writing forces you to think afresh about the different kinds of audiences likely to be reading different kinds of writing. Writing with a view to publishing necessarily means thinking about your intended audience from the very start: and this time it’s a real audience, one that could include many different kinds of readers. When you write with a view toward publishing your work, you have to consider that someone you’ve never met before will be reading your work, and you will not be there to explain what you meant. The writing will really have to stand on its own. This fact forces all writers, not just student writers, to pay particular attention to how they are saying things with words, since it will be those words alone that express meaning.

This guide provides practical advice for students who want to submit their work for publication. Included are tips on how to submit, as well as suggested venues for publication. (The term "venue" covers online journals, print journals, newspapers, e-zines—anywhere you might be able to publish your work.) Fortunately, the Internet has made publication a real, and often easily accessible, possibility for student work.