Publish where you can--for now, if you're an undergraduate, that means publish as much as you can in campus publications. And enter literary contests, even on campus. If you have a resume or web page, links to your publications can be included as can mention of any awards you win.
Here's the Poets & Writers website with lots of information about how to start sending your work out, and lots of information about journals to consider. Look for journals that are specially interested in new or young writers. Everyone (or nearly everyone) has to pay his or dues...and start somewhere. ~ Elizabeth Stone
It's important to have an agent, unless you're writing poetry. Agents act as the gate-keepers for publishers; it's almost impossible to get published in print format without a publisher. Self-publishing is, of course, a viable option, but it is very hard to be discovered by readers in the vastness of the internet. A publisher can put your books into Barnes & Noble; they can pay for advertising; they can even send you on tour. You can get an agent by writing a brisk, informative letter and pasting the entire first chapter of your novel below the signature line. Include information about your audience. Who writes books like yours? Agents are looking for "will be enjoyed by readers of Mary Higgins Clark," for example. That's how they will sell your book -- by telling editors who the audience is. ~ Mary Bly
My advice to students depends on their goals. A lot want to be published right away and with the digital tools available to us now, that can be possible. But I encourage all students to focus on their work. To put in the time and try not to think too much about the end game. I try to give the advice the has always been most difficult for me to take which is: Be patient. The work has to be great to break through and if you do what you do really well-do not follow trends-you will be rewarded.
For those anxious to work in the business I encourage trying to get internships at literary agencies, newspapers, publishing houses, literary journals, magazines, etc. But before that, one has to read. If you're going to work at a publishing house, or want to, read their list. Have an idea what you like to read and why. Be able to talk about books you love and books you don't. That's a lot of what matters in publishing: having a point of view. Whatever you do, familiarize yourself with the contemporary world of letters. Look at literary magazines. Spend time in bookstores. Become a literary citizen by going to readings and lectures.
There are countless ways to be a writer and to work in publishing. I encourage students to find the best way that works for their lives, always bearing in mind you need to carve out the time to work, no matter what. ~ Jennifer Gilmore
I write nonfiction, and my general suggestion is that you not allow your reach to exceed your grasp. Unlike fiction--where all imagination is equla, at least in theory--publishable nonfiction depends on a position of expertise. You're more likely to get a piece on Van Gogh published if you're an art historian than if you're an economist. On the other hand, expertise doesn't have to come from training: if you have a sibling who's a gymnast, you're more qualified to write about the trials of the athletic life than someone who only watches sports on tv. No matter where you get it, then, you're seeking a place of authority, which translates into a reason that people should take you seriously. That usually means writing your way up the ladder. You might want to write for The New Yorker (and who doesn't?), but in nonfiction, it's especially important to recognize the need to proceed incrementally, to climb the ladder rung by rung. ~ Lenny Cassuto
The first question to ask yourself about publishing is what you mean by the word. Do you mean: a Facebook post, a blog entry, a contribution to a Fordham literary journal, a submission to The New Yorker, a book, a newspaper article? All of these are forms of publishing with different standards for acceptance. Anyone, obviously, can post on Facebook in less than a minute. Getting published in The New Yorker or writing a book are considerably more difficult enterprises and generally take much more time. They are also taken more seriously by a larger number of people and potentially have a greater impact on the culture. So be honest with yourself: what commitment of time and effort are you willing to make and how long are you willing to wait to see something you've written in print or circulated online? How widely and deeply have you read in the area in which you'd like to publish? If you are wishing to publish in a reputable literary magazine, periodical, or with a publishing house, have you taken your manuscript through as many drafts as it might need to achieve what you have envisioned for it? Have you had your best, most trusted writing colleagues read it and give you critiques? Have you taken their critiques to heart in revision? When you have answered these questions to your own satisfaction, you are ready to think about publishing. ~ Stacey D'Erasmo
The thing I tell a writer when they ask for advice about writing is this: read. That may sound sort of basic, sort of obvious, but I started to suggest this as advice precisely because I meet so many wannabe writers who don’t actually read. Or read that much.
Read because you will only become a better writer by studying other writers. Read as a writer—that is, read for what you don’t see on the page as much as for what you do see there. Read to hear how the voice of that writer sounds in your head as much as for how the words impact your brain when you see them on the page. Read for the rhythm of the prose as much as for the sounds of the sentences. Read not just attain information, or entertainment, but to deconstruct what the writer is doing, and why she is doing it. Read so that you will have models in your head, in the databank of your imagination, so that when you encounter the blank page, you already have a wealth of ways to fill that page. Read everything: magazine articles, poems, short stories. There is narrative everywhere. And a story will, more than likely, be at the core of everything you create.
As for publishing, I stand by my reading advice, because to write for a publication is to know the voice and style and rhythms of said publication. Every publication doesn’t—and shouldn’t—sound the same. And if you want to write for that publication, if you want to pitch a story to an editor at that publication, you will need to know how the stories in that publication perform on the page. You will need to know how you can wed your voice to the tone and style of that publication, so that you create something new and viable while operating in an established context.
Before you pitch though, before you venture out into public space of publication, you have to do this: you have to write. You have to discover your voice; you have to know what your voice actually sounds like, as it transitions from your head to your fingertips to the page. You have to learn to trust that voice to translate your thoughts from that inchoate state they occupy in your brain to an engaged, engaging set of words that tell a story and impart an idea. You will only figure out your voice by putting it on the page and having a conversation with it, learning it, sharing it. Journals can be your friend.
And finally: never be married to your words. Everything you write—even as you find and after you’ve found your voice—will not be brilliant or earth-shattering good or smart or necessary to the piece you’re writing at that moment. But that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t still have viability, doesn’t still have usability. Remove it, but save it—always save it—as it just might generate something else later, something better, something brilliant and earth-shattering and good and smart. And necessary.
The publishing industry—books, articles, essays—depends on, relies on, voice. Make your voice yours. Editors look for writers who can tell a story in a unique way, in a unique style, which engages readers as it informs them. Make your voice shine. ~ Scott Poulson-Bryant