As writers, it can be a long process finding an agent and getting a book published. But you don't have to wait until your writing ship comes in to see your name in print. Here are some ideas to work on while you're waiting to hold that coveted book in your hand. Many of these writing gigs either won't pay well, (or even at all) but you do get a by-line and a chance to use that work as publishing credit. When you're trying to build your name as a writer, you'll need to have something for potential clients to assess your skills. It may not be kit-lit, but good writing for any audience is recognized and acknowledged.
1. Write locally
There are all sorts of agencies and businesses that are looking for good content. These folks need articles for websites, newsletters and social media posts. Take your expertise and go knock on some doors. Do you have a background in real estate? Talk to a realtor and see if you can provide articles for their publication. Maybe you can write about staging a home, or what makes your community special. Do you know something about nutrition? Write articles for your PTA about healthy lunches for kids in the summer.
Conservation agencies are always looking for local stories. Trout Unlimited, Pheasants Forever, Audubon, etc. appreciate having someone knowledgeable about local issues and events to provide filler for newsletters or better yet, a great, educational article about a particular plant, bird or animal.
Here are some other businesses you might investigate: animal shelter; hospitals, dentists, chiropractor, gyms, Chamber of Commerce, area museums or historical sites, fishing/hunting stores or outfitters, bed and breakfasts, motels, guest ranches, lawn services, hardware stores. These businesses need to get their name out there and they need help doing it.
My little town had a local magazine which was only published annually, but it won several awards and had a thriving life for several years. I Facebook messaged one of the owners and said if they needed any articles to give me a call. She did the next day - one of their writers decided to bail on an assignment and she asked if I could do it.
2. Write Regionally
Parenting magazines are all the rage now and even small towns have a free magazine to pick up. These are great publications to get featured in - you could write a kid-friendly article, get your name in print and probably get paid at least a little bit. These magazines get their income from ad revenue so it's possible there's compensation available. You could do a review of children's books to read this summer, or a round-up of back to school books for kids. Be creative!
I periodically write for a regional women's magazine. I found the editor's name on the publication mast head, and sent her an email saying I was a local writer and available for hire. I gave her a few ideas for articles and she responded favorably.
Publications usually start new writers with smaller articles that are tucked in at the back of the magazine. But submitting good writing on a timely basis can eventually work into a feature article, located at the front of the magazine. These are solid publishing credits you can add to your website.
3. Write Nationally
Not all of us will see our names in national publications like Good Housekeeping, Glamour or National Geographic, but you won't know until you try. Coming up with good ideas for articles and crafting a killer pitch are skills that flow over into writing for kids and querying agents and editors.
Do you have a really new angle on How to Keep Your Kids From Being Bored this Summer? Send it off to Parent Magazine - editors are always looking for a fresh take on a perennial topic. Maybe there's a wonderful, but little known local destination in your area - query travel magazines and tell the world about it.
What about your religious denomination magazine? A friend of mine got local quilters together to sew blankets for an orphanage in Mexico - we worked together to craft an article about the volunteer effort and it was printed in the national magazine. We didn't get paid, but a wonderful work was featured and I got another publishing credit.
Look for publications that aren't as well known as those big names at the front of the news stands, and don't forget alternative newspapers. Visit your local bookstore and browse the magazine aisle. You'll find all sorts of magazines you never knew existed and they're just waiting for your article. Do you kayak, fly fish, knit, crochet, do hand lettering, para-sail, hang glide, or own a garage full of remote-controlled toys? Maybe you're the grill master supreme of the neighborhood, know the best way to keep those stainless steel appliances fingerprint proof, or have the perfect trick for keeping your cat calm at the vet's office - there's a publication you can write for, you just have to search for it.
You don't have to be a published kid-lit author to see your name in print. Make a name for yourself before your book gets published. How have you gotten your name in print?