Author shares how to get creative writing published at UNCW event

Shawna Kenney, award winning author, shared with UNCW faculty and students her methods for getting creative writing published. Photo by Rachel Cash | The Seahawk

Shawna Kenney, award winning author, shared with UNCW faculty and students her methods for getting creative writing published. Photo by Rachel Cash | The Seahawk

Rachel Cash, Contributing Writer

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Writers who are just starting out should submit short stories and smaller pieces to online publications and journals before they think about trying to get a full book published, said Shawna Kenney, the award-winning author of the memoir “I Was a Teenage Dominatrix,” at the Writing for the Web event in Kenan Hall on Sept. 20.

“I’m suggesting that publishing shorter pieces of your work…can actually help you get your book out into the world eventually,” said Shawna Kenney at the event on Wednesday. Writers who have shorter works published in literary journals will be taken more seriously than someone who has never been published at all, because it shows they are working hard and trying to become successful, she said.

Kenney’s speech gave step-by-step instructions on how writers can work on getting pieces published online. Kenney said writers should submit their work to the journals they read the most.

Kenney then said when submitting a piece to an online publication, like the website “Creative Nonfiction,” it is important for writers to follow the submission guidelines. If the guidelines are not followed, their work may end up in the “slush pile.”

Kenney said she uses the Three-Part Pitch technique when pitching a story to a publication or journal. Step one is a summary of the piece and an excerpt. Step two is a biography and credentials, and step three is a closing statement.

Whenever she submits a story or article to an online publication, Kenney said she adds it to a spreadsheet. She uses the spreadsheet to keep track of which publications she has submitted to, the title of the work she sent, whether or not the piece was accepted or rejected and, if the piece was accepted, the publication date.

“Go forth and write!” Kenney said, encouraging each attendee to try to get a piece of work published on their dream website or journal. She also said that anyone who feels marginalized in society needs to let their voice be heard, and it is their “mission” to get published.

Mel Beasley, a junior at UNCW, attended the Writing for the Web event and thought it was very informative and helpful.

“The kind of writing she does, I want to do that,” said Beasley, a creative writing major.

Beasley said she liked the spreadsheet Kenney showed and thought it was helpful to see how the publishing process works. She also said she liked that Kenney talked about her writing process and how she gets pieces published, instead of summarizing what she has written.

“She doesn’t just talk about the personal pieces she’s written and what they’re about,” Beasley said.

Kenney is currently a professor at UCLA, and her writing can be read on websites such as Narratively, LA Weekly, VICE, Discover LA and more.