Placing Student Work in the World – Part One [Submitting Written Work]

When student work is given life outside the classroom, there is a strong desire to create the very best piece possible, as students will have to own their creation not only in relationship to their peer group, but to the much wider audience.  At the same time, students will learn valuable skills that will prepare them to be creators and producers rather than strict consumers.

Often, students want to create and make a difference.  Unfortunately, they are not always armed with the knowledge of how to move forward.

Having looked at the importance of MAKING PROJECTS MEANINGFUL by giving them life outside of the classroom, we now focus on how those projects can be given life in the world.  There are three main ways students can take their work beyond the classroom:

  1. Submitting Written Work
  2. Self Distribution and Self Publication
  3. Submitting Media Arts

In this article we will look at four accessible ways students can self-distribute and self-publish their pieces.

Mailing (e-mail or snail mail) someone in a related position


If students are writing letters to try an enact change, it can be very useful to let them know they will be mailing their letters to the intended audience.  In the age of Twitter it has never been easier to get in contact with your favourite author, or your most disliked politician.  Either of those options, or a variety in between can be useful for students to target written work towards.

Reaching out to Authors
Many authors (especially graphic novel authors) can be contacted through their Twitter, Facebook, or personal websites.  A search of AUTHOR NAME “Twitter”, AUTHOR NAME “Facebook”, or AUTHOR NAME (to get their website) can be a great way to find the contact information.

Useful Resources

Canada – Government Mail
In Canada you can send letters to a number of politicians without postage.

Assignment Ideas

  • After reading a text create an inference about something that happened in the text. Write the author of the text to see if they agree with your interpretation.
  • After reading a text, write a prediction about what you think will happen next. Write the author and see if they agree, or have given any thought to their character’s future
  • Research an issue that you strongly feel needs to be changed in your community. Write to a local politician seeking their help in enacting that change.
  • Discover problematic gender messaging in a media text. Research who created the text, and write a letter addressing the problematic nature of the text to one of the people responsible for the text.
  • Find an old photograph in a magazine that you appreciate. Write to the photographer explaining the impact the photograph had on you, and ask how it shaped their vision of the subject matter.

Submitting something to a magazine or periodical


When writing short pieces of fiction or poetry, or when creating media texts, students may want to submit their work to magazines.  There are a number of magazines, both on and offline that students can submit their work to.  Likewise, students may wish to submit their written pieces to local newspapers.  One of the first things students will need to do is research which publication best suits their needs.

Useful Resources

Hey Publisher
This website is a searchable database of different publishers from large scale to small scale.  It links directly to their submission guideline pages, as well as the page where students can read their currently published work.

The New Yorker – Submissions
For those aiming at the Stars, taking a moment to submit their work to The New Yorker may be what they need to get them ready for the world of professional writing.  While not all students will be successful in their publication attempts, aiming having a rejection letter from a prestigious publication can be novel in its own right.  And, there’s no better time to gain this experience than when you’re in school.

The Toronto Star – Newspaper
Submission guidelines are simple and straightforward for most newspapers.  There is a high likelihood of having your letter accepted if you use a small neighbourhood paper, but there is no reason not to submit to the larger papers as well.

Assignment Ideas

  • Students can reflect on the themes of discussed works and events, writing a short story or collection of poetry based on those themes.
  • Students can write a short story that addresses the complex nature of their current subject matter.
  • Having researched a local concern, students can write a non-fiction piece – opinion or research-based – and submit it as a newspaper article, or letter to the editor.

Submitting something to a publisher


A number of publishers accept unsolicited manuscripts.  If students have created a larger format piece, they can attempt to seek publication from one of these publishers.  The trick is finding who is accepting what at what time.  Luckily there are a host of websites that aggregate that information quite often.

Useful Resources

Writing Oasis – Canadian Publishers Accepting Unsolicited Manuscripts

Authors Publish – Ten Respected Publishers That Accept Unsolicited Submissions

Both of these sites detail a number of publishers to whom students may wish to publish their works.  In some cases they may need to submit a query letter.  Learning to write a query letter can be a worthwhile activity all on its own.

Owlcation – How to Write a Query Letter
This site offers some helpful tips on how to write a query letter, but if you are planning and submitting such a letter it’s worth your time to go one step further an obtain detailed feedback on a number of letters. Query Shark is a fantastic resource for this next step.

Query Shark
Query Shark is a website that may not look beautiful, but it has a wealth of useful resources.  By reading query letters, and gaining insight from the professional feedback for each letter, you can learn best practices to tailor your own letter for your personal needs.

Assignment Ideas

  • Students can write novels or novellas for a variety of reasons.
  • Learning how to write a Query Letter and submitting it to Query Shark can be a valuable lesson as part of a Writer’s Craft course.

What’s Next

In the next section you will learn about three more ways to put student work into the world.  These NEXT FOUR PIECES will require students to leave their computer and postage behind, instead stepping out into their local community looking to interact with those around them.

First Steps

Type of Publication Projects

Creation and Publication Project

Creator Spotlights

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