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Getting published in EMS

EMS1, professional associations and membership groups are always looking for new writers and fresh ideas. Here’s what it takes to get started.

Want to submit articles to EMS1? Read our author guidelines on how to submit a short article proposal.

By Kim D. McKenna RN BSN CEN EMT-P

EMS colleagues often ask, “How do I get published? I have a great idea but I just can’t seem to get started.”

Publishing an article for a state, regional or national EMS digital media platform or magazine is just like building anything — it takes careful planning, some skill and a lot of time.

Where do I go to get published?

EMS websites, journals and news magazines are always looking for great articles, especially great fresh ideas. Review their recently posted original content or table of contents for the past year or so. They are unlikely to revisit a topic unless it is a cutting edge or an evolving story. If you have an idea for an article, review the author guidelines and then contact the editor to see if they might be interested. Almost every time you will get a quick response.

Consider starting out with a smaller publication. Most states and professional associations have newsletters or smaller journals. Some, like the National Association of EMS Educator’s Domain are peer-reviewed and indexed. The editors of these publications are constantly looking for articles that fit within the mission statement of their organization. They can help coach you along so you can revise the article to meet their needs.

If you are interested in textbook publishing, speak to the sales representatives at the conference exhibit area. Often the acquisitions’ editor attends large conferences. If they are not interested in your idea, or if you would like to get experience with the editorial process, let them know you would like to review chapters of textbooks. If you establish yourself as a thorough, detail-oriented reviewer and meet deadlines promptly, they may call you to help with an upcoming writing project.

How do I get started as a writer?

The worst part of the writing process is that moment (or those hours) when you face a blank page. Before you sit down to actually write, think about a few things.

First, consider your audience. Who are you writing for? The audience will determine your style, voice and the reading level you will be writing.

Second, think about your topic.

  • What is it you want to say?
  • What is the point of your article?
  • What supporting information will you need so the readers will understand the point you are trying to make?

Gather any research and resources you will need. After the ideas have gelled, outline the article. Some writers like formal outlines and others create them in their head. The bottom line is, your story has to have a beginning, some supporting information and a conclusion that wraps things up.

After you complete these steps, you are ready to write — and that’s just what you have to do. Procrastination is your enemy when you have something to say. Just write it down knowing that your first draft will never be your final draft. You don’t even have to show it to anyone if it doesn’t work out the way you had hoped.

The real work of writing begins after you complete that first draft. Set the first draft aside for a few hours or a day or two, and then carefully reread it and revise it. If you have not written before, consider having a colleague read it before you send it off. They will undoubtedly give you some ideas that will improve it.

What’s next?

When you submit the final article, anticipate the editor will have suggestions and changes. Sometimes those suggestions are minor — and other times they will substantial or make you feel defensive or hurt. Look critically at your written work again and envision it with the changes suggested by the editor. In most cases, those revisions will improve your work.

It is not unusual for articles to be rejected. If that happens, take a careful look. See what you can improve. Then send it somewhere else. Many well-known authors have had works rejected by the first publisher only to be accepted elsewhere.

It really is easier to have your work published in EMS than many think. The key to writing and to getting your work published is persistence and perseverance.

  1. Take your time.
  2. Be critical of your work.
  3. And just write.

This article, originally published 8/31/2010, has been updated