Before putting out books and novels, an author needs to have a platform - a solid following through various media - to be able to sell even a modest amount of books. One of the best ways to accomplish this is by getting work published in magazines, newspapers, and other publications.
However, with the publishing industry suffering a dwindling readership as a result of the digital era and a flood of writers saturating the talent pool for the same reason, it is becoming increasingly difficult for good writers to get their work noticed. Sure, a talented writer will definitely stand out among the frantic workers in the disturbed anthill of digital publishing; but the key for a talented writer is to get someone to actually look in his or her direction. So how can we do this as serious writers?
Every book and website out there will tell you that the first step in trying to get published is to read several issues of the publication in question to get a feel for the tone of the publication. I will not tell you differently. This is the crucial first step in getting your work to appear in the publication. If you're already familiar with the magazine, great! You're halfway there.
Next, you need to ask yourself if what you plan on presenting is something that would appeal to the readership of the publication. If it isn't, you need to get back to the drawing board. If your answer is yes, then the next step is to draw up a proposal (if it's nonfiction) or a synopsis (if fiction). Your proposal is the key to getting noticed, but you must keep in mind that the closing of your proposal includes your biography. This is where you explain why you are qualified to write this article, and why the article will help increase interest in the publication. In other words, you must have a compelling list of qualifications and a solid platform.
If you do not have either of these, you can still get published if your proposal is intriguing enough or it fills a need. However, your best bet is to spend several months getting your other work out there, and the trick to that is to donate your work. Yes, I know I always say that as a serious writer, you should never do "free books" on sites like Smashwords, because it devalues you as a writer and puts you in the same category in the eyes of the reader as the cat lady down the street who can't spell and didn't bother to hire an editor. But what I'm recommending here is to find publications that are reputable but are not-for-profit and donating articles for them. Most will gladly take donated articles and publish them, and this will help you build a resume.
In addition to this, you can write essays for scholarly journals, as these publications are constantly looking to fill hundreds of pages each issue. It is not difficult to get published in a journal, but like with anything in writing, you need to do your research. Make sure you are familiar with the writing style the journal utilizes and properly cite your sources. Make sure all of the information within your essay can be verified with a reliable outside source.
Make sure that your byline describes your expertise, and that you list your website, blog, or social media pages. For example: "Giovanni V. Crisan is the author of seven books, and a regular contributor on 'Unique Me Magazine'. He also runs the blog 'On Writing', which is updated with writing and publishing tips weekly."
If you have trouble getting published in any of these, try a local small-print newspaper or magazine. Again, donate the article or story - this is an investment to build a resume, a platform, and eventually a career.