You’ve written something you’re proud of and now you want to know what to do next. Or, more likely, you’re struggling in a class and the professor offered you extra credit for the very act of submitting something for publication. Now you’ve got to do something with it. I’m here to help you figure out what it is you should do.

The first step is figuring out what it is you’ve written. Poems and prose are easy, the world is full of magazines and journals looking for new writers to fill their pages. Figure this out, it’s crucial for the next step.

The second step is figuring out where to submit your work. Obviously if you’re reading this you don’t want to have to pay a fee to submit your work, that $5 fee could be your Ramen noodle stash for the next week. Fortunately, you have many sources available to you.

If your thing is a poem, poetryfoundation.org accepts submissions, and it’s free to submit to them. If they publish your poem they’ll even pay you. You could buy gourmet Ramen noodles with your publication money.

We might as well start with your lofty goals to be published by in the same place as all of your favorite short story writers. Submit it to The New Yorker, and when they reject you because you’ve never published anything before, you can lower your expectations and submit to something like The Threepenny Review. If you’ve written something scholarly, you’re probably best off asking your favorite professor where the best place to submit that particular work is.

Now that you’ve submitted your writing, what do you do? The only thing you can do, you wait. You wait and you wait and you wait and you wait. Sometime between two weeks and eight months from now, you’ll hear back from the place that you submitted your piece to. They might even accept it to do something with it. Then, assuming you published it to the right sort of place, you’ll even get paid. Now you can brag to all your friends about how you’re a professional writer. Put it on your resume, use it as your opener for every conversation you have for the next two years. It will definitely never get old and nobody will think you’re pretentious, it will be great.

We forgot something important in this process however, you did this for that sweet, sweet extra credit in that class you weren’t doing great in. To get those extra points, you probably need to prove to your professor that you actually submitted something, and since you needed that extra credit your word probably isn’t enough. The good news is that when you submit work the places you submit it to, they will send you a receipt to show that they received your piece. There’s your proof, it should be enough.

There you have it, an in-depth guide to submission. What to do while you’re waiting to hear back from these publications and what to do if you get accepted and can brag about being a professional writer is up to you. The most important thing to remember is that now you have that extra credit and because of it you may even pass that class, depending on your professor’s generosity. Good luck out there.