Thursday, August 25, 2016

UNDERSTANDING THE MARKET - PART 3

Before we get into the actual plan, I want to give you a little background information that will help you better understand how this market is structured, so even the new or would-be writers will understand more about the world of marketing, especially as it has to do with the Christian market. I realize for many, this is like entering a foreign country where the customs and language are strange and unfamiliar.

Market Divisions

In writing for the Christian market, you have many different options. You can writer for magazines, Christian newspapers, or newsletters. You can write tracts, pamphlets, booklets, or books. The books will include most genres of fiction, as well as all types of nonfiction books, including gift books. These are listed by their various categories in the Christian Writers’ Market Guide. The guide also includes a section on greeting card and specialty markets—markets for all those gift items you find in a Christian book store that include some kind of text. Each of these different areas offer opportunities for the freelance writer. That, by the way is what you are if you want to write for publication—a freelance writer. It simply means you are not salaried as a writer, but work when and where you can find a publisher to pay you.

Although the market guide includes almost 1,000 markets, it helps to be able to categorize those a little more closely so instead of looking at those hundreds of markets as one pile, you can at least begin to break them down into separate and definable categories.

Denominational Markets

Some of the markets (both books and periodicals) are denominational, which means they are sponsored by the various denominations—Baptist, Catholic, Assemblies of God, United Methodist, etc. That information is given in the individual listings, as well as in the Denominational Index at the back of the market guide.

Denominational publishers like you to understand their denominational slant, or at least those things that distinguish them from other denominations. Some use only writers who are a part of their denomination, or prefer to, while others are open to any writers who can write to their needs. By reading their publications and guidelines, you can begin to identify any specific taboos they might have.

Denominational publishers are always interested in articles or stories on their own members or churches. That means if you are doing a personality profile, consider selling it to or doing another piece for that person’s denominational magazine. Also watch for churches in your area or places you visit that have significant programs in the community that could be written up for the denomination. In recent years, many denominational publications have expanded their scope to be of interest to readers outside the denomination, so are also more open to outside writers.

One big advantage of denominational publishers is that they tend to be non-overlapping or non-competing markets (they each have their own readership), so you can offer the same article to any or all of them (if appropriate), either as a simultaneous submission or by offering one-time or reprint rights.

Organizational/Educational Publishers

Some of the publishers are tied to religious or para-church organizations or colleges (such as Focus on the Family, the Bill Graham Assn., or Moody Bible Institute). When you see such a periodical or book publisher, you will find that the focus of the publisher will reflect the focus of the ministry, so if you are familiar with the organization you will already know a lot about the publication.

Keep in mind that both organizational and educational publishers tend to be extremely conservative in their approach to publishing and controversial issues. Most of these organizations are dependent on the financial support of their readers, so are not likely to print anything that will alienate any of their donors.

Independent Publishers

Some publishers are independently owned—which means they have no particular sponsoring denomination or organization. For that reason they are not as limited theologically, and see the entire Christian community as their potential audience. Some independent book publishers have a specific publishing image or niche, while others tend to be more general. More and more of these independents, magazines and book publishers, are ending up as part of one of the larger conglomerates, such as Christianity Today, Inc. or Cook Communications.

We often find that some of the newer, independent publishers are more likely to tackle the controversial issues because they are not governed by a long-standing, conservative constituency.

General Publishers Who do Religious Books or Have a Religious Division

Another category of book publishers you need to be aware of are the general or secular publishers who publish a few religious books. Keep in mind that these are religious books, not necessarily Christian. These publishers are very broad in their definition of “religious.” They will not do books that are strongly denominational, theological, or evangelical. They will be books of a religious nature, more likely about God than about Jesus (except from an historical perspective). These books are more likely to sell in the mainline church market, rather than in the evangelical. Books for this market must be geared to a broad cross-section of the religious community. Study their catalog and decide if you would be comfortable having your book included in their catalog.



Now, with that information as a background to help us put these publishers more in perspective, we can move on to the how-tos of marketing.


Wednesday, August 24, 2016

MARKETING: A BUSINESS - PART 2

Before we get into the actual details of how to sell your writing, lets go back for a minute and look more closely at how selling your writing compares to selling anything else. For example, let’s assume that rather than selling manuscripts, you were going to sell cookies. Before you opened up your cookie shop at the local mall, you would need to not only develop some great cookies, you’ll need to know who your customers are and what they want. You are not going to open a recipe book and start making any old cookies. You’re going to find the best recipes—the ones people love and are most likely to buy.

It is going to be the same with your manuscripts. It doesn’t make sense to start cranking out manuscripts if you don’t know who your customers are and what they are in the market for. That is a very basic marketing concept, but the one most writers miss or tend to ignore. You must have a clear concept of who your customers or potential customers are. It would be like going home and making a dress and then going door-to-door looking for someone to buy it. You would have to find a woman who was the right size, who liked the style and the color, who needed or wanted a dress, and who had the money to buy it. The odds of finding such a person would be pretty slim, and no one would be so foolish as to approach marketing in such a haphazard way, yet we do exactly the same thing every time we write a manuscript with no particular market in mind. There is a better way. Learning this process will make the difference between selling your manuscripts and dooming them to the rejection pile.


Tuesday, August 23, 2016

MARKETING - PART 1


I’ve been teaching workshops on marketing for a good number of years now. In all that I teach in this area, there are two underlying principles. The first is that as a freelancer, the stories, articles and books you write are a product that you are selling, and that they are sold like you sell any other product.

Before we go any further, I want to say something to those who view Christian writing as being too commercial—those who see the emphasis at conferences and in books like this as being too obsessed with selling. If you feel that way, then perhaps this is not a topic for you. My main objective is to help those writers who want to see their writing published so their words will influence or help in the lives of others. Although for many of them, ministry is more of an issue than money, the ministry does not happen until they reach the marketplace. For that reason, it is important for us to recognize the need for marketing skills.

One day at the end of a class I taught on marketing, a young women made her way to the front of the room so excited she could hardly contain herself. She explained that she had been trying unsuccessfully to sell her writing for some time, but all of a sudden it was as if a light had been turned on. “I work in marketing for a big corporation—that’s my job—but it wasn’t until today’s class that I finally realized that everything I know about marketing on my job can apply to marketing my writing. Why hasn’t anyone ever told me that before?”

Well, I’ve been trying. And that is what I want you to realize right up front. If you know anything about marketing any product, it will likely apply to selling your writing. If you can grasp that concept, all I have to say here will be more beneficial.

Let me start by recognizing that marketing is nearly every writer’s least favorite job. I rarely run into writers who bubble and gush about marketing being so much fun they can hardly wait to get started. Most of us are creative people and we’d rather spend our time creating—not selling. I can’t promise I will change that for many of you, but I hope I can make it a little easier, more understandable, and less intimidating. When we get to the bottom line, we all want to know which publishers are going to buy what we write. That is not only a beginner’s question, I hear it from more experienced writers as well—those who have not figured out how the marketing process works. By the time you finish this Blog, you should have a clear picture of that process.


Monday, August 22, 2016

AND THE AUTHOIR SAID . . .


You get your confidence and intuition back by trusting yourself, by being militantly on your own side. You need to trust yourself, especially on the first draft, where amid the anxiety and self-doubt, there should be a real sense of your imagination and your memories . . . romping all over the lace. --Anne Lamott

SPEAKING TIP OF THE DAY . . .


When you are introduced, have your coat buttoned, your notes in hand,
and be prepared to stand and walk to the podium as soon as the introduction is finished.


WRITING TIP OF THE DAY . . .

Join a critique group and attend a writers' conference.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

WRITING TIP OF THE DAY . . .

Write your memoirs while they are happening—and you remember the details.