If you plan to write books later, it always helps to develop these areas of expertise in periodicals first. Often that gives you enough credibility to write those books, even when you don’t have any formal background or education in the topic area. So, for now, decide where you are going to position yourself during the next three to five years.
Along with determining what topics or types of writing you are going to pursue, it is also important to identify your target audience. Who exactly are you writing for? Many writers make the mistake of not targeting closely enough. You can no longer write just for children or adults, you must select one or more specific segments of any market. Children’s markets are always broken down by age groups: 2-3, 4-5, 6-8, 8-12, 10-14, etc., and if you write for children as a single market, you will have a hard time selling it—there will be no definable target. The same is true of adult markets, which are often broken into stages of life, such as college, young adult, singles, early family, later family, empty nest, senior adults, as well as specialty audiences, such as women, men, or pastors. Based on the topics and types of writing you are pursuing, determine what different audiences you are qualified to write for.
Once you have selected your specific topics or types of writing, and your audience, the next step is to determine where you are going to find your potential customers (the publishers). As we mentioned above, you want to identify your customers first, and then custom-design your product to fit their particular needs. To find those customers, look up the topic/type in the topical listings in the Christian Writers’ Market Guide. Those listings will tell you specifically which publishers have said they are looking for that type of material, but don’t automatically assume that every publisher listed for that topic will fit what you have to offer. Your job now is to go through a process of selection and elimination to determine which markets will be open to your material.