Sunday, May 31, 2015


“It took me fifteen years to discover that I had no talent for writing, but I couldn’t give it up because by that time I was too famous.”—Robert Benchley


Some of the articles you write will call for accompanying photographs and some will not. If your article is a personality profile or story about a particular place or event, most publishers will expect you to provide appropriate photos. You can take such photos yourself if you are a professional photographer, or at least have a quality camera and know how to take professional shots. If not, you can hire someone to go along who is, or if the subject is a celebrity, his/her publicity department can often provide photos. Inquire about the availability of photos, or ask permission to take photos, when you set up the interview. If the assignment and the publication are major enough, the publication may send out a photographer to take photos. For example, I once did an article about communication with teenagers (using my family as an example), and to my surprise, the major Christian magazine I wrote it for sent a professional photographer to my home to take photos of the family.

Generally, the author is not expected to provide illustrations for an article, unless it requires photos of a particular person or event as noted above. The periodical provides the regular illustrations. An exception might be things like charts or graphs needed to illustrate the piece. Even in those cases, if you provide a copy of the chart or graph, they would have it professionally designed to appear in the magazine. Such charts and graphs can be computer-generated fairly easily.
If a publication expects photographs, you will need to know exactly what they expect you to provide. Some want color transparencies, while others want black & white photos of a particular size (usually 8x10). You can get this information from the market guide, their guidelines, or simply ask the editor. If possible, send a contact sheet or several photos for them to choose from. All photos need to be sharp and clear, unless they are old photos included for historical purposes.

The question of payment for illustrations is not easy to answer. Some publishers consider the photos as part of the price and do not pay extra for them. Others consider them as a separate entity and pay accordingly. You will want to clarify this ahead of time, especially if you are paying a photographer to take the necessary photos. Keep in mind that you are actually leasing the photos, not selling them outright, so the photos and rights should be returned to you after use. Normally you won’t be paid extra for the other types of graphics. Anytime you have questions about who is to provide photos or illustrations, ask the editor what is expected of you and what they can do to help.

Stock Photos
In addition to photos to accompany articles, some publications buy stock photos—nonspecific photos that can be used to illustrate other material in the magazine. The market guide indicates which ones only buy photos with articles and which buy stock photos. Some book publishers are also open to photos to use as book covers (and magazines buy them for magazine covers). If you are taking photos for covers, take vertical shots, not horizontal. Individuals who try to sell stock photos do well to specialize in specific areas.
If you want to sell to Christian publications, study a lot of sample copies and determine the types of photos they typically use, such as various church scenes, youth and children involved in various activities, couples, etc. Although some are photographers exclusively, many take pictures as a sideline to supplement their writing income. Some will go on planned photo shoots to collect specific types of photos, and others take extra photos when taking shots for a specific article so they can be used as stock photos as well.

Stock photos are also available through stock agencies (businesses that have thousands in their files on a wide variety of topics), so you might check out what prices are charged by such agencies. Sort your pictures by category and give each slide an identifying number, then make up a list or index by category. Stamp your name on each slide or photo, along with a copyright symbol ©. Submit slides in plastic sheets that hold 20 slides and are three-hole punched to store in loose-leaf notebooks. If sending less than 20, cut the sheets leaving the correct number of pockets.

Often writers ask if they need model releases for pictures they send with articles. Generally speaking you will not, unless the publication specifically asks for them. The exception is if the photo is going to be used on the cover. The key here is that the photos in no way reflect negatively on the subject. For example, you wouldn’t do an article on drug addicts and use a photo of innocent bystanders to illustrate it—giving the impression that they were the addicts.

Typically model releases are required if the subject is recognizable and the photo is going to be used for commercial purposes, such as in an advertisement or for public relations. You can make up and print your own model release on a 1/3 or ½ sheet of paper. Include blank lines for the release number, date the picture was taken, name of the subject, and a brief description of scene. In the center of the slip have a statement similar to this: I hereby give photographer, (your name) , permission to reproduce and sell photographs that include me or my children, for editorial, advertising, or other lawful purposes. At the bottom have one or two lines for signatures and a date. A pad of photo release forms can also be found at your local photography store.

Saturday, May 30, 2015


  1.  Don't use the same word twice in one sentence.
  2.  Don't use the same word twice in successive sentences.


A good number of different types of articles will call for interviews—one or many. So no matter what kind of writing you want to do, you will need to learn how to conduct an effective interview. Your goal will be to get all the information you want or need in as short a time as possible. That can only be accomplished if you know what to ask and how to ask it.
Following are a few key guidelines for effective interviewing:
  1. Interview the subject in person if possible. A lot of what you will learn will be visual—things you will miss if you don’t actually see the subject.
  2. Decide on the best location for the interview—his home? His office? Your office? A neutral location? Not a noisy restaurant. Pick a place where the subject will be most comfortable and with the fewest distractions.
  3. If they are not available in person, it can be done by phone. Call ahead and make an appointment for when you can call back with your questions. The last resort might be to send them a list of questions to answer and return to you.
  4. Learn all you can about the subject ahead of time so you don’t waste time asking questions on background and family that you can easily find elsewhere.
  5. Allow plenty of time—1/2 hour to 2 hours for an article.
  6. Take a tape recorder (with extra tapes and batteries), and be sure you can operate it easily. However, don’t depend on it exclusively; take notes too. If recording a phone interview, ask the subject for their permission to do so.
  7. Write out 4 to 6 main questions ahead of time, and have related questions in your head. But don’t get bogged down in your questions. Listen to what the subject has to say and base your next question on their last answer or comment—not on what’s next on your list.
  8. Pay attention to what you see in the room (if you’re on their turf), and break the ice by talking with them about that—rather than jumping right into your questions. Try to put them at ease. If you are relaxed, it is more likely that they will be.
  9. Avoid disagreeing or arguing with the subject. You are there to find out who they are and how they think or feel on the issues—whether you agree or not.
  10. Generally you move from the simple, non-threatening questions to the harder issues, but you need to be sensitive to where they want to start and the direction they want to go. However, don’t let them sabotage the interview by avoiding the questions or issues you came for; interrupt them an get them back on track if you need to. Never ask questions that have Yes or No answers—that may be all you will get from some people.
  11. Avoid asking direct questions that may upset them, by rephrasing them in less threatening ways, such as, “How do you answer your critiques when they say…?” Your questions should nudge them in the direction you want them to go—questions that revel their feelings, values, and unique point of view.
  12. If you are having trouble getting a handle on who this person is, ask a question like, “If I were to ask your boss (wife, children, pastor) to describe you in one sentence, what would they say?”
  13. Use your notebook to record your visual observations: locale description, appearance/dress, mannerisms, gestures, body language, interaction or relationship to any others in the room, etc.
  14. Before closing the interview, check your list to be sure you covered everything you planned to. Also ask permission to call with follow-up questions if you missed or lost anything of importance, or need to verify facts.
  15. Some subjects will ask to see the finished article before it is published. It is best not to show them, as they will always want you to change something. Tell them that you have a policy not to do so, but you will verify all technical information and direct quotes before it goes to press. Let them know when and where it will be published—either at the end of the interview or as soon as you know, and promise to send a copy.
  16. For many profiles you will need photographs (see the next section for information on how to get those).
It is best to write up the interview as soon as possible, while the things you didn’t write down are fresh in your mind. It is usually not necessary to transcribe the entire tape; just those parts that have important quotes.

Friday, May 29, 2015


I suppose if people were defined as sidebars, that is what you would call Watson—a sidebar to Sherlock Holmes. He isn’t always necessary, but makes the story better for his presence. Likewise, a sidebar is a block of information that is generally run in a column next to the article and often set apart within a box. It contains information that compliments the article, but would not be appropriate within the body of the article itself. A sidebar might focus on statistics, additional resources on the topic, a list of affiliated organizations, quotes from others on the topic, a quiz on the topic, a glossary of terms used in the article, an anecdote or case study on the topic, historical background, differing points of view, etc. A sidebar is often the professional touch that will sell an article. Gives it that extra pizzazz.
Some publications use a lot of sidebars and either require them or consider them a plus. Other never or seldom use them. The market guide will indicate if they use them, and studying a few sample copies will tell you very quickly how many and what kind they use most often. Not sending a sidebar to an editor who prefers them is as bad as sending them to an editor who never uses them.
Every time you write an article, make a list of possible sidebars. Some articles will support more than one sidebar, so don’t limit yourself or the editor. In your query, offer more than one choice for sidebars.
Should you expect extra payment for a sidebar? It depends. If the sidebar is included in the total number of words you are being paid for—you promised and delivered a 2,000 word article, including sidebar—then No. If, however, you deliver a 2,000 word article without a sidebar, and they later ask for an additional sidebar, then, Yes, you should expect and get extra payment. The amount of payment will depend on whether you already have the additional information in your notes, or if you are going to have to do new research.
When submitting a sidebar, type them on a separate page (or pages) identified at the top as “Sidebar to (name of article);” or “Sidebar #1 to (name of article)” if you have more than one; or “Statistical Sidebar to (name of article)” or “Case-Study Sidebar to (name of article)” if you want to identify them more closely. Type each as a separate manuscript and use your common sense in identifying them.

Thursday, May 28, 2015


Many publication are open to stories, articles, poetry or fillers that are tied to a specific holiday or season. In fact, those who do use such material are often desperate for material to meet that need. Most will have more than they can use for Christmas or Easter, but very little available for Valentines or Mother’s Day. So think seasons or minor holidays instead of the obvious ones.
Many writers make the mistake of submitting such material too late. The market guide or their guidelines will usually indicate how far ahead they need to receive this dated material. For most, it will be 6-18 months ahead. I’ve had more than one editor complain to me that writers will send a Christmas story in November and be upset because they can’t put it in the Christmas issue that year.
As you select and become more familiar with the publications that are most likely to buy from you, one of the things you’ll want to learn is how far ahead to send holiday or seasonal material. Sending it in a timely manner is one more way of showing the editors you know exactly what they need—and when.



I was going to wait till next week to tell you this, but…

After reading the surveys I got back from my email list, I wondered whether you might be one of the many aspiring novelists starving for more information on powerfulstorytelling.

I wouldn’t blame you, because if you’re able to tell a compelling story, you can inspire thousands—millions, even—to tears, laughter, and action. You can change lives.

And that’s why I’ve decided to host a brand new FREE training on the subject.

It’s called Secrets of Storytelling: How to Craft a Compelling Story.

I’ll be revealing the common plot mistakes I see people make, as well as a number of my personal storytelling tips and solutions that changed everything for me when I discovered them.

I went from being a mid-list writer with average sales to a bestselling author with the luxury of actually having to turn down offers from publishers for books I couldn’t work into my schedule.

You can reserve your seat for this live webinar on June 3rdat 1:00 pm Central Time by clicking the link below:

>>>Click here to reserve your seat for the FREE live training

The seats are limited to the first 1000 writers. For the last webinar, 1298 signed up.

Next week, I’ll publicize the link on social media. But since you’re on my email list, I’m giving you the early access link.

I don’t want you to miss out if you feel like this is exactly what you need to breathe new life into your story.

So to make sure to reserve your seat, all you have to do is click the link below:

>>> Click here to reserve your seat for the FREE live training

See you soon,

Jerry B. Jenkins  


Submissions are being accepted for 21 Days of Joy: Stories that Celebrate Motherhood, a part of the Fiction Lover’s Devotional series. Editor and compiler Kathy Ide is requesting submissions from fiction writers. Please review the writers’ guidelines at
  You don’t need to be a previously published author to be included in this series. However, your submission will be considered alongside chapters from multi-published best-selling authors, so the writing needs to be top notch and well polished. Visit our website for tips on writing short fiction stories.
  The deadline to submit is July 1, 2015. For more information, visit

Wednesday, May 27, 2015


Do not just send a random selection of poems. Periodicals that use poetry generally use poems that fit their focus. For example, a family magazine will want family-oriented poetry, a senior citizens magazine will use poetry related to nostalgia or aging issues, etc. If you carefully match your poetry to the appropriate markets, your chances of selling are much greater.
The reason you prepare poetry as separate manuscripts is so editors can select the poems they want and return the others. Also check the poetry sections to see what type of poetry an editor prefers. Some accept any type, while other may prefer rhymed or unrhymed. Send them what they want. Most periodicals pay little or nothing for poetry (although there are exceptions), but if you are a poet you want to get your poetry published everywhere you can whether you are paid or not. The good poets rise to the top eventually, but you will never be discovered unless you are published widely. It is the established poet who has the best opportunity of having a book of poetry accepted by a royalty publisher.
Poets often ask whether they should enter poetry contests or submit to poetry anthologies. Contests are a good way to get some recognition for your poetry as long as there are no or low entry fees. A poetry contest that charges high entry fees is likely in it for the money—not to discover promising poets. The same is true of anthologies. Some are legitimate, some are not. Never get involved with an anthology if you must buy one or more copies as a requirement for entering. Buying a copy should simply be an option, not a requirement. Also, try to find out if they accept everyone, or if they select only the best poetry. There is no value for you being included in an anthology that is filled with awful poetry.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015


 An exclamation point can't save a bad idea—a good one doesn't need it.


Just as some publishers require a query, some publishers are adamant about accepting only complete manuscripts. That is especially true of publishers who publish mostly short pieces, material for children, humor, fiction, etc. They feel like it is easier to read a short manuscript than trying to judge it by a query.
When sending a complete manuscript you simply put your completed manuscript in an envelope with or without a cover letter. When determining whether or not to include a cover letter, check their listing in the market guide first to see if they ask for one. If so, include one that simply introduces you and your subject. If they don’t ask for one, you will still include one if there is something specific you need to tell them such as your qualifications for writing the piece (if the piece requires certain qualifications or experience), your reasons for using a pen name (if applicable), problems with permissions, or anything else it is important for them to know. (See Cover Letters in Part 3.)

Monday, May 25, 2015


“When I graduated from high school I couldn’t go to college, so I went to the library 3 days a week for 10 years.”—Ray Bradbury


  • A few more points to keep in mind - Query letters
  • If you haven’t written for this publication before, you might want to include a resume on a separate sheet, some tear sheets of previously published articles in this field, or the first four pages of this manuscript, so they have a sample of your writing.
  • Realize that a go-ahead from an editor on a query does not mean he is buying it—only that he has agreed to look at it. Your letter should indicate that you are offering it “On speculation, of course.”
  • Some top markets will give a firm assignment, especially if you have written for them before or are well-known in the field. If it is definitely an assignment, and they subsequently decide not to use it, some will pay what we call a “kill fee,” which means they will pay you a fee NOT to publish it (to “kill” the piece). That fee is usually 10-50% of the regular payment. The market guide indicates which publishers pay a kill fee and what percentage.
  • When you submit an article as the result of a go-ahead from an editor on a query, mention that fact in the cover letter that goes with your completed article. Say something like, “Here is the article you asked to see in your letter of May 3rd.” You could also include a Xerox copy of the editor’s go-ahead letter, and write “Requested Manuscript” on the outside of the envelope.
  • Include a self-addressed stamped envelope with every query.
  • You will usually send a query to one publication at a time, unless it is a timely topic or seasonal. If you are submitting it simultaneously for those reasons, include that information in your query, “Because of the timeliness of this topic I am sending simultaneous queries, but will submit the finished article to only one publication at a time.” You may send simultaneous queries to any publications that indicate in the market guide that they will accept simultaneous submissions.
  • If a publisher accepts queries only, it usually means you must send a query even for poetry, fillers, and fiction. Some publishers require a query only for feature or major articles, and a complete manuscript for everything else. Their guidelines will usually clarify exactly what they want.

Friday, May 22, 2015


  • A sharp focus - Your query, like your article, must be sharply focused on a specific aspect of your subject. For example, you can’t write an article on marriage; it has to be on one clearly defined aspect of marriage. If an editor wanted to know everything there was to know on a subject, he could look it up in an encyclopedia. An editor once told me to use a rifle—not a shotgun.
  • Give needed specifics - Give pertinent data, such as how long the piece will be, when you can have it ready, and what pictures/illustrations are available, if any. Be sure the length you suggest is appropriate to the magazine and to your topic. When indicating when you can have it ready, make sure it is a sufficient time to complete it and a specified length of time after getting their go-ahead. Generally speaking, you won’t send photos with your query (except, perhaps, for a composite sheet), but will let them know what you have available.
  • Qualifications/Professional Experience - Tell what qualifies you to write this particular piece, which usually is your experience, background, education, or simply that you are extremely interested. Give your writing experience if you have any. If you don’t, say nothing. For example, you might say, “I have sold over 100 articles in the evangelical market, one of the latest to Moody.” When mentioning a specific magazine like this, pick your best credit in the same general field as the one you are querying. So if it is a women’s magazine, mention the biggest/best women’s magazine you have sold to. If you have a special skill that qualifies you to write this piece, tell them that. If you have access to a unique source, person or event of importance to this piece, mention that.
  • Tell your viewpoint - They will want to know how you are going to approach this subject, or your viewpoint. It may be that you are enthusiastic about the topic, that you are indignantly opposed to it, that you are amused by it, or that you are setting out to write an objective balanced report on it. Indicate whether it will be written in first or third person, and if you are writing it as an observer, a participant, or what. For example, I once wrote an article about dyslexia (a learning disability in children). I was not an expert on dyslexia, I didn’t have it myself, I didn’t work with dyslexic students, but I was the mother of a dyslexic child and the article on how parents can best help a dyslexic child was written from a mother’s viewpoint.
  • Indicate timeliness - If applicable, mention anything that indicates this topic is timely, such as linking it to a current trend, news event, recent statistics, or any factors that indicate popularity.
  • Present a lively title - A great title can almost sell an article, so work at making your title as good as it can be and mention it in the letter. Note that publications tend to be fairly consistent in the number of words they use in a title, so include that as part of your homework. I simple go to the contents page of the publication and figure out the average number of words in their titles. Typically a scholarly journal will use more words (6-8 words), than does a teen paper (1-2 words).
  • Don’t talk money - Never mention money in a query letter unless it is a publication you write for regularly and you have to discuss necessary expenses to get the story, which they normally pay for you. Don’t say, “I will accept your regular rate of pay (that’s all you’re going to get anyway),” or “I’ll take less than your normal rate of pay,” or “I’ll write it for free is you’ll just publish it.” Any one of those will mark you as an amateur.
  • Include a postscript - Take advantage of the fact that everyone reads the P.S. at the end of a letter, by using it to convey something important to the editor. In the postscript say something like, “ Any suggestions on slant or special emphasis to benefit your readers will be appreciated.” That simple sentence is important because it tells the editor you are willing to work with him—to rewrite if necessary. An editor’s worst nightmare is the writer who refuses to rewrite or insists their writing was somehow so godly inspired that it would be sacrilegious to change a word.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015


3. Keep the tone of the letter professional, upbeat, and enthusiastic without overselling your idea. At the same time let the letter reflect something of who you are and the overall tone of the article you are offering. For example, if you are offering a humorous piece, your query can reflect an ability to write humor (light touch only; don’t overdo it); or if it is a how-to piece, the letter should reflect the kind of clarity and organization needed for that kind of writing. When querying on any topic, the letter needs to reflect your best writing skills and a sense of logical organization. Write, rewrite, and polish it until it is some of your best writing.

4. There are all kinds of sample query letters available—even formula queries—but I don’t recommend using them. The purpose of a query letter is to catch a busy editor’s attention. You will never do that with a formula query with the blanks filled in. For that reason I will not give you a formula, but a list of what needs to be included, and encourage you to put together an original and compelling letter that will bring an editor’s positive go-ahead. Following are the elements to include:

  • A grabber opening to catch the editor’s attention - Pick out the most compelling element of your article and use it to pull the editor in. If your article itself has such an opening, use it and then go on to say, “This is how I plan to start a 1,500 word article on _________.” The opening needs to state the subject of the article in a nutshell, then elaborate. Give the subject in the first line, or at least the first paragraph. It should also indicate your slant and why the reader should care about the topic.
  • Samples of what will go into the article - Include anything that shows the editor that there is something more to support your ideas. That could include such things as statistics, quotes with attribution, a good anecdote or story that supports your point of view, and authorities to show it’s not just your idea. Never withhold a surprise ending. Give the editor all the pertinent information, but whet his appetite for the details.
  • A sharp focus - Your query, like your article, must be sharply focused on a specific aspect of your subject. For example, you can’t write an article on marriage; it has to be on one clearly defined aspect of marriage. If an editor wanted to know everything there was to know on a subject, he could look it up in an encyclopedia. An editor once told me to use a rifle—not a shotgun.
  • Give needed specifics - Give pertinent data, such as how long the piece will be, when you can have it ready, and what pictures/illustrations are available, if any. Be sure the length you suggest is appropriate to the magazine and to your topic. When indicating when you can have it ready, make sure it is a sufficient time to complete it and a specified length of time after getting their go-ahead. Generally speaking, you won’t send photos with your query (except, perhaps, for a composite sheet), but will let them know what you have available.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015



If a publisher requires a query, I’m sure many of you are asking what a query letter is and what should be included. Basically it is a sales letter—like a job application. You are telling the editor what you have to offer and asking if he is interested in seeing it. Beyond that it is a sample of your writing, so don’t take it lightly. It must showcase the best writing you can do. It is the editor’s first indication of what kind of writer you are.

The biggest complaint I get from editors about query letters is that they are not specific enough, so keep in mind that you want to tell the editor everything he needs to know to make an informed decision about whether or not your article is going to meet his needs.

Before we get into the query letter itself, I want to explain the value of a query letter. First it saves you writing a manuscript for which there is no market. It saves editors the time and trouble of reading manuscripts they have no need of. But one of its primary values is to give the editor a chance to have some input into your project before you actually write it. For example, an editor might say he likes the idea but wants you to drop this portion and expand that area, or to approach it from this angle instead of that one. Getting that information before you write saves a lot unnecessary writing and rewriting. A query is especially helpful when an interview or extensive research is involved.

Following are some guidelines that will help you develop a query letter that will convince an editor you have something publishable to offer.

  1. Before sending a query, do your homework and know enough about a publication to prepare an offer that will meet their specific requirements. Keep in mind that anything you can say that reflects your knowledge of their publication and audience will get an editor’s attention. With major publications, send for a copy of their latest demographic study. You can then pick up information from that study or their guidelines to use in your letter. For example: “Since your target audience is working women, ages 20-45, this feature article on balancing family and work will meet one of their primary needs.”
  2. The query letter itself is a standard, typed business letter with letterhead (if available) and single spacing. Most are one to two pages; one page is preferable. It should be neat, professional, with no errors. Double-check spelling, punctuation, typos, grammar, etc. Address it to a specific editor (name spelled correctly) unless the publication has not provided one (that means there is no editor’s name given in the market guide by their request). You can then address it to “Dear Editor.”
         (More to come tomorrow)

Monday, May 18, 2015


32nd year of ministry!  July 29-August 1, 2015 at Cairn University in Langhorne Pennsylvania
Keynotes & General Sessions with Allen Arnold, Jim Watkins, Tim Shoemaker,
Dr. Harold Arnold, Jr., Michael Gantt, and Peter Lundell
Offers a choice of 6-hour continuing sessions,
plus a wide range of how-to workshops


THE FIVE LOVE LANGUAGES by Gary Chapman (Northfield/Moody) is #1 in Relationships; #3 in Advice, How-To & Misc.
  • JESUS CALLING by Sarah Young (Thomas Nelson) is #1 in Religion, Spirituality & Faith.
  • YOUR BEAUTIFUL HEART by Lauren Scruggs (Tyndale House) is #1 in Fashion, Manners and Customs.
    • SAME KIND OF DIFFERENT AS ME by Ron Hall and Denver Moore with Lynn Vincent (Thomas Nelson) is #3 in Race.
    • SCARY CLOSE by Donald Miller. (Nelson Books/Thomas Nelson) is #3 in Relationships.
    • LOVE DOES by Bob Goff (Thomas Nelson) is #6 in Relationships.
    • KEEP IT SHUT by Karen Ehman (Zondervan) is #7 in Relationships.
    • GHOST BOY by Martin Pistorius with Megan Lloyd Davies (Thomas Nelson) is #7 in Health.
    • WRESTLING FOR MY LIFE by Shawn Michaels with David Thomas (Zondervan) is #8 in Sports.
    • BOUNDARIES by Henry Cloud and John Townsend (Zondervan) is #8 in Religion, Spirituality & Faith.
    • THE BEST YES by Lysa TerKeurst (Nelson Books/Thomas Nelson) is #11 in Religion, Spirituality & Faith.
    • LOVE AND RESPECT by Emerson Eggerichs (Thomas Nelson) is #11 in Relationships.
    • FOUR BLOOD MOONS by John Hagee (Worthy Publishing) is #11 in Religion, Spirituality & Faith.
    • THE MYSTERY OF THE SHEMITAH by Jonathan Cahn (FrontLine) is #12 in Religion, Spirituality & Faith.
    • HEAVEN IS FOR REAL by Todd Burpo with Lynn Vincent (Thomas Nelson) is #14 in Religion, Spirituality & Faith.


    COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo., May 13, 2015 -- Outreach, Inc., a world leader in church communications, publishing and media, announced the firm's acquisition of Christian Computing Magazine and The American Church Magazine, published by Christian Digital Publishers, Inc. for the past 25 years. Christian Computing has provided tools and practical advice to churches and individuals seeking to better use technology in their ministry, and The American Church encourages and resources pastors who may be struggling to save troubled churches or are attempting to navigate the difficult process of starting or planting a church.

    Steve Hewitt, president of Christian Digital Publishers, Inc. and former editor of both magazines, will continue as a consultant to assist in the transition and to take the helm of these resources from his home office in Missouri. Outreach has committed to retaining the present staff of both magazines.



    As you get better acquainted with publications and editors, you will find a difference in preference as to how they want to be contacted by you with freelance submissions. Some publishers want to see only the completed manuscript, some want only a query letter, and others will take either. It is important to know what each wants and abide by that preference.

    If they want a completed manuscript, send them something that fits their publication as exactly as possible. That means it is the right length, the right style, an appropriate topic and the right slant. A publisher will know immediately if you have done your homework and are sending them something that matches who they are—or if you have chosen them at random or as a last resort. Realize, however, that even if you match the criteria exactly you may still get a rejection. There are a lot of reasons for rejections that you have no control over, such as their being overstocked, having recently published or accepted something similar, overdrawn budgets, etc. But even rejected manuscripts will be noticed if they have all the hallmarks of an appropriate submission.

    Sunday, May 17, 2015


    "You are a writer. The 'normal' ship sailed without you long ago." Terri Main


    when your imaginary friends stop talking to you.


    The Article/Story Market Form (see Figure 6) is a simple way to organize those ideas into a workable form that will prepare you to go to work immediately. The idea is to fill out (or start filling out) this form for each new idea that strikes you, and keep them in a folder or loose-leaf notebook next to your typewriter of computer. In a notebook they could be sorted by topic or type of material. Following are a few ideas to help you better understand and use this form:

             You will notice that the form starts with the name of the periodical, not with the name of the piece. This is a reminder that as soon as you have an idea you must ask yourself who you should write it for (check your list).
    1. On the form, indicate what format it will take—article, short story, poem, or whatever. Decide at this point what format would work the best—or even if it could take more than one form—such as a short story and a poem.
    2. Note where it refers to “Special Column/Section.” One of the most overlooked segments of the periodical market are the columns, departments, or special sections that are dependent on freelance submissions. Many periodicals have them and they are highlighted under “Columns/Departments” in the Alphabetical Listings for periodicals in the market guide. Those listings give the name of the column, the primary focus, length, amount paid, and whether you need to query or send complete manuscript. These columns vary widely in topics, including such things as marriage, family, health, opinion, practical/how-to ideas, etc. Since these are established sections of the magazine that must be filled each issue, and most writers ignore them, editors are often desperate to find material to fill them. In studying the market guide, highlight any of these that you feel qualified to write for. On your form, indicate if this piece could or should be written to fit one of those columns.
    3. In filling in the length, check their guidelines and be sure it is within their range. I am often asked how long a piece should be if the guidelines give a range, such as 1,000-2,000 words. In most magazines, if not all, the longest lengths would be reserved for the feature articles or articles dealing with the primary focus of that particular magazine. That means that everything else would be shorter. So ask yourself: How important is this piece to the overall content of the magazine? If it is extremely important, then offer it at 2,000 words (or maximum length), if it is of lesser importance, rate that importance and set a length accordingly.
    4. Based on the market guide or guidelines, indicate whether you need to query or send a complete manuscript or either. That way you will know exactly what you need to do first when you get to this idea.
    5. Indicate their pay rate and based on that and the projected length, estimate what the payment would be.
    6. Information as to payment time, reporting time (how long you should expect them to get back to you), and openness to freelance (what percentage of their material comes from freelance writers) can be found in the market guide or in their guidelines.
    7. Give it a working title or at least indicate the general subject.
    8. Under special needs or taboos, note anything you learned about this market in your initial research that you need to keep in mind, such as: must be written in first person; wants lots of anecdotes; or heavy on the how-to.
    9. Include enough in your brief description that you will remember what you had in mind when you come back to this later.
    10. As you have thought about this piece, what authorities, resources or contacts have come to mind? It might be a professional or laymen who would provide good quotes. It might be another article or book you saw recently on the topic. It might be a friend who has recently had a similar experience. Write here anything or anyone who might give credibility to your piece.
    11. Finally, list a couple of other potential markets in case this one rejects it.
    Figure 6


    Name of periodical:__________________________________________ __

    Address:______________________________________________________ _

    ________________________________________________ _____ __

    Editor's Name:______________________ ___________________________

    Article_ _ __ Short Story_ _ _ _ Filler_ ___ Poem___ _ Book Review__ __

    Other_______________________________________________________ ___

    Special Column/Section:___ _____________________________________

    Length:__ _ __________Words _______ ___Lines(poetry)

    Poetry: rhymed___ _ unrhymed_ ___

    Query:__ _ __ Complete manuscript:__ ___ Either:___ __

    Pay rate:______ ___ Estimated pay for this piece:_______ _______

    Pays on acceptance___ __ On publication____ _

    Reporting time:__________ _______

    Openness/Percentage free-lance written:_____________________ ___

    Working title/subject:_____________________ ____________________

    Special needs/taboos:_________________ _________________________

    ____________________________ ___________________________________

    Brief description of piece:_______________________________ _____

    _______________________________________________ ________________

    _____________________________________ __________________________

    _______________________________________ ________________________

    Authorities/Contact persons/Resources:_____ ____________________

    __________________________________ _____________________________

    _________________________________________ ______________________

    Other potential markets:________________ _______________________

    ____________________________________ ___________________________

    Friday, May 15, 2015


    It is important that you stand tall and look confident when speaking—
    even if you're not feeling that way. The confidence of the audience in you
    will be a direct reflection of how confident you appear.


    Use strong words for emphasis, not exclamation points—
    except when it is a true exclamation.



    Once you recognize the different types of articles and have come up with a list of target markets for your periodical material, you are finally ready to go to work on those manuscripts. The basic idea being that you do not write anything until you know who you are writing it for. At this point I want to offer you another tool to help you collect, organize and compile all your potential ideas.


             Most writers I know are busy people who struggle to find time to write. They long for those free stretches of time when they can get to the typewriter or computer and let the words flow. Unfortunately those times come all too infrequently, and often when they do you sit down and realize you don’t have a clue as to where to start. Sure you have that folder full of ideas you’ve jotted on slips of paper, backs of envelopes or on old napkins, but for most of them you have “lost the vision” (or don’t have a clue as to what you had in mind). Because that seems to be true of most writers, I have come up with a simple form to help. (See tomorrow's blog).

    Thursday, May 14, 2015


    “The first sentence can't be written until the final sentence is written.” Joyce Carol Oates


    Survey - A Survey Article is based on the information collected in a survey on any topic or problem of your choice. This kind of article is only as good as the knowledge and diversity of people surveyed. Examples: Survey magazine editors about their pet peeves when dealing with writers, and write an article for a writer’s publication; or write up the stories of several families who are caring for aging parents/grandparents.

    Travel Piece - An article that gives insights and information on traveling to a specific destination. Avoid large tourist attractions or areas. It is best to find a unique angle or out-of-the-way places that haven’t been covered hundreds of times. Also look for new and different types of destinations, such as eco-tourism (traveling to locations where you view nature from the viewpoint of preservation). Travel articles almost always require photographs, so take your own professional shots (advisable if you plan to do a lot of travel articles) or see what is available through the area’s public relations office, Chamber of Commerce, or tourist bureau. Examples: Not Disneyland the theme park, but what happens underground, backstage with the Disney characters, who cares for the landscaping, or what it’s like to work in the park. Or cover a geographical area focusing on the diversity of food, a particular type of art, or the architecture.

    Trend Analysis - An article based on an analysis of a current trend. Example: An article on whether or not Christian men are reading more, or whether more Christian parents are home schooling their children.

    Wednesday, May 13, 2015


    PinterestWriter's Digest on YouTubeGoogle+
    May 13, 2015
    84th Annual Writer's Digest Writing Competition

    Your work could be seen by editors and agents—and win up to $5,000!

    For more than 80 years, Writer’s Digest has been showcasing the very best in its Annual Writing Competition and this year is no different. If you’re proud of your work, we want to see it!

    Enter by June 5 and you could win:

    • $5,000 in prize money
    • An announcement of your win on the cover of Writer’s Digest
    • A 30-minute Platform Strategy Consultation with Chuck Sambuchino
    • National exposure for your work
    • One-on-one attention with four editors or agents
    • A paid trip to the ever-popular Writer’s Digest Annual Conference in New York City!

    What we’re looking for:
    • Your finest work! Submit what really showcases your unique talents.
    • Entries representing a wide variety of genres are encouraged! See the full list of categories here.
    Don’t let this opportunity pass you by!



    Service Piece - This type of article gives the reader information needed to make a decision concerning the use of certain items, services or facilities. It usually focuses on one particular category, and gives them as much information as possible on several options so they can make the right choice for them. For example, a service piece on day-care providers in your area would include a description and comparison of the various ones available. These would sell to a local or regional magazine or newspaper, not a national ones. (They can be done on a national level, but it is harder to find a suitable topic since most people do not shop on a national level—perhaps one on shopping the Internet.) Periodicals that use service articles tend to buy them from freelancers, rather than writing them themselves, because they are time consuming. This type of piece can be boring, so study some good examples of how to make them both interesting and informative, and stick to areas where you have had some personal experience. Examples: Compare churches for most family-oriented program, teen-oriented program, or singles-oriented program; best athletic centers in your town; or best emergency facilities.


    Not staying within your allotted time schedule
    will be a negative in your ongoing reputation
    as a speaker.


    Bethel Writers Workshop
    June 10-12, 2015
    Redding, California
    Event Website:

    Tuesday, May 12, 2015


    Keep sentences and paragraphs
    short, or vary their length.


    Report/Explanation - An article that gives the reader needed information on some topic of interest, either in the form of a report on a particular situation or an explanation of the facts on a given topic. Example: A lawyer explains what your legal rights are in a restaurant if you find a fly in your soup or get food poisoning.

    Round-Up - Interview several different people on the same topic or who have had the same experience and write an article telling the story from the different viewpoint of each. In essence it is a survey, not a research project. The article will be based on the opinions or experiences of a number of different people (typically 3-5), not on scientific research. The key, then, is to select people who are “in the know” on your selected topic and hopefully interesting. Determine the slant of your article before you start asking questions, and focus on the questions that will support that slant. This type of article does demand a query, and often can include a sidebar. Example: The joys of first-time fatherhood; dealing with a death in the church from the viewpoint of several different pastors; or how successful women balance work and family.


    Southern Christian Writers Conference

    "Let this be written for a future generation, that a people not yet created may praise the Lord." — Psalm 102:18