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.
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.
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.
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.