In addition, I hope you’ll follow these blogs, which I maintain as often as family, church, and book-writing commitments allow:
Mary Sayler (in lieu of this site)
Poetry Editor & Poetry
Praise Poems (many of which have been compiled in the book PRAISE! and the forthcoming chapbook, WE: the people under God.)
What the Bible Says About Love
May God bless you and your good work in Christ.
Mary Harwell Sayler, (c) 2017
A writer’s life didn’t use to focus on marketing or building a platform but on writing well and finding the most likely editors.
Review by Glynn Young
This journaling edition of the English Standard Version of the Bible published by Crossway makes a good choice for carrying on a conversation with God’s Word.
Poets and writers often self-publish their work because they do not know how to go about getting published by traditional print journals, books, or e-zines. These tips, first posted here over 3 years ago, bear tweaking and repeating:
• Notice publishers of books and periodicals you like to read.
• Most of these publishers now have a website where you can study the titles in their book lines and read the poems and articles in their archives.
• Make a list of each publisher whose work is similar to yours.
• Study the writers’ guidelines on each company’s website.
• Some editors want a query first to get a quick idea of what you have in mind. Consider this a “sales pitch” meant to give the editor an overview that’s brief, relevant, and to the point.
• If an editor prefers your actual manuscript or batch of poems, great! Just follow the writers’ guidelines, submitting to one editor at a time.
• Keep track of where and when you sent your work. If you do not have a response in 2 to 3 months, follow-up.
• While you wait to hear about one poem or manuscript submission, start another.
• If the editor returns your work, don’t take it personally. The acceptance pile might be too big and space too small. But just in case, your work still needs work: Read it aloud. Listen for rough spots. Revise as needed, then submit the manuscript to the next publisher on your list.
When people give a piece of their minds, they often express a partial piece of a bigger picture. Or to consider another caller on this homophone, a pastor or priest might ask at a wedding if anyone has a reason why the couple should not be married, and, if so, “Speak now or forever hold your peace.”
In chaotic times where rants, rumors, and discordant reports resound against God, Christ, and the church, we might be inclined to hold our peace by severely clamping our teeth against our tongues. We might shy away, wishing we were invisible. Or we might rush in to provide our little piece of the truth as we see it instead of asking God how God sees it. But here’s the thing:
Christian poets and writers have God-given intelligence, which can be called on to search out the truth, re-search information, investigate both sides to a story, and present a full, fair-minded view.
Christian poets and writers have powers of speech and communication capable of ringing longer, louder, and truer than self-expression alone.
The Bible assures Christian poets and Christian writers that, as Christians, we have the mind of Christ (I Corinthians 2:16), especially if we read the Bible and pray for the Holy Spirit to guide us.
Becoming attuned to God and in tune with our times can be complex but also simpler than it might sound. For instance, we can pray for discernment, expecting God to answer, and we can examine our minds and motives as we ask ourselves some simple questions:
Does my writing stir up people or stir readers from all cultures to accept the love, healing, forgiveness, redemption, and salvation of our Lord Jesus Christ?
Does speaking peace encourage my Christian brothers and sisters and, indeed, the whole Body of Christ to come together, eager to be at peace with one another?
In what ways can my poems, stories, devotionals, articles, and books bring reconciliation and healing to denominational or other church factions?
Do I willingly, prayerfully, and lovingly speak my piece as part of the ongoing peace of God?
© 2011, Mary Harwell Sayler, all rights reserved.
Sally Stuart, a prolific writer in her own right, has been helping other poets and writers for over 30 years with writing workshops, keynote speaking, and information-gathering for the annual Christian Writers’ Market Guide – the primary resource for Christians who want to get their work published. For ongoing info and updates, visit her Christian Writers’ Marketplace blog.
Sally, what do you most want to say to Christians who write?
If you believe God has called you to be a writer, you need to determine what that means for you. It may simply mean you need to write for your own healing or write for your church newsletter or write an inspirational column for your local newspaper. But if He has called you to write for publication, then you need to commit to being the best writer you can be — and BE PERSISTENT in finding a publisher for that writing.
What recent changes have you noticed in Christian publishing?
Because the periodical market continues to shrink, it is harder for writers to get a start there. Book publishers take longer to commit to publishing a book. And publishers are more insistent that writers follow their guidelines exactly.
Do writing conferences and workshops actually help Christian poets and writers? If so, how?
Conferences give the writer a broader understanding of the publishing industry and their particular genre and a chance to meet with agents and editors, as well as building a network of writing colleagues and friends.
How can poets and writers continue to improve their writing?
Read and write! Read A LOT of the poetry or genre you want to write. Read the current Christian bestsellers and the general market bestsellers. And write–write–write! In today’s competitive market, ultimately it is excellent writing that gets published.
Excellent advice, Sally. Thanks! God bless you and your work.
If you would like Sally’s evaluation of your fiction or nonfiction manuscript, visit her website for her current fees. For feedback on your poems, devotionals, or children’s picture book, contact me through my website.
(c) 2011, Mary Harwell Sayler
As your primary text for all types and genres of writing, read the Bible cover to cover, including footnotes and articles in reputable study editions.
Read classical works by poets and writers with whom you identify.
Study and analyze Christian classics in your favorite genre. For instance, the Biblical Poetry page on the Poetry Of Course website discusses poetic techniques and forms that poets often used in writing Holy Scripture.
Write accurately about Christianity.
Get to know the unique aspects of a denomination before you speak for that part of the Body of Christ. Whether you need information from the Vatican, Southern Baptist Sunday School Board, Episcopal Church, United Methodist, Assembly of God, or other Christian denomination, you will find that most churches have an official website with foundational documents, mission statements, and tenets of faith.
Write accurately about everything. Research each topic thoroughly.
Observe people. Listen to people of all types, age groups and backgrounds.
Consider what draws readers to a particular poem, story, article, or book.
Study publications you like to read. Get familiar with church magazines, curriculum materials, “take-home papers,” e-zines, books, journals, and also mainstream publications.
Consider gaps in publishing that your story, poem, article or book might fill.
Plan your work before you begin. Decide on a theme, purpose, and reading audience. Outline a nonfiction book. Write a synopsis of your novel.
Write, write, write!
Use English well. If grammar, syntax, spelling, or punctuation don’t come easily, get a dictionary, junior-high grammar book, or an editing software program. You’ll also find hotlinks to these types of Resources on the Poetry Of Course website.
Let your writing flow without criticizing yourself. Let your work rest. Later read those pages aloud as if someone else had written them.
Also read each revision aloud and really listen to you!
Identify any problems. When you see or sense a problem, you’ll most likely notice a workable solution too.
Revise, revise! Correct each mistake. Make every manuscript your best work before submitting it to an editor or Christian publishing house.
Most publishers have websites to let you know what they want. Study the information and carefully follow the company’s writing guidelines before you submit your manuscript or batch of poems.
If you don’t feel your work is quite ready for publication or if it keeps coming back, get professional feedback, preferably from a well-published Christian writer (yeah, like me 🙂 for a minimal fee.
(c) 2010, Mary Harwell Sayler, all rights reserved.