I recently received the following question:
“I know you just finished writing a devotional book, so I’d love to know what your strategy was. Do you have any suggestions on how I could get started?”
As I look back over the years leading up to my books’ publication, I’d like to share three things that have helped me accomplish my dream of becoming a published writer.
- I blog—twice a week—every week.
I’m in my fourth year of blogging now, and, by God’s good grace, I haven’t missed a post. Blogging has helped me develop as a writer, network with other bloggers, and connect with potential readers. I’ve learned how to write even when I don’t feel inspired, set and meet deadlines, and communicate succinctly. Blogging also gives me a rich cache of material to develop into speaking presentations, submit to other publications, and compile into books.
Twice-weekly blogging continues to be the single greatest thing I do to move forward in my writing journey.
2.I submit my work to other publications.
Using the Christian Writer’s Market Guide, I identify publications that accept devotional pieces and submit my articles and blog posts. When you do this, be sure to go to their websites and familiarize yourself with their submission guidelines. It’s very important to format your work properly. It would be a shame for an editor to discard your submission simply because of improper formatting.
As publications (online and print) accept your work, you’ll begin building your writing resume. This is a vital part of your future book proposal. As editors become familiar with your work, you’ll become the expert, the go-to person on your particular topic. They’ll begin inviting you to write pieces for them, and this will expand your reach even further.
3. I continue to learn.
Learning to write well is a lifelong process. In the past, formal education was the only option for someone learning to write. Today wonderful resources are only a click away. Writing and industry blogs abound, and there’s a webinar or YouTube tutorial for just about everything. I subscribe to several writing blogs (The Write Conversation is one of my favorites) and attend writers’ workshops, conferences, and a monthly critique group.
Through these resources, I’ve developed relationships with other writers and editors. When I’m working on an important article, I sometimes ask one of them to critique or edit my piece. I do the same for them. Having another pair of eyes look over my work and offer suggestions always makes it better. Word Weavers International is also a great resource for writing development.
Learning through constructive feedback is necessary in this challenging publication world. As a magazine editor myself, I’ll be the first to admit that editors have little patience for a writer who isn’t open to their input and suggestions.
My best advice to you isn’t to sit down and write a devotional book. Instead, I’d like to challenge you to write blog posts, share them with others, and continue to learn. You’ll grow as a writer, develop relationships that will enrich your life, and expand your understanding of the publishing world.
Thomas Edison once said, “Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration.” Genius or not, writing is hard work. But remember, God didn’t give you your insight, experiences, and abilities to keep them to yourself. Get to work, and may God bless your efforts for his glory.
Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much,
Lori Hatcher is the editor of Reach Out, Columbia magazine, a Christian Communicator graduate, and the author of two devotional books. Her second, Hungry for God…Starving for Time, 5-Minute Devotions for Busy Women released in December. A blogger, writing instructor, and women’s ministry speaker, her goal is to help women connect with God in the craziness of life. You’ll find her pondering the marvelous and the mundane on her blog, Hungry for God…Starving for Time. Connect with her on Twitter at @LoriHatcher2 or on Facebook – Hungry for God, Starving for Time.