By Annagail Lynes
The Christian market is booming with new opportunities every day.
I never thought that I would be a Christian writer. I always I dreamed of being a novelist, getting up every morning at ten, dressed in my ratty old robe, drinking coffee as I sat down at my computer to type out my latest novel.
I had been writing short stories since I was thirteen–everything from romances to mysteries. I sent out my work to various magazines, took many fiction-writing classes, but always hit rejection. Then, I discovered a place on the Internet called Writer’s Gallery, a showcase of amateur writers, where I became very popular. Only problem was I wasn’t being paid. You can’t put food on the table with complimentary copies.
That’s when I tried my hand at non-fiction, which I told myself was just a means to pay for my bills until my fiction took off. Little did I know how much I would enjoy writing non-fiction.
I was surfing the Internet one night, reading messages in a dreams newsgroup when a message caught my eye. Columnist Needed, the subject said. I decided to take a risk and wrote up a movie review based on a movie I had recently seen and e-mailed it to the author of the message.
A few days later I received an e-mail message, congratulating me on being APT Publications’ newest columnist. Okay, it was only a column that ran in thirty apartment newsletters, but it was a start. It was also my first paying writing job–$l0/a column. Hardly anything to quit my day job over.
With published credits to my name, I started pitching ideas to magazine editors through query letters. I kept getting rejected until You Magazines’ editor e-mailed me, saying “I like your idea, but” and gave me some suggestions on where he thought the article should go and gave me a date he wanted it completed by. Again, though, I worked for complimentary copies.
This time when I sent out queries, I said I had been published in You! Magazine. Christian Home and School agreed to look at one of my manuscripts. They wanted to see an article written on what volunteers did in the Christian schools and provided me with a list of Arizona schools they wanted me to work with. Unfortunately, those schools didn’t want to work with me, so I jumped on the Internet on found the complete list of schools affiliated with the magazine. I contacted schools in California, Nevada and Colorado.
I was never so glad when I saw that article in print and the check for $150.
Now when I sent out query letters, I get fewer rejections because I only send to those in the Christian market. By focusing my queries to a certain market, I have better chances of acceptance.
It Takes Work
Einstein said that success was 1% inspiration, 99% perspiration. What is similar about writing is that it is not the most talented that succeed; it is those that are persistent. The more you write, the better you become. You do, however, need to have a grasp of the English language, grammar, and spelling. Writing is not about who can use the biggest words but about describing complex concepts in simple terms.
Read the Magazines
I would tell those who want to become Christian writers to go to the local Christian bookstore and leaf through the magazines. Choose a couple to buy, so that you can read the magazines to get a feel for the kind of articles they publish. After you have studied the magazines, find an empty notebook and start filling it with ideas you’d like to pitch to the editors. It would be wise to visit the library to look up the magazines in the Writers Market, which will give you what the magazine is looking for in a manuscript.
Also pick up the book, How to Write Irresistible Query Letters by Lisa Collier Cool. This book will instruct you on how to form a query letter, so an editor won’t reject your letter before he reads it. If writing is your dream, stick with it no matter how many rejection letters you receive. When you do receive a rejection letter, don’t quit. Go out to dinner, burn the rejection letter, and polish off another query letter to a different editor. Also don’t be afraid to write for free at first, just to be published. Who knows where that one published article might lead?
Every time I tell people I am a Christian writer, they flood me with questions. The most popular question seems to be “Does it pay?” I respond, “yes, it pays if you’re persistent.”