Deadly Writing Mistake #1 Writing without Knowing the Market

Once there was a woman who went shopping. She found a lovely pair of red shoes on sale at Nordstrom’s. Delighted, she brought them home to her family. But they were too narrow for her sister, too short for her mother, and too big for her daughter. Disappointed, she put them away in her closet, never to be seen again.

This is the way it is when we write without knowing where to send our projects. We have to have an idea who will buy what we’re going to write before we begin. If you know where you’re going to send your finished article, then you’ll know:

• Length (editors will not cut 200 words out of your article)
• How much, if any, scripture to include
• Whether to use the name of Jesus, or the more generic God
• How much research to include, quotes from experts, or if your story is enough
• If the magazine prefers subheadings, or not
• The editor’s preference for openings
• Kinds of articles they take: how-tos, devotionals, expository, etc.

This is true of book publishers too. Writers’ guidelines will tell you if they take series only, the length and kinds of books they are seeking right now, and how to submit to them.

Where do you find this information? The Christian Writer’s Market Guide is published every year, but there is also the Children’s Market Guide, The Writer’s Market Guide (for the general market), and several others. Start here. Look up the magazines and publishing houses that interest you, then go to the Web sites listed for each publication. Here you will find writing guidelines, past articles, list of books published.

Finding a market after you’ve written an article, or a book, can be as frustrating as this knitter’s experience. Knowing the market before you write will save you disappointment, rejection, and your writings will end up in print instead of in a drawer.

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