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D-E-V-O-T-E-D: Seven Sales Strategies For Selling Devotionals
by Nancy Robinson Masters
There is no lack of markets for making money as a devotional writer.
For example, more than 60 guidelines for religious/inspirational publications
are available in this newsletter’s database of guidelines (http://writingfordollars.com/Guidelines.cfm).
The 2007 edition of Sally Stuart’s Christian Writers’
Market Guide (http://stuartmarket.com)
boasts 1,200 market listings which include hundreds of opportunities for
devotional sales. Keep reading further in this article and you’ll
find links to more websites where you can find markets to share your spiritual
discoveries and earn money doing so.
A single devotional is not the most lucrative writing sale. Payments
range from simply having a byline to $100 (occasionally more). The savvy
devotional writer, however, will recognize the potential for increasing
your earnings because writing devotionals that average 250-500 words will
permit you to produce more in less time.
Increase your sales by following these seven strategies of a D-E-V-O-T-E-D
D-Develop a Larger Marketplace Mentality
Most of us who write from a Christian theology are as familiar with publications
like Guideposts, Our Daily Bread, and Upper Room as
we are with the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Guidelines for
submitting to these popular markets are readily available on the Web or
upon request via snail mail.
So are guidelines for more than 300 other publications that use devotionals!
For example, check out http://netministries.org
where you’ll find a list of devotional sites, many you’ve
possibly never heard of. These are the Obadiahs, Zechariahs, and Malachis
of the devotional world. Some may be lesser known, but are not necessarily
lesser-paying markets for your work. Research their guidelines and submit
to these markets rather than focusing all of your efforts on the more
familiar. Editors may pay for your submissions if you will write what
they are looking for, not what you want to sell to someone else.
Be aware that Christianity is not the only faith that beckons devotional
writers. Go to www.beliefnet.com
to see a spectrum of devotional writing from a variety of spiritual viewpoints.
E- Expect to Receive.
Devotionals are often written in first person. Avoid repetition of the
pronoun I as much as possible. I does not inspire. It
irritates. Fewer I’s for the editor’s eyes will give
your writing more eye-appeal.
V-Verily, Verily, Verify
You may have memorized the 23rd Psalm, but do you know how to punctuate
it when writing it on paper? Did you memorize the King James Version or
the New King James Version? Translation differences may be subtle, but
misquoting a version or misprinting that version’s spelling, punctuation,
or grammar is a deadly devotional writing sin. Maurice and I used quotes
from more than a dozen translations and paraphrase editions. We made mistakes
in the process that would have caused an editor to question our credibility
if we had not been vigilant in verifying the accuracy before we submitted
O-Omit Preaching, Pouting, Prodding and Pointing of Fingers
Short writing does not mean shoddy writing. Resist the urge to preach
a sermon, pout for pity, use guilt to prod or point fingers with your
words. Start with a title that hooks readers and draws them to you as
if you were putting your arm over their shoulders. Use quick action and
dialogue to move the conflict toward resolution, the search toward discovery,
the dark toward the light. End with a satisfying conclusion. Allow the
readers to take something away to praise or ponder from a new perspective,
but don’t end with words that shove a finger in their chests and
yell, “So there!”
T-Target Without Excluding
Editors who buy devotionals aimed at Christians also want to reach readers
who are not Christians. Devotionals for moms that alienate women who aren’t
mothers are not likely to sell. Just because a publication says it is
for senior adults, don’t assume newlyweds don’t read it.
The best way to target a particular audience without excluding another
is to include universal emotions all readers can identify with: Joy, sorrow,
fear, frustration, kindness, hurt, embarrassment, etc. No matter who the
audience or what the theme, you enhance your devotional’s salability
using feelings to which anyone can relate. This is especially important
when submitting to markets on the Web that are available to a global readership.
Remember the adage that a smile is a smile in any language.
E-Expect to be Attacked by the Prosperity Pickers
Expect to receive criticism for wanting payment for writing devotionals.
If you choose to give them away, that’s between you and God. It
is also between you and God to submit to markets that offer payment. If
someone questions your motives, remind them that Psalm 35:27 (King James
Version) states “the Lord hath pleasure in the prosperity of his
Also, when a publication offers payment, expect to receive it. In more
than twenty years of writing for numerous devotional markets, I have never
failed to get what I was promised. However, it pays to be wise. When you
make a sale, get confirmation in writing of the amount and when you will
D-Don’t Take Off Till You Know How to Land
Getting paid to write devotionals for a website several years ago was
like Moses tasting manna for the first time. What was it that caused me
to ignore all other writing opportunities and plunge into producing devotional
after devotional? My ego envisioned sharing a writer’s conference
panel with Max Lucado or Joyce Meyer, and perhaps working with Billy Graham
on his next best seller. None of those things happened.
One of the first lessons I learned as a pilot was that there has to be
a landing for every take-off in order for a pilot to be successful. In
order to be successful as a devotional writer, you need to be like the
shepherds who, after seeing the Christ child in the manger, returned to
tending their flocks. My failure to “tend the flock” of improving
my writing skills after that taste of success cost me dearly. Expect to
make a sale with every submission. If you don’t, expect to land
and take care of the sheep—improve your writing skills—then
take-off again. It‘s part of being D-E-V-O-T-E-D to writing.
© Copyright 2007, Nancy Robinson Masters
Nancy Robinson Masters serves on the Abilene Writers Guild Board and is a professional freelance writer. A professional freelance writer, she explains, “is simply an amateur writer with a lot of experience.” Among her more than 40 published books are ebooks published by AWOC.COM Publishing: Extraordinary Patriots, All My Downs Have Been Ups, and Devoted to Writing.
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