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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 writer:

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 our manuscript.

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 servant.”

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 receive it.

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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