Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Four Ways To Use An Essential Reference Book

For over 20 years, I’ve been actively writing and publishing in the Christian market with magazines and books. The professionals (editors and agents) are constantly changing. New publications enter the market and old long established magazines fold. For many years, one of the best resources for keeping track of these shifts was THE CHRISTIAN WRITERS MARKET GUIDE. This annual publication contained the latest information packed into one book. Sally E. Stuart was the creator of this resource for many years. Then several years ago, she sold the market guide to bestselling author Jerry B. Jenkins. The last guide from Jenkins was dated 2015 to 2016—which means the last time the information was updated in late 2014 or three years ago.

I’m delighted to see THE CHRISTIAN WRITERS MARKET GUIDE 2017 from Steve Laube. A well-known Christian publishing professional, Steve has brought this new version back to the market with new tech innovation—a monthly subscription to get the latest updates online. I’ll admit to being old school and love using the printed book resource.

As Laube writes in the introduction, “While it may seem like the industry is shrinking, in reality, it is simply changing. Thus you have to research more to find the best place for your work to shine. One of the biggest mistakes a writer can make is to ignore the guidelines of an agent, a publisher or an editor. Some publishers even dropped their listing in this guide due to writers failing to follow the instructions posted on their website or in here. Editors are looking for writers who understand their periodicals or publishing houses and their unique approaches to the marketplace. This book will help you be such a writer. With a little time and effort, you can meet an editor’s expectations, distinguish yourself as a professional, and sell what you write.” (Page ix)

The volume is divided into five sections: book publishers, independent book publishing, periodical publishers, specialty markets, and support for writers (agents, conferences, writers groups, editorial services, publicity and marketing services and contests.

As the back cover proclaims, “Over 1,000 listings including more than 200 book publishers, 200 periodical publishers, 70 agents, 100 freelance editors, and much, much more!” This annual volume and current update is a goldmine of information and opportunity to the Christian writer—but only if you get a copy and follow the information in it. I highly recommend this new resource.

Besides giving you some information about the book, I want to conclude this article with four ways you can use this reference book.

1. Discover new magazine markets in the section called Periodical Publishers. As a writer, you need to follow the guidelines. This refrain to follow the guidelines made repeatedly throughout the book. Why? Many writers ignore the guidelines, then they wonder why they got rejected. If you follow the guidelines, you will stand out in a positive way—and be successful as a writer. When the magazine requests “query only” then learn to write and send a query. If they want the complete article, then send the article. Besides discovering new magazines, you can also be reminded about other publications where you can get published. This section is packed with possibilities for every Christian writer. 

2. Locate a book publisher. Other authors are looking for a book publisher and this section of the guide has the latest and up to date information about publishers. Some publishers require a literary agent while others do not. Use this section to make sure what you are sending is what the publisher is asking to get from you.

3. Select a writer's conference. The Market Guide includes a comprehensive list of conferences, dates, location, number of attendees and much more. Again this resource is valuable for every writer to attend the conference which best fits their particular need.

4. Locate a literary agent. The Market Guide includes a great list of agents with their contact information and what they are looking to represent.

The key for these different ideas is to use the book. If you get the book (first step) and it sits on your bookshelf without use, then you don't propel your writing life forward.   


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