Thursday, June 11, 2009

Friday--The Writer's Porch--Start Small

The dream of a published book makes most writers’ hearts flutter. Their pulse quickens and they dream of seeing their name on the cover. Bliss!

And it’s true, seeing your name as an author holds a thrill, but so does seeing your name in the byline of an article or devotion. My first experience in publication was with a very small story in "Today’s Christian Woman". They had accepted the four paragraph article and told me the issue of when it would be published. I was so excited. For six months I floated on air in anticipation. When November rolled around I almost had an anxiety attack. I drove to our local Christian bookstore. What if someone recognized me as the author? Grandiose thoughts of fame flittered through my mind. (Let me remind you--it was only four paragraphs.)

When I arrived at the store, I went inside wearing very large sunglasses. (I am absolutely not exaggerating.) I anonymously bought the magazine, rushed out to my car and burst into joyful tears when I saw it. I was absolutely delighted.

Here’s my point, don’t start out writing your novel or a bestseller non-fiction. Work on it, of course, but also write other pieces. Articles are a fabulous way to break into the publishing world. Many publications do not pay, but they still are a “credit” in your writing resume. Devotionals are another way to break into print. (In a few weeks, I will start a series on how to write great devotions.) Check your Sally Stuart’s Christian Writers’ Market Guide. It lists various publications that are seeking writers who will write good material.

Before I ever signed my first book contract, I was published in several magazines and devotional publications. It gave me the credentials that editors were looking for—they knew I could write and I would finish the assignment.

So, don’t scoff at the thought of writing miscellaneous stuff—most writers start small. Usually writing is a progression and when you finally sign the long awaited book contract you will be prepared to write the book, because you’ve written for publication previously. Start small. Plan patiently. Dream daringly. Write well.

Before you know it you will be putting on oversized sunglasses and sneaking into a store to see your name in print.


Cheri Bunch said...

Dear Susanne~
Thank you for this! Your words confirm the writing path I have chosen. I am working on a book with a friend, but I have other small projects that I like to think of as warm up exercises. I am taking them seriously and have been sending them off, but my bigger goal is the book. I have found the smaller projects stimulate well and get me into that writer's zone where the words flow more easily.
Thank you for your encouragement!
Many blessings,

bethj said...

Susanne, this was very encouraging and confirming. I loved the story of you in the sunglasses. Do you know of any good resources for sending queries to magazines and ezines? I haven't written many queries, and know they are VERY important. Thanks and blessings...loving your Friday Writer's Porch - very helpful and practical!

Susanne Scheppmann said...

I am so thrilled to know that Friday's porch is encouraging my sister writers! Woohoo! To answer the question about queries there are several good books on the subject queries and proposals. Sally Stuart, author of Sally Stuart's Christian Writers' Market Guide, used to have a pamphlet on queries. Peruse her blog to see if you can locate it.

I also highly recommend subscribing to Writer's Digest magazine. It is contains wonderful tips and the newest tips on changing technologies.