Summer Workshop

CORRECTION: The Christian Writers’ Group will not host any workshops or seminars in 2010. We apologize for any inconvenience this has caused.

********************************************************************************************************

The Christian Writers’ Group will host a writing workshop on Saturday, August 14, 2010. It will be held on campus in FSC Room 3115 of First Baptist McKinney. The workshop is FREE of charge!

Details are still being worked out but may include the following topics: Writing Non-Fiction, Building Your Platform, and Book Publishing (will discuss traditional and self-pubishing).

Leave a comment below if you’d like more information or if you have questions.

Thanks!

Advertisements

Query Components by Jodi Whisenhunt

Obviously, the first step to getting published is to write…then rewrite…then rewrite again, and again, and again.  You want to put forth your best effort.  First, or even early drafts are NEVER best effort. I’ve talked about that a couple times on my Aim for Perfection Editing blog, here and here, and probably in a few other posts as well. But what do you do once you’ve reached “ready”?

Query.

Now, with magazine articles or other periodicals or nonfiction books, you don’t always have to have the entire piece written beforehand. This is good news! If you have an idea for an article but haven’t written it yet, you can submit a query letter and hope the editor then asks you to write it. Keep in mind, though, first drafts of query letters are NEVER best effort, either.  So, it’s very important to take time to edit yourself and look for ways to improve the piece. Have others read it and give their suggestions.  Participating in a writers’ group is very beneficial.  I would not have gotten my first article published if not for the gentle wisdom of my writers’ group peers.

So what is a query letter? It is a one-page letter used to get an editor or agent interested in your idea. When you query magazines, you’re trying to get the editor to buy your article or idea. When you query book publishers and agents, you’re trying to get the editor or agent interested enough to request a full proposal or the entire manuscript. It’s basically a sales pitch, and it needs to be very well-written.

Writer’s Market, put out annually by Writer’s Digest Books, contains a query letter clinic which gives examples of good and bad queries and details what made each good or bad. According to their experts, a successful query letter consists of four key components:  Be as sharp and concise as possible.

1) Author’s authority/qualifications: The author’s authority is simply your expertise. The editor might like your idea, but why should he trust you to write it? What makes you the person to write this article?

2) The need for this book/article: Why do readers need this information? In this information age, it’s relatively easy to get answers to pretty much any question, so why should this editor print this story?

3) Specifics about the book/article/story/idea: Ok, here is where you tell the editor what your article is about. Here is your hook. In ONE sentence, in a very interesting and appealing way, summarize your idea. This takes practice. In fact, I’ve had writers bring one-sentence summaries to critique meetings and work on that one little sentence the entire time.

4) Suggested word count: This is self-explanatory. Tell how long you anticipate the finished article to be. Please be sure to check the publication’s writer’s guidelines before you query! You want to make sure your topic is a good fit, but you also need to know what they expect, their word count limits, formatting, etc.

As I mentioned in a previous Aim post, always be formal and professional. Address the editor by name (Mr. or Ms.), and make sure your name and contact information are complete. If mailing by snail mail, be sure to sign your letter. Editors and agents receive several hundred submissions each week. You want your letter to stand out because it is well-written and your idea is well-presented. Fancy fonts and pretty stationery are unprofessional and will usually land your submission in the garbage. Small details, like misspelling the agent’s name or mixing up your words (i.e. I’ve written a nonfiction novel… huh?) make a poor impression and can quickly lead to rejection.

Are you ready? Get set. Query!

Remember Whom You Serve by Jodi Whisenhunt

Sometimes the people who should be our number one fans crush our spirits and fill us with self doubt. A friend of mine, Christy, is a newly published freelance writer. In the business of freelancing, not all pieces receive monetary reward. Simply put, you don’t get paid. When Christy received her first freelance paycheck, she phoned her mom to celebrate. She also told her about a weekly, unpaid writing opportunity. Upon hearing this new column would be written pro bono, my friend’s mother offered these words, “Well, Honey, it’s not like you’re a real writer.” Ouch!

Those few words left my friend wondering, “Am I a writer? Why am I writing? Can I say I’m a writer if I don’t receive payment? Should I stop writing?” When Christy called her mom she was excited and confident; when she hung up the phone she was dejected and insecure.

My friend’s experience reminded me of when Jesus returned to his hometown. The people discounted him, saying he was just the carpenter’s son and asked each other where he got his powers. “But Jesus said to them, ‘Only in his hometown and in his own house is a prophet without honor’” (Matthew 13:57). In Luke 4:24-30, Jesus explains it further, giving comparisons to Elijah and Elisha. The people responded to Jesus’ reprimand by driving him to the edge of a cliff and threatening to throw him off. While it didn’t come to that extreme with my friend’s family, her mother’s words left her feeling as if she were thrown off the cliff of success.

Even Jesus wasn’t supported by those who should have been his greatest supporters. Author Teresa G. Lusk discusses a similar matter in the “Dream Patrol” chapter of her book, Good Enough to be a Homemaker and CEO. She points out that some people appoint themselves to manage others’ success. They encourage and inspire until time comes to step out in faith and progress toward goals. At which point their true opinions are revealed and they spew forth insults. Teresa advises, “Don’t take it personally…Receive it as a combination of useful circumstances. One, they offer an opportunity to remind you who called you to your purpose. And two, personal and spiritual growth comes about” (Lusk 62-63).

I’m sure my friend’s mother loves her very much and is proud of her achievement. However, Christy and we fellow writers need to remember whom we serve. I know we want our parents to be proud of us, but, “If [we] were still trying to please men, [we] would not be servant[s] of Christ” (Galatians 1:10). Paychecks don’t define us. Others’ opinions don’t define us. Our Creator does, and it is He whom we should honor.

*Originally posted on Jodi’s Aim for Perfection Editing blog.

What are Your Goals?

I thought I’d post part of our group discussion today for those who didn’t receive the emails. It stemmed from author Lynn Viehl’s post about the reality of royalties. In the post, Lynn, a NYTimes Best Selling Author, publishes her royalties statement and points out that the book business is not as lucrative as one might think. A discussion regarding traditional publishing versus self-publishing ensued.

Writing a book and getting it published are both difficult and rewarding. I advise editing clients to assess their goals and research options. I am aware of a few self-publishers I strongly advise against, and I am aware of a few I highly recommend. The same can be said of traditional publishers. Whether an author chooses traditional or self-publishing, the goal is to communicate a message to as many as will receive it. Lewis pointed out that the route we choose is based on our goal priorities: 1) to just get published, 2) to make money, or 3) to influence people (as an avenue to pursue God’s calling).

For great insider advice on self-publishing, please go to Thomas Nelson President Michael Hyatt’s blog, literary agent Rachelle Gardner’s blog, and literary agent Chip MacGregor’s blog. All three have recently discussed self-publishing pros and cons. Thomas Nelson recently launched a self-publishing branch of their company under the Westbow Press name.

Let’s remember that writing a book is not the only way to communicate your message! Major magazines have readerships of several hundred thousand. Niche markets have readerships in the thousands. Blogs, depending on your marketing of them, can also reach thousands of readers. Newspapers, newsletters, letters-to-the-editor, even personal letters to friends who need encouragement are all very effective ways to reach people. And, if you do intend to write a book at some point, publishing in the smaller venues builds your author platform and establishes “fans” of your work, people who will be interested in that book when it does come out.

Keep writing! Research, query, learn your craft. We welcome your input here. Just leave us a comment!

Thanks & may God bless your writing endeavors!

Jodi

New John Maxwell Book Opportunity

John Maxwell’s new book is interactive. That means YOU can be included in the finished product! Read and comment on one chapter at a time and get details here.

Homemakers and CEOs Writing Opportunity

Hey, writers!
 
Our very own Teresa Lusk has started a monthly newsletter for her organization, Homemakers and CEOs. Teresa invites you, members of The Christian Writers’ Group, to submit articles of 350 words or less for inclusion in future issues. See below for a list of topics.
good enough cover
She is also running a “Name the Newsletter” contest. Check out her website to get a feel for the organization. Winner receives a FREE autographed copy of Teresa’ book, Good Enough to be a Homemaker and CEO.
Send article and contest submissions to homemakerceo.tlusk@sbcglobal.net.
 
Target audience: Working mothers ages 25-45, most with at least a high school education up to upper level college, in median income range.
Parenting
Fashion
Spiritual Encouragement- NOT A BIBLE STUDY
Finances
Running a Business

Kathi Macias Virtual Book Tour & Blogtalkradio

Award-winning Christian author, Kathi Macias, is starting a virtual book tour next month. Click here for details.
 
She’s also beginning a blogtalkradio program on October 1st, “Write the Vision,” via The International Christian Network each Thursday from 6-7 p.m. Pacific time.