Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Through My Kitchen Window

Devotional Writing–Part Two
Once you write a devotion, what do you do with it?

Today’s post will discuss author’s rights and marketing tips. There are several rights a writer can sell, depending on what the publication wants and what the writer is willing to sell.

1st Rights–also called First North American Serial Rights: If you sell 1st rights, you are selling the publication the right to be the 1st to publish the piece. After it is published or some period stated in the contract, all rights to the piece return to the writer. 1st Rights can only be sold once.

Reprint Rights–also called 2nd North American Serial Rights: This is sold when the writer has the rights back to a piece after it has been published. A writer can sell re-print rights as often and as much as he or she can find a publication which wants the piece. However, some publications do not publish re-prints.

All Rights or exclusive writes: This term means that the writer sells the publication all the rights to his or her piece. All Rights usually pays more but the writer loses possession of his or her work. Personally, I never sell All Rights to any piece I have written.

Assignments: This is when the publication gives a writer an assignment telling the writer what to write about. The publication then owns the rights to whatever work the writer has agreed to do on assignment. I do take assignments occasionally.

Regarding devotional writing, I freelance pieces under 1st rights, re-print rights, and also take assignments. When I freelance a piece, I write the devotion on any topic or verse I desire, send it to the publication hoping they will buy it. These are sold one at a time. If I take an assignment, the publication tells me what scripture passages to write about and usually assign five days at a time. Even though they will own the rights to my finished work, I will be guaranteed five days of devotions which, of course, will pay more.

In order to keep this blog post from being too long, I will write one more post about devotional writing. In it I will list some places where freelance devotions can be sent, as well as a few places that give assignments. I suggest building some freelance credits before you query asking for an assignment. The publications that make assignments will want to see samples of your work and know what other devotions you have written.    

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Through My Kitchen Window

Devotional Writing
I began freelancing in August of 2009. Since that time, I have been blessed to have had numerous pieces published in various types of publications. But of all the different types of writing I do, perhaps my favorite is devotional writing. To date, I have had over 75 devotions published in seven different publications–The Upper Room, The Secret Place (Judson Press), Open Windows (Lifeway), Reflections (Smyth and Helwys) , Word Aglow (Pentecostal Publishing House), along with an on-line devotional site and two devotional books (one in each book.)
In this blog and the next, I will share some of my devotional writing tips, both in how to write devotions and how to market them. Today’s post will focus on writing devotions.
When you write a devotion you place a magnifying glass on a very small part of Scripture–a word (like one of God’s traits such as love or faithfulness), a phrase, or a truth. The Upper Room writer’s guidelines puts it well when they say, “Make only one point; think snapshot, not movie.”
The first line of the body of the devotion should be something that will catch the reader’s attention. You can give a line of dialogue, ask a question, or tell a very short story. From time to time I post devotions in this blog that I have had published. If you are interested in devotional writing, you can look back at them and see the use of these various opening lines.
Other tips include:
Spotlight unique verses. The first devotion I ever had accepted was based on a rather obscure verse in Zechariah. Devotional publications get fewer submissions from the Old Testament than from the New Testament. Lines from famous poems or famous quotes are not as desirable (in fact, some publications will not accept them.) And make it personal–your experience is unique. Teach, don’t preach; avoid words like “you should”, “you need to”, “you must” Instead say, ‘I have”, “we can”, etc.
The format and word count you will use differ with different devotional publications. Read and follow their guidelines. Get in the habit of writing devotions and they will start to flow. I have been known to pull my car into a parking lot and write a devotion down on a napkin when I have an inspiration. I know if I don’t get it down on paper, I may forget. I keep a word document on my computer full of these inspirations which I write up when I have the time and submit later. In the next blog post I will share places to submit devotions and the types of rights you can sell.