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The Christian Children's Market: A Place for Beginning Writers
by Marcia Laycock
Return to Writing for Children · Print/Mobile-Friendly Version
Look in the Writer's Market under children's periodicals, and you'll
soon discover the majority of opportunities lie in the religious market
place. Most of these are in weekly Sunday School take-home papers,
published by large Christian outlets, such as Cook Communications, or by
individual denominations which print their own materials. The Focus on the
Family organization also has a large publishing arm, which needs stories
and articles for all ages. The consequent need for articles and fiction
translates into a writer's dream, but breaking in is no easier than any
other market. Following a few guidelines can mean the difference between
rejection and a paycheck.
Your first step should be to purchase a copy of the Christian Writers' Market Guide. This guide covers every aspect of writing for the
religious market place and has a comprehensive section on children's
periodicals. The publications are rated in a "top 50" list, editors are
named, denominational affiliations are mentioned and payment rates are
stated. These rates range from $0 to over $1 per word, but a new writer
breaking in should expect an average payment of five to ten cents per word.
Most periodicals in this market place pay on acceptance, an advantage when
a manuscript gets bumped or postponed for some reason. I sold a manuscript
to a large Christian publication, which took two years to actually publish
the story. Although I could not re-sell that piece until it had been
printed, I had been well paid immediately, so at least I wasn't waiting two
years for the check!
As with any other market, a key to breaking in is to study the
publications. Send for sample copies and guidelines. Many of these
publications work by theme, so always ask for their theme list and
deadlines. Pay attention to the denominational affiliations and find out
what they believe. Some have specific dos and don'ts and failing to follow
them will mean rejection. Always follow the word count limits as well. Most editors
won't ask for a re-write, they'll just return your manuscript if it's too
As you study your sample copies, and it's important to read more than one or two, make notes on the
tone of the articles and stories. Is the spiritual element strong, or do
they seem to prefer a "soft sell" approach? Does the publication want
depiction of a moral stand rather than Biblical references? Is the Bible
always quoted, or just alluded to? Which translation do they prefer, or demand?
To get attention from the editors you will need to hone your skills. These
people see thousands of manuscripts and only the best will survive their
scrutiny. They know kids are picky -- they demand fast-paced, true-to-life
stories. They don't want preaching, they don't want unrealistic scenarios
where the adults have all the answers and the kids passively accept them.
These editors know many of their readers deal with harsh realities in their
daily lives, at school and at home. Pat answers won't cut it, but showing
how God's truth can be lived out in daily life, will. Learn how to write a
good story that stays within the moral, ethical and spiritual boundaries of
the Christian faith and you'll earn a byline and a check in your mailbox,
not to mention a great deal of personal satisfaction.
Once you have broken into a periodical, keep in touch with the editors.
Send them another manuscript as soon as possible and let them know you'd
like to contribute more to their publication. Once you've established a
relationship, keep your communication professional, but personal in tone.
Remember editors are human and appreciate being treated that way. I once
sent an editor a personal emailed Christmas letter, by mistake, and she
responded warmly, thanking me for it. I not only gained a good contact in
the religious publishing industry, I made a friend.
The religious market place is ripe for new writers. Study it, do your
homework, and you will be rewarded in a satisfying, lucrative niche.
Find Out More...
- Break Into the Religious Market With a Devotion - Tatiana Claudy
- Stealing Ideas at Church & Selling Them Back - S.R. Morris
- Writing for the Teen Religious Market - Kathryn Lay
Christian Writing Resources
Copyright © 2000 Marcia Laycock
This article may not be reprinted without the author's written permission.
Marcia Laycock is a freelance writer and editor living in Alberta, Canada. Her work has been published in numerous Christian magazines and has won prizes from Inscribe Christian Writers' Fellowship and God Uses Ink.
Copyright © 2017 by Moira Allen. All rights reserved.
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Moira Allen, Editor