Thursday, February 21, 2019

How to Write and Publish--7--Publishing Articles

You’ve polished your skills with a blog, letters, and journaling. It’s time to submit a short piece for publication.

This time there’s a gatekeeper. You offer your material. Someone else decides if it’s worthy of publication. Or not.

Yes, it’s terribly nerve-wracking, and it can be devastating if they reject your work.
If they accept your piece, though, you get to experience the thrill of an acceptance slip and usually a check. Then after a very long wait, you get the sample magazine in the mail and there is your name above the words that you wrote.

Sky-diving and roller coasters are nothing. This is where the real thrills lie.

Stuff to remember:
1. Read. Newspapers, magazines, websites. Which ones cater to your interests and beliefs? Which ones are similar to your writing style? You’re an expert in something—cooking, welding, hiking, cleaning grass seed, telling stories to children, correctly interpreting the Book of Revelation. Read publications geared to those subjects.

2. Think of submitting your story or article like applying for a job. You’ll rise to the top of the stack if you do your research by reading their magazine/newspaper/website, emailing them for information, and asking for their writers’ guidelines. Also ask for a sample magazine if you can’t borrow your mom’s or get it at the library. Prepare to pay for it.

3. Here are some things to find out: Do they accept outside submissions or is everything done by their staff? Do they need fiction [rarely, to be honest] or nonfiction? Short articles or long? Exactly how many words? How-to’s, profiles, news, inspiration, humor, doctrine? Who makes the decisions?

4. Writers’ guidelines are just that, a guide to help you get it right. Most magazines have a paragraph of tiny print toward the front of the magazine with information for authors. If they say they don’t accept work from freelancers, don’t mail them anything. Otherwise, find an address or phone number and ask them for their writers’ guidelines. This will tell you what they want, how many words it should be, how it should be formatted (double spaced, etc.), and how it should be submitted (mail or email). It will also explain how much you’ll be paid per word. This goes for Sunday school papers, newspapers, ezines, etc. If you follow their guidelines, you will win points with the editors.

5. The industry is constantly changing, and every publication has different rules, so get specific information for each one.

6. It will be to your advantage to get to know editors and other gatekeepers. Go to writers’ conferences. Take a tour of Christian Light Publications or Herald Press if you’re in the area. Don’t be afraid to ask to speak to an editor. Ask what their needs are right now and how you might fill them.

7. Publications are concerned about “rights.” You have to decide which rights you’re offering them. Sometimes the specific words vary but generally it’s like this:
a) Full rights or all rights usually pays best but it means they own your story and you can never use it anywhere else. Generally full rights isn’t a good idea.
b) First rights means they are the first to publish this piece. You can publish it later in another publication.
c) Second or reprint rights means you’ve published it somewhere else already but you’re offering it to this publication as well.
There are other rights having to do with electronic reprints, anthologies, etc., but these should be all you need to know about for now.

8. Look for anyone-can-try features. These are usually handled a bit differently than regular articles and it’s easier to get accepted. Reader’s Digest magazine is known for accepting personal humorous stories. I got started writing for the Register-Guard through its weekly Write On feature. Reiman magazines (Country, Taste of Home, Reminisce) have always encouraged readers to contribute. The Daily Bread accepts devotionals. Newspapers print letters to the editor.

9. Write a story or article. Follow the instructions precisely. Edit and polish. Get feedback from your writers’ group. Send it in. Wait.

10. If you’re accepted, celebrate! When the editor asks you to do a rewrite, cooperate, and don’t take it personally. When the article comes out, celebrate some more. Make copies for your mom and your writers group. Pass around donuts. Feel the thrill!

11. If you’re rejected, you’re allowed to be sad and all the other emotions that come when you deeply invest yourself and they don’t want you. Except it’s not that they don’t want YOU. It’s actually that particular story they didn’t need. Being sad for a day or two is normal. A few tears and wadding up the article with its red marks in the margins, that’s normal too, and saying bitter things about the magazine to your husband, who will be wise enough not to defend that editor for just doing his job, or tell you not to take it personally.

Believe me, I know what a rejection slip feels like.

However. You might get a rejection slip and you are completely devastated. Days and weeks pass, and you can’t recover. That paper becomes so much more than a note about your article. It’s your dad glowering at you for talking too much, the teacher docking your grade because of your messy handwriting, and your big brother calling you Fatty fatty two by four.

You know you can never write again.

[Actually, this can happen after you publish an article too, when a reader calls you up and reams you out because you mentioned their name or revealed too much about your church’s faults. I get a chill recalling those phone calls.]

The result is the same: you are silenced.
You have to look at the big picture:
a) The rejection slip, a relatively small thing, brought out the much larger rejection in your past that still affects you today. Get help. Figure it out. Find healing. Keep writing.
b) God gives you a voice and he wants you to use it. You have a spiritual enemy who wants to silence you. The oversized despair you feel at the rejection slip and the shaming words of the offended reader are tools used to silence you. Put on some armor. Go to battle. Find help. Keep writing.

12. Despite the proliferation of online media, people also like paper and ink publications. I can’t possibly list all the potential markets for you, but here are some in the Anabaptist world, both on paper and online. Some of these don’t have a website. In general, if you’re already familiar with the magazine, you probably have the cultural awareness to write for it. If not, be gracious and careful.

Forever His Princess (
Daughters of Promise (
Vibrant Girl
The King’s Daughter (PO Box 127, Mercersburg, PA 17236. Send SASE* for writer’s guidelines or email Send $4 and a 6x9 SASE for a sample copy) 
Calvary Messenger
Family Life—produced by an Amish publisher in Aylmer, Ontario
Blackboard Bulletin  “
Young Companion      “
Companions (
Story Mates
The Mennonite (
Sword and Trumpet
Just Plain Values
Ladies Journal
Keepers at Home
The Budget
Mennonite World Review (
Radi-Call (
Anabaptist Voice ( or 3287 Highway 201, Due West, SC 29639)
Rod and Staff Publications—various take-home Sunday school papers—no website
Crosswind (
Farming Magazine 1-800-915-0042
Nature Friend 1-540-867-0764
Beside the Still Waters (devotionals written by conservative Menno/Amish men)

13. If there are this many publications in the Anabaptist world alone, and this list isn’t exhaustive, then you know there are hundreds or thousands more in the big wide world. There’s a magazine that fits your skills, somewhere.

14. *SASE means Self Addressed Stamped Envelope. Now that you know that, you are part of the Inner Circle of Real Writers. You can hold your head up high at writers’ conferences and speak knowledgeably to confused beginners.

15. If you work your way up to writing for Farm Journal or National Geographic, the process is more complicated. You’ll pitch ideas and get assignments before you ever write. For now, go write something refreshing and insightful for Keepers at Home or Companions.

16. Yes, you. That’s a great idea elbowing at the back of your brain. Go write it out. Send it in.

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