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Saturday, February 23, 2008

A few days ago my friend and ministry partner, Lysa TerKeurst, posted an invitation to submit questions about She Speaks on her blog. She got so many questions that she asked a few of us on the Proverbs 31 team to help answer them. Since I'm the director of the writer's track, I volunteered to answer some about writing.

I'll post the questions (condensed when possible) and my answers below:

Did you copywrite every piece before you submitted it for review? Under copywrite law, as soon as you write something it is automatically copywritten. You don't have to submit it anywhere for "approval."

How do you know if an idea for a story/book has already been done by another author? There is nothing new under the sun. So your idea has probably been done before in some form. However, your story and your take on a topic is entirely new. That said, it is the author's responsibility to know something about the "competition" for your book.

One idea I have for a book would involve getting peoples personal stories. It would be like chicken soup for the soul but a different idea. How is copyright involved or the process of that? In a compilation book, the publisher will request permission or purchase the copyright, from each individual author. The process can vary slightly, but normally there is a nominal fee paid to the author, or they are paid in copies of the book.

What do publishers look for in devotionals? Length, voice, theology? How do you find out if your "topic" has been covered already? The Christian Writer's Market Guide is a great resource for writers. This book is organized alphabetically by publishers, but also cross-referenced by the type of book they cover. There are many listed under devotional book. Here begins your research project. Just start with one publisher and visit their website to see what they've done. Create a form to fill in the information you learn and go from there.

I'd like to make a written product (cards) about marriage trials but need to know if this product is already out there (they are not in my area's Christian book stores). How do I go about starting a product such as this? Once again, I would suggest you invest in a Christian Writer's Market Guide. There is a section on greeting cards and specialty markets. Once you know which publishers are printing greeting cards, I would do some research on their website. If they don't have samples, find out who is selling them and go on their website or visit their stores.

If you have a story to tell but don't think of yourself as a writer how do you go about getting someone else to write it? The first idea that comes to mind is to find a friend who writes and partner with her. This would be a co-written book. Publishers do hire people to "ghost write" people's stories. For this to happen, I would assume the story would need to be very unique, or the "author" would need to be famous or have a reason why they couldn't write the story.

Is the writer's track focused on fiction or non-fiction? The writer's track at She Speaks does lean towards non-fiction. However, good writing techniques can and should be applied to both fiction and non-fiction.

How do you stay focused on the topic when you have so much to say? In magazine writing, you pick one topic and go deep. If you have more to say, then you can write more than one magazine article.

What is the best advice you would pass along to me for my meeting with an editor regarding my manuscript? Practice presenting your ideas in a succinct way. Actually give your pitch to someone else. Also, this year we are offering a workshop on Friday afternoon before the conference on how to do this very thing called: How to plan a powerful effective 15-minute publisher meeting by Jeannie Burlowski. Read more about it.

If I were to be enabled to attend and meet with a publisher,what should a good proposal package include? You should come prepared with a formal book proposal. We recommend purchasing "For the Write Reason" to learn how to write this important document.

I have a basic idea for the book of my heart and some of it is worked out on paper. What would I need to have developed in order to pitch the book? See answer above.

I write for an online Christian magazine (HeartBeatTheMagazine.com) and know that many of those articles are partial chapters to my book. BUT, I just can't seem to figure out how to pull it all together into a book. I have felt that maybe a conference like this would help me, but the thought of publishers, proposals, etc. is SO overwhelming to me right now. I just want to write my book and then submit it and see if anybody will publish it. But from what I've heard, that is not the right way to go about it. If God tells you to write your book, then you should do just that. We have known women who self-publish a book, sell it successfully themselves, then find a publisher for it. However, all books should be well-organized, there should be a logical flow of thought and information. At this point, I would recommend identifying how many chapters you would need, give each one a title and write a description of each. This will help you see if it makes sense, if it's missing something or has too many ideas and is scattered.

I have been told numerous time "I need to write a book". I am gathering and preparing. How do I begin the writing process in earnest? See answer above.

My heart's desire and a personal goal is to write with my daughter about how the Lord has held us through her seriuos illness and through my divorce and becoming a single mom of four all over the course of one year's time. The two events (divorce/disease) overlapped and I am wondering if it would be possible to write of the events together. Each are demanding topics, but the fact that they occured together made each story more complex. I commend you for wanted to bring honor and glory to the Lord for His faithfulness to you and your family through this very difficult time. One way to go about this would be to identify an overall theme of the book that would have "takeaway" value for the reader. For example, I have a small self-published book a pastor wrote entitled "Standing in the Whirlwind." He write about how to stand firm when challenges come from every direction. Then he weaves spiritual principles he has learned from a variety of difficult experiences. Pray and ask God to identify a general theme for the book and go from there.

I can't say enough great things about the Proverbs 31 Ministries She Speaks conference. It is an amazing conference on many levels. I'll write more about this later in the week, but if you want to read more, click on the button on the left side of my blog.

In His Love,



Miss Sandy said...

Thank you for the time, thought, and attention you put into answering these questions it is very much appreciated. Have a blessed weekend!

Lysa TerKeurst said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Renee Swope said...

Great answers Glynnis. Also wanted to mention your post a while back on writing articles - after the contest we did for the magazine. You shared great advice. Can you add a link to it from today's?

Thanks for your help with the Q&A!


Joyful said...

WOW - thanks for all the great advice. I will be coming back here often for reference. Thanks so much for taking the time to do this - and so thoroughly!

Michelle said...

Thanks for taking time to answer the questions. Your information is helpful. I cannot express how excited I am about attending the conference. Thanks again!

MrsJoeB said...

Great answers to great questions! Thanks!
In His Graces~Pamela

Jennifer Johnson said...

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you so much for answering these questions so succinctly and positively. (and quickly) It is great to have the P31 team reach out and give aspiring writers/speakers very honest, valuable, and time/energy-saving answers. Thanks also for turning me on to the She Speaks Conference by taking the time to speak with me briefly at the Nashville, TN Church Communications Conference last fall. Many Blessings!

Amy Wyatt said...

Thanks for all of the great information. I can't wait for the conference.

poeteangel said...

Thanks for the wonderful information Glynnis. I've been writing for years, but now I am doing it the right way and have started writing what HE wants me to write. I signed up for the conference writer's track yesterday and I am excited about learning all the team can teach me!

Debbie said...

Thank you for answering all these questions. Your answer to my question was especially helpful. God impressed on my heart to write a book a couple of years ago, but I had no sense of direction as to what to write. Then about a year or so ago, I awoke one morning with a title for a book, chapter titles and even a basic outline for each chapter just flowing from my heart. I feel like I have bits and pieces of the book -- from articles I've written for a magazine, from things I write on my blogs, and even from things I've just kept to myself. I think the idea of proposals, agents, etc. just all seemed so overwhelming that I have never moved forward with what God has given me and instructed me to do. All that to say that your answer has given me some courage and motivation to move forward.

Thank you!!!


glynis said...

Thank you for all the great information here. I am attempting to enter the writing world and appreciate all the links and info! God bless! PS And no, I'm not Welsh--just an American with a lovely name :)