By Katy Kauffman @KatyKauffman28
The first compilation I put together, Breaking the Chains, started as a blog series. Then I asked writers I knew fairly well to be part of a book by the same title. Trust me, being on this end of a compilation is exciting and nerve-wracking too. Deciding which articles to include and how long to make the book takes some time, some thought, and always, some prayer.
Since then, I have worked on four more compilations, and I have gathered six tips to share with you about submitting to compilations and editing your work beforehand.
How to Make Your Articles Stand Out
to a Compilation Editor
Go to the trouble to know the publishing house and their books.
Just as it’s a good idea to read sample copies of a magazine before submitting to it, it’s a good idea to look at a publisher’s previous compilations before submitting to a new one. Notice the format, lead-ins, and takeaway. Write down what makes their compilations unique, then write down some action steps for your submission. Take into account their writer’s guidelines. Follow them exactly. An editor will know whether you have cared enough to do your homework.
Write on the topic from a slant. Go to the trouble to know the publishing house and their books.
Of course, we want to write about the topic that has been designated. But writing from a slant or fresh perspective will keep our submissions from becoming too factual or dry. Include a word picture in your article. Start with a great story, and use it as a theme. Incorporating metaphors and illustrations infuses our articles with creativity and color. Grab an editor’s attention by approaching the subject in a new or fresh way.
Start with a captivating lead-in.
First lines and paragraphs can make or break our chances of getting into a compilation. Some editors will take the time to ask a writer to edit the beginning of a submission, but some won’t. So, make your lead-in captivating. Start with a story, question, statistic, quote, or thought-provoking sentence. If you’re sharing a story, leave out just enough information in the first line so the reader keeps reading to learn more. Think storyteller.
Make your voice encouraging, powerful, and warmhearted.
Speak to the reader—including the editor—as to a friend. Use the authority of Scripture to make your point. Show that you’ve been there—that you have experienced a certain struggle and trusted God to come through it victoriously. Share the principles you’ve learned. Encourage the reader to trust God as well. A friend mentality will influence how you say what you want to say, and it will keep the reader engaged and wanting to read further.
Include what the publisher wants.
Does the publisher have an emphasis on takeaway? Be sure to include it throughout the article. Does the publisher want an explanation of Scripture? Take time to study with God and the resources on hand. Once you’ve written your article, go back and read the submission guidelines again. Make sure you have what the publisher is looking for. And please, put your byline underneath the title in the body of your article. I also recommend naming your Word file in the following way if you attach it to an e-mail: Title of Article -Author’s Name. It will make your potential editor happy.
See the submission as an extension of your personal writing ministry, and give it all you have.
Writing from the heart comes through in our voice and the principles we share. Each piece of writing we send out into the world is a part of the message we want to share with others. God can work through the 300-1800 words we send to a publishing house. Although it may take us two to twenty hours to write a submission, our words may alter the course of someone’s day or life. Each moment we spend investing in our writing translates into blessings we invest in our readers.
When you read a compilation, what types of things do you like to discover—the contributors’ stories, their approach to a particular topic, or the principles they share? Tell us in the comments below.
(Photo courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net and anankkml.)
Katy Kauffman is an award-winning Bible study author, an editor of Refresh Bible Study Magazine, and a co-founder of Lighthouse Bible Studies. One of her favorite joys is meeting other Christian writers and working with them to share God's truth and love in the world. Katy’s writing can be found at CBN.com, thoughts-about-God.com, the Arise Daily blog, three blogs on writing, and in online magazines. She loves spending time with family and friends, painting as often as she can, and planting flowers in the morning sun. Connect with her at her blog and on Facebook and Twitter.