Monday, July 27, 2020

Six Tips for Compilation Submissions

By Katy Kauffman  @KatyKauffman28

 The anticipation of submitting an article, the adventure of writing it, and the hope that it will be accepted—writing for compilations can be both exciting and nerve-wracking.

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.

 So, if the submission process is tough, don’t give up. If one submission isn’t accepted, try again. The time and attention we take for our submissions is worth it, because they shape us as writers and sharpen our writing ability. Keep writing and submitting, and may God bless your efforts.

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 and anankkml.) 


The time and attention we take to submit to compilations is worth it, because they shape us as writers and sharpen our writing ability. via @KatyKauffman28 (Click to tweet.)

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,, 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.


Monday, July 13, 2020

The Art of Self-Editing, Part Three

By Henry McLaughlin

This week, I want to introduce a valuable tool in the work of self-editing: using beta readers.

Beta Readers

Beta readers read and give us feedback on our second draft.

What makes a good beta reader? For me, it’s someone who is an avid reader, a lover of books and story. Being familiar with our genre is helpful, but not crucial as long as they’re comfortable reading it.

They don’t necessarily have to be writers, but again, it helps.

They don’t have to be family or friends. Many advise against using family. I would be especially cautious if you’ve included a relative as a character in your novel. Your reader may recognize them and tell them. The repercussions may not be pleasant … although it might boost sales within your family when the book is published.

I’ve always appreciated a quote attributed to Anne Lamont. “If my relatives didn’t want me to write about them, they should have been nicer to me.”

You can find potential beta readers in your network of writing buddies. I’ve seen some solicit beta readers on Good Reads. I’ve used people in my critique groups as beta readers. A couple of downsides to this are 1) those you don’t choose may feel hurt; 2) those you do choose may be so familiar with your story, they may not pick up issues and concerns as well as someone bringing fresh eyes to your writing.

Besides wanting a reader as a beta reader, I also look for someone I respect and trust to give me honest feedback about my story. I recommend limiting beta readers to three. More than that may result in too much conflicting input. Trying to incorporate everyone could lead to the manuscript being a mess beyond recovery.

When they’ve finished, surprise them with a thank you, such as a gift card to Barnes and Noble or Amazon. Or agree to be a beta reader for them when they’re ready for that step.

Give Them a Focus

When I’ve recruited my beta readers, I send them the manuscript along with specific questions I want feedback on. Here are a few suggestions:
  • Does the hero’s character transformation seem complete and believable?
  • Where did you get bored and want to skim pages?
  • What pulled you into the story?
  • What threw you out of the story?
  • Are the characters believable? Did any character strike you as particularly memorable? (In a good or bad way?)
  • Is the story world believable?
  • Does the plot hold together throughout the novel?
  • Is the conflict and tension sufficient to carry the story? 

This seems like a lot of questions, and we don’t want to overwhelm or disrespect our readers. On the other hand, we do want to give them specific points to focus on. I usually select no more than five questions. They’re based on areas I’m not sure about and need input. But I also don’t want to limit my beta readers. One approach is to include the list of questions and ask them to answer the three to five that strike them as the most important.

Another approach is to point out the areas I’m not sure about and ask them to focus on them. It may be my characters or the plot or the story world. The more specific we can be about the feedback we’re looking for, the better response we’re going to get.

What has your experience been with using beta readers? What did you find most helpful? Not so helpful?

(Photo courtesy of, marin, and Stuart Miles.)

Henry McLaughlin explains why using beta readers is an important part of the writing and self-editing process. via @riverbendsagas (Click to tweet.)

Tagged as “one to watch” by Publishers Weekly, award-winning author Henry McLaughlin takes his readers on adventures into the hearts and souls of his characters as they battle inner conflicts while seeking to bring restoration and justice in a dark world. His writing explores these themes of restoration, reconciliation and redemption.

Besides his writing, Henry treasures working with other writers and helping them on their own writing journeys. He is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers. He regularly teaches at conferences and workshops, leads writing groups, edits, and mentors and coaches.

Follow him on Facebook.

Monday, July 6, 2020

Why Does A Professional Edit Cost So Much?

By Andrea Merrell

Every writer needs an editor. Even editors need an editor. It’s a basic part of the writing world. Once we read over our own work a number of times, our eyes will skip over obvious mistakes because our mind knows what is supposed to be on the page. This is especially important when a writer plans to self-publish. But a question I often hear is, “Why does a professional edit cost so much?”

There are many different types of editing, as well as editors with expertise in certain areas. To help you better understand the process, let’s look at the three most common.

This is the most intensive form of editing and the one that is generally most needed. Along with punctuation, grammar, spelling, and usage, your editor will look for problems with such elements as:
  • Redundant words and phrases
  • Verb tense
  • Hooks
  • POV (point of view)
  • Dialogue 
  • Speaker tags and beats
  • Characterization
  • Backstory
  • Telling instead of showing
  • Inconsistencies
  • Syntax and flow/awkward sentence structure
  • Chronological order
  • Formatting

In addition, there will be fact-checking, verifying Scripture references, and looking up rules in the Chicago Manual of Style (CMOS) and the Christian Writers’ Manual of Style (CWMS). Your editor will also frequently refer to the dictionary, especially for hyphenated words, unfamiliar words, and words that don't fit the sentence or topic. This is all very time-consuming. Most editors can typically edit six to eight pages per hour in this type of edit but sometimes less. It is a much slower and more tedious process than the other types of editing and depends on the quality of the writing.

Copy Editing/Line Editing
Basic correction of punctuation, grammar, spelling, and word usage. The editor will also look for omission, repetition, inconsistency, and other errors.

Proofreading is generally done after the initial editing process to ensure the manuscript is ready for submission or publication. At this point, the proofreader is primarily looking for formatting issues, typos, and obvious errors. The more eyes the better. Sometimes a manuscript can go through several beta readers and proofreaders and still contain errors. It’s difficult to catch every little mistake. I have never read a book, even by large publishing houses, that didn’t contain at least a couple of errors. There is no such thing as a perfect book, but your editor will help you present the most excellent product possible.

Vet your editor before you sign a contract, make a verbal agreement, or pay a deposit. Check the website. Look at endorsements. Ask around. Find out how long the editor has been in business and how many books they have edited. Not everyone who claims to be an editor is qualified.

Some professional editors charge by the word, while others charge by the page or per hour. The best way to choose an editor is to have them do what I call an initial critique/edit of your first few unedited pages. This helps you understand the editing process and gives the editor a better idea of what will be required. There is usually a charge for this service, but it is well worth it to see if you and the editor are a good “fit.”

Whether you’re working with a freelance editor or one assigned to you by your publisher, your editor’s job is to help you present your best work. Trust your editor and learn to work hand in hand. The author/editor relationship can be a wonderful experience that just might lead to a lifelong friendship.

Is a professional edit costly? Yes. Is it worth it? Absolutely.

What has your experience been working with an editor? We would love to hear from you.

(Photos courtesy of, posterize, and Stuart Miles.)