What You Need to Know About Pitching Your Christian Writing

Christian markets offer big readerships and big opportunities—and the best part is, anyone can write for them. Here’s how to break in.
Author:
Publish date:

The article was good. I’d been fairly confident it would be, but we editors never know for sure when working with a new contributor. I had a decent idea the writer didn’t necessarily subscribe to the same religious beliefs—in this case, Christian—of most of my readers, but she had solid qualifications. Most important, her story idea was a great one, and she handled the resulting assignment professionally.

W1475

—By Scott Noble, editor of the
Minnesota Christian Examiner

This scenario plays itself out regularly across the vast world of Christian publishing, which includes thousands of publications that touch on nearly every aspect of life and faith. With its diversity of markets, often boasting considerable readerships and broad spectrums of content (from nonfiction pieces to poetry and fiction), the Christian niche presents a wonderful opportunity for writers.

Yet some freelancers are intimidated about querying religious publications. They fear they need to have strong beliefs that mirror those of the publication’s editors and readers in order to land an assignment and write for the market successfully.

While certain Christian publications do tend toward that end of the spectrum (those that do usually say so in their guidelines), most are open to good writing from writers of all sorts.

Ultimately, if you’ve never seriously considered querying Christian publications, you could be missing out. Here’s what you should know about pitching these ripe markets:

Deliver a well-written query that offers something novel and captivating. Publications with a Christian focus are looking for solid stories that are unique, compelling, fresh. They are no different from any other publication in that respect. Absorbing story ideas can trump other shortcomings, and good writing can draw in even the most reluctant reader.

Don’t fake it. If you are a Christian, it doesn’t hurt to note that in your pitch. But if you aren’t versed in the language of that publication’s specific religious subculture, don’t pretend you are. Attempting to sound “religious” or speaking the language of certain Christian subcultures without completely understanding them will only reveal to the editor your unfamiliarity. What you do need, as with any other niche market, is simply to have a basic understanding of the beliefs and goals embodied by the publication, and to write content that you feel will appeal to its readership on some fundamental level.

Focus on positive, uplifting stories. In both fiction and nonfiction, Christian publications are always looking for redemptive stories—stories of people finding hope through difficult circumstances, or through a conversion experience. If you’re not comfortable writing about the latter, then embrace the former. At its heart, Christianity is about people finding hope, forgiveness and healing—and those are fairly universal human themes that can be written about in a variety of ways. Some of the best stories for these publications are those about someone overcoming an addiction, serious illness or other significant life challenge while drawing on her faith to pull her through.

Avoid controversial topics … especially if it’s your first time querying that market, or you’re not intimately familiar with the publication’s specific religious position. When Christian publications tackle controversial topics, they’re sensitive to the way the coverage will be received by their readers, so they generally prefer to work with writers with whom they have a history: someone who has a proven track record. That can be you at some point, but it will take experience with that publication’s editor(s).

Be open to feedback … or even to going in an entirely different direction with an article. If you don’t have a lot of experience in this market but your story idea is good enough to catch an editor’s interest, it behooves you to carefully heed that editor’s input in further shaping your angle up front to make it the best, most appropriate fit for his readers.

Ultimately, these suggestions won’t guarantee your query gets accepted, but they will help you hone your idea so your query stands out among the hundreds of others vying for the editor’s attention. And as a writer in any niche knows, that’s a priceless thing.

The Christian Marketplace: 5 Places for your Christian Writing

Expand your search for new freelance writing opportunities with these leading publications in the Christian marketplace. For a more detailed overview of each market, along with complete submission guidelines, visit writersdigest.com/aug-13. —S.N.

Charisma
Primarily focused on the Pentecostal/Charismatic movements, and seeking features, news and reviews.

Guideposts
Monthly interfaith publication that reaches millions of readers. Interested in stories of how people deepened their faith or how God helped them through a particular struggle.

The Christian Century
Publication that targets an educated readership with critical analysis of current events and theological news related to the church. Also accepts poetry.

St. Anthony Messenger
Catholic journal that looks for interviews and profiles of Catholic personalities, and also publishes poetry and fiction.

Relevant
Publication geared toward 20- and 30-somethings and touching on topics related to spiritual depth as well as general culture news (including fashion, trends, travel, etc.).

*********************************************************************************************************************************
Follow me on Twitter: @BrianKlems
Check out my humor book, Oh Boy, You're Having a Girl.
Sign up for my free weekly eNewsletter: WD Newsletter

wd-Brian-web-19.jpg
Moral Compass

Moral Compass

Every writer needs a little inspiration once in a while. For today's prompt, write about someone with an unfailing moral compass.

Daniel Levin Becker: On the Forgotten Art of Letter Writing

Daniel Levin Becker: On the Forgotten Art of Letter Writing

Author, translator, and editor Daniel Levin Becker discusses his hopes for future letter writing like those featured in the new anthology, Dear McSweeney's: Two Decades of Letters to the Editor from Writers, Readers, and the Occasional Bewildered Consumer.

e.g. vs. i.e. (Grammar Rules)

e.g. vs. i.e. (Grammar Rules)

Let's look at the differences between e.g. and i.e. with Grammar Rules from the Writer's Digest editors, including a few examples of correct usages.

20 Authors Share Their Biggest Surprise in the Writing Process

20 Authors Share Their Biggest Surprises in the Writing Process

Experienced writers know to expect the unexpected. Here are surprises in the writing process from 20 authors, including Amanda Jayatissa, Paul Neilan, Kristin Hannah, and Robert Jones, Jr.

Ruth Hogan: On Infusing Personal Interests in Fiction

Ruth Hogan: On Infusing Personal Interests in Fiction

Author Ruth Hogan discusses the process of learning a new skill in writing her new novel, The Moon, The Stars and Madame Burova.

Do You Find an Editor or Agent First?

Do You Find an Editor or Agent First?

It's a common question asked by writers looking to get their first book published: Do you find an editor or agent first? The answer depends on each writer's situation.

writer's digest wd presents

WDU Presents: 7 New WDU Courses, a Chance at Publication, and More!

This week, we’re excited to announce seven new WDU courses, a chance at publication, and more!

What Is a Professional Editor and Why Should Writers Use One?

What Is a Professional Editor and Why Should Writers Use One?

Editor is a very broad term in the publishing industry that can mean a variety of things. Tiffany Yates Martin reveals what a professional editor is and why writers should consider using one.

From Script

How to Find the Right Reader for Feedback, Writing Female Characters and Tapping into Emotionally Authentic Characters (From Script)

In this week’s round up brought to us by Script Magazine, read film reviews from Tom Stemple, part three of writing female characters, interviews with Free Guy scribes Zak Penn and Matt Lieberman, The Eyes of Tammy Faye screenwriter Abe Sylvia, and more!