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