Saturday, August 27, 2011

Writing Daily Devotionals, Part One

Writing devotionals is a great way to hone your writing skills, encourage readers and make a little money along the way. 

My next two posts will be short tutorials on the basics of writing devotionals, which I have been writing and publishing for over thirteen years. I don’t claim this to be an all-inclusive guide, but I will share what I have learned from my experience and the blessings I have received along the way.

            Today is an introduction on the what, where and why of devotionals.

            Next week I will describe the process of writing a devotional and also where to get ideas.

OVERALL DEFINITION
            A devotional is a short piece (usually 200 to 500 words) that uses an anecdote or explanation of a gospel text which applies Scripture to daily life to inspire or encourage the reader. A devotional should be positive and uplifting. Even if you are writing on a difficult topic, your goal is to draw the reader closer to God.

DEVOTIONAL BOOKS
            Some devotionals appear in books that are usually titled to appeal to a specific audience, such as men, women, couples, singles, mothers, etc. These may be written by one author or compiled by someone who collects devotionals from other writers. Payment is usually higher for books, involves a contract and longer deadlines. But, in order to write a book of devotionals, you will need to have some samples of your devotional work, and those come from work done for smaller daily devotional booklets.



DAILY DEVOTIONAL BOOKLETS (For our discussion we will deal with this type of devotional)



            Definition: These devotionals are usually published by denominational or smaller publishers. They contain a devotional reading for each day and are often published bi-monthly or quarterly. To write for them you must follow the publication’s specific format and word count. These paperback booklets are usually small enough to slip into your Bible.


            Markets: You can find a list of these daily devotionals in the Christian Writers’ Market Guide. Also in the guide you will find what type of devotionals each publication is looking for, what they want to see in the form of samples (this sample could be one you write yourself, if you haven't published devotionals), and  where to obtain their guidelines. Some examples are:
The Secret Place, Light from the Word and Upper Room. There are some online devotionals (such as Christian Devotions) to write for and they are also mentioned in the market guide.


             Can Be Denominational: Another aspect of daily devotionals is that some are geared to a specific denomination, thus a certain set of beliefs. Some will only use writers from that denomination, and that will also be listed in the market guide.


            Assignment vs. Submission: Some devotionals give assignments and these on average are three to seven devotionals. You will be given about two to three months to complete the assignment. The editor should give you specific scriptures to use and usually a theme.
Some publications accept devotionals through submission only. For these publications you will write the complete devotional, choosing the scripture and then submitting it. If they accept it, they will respond to you within a certain amount of time, which they indicate in the guidelines. Most devotionals accept submissions via email.

            Payment: Most often, you will be paid per devotional, but not all are paying markets. Some pay in copies, but you will get a writing credit. The pay usually ranges from $15 to $35 per devotional and it is usually work-for-hire.


Have devotionals impacted your spiritual growth?

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