I’m often asked, “Where do I even start?” Well, I want to share the same encouragement that was given to me so many years ago and a few practical tips to start your journey into writing professionally.
I know it sounds oversimplified, but write anywhere and write often. Keep a journal, compose a blog, or beef up your social media captions. Just write. Writing regularly not only keeps you sharp but it helps you stretch your skill in communicating what you want your readers to know. A mentor once shared this nugget of truth with me: “The difference between a writer and someone who wants to be a writer is at least six hours a week and 6,000 words.”
Develop your concept. In reviewing multitudes of inquiry letters and skimming proposals, it is evident when an author hasn’t developed their concept or clearly highlighted their core thesis statement. Invest the time in research, theologically setting up the core of your idea. Skipping this step in favor of a fast pitch or catchy hook is a typical mistake made in the beginning. So, dig deep, do the research, and build a case for your core concept.
Perfect your pitch.
The pitch is where it’s at. This key allows agents or editors to get a picture of what kind of communicator you are and how well you share your particular story. A complete pitch has a compelling title, a unique hook, and a well-communicated message. It should be perfect—grammatically correct, concise, and compelling.
That’s right. Research submission guidelines, pitch processes, and start sending your ideas to different publications (not just book publishers!). For me, as a Christian writer, a great resource to check out is the Christian Writers Market Guide by Steve Laube. Every year, he releases a a print version of this book which lists the publications which may be looking for new writers. Find the right resource for your niche! (And by the way, that Market Guide is also available online, updated throughout the year.)
Lastly, I would be remiss if I didn’t include a little encouragement. When you start any new adventure, there are bound to be obstacles, letdowns, and outright rejections. Pay no heed to these things and focus on your goals. Ultimately, obstacles give you the opportunity for growth. Letdowns will toughen you up. Rejections are just part of the process. Learn to navigate these waters with grace and consistency, and you will do just fine. If you feel you are called to write, grab your favorite warm beverage, and start putting pen to paper.