Sally Stuart (Aloha, Oregon) has been writing for 43 years--full-time for the last 26. She has also put out twenty-five editions of the Christian Writers' Market Guide, the only market guide that specifically targets the Christian market. In addition she has published a dozen other books, and countless articles and columns. As marketing columnist for the Christian Communicator, The Advanced Christian Writer, and Oregon Christian Writers, she is considered the leading authority on the Christian market. She is in demand as a conference speaker nationwide. Sally is the mother of three and grandmother of eight. Visit her at http://www.stuartmarket.com/
Christian Writers’ Market Guide Hits 25
by Sally Stuart
Looking at the current Christian Writers’ Market Guide, I’m astounded that it is the twenty-fifth annual edition. When I put together the first one, I had no idea that for the next twenty-five years it would become central both to my writing and to my ministry to other writers. Although the guide has been in existence for all those years, each year new and experienced writers are discovering it for the first time. For that reason I’d like to share some tips to help all my writing colleagues make better use of the guide.
First, spend some time reviewing the guide and getting a sense of how it is set up and how you can best access the information. Many writers buy it and put it on a shelf without ever discovering what it has to offer. Second, do not write your piece and then look for a market that it will fit. You need to find an appropriate market first, then write it to fit the publisher’s guidelines as to length, slant, and so on.
Below is an overview of its contents and how each section will help you as you seek markets for your manuscripts.
Table of Contents (TOC): It lists the topics for books, periodicals, and specialty items, so use it to take you to the right page.
Introduction: Read it each year because it contains updates on current trends and new features that have been added that year.
How To Use This Book: Study this section. It is critical to understanding the format of the listings, meanings of abbreviations, and the like. Once you start reading individual listings, you will see the need to check out this section.
Topical Listings of Book Publishers: Established writers, as well as beginners, tell me these topical listings make the entire price of the guide worthwhile. Use the TOC to pick out the topic of your book to find the publishers that want this kind of material. If you can’t find your exact topic, pick two or more related topics and find publishers that are included under those topics. Don’t assume that every publisher listed on your topic will necessarily be interested in your book. Get the publishers’ guidelines, and be sure your idea will fit. At the top of most sections are codes you will need to understand:
(A) Require submissions from an agent
(S) Subsidy publisher
(R) The publisher reprints out-of-print books
Alphabetical Listings of Book Publishers: Here you will find all the info on how to submit to your potential publishers. Reading the listing will sometimes indicate they are not a match for your project. It is critical that you follow their guidelines exactly. Otherwise they may toss your proposal or manuscript without even looking at it. Pay special attention to the top of each listing, which indicates the unique focus of their house; also read the tip at the bottom. The first section includes royalty-paying publishers, followed by the subsidy section. An ampersand (@) in front of a listing indicates they do e-books.
Distributors: These are the companies that distribute books and other items to Christian bookstores. Some are open to distributing self-published books.
Market Analysis: This lists publishers in order of most books to fewest published in a year, and topics in order of popularity with the publishers. It also indicates which publishers have the most books on the best-seller list during the year for specific genres. For example, if you have a novel to sell, you might try Thomas Nelson, with twenty-four titles on the fiction list, rather than WaterBrook, which had only one.
Topical Listings of Periodicals: As with books, look up the type or topic and see which periodicals would be interested in your material. This topical section also breaks down the list of interested publishers by audience—adults, children, women, pastors, etc. Determining the appropriate target audience for your piece is critical to selecting the proper market. A dollar sign ($) in front of a listing indicates they are a paying market. An R after a listing means they accept reprints.
Periodicals and E-Zines Alphabetical Listings: Again, these listings will tell you everything you need to know to submit to them, as well as how to get their guidelines. Most have them available on their Websites. Your chances of selling are much greater if you write your material to fit the specific needs of each publication. The $ means it’s a paying market, the @ means they are an online publication or have an online version of their magazine. A + means they are a new listing. Just as in the topical listings, these markets are divided into sections by target audience.
Market Analysis for Periodicals: Periodicals are listed in order from largest circulation to smallest and includes newspapers by circulation. Like the book section, it lists periodical topics in order of popularity. At the end of this section is a summary of how periodicals typically function.
Greeting Card/Gift/Specialty Markets: Here you will find markets for greeting card verse, plaques, T-shirts, church bulletins, video/CD/DVDs, games, software, and all the other gift-type items you would find in a Christian bookstore. Information on each of these publishers is followed by a specialty-products topical listing.
Christian Writers’ Conferences and Workshops: Listed by state are conferences/workshops available around the country. If you are a beginning writer, attend one that focuses on instruction, if more advanced, find those with editors and agents in attendance. Some offer scholarships.
Area Writers Groups: These groups are listed by state.
Editorial Services: This is where you will find help for your writing. If you are having trouble finding a publisher, I encourage you to get a professional critique of your work from one of these editors.
Christian Literary Agents: You will need a completed book manuscript before you approach an agent. These listings indicate what genres they represent and whether they are open to unpublished authors or new clients.
Contests: Annual contests are broken down into categories, such as poetry, fiction, nonfiction, etc. See their Websites for full details.
Denominational Listings: Book publishers and periodicals are listed by their denominational sponsors.
Corporate Listings: This section lists publishers and publications sponsored by an organization rather than a denomination.
Glossary of Terms: If you run across terminology you don’t understand, you will find a definition here.
Index: Use this like any index, but in addition, it will often tell you why certain publishers are not listed in the guide—out of business or are not open to submissions.
To order market guide, go to www.stuartmarket.com.