Of all the markets open to nonfiction writers, the devotional market is the most welcoming and open to newcomers. Why? Because devotions are consumer driven. People read them and then look for more.
Devotional quarterlies publish 365 new entries per year and they need fresh material annually. Unlike others, this genre needs an endless flow of new writers and voices. So, let’s look at five tips for getting yours published.
Know the submission guidelines.
The typical components for a devotion are:
- Approx. 200 words.
- A scripture reference.
- The body of the devotion (anecdote/reflection on the scripture).
- A prayer, quote, or action point.
However, every publisher is different. Know their guidelines. If you can’t follow simple directions, you’ll find it hard to get published.
Cut unnecessary words. Publishers love to see that you can write tight. Devotionals are one of the best ways to up your game and become a better writer.
Those companies that want scripture, may want a specific Bible version. Read previous devotions from that publisher. Get a feel for their audience, style, and norms.
Study how devotions are written.
Devotionals are popular because of the consistent way the message is delivered.
- Don’t preach. Come alongside the reader as a friend. We lose our audience when we patronize or condescend.
- Be vulnerable and transparent. Use examples of times you failed, not when you did it perfectly.
- Stick to one topic or lesson. If it contains two, create a second devotional.
- Keep it relatable. Don’t write about parenting if your audience is high school kids.
- Avoid Christian-eze. Write as if your audience is un-churched.
- Many devotions are translated for overseas audiences. So, be careful of using regional, cultural, or denominational references. You’ll alienate some readers.
Be Biblically accurate.
Sometimes I come across a devotional that uses a scripture out of context. It’s tempting to write the story, then find a verse to back up my point, rather than the other way around. To be a trustworthy source, we must do our homework using the following guidelines:
- Research the proper interpretation for a scripture, not the popular interpretation.
- Discover what the passage is actually talking about by reading the verses before and after.
- Compare different translations and consult a commentary.
- Meditate on it until you thoroughly understand the verse.
- Remember, readers who aren’t well-acquainted with God’s Word could be misled by our devotional. We could be their only source of truth.
Before writing, pray for the Holy Spirit to fill and guide you to write what He wants you to write. Ask God to show you applications in His Word.
I can always tell the difference between a devotion I’ve written in my own power compared to those God inspired. The writing might be good but it comes across fluffy. Writing I’ve prayed over first contains more depth.
If our relationship with the Lord is not being fed regularly, how can we feed others biblical truth? Time with the Lord transforms us; we can’t help but feel it ooze from our hearts and fingers as we type. Take advantage of that transforming power in order to influence your readers.
Got writer’s block? There are endless sources for developing meditations. Hearing God’s voice is easy when you start looking and listening for it. Try these treasures for ideas:
- TV news.
- Your journal.
- Rewrite your old devotionals with a new angle.
Using these 5 simple tips, you can create lessons that alter someone’s thinking and behavior and help them grow spiritually. They might become a pastor, missionary, or influential leader—and you have been a part of that process.
Now it’s your turn. Brainstorm a few devotion ideas using Romans 8. Or consider how your childhood memories might serve as great devotions. Where was God working in those events? Write about it.
Whether he’s screenwriting another short film, working as a missionary journalist, or teaching at writer’s conferences, Tez’s passion for coaching aspiring writers is evident.
He has written or co-written 14 books. As a multiple award-winning author, filmmaker, and international speaker, his work appears in Guideposts, Power for Living, The Upper Room, CBN.com, Clubhouse, Focus on the Family, Cru.org and more. His editorials are featured regularly on Jesusfilm.org and seen by over 40k readers each month.
He is the president of two chapters for Word Weavers International, a renowned critique organization for Christian writers. He and his wife have four children and live in Colorado Springs. To learn more about how Tez can coach you as a writer, go to TezBrooks.com
All God’s Creatures, Devotions for Animal Lovers, 2021 will be one of our door prizes!
Our Spring Master Class on Writing Devotionals is less than a month away! Read about it here.