Do you despise small beginnings?
When we fix our sights on a book contract, it’s easy to dismiss anything smaller as unworthy of our efforts. But doing so could be a huge mistake.
I’m a big believer in the benefit of “small writings.” The first payment I received for my writing was a story written for Chicken Soup for the Soul in 2003. Holding that check in my hand helped me think of myself not just as a writer, but as a published author. Last month, 19 years later, Chicken Soup released yet another volume with one of my contributions. This newest addition to their library happens to be the 26th Chicken Soup book in which I’m published.
Four years after that first submission, I had published contributions in 7 different Chicken Soup books. This led to the first workshop I taught at a Christian writers conference. The topic? How to write personal experience stories for anthologies such as Chicken Soup for the Soul.
But anthologies weren’t the only “small writings” I had success with. The first writers conference I attended initially appeared to be a big disappointment. None of the acquisition editors were interested in my book proposal. (Looking back with 20-20 hindsight, I can see they were right to not be interested!) But two magazine editors (Shawn McMullen at The Lookout and Jesse Florea for Focus on the Family’s Breakaway) gave me a chance by requesting an article on spec. Both magazine articles were published that year, enabling me to break into Christian publishing.
All those “small” publishing credits eventually gave me enough credibility for Revell Books to publish my devotional on the names of God. And think about what a devotional is: a collection of “small writings”! The content of that one book has experienced four different editions: hardcover, soft cover, an edition with a proprietary cover for a bookstore chain, and finally, a gift book edition, Reflections on the Names of God: 180 Devotions to Know God More Fully, released last month.
So even though I’m quoting Zechariah 4:10 out of context, there’s definitely an application . . . I will not despise small beginnings!
Don’t miss Write2Ignite’s Master Class on writing devotions for children taught by Karen Whiting Saturday, April 23! Register at: https://write2ignite.com/
How have “small writings” encouraged you in your writing journey?
11 thoughts on “Small Writings”
I agree, Ava! A seasoned writer suggested that I start out by writing articles. I did that for years–for both adults and children. After I was published in Highlights (and received a few awards!) I turned my sights on novel writing. Thanks for the encouragement.
Yay, Carol! Your experience is living proof of the value of small writings!
Ava, thank you for your encouraging article!
Thank you, Esther!
I’ve sold 13 small articles to Focus on the Family and I would like to be published with Chicken Soup. Getting coaching from you is still on my list.
I wanted to be published in Chicken Soup every since I read the first one years ago.
Jenn – 13 small pieces for Focus on the Family is big . . . and a great way to build your writing credits!
Hi Ava—you mentioned that you taught a class in how to write your personal experience for Chicken soup for the soul books. Do you by chance have any handouts or info you would be willing to share on this topic? If do, my email is email@example.com
Hi, Liz – The Chicken Soup website offers guidelines with lots of tips that were helpful to me when I first started to submit to them. You might find them helpful, as well:
I couldn’t agree more, Ava! I’ve had success with “small writings,” too, and I believe that God has used those devotions and other articles to help and encourage people. And isn’t that what our writing is all about? Thank you for your encouraging article.
Well done, Kathy! Thank you for using your gift of words to encourage others!