Devotion Writing: Journeying to Publication

By Martin Wiles

Every writer wants their name in the publication light—and better yet, to get paid for it. I was no different.

Prior to 2009, I had written little, and published even less. Just a few poems here and there, and only one that I remember getting paid for. Then my father unexpectedly died, and things changed. What connection his death had to my seriousness about writing, I’ve never been able to determine. I only know my attitude changed. The genre I chose was devotions. Not as popular as fiction, but read by many just the same. And I had enough experiences under my belt to write them.

But merely writing them wasn’t enough. If no one else read them, what was the purpose of doing what I felt God leading me to do? I began looking for places to submit my devotions, hoping to get a few published. If I got paid a little along the way, that would be great too.

Of course, I began with what I call the little g, Google. One of the first hits was a place named Christian Devotions. They didn’t pay, but pay didn’t concern me so much. I just wanted to do what God told me to do—and see my name in print somewhere as an added bonus.

Cindy Sproles was the executive editor of Christian Devotions, and, at the time, the ministry was small and she was helping writers develop their skills. Like most inexperienced writers, I thought my devotion was perfect as written the first time. She thought differently. I recall the gist of her response: “Martin, the heart of your devotion is good, but it needs work before it’s ready for publication.”

The work entailed more than I imagined. For one, I had to stop preaching. (At the time, I was a preacher.) I also had to avoid the “that” trap and stop using so much passive voice. After several revisions—revisions I thought I’d never finish—she finally accepted my devotion.

I continued to write for Christian Devotions and also to search for other places to submit my devotions. I had a few published along the way, and was even paid for some. I also became a member of the five o’clock club—the a.m. one. Six days each week, I wrote a devotion. Before I knew it, I had several years’ worth of devotions.

I need to write a book of devotions, I thought. Unfortunately, I knew little about the publishing industry or about the scams that circulate within it. I suppose the company I settled with for three books—two devotionals and one commentary—was close to what I now know as a vanity press. Although they didn’t charge me anything to publish my books—and they did design my covers and list my books on Amazon—they didn’t edit my work or do any marketing for me. I later discovered they accept almost any manuscript sent to them and publish it as is. Since the books were so large, the price was prohibitive. Apart from those I sold to individuals, only a couple were sold on Amazon. I needed another avenue.

Shortly after this fiasco, I attended Writer’s Boot Camp (now Asheville Christian Writer’s Conference), directed by Cindy Sproles and Eddie Jones, co-founders of Christian Devotions website. Eddie had also begun a new adventure: Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. His heart’s desire was to help authors get started and to produce quality books from a small publishing house.

Having met Eddie at the conferences a couple of times, I decided to send him a manuscript—365 days’ worth of devotions. By this time, my writing had improved, and, amazingly, he accepted my manuscript … with limitations. A years’ worth of devotions was too much, the book would be too large and costly, and very few would buy it. He suggested we split it up into smaller portions, perhaps as many as three books. Then, he proffered a Southern theme that became Grits, Grace, and God in 2013 and Grits, Gumbo, and Going to Church in 2016.

I was excited, to say the least, because I knew he didn’t accept every manuscript sent his way. I also knew they assigned each contracted writer an editor to work with, that they designed nice covers, and that they performed a fair amount of marketing at no cost to the author.

My editor, and now a good friend, was ruthless, but kind. Together, we produced two books I was proud to put on the market.

While I’m proud of my list of publication credits—and thank God for each one—not everything I’ve written has been accepted. My rejection scroll rolls out much longer than my acceptance one does. Such as the historical novel I spent months writing and rewriting. No publisher will touch it. It now rests lovingly on one of my book shelves where it may never see the light of the publishing world.

I recently signed another devotional book contract with Ambassador International. I look forward to what God will do through this book and to the long process that will precede publication. One thing publication has taught me is patience.

Because I believe God wants us to channel His grace and mercy, I now use what I’ve learned about the writing and publication process to help other writers and authors who are just beginning the journey.

And that editor who bled all over the first devotion I sent her? I’m now her Managing Editor and helping other writers the same way she once helped me. And the CEO of the publishing company who published my first book? I’m now one of his assistant editors also. God surely works in mysterious ways.

Click to tweet: I believe God wants us to channel His grace and mercy, and now use what I’ve learned about the writing and publication process to help other writers and authors who are just beginning the journey. #devotions #amwriting


Martin Wiles lives in Greenwood, SC, and is the founder of Love Lines from God. (www.lovelinesfromgod.com). He is a freelance editor, English teacher, and author. He serves as Managing Editor for Christian Devotions and as an assistant editor for Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. He is the author of five books and has been published in numerous publications.

 


Grits, Grace, and God

Grace & Grits & God offers personal insights and practical tips for dealing with life’s challenges, loses, and setbacks. As a pastor, Martin Wiles knows about tough times. He’s seen it in the faces of his parishioners—and his own. Find God’s spiritual truths in your daily challenges. Turn loses and setbacks into step-ups. Dish out blessings to others from your scraps. Show grit, love with grace, and trust God through the hard times and at all times.

Grits, Gumbo, and Going to Church

If you’re struggling with the real meaning of going to church and following Christ, then Grits, Gumbo, and Going to Church is for you. Martin Wiles has been in the pew or the pulpit his whole life. He has experienced the best and the worst in the church. He knows it can be a place of pain or a place of blessing.

Marriage: Make It or Break It by Andrea Merrell

Today I’d like to introduce my friend, author and editor, Andrea Merrell.  She’s an associate editor with Christian Devotions Ministries and Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. She is also a professional freelance editor and was a finalist for the 2016 Editor of the Year Award at BRMCWC. Her latest book is Marriage: Make It or Break It.

Hi, Andrea! Tell us a little about yourself and your background.

Andrea: I’m a Southern gal who considers herself a bit of a late bloomer. Even though I’ve always loved to write, I didn’t begin to pursue my passion until about twenty years ago when the speaker at a marriage retreat told me it was time to get busy. “After all,” he said as he leaned in close, “you’re not getting any younger, you know.” That little statement lit a fire in me and set me on a path of writing for God that gets better and more fulfilling as the years go by. As an editor, I also love encouraging other writers, helping them grow and polish their skills as they learn to create clean, professional manuscripts. I LOVE what I do. 😊

What genre are your books? What draws you to this genre?

Andrea:  People ask this question quite often, and sometimes they’re surprised by my answer: a little bit of everything. In the beginning of my writing journey, God gave me a series of poems. Then I moved into writing nonfiction, especially funny anecdotes about getting older. I soon found myself writing devotions and a few articles. Over the past few years, I’ve written hundreds of devotions, a few short stories, and three nonfiction books (Murder of a Manuscript, Praying for the Prodigal, and Marriage: Make It or Break It). But I’m also passionate about writing fiction and have several novels in progress at various stages that are begging to be finished. Some say you should find your niche and stay there, writing either fiction or nonfiction. But my philosophy is that I should write whatever God gives me … whatever He lays on my heart. As we write for Him, we never know how our words can touch someone else, whatever the genre. And the more transparent we are, the more impact our words can have.

Do you work to an outline or prefer to see where an idea takes you?

Andrea:  Outlines don’t work for me. I’m a panster (seat-of-the-pants writer), not a plotter. Early in my career I sat in a class at a writers’ conference about plotting where the speaker was using charts and graphs. I was completely lost. Sometimes when I sit down to write, it’s like transcribing dictation as the words flow. For me, it’s a matter of getting my words on paper (or I guess I should say on my computer screen), then the proofing, editing, and rewriting begin.

What is the hardest thing about writing?

Andrea:  For me, as an editor, the hardest thing is making time for my own writing.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

Andrea:  Probably doing the same things I’m doing now: writing, editing, and teaching at writers’ conferences—unless God has other plans. Hopefully, by then I will have at least a couple of published novels.

We hope so too! Thanks for stopping in for a visit, Andrea!


Andrea Merrell is an associate editor with Christian Devotions Ministries and Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. She is also a professional freelance editor and was a finalist for the 2016 Editor of the Year Award at BRMCWC. She teaches workshops at writers’ conferences and has been published in numerous anthologies and online venues.

Andrea is a graduate of Christian Communicators and a finalist in the 2015 USA Best Book Awards. She is the author of Murder of a Manuscript and Praying for the Prodigal. Her newest book, Marriage: Make It or Break It, is now available on Amazon. For more information visit www.AndreaMerrell.com or www.TheWriteEditing.com.

Amazon link for Marriage: Make It or Break Ithttp://amzn.to/2qxucJ7

Amazon link for Murder of a Manuscripthttp://amzn.to/1HlRLmy

Amazon link for Praying for the Prodigalhttp://amzn.to/1BFOhK9

www.AndreaMerrell.com

http://www.TheWriteEditing.com


Marriage: Make It or Break It

Some say marriage is a dying institution. Others say, “Stop the bus and let me get off.” But Andrea Merrell after forty-plus years of marriage believes this God-ordained institution is one of His greatest gifts to men and women. Marriage: Make It or Break It is a result of a lifetime of trial and error, keen observation, and years of studying God’s Word. With her signature dash of humor, she takes a candid look at attitudes and behavior that can make or break a relationship, the difference in how men and women think and approach life, and the importance of honest communication. You’ll find danger signs, roadblocks to bypass, and Scriptures to personalize and pray on a daily basis. 

This journey won’t be perfect, and the road is guaranteed to be full of potholes. But if you’re ready to learn a few truths that will make marriage strong and a lot of things that will destroy it, buckle your seat belt and let’s get this bus moving.