The Ministry of Magazine Writing (Part 1)

During my first Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference, I experienced a divine appointment with one of the industry’s leading agents, owner of The Steve Laube Agency, acquiring agent serving through Enclave Publishing, and manager of an award winning writing blog.

Under a canopy of redwoods, I thanked God for the opportunity and asked Steve Laube what advice he had for a fledgling writer.

Steve responded with a question and forever changed the way I approached my writing journey. “Are you in this to see your name on the cover of a book or to use writing for ministry?”

Without hesitation I said, “Ministry. I want God to use my writing to share His truth and love to the ends of the earth.”

He smiled. “Then don’t neglect the ministry of magazine writing.”

The discussion that followed brought me to tears, filled me with hope, and nudged me toward a path I never dreamed possible.

Please help me welcome Steve Laube, as he shares a snippet of our discussion.

***

Xochitl: Thanks for joining us, Steve. Please explain why you believe writing for magazines is such a huge ministry opportunity?

Steve: The nature of magazines is that they show up at someone’s house automatically whereas a book must be brought in intentionally. A book feels like a commitment of time. A magazine can be read anytime, anyplace. It is there where ministry can happen. Due to space considerations the writer must be laser focused to convey the point of the article. In that “big idea” moment wonderful things can happen.

 

Xochitl: Would you please share an example of how God has used a magazine article to minister to you?

Steve: I use magazines as a way to keep in touch with the varied ideas, philosophies, and even theologies that make up our world. Occasionally, I am confronted with a skilled writer who makes me think differently on a topic. But other times I appreciate the differing opinion because it helps me refine my own understanding as a counter.

And yet most often I am inspired by incredible stories of God’s goodness in someone’s life. A story that I would not read in book form but am happy to see in a magazine.

 

Xochitl: In what ways can writers benefit from contributing their work to magazines?

Steve: It teaches you to “write tight.” No unnecessary elaboration to fill the page. It makes a writer a better communicator on many levels.

I am also looking for great writers. In one situation I had repeated seen a specific author’s byline on articles that I appreciated. I did some digging and contacted them wondering if they had ever considered writing a full book. That author’s first full length came out shortly thereafter.

 

Xochitl: What tips would you offer writers who are considering submitting their work to magazines?

Steve: Do your homework. Review The Christian Writers Market Guide and the magazine’s web site guidelines. You can save yourself a lot of time by doing so. Also, think ahead. Start thinking now about a Christmas article for 2017.

 

Xochitl: Why would you advise established writers to invest their time in writing for magazines?

Steve: It can be another source of income for those who are full-time writers. I know of one author who was contracted to write three different monthly columns by three different magazines. The work paid well and gave the author great visibility. The writer was able to write all 12 of the annual columns in less than two weeks, for each magazine. Which is a great way to plan your writing.

 

Xochitl: What final word of encouragement would you like to share regarding the ministry of magazine writing?

Steve: Try not to fall into the trap in thinking that magazines are the “minor leagues” when it comes to writing. You can slave for years to write and publish a book and sell 5,000 copies. Or you can write one magazine article and reach 10,000 or more!

 

Xochitl: Thank you for being a wise guy who is willing to share your vast knowledge and experience with growing writers, Steve.

Attention Writers: My next post will include links to a few magazines that offer wonderful ministry opportunities, welcome unsolicited submissions, and pay writers!

About Xochitl E. Dixon 56 Articles

Xochitl (so-cheel) E. Dixon serves as a writer for Our Daily Bread Ministries. She encourages women and teens to embrace God’s grace and grow deeper in their personal relationships with Christ and others. She enjoys being a wife and mom, traveling, photography, and sharing God’s truth and love.

16 Comments

  1. Xochitl,
    I so appreciate your post. It confirms what I know to be true and wonder how I got sidetracked. I began my writing ministry with a published devotion in The Upper Room, followed by an article in Discipleship Journal. I was over the moon happy and content for many years to write for Christian publications.
    Sadly, I felt the hook to write a book that is still in progress. I’ve often thought about all the hours I could have been writing articles and devotions instead of “the book.” Even now, when I send off a devotion, it’s usually published so I know magazines are a great way to share our faith.
    Perhaps you or Steve could answer this question. WHY do writers feel a published “book” is necessary to validate us as authors?

    • Karen, thanks for your transparency. I think Steve answered that question when he asked me if I was writing to see my name on the cover of a book or to use writing for ministry.

      Since I decided to take my writing seriously, God’s been pressing it on my heart to pursue Him above all else, including publication. My writing journey is riddled with twists and turns that lead me onto His path, which is very different from the path I had planned. His is much better, by the way. 🙂

      When I struggle with feelings of inadequacy, pride, or the need to be affirmed by comments or “likes” or bylines, I’m usually more focused on me than on God. He doesn’t let me get away with that for long. It helps that I have wonderful accountability and prayer support.

      I haven’t given up my book projects, and I’m not sure you should either. That’s up to God. He’ll let you know. It helps me to schedule time to work on book projects and articles. I’ll share a bit more about that in my next Inspire blog post, part 2 of this interview.

      When I’m tempted to feel a little too big for my britches or to feel as if I’m in competition with other writers who have what I don’t have on their writing resume, God swiftly reminds me that I am His servant, writing is a gift from Him to be used as a tool by Him, and the results are in His hands and for His glory.

      He often brings this verse to my heart: “So, you also, when you have done everything you were told to do, should say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty.'” (Luke 17:10, NIV)

      If I had to answer your question with a tip for writers, it would be based on what I have learned and am still learning: Pursue God first, always, and be willing to allow Him to decide how to use every offering we place into His hands.

      Will that stop us from the temptation of seeking validation apart from Him? Probably not. But it can help us experience peace as He gently and lovingly nudges us back onto the right track that leads directly to the center of His good and perfect will.

      I’m looking forward to seeing what God has in store for you as you write for His glory! I believe in you, Sister!

    • I love your question, Karen: WHY do writers feel a published “book” is necessary to validate us as authors?

      After having hundreds of magazine and newspaper articles published, I went through my “I must get a book published” phase. Publication did happen, but after the fact I realized that ultimately, I am an article writer. While I’m content with that (and am earning a full-time living ghost writing articles), people still ask me, “So, when are you going to write another book?”

      I like Xochitl’s answer: If and when God puts it on my heart to write one.

      Perhaps, those of us who plan writers’ conferences or teach at them should put more emphasis on the craft of writing, and on exploring the many routes to publication, instead of focusing so much on the difficult task of getting a book published (and then attempting to sell it).

      • Thank you Laura for putting into words (and affirming) what I meant to say. I don’t “need” to write a book to validate myself as an author or a person. My identity is in Christ, and I’m happy and content to write devotions and articles. I believe their impact is far-reaching and effective. Like you, I’ve been a ghost-writer, and sometimes my name doesn’t even appear in the byline. That’s fine with me. However, there’s a sense that we haven’t “arrived as a professional writer” if we don’t have a book title to add to our list of credits as if that’s the golden ticket.

        I agree with you: more emphasis needs to be placed on the craft of writing instead of book publishing. The 2016 Mount Hermon Writer’s Conference included several magazine editors to teach workshops on writing articles and devotions. But again, I wonder if conferences would be as popular if there were only magazine editors represented?

        Xochitl has encouraged me to remember that if God lays something on my heart to write, it’s the message…and not the means…that is important.

        • I enjoy the diversity of editors at conferences. It reminds us that there are many avenues that lead to ministry opportunities. When we pursue God, not publication, He opens doors we never considered walking through. I’m glad you felt encouraged to continue to write in complete surrender to the Lord. He gets all the credit for that, though I’m glad I got to be a part of the experience. To God be the glory! I look forward to hearing what the Lord has done as you continue on this journey, Karen. You are a blessing!

      • Thanks for sharing your journey with us, Laura. God has used you to help me grow over the years, especially in the area of platform building.

        I may have to interview you about ghost writing. Please email me if you’re interested in allowing me to interview you, I would love to have you share your wisdom with our blog readers. Did I just put you on the spot, or what?

        I agree that we all go through stages in our writing journey. It’s a blessing to know we’re not alone in our struggles. And it’s great to hear an accomplished writer share with such transparency. I am looking forward to more years of growing with you and encouraging one another as we follow God, wherever He leads us to write for His glory.

  2. This interview makes a valid point, one most of us could bear hearing every few months. I know that as my short pieces were published with more regularity, I sometimes lost focus on the reason I’d begun writing in the first place. My vanity kicked in—I wanted to see my name in big letters on a book cover! Thankfully, God prunes off those bits regularly and I can go back to the mission of spreading His word. Do I continue writing fiction as well as my devotions and anthology pieces? Yes. But for now God has put me in this arena and I plan to Him proud.

    • Heidi, you are an incredible inspiration! Thank you for sharing so boldly. It’s refreshing to know we’re not alone in these struggles, and comforting to know how gently and lovingly God gives us course-corrections when necessary. I agree with you about continuing to work on bigger projects while following God’s leading with smaller projects.

      I also love how you noted that we can be bitten by the vanity-bug as we see our names printed in magazines or online, as well. I’ve have to let God do His timely pruning as often as He needs to, and I don’t have any books on the shelf. Even a popular Facebook post can open the door for pride to taint the beauty of God being glorified.

      Thanks for reminding us that God isn’t limited, so we don’t have to limit ourselves to writing books or articles. As long as we’re writing what God places on our hearts and trusting Him to do what He sees fit when we hand over our offerings, we really can’t go wrong. I look forward to seeing what He has in store for us, Sister.

    • You’re welcome, Marjorie. In my next post, I’ll be sharing a few links to magazines that welcome unsolicited submissions from writers. I’d love to hear what God does as you trust Him to use your unique voice through the ministry of magazine writing. Write to inspire, Sister! 🙂

  3. Xochitl,
    Thank you for this article. The term “Inspire Press” just came to me divinely as I was thinking about a name for my own writing since I have now self-published several books. When I Googled the name, I came to your company and this article was the first thing I read. I do work on shorter and longer projects back-and-forth, but have never written for a magazine. I would be interested in that.

    I am always asking God, “What is next?” as I complete one project and am ready for another. I write to inspire and encourage His people, and so I want to make sure I am following His leading. This is where I was just lead this morning. Amazing!

    • Praise the Lord! Thanks for sharing your testimony, Mary. I enjoy hearing how God uses small offerings, like this article, to encourage His people along the path He’s set out for them.

      In my next article I’ll be posting a few links to magazines that welcome unsolicited submissions from writers. I encourage you to research the guidelines I’ll be sharing and prayerfully submit your work.

      Inspire Christian Writers also has a publishing company (Inspire Press) to serve our members. For more information, you can check out our membership details.

      We recently invited Inspire members to submit their work to be considered for publication in Inspire Joy. We’d love to have you join us as we support and encourage one another to inspire the world, in the name of Jesus.

      God used your testimony to encourage me, Sister. Thanks for sharing! 🙂

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