I use Google maps frequently. Anytime I go somewhere I haven’t been, I map the place, print the directions, and head out. Usually, I arrive right where I want to be.
Don’t you wish editors had similar mapping guides to help you reach your publication goal? “Take a right at the illustration, go left at the Bible verse…travel five paragraphs until you reach a satisfying conclusion” and you’re there! You’ve sold your writing.
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Editor’s maps point the way
Fortunately they do. Editor’s maps are called writers guidelines. Editors create them to let writers know exactly what kind of materials they want to see. The guidelines tell, among other things, who the target audience is, how long the articles should be, what kind of tone, and what genres they don’t want.
Guidelines give writers other helpful facts as well, such as editor contact information, how to submit your manuscript (snail mail or email), and sometimes a theme list. Often, guidelines will provide specific formatting and other tips that help.
Where to find them
You’ll often find writers guidelines at writers conferences, such as the Guild’s Writing for the Soul. Alternately, you can often find them on a publisher’s website. The annual Christian Writers’ Market Guide provides information on what specific publishers are looking for, where to find guidelines, or how to contact the publisher to request their guidelines.
Unlike online maps, writers guidelines never steer you in the wrong direction. Look for them and use them. They’re a roadmap to your destination of publication.
A writer, as well as an editor, Jeanette Littleton has served on staff with eight publications, including Moody magazine, and also a book publisher. Books she has written or co-authored include When Your Teen Goes Astray; What’s in the Bible for Teens; and Hugs for Coffee Lovers