So - You Think You Can Write?


Laura Petherbridge shares valuable tips for writers who are serious about getting published.

Have you seen the TV show, “So You Think You Can Dance?” Those performers are a far cry from the old “Star Search" show. I’m amazed at the talent and perfection the men and women possess.

As a writer, I’m often asked how to break into the world of publishing. Although I’m not an expert, I can share that the competition, like dancing, is more challenging than it used to be. If you are serious about getting published, here are a few suggestions:

  • Purchase books that offer guidance such as Sally Stuart's Christian Writer's Market Guide. This book will explain everything you need to know including what publishers are seeking, and not seeking. It’s an absolute “must.”
  • Learn the basics, Beginning Writer's Answer Book by Kirk Polking and Book Proposals That Sell by W. Terry Whalin.
  • Understand that your life story is interesting to you and your family but publishers will only be interested if it was a major news story. (Example: Columbine shooting, The Runaway Bride, etc.) Books that reach a target audience are often popular.
  • Learn how to write well. Take classes if necessary.
  • Recognize the time investment required. I’m a speaker who writes, not a writer who speaks. There is a difference. Public speaking comes naturally to me but writing is LABOR. However, even fluent writers must devote time and effort.   
  • Join a local critique group. This month’s book give away “Word Weavers” is a great resource. The best writing advice I received was, “Don’t fall in love with your words.” Finding a group to help fine tune your writing is crucial. Be prepared for others to scrutinize your writing. Develop the ability to hear what is wrong with your writing.
  • Familiarize yourself with publishing houses. Visit bookstores and libraries, read professional journals, and check websites. 
  • Attend a good writer’s conference (list below). This is the best opportunity to get your writing in front of an editor. However, if you are serious about writing there is a cost involved.
  • Consider writing magazine articles before a book. It is great experience and provides a wider audience.

Understand that most publishers desire a writer who has a speaking platform. Today this is true of both fiction and nonfiction writers. Publishers expect the writer to do a large portion of the book promotion which typically occurs through speaking events.    

Learn the differences between self-publishing (available to anyone who is willing to invest the money) and having a publishing house release your book (they pay you).

Obtaining a good agent is not typically feasible until you have one successful book with a publishing house (not self published).

I pray this helps you on the journey. If you believe God is nudging you in this direction, take a few steps forward and test the waters. You never know which doors may open.   

Christian Writer's Conferences

Duplicated from an article by Ellie Kay and Steve Laube.

  • American Christian Fiction Writers Conference
  • American Christian Writers Conferences - Over 30 conferences nationwide
  • Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference, Ridgecrest, NC
  • Colorado Christian Writers Conference, Estes Park, CO
  • Florida Christian Writers Conference, Bradenton, FL
  • Glorieta Christian Writers Conference, Glorieta, NM
  • Greater Philadelphia Christian Writers Conference, Philadelphia Biblical University
  • Montrose Christian Writers Conference, Montrose, PA
  • Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference, Mount Hermon, CA
  • Oregon Christian Writers Conference
  • St. David's Writers Conference, Beaver Falls, PA
  • Sandy Cove Christian Writers Conference, North East, MD
  • Write-to-Publish Conference
  • YWAM Woodcrest School of Writing, Lindale, TX


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