In the Wrong Place at the Right Time

This may not be the place to admit it, but I’m having an affair. We go on dates, doing things together that we love. Other times we pull down the shades, dim the lights, and cuddle up close. And–dare I admit–sometimes we whisper in agreement about our future.

Yes, I confess, I am having a torrid love affair with books. We were meant to be together. I believe in them; they believe in me. We’re inseparable.

The intimacy of this relationship explains the uncontrollable urge that surfaces each time I finish reading a great book, this impulse to write my own hope-filled book that leads women right to Jesus.

As a new writer, I used to scour the bookshelves coveting the author names on the spines. I traced my fingers across compelling covers and inhaled the new-book freshness as I dreamed of my very own name gracing the art. I envisioned countless days spent whittling my words and learning to be a master craftsman.

Later, as a career writer, I fell into a whole new world. Today’s publishing culture demanded I become an expert not only at writing, but marketing and social media as well. A bit disconcerting to a shy writer who simply wanted to write well.

How could I improve my craft if I had to concentrate on building my platform before I was ever published? How would I offer both a high-concept idea and a stop-you-in-your-tracks platform that agents and publishers couldn’t refuse?

It was time to reconsider. Instead of my name on a book spine, maybe, for now, my place was a magazine byline? While focused on writing books, I couldn’t discount that writing for magazines might help me reach my goal. I couldn’t ignore the platform-building opportunity that freelance writing offered.

While an average book may sell 5,000 copies, the readership of some magazines hits millions. Last month, I wrote a feature for Guideposts that offered me an audience of five million readers. My audience expanded as I cast my writing net a little deeper, a little wider. That article led to about 10,000 hits to my website within a very short period of time and connected me to some amazing new readers and relationships. Oh, and I sold books like crazy.

I didn’t start out with Guideposts, I started regionally. My first published print article was for a women’s magazine in my hometown—monthly circulation about 50,000. But from that article came a couple of joint ventures and writing assignments that led to later features in national and international magazines. Today, I have a healthy following of women with whom I am honored to share hope and inspiration on a regular basis.

Without taking time to go to where my readers were (to build my platform), I imagine my first royalty check would have come from a small base of hardcore fans (all relatives). Not only did writing for magazines allow me the chance to make new connections, but I also honed my craft while cushioning my bank account—not a bad deal overall.

Ready to get started? Here’s a helpful article I found online on how to break into the national magazines.

By the way, feed my curiosity. What book can you not live without?

36 Replies to “In the Wrong Place at the Right Time”

  1. Thanks for a great post that highlights the benefits of magazine writing and for a follow-up link, Jo Ann.

      1. We writers can be so busy rushing to attain our goals we run right past the doors to them.

  2. Jo Ann, my heart started beating a little faster when you wrote about the “uncontrollable urge that surfaces each time I finish reading a great book, this impulse to write my own hope-filled book that leads women right to Jesus.” I can totally relate! I haven’t gotten nearly as far in my writing career as you have, but your article is giving me the encouragement I need to consider prayerfully what my first/next steps should be. Thank you for sharing!

    1. You get it, Nicole! That rapid heart-beat, sense of anticipation, a need to go and do the same yourself. Love it. Hold tight…God’s about to do something. 🙂

  3. Very inspiring! I definitely needed the reminder about building your platform first. Thanks for sharing.

  4. God’s been whispering in my ear for a lifetime to write. It’s the most exhilarating experience where I’ve allowed Christ to sit in the driver’s seat and take the wheel. With the Lord at my side spurring me onward, I’ve had five articles published in an online magazine in 2009. It was the beginning of my writing career and earning income was a memorable highlight! There’s nothing better than allowing God to actively work behind the scenes to orchestrate your ultimate calling. Reaching others through faith inspired writing to provide hope, encouragement and inspiration is my passion. Whether I earn income or not, I know in my heart of hearts, I’m right where I should be. All is well in my soul!

    1. What an awesome reminder that it is not always about the income –it is about His leading. Trust me, many articles I’ve penned have been without a “paycheck.” May God continue to bless your career and open doors for you to spread encouragement and hope beyond your wildest imaginations.

  5. As someone who is just beginning to find her voice in writing, this post offers great encouragement to keep doing the next thing God puts on my heart.
    Thank you for your travels along this road so that we might glean from your experience.


  6. Love the post, Jo Ann! Such a great reminder that our writing can touch many lives beyond a regular book format. I have been abundantly blessed to connect to amazing people through article writing and blogging. I’ll also continue working on my fiction and non-fiction manuscripts, rejoicing in whatever doors God opens!

  7. Love the beginning of this post! You got me! Also love the idea of magazine submissions. I will check it out- thanks!

    1. Hi Debi,

      So glad you enjoyed it. And I love that you are going to consider submitting to magazines — a great way to get the word out!

  8. Jo Ann, you are such an inspiration! God has truly given you the gift of writing, and you are using it so powerfully. I love to write, and know He has blessed me this way as well. Unfortunately, I don’t always devote the time to it that I should. You have reminded me how very important it is to use my written words to inspire and encourage others. Now, I must make writing a higher priority on my own calendar. Thank you, Sweet Friend, for being obedient to His will.

    1. Thank you, Susan. And yes, I pray that you make writing a priority and use your words to inspire and encourage others! As a writer, it’s so easy to get distracted but the rewards of pouring into the lives of others blows your socks off. 🙂

  9. Another amazing article, Jo Ann. Loved it! And you know what a book fanatic I am! I love the part where you two dim the lights and plan for the future. Ha! I couldn’t imagine a better love affair then with a great book. I so cherish the times when I find a book that I just cannot put down. While nothing else gets done AT ALL (because I’m rushing to the couch with my book any spare moment I get), the gifts that I get from a good read are priceless. And thank you for sharing about writing for magazines. I never thought about that and I’m going to look into that more for sure! Hugs!

  10. Thank you Allison! I too love my couch time with my books. And I’m excited that you are going to consider magazines — a great primer, or a supplement to writing those books you love so much. 🙂

  11. Great article Jo Ann, I loved it! I am looking to get into writing for a local family magazine and this article was right on time. Working with you has inspired me to write even more!


    1. Awesome Dr. Debra! I pray God opens those doors and your powerful message is poured into the hearts across your region–and then, nationally. 🙂

  12. Thank you for the helpful link Jo Ann. Congrats on the Guidepost article. 🙂

    Kiyla Fenell

  13. Thanks for sharing your love of books. I think my love of books is at least very close in passion to your own!!

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