Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Learn How to Write Devotions that Sell

I try to cover all aspects of writing for publication. And one of the questions I get the most is how to write devotions that sell. Unless you’re writing flash fiction or poetry, a devotion will be one of the shortest pieces you’ll ever write.

A devotion is a piece that illustrates a truth through a story. Almost always, the truth being illustrated is a Scripture from the Bible. Occasionally you’ll run into other truths illustrated in a similar fashion, but these are generally referred to as meditations.

Because devotions are so short, they’re somewhat easier to keep focused. If you tend to be a writer who has trouble getting sidetracked, writing devotions will help hone your skills. Writing this short requires us to make certain every sentence refers back to the Scripture lesson you’re trying to illustrate. In something so brief, side trips—no matter how enlightening—are strictly forbidden.

Terminology Note: Most people outside the industry interchange the words devotion and devotional. Contrary to popular belief they are NOT synonyms. A devotional is a collection of devotions.

Most devotions range from 100 to 700 words in length, with the average being around 250 words. There are certain conventions you should be aware of when you pen a devotion, but few hard and fast rules.

Here are some of the guidelines commonly followed
  • There’s always one single lesson per devotion (this is about the only hard and fast rule).
  • There’s a tie into a single Scripture—usually no more than 1-2 verses.
  • They’re short—generally 150 to 400 words.

These are the aspects that can change
  • The placement of the Scripture—it’s common to have it before or after the body of the devotion. 
  • Thought for the day—some devotions include them and others don’t. 
  • Prayer—again, some have them, some don’t. 
  • Challenge or question—this is another aspect that is up to the publication or author.

There are many places that accept devotion submissions. Some offer payment, others only clips (a public place where you’ve been published). Personally, I love to write devotions and I love to read them. One of my favorite sites is http://www.christiandevotions.us/

If you’ve never written devotions before, this is an excellent resource to learn how and they accept submissions. Their policy now is to offer clips, but no payment. Their site gets a lot of hits so it’s a good place for a beginning writer to start.

Now it's your turn, what devotion sites do you like to read? Where have you submitted devotions? Share your tips and remember—

Don’t forget to join the conversation!


  1. Edie, as you know, this post was very helpful for me. As one that writes devotions, I follow a lot of these rules, but I need to empliment others. As for what devotion sites I love to read, I love www.morningglorylights.blogspot.com and www.thewriteconversation.com every day but especially for the weekend worship! Love you, sweet friend!

  2. Edie, I love your clear and concise style. Great explanation.
    I've published devotions in The Secret Place and The Quiet Hour. The Secret Place pays. The Quiet Hour is by contract and also pays. I write devotions for Christians in Recovery online, which doesn't pay. However, every devotion has my brief bio, website link, and picture.

  3. I write devotions, as you know, Edie. I've submitted to ChristianDevotions.us. STarting with a personal story and applying a scripture has worked for me. I've also submitted to The Upper Room and to Judson Press, both of which allow fewer words. That was more difficult. Still working on how to make a devotion more concise, yet complete.

  4. As always, Edie, thank you for your wisdom and instruction!

  5. Thanks for offering such a variety of teaching on your blog, Edie! It is extremely helpful. One place that has a wide variety of Online devotions is The Christian Pulse Online Magazine. I write devotionals for them sometimes. They have a wide range of writers and styles.

  6. Great resource, Edie! I have to share this!

  7. Great article, Edie. I have published in The Secret Place and my church newspaper. Sometimes I hear about a call for devotions by a group through whom I have published articles. That's how I also published in Gary Chapman's devotional, Love is a Verb. Thanks for sharing!

  8. Forgot to sign my name...Great article, Edie. I have published in The Secret Place and my church newspaper. Sometimes I hear about a call for devotions by a group through whom I have published articles. That's how I also published in Gary Chapman's devotional, Love is a Verb. Thanks for sharing!

  9. Great information. I wondered about devotion and devotional. Thanks for clarifying the difference.

  10. Very helpful info, Edie. Christian Devotions is one of my favorites. I've also submitted to The Upper Room (which should be published in the May/June issue!). I agree with Jamie -- your Weekend Worship posts on Sundays are always a blessing. :)

  11. Thank you for the helpful tips Edie, I appreciate your expertise and insight.

    I'm afraid I've broken all the rules. ;(

    Love, Hester ;)

  12. Edie,
    Thank you for following me on Twitter.

    I like your site here and am writing my first devotional. Thank you for clearing up for me the difference between meditations and devotions, devotions and devotional. I was confused by the last, and I must change my usage in my book proposal.


  13. Oh, and I like your site so much, I'll add your link to my Love Truth blog.

  14. Thank you so much for this information. I found you on the very day this was posted. I was encouraged to submit a devotion to Christian Devotions. It is a pleasure to share this link with you and your readers, my devotion for today: http://christiandevotions.us/?wpmlmethod=newsletter&id=390&mailinglist_id=0&subscriber_id=1659&authkey=fde9264cf376fffe2ee4ddf4a988880d

    You have been a blessing in my life and for that I thank God. -Charlotte

    1. Charlotte, I loved reading your devotion first thing this morning! I'm glad you've found my blog helpful. I'm so glad we were able to connect. Thanks for stopping by! Blessings, E

  15. Thank you, I appreciate the advice

  16. Wonderful devotional tips indeed. Thank you Edie. I have just printed a 100-day devotional for cancer patients. I am so glad that I have abided by the tips you have listed. Thank you again.

  17. Thanks for this wise input. I am currently a professional contract journalist and have been for almost 4 years. I really want to publish my devotions now. I submitted 3 entries to the Upper Room about 2 weeks ago but haven't heard back. I recently started a more professional blog as well. Any feedback is appreciated. Thanks! -Katie

  18. Thank you. I'm writing a devotional and want to make it shine