Posted by: nancyisanders | September 8, 2014

Wanna Hear a Story?

I thought you might like to hear a story. Not a make-believe story, but a real story. A story about something that started about ten years ago or so.

You see, at that time I was trying to get published on a regular basis. Most of my stuff was getting rejected. It was the typical fiction for kids that is so hard to sell in this saturated market (not to mention how hard it is to write!).

So I was writing puzzles and crafts and recipes and things like that to send in to the no-pay/low-pay market. I was learning how to improve my writing skills and learning how to submit things and learning how to work in this industry.

And places like Sunday School take-home papers and very small magazines and even well-known kids’ magazines were buying these for $15 a pop or maybe $30 a pop or even sometimes for $50 if I remember correctly. And so I was getting published credits–even Better Homes and Gardens purchased a few of my “ideas” for crafts for kids.

I kept up a steady stream of these submissions to the no-pay/low-pay market while I kept learning how to write picture books and fiction stories and nonfiction for kids.

Gradually, my writing skills improved and I started to sell some of my fiction stories to some of these magazines, too. And of course in the meantime, as many of you know who have read about my “Triple Crown of Success,” I was always trying to land book contracts, both work-for-hire and royalty-based along the way. Since I’d been selling puzzles and crafts and recipes to magazines, I pitched ideas for puzzle books and craft books and recipe books and landed those contracts and was earning a nice income each year from those.

So why am I telling you this little story?

Because I had to smile this last week when one of the contracts arrived at my desk. It was a contract from a publisher who is an imprint of one of the biggest publishing houses in America.

I don’t know if you know this or not, but usually when you sign a contract, right next to your signature is the publisher’s signature.

And there, right next to where I was supposed to sign on the contract, was the place for the Senior Vice President of this big-time publisher to sign.

…And she was one of my editors way back when that I used to submit puzzles and crafts and recipes and eventually fiction stories to.

I smiled when I saw her name right next to mine.

You see, she had climbed the corporate ladder in the publishing world and had made it up to one of the highest spots in the industry.

And she had brought me along with her.

How do I know?

Because when an editor I had never worked with before contacted me a few weeks ago for an offer to write for her, this editor told me that her Senior Vice President had recommended my name to her for the project.

So why am I telling you this? I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to submit on a regular basis to the no-pay/low-pay market so that you are getting published all throughout the year, every year. I still do it! In fact I have a deadline in 10 days to submit an article and I won’t get any money for it.

The benefits are sooooo many…too many to even count! But I’ll list a few:
1) You learn how to submit items and work with editors
2) You get published and build your published credits and build your resume
3) You gain more confidence in yourself as a writer
4) You learn valuable writing skills
5) And because the editors you work with don’t want to stay in the no-pay/low-pay market, they often rise up the corporate ladder…and if you were reliable, dependable, and pleasant to work with, they often will take you with them.

This isn’t the first time this has happened to me. I’ve had at least a dozen book contracts from times I’ve been called by editors I don’t know and from publishers I’ve never worked with and offered book contracts because their new top editor recommended my name and it was the same editor I’d worked with in little stuff.

What’s that Scripture that comes to mind?

Luke 16:10: Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much.

So if you don’t already, start today. Write something that you know how to write whether it’s a devotion or an interview or a recipe or a prayer. Then submit it to any magazine or online website or newspaper that’s open to submissions but doesn’t pay very much.

And do that again next month. And the next. Until you have a steady stream of published credits and several editors who count on you.

Then keep on keeping on and wait and see what’s in store. It’s an exciting journey, each step of the way!


  1. That was a wonderful, inspirational story! Congratulations, Nancy!

  2. A great story. Though finding these places is a tough task as so many envelopes or emails land on their desks I reckon it is still a lottery, but I will keep trying.

  3. Congratulations, Nancy, and thanks for sharing. Thanks for nudging me. (us) to keep submitting. You are one of the most inspiring people I know!

  4. Thank you so much for this incredible advice! It makes perfect sense and will help me get started on this adventure. Thanks again!

  5. Hi Nancy,

    Thanks for sharing your personal story. Inspiring 🙂


  6. Thanks everyone for your encouraging words. I’m glad you found this inspiring! And for those of you who aren’t quite sure how much fun it can be to write for the no-pay/low-pay market, I’ll explain a little bit of how it works in my next post.

  7. I’m soooo proud of you, my friend. You have been faithful in the little things and diligent in the hard, hard work of it all. This is a hard-earned honor and you deserve it. So happy and rejoicing with you! Happy dance!!!

  8. Nancy – you, my friend, are an inspiration. I’m published today largely because of the encouragement you gave me. And I’m well on my way in my second book. Bless you and your dear family! D

    • Good for you, Doug! I’m so glad to hear you’re well into your second book. What a joy to know God allowed me to be an encourager for you on your journey.

  9. Nancy, Thanks for sharing your writing journey and the encouragement it brought. You are my writing mentor. God bless you. Beth

  10. Congratulations. All your hard work paid off. Great story.

  11. Thanks for that encouraging story, Nancy. You inspired me to start an article for a no-paying market that I’ve been wanting to support with a submission. I’d never thought of your point that submitting to low/no-paying markets might end up benefiting me in more ways than publication credits.

  12. Love this story. It brings two expressions to mind: (1) you can’t start at the top and (2) don’t forget where you came from. What a great feeling that must be to know you and the various editors are (still) helping each other up the rungs of the ladder. Congrats.

  13. I’m just lovin’ hearing from so many of you. Aren’t you glad we’re here together to encourage each other and inspire each other to keep on keeping on?!!!

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