A Step Up

I wish I could avoid writing the publishing history part of a query letter. The experts tell us that in a query non-fiction writers should give their platforms and fiction writers their publishing history.

Those of us fiction writers who haven't made it to the City of Publication are in a bit of a bind. Do we mention that writing contest we won when we were in 7th grade or the really nice poem Grandma framed?

When I started querying, I realized I didn't want to look like a total amateur (even though I am!). So I decided I needed to find a way to have some kind of publishing history. I needed to move my writing career up a step.

That meant I had to take away novel writing time (already scarce) in order to work on other "smaller" writing projects. To my surprise, however, when I started crafting short stories and devotions I realized I enjoyed having another outlet for my creativity.

I still struggle to find time for all of my writing projects. But slowly I'm building a publishing history, one step at a time.

How have you built your publishing history? How do you balance all of your writing projects? I would love a few tips.

P.S. Today's Keys for Kids (March 19) is written by yours truly. Check it out here:


  1. I think writing in different forms helps the creativity keep flowing. It also stops ya from being bored and frustrated on the "big" project. At least it works for me. I think you're smart to build up your clips to add to your proposal package. (You could also say you've just begun your writing journey and haven't had much time yet to hit different better verbiage than that, of course.) Write on! :)

  2. I've only just begun to build a writing portfolio and it's not that impressive compared to most so I feel from where you post today.

    I'm working on first revisions of my first novel and it seems a more endless task than the original write! For awhile I've forgotten about my short stories, flash fiction, etc. and you've reminded me how important it is to diversify and build a writing resume.

    Hang in there! Your blog is wonderful and I'll bet that creativity goes on as well in your other writing.

    Blessings a bunch to you today!

  3. Oh, I hear you, Jody!

    I'm slowly building some "history". I have contributed to a devotional, written book reviews for Afictionado, an article for CFOM, but other than that I'm still very much a newbie.

    I'm with the "slow and steady wins the race" philosophy.

  4. Oh, Jody, I can totally relate to this post. I used to cringe (and still kind of do) whenever I hear the word "platform". It would make me feel so insignificant and unqualified when I had very little to put in my author biography and no publishing history to speak of. You are so wise to work on smaller projects and extend your publishing history. This is such an excellent tip for new writers. Something they could work on inbetween projects and even as they're querying to take it to the next step. Good post!

  5. Hi Angie,

    Thanks for the tip! It's always good to find the strength in our weakness.

  6. Hi Donna,

    I definitely get caught up in my novel or revisions and let my other writing projects slide! It is really hard to balance everything, isn't it?

    Blessing to you too!

  7. Hi Eileen,

    Sounds like you have a great start to building your publishing history! I agree, if we just keep slowly building, then hopefully we'll keep having more to add to our querieis!

  8. Hi Cindy,

    Good idea to tackle other writing projects between novels or when revising. Especially because the work of editing is so hard! The other smaller projects may give our brains a time to let off steam.

  9. Jody, I published something professionally and I always mention that on my query as well as the fact I was runner up twice in some Times writing competitions. However, I don't think my tiny accolades have gotten me anywhere. I've thought of writing articles for small magazine publications just for the pump into my query. I think your consideration is a smart move. God Bless!

  10. Hi T. Anne,

    So, bottom line, our novel has to sell us to an agent or editor. Our publishing history might help, but ultimately we have to sell our book, not our history. Do you think that's true?

    Or do you think if we can develop a more impressive list of publishing history, we'll grab more attention from editors and agents?

  11. Hi Jody,
    I actually didn't worry about putting my non-existent fiction publishing history in my queries. I just gloss right over that part with "Can't wait to hear from you." LOL You're pretty smart to find other projects, I think, but like you said above, in the end, it's the writing and the story that will grab someone. I don't think they care about the publishing history if you're a new writer.
    Now, if you've been published in the past in the same length or genre of what you're submitting, that should definitely be included.

    I don't think you need to worry about it so much. Having credits is great, but I don't think it'll influence whether you sell. :-) However, it may influence their personal opinion of you, as in, this lady is a professional, she knows what she's doing, other people liked her work, etc.
    I guess in that case, if you've sold short stories, mention it and the agent only takes queries, that agent may request pages just to see the writing because they know you've sold.

    Wow. Hope all of the above makes sense. LOL

  12. Ha! I have another thought.
    Building a resume like you're doing also builds an audience and contacts. When you sell a book, you'll have some contacts to tell.
    You're so smart! And disciplined.
    I just tried to start a short story to send somewhere. Sigh. Haven't finished it, have no clue what I'm doing. Another sigh.

  13. Hi Jessica,

    You do make a lot of sense! Thanks for adding your input! I guess it boils down to this: a publishing history won't make the deal, but it certainly can benefit us in many ways.

    It's really hard to justify spending time on the short stories and side projects when you start receiving rejections on them. I've gotten rejections on as many as I've sold, if not more. Then I feel like I've wasted time, especially in a narrow market (like Christian short stories for children).

    But with a novel, we can keep on perfecting it and sending it out and hoping.

  14. Jody, I think getting articles published in magazines is a good boost. The more publishing history you have under your belt, the better.

    Mine were were odd, one professional and two almost wins, just not enough.

  15. Thanks T. Anne. I needed that encouragement! I certainly don't have a long list at this point either! But perhaps if we keep plugging away and disciplining ourselves to keep at it, we'll get there.


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