Tuesday, July 20, 2010

THIS MONTH'S GIVEAWAYS are either Clues to your Calling, Decadence, or a year's free subsciption to Footprints magazine, as well as Puggles picture book. TO BE IN THE DRAW, POST A COMMENT. For submissions for author interviews to aussiewriters do the same and we'll look at your work.

Janet Camilleri, editor of Footprints Magazine, is our interviewee this week. Janet’s quote here is something, as an editor myself, I find very true:-

“Being an editor is a great spiritual discipline as it causes you to put others before yourself,” Mark Galli, Christianity Today.

What is behind your deep passion evident in Clues for your Calling and Footprints magazine?

A lot of my passions are borne out of my past pains … my childhood was marred by parental divorce, mental health issues, and alcoholism, and I experienced verbal, physical and emotional abuse. Not surprisingly, I developed depression as an adult! It’s been a long journey but I do believe God has healed me and made me whole, so now I am motivated to help others deal with these issues so that they too can be set free from the baggage of their past.

What do you find is your biggest struggle as an editor and how do you overcome it?

I find it really hard to give feedback on other people’s work, while being diplomatic and sensitive to their feelings. With my own work, I can be ruthless and know that I won’t get offended or discouraged!

I really want to encourage other aspiring writers, but find it difficult to take the time to help guide a writer through the process of editing, or even re-writing their piece. I hate the thought that I might hurt anybody’s feelings, but at the same time, I really want the quality of the content in Footprints to be of as high a standard as possible!

One solution I came up with was to post our Writer’s Guidelines on our website, which clearly spell out exactly what I am looking for. Hopefully any potential contributors would study these thoroughly before submitting – it’s a simple thing, and I know every “writing for magazines” book or article says this – but it really is true, I can tell a lot of people don’t read it by their submissions!

This is one of the reasons I like to lead the occasional writer’s workshop – such as at the Word Writer’s Fair (http://www.thewordwriters.com/ )later this year – so that I can teach others about writing for magazines. Hopefully, the workshop participants will then go on to become contributors to Footprints!

How do you blend editing with time to write?

People often ask me how I manage to do everything that I do and I can honestly answer, I don’t know – it must be God! In addition to my Footprints commitments, I have a husband and two teens, I work four days a week, there are household chores, church, friends and family … but I absolutely love what I do and so it doesn’t feel like work. Perhaps that is the secret!

Sometimes I have to make tough decisions--there are heaps of good things, things that I *want* to do, but I can’t do all of them. It is then I have to seek God and find out what He wants me to pursue, and what needs to be pruned from my life. A couple of years ago I felt Him clearly impress me with the fact that He has given me a magazine to run, and I need to focus on that. I *love* to speak at women’s groups and events, but since then I have put this on the back-burner – I just don’t have the time. It’s not just the turning up at events and speaking, it’s the hours of preparation and prayer that go into each engagement … Fortunately God has raised up Melanie and Nicola (other ladies on the Footprints Team) and they are doing an awesome job, sharing at ladies breakfasts, conferences and the like. However I look forward to the day that I can take up this aspect of the ministry again!

These days I find that I do very little actual writing for the magazine, as I am so busy with my editing duties. But I write a devotional piece for our free monthly Footprints FOCUS ezine, and also keep a Footprints blog, which is where I enjoy the creative outlet of writing.

I don’t write for other magazines these days--I just don’t have the time!

Tell us about the editing conference you attended recently.

Last year I was extremely blessed to attend a Christian Editor’s conference in Manila, the Philippines, which was hosted by Magazine Training International. MTI is an American organisation which exists to encourage Christian magazine publishing throughout the world. Their mandate is to support others in publishing Christian magazines, as they believe that it’s important to have “culturally appropriate publications – where God puts the vision into people’s hearts to publish and reach their own” (Sharon Mumper, from MTI).

Our trainers were top notch and included Mark Galli, Senior Managing Editor at Christianity Today from the USA; Estera Wieja, Managing Editor of Nasze Inspiracje (Our Inspirations) a Polish women’s magazine; and Terry White, who has founded three Christian magazines and taught journalism at colleges across the USA.

Here are just some of my favourite “pearls of wisdom” from the conference presenters:

“Being an editor is a great spiritual discipline as it causes you to put others before yourself,” Mark Galli, Christianity Today.

“Don’t just write about things that are wrong – how can we make it right?” Estera Wieja, Nasze Inspiracje.

“Writing is good stewardship. One article may reach hundreds of people,” Terry White, BMH Books.

I learnt many things, but probably the biggest thing was how important it is to look after our readers and writers. As Rick Warren says in the first sentence of The Purpose Driven Life, “it’s not about me,” (and yes I have made that mistake in the past!). It’s about honouring God, encouraging our readers, nurturing younger Christians, comforting the hurting and lonely, reaching out to others with the good news of the gospel, and giving writers an opportunity to grow and improve and publish their work, and so much more …

Are there any programs or events you would recommend to budding authors?

When I first realised that anybody could write and submit material to magazines (and even get paid for it!), I went to the library and devoured as many books on the subject as I could – so that would be the first thing I would recommend to other budding writers. Look under Dewey Decimal Number 808! Other resources I recommend are:

§ the US publication Writer’s Digest;

§ “The Australian Writer's Marketplace: every contact you will ever need to succeed in the writing business” (compiled and edited by Queensland Writers' Centre);

§ joining an online group such as http://www.momwriters.com/;

§ submitting your work and honing your craft at http://www.faithwriters.com/;

§ joining a writer’s group such as http://www.omegawriters.com/;

§ Attending writer’s events and festivals such as http://www.thewordwriters.com/.

What would you say is the most important message to help a new writer gain

Start small. Don’t send a 2000 word feature and expect to be published in a national magazine! The best way to start building a portfolio of published work, is by submitting to non-paying and/or smaller publications. The best way to break into a paying market is to try your hand at fillers (short pieces)--just make sure the publication accepts unsolicited manuscripts or it will be a waste of time. As the editor gets to know you and trust your work, they will be more interested in seeing other (longer) articles from you--and may even begin commissioning you for particular stories!

Tell us an inspiring story you published in Footprints. What is the link to the full story?

How do I choose just one?! There are so many, I actually wrote a blog post about this not long ago! I know that Footprints has been instrumental in seeing at least one person come into the kingdom of God, and probably many more that I won’t know about until we get to heaven.

One lady wrote to tell us about how Footprints helped her break the bonds and bitterness of unforgiveness in her life, and that she now has peace. Another girl didn’t go ahead with a suicide attempt after reading one of our articles.

I’m also often told that reading Footprints is like a big warm hug, which is exactly what we pray for!

Tell us something about your latest issue …

We are currently celebrating our 50th issue of Footprints magazine, a very exciting occasion! Many of the articles are around the theme of “50”, including “Life Begins at 50”, and “The Year of Jubilee”. We have also marked this important occasion with a blog tour (for the full itinerary, please click here); a cover girl competition; and we are having an informal get-together in a Brisbane park on 24th July. (If anybody is interested in joining us, please email editor @ footprintsaustralia for details). And as a special offer to your readers, they can also email us to request a free trial issue!


  1. WOO HOO! I adore Janet and Footprints Magazine :) I am blessed to write for them too :)

  2. Thanks for the wise and interesting tips, Janet. I love Footprints!

  3. Okay, I'm the odd man out... I've heard of "Footprints", but have never seen it. After this inspiring interview that is going to change. Thanks Janet, for the inspiration your interview brought... I don't feel so bad now about what I can't get done.

    Wendy, another fine interview :-)

  4. It's lovely to meet all the Footprints friends:-)

  5. I love that quote, “Being an editor is a great spiritual discipline as it causes you to put others before yourself.” I never cease to be amazed at the selfless generosity of editors, even to the point where their own creative “heavy line edit” is the line that gets quoted as the author’s own little gem. Their credit is always hidden. Keep up the good work, Janet.