Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Let's Talk about Editors (Part 1 of 12)

To new authors (and to some more experienced ones) the various titles of editors can be confusing.

In recent years, some publishers have cut expenses by eliminating editorial positions. For example, two decades ago, publishers employed a Rights and Permissions Editor. (My wife held such a position for several years.) That person checked all references to ascertain their accuracy. Sometimes they contacted publishers for permission.

Today, getting permission to quote from material (a subject I dealt with in previous blogs) has become the responsibility of the author. And copyeditors check for accuracy.

Who are these editors and what do they do?

1. Acquisitions editors. At one time, that was a specific job description. They contracted for the manuscripts and sent them to the editorial staff for editing.

These days, most publishers allow any editor to function as an acquisitions editor. It means the editors can reject a manuscript, but don't have the authority to make offers.

When editors want their publishing house to acquire a book, they take it to their committees. Because publishing houses work differently, here's a simple view.

The "acquisitions" editor becomes the author's champion. She presents the book proposal to the editorial committee. If they agree, the proposal goes to a joint meeting of the editors and the marketing people, often called the publications committee. If they say yes, the acquisitions editor figures out the cost to the publishing house and how much advance they can offer.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Attending Trade Shows (Part 3 of 3)

Elaine Wright Colvin makes additional practical suggestions.

* "A good pair of shoes is a must for a comfortable convention. As a representative of WIN, professional dress (Sunday type attire) is the rule for everything else."

As culture changes, so does everything else and today, dress is far more casual. Even so, my rule is simple: Look professional.

* "A strong bag for carrying all those freebies and catalogs is a lifesaver (an expandable bag on wheels, brief case, backpack, whatever works best for you)."

* "Visiting booths near espresso/concession stands, restrooms, and the VIP Autograph booths where you want to be in line helps your schedule. If that’s not possible, try to make other convenient arrangements. Your feet will thank you for planning ahead and preventing unnecessary back-tracking."

* Try to schedule "the most boring seminars/press conferences right after lunch." Pace yourself so you have enough energy to make it through a hectic week.

* Tipping. I've never seen this noted anywhere else, but Elaine tells her readers to adhere to tipping standards. She adds, "Bless the people who serve you in a way they'll understand: Increase their income."

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Attending Trade Shows (Part 2 of 3)

1. You need a badge. Elaine Wright Colvin pointed out that your book publisher can provide a badge or if you hire a publicist, they can do that as well. Otherwise, you pay to get into the trade show. The cost varies from year to year so you can check their websites. The BEA's rates depend on your category (e.g., author, publisher, library).

Some trade shows and conferences arrange for a block of hotel rooms at a special price for that event and you can save money.

2. Go with an agenda. That is, know what you want to accomplish. Those four words helped me. Until Elaine personally walked the floor with me at a trade show, I didn't know what I was doing and felt overwhelmed by the displays and books for sale.

Elaine helped me to figure out what I wanted to do. And that year, I wanted to meet editors. With her help, I contacted about a dozen in advance of the show and set up appointments. On the floor, when Elaine saw an editor, she called out to them and introduced me.

In 2006, I wanted to meet publicists and made appointments with eight of them. I learned a great deal about what they did and compared their rates and services.

Another agenda might be to set up interviews. TV and radio studios record at trade shows. But always ask in advance, because by the time of the trade show, they're filled up. I suggest two months in advance.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Attending Trade Shows (Part 1 of 3)

Trade shows aren't what they used to be, but they're still around. Most of them have shrunk, but don't avoid them for that reason. In 2014, I attended the BEA (BookExpoAmerica) in New York; (ICRS) the International Christian Retail Show; (ICVM) International Christian Visual Media; and CPE (Christian Products Expo), sponsored by Munce, a group of about 400 independent Christian bookstores. And there are others, such as the Gideon Film Festival and National Religious Broadcasters.

Some call themselves conferences, but they function much like trade shows such as the American Association of Christian Counselors, which I attended in 2014.

Many writers bypass trade shows because of the cost. I see them as significant for networking and connecting with others in the publishing business. Imprint networking on your brain.

In 2002, Elaine Wright Colvin wrote a list of 13 tips for her organization and newsletter, WIN (Writers Information Network), for attending conferences. The list was so practical that I've kept it on my hard drive. The principles remain the same, although I'm quoting only some of them (with Elaine's permission).

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Being Interviewed (Part 12 of 12)

Most of the rules obviously apply to TV interviews but there are a few distinct things to bear in mind.

1. If you have to pay travel expenses (airfare, hotel, and food), you need to decide if your exposure justifies the cost. TV interviews on channels with commercials means the interview time runs five to eight minutes, although some are as long as eleven minutes. (And that will vary.) Sometimes I've had eleven minutes, sat through a commercial, followed by eleven more minutes of interview. And I've done double-eight-minute interviews.

Is it worth it to you (or can you afford) to spend up to $1,000 for a few minutes of exposure?

2. Dress appropriately for interviews, and for women, especially, don't overdress. When you receive an invitation, most of the time, you'll receive information on what not to wear, such as a lot of white.

Besides that, I suggest you dress conservatively. How would you dress if you went for a job interview? No matter how informal my hosts, I wear a tie. (If I feel overdressed, which I did only once), I can take off the tie and open my collar.

2. Look at the host while talking. Ignore the camera unless the host says, "Please look directly into the camera and tell our folks at home . . . " That has happened to me a few times. Otherwise, keep your eyes on your host.

3. Always carry extra copies of your book and a copy of your suggested questions. One TV station on which I've appeared nine times has revolving hosts, so I don't know who will interview me. That's not a problem, but it means that the interviewer may not have the book or questions. You can graciously provide them.

4. Bring one or two extra books to give to other guests—if you think they'll appreciate them. I also give them my business card or a bookmark with my contact information. I can think of two occasions when another guest has contacted me later.

5. If you're comfortable doing so, hold a copy of the book in your lap. If the hosts don't hold up the book for the camera, you can do it when you're talking. Just hold it up as you talk, and make sure they can read the cover.

6. Smile. I'm amazed at the nervousness of some authors who are so tense it's as if their faces froze five minutes before the interview began.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Being Interviewed (Part 11 of 12)

After the Interview

I've made it a practice to write a letter (a real, paper letter) to the hosts, thanking them for having me as a guest. Three times, I've returned to TV studios and seen my letter posted. One host said that in his nine years of broadcasting, I was the only person who ever sent a thank-you note.

Don't write a generic letter. Tell the interviewer specifically what you appreciated (unless it was a very bad experience). For example, not all hosts listen to your answers and they race ahead for the next question. When someone truly listens—and I can tell by their response—I might write, "Thank you for listening to my answers. That doesn't always happen, and I appreciated your doing that."

Be sincere. Don't lie.

One more thing: Don't forget the producer of the show. That's the person who lined it up for you. Unless it's a small station, the producer does the pre-interview work and the host interviews you.

I write a letter to the producer, saying something simple like thanks for asking me. "I know you have hundreds of people you could invite, and I'm grateful you asked me."

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Being Interviewed (Part 10 of 12)

Here are a few miscellaneous tips.

1. Don't use a cell phone for your interview. Some stations won't talk to you on a cell because they are sometimes disrupted (and that will change as technology improves).

2. Be clear whether you call or the host calls you. If you're the caller, dial in a couple of minutes early.

3. Before your interview, review the major sections of your book. You might keep a sheet in front of you with specific points and phrases you want to work into the conversation.

4. Remove distractions. Turn off your computer. Don't have papers on your desk that you'll be tempted to read during commercials. Stay focused on the interview.

5. Occasionally the host will give the impression you are live in the studio, and will say something like, "Here with us today is . . . "Don't say anything to give a different impression by commenting on the time difference or referring about the weather "out there."

6. Don't say anything about the time or date. Many interviewers repeat their programs and you don't want to date yourself. I did a TV interview almost three years ago on a local station. A couple of weeks ago, my neighbor stopped me and told me how much the interview meant to him. Only after he talked about the content was I able to know which one.

"That was a rerun," I said. "I'm glad they showed it when you were able to watch it."

7. Make sure you have the host's name. Sometimes I've had an interview set up and a substitute comes on the line. When that happens, hosts will generally start the program giving their names. Unless you're sure, don't call the person by name.

8. When the host closes the interview, thank the person for having you on the program.

9. When the interview is over, hang up. Unless the host asks you to stay on the line, it's over. No matter how friendly the host, that person isn't asking you to become a friend.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Being Interviewed (Part 9 of 12)

5. Be nice, even if your host isn't. Rarely have I had a confrontational interviewer, but it happens. One time the host switched to a book I had ghostwritten for someone, read one brief paragraph, and asked. "Do you really believe that?"

"It's her book," I said. "She believes it. My role as a ghostwriter is to be convinced that the author believes." Quite intentionally, I didn't state my position because I didn't want to argue.

Another time, a radio host pulled one sentence out of context and kept asking, "Did you really mean that?" At first, I had no idea where he found the question, so I asked him to read it in the paragraph from which he had taken it.

He did and hammered away at me. Finally, just to get him to stop, I said, "If I were a more reflective author, I'd probably say it better."

That satisfied him and I didn't have to tell him what an ungracious host he was.

6. You are an authority, even if you don't feel like one. Once your book is published, that's how hosts and listeners perceive you. Respond with courtesy and be as tactful as possible.

7. Don't be afraid to say, "I don't know." A few times interviewers have asked me what I call squirrely questions. That means they pulled out a question I hadn't thought about or (usually) doesn't make sense to me. "I don't know," I say.

Even though I'm a professional and an authority on that topic, it doesn't mean I know everything. Listeners and hosts seem to respect me when I give that simple answer.

And often a question comes up about God's actions (or inaction). I don't have to explain God and I don't have to know. I say I don't know or, "God is so much wiser than I am. You'll have to ask him."

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Being Interviewed (Part 8 of 12)

Here are more suggestions on writing interview questions for hosts.

1. Prepare yourself to have hosts sidetrack you with questions not on your list. Even if they start with your questions, they may segue into other areas—often peripheral—and issues you're not interested in answering.

2. When hosts ask questions you consider off topic, here's an easy way to handle that. "You know, that's an interesting question, but first let me say . . ." You go back to your topic you've been discussing. I've done that many times and not once has the host ever returned to the offbeat question.

3. Remind yourself that the hosts are not trying to sell your book. They want to entertain and educate their listeners. They interview you because you have things to say. You sell yourself and that, in turn, sells books (we hope).

4. I want to repeat: You are selling yourself not your product. If you focus on being genuine, readers will feel they know you and want to read your books.

You're not on the program to make a sales pitch. Don't be the type of guest who frequently responds with, "In chapter 19 I answer that question." Even if you go on to reply, the words come across as a blatant ad. Instead, just give the answer. They'll assume it's from your book.