Help! I Have a New Editor! 10 Tips to Help You Cope

writers-blockSo, you have a new editor? Depending on how much (or what kind) of contact you’ve had with the editor who acquires or develops your book, the news might strike you with total elation . . . or utter dread. What’s going to happen to your “baby”? Are you going to have to totally rewrite the whole thing? Are you going to get lost in the chaos?

Try not to worry. This kind of thing does happen. Depending on the house, the person who acquires your book (helps you to develop your proposal) may not be the developmental editor (the person who shapes your manuscript). And editors do move on to other career opportunities (as my Ave authors recently discovered). So . . . what can you do to help the transition go smoothly? Here are ten suggestions to help you cope.

  1. Try to trust the process. Although the players may change, each house has a similar basic process for book development (with some minor variations), and once a book has been acquired it is the new editor’s job to carry out that original vision for the book.
  2. Remember editing is more of an art than a science. The author-editor relationship is based on mutual trust and respect, which frees both sides to do their best work. Like any other relationship, consistent and considerate communication is important. And chocolate never hurts.
  3. Try to be patient. If your new editor is a recent hire, she (or he) will need some time to get up to speed on production schedules and acquisition procedures. Your book is important . . . and so are the other twelve books she is handling this season.
  4. Let your editor know how you work best. If you write on Fridays, or are planning to be out of pocket for a month, or appreciate the editor’s help in smoothing out tricky passages (rather than simply commenting), let her know.
  5. Early in the transition, forward any crucial emails or project notes  from your previous editor. Your new editor may already have these things, but duplicates are better than gaps. You want your  new editor to understand the development history of your project.
  6. Ask for next steps. I try to give my authors a target date, after which they are welcome to drop me an email as a “gentle reminder.” (These dates work both ways, and I’ve been known to send “gentle reminders” myself as deadlines loom!)
  7. Remember to read the “blackline” before you read the “redline.”  Of course you’re curious about exactly what the editor changed … but examining each page under a microscope will prevent you from seeing the “big picture.” When you finally get your edited manuscript back for review, read the whole thing through quickly without trying to figure out where all the changes are. As you read, make a small margin note if something seems ‘off’ in terms of tone or flow. Then go back and fix or resolve those issues in a second read-through.
  8. Try to see the change as a gift. Each editor (like each author) has particular strengths and insights. Try to be open to the possibilities as you pray for your new “partner in crime.”
  9. Having trouble coming to agreement on the “macro” issues of the book? Ask for a phone conference, first with the editor alone and then (if needed) with the editor and someone on the editorial team who originally acquired the book (such as the editorial director or marketing director).
  10. Be strong and confident . . . but not stubborn. Have confidence in your message and your own unique voice . . . but pick your battles.
Advertisements

Sacred Reading: Fill up the spaces in your prayer life!

For the past nine months I’ve been privileged to be working with our good friends at the Apostleship of Prayer on a significant milestone in the history of Ave Maria Press. Today this book officially launches, and I’m as excited (and as nervous) as a new mother. So please bear with me. #IndustryNews #EssentialReading #IfYouBuyJustOneBookThisIsIt!

Sacred Reading 2016Sacred Reading: The 2016 Guide to Daily Prayer is the first installment in our new annual prayer series, a lectio-inspired daily reading of the Gospels that will help you reflect on the Scripture . . . and hear the voice of Jesus, spoken directly to your heart. We wanted to create something fresh and truly inspiring for Catholics and other Christians who wanted to “dig in” to Scriptures and actually encounter the living Christ. And we are delighted with the initial results:

“An innovative way to be invited, with gentle wisdom, into meeting Jesus in your prayer,” enthused Fr. James Martin.

The perfect companion for the lectio journey,” enthused Sonja Corbitt.

sacred reading adventIn addition to the annual reader, we will also be producing small booklets for Lent and Advent, with slightly abridged readings more appropriate for group use. These booklets, along with the daily video offerings of Fr. James Kubicki, would be a wonderful resource for parish or small group use. sacred reading lent

Learning to hear and respond to the voice of God is an important part of the Christian life, and is absolutely essential to cultivating personal prayer, which is supposed to be a two-way conversation. “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me,” says Jesus, our Good Shepherd (Jn 10:27). Feeding each day on God’s Word is an important way to know the Lord, and to sensitize our spirits so that we can discern his will for our lives. Whether you are new to daily Scripture reading or are looking for something to enliven your daily reading experience, Sacred Reading is for you.

You can order Sacred Reading: The 2016 Guide to Daily Prayer through your favorite online or local bookstore, through Ave Maria Press, or directly from the Apostleship of Prayer. Be sure to write and let us know what you think of it!

How Do I Find the Right “Home” for My Book? #Tips4Writers

writers-blockIf you want your work to be published in a traditional publishing house (Catholic or otherwise), actually writing the book represents just a fraction of the overall effort you will need to invest in order to make that dream come true.

The chances of a first-time author sending a query “cold” (just picking a publishing house out of the 2015 Writer’s Market at random) and getting a contract are roughly the same as winning the lottery. Just sayin’.

On the other hand, studying the Writer’s Market to get a feel for which publishers might be a good fit and to create a list of possible houses to research is a great first step. From there your research can take many forms:

  • Going to your local library to see what other current books have been written recently (in the past 2-3 years).
  • Going to your local bookstore to see if those books are in stock (if not, that might give you a feel for how well the book is sold — books that don’t sell are generally returned to the publisher to make room for new titles)
  • Checking the titles on Amazon.com, which can also give you leads on similar titles as well as a sense of how strong the demand is (based on ranking)
  • Researching prospective publishing house websites, to see what books currently on their front (new release) and back lists and how they compare to your book. (If you see strong candidates, read those books in order to be able to articulate how yours is similar but different and better.)
  • Attending writer’s conferences, book trade shows, and other events to meet editors, media “influencers” and other industry professionals. This kind of networking is indispensable if you want your book to get rescued from the slush pile.
  • Networking with others who write for similar markets, to get their advice and feedback. Writer’s groups, writing classes, and book clubs can all be good places to get feedback on your project. (Friends and relatives, while they tend to be encouraging, may not be the most objective source of feedback unless they are themselves established writers.)
  • Be persistent! Receiving your first rejection letter is a rite of passage for any writer. If you get even a few lines of encouragement . . . good for you! Consider other options: a different publisher, getting an agent (especially for fiction writers), self-publishing, turning your book into a series of blog posts to build your audience, starting over on a different project. There are many ways to reach your goal. Pick a road, and start walking.
“Flaming enthusiasm, backed up by horse sense and persistence, is the quality that most frequently makes for success.”
Dale Carnegie

7 Second Test (Part VII): Helpful Resources

piles-of-books-300x250Here is a list of helpful resources (in addition to the other posts on this site) for you to check out if you need some direction or advice about some aspect of proposal development or platform building.

}Books:

On Writing by Stephen King

Mind of the Maker by Dorothy Sayers

The Art of Spiritual Writing by Vinita Hampton Wright

How to Write a Sentence by Stanley Fish

 

}Writing Resources:

◦“Ask a Catholic Editor” (Ave Maria resource for authors and editors)

◦The Write Life (http://thewritelife.com)

Writer’s Digest (online and print)

 

}Marketing/Platform Building:

◦Michael Hyatt (Intentional Leadership, http://michaelhyatt.com/)

◦Jane Friedman (JaneFriedman.com – marketing and writing)

◦Terry Cordingly (blogspot.com)

 

7 Second Test (Part VI): The Market Summary

PlatformWhat the heck is an author “platform” and why is it important?

Good question. Being able to identify and articulate your ability to reach the intended audience of this book is an important part of your proposal, and is part of the market summary. (For more on market summaries, you might check out this article here.)

I found this helpful graphic about author platforms here at The Write Life.” For non-fiction authors, your platform consists of traits that are both internal (your credentials and work habits) and external (who you know and what you are doing to connect with potential readers). Where you are writing or blogging or speaking or teaching or doing whatever it is you do that would make someone want to read your book. That’s what is summarized in the market summary.

If you don’t like public speaking or blogging or other related activities, you may want to reconsider whether you should write a book because frankly the only thing that is harder than writing a bestseller is launching it. So you need to hit the ground running, since you have only about a 4-6 month window for that book to sink or sail!

What are some of the most important ways to start building a platform?

1. Create a blog or website and start generating traffic to it. Whole books have been written about this. Try Michael Hyatt’s Platform. Be sure to include speaker information and high-quality content at regular intervals.

2. Start building one or more talks around your book!  Speaker pages, YouTube demos, and Toastmaster classes are all good starts. Start speaking at local parishes and other events, and build up to a regional and then a national audience. Similarly, make the most of any radio or television or print media opportunities that come your way. Every little bit helps.

3. Network, network, network! Comment on other people’s blogs who reach a similar audience. Be ready and willing to review books, guest post, help organize events and conferences. One of the best ways to build an audience … is to help others. Be generous with your time and talents, and it will not go unrewarded.

What are some other ways you can think of?

 

 

7 Second Test (Part V): The Query

As we’ve already said, the query is the “cover” of your proposal. Generally under 500 words in length, the query may be the hardest part of the proposal to write simply because it has to accomplish so much in a little space.

The first step in writing a good query is … to do your homework. Once you know what you want to write about, and why you’re the right person to write it, you can’t just start mailing out queries, willy-nilly, and hope that someone will grab it up!

Think about that bookstore shelf. Why are certain books put in the “religion” section, while other books are put in the “cooking” section? (And what do you do if you write a Holy Land Cookbook?) Finding the right publisher, who is able to reach the market for which your book is intended, is vital. If you haven’t already seen it, check out Jeff Young’s Around the Table with Catholic Foodie: Middle Eastern Cuisine to see how it is possible to combine faith and culinary arts — he did it by identifying a Catholic publisher who had already published a cookbook successfully.

For specifics on how to write a query, check out my previous post here. For the purposes of this post, remember that the most crucial ideas to convey in that brief span of time are …

* Spine: Working title/subtitle (should hook the intended reader and draw them in)

*  Front Cover: Elevator pitch:  150-200 words that conveys the purpose and uniqueness of the book, as well as why you are the right author  (and they are the right publisher).

Back Cover: Author bio/endorsements: Conveys who you are, who you are able to reach, and why YOU are the right person to address this subject. The market study will have the details on your market platform . . . but this captures the highlights.

Just remember … Keep It Personal! (And don’t forget to spell the editor’s name correctly.)

 

7 Second Test (Part IV): The Golden Rule of Proposal Writing…

“It’s got to be personal.”

Quick! Can you name this film?   Tom Hanks You've Got MailTom Hanks plays Joe Fox, a driven executive for “Fox Books” that drives his competition out of business even as he falls in love with the proprietor (Meg Ryan).

“It’s not personal. It’s business,” he insists.

“What does that mean, ‘it isn’t personal’?” She demands. “Whatever it should be, it should always begin by being personal!”

[Spoiler alert.] In the end, the Big, Bad Fox does manage to close down that little local business. And, because this is a Hollywood romantic comedy, Tom gets Meg (of course). And yet, the movie is also a cautionary tale for all writers and publishers: If you want to succeed at writing, your book has to make a personal connection with several different audience.

*  From the author to the editor.

*  From the editor to the publishing team (marketing, finance, editorial, design, and sales).

*  From the marketing team to the distributors and bookstores and media “influencers”

*  From this group to . . . the reader.

At some point, the author is likely to interact with all of these groups. But it all begins with that first connection … the proposal.