Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Meeting at the Arch

American Christian Fiction Writers is the premier organization for Christian Fiction Writers with over 3000 members, nearly 700 of which gathered under the Arch in St Louis for their annual meeting. It was an amazing event.

I was very proud that my good friend and client Bonnie Calhoun won the prestigous Mentor of the Year Award. It was so well deserved as Bonnie is the computer guru not only for me (invaluable on both my personal site and the Hartline site) but answers computer and blogger questions for countless members in the organization. Her Christian Fiction Online Magazine is an irreplaceable resource for Christian Writers. Well done, Bonnie.

We were also very proud that Hartline Founder Joyce Hart was one of three finalists for the Agent of the Year Award. Joyce has been a leading agent in the Christian writing community for longer than the ten years ACFW has been in existence and had a lot of people pulling for her.

I was proud to have nine of my clients there in addition to the clients that were there represented by the other Hartline agents. They spread out working the conference like pros, attending classes, gathering publishing information that they will all feed back to be used by all of us, and networking like crazy. They are from left to right, Emily Hendrickson (my editorial asst who writes as Emily Reynolds), Linda Glaz (Hartline agent as well as a client), Teresa Hooley Slack, Cheryl Linn Martin (who had not one but two 3 book offers to choose from while at the conference), me looking like a thorn in a rose garden, Linda Schab peeking over Pam's shoulder, Pam Meyers, and Bonnie Calhoun holding her Mentor of the Year award. Not pictured but with us at the conference was Kevin Parsons, Suzanne Hartmann and Regina Smeltzer.

It was a fast paced conference with great faculty and content. Each day featured uplifting worship opportunities and a constant stream of opportunities to pitch projects. Now I have to turn my attention to making all of the submissions my clients were able to get requested in these sessions.

See you next year in Dallas

Thursday, September 15, 2011

We need a knight on a white horse!

We do.

I have often said that I am a life-long independent. I do not owe allegiance to any political party and never have. But anybody would have to have their head stuck in the sand to not realize that the current administration’s policies have sent our debt out of control and have caused the size of government to grow exponentially. Even members of their own party are recognizing that. And the solution to the problem is throwing MORE money at it and raising taxes? I don’t think so. The definition of insanity is continuing to do something that doesn’t work and expecting different results.

Sure, our President was dealt a tough hand, but you can only blame Bush for so long. That old song started getting ridiculous some time ago. They’ve had three years to start turning things around and things have done nothing but get worse. It’s a basic policy thing. They think the solution to every problem is more spending and more government and most of the country believes that it is small business that is the primary job creator.

So why do I say we need a knight on a white horse? Because to be what the country needs and do what the country needs done they may in the process condemn themselves to being a one term President themselves. To rein in our out of control spending and the unnecessary layers and size of government will probably make unemployment worse instead of better by putting some government employees in those lines until the private sector jobs start taking those numbers down.

That would take political courage and would take someone who genuinely puts the needs of the country ahead of political aspirations. I’m not sure anybody in Washington is willing to do that these days.

It wasn’t intended to be that way. It amazes me that over 200 years ago a group of men sat down and designed a nation that is the greatest nation on earth. But, with the possible exception of Thomas Jefferson, it never occurred to them that there would be such a thing as a professional politician. They were supposed to come to Washington, do the job, then go home and live under what they had done. And they sure didn’t have in mind exempting themselves from everything they passed. Something tells me if our congress had to be under social security or on our medical, they would get the programs fixed immediately. And to earn a full retirement for life just serving a few years in Congress? They would be appalled.

We must be a nation of sheep to let them keep feeding us this. I applaud the Tea Party for starting to shine a light on some of this mess and holding a hard line on it. Demonizing them for doing it is ridiculous as well. Some of our nations strongest politicians whining about how a bunch of housewives and small business owners are kicking them around? Give me a break!

Sir Lancelot, where are you?

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

What makes a best seller?

I’ve heard this discussed a lot and it is hard to say... a major effort? Luck?

It’s just my opinion on the subject, but I think there are several major paths to a book becoming a best-seller:

First: The most common path is the book is by a previous best-selling author. There is a huge readership base built up and the author really has to drop the ball for the book to FAIL to achieve best-seller status. In addition, based on the track record of the previous books the publishing house throws major advertising, promotion, and the full distribution and placement support behind the title. Occasionally a book fails to live up to this promise and in spite of the publisher support does not get the job done.

Second: An author, maybe regardless of the strength of the writing, has so much name recognition and such a huge platform that the book has major potential. Presidents, politicians, major sports figures, and other celebrities would fill the bill on this. Once again, based on this potential, the publishing house throws major advertising, promotion, and the full distribution and placement support behind the title. Once again this does not always work and sometimes in spite of the huge name identification the public does not respond in the necessary numbers.

Third: A publisher can decide when they acquire a book that it is going to be a best-seller. The editor that acquires it goes into committee and convinces the PR people, the marketing people, and the company leadership that the book has the potential to do it. Even though it is a debut author that does not have a large platform, the publishing house decides the book justifies it and puts major advertising, promotion, and the full distribution and placement support behind the title. Yet again in spite of the faith and confidence of the publisher this does not always work.

Fourth: Even if the publisher has not pegged the title as a potential bestseller and the author does not have name identification, the author themselves may generate so much word-of-mouth publicity, or buzz, and may on their own pursue so many avenues of publicity and promotion that the book begins to produce much better than anybody thought. Even if a publisher has not planned major support for a title, they will respond when a book starts to attract notice and will begin to match or exceed author efforts. There generally isn’t a large number of authors that achieve this but it can work, and again ends up with the publisher putting advertising, promotion, distribution and placement behind the title. On occasion a book starts producing so strongly in a small house that a major house comes into the situation, taking the efforts to a whole new level. That’s what happened with ‘The Shack.’

So, is it luck? Yes, I’d have to say some luck might be involved.

For Christian authors is it something ordained by God and beyond our control? No. Ordained by God, yes, but the Lord works through people and it is possible that we fail to do what He wants us to do in order to achieve His purposes. How often we fall short of what the Lord wants us to do. If God wants it to happen, it will, as long as we do what He needs us to do in the process.

Do publishers decide what books will be bestsellers or not? That one is both yes and no. If I am correct in my assumptions above, it is very difficult to reach best-seller status without a publisher that believes in the book and throws their support behind it. But we also see whether they decided it was a possibility up front or came to give that support later that it did not always guarantee success.

But how about these books that go straight to ebook and go viral – achieve best-selling status with no publisher involved at all? I’d have to say these comments are about traditional print books reaching that elusive status. I’d have to address doing it in ebooks in a separate blog – as soon as I come to understand what really causes one of the titles to stand out that strongly there.

Saturday, September 3, 2011


His name is Micah, the first great grandson, or great grandkid period.

He's visiting us for the first time. Oh, we were there when he was born, proud as any great grandparents could be, but now he has come for a visit. What fun!

His momma, Shanda, and her sister Kasey used to come visit when they were younger, maybe spend a week or so with us without their parents. We really had a terrific time when they did. Micah is not old enough to visit by himself but we are so happy Kenneth and Shanda came too. Makes for a great holiday weekend.

 Micah, GiGi (for great-grandmother) and Po.

It makes quite an excursion, the amount of luggage required is daunting to say the least. We weren't the ones to pick them up at the airport but somehow I have a mental picture of an airplane landing pulling a u-haul trailer.

Micah and GiGi

Well, I don't really have time to write on a blog right now, he will be up soon from his nap and we will go back to . . . bonding.