Saturday, February 28, 2015

Personality and taste

How does personality and taste enter in to getting published?

Actually it is very important. A number of years ago I was at a conference at Texas A & M and sat in a workshop on communication. That was in the 70’s and he gave an illustration that has stuck with me to this day.

He said to imagine that we had a box with index cards in it. (OK, today this would probably be a computer file.) On these index cards were written the sum total of our life experiences and background. A card would have our family background and upraising, another our education, our faith and beliefs, and on and on with all of the aspects of our life.

Now imagine that everyone has such a box. Before we write something, or communicate with anyone in any manner we thumb through the box and frame our communication according to the cards, we frame it in terms of our knowledge and life experiences.

The problem is that the person or persons that we are trying to communicate with have totally different boxes that they will thumb through and will use to decipher our writing or message. We will be successful in our writing and in our communication to the degree that we are able to find common ground with the maximum number of people.

That puts a whole new face on it, doesn’t it? But let me be more specific about submissions for publication. I’m likely to want to work with a project if the author and I find this common ground. They seem like a person I would want to work with. Then there is the project itself, is it something I really relate to? Do I like it, enjoy reading it, or more importantly do I really want to try and get it into print? That’s where personality and taste enter in, I relate to the author and to the project.

But it doesn’t end there. If I take it on I am then faced with finding the right acquisition editors. Again, are they people that I relate to well, is there a personality fit? More important do we have similar tastes? Just because I really like something doesn’t mean it fits a particular editors taste and they like it as well. Cultivating these editors with similar tastes is an ongoing process.

The most important thing is stellar writing, but the path to publication is through people. And there personality and taste matter.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

What does Brian Williams have to do with writing?

The news and social media are full of it, Brian Williams stretching the truth in newscasts, apparently in several instances.

What's the big deal? An announcer on a Christian radio station said we of all people should be offering forgiveness instead of 'piling on.'

I'm good with that, offering Christian forgiveness and not castigating the man. But does that mean I trust him to be factual with the news? That's a different issue and seems to be the one people are primarily concerned about.

But what does this mean for writers? What can we draw from it?

How about this? People like us as a writer and as a person. They like the story we offer and find it an enjoyable read. But some of the things we present as fact don't check out because we didn't do our research. Does that put us in the same boat?

One of my colleagues told me of a client that offered a story to an English publisher. He turned it down because it had a turtle in it and there are no turtles in England. If he couldn't trust that fact he didn't know what other facts he might not be able to trust.

You may have seen that in a blog here. We've had considerable discussion on the importance of proper research and getting our facts right but to me this issue filling the news today is a very strong example.

People stretch the truth all the time, the size of a fish they caught, the one that got away. But people that are supposed to be giving us facts that we can trust, when that trust is broken it can take quite a while to earn that trust again. Does it apply to us as writers?

I think it does.

Saturday, February 7, 2015


Yes, I was reminded this morning as I watched my client group welcoming a new member how lucky I am to be associated with such a fine group of people.

My client group is a private group that only they can access. I set it up originally simply to give me the ability to quickly say something to all clients at once. Being in the group is mandatory if you are a client.

I soon discovered it was something else entirely. Even though it is mandatory to be in the group they can choose whether to be in the side that has the ability to talk to one another, or they can choose to not have full access and only receive these priority messages that I originally set the group up for.

Then I discovered the group has a heart for encouraging one another. To further this I share good news with the group and they enjoy sharing in each other's successes. Even if they are not currently getting such good news themselves they like to know and like to rejoice with other clients.

They share bad news as well, asking the group for prayers when needed and the group has become an amazing collection of prayer warriors. I don't ask if a potential client is a Christian in the submission process or what their religious leanings might be but I think a non-believer might not be very comfortable in my client group.

I tell my clients that it isn't MY job to place their project, it is OUR job. I ask them all to be information sources, passing on things they hear in various groups they are in, from what they read and sources they have. They share whether it is information that will be useful on their submissions or not, it may be useful to someone in the group. They pass on places they would really like to be submitted to and I can tell them whether that is a good suggestion or if I have information they don't have that means it isn't a good opportunity for them.

I encourage them to go to workshops or conferences when they can and to bring back input from those as well, especially if it is something I'm not going to attend. I encourage them to read in their genre and to be sensitive to who is publishing things they like and particularly if the book gives thanks to some editor in the front of the book.

Finally, the group just plain has fun! At times the traffic can get a little heavy and some of them choose to do it in digest form, but they have come to be a family. They really care for one another. We've had some leave, primarily when they decided to pursue self-publishing and the group wishes them the best, but are a little saddened by losing one of the family. On occasion I have to release one when I realize I have used all the contacts I have on their behalf. That's always difficult, but I want to be part of the solution, not part of the problem and if I can no longer help them I don't want to have them tied up where they can't get with someone that has a different set of contacts and skills and maybe can do them so good.

Did I mention that I am blessed just to be associated with this group of people?