The Author’s Elevator Pitch

'Quirky, elderly Mrs. Odboddy.....

‘Quirky, elderly Mrs. Odboddy lives in a small CA town during WWII. Though committed to ‘fighting the war from the home front’ by volunteering and freely giving her time, she imagines Nazi spies and black market conspiracies under every cabbage bush. When Mrs. Roosevelt comes to town, Mrs. Odboddy must prove she is, indeed, a hometown patriot.’

Trying to consolidate a 278 page humorous WWII novel into 57 words or less fails to explain the intricacies, humor, romance, intrigue, historical events, or plot in my cozy mystery adventure novel, Mrs. Odboddy-Hometown Patriot.

Elaine Faber, Mrs Odboddy Hometown PatriotEvery day, I sit at my computer and words fall onto the written page. I spend hours researching, taking notes, plotting out the mystery, thinking up red herrings, bringing bad guys to heel, writing and rewriting scenes, creating my characters by day and dreaming about them at night. Writing is my life’s dream and I love it.

However, when I wrote my first little ditties in high school, no one told me that ‘being an author’ would demand more than writing stories. Now, I find that I must master the skills of publicist, bookkeeper, full time blogger, cover artist, and skilled orator, keeping my eyes peeled and ears tuned for panel or speaking opportunities.

One more thing. As authors, we are expected to memorize an ‘elevator pitch’ about our books in the event at a conference or convention, we have an opportunity to impress a literary agent or publisher.

We must command his undivided attention with an opening hook, define our plot’s originality, create a desire to read our scintillating novel, convince him that our novel will become a New York Best Seller, and justify why everyone from a cowboy in Texas to a stock broker in New York will buy our book with their last dollar. All this in sixty seconds or less.

I get it. In these days of limited promotion from traditional publishing houses, or self-publishing, an author must be master at jack of all trades. It requires expertise in many skills or a staff of six to handle all the details. Though not necessarily a ‘master’ at any, I’ve become somewhat competent in most.

But never in my wildest imagination did I think I’d have to excel in a 60-second spiel about my book on the off chance I might find myself ‘riding in an elevator’ to the 38th floor of the New York Stock Exchange with a Zondervan publisher.

In my case, I imagine it might go something like this. “Uh, you’re that Zondervan guy, aren’t you? Here. Let me push this button and stop this thing. I wrote a book, see…called Mrs. Odboddy-Hometown Patriot. It’s about this quirky, old lady who sees Nazi spies…”

Elaine Faber leads an Inspire Christian Writers Critique group. She has published four cozy mysteries. Elaine’s humorous novels bring joy and laughter to her readers. Elaine believes that in this troubled world, laughter makes our days better.

The Ministry of Magazine Writing (Part 1)

An Interview with Agent Steve Laube

Steve Laube 2016During my first Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference, I experienced a divine appointment with one of the industry’s leading agents, owner of The Steve Laube Agency, acquiring agent serving through Enclave Publishing, and manager of an award winning writing blog.

Under a canopy of redwoods, I thanked God for the opportunity and asked Steve Laube what advice he had for a fledgling writer.

Steve responded with a question and forever changed the way I approached my writing journey. “Are you in this to see your name on the cover of a book or to use writing for ministry?”

Without hesitation I said, “Ministry. I want God to use my writing to share His truth and love to the ends of the earth.”

He smiled. “Then don’t neglect the ministry of magazine writing.”

The discussion that followed brought me to tears, filled me with hope, and nudged me toward a path I never dreamed possible.

Please help me welcome Steve Laube, as he shares a snippet of our discussion.

***

Xochitl: Thanks for joining us, Steve. Please explain why you believe writing for magazines is such a huge ministry opportunity?

Steve: The nature of magazines is that they show up at someone’s house automatically whereas a book must be brought in intentionally. A book feels like a commitment of time. A magazine can be read anytime, anyplace. It is there where ministry can happen. Due to space considerations the writer must be laser focused to convey the point of the article. In that “big idea” moment wonderful things can happen.

 

Xochitl: Would you please share an example of how God has used a magazine article to minister to you?

Steve: I use magazines as a way to keep in touch with the varied ideas, philosophies, and even theologies that make up our world. Occasionally, I am confronted with a skilled writer who makes me think differently on a topic. But other times I appreciate the differing opinion because it helps me refine my own understanding as a counter.

And yet most often I am inspired by incredible stories of God’s goodness in someone’s life. A story that I would not read in book form but am happy to see in a magazine.

 

Xochitl: In what ways can writers benefit from contributing their work to magazines?

Steve: It teaches you to “write tight.” No unnecessary elaboration to fill the page. It makes a writer a better communicator on many levels.

I am also looking for great writers. In one situation I had repeated seen a specific author’s byline on articles that I appreciated. I did some digging and contacted them wondering if they had ever considered writing a full book. That author’s first full length came out shortly thereafter.

 

Xochitl: What tips would you offer writers who are considering submitting their work to magazines?

Steve: Do your homework. Review The Christian Writers Market Guide and the magazine’s web site guidelines. You can save yourself a lot of time by doing so. Also, think ahead. Start thinking now about a Christmas article for 2017.

 

Xochitl: Why would you advise established writers to invest their time in writing for magazines?

Steve: It can be another source of income for those who are full-time writers. I know of one author who was contracted to write three different monthly columns by three different magazines. The work paid well and gave the author great visibility. The writer was able to write all 12 of the annual columns in less than two weeks, for each magazine. Which is a great way to plan your writing.

 

Xochitl: What final word of encouragement would you like to share regarding the ministry of magazine writing?

Steve: Try not to fall into the trap in thinking that magazines are the “minor leagues” when it comes to writing. You can slave for years to write and publish a book and sell 5,000 copies. Or you can write one magazine article and reach 10,000 or more!

 

Xochitl: Thank you for being a wise guy who is willing to share your vast knowledge and experience with growing writers, Steve.

Attention Writers: My next post will include links to a few magazines that offer wonderful ministry opportunities, welcome unsolicited submissions, and pay writers!

 


Author Photo 2016 - INSPIRE ThumbnailXochitl (soh-cheel) E. Dixon encourages women and teens to embrace God’s grace and deepen their personal relationships with God and others. Her devotions will be featured in Our Daily Bread, starting Spring 2017. She’s been published in The Upper Room, ENCOUNTER, and Devo ‘Zine magazines, in Inspire’s Victory, Promise, and Forgiveness, and at  www.xedixon.com.

Crossing the Lines — An Interview with Jeanette Hanscome

How Niche Books Can Benefit a Variety of Readers in Unexpected Ways

Jeanette Hanscome - Author Photo 2 - 2015Every nonfiction writer must identify their target audience when preparing a book proposal. Effective marketing requires authors to know their readers’ preferences and needs. Other than the Bible, no book can minister to anyone in any situation at any time of their lives.

So, why should writers even consider the readers outside of their target audience?

 

A recent conversation with Jeanette Hanscome answered that question and changed the way I think about target audiences and niche books.

During her twenty years serving as a freelance writer, Jeanette has written for women (stories in 21 Days of Grace and 21 Days of Love), teens (ENCOUNTER−The Magazine), and even children (Running with Roselle). Her latest release, Suddenly Single Mom: 52 Messages of Hope, Grace, and Promise, is written specifically for women adjusting to life as single moms.

Writing for varied audiences has given this author a unique way of considering a wide range of readers while working on a project. Please help me welcome Jeanette Hanscome.

Michele Zumwalt: Bringing Hope and Healing through Testimony

IMG_2928In Ruby Shoes, Michele Zumwalt invites readers into her struggle to overcome prescription drug addiction. Michele gives readers hope that they too can overcome the stronghold of addiction. Her story is a powerful testimony of what God can do with a surrendered life.

Maybe you have a very personal story you need to share with the world, too. Maybe your testimony can help pull others from despair and defeat. I hope this interview with Michele will nudge you to get your story written and published so it can bring hope and healing to readers.

Addiction to prescription medications is all over the media lately. How big is the problem?

Let me start by saying how much I appreciate the chance to talk with my friends at Inspire Writers.  I have so much respect for what you do and I’m truly honored to talk with you.

Prescription drug addiction has recently been called an epidemic in America by the Department of Health & Human Services. Americans are only 4% of the world’s population and yet we take 80% of all narcotic prescription medications. More people die every year from prescription drug overdoses than from car accidents. Every 19 minutes, someone dies from a prescription drug overdose and as a Law Enforcement Chaplain in Sacramento County, I know. I’ve done far too many death notifications and witnessed too many preventable deaths just in our county alone.  Since 1999, the number of narcotic prescriptions in the US has quadrupled.  That’s why I wrote the book, Ruby Shoes: Surviving Prescription Drug Addiction, to bring hope to a hopeless situation.

Why Should Authors Invest in School Visits?

An Author Interview with Marci Seither, Kathy Boyd Fellure, and Jeanette Hanscome

Authors are encouraged to know their target audience and connect with the readers who will be buying their books. These tasks become a little more complicated for the writers of children’s books. Their readers may not be able to buy their books, or attend the industry standard book launches or signings.

Marci Seither, Kathy Boyd Fellure, and Jeanette Hanscome are three authors who understand the need to reach their young audiences in creative ways.

This year, they’ll be putting their books right into the little hands of their readers by participating in an Author Day at a local elementary school.

Marci Seither, the organizer of this fun event, has written hundreds of articles for local and national publications, including Guideposts magazine. She is also the author of The Adventures of Pearly Monroe (2014), Empty Nest: Strategies to Help Your Kids Take Flight (2014) and Pumper John

.Marci Seither - Author Photo by Ocean - June 2014     Marci Seither - Book Cover - Pearley Monroe