Category : CBA

  • March 11, 2013

    What is "voice" in writing?

    by

    We’re continuing our “ask an agent anything” series, where I’m trying to offer some short answers to your general publishing questions. If you’ve got a question you’ve always wanted to ask an agent, send it to me or leave it in the “comments” section. One reader wrote to ask, What is “voice” in writing? “

    Voice is the personality of the author, expressed through words on the page. When you write, your word choices, your phrasing and structure, your thinking and themes — they all help establish your personality as a writer. So the way I write is different from the way someone else writes — my personality comes through, and shows how I’m different and unique as a writer. (An example: Stephen King and William Faulkner both like long sentences, psychological implications, semicolons, and the use of the word “and” in their works… but nobody ever picked up a Stephen King novel and mistook it for a William Faulkner novel. Though they share some characteristics, each writer has his own personality, and that comes through on the page.) Of course, not every writing voice is good — just as not every singing voice is good. A great writer has a voice that is appealing and interesting.

    Similarly, another person asked, “How does a writer know when he has established a strong voice in his work?” 

    It takes time and effort. I’ve always thought a writer recognizes his or her own voice over time, so the more you write, the better you hear yourself in your words. My experience is that, as I write more and more, my personality becomes clear on the page. When we talk, your words don’t sound like mine. Your stories don’t sound like mine. Your personality is unique, and getting that to be clearly expressed on the page will help you define your voice. (So, for example, when I tell my story of being

    Continue Reading "What is "voice" in writing?"
  • July 20, 2010

    NEWSDAY TUESDAY …

    by

    Winter 2010 headshot Recently a friend said to me "it must be so cool to get paid to read
    manuscripts for a living." I knew then that he really had no idea what
    my job entailed. Reading manuscripts and reviewing proposals is an
    important part of what I do, of course. But, honestly, it's just the
    beginning of what can be a long process.

    For me, sometimes reading manuscripts is soothing. It reminds me that
    there is always the possibility of finding something fresh, or a
    potential perfect fit for an editor, or simply a gem I want to
    seriously consider. Other times it's stressful because I wonder how
    I'll ever find time to help with another project. But, it ebbs and
    flows, and all works out in the process. Publishing is a lot of things,
    but one thing it most certainly is is a process.

    Sometimes I think writers forget this.

    For example, right now I'm working on submitting a project I've been helping an
    author shape since January 2009. Yep, you read that right. 18 months of
    work. Admittedly the author is a busy mom and works full-time, so it's
    been a bit of an off and on process for her. But, I believe in her work
    and her message, and I know when the time is right, we'll be ready. For
    some authors I represent, patience (on both our parts) is the primary
    speed. For others, sometimes, we have to hasten things a bit.

    I'd love to hear from some of you who are willing to share how long it
    took you to get published. I mean from first submission to book on the
    shelf. Just to give some perspective. Anyone willing?

    While we wait for your responses, here's a smattering of NEWS for you:

    A COUPLE NEWISH BLOGS by a couple editor friends of ours we thought you'd like to check out:

    Nick Harrison – Harvest House Publishers Nick

    Continue Reading "NEWSDAY TUESDAY …"
  • July 20, 2010

    NEWSDAY TUESDAY …

    by

    Winter 2010 headshot Recently a friend said to me "it must be so cool to get paid to read
    manuscripts for a living." I knew then that he really had no idea what
    my job entailed. Reading manuscripts and reviewing proposals is an
    important part of what I do, of course. But, honestly, it's just the
    beginning of what can be a long process.

    For me, sometimes reading manuscripts is soothing. It reminds me that
    there is always the possibility of finding something fresh, or a
    potential perfect fit for an editor, or simply a gem I want to
    seriously consider. Other times it's stressful because I wonder how
    I'll ever find time to help with another project. But, it ebbs and
    flows, and all works out in the process. Publishing is a lot of things,
    but one thing it most certainly is is a process.

    Sometimes I think writers forget this.

    For example, right now I'm working on submitting a project I've been helping an
    author shape since January 2009. Yep, you read that right. 18 months of
    work. Admittedly the author is a busy mom and works full-time, so it's
    been a bit of an off and on process for her. But, I believe in her work
    and her message, and I know when the time is right, we'll be ready. For
    some authors I represent, patience (on both our parts) is the primary
    speed. For others, sometimes, we have to hasten things a bit.

    I'd love to hear from some of you who are willing to share how long it
    took you to get published. I mean from first submission to book on the
    shelf. Just to give some perspective. Anyone willing?

    While we wait for your responses, here's a smattering of NEWS for you:

    A COUPLE NEWISH BLOGS by a couple editor friends of ours we thought you'd like to check out:

    Nick Harrison – Harvest House Publishers Nick

    Continue Reading "NEWSDAY TUESDAY …"
  • July 2, 2010

    Leftover Questions about ICRS

    by

    I'm finding a bunch of leftover questions regarding ICRS 2010…

    A couple people wrote to ask if there were author signings… A ton of them! The convention keeps some "personality booths" busy, so conventioneers could get autographed books from the likes of Chuck Swindoll, Ted Dekker, Christy finalists like Kaye Dacus, and a bunch of other authors. The folks from the Thriller tour were all signing, and publishers had numerous authors in their booths to sign and give away books. Author signings is one of the reasons many folks show up for the convention. Author Tosca Lee hosted a "Heart of the Author" breakfast one morning featuring a dozen authors you could meet face to face, and there were various gatherings with significant authors going on every day of the show. 

    One person asked if there's one "can't miss" event for booksellers at the convention… If it wasn't the big Hachette party mentioned yesterday, it might have been Barbour's "Fiction Cafe." Barbour sells as much fiction as just about anybody in CBA, and they brought in Wanda Brunstetter, Kaye Dacus, and numerous others so that bookstore personnel could meet the authors face-to-face. They do this every year, and I always hear good things about it (though I'll admit I've never actually attended). Like everyone else, retailers like meeting celebrities one-on-one, so this is always a good way for Barbour to highlight their authors and books. 

    Someone wrote to ask what sort of awards are given out at the ICRS convention. There are all sorts of retailer awards given, some art awards, and various other ways to recognize retailers. I suppose the biggest are The Christy Awards, given to the top novels each year. This has become a big deal, getting major press in publishing, and it's nice to see. As I noted already, Lisa Samson was this year's keynote speaker, and she had good things to say about Christian fiction

    Continue Reading "Leftover Questions about ICRS"
  • July 2, 2010

    Leftover Questions about ICRS

    by

    I'm finding a bunch of leftover questions regarding ICRS 2010…

    A couple people wrote to ask if there were author signings… A ton of them! The convention keeps some "personality booths" busy, so conventioneers could get autographed books from the likes of Chuck Swindoll, Ted Dekker, Christy finalists like Kaye Dacus, and a bunch of other authors. The folks from the Thriller tour were all signing, and publishers had numerous authors in their booths to sign and give away books. Author signings is one of the reasons many folks show up for the convention. Author Tosca Lee hosted a "Heart of the Author" breakfast one morning featuring a dozen authors you could meet face to face, and there were various gatherings with significant authors going on every day of the show. 

    One person asked if there's one "can't miss" event for booksellers at the convention… If it wasn't the big Hachette party mentioned yesterday, it might have been Barbour's "Fiction Cafe." Barbour sells as much fiction as just about anybody in CBA, and they brought in Wanda Brunstetter, Kaye Dacus, and numerous others so that bookstore personnel could meet the authors face-to-face. They do this every year, and I always hear good things about it (though I'll admit I've never actually attended). Like everyone else, retailers like meeting celebrities one-on-one, so this is always a good way for Barbour to highlight their authors and books. 

    Someone wrote to ask what sort of awards are given out at the ICRS convention. There are all sorts of retailer awards given, some art awards, and various other ways to recognize retailers. I suppose the biggest are The Christy Awards, given to the top novels each year. This has become a big deal, getting major press in publishing, and it's nice to see. As I noted already, Lisa Samson was this year's keynote speaker, and she had good things to say about Christian fiction

    Continue Reading "Leftover Questions about ICRS"
  • July 1, 2010

    The Last Word on ICRS 2010

    by

    Just back from ICRS 2010 in St Louis. As cities go, St Louis was really nice, so long as you don't want to do anything but look at an arch. And it was 100 degrees (though I'll admit that was, technically, outside — a place I rarely ventured). Still, the show was cozy inside the downtown "America's Convention Center," and the hotels were all within walking distance. I've never been one to grasp the charms of St Louis. I mean, the tourist guides can point out the arch, which really is nice, and there's a fine museum underneath it, but not much else. (Actual tourist guide I overheard: "And from THIS angle you get another nice view of the Arch!") The baseball stadium is downtown, which is cool. And there's a Budweiser tour. Um… some good rib joints. That about covers the high points of the city. Not exactly what you might refer to as Vacation Wonderland.

    However, since the Christian book show has shrunk markedly in recent years, putting it inside a smaller venue is nice. So St Louis is probably a good size city to host something like this, assuming it survives (more on that later). It doesn't feel like you've got to walk miles to get to everything. (Some of us remember attending past conventions that were so spread out it felt like you were trodding from nearby towns.) And while the convention space is certainly smaller, sticking it here made it feel more crowded, so the mood was generally upbeat. The only downside is that the entire area around the convention center is under construction (the city had to do something, since downtown was becoming ugly and dangerous). That meant it lacked a lot of great restaurants close by, like we had in Denver, and wherever you walked you were stepping over pipes or walking under scaffolding or wondering if the St Louis Crips were holed

    Continue Reading "The Last Word on ICRS 2010"
  • July 1, 2010

    The Last Word on ICRS 2010

    by

    Just back from ICRS 2010 in St Louis. As cities go, St Louis was really nice, so long as you don't want to do anything but look at an arch. And it was 100 degrees (though I'll admit that was, technically, outside — a place I rarely ventured). Still, the show was cozy inside the downtown "America's Convention Center," and the hotels were all within walking distance. I've never been one to grasp the charms of St Louis. I mean, the tourist guides can point out the arch, which really is nice, and there's a fine museum underneath it, but not much else. (Actual tourist guide I overheard: "And from THIS angle you get another nice view of the Arch!") The baseball stadium is downtown, which is cool. And there's a Budweiser tour. Um… some good rib joints. That about covers the high points of the city. Not exactly what you might refer to as Vacation Wonderland.

    However, since the Christian book show has shrunk markedly in recent years, putting it inside a smaller venue is nice. So St Louis is probably a good size city to host something like this, assuming it survives (more on that later). It doesn't feel like you've got to walk miles to get to everything. (Some of us remember attending past conventions that were so spread out it felt like you were trodding from nearby towns.) And while the convention space is certainly smaller, sticking it here made it feel more crowded, so the mood was generally upbeat. The only downside is that the entire area around the convention center is under construction (the city had to do something, since downtown was becoming ugly and dangerous). That meant it lacked a lot of great restaurants close by, like we had in Denver, and wherever you walked you were stepping over pipes or walking under scaffolding or wondering if the St Louis Crips were holed

    Continue Reading "The Last Word on ICRS 2010"
  • June 24, 2010

    15 Trends Shaping CBA Today

    by

    I'm about ready to get on a plane and fly to the International Christian Retail Show (the big religious book show) in St Louis. Since I've had several folks ask me what sort of trends we're seeing in CBA, I thought I'd bang out a handful of things that I see going on…

    1. More readers (Remember when we were worried about "why Johnny can't read"? No more. We read all the time. You might read books on your iPhone. You're probably wondering who's on Facebook right now. Wait — is that your Blackberry going off?)

    2. More varieties of fiction (Bonnets! Pirates! Prairie dogs! Cowboys! Patriots! Immigrants! Soldiers! Shopkeepers! And some, such as Amish books, have created their own sub-genres.)

    3. More historical fiction (People enduring hard economic times long for the good ol' days when life was simpler.)

    4. More graphic scenes (There's a good and a bad side to this. I'm all for realism… but what IS it with people — must every fiction proposal I see these days have a rape scene? Be different. Let your character survive something else, like a nuclear disaster, or a car wreck, or waxy build-up.)

    5. More creative packaging and inclusions (We're quickly moving toward the place where each editorial team will have a specialist whose job will be to create images, games, widgets, and other stuff to enhance the text.) 

    6. More reformed and ecumenical books (CBA has become less the protected domain of evangelicals as we've seen the inclusion of a broader group of believers, including Anglicans, Roman Catholics, and Orthodox Christians. That means I'm now, finally, a Christian. It's about time.)

    7. More book choices (Obviously we're seeing the rise of the digital book, but the real fight to be won is over the significance of the content in them, and how all those titles present choices to consumers. A great book requires time and effort and

    Continue Reading "15 Trends Shaping CBA Today"
  • June 24, 2010

    15 Trends Shaping CBA Today

    by

    I'm about ready to get on a plane and fly to the International Christian Retail Show (the big religious book show) in St Louis. Since I've had several folks ask me what sort of trends we're seeing in CBA, I thought I'd bang out a handful of things that I see going on…

    1. More readers (Remember when we were worried about "why Johnny can't read"? No more. We read all the time. You might read books on your iPhone. You're probably wondering who's on Facebook right now. Wait — is that your Blackberry going off?)

    2. More varieties of fiction (Bonnets! Pirates! Prairie dogs! Cowboys! Patriots! Immigrants! Soldiers! Shopkeepers! And some, such as Amish books, have created their own sub-genres.)

    3. More historical fiction (People enduring hard economic times long for the good ol' days when life was simpler.)

    4. More graphic scenes (There's a good and a bad side to this. I'm all for realism… but what IS it with people — must every fiction proposal I see these days have a rape scene? Be different. Let your character survive something else, like a nuclear disaster, or a car wreck, or waxy build-up.)

    5. More creative packaging and inclusions (We're quickly moving toward the place where each editorial team will have a specialist whose job will be to create images, games, widgets, and other stuff to enhance the text.) 

    6. More reformed and ecumenical books (CBA has become less the protected domain of evangelicals as we've seen the inclusion of a broader group of believers, including Anglicans, Roman Catholics, and Orthodox Christians. That means I'm now, finally, a Christian. It's about time.)

    7. More book choices (Obviously we're seeing the rise of the digital book, but the real fight to be won is over the significance of the content in them, and how all those titles present choices to consumers. A great book requires time and effort and

    Continue Reading "15 Trends Shaping CBA Today"
  • June 16, 2010

    More on the industry

    by

    Mark sent me this: “It
    seems that slowly the CBA is selling out. Is this true? Is it the ABA getting
    greedy? What does this signal for the future?”

    It signals that the general market has recognized the value of Christian books,
    Christian writers, and Christian readers. And, yes, it probably means that more
    CBA houses will be sold (or come under the influence of) large ABA houses. As to the question "are they greedy?"
    — good grief, they're running a for-profit enterprise. If "greedy"
    means "are they focused on making a profit," of course they're
    greedy. But I'd argue that CBA houses, for all the carefully-couched terms
    about having "ministry" and "doing the Lord's work," are
    also focused on profit. So maybe we should view this as a greater partnership,
    rather than a sell-out. Sure, there are some questions to face down the road –
    who will do commentaries and reference tools that aren't necessarily commercial
    but still have value to believers? What happens when a company faces a decision to publish a book at odds with believers? How will
    Christians respond when a company publishes some heretical tome? But, for those
    not in the know, those very questions are faced by some of us every day. Time Warner
    Book Group was a marvelous company that did many wonderful books when I was there (as well as before I came and after I left). We probably
    also published some books Christians would find offensive. But you know what? I
    was not responsible for every decision in the company. I was responsible to do
    good books with solid Christian content that will sell in the marketplace. I
    was comfortable with that role, and I believed in the company. So no, I don't find the blending of Christian and general markets a "sell out."

    Suzy asked, “How do you handle it when
    you have a change of editors (and editor styles)

    Continue Reading "More on the industry"
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