Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Golden Opportunity: Talk to Top Editors and Publishers

Publisher's Blog

Like a few other publishing pioneers, InterVarsity Press is blogging. Yet I notice that many of their posts sit with zero comments. Frankly, this astonishes me.

I could say I'm surprised because they have great posts, which should incite great comments. But this isn't really the issue. To my mind, the issue is that a whole lot of writers are missing a golden opportunity. Where else, besides a blog, could writers get the chance to connect on a regular basis with the people who make book and article decisions?

Okay, I'll answer that question:

1. a writer can spend up to several thousand dollars to go to a conference, to maybe get 15 minutes with an editor. A pricey option indeed, and it doesn't help the writer connect on a regular basis (unless the writer becomes annoying and begins emailing the editor incessantly, which will probably incite the editor... but not to great things)

2. a writer can publish articles in magazines and newspapers (and maybe treat the editor-to-woo to paid subscriptions of these magazines and newspapers); however, this option also requires first being noticed by other editors, a technical difficulty

3. a writer can move next door to the editor and offer to shovel snow (or clear out geckos, depending on the geography). This option has obvious down sides, not the least of which is shoveling snow or clearing out geckos.

Or.... [drum roll here]....

4. a writer could visit an editor's/publishers blog on a regular basis and occasionally make insightful and witty comments. This option is only a problem if a writer lacks the ability to make insightful and witty comments. But then, that might suggest that said writer would be more suited to shoveling snow or...

Anyway, someone is going to say that visiting an editor's or publisher's blog is totally intimidating and completely out of the question. But so, I might add, is trying to woo an editor in 15 minutes or less, while simultaneously trying to ward off the effects of jet lag.

I'd also like to suggest that editors and publishers may actually WANT to meet witty and insightful writers, without committing to 15 minutes of face-to-face time or promising to look at a particular proposal. (If you doubt this, I recommend this New York Times article.)

So why not begin today? Check out these great editors' and publishers' blogs. And if you've got some favorites I haven't listed here, by all means, let us know. Happy insightful and witty commenting.

Edit Cafe, Barbour editors Rebecca Germany, Susan Downs, JoAnne Simmons
Faith in Fiction, a Bethany House blog by "Dave"
Goodword Editing, by High Calling & Christianity Today's "Faith in the Workplace" Editor Marcus Goodyear
Heavy Topics with a Light Touch, a blog by Wesleyan's James Watkins
InterVarsity Press's Behind the Books
InterVarsity Press's Likewise Books
Joe Wikert, Vice President and Executive Publisher in the Professional/Trade division of John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
Michael S. Hyatt President and CEO, Thomas Nelson Publishers
Loudtime, Dave Zimmerman, editor at InterVarsity Press
Orca Book Publishers
Oxford University Press USA
Pecan Grove Press by Editor Palmer Hall
Penguin Group USA
Simon & Schuster Tradetalk
Suburban Christian, Al Hsu, editor at InterVarsity Press
The Penguin Blog UK
Theodore P. Savas, of Savas Beatie (historical titles)
Today's Christian Woman Editor's Blog
University of Chicago Press
Writer's Digest, by Brian A. Klems, On-Line Managing Editor
Your Writers Group, Waterbrook Editor Mick Silva
Zondervan Blog

MORE LINKS, provided by you the commenters:

Editors' and Publishers' Blogs:
Andy Unedited InterVarsity Press's Ed. Director & Associate Publisher, Andy Le Peau
Christianity Today's David Neff
Christianity Today's Mark Galli
Joe Wikert's Kindleville blog

Agents' Blogs:
Agent Kristin
Rachelle Gardner

How to Determine if an Agent, Editor or Publisher is Legitimate:
Writers Beware
Preditors and Editors (what can I say, maybe they misspelled it on purpose)

Mick Silva's Blog photo, by L.L. Barkat. And a hat tip to Scobleizer and his commenters for several of the publishers listed here.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Laura, have I ever told you how cool you are? Because you are very, very cool. Thanks for the list!

6:31 PM  
Blogger MamaMonk said...

This is great! I will pass it onto my husband, who is currently in the editing/publishing process--

Great post!

6:41 PM  
Blogger David Zimmerman said...

Hey, Laura. Thanks for cluing me into this post. IVP blogs welcome all insightful and witty comments, of course, and I'd imagine your blog-buddies are among the more insightful and witty.

7:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You've been in this fun funky mood the past couple days.
I don't worry about posting witty, insightful comments. My zingers zag with the best of them. Consider some of my favorites:
Your momma.
My dog writes better poetry.
I'm rubber and you're glue. Whatever you say bounces off me and sticks to you!
Who could reject such wisdom?

7:27 PM  
Blogger Joe Wikert said...

Hi Laura. Thanks so much for including me in your publishing blog list. For any Kindle fans out there, I'd also like to give a plug to my Kindleville blog, which can be found at

Thanks again!

8:59 PM  
Blogger Marcus Goodyear said...

Thanks for the link, L.L. It's really funny to see my name in that list. I hope I don't discredit the list too much.

I've found that leaving comments on some of these blogs often feels like speaking into the void. Not Behind the Books. The IVP people really understand the relationship side of blogging better than most.

But I've been to some of those blogs. I've dropped comments. And I've heard the crickets.

But thanks for the reminder. Perhaps it's best that I set aside my own insecurities and revisit these folks... beginning with IVP, of course!

(sorry for the long comment.)

9:53 PM  
Blogger Ornery Dave said...

Great post... and thanks for stopping by my blog.

Have a great day,

9:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for the mention, Laura. You asked my opinion on writers commenting on editors' pub blogs. Certainly bear in mind that your work will always speak louder than your comments, and little often goes a long way. Don't be clever. Be a rare voice and add something relevant and helpful. In general, I wish writers wrote more and spent less time on blogs.

Another NYT article to consider:

Also, bear in mind Hewitt's advice, find the good and praise it. I've learned the hard way, but I'm slowly cluing in.

Nice blog here!

12:59 AM  
Blogger L.L. Barkat said...

Sarah... why thank you. Now, who ever thought that list-making could be a laudable activity? :)

Mamamonk... tell me, what's your spouse working on? Curious.

Dave... thanks for stopping by to invite all witty and insightful writers to the IVP blogs. I sincerely hope they take you up on your offer!

Heather... I'm guessing that's a euphemistic observation there! Love your favorite pearls of wisdom there.

Joe... Welcome to Seedlings. And, wow, a whole blog dedicated to Kindle?

Marcus... really. Your name makes the list friendly and of course you belong there! Funny about the crickets. I'm thinking maybe it's a good idea to invite a few blog buddies along for these picnic outings. Could be less intimidating that way.

Ornery... Welcome to Seedlings. And thanks for the encouragement.

Mick... Welcome to Seedlings. Some good advice there. Do you think that blogging is counter to writing? Or just a time hog? As for the Times article, thanks... I may just even use it at MH.

8:19 AM  
Blogger Joe Wikert said...

Hi Laura. Yes indeed, an entire blog dedicated to the Kindle. Sure, the installed base is tiny and will continue to be small for least until Amazon figures out how to pick up the manufacturing pace!...but I wanted to get in on the ground floor of what I think will eventually become an extremely popular device and service.

8:23 AM  
Blogger Christine A. Scheller said...

Oh Laura,

The last thing I need is more blogs on my radar screen ... exactly for the reasons Mick stated. Speaking of Mick, I had one of those 15 minutes of face time with him at last year's Mt. Hermon conference. He juggled magnificently. I'm sure he remembers. : )

Here are two editors' blogs that I read, although both are sporadic. David Neff has a new post this morning, however.

10:45 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good post...and a good list!


11:05 AM  
Blogger Al Hsu said...

L.L. - Thanks for this, and you should also add Andy Unedited, which is the blog by IVP's editorial director/associate publisher Andy Le Peau. It's at

and Andy has a lot of behind-the-scenes nuts and bolts about how publishing committees make decisions on proposals, what books work and what don't, etc.

11:39 AM  
Blogger Kim said...

LL, you are too funny. I really appreciate you. Thanks for your comment at my blog.

3:48 PM  
Blogger Ted M. Gossard said...

Good thoughts here.

I sure would like to be involved in the word business, but above all, I just want to be faithful where i'm at, and grow there.

If I were twenty, or even ten years younger, I would probably try to get into somthing like editing or writing. But they want all the gifted younger people.

No problem.

Thanks for this. May drop a comment or two anyhow.

3:07 AM  
Blogger Jim Martin said...

This is a great post! Thanks for putting these links together. I have already looked at a few of these blogs and will look at some more.

7:33 AM  
Blogger Lara said...

You left off those other folks we writers have occasion to woo: agents. And I've found a couple that have very helpful blogs, such as:

Chip MacGregor
Rachelle Gardner

10:02 AM  
Blogger L.L. Barkat said...

Joe... okay, we'll be watching!

Christine... fair enough. But for authors still seeking to make connections, maybe it would be good for a little more radar breadth? Thanks for the links!

Nathan... Welcome to Seedlings. Hope you make it over to some of these listed blogs! (If you have writing aspirations... do you?)

Al... thanks for stopping by. I'll add Andy to the list, so people can get an inside view of the mind of IVP.

Kim.... oh, to be appreciated. Well, that's a warming comment. :)

Ted... let me know if you make any comments! I'd love to know.

Jim... indeed. I bet that a few of them have looked at yours! :)

A Musing... Yes, thanks. These are, in your opinion, reputable agents?

10:17 AM  
Blogger Rachelle said...

Awww... it hurts my feelings that you automatically question whether agents are *reputable* but don't ask the same question of anyone else! Oh well. My own fault for going over to the dark side, I suppose. I could tell you that I am indeed "reputable" but it doesn't mean much coming from me, does it? Check out our agency website to see for yourself.

Great blog, by the way!

10:31 AM  
Blogger L.L. Barkat said...

Rachelle... Welcome to Seedlings (And btw, we have met at a MH table, three years ago. Maybe I'll see you there this year since I'm teaching?)

And sorry about that, but tell me if you think it's a valid question. Also, I loved that you said that about publishers and editors. So... what would make a disreputable publisher or editor, to your mind?

10:37 AM  
Blogger Rachelle said...

Laura, I think we've met online a few times, too. Maybe you've been on my other (non-agent, non-darkside) blog.

Anyway, glad you asked about disreputable. I don't have time to answer the question properly but I can point you and your readers to two web resources that discuss "disreputable" in detail. When looking at agents, generally be cautious if they charge the author any kind of upfront fee, or if they can't prove they've ever actually sold anything to a mainstream commercial publisher.
Writer Beware
Preditors and Editors
In my case, I've only been an agent for three months and have one sale under my belt, but I work for an established agency with a good track record, and I have a background in publishing that's verifiable by a number of sources. That's the kind of thing you'd look for to try and determine if someone is legit.

I won't see you at Mt. Hermon but I know you'll have a wonderful time!

10:55 AM  
Blogger Halfmom, AKA, Susan said...

thanks LL - we are very sad too.

I'll look forward to more blogging after the 18th - when the last two grants (I think/hope) for the season go in.

Maybe I should do some research on the Craver hated "D's" - and show that they are good for your brain too - what do you think?

3:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are a great resource if only i can read,write and spell but i have images in my mind i would wrie

and see the code box

4:43 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

L.L - I never thought about editors being nervous about face to face contact. But of course they're just people. Great article.


10:46 AM  
Blogger kirsten said...

wow, laura!! thanks for sharing this. it certainly makes the dream of getting a publisher to pay attention to my writing a little more accessible. i shouldn't be, but sometimes i'm surprised to found out that things like this exist!! hoorah!!

4:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for stopping by our blog and leaving a couple of comments recently! You've got a great blog here. Blessings on the teaching coming up in March.

1:04 PM  
Blogger L.L. Barkat said...

Rachelle... thanks for the tips. I added your links to the main body of the post. And thanks for the good wishes regarding Mount Hermon. I think it'll be fun.

Halfmom... see you soon then. And take care in the meantime. (D's? what do you mean?)

Anonymous... sigh. Still, it's nice to have you here.

Michelle... why yes. One editor explained to me that it's just awful having to sit across from so many authors, only to say no and disappoint them. If that's not anxiety-producing, well.

Kirsten... so I look forward to seeing you on some of these blogs soon. (A few others from Seedlings have already showed up at Behind the Books. Why not join them?)

Zondervan... thanks for stopping by. I'm looking forward to Mount Hermon. And maybe we'll even meet. (I just look for the name tag that says "Anonymous", yes? ;-)

4:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Laura!

Insightful idea--thanks for including the Orca Book Blog on your list. We do loooove comments. :) I think a lot of people writing publishers' blogs out there feel like they're speaking into a void, and it's great to know that you're out there.

2:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, I think there is definitely something to both "sides" feeling the same way. Maybe a part of it is that it can be difficult to use blogging, essentially a social activity, as a professional tool?

As someone writing a publisher's blog, I find it's not always easy to respond to comments because of that social/professional combination. It's hard to find a balance and know what to say.

4:41 PM  
Blogger Ann Voskamp @Holy Experience said...

And when we can't get to Mount Hermon, we can learn from your series here!
Thank you...
This post duly bookmarked.

And to say: God in the Yard. Took my breath away.

Looking forward to Stone Crossings.

I think your time blogging is well spent...

All's grace,

10:19 PM  
Blogger L.L. Barkat said...

Alyssa... welcome to Seedlings. And I understand about that tension. I think we writers feel it too.

Ann... welcome to Seedlings also. I count it a privilege that you've stopped by. And yes, we'll do some follow up on MH too, so perhaps I'll see you again here. As for your encouragement concerning God in the Yard, thank you. Knowing your writing (I've frequented your blog from time to time), I take that as a very high compliment and an inspiration to keep writing what will undoubtedly be a difficult book to write because of the vulnerability it will require of me. (Phew, long sentence!)

7:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've been reading your blogs for a while now and a question burns within: you're obviously a private person. How do you find the courage and confidence to so graciously market and share your work? I write. A lot. And for the most part, I hide it. Why? Most of the marketing side of writing galls me, and I just can't envision putting myself out there like that. Sending stuff off to an editor - yes. Pointing others to things I've written - can't do it. I am rearranging my life to focus more on purposeful writing but this question lingers in the back of my mind. It's obvious to me it's a pretty key element of the writing life and something I need to find my way through. Any thoughts would be appreciated and thanks for your time. (I'm burying this comment down here because I can't find any other appropriate place to ask it and your contact form on your website doesn't seem to be working)

2:16 PM  
Blogger L.L. Barkat said...

Dianne... so glad you asked. This is truly an important question, yes. One that every writer needs to come to terms with. I think it begins with answering another question... why do you write? Though I can't answer that for you, I can share this...

Is it Okay to Pray Out Loud?

That is why I write. That is why I have developed peace about pointing to what I write. So let us begin with this...

Dianne, tell me why you write.

3:09 PM  
Anonymous Christy B. said...

Excellent post. Thank you for the links and research! I'm going to ride your coattails on this one.

1:53 PM  
Anonymous Mel said...

This is awesome! Exactly information that writers should know about but may not. I had never even thought about this. A million thank you's!

Please feel free to stop by: Trailing After God

7:22 PM  

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