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How to Grow Editors

- 08/01/08  

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Trainer Network | MAI


August/September 2008

In This Issue:
How to Grow Editors
Refine Your Role as a Mentor
The Bible through Latin American Eyes
Servanthood and the Christian Editor

Mali Workshop Refuels Writers and Booksellers


Hi, !

Authors get their names memorialized in print, but unseen editors rarely earn public praise. Yet good editors can knead a decent manuscript into a scintillating read or even a bestseller. In this issue, learn from a veteran book editor on how to develop editorial talent, and glean quick tips on improving your serve as a mentor.

- Dawn Herzog Jewell, editor


How to Grow Editors 

Dan Elliot is editorial director at Tyndale House Publishers. He has led editor trainings for MAI in Brazil, Ecuador, Venezuela and the Philippines. MAI Board member Caryn Pederson asked him for tips on developing excellence in editors. 
Q: What core beliefs influence your desire to invest in editors?
People and communities are transformed by the power of God’s Spirit working through His written Word and through the words and actions of those who love and follow Jesus. Through literature, one person’s words can reach many people the author will never meet. When an author works with a skilled editor, his or her words can become more powerful, accurate and effective. For this to happen, the editor needs to be identified and developed.

Q: What are some practical ways to help editors grow professionally?
Understand that an editor is essential to the publishing process, then identify the right person, and give that person opportunities to practice. Whenever possible, allow a new or less-experienced editor to work with a more-experienced mentor. Experienced editors can grow by reading widely and by developing strong relationships with their authors.
Q: Do these practices vary across cultures?
An editor must know the language and culture of the people for whom the books and articles are intended. Beyond that, I’ve observed that editors from many cultures share characteristics such as a love of reading, skill in crafting words and ideas, and passion for communicating through writing.
Q: What warning signs indicate the editorial process isn’t working well?
The best editors develop skill in working with text, authors, and people and processes within the publishing house. Producing wonderful text isn’t enough if authors or coworkers are angry and discouraged. It’s wonderful to see an editor succeed in all three areas.

Q: Have you learned from any mistakes along the way?
Early on, I focused a lot of energy in getting manuscripts the way I wanted them without paying enough attention to how the author felt about what I was doing. Sometimes my wonderful work wasn’t appreciated! From this I learned to balance my work on a manuscript with attention to its author.
Q: Could you highlight some key points from your workshops?
1.    “Edit with vision.”
The editor needs to know the author’s goals in writing the manuscript and who are the intended readers. The editor needs a clear vision of how the whole manuscript works, from beginning to end, and a sharp eye for consistency, precision and accuracy. The Christian editor is most effective when he or she can see how the manuscript will contribute toward the expansion of God’s kingdom.
2.   “Management as skill, art and calling”
Effective management doesn’t develop by accident. Helping people work together effectively is important, creative work. “If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously” (Romans 12:8).
3.    “Ministries want to win the world, but they don’t win their staff.”
It is vital to live with integrity. How people are treated inside the organization should be consistent with the values the ministry proclaims to the world. It’s good to serve the poor, but make sure you pay your employees fairly and treat them with respect.
Q: Is there anything else you’d like to add?
If you’re an editor or would like to be, I encourage you to read widely and find opportunities to improve your skills. MAI offers a variety of resources online.

For a limited time, MAI is offering a free PDF download of the training booklet, Servanthood and the Christian Editor. See the right column for an excerpt. Go to the Publishing Resources section of the website and download your copy today. 


Refine Your Role as a Mentor 

You have been asked to serve as a mentor, but you don’t know how to proceed. Remember: A mentor’s role is not to solve problems for others but to act as a sounding board and to show them how to empower themselves to succeed. Rely on these strategies:

Ask questions. To equip others to succeed, you should avoid giving answers. Instead, when someone comes to you with a problem of concern, ask probing questions that push the person to think beyond limitations and uncover solutions. Examples: “What else could you try?” “What do you think will happen if you do X?” “Can you think of any other options?”

Challenge assumptions. Make others aware of their abundant opportunities and options. Steer them in the right direction by asking a question like this: “Anything else?” or “Is that the only choice?” Prompt them if necessary by asking “Have you considered ____?” Keep probing until all options are on the table.

Tell the truth. People gain little value from mentors who hesitate to speak the truth. Of course, you must speak tactfully to avoid tearing down others’ self-images. If you see someone doing something you consider harmful to that person’s reputation or prospects, say so. Just be sure to explain also your reasons for sharing your opinion, and back opinions with examples to validate them.

-Adapted from Winning Nice, Dawna Stone with Matt Dieter, Center Street, Reprinted from Communication Briefings: April 2008,  phone: (570) 567-1982.



The Bible through Latin American Eyes

Key theologians and scholars from Latin America have teamed up to produce a single-volume Bible commentary written by locals for locals. The success of the Africa Bible Commentary, published last year, has stimulated plans for this project and others in Asia and the Middle East. In June, a team met in Buenos Aires to plan the development of the Contemporary Bible Commentary (In Spanish: Comentário Bíblico Contemporâneo).

Ian Darke of LetraViva (and MAI’s regional trainer for Latin America), will coordinate the project, a collaboration of Langham Partnership International (LPI) with Serving in Mission (SIM), along with scholars and theologians from Spanish and Portuguese-speaking countries. This volume created by people who take the Bible seriously and who view the world with Latin American eyes will be a valuable resource.

Please pray for the creation of this commentary and gifted writers who will take on the task. 


and the
Christian Editor

Servanthood can be an uncomfortable topic in today's world. But for the editor, service is a way of life. The Christian editor serves four masters: the publisher, the reader, the writer and the Lord.

Renowned editor Judith Markham shares her wisdom in this concise booklet on the Christian editor's task.
Here's an excerpt from her section on serving the reader: 

"Through the years, behind the scenes I have heard--and been guilty myself--of 'looking down' on certain authors or books or styles. Certainly we should be discriminating; we must look for the best in a given genre or category. But we must also recognize that different subjects and different styles appeal to different people--and are valid."

Purchase a copy or download a free PDF file for a limited time on the MAI website.  

Mali Workshop Refuels Writers and Booksellers

“A journey of a thousand miles starts with a step. I believe our writings, small as they may be, can set a great fire on our continent."
- Prosper Atchombat, Cameroon 

At MAI’s writer and bookseller workshop in Mali this May, 50 writers and booksellers from 9 countries of French-speaking West Africa renewed their vision and gained new skills with trainers Tony Collins and Lawrence Darmani.



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