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Keys to Building Relationships with Authors

- 12/07/07  

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Trainer Network | MAI


December 2007


In This Issue

Resource Tool: Writing for Children
10 Keys to Building Strong Relationships with Your Authors

The Power of Positive Leadership

Come to First LITT-WORLD in Africa

Hi, !

Many lament the lack of good local writers. But we sometimes forget the equally important, if not greater, need for proactive editors to find and nurture these authors. If you work with writers, check yourself against the “10 Keys to Building Strong Relationships with Authors.”  Also, send us your ideas for developing published authors:

- Dawn Herzog Jewell, editor

10 Keys to Building Strong Relationships with Your Authors
By John Maust

1. Treat your author as a person, not a product

“I try to treat the author as a person; that is, considering each as a unique individual with his/her own qualities, strengths and weaknesses. When I write to the author, I take into account the author’s age, personality and circumstances. I seek to bless the author with my words and whenever I can, with prayer.” Adriana Powell, Ediciones Certeza, Argentina

2.  Listen, encourage and inspire

“I’ve tried to mentor writers: a word of encouragement, hearing them voice their frustrations, and giving them the assurance that a writer friend is easily reachable and approachable to help them persevere. Now we have a “Writer’s Room” in our office with computers and quietness for any of our writer friends who want to come and hide and write.” Lawrence Darmani, Step, Ghana

3.  Be a servant and steward

“A servant is entrusted to care for property that belongs to someone else. Much of what an editor cares for belongs to someone else: someone else’s idea, someone else’s words, someone else’s article, someone else’s book. In the course of that care, with a nudge here and there (or sometimes a gentle push), the editor urges the writer to strive for perfection.” Judith Markham, Discovery House Publishers, USA

4.  Help the author conceptualize

“Inexperienced writers (and veteran ones too) often suffer the lack of a clearly defined thesis or controlling idea. As we coach and counsel younger writers, we should emphasize the development of a compelling and well-conceived thesis before the actual writing begins.” MAI, Trainer Network newsletter

5.  Explain the publishing and editorial process
“We try to make phone calls or write emails in certain frequency to the authors to let them know about progress on their books. Sometimes we just share about life and have a casual chat.” 
Muriel Ma, Breakthrough, Hong Kong

6.  Guide the author through the revision process

“I’m careful with the changes I make in a manuscript. Some authors accept what one ‘rewrites’ more freely, and I show and explain these changes. Others want to participate more actively in the revision process. This is not easy, but I try to be respectful and explain to the author what we are doing.” Adriana Powell, Ediciones Certeza, Argentina

7.  Ask questions, be positive

“Read your editorial comments back to yourself. How would you feel if these comments were made about your work. Are the criticisms too harsh, too arrogant? What’s the tone? A 'probably' here, a 'possibly' there---like a spoonful of sugar they make the medicine go down. 'I think this might read more clearly this way. What do you think?' brings the writer into the conversation and can often assist the author in moving beyond pride, subjectivity, stubbornness, and just plain weariness to hear and accept an editorial suggestion or critique.” Judith Markham, Discovery House Publishers, USA

8.  Admit your mistakes

“When things go wrong, as they always do, explain clearly, apologize promptly, and put it right. Don’t make tedious excuses or cover your backside. It will not win you respect: honesty, however, always does, and it also engenders trust.” Tony Collins, Lion Hudson Plc, UK

9.  No surprises

“Consult the author on cover designs, formats, cover wordings, endorsements. Allow authors time to review what the copy editor has done to their text. Tell them in advance when proofs are due, and give them enough time to go through the proofs properly.” Tony Collins, Lion Hudson Plc, UK 

10.  Help your author grow

“We promote gatherings of writers. We also encourage our authors to read, and particularly those authors (both Christian and general) who are writing in the same subject area as theirs. We also encourage them to adopt a regular writing routine that includes short articles, such as blogs.” Renato Fleischner, Editora Mundo Cristão, Brazil

The Power of Positive Leadership

You run into a co-worker and seize the chance to point out a problem with a recent assignment. Later, during a staff meeting, you criticize a group of workers for turning in shoddy work. Before the end of the day, you call another department head to complain about his team’s missing a major deadline.

By the time you walk out the door, you have had significantly more negative than positive encounters.

How does that affect your leadership performance? Don’t underestimate the impact. When leaders display positive emotions, others take note. When you call attention to what is right – rather than looking for things that are not working or that need to be fixed – you raise your team’s positive outlook and boost its productivity.

--Adapted from “Positive Leadership Pays Off,” Ray Williams, National Post (Toronto). Reprinted from Communication Briefings; April 2007; phone: 570-567-1982.

Come to the First LITT-WORLD in Africa

Mark your calendar for MAI’s first LITT-WORLD conference in Africa: November 1-6, 2009, in Nairobi, Kenya. The conference will stay truly international, "while having a distinctly African flavor and focus,”  MAI president John Maust says.  More conference details are forthcoming. 

Resource Tool: Writing for Children

“The qualities of a good children’s book….

We all have a huge treasury of experience locked inside us. All the things that happened to us as children are stored away. The key that unlocks the door to memory is often one of our senses—a smell, a sound, a taste, a touch, an image. You have to dig down to discover these treasures.

Try to remember how you were as a child. Everything then looked much bigger than it does now!

  • Remember the skinned knee; the time you pushed your nose into a flower; your fascination with some small creature.
  • Remember the kitchen smells: the warm smell of baking; hot smells; spicy smells.
  • Remember the sounds: the bell in the playground; the buzzing of insects in the grass; the sound of an engine.
  • Think about a sunset you saw—as it turned from pale yellow, to gold, to crimson, to purple, to gray.
  • Think about that day at the football game. Your favorite team. The excitement, the colors, the kind of day it was, the yelling.

Try this

Close your eyes and recall a memory of childhood that is vivid and clear. When you’ve got it, write it down using the best words—picture words—to recall the experience as graphically as you can. Don’t think too hard. Write it from the pictures you see, the smells, and your feelings. How old were you then? Relive it as the child you were. When you’re done, check your words. Are they the ones you would have used at that age? Are they the words for a reader of that age group? As soon as a child has words, he/she can express impressions and reactions.


Did you find it hard to get the right words?

Was it easier to say what you saw than describe a taste?

Children have strong emotional responses to what they perceive through their senses. As writers we must take time to see, hear, feel. Reach into your experience to find words to express them.

The above excerpt is from Pat Alexander and Larry Brook’s Writing for Children, published by MAI. This booklet offers practical ideas and techniques for writing better stories for children.  You’ll also get detailed "how to" techniques to assist you in plot development. Part of the Expand Your LITT-WORLD Series—a series of self-study books to supplement on-site training. 2003, paperback, 76 pp., $5.00 / £2.50.






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