Media Connect Q&A With Rob Kirkpatrick (My Editor)

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Rob Kirkpatrick.

My editor, Rob Kirkpatrick of Thomas Dunne Books (a part of St. Martin’s Press), was interviewed by MEDIA CONNECT in November. It was interesting to read his thoughts on being an editor and the publishing industry.

Following are a couple of takeaways from that Q&A.

MC: As an acquiring editor do you look at the author’s work or platform first?
RK: Absolutely, especially as I acquire primarily nonfiction. I remember a proposal I received several years ago for a book from an author whose most recent book had sold quite modestly. I would have needed a way to position the author and his next book more effectively. The proposal neglected to mention what the author did for a living, so I inquired. The agent, an experienced one, asked me, “Why do you need to know?” That response floored me and still does. An author’s profession and platform are always relevant when trying to plan how to publish his or her book.

MC: What advice do you have for young writers today?
RK: Write because you are passionate about something and feel you have a compelling story to tell and a unique voice with which to tell it. That is all. If you want to become a writer because you think it sounds glamorous or because you’ve heard about the millions of copies this or that bestselling authors has sold, you will most likely be disappointed.

Rob is a great editor. He is low key and encouraging, two attributes that are beneficial to any writer tasked with birthing and promoting a book. I was extremely fortunate he acquired and edited my first book, as well as my second book.

The Atlantic: Anatomy of Two Bestsellers

In “How to Make a Bestselling Book” at TheAtlantic.com, literary agent Howard Yoon makes a case for traditional publishing and why it’s still relevant. Yoon cites two authors (both are his clients), and how their book projects became New York Times bestsellers.

Yoon provides the blow-by-blow account of the authors and their paths to the bestseller list, explaining how they “needed the skills of an entire team of publishing professionals to help them on their publishing journey.”

An opening excerpt:

As imperfect as our business is, anyone who wants to write a book of lasting value, a book that can change the way people think about the world, a book that can get national and possibly global distribution in real hard copies, knows that the traditional publishing path is still the best path to take.

Yoon introduces clients Dan Schulman and Dana Goldstein and details their projects.

A closing excerpt:

People always seem surprised when I tell them the publishing business is doing just fine. They expect me to share tales of woe and misery—and incompetence. I remain optimistic. For every forgettable snarky Facebook rant, for every counterintuitive, impermanent let-me-explain-the-world-to-you thought piece, for every formulaic superhero movie or sitcom, there grows a place in the hearts of thoughtful readers out there for works by writers like Dan and Dana.

My Author Appearance at National Press Club Book Fair

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National Press Club Book Fair.

I’m honored and excited to be an invited author for the 37th Annual National Press Club Book Fair & Authors’ Night next Tuesday (November 18) in Washington, D.C. There are a lot of famous authors on the list. And one much lesser-known one from Floyd, Virginia. Occasionally, the door cracks open and you get to see what it’s like to be on the inside.

Here’s the scoop from The National Press Club:

The Capitol region’s premiere holiday book event is back for the 37th year! The National Press Club Journalism Institute is once again partnering with landmark local book seller Politics & Prose for a night of pols, pundits and prose.

Authors will be on hand to talk to their fans and sign books at this most exciting literary event. Patrons can browse for books at the Club’s headquarters at 529 14th Street NW from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Save time and pre-order your tickets below. Tickets will also be available at the door.

The Book Fair is a fundraiser for The National Press Club Journalism Institute, a 501 (c) (3) charitable organization, which advances journalistic practice by equipping professionals with the skills and competence to innovate, leveraging emerging trends, recognizing leaders and innovators, and mentoring the next generation of journalism and communications professionals. The Book Fair also supports the Club’s beautifully renovated Eric Friedheim National Journalism Library, which provides research and resources for news professionals.

5 Steps for Writing Anything

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Me with sixth-grade storytellers.

I spent most of Friday at the local elementary school talking with sixth graders about writing and storytelling. It was fun. I loved it. They are smart, those sixth graders.

We discussed their current project: writing short stories. They had completed their rough drafts.

I also talked with them about the writing process, which they already grasped. I realized something. The writing process is essentially the same no matter the project. I think it holds true whether one is writing a slogan or a headline, a short story or a speech, a 300-page book or a screenplay.

I’ve distilled the writing process into these five steps:

1. Ideas.
This is the brainstorming stage. Get the ideas out of your head. Many will stink. And you know that’s OK, right?

2. Research.
Collect information. Observe the world. Talk to people.

3. Notes and outline.
Get organized. Shape the material you have collected. Get ready to write.

4. Rough draft.
This is the step during which you write everything down, so to speak. Get the story out. Don’t edit yet. Or at least wait until the end of the day or next morning to clean up what you’ve drafted.

5. Rewrite, edit and polish.
This step, I believe, is self-explanatory. If your writing was woodwork, this is the chiseling and sanding stage. And the stage when you add a finishing coat.

If you faithfully follow the above steps, and if you put adequate effort and quality into each one, I believe you will produce a sturdy piece of writing and perhaps even a small masterpiece.

Back to College With Biographer Roland Lazenby

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Image courtesy of The Daily Tar Heel.

I went back to college last Friday with biographer Roland Lazenby, who signed copies of his Michael Jordan: The Life.

Check out the short video by The Daily Tar Heel featuring the gregarious author. We were situated near the front of the Student Stores on the University of North Carolina campus in Chapel Hill. (I’m in the background wearing Carolina blue.)

It was a gorgeous autumn day and there were good vibes in the student bookstore and on campus.

I also had fun talking to the two sophomore journalism students who shot the video and interviewed the author.

My Author Interview on NPR’s Only A Game

onlyagameI had a great opportunity to talk to Bill Littlefield, host of NPR’s Only A Game. The show aired today (Saturday).

[LISTEN TO SIX-MINUTE INTERVIEW]

The appearance included a web page that has a Q&A and excerpt from my book, DRAW IN THE DUNES: The 1969 Ryder Cup and the Finish That Shocked The World.

Here’s the introduction by Only A Game:

The 2014 Ryder Cup is under way at Gleneagles in Scotland. The biennial competition pits golfers from the U.S. against their European counterparts. The Ryder Cup is one of golf’s signature events and has provided fans with various unlikely shots and improbable comebacks.

Neil Sagebiel would argue that no edition of the competition has been more dramatic than the 1969 Ryder Cup, the first to end in a tie. His new book is titled DRAW IN THE DUNES: The 1969 Ryder Cup and the Finish that Shocked the World.

Read more at Only A Game:
Interview highlights
DRAW IN THE DUNES excerpt (from Chapter 9)

Win ‘DRAW IN THE DUNES’ Autographed by Jack Nicklaus

DrawInTheDunes CoverTonight, on Ryder Cup Eve, Jack Nicklaus announced a giveaway of my new book, DRAW IN THE DUNES: The 1969 Ryder Cup and the Finish That Shocked the World. The book includes a foreword by Jack Nicklaus and Tony Jacklin.

Here’s the message posted on Jack Nicklaus’s Facebook page, Twitter and Instagram:

Time to get your patriotic on! With The Ryder Cup at Nicklaus-designed Gleneagles upon us, we want to give you a chance to win a signed copy of “Draw in the Dunes,” the just-released book on the 1969 Ryder Cup, featuring a foreword co-authored by Jack Nicklaus and Tony Jacklin—the two key stars of the historic match that ended in the first-ever tie in Cup history. Use #rydercupselfie throughout this weekend’s matches to show us how you’re watching The Ryder Cup! We’ll pick a spirited, patriotic winner Sunday.

Of course, I can put in a good word for this book. And it will look even better with the Golden Bear’s signature.

1375801_10151655958581366_141387496_nSee more here:
Jack Nicklaus Facebook
Jack Nicklaus Twitter