5 Tips for New Authors, Slate Redesigns, Jay Rosen Reflects on 25 Years of Teaching Journalism

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For today’s media and writing roundup, we have a bit of a dialectic between professor Jay Rosen and journo trainer Steve Buttry about the practice and business of journalism and copywriting services. We also have a pair of pieces from about new changes at Slate and McClatchy. Finally, we have an author who reflects on the process of writing books.

It’s all the news fit to blog at Ebyline’s Daily Dose.

What I Think I Know About Journalism

Jay Rosen: “Next month I will have taught journalism at New York University for 25 years, an occasion that has led me to reflect on what I have tried to profess in that time.”

The 5 W’s (and How) are even more important to business than to journalism

“Jay Rosen wrote a thoughtful blog post, What I think I know about journalism, that summarized succinctly many things Jay has been writing and saying about journalism into four clear principles. He inspired me to do the same with my thoughts about the news business. So this is what I think I know about the business of journalism.”

Faced With Declines, McClatchy Weighs Digital Subscriptions

“The newspaper industry continues to take a major hit as reflected by earnings reported on Tuesday by The McClatchy Company, the parent company to newspapers like The Kansas City Star, The Miami Herald and El Nuevo Herald. The latter publications were nominated for a Pulitzer Prize for breaking news for their coverage of the Haiti earthquake this year.”

Slate rethinks aggregation (again) with a Slatest redesign

Slate was arguably the first major news site to care about aggregation, starting back in 1996, when we only thought we suffered from information overload. (They didn’t even call it “aggregation” yet. It was “meta-news.”) What started with In Other Magazines — a weekly roundup for people with no time for Time and Newsweek — evolved into Today’s Papers, a hugely popular feature that ran every morning until its retirement in 2009.”

Five Things I Wish I Had Known When I Published My First Book

“The challenge of launching this novel is how to benefit from my past experience while still learning as I go forward.  Every new book, every new launch has its own personality, its own blessing and challenges.”

Writers Release “Singles” Through Byliner, 5 Tips for Live Tweeting, the Dangers of “Comfort Journalism”

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For today’s roundup of top media and journalism stories, we have an analysis of the new “single” book publisher Byliner, and a few tips on how to Tweet better. We also have a look at 25 publishers under 35 years old as well as a warning against the proliferation of “comfort news.”

It’s all the news fit to blog on Ebyline’s Daily Dose:

Byliner Launches With A Splash, Aims To Disrupt Long-Form Journalism

“Let’s be clear: I took this meeting purely as a favor to a friend. I went into the meeting expecting another ill-thought-out nouveau vanity publishing platform. I came out of the meeting wanting to write a Byliner single.”

5 Tips To Help You Live Tweet A Speech

“Live tweeting is quickly becoming a favorite way for news organizations and web content writers to cover speeches and other events. It allows people at their desks in an office environment to follow an event without having to turn on a livestream or a TV. With college commencement season around the corner, here are some tips to help you live tweet like a pro!”

THE DAWNING OF A NEW AGE

Eric Newton, senior adviser to the president at Knight Foundation, delivered this talk on April 7, 2011, to more than 300 parents, students and faculty at the College of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Nebraska.  He discussed the excitement and fears of journalists in the age of digital news and the proliferation of ‘comfort news.’”

25 Under 35

“They are young enough to have giant Homer Simpson cardboard cutouts in their cubicles, energetic enough to work long hours without Red Bull, and savvy enough to start not one but three newspapers in the midst of a historic downturn.”

‘Malled’ reveals hardships of retail employees

“At age 50, Caitlin Kelly started working as a sales clerk at The North Face, at a company-owned shop at a mall near New York City. She had lost a salaried job at the New York Daily News. But as a successful freelance writer, she felt burned out by the constant pitching of stories and the lousy pay for those stories… Kelly remained on the job at The North Face for more than two years. Disillusionment crept up, then downright dissatisfaction. She decided to write a book.”

 

 

How to Pitch a Book (And Sell It Too)

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It’s very cold out there.

The book-publishing environment is positively frigid, although not frozen solid by any means. You’ve probably heard the bad news. Borders, long the sick man of booksellers, declared bankruptcy and closed one-third of its stores. Overall book sales are down, no matter where they’re purchased. E-Books are dramatically changing the publishing landscape, and many authors insist not for the better.

So that book idea you’ve been kicking around has to be shelved, right? By no means, no. Dreams and ambitions should never be deferred, no matter what the economic situation. There’s always forward progress.

Remember, most middle-level publishers also are still open for business. All must continually put out new product, no matter on what platform it is sold. Not all authors are either political or entertainment celebrities to whom the publishers shower seven-figure advances or out-of-nowhere non-professionals who by some crazy-quilt process persuade publishers to run with their ideas. The great middle of book publishing still is inhabited by writing pros who now how to put a sentence together.

I should know. I’ve gotten 10 baseball books published between 1998 to 2010, starting with “I Remember Harry Caray” to the most recent “When The Game Changed: An Oral History of Baseball’s True Golden Age 1969-79.”

So about everything that could happen to an author (or upcoming freelance writing), good and bad, has happened to me. And in that decade-plus of wearing out a laptop’s keyboard, I’ve learned a few things about the publishing business. Like sketching out the narrative of a book itself, successfully placing a book with a publisher requires a lot of forethought and planning discipline.

Here are some five tips to landing that first book.

1. Have a clear focus and angle to your book idea, with plenty of research already on hand to back it up. A book without firm grounding underneath it will not be a book that gets published.

2. Research potential publishers to see what their emphasis is. Do they focus on politics, or regional subjects, or a particular sport compared to another? See which titles most approximate your own. If your idea seems compatible with that publisher’s backlist of books, then that’s one of your targets.

3. Don’t aim too high. Harper Collins and Random House have their pick of the litter from nationally-known celebs to big-name writers. Look at mid-level publishers or regional houses away from New York. They’re more likely to work with an author who lacks a history of publishing or a big name — so long as you have a rock-solid idea.

4. Never, ever, ever write a book without a signed contract from a publisher, and a guarantee of at least a modest advance. Too many aspiring authors want to pound out a manuscript first, and then market it. They are most likely disappointed. Be prepared to write a solid, up-to-10,000-word proposal with sample chapters and a marketing plan as to where you think the book can be sold. But an entire book on spec? No way.

5. Work with a literary agent if possible. Relationships are the currency of media, and it’s no different in book publishing. Agents have ongoing relationships with acquisition editors, who are used to working with them. That’s an edge compared to un-agented authors who will deluge editors with cold-calling proposals. In turn, you almost need some kind of networking to attract an agent’s loyalty. If a third party can introduce or refer you, go that route. However, with the publishing downturn, the guess here is agents are also more hungry than ever for business. If they see a great idea, they’ll run with it.

Overall, there’s research on a book, and there’s pre-research that goes into the selling and publishing of a book.  The latter is just as important as the former.

The dynamics of publishing a book haven’t changed. The market is tighter and tougher, but the fundamentals are still the same. Prospective authors must start out with a disciplined approach, now more than ever.

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