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Posts Tagged ‘Bruce DeSilva’

Tim McGuire coverWhen I visited my friend Tim McGuire last month, he was awaiting the publication of his memoir and we briefly discussed the challenge he faced in promoting it.

The conversation revived a blog-post idea that had been rattling around on my to-do list for more than two years, since Mimi published her novel, Gathering String, and I helped her promote it. I’m not sure I’m the best person to help Tim with this challenge. While we had some success, I wish we had done a better job on Gathering String. So I’ll share my advice as well as inviting yours: How have you promoted your own books successfully? How would you promote a book, if you had published one? How have publishers succeeded in getting your attention about a book that you later bought and read?

I also asked for advice from some authors I know, and I’ll share tips below from Robert Mann, Doug Worgul, Patricia T. O’Conner and Dan Buttry, as well as some of my own. Novelist Buffy Andrews and author Chuck Offenburger both gave me so much advice I’m breaking their responses out into separate guest posts for tomorrow.

I’m not sure what’s the best path for publishing a book today: self-publishing, as Mimi and Tim did (and keeping a bigger share of the proceeds) or getting a traditional publisher to handle your book (a difficult and not always successful path). Either way, you need to promote the book. An agent, who was willing to handle Mimi’s book but said it might take too long to get published going through traditional publishers, told her that, with rare exceptions, the author is responsible for promotion even when you get a traditional publisher. (more…)

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Students learn journalism best if you teach them several different ways.

A colleague who’s starting her first journalism classes as an adjunct professor asked, “Any advice for the first-time professor?” I’ll answer here and in at least a couple more posts over the next week or so.

Update: I originally posted this before hearing back from the colleague about whether it was OK to use her name (since she asked the question in a private email). She quickly identified herself after I posted:

I’m teaching my 10th college class now and have learned a few things about teaching in the classroom (and in hundreds of workshops and seminars for professional journalists). But I recognize that many friends in journalism schools have far more classroom experience than I do. So I invite them (you, if you’re teaching journalism) to weigh in with some advice, too. Much of this applies as well to training your professional colleagues. For my colleague and other new journalism professors (and perhaps for veterans, who should always be learning, too).

I’ll start by addressing the wide variety of ways that students learn and how I gear my lessons and assignments to teach students in a multitude of ways. I believe students learn in at least these ways (several of which overlap): (more…)

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This is another Training Tracks blog post from the archive of No Train, No Gain, originally published Oct. 25, 2004:

My initial reaction when an editor asked me to adapt my “Becoming a Storyteller” workshop to stress stories under 12 inches was cynicism.

I thought (and still think) that newspapers risk shooting themselves into the foot when they set arbitrary limits on stories. Certainly too many stories (not necessarily the longer stories) in newspapers are too long. I have developed a workshop to teach writers and editors how to tighten their stories. But I’ve always believed that newspapers need more, not less, of those spellbinding stories that the reader just can’t put down. (more…)

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This is the handout for my workshop on short narrative writing. I used to do this workshop quite often, but haven’t done it for a couple years. The handout was originally posted at No Train, No Gain. I am posting some of my NTNG handouts here, with some updating, because NTNG is no longer online.

A common conflict in newspaper newsrooms today is newsholes getting tighter and writers complaining about space limitations on their stories. While space is not limited online, busy digital readers still favor tighter stories. Without question, some stories lose important substance as they get cut for tighter newsholes. But writers should not assume that length restrictions preclude quality narrative writing. Listen to some of your favorite ballads. Study the storytelling of the songwriters. They tell powerful stories in fewer words than the average daily news story. Use those techniques in your stories. (more…)

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