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Posts Tagged ‘Roy Wenzl’

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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A professional journalist’s experience is both essential and dangerous when teaching journalism.

Whether you’re hired as a full-time professor or as an adjunct, your career has given you countless lessons and insights you can share with students. And it’s given you countless irrelevant stories you can bore students with. And the relevance of your lessons is perishable in a swiftly changing marketplace.

This is my fourth post offering advice to Jenn Lord Paluzzi, a Digital First colleague who was hired as an adjunct professor and asked for advice for a first-time journalism professor. I blogged earlier this week about the different ways that people learn and about the types of content you should include in a course. A post by Curt Chandler discussed the importance of examples and of learning how your students use media. I’ll be publishing other posts next week from Kathleen Woodruff Wickham about learning about academia and Pam Fine about grading.

Let’s focus here on how to help students benefit from your experience in the field (which probably is a big reason, if not the sole reason, you got the teaching job). You want to share enough of your experience to give your teaching authority without making the class all about you. (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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Alan Mutter makes a point that I’ve been hearing editors make most of my career: Most newspaper stories are too long.

I’m sure he’s right. But some newspaper stories are too short. And story length is way down the list of problems facing the newspaper business.

I remember when I was at the Des Moines Register, Jim Gannon, who I believe was executive editor at the time, decreed that no story could be longer than he was tall. He was 5’10”, as I recall, so a story couldn’t be longer than 70 inches. 70 inches! Register reporters were writing so long that Gannon’s idea of introducing some discipline was to limit stories to 70 inches (and newspaper columns were wider then than they are today). (more…)

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If you’re starting a blog, keep these eight points in mind:

  1. Understand your community. No blog appeals to everyone. Identify the community for your blog and keep those people in mind when you gather content and develop new posts. (I deliberately used the word community rather than audience because the best blogs invite participation, rather than just reading and watching.)
  2. Think in terms of blog posts, not other types of writing. A news story or a newspaper column could be a blog post, but you don’t need to be limited by such formats. A blog post can be (and often should be) short. An interesting link that you wanted to share can be a blog post. Anything that might interest your community is a potential blog post. (more…)

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This is another Training Tracks blog post from the No Train, No Gain archive. It originally posted March 29, 2005. Any updates from me are in bold. It includes links to a couple of my favorite stories and some outstanding narratives by other writers.

When a reporter asks for help, a writing coach needs to respond with helpful advice right away.

When I was writing coach at the Des Moines Register, a reporter asked me to take a look at a draft of a story he was working on. I said I’d take a look and get back to him. But I was busy. I can’t remember what I was busy with, but a day slipped by, then a couple of days, then a week or two. Then I found out I would need surgery and I was off work for a little more than a month. As I was sifting through the mound of stuff that accumulated while I was gone, I found the reporter’s story. It was an enterprise story that hadn’t run yet, so I responded with some advice and an apology. The reporter was understanding, probably giving me a pass because of the surgery. But he never asked for my help again.

The best training opportunity is when someone wants to learn. Ever since I blew off that reporter, I try to drop what I’m doing and respond right away when someone asks me for help. Pride of authorship keeps too many reporters from asking for help. When one does request help, that is an excellent opportunity for a writing coach or editor to have an impact and teach a new skill. (more…)

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I can be a bit of a scold to colleagues, exhorting editors to move more boldly and swiftly into the future.

As an industry, newspapers have been slow and clumsy at innovation. But a lot of editors do outstanding, innovative journalism (as well as outstanding traditional journalism) and I would like to recognize some of them. I was honored today by Editor & Publisher, named Editor of the Year. As I explain in a separate post, I was surprised by the honor, not out of false humility but because I truly am no longer an editor.

While I am honored by this recognition, I do want to make the point that many editors are deserving of such recognition. Dozens, if not hundreds, of editors serve their communities honorably, elevate the journalism of their staffs and pursue innovative solutions, even in these trying times. (more…)

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