Dealing with Deadlines, Encouraging Writers

This is the second post in a three-part series, Do’s and Don’ts for Rookie Editors WorkingBeng Alba-Jones headshot with Respected Writers,” based on MAI’s recent webinar, “Who? You edit me?!” How can a neophyte editor work effectively with a prominent church leader?
By Beng Alba-Jones

Once a writer has agreed to publish with your house, give him enough time to submit the first draft. Being a well-known leader in the church, his schedule is probably packed with responsibilities. You can’t expect him to drop everything and write eight hours a day. Be realistic and generous in giving him time.

After your agreed on deadline has passed and there is still no manuscript in your inbox, follow up. But do so with gentleness and courtesy. Be patient. No responsible person deliberately misses his deadline unless there’s a reason. Give the writer the benefit of the doubt.

ID-100104792Is there anything you can help the writer with? Is he struggling with his outline? Offer to help. You can do this by asking for whatever material he already has and critique it. Some writers need direction and an editor can help guide the writer find his way.

Encourage, encourage, encourage. Writers should know that they have their editors’ confidence and respect. Send an email, text, let the writer know that you are still excited to receive the manuscript from him. But don’t overdo it by pestering him and violating his personal space.

We need patience, courage, wisdom and faith in working with a difficult writer. You need to be patient in waiting for the writer to submit his manuscript. You need courage to tell him what he needs to hear so he can communicate with the readers. You need wisdom in knowing what to say, when to say it and how. You need faith in God who, ultimately, is in sovereign control over all.

Do you have any suggestions for dealing with difficult writers? Leave us a comment.

<<Coming soon: Part three “Edit with Respect”. Missed part one? Read “Overcoming First Impression Fears

Beng Alba-Jones is a freelance editor and former assistant editorial manager for OMF Literature, Inc.

<<Register for our free upcoming webinar on May 20,  “Writing for Children” with award-winning children’s author Emily Lim of Singapore. Register online now.

Photo above by watcharakun, Freedigitalphotos

Opening Up: The mutual gift of ghostwriting

By Cecil (Cec) Murphy

I’m a ghostwriter/collaborator. That is, I make my living by writing for other peopleCecil Murphy headshot and trying to capture their voices and personalities on paper. My goal is to grasp who they are and write their stories to help them connect with readers.

As we work together their trust level increases, and they share their anguish and failures. Sometimes they cry. In the process of opening up to me, they also hear themselves and often gain deeper self-awareness.

I don’t say a great deal while I tape material, but I listen intently. Those for whom I write enable me to accept them at their most pitiful level, love them in the midst of their tragic failures, and cheer for their triumph. I connected with their experiences—obviously not by what they did but by the way they interpret the meaning of those inner battles.

I learn about them, and, to my surprise, I’m changed by being a witness to their lives. In some mystic, unexplainable way, they help me become more open and compassionate. That may be obvious, but it was a startling revelation to me.

I had been a ghostwriter for at least a decade before that insight filtered through my consciousness. Until then, I wrote about others to help them tell their stories and to expand their self-discovery. They told of forgiving others, forgiving themselves, moving beyond failures, and living with peace in the present.

In doing so, I accepted them and learned to accept myself more fully. And that transferred into my being more loving and acceptable of others. When people open up so I can understand their painful journey and I truly listen, they teach me to be more forgiving and compassionate.

It’s amazing to me how this works. And I wondered why it took me so long to figure out the principle: The more I give myself to others through listening and sensing their pain, the more healthy and whole I become.

Is it possible that might be God’s plan for humanity?

Veteran author Cecil (Cec) Murphey has written or co-written more than 135 books, including the New York Times bestseller 90 Minutes in Heaven (with Don Piper) and Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story (with Dr. Ben Carson). His books have sold in the millions and have brought hope and encouragement to countless people around the world. This post was originally published in his April 2014 e-newsletter and is used here with his permission.

<<Register online now
for our free webinar on April 15- “The Power of the Story: Getting started in writing fiction” with award-winning novelist Jeanette Windle, US. 8 AM Central Time. Get a free ebook of Veiled Freedom when you register. Check out our complete webinar line-up for topics that interest you.


Overcoming first impression fears

This post is the first in a 3-part series, Do’s and Don’ts for Rookie Editors WorkingBeng Alba-Jones headshot with Respected Writers,” based on MAI’s recent webinar, “Who? You edit me?!” How can a neophyte editor work effectively with a prominent church leader?
By Beng Alba-Jones

Imagine it’s your first year on the job, learning the ropes of editing at a publishing house. One morning you are summoned to the editorial manager’s office. Your more senior colleagues are already burdened with heavy workloads, so your boss has no choice but to take a chance on you. Your baptism of fire: editing the work of a respected church leader who has been in ministry since you were learning your ABC’s.

Who, me? What does a young neophyte editor do? Do you leaf through the pages of The Chicago Manual of Style to see if there’s a chapter for you?

While circumstances differ, the feelings of new editors around the world are similar, whether one is editing in English, Chinese or Swahili. There is no need to deny your fear. Confront your feelings. Say to yourself: “Okay, I am afraid I am not going to be taken seriously. I feel incompetent. I lack experience BUT I am going to use this fear to my advantage. I just have to work harder and think smarter to make sure that I can deliver.”

typing at keyboardLearn about the writer
Google the writer’s name. What message is he or she spreading? You might discover that you have something in common that you can discuss when you meet.

But don’t send a Facebook friend request just yet. You’re an editor, not a stalker!

What kind of book is the writer interested in doing? Arm yourself with knowledge. Research if similar books already exist.

Meeting the writerhandshake photo
If meeting the writer for the first time makes you nervous, like going on a first date, don’t worry: that’s normal. To calm your nerves, prepare for your meeting. Look presentable. Show up on time. Fight the urge to bow at his or her feet, and offer a firm handshake instead. Be confident but not presumptuous. Ask the writer how he wants to be addressed. Whatever the writer decides, always talk to him with respect.

After introducing yourself, talk about your publishing house. How long you’ve been in business. What kinds of books you publish. Ask if he or she has read any books with your logo. Talk about the mission and vision of your company. Make the writer feel excited about being published by you.

Then ask about his goals and expectations. What is compelling the writer to write this book?

Give an overview of the editing process. Define expectations and schedules. Briefly summarize the topics you have covered to ensure the writer doesn’t forget what you have agreed on. Tell him that the publisher is behind him. After the writer has agreed to tackling the project, the ball is now in his court.

Beng Alba-Jones is a freelance editor and former assistant editorial manager for OMF Literature, Inc.

Do you have any tips to share about overcoming first impression fears in the publishing world? Tell us.

<<Get a free ebook of Veiled Freedom when you register for our free upcoming webinar on April 15- “The Power of the Story: Getting started in writing fiction” with Jeanette Windle, US. 8 AM Central Time. Check out our complete webinar line-up for topics that interest you.

Photos above:
1) typing at keyboard by adamr, Freedigitalphotos
2) handshake by David Castillo Dominici, Freedigitalphotos

Useful Apps for International Communication

By Joanne Kim, MAI InternID-100160534

With simple app downloads, it’s easy to keep in touch with anyone abroad, whether from Fiji, Peru, Kenya, Croatia, and the list goes on. These free and popular apps for international communication can help you stay connected with friends and colleagues across the globe.

Skype offers features including video, voice calls, instant messaging, and file sharing with anyone else on Skype, and paid features including calls to landlines worldwide, text messages, and group video calls with up to 10 people.

Google hangout allows live video call with up to 10 people, group conversations, sharing photos and emoji, and group video calls.

Facebook Messenger allows sharing files, photos, emoticons, instant messages, and locations to anyone connected through Facebook.

WhatsApp is a cross-platform mobile messaging app for iPhone, BlackBerry, Android, Windows Phone and Nokia.

Kakaotalk is a multi-platform texting app that allows voice calls, texts, sharing photos, contact information, voice notes, animated emoticons, and your location.

Voxer allows instant voice, text, photos, and location sharing. Voxer also offers Voxer Business app for 30-day free trial and $9.95 per user/month afterwards. Voxer Business allows group chats up to 500 contacts.

BBM is an app created by Blackberry. It allows instant messages, video chat, and sharing screens.

Kik is a smartphone messenger with a built-in browser. You can browse and share websites together with a friend.

LINE allows sharing photos, videos, voice messages, contact, and locations. Line also offers other supplemental apps such as LINE Camera, LINE Card, and LINE Play to enhance your experience using the main app.

Viber allows texts, calling, photo messages and location sharing with Viber users, and it integrates with your own contact list.

Wechat offers live chat, video call, chat history backup, video call, voice chat and sharing emoticons. You could also create a QR code to invite people to the group chat.

Oovoo offers video chat and instant messaging app for desktop, mobile, tablets and Facebook. You can chat with up to 12 people.

Do you have any other favorite apps for communicating far and wide? Tell us!

<<Check out our upcoming webinar on April 15- “The Power of the Story: Getting started in writing fiction” with Jeanette Jeanette Windle HeadshotWindle, US. 8 AM Central Time. Check out our complete webinar line-up for topics that interest you.


Image above by Kromkrathog, courtesy of Freedigitalphotos

Frances Fuller: Publishing in a War Zone

Frances Fuller tells her remarkable story of leading a Christian In Borrowed houses book coverpublishing house during the Lebanese Civil War in her new book, In Borrowed Houses.  The former publisher and MAI Board member shares personal insights from that experience, and her heart for the church and Christian publishing in the post-Arab Spring Middle East, in an interview with MAI intern Joanne Kim.

Q: How has your view of publishing changed through your experience working in a war zone?
The war made me focus on human needs and see that publishing was not about building my institution but about building faith and hope, providing helps for seekers and tools for servants.

The war actually improved our marketing system.  When war broke out our only warehouse was in a war zone.  We saw that we had to decentralize and began to work with people in other countries who could stock and sell our books.  The result was expansion and efficiency.

frances fuller HiRes_4824477720121Q:  What gave you the biggest satisfaction and joy amidst the difficulties and challenges your faced during the Lebanese Civil War?
The support of the Lebanese Christian community.

After we were paralyzed by violence for a year, our international board of directors sent me on a tour of Europe and the Middle East to search for a better place for our publishing house.  I went to seven cities in five countries.  What I learned made me understand the relationship between a publishing house and its community. I came back and told my board, “I would rather be in Lebanon with shells falling.”

8711 0002 BP STaff with NO Staff names

Staff of Baptist Press & Frances Fuller, seated front right

And the community stood behind me. People believed in the ministry and gave time to it. They helped me make decisions, accepted training and wrote materials. They dreamed and took risks with me. Because of them and their support, I never regretted my decision to keep the publishing house in Lebanon.

Q: How would you envision the potential long-term Kingdom benefits, if there are any, of the Arab Spring, in countries like Lebanon?
I wonder. The whole Middle East is in flux, evolving. Any good result may be decades in the future. Meanwhile the church has to go on being the church.  God’s people have to want just to be God’s people, whatever happens.

It is easy to feel hopeless, but Syrians who were once an occupation army controlling Lebanon are now needy refugees in Lebanon, and Lebanese Christians have swallowed their resentment to serve them. This is God’s people growing to be more like God. It is a small light in the darkness.

Q: What would be your word of encouragement to those in Christian publishing in the Middle East or other global hot spots today?
This is your day, not an accident, not a misfortune, but the day God gave you. Hang in.

Q: How can we be praying together with you for the Middle East?
That God will preserve His church.

In all this chaos Middle Eastern Christianity is threatened. This problem needs prayer and practical support.

Baptist Publications, which Frances directed, continues today under the name Dar Manhal al Hayat, in Beirut, Lebanon. The publishing house is an active partner with MAI and Ophir Publishers of Jordan in a program to equip Arab Christian writers from across the Middle East.