Tag Archives: management

Another Lucrative Niche Market


Earlier this month, I discussed the idea of writing for niche markets. I gave examples of markets that one might not think of if one weren’t told the markets exist. Today, I am sharing news about another niche market that has readers with strong book-buying habits. How about 3.8 books per month on average!

If you are knowledgable in the areas of interest discussed below, you may want to consider publishing for this market.

from bama.org:

A recent Barna survey found there are 315,000 Protestant houses of worship in the United States—that’s compared to approximately 13,000 McDonalds and 4,000 Walmarts. Or, to put it another way: more than 300,000 people who purchase, on average, 3.8 books per month. That’s not counting the number of books purchased by people influenced by pastors, such as other ministry staff and congregants, likely driving the total number of books even higher.

According to new research by Barna Group into the buying and reading habits of pastors, younger pastors buy more books per year than do older pastors. This is a strong indication that the market for book-related content will remain strong among the youngest generation of faith leaders.

So what are the books these pastors are buying? Well, for the most part, they’re related to a specific topic a pastor needs to know about or is interested in. When a pastor selects a ministry-related book, the single most important factor is the topic. This was followed by the author and a recommendation from someone. Price, title and convenience were reportedly rare selection criteria.

So what topics are they looking for? When asked to identify the types of books they have read recently, pastors identified spirituality, theology and leadership most frequently. Other popular subjects include prayer, history, cultural trends and church practice. About half of pastors are reading biographies and one-third are consuming business books. Fiction is a slightly less prevalent category among pastors, compared to the general population.

Where They Buy It’s clear pastors are buying books, but where are they purchasing them? After all, usually the “death of books” headline is accompanied by a “death of bookstores” subhead. We saw the rise of Amazon and the death of Borders. Is that the trend among pastors too?

Yes and no. In the Pastors + Books report, pastors reveal that Christian retail and online were the two primary channels through which they acquire books. General retail was a distant third, followed by book distributors. Small slices of pastors purchase direct from the publisher or from their denomination.

From Dream to Reality


Dates don’t stick in my brain. That’s why I always disliked history classes. The tests seemed to focus on memorization of lots of dates. I was at an instant disadvantage. I would have preferred that the instructors focused on the lessons we can learn from history. If that had been the case, I likely would have majored in history. I love to learn. I hate memorization.

But I digress.

I was saying dates don’t stick in my brain. I can’t remember when I first decided that I would start a writers group. If I were to guess, I would say it was two years ago. About that time, I started attending writing workshops by mystery author Lauren Carr, hosted by different local libraries. In fact, it happened after the first Carr workshop, but before the second. At the second workshop is where I asked for anyone interested to give me his or her contact information.

It took a bit of time to find a meeting place. I had a list of 25 names. I had no idea how many would actually show up. Rose Harris, owner of a local coffee-house in historic Williamsport, MD, was willing to let the group use her back room free of charge two times per month. The local library also had a meeting room, but it was in high demand. The writers group may have to compete for meeting dates. That was no good. Plus, the library felt sterile. The vibe at the Desert Rose Cafe was nurturing, creative, friendly. As an added bonus, “the eats” were good and inexpensive.

Desert Rose Cafe TL

It was the vibe that made the decision for me.

Over time the group whittled down to a dozen, then ten regulars. The group was very diverse, from writing styles to personalities to topical interests. Yet we jelled. We shared work by reading aloud. We criticized (in a constructive way) and guided each other in developing our craft. We encouraged and inspired each other.

The restaurant hosted a writing contest, posting short works from the group in the dining room, asking diners to read and vote on a winner.

We all were winners, because, after the contest, we decided to put together the Anthology. We had faith we could create a collection of short works, edit them, compile them, then publish them in a period of about six months.

With the professional assistance  and coaching of Acorn Book Services in Harpers Ferry, WV, by December, 2012, the humble writers group–Writers of the Desert Rose Cafe–released its first e-book. The members range in age from 30 to 80-plus and live in a three state area.

One member with Asperger’s Syndrome remarked that the release date of the e-book was one of the greatest days in his life. During the course of writing for the Anthology, he made a decision to move out of his parents’ home and into his own apartment, so he could enroll in college. He is currently working on a solo writing project.

An administrator in the local library system called me a couple of days ago to express her surprise and joy that Writers of the Desert Rose Cafe had achieved its goal. She offered to help arrange publicity for the book through the local newspaper. In turn, I offered to promote the library workshops as wellsprings of creativity. Without the library’s workshop, the Anthology would never have been written.

An idea led to a call to action and resulted in the creation and e-printing of a publication. A young man’s life changed. Others came to see that setting a goal and working on it faithfully yielded results. Several are working on new solo projects.

Dreams do come true.

Writers of the Desert Rose Cafe, An Anthology, available from Amazon.com or Barnes & Noble

Here

http://www.amazon.com/Writers-Desert-Cafe–Anthology-ebook/dp/B00ARYTOYC/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1357500066&sr=1-1&keywords=writers+of+the+desert+rose+cafe

or here

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/writers-of-the-desert-rose-cafe-an-anthology-fay-moore/1114018983

When Writing About Suicide or Mental Illness or Addiction


I stumbled on an excellent article from aportiaadamsadventure.wordpress.com in which the author discusses college training for journalists on handling a suicide story. The author is applying that learning to her fiction.

Below are a few excerpts from the article. You may read the complete entry here: http://aportiaadamsadventure.wordpress.com/2013/01/12/writing-about-suicide/#comment-520

An article from the Poynter Institute written a decade ago remains one of the best on the subject if you are interested in reading more, but this is the quote that I always keep in mind when this subject comes up (which thankfully, is not that often, but still happens more than it should):

Mental illness is almost always present in a case of suicide. To report on suicide without discussing the role of mental illness is like reporting on a tornado without mentioning the underlying weather conditions. Tornados don’t whip up out of nowhere, and neither does suicide.

***

Just because context helps when writing, Statistics Canada and Health Canada obviously follow this subject very closely, and their latest numbers are:

Suicide is a major cause of premature and preventable death. It is estimated, that in 2009 alone, there were about 100,000 years of potential life lost to Canadians under the age of 75 as a result of suicides.

Research shows that mental illness is the most important risk factor for suicide; and that more than 90% of people who commit suicide have a mental or addictive disorder.1,2 Depression is the most common illness among those who die from suicide, with approximately 60% suffering from this condition.

***

The article writer is working on a fictional story set in the 1930’s. She asks readers for input about mental health support and treatment from the time. I reply to her request as follows:

Excellent article! You ask for insight from the 30’s. I’ll share a personal anecdote. I learned in my fifties about my maternal grandfather’s commitment to an insane asylum. I learned it by finding personal papers of my mother’s that referenced the event. My mother had them stashed away. Never in my entire lifetime had my mother told that story to me. Instead she had painted a picture for me of a talented man who was ahead of his time. From the same stash of papers, I learned my grandfather physically abused my grandmother. The societal code of the time was silence about anything untoward, especially if the family had any social prominence. So much so that long after my grandfather was dead, long after I was a married adult and a mother, my mother never mentioned the dark side or mental illness of my grandfather. I learned about it after my mother left her home, and I was cleaning out the place.

After sending that message, I recalled more about the story of my grandfather. It was set in the Great Depression. He was in the throes of losing the family dairy and farm. His wife died, leaving him to care for seven children from age 14 to a newborn infant, all while running a home milk delivery business (done from a horse drawn cart) and running a crop and dairy farm. It was in a time when a family grew their own food and preserved it, so a huge garden had to be tended and defended from pests, then harvested and put up. Kids had to get to school, be dressed and fed. The wee ones required care 24/7.

As my grandmother lay dying of cancer, my grandfather or my mother, the oldest child, injected grandmother with morphine to control her pain. I am uncertain about why he did it exactly, but my grandfather began using his wife’s morphine himself and became addicted. In the 1930’s, my grandfather’s addiction was treated as mental illness in the insane asylum. (I’m sure there’s more to the narrative that I will never know.)

All of this tragic story was hidden from me by my mother. She did tell me that after my grandmother’s death, grandfather fell apart and abandoned the farm and the children. She said my grandmother had been the glue that held the family together. After her death, the children tried to operate the farm, but, as children, they failed. Ultimately, in the midst of depression, the children were split up and sent to various homes, where they were grudgingly taken in and resented as another mouth to feed in what were difficult times.

The point is there is always a backstory to suicide. Often it is mental illness or addiction. And there is often a backstory to addiction and mental illness, too. When writing about the subject of suicide, mental illness or addiction, be sure to make the reader aware of the backstory, since it provides context for the current event you are writing about.

Control Freak–Are You One?


If this is a page out of True Confessions, then I confess: I can be a control freak. Being one has merits at times: I tend to complete the tasks that are important to me. I organize my life. Life generally works out well But the down side is I can run off everyone I love in the process.

Shelley Prevost of Inc.com offers eight ways to tell if you are a control freak:

 

  • You believe that if someone would change one or two things about themselves, you’d be happier. So you try to “help them” change this behavior by pointing it out, usually over and over.

  • You micromanage others to make them fit your (often unrealistic) expectations. You don’t believe in imperfection and you don’t think anyone else should either.

  • You judge others’ behavior as right or wrong and passive-aggressively withhold attention until they fall in line with your expectations. Sitting in silent judgment is a master form of control.

  • You offer “constructive criticism” as a veiled attempt to advance your own agenda.

  • You change who you are or what you believe so that someone will accept you. Instead of just being yourself, you attempt to incept others by managing their impression of you.

  • You present worst-case scenarios in an attempt to influence someone away from certain behaviors and toward others. This is also called fear mongering.

  • You have a hard time with ambiguity and being OK with not knowing something.

  • You intervene on behalf of people by trying to explain or dismiss their behaviors to others

I am not suggesting you change yourself. A leopard can’t change its spots. Rather, I urge you to be aware of yourself so you can temper your behavior when your behavior is riding roughshod over others whom you love. Or work with. Or need to play nice with. Like editors or literary agents or reviewers. Knowing when to rein yourself in is a highly desirable trait.

IMHO, many successful people are control freaks. It is part of a set of characteristics that enable one to rise about average performance. So use the attributes in ways that help you achieve your goals while making the world a better place for someone other than yourself. Thinking that way may help you balance things out–or keep peace in the home, office or social setting.

 

Emotional Intelligence in Writing


As an author, I create characters. I also have to understand, or get inside, my character, in order to bring the character to life.  I have to know what makes a character tick; to know, to act and to feel as the character does – to translate how feelings impact actions. This ability is called emotional intelligence. I use it, and my characters use it.

Maybe the words of others will make this principle clearer:

David Caruso:  “It is very important to understand that emotional intelligence is not the opposite of intelligence, it is not the triumph of heart over head — it is the unique intersection of both.” –From (“Emotional What?”)

Peter Salovey:  “I think in the coming decade we will see well-conducted research demonstrating that emotional skills and competencies predict positive outcomes at home with one’s family, in school, and at work.” –From “Emotional What?” EQ Today

Freedman et al.:  “Emotional Intelligence is a way of recognizing, understanding, and choosing how we think, feel, and act. . . Research suggests it is responsible for as much as 80% of the “success” in our lives.” –From Handle With Care: Emotional Intelligence Activity Book

(Note from Fay – I think my ability to use emotional intelligence in story telling is responsible for 80% of my reader’s buying into my character. What keeps a reader going is his care about what happens to the character, as much as his interest in the story line.)

John Gottman:  “In the last decade or so, science has discovered a tremendous amount about the role emotions play in our lives. Researchers have found that even more than IQ, your emotional awareness and abilities to handle feelings will determine your success and happiness in all walks of life, including family relationships.” –From Raising an Emotionally Intelligent Child

(Note from Fay – You have to address emotional awareness and abilities in character development.  Without it, a character is flat. Based on the quote above, a character without emotional intelligence is unsuccessful in relationships and unhappy. Unless all of your characters are socially inept, you have to manage a character’s emotional intelligence.)

Salovey, Mayer, Goldman, Turvey, and Palfai:  “People in good moods are better at inductive reasoning and creative problem solving.”From Emotion, Disclosure, and Health, 1995

Mayer & Salovey:  “People high in emotional intelligence are expected to progress more quickly through the abilities designated and to master more of them.” –From “What is Emotional Intelligence” in Emotional Development and Emotional Intelligence: Educational Implications, by Peter Salovey and David Sluyter. 1997

(Note from Fay: Character development has to ring true to reality. Your characters who are in healthy relationships with others will also have an abundance of emotional intelligence.)

Social Media is Taking Over…Don’t Believe Me? Watch This Video.


If you are over 39, and you want to remain relevent in business or in a creative field, you better read Gen Y Girl Kayla Cruz’s link below. Watch the video. It is a MUST.

If you are over 39 and unemployed, you are apt to stay that way unless you embrace the way of the world. Technology is rapidly changing the way business is conducted and the way people communicate.

Finally, if you are writing a book set in 2012, you better understand modern culture. If you have your twenty- or thirty-something character spending time on e-mail  primarily using a laptop, you are so out of touch. Your credibility will be negatively affected. Or your character may be viewed as social awkward.

As a member of the over 39 club, I learn and re-learn till my head hurts.

Social Media is Taking Over…Don’t Believe Me? Watch This Video..