Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Write-to-Publish Faculty Interview: Rebecca Irwin-Diehl with Judson Press

Give us a snapshot of the company you represent. 
Judson Press is the historic publishing ministry of American Baptist Churches USA, the most culturally and theologically diverse of the Baptist conventions. We publish ecumenically for trade and church audiences, with a particular emphasis in the moderate Baptist and multicultural market. A niche publisher, Judson specializes in practical resources for the church and church leaders, offering only nonfiction titles. We also publish The Secret Place, a quarterly devotional magazine composed entirely of submissions from freelance writers, and Judson Adult Bible Journeys, a quarterly Sunday school curriculum written by and for American Baptists.

How can a person best prepare for appointments with editors? 
DO your homework on the editor’s publishing company before you show up for the appointment. (DON’T pitch an academic title to a fiction house, or vice versa. DON’T bring your personal memoir to an editor whose house clearly states that it doesn’t publish autobiography.) DO come equipped with a concise verbal summary of your book project; I want to hear you talk about your project (2-3 minute overview). DON’T hand over a 25-page proposal (much less the full manuscript) and expect the editor to read it then and there and respond—all in a 15-minute appointment! DO bring a copy of the proposal in case the editor requests it, but speaking personally, if I like what you pitch, I would prefer that you email the formal proposal to me after our meeting. (I’m flying home and prefer to travel light! Plus, I want to see if you can follow through on my first and simplest request. J) DO be prepared to answer clarifying questions about your content, audience, and promotional strategies. DO bring your own questions if you’re more in the inquiry stage; most of us are happy to talk process and basics with a new author!

What type of writer are you hoping to meet with at the conference? 
I’m seeking writers who are passionate about their topic and informed about their intended readers. Good focus around topic and audience, combined with flexibility and openness to constructive critique are a must. And a willingness to put themselves out there—in social media, in media interviews, in soliciting endorsements and speaking engagements—are increasingly essential, even for authors seeking traditional publishing. We want to be partners with our authors in making the most of every opportunity to put the good news of their work into as many hands as possible.

Anything you would like to add? 
I enjoy coming to writers’ conferences, not only for the potential projects I hope to discover but also because part of my ministry in publishing is cultivating authors out of aspiring writers. It is both adult education and a kind of pastoral call for me. So, I’m looking forward to meeting a new crop of writers with a lot of good questions to ask, as well as to discovering the more experienced folks who will have more polished presentations to make.

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