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Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Interview With The Writer Magazine Senior Editor Ronald Kovach


1.      As the senior editor of The Writer, what do you believe writers need to know – and want to know? Now there's a broad question, Brian! My particular answer, I guess, is largely a function of our particular magazine and audience. We try to serve a pretty broad cross-section of writers working in all types of genres and at a variety of experience levels. We tend to do a lot on fiction writing and freelance writing. Within those parameters, the basic things writers need, and want, to know, we think, are how to improve at their craft, what they can learn from accomplished writers, and how to succeed at the business end of things (e.g., finding an agent, finding a publisher, working with editors, doing self-promotion, understanding the digital world, etc.). We also seek to provide inspiration and motivation.

2.      How has the massive change in book publishing influenced your editorial coverage? We're paying quite a bit of attention to various forms of self-publishing and e-books. We've also started running a monthly New Publishing article that deals in some respect with all of the changes.

3.      Where do you see the book publishing landscape heading? Well, it seems clear we're in the middle of a communications revolution and no one is sure where it will come out. I think the very notion of what a book is will really evolve, eventually routinely harnessing all of the multi-media potential that is already out there. My pet theory right now is that in five or 10 years, or maybe less, the purchaser of a nonfiction book — say, a sports biography — will be offered a choice of price tiers corresponding to how many digital goodies are included. This purchaser, for example, will be able to buy a basic print edition of the biography, consisting of nearly all words, with maybe the usual section of photographs, and nothing more.

The e-book purchaser, however, will be able to buy either a meat-and-potatoes version, at a low price, or for, say, another $5 or $10, a deluxe electronic version that offers these kinds of goodies: video interviews with the subject himself, interviews with key individuals in the athlete's life; and video of key plays or performances. A similar e-biography of a musician would, of course, offer video-audio clips of key musical performances.     

A similar multi-tiered, mutli-layered choice might be offered to magazine purchasers in the future. There is also potential for the novel to evolve into some new interactive hybrid. It's a brave new world.

4.      What advice can you give to a struggling writer? It's been said many times, but if you wish to succeed as a writer or editor and you don't love to read, you might want to consider another occupation. I think the answer to your question differs with the type of writing. I think a newbie freelance writer might want to use the pyramid approach: start small, in hopes of learning a lot, getting clips, and making mistakes on a small stage. Then keep building, trying for bigger pubs.  Newspaper work is a terrific training ground, but it's not the only one. We have some very good contributing editors at The Writer who never did any formal newspaper work.

This will sound self-serving, but our magazine offers a ton of advice from accomplished writers of all types, so we hope your readers will consider subscribing. 

I don't have a background in fiction writing, but I can tell you from editing 10 years' worth of articles at The Writer, that a very large percentage of the accomplished fiction writers we interview agree on the importance of having a regular writing routine. But they sure do differ on most other things, including the value — or lack thereof — of outlining a piece of fiction before diving in. I guess it all comes down to: Try some different approaches until you see what works for you.       

5.      What do you love most about writing and being a journalist? Well, I find a beauty in clear, elegant writing and great storytelling, whether fiction or nonfiction. Journalism rewards voracious reading and, when done correctly, stubbornly insists on precision, accuracy and clarity.   

Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer, a leading book publicity firm. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at brianfeinblum@gmail.com. He feels more important when discussed in the third-person.

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