Posted by Sally Matheny on Dec 24th, 2012 | 3 comments
Gleaning Gold Interview with Author/Editor Eddie Jones:
“Cool Guys Read”
– by Sally Matheny
Boys typically read slower and less often than girls do, according to one intensive study in 2002. By the time they reach high school, boys’ lack of reading enthusiasm prompts nearly 50% to classify themselves as nonreaders. (Smith and Wilhelm, 2002)
Concerned parents and teachers long to close the literacy gap between boys and girls. Literature, that is more appealing to boys, is in demand. Positive, male role models need to encourage reading. The message needs conveying that guys who read are cool.
Award-winning author, Eddie Jones, is keenly aware of the uphill battle boys face in language arts. His high school teacher told him not to go to college and major in English. He did anyway. N.C. State University rejected him the first time he applied. He managed an acceptance. He failed English 101…twice. He persevered and earned an English/Journalism degree.
A boating and surfing enthusiast, Eddie understands boys need adventure. He amply supplies that in his multi-award winning MG/YA book: The Curse of Captain LaFoote (SharksFinn Books) and his most recent YA book: Dead Man’s Hand (Zondervan).
Hard work and determination has led Eddie to publish seven books and hundreds of articles. He is also the Sr. Acquisitions Editor of Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. He will be presenting two workshops at the 2013 Write2Ignite! Writers’ Conference: Writing Books That Appeal to Boys and What Book Editors Want in Your Manuscripts.
Eddie, many boys do not like to read. Did you like to read books when you were a child? If so, what type of book did you enjoy?
I read Tom Sawyer every year for like 6 years. It was my book report from 7th grade until I graduated high school. I also read Charlie Brown cartoons, Mad Magazine, Civil War magazines and books I ordered from school.
You’re an inspiration to writers with educational “issues!” What advice would you offer to people who enjoy storytelling, but struggle with the mechanics of writing?
Ignore the grammar Nazis. Grammar is important. Without the basic skills, you look stupid. Trust me, I know. But if you have issues, like I have, then you need to constantly improve in your areas of weakness and understand you will never please everyone.
How essential is it to earn a college degree (in writing) if one wants to pursue a writing career?
Not at all. Unless you intend to pursue a career in journalism, the degree doesn’t matter. I’ve yet to have an editor or agent ask me if I majored in English or journalism. That’s the beauty of writing – it’s color blind, gender neutral and educationally unbiased. All readers care about is a good story.
What writing resources do you recommend for writers?
Attend writers’ conferences. Take classes at the conferences that teach writing. Read great books on writing. Anything by James Scott Bell or Donald Maass is worth the money. If you can find a conference where Steven James is teaching, go. Same with Alton Gansky.
Do you have an agent and if so, how did you land your agent?
Yes. She’s a friend and we have a volatile relationship. We both know each other too well. I don’t think she works hard enough for me and she knows the books I write don’t fit the market. We met at a writers’ conference. She thought my writing was funny. It is, but funny is a hard sell.
Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas is expanding to publish Young Adult books. What type of manuscripts are you looking for currently?
We don’t look for manuscripts. We review what is sent to us. The YA market is tough for small houses like LPC. Tough for most book publishers. The publishers that do well have library and school connections. So for a YA book to do well for us the author needs to find a way to crack the mom / homeschool market. Moms buy YA books– sort of. Once the child is in high school (generally) and has their own money, they make their own purchases. But for the most part the mom buys the book. So you have two markets: mom and the reader you are writing to. That’s why writing for the YA market is so hard.
The other way to approach this is to write for moms but pitch the book as a YA novel. This is what the Twilight series did (in my opinion). The books were supposed to be for young women but they hooked moms. Do that and you’re golden.
What submission pet peeves and/or pitfalls should writers avoid when contacting you?
I should start a list. Not so much about pet peeves but just things that disappoint me. For example, right now our Pub Board is sorting through 40 submissions. I would say maybe seven are full proposals–Word docs that have all the elements necessary to allow our editors to make a recommendation of acceptance. The rest are either synopsis without sample chapters, sample chapters without a synopsis, samples of writing but not market, proposals that don’t’ tell us if the story is for YA, adults, romance, etc.
So if I have one piece of advice it is this: send the editor or agent everything they will need to make a decision. There are plenty of great books on how to put together a book proposal. What surprises me is how many authors skip this step. I can only assume they do not know, or like me with grammar, they don’t know that they don’t know.
Eddie, thanks for inspiring storytellers to write, and boys to read. We look forward to your workshops at the Write2Ignite Conference.