With each new installment of the Red Sofa Chats, I am reminded yet again of why I love my job – and why it’s such a treat to work with the various individuals I’ve met over the years in the world of book publishing.
Imagine my excitement when Chuck Sambuchino agreed to join the chats! I’m a fan of Writer’s Digest, and how WD has contributed to the successes (and future successes) of aspiring authors. Chuck is one of the people behind the scenes at Writer’s Digest, and I’ve always appreciated his sound advice to writers – whether through the WD website, the books he edits, and/or via Twitter.
Chuck, thank you so much for joining the Red Sofa Chats!
Bio: Chuck Sambuchino is an editor and a writer. He works for Writer’s Digest Books and edits GUIDE TO LITERARY AGENTS (guidetoliteraryagents.com/blog) as well as CHILDREN’S WRITER’S & ILLUSTRATOR’S MARKET. His humor book, HOW TO SURVIVE A GARDEN GNOME ATTACK (gnomeattack.com), was released in Sept. 2010 and has been featured by Reader’s Digest, USA Today, the New York Times and AOL News. Besides that, Chuck is a produced playwright, magazine freelancer, husband, cover band guitarist, chocolate chip cookie fiend, and owner of a flabby-yet-lovable dog named Graham.
1. Why did you choose to be an editor, as well as a writer?
I chose to be a writer because I’ve enjoyed telling stories for as long as I can remember. It seemed like a logical extension of that. It isn’t realistic for me to write full time, so I became an editor to establish a career and meet other writers, etc. I have found that full-time writing is very feast and famine, and after a while, you want a little stability in terms of hours and paychecks.
2. From my own personal observation, I see you as an advocate for writers. What inspired you to take this role?
Everyone at Writer’s Digest and Writer’s Digest Books is an advocate of writers and a fan of writing. I just happen to be more visible than most and travel to more conferences than your average staffer. I’m very lucky to work at WD Books, because if I have to be an editor in an area, what better area than writing/publishing? I meet the best people.
3. What are you reading right now (for fun)?
I am a huge Van Halen fan and just finished Sammy Hagar’s memoir, RED. I want to start THE VAN HALEN saga. However, right now I am reading Matt Baglio’s THE RITE, a true story of a California Catholic priest undergoing exorcism training in Rome. Spooky stuff. [ Chuck, I had no idea you were such a Van Halen fan! Fantastic! 🙂 ]
4. How do you utilize Twitter? How do you believe it has changed the way we go about publishing books?
I don’t tweet nearly as much as I could from my @chucksambuchino account, because I tweet a lot from the @writersdigest page, which has 155,000 followers. The only way I really “utilize” Twitter that is different or unusual is that I tweet the same posts at least 4 times if not more. I believe that 99.5% of all posts in my feed go unnoticed by me because there is so much.
So I have decided, especially when tweeting as part of WD, to tweet the same stuff several times so more people can see it. Another way Twitter has helped me is the way it has allowed me to connect with new, interesting writers. My blog is run mostly by awesome guest columnists, so I need to be in touch with lots of awesome writers to contribute content. Twitter is a great meeting place, and most people are happy to communicate with me.
In terms of how it is changing the industry: I think Twitter just reinforces the fact that we are a culture addicted to the Internet, with less patience and less time. We are bombarded by distractions and quick fixes, which means less time reading books. One good thing Twitter has done is allowed the spread of information to happen quicker and better. I now learn of books and authors every week through Twitter. It’s Publicity Nuvo. That is pretty cool.
5. If you had a crystal ball, where do you think (or hope) publishing will be in 5 years?
I think there will always be a large place for traditional publishing and hardcopy books in the mix. In terms of more people e-publishing their books, it will be interesting to see 1) how the Internet will create channels so that the best stuff can get reviewed and break out; and 2) if and how the general public will begin to seek out more stuff that was e-published.
I dunno. I feel like there are much smarter people than me in this “futurist” arena, but everyone just seems to be taking guesses. We’ll see what we see. The biggest thing writers should worry about is crafting an excellent story.
Thanks for having me on Red Sofa Chats!
-Questions? Comments for Chuck? Let us know what you think!
An additional incentive, Chuck will be giving away a free copy of the 2011 GUIDE TO LITERARY AGENTS. Any comment or questions put your name in the drawing. The winner will be “drawn” in two weeks! Trust me, you want this book 🙂
you are a star
Having a “duh”/smack head here moment. Of course with the flurry of twitters – important stuff needs to be retwittered! Thanks for the (obvious to everyone except me) tip.
Interesting read, thank you for sharing. I’m curious what Mr. Sambuchino means by the “large place” for traditional and hardcopy publishing. It’s shrunk for most books this year, while e-books are on the rise. Does he think there will be a surge, or that traditional publishing’s existing lead will simply last in a symbiotic relationship to the growth of e-readers?
Your point about tweeting the same thing a few times is an interesting one; not only do most of the tweets get lost in the stream, but also there are times I see something you’ve tweeted when I don’t have time to follow up. It’s very nice to be able to find it again easily, because you’ve tweeted it again more recently. Thank you for that repetition!
I found the article very interesting. However, this comment: “I have found that full-time writing is very feast and famine, and after a while, you want a little stability in terms of hours and paychecks.” Is what made it for me. It articulates what so many of us have found on our journeys with the Pen: you’ve got to make money some other way when the times get lean.
As for Twitter, I think it is a time investment, one that rewards you directly based on how often you use it. Just an hour on Twitter can establish connections that would take weeks or months through any other venue.
All in all, thanks for creating this site as a venue for us to read and learn, but most of all: listen. 🙂
I was privileged to listen to Chuck Sambushino speak at the Boone County Public Library when he gave a great workshop on finding a literary agent. Great advice which really got me stoked to start writing more. He didn’t hold any punches when it came to answering questions from the audience. If you was doing something wrong he let you know. Good interview.
I loved this article. I’m so glad to hear of such wonderful people working for Writer’s Digest. Great information and advice.
As for the future of publishing, this is what a friend told me, “There will be a feud between the electronic book and the physical copy, but readers know what they prefer and they will choose how they wish to read.”
As a fellow writer, I’ve got a long road ahead. Good thing there is help along the way. Thank you.
I find theRed Sofa Chats to be very informative from a writer’s perspective.Anytime I can get advice first hand from a person or person’s who has been there done that,I take it and run with it.Being on twitter,and having Writer’s Digest as one I follow,is something useful.
And as far as Traditional Publishing is concerned,Books are like food,we need them to sustain us,to nourish us,and to continue activate our senses.
I am new to the literary world online, but I have quickly become a follower of Mr. Sambuchino at the GLA blog. There is plenty of information for aspiring authors and the 2011 Guide to Literary Agents is on my wishlist.
Sometimes it feels like authors, agents, and editors, are set apart from the normal crowd, especially if you are one of the new authors trying to get your foot in the door. It’s good to see a bio that talks about being a cover band guitarist, and his “flabby-yet-lovable” dog Graham. It makes him a real person, someone you could go have a beer with.
I so appreciate your insight! I am so new to authoring I don’t even know the correct manuscript format nor the correct font yet! I’m preparing by learning about the industry before
As an observer those in the industry seems very hard and i fear asking questions after reviewing responses from the lit agents I follow. I actually deleted some as reading their responses was frustaring and bordered on rudeness.
Thank you for sharing. It is much appreciated!
Chuck’s interviews with agents are often helpful and always enjoyable. It’s nice to see him giving the answers instead of asking the questions.
Terrific tips about using Twitter. And I completely agree with you with regard to where traditional print will be in 5 years.
Having 2010 Guide to Literary Agents I can attest how invaluable the book has been for me. Would love to win a copy of the 2011 version.
Hi! New follower here. Is the competition open to foreigners?
I was wondering how Chuck got into editing…
I bought Chuck’s book: How to Survive a Garden Gnome Attack and loved it. Then my 12-year-old son read it and did a report on it for his reading class. The teacher liked the report so much she asked to borrow the book. We’ve since bought additional copies of the book for two of my son’s friends. Now we’re all prepared to defend ourselves against the Gnomes when they attack Texas. I’m just looking forward to his next blockbuster book on Aliens. 🙂
Thank you for all the work you do getting these agents in front of us.
New fan of your red sofa chats. I think there’s plenty of room for traditional and ebook publishing. It’s all sort of getting figured out. I bet a lot of the agents/publishers that take the traditional route are scoping out some of the awesome digital content online. My main goal is to write. Follow my dreams and make the right connections, and of course stay tuned into updates like yours.
I’m a big fan of Chuck’s guide to literary agents website and I’ve also been on the Red Sofa Literary website quite a bit. Thank you to both of you for providing information to help writers. BTW, This comment right here offers proof to comments about twitter. I found this interview through twitter and clicked on the link in your tweet. So it does work.
Thanks in large part to a lot of the information on guide to literary agents website, I’m now looking for an agent for my second book. And of course, I’ve learned to never stop, so I’m writing my 3rd and 4th books, too.
Great interview! I’m also interested to see how all facets of e-publishing evolve.
for those who want to come back to a tweet to reread, i suggest favorite-ing it (star) for those items you want to scope out later. but definitely an interesting comment on retweeting your own tweets.
Within days of starting in on Twitter, I found myself making connections with other writers from all over the place: reading and commenting on each other’s blogs, establishing a rapport, exchanging information and advice. This is such an invaluable aspect of Twitter, and it is one I never expected.
The “discussion” aspects of Twitter are great too. Things like “follow Friday” and “#askagent” have been extremely helpful.
Interesting article – thanks!
I am a huge fan of WD and want to thank you, Chuck, for what you and the WD staff do for writers everywhere.
I’d like to know what you think about the internet facilitating writers in finding agents. I recently queried a novel and so much of the internet information was inaccurate! Do you believe that it’s faster/more beneficial for a writer to search traditional venues for agents to query, to use the internet generally exclusively, or to find a combination of both?
Thank you for taking the time to sit down with us today. I appreciate it!
I’ve only recently started writing and have fallen in love with Twitter, WD and other tweeps, for all the information I have gained just in the past few weeks. I’m pleased that Chuck retweets WD links. I still go through my time line and open all the links I want to view, first thing, but it’s reassuring to know that my chances of missing a useful WD link are lessened by his effort.
The interview intrigues me in that Chuck was drawn to two books about two individuals with a great passion. It is the passion that shapes and informs the sub-plots of their lives.
So, how does one singular passion tell your life story and shape everything else?
This was great! Thanks for the insight into one of the editors of writers digest!
Loved this chat. Writer’s Digest is such a great site. I feel sorry that I can’t keep up with it like I would like to. I’ve followed and admired Chuck for a long time. I found it surprising he says, “there are much smarter people than me in this “futurist” arena”. But it makes me realize, I shouldn’t be. No one can predict the future especially in this up and down industry. Thanks so much for having Chuck as your guest.
I love the idea of a red couch…now I want one!
Great conversation. Chuck Sambuchino and the others at WD Books have such good ideas and offer such support to other writers. I’m trying to do the same with my coaching business for writers (www.creative-writing-life-coach.com)
Twitter and e-publishing are such great new arenas for writers. There’s so much opportunity to market and be seen now than there used to be, especially for writers in narrow niches who would never have a chance before.
I’ll keep an eye out for future Red Couch discussions. 🙂
I’ll look for future Red Couch articles
Great insight, Chuck. Thanks for sharing. I see the ebook marketplace consolidating into controllable buckets in the future. Much like big box stores vs. Smaller boutique shops. … Mike
I started following you a week or two ago, not realizing you were tweeting for the WD posts or such a Van Halen fan. I, too, am a huge Van Halen fan, and like Sammy’s days better then Dave’s but even suffered through Gary Cherone. Knowing we share this in common will make me look forward to more tweets and posts.
@John Symbiotic relationship.
@Denise I always suggest both. Start with something like the 2011 GLA to see the big picture and compose a big list, then start checking out individual agent websites one by one when you have a list. The websites will help you refine your search and make sure no one went on sick leave yesterday.
@Jonathan I was listening to more Van Halen on my way to work today. I am almost done THE VAN HALEN SAGA. Sprawling book! Yeah, I grew up on the Sammy stuff. I like both Van Hagar and Van Halen. Cherone’s days … bad.
I’d like to hear Chuck’s take on whether or not certain genres are better fits for ebooks than others?
Finding all of these literary blogs has literally changed my life and my plans for my own work, just like finding WD did. And RED is INSANE! Just finished it.
A most insightful interview. Good to know there are those who want to give writers a shot at the plate, despite rumors to the contrary. My compliments to Mr. Sambuchino for helping out. I hope to read some of his work in future.
There’s no better source of information for aspiring writers than advice from people in the field. Thanks for taking the time to impart a little knowledge…we appreciate it!
Because of the dip in our economy, I wonder about the market for memoirs from “ordinary people,” which seemed to be a big trend last decade. Are celebrity memoirs the only thing going now, or is there still room for the hoi polloi?
Great stuff, Dawn! And thanks to Chuck for his time and insight.
“I have found that full-time writing is very feast and famine, and after a while, you want a little stability in terms of hours and paychecks.” This comment is helpful to me as I consider next steps in my career.
“I tweet the same posts at least 4 times if not more. I believe that 99.5% of all posts in my feed go unnoticed by me because there is so much.”
I’ve been wondering about re-tweeting my posts because I’ve noticed that different tweeple are on twitter at different times of the day. So now I’m going to make it a habit (within reason!) to promote readership.
Great interview and article. Thank you.
I have to say that I can definitely see Chuck’s point about Twitter being an incredible form of book publicity. Great interview. I think we’re all waiting to see where the e-book world will take us.
Firstly, Van Halen rules. Secondly, I feel the same way about Twitter. I’m sure I’m missing vital stuff. It will definitely be interesting to see how e-publishing continues to affect the publishing industry. Like most things, I see pros and cons, but I think true book lovers will continue to buy hard-copy books, even if they do own e-readers.
Happy to see Chuck believes traditional publishing will continue to have its place in the future. Didn’t know about Bagglio’s The Rite, now I’ll have to look into that – as a practicing Catholic, I hope it is not too “spooky” Right on with the Twitter comments. Tweet, tweet and re-tweet is the only way.
I am a big fan of Chuck Sambuchino. I have met him in person and he is not only a great writer/editor, he is a great guy. I have the 2011 Guide to Literary Agents and it is a great resource for writers.
(I don’t need to be entered into the drawing, but wanted to leave a comment).
I liked reading that you tweet links multiple times. I do that, too, trying to spread them out on different days/times to try to catch a different audience. It is so easy to miss stuff on Twitter!
My hope is that e-publishing and print will be mutually beneficial. A well-written book available in both forms can only increase visibility and readership. Each new generation will naturally gravitate to e-readers or whatever the next technology will be. Embrace it, shake out the glitches, work out the terms, and everyone in this business — from cover artist to authors to publishers — can rise together. Publishing is a numbers game. The form and price of e-published books is expanding readership.
The last line says it all. Craft a good story it will be read, whether electronic, hard copy, soft back, or on a cave wall. thanks for the chat interview.
Thanks for the interview. Great stuff!
I’m also very interested to see what the future holds for publishing. I think something will be necessary to legitimize epublished authors as viable literary works and not just some hack with a PDF writing program. I hope the proliferation of ebooks doesn’t dilute author credibility.
Sammy Hagar? Why not just replace Queen’s Freddie Mercury with, I dunno, Paul Rodgers? David Lee Roth owns the role.
I am still Kindle-free, but I expect I will buy one soon enough. It feels like when I left LPs for CDs, and now CDs for mp3s. I won’t hate it, but I feel so old school.
Mixed feelings about Twitter. I have reposted, but it feeds into y Facebook account and clogs the system — my profile page has to much of the same. So much I eee is self-promotive, and to many who follow me are trying to glom onto to my traffic, not my brilliant views about writing, running and BBQing. not to mention my hundreds of Amazon reviews.
I have enjoyed real interaction with WD people via Twitter, as well as major writers (had a warm personal exchange with Jerry Jenkins, an amazingly bitter exchange with Anne Rice, and lots of back and forth with well-known celebs and athletes).
That said, Twitter users here are free to follow me, being, I have no doubt, more interesting than So-and-So Automotive in City 1,000 Miles Away, Nebraska (I’m in Chicago). http://twitter.com/AnthonyTrendl
Very insightful comments, especially regarding tweeting important information several times in order to ensure that it reaches your audience. Also, Chuck was 100% on point in his assessment that we are an internet addicted society, and have neither the time nor the patience for lengthy diatribes. Twitter gives many of us what we need in the quick, concise and immediate way in which we want it. Funny, but I just trademarked a slogan and concept that completely relates to this. I was happy to read these comments and know that I was on the mark. Thanks!
As an aspiring writer out FL its a nice interview to see how he, a full time writer, went from being a full time writer to an editor because that is what worked for him.
Am an African Author(guess that makes me an AuthorITY in some way,Adventurer(recently hiked up
Africa’s highest mountain-Kilimanjaro)over the last 5years spent time writing as an inspirational
Columnist for Businessday an African newspaper.Reading,gleaning off Writers Digest is like enjoying
a wheatmeal for breakfast.This Red Sofa Chat that’s somewhat like toastbread and sunny side eggs
Sincerely is inspiring and informative,its already getting me involved(like my life mission)
whether I win or not,truth is I plan to win with the knowledge the piece passed unto me.
Many thanks so much for helping me feel more comfortable in my shoes
I loved that last question. Where will publishing be in Five years? Whatever the case may be, I am dying to be a part of it. Can anyone say “The Great Amerivan Novel’? I say it all of the time. Great article!
American*. Guess that’s why I have yet to become a famous authour, huh?
Thank you so much for hosting Chuck Sambuchino! Writer’s Digest is like my bible and I follow the Tweets very closely even though I don’t always get a chance to respond. And Guide to Literary Agents is my go-to blog. I rarely miss it! Keep up the great and motivational work!
I recently saw Chuck speak in Dayton. Thanks for all the useful tips.
Thanks for the insights, Chuck! I can relate to what you said about wanting financial stability, rather than the “feast or famine” life of the full-time writer. And how fortunate that you were able to find that stability in the publishing world!
As far as eBooks and finding ways for the best stuff to rise to the top, I’m looking forward to seeing how it all plays out.
Thanks for Sammy H honesty! Great interview w good advice abt multiple twitter posts
In your experience, how hard is it for a nonfiction writer (for teens) to transition to YA fiction writing? In other words, when sending a query to an agent, does it help that a writer has written a number of nonfiction books or will this hurt the writer (like actors who get stuck doing comedy because no one can picture them doing drama)?
I find the comment about retweeting your own stuff several times a day interesting, and something that makes a lot of sense. It’s something that I’m going to implement into my next “important thing to tweet”!
thanks for this. some really good advice.
Thank you for the great info in this post and others! And thank you also for repeating resets! I get so many of them, that I sometimes miss the ones that I really want to read! 🙂
This is the second time you have shown yourself to me today. I think it is a sign, of what I do not know, but I am listening. The first I heard of you today was from a post by Susan Pohlman, who I heard about through Laura Munson. The second is seeing the opportunity to win a copy of the Guide to Literary Agents. I need an agent- what “new” writer, doesn’t, right? In fact, I put this out the universe today. Let’s see what happens….
See you on Twitter @thesoulreporter
I’m interested in seeing what the future brings in e-publishing, too. Right now, my Kindle is always with me.
I very much enjoyed reading this piece..it’s very interesting times in as we are on the cutting edge of a new age of expression, and how social media has taken us to an even higher level. I feel there’s definately more pros than cons to this technology. Mr. Chuck Sambuchino brings his writings to life and adds a bit of humor to boot, very enjoyable.
I believe it was through Twitter that I discovered the guidetoliteraryagents.com/blog several months ago! I’ve seen discovered a virtual treasure trove of resources, information, and entertainment there. I love reading Chuck’s blog… thanks for the interview! Oh, and also for the tip of retweeting important info… that makes total sense. ^^D
I like that traditional publishing isn’t on its deathbed.
Can use all the help I can get.
Just added both his twitter accts… WD has been such a fine resource for writers for so long because of quality editors like Chuck. As for ebooks, my personal prediction is that they will continue to grow, but there will be a re discovery of “paper” in the next few years. I’ve been reading ebooks since they first started, and will continue to, but find i crave the reading experience of a real book when i’m not flying, at the gym or waiting for appointments. I am an optimist, but think that the “new” media will just continue to grow and bring more readers.
Great interview! I follow both of you on twitter, but can’t remember stopping by this blog before. Nice to know about it. And, Chuck, I really appreciate your blog. Lots of great info.
Chuck is Super Lit Guy. Being a writer is hard work. Being an editor is hard work. Being both is a dream!
I’d love to see publishers take a chance on more new authors. It would cut down on some of the abysmal self-publishing form writers who might do so much better with a traditional editor and publisher.
I find Chuck’s comment about hardback books and traditional publishing having a “large place” is odd compared to what others in publishing are saying. It seems that they think the e-book will be the one with the “large place” instead of hardbacks.
Thanks for the interview, quite interesting.
Great interview! I’m also curious to know what the future of “traditional” publishing is really gonna be in our increasing digital age. At the library where I work, we have more and more people calling and asking questions about “checking out” e-books for their e-book readers.
Thank you Mr. Sambuchino for your insight. As a new writer to the vast field of publishing I know how important it is to have an agent who will be there for me in the trenches, helping me navigate the current and future publishing waters. I look forward to all the tweets I receive everyday from WD.
Like all of Chuck’s advice, the multiple Tweet advice is spot on! Thanks for all you do for writers, Chuck!
I truly enjoyed this interview, as I just happened across it today. While I have my own personal hopes for there always being a “large place for traditional publishing and hardcopy books…” , from what I have read in other areas; this may not be the consensus.
Chuck really is a huge advocate for writers. I’ve learned a ton from GLA.
Interesting article. I am also very in how the industry will progress due to e-publishing. Hardcover copies of books will always exist but obviously an e-version must exist in order to make a living. And writing is very feast and famine, something I’m learning the hard way.
Great interview! I’m also curious as to where the future of “traditional publishing” is really going in our increasingly digital age. The library where I work gets more and more calls everyday with questions about e-book readers and “checking out” e-books.
I’ve always wondered if a person writes in multiple genres/forms (childrens and mysteris, scripts and novels) is it best to have one agent to represent everything or an agent for each area? Thanks.
Hmm… I don’t know about the multiple-tweets issue! I agree that it will make me notice tweets more (that’s why I’m here, I suppose) BUT once I realize that’s happening, I’ll be more likely to unfollow… I like to prune the list of tweeters I follow to keep it consistently interesting. I’ve unfollowed people before because I felt like they were too repetitive.
If someone were able to e-publish a book and get a wide audience to read it, would that be something publishers could look at for print publishing
Interesting interview. I’ve noticed people re-tweeting the same thing several times a day and wondered about that. I guess because my list of people I follow is quite small, I notice it more than if I followed thousands… Interesting stuff!
Okay, I’ll throw my hat in the ring for a copy of the 2011 Guide to AGents! Thank for the interview!
Great interview, RSL! Chuck, I’m a big fan of your work with Writer’s Dgest and all you do for aspiring writers. (Did you all know that Chuck offered his time and talents to help out nonprofit Capitol City Young Writers a few yrs back? I was their newsletter editor : )
Also, my 12-yr-old son loved your Garden Gnome book, which was tucked into his stocking at Christmas. Looking forward to the 2011 edition of Guide to Lit Agents
I’d love to get the latest copy…. Thanks Chuck!
Cool interview! I have a question for Chuck. Do you think the spread of e-books could open up storytelling to be more of a multimedia experience? Is this already happening?
I always find your blog helpful– especially agent interviews.
I love Chuck’s GLA blog! It’s like my bible. Until I get a hard copy of GLA of course ;P
Re-tweeting the same post tends to leave a bad taste in my mouth; I’ve unfollowed popular blog tweeps because I keep seeing the same propaganda pop up over and over. Maybe that just means I shouldn’t be on Twitter 24-7… ;D