Monday, June 21, 2010

Thank a “Born Teacher” Today

I was privileged enough a few days ago to witness what has become a familiar experience, my incredible wife being surrounded by her adoring students and their equally adoring parents, each singing her praises as a teacher and a human being.

[caption id="attachment_467" align="alignright" width="181" caption="A Born Teacher"][/caption]

My wife is a fifth-grade teacher and was unequivocally born to teach. I know I can't be fully objective, but I've heard it so many times that I know it is accurate.

If only you could have seen the faces of the students, their heads swiveled upward to her face, their eyes glazed in admiration and love, their feet carrying them to whatever corner of whichever room she went into.

If only you could have heard the testimonies of the parents and the number of times they told her, "I can't tell you how much you've meant to my son," or "I don't have words to describe what a difference you've made to my daughter."

They simply cannot articulate the depth of their veneration for her.

My wife is one of those quite rare individuals whose teaching style is so relaxed and so very fluid that she must certainly possess inbred characteristics that make her so.

Most of us other mortals who teach/have taught are learned teachers. We enjoy passing on our knowledge in a way that makes sense to learners. We've gained insight and expertise over the years and are competent and perhaps even gifted teachers. But we weren't born to teach.

Born teachers have something special. They exude an aura of purity, of timelessness, of art. The rest of us work at our craft, while these truly amazing individuals paint educational portraits the rest of us can only stare at and ponder.

You might have — might have — run into a born teacher at some point during your education. Or perhaps you work with one. It's even possible that you are one yourself, though you probably don't consider yourself that way. Which is another attribute of born teachers, their humility.

If you know a born teacher, do yourself a favor. Reach out to them today.

Let them know how much you appreciated their vision, humor, professionalism, artistry.

Let them know how much you learned from them, what life lessons they gave you that only they could have.

Let them know how your life changed because they were in it.

Let them ponder those things all summer long and feel, yourself, grateful for having known and been taught by a born teacher.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

How Publishers Decide What to Publish

I received an e-mail from a potential author yesterday — let's call him Alan — about a book he would like to write for a market we don't publish for. I sent a polite rejection, explaining that we weren't publishing books in that market and wished him well in finding a more suitable publisher.

He wrote back with thanks and asked, "What criteria goes into making a decision?"

Great question. I'll limit my responses to professional and educational healthcare publishing.

First, know that every publisher is different and covers different markets in different ways. We all have markets we're heavily invested in, markets we're marginally invested in, and markets we don't invest in whatsoever.

For instance, here at F.A. Davis we publish heavily in nursing, physical therapy, medical assisting, medical terminology, and others. We publish less heavily in medicine and the dental auxiliaries.

Often the decisions about which markets to publish in are based on the number of individuals that comprise that market. We tend to publish less for small markets and more for large markets.

For us and many other publishers, the return on investment doesn't make sense when you consider the costs of publishing for a small market. Some publishers, though, specialize in niche markets and can make a solid profit in doing so.

That's not the only reason we have for publishing for a particular market, but it's an important one.

So if you're looking to write a book for a small market, look first at niche publishers rather than the larger ones. You'll probably find a better response there.

Hope that helps, Alan.

(His name wasn't Alan, by the way, and he might even have been a she. Tee-hee! I fooled you!)

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Working a Booth at a Convention

When you're in publishing, working healthcare conventions is part of the deal. There is an art to working a booth at a convention, I think, and also a science.

I don't profess to be competent at either, but I've worked enough booths over the years that I've picked up some techniques that, if you ever wind up at a booth, might help you get through the experience successfully.

  • Dress for the image you want to present. I always try to look professional but I'm a rather casual guy, so I often wear a nice polo shirt with dress pants. For some shows, particularly for an opening night reception, I wear a dress shirt and tie, but I never wear a suit. To me a suit projects a bit too much formality, which is not me at all. But it may be you, and if so, wear it proudly. But always dress professionally, everything clean and neat.

  • Keep that cup o' Joe hidden or discretely out of the way. Exhibitors have to eat too, and attendees understand that. But do everyone a favor and keep food and drinks as much out of sight as possible.

  • Use your body language to silently "invite attendees into the booth. I try never to stand in front of the booth and cross my arms. That posture can seem off-putting to some people, and the idea is to seem inviting and open.

  • Never block the opening to the booth. This is critical when the booth is small, not so important when it's gigantic. Either way, try not to block something important that you want attendees to see. Even when I'm talking with authors or potential authors, I try to inhabit only a portion of the booth entrance, when in fact there is an entrance.

  • Don't force contact. For people passing by the booth, smile, perhaps say hello, but don't force contact. I've seen vendors in a booth literally chasing after attendees to get them into the booth. Sad. Say professional. Be nice, be open, be inviting, but don't push. The attendees don't owe us a visit to the booth. We owe it to them to be there, to listen to them, and try to meet their needs, that's just good business sense. But they owe us nothing. It's good to keep that in mind, I think.

  • Honesty is a good thing. At least some of your competitors will also have a booth in the exhibit hall. Scout out their locations as soon as you can so you can send attendees who don't find what they need at your booth over to your competitor's. Yes, that's what I said. If someone visits your booth and you don't have what they're looking for, send them to someone who might. That attendee will remember your graciousness later, believe me.