An Exclusive Interview
WORDSMITH is privileged to spotlight and speak with Author/Editor Veronica Hollingsworth, the Editor-In-Chief of "Nursing Classics News," an outstanding specialty publication dedicated to excellence. She offers valuable advice to both new and experienced travelers in the writing business. Please have a cup of tea and meet Veronica!
"Nursing Classics News" is sponsored by Elizabeth Lee Designs, a pattern company specializing in fashions for the breastfeeding mother. The clothing designs feature special openings for discreet nursing, enabling mothers to feed their babies easily and comfortably anywhere. The company was founded in 1987, featuring only three patterns. It now boasts an impressive line of twenty-two patterns, ranging from swimsuits to formal attire. Aside from the patterns, ELD also offers a complete line of supplies for the sewing enthusiast, ranging from a fabric club, specialty patterns for children and the home, to sewing supplies; as well as carrying motherhood essentials, such as ready-made clothing designed from ELD patterns, bras, nursing accessories, books, and music. The people at ELD pride themselves in the support and encouragement they offer to mothers, many of who are embarking into the world of sewing for the first time. They can be found at www.elizabethlee.com
Veronica, thank you so much for taking time from your very busy schedule to talk to us. Many of our readers are editors as well as writers. Even though we all must edit our own work to a certain degree, what motivated you to become a recognized editor?
I have critiqued many manuscripts for my fellow critique partners and thoroughly enjoy the process. When I became a subscriber to Nursing Classics News, I noticed I was editing as I was reading, coming up with ideas for content and envisioning all the great things this newsletter could be. So I got in touch with Elizabeth Parry, the owner of ELD, and asked her if she wanted help with the newsletter, and she did.
You are the Editor of the specialty publication for Elizabeth Lee Designs, an innovative company that has incorporated traditional marketing with internet sales and promotion. What part has the newsletter played in making that transition possible?
Great question. The newsletter has played an integral part, both in the traditional advertising sense, and also because it serves as a tool to point new customers to an on-line support group for nursing mothers that use ELD patterns. This online group is an entity onto itself, it is not exclusive to ELD customers, but because ELD has wonderful products, it is only natural that customers share their ideas and enthusiasms about the patterns they have purchased from ELD. List members also reference the newsletter when they discuss ideas and special promotions. In this sense, both the online list and the newsletter feed off each other to increase exposure for ELD.
We'd be interested in the process a merchandise-specific newsletter goes through in selecting articles for publication.
Naturally, the newsletter revolves around the newest patterns to be released. At the beginning of the year, Elizabeth sends out a survey to her customers to determine what new patterns to develop. Once she has planned the patterns and their approximate release date, we run announcements and offer special promotions for pre-orders. Elizabeth and her crew make up the patterns in advance and hold photo shoots. We use those pictures to promote the patterns, as well as write articles about the pattern and any variations and ideas a customer can use. When a pattern nears its release date, we put together the newsletter showcasing that pattern, and schedule it to go to the printer simultaneously.
After a pattern has been released, we write articles focusing on unique ideas customers have used on the patterns, usually interviewing the customer and asking them to submit pictures for use in the newsletter.
How do you balance content and marketing?
Because the art of sewing is such a creative process, it is difficult to distinguish straight-out marketing from other content. Ideas lend themselves to other ideas. For example, after releasing a pattern that worked particularly well for building a dressy wardrobe, we wrote an article showcasing how one might use our pattern, or any pattern, to do just that, for under $100.00. We included such information as fabric selection and using color techniques to stretch a wardrobe's potential. These tips in themselves would be considered content, but within the context of our newsletter, they could also be looked at as marketing tools. Aside from the pattern-specific articles, we also print customer testimonials and photos, articles on general sewing, and personal letters from Elizabeth from time to time.
How has your own writing helped and influenced your work as an editor? Did it make you more critical? More helpful?
It has made me more critical, and I consider that to be helpful. Our newsletter has limited space considerations at the moment, so being able to present content and material in a concise, presentable format is a must. My writing, I believe, helps me in ensuring that we make the most of the space available.
Conversely, how has being an editor influenced your writing? Did it make you more or less hesitant to submit your work? What types of insights did you gain into the publishing process?
I'd have to say that it is a double-edged sword. As I write the first draft of a novel, I have to work at turning the 'editor' mode off and allowing the muse to speak. But once I'm ready for rewrites, it's easier to clean it up. It's easier with a shorter piece, because I have a pretty good sense of what I want to say. In that case, I can edit for content as I go, with only minor changes needed at the end. Being an editor has also helped me to write succinctly and economize with words in my longer works. The newsletter audience is primarily made up of busy mothers with babies and young children. Their time is precious.
It has actually taken the fear out of submitting my work, believe it or not. For two reasons; it has made me more confident in the quality of my work, and it's made me realize that the editors on the other side are just people, like you and me. I know you hear that at writer's conferences a lot, but many beginning writers don't believe it. <g>
My position as editor to a small publication has made me truly understand how much more complicated a larger operation can be, and why editors to large publishing houses are so busy. I work closely with Elizabeth, and I pretty much have free rein. If there is something she wants me to add, it's a simple matter to do so, or to change or delete material. It's only between us, and she has the final say. If I had to go to a separate person to approve changes to layout, another person for copy, yet another for content, marketing, etc., I'd go crazy. <g> I've gained a greater appreciation for the work involved.
What led you to become a writer?
I think I was born to write. I was the family bookworm since I can remember. I have a love for languages and the written word. I was always writing stories in addition to my schoolwork. When I was ten I fell in love with Louisa May Alcott's Jo of Little Women, and promptly began to write my own rendition of the novel in Spanish. After filling an entire notebook on this, I realized I really wanted to write books.
What is the most effective way a writer can communicate? Does it go beyond words?
Being true to their muse is the most effective way a writer can communicate. This truth makes the words bigger than life, their meaning resonates off the page, carrying with it the certainty the writer felt when he wrote them. That is a quality of writing that is very powerful, and very hard to describe, but is unmistakable when one sees it.
What type of writing do you enjoy the most? Fiction, nonfiction?
Fiction. It's a lot more fun. <g>
If WORDSMITH paid for a full page ad in Nursing Classics News, what could we expect in the way of editorial guidance?
First, because we are so specialized, I would advise that you find something you have in common with the audience we have and approach your advertising campaign from that angle. I would ask if you have something of value to impart or show this audience, and what you expect to get in response from this audience. Once we have those issues answered, then we would discuss lay-out, pricing, etc.
What advice would you have for new writers in the marketplace? For seasoned writers who are looking for new adventures in publishing?
To both, I would say first, write. Write something every day. You can't be a writer if you don't write. Learn your market. Network and get involved in that market so you gain experience and credentials within that market. Be open to new opportunities, they are everywhere.
Many thanks again, Veronica!
Thank you! It's been an honor.