Surveys show that sports journalism is the most admired profession among American men – and quite popular with women, too. Today’s Big Orange Book Festival at Chapman University in the City of Orange added new insights on how to gain a foothold in this competitive field and how to uncover new topics that can catch the attention of a respectable audience.
Exhibit A was a classic success story. Christina Dzidrums used to write for figure skating magazines. Then she wanted to take her career to the next level. So she launched “Creative Media Publishing” to write illustrated biographies of inspiring athletes and their success stories. The carefully edited, short and easy to read books are tailored for the education market and are very well suited for book review assignments in junior high or high schools.
Dzidrums started with a subject she knew well, figure skater Joannie Rochette. This experience helped her on track many writers have used with success – a standard format and book production formula. Dzidrums found that the information and quotes she collected at press conferences conveniently scheduled around major sports events gave her a large part of what she needs to produce quality sports biographies, as well as the opportunity to ask questions directly to the athletes. Published reports from news agencies and sports federations usually provide all of the additional information needed.
Dzidrums and Creative Media Publishing have applied their expertise to showcase the talents of one of America’s most popular teenage athletes – swimmer Missy Franklin. Her new book “Missy Franklin Swimming Sensation” chronicles Franklin’s inspiring career from pre-school swimming education to gold medal success and joining the Cal Bears at UC Berkeley. The 62 page text inclorporates quotes and anecdotes from many of Franklin’s personal appearances in such a personalized way, it almost looks like Franklin spent a week with Dzidrums to share her life story. In fact, Dzidrums has never has a personal one-on-one conversation with Franklin and simply turbocharged her group contacts with the athlete at well attended media events into a convincing profile.
Biography is not the only genre that is benefitting from the rapid changes in the publishing world. Authors from Black Hill Press explained how they are leveraging change into opportunity in the panel discussion “The New Writer: An Author’s Responsibility in the 21st Century” moderated by Black Hill Press Publisher Kevin Staniec. Chapman University professor Ryan Gattis encourages inspiring writers to follow the old adage “you have to play to win.” He shared convincing anecdotes of how making that extra effort to get in front of an audience and get that hard-to-get interview got him ahead. Follow panelists explained in detail how the new world of social media is changing the way that new authors reach audiences and key influencers who call attention to new books and authors.
The panel discussion “Adventures in Baseball” illuminated the changes in publishing and the media from a different perspective. Panelist and baseball history author Adrienne Bratton observed that “baseball is not the national pastime any more. The sports role models we have today are not necessarily the best.” The panel of sports historians explained how baseball is recovering from decades of mass marketing and the homogenizing and often boring routines of paid publicists that made the sport old news. The new opportunities in publishing can make this a turnaround story if authors follow the success formulas the new generation of writing innovation is bringing to America.
The Big Orange Book Festival concludes tomorrow, October 13, with a panel on making a career in writing and an interactive discussion with former prosecutor turned novelist Marcia Clark.