Elliott Katz is a professional speaker and the author of eight non-fiction books, including Being the Strong Man A Woman Wants. Katz, who wrote his latest book as part of his journey to understanding women, has also written on subjects ranging from the outdoors to the economy to how to stimulate ideas in the workplace. In addition to his expertise as a professional speaker, Katz has extensive knowledge of selling a book’s foreign-rights—both topics are addressed as part of this Write On! Q&A.
Why did you write Being the Strong Man A Woman Wants?
Many women are frustrated with men today. … To avoid being accused of being controlling, many men have gone to the other extreme. They think that by leaving leadership and decisions to the woman, they’re being sensitive, nice guys. I wrote Being the Strong Man A Woman Wants to share the insight and wisdom that fathers and other older male role-models used to teach younger men about being a man—insight on showing leadership, making decisions, and taking responsibility—traits which interestingly coincided with what I heard women complain is lacking in men today.
What was your favorite part of writing this book? The greatest challenge?
My favorite part is seeing how the book is making a difference in so many people’s lives. Women ask how they can get their husbands/boyfriends to read the book. Men ask why someone didn’t tell them this before. Divorced women comment that if their husbands had understood the truths in the book, their marriages would not have disintegrated.
The most interesting challenge was changing the way the book was promoted. At first I was talking to men—I’d tell them to read the book, “Don’t show it to your wife. Just do it. Things will be better.” What happened? Women buy a lot of the books and tell their husbands to read it. I now focus on publicizing the book to women and men.
How did you go about getting it published?
I was already working with a small press for my other books.
Why did you decide to sell foreign rights to your book? How did you go about doing so?
As a result of the book being displayed at Book Expo America, I was approached by publishers from several countries. I then decided to approach literary agents in other countries. I found names and contact information on the Internet. Translation rights have been sold to publishers in 15 countries in Asia, Europe, and Latin America. It shows that though cultures may be different, human nature is similar. (*More info on selling foreign rights at the end of the interview.)
How is this book different from your previous non-fiction books?
Being the Strong Man A Woman Wants is a story of a grandfather teaching his grandson insights about being a man. … It is a journey of personal growth. My earlier books are also about journeys, [but] in the outdoors—they are hiking and bicycling guides. Two popular ones are Great Country Walks Around Toronto and The Great Toronto Bicycling Guide.
How do you balance your public speaking career with writing?
Right now speaking to groups is a priority. The insight in this book is making a difference in many people’s relationships. One of the best ways to share it is speaking to groups—large and small. For writers who don’t have public speaking experience: Join Toastmasters. It can help you discover you’re a great speaker.
Advice for writers?
Be innovative. Think out of the box. Do something different. When I started writing Being the Strong Man A Woman Wants, it was to help me (and my friends) learn insights about being a man. I realized that all of us have been influenced by similar ideas and values. I wasn’t the only one looking for them. There may be many people who are looking to learn [from what] you are writing about.
What do you know now that you wish you knew when you first started writing?
The importance of developing other communication skills, such as public speaking, impromptu speaking, how to persuade and influence others, how to put together a persuasive argument, and how to negotiate.
It’s also important to understand publishing contracts, learn the business side of writing and publishing, and participate in it.
*Selling Your Book’s Foreign Rights
1. Prepare an email that sells the book and include:
— Successes to date, including sales figures and other rights sales
— A short summary of the book and the table of contents
— Reviews and endorsements of the book
— Links to the book’s Web site, its page on Amazon.com, and radio and TV coverage
Offer to send a copy of the book and ask for the agent’s mailing address.
2. Research foreign rights agents. Good literary agents know the publishers in their markets.
— Consult the list of foreign rights agents in International Literary Market Place, available in the reference section of many libraries.
— Google “foreign rights agents” and “foreign rights.” Results will include publishers’ Web pages with names and contact information for their foreign rights agents.
— To find agents who specialize in a certain genre, such as children’s books, go to web sites of publishers of that genre and look at their list of foreign rights agents.
3. Send agents the email about your book.
— When you receive a positive response, send the book with hard copies of reviews and anything else agents can use to sell the book. Most foreign rights agents charge 10 percent commission on the advance and royalties.
4. Support your agents’ efforts:
— Send updates on other rights’ sales, reviews, and other media coverage for the agent to send to publishers.
5. When you get an offer: Negotiate the contract.
— Foreign rights contracts usually grant the publisher only the right to publish the book in its language. All other rights, such as serial rights, are usually retained. Ask your agent about withholding tax that is paid to that country’s government. It’s usually 10 to 15 percent.