Friday, April 20, 2007

"Getting into Print," an Interview with Tennis Writer Paul Fein

A new face appeared on the IWW's Nonfiction list a few months ago -- Paul Fein, a writer specializing in one subject. Tennis.

Fein, an accomplished player and official himself, regularly writes articles and essays about the sport, but he also has two books in print.

"How did you come to write these books?" Paul, I asked him during a recent conversation.

"I never had a burning desire to write a book," Paul responded, "although people had periodically said to me, You really should write a tennis book. Finally, I concluded that I wanted to have my important tennis essays preserved and reread in book form. Tennis Confidential: Today's Greatest Players, Matches, and Controversies, published by Brassey's, Inc. in 2002, thus became the first tennis book ever to contain full-length essays and also the first to contain Q&A interviews and assorted significa and trivia sprinkled throughout it. You Can Quote Me on That: Greatest Tennis Quips, Insights, and Zingers was published by Potomac Books, Inc. (formerly Brassey's, Inc.) in 2005. I had done monthly quotes features for tennis magazines since 1979 and had amassed a few thousand quotes. I also did extensive research in my 500 tennis books and 3,000 tennis magazines and voluminous newspaper clippings. The result was a tennis quotes book three times bigger than any previous one, and I'd like to think, with much higher quality."

Did you use an agent to work your way into print?

"Absolutely not!" Paul said. "Writer's Market is superb for its comprehensive and in-detail listing of book publishers and their requirements. In late 2000, I studied it thoroughly and then sent out to 30 publishers four sample chapters, the Contents, and a two-page introductory letter touting the book, my credentials and explaining how it filled a void and would sell well. Two weeks later I received an acceptance. In 2004, a friend of mine had problems finding a publisher for his tennis book and told me that his fancy New York agent, Jacques Whathisname, had failed for a year. I told my friend that I could find a publisher for his book within a month as his unaccredited agent. I did -- using the same Writer's Market information."

Are you working yourself to market these books, Paul?

"I gave presentations at a retirement home, community center, indoor tennis club, TV station, ESPN headquarters, and at the Pilot Pen Tennis pro tournament during New England Day," Paul said. "I sent out colorful flyers, the Contents, and introductory letter and an Order Form to the tennis directors at 2,000 of the leading tennis clubs, country clubs, resorts, public tennis centers, and YMCAs in the U.S. and a few also to foreign countries. I did it mostly by postal mail, but a few also via e-mail and attachments. I also contacted tennis and sports writers and asked them to write book reviews, or at least mention my books in their columns. Of course, my publisher helped immensely by sending out a large number of review copies."

I've read several of your articles, and I know you have a passion for the sport of tennis. What do these two books cover?

"Both of my tennis books are wide-ranging and cover the leading players, events, issues and trends -- past and present -- in the tennis world," Paul replied. "They also cover some offbeat and little-known areas and people, and I try with humor to make the books appeal not only to hard-core tennis aficionados but also to casual tennis fans. Tennis Confidential contains human interest features, Q&A interviews, essays about The Great Issues, analyses of trends, and historical retrospectives, and stories about the 10 greatest matches in tennis history. You Can Quote Me on That contains 1,700 quotes on 35 different topics, with chapter titles, such as "Nothing Personal," "They Call It A Game," "The Feminine Mystique," "Love Affairs," "Styles and Strategies," "Paeans to the Champions," "The Fame Game," "Triumph and Disaster," and "True Confessions.""

You can find Paul's books through the links above. Contact him through his Web sites or his email.

1 comment:

Ruth D~ said...

There is no question that you know the game of tennis inside and out, Paul, and even better, you write so that those who don't get a good feel for the game and the players.

As someone who has critiqued your submissions on IWW, I've been impressed with your use of "vivid" verbs. They add a vitality to your writing. I'm learning about both tennis and writing from you.

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