Sunday, November 9, 2008

RichWriters Interview with Thomas Nelson Grupo Editor, Sam Rodriguez



Sam Rodriguez:                        My name is Sam Rodriguez, and my official title is "Associate Publisher" here at the Grupo Nelson which is a Spanish division of Thomas Nelson Publishers in Nashville, Tennessee.


Jeff Rivera:                              And what is Thomas Nelson known for?


Sam Rodriguez:                        Thomas Nelson is known for being the world's largest Christian Publisher of bibles and Christian content. They started back in 1798 and they have a tremendous beautiful story of the dream and vision of one man how this was started. Pretty much they wanted to make books available to the everyday person. Books back then where a luxury. So Mr. Nelson's  dream was to have books available for everyone. Jumping to  1991, Thomas Nelson purchased Editorial Caribe what used to be a Spanish non-profit organization started in 1949 in Costa Rica and for a number of years we have been known as Grupo Nelson.


Jeff Rivera:                              Now, in your division do you mostly translate the current books they have in English or do you actually publish things that are originally in Spanish?


Sam Rodriguez:                        We do both. One of my responsibilities is to try to find the best of the best from other publishers, but in addition to that we have one of the strongest publishing lines in the market and we are able to publish our own books from English to Spanish. We also have an office in Brazil so we translate to Portuguese and  a partnership in China. Our English-Spanish translations are approximately 85% but there is that 15% and it is growing that we publish from Hispanic authors.


Jeff Rivera:                              And what do you look for in originals Spanish words because one of the stories that Media Bistro wants me to write is specifically what do editors wish aspiring authors would send them?


Sam Rodriguez:                        We look at several things obviously who the author is number one, the content, the market acceptance and need for that type of material and that is very important and that is kind of a shift in the lot of the industry where they are looking at the needs to fulfill. It is not so much of that, "I like books on ""gardening and why do not we do that," versus where there is a need that there is actually a need for book on "roses" in that particular gardening category. So we try to stay in line with the market and see what the needs are so we can fulfill them. So that is part of our job and we are thankful that we have been successful at it for the last several years.


Jeff Rivera:                              So you kind of like add a little bit differently so that maybe a platform is not necessary for an author?


Sam Rodriguez:                        A platform is of prime importance for an author and actually that is also one of the things that we look for because we are not a small company. We have to try to be sure that when we bring someone on board…yes, obviously the content, the author, the need, but the platform because someone that nobody knows obviously takes much more financial effort in regard to marketing and public relation budgets that someone that already has a platform. That is not to take away a dream from somebody that does not have a platform because there are stories after stories of million bestsellers of people that nobody knew.


Jeff Rivera:                              Right. What if I am a novelist and I write things that are like Christian related, is that something you take a look at as well?


Sam Rodriguez:                        We recently completed our first PREMIO GRUPO NELSON Hispanic Writers Contest it was tedious selection process and we had several hundred people register and submit their manuscript for fiction. Right now we are revealing some of the top manuscripts and the winner is going to receive a $5000 reward, in addition they are going to be published by us. We want to inspire Latinos everywhere that are out there trying to get published. We are going to see more opportunities for Hispanics that want to write fiction and believe they have a good message to the world.


Jeff Rivera:                              So let us talk a little bit further about fiction authors that might want to submit work to you like what are you specifically seeking for or looking for or wish you had would get more of in terms of fiction?


Sam Rodriguez:                        Well, it has to be a captivating story and our publisher, Larry Downs, actually he has a blog and he is really big in to fiction and we have had several very successful Hispanic authors that write fiction. Right now we are working with a young lady, Keila Ochoa Harris. She submitted her work the first time, I think it must have been 10 years ago, and she was suggested just keep trying to get published either in your local newspaper, magazines, try to get your name out there and keep writing and keep that dream alive. Now she has got a contract with us for few more books and the first one is not really well. ""Then you have some others like Cesar Vidal, from Spain that has been popular and successful with fiction. It is not as large as the Anglo-fiction line with authors like Ted Dekker but is growing at a tremendous pace and we are very excited to be in the midst of that.


Jeff Rivera:                              Well, that is great. Now, tell me a little bit more about you and then how you came to be where you are because you did not just wake up one day and instantly be an associate publisher like how did that begin?


Sam Rodriguez:                        Yes. Well, actually I went to school. I studied Business Administration and Biblical Studies that was a dual major, but I never dreamed of being in publishing. It was just a pretty much God have my steps lined up for what he wanted me to do and pretty much what I got was an opportunity for an interview. That is how it started, and I just happened to be at the right place at the right time and the rest is pretty much history.  That has been over 17 years ago. Then we relocated to Nashville in 1995 to the corporate headquarters. But throughout those years, one of the things I have to be thankful for is that I have worked in most of all the areas of publishing from sales to marketing. Now, as Associate Publisher the areas of Editorial, Marketing and Public Relations report to me. I have been very blessed that the people that report to me are not only highly talented and motivated but reflect on the success we have had in the company.


Jeff Rivera:                              Right.


Sam Rodriguez:                        And you have to wear a few hats. But it has been an exciting time, a time of really meditating and looking back and seeing where we have come from throughout the years and where we are headed. That is really exciting!


Jeff Rivera:                              What do you do to make sure that your Spanish books stand out compared to the others that are coming out at the same time?


Sam Rodriguez:                        I think that in the Spanish market both with any publisher out there today we strive to have one of the strongest marketing and public PR groups within the industry. So I think that is one of the things that authors that come on board they will have an edge in regards to the way they are presented to the market. It's like going to a restaurant, you do not like people to after you pay $30 for a plate of food to just slap the food on the plate. You expect a little bit more detail to go into both the cooking and preparation. That is precisely what we are trying to do with our books and products. We try to go that extra mile and give you that wild factor to the consumer where they can say, "Wow," I really feel that I am getting my money's worth, the material was great. I really like this author, etc," "so that is one of the things that I think has helped us to set us apart many times from the rest.


Jeff Rivera:                              That is great. Well, thank you so much. I really appreciate it, Sam. What I am going to do is I will email you any additional question if that is alright?


Sam Rodriguez:                        Yes, sure.


Jeff Rivera:                              And I will also email you details about where and when the story will run that kind of thing to.


Sam Rodriguez:                        Excellent.


Jeff Rivera:                              Okay, cool.


Sam Rodriguez:                        Okay, Jeff thanks for your time. I appreciate it.


Jeff Rivera:                              Well, thank you for your time. I appreciate it, Sam.


Sam Rodriguez:                        And again anything you need just email us over here.


Jeff Rivera:                              Absolutely.


Sam Rodriguez:                        Okay.


Jeff Rivera:                              Thanks.


Sam Rodriguez:                        God bless you. Bye-bye!


Jeff Rivera:                              I appreciate it. You too, bye-bye!