Writer, Editor, Ghostwriter, Poet, Memoirist, Writing Instructor, Tutor, Agent, Consultant, Book Doctor
SJ Clark Literary Specialties, LLC
Lincoln, CA, USA
Industry: Media and Entertainment
Field: Ghostwriting and Writing Instruction
Literary agent Sue J. Clark is wholly immersed in the field of writing, editing and publishing. She not only edits client books and pitches authors to publishers; she also teaches the fundamentals of writing and publishing poetry, fiction and non-fiction to a stable of eager learners. Noting the obstacles writers face in promoting their work, Ms. Clark co-founded ShortReads Press, an organization that compiles, prints and circulates poetry, short fiction, personal essays and articles written by Northern Californians.
Ms. Clark draws upon a wealth of experience for creative inspiration in her own writings. “I owned a historic hotel and a travel agency,” she says. “I also co-owned two tourist trade newspapers and served as a poetry instructor at adult education schools and community facilities.” She has written a monthly travel column for the Lincoln News Messenger since 2005 and ghost-wrote “Is Anybody Listening: The True Story About the POW/MIAs in the Vietnam War,” published in 2005.
Ms. Clark received her bachelor of arts in speech communication in 1952 from the University of Washington and her Associate of Arts in 1949 from Stephens College.
Additionally, she has taken coursework in speech communication from Northwestern University. She is the recipient of the American Biographical Institute’s 2006 Woman of the Year award and the recipient of Highest Honor from the Military Writers Society of America. Ms. Clark is the president of the Lincoln Poetry Club. From 1991 to 1993, she served as the president of Lions Clubs International in San Francisco. From 1975 to 1977, she served on the National Society of Fundraising Executives Board of Directors. She is a member of Alpha Delta Pi.
Presently, Ms. Clark is ghost-writing a book about World War II and train hospitality management students. She also hosts the monthly Lincoln Poetry Club open-mic event at Twelve Bridges Library.
Conversation with Sue J. Clark
Worldwide Publishing: What would you like to promote most about yourself or your business?
Sue J. Clark: We provide personal attention based on years of experience with writers – from beginning to advanced level. I’m patient with all my literary agency clients and my students. Anybody who works with me knows that I am vehement about not using adverbs. Adverbs are the least important words in the English language. One author calls them parasites.
What is the most rewarding aspect of your career?
Teaching poetry and fiction writing; also, ghost writing for clients. I love it when I see my students growing, expanding, becoming well-known and being invited to read in different places; finding their poetry or stories published in different magazines. I also love having my things published.
With regards to ghost writing, how do you know what the person would have said? How do you write in the style the writer does?
You get to know the person well enough to recognize how he or she speaks – what kinds of words and phrases they use; how they think about things. You immerse yourself into the subject matter. As I tell my students when they are writing, no matter what content it is, they leave themselves in the other room, they close the door and bring the writer to the computer. That is very important for ghostwriting.
How do you remain current in your profession?
I subscribe to many professional journals. I read a lot – usually two to three books per week. Writers need to read. I edit manuscripts for writers, so I have to stay up-to-date with editing techniques and what is currently on the market.
What are your short-term and long-term career goals? And what specific steps have you taken toward achieving these goals?
I’m not as involved in next steps as I am in seeing all my students accomplish proficiency. For example, right now in my poetry class, I have six clients working on their own chat books. I love the aspect of seeing them succeed. It’s rather emotional – I pride in my students more than in having a personal accomplishment.
What is the most significant issue facing your profession today?
The issue of whether people are going to continue reading books and magazines or are they going to read everything on the computer.
What is the most difficult obstacle or challenge you have faced in pursuit of your goals?
Through the years, the most difficult obstacle has been earning a living as a writer and teaching people how to write, versus holding down other jobs in order to write.
What advice can you offer fellow members who work in your industry?
Keep writing and never stop.
What are you passionate about?
I’m passionate about books. I eat, live and breathe them. I have a huge library and buy books constantly. I also belong to a book club.