Understanding Social Enterprise: Theory And Practice

Introduction

This introductory article attempts to answer questions for:

1. Those in the private sector wondering if social enterprises are a threat or an opportunity for them (and how they might alter their own practice to remain competitive).

2. Those in the voluntary sector trying to work out their medium/long-term future (whether they should engage or resist the notion of social enterprise).

3. Those in the public sector being asked to develop, support or commission work from social enterprises.

4. Those who self-define as part of the social enterprise sector, wondering how to understand themselves and describe the value of their approach to others.

In recent years, a new term – social enterprise – has been promoted throughout the world (Borzaga and Defourny, 2001). The problems surrounding its meaning can be explored by reviewing the contexts in which the term is now achieving recognition. A national economy can been conceptualised as having three sectors (Billis, 1993; Pearce, 2003). Firstly, there is an economy that supports the state, a public / state sector comprising state institutions as well as publicly owned and funded organisations. Secondly, there is a private economy that co-exists and competes with the state: it is comprised of businesses that enable people to earn money and make a living. Thirdly, there is a sector with organisations established by people on a voluntary basis to pursue social, charitable and community goals.

The problem with a three-sector analysis of the economy is that it tends to marginalise organisations that transgress the boundaries of these dominant definitions. For example, co-operative enterprises (owned by employees, producers or consumers) cross the boundary between the private and voluntary sectors (Oakeshott, 1990). They often have a social or community goal, but are usually set up to negotiate and distribute social and financial benefits equitably rather than prioritise the social and financial goals of the founders (Ridley-Duff, 2002). In addition, they frequently adopt the democratic practices of the state sector by having elections for senior positions and assemblies of people who can directly question executive authority.

The Emergence of the Third Sector

The continued growth and development of co-operative forms of enterprise, and ‘mutual help’ as a commercial principle led to the emergence of a new term in the early 1990s – Third Sector. This term covers more than voluntary bodies and charities to include mutual organisations (e.g. building societies), social firms and producer, marketing and consumer co-operatives (see OFT, 2008). One social value that pervades the entire Third Sector is a concern that modern private and public sector management principles have contributed to the social exclusion of disadvantaged groups and vulnerable individuals. For some in the sector, the goal is to address (and find alternatives to) powerful political and financial interests that disempower citizens (Morrison, 1991; EAO, 2008). Many Third Sector organisations, therefore, share a common goal of reducing social exclusion. They may do this in a variety of ways: by providing services more cheaply to disadvantaged groups; by using collective bargaining power to negotiate access to scarce or expensive resources; by organising themselves in a way that enfranchises and empowers individual members (and gives them a collective political voice); by adopting traditional approaches that redistribute surplus wealth to disadvantaged groups through charitable practices and organisations.

The identification and growth of the Third Sector has been accelerated by changes in the public sector. Since the early 1980s, there has been a shift away from welfare through state institutions and increased use of agencies and contractors (Chandler, 2008). The concept of New Public Management underpins a commercialisation agenda (attempts by government to make greater use of markets and private sector thinking in public service delivery to ‘save’ money). Accompanying this is the contentious belief that business practices and managerial solutions will improve the ‘performance’ of both the public and voluntary sectors (Paton, 2006; Chandler, 2008). Given that many in the Third Sector regard private and public sector management principles as the cause of social exclusion, it is no surprise that there is resistance to the idea that the same techniques can solve contemporary social problems.

Nevertheless, it is this thinking that drives change in the UK National Health Service (NHS). As in other parts of the world, the NHS exemplifies the trend towards a “contracting culture” in which grants and state funding are replaced by commercial contracts for service delivery. So, in recent years, the boundaries between the private and public sector (in term of market thinking and managerial practices) have started to blur traditional distinctions between different sectors of the economy (Bull, 2006, 2007). Secondly, the emergence of radical business alternatives with a strong social orientation, democratic organisation, and positive attitude to profitable trading has led to a new language that describes relationships and organisation forms that bridge the boundaries between sectors (Seanor, Bull and Ridley-Duff, 2007).

The Emergence of Social Enterprise

In the late 1990s, as a director of Computercraft Ltd, Rory played a small role in discussions to establish a new business support agency. Around the table were support and trading organisations from the co-operative sector (ICOM, Poptel and Computercraft) and representatives from public sector training and enterprise councils (TECs). All the parties were looking for an idea (and name) that captured the goals for a new support agency. They decided on the name Social Enterprise London. Poptel (a phone co-operative) and Computercraft (an IT co-operative) provided political support and organisational know-how. The TECs and ICOM provided the same, plus assets and funding streams that enabled Social Enterprise London to establish itself (SEL, 2008).

Whether this is the first organisation to systematically use and promote the term ‘social enterprise’ throughout the UK is unclear, but the role of Social Enterprise London in helping to bring the concept (and language) to public consciousness is not in doubt. It helped to establish the first undergraduate Social Enterprise degree courses at the University of East London (UEL, 2008) as well as the first Social Enterprise Journal that is now owned and published by Emerald Publishing (JMU, 2008). Its first Chief Executive (Jonathan Bland) went on to head the sector’s leading political organisation, the Social Enterprise Coalition.

As a result of their (and others) agency, “social enterprise” has started to spread throughout our culture. The appeal of the term across the political spectrum is not only the reason why many new relationships are being forged, but also the reason for confusion and competition over its meaning and nature. By 2008, the term “social enterprise” had been appropriated by (and applied to) four distinct groups:

A – Charities and voluntary groups that are embracing a ‘contracting culture’ by tendering for contracts.

B – Charities and voluntary groups that establish trading operations to generate income for their social missions.

C – Co-operatives / social firms that tackle social exclusion by adopting ‘bottom-up’ and pluralist approaches to governance and human resource management.

D – Businesses that invest or share their surpluses in a ‘public interest’ or ‘fair trade’ enterprise.

Three of these contexts (A, B and C) are typically linked to developments in the Third Sector (community businesses, social firms, voluntary groups, charities, co-operatives, credit unions and mutual societies). The last of these (D) is increasingly linked to two other developments. Firstly, there is New Public Management that seeks to reverse the post-WW2 policy regarding the state’s role in the delivery of education, health and social services. Secondly, there are private sector led corporate social responsibility initiatives that create partnerships and joint projects involving stakeholders from more than one sector (BITC, 2008).

Confusion and Competition

As a result, the term ‘social enterprise’ has become highly contested. Advocates for each of these groups may, or may not, recognise the other parties as legitimate social enterprises. This is experienced most sharply when organisations trading for a social purpose, or individual social entrepreneurs, are rejected by social enterprise support agencies on the grounds that they do not organise their activities in a sufficiently transparent way (i.e. do not adopt the charity model), or are trading too much with commercial organisations for ‘private’ gain (i.e. using too many private business techniques).

As a way through these conceptual difficulties, it is helpful to examine how theories of social enterprise are grouped into two competing perspectives (Seanor, Bull and Ridley-Duff, 2007). Firstly, there are those that conceive social enterprises as trading organisations sitting in the middle of a continuum between the pursuit of a social mission (charitable) and trading in a market (private). The issue here (for those supporting their development) is whether they are sufficiently social and charitable in their organisation and trading purposes.

Another perspective, however, breaks out of this linear mode of thinking and views social enterprise as a cross-sector trading organisation or activity (Morgan, 2008) capable of rebuilding and developing social capital where this has been depleted by contemporary political and economic thinking (Laville and Nyssens, 2001). As such it emerges in the boundaries between the public, private and voluntary sectors to address the shortcomings of each (Nyssens, 2006; Ridley-Duff, 2008). Holding these organisations up to the norms and ‘best practice’ of charitable, private or public enterprise at best obscures, at worst devalues, their potential. It not only creates a mindset incapable of recognising their innovative approach, but also has the potential to stifle it. For this reason, the criteria used to determine what is and is not “social enterprise” will remain a key policy debate for as long as different interest groups compete for the resources allocated to the sector.

Social enterprise is often expressed as an ideal type: a multi-stakeholder co-operative or charitable business with a clear social mission, inclusive system of governance and ‘social’ ownership. The goal is often, but not always, to erode distinctions between ‘governors’ and ‘governed’ (‘directors’ and ‘employees’ / ‘trustees’ and ‘staff’) in order to increase responsiveness and democratic accountability both internally and externally. At the same time, there is a renewed emphasis on trading strength in order to build resources and impact positively on the lives of parties affected by the enterprise. In this guise, social enterprise moves beyond another form of charity in which wealthy philanthropists or concerned individuals use their wealth, time, commitment and business experience to solve social problems (Nicholls, 2006). It becomes an ideology for proactively nurturing wealth creation in a variety of forms by groups of people committed to social inclusion, and who embed democratic principles in their management practices, service delivery and product designs (Ridley-Duff, 2008; SEC, 2008).

Social enterprise is a complex discourse, embracing the language, concepts and practices created by:

– Enterprises that bridge the boundaries between the private and voluntary sectors (e.g. trading charities and mutual societies).

– Enterprises that bridge the boundaries between the private and government sectors (e.g. housing associations and partnerships in the Health Sector).

– Enterprises that bridge the boundaries between government and voluntary sectors (e.g. enterprise / employment support services provided under contract).

– Enterprises that internalise a social orientation, democratic governance and entrepreneurial trading (e.g. co-operatives / employee-owned / co-owned businesses).

In future work, Rory Ridley-Duff, Mike Bull and Pam Seanor will explore how this heterogeneity has come about, and how practitioners can apply emerging knowledge to the practice of social enterprise. Focussed on the UK, but drawing extensively on international examples and case studies to illustrate theory, their future work will compare and contrast perspectives on social enterprise emerging amongst practitioners, consultants, academics and policy makers.

Acknowledgement
This article was developed from material in a book proposal approved by the Sage editorial board in March 2008. The authors wish to thank Sage Publications for agreeing to the reproduction of material in an article. Understanding Social Enterprise: Theory and Practice will be published by Sage Publications in early 2010 (pre-orders from late 2009) to support the development of professional, undergraduate and postgraduate curriculum in the university and business support sector.

Obama Sells Out Arizona – Sells Himself On The View

Even while three Phoenix police officers were shot, one fatally, and human traffic, guns and drugs are pouring across Arizona’s borders, Mr. Obama took center stage on ABCs the View. No one could have summarized Obama’s visit to the View better than former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich who said, because the President is charming and articulate he makes a great guest but his job is to be the President. According to the polls over seventy percent of Americans don’t think he is doing such a great job with the latter.

Those who first used the term “narcissistic” to describe the President were judged harshly but after the visit to the View during a major border crisis the term may have come into its own. Shunning Arizona’s Governor Brewer and the beleaguered citizens of her state for some PR work can hardly be called Presidential. This President is said to be “historic” and while there may be some truth to that assessment it is more likely that he will be recorded into history as the President who didn’t seem to know when the campaigning ended and the job began.

Sen. John McCain has pledged a $5,000.00 donation to Arizona to help defray the cost of defending SB 1070 in an effort to encourage others nationwide to contribute to the fund. On the twentieth of July the fund had already swelled to over $500,000.00 and is expected to top 1 mil in record time.

Two crack border county sheriffs, Larry A. Dever and Paul Babeu, who are being sued by the ACLU, are leading the charge to raise funds for Arizona because state and county funds have been eaten up by the overwhelming surge of illegal’s in that state. The Legacy Foundation is gathering the funds for the state. Legacy is based in Des Moines, Iowa and can be reached online to make donations. Border Sheriffs.org launched to help those named in a suit against Arizona have been actively raising funds to help those Sheriffs and more than 15 county attorneys and sheriffs embroiled in the fight.

The RGA (Republican Governors Association) is another organization undertaking for Arizona’s battle against illegal immigration. The RGA fired off an email only hours after Susan Bolton issued her ruling asking for support and donations for the defense of SB 1070. Gov. Brewer, who swore to appeal the ruling said, “We know liberals in Washington, D.C., and throughout the country will continue to do everything possible to distort what our law does and smear anyone who endorses it, which is why it is vital you support the RGA,” Brewer wrote. “The RGA helps governors like me who are willing to tell the federal government when enough, is enough. Simply put, the RGA is a key partner and with me on the frontlines.” The RGA has a dot org site that can be reached online as well.

In the meantime Obama will continue to titillate viewers of the View and those on other contrived and bespeckled PR pit stops along the way, assuring them that America is a-okay even if the facts and figures betray his rosy proclamations. While absurdity yet rules it seems appropriate to make my own proclamation borrowed from the ancient texts of the Wisdom of Solomon.

“A leader who is a great oppressor lacks understanding.” (Proverbs 28:16a NAS)

Jyotipunj – Narendra Modi

”Only those who keep walking get sweet returns…look at the sun’s perseverance – dynamic & always on the move, never dormant… hence keep moving”, says Narendra Modi, CM of Gujarat. A man of courage and values, Modi is a strong supporter of Hindutava and follower of RSS.
Continuing his penmanship, Narendra Modi has authored a new book offering glimpses of his journey from an ordinary worker of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) to a full-time functionary as “pracharak”. In JyotiPunj, Narendra Modi has attempted to communicate his persona, thinking and principles – and attribute them to the years he spent in the Sangh. “Jyotipunj” debunks many myths about the Sangh. The book reflects extraordinary works of ordinary people.

However Narendra Modi’s new book is more focused on several known and unknown RSS leaders, who have shaped the Gujarat Chief Minister’s thinking. Modi wants to use the book to convey his commitment as strong Sangh man to the cadres. On the day of release of the book, Modi expressed his gratitude towards the RSS saying that he has learnt a lot from the leaders. Modi said during emergency when all the well known writers of the RSS were locked in jails, he was asked to publish a booklet, Abhay. It was during that time that he learnt the art of writing and he has compiled all his feelings about the leaders in the book. He said that his first book was released more than 30 years ago by Babubhai Jashbhai Patel, the then CM of Gujarat.
“Jyotipunj” highlights the lives of 16 leaders of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). In the book, Modi has written about the things he has learnt from these 16 leaders during his interactions with them. They include RSS founder K B Hedgewar and his successor M S Golwalkar, Nathalal Jhagda, K K Shastri, Laxmanrao Inamdar, Keshvrao Deshmukh, Madhukarrao Bhagwat, Shri Vasant Chiplunkar, Dr Vanikar, Anantrao Kade, Vasudevrao Talwalkar, Babubhai Oza and Dr P V Doshi.

Passionate and progressive, a poet at heart and an author of a few books and tech-savvy, Mr. Narendra Modi is one of the most responsive political leaders in India. Modi’s model of good governance is being applauded within the country and beyond. The way he has won the hearts of people of Gujarat and his popularity at the national level show that ‘Good governance is also good politics’.

This book has also been translated in Marathi by Ravindra Dani is a publication of Ameya Prakashan.

Choosing The Right L-bracket

In days far past, when a photographer wanted to move a tripod mounted camera from landscape to portrait orientation, he or she would flip the camera to one side or another using capabilities present in most tripod heads. But flipping a camera using a tripod-mounted head can sometimes take precious time. It also means that the camera is no longer perfectly balanced on the top of the tripod causing the head to take more of the camera weight than is necessary. Also, depending on the size of the camera and the tripod being used, some photographers may find it difficult to achieve perfect 90-degree positioning. Finally, the photographer will likely need to recompose the scene after flipping the camera. Although you may think this particular problem is a trivial matter, reorienting a camera makes a big difference when taking photographs in the field under rapidly changing lighting conditions; every second counts.

With an L-bracket, photographers can change a camera’s orientation by removing camera from the tripod and remounting it on its opposite axis; no adjustments are required on the tripod head itself. This is accomplished using an L shaped Arca-Swiss style quick release plate, commonly referred to as an L-bracket.

There are many different brands of L-brackets available on the market today including products by Manfrotto and several generic import brands. However, most professional photographers agree that two of the best L-brackets are manufactured by Really Right Stuff (RRS) and Kirk Enterprises. With my recent purchase of a second Nikon D2x camera body, I felt it was a good time to compare the L-brackets provided by these two major superpowers of mounting technology.

For my last two camera bodies, the Nikon D70 and Nikon D2x, I had selected L-brackets from Kirk Enterprises. However, the Internet grapevine reported that Really Right Stuff (RRS) also manufactured excellent L-brackets. So, when I purchased a second Nikon D2x, I thought I would check the veracity of that claim. Taking this “chance” was also influenced by the fact that I had also recently purchased the Really Right Stuff B91-B flash arm. I found this product to be of very high quality and therefore assumed that I would not be disappointed with a RRS L-bracket.

This article is intended to provide you with my observations, as they relate to the Really Right Stuff BD2-L plate and the Kirk Enterprises BL-D2H L-bracket (hereafter referred to as L-brackets). These L-brackets are designed for the Nikon D2x. Both manufacturers also provide similar L-brackets designed for other camera bodies.

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Port Accessibility

The Nikon D2x has data ports located on the left vertical edge of the camera. Both L-brackets provide an opening which allows access to these ports. However, the opening in vertical mount area on the RRS L-bracket is more shallow than the opening on the Kirk L-bracket. Since some photographers find it difficult to open those rubber doors when an L-bracket is utilized, I believe that many photographers would find it easer to open those doors when using the RRS L-bracket.

Really Right Stuff wins this category.

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Mounting Options

The RRS L-bracket features lens axis marks engraved on the horizontal and vertical mounting areas, while the Kirk L-bracket does not have similar markings. Although some photographers might find this small detail trivial, I really like this feature. I find it particularly helpful when using other RRS components. My other RRS components also feature these axis marks. These marks can allow me to quickly and accurately align the RRS L-bracket to RRS tripod heads or flash arm mounts.

Both plates offer a 1/4″ hole on the L-bracket’s horizontal mounting area. For the RRS L-bracket, this hole is positioned directly over the lens axis. On the Kirk L-bracket, this hole is offset and not directly under the lens axis. This deficiency in the Kirk product could prove problematic if you sometimes mount your camera on plates that do not feature an Arca-Swiss mount. This potential problem is most relevant for panoramic photographers where having an accurate axis point is particularly critical.

The Hpv Vaccine: Why It Won’t Promote Sexual Promiscuity

Ever since the FDA approved the HPV vaccine two years ago, its introduction into the health community has been embroiled in a medical, social, cultural and political controversy. At first glance, the debut of a vaccine to fight most cervical cancers looks like an exciting advance in the history of women’s health. However, many people are unable to separate the ethics from the basic scientific facts: the virus is transmitted through sexual contact and hence the vaccine is recommended for 11 or 12-year-old girls, before they first become sexually active. The perceived possibility that administering such a vaccine to prevent a sexually transmitted disease could promote sexual promiscuity has trumped all other ethical debates, leading some people to cast its benefits aside. As a mother, I can understand why many parents are concerned about this issue and put off vaccinating their daughters. However, in addition to being a mother, I am a physician, and I therefore believe that by putting off vaccination, we effectively strip our daughters from their chances of protecting themselves from the two major cancer causing HPV types.

According to a Newsweek article from February 25, 2008, only two out of every 10 women in the U.S. in the approved age group have received the vaccine so far. In another new survey of almost 10,000 parents, only 49 percent said they would get their daughters vaccinated with the HPV vaccine at the recommended age of 9 to 12 years. Even though 68 percent planned to vaccinate their daughters at 13 to 15 years of age, and 86 percent said they would vaccinate at 16 to 18 years of age, they might be too late — because the vaccine can only prevent and not cure HPV. The National Survey of Family Growth (NSFG), an agency that collects data on the sexual behavior of American teenagers, reports that teenage girls are already sexually active: 13 percent of them by the time they are 15, 43 percent of them by age 17, and 70 percent of them by age 19. Of the sexually active 13-21 year age group, 70 percent show evidence of HPV infections within a few to several months of when they start having sex — most of which could easily be prevented by vaccinating preadolescent girls. In addition, many parents are uncomfortable talking to their preadolescents about sexual issues; meaning uneducated teens could make problematic sexual choices not only without realizing the consequences of their actions, but also without the protection from HPV that the vaccine provides.

Again, bear in mind that the vaccine is preventive — it is only effective if administered prior to exposure to the virus. Therefore, the vaccine will not treat the existing infections. This is why it’s so crucial to administer the vaccine when girls are young, before any chance of sexual activity, including sexual contact without intercourse. In addition, there are several other scientific reasons why the vaccine is recommended in the 11-12 year old groups. Unfortunately, it is beyond the scope of this article to discuss those facts.

But, won’t vaccinating young girls against a STD cause them to become less sexually inhibited and more promiscuous by giving them a license not to worry about the consequences of sex? Won’t it eliminate a deterrent to teenage sex and therefore encourage it? Highly unlikely: because teens rarely factor the possibility of getting HPV into their decisions to have sex.

Current research in adolescent sexual behavior shows that not one, but a variety of factors influence teenage sexual behavior, such as their socio-economic status, their moral and religious values, their sexual attitudes, and the influence of family, friends, and the society they live in. Therefore, it is highly unlikely that a vaccine against a single kind of STD would play a more significant role in adolescent decision making than these factors paired with their responsibility, good judgment, and the boundaries of accepted sexual behavior.

According to NSFG, the top two factors influencing teenagers who choose to remain virgins are fear of pregnancy (94 percent) and contracting HIV/AIDS (92 percent). Since knowledge and awareness of HPV in this age group is poor to begin with, teens will not view this vaccine as a reason to become sexually active at an age sooner than intended. And parents who worry about the vaccine causing promiscuity should remind themselves of the two most dangerous and important factors that influence teenagers to become sexually active and engage in high-risk behaviors: peer pressure and the use of alcohol and/or drugs.

Parents who worry about their teens becoming promiscuous can also focus on a crucial method to keep them from becoming sexually active too soon: raising their awareness. Research has shown that parental guidance is one of the most important factors in delaying teenage sexual activity — teenagers who do not have involved parents are most likely to engage in high-risk behaviors. The HPV vaccine can actually help parents guide their teens’ sexual decisions by giving them a window of opportunity to talk about the topic, and to get health care providers involved in the discussion. There is no reason why parents cannot, without any hypocrisy, inform their daughters that the vaccine is not a green light for them to immediately have sex. Rather, it is a strong message that you, their parents, care about their health, and that it’s important to take proactive steps to become a healthy adult. Think of it this way: Getting a car with an airbag, traction control and anti-lock brakes means that the car is safer in the long-run, but these features aren’t a reason to drive recklessly — accidents are still possible. No matter what, the vaccine will not, cannot and should not take the place of good, solid parental guidance.

The bottom line is we as we as parents want to do what is best for our children. We all want to teach them well while they are still in our protective cocoon so that we can trust them with their own judgment when they become independent. If they always followed our best wishes, we wouldn’t need to worry about administering the vaccine at all. However, even teens with the best judgment can face peer pressure and fall victim to bad decisions or other reasons that may cause them to engage in risky sexual behavior, and this makes the case for vaccinating all the more compelling.

The Greatest Privilege I’ve Had In Giving

It is often difficult to get persons with healthy ears and eyes to listen to and see the truths concerning God’s kingdom. Now I was faced with the challenge of teaching them to a young woman deaf and blind from birth!

MY HUSBAND and I live on the property adjacent to the Helen Keller National Center for the Deaf-Blind, located in Sands Point, Long Island, New York. As we watched the building nearing completion we wondered about people blind and deaf, some even from birth. Never to have seen the beauties of the earth, or to have heard its joyful sounds! The mere thought overwhelmed us; the imagining of life in such total darkness and silence was impossible for us! We know of Jehovah’s promise that the paradise earth under his Kingdom rule would restore sight and hearing to those blind and deaf, but how could we convey this hope to those who would soon be our neighbors? We prayed that a way to do this would open up for us.

In September 1977, the way was opened. Our congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses received a letter from Georgine Dilts of Seattle, Washington. She had been conducting a Bible study in Braille with 25-year-old Debbie Curry, a young woman blind and deaf from birth. Debbie was first approached by Dallas Talley, a blind Witness. He studied with her and took her to meetings, but eventually referred her to Georgine Dilts, who knew the sign language for the deaf. And now, Georgine informed us that Debbie was being sent to the Helen Keller Center next to our home. Our congregation was asked to assign someone to continue the Bible study with her. I was the one asked to do this! How could I? My world was filled with sights and sounds. I took seeing and hearing for granted. How could I relate to Debbie in her dark and silent world? How could I communicate with her? I didn’t know finger spelling—and even if I had known it she couldn’t see it!

When I met Debbie at the institute my fears were lessened, if not totally put to rest. I didn’t need to know finger spelling to speak to her. I talked normally, and she used her hand as her ears. As I spoke she rested her thumb on my lips and her fingers on my jaw and throat. By feeling the movements of my lips and jaw and the vibrations of my throat, she knew what I was saying! This is called the Tadoma method. The word is not yet in the dictionaries. It is formed by combining the first names of the deaf-blind brother and sister first trained in its use—Tad and Oma. Debbie spoke to me with her voice, though I had some difficulty at first in understanding everything she said. Her ability to speak vocally is amazing inasmuch as she has never heard any words spoken!

Her first question was, “When can I go to the Kingdom Hall?” That very week she accompanied me to one of the congregation’s book studies, and I arranged to conduct a home Bible study with her. She also started attending certain weekly meetings at the Kingdom Hall. The first is a school that trains us to preach, and the second helps us to organize the preaching work.

Steps Taken to Help Debbie

At first I took along publications in Braille for her to read during the meetings, but that was only temporary. I and another woman in the congregation took courses in both finger spelling and signing words, and in a few weeks we took turns interpreting the meetings for Debbie. She would hold our hand lightly in hers as we finger spelled or signed what was being said. She was happy to feel a part of all that was going on. Later on I had a student talk in the training school. Debbie wanted to take part in it. I planned my presentation so that she could say a few words in it, and this thrilled her immensely. She also comments at the congregation book study.

The Watchtower Society is aware of the needs of the handicapped. It has the books of the Bible in Braille, many of which have been loaned to Debbie. In its Braille department, the Society embosses many of its publications for blind readers. In Debbie’s personal Bible study we use the book The Truth That Leads to Eternal Life. She has the book in Braille, reads each paragraph with its question aloud, and then gives the answer. The study articles in every other issue of the Watchtower magazine are published in Braille. This made Debbie eager to attend the Sunday meeting at the Kingdom Hall when this magazine is studied.

The Helen Keller Center where Debbie lives must give permission to do this. The Center is not opposed to Jehovah’s Witnesses, but it is very protective toward its clients. Jack, one of the volunteer workers, had been taking Debbie to the Catholic church on Sunday mornings. He was very kind to her, took her swimming, to restaurants, and to other places. Those at the Center felt that this was a good arrangement and were reluctant to change it. So the Center favored Debbie’s time being divided between us—the Kingdom Hall with me during the week, the Catholic church with Jack on Sunday.

However, Debbie’s continual request was to go to the Kingdom Hall on Sunday. Her social worker finally agreed that she could make this change if she would tell Jack of her wish to do so. This was difficult for her. She was fond of him. He had been very good to her. She also wanted him to learn about life in Jehovah’s earthly paradise.

She invited Jack to her personal Bible study. He is a staunch Catholic, but he could not say No to Debbie. So he found himself sitting in on what he thought would be something like a Ku Klux Klan meeting. At the Center they had discussed ‘these people who whisk Debbie off to several religious meetings a week,’ saying that ‘one meeting a week was extremely religious,’ so ‘these people must be strange indeed.’ Jack told us this, but added, “You’re very normal, hospitable people and you really care about Debbie.” He returned to the Center with the recommendation that Debbie be allowed to spend time with us whenever we wanted to have her. Her attendance at Sunday Watchtower studies began immediately.

“I Have No Problems”

One of the Watchtower lessons was about ‘throwing your burdens on Jehovah.’ Afterward I reviewed some of the points with Debbie.

“When we have problems,” I said, “we can always go to Jehovah God in prayer and talk to him about them. We should never be hesitant to go to him with any problems that come up in our lives.”

This young woman who has spent the 26 years of her life in total darkness and total silence responded, “I have no problems.” Compared to her, I am the one who has no problems!

On one occasion a slight problem did arise. I conduct a Bible study with Denise, a teen-age girl who also attends meetings at the Kingdom Hall. She was scheduled to give a student talk, and I was going over her notes with her. Debbie put her hand over the notes. I removed it, but she covered them again. The third time this happened I moved her hand away and held it briefly. Debbie turned her back on me. After finishing with Denise I turned to Debbie. She pulled an old letter from her grandmother out of her purse and handed it to me to read—I’d already read it for her several times. When I got to the part where her grandmother told her that she did not need to be baptized again because she had been baptized in the Bethany Pentecostal church when she was a little girl, Debbie took the letter from me. She was telling me something.

Amapola – Book Review

Alan Heywood writes a stimulating, though sometimes improbable, adventure novel in Amapola. What I mean by this is that the characters are seemingly very lucky or were simply at the right place, at the right time. Yet, other scenes are somewhat reminiscent of a James Bond movie. I liked the humor Alan dabbled throughout the novel and admired the strong female characters. This book certainly has a heavy slant towards the importance of friendships and a pro-Canada theme – which I loved.

George Magee, a retired Major, was never able to forget Sakai, a Costa-Rican woman, who despite the number of years that separated them easily stole his heart. He thought that he was doing the right thing by leaving the young beauty, but the torment in his heart was not eased by the passage of time.

Now retired, he fills his days with an import-export business that requires him to return to Mexico periodically to deal with his customers. His emotional void is filled by his Sister’s family – since he does not have one of his own. Sadly, members of a drug cartel heartlessly murder his brother-in-law and young niece, and George is filled with seething anger.

When the Canadian government requests George to assist their war on Mexican drugs by using his business as a cover, he jumps at the chance to strike out in revenge. Fueled by his anger and his hopes of reconciling with Sakai, George is taken on a thrilling adventure in and out of the drug trade.

How To Pitch To Literary Agents And Get A Book Published

How do you write a pitch letter to get a book published through a literary agent? The most important part of your submission to an agent is not your manuscript or even the synopsis. (The agent typically reads the synopsis after the letter, initially to check if the work slots into a ‘publishable’ category.)

The vital aspect is the covering or pitch letter. Spend more time on this than on anything else. Get it wrong and the agent will not even read your story.

The key elements of a good cover letter are, in roughly this order:

1. Why you chose that agent. Perhaps s/he was recommended to you by a mutual literary friend or already represents authors who write in your genre. This shows you’ve done your homework. Never send out a ‘Dear Sir or Madame’-type letter. Personalise it heavily!

2. What genre or topic area your work falls into – and how it compares with other successful books in this area.

3. Who your work is written for, and some indication of the proven market which will yearn to read it. (A few statistics paraphrased from The Book Trade Directory are useful here.)

4. How precisely your work is new – or at least different, provocative or otherwise a ‘must buy’. If possible, stress its value as a gift. (Few new hardback books today are bought at full retail price, except as gifts for other people.)

5. Your own qualifications for writing this work – such as your previous publications or awards in prestigious literary contests, and/or your unique lifetime experience.

So if you’ve crafted a novel about a dramatic attempt to raise sunken Roman gold from the Aegean sea, point out that you’ve been a maritime salvage consultant or a deep sea diver or a prominent classical historian these past several decades.

If you have a testimonial from a truly awesome authority, insert it. But the secretary of your writing club won’t impress.

Put all that into just one page, around 350 words max. Agents do not happily turn over pages.

No, no’s… agents do not want to hear about your pet cat, or your disabled child, or the fifty years of agony you have invested in your opus magnus. Don’t lay a guilt trip on them or get chummy. Keep it professional. And make sure that your spelling, grammar, punctuation and presentation are immaculate. The letter is itself a sample of your literary competence.

Beware of the presentation error I made with my first book in 1982. I submitted the pages to a publisher, unsolicited, in a ring binder. (Miraculously, he published the book.) The modern fad is to present the pages, looseleaf, in just a plastic slip folder or elastic band.

True, this practice is quite mad. (The pages tumble everywhere.) But agents/publishers learned it in the days when typesetters demanded loose pages, and the superstition persists. Humour it.

Keep several submissions in circulation, perhaps six at a time. Do not chase submissions. When you receive a rejection letter, send out another submission. After you have approached every relevant agent without success, rest the manuscript for a year. Then massively revise it. (Its faults should now leap out at you.) And start the process again.

Chances are, the college intern whose task it was to sift the agency slush pile has now moved on, and their replacement might love your work. Cynical? Alas, realistic.

The secret today of catching an agent’s eye is 90% perspiration and 10% persistence. Talent is optional. But if you have it, put it – above all – into your covering letter!

Book Publicity – How to Create an Online Media Kit

In your author and book publicity activities, it’s critical to make it easy for journalists, talk show producers and other influencers to quickly find everything they need to know about you and your book. One of the best ways to do that is to create a page for the media on your website and blog.

Online author and book publicity pages are called by several names, including media room, media kit, press room or press kit, or they are simply labeled as Media or Press on the site’s navigation menu. On some sites, the media page is accessed through a link from the About page of the site. Whatever you call your book publicity page, just make sure it’s clearly marked and easy to find from any page on your site.

Remember, your media page isn’t just for the media – it’s a great place to showcase your credentials and biographic information for a variety of author and book publicity purposes. For example, you can link to your media page when introducing yourself to bloggers, potential clients and potential partners.

Sandra Beckwith, a former award-winning publicist who now teaches authors how to generate media attention, advises imagining what questions journalists would ask about you and your book and making sure they can find the answers to those questions in your media room. “You want to make sure you’re providing the information they want in a format they’re familiar with,” she says. “That means you want to present that information in a factual way without hyperbole or exaggeration.”

Here are some of the most important elements to include on your book publicity page:

• About the Author – You might create two bios, a short one of about three sentences (imagine a radio announcer introducing you) and another bio about half a page long.

• About the Book – Summary of your book, written in a news style without marketing hype.

• Praise/Endorsements/Reviews – Feature any celebrity quotes prominently.

• Awards – Book awards and awards received by the author.

• Author Photos – High resolution version for print and low resolution for online use. Include a caption beneath your photo listing your credentials or author tagline.

• Book Covers – High resolution for print and low resolution for online use.

• Contact Information – Make this easy to find, include email address, phone number, and address if applicable.

Other elements commonly found on author and book publicity pages include:

• Complete Press Kit – One page or document containing all of your media information in one place.

• In the Media – Provide links to previous media coverage that you’ve received. If you have appeared in any major print or broadcast media, include their logos prominently on your media page.

• Audio and/or Video Clips – Short audio or video clips of you (preferably being interviewed) allow potential interviewers to hear or see you in action.

• Interview Topics – A list of topics you can speak about.

• Sample Q & A – Radio stations, in particular, will appreciate using questions you provide for an interview

• Article Topics – A list of topics you can write about and/or suggested angles for feature stories about you. You might even provide pre-written stories or tips for the media to use.

• Fact Sheet – One-page document with pertinent facts about your industry or book topic.

• Press Releases – Links to online versions of press releases about you, your book or business.

• Media References – Nice quotes from media who have interviewed you or worked with you.

• Clients Include – If you’re a consultant, you might want to post a list of important clients (with their permission) and a few testimonial quotes from clients.

Many online book publicity pages contain downloadable documents in PDF format, but Sandra Beckwith advises just putting the text of your media materials on a web page and letting people copy and paste from there. Even when it’s convenient to copy or download your book publicity materials from your website, some people will still want you to email information to them or even send a printed media kit.

Your online author publicity page is a great promotional tool. If you don’t already have a media page on your site, get started now – you can always add to it over time. If you do have a media page, now is a good time to review and enhance it.

Dana Lynn Smith is a book promotion coach and author of several book promotion guides, including How to Get Your Book Reviewed and How to Sell More Books on Amazon. For more tips, follow @BookMarketer on Twitter, visit Dana’s book promotion blog and get a free copy of the Top Book Marketing Tips ebook when you sign up for her complimentary book promotion newsletter.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/expert/Dana_Lynn_Smith/430760

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3 Steps to Gaining Book Publicity for Independent Publishers

Self-publishing a book might be a hard nut to crack but it is not impossible. It requires a lot of time and effort on your part, but then, doesn’t everything successful does? Whether you take the traditional route to publishing or decide to self-publish a book, marketing and book publicity is in your hands. It doesn’t get any easier either way for aspiring authors, but self-publishing offers more pros than cons, provided you are dedicated to make it up the success ladder.

Let’s find out how to gain publicity for your book as an independent publisher:

1. Find Your Audience

You’ve written a book, great. Have you found your audience or has it found your book to give it the air it needs? Most first time authors feel dejected because of low sales or not being able to attract the right audience for their books. The question is: are you targeting the right audience at the right place? Today, social media plays a big role in marketing and publicity and you should choose the right channels to market your book and find out where your target audience resides in the online world, to get their attention.

2. Strategize your Online Publicity Campaign

Online publicity has evolved lot more than what it was a couple of years ago. Today, you need to engage your audience, which can be particularly critical when you are just starting out. Map out your online publicity campaign and make sure you follow it through. A few posts on a few social media channels will not do the job. Pitch for reviews, offer giveaways, and hand out free book samples and guest book blogs at other sites.

Remember that it’s a long road but not one that you can’t travel. Once at the end of your journey, you will realize how much you have learned, and find better ways to market your subsequent books.

3.Get Connected

As you are starting out, you may want to balance your professional and personal character. The idea is that you also need to get connected to your audience and prospective readers on a personal level. Be available and share your personal thoughts on your social media channels. When readers feel that a new author cares for his readers, it is more likely that they will be interested in reading your work. Many online book publishing companies help self-publishers to publish and design their books using their free tools.

If you aspire to become an author and earn fame, remember that it’s a lonely road to the top, but one that you shouldn’t mind taking. Book publicity is critical to selling your book, and when selecting an online publisher, you must choose carefully. For instance, check out instantpublisher.com. They help their authors by listing the first 20 pages of their book on a website, which is frequently visited by publishing companies and book brokers. Who knows you might just land a deal?

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/expert/Irfan_Akhbarwala/2091125

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