Interview with Carol Brooks, Editor-in-Chief at First for Women

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Carol has served as Editor-in-Chief of First for Women, a national consumer women’s magazine with an audience of 3.4 million, for the past 14 years. In May, she launched Simple Grace, a national consumer Christian women’s monthly magazine with an estimated rapidly growing audience of 100,000.

Q: Do you prefer being pitched by email or are you open to phone calls?
A: As someone who oversees two magazines (First for Women and Simple Grace) and contributes pages to a third (Closer weekly), I will likely be forwarding your pitch to the right assigning editor. That said, it’s much easier to handle an email and direct it to the person who can really take action.

Q: What topics currently interest you the most?
A: At Simple Grace, we’re always looking for a good story: If you’re pitching us an expert, we’re interested in stories from the person’s life that can light the way for our readers. We love dramatic, personal testimony that relates to how God has worked in someone’s life.

Q: What’s the most common mistake publicists make when approaching you?
A: It honestly drives me a bit crazy when publicists pitch me on LinkedIn. A message on that site is tough to forward and so backs me into a weird corner. I’ll generally “un-link” with anyone who pitches me in that format.

Q: Do you like receiving galleys? Do you prefer physical or e-versions of a book?
A: We, of course, love to receive a physical book when it’s available, but we’re also open to galleys. Digital books in the form of pdfs end up being very time-intensive for us. All told for First for WomenSimple Grace and Closer we receive about 30 books a day, so we generally won’t take the time to go through a digital book.

Q: Do you ever feature self-published authors?
A: Absolutely: At Simple Grace, we’re open to anyone with a compelling story to tell regarding God at work in their lives. At First for Women, we’re open to dramatic weight-loss stories.

Q: What is your typical lead time for an interview/article?
A: About three months.

Q: What topic or trend have you seen enough of in faith-based books?
A: We get pitched quite a bit on the topic of Christian parenting. Since we’re serving women (and a few men) of all ages, that’s not really in our wheelhouse because we want every story to be directly relevant to every reader and not every reader is raising children.

Q: Do you have any policies when it comes to devoting coverage to religion?
A: We reach women across Christian denominations, so we don’t feature anything that’s strictly and specifically doctrinal. And we don’t cover non-Christian faiths. We also don’t cover anything that’s negative toward another denomination or another faith.

Q: What are some of your favorite inspirational books?
A: Sarah Young’s Jesus Calling inspired our devotional approach in Simple Grace. I love her work and her whole ethos. I’m also a huge fan of Father James Martin, especially Jesus: A Pilgrimage. I love reading across denominations and races and genders and styles: It helps me realize how wonderfully beautiful and varied the Body of Christ truly is.

Q: What interview has generated the most response or feedback?
A: Christian singer Natalie Grant opened up to Simple Grace about her struggle with depression in such a raw and beautiful way that she inspired many of our readers—and they let us know!

Q: Please briefly describe your demographics or audience.
A: We reach women primarily in their 40s, 50s and 60s. About one-fourth are Evangelical, one-fourth Catholic, one-fourth mainstream Protestant and one-fourth Christian but unaffiliated with a church. We don’t have specific numbers, but anecdotally I can tell you that a significant percentage of our readers are African American and Latina. So we’re reaching a very broad swath of Christian women.

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