Monday, April 09, 2007

Today, I'm interviewing Ann Logue, author of "Hedge Funds for Dummies." Ann has a love for finances, but lacks a love for the traditional financial world, so she took what she knew and has made a successful writing career:

Tell us about yourself. I'm 41, I live in Chicago with my husband and son, and I love what I do. What else is there to say?

Tell us about your book. Hedge Funds for Dummies is a guide to this investment vehicle for people who need to know about them, probably for their jobs. It explains the jargon, the investment strategies, and the structure of these funds so that people who have to make decisions about investing can make better ones.

How did you develop a specialty in writing about finances? I worked in finance for many years, and I'm still fascinated with it. I was an analyst at a mutual fund company and then with two different investment banks, and I was burned out. I liked doing research and explaining complicated situations, I didn't like the travel, the long hours, and the early days. (I worked in San Francisco for a while, where the market opens at 6:30 pm, and there were days I was in the office at 5:00 am to get on conference calls that started at 8:00 am in New York.) I found that there's a huge demand for writers who care about business.

How did you pitch a book in the Dummie series, or how did the book deal happen? In general, Wiley determines what books the market will want, and then it works with agents to find writers who can handle those topics. The person who is now my agent first went to another writer who has done several successful Dummies small business books, and she sent them to me.

Do you have an agent, if so how did you find them? My agent found me! Not the typical story in publishing, I know.

Was there a particular challenge in writing a book for a series? For the most part, I like the Dummies voice, because it's slightly irreverent and not much different from my own. The challenge is the repetition. People generally use these like reference books. They buy them because they know a lot about a subject, but not enough. So they tend to skip around the book to find out what they need to know. This means that the writer can't use acronyms, has to define jargon each time it's used, and has to make references to other places in the book where there is more information. This means you can't write "SEC", you have to write out "Securities and Exchange Commission", every time you use it.

When is your best writing time? Why? I work more or less from 8:00 am until 4:00 pm Monday to Friday, and too often on Saturdays. I wouldn't say I have any special writing time, but I have found it easy to keep regular hours.

What advice would you give to any other writer wanting to pitch a book in the "Dummie" series? You have to remember that the readers are generally smart, they just don't know much about this topic. (For my book, I pictured a business person serving on a non-profit board who is being asked to make a decision about investing the endowment in a hedge fund.) You also have to be comfortable with the style, and you have to know that your work will be heavily edited to conform to the style. If you can reach the reader, explain the subject, and don't feel particularly proprietary about your writing, you'll be in good shape. The editors were great to deal with, by the way.

Tell us one writing quirk about you that no one else (yet) knows. Uh, hmmm. Okay, here's something that some people know, but not many. I have a portrait of my grandmother in my office, and I like the idea that she's looking over me when I work. The painting itself has an interesting story, and if David Remnick is reading this and is looking to add a new writer, here's the gist of it: the painter, Gerry Hopkins, was half of a pop group, Twinn Connexion, that had a hit, "Turn Down Day", in the late 1960s. His partner is my mother's cousin, and my grandmother visited them in New York shortly before she died in 1969. The painting was taken from a photograph, the last photograph of her, taken in her backyard to finish off the roll of film with her New York pictures.

Where can people find your book? It's at Amazon,, most larger bookstores, and some public libraries.


Blogger Laura said...

This was a great interview from such a cool writer!

2:01 PM CDT  

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