Craig Hover has spent his lifetime in-and-around the auto industry. He is the senior editor of the 99-year-old Automobile Red Book, and currently writes articles for Chevy Enthusiast Magazine and the Examiner.
I really enjoy getting the Autowriters.com newsletter each month in my e-mail, and I was pleasantly surprised when Glenn asked me to be the “Featured Autowriter” for October. I have a great deal of respect for most of the folks that are profiled on here, and I’m proud to be considered for this honor.
I guess the thing that put me on the radar was that I won an award for “Best Single Blog Written for the Internet” last year in the automotive writing contest at www.internetcarandtruckoftheyear.com. The award was for a story that I posted on Examiner.com about getting a flat tire. It was one of my first articles over there, and written in a style that is completely against Examiner’s guidelines. But I had fun writing it, and most stories seem to be better when you do them to have fun rather than follow guidelines anyway. You can still see it here: http://www.examiner.com/automotive-in-kansas-city/the-big-flat-my-apologies-to-raymond-chandler?render=print.
For me, writing about cars actually fostered an automotive career, but not strictly as an automotive writer. I started in the early 1990s when I was writing race car profiles for the weekly programs at a couple of Kansas City-area NASCAR short tracks. Eventually, that led to the marketing director job at those tracks, and later, the general manager position at I-70 Speedway. We held an annual NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race, as well as ASA, USAC, and NASCAR Weekly Racing Series events. That job offered solid experience in writing race recaps, driver profiles, and marketing materials and press releases.
I also was able to knock out a Master’s Degree in Integrated Marketing Communications from the University of Kansas during that time, and took on a side job as the editor of the motorsports section of Kansas City Sports and Fitness magazine. After a successful run at I-70, the track was eventually sold, and I drifted away from motorsports a bit.
Seven years ago I became the editor of Penton Media’s Automobile Red Book. Next year the Red Book will celebrate its 100th anniversary, which is to say that it is the oldest vehicle valuation guide in the country. It is used by many state and local governments, major insurance companies, appraisers, and auto dealers. I’m responsible for basically every editorial aspect of the book, which requires lots of research on vehicle specifications and pricing. Some of that is fairly detail-oriented and mundane, but it allows me to go on ride and drives and product previews. We also attend major auto shows and related automotive gatherings around the country to help us better understand the products that we are researching.
I felt like those experiences were teaching us more than just pricing details about new cars, so I added a new addition to the Red Book called “On the Cover.” Now, every edition of the Red Book has pictures of six new vehicles printed on the cover, and I write short reviews or summaries of those vehicles which appear in the back. The reviews also appear on the Price Digests website.
Putting those reviews together reminded me how much I enjoyed writing about cars, so I opened up a Kansas City Automotive page on Examiner.com. Examiner gets quite a bit of flak because of the inexperienced writers that they seem to be willing to hire, and their lackluster payment. Certainly, I wish they paid more, but it isn’t my real job, so I don’t depend on it to feed my family. And honestly, I don’t even read very many other pages on there to make a determination on how other people are doing. It has just worked out as an interesting experiment to me. I try and write the best car-related stories I can, and hope that people will enjoy them and want to come back. I think it’s working, because out of some 450 local writers, my automotive column has been number one in Kansas City every single week for nearly two years now. And to get back to my racing roots, I also recently picked up the Kansas City Motorsports page on Examiner.
The Examiner led to a few other opportunities. I was able to write a couple of feature articles for Amos Publishing’s Chevy Enthusiast Magazine. And it also inspired me to stretch my Internet writing efforts and create my own blog.
Today, my Internet efforts are focused on my new Hover Motor Company blog. It was named after the used car lots my granddad had from the 1930s through the 1970s, and contains car show recaps, automotive history articles, and even some personal stories. Right now, it only pulls in about 1,000 page views a day, but it steadily increases each week, and I am receiving a great deal of positive feedback. The biggest challenge there isn’t with coming up with quality content, so much as promoting the site and manipulating through the rigmarole that makes it rank well in a Google search.
I am always open to writing for new publications or trying new things when it comes to my automotive exploits. I really do it because I have a lifelong love of cars, and I genuinely enjoy writing about them. And I am especially honored when I win an award like the www.internetcarandtruckoftheyear.com recognition, or I am featured on a great web destination like Autowriters.com.
Examples of my Internet material can be found at the following locations:
I sincerely thank Autowriters.com for the opportunity to be featured here. I realize that compared to most of the pros here, my story is about as exciting as watching paint dry. But it’s a big deal to me, and my mom will be proud.