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Sunday, December 01, 2019


Write a Review AND Promote Your Book


By Terry Whalin @terrywhalin

Through the years I've been in publishing, I've met many different writers and they share at least one common characteristic: writers are readers. Yes we are people who love books, buy books, tell others about books and read books.

Often in these entries, I have talked about Amazon reviews (click this link to see some of those entries). I have a long-standing practice where any book that I read or listen to (audiobook), I take a few minutes a write a review then post it on Amazon and Goodreads. I have written over 500 reviews on Goodreads where I have 5,000 friends and my reviews get a lot of attention. On Amazon I have written almost 1,000 reviews. It only takes me a few minutes after reading the book (where the time is involved) to write and post my review. In the past, I've shared the details about how I promote one of my own books with my reviews on Amazon (follow this link to read that post).

Writing reviews is one of the ways I support other authors. No one pays me for these reviews and I do not review every book that comes into my home because it would be impossible. Publishers, authors, and PR people send me books almost every day. I read these books for fun and often late at night and in my off work hours.

Amazon (like much of the rest of the world) continues to evolve and change. In recent months, they have made it even harder for people to get reviews (or so I read online). In the midst of these changes, I continue to write and post reviews. My reviews sometimes take a day or two to post—and I have no idea why it takes so long or what review process is in place behind the scenes. Eventually the reviews do post on Amazon and when that happens I get an email notification about my review.

In the past, Amazon made it easy to link within your reviews to other products. This feature disappeared months ago on the review page—yet I'm still linking to my most recent book in the final lines of my review. How am I able to add this information? First, I create a little plain text file in Notepad which contains my bio information which I add to the bottom of each review. I use this little file to promote my latest book as a part of my review. My current file says: W. Terry Whalin is an editor and the author of more than 60 books including his latest [[ASIN:164279452X 10 Publishing Myths: Insights Every Author Needs to Succeed]].

Notice several things about this little file. It is short (one sentence) and when it is posted includes an active Amazon link to the product. Here's the formula which you can use with your books:

[[ASIN:THE DIGITS ARE THE TEN DIGIT ISBN ENDING WITH X TITLE OF YOUR BOOK]]

The beauty of using this formula is it gives an active link inside your review. An active link means the reader can click and instantly go to the page with your Amazon product. This process is all about adding to the discoverability of your book. Someone needs to know about your book eight to twelve times before they will purchase the book. Each of us as authors need to continually work so others discover our work.

What Is The Book You Are Promoting?


If you haven't heard of the book I'm promoting (10 Publishing Myths), it's because this book will release on December 17th. You can check out the book, watch the one-minute trailer and pre-order the book (four different ways). Also you can see the 18 endorsements for this book from bestselling authors, editors, publishers and publicity experts. I hope you will get the book, read it and apply it to your life--and please write a review for my book.


Writing reviews and including a one sentence bio along with a clickable link to your product is one more step for readers to find and discover (and buy) your book.

Do you read books and write reviews and promote your book? Let me know in the comments below.

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Sunday, November 24, 2019


Right Fit: The Search Within Publishing


By Terry Whalin @terrywhalin

For over seven years, I've been acquiring books for Morgan 
James Publishing. As an acquisitions editor, I have a lot of interesting exchanges wtih authors, editors and literary agents about books. In this article, I'm going to tell you a few stories related to a constant search within publishing: finding the right fit.

If you can't find the right fit for you. You can always self-publish. Last year over 1.6 million new books took this route of self-publishing. One of my writer friends self-published and told me how he spent over $10,000 in the process of creation, editing and launching his book. When I spoke with him, he was wondering if he made the right choice for his book. As an editor, I've heard this story many times from various authors. For many houses if you self published, they will not consider taking it into their publshing house—unless you have huge sales like 100,000 copies. The good news is occasionally at Morgan James we take a self-published book and move it into our books. It does not happen often but it is possible and something to explore if you have gone this route with your book.

I regularly read a number of blogs and online articles. While reading a recent article, I learned a detail buried in the article. This author (also a book editor) was looking for a publishers for her historical novel. Because Morgan James publishes some fiction, I used her website to reached out and suggested she submit to Morgan James. We are looking for clean fiction (no profanity) and 100,000 words or less. This author responded that her story was gritty and over this word count. It was not the right publishing fit for this author.

Recently a Christian author with an unusual proposal approached me. While over the years I've reviewed thousands of submissions, I had never seen a book with this particular topic. From my understanding of the publishing world, I believe it will be a challenge for this author to find the right publishing fit but I liked the concept and wanted to help. As an editor, I went ahead and processed his submission and moved it forward through the process. My colleagues agreed with me that it would be a fit for Morgan James (doesn't always happen—yes my pitches get rejected at times) and we offered this author a contract. He responded that he's looking for a literary agent and a different type of fit. Will he find it? I don't know. He has an opportunity with Morgan James but like several other authors that I've spoken with, he is looking for the right fit.  

This search for the right fit is not just something writers are doing. Literary agents are looking for the right fit. They do not represent every type of book but search in specific categories and types of books they want to represent and place with publishers. Publishers are looking for the right fit. In fact, every person in the process is looking for this right fit. In many ways it is one of the constant factors in the publishing search.

One of the best actions any writer can take to find the right fit is to make sure they have a solid pitch or proposal to send to the editor or literary agent. Often these pitches are missing a critical element. Years ago as a frustrated acquisitions editor, I was not getting the right pitches from writers to be able to convince my colleagues to give them a book contract. I wrote Book Proposals That Sell, 21 Secrets to Speed Your Success

This book has over 110 Five Star reviews—and I have all of the remaining print copies—and I've discounted the book from $15 to $8. No matter what you write, you will find valuable information in these pages and be able to use it to improve your pitch and search to find the right fit in the publishing community.

What steps are you taking to find the right fit for your book? Let me know in the comments below.

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Sunday, November 17, 2019


Use Reminders on Your Phone to Meet Deadlines


By Terry Whalin @terrywhalin

As a writer and editor in publishing, I have many different deadlines and responsibilities. Years ago, I used lists and post-its to make sure I got things done. For the last year or so, I have used another tool that I often carry with me all the time—my iPhone. If you look in your phone, a standard app which comes with every phone is called reminders. Are you using this tool? From my experience, it is way better than tying a string on your finger which is an old fashion reminder. 

I use reminders for my work but also personal deadlines—basically anything I want to remember. It only takes a few minutes to create the reminder and set a deadline for the reminder. For example, last week I flew Southwest Airline. As a part of flying this airline, you can check-in 24 hours ahead of the departure. Of course you can pay the Early Bird check-in fee and avoid this process but I don't. Instead I set a reminder on my phone for a few minutes before the check-in time, then use it to recall when to check-in.

I have several publications where I send material every month on a certain date. It's another way I use reminders to make sure I meet these deadlines, create this material in a timely fashion then send it—and don't lose the opportunity.

Here's some other areas where I use reminders:

—a request for something (a resource or a book). Last week I was on the road talking with various authors and when I had an idea for a resource, it was simple to create a reminder to get it to them.

—On the road last week, I had phone messages and calls to return. Creating a reminder is a good place to make sure these calls are done.

—I have a number of authors and projects that I am chasing for different reasons.  I use reminders as a tool to reach out to them again (on the phone or email or both). I've learned through the years that follow-up is a key part of this process. I regularly follow-up through my use of reminders.

—other tasks to handle. I've only scratched the surface of how to use reminders. You will have your own uses and creative spin on this tool.

A hallmark of a professional writer is the ability to juggle different tasks and meet the deadlines. Reminders are one of the valuable tools I use to make sure I don't forget something and let it slip through the cracks. Yes I'm human and occasionally some things get missed but overall reminders has been a terrific tool to help me. I've had to learn to use this tool then take action on a regular basis for it to be effective.

Do you use reminders on your phone? Or maybe you have a completely different method and tool. Let me know in the comments below.

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Sunday, November 10, 2019


How to Listen to Bestselling Books (For Free)


By Terry Whalin @terrywhalin

Recently I listened to the new memoir by actress Demi Moore called Inside Out. About the time I finished listening to the book, the hardcover print memoir was #1 on the nonfiction bestseller list from Publishers Weekly.  

While Inside Out was unusual listening for me, it wasn't the first time I heard a current bestseller about the time of its release. In fact, it happens to me often. I read or listen to many bestselling books. In this article, I want to show you how you too can listen to the latest books about the time of their release and when people are talking about them and you are reading about them in the news.

1. Read about forthcoming books and use free online publications like Publishers Weekly, Shelf Awareness, newspaper or magazines. As you read, be watching for the information about forthcoming books and then take action. The action that I'm encouraging you to take is to sign up to get the book coming your direction (free).

2.  If you see something of interest, search for it at your local library on Overdrive and get on hold list for the book. You will have to learn how to use the search tool of Overdrive then get on the waiting list for the book. The beauty of this process is to find the book, put a hold on it, then get in line for when the book is available. Using the hold process, when the book is ready for you to check out, it will automatically be checked out to you and you will receive an email that the audiobook is ready for you to download on your phone. I love the Overdrive process because it is free, easy and I carry the books everywhere on my phone. It allows me to listen when I'm in my car for a few minutes or a longer drive. I can listen to an audiobook when I exercise or even when I travel on an airplane—because the audiobook is on my phone. After 21 days the book “expires” and returns to the library. This expiration process is automatic and does not involve physically returning the book since it is all done electronically.

3. If you can't find it, then make a request for it through your local library. They can possibly buy the book and if you have requested it, you get to be one of the first people to get the book. I've gone through this process a number of times with books and my local library has ordered the book.

4. From looking at the books that I've been reading and writing about on Goodreads or Amazon (follow these links to see the books), I hope you will see the diversity. While I'm a conservative Christian, I do not read or listen to only conservative Christian books. I mix into my reading books from people who are at the opposite political spectrum from me. For example, in recent days, I listened to Susan Rice's memoir called Tough Love. I enjoyed this audiobook and heard it cover to cover (which I don't do with every book). 

Also I vary the types and genres of books that I consume. The diversity builds something intangible but important in my life. It is a pattern I recommend for you as well. Don't be in a reading rut but be open to many different types of books. Because I'm using the library, there is a wide spectrum of available books.

I've given you the steps and ways I learn about forthcoming titles and then listen to them for free. Are you listening to audiobooks? Maybe you do something completely different. Let me know in the comments below.

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Sunday, November 03, 2019


When Something Goes Wrong In the Writing Process


By Terry Whalin @terrywhalin

From my experience in publishing, there are many tests and trials in the process. You plan things and then those things don't happen or go off kilter or break or many other possibilities. As I see it, there are two tests in this process—the one on the surface and then the real rest of how you handle this situation.

Last week I began working with an author on writing his book. He came into town from across the country and we spent two days together working on gathering the stories and contents of his book. The work was interesting and I believe a fascinating book will result from those hours of working together. From my experience, something always goes wrong in this creative process—always. Now I tend to forget that this happens (also part of the process) and it always catches me by surprise.

For years when I work with someone to interview them, I record it. I have an old fashion tape recorder and use real tapes (hard to find these days but possible). I have used my recorder over and over in this process and set it up. After several hours of interviewing and storytelling, I decided to listen to the tapes. To my shock, nothing was on it. My author took ear phone and listened to the tapes. Again he heard nothing. Hours of work was gone on these empty tapes. We were stunned yet came up with another way to record the stories and continued working inspite of the missing tapes. We worked through the rest of the outline and spent about 12 hours together in this process.

Besides this recording fiasco, the local weather was also a challenge: a snow storm dropping several inches of fresh snow. Tired from a day of interviewing, I cleared the windows of my car and drove carefully home. Grateful to have this time with the author for storytelling. He was flying home early the next morning.

When I got home, the next day, I have a different tape recorder and decided to test my recorded interview tapes (several of them). To my surprise, two of the three tapes had recordings. Hours of work was on the tape. I called my author to tell him and could hear the relief in his voice with this news. We worked together on the phone later in the week to redo the missing stories. I have the bulk of the contents and stories needed for this book project.

I wrote these details to show you the types of challenges that happen when you work on a writing project. Your experiences may be different but I suspect you will have something to overcome each time in the process. Do you let it derail and stop your work or do you figure out another means to get it done? How you handle this choice will be the difference between getting it done or not; completing the project or not.

When you work on a writing project, do you have these types of things happen to you? How do you handle it? Let me know in the comments below.

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Sunday, October 27, 2019


The Downside of Persistence (A Cautionary Tale)


By Terry Whalin @terrywhalin

I've written a number of times in these entries about how a key quality for every writer is persistence. People tell us “no” a lot in this business and you have to persist to find the right place to get published. In this article, I want to tell a cautionary tale about the downside of persistence. Yes, persistence can be carried to far and make a negative impression.

At Morgan James Publishing, we get a number of authors and literary agents approaching us with material. Internally we call these leads because they may lead to a published book (or not). There are a many books that we are looking for and a number of books that we do not publish. The key at the end of the day is a good fit for the author and the book to publish with Morgan James. We receive over 5,000 submissions a year and only publish about 150 books. Despite what some people on the outside of the company say, we have a selection process and are not a vanity publisher. If we were a vanity publisher, then we would publish anything that comes in the door. From my years of working at Morgan James, I know this is simply not the case.

Last week someone associated with the U.S. space program approached Morgan James with a book idea. This contact was sent to me because I've worked with a couple of different astronauts on their book submissions. I reached out to this person. It turned out they were in the film side of the business and did not have a book proposal or a manuscript but according to them had lots of unique information. The email response pushed me toward lots of video links and photos. Bottom-line this “author” had no manuscript. His idea was that a manuscript would be created later. His vision was a coffee-table type of book with loads of color photos. From my years of working in this business, when I see an author has a vision for something completely different than what we publish, the best course of action is to tell that author in a straight forward and honest manner. It's how I handled the exchange and I wished him the best in finding the right place for his material. I “thought” that wrapped up my exchanges with this potential author.

Then last week I get a text from my founder at Morgan James. He had heard from this author again and thought I had not handled the initial exchanges (not the case). I explained how I had exchanged emails and made sure I told him the coffee-table book vision for this author. It was confirmed that we don't publish these types of books. To keep the communication clear, I returned to this author and reminded him of our exchanges—and asked him not to send something again to our founder. It would be the same as knocking on the front door of a publisher when you are already in dialogue with someone else in the same company on the same matter. Such duplication is not necessary and only causes confusion.

When this author received my email, he apologized and claimed he has “hundreds” of submissions in the works and couldn't keep track. When I read those words, "couldn't keep track," I thought, Who wants to work with that type of author? It's a case where his persistence had a huge downside and shows an unprofessionalism and leading to certain rejection.

Several lessons here:

1. Keep track of your submissions and avoid duplicate submissions to the same publisher. Publishers and literary agents keep track of submissions—and you as an author need to keep track as well.

2. Listen to the feedback and respond rather than persisting to submit and look unprofessional and inept.

3. Publishing looks huge but in reality we are a small community. I hope this author finds the right place for his book (and I told him that). Inside I know he is going about it in the wrong manner.

Hope this cautionary tale helps some of you. Have you discovered a downside to persistence? Let me know n the comments below.

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Sunday, October 20, 2019


Boost Your Writing To A New Level


By Terry Whalin @terrywhalin

I'm heading to another conference this week and I'm looking forward to it for a number of reasons. Our work in publishing as writers and editors is isolated. Yes I work with my Morgan James Publishing colleagues to get contracts, negotiate with agents and authors and do book deals. I work for a New York publisher yet I live in Colorado. The bulk of my work is done on the phone and email rather than face to face. It's the same with my writing work. The work is often done on my computer or phone rather than face to face. Yes there are some of these physical meetings but not often. During each day, I set my own schedule for phone calls, meetings, and many other tasks. Conferences are a chance to break the routine and do something different.

A conference is an opportunity for me to reconnect with old friends. I've been traveling to some of these events for years and met remarkable editors, writers and people in other roles in this business. Follow this link to a list of various conferences that I know firsthand and recommend. 

Conferences are a chance to catch up on what they are doing—even if it is only for a few minutes. Also at these events, I meet new writers and editors, exchange business cards with them. From my experience, a lot of the people who attend these conferences are coming for their first event. I know some of these new relationships will grow to be significant in my own future work. Why? Because I've seen this type of connection over and over in my past trips.

While I read trade magazines and online newsletters and other tools to keep up on publishing, conferences give me the chance to learn about other changes in the business (maybe something that hasn't been in a publication) or listen to others about what they need for their publication or are looking for. These conversations move the information beyond something from print to something practical that I could possibly do. There is a lot of this type of give and take during a conference whether at a meal or late at night in a hotel lobby or any number of other locations.

Also these conferences give me a chance to give back to others and to teach. I'm teaching a couple of workshops at the conference this coming week. I've prepared my handouts and resources for this class and believe it will help the writing life of those in my workshop—provided they show up and take action on the different resources I will be giving them.

Another reason I love these conferences is I meet people who are looking for a publisher. I'm going to be having a number of one-on-one meetings throughout the conference with writers. I will be able to listen to their pitches and look at their work plus give them some of the distinctions about Morgan James Publishing. I've met a number of people at these events that I've been able to help them get their work into print—from our exchanges are the conferences.

I understand there are challenges for every writer to get to one of these events—whether they are large events or small events. They have challenges in terms of:

* cost. Each of these events have a financial cost for the conference fee, the hotel, transportation, the meals, etc.

* time. These conferences take you away from your current work and things pile up while on the road. Some of these events are long and others are short but they still consume time.

* effort. Some people have to arrange childcare or petcare or other details to be able to get free and go to these events.

From my experience of going to events and conferences for years, I know they are worth any effort to overcome the challenges. It is important to show up, learn then apply the information you gain into your writing life.  I know these events will boost your writing to a new level.

What do you get from going to a conference? How has it boosted your writing? Let me know in the comments below.

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