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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Sunday, October 13, 2019

Be "The Exception" Author

By Terry Whalin @terrywhalin

From my years in publishing. I know there are many authors who want to write a bestselling book. They take classes and courses and work hard at learning the craft of storytelling and writing. They join a critique group and even hire an outside editor to produce an excellent manuscript and proposal. They go to conferences and meet literary agents and editors, then follow up with their writing. Each of these steps are important and essential to the process.

Publishing has a lot of competition as a part of the mixture. Thousands of new books enter the marketplace every day and there are many books already in print with those authors trying to sell their books. While self-publishing is always an option, it is not a route that I recommend to authors because most of it is not successful (doesn't sell) and you end up doing everything on your own (everything—including functions that you have no interest in doing).

As an acquisitions editor, I'm looking for authors who are the exception. As an author, I'm trying to be the exception in my approach and life. Such an approach is not easy-and if it were, everyone would be doing it. The path is filled with failure and restarts yet there is a path and you can continue in spite of the failure and restarts. From my experience, those persistent authors are the ones who eventually succeed and find their way. Here's a couple of examples of these authors:

Cec Murphey has written many books including his bestselling 90 Minutes in Heaven. He had written many books before this title and received a modest advance (and expectation) from the publisher regarding this book. Through the tireless promotion of Don Piper, this book got on the New York Times bestseller list and has continued to sell year after year. Cec has written many different types of books and he is a great example of someone who is an exception as an author.

Jerry B. Jenkins has published 195 books and been #1 on the New York Times bestseller list 21 times. Left Behind was his 125th book so he was not an overnight success. The Left Behind series has sold over 70 million copies. Jerry has written many different kinds of books and is another example of an author who is the exception.

While you have probably heard of these last two authors, I'm intentionally selecting a third author who is the exception and you've probably not heard of him: Alan Williams. He is the author of The Little Teammate which is a Morgan James children's book. I understand this book has sold over 400,000 copies—and you would not know it from the BookScan numbers or the Amazon ranking. How did it happen? The author is selling copies in bulk to corporation.  Every author can use this strategy to sell books but few do so Alan Williams is an exception. You can learn about bulk sales through this free teleseminar that I did on the topic

Here's a few of my lessons from these exceptional authors:

1. Be consistent and persistent.

2. Timing is not in your control but you can control your effort—so make it consistent and persistent.

3. Look for the open doors and march through them. Most people give up but the ones who succeed keep on knocking and trying and working to find the right place. Persistence and the right connection will pay off in the long run.

Are you an “exception” author? Or maybe you know of one and their actions. Let me know in the comments below.


Can you be “The Exception” author? Learn some of the key characteristics in this article. (ClickToTweet)

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Sunday, October 06, 2019

A Simple Expression of Appreciation

By Terry Whalin @terrywhalin

The key book which has guided my life in publishing has been the Bible. For many years, I've read a different version of the Bible from cover to cover each year. Reading the Scriptures is a key part of the beginning of each day.  I have been reading in The Passion Translation (Broadstreet). If you don't know about the Passion Translation, I encourage you to get a copy and read it. From my experience, often reading in a new translation will give you fresh insights and perspective. One of the final letters the Apostle Paul wrote was his second letter to Timothy. In 2 Timothy 3:1–5,  he includes a series of godless acts that will happen during the Last Days. tucked into some terrible things is a single word: ungrateful. (2 Timothy 3:1-5).

The opposite of ungrateful is gratitude. As a writer, how do you incorporate gratitude into your daily life?

How you express gratitude doesn't have to be complicated. A simple expression of appreciation can go a long way. My first book, When I Grow Up, I Can Go Anywhere for Jesus, was published in 1992. When the book first came out, I went to the booksellers convention and met with best-selling author Richard J. Foster. His classic book, Prayer: Finding the Heart's True Home had just released. I showed Richard my little 32–page book and gave him a copy. He celebrated with me and prayed with me about the book. Several weeks later, I got a surprise in the mail: a handwritten thank you note from Richard Foster. He was letting me know how much he appreciated the copy of my book.

This handwritten note from a bestselling author was amazing to me—and a practical example of something I've done now for years. I've been writing and reviewing books for many years—in print magazines and online. Almost every day authors and publishers will send me physical books. I appreciate it but to be honest, the volume is way more than anyone could read—even if that is all I did. I read these books in my free time and for fun then write my reviews and post them on Amazon, Goodreads and my social media.

If you can't read every book that comes into your mail box, what can you do? I can take a few minutes and handwrite a note to that author expressing my appreciation for their efforts. I have a box of thank you notes and pull one out, address the envelope and write my note often on the same day I get the book. It is a practice of appreciation that I've done for years—and something anyone can do.

What practices of appreciation do you incorporate into your daily life? Let me know in the comments below.


Discover a simple expression of appreciation from this prolific editor and author.  (ClickToTweet)

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Sunday, September 29, 2019

Learn How to Reach the Library Book Market

By Terry Whalin @terrywhalin

You spot a new book that looks interesting. Where do you turn to get that book? Some of you are thinking Amazon—and yes Amazon would have some information about the book. Yet on Amazon to actually get the book in your hands, you have to buy that book and spend money.  Often the first place I look is not to buy the book but to explore my local library. Can I get the book there? Can I get the audiobook through my library? Can I get the book through interlibrary loan? Often the answer is yes.

I have a branch of my local public library about three blocks from my house. As I've learned to use their online catalog, I can often reserve books from home, then get an email they are ready for me to pick up and go get these books. If I don't find the book in their catalog, then I can use interlibrary loan to locate the book and get it. Or sometimes I will make a book purchase suggestion. For example, last week in my email I saw a book where the title caught my interest. I searched for the audiobook version on Overdrive but did not find it.  I returned to my local library and filled out a form to make a suggestion on a book. Later that day, I got an email from the library they were ordering the audiobook version through Overdrive and it should be available later that day. A few hours later, I searched for this audiobook, found it, checked it out and downloaded it to my phone—all without leaving my home.

Hopefully through these stories you are seeing the value and diversity for book lovers to be using your local library. Last week I did a 45-minute online class about libraries with Amy Collins. Here's some facts Amy pointed out:

* Over 57% of Millenials have been in a library or on their library website in the last month

* 71% of Americans have used a library in the last year

* The American Library annual budget for materials and books is just over 2.8 BILLION Dollars.

If you don't know Amy,  she is the most trusted and experienced teacher in our industry and teaches hundreds of classes each year on how to get your books INTO libraries. There is no special trick to getting your book approved and purchased by libraries. But there ARE things you have to know and do to make this amazing side of the book business work for you. Amy Collins is the founder of Bestseller  Builders and president of New Shelves Books. Collins is a recommended sales consultant for some of the largest book and library retailers and wholesalers in the publishing industry. She is a USA TODAY and WALL STREET JOURNAL bestselling author and in the last 20 years, Amy and her team have sold over 40 Million books into the bookstore, library, and Chain store market for small and mid-sized publishers. She is a columnist for and a board member of several publishing organizations and a trusted teacher in the world of independent publishers.

With over 10,000 libraries in North America alone, this wonderful opportunity to learn exactly HOW to sell into thousands of libraries is a wonderful opportunity. Amy recorded her workshop and includes a handout and valuable information. You can access it right away at:


Do you use your local library? Are you selling your books into libraries? Let me know in the comments below.


Are you reaching the library market with your books? Get insights and a free workshop from a respected expert. (ClickToTweet)

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Sunday, September 22, 2019

A Critical Responsibility for Every Writer

By Terry Whalin @terrywhalin

I often hear fascinating stories from writers about their experiences in publishing. I listen to these stories because I learn more about the world of publishing. Often in the process, I discover some pitfalls to avoid with my own publishing efforts. Yes after years in publishing, I continue to learn—and I hope you are learning too because that is how we continue to grow as writers.

This author has written a number of nonfiction books. For his most recent book, he signed with a literary agent and had high hopes for the success of this book. While I'm not including the name of this agent, she is well respected within publishing. She has a large number of clients and has placed a number of books with various publishers. In other words, this agent has a good reputation and this author was thrilled to sign with such an agent. This agent took his nonfiction book and placed it with a small traditional publisher located in the midwest.

With the agent placing his book with a traditional house, he had high hopes for the success of this book. The author is connected and worked hard at getting reviews and book signings and other events to promote his new release. Yet this author could not get much traction (exposure and sales) in the brick and mortar bookstores. They would not order or carry his book inside the bookstores. Then he discovered the reason: this publisher did not allow retailers to return unsold books.

An aside: books inside bookstores have been 100% returnable for the lifetime of the book since the great depression in the 1930s. Publishers take all the risk on these books and while it seems unusual to people outside of publishing, returning books from retailers is simply a part of the fabric of publishing.

This author was enraged to learn his traditional publisher didn't allow returns. He spoke with his agent and she shrugged it off, saying, “Most books are sold through Amazon anyway. Returns is not an issue.”

Another aside: Amazon is a large player in the book publishing business but books are still selling in brick and mortar bookstores and other venues. You narrow your possibilities if you are only selling through Amazon (in my view).

This author learned a lesson from his experience—and one that every author should learn. You can delegate some things to your agent or a publisher, yet at the end of the day, the author bears the ultimate responsibility. The agent doesn't sign the bottom of the contract. Only the author signs the contract with the representative of the publisher. Yes the devil is in the details. It doesn't mean you have to do everything, but you have to know enough to monitor everything because if something falls apart, you will take the blame.

What did you learn from this story? Does it help you take the critical responsibility for your own writing and work? Let me know in the comments below.


Learn The Critical Responsibility for Every Author—one that can't be delegated to an agent or publisher from this prolific editor and writer. (ClickToTweet)

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Sunday, September 15, 2019

How To Eat An Elephant

By Terry Whalin @terrywhalin

How do you eat an elephant? It's an old joke but you eat an elephant one bite at a time.  It the same way to accomplish any huge task—one action at a time. Recently I began to write another book.  It doesn't matter that I've done it over and over through the years. Each time it looks daunting to write an entire book manuscript. No matter what others will tell you for everyone getting started is hard. The writing in the middle is hard and finishing is hard. Yes the task is difficult and looks impossible. So how do you get it done? One bite at a time.

What is the deadline for completing your book? If you don't have a deadline, then I suggest you set one. After you have a deadline, how many words a day are you going to write to complete the deadline? Make sure you build in some extra days for the unexpected (happens to everyone) but make sure you hit your deadline.

Or maybe your goal is tied to your social media. You want to reach a certain number of followers on Twitter or a certain number of connections on LinkedIn. Are you actively working on these networks? Are you posting a number of times each day? Are you connecting with new people? Without your regular actions, then it will be hard to increase your presence and meet your goals.

Do you want to do more speaking? Are you pitching different conference directors and leaders? From my experience you have to be proactively promoting your speaking skills to get more speaking meetings.

Do you want to appear on more radio shows and talk about your latest book? There are thousands of radio stations and programs which use guests on their program. These bookings do not happen just sitting back and waiting for them to call. Your phone will be silent if you take this action. Instead, you need to be actively pitching the producers of these programs.

Or maybe you want to write more magazine articles or appear on more podcasts? Waiting for the phone to ring will likely not happen. What proactive steps are you taking to either go ahead and write the article then submit it to the publication? Or you can write a query letter and send it simultaneously to different publications and get an assignment?

Many are surprised that I have written over 60 books through the years. There are several keys in this process but one of the most important is consistent writing.  It is a matter of writing one paragraph, then another paragraph which becomes one page then another page. It is the same process as eating an elephant—doing it in bite-size pieces.

Do you break your writing into smaller pieces? I'd love to have your tips and insights in the comments below.


How do you eat an elephant? Learn the secret in this article from this prolific writer and editor. (ClickToTweet)

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Sunday, September 08, 2019

What Is Writing Success?

By Terry Whalin @terrywhalin

Success is a pursuit for many writers, authors and publishing professionals. If we are honest, each of us will define success in different terms. In this article, I want to give you some ideas which hopefully will encourage you to keep going with your writing.

Occasionally book authors will ask me about success or becoming a bestseller. When asked, I attempt to give them my best answer—and basically it will boil down to that author's marketing activity and drive to sell books. There is no single path for each author. If there were such a path, then every book would be a bestseller and we know that isn't the case.

For me, I write about topics and people which interest me. Thankfully I have a broad spectrum of interest so there is never a lack of possibilities for my writing. I learn a great deal with each article or book or writing project. Each one has built a great deal into my life and the richness of that experience. I hope writing brings that sort of experience in your own life.

I've been promoting my book about Billy Graham every day for over four years. I post different messages and links and images but have been doing this process over and over every day. Last week one of my long-term friends added a message to one of my Facebook entries about Billy Graham saying, “Wow I didn't know you wrote that book.” She purchased the book and is reading it and has told me she is going to write a review of it when finished. I'm grateful this friend discovered my book and is reading it. This one exchange is success for me and one of the reasons I wrote that book.

As authors (from my experience), we don't get lots of feedback from readers of our work. Yes you may see an occasional review or get an email or comment. For every review or comment, I expect there are many more readers who never reach out to the author.

It's the same with these articles in my blog. The people who comment are rare (outside of the spammers which I delete). Yet each week for years I continue to write and post a new entry in The Writing Life. I see these lists of the top writing blogs—and mine is not on it. These lists come from well-known and respected writing magazines. Yes I have an email subscriber list of about 500 which goes up and down but stays around that same number.

Last week I got an email about this list of ranked writing blogs. To my surprise, The Writing Life blog was the fourth rank of 100 blogs. Notice this ranking includes several criteria for the ranking—including followers. It was encouraging to see my followers and be listed on this ranking.

My encouragement to you:

1. Follow your own path with your writing and persist to reach the right publisher and right readers.

2. Understand that success varies for each piece of writing and some writing will reach people you have no idea that it reaches.

3. Continue to move forward in spite of rejection, doubts, fears and other emotions. The journey is a key portion of the reward.

Success is different for each of us and I hope in this article, I've given you some insights and motivation to persevere and move ahead with your writing. Enjoy the journey.

What is your definition of Writing Success? Let me know in the comments below.


What is Writing Success? Get some ideas from this prolific writer and editor. (ClickToTweet)

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