Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Three Ways to Get Your Writing Moving

Are you stalled with your writing? I understand how it can happen. One of my Morgan James authors wants to write her book but is crazy busy with her occupation. She asked me for some ideas and strategies to get the book written. Many writers have this challenge of a full-time occupation but dreams of other things in their life. Yet without action, those dreams stay just ideas and do not turn into anything concrete for their writing—like magazine articles or books or information products or ebooks or anything. Their writing is in stall and not moving ahead.

Whatever you want to create or write—including for my book author who can't seem to get her book finished—is to figure out what you can do. Then make an action plan to do that action over and over until the writing is completed. I know these words sounds simple but it is how any goal is accomplished. You do it in bite-sized pieces. No one sets out to write a 50,000 word nonfiction book or a 100,000 word novel. The thought can overwhelm you and throw you into a stall so you don’t get it done.

How do you accomplish your goals? The first step is to break the task into a smaller size. Can you write a page a day?  A manuscript page contains about 200 to 250 words. Or can you write two pages a day? That would be 500 words. Create a plan to write consistently.  If you are consistent, you will be shocked how much material you can accomplish in a week or a month or two months.

The next part of the goal setting is to figure out when you can consistently write and set a time in your schedule. Maybe your best writing is early in the morning or you have a few minutes at lunch time or maybe it is late in the day. Block this writing time into your schedule and do it over and over. Eventually one session turns into more words and you finish the book manuscript from the beginning to the end.

What is something you want to accomplish in the next few months? Here’s some of the steps:

1. Write down your goal and put it on a post-it or note card where you can refer to it. This concrete action will show your intention.
2. Plan your action steps and break your goal into bite-size pieces.
3. Take regular action and move forward to accomplish your goal.

No one likes or enjoys the discipline of working on your book. Yes, some of the storytelling and work is fun but most of it involves simple obedience and doing the work. For example, The Writing Life contains over 1300 entries and I’m moving toward 1400 entries.This volume of material did not happen in a single day or week or month. It was done bit by bit and consistently over days, months and years. I began writing these articles in 2009 so it has taken some consistent time and energy to accomplish. 

I have more details about goal setting and how to accomplish your dreams in Jumpstart Your Publishing Dreams. It contains several dozen ideas about how to accomplish your publishing goals.

Be encouraged and you can do it too. Take action and write your book and accomplish your dreams. If I can help you in this process, don’t hesitate to reach out to me.


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Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Keep Yourself "In Sight" and "In Mind"

“Out of sight. Out of mind” is a common saying. When you are a writer or an author, you want to continually work at the complete opposite of this saying. You want to keep yourself “in sight and in mind”. You take these actions for your readers, for booksellers, for librarians, for members of the media, for leaders of book clubs and many other segments of the population. How do you accomplish this simple goal of being visible in the marketplace?

In this article, I want to give you several strategies that I use on a regular basis. I confess that I'm still learning new insights and work every day at increasing my visibility. I understand being visible is a challenge for everyone. To be honest, there is a lot of noise in the marketplace and you have to continually work at visibility.

Here's some actions to take:

1. Follow-up with your connections. That follow-up is critical and can be through email or phone or the mail but you have to create a regular connection with people. I've written about this issue in the past so check this link for more information.

2. Create an email list and use that list on a regular basis. There are easy to use tools but every author needs to select one then faithfully use that tool. If you don't have a list check out this resource. For example, I have a number of free ebooks that I give away online. The back of my business card has a small cover of my ebook, Straight Talk from the Editor and says, “Free Ebook: www.straighttalkeditor.com” I'm inviting anyone who receives my business card to get this resource. When they request it, they give me their first name and email address. They join my email list in this process. What types of free giveaways are you using to collect this information and touch your audience? 

3. Use social media and continually expand your network and presence. Being on TwitterFacebookLinkedIn and other social networks is important to remind others about your expertise and books. I've written about the steps I take every day here.

4. Always be trying new ideas to reach more people. I encourage you to set up your own online press room or create infographics or bookmarks. You can also reach out to booksellers with a specific reason. 

For example, Billy Graham turns 98 on November 7th. I've reached out to a local bookstore to see if I can set up a signing around that date. Also look at this press release related to this event (which has already garnered several more forthcoming radio interviews about Billy Graham). There are an endless range of ideas you can take to get in front of more people. My key point is to be taking regular and continual action.

This weekend in church I met someone new. We exchanged business cards. It wasn't until later in the day, that I read the information on the business card and focused on this person's background. I learned he was a retired Brigadier General in the United States Air Force. I imagine someone with this background has incredible personal stories (if he can tell them). I took a couple of minutes and sent him a follow-up email. Will something come from it? I have no idea. I'm certain if I fall off his radar and out of his immediate sight, then I know exactly what will happen—nothing.

For every writer, it is your responsibility to keep yourself in front of other people. Are you using the tried and true methods or something new? Tell me in the comments below.


As an author, how do you keep yourself “In Sight” and “In Mind?” Get specifics here. (ClickToTweet)

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Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Why Authors Need An Online Press Room

Every author has to be proactive when it comes to telling others about your book. This stance doesn't use messages like “buy my book” which do not work. Instead your actions need to stress and highlight the benefits of your book and what readers will gain from it. One area which I have not discussed before is an online press room.

Increasingly the media are using tools like Google to find sources for interviews. One of the best tools to increase your visibility with the media is to create an online press room for your book. For some time, I've had this tool in my plans and finally built it for my book, Billy Graham, A Biography of America's Greatest Evangelist. On November 7th, Mr. Graham will turn 98 years old. I encourage you to follow this link and check out my online press room which is full of information.

What does an online press room include?

Journalists (print or broadcast) are looking for easy ways to reach an author. Your first step is to understand what they need:

  • Author contact information — provide several easy methods to reach you via phone and email
  • Author biography or information about the author
  • A Book Press Release
  • Suggested questions for the author about the book
  • Media samples of when the author is interviewed
  • Samples of the book
  • Visuals for the book—cover photos and author photos

I hope you will check out my online press room and notice each of these resources in my press room. I expect to add to these resources in the days ahead. Because I've launched my press room, I hope different people in the media will begin to use this resource.

As the author, you have to be doing interviews to have media samples for your book. Often authors forget to ask for a copy of the interview or download it from the journalist after the interview. You need this material for your online press room and to show the media that you are regularly being interviewed about your book.

Proactive authors have built an online press room and gathered the essential documents where a journalist can connect with the author and write a story or schedule their own broadcast interview. According to PR and marketing expert Rusty Shelton increasingly media are using these online press rooms to reach out to authors and schedule interviews. Your first step as an author is awareness that you need one. Next gather the materials for such an effort or create them such as writing your own press release or a list of suggested questions. Finally build your site and begin promoting it through social media to others.

Do you have an online press room? Has it helped you gain increased opportunities to promote your book or schedule interviews with the media? If so, let me know in the comments below. Proactive authors are always looking for the next opportunity. Literary agents and editors are attracted to these types of active authors.


Why do authors need an online press room? Learn the details here. (ClickToTweet)

Once again, I made the list of the Top 100 Marketing Experts to follow on Twitter from Evan Carmichael. He creates this list from different variables such as retweets and more. I'm honored to be #61 on this list. Hope you will check it out.

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Tuesday, October 04, 2016

Are You Asking Questions and Getting Answers?

At the recent Colorado Book Festival, I had the opportunity to meet the Governor of Colorado, John Hickenlooper.  The Governor was the opening speaker at the Festival and also signed copies of his new memoir, The Opposite of Woe I watched him interact with readers and admired his broad stroked signature and how he personalized each book during the event. I noticed his writing on the title page of each book matched the style of printing on his book cover. In fact, I made a comment about it and he said that he had pushed the publisher in the production process about this very element—to make sure it matched.

In a lull in his book signing, I asked Governor Hickenlooper a question, “If I give you a copy of my book, would you read it?”

Governor Hickenlooper gave an honest answer, “Terry, probably not. I'm severely dyslexic and only read about four books a year.” As a life-long reader and book person, I found the information surprising. You can see some of the books that I've recently read or heard on my Goodreads book page. Every government official must have stacks of material to be reading but he has found another way to succeed.

“Governor, is your book available on audio?”

Absolutely,” he said, “In fact I spent six or seven hours recording my book.” I was intrigued with The Opposite of Woe but decided not to purchase the physical book but to get the audio version through Overdrive. This conversation took place in the main Denver Public Library yet the Governor's book wasn't available at this library. I continued searching and found it at another Colorado library.  I've started listening to his book and will soon complete it. I was impressed with the Governor's honest answer and exchange.

The experience made me think about my newest book, Billy Graham, A Biography of America's Greatest Evangelist. The book has been out for a year and continues to sell and be well-received. When I speak with other writers, they will often ask me about the book sales and if I'm happy with them. I respond that like every author I would like to sell more books and how I'm continuing to promote and work at telling new people about the book.

I've received great feedback about Billy Graham. If you check the link, you will see the endorsements from some easily recognized leaders and the book has 45 reviews on Amazon. I'm grateful the book is out in the bookstores and continuing to sell. You can hear this recent radio interview about the book and see that I'm continuing to promote the book. This process is what every author has to do to continue to reach readers. Am I “happy” with the sales? No so I don't blame anyone or complain. Instead I redouble my efforts to create new opportunities to expose others to the book. It is the journey of every active author.

What about your writing life? Are you “happy” with your book sales? If not, look for new opportunities to reach new readers. As one of my writing teachers told me years ago, “writers are surrounded by a sea of ideas. The key is which idea you develop and move forward.” 

I hope you are asking questions and getting answers in your own writing life. I also hope you've learned some important tips from my own experiences. If I can help you, don't hesitate to reach out to me and ask. My work contact information is at the bottom of the second page of this link. Asking questions is one of the best tools any writer has to move forward.


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Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Why I Don't Finish Every Book I Read (But I Used To)

From my early childhood, I've loved reading books. Whether riding in the back seat of our family car or perched in the corner of a room, I was turning pages of a book.  What I read has always been diverse. Yes I love biographies, autobiographies and memoirs.  Yet I also find history and self-help fascinating. Also I love reading different types of novels: thrillers, romance, genre fiction and much more. Anytime I find a story that holds my attention, I’m reading that book.

When I read a magazine or anything online or the newspaper, I'm always looking for book recommendations which are added to my reading list. When I learn about a new book, I turn to my local library to see if they are getting the book and how can I get on the list for it.  I still purchase books from my local bookstore or online but I learned my appetite for book consumption is way beyond my ability to purchase those books.

I don't have an Ebook reader like a Kindle or IPad. I love holding books and turning the pages. Another long-term habit was to complete reading every book which I started.  While I found some books boring or didn't hold my attention, I persisted until I reached the final page.

My list of books to read is always growing. In recent years, I've stopped finishing every book for several reasons. First, I know different books are for different audiences. I begin some books and learn they are targeted for someone who is very different from me.  Or maybe I find the topic boring or to me, the storytelling is not good. Obviously someone liked the content of this book or they would not have published it and brought it into the world.

Your definition for boring or good storytelling will be different from mine. The tastes of every reader are distinct. You have to discover what works for you and continually holds your attention. Authors have a responsibility not to bore their readers and if they do, then I stop reading the book.  It doesn't matter whether it is a novel or a self-help book.  I'm looking for entertainment and information.

Reading is an optional activity. If you are bored with your current reading, then look for a new genre or type of book. When you discover a new genre, it will invigorate your reading life. Ask others like librarians or friends for recommendations, and then try those books.

Here's some critical lessons for writers from this article:

1. Know and find the audience for your book. It is not everyone and you have to be reaching your audience with the message for your book. Editors and agents often refer to this process as building our platform. Get my free Ebook on this topic at: Platform Building Ideas for Every Author.

2. Understand a massive amount of new books enter the marketplace every day with the traditional and self-published books. According to some experts there are over 5,000 new books every day. It is way more than anyone can read and enjoy. As writers, we have an obligation to craft excellent books. They should not be thrown together. You should process your material with a critique group or an editor before sending it off to be considered.

3. The bulk of the promotion work for every book falls on the shoulders of the author—whether you are published from a traditional publisher or you self-publish. Jump into the fray and ask others to review your book and write honest reviews. 

On a regular basis,I see books launching which have no reviews or less than five reviews. Do the work to gather a team of readers who will read your book and write a review. Understand everyone is busy and even people who “commit” to reading your book may not get their review written. This fact means you will have to ask many more people to review your book to gather 25 or 30 reviews. I have a free teleseminar about reviewing books (use this link). Hear this presentation then apply it to your own work.

Reading should be fun and if it isn't, then you have my permission to stop reading and pick another book.


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Tuesday, September 20, 2016

How To Handle A Marketing Mistake

Ever made a marketing goof? Not just a little error but one where hundreds of people instantly see your mistake (but you didn't)? It's one of the realities of publishing: everyone makes mistakes. I've recently started a Colorado chapter of the Nonfiction Authors Association. The NAA has over 13,000 members and is a growing organization. There are no other chapters in Colorado and our first meeting was last month. 

On September 21st, our chapter will have our next meeting and I've scheduled our first speaker, Sandra Lamb. I've known Sandy for many years and she has written a number of nonfiction books and has a recent book, Writing Well for Business Success (St. Martins Press).

The Nonfiction Authors Association uses meetup to promote and organize their meetings. I've been learning how to use this tool. Last week I used meetup and invited over 200 Colorado writers to attend our meeting. Unfortunately the headline (and subject of my invitation read): Please accept my invitation to Sandra E. Lamb Will Speak at Our June 21st meeting. The body of the email clarified the date for the meeting was not June but September 21st. A couple of people responded and called the error to my attention. I corrected it on the website—but the emails had been sent and probably many people didn't open it with my error.

From this marketing mistake, here's what I learned:

1. Acknowledge the mistake. Yes you can deny it and other actions but the best way forward is to acknowledge the error. I quickly fixed it on the meetup page but the emails had been sent and the damage done.

2. Understand it happens to everyone. In the process of learning a new program or a new method, mistakes are made. It is a normal part of the learning curve.

3. Resend the emails then keep going (learn from it). PT Barnum said, “Without promotion, something terrible happens! NOTHING.” It is true. Writers can't come to the event that I've organized unless they know about the meeting. I will fix the error and resend the emails so hopefully a number of people come to this session.

While these lessons were key, here's some additional points: Notice my proactive stance with the mistake. I didn't just shrug it but I'm actively continuing to work to get the message out about this meeting. One reaction is to cross it off your list and do nothing. Such a reaction helps no one. If you want to achieve success, you have to face the bumps in the road and keep going.

In the journey of your writing and marketing, you will make mistakes. One of the easiest paths is to give up and stop writing and marketing. It's the action I've seen many writers take. They send out their submission and get a single rejection and assume no one wants it. The writers who get published take a different course of action.

They persevere and continue writing and looking for that right place to get published. They continue growing in their craft and reaching their audience and readers.

I hope many of you have learned something for your own writing and marketing life from my experience. If so, let me know in the comments. If I can help you, reach out to me.


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Tuesday, September 13, 2016

What Is Holding Back Your Writing?

Last weekend I was one of three editors on a panel about different ways to publish at the first Colorado Book Festival. After the session, an older writer wanted to show me his manuscript. I asked if he had a copy to give me, he said no. He could show it to me. Glancing at his material, he held neatly handwritten pages.

“Is your work on a computer to send me?”

“No,” he explained with sadness in his eyes, “I can't type.” Then he explained that he lived in a retirement community. I could see his passion and desire to get his material into a book and considered. “What I really need is an agent,” he continued.

From my years in publishing, I knew no literary agent would even glance at this handwritten manuscript. Many agents are overwhelmed with hundreds of electronic submissions every day. Even writers who have had their manuscript edited with a freelance editor can't get a literary agent to read their submission. The barriers to publication looked overwhelming for this writer.

I encouraged him to hire a student to type his words into the computer.  As I think about it, there are other possibilities for this author. He could:

--check out a typing book from his library and learn how to type. Ironically we were having this conversation in the downtown Denver Public Library. When computers were going to be on every desk in our office, the leader of our company didn't type. Secretaries and assistants had always typed for him and now he had to answer his own emails. This executive got a typing book and learned to type.

--read the book into a microphone and use a computer program to change the audio into text.

--use a self-publisher to take the handwritten material and turn it into a typed version. This option could be expensive—as much as $4 per page.

My conversation with this writer provided several insights for every author:

1. Whatever publishing challenge you are facing, understand there are multiple paths around your challenge. As a writer, you need to explore the various paths and understand your options around the challenges.

2. Every author needs to learn and follow the truth of the marketplace. This writer believed he needed a literary agent—yet agents don't consider representing handwritten manuscripts. His proposed solution was going to send him down a path which had little possibility of success. Each of us need to listen and explore the truths that we uncover as we explore different solutions to our challenges. Some solutions will have more potential than others and you need to select the right solution for your situation.

3. After you explore your different possibilities, you need to select a path and take action. I've seen way too many authors grow discouraged and put their manuscript away and never get it published.  The publishing world takes determination to succeed.

What skill or information is holding back your writing? Or maybe you have written a book and need to find new options in the marketplace to reach readers. At this event, I also spent time with someone that I met at least ten years ago, Brent Sampson who is the president of Outskirts Press, based in Parker, Colorado. We met at the Florida Writers Association and had not seen each other for years. Brent and I were two of the three participants in the panel discussion about how to get published.

The Outskirts Press exhibit was next to the Morgan James Publishing table and I noticed Brent's new book, The Book Marketing Coach.  He gave me a copy which is subtitled, “Effective, Fast and (Mostly) Free Marketing Tactice for Self-Publishing Authors.” Outskirts Press is a self-publishing company and from looking through this book (that I will read soon), I see ideas that any author can use—no matter how your book is published. The Book Marketing Coach is packed with short chapters for every author to apply to their writing.

Consider what is holding back your writing life then take action today to move forward.  Let me know in the comments section what you are doing and how I can help.


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