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Sunday, May 19, 2019


Increase Producivity. Get Organized.


As I get older, I'm more aware each of us have the same amount of time in every day. We have a lot of information and opportunity coming our direction. How do we harness these opportunities and increase our effectiveness? One important aspect is to get organized and keep organized.

If I take an honest look at myself, I tend to be a bit of a pack rat. I save magazines, articles I might write some day, books people have sent to read and review, manuscripts and proposals I've been handed at conferences, and the list goes on. This material can easily flood my office and pile up. During the last few weeks, I have been vigilant about sorting, filing and throwing most of this accumulation. At the moment, I'm much more organized than I have been during other periods.

Take Time to Eliminate & Organize Clutter

For me, it is a matter of taking a hard look at what has accumulated and asking if I will ever need this again. Most of the time that answer is “no” and I can throw it. Or can I quickly store some needed information such as an email address or phone on my computer where I can search and easily access it in the future? You can increase your effectiveness and productivity if you have less right in front of you to handle.

Use Your Smartphone Effectively

Often I meet writers who have a smartphone but only use it as a phone—and little else. Whether you are aware of it or not, you have a powerful communication device that you carry. Take the time to use various features. For example, I use the calendar to remind me of meetings and phone calls. I use the reminders section to call to my attention critical deadlines.

I also use my smartphone to post on social media. For example, I use Hootsuite to time out my posts for several social platforms. For Facebook at the moment, I post them myself using my phone. It is not the most efficient way to do it (as I know) but it does get done. 

Also I use my smartphone to quickly answer some important emails when I'm away from my office. Just a brief answer shows the other person you got it and responded. Use your phone as an effective communication tool.

If you don't know how to use these aspects of your smartphone, then take the time to learn. You can even take free classes at the Apple Store (which I have done).

Be Aware of the Time Zappers

I regularly hear from writers who spend hours scrolling through Facebook then wonder where they lost part of their day. Or they binge watch a television program or spend time at a bookstore browsing. None of these things are wrong or bad in themselves but increase your awareness of how you are using your time can help you be more effective.

Create a System to Achieve Over and Over

If there is something you need to accomplish over and over, I recommend you create a habit to accomplish it. Just writing 20 to 30 minutes a day on a project can continue to move it forward toward completion. Or set a word count for your writing then do it repeatedly. People wonder how I keep up with my social media. It's pretty simple. I've created a system where I do the functions over and over (with many different purposes and reasons).

 I still have things slip through the cracks and doesn't get done. For example, several days ago I got an email reminder the judging sheets for a contest are due right away. Yes I knew I was judging this contest and had the material for it but wasn't aware of the exact due date. I handled it and met the deadline. Each of us have these types of things which slip into our day and need to get done.

What steps are you taking to get organized and increase your productivity? Let me know in the comments below.

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Sunday, May 12, 2019


The Discipline of Reading


Almost every day someone approaches me about reading their book and then they want me to write a review. I get these approaches from publishers, from publicists and from authors. Many of them I respond and appreciate the offer but turn them down and point to a free resource such as this one.  The truth is each of us have limited time to read. Yet for writers reading is (and should be) a consitent part of your daily life. Is it?

In this article, I'm going to give several ideas how to use the discipline of reading. Most of us don't like the word “discipline” yet from my experience, reading has to be in your daily plans or it simply does not happen. I repeatedly read about how the volume of reading for many adults continues to drop—like one book a year for men after they graduate from high school. On the other end of the success scale (millionaires), I read these people are continually reading for their own personal development and growth.

While my reading varies throughout the day, I do have a number of routine times when I consitently read. the first period is in the morning. I am an early riser and will breeze through my email then I begin to read my Bible.  Each year I select a different version and this year I'm reading The Daily Message by Eugene Peterson. Each day includes a Bible passage along with a short reading from the Psalms or Proverbs. After completing my Bible reading, I read the newspaper cover to cover. As a journalist, it is a long-term habit to read a real newspaper. Because I live in Colorado, I read the Denver Post cover to cover.

I have a comfortable chair in my office where I read in the evenings. Often late at night I spend an hour or more reading various books. As I read or listen to a book, I track my progress on Goodreads (one of the tools they provide). Because I have 5,000 friends on Goodreads, even my reading progress gets reaction from others (and I can see their reaction and comments).

Besides reading physical books, throughout the day, I am also reading blogs and other information which comes into my email box. Many of these blogs are focused on publishing or books. If they have relevant information for my social media, then I will put them into my Hootsuite feed for future social media posting. I learn a great deal from others reading these articles as I curate the content for my social media followers.

Besides reading in the morning and evening, I also listen to audiobooks if I am in my car (even for a few minutes) or exercising. I've mentioned in the past that I use Overdrive for these audiobooks (free from the public library).  There is a wide selection of books on Overdrive but I tend to gravitate toward history, self-help, how-to, personal development, and memoir. The majority of these books are nonfiction. I do read some fiction but my fiction reading is limited to a few titles a year. It is not surprising that I've written many nonfiction books and continually read in the nonfiction area. It's what I recommend to you as a writer. If you write fiction, then you should be reading your particular genre of fiction. If you write nonfiction, you should be reading in this area and aware of the trends, bestselling authors and other such activity.

You can see how reading permeates my day. What happens after I have finished reading a book? As I read the book, I will mark a couple of passages which capture the essence of the book or I deemed significant. Shortly after I finish the book, I will write a review in a Word file. This Word file is where I write my rough draft of the book. In general I quote something from the book in my review (shows I actually read the book) and my review is typically 150 to 250 words (not just a sentence but more substantial).  Over the years, I've written hundreds of print magazine reviews. In recent years I've written over 900 reviews on Amazon (see my profile) and over 550 reviews on Goodreads (see my profile). This volume of reviews did not happen overnight but is something I've been doing consistently for years. It's one of the reasons people frequently ask me to review their books (and if I have the time and interest, I may do it).

Writers are readers. What does your reading schedule look like? How are you practicing the discipline of reading and incorporating it into your day? Let me know in the comments below.

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Sunday, May 05, 2019


How to Show Up in Different Places


As writers, we need to show up in different places. If you are reaching the same people over and over with your message, you will not expand your reach and audience. I believe each of us need to consistently work at reaching new and different audiences with our message. In this article, I want to give several specific ideas about how to reach new areas of the market.

Before I give you the specific ideas, there are some basic steps that every author needs to take first. The first step is to create a giveaway or a lead magnet. It can be a free ebook or audio file but something which has value to your target audience (something they will want). You need to set up this giveaway on a website where you capture their first name and email address (which adds them to your email list).

The next step after setting up this giveaway is to learn how some simple HTML which gives a clickable link when you show up in these places. (If you have no idea what I'm talking about, then click this link and get a single page about creating clickable HTML that I've written). Otherwise you put the effort into showing up—but don't gain any help for your bigger goal (finding new subscribers to your email list). I'm encouraging you to work smart with this larger goal in focus as you show up in these various places.

Make Relevant Comments on Blogs

Most blogs allow you to make comments. I have the comments turned on to monitor on my own blog because often the comments are simply not related to my post and SPAM. When you comment, add to the article with some additional content. As you write a relevant comment with some additional aspects to the post, you will add value to the blog. In addition to your relevant comment, add the HTML link to your free Ebook or some other valuable tool. Make this link clickable and it will be kept (not marked as SPAM) and you will have created another link on a different location where you can get sign ups for your newsletter list. The key word is “relevant” with your comment. Do not SPAM or that impression will also be made.

Actively Participate in Email Discussions

I'm on some writer email lists where I contribute. If I do, as with commenting on blogs, I do add to the content of the discussion (otherwise you are writing spam). At the end of my post, I make a point to include a link to my website. You can be strategic about where you send people with this single link.

Write an article for a Guest Blog

You can also write an article for another blog. This week I exchanged emails with the editor of a well-known writer blog and in her response, she encouraged me to write another article for them. I seized the opportunity and did it. Other blogs include guidelines in their blog about how to become a guest blogger. Look for those guidelines, follow them and send in your article. In the article include some clickable links to your free giveways and you will add more people to your email list. A related way is to become a regular contributor to a blog or website. For the last several years, I've been writing an article once a month for Writers on the Move and here is the link to one of my recent posts as an example. 

Become a regular contributor to a newsletter

 I have a couple of newsletters where I am a regular contributor. They use my complete articles in their newsletter and are grateful to get the content. I am not paid for this work and I don't write original material for them. Often I will lightly rework an old article from my blog. It could be something I wrote several years ago. I give it a new opening sentence and title, then I skim the article to make sure there is nothing that is dated in it (and if I find something I rewrite it). I have set reminders on my phone to send this material every month to these newsletters. They are not a huge time commitment and I make sure each one includes links to valuable content for that reader (yet clickable links for the reader to get on my newsletter list).  

What are the ways you show up in different places? Are you using clickable links in these places which lead people to your free resources (and signing up on your email list)? Let me know in the comments below.

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Sunday, April 28, 2019


Good Choices and Good Habits Are Important


We are faced with dozens of choices every day. At times these choices are complicated because of the many possibilities. For example, when you purchase toothpaste, there are endless variations even among the same brand. 

I'm keenly aware of the many choices we have as writers and editors. For example, do I answer emails from authors, do I set up phone calls with authors, do I make follow-up calls with authors who have contracts but haven't responded? Do I work on getting more conference speaking or do I write some query letters for more magazine writing? Do I create a new marketing campaign for one of my books? Do I reconnect with some agent friends to see if they have something I could contract with Morgan James? Do I send an email to my mailing list? These are only a few of a multitude of choices but you get the idea. There are many different possibilities. Which do I select and accomplish today?

Each of us are locked into time and space limitations. We only have a certain number of work hours for each day before we run out of energy. I've recently been listening to the audiobook for Atomic Habits by James Clear. If we are honest, we have bad habits that we want to lose and some good habits that we would like to acquire. James Clear is a habit expert and in this engaging audiobook helps us understand and develop habits—yet in an uncomplicated, "everybody can do it" sort of way.



Atomic Habits opens with the story of the British cycling team who instead of huge goals decided to change things by one percent.  When most of us want to change a habit like lose weight or make more money or ???, we set a major goal then most of us fail in this process. Clear advocates and teaches how to change in small increments which is much more possible. The British cycling team made incremental one percent changes in their pillow, their clothing, the massage oil, and many other elements. It transformed the team into winning Olympic gold medals.

Clear contends to make a new effective habit means developing a system. This audiobook is loaded with insights for every reader. I listened to this audiobook cover to cover and highly recommend Atomic Habits.

What do you want to achieve with your writing? If you are writing a book, are you establishing a system (habit) which will accomplish your goal? For example, you could decide to write 1,000 words (about four pages) every day until you finish a draft of your book. You create a system that will allow you to develop a writing habit which will accomplish your larger goal of completing a book manuscript.

If you want to get the attention of a literary agent to get a book deal with a publisher. What are you doing to craft an eye-catching book proposal? Are you regularly contacting agents or going to a conference where you will meet them and develop your relationship? Create a system (habit) which moves you toward your goal. The steps can be small but your consistent effort will pay off.

Do you want to develop a social media presence? What are you doing to consistently grow that presence? Are you posting on different sites on a consistent basis and growing your audience? As you post where are you leading this audience? Does it lead to exposure for your book? Or does it lead to getting sign ups for your email list? What is your system (habit)? Without consistent effort and a system (habit), it will be a good thought but not translate into reality (at least this is true from my experience). 

Our habits and choices are important. I encourage you to make good ones—not just once but every day. If I can help you in this process, don't hesitate to email or reach out to me.

What habits and choices are you making with your writing life? Let me know in the comments below. 

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Sunday, April 21, 2019


How to Press Forward When Stopped

As a writer, how to you move when stuck?

As writers, I've learned we are frequently told the word “no.”

Your idea isn't a good fit for us.” (A polite rejection)

Not publishing this type of book.”

There are many other ways we are told no or stopped in our tracks. For example, I've mentioned in these entries about using the tool called Refollow every day to grow my social media presence. 

Refollow helps you follow up to 800 people in your target market—and you can also unfollow about 1,000 people a day. You can get month's FREE trial and see if you like using this program (use this link). Consistent use of Refollow is one of the reasons I have a large Twitter following.

I want to use this program as an example of how we as writers need to not get stalled with “no” and instead keep pressing forward. Today I used the program and followed 800 new people. Normally I open a window in my browser and Refollow works along as I do other things. To make sure the program is working, I check on it from time to time. Refollow works with Twitter and sometimes the program will stop and flash a message saying the program stopped not because of the program but because of Twitter's limiting the number of people you follow.

When this happens, I suspect some people close the program and stop using it—and return tomorrow. I do not take this path. Instead Refollow allows you to unfollow people who have not followed you back. In some cases, I've been following these people for years and they have not followed me back. I use the program to unfollow people. Even using the unfollow portion of the program, I am stopped. I get a message saying my connection between the program and Twitter has expired and I have to restart. Some people at this message, would probably quit the program. Instead I try it again—and often it keeps working. The program and the process isn't perfect or straightforward because it works with Twitter. You have to determine your next move when stopped—continue or use a different aspect or decide to return later (even tomorrow).

This process is often the same in other parts of the writing world. You pitch a magazine and get a rejection. (Follow this link for a resource to help you.) Or you approach a literary agent and they don't respond or they say their client list is full for your type of writing. Or any number of other polite ways people say “no.” When you get this response, does it discourage you and you take it personally or do you press forward with something else (like a different type of writing)?

I encourage you to figure out your game plan before you get stopped or hear no. Then keep moving forward with the next plan on your list. Otherwise, you go into stall and don't accomplish what you wanted. The choice is up to you. I choose to look at the world as full of opportunity and you are searching for the right opportunity. 

As writers we have many different directions for our writing. I've written books, magazine articles, websites, Ebooks, radio scripts, and other types of writing for many different audiences (preschoolers, young readers, teens and adults). If you need some ideas, I encourage you to download and read the first chapter of Jumpstart Your Publishing Dreams (no optin and use this link).

How do you press forward when you are stopped? What are your strategies? Let me know in the comments below.

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Sunday, April 14, 2019


Five Sure-Fire Ways to Fail as a Book Author


For many years I've written on the positive ways to succeed as a book author in these articles. Yet there is another path which many people take on the road to publishing their book. Here's five sure-fire ways to fail as an author:

1. Believe if I build it, they will come. These authors pour energy and effort into building a great website for their book. While a website is important in your book marketing, it isn't everything. You may have the slickest well-written website but without telling people about it, no one will come. There are millions of websites online. If the author doesn't drive traffic and eyeballs to see your content, then it does not help you or your book sales. There is much more to the process than simply building a website and hoping (without action) that people will come.

2. Believe I know everything there is to know about publishing. I've met authors (some of them even well-known bestselling authors) who believe they know everything there is to know about publishing. These people ooze confidence. I've spent decades in this business and read the trade magazines and other things constantly. Things are constantly shifting in publishing and there is always more to learn—and I do learn new things all the time. Overconfidence can be a pitfall for authors. It is great to believe in yourself but be balanced in that view.

3. Believe the publisher will sell my books for me without marketing. Publishers make and release amazing books. Yet without marketing and telling someone about that book—then no one will purchase it. No matter how you publish your book (traditional, hybrid or self-publishing), the bulk of the marketing effort will fall on the author. Authors are fooling themselves if they believe their publisher will sell the books—with or without marketing. Yes publishers can get your book into bookstores—but it is the author's marketing efforts that get readers to purchase the books.

4. Believe attending a writers' conference is a waste of time. For an author to go to any event (local or far away), you will invest time and money in this process. If you attend these events with the wrong expectations or attitude, then you will set yourself up to not get anything out of it. I believe every author can cut down their learning curve from attending writers' conferences, meeting the right people and applying the information they learn to their book and marketing efforts. Knowledge without action is worthless but you can certainly meet many of the right people at a conference. If you haven't been to a conference or haven't been for some time, I encourage you to make plans and a commitment to get to a conference (check out this link for a list of some conferences). Attending a conference can invigorate your writing life and success as a book author.

5. Believe the title, cover and publisher do not matter. Each of these elements are critical in the book purchase process. I've bought books because of a title or a cover design. I've also not purchased books because of the publisher.  Many consumers do not notice the publisher and I admit to being a more sophisticated consumer than many people. These elements are a critical part of the book production process and essential for your success.

I've written about only five of many different ways a book author can fail. The details are an important part of the process. Maybe I'm missing a critical way for an author to fail? Let me know in the comments below.

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Sunday, April 07, 2019


The Missing Link for Book Reviews


Through the years, I've asked numerous people to write a short review on my books—and it has not happened. There are probably many reasons why this happens:


1. They haven't read the book.


2. They are not writers and have no idea what to write for a review.


3. They are busy and never get it done.


4. They forgot and no one reminded them about your need for the review.


These reasons are only a few of the endless possibilities. To write a review does not seem complicated to me. Of course, I've been writing reviews of books for years in print magazines and online. I've written over 900 Amazon reviews and over 500 reviews on Goodreads. Almost daily someone approaches me about reading their book and reviewing it. With limited time to read, I answer but turn down the majority of these requests.



Click this image to learn about this tool

My friend Sandra Beckwith has created a simple tool to address this problem and help writers get more book reviews for their books. A former book publicist and long-time member of the publishing community, Sandra understands authors are challenged to get reviews for their books. You can see my interview with Sandra at this link. To address this need for more book reviews, she has created a “reader book review form” or a template to help your readers write then post their review. Two types of templates were created since a nonfiction review would be different from a fiction review.


In addition to creating a well-written template for nonfiction or fiction, Sandra has included information with ideas for writers to distribute and promote the book review form. Also she includes blanket permission to give this form away with as many copies as you want.


Whether your book is brand new or has been published for a while, I believe every author can profit from the use of this simple and inexpensive tool. My strong recommendation is that you purchase this tool (follow this link) then use it over and over to stir your readers to action and write more reviews.


Will this tool help you get more book reviews? It will definitely not help if you don't get it—or if you get it and don't use it. From my years in publishing, Sandra has created a practical tool for authors. I plan to use my template over and over, then I will know if it works or not. I encourage you to take similar action and let me know in the comments below about the innovative ways you are using this tool.


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