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Sunday, November 22, 2020


An Often Forgotten Strategy for Authors


By Terry Whalin
@terrywhalin

 
As writers, if you are going to be published, one of your consistent actions must be pitching editors and other decision makers in the industry. You can certainly blog and other actions on your own websites but in this article, I want to emphasize an often forgotten strategy for every author. I encourage you to write for other people's sites and platforms.
 
For many years, I've written and posted an article each week on this blog about The Writing Life. My blog began in 2008 but I have been consistent week after week posting an article. The result is over 1500 articles in this single location (and I will include more details toward the end of this article).
 
Besides creating new articles for my own blog, each month I have a number of other writing deadlines which have come over the years.  I'm a part of a small group of contributors at Writers on the Move. I write one article a month published on the 22nd  each month. Here's the most recent link to my article, Some Good News for Writers.
 
Also I've started writing one article a month for the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference blog. My most recent article posted last week, Why Do Writers Need to Build an Audience?
 

Several times a year, I have been submitting an article for the Suite T blog. My most recent article was Do Editors Fix All My Mistakes? This title is a variation of a chapter in my 10 Publishing Myths book.
 

Also earlier this year, New York Times bestselling author Jerry B. Jenkins interviewed me for his Jenkins Writers Guild. We spoke for about 35 minutes about many different writing topics. After it was over, I asked for a copy of the interview. When I received it, I asked if I could also post the article on my blog. From the reaction, I suspect few of the people Jerry has interviewed have asked for this question. It involved several emails and negotiating an exclusive time period for the Jenkins Guild before I could release it. That time has passed and you can watch the interview here.
 
Since September 2011, I have written monthly column for The Wordsmith Journal called The Proactive Author. For many of these articles, I rewrite some of my blog articles but I have been consistently published in this publication for years.
 
These articles and places are a number of the locations where I am writing outside of my blog on a regular basis. If you look at these articles through following the various links, you will notice each article includes at least one link to a free resource the reader can get from me (if they give me their email address and first name). I have planned to add names and emails to my mailing list through appearing on these websites. I do deliver value in each case to these locations and my “payment” for this effort is to be able to give away free resources. I hope you can see the strategy and planning I have built into each of these efforts.
 
How can you take similar steps with your writing? Can you find these opportunties for your writing? I believe they are out there. It will take effort to find them but I encourage you to make this effort.
 
Tell Other Writers
Are you one of my email subscribers to this blog? If you aren't I encourage you to use this link and begin receiving these entries each week in your email. Also I encourage you to pass this link on to other writers and encourage them to subscribe as well. In advance, I thank you for your help to spread the word about this resource. Also notice in the right hand column of my blog, (scroll down) there is a search tool where you can use key words and search the entire blog database of over 1,500 entries. I will often use this tool but you can use it as well to find information on many different writing topics. Finally, please use my ClickToTweet link at the end of this blog to pass on the article to others through social media. Thank you in advance for this help.
 
Are you using this often forgotten strategy in your own writing? Let me know in the comments below.
 

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Sunday, November 15, 2020


10 Reasons to Read (or Re-Read) Marketing Books

By Terry Whalin @terrywhalin

 
The book market is crowded which is no news to those of us in publishing. Thousands of new books pour into our world every day. No matter who publishes our book the author has to be taking action to tell others about your book or to find readers. The author has to continually spread the news about their book and the importance of it for their readers.
 
If I'm honest, I'd love for someone else to do this work and be able to devote more time to writing. It's simply not reality with our world and market. Another reality is there is always more to be done as a writer to be telling a new audience about your book—whether it has been out a while or whether it is brand new. Consistently in these articles, I've written about the importance of marketing and highlighted different how-to books because it is an area every writer needs help. In this article, I want to highlight a number of reasons writers need to read marketing books (and then take action on what they learn).
 
1. You are probably missing some element and the book can give you an idea. For example, maybe you are missing effective use of press releases for your book or pitching podcasts or radio stations for interviews. Have you prepared a list of possible questions? Marketing books can remind you of these tested strategies and motivate you to take action.
 
2. You get fresh encouragement to take action and try a new path. Possibly you need to launch a new product related to your book or something else that you will be reminded through the marketing book.
 
3. You reach out and touch new readers with your message and your book as you apply ideas.
 
4. You are reminded that without your actions, your book stagnates and reaches no one. Last week I was reminded about my product Editor Reveals Book Proposal Secrets. These CDs contain valuable insights and teaching but to be honest have not been selling. Why? It is my own fault because I have not been telling people about this well-done product.
 
5. Even older marketing books have valuable contents. For example, the book, Guerrilla Marketing for Writers was published before social media but still contains valuable insights and ideas. Postcards are still an effective marketing technique.
 
6. No single marketing book has all of the answers. The path is different for each of us. What works for you may or may not work for me.
 
7. If you don't try, it will not fly. In the marketing area, it is necessary to try different techniques to see what will work for you. Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen talk about the rule of five. Watch this short video explanation.
 
8. Reading marketing books recommits you to consistent action. While my Billy Graham biography came out over five years ago. I'm still marketing it every day but with different messages and different photos.
 
9. Reading these marketing books opens you to new (and possibly free) ideas. If you take action on the ideas.
 
10. There is nothing new under the sun yet there are proven paths to sell books—and each of us need to walk these paths with our books.
 
Notice I didn't give you a series of marketing books in this article. Why? There are many different books and I have many different possibilities. The key is to use and re-use the books you already have—or check them out of your local library.
 
Did I leave out some reason? Let me know in the comments below.
 

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Sunday, November 08, 2020


Writers Need Each Other

 


By Terry Whalin @terrywhalin

 
Alone with our keyboard, every writer creates stories, articles and other types of communication. Yet without readers of those words, the stories have little impact on others. I understand it is hard to get an editor's or literary agent's attention to get your material on the road to publication. Part of this frustration is why self-publishing has exploded with 1.6 million self-published books a year. Yet many of these books are poorly produced and only sell 100 to 200 copies in the lifetime of the book (not a good path in my view and filled with companies who will gladly take your money with poor results).
 
Early on in my writing life, I learned that other people's input into my writing improved the results. Each of us have blindspots with our writing (no matter if we are beginners or have been writing for decades). Every writer needs an editor to go through their work in detail before it is published. I understand the business is subjective and you have to find the right editor for your work but it is an important part of the process. The best kind of publishing from my experience is using a team of people.
 
The writing community is an important part of the process. I learned early on to connect with others via email or phone or in person—and to maintain these relationships. I started writing for publishing decades ago in high school on my newspaper then worked for the local newspaper. While I have a college degree in journalism, I put my writing on hold for ten years while I was living overseas and working in linguistics. 

Years ago a friend showed me how to write a query letter and pitch magazines so I could get assignments. Then I went to my first writer's conference and met editors and literary agents. It opened the door for my first book which was published in 1992 (and long out of print). One of my writer friends recently showed me a current outrageous price on my first book from a retailer.
 
When I joined a critique group, my published writing took a leap forward. It was a regular forum to gain insight from readers and also a consistent deadline for my writing. If you have never joined a group, I recommend you follow this link and read the details of how to join or create a group.
 
There are many ways to support other writers in the publishing process. It might be as simple as being in a critique group with them. Or you could read their book, then write a review. People are making buying decisions every day after reading reviews. It's one of the reasons I've written over 1,000 Amazon reviews because it is a way I can support other writers. You can also subscribe to their newsletter (then when it comes pass it on to others). You can reach out to others with a phone call or email to check in with them—and see how they are doing with their writing. Admittedly 202o with a world-wide pandemic has been a strange year but you can do this sort of networking effort any time and any year.
 
Look for ways to volunteer and give back to others. As you give to others in these ways, you join the community of authors—and yes giving will come back to you multiplied is my view. I've given you a few ideas in this article. The bottom-line is we need each other. What steps will you take today to encourage and reach out to other writers? Let me know in the comments below.
 
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Sunday, November 01, 2020


The Practice of Anticipation


By Terry Whalin @terrywhalin

 
Writers have a variety of goals and plans which need to be completed. Often these goals have deadlines or deadlines are created for their completion.  In various areas of my writing life, I practice anticipation. Years ago, I wrote to do lists and crossed off items as I complete them. I don't do this practice any longer and believe it is a waste of time (for me—maybe not for you).
 
I have many different areas of my writing life in motion: writing new material, acquiring new authors at Morgan James Publishing, emailing and calling authors who have received contracts and never signed, marketing my own books, adding people to my email subscribers, maintaining my social media and engaging with responses—actually the list is long and endless but this gives you some ideas of what I am anticipating and practicing each week.
 
Let's use these blog entries as an example. Years ago, I decided to write one new blog article a week and post it here. Currently I have over 1500 entries in The Writing Life. If you are not a subscriber to my weekly here is where you can subscribe.  Each week I reach many people with this single article but I have to produce something every week. To complete it, I practice anticipation.
 
As I see an idea or something to write about, I will often open an file, create a headline and begin to write some thoughts—even if in a rough outline format. This process captures the idea for use—even if I don't use it immediately.
 
Throughout the week, I am aware of my need to have an article for my blog. As I get a few minutes here and there, I work on crafting the article. I post my article early on a Sunday morning and it goes out to my subscribers early in the morning on Monday. I created this pattern or system years ago and people expect to see something on these timeframes. Sometimes with my schedule, I finish the article at the last minute but I'm consistent in this process (an important aspect).
 
Each of these articles have some elements which I've created. The article includes links to other resources which I have created over the years or links to other writing resources I've discovered. The article include a royalty-free photo at the top. I use this photo for on-going promotion through social media—sometimes years after I have created it. As other portions of this process, I have created a system or process which is done almost automatically and works for me. Your system will be different but you need to think about it and create one.
 
Also these articles are a planned length or word count of about 400 to 700 words. This length is intentional since it is the normal blog article length. If it is shorter, there isn't enough substance and if it is longer, people may not read all of it. Do you have a projected article length for your blog when you write it?
 
Finally for the last several years I've been including a ClickToTweet at the bottom of my article. I can see from social media use that people use this tool to pass on my article to their audience. It's a consistent pattern and part of my articles.
 
Do you practice anticipation in your writing life? Or are you still making to do lists and crossing them off throughout your day? Let me know in the comments below.
 

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Sunday, October 25, 2020


Almost Scammed Last Week

By Terry Whalin @terrywhalin


Throughout my day, I receive a number of phone calls. Often they are my Morgan James authors asking questions or returning my phone call. Other times they are friends or family members. For most of the people in my contacts list, I have added their photo in addition to their name so with a glance I can see who is calling.
 
This week on a whim, I answered a random number not in my contact list (not a good idea). It was someone who claimed to be from Amazon security checking to see if I had recently purchased an iPhone. The location for the purchase was in California and I'm in Colorado. I listened and said it was not me. Then this person directed me to a website address. I typed it in and it looked like an Amazon site but was not an Amazon site.
 
I accused them of being a scam, disconnected the call then blocked this number from being able to call me again. Then I went to my Amazon account and checked my orders. No iPhone was ordered and the call was a scam. Whew. I narrowly avoided it and gave the caller zero personal information.
 
I wrote this article because even though I've been online for years, I came close to being scammed. As writers we need to be cautious and be careful. I'm not answering any more phone numbers which are not already in my phone. These numbers are mostly spam, political or scams. If you call me for the first time,. leave a message and I can return those calls.
 
Scams also happen within publishing. I wrote about one of those possibilities in an article recently published on the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference called Should I Self-Publish? (follow the link to read this piece).
 
Finally, last week I had two additional articles published on other blogs. Once a month I contribute an article to Writers on the Move. This month I wrote about how Published Writers Must Be Pitching. Finally for the Suite T Blog, I wrote an article, “Do Editors Fix All My Mistakes?” It is another publishing myth which I attempted to dispell and encourage writers to make a good first impression with their submission. I hope these additional articles help you. 
 
Have you been scammed or like me, almost scammed through some phony pitch? Let me know in th ecomments below. 
 
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Sunday, October 18, 2020


My Necessary Daily Habit

 


By Terry Whalin @terrywhalin

 
While I've written about many aspects of the writing life in these articles, I'm going to give one today that is deeply personal and I haven't discussed yet is critical for life. One of my first actions every day is to plop my bathroom scale on the floor, stand on it and check my weight. During the early days of the pandemic, my number continued to climb. In fact, I had to go to a larger pants size and even some days squeezed into those pants.
 
A month or so ago, my wife and I decided to make changes in our eating. We got a new book about the South Beach diet and changed many of our eating habits. My daily weight number began to drop. A few days ago I got into my smaller pants so it is working. I'm not totally where I want to be for weight but I'm headed in the right direction. In the last 25 years, Christine has watched me go through this process at least four times. It is a daily decision to stay the course.
 
To be honest, I love to eat anything sweet and many other foods not on my current eating plans. Several weeks ago I saw my doctor and my blood pressure was elevated. He suggested I go on some blood pressure medicine and did not even mention about my increased weight. I have not taken the medicine and instead began to work on reducing my weight. I return to the doctor again next month to see what has happened with my intention to eat different foods and less salt and sodium.
 
Change is hard and I'm going against the genetics in my family. One of my relatives in the 1800s was over 300 pounds and it took several men to lift him in a chair for his baptism. Yes this story is a part of my printed family history. The men in my family have always been known as “big” which is code for overweight. The change is a moment by moment choice. I've also learned my weight has little to do with exercise (and movement is also important) and everything to do with what I eat.
 
Less weight affects my energy level and many other factors in my writing life. I expect my family doctor will be surprised next month when I see him. I hope you can see that accountability is important. Go through this process with someone else supporting your commitment to change. It will lengthen your life and your time on the planet to do more writing work.
 
This article tells about a personal choice I've made with my weight. What personal choices are you making? Let me know in the comments below.
 
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Sunday, October 11, 2020


Why I Don't Follow Some Common Advice


By Terry Whalin @terrywhalin

Do you follow every bit of advice from others? I don't and if I did I would be chasing after every new and shining object that comes into my mailbox or email box. In this article, I want to address a common bit of advice that I've heard then tell you about how I handle this area and other advice.

 
In blogs and books, I often read, “Don't read your email first thing. Focus on your main priority first and decide to read your email on designated times throughout the day.” Statistics have shown most of us check our email at least 85 times a day which admittedly is excessive. I've learned the importance of responding with short emails which gives the receiver a response but maybe not a lot of detail. If an email requires a longer response, I've learned not to immediately send it but to wait a bit then re-read it to make sure it s complete.
 
I don't follow this advice about not reading my email because these emails are the lifeblood of publishing. It's where I get work. It's where I communicate with editors. It's where I get my contracts from my colleagues at Morgan James Publishing which I send on to authors. It's where I receive signed contracts from authors. There are many other bits of information that come through my email. I've learned to process it quickly.
 
Another bit of advice I see regularly is about social media. “Use a timer when you log on to Facebook or LinkedIn or _____ and begin reading. Otherwise you can waste hours.” I see the truth in this statement but again it is something I do not practice or follow (using a timer). Instead I am keenly aware of the traps of social media and how you can waste lots of time on it. My social media time is limited. Admittedly I do not see every post from every person. My time on social media is focused and with a point.
 
As writers, each of us have a careful balancing act called life. We juggle work and family and fun (yes we make time for fun). We have longterm and short term projects. I network with others and I am moving forward with my current book writing project at the same time I am looking for looking for long-term work, answering email and returning phone calls. The list is endless but these are some of the elements and give you the idea. I also have interruptions and unexpected things that spring into my schedule.
 
In a recent how-to writing book I read, reviewed and promoted, the author called out Amazon as evil. I understand many booksellers and publishers do not like the controlling dominance of Amazon but I respectfully disagree with this author. Amazon is not evil. This company is a huge player in the publishing industry and requires some of our attention at writers. 
 
My principle point in this article is each of us have to find our own path. My path within publishing and life will be different from your path. I can learn from you and you can learn from me. I hope I've given you some ideas in this article. 
 
What common advice do you not follow? Let me know in the comments below.
 

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