Sunday, October 21, 2018

Distribute Selected Targeted Content

One of the blogs I read consistently is from the Steve Laube Agency. I've known the various writers for years and they write solid valuable content. If you haven't subscribed to their email version of their articles, I recommend it. Recently literary agent Dan Balow wrote about Eternal Words. It's a concept that I keep in mind with every social media post and blog article—my words are around online forever. If you feel a rant coming on or want to post something strange—think twice before you send it out to the world.
I've written over 1400 articles for The Writing Life and I've posted thousands of tweets and other social media posts. With each one I've thought about the eternal nature of our words. A few weeks ago I wrote about developing writing routines.

One of my routines is to use Hootsuite to schedule my social media posts. I post numerous times throughout a day (12–15 times) yet each post is crafted and includes an image along with often a link to additional insights. As I write each one I'm asking:

1) Is this information right for my target audience?

2) Is the article that I'm highlighting timeless? For example, this time of year, a number of articles are about Halloween but I'm scheduling the posts in the future. It is not appropriate to post an article about Halloween in December.

If you study my tweets, it doesn't take much to see they are in patterns. I begin each day with an inspirational quotation. Then I follow with a couple of posts which include my writing (either on my blog or a free ebook or teleseminar). The bulk of my posts are targeted content for people interested in publishing or writing with links to additional articles and insights. Finally I end my social media posts with another article or free ebook or teleseminar or product. The next day, I begin the process again.

My encouragement is that you create your own pattern for your posts. This routine will help you be consistent and yet not have to invent something new each time. I am constantly reading blogs and articles about publishing and writing. When I find something that fits my audience, I will often schedule it right away. My social media feed can be a remarkable education for the reader about the world of publishing. Your audience and your material will be different. My intention with this article is to give you some ideas and help your planning and social media posts.

How are you distributing targeted content for your audience? Let me know in the comments below.


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Sunday, October 14, 2018

Are Your Book Chapters Like Pringles?

For many years, I've admired and read the books from New York Times bestselling author Joel C. Rosenberg. We follow each other on Twitter and have exchanged emails. I've reviewed and promoted his books but never met face to face. His parents live nearby and attend Calvary Chapel South Denver. When Joel's father retired after four decades as an architect, they created Ministry Architecture. I learned about their annual fund raiser at their church, bought a ticket and attended the event. As a writer, be aware of these types of events (which may be in your city) then make plans and attend them. In my local Denver Post newspaper, the Tattered Cover announces author events each week in the Sunday newspaper. Attending these types of events can give you some unique opportunities—if you are aware and seize them.

His first novel was The Last Jihad (Forge Books) published in 2003. This political thriller was a page turner with an opening that I still recall 15 years after reading it (yes that good and memorable). The book caught on and reached the New York Times bestseller list. A committed Christian, Rosenberg moved this book and his future books to Tyndale House Publishers.He has written several nonfiction books but the majority of his books are fast-paced political thrillers.

Rosenberg spoke to a packed crowd for over two hours. The majority of his talk was about flash points and current geo-political events where he has first hand knowledge. I found it educational and fascinating. Woven into his speaking were several keys for writers that I want to emphasize in this article.

1. Joel C. Rosenberg is a brilliant storyteller and writer. I suspect some of it is his natural ability but other skills he learned and perfected. Every writer needs to learn how to spin a solid story whether in print or orally.

2. As a writer, Joel Rosenberg is plugged into the world geo-politics, traveling and meeting with world leaders. He mentioned meeting with the President of Egypt, the U.S. Secretary of State and other officials—and these meetings were recent with a current and fresh perspective. Formerly he lived in Washington, D.C. and now he lives in Israel. His lifestyle plays into his writing. If you want to know more details and keep up on Rosenberg's insights, one of the ways he suggested was subscribing to his blog updates (follow this link).

3. He pours his personal insights about the world into his novels. He talked about writing chapters that were like eating Pringles. He dares his readers to just read one chapter without continuing to the next chapter. The ongoing action and short chapters compel readers to keep going. Rosenberg told about getting regular emails from readers who have stayed up all night reading his novels. Now that is amazing storytelling and something each of us should aspire with our writing. Are you making your book chapters to be consumed like Pringles?

Each of us can be learning and growing from our world around us. I encourage you to take action in this area in the days ahead.

When a bestselling author comes near you, do you attend the event and what do you learn or gain? Let me know in the comments below.


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Sunday, October 07, 2018

Create Writing Routines

I have a number of writing habits including writing each week for the Writing Life. Every morning I use Refollow to follow 800 new people in my target market.  I've been doing this habit for years and yes clicking my mouse 800 times is a bit boring and routine. Why do it? Because consistent use of this tool is one of the reasons that I have a large following on Twitter. This fact combined with the other habits I've created have gathered a large following or platform. Follow this link to learn the details of my every day actions on Twitter.

Every day I read and/or listen to audiobooks. As I read, I'm learning new things but also feeding into my writing life and habits. As I've mentioned before, for every book that I read or hear (good or bad). I take a few minutes and write a review. I've reviewed over 900 books and products on Amazon and over 500 books on Goodreads. This volume has happened because I've created a writing habit which I execute over and over.

Currently I am listening to an audiobook from historian Doris Kearn Goodwin called Leadership. It's a book on the current bestseller list and I got the book from my local library through Overdrive. Goodwin compares the leadership style of four different U.S. Presidents. In my listening so far, she has included Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Lyndon Johnson. The background and style of each man and how they tackled the leadership issue has been insightful. Eventually when I complete the book, I will write and post a review. Listening to audiobooks is a habit I've cultivated which feeds into my writing.

Whether you write a lot of a little, consistency is one of the keys. If you begin a blog, then I encourage you to grow that blog and consitently write or post on it. Some people use guest bloggers to fill their blog. There are many different ways to do it—just be consistent as a basic principle. You can also reuse this material or a book or in a newsletter or any number of places. I have a free teleseminar about reusing your content. Also I have a 31 Day course on making money from your blog which is risk-free during the guarantee period.

Your writing routines will be different from my routines. Create patterns in your life for your writing. If you do, I believe you will be more consistent, prolific and productive. In some cases, a routine can become boring but change it up to keep it interesting—yet continue doing the action. Each of us as writers needs to be continually building our email list, completing magazine writing deadlines, getting to events and meeting new people.

In my view, the payoff for having a writing routine is completing and getting done what others just dream of doing. Many people want to write a book but if you get that book published you enter a smaller circle of people. And if your book sells (and not just a few but in a large number), then you enter even a smaller number of people who succeed in writing a bestselling book.

One of the basics is creating writing routines then sticking with those routines. What sort of writing routines do you have? Let me know in the comments below.


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Sunday, September 30, 2018

Use the Power of One Word

Are You Looking for The Next Big Thing?

In the publishing world, words fill our lives:
  • a number of times each week, new books arrive in my mailbox
  • new submissions from authors come into my email box
  • new relationships happen on the phone or email or in person
  • new opportunities to speak and help other authors
If you are in stall and spinning your wheels, I encourage you to use the power of one word to propel you forward. It does seem amazing but you can tap into the power of one word if you consistently use it. Are you ready for this word? The word is next. Speak it aloud: next. This one word is hopeful and expecting something to happen in the future.

Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen, co-authors for Chicken Soup for the Soul, have a story that many people have forgotten because of their success. The Chicken Soup for the Soul series is one of the most successful in the English language. Yet these books were rejected 144 times—which is more rejection than most people will take. In this rejection process, Jack and Mark learned to look at each other and say the word: next. Yes they mourned the rejection but they did not stop and kept moving ahead to the next opportunity. If you want to read Mark Victor Hansen talking about this issue, follow this link to the free sample of Jumpstart Your Publishing Dreams. Mark writes about it in the foreword to my book.

As writers, we hear the word no a great deal in the publishing world. We write a book proposal and try to get a literary agent or a publishing contract. Yet we get rejected and sometimes that rejection is over and over. We get little feedback and form rejections saying things like “not a good fit” or “not right for us.”

For others, we get a book contract from a publisher, yet you decide the timing isn't right so you don't sign that particular contract. I understand the timing and publisher and details have to be right. I have it happen often with my work at Morgan James. We go through our internal process to evaluate a book and decide it will be right right book for the publisher (a team process). Then we issue a contract but the author doesn't sign it. I've had authors sigdn their contract years (yes years) after I've initially presented it to them. It is all about timing, passion of the author, resources,vision and other such intangibles. As someone who has been in publishing many years, I understand these intangibles but they are still frustrating. When I feel the frustration, I say to myself the single word: next. Then I move forward on something else.

For other authors, their book is not selling and they wonder what to do next. I spoke with an author last week who published his book a year ago, then was plunged into a personal medical situation which prevented him from marketing and promoting his book. Now his health situation is resolved and I encouraged him to begin again. Yes he had missed the launch window for his book since it is already in the marketplace, but it is never too late to work on the promotion of your book. Next.

I wrote this article to give you hope and encourage you to keep moving—in spite of the rejection and the no thank yous. If you can't write or publish in this place, look for the next opportunity. I know nothing will happen if you don't move forward, take responsibility and take action. You can do many things in the publishing world but your action will be the difference maker in this process. If I can help you in this process, my work contact information is on the bottom of the second page of this link.

What steps do you take to get it done? Let me know in the comments below.


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Sunday, September 23, 2018

How To Get It Done

Life is full and complicated for every writer. We have spouses and children and grandchildren and pets and extended family. There are interruptions and unexpected things which happen. In this article, I want to give you some ideas about how to get it done. 

Admittedly in publishing there is a lot to do—writing the work is a challenge, finding a publisher, then getting it into the market and on-going marketing. Every aspect of the business involves effort and work. Many of the aspects are routine and involve simply siting at your keyboard and moving your fingers. I don't want to be too simplistic but getting the ideas out of your head is often the first active step in the process.

On the surface, people look at my work and believe I must be doing something different. I've written more than 60 books for traditional publishers (and in many different types—but all nonfiction). I've also written for more than 50 print magazines (stopped counting at 50). Plus I'm now working in acquisitions at my third publishing house. I'm blessed to have great opportunities (which I try and seize) and I continually work at growing my relationships.

First, let me give you basic truth about how to get it done. There are many things which are not getting done in the process of getting something done. I have my own share of unanswered emails, unreturned phone calls, Things around the house to fix or clean…..the list goes on and on. No one gets it all done—even if they look like they are getting it done.

How do you get things done? Several things:

1. Baby steps and continually pushing ahead with your writing—in spite of what else is going on in your life.

2. Persistent and continual knocking on new doors of opportunity. I've written about this in the past and it's the need of every writer. When you aren't writing for magazines and the book contracts have stopped, take a minute and think about why this is happening. Are you still writing query letters and pitching your ideas to editors? Are you writing book proposals and pitching those new ideas? If not, maybe that is the reason.

3. As you have ideas, consistently take action on these ideas. For example, today I was scanning through my news feed on Facebook. I noticed one of my Morgan James authors talking about how her book will make a great Christmas present. It was a terrific action on her part—which linked to her book on Amazon. I clicked the link and noticed this book had one Amazon review. This book came out four years ago—the same year as my Billy Graham biography, which just went over 100 Amazon reviews). I reached out to this author on email, complementing her on the marketing effort—and giving a number of other ideas of what can do to improve. I may or may not hear from this author but I had some ideas and took action on them.

Also maybe you've seen my little personal campaign to get over 100 reviews on Amazon. It happened and I'm grateful for everyone who helped me. I blogged. I emailed (individually and on my email list). I called people and any other way I could to get to this number. My point is it did not happen organically or naturally or without any effort.

Nothing happens without your taking action and responsibility. You can do many things in the publishing world but your action will be the difference maker in this process. If I can help you in this process, my work contact information is on the bottom of the second page of this link.

What steps do you take to get it done? Let me know in the comments below.


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Sunday, September 16, 2018

Better Than Thinking: Action

Let It is great to have thoughts about the world of publishing. There is a place for careful deliberation in our writing lives. But the real difference maker is when you take action on those thoughts. How are you moving from idea to plan to action?

I noticed one of my writer friends launched a new book and recently made the New York Times list. Initially I looked at the details of the book and noticed it was over 500 pages. My reading time is limited so it is rare that I read a book of such length. Yet I was fascinated with the success of this book reaching the bestseller list. I noticed it was available on audiobook and I checked it out through Overdrive.

Listening to a few chapters, I could see why the book made the bestseller list. The writing and the storytelling was fascinating. I made a point to call my friend and congratulate her on the success of her book. We haven't spoken but exchanged voicemails where she told me that she has never listened to any of her books on audio. Our exchange was brief but we did make a connection. The continued connections is an important part of the writing life.

Last week I read a blog post from literary agent Wendy Lawton called An Innovative Approach—Case Study. Wendy wrote about the launch of a three book series from Doug Newton called Fresh Eyes.  I met Doug many years ago at the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference. David C. Cook where I used to work years ago, published these books. Often series books are released six months or a year apart but they decided to release all three of these titles at once. I looked at the books and found them intriguing. Then I looked at the pages on Amazon and Goodreads. I noticed the books had been out about a month and only had a few reviews.  I have plenty to read. In fact, people approach me almost daily to review their books. Yet I wanted to help my friend Doug Newton (even though I had not corresponded with him in many years).

I wrote asking for a review copy of the books and they arrived late last week. Over the weekend I read through one of them (Fresh Eyes on Jesus’ Miracles: Discovering New Insights in Familiar Passages) and caught the excitement and innovation in these books. I'm posting my review and promoting the book.

Why tell you about this process? Because you can follow the same course of action. If you learn about a book that you would like to read, don't hesitate to reach out to the author or publisher and request a review copy of the book. When you get the book, read it, then write an honest review. Finally send an email to the author or publisher after you have posted your review. This final step of follow-through is important. Everyone gets a lot of mail and email but the ones which stand out are the ones which actually take action.

How can you turn your ideas into action? What practical steps can you take today which will feed into your writing life? I applaud thinking and thoughtful consideration but even more I appreciate taking action.Let me know in the comments how you are taking action on your thoughts.


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Sunday, September 09, 2018

Levels of Persistence

Persistence is an important quality for every writer. When you get a rejection letter (and it happens to all of us), then you have to persist to look for the next opportunity for your writing. Instead of putting the submission aside, you take active steps to get it back into the market with a different editor or literary agent.

I've been thinking about the different levels of persistence and how it plays into the writing life. Since I studied journalism at Indiana, I have been a life-long newspaper reader. Not the digital version but getting a daily newspaper and reading it cover to cover. From time to time, my newspaper doesn't show up. Maybe the carrier skipped me or whatever happens but I have to call the circulation office for a replacement newspaper.

Recently my wife reminded me of a period years ago when I lived in a different city and the newspaper delivery problem was happening over and over. To resolved it, I actually drove to the newspaper office and spoke with someone face to face about it. My level of persistence was great and someone got the message and it was finally resolved.

In recent days I've been having repeated problems with my Denver Post not being delivered. I've called the circulation office almost daily but the paper has not been delivered. I decided to raise the level of persistence. I looked on the newspaper website and found the name, email and phone number of the Senior Vice President of Circulation. I called this executive and left a straight forward message and I emailed him as well about the poor customer service situation with a plea for him to get it fixed,. Now I understand thousands of people take my newspaper every day—but my level of persistence raised the situation. While my newspaper situation is not resolved, it is improving yet I'm determined for it to be fixed.

Do you have this level of persistence with your writing? Are you determined to get your book published or to get into a particular magazine or be represented by a particular literary agent? Maybe you want to speak at a particular conference or event? Are you contacting the leaders on a regular basis with innovative topics to speak at their event?

The reality is everyone has interruptions, family situations or some other personal crisis. It throws off their ability to handle your writing situation. With an email or a text or a call, can you get on their radar to help them with a need?As you meet the needs of this person, they will in turn help you meet your needs.

Are you persistent with your writing life? Tell me in what ways in the comments below.


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