Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Alton Gansky Interviews Terry Whalin about Billy Graham

Recently, my friend Alton Gansky interviewed me about my new biography on the life of Billy Graham. I hope you enjoy this short interview. If you can't see the embedded information below, then use this link, which will open a new window in your browser.

Al and I speak together about the remarkable life of Billy Graham. I tell stories about working for Mr. Graham as Associate Editor of Decision magazine and also about what I learned working on this easy-to-read biography, Billy Graham, A Biography of America's Greatest Evangelist

 AddThis Social Bookmark Button

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Labels: , , , ,


Monday, March 09, 2015

When Opportunity Knocks, Do You Take Action?

Some people wonder how I've been published in many different magazines and written a number of books. Yes some of it boils down to having a basic writing talent. Some of it involves learning the craft of pitching and writing queries then building relationships with different editors and literary agents. Yet another factor is critical.

I do not believe that I'm the best storyteller or the best writer in the room. I continually work at being a better storyteller and writer. I do have a critical trait necessary to succeed in the publishing world: persistence and perseverance. If an editor or agent says to me, “That sounds like a good idea. Write that up and send it to me.” 

I slip away for a minute and write down the idea, then I create a plan when I get home to write the work and send it off to the editor or agent in a timely manner. If you wait months or years, the editor or agent may have forgotten the conversation. On the other hand, if you follow through, you will stand apart as one of the few people to do so.

Some writers get worried and scared about the competition and the massive volume of submissions in the marketplace for few spots. Yes the volume is certainly there—as I can validate from the volume of submissions I receive as an acquisitions editor. Yet there are ways to stand apart from the other submissions.

1. Craft an excellent article or proposal or manuscript

2. Seize the opportunity and if someone asks for it, submit your material.

When I became an editor, I was surprised at the few people who followed through on the opportunity and submitted their material. Now that submission has to be appropriate for the magazine or book publisher or literary agent. But if it is, then it will be read an considered—because the writer actually took action when the opportunity was there.

Let's pause for a second and consider your exchanges or interaction with editors or literary agents. Have you been encouraged to send your material? Have you followed through and taken action? If not, do it today and you will distinguish yourself from others at a particular event or conference.

I want to conclude with a new opportunity for you. Wednesday evening, March 11th (in a couple of days), I'm going to be interviewing Rick Frishman, the publisher at Morgan James and the driving force behind Author 101 University. For many years, Rick ran one of the largest public relations firms in the United States, Planned Television Arts (now called Media Connect). He is intimately familiar with the process of building buzz about an author and book in the marketplace. 

Author 101 University is not a Morgan James event. Rick brings in publishers, literary agents and many publishing professionals. It is held twice a year and I know from attending there are numerous people at this event that you will not be able to reach and speak with—unless you attend Author 101 University. The training is unique and excellent.

Here's your opportunity—if you take it: Wednesday I'm interviewing Rick and asking your questions around the topic, “Why attend a writer's conference?” During our LIVE event, Rick will be giving away several free registrations to Author 101 University next month in Los Angeles. To win one of these opportunities, you have to be on the LIVE call and be able to attend the event next month. I understand that winning a free registration, it will still involve some expense to attend the event. Go to www.writersconf101.com and register for the LIVE event.

I encourage you to take action when you receive an opportunity. It gives you the best chance for achieving your publishing dreams.

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Labels: , , , , , , ,


Wednesday, February 25, 2015

An Unbelievable Price but You Must Act Quick

One of the life-changing events for me was Mega Book Marketing University in 2007, I wrote about it in this post. Now Mega Book Marketing University is called Author 101 University and held twice a year in Los Angeles. The next one will be April 9, 10 and 11th.

I’ll be on the stage in a panel with some of the world's leading marketing and publishing experts at Author 101 University in Los Angeles. This is a POWERFUL event – and SUPER AFFORDABLE –and you can bring an additional guest at NO cost). Just go to http://author101-university.com/ (And be sure to use the code TERRY when you check out.) If you register before March 1st, you can attend this conference at 50% off the normal conference rate—but you must take action this week.

At this event, writers learn how to become bestselling authors, highly paid speakers and coaches and respected authorities. AND you can meet & pitch literary agents and publishers. The entire conference is focused on different strategies to market and sell books.

-- Connect with literary agents who want to represent you

-- Get your new book published or your old book revitalized

-- Discover how to make your book a bestseller

-- Design the an impact-driven business that's right for you

-- Learn how to turn your online promotions into huge exposure (and sales)

-- Transform your message into a mega success business

-- Meet and network with amazing people

-- And so much more...

I hope to see you there. The last Author 101 University sold out weeks before the event so enroll now and BRING A FRIEND at NO cost. Go to Author 101 University and remember to use the coupon code TERRY when you check out and register before March 1st and you will get the conference at half off the normal price.

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Labels: ,


Tuesday, February 24, 2015

The Importance of Follow-up

There are a number of important skills for every writer such as storytelling ability, consistency of touching the market and writing craft. Each of these skills take time and practice to develop. As writers, we are in the communication business.

Ironically much of the publishing world—particularly in book publishing—is poor at communication. You send in your submission to an editor or agent and you hear….wait for it….nothing…for months…maybe ever. 

As an acquisitions editor involved in publishing every day, it's part of my intention to change this situation. I can't change the industry but I can change the people and writers that I'm communicating with and touching. Yet I admit it is hard because of the high volume of material that comes to me every day—agents representing their authors and authors who are looking to get published. I spend a great deal of time every day answering my email and on the phone with authors.

Here's something that you can do to help this communication challenge in the publishing communicate: develop your ability to follow-up yet in a way that gently prods the editor and agent but does not offend them or turn them off from your submission. You need to add the skill of proper follow-up to your communication tools. Why?

According to some publishing experts, there are over a million unpublished manuscripts, proposals and ideas on the desks of editors and agents. Yes that is a large overwhelming volume. From reading submissions for many years, I would expect to discount about 50% of that number because they can instantly be rejected as inappropriate. If you do your research and send the editor or agent something that is in the range that they want, you will put your submission in the category of something that merits their reading or at least considering. How can you break through and get their attention? It is critical that you prepare an excellent book proposal or manuscript. It takes time and energy to prepare a detailed submission but it is well worth the effort from my years in publishing. You can learn more at this free teleseminar which is on replay (immediate access to listen to it). 

I know at Morgan James Publishing, where I work as an acquisitions editor, we receive over 5,000 submissions a year and only publish about 150 books. We are considered a medium size New York publisher and less than 3% of our submissions are contracted. 

Even with those high numbers, I spend the bulk of my days on the phone and email with authors talking with them about their submissions and seeing if that submission is a good fit for Morgan James. To be honest, some are a great fit and others are not. The reading and communication process is critical to finding the right type of authors. Yes, it takes time and effort. 

Besides processing the material that comes into the publishing house, I'm actively looking for new material. About a week ago, I was at the San Francisco Writers Conference which was a large event with over 400 people. I spent my time at the conference talking with prospective authors and teaching a couple of workshops and participating on several panels. Throughout out the event, I exchanged business cards with a number of authors and my faculty members. This exchange of information is the first step in the process of forming a relationship.

I spent several hours this weekend, writing emails to the people I met and encouraging them to send a submission (when they are ready of course). My pro-active follow-up with these writers showed them that I cared and really do want to see their work. This follow-up step is important and will encourage them to include me with their submissions. Each of us in the publishing community are constantly searching for good books to publish and the follow-up work is a key part of this process.

With the many submissions, I never get completely caught up on processing them and it's always appropriate to send a little email to see if I received it or when I will be available to take the next step in the process. A gentle and non-offensive reminder via email is something that I respect and appreciate from these pro-active authors. 

Besides my role as an acquisitions editor, I'm also spending some of my time to promote and market my own books like my biography of Billy Graham and my Jumpstart Your Publishing Dreams. The effort to promote books takes time—yet is an important responsibility for every author whether you have a full-time job or not. 

For example, this weekend I did an interview about Billy Graham and this coming week I have two more radio interviews scheduled. I'm also working on getting more book reviews and other aspects of publicity. The number of new books that are being produced is sometimes staggering. My marketing friend, Penny C. Sansevieri was also speaking at the San Francisco Conference. She said there are 4,500 new books a day. I asked where she came up with this number and she said several places including a conversation with Bowker (the company which produces Books In Print and issues International Standard Book Numbers (ISBN). I have several more follow-up emails to send people who have received review copies of Billy Graham books yet never added their review to Amazon or Goodreads or Barnes & Noble. While it takes time to send those gentle follow-up reminders, it stirs people to action. I've seen many people never follow-up and then they wonder why nothing happens.

While email is a great way to follow-up, often one of the most inappropriate ways is on the phone to an editor or agent. It is different if the editor or agent has set up an appointment with you or you have a project in process. I'm talking about the authors who have a book to pitch and are trying to learn the process. Most recently a young author and his girlfriend who continually called me to see if I had read their submission. It turns out their submission was half-baked, poorly written and inappropriate for my publisher. These young authors made a poor impression and completely wasted time (theirs and mine). I didn't tell them this information on the phone but they were making a radical bad impression with the phone calls. 

Take a minute and think about what you want to accomplish with your writing. Do you need to send a gentle reminder to some editor or reviewer or agent? Get it on your plans for today then get it done. Then watch the difference it will make in your writing life.

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Labels: , , , , , ,


Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Grow Your Twitter Followers in Less Than 5 Minutes A Day

Several months ago, I saw New York Times bestselling author of Twitter Power, Joel Comm and told him that I had over 100,000 followers. He told me, “You have twitter power.”

If you check my twitter following, I recently went over 136,000 followers. For the last several months, they have been growing at about 100 new followers each day. I'll admit some of this growth is organic and not the result from anything that I'm actively doing. But a good portion of my daily growth comes from my active involvement and use of a tool called Refollow. I use the pro version which is $20 a month but it is well-worth it from my perspective. In less than five minutes a day, I'm able to follow 800 new people.

One of the keys to effective use of social media from my perspective is to not allow it to suck large amounts of your time. For months, I've been using Refollow and whether I'm on the road or at home, using it does not take more than five minutes. In fact, often I spend less than five minutes. 

Here's the home page:

One of the basic principles of twitter is that you follow others and a certain percentage of those people follow you back. I follow the followers of leaders in the publishing and writing community. Here's how my numbers have been increasing:

Here's the publishing people that I follow their followers:

Besides using Refollow, each day I use Hootsuite to regularly send out tweets to my followers. I make sure I'm sending different articles and educational information about publishing. I use the free version of Hootsuite and it does not take much time to load up this tool so it will add tweets every hour throughout the day. 

Finally every few days I use the free version of Manage Flitter. It allows me to find the spam followers, the followers who do not speak English and also to quickly unfollow people who have not followed me back. It can take a while to load all of my followers and tweets for analysis but I simply open a tab and allow it to work as I work on other things. 

I have great things happen in my writing life because of being on twitter. I regularly meet new writers and help them through my involvement on twitter. I'm careful with my time so it does not consume my day. And it does not have to consume your day. I wrote these details in this article so you can follow my example and grow your own twitter following. If some detail is not clear or you have questions, feel free to leave a comment below and I will respond. 

For every reader, I wish you great success on Twitter and that you too will find Twitter Power.

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Labels: , , , ,


Friday, January 23, 2015

Effective Use of LinkedIn

For years I ignored the LinkedIn emails asking me if I wanted to “connect” with someone. Yet there are 300 million people on LinkedIn and it is an effective tool—if you use it properly.

I changed my resistance to active use of LinkedIn. While my public profile says that I have 500+ connections, it is really over 4,000 connections. It is one of three or four social networks that I use constantly. For example, I regularly post updates and publishing information on LinkedIn. I use Hootsuite (an effective free tool) for these posts and they appear throughout each day with articles that I'm reading and other comments related to publishing.

Here's an example of a profile that I did not accept their invitation--in fact I marked it as spam so they will not be able to invite me again:

To make effective use of LinkedIn, your first priority is to fill out your profile. I see some people who don't have their photo or location or background with their profile. Unless I recognize your name, I'm probably not going to connect with your LinkedIn profile. It does take a bit of effort but is well worth it.

The second step is to connect with people that you know—and people who know you. We live in a mobile society where individuals change positions. The publishing world is fluid and it's common for people to change positions several times during their career. Here's one of the key details for LinkedIn: many professionals and business people use this network. If they change positions or move, they take their LinkedIn information with them. They change their emails, phone number and address information in the contact section of LinkedIn. 

If you are trying to pitch a particular editor or literary agent and you are connected to them through LinkedIn, you can quickly check to see if they are in the same location by checking their profile—before you fire off your proposal or query and learn they are no longer with the company or have changed positions.

LinkedIn has tools to help you expand your connections. Because of my large number of connections, I receive several invitations a day to connect with individuals. I do not want to be connected to spammers or individuals who I don't immediately recognize. Each time I check their profile and:

—If blank or only starting their connections, often I do not connect with them.

—If they are outside of the U.S. and I see no immediate relationship, then I do not connect with them. Sometimes I mark the person as spam and if so, LinkedIn will not allow them to send me another invitation.

—If I see they have connections with other publishing people that I know, like and trust, then I will often connect with those individuals.

Notice several things about how I used LinkedIn:

1. I do not spend much time on the site.

2. My profile is completely filled out—and LinkedIn lists me as an “all-star” with my information which has a great deal of detail.

3. I'm cautious and thoughtful about the people that I do connect with on the site.

There are many other ways to use LinkedIn. There are groups and other tools on the site. I have not chosen to get involved in these aspects because my time is focused mostly on being an acquisitions editor at Morgan James Publishing and helping other authors get their books into print.

If I receive an invitation to connect with someone I do not recognize, some times I will reply to that invitation. The email goes directly to their in box. In my short email, I ask them to remind me of our connection or relationship. 

Sometimes I hear that the person and I met at a conference or has a connection with me. In those cases, I will accept their Facebook and Twitter. In those cases, it is often unlikely that I will connect with them for that reason. I have thousands of friends on Facebook and Twitter. You need to give me a stronger connection for LinkedIn.

There are probably many more effective ways to use LinkedIn. I suspect many of those ways I'm not using involve large volumes of time (something I do not have to spend on LinkedIn at the moment). As an additional resource, I encourage you to grab this 35 page report on LinkedIn from my friend John Kremer. Through this post, I hope I've given you some new ideas how you can connect with others in your profession and increase your use of this site.

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Labels: , , , , ,


Wednesday, January 21, 2015

The Unexpected Discovery of My Book

Last weekend I was in Hershey, Pennsylvania at the Hershey Lodge for a conference called Writer to Writer. It was a terrific event which will be repeated in the fall and I met some new writers. Also I got to hang out with a couple of my long-term friends. Jerry B. Jenkins taught the fiction track and Cecil Murphey taught the nonfiction track of the conference. I had the opportunity to speak at a breakfast to the group and also to teach a couple of workshops.

After the conference was completed, the Hershey Lodge was hosting a regional Christian bookseller conference. On Sunday afternoon, I signed over 125 copies of my Billy Graham biography as a way to introduce the book to these retail stores. The experience was a terrific way to help retailers know about the book and its availability. Also it gave me a chance to tell them about the benefits and distinctions of my biography for their customers. My biography is an easy-to-read 172 pages and in a couple of evenings readers can gain an overview of Mr. Graham's life. I included a number of new stories and the book is completely up-to-date.

If you don't know, I worked for Mr. Graham about 20 years ago as the Associate Editor at Decision, the official publication of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. I gathered endorsements and a foreword from Luis Palau for my book. You can see these endorsements and a short book trailer on my website. You can order it different ways from my website—even get an autographed copy if you want.

Depending on the time of year, traveling can be challenging. It's exactly what I found on Monday when I traveled home. I was on the early flight from Harrisburg to Philadelphia. I had an hour and a half to change planes but my flight was delayed for over an hour. Supposedly it was because of weather—some other place than Harrisburg where the sun was shining with a blue sky. I missed my connection from Philadelphia to Denver and the next flight was about 6:30 p.m. Yes, I was stuck all day in the Philadelphia airport

Since I had a lot of time on my hands, I wandered into Heritage Books. As I looked around, I discovered copies of my Billy Graham biography:

I asked the shopkeeper if I could sign my books. She called her manager to check and the manager said, “Yes.” I pulled out my pen and autographed all of the copies. Throughout November, December and January, my book has been in 25 different airports besides other bookstores across the country. Here's the list:

Travel delays are a nuisance but I made an unexpected discovery of my book in the Philadelphia airport. Fun.

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Labels: , , , , , , , , ,