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Sunday, January 15, 2017


A Place to Get Publishing Answers


It is a challenge for writers to get answers to their publishing questions.  While there are many opportunities, editors and agents are often overwhelmed with email and physical mail—so they do not respond. Your submissions go into a black hole (no response) or you receive a form rejection letter which basically says “thanks but no thanks” or “your submission was not a fit for us” (no information or insight about the reasons). I understand the reasons for these form letters but they don't give you the specifics that you need.


I want to tell you about a place to get answers. One place I blogged about last week, the Christian Writer's Market Guide. For more than 25 years, The Christian Writer's Market Guide has been the most comprehensive and highly recommended resource on the market for Christian writers, agents, editors, publishers, publicists, and writing teachers. In addition to providing a wealth of ideas and tips for publishing in the Christian industry, The 2017 Christian Writer's Market Guide also includes up-to-date information on more than 200 book publishers, more than 200 periodicals, and 70 literary agents, contests, conferences, editorial services, niche markets, self-publishing services, and more. This is the ultimate reference tool for Christian writers. I blogged more details about this book here.

Have you heard of Steve Laube?


To refresh your memory, Steve Laube is a literary agent and the president of The Steve Laube Agency. He has been in the book industry for over 35 years, first as a bookstore manager where he was awarded the National Store of the year by the Christian Booksellers Association. Then Steve spent a decade with Bethany House Publishers and was named the Editor of the Year. Later he became an agent where he has
represented nearly 1,000 new books and was named Agent of the Year by the American Christian Fiction Writers. In addition, Steve is the publisher at Enclave Publishing, an imprint of Gilead Publishing, and also serves as president and owner of The Christian Writers Institute.


Why am I telling you this?

I'm telling you this because I have convinced Steve Laube to grill him during a LIVE  70-minute telewebcast on Tuesday, January 17th!

* * * Here's Our Small Request * * *

Rather than have the “content” to come out of my head (or Steve's head) for the January 17, 2017 telewebcast at  5 p.m. PDT / 8:00 p.m. EDT, I have decided to let you ask Steve a question.

Sound fair?

So, if you could ask Steve ANY question you wanted about publishing for the Christian writer, what would your question be?

Here's your chance to ask Steve directly and get registered for the call on Tuesday, January 17, 2017 (starts promptly according to www.Time.gov).

Click the link below:

http://www.askstevelaube.com


* * Get a FREE Ebook, Book Proposal Tips & Tricks * * 

You will receive a 47-page Ebook, Book Proposal Tips & Tricks. It's FREE if you ask a question and
register for this telewebcast.


Click the link below:

http://www.askstevelaube.com

After your question gets submitted, you'll find out how to get phone access and webcast access to Steve Laube and I for the LIVE telewebcast,  January 17, 2017.

If you can't make the time of the call, please go ahead and sign up anyway. The entire teleseminar will be recorded and EVERYONE who signs up will receive an email with the replay link. Also if you sign up, you will be able to download the FREE Ebook right away.

I look forward to speaking with you on Tuesday as we answer your questions about writing for the Christian marketplace.

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Tuesday, January 10, 2017


Four Ways To Use An Essential Reference Book


For over 20 years, I’ve been actively writing and publishing in the Christian market with magazines and books. The professionals (editors and agents) are constantly changing. New publications enter the market and old long established magazines fold. For many years, one of the best resources for keeping track of these shifts was THE CHRISTIAN WRITERS MARKET GUIDE. This annual publication contained the latest information packed into one book. Sally E. Stuart was the creator of this resource for many years. Then several years ago, she sold the market guide to bestselling author Jerry B. Jenkins. The last guide from Jenkins was dated 2015 to 2016—which means the last time the information was updated in late 2014 or three years ago.



I’m delighted to see THE CHRISTIAN WRITERS MARKET GUIDE 2017 from Steve Laube. A well-known Christian publishing professional, Steve has brought this new version back to the market with new tech innovation—a monthly subscription to get the latest updates online. I’ll admit to being old school and love using the printed book resource.

As Laube writes in the introduction, “While it may seem like the industry is shrinking, in reality, it is simply changing. Thus you have to research more to find the best place for your work to shine. One of the biggest mistakes a writer can make is to ignore the guidelines of an agent, a publisher or an editor. Some publishers even dropped their listing in this guide due to writers failing to follow the instructions posted on their website or in here. Editors are looking for writers who understand their periodicals or publishing houses and their unique approaches to the marketplace. This book will help you be such a writer. With a little time and effort, you can meet an editor’s expectations, distinguish yourself as a professional, and sell what you write.” (Page ix)

The volume is divided into five sections: book publishers, independent book publishing, periodical publishers, specialty markets, and support for writers (agents, conferences, writers groups, editorial services, publicity and marketing services and contests.

As the back cover proclaims, “Over 1,000 listings including more than 200 book publishers, 200 periodical publishers, 70 agents, 100 freelance editors, and much, much more!” This annual volume and current update is a goldmine of information and opportunity to the Christian writer—but only if you get a copy and follow the information in it. I highly recommend this new resource.

Besides giving you some information about the book, I want to conclude this article with four ways you can use this reference book.

1. Discover new magazine markets in the section called Periodical Publishers. As a writer, you need to follow the guidelines. This refrain to follow the guidelines made repeatedly throughout the book. Why? Many writers ignore the guidelines, then they wonder why they got rejected. If you follow the guidelines, you will stand out in a positive way—and be successful as a writer. When the magazine requests “query only” then learn to write and send a query. If they want the complete article, then send the article. Besides discovering new magazines, you can also be reminded about other publications where you can get published. This section is packed with possibilities for every Christian writer. 

2. Locate a book publisher. Other authors are looking for a book publisher and this section of the guide has the latest and up to date information about publishers. Some publishers require a literary agent while others do not. Use this section to make sure what you are sending is what the publisher is asking to get from you.

3. Select a writer's conference. The Market Guide includes a comprehensive list of conferences, dates, location, number of attendees and much more. Again this resource is valuable for every writer to attend the conference which best fits their particular need.

4. Locate a literary agent. The Market Guide includes a great list of agents with their contact information and what they are looking to represent.

The key for these different ideas is to use the book. If you get the book (first step) and it sits on your bookshelf without use, then you don't propel your writing life forward.   

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Sunday, January 01, 2017


Develop Habits for Writing Success


Happy New Year. This article is my first for 2017. When the calendar changes to another year (like this week), it provides an opportunity to evaluate the past and also to look ahead to the future. I suspect you've been doing a little of this type of thinking in your own life since I've been doing it. What actions did you take during the last 12 months for your writing life that succeeded and which ones do you need to stop or change?


As I examine my days, I'm a creature of habits. For example, I begin each day spending time reading the Bible. It's a pattern that I've done for many years. Each year I select a different version of the Bible to read throughout the year. Last year, I read The One Year Bible in the New Living Translation. This year I'll be reading Eugene Peterson's The Daily Message. It's part of my spiritual habit that feeds into my life as a writer and editor.

Besides spiritual habits, I have habits with Twitter. In past entries, I've detailed how each day I'm using tools (mostly free) to grow my presence in the market and community—and also increase my presence on social media. These habits do not take much time but have consistently grown my presence—so they will be something I will continue in the days ahead.


I have a number of other habits in my life—consistent practices and actions. During the last year, I've stepped up my consumption of books by listening to more audio books through Overdrive. Recently I completed listening to the audio book of The Power of Habit by Charles Dihigg. The book explains the science and practical nature of habits including how we form new habits and replace old ones. I found the stories fascinating and informative. Until listening to this book, I didn't know about the history of the creation of toothpaste and how brushing teeth became a habit. If you want to learn about this important aspect of life, I recommend you track down this book through your library (Overdrive like I did) or purchase a copy and read it, then apply it to your own life.


Another resource on habits that I recently read is Millionaire Success Habits by Dean Graziosi. I enjoyed the book and learned a great deal from it. Apart from the book Graziosi has created The Better Life Challenge where in 30 days you can transform your life in as little as three minutes. This resources is FREE and you don't have to read the book—but simply take action every day for 30 days. Just use this link to learn more details and sign up to learn through this tool.



The writing life is much more of a marathon than a sprint.  I often meet writers who believe that one book or one action will propel them to bestseller status. Sadly this belief is a publishing myth.  Repeatedly I hear about writers who are called an “overnight” success because they've suddenly sold a lot of books. Yet when you look into the details, you will normally discover this author has been in the trenches faithfully working for years to achieve such a position.

What skills or habits do you want to develop in the months ahead? Are you taking consistent action to gain the knowledge and insights you need to get there? Tell me about your plans in the comment below and if I can help you, let me know.

Here's wishing you a successful 2017.

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Tuesday, December 27, 2016


Boost Your Book Marketing Opportunities


Many book authors don't want to face this question: Are you happy with your book sales during the past year? Take an honest look at your sales numbers—which is much better than ignoring them. Are there things you can do differently in the days ahead to sell books?


If you've written a Christian book, then you need to get a copy of Your Guide to Marketing Books in the Christian Marketplace by Sarah Bolme.  This book is packed with a wide range of information and resources. Whether you are launching a new book, selling a book which has been in the market for a while or targeting special markets like homeschool, Spanish or African American, every author will find many insights in these pages.

As someone who has been in the Christian market for many years as an author and editor, I appreciated the honest and forthright information in this book. For example, in the introduction, Sarah Bolme writes, “Today, almost half of all books are self-published. According to Bowker, 40% of all books published in 2012 are self-published…However, the average self-published title still only sells between 40 and 200 copies. Often this is due to the author’s inexperience or lack of knowledge about how to market a book effectively.” (Page 3). A few paragraphs later, Bolme writes, “When promoting the Kingdom of God, getting books into people’s hands is God’s business. All you can do is what you know to do. Do that and ask God to bless your feeble efforts. After all, if he can feed over 5,000 people with two small fish and five little loaves of bread, He can multiply your marketing efforts to reach thousands of people, if that is His desire. Marketing and selling books is not a sprint; it is a marathon. Too many authors give up too quickly when they do not see immediate results.” (Page 4)

I love the websites and resources packed into these pages. Whether you have your first book or have written many books, you can easily find value and profit from studying these pages and applying it to your books.  I appreciated the research and careful thought that went into these resources.

As Bolme writes, “Research shows that an unbeliever must have seven to twelve significant contacts with the Gospel message before they will become a Christian. This same principle holds true in marketing. Consumers generally need to be exposed to a new product seven to twelve times before they will purchase it. Familiarity is important. The more consumers see and hear about a product, the more likely they will eventually purchase the product. This theory holds true in marketing books to the Christian marketplace. Repeated exposure is essential. The more consumers see and hear about your books, the more likely they are to place orders for your titles.” (Page 132)

Your Guide to Marketing Books in the Christian Marketplace is not a book that you read once. Keep your yellow highlighter and post-its handy has you work through these pages. Every Christian author needs this book to open up new possibilities for their book, then take action to apply this information to their own book and marketing efforts. It is the application of this book which will make a difference for your book sales. 

To get the best value from this book, I recommend you read it cover to cover. You will gain a realistic perspective about he Christian marketplace and the various opportunities. After a single reading, I recommend you return to the book and apply the information to your own marketing efforts. For example, if you need distribution, then explore the various websites in this chapter. If you need to engage more Christian media, then make detailed use of the websites in that chapter.



Also Sarah Bolme writes and informative blog called Marketing Christian Books (use the link to read it). Or better yet, use this link to subscribe to receive the updates through your email. I've been reading Sarah's work for some time and appreciate the value and insights in her articles.

If your book sales are not what you want (and this is true for almost every author), then take action. It is never too late (even if your book has been published for a while) to tell more people and increase your book sales. Instead of depending on happenstance or your publisher or someone else, take your own responsibility (the first principle of Jack Canfield's The Success Principles) and move ahead with confidence.

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Tuesday, December 20, 2016


Prepare Now to Avoid Missed Opportunities

This week a couple of my Morgan James authors appeared on The Dr. Oz Show. This particular segment was filmed in October but aired this week. I was excited for these authors and set my DVR to record the show (since I rarely watch it).  I found their segment and watched it. Their story was highlighted and interesting—yet something was missing. There was nothing in the story to indicate their full story appears in their book. The book or the book title was not mentioned. The result was another missed opportunity to tell a national audience about their story.

I've never appeared on this type of national television show. It must be full of tension and excitement for the author to make sure you answer the questions and make a great appearance on the show. The challenge for the author is to make sure no matter what message the television show wants to give—that you meet your own agenda (sell books).

This recent story is not the only time I've seen missed opportunities. Years ago I wrote a book called Running on Ice for Olympian Vonetta Flowers. She was the first African American to win a gold medal in the winter Olympics. In fact, Vonetta was on the 2006 U.S. team for the next Olympics in Turin, Italy. Katie Couric interviewed Vonetta on The Today Show. It was a great interview yet nothing in the interview mentioned that a book told Vonetta's story. While I'm pleased to have written this book, I wanted it to succeed in the marketplace (sell) yet the opportunity was missed.

No matter where you are in the writing and publishing world, now is the time to prepare yourself for these opportunities so you do not miss them.  In the publishing world, we call it media training—and it's something every author needs to learn.

Here's three valuable yet inexpensive resources to prepare yourself for the media:


1. The Media Training Bible by Brad Phillips. I reviewed this book several years ago (follow the link). The seasoned advice and tips in this book are invaluable. Phillips is a well-known and excellent media trainer. Every writer will profit from a careful reading of The Media Training Bible.


2. Be the Media compiled by David Mathison. This older book is excellent to help you know how to create your own message and different ways to get it out into the marketplace.


3. Gayle Murphy has been a journalist for many years. I interviewed Gayl in this free teleseminar and you can get her seasoned advice for every author about how to tell it to sell it.

For the last couple of years, I've been doing radio interviews to promote my Billy Graham biography. In the next two weeks.I'm scheduled to be on two LIVE radio shows telling stories from the book. It's fun and I'm grateful for these opportunities. Each time before the interview, I remind myself why I'm on these programs: first to be energetic and tell interesting stories about Billy Graham.


Yet integral to this agenda is my second key point: to make sure I tell people where they can get the book. I've created a website with multiple options to purchase the book. During several of these interviews, even if I am not asked about it, I take the initiative to weave into the conversation the specific name of my website and where people can get the book.

When you receive these types of opportunities for your writing, seize them—yet use wisdom to make sure you cover your own interests.

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Wednesday, December 14, 2016


Change is Hard. You Go First.


We are creatures of habit and like to keep doing the same things over and over. It's how I operate and assume you do as well. Yet the world around us continues to change and if we want to succeed as writers, we need to change with it. The weather changes all the time and is outside of our control yet we change what we wear and other details to keep up with these changes.

My iPhone will often have apps that need to be updated. Other times the entire operating system will be updated and many of the standard programs suddenly look different and have different features. Change is all around us and involves taking some calculated risks and experimentation and always learning new things. It's not easy for any of us but it's a part of our world and culture. As I've mentioned in these entries in the past, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over expecting a different result. If you want a different result, you need to make some changes.

As writers and publishing professionals, we spend a lot of time sitting in front of our computer. Over the last few years, I had not been exercising and eating the wrong things. My weight ballooned and my waist size grew.  About a year ago, I decided to change my eating habits—in particular carbs and sugar. Yes I was exercising several times a week but it was not the exercise which made a difference in my weight. It was my change in eating habits. I went from a size 46 waist to 38 and people could see a difference in my appearance. It was not easy to change my eating habits and is a constant struggle but the results have been amazing. This week I went to the doctor for a physical. I'm supposed to do this every year but had not done it for several years and hasn't even been to see my doctor since August 2014. They pulled my medical chart and noticed a substantial difference in my weight—in fact, I was down 38 pounds from my previous visit.

As we approach the end of 2016 and look toward 2017, it's a good time to take a few minutes and reflect on your publishing life. Are you selling enough books or magazine articles? Are you pitching the editors on a regular basis and looking for new opportunities? If you aren't satisfied with the current results, what changes can you make to have different results in the days ahead?


Is there a new training program that you need to go through like my Write A Book Proposal course or even creating your own course and selling it? I encourage you to get my Simple Membership System (which is a complete self-contained training package) and create your own training program. Or can you plan to attend a writer's conference in 2017 to meet some new editors and publishing professionals?

You do not have to remain in a rut or in the same place next year as you are today. You can change and move forward. As I said in the title of this piece, change is hard. You go first. If I can help you, reach out to me and ask. My work contact information including my phone number is on the bottom of the second page. In the comments below,let me know about the changes you are planning for the days ahead. We are surrounded with all types of opportunities. Which one will you seize and move ahead?

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Tuesday, December 06, 2016


Twitter Tips: Who to Follow & Who to Block


I've been active on Twitter since 2008. When I meet people, they are often surprised at my large twitter following (currently over 192,000 and growing at about 100 new followers a day). If you want this type of audience, it does not happen organically (doing nothing). I've been transparent about my five every day actions that I take on Twitter. Years after creating it, I'm still taking these actions every day and encourage you to do so as well. Several of my authors from Morgan James are following these actions and growing their followers on Twitter. It doesn't consume lots of of my time but it takes consistent effort.

Years ago, I made a decision to follow everyone who follow me—which is a basic of twitter. Some of my friends are amazed that I follow thousands of people—and they can direct message me. Also I include my personal email address in my twitter profile.  It makes me easy to reach and I answer my email. Why? I want to be accessible to people and I want to help as many people as I can with the volumes of information that I have online.

I use the tool Refollow to follow other people's followers—yet I'm not just following anyone. I'm following people who are in my target market (publishing, writing, etc.). This tool only takes a few minutes to use. Yet sometimes I find I'm following people who I don't want to be following. In this article, I'm going to give the details of how I check my followers and then who I block.

Usually about once a day, I click the “home” button on my twitter page and scroll through my twitter feed. As I take a few seconds to scroll through this feed (with hundreds of posts and images), I'm looking for several things. First I'm looking for people who are not tweeting in English. If they are using a different script or language, then I right click, open a new tab for this person. Next I block this person from my twitter feed.

Also I'm looking for porn and foul language (either in text or in images). When I find this type of material, again I right click the name of the person that I'm following (even if it is something they have retweeted), open a new tab for the person, then block them.

If you are not taking these actions, then you are sending a subtle message to others (who you don't want as followers) that they should follow you. I'm looking to continue to grow my followers but I want those followers to be the right type.

My system for social media isn't perfect but I have created a system or a regular pattern of behavior.  I'm always open to learning something different and making modifications.  If you have some idea for me, feel free to comment below or reach out to me and let me know. It is important for everyone to develop your own system and process for handling these details of social media.

I don't waste a lot of time on social media because I don't have that time. The bulk of my day is being an acquisitions editor at Morgan James Publishing. Notice the link on Morgan James which takes you to a two-page information brochure—and notice my work contact information including my phone number is on the second page. Many authors are struggling to find their way in the publishing world and if I can help you, don't hesitate to reach out to me.

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