Tuesday, August 23, 2016

A Clarion Call for Innovation

In Eccelesiastes 1:9, King Solomon boldly proclaimed, “There is nothing new under the sun.” Yet our publishing world is always looking for the next bestseller. It's what I do as an acquisitions editor. I'm looking for a unique twist or a different combination of elements that will attract the attention of the book buying public. To be honest, this type of experimentation will often fail—but that doesn't mean we give up on innovation and continuing to try. We need to continue to write, propose, and search for such innovation.

This weekend, I've been reading Power House CAA, The Untold Story of Hollywood's Creative Artist Agency by James Andrew Miller. It's a new book that I learned about reading the trades. If you get this book, you will discover it is over 750 pages (large) and retails at $32.50. When I learned about this forthcoming book several weeks ago, I searched my local library to see if they were ordering it. Nothing. I suggested the library purchase the book. When you make such a suggestion and the library decides it is a good suggestion, then you are automatically put on the hold list to get the book when available. It's how I got this book (and a strategy that you can use as well occasionally to get books). It's hard to know from the title whether a book is something you will read or not.

Why am I reading through a huge book about these Hollywood agents?

1. Discover real stories about persistence and timing. In the past, I've written about how a lot of publishing is about being at the right place at the right time with the right stuff. I know there were lots of rights in the last sentence yet repeatedly I've witnessed this truth in publishing. If the “rights” don't line up, then you can't get the book published and more important than publishing—reach the right reader (i.e. sell books). It takes years and lots of money to make a Hollywood movie. Power House CAA includes a number of stories about screen plays that could not catch the right details and had been around different studios for years. With innovation, the agents at CAA put a different spin on the deal and the movie was made and became a huge classic hit.

2. Learn to pitch your material in a different way. Power House CAA gives the specifics about they formed relationships within the Hollywood community.  They learned to put together packages for movies and television shows. Because they represented the different element for a movie (actors, directors, book authors, screen writers and others), the agents would pull together the elements into a single deal which they sold to the studios. Before this innovation, each party negotiated their deal separately with the movie studios. Their experiences made the agents have huge deal making and earning power in the Hollywood community. The stories encourage me to continue to look for such innovation among my colleagues and the manuscripts and proposals which come across my desk.

Can you put something together that isn't normally combined and connect with the market in a new way? Can you begin to reach a new audience with that material? Maybe you reach them in person or maybe you connect with them online?

Innovation is possible but will require you to open those doors of opportunity and thinking to achieve it. If I can help you in this process, let me know.  As an acquisitions editor, I'm always looking and you can get my work contact information here.

Have my words stirred you to innovation? Maybe they have pulled you out of the rut of rejection and despair? If so, please tell me in the comment section.


Stuck in a Rut? Answer this Clarion Call for Innovation (ClickToTweet)

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Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Who Are Your Mentors?

Who are you listening to and then applying that information into your life? Whether you call them mentors or not, whatever feeds into your life are voices where you are listening to information. It can affect the results of your life and work. 

As I think about my own writing life, it is built on a foundation of great lessons and teaching from other writers. In the early days of my freelance writing, I wrote many personality profiles of bestselling authors. I wrote these articles for different magazines but it gave me the opportunity to spend time with each of these authors on the phone or in person. I would quiz these authors about the details of how they practiced their craft and connected to their audience. My hour-long conversation contained a lot of information which never made it into my 1,000 word magazine article—yet built experience and lessons into my personal life.

In this article, I want to provide several resources which I use daily for inspiration, learning and mentoring in my life. The first one is from Darren Hardy, the former publisher of Success magazine. Some time ago, Hardy began the Darren Daily which is a short five day inspirational thought which comes via email. It's free and I listen to it early in the day when it arrives. Follow this link to see his recent one about mentors and scroll down to the sign up form and you can begin getting it in your mailbox and listening to it.

The various books that I read is another way that I discover mentors. Recently I completed 2 Chairs (Worthy Publishing) by Bob Beaudine that releases on August 23rd. The overall message of 2 Chairs  is to make time every day to meet with God and listen to the Holy Spirit. For many years, I've been having a daily quiet time in the Scriptures. Each year I select a differnt version of the Bible and read it cover to cover in this time. While I thought 2 Chairs had a “different” title, I love the insight and wisdom contained in this book and recommend it. If you don't have this daily pattern of reading in your own life, I recommend it.

My third method of teaching and insight is to read my twitter feed. Maybe you go by once a day or several times a week and check the various articles. I read the various articles and information that I post—and I apply it to my writing and marketing efforts.  You will gain from it as well if you feed this information into your routine.

One of the keys to continued growth and learning is a personal commitment, then an attempt to find balance in your life.  There are days when I'm not learning and out of balance but it's something that I have as a continue force in my life. I hope these three ideas will help you find the mentors for your writing life.


Who are your mentors? Get some new ideas here: (ClickToTweet)

Once again I made this list of top 100 Marketing Experts on Twitter (#56). I hope you will check it out and hopefully will give you more ideas as a writer.

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Saturday, August 13, 2016

When to Use “Like” vs. “Such As”

By editor Barbara McNichol, Guest Blogger

Editor Barbara McNichol is providing some tips to help you write like a pro.

Have you ever wondered about the distinction between “like” or “such as” in your writing. Here are two phrases to consider:

. . . the answers that so-called geniuses like / such as Newton seem to embody.

. . . centuries of innovations like / such as the airplane and the space shuttle have resulted.

In these examples, “such as” is preferred over “like” because the word “like” implies comparison while “such as” implies inclusion. That means being like something doesn’t include the thing itself.

In the first phrase, Newton is intended to be included as a so-called genius, so “such as” is the correct choice. In the second phrase, the airplane and space shuttle are examples of innovations meant to be included within this context. In contrast, the sentence “he’s like a fish swimming upstream” provides a clear comparison.

Your challenge: When you’re about to write “like,” ask this question: Would I include this point in a list or exclude it? The answer becomes your clue to select either “like” (exclude) or “such as” (include).

Today’s Word Tripper:

Adopt, adapt – “Adopt” means to take as one’s own as in someone else’s child, to choose something such as a lifestyle, or to formally accept something such as a position or principle. “Adapt” means to adjust to various conditions. “When you adopt a young girl, be sure to make it easy for her to adapt to your living environment.” 

Barbara McNichol is passionate about helping business professionals add power to their pen. To assist in this mission, she has created a Word Trippers Tips program with details at http://bit.ly/WrdTrippers.


Do you know when to use “Like” vs “Such As”? Check out this Word Tripper. (ClickToTweet)

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Tuesday, August 09, 2016

Three Reasons to Do It Yourself

This morning I packed up a copy of Book Proposals That Sell.  An order for the book came into my shopping cart. I've developed a little pattern of printing the packing receipt, the label and getting it ready to take my post office. When I look at what other authors are doing with their websites, they often send their buyers to Amazon. I understand these authors make this choice because it is easier for them and they do nothing additional and many people already have all the buying details set up on Amazon.

It took me several additional steps to get this book packed up and ready to mail. Why do I bother doing it myself? Here's three great reasons:

1. Make more money through selling directly to the reader than through Amazon or some other places. I purchased these books at a steep discount (something authors need to think about when they contract or create a book). You don't need a shopping cart like I use and can simply use a free PayPal button for the sale. Most readers have a PayPal account so this option is easy for them to use. These readers get the book directly from you and if they prefer it to be autographed, then they have this possibility since they've bought it from the author.

2. Personally touch my readers and add them to my email list. You can learn more details about creating an email list here. My shopping cart is also where I send emails to my list. Every author needs to create and be adding to their email list. More and more editors and literary agents are looking for authors who have email lists and can directly reach their readers.

For my case with Book Proposals That Sell, I have an additional reason. This book has been on the market for a decade. Recently I got a One Star review on Amazon because of the out of date information. Admittedly publishing has changed since this book was first published. Yet the book has over 130 Five Star Amazon reviews. Now I've lowered the price from $15 to $8 and I've “fixed” all of the out of date websites. If you buy the book through my website, then you get these fixed websites through an automatic email (called an autoresponder). Plus you receive other unique bonuses which I've created. Notice my intentional planning: the only way for the reader to get these “extras” is to purchase the book directly from my website.

3. Provide the reader additional value and give them the opportunity to go deeper in this subject area. I wrote Book Proposals That Sell as a frustrated acquisitions editor. Later I wrote and developed other products in the book proposal creation area.  I have a 12 lessons course called Write A Book Proposal. I have a CD package called Editor Reveals Book Proposal Secrets. Finally I have a teleseminar called Proposal Secrets where I interview a number of publishing colleagues about book proposals.

To be honest, packing books is not my favorite task. In addition to having a way for the reader to give you money, mailing supplies like labels and priority envelopes) have to be kept on hand. I've gotten the process down to a few minutes for each one. I'm committed to continuing to mail my own books. 

As an author, you have the greatest vision for what can happen with your book and the deepest passion for it. Let your passion show in how you sell your book. 


Are you packing and selling your own books? Here's three reasons for every author: (ClickToTweet)

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Tuesday, August 02, 2016

Small Stuff Matters in Communication

As I work in the publishing community, I'm aware that our business is communication. You may be selling books or your writing or widgets, good communication and handling the small stuff will be key to your success or failure.

Last week I finished listening to actor Rob Lowe's book Love Life. I enjoyed the audio book and heard it cover to cover. As my typical practice, I wrote a few sentences of review on Goodreads and Amazon, then I posted on Twitter about my review. I searched Twitter and saw Rob Lowe's twitter feed and included his twitter name with my tweet. I had no expectations of a response since I have zero connection to Lowe. Yet Rob Lowe also values communication and is using some tool to monitor such tweets. He responded (see this link). This simple response from Lowe garnered over 100 likes and a number of retweets (added exposure for him and for me). The entire process did not take time (for me to write and post my review) nor for Lowe to respond. Yet the communication matters and helped validate the values and details that Lowe wrote about in his book.

As someone who has written for numerous magazines and book publishers, I understand the communication challenges. I've sent many emails and query letters and proposals off to editors with no response or a rejection months later. Now as an acqusitions editor, I have the same challenges of everyone (limited time, lots of responsibility, etc.) Yet I'm committed to consistent communication with my authors and literary agents

Does that mean I'm perfect? No, every day much is left undone and there are times where I miss something or don't get a response out. It's one of the reasons that the majority of my day is spent returning calls and responding to emails. Your email or returned text doesn't have to be lengthy—but just a few words like “got it” or “perfect” reassures the sender that you got the message and are doing something about it.

I was speaking with an author who told me the reason she had never written (much less submitted) her book because she has a fear of imperfection and criticism from others in her field. While I understand this author's fears and empathized with her reasons. I also encouraged her to move ahead. No matter what I write, there is always something that can be improved—yet I still work hard on the writing, then push it out into the market. Every book gets criticism because we live in a free society and there are many different opinions. Yet this fact doesn't hold me back from continuing to write and move ahead.

How are you handling the “small stuff” and moving forward?


The “small stuff” matters in your communication. Learn from this experienced editor: (ClickToTweet)

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Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Seize Your Day

During the last couple of years, I've been aware of the brevity of life and the need to seize the day and make the most of every moment and experience. As a young man, these thoughts never crossed my mind but wisdom and experience has changed me. I'm eager to follow the Latin term “carpe diem” or “seize the day.”

In this article, I want to give you some ideas how to take the opportunities of life and make the most of them. As a writer, I understand much of the publishing world is outside of my direct control. I don't determine which articles are published in a magazine or which books get published. I don't control who buys the books that I've written or what they tell their friends or don't say anything about them. I don't control which literary agents read my proposals and offer to work with me. I don't control Twitter or Facebook or LinkedIn or any number of other online places. It's easy to grow discouraged and feel like you have no power or opportunity.

The reality is actually something different from my years in publishing. I do control what I write about and what I pitch to editors of magazines and book editors. I can write query letters and emails to see if the editor is interested in my ideas. If I don't know how to write a query or a book proposal, then I can learn how to create these publishing tools. After they are written, I can make sure they are excellent, then pitch them over and over until I find someone interested in my idea.

I don't run a conference but if I want to teach others, I can craft pitches to the directors of conferences and see if they are interested in my participation. I don't control who interviews me about my books or my work. Yet when someone interviews me, I can replay and promote that interview to tell others about it. For example last week, Angel Murchison interviewed me about Billy Graham and my biography, Billy Graham, A Biography of America's Greatest Evangelist. The interview aired last Saturday in northern Maine and West New Brunswick, Canada. Angel sent me a copy of the interview and you can hear it here (on my own site so I know this link and the 25-minute interview will not disappear since I'm controlling it).

While I can't force people to buy my books, I can focus on the benefits of the books and tell as many people about it as I can reach through social media or email marketing or blogs or any number of other possible tools.

Every writer has these opportunities with your work. Are you seizing the day and latching on to these possibilities? As you do it, you will expand your audience and the reach of your message. Another way that people in the publishing community speak about it is platform. If you want to expand your possibilities, I recommend this free ebook that I wrote called Platform Building Ideas for Every Author.

Each of us have the same finite amount of time in a day. How are you seizing those opportunities?


When our world is out of control, how can you seize the day? Get ideas here. (ClickToTweet)

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Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Increase Your Learning with Your Flash Drive

Through the years, I've collected a number of flash drives. Sometimes I will attend a writers' conference and all of the sessions (even those I miss) are sold on a flash drive. Often these flash drives will pile up in my desk drawer. How do I find the time to listen to this material?

In May I taught on the faculty and they offered the entire conference without cost. I know these audio files contain valuable teaching insights for every writer. The files came as an online download and I put them in a folder with the conference name on a flash drive. Because I used the flash drive, these files are portable and don't fill my main computer. 

In the past, I've mentioned about using the Bluetooth feature of my car audio and listening to audio books. My car has a USB connection on the dashboard that until recently I had never used. With the flash drive which contained the audios from the writers' conference, I turned on my car and plugged it into the port.

Touching the “files” on my dashboard, I saw all of the audio MP3 files from the flash drive. Last weekend, I drove 45 minutes to an hour to a writers' meeting in Colorado Springs.  Instead of listening to an audio book, I listened to several teaching files from the flash drive.

Steve Laube, founder of The Steve Laube Agency, taught a workshop titled, “Do I Need a Literary Agent?” While much of the information was familiar, I enjoyed hearing Steve's stories and insights on the audio file. My time in the car passed quickly and I was learning from my flash drive.

Also I heard another literary agent, David Van Diest, teach on the elements of a book proposal. While I have a bestselling book on this topic called Book Proposals That $ell, there is always more to learn on this subject from this seasoned publishing colleague. David has worked in marketing and other aspects inside publishers as well as run his own agency for many years.

To be honest, I have many more hours of teaching to catch on these audio files. Instead of never hearing them or leaving them stuck in my desk, through using the flash drive, these files are actively on my car audio system. Whether I'm driving a long distance or only across town, I can grab a few more minutes of writing instruction.

Through this experience, I've been reminded of a simple principle: There Are Many Different Ways to Learn Information. Some of us learn best through reading. Others learn through actually doing while still others are audio learners. 

I'm glad I decided to explore how to use the USB port on my car dashboard. Now I have one more flexible way to learn in my car. Bestselling author Zig Ziglar recommended turning your car into a “rolling university.” 

You probably have some of these audio files on your computer. Can you transfer them to a flash drive then begin listening to this instruction in your car? Getting the information is the first step, then apply the information to your own writing life.


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