Who Believes in Your Writing?
|Many of the words in this image are tied to belief.|
Last week I signed a contract for another book project. As an acquisitions editor, I help others with their contract but my own writing has dropped in recent years as I focus on helping others. I'm excited about this new project but the experience made me think about the concept of belief.
Throughout my publishing career, I've been blessed to sign numerous contracts. Because I've worked inside publishing companies, I know a contract is not issued without a number of people deliberating and making the decision. These publishing professionals believe that I was the best person to write this book so they issued a contract. I'm looking forward to working on this book in the days ahead.
It has been my honor to believe in a number of authors over the years as an acquisitions editor. When you are writing your book or proposal, inwardly you wonder whether anyone will want to publish this book. Yes every writer has these doubts and faces this uncertainty. Yet they continue forward to write and complete the book.
I opened a package last week with a new book which releases in November, I Wanted to Be A Pilot by Franklin J. Macon with Elizabeth G. Harper. I met Liz at the Colorado Christian Writers Conference. This middle school teacher had written an autobiography for Frank, one of the few living Tuskegee Airmen. This much decorated group of World War Two pilots is aging and Frank at 94 is one of about 100 living Tuskegee Airmen. It was a thrill to see this beautiful book and hold it in my hand. As an acquisitions editor, I was one of the first to believe in this book and the importance of it.
I spoke with another author who has one of the Morgan James contracts but hasn't signed it yet. I told this author how much I believed in her book and the importance of it. She thanked me for this affirmation and belief. I'm eager to see this book get published and get into the bookstores and help people.
Who believes in your writing and your book? It could be a spouse or a friend or someone in the publishing world. If you don't have this person, I encourage you to look for them. Maybe they are in your critique group and believe in your work.
And while you are looking for this person to believe in your writing, my encouragement is for you to believe in yourself. Continue learning and growing in your knowledge of this business and the craft of writing. Continue growing your audience and platform. Also continue to write and look for new opportunities. There is a world waiting for your book. If I can help you in this process, don't hesitate to reach out to me (my work contact information is on the bottom of the second page of this link).
Let me know in the comments below, who believes in your writing and ideas about how to connect with someone who believes.
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Labels: acquisitions editor, belief, book contract, Elizabeth Harper, Frank Macon, Morgan James Publishing, Tuskegee Airmen, writing
Use A Writer's Work Around
In the tech world, when you run into a snag (which seems to happen with great frequency), you will find a work around. With this work around, you can achieve the same result but will have to use a different process to get there.
Often I need to find a work around when it comes to the ever-changing world of social media. As I've mentioned in these articles before, I don't spend a lot of time on my social media—but I do spend consistent time on it. Using a scheduling tool like HootSuite, I tweet about 12–15 times every day. These tweets also show up on Facebook and LinkedIn—which are other social networks where I have a lot of activity.
Whenever a social network makes changes, you have to find a work around for your activity to continue. For example, several months ago, Facebook posted my tweets but without images. Several times a day I would add the images to my posts on Facebook (which make them more attractive and read). Then without warning, Facebook began including the images with my tweets again so I didn't need to add them.
Last week, Facebook decided to stop the twitter posts from showing up on Facebook. As I understand it, this stop happened across the entire Facebook network. Suddenly twitter posts were blocked on Facebook. I had to search for a work around to get my posts on Facebook (where I get a lot of appreciation about the information I'm posting).
My current work around for this situation is to go over to Facebook several times a day. I simply cut and paste my posts from Twitter to my Facebook feed. In each case, I make sure my post and image are on Facebook. My work around is time consuming and I'm looking for some other method to get these posts on my Facebook newsfeed. Why do I care that it stopped? Because I have over 4,900 Facebook friends and I continue to get feedback that people appreciate the information. I don't want this regular marketing to stop.
My point of this article is to demonstrate each of us face road blocks to our marketing efforts or our writing efforts. These road blocks are a clear dividing line between people who get it done and others who are stopped. The persistent authors figure out a work around or way around the road block. The authors who are not persistent are thrown off with the road block and don't get it done.
This week I asked one of my writer friends about her proposal. I learned she had sent it to one publisher (two months ago) and gotten rejected. She hit a road block but it stopped her and she had not sent it to another publisher. Some of my friends have established a rule where if they get rejected, they take 24 hours to mourn that rejection, then they fire their article or proposal or query to another place. See their work around? These authors understand rejection is a part of our writing life—yet they do not let rejection stop them. Instead, they are committed to getting their submission back into the market.
What is holding you back? Is it rejection? Is it a tech glitch? Is it something with social media? What active steps are you taking to find your work around instead of letting it stop you? Let me know in the comments below.
What situation is holding back your writing life? Learn to use your writer's work around. (Click to Tweet)
Labels: change, Facebook, LinkedIn, proposals, query, rejection, social media, Twitter, writing
Why Every Author Needs Amazon Reviews (Including Me)
Book reviews is one of my on-going concerns with authors. Maybe they don’t care about book reviews and never put any effort into getting them. Their book has been available for months or years yet they have zero or one or two reviews.
Other authors put effort into getting reviews when their book is first launched (which is admirable). Yet after the initial launch, they press on to other areas and never do anything additional about book reviews.
My focus in this article is helping you understand the on-going importance of book reviews. Whether your book is just launching or has been out for years, you still need reviews. A new review whenever it is posted is something you can tout and promote on social media.
I encourage every author to get at least 25 reviews when their book launches. It will take work from the author for you to get these reviews. Ask people if they are willing to read your book and write an honest review. Send them the electronic or print book, then keep track to follow-up and see if they have completed the review. From my experience you need twice the number of people to reach your goal for reviews. For example, if you want 25 reviews, then you will need to get commitments from 50 people. Why?
Life is busy and full of interruptions and many people don’t carry out on their commitment to review your book—unless you follow-up and ask about it—and even with follow-up some people will not do it.
At first, you should have a goal of 25 reviews on Amazon. Then when you achieve that mark, your goal should shift to 50 reviews. Why?
When your book has 50 or more reviews, Amazon let’s the author (or your publisher) do some special advertising that was not available with less reviews. And when your book reaches 50 or more reviews? Then you have a new goal of 100 or more reviews.
Last week in Nashville I talking with David Hancock the founder of Morgan James Publishing, I learned when your book reaches 100 or more reviews, Amazon begins to do some behind-the-scenes advertising to promote and sell more books. The benchmark made sense to me since many books never reach that 100 or more reviews but the ones who do, indicate books which are actively selling.
Have You Read My Book?
As of this writing, my biography, Billy Graham, A Biography of America’s Greatest Evangelist, has 83 Amazon reviews. I’m 17 reviews short of reaching 100. If you have read my book, I’d appreciate an honest review (hopefully four or five stars but honest is important).
|The Audiobook is also available.|
When I learned about this 100 review benchmark, I wrote several friends and asked them to review the book. I’ve also been working to find more people to read or hear my book and write a review. If you are interested and don’t have my book, reach out to me and I’ll be happy to get you a copy in exchange for the review.
If You Get a One or Two Star Review
Sometimes an author will ask me what can be done when they get a one star review. I tell them to rejoice and they look at me like I’m crazy. You rejoice because that one star review has just validated your other reviews. If you see a book with all five star reviews, then it is like the author is orchestrating all of the reviews. If thre are one star reviews, then you know the reviews are real.
Don’t reach out to those people because it only feeds the trolls. Instead let it go.
Getting Reviews Is On-Going
My key point of this article is the process of getting reviews for Amazon or Goodreads or Barnes & Noble is ongoing for every author. It is not a seasonal or one-time type of process. I would compare it to any type of marketing for your book. The process is on-going rather than hit or miss.
There is no single path to make your book a bestseller. If we had a formula then every book would be a bestseller. Instead each author has to try many different things to see which actions bear the greatest sales or results. It is much more of a marathon effort than a sprint. My intention is to help every author see the on-going necessity to encourage others to write reviews about their book.
Several times a week, authors reach out to me and ask me to review their book. I’ve written over 900 Amazon reviews and over 500 reviews on Goodreads. This experience makes me one of their top reviewers. People know if I say I will read the book, there is a higher probability that it will actually happen. To be honest, I receive stacks of books every day and can’t read all of the books I receive. It would be impossible. I do write reviews on any book that I read or hear. Sometimes it takes me a day or two to get the review written but it does eventually happen.
Are you continually working to get reviews of your books? Do you have other resources to get reviews? Then let me know in the comments below.
Discover why every author needs book reviews and what steps you can take in this article. (Click to Tweet)
Labels: Amazon, authors, Billy Graham, book reviews, follow-up, marketing, pro-active, promotion
3 Ways to Read More Books
Thousands of new books are published every
day. No one can keep up. Yes, you can take speed-reading courses and other
things but even then, the sheer volume of new books makes it impossible. In this
article, I want to give three ways that I'm using to add more focused reading
into my life. I'm always learning about books. I use these methods to acquire
and read books.
1. Learn to Use Your Public
It is not practical to purchase every new book. I
find many people forget about or don't use their public library. Get a library
card then when you see an interesting book, get on your library website and see
if that book is available. In my area, I often find the library has acquired the
book and I can ask them to hold a copy for me. When I put a “hold” the library
sends me an email when the book is available to check out. Also my library sends
me an email when my book is about due to be returned (and possibly I can renew
if I haven't read it).
Also ask questions to the librarians about using
the library or locating a book you can't find, then listen to the answers. These
professionals are helpful and knowledgeable about books. Check out the services
of your library and begin to use them.
2. Listen to Audio Books in Your
My library has an extensive collection of audio
books on CD. Browse the section and select a couple of different titles. Try
the book and if it isn't exactly what you wanted, then try another one. I've
heard incredible audio books using this method in my car.
In the last few weeks, I've learned to listen to
audio books on my car's speaker system that originate on my smartphone. My car
has bluetooth so I'm able to continue listening on my car speaker system to the
same audio book that I'm hearing on my smartphone. Listening in my car as well
as on my phone, helps me move through the audio book even quicker than normal.
For example, recently I got on the hold list for Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the
Quest for a Fantastic Future. I only had 21
days to hear this audio book but using my car and my phone, I finished it in
less than a week. The book was fascinating but uses the F-word throughout so use
caution if you get it.
3. Learn to Use Hoopla or Overdrive on Your
Hoopla or Overdrive are are free services from your library. Download
the apps on your smartphone and learn about these opportunities. There is a bit
of a learning curve to use them. Throughout my day I have some time at my
computer when I'm setting up my social media. I've found I can be listening to
an audio book on my phone as I do some of this busywork. In the process, I'm
consuming more books. I also listen to the book while I'm exercising.
I've written about this before (follow this link). After I read (or hear) an interesting book,
I add a review to Amazon, then paste the same review
on Goodreads. And often (not always) I
tell my social media connections about the review. This entire process takes
only a few minutes but it is my way of supporting and telling others (quickly)
about what I'm reading and learning from good books. Every author needs this
type of support—and you will build goodwill with other authors—and help the
entire community with this simple and consistent action.
I hope you will use these three ways to read more
books. If you have other ideas or methods, I'd love to hear it in the comment
section. May the days ahead be filled with more reading and learning from time
Out of time but want to read more books? Use these three ideas: (Click to Tweet)
Labels: audio books, book reviews, Elon Musk, Goodreads, hold, Hoopla, librarians, LinkedIn. supporting authors, Overdrive, public library, reserve, smartphone
What Fills Your Daily Schedule?
There is one resource in the possession of everyone: time. Also
everyone spends time doing some activity. As you take control of your schedule
or time, you can increase (or waste) your day.
As a writer, how to you fill your days? Do you have a plan or
schedule? Or is it random and uncontrolled? I work as an acquisitions editor and
a writer. I'm grateful for the flexibility of my daily schedule. Yet to some,
this empty calendar can be a concern. How do you fill your time?
As an acquisitions editor, I have some writers and literary agents who reach out to me and want to schedule time on the phone or a meeting
in person. Other times I attend or speak at a conference and travel away from my
office. Yet overall these types of events or meetings are rare to fill my daily
In this article, I want to give you some of the tools and action
steps I take on a regular basis with my life in publishing. The steps you take
will be different but I hope these words will give you some new ideas for your
own writing life.
For years I've been active on Twitter and every day I grow my audience on this
social media platform with five actions (detailed here and still being done). There has been admittedly
hours of time spent in small chunks to achieve this following. It is a regular
part of my day whether I am at home or traveling.
Here's some basic principles to help you:
1. Create a system to handle any action you
take on regular basis and keep moving forward. For example, if you are writing a
book, set a word count goal. This goal can be for the week or even daily. Then
consistently write enough words to meet or exceed your goal and you will keep
the project moving forward toward completion.
2. Be aware or actively look for tools
to help you automate and meet your goals. For example, with my Morgan James Publishing phone calls to authors, I use an application called DialPad. When I call someone
using this program, my direct dial New York phone number shows on the
recipient's caller ID—even though I live in Colorado. It is a company branding
tool that immediately says New York publisher. This tool also keeps a running
list of any of my phone calls listing the date and length. It give me a
systematic place to keep track of my phone calls. You may or may not use DialPad
but find a way to keep track of such information (if it is important to your
3. Consistently work on different stages of the
work. For example, some of my work is calling authors who have a contract and
answering their question. Another part of my work is processing new submissions
to see if they are the right fit for Morgan James and if so, then I champion
these authors to my publication board and colleagues. I'm regularly working on
brand new authors and also answering email and phone calls from current authors.
My phone has a feature called Reminders. When I have a deadline
for my writing or anything else that I need to accomplish, I will often create a
reminder. As I use these tools and check off my tasks, I move forward with a
Your process of filling your schedule with productive activity
will be different from mine. Hopefully I have given you some ideas. If you have
another tool or tip, please comment below.
Become more productive. Use three principles from a prolific writer and editor. (Click to Tweet)
Labels: action-taker, calendar, literary agent, Morgan James Publishing, phone calls, productivity, schedule, system, time management
Why I Lost 15,000 followers in 24 hours
Last week I lost 15,000 Twitter followers in 24 hours. For many
people that loss would have been devistating and possibly wiped out their
following. I went from
220,000 to 205,000 followers. I've been on Twitter since 2008 and actively
working every day to increase my following.
What happened? An article in the New York Times explained Twitter is
battling fake accounts and has slashed millions of these accounts. As the
article explains, “Twitter’s decision will have an immediate impact: Beginning
on Thursday, many users, including those who have bought fake followers and any
others who are followed by suspicious accounts, will see their follower numbers
I applaud Twitter's actions in this area but it has had impact
on many users. At one point years ago as an experiment, I did buy some followers
and my followers increased over a 24-hour period. Now those followers were fake
accounts and I would not expect them to engage with me or be interested in any
of my tweets.
Last year one of my writer friends launched a book with a New
York publisher (in fact one of the big five). She had a modest Twitter following
but in a short amount of time her followers increased to over 100,000–-which
looks suspiciously like she purchased those followers rather than growing the
following (as I have done). I just checked her followers and now she has 14,500
followers for a dramatic drop.
I want to make several key points from this experience to help
1. While Twitter continues to be an important social network,
do not try and game the system with buying fake followers. I
have written about the five
actions I take every day on Twitter. There are good reasons I have
a large Twitter following.
2. Don't forget Twitter is “rented” space. I
don't own or have any connection to the Twitter company. They could cancel or
block my account at any time eliminating my presence. I don't expect this
elimination to happen and to my knowledge have been obeying their rules (key for
If you don't understand this concept of rented media, I
encourage you to study Mastering the New Media Landscape by Barbara
Cave Henricks and Rusty Shelton. I regularly speak with authors who have built
their entire platform on
Facebook or Instagram or LinkedIn or Twitter. Yet these authors have never
considered the risk of such efforts.
3. Diversification is important as you plan
your presence in the marketplace. Henricks and Shelton talk about this in the
final chapter of their book giving six ways to “futureproof” your media
presence. The advise is wise and worth your following it. Make sure you have
media that you own: your websites, your blog and your email list. If you
haven't read my free ebook, Platform Building Ideas for Every Author,
I encourage you to get it
There is one safe prediction I can make about the social media
landscape: it will continue to shift and change.
What steps are you taking to master the new media landscape?
Let me know in the comments below.
Have you suddenly lost Twitter followers? Learn the proactive steps you can take. (Click to Tweet)
Labels: Barbara Cave Henricks, ebook, followers, platform, platform building ideas for every author, rented media, Rusty Shelton, Twitter
Your Submission Must Be Electronic and Easily Readable
Every writer should have the need to keep growing and looking for
new avenues and ways to market. As an acquisitions
editor at Morgan
James Publishing, we receive many submissions—over 5,000 a year for only 150
books that are published. Yes that is high volume but as editors, we are always
looking for the right authors and right material.
|Every editor needs an electronic submission.|
About a month ago, I received an author contact from one of my
colleagues. That day, I sent an email to this author letting her know exactly
what I needed and how to submit her material. A few days ago, I got a text from
my colleague asking about this author. I said she had never responded to my
email. Something many people forget is email sometimes does not get
through. I reached out to this author again on email and picked up the phone to
call her (rare for an editor or agent to call).
Later that day I began to receive her submission in hard copy on
my phone—which I could not read. It was pages of a manuscript texted to my
phone. I asked her to email it to me. The email came one page at a time with the
hard copy attached—-many emails. I went back to this author and explained I
needed a single file in an electronic form as an attachment.
In conversation, I
learned this author had an electronic file for her manuscript and then her
computer crashed. She lost the electronic files with her computer crash. She
only had a hard copy of her manuscript. With this explanation, I understood why
she was trying to get me the hard copy.
I told this author how for years, every publisher requires the
author to send an electronic version of their manuscript or proposal. It is the
only way to get your material into the consideration process with an editor or
agent. Your computer crash and the fact you don't have the file is a barrier to
getting your submission considered. If you have this problem, you
1. Retype your manuscript into a Microsoft Word file.
2. Hire a student or transcription service to type your
submission into Word.
3. Forget about this book and start another one. This last point
is not what I would recommend since the author has invested hours into creating
I have no idea what this author is writing and whether it has
any merit or not—since I did not receive it in a form where I could read it.
I've reviewed thousands of submissions during my years in publishing and never
seen this particular situation. I point out several lessons from it:
1. Get your manuscript to the editor or agent in a format they
can read. I've met authors who do not type. If you don't type, then take a
typing course or get a book or figure out your way around this
2. Before you complain to the company or editor, make
sure the format of your submission is not the issue. The reality is every editor
and agent receives many submissions. Sometimes things do get missed and we are
not perfect in this process. Just make sure it is not your issue before
you reach out to someone else.
3. Follow the editor's or agent's guidelines. If you don't follow directions, then you
can't get considered.
4. Follow-up to make sure you are giving the editor what they
need. We receive volumes of material and want to help but have limitations on
our own time and resources.
As a writer, you are searching for the right fit for your
submission. It will take effort on your part to find this fit. Good
communication is important every step of the way. It took some digging on my
part to figure out why I was not connecting with this author and her manuscript.
I'm encouraging her to retype her lost manuscript and get it into the market for
Have you been skipping a publishing basic as an explanation why
your submission is not hitting the mark? Let me know in the comments
Learn why must your submission be electronic and follow the guidelines from an experienced editor. (Click to Tweet)
Labels: acquisitions editor, book, editor, guidelines, literary agent, manuscript, Morgan James Publishing, publishing, submissions