Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Support Other Writers With Reviews

Writers are readers. What are you reading? Are you consistently reading books. And what do you do when you complete a book? 

Recently I finished reading Frances Caballo's excellent book Avoid the Social Media Time Suck. As I read the book, I marked several sections that stood out to me. As I finished the last page, I went to my computer and wrote a few words about the book and I posted it on Amazon and Goodreads. Here's what I wrote:

Every Writer or Would-Be Writer Needs this Book

Social media can be a huge time suck and consume your day so you never manage to accomplish what you wanted to do. Most writers want to write and despise talking about their books or their writing on social media. To be honest, get over it.

With thousands of new books entering the market every day (yes, thousands), every writer needs to learn to use social media to their advantage—i.e. do it effectively and not consume hours of time. In this short book, social media expert (a term I don’t use lightly) Frances Caballo gives writers an effective, practical strategy to build their presence online yet still have time to write.

Like it or not, literary agents, editors and publishers are looking at your social media presence then making decisions about whether you can reach your target market or not. Often they have high numbers and criteria for the books that they publish. You can easily drown jumping into the social media sites on your own. This book includes detailed tools (many of them free) to help you succeed and yet not consume your day.

 As Caballo writes at the end of the second chapter, “Social media needn’t force you to spend hours at your computer every day, sucking the hours out of your day when you have other pressing needs, responsibilities, and desires. By spending fifteen minutes every morning curating and scheduling and allocating fifteen minutes every evening for socializing online, you too will benefit from the power of social media in today’s world and find readers who will be happy to find you and read your books.” (Page 26)

I highly recommend this book to read, study and apply to your daily life.

It did not take a great deal of time and thought to write these few words of honest review. After posting the review on Amazon and Goodreads, I took additional action. I used my various social media channels (Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn) to tell others about my review. It is one of the ways that I support the authors and the books that I read. 

These simple actions are something every reader can do to help others and spread the message about their books. With the huge volume of books published every day (according to Penny Sanseveri, over 4,500 new books are published every day), with a small action of writing a few sentences of honest review, each of us can highlight good books. 

Notice an honest review is not copying or using the words from the back cover of the book. Recently a "reviewer" contacted Morgan James Publishing and requested review copies of books. They were sent and I asked him in return to send us his "published" (loose term) reviews. When we read these "reviews" they were exact words from the back cover of the book. Yes, there was some minor value to get these words out but they were not reviews. This "reviewer" is not going to be sent additional review copies (free books from the publisher to media and book reviewers).

Over the years, I've written more than 500 customer reviews on Amazon. It is a practice I continue today. As you help others, you are building goodwill in the community. When you publish a new book, you will find that these people will support you with reviews. 

If you want to know more about this process of writing and how to get book reviews. I recommend this free teleseminar with Dana Lynn Smith: http://YourBookReviewed.com.

Are you writing reviews when you finish a book? Are you telling others about the reviews? It is key to take consistent action. 

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Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Listen to This Podcast to Grow Your Writing Life

John Vonhof interviewed me for his podcast Writers On Fire. We were scheduled to go about 45 minutes but actually went almost an hour and a half. John edited the podcast down to a rich 63 minutes. You can listen to it on his site (click the link). On the site you can listen to it there or download it to your computer. 

While I haven't been blogging much lately because of my travel and other responsibilities, it is not far from my radar and intentions. I hope you will use the search tool in the far right column of this blog to look for topics and posts when you have writing questions. There are over 1200 entries in the Writing Life—loads of content.

Thank you in advance for listening to this podcast and I hope it helps you grow your own writing life.
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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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