Sunday, October 18, 2009

Catch This Golden Opportunity

Last week I spotted several neighborhoods that are stringing their lights for Christmas. Yes, it is only mid-October but we're moving closer to the Christmas season. Last week, something that came across my computer screen was counting down the days saying only 72 more shopping days (it is even closer today).

Each holiday season brings new personal experiences in your life. Maybe you will be at a holiday gathering and see a new drink or desert. Or from reading the Scripture you will gain a new personal insight. Are you aware of those new ideas? Are you making the effort to write them down then craft them into magazine articles? Whether it is a how-to article about effective Christmas lights or a new way you have personally experienced the holidays, I encourage you to capture this golden opportunity.

Magazine editors actively look for seasonal material. Typically these magazines are working three or four months ahead of the current calendar. I'm encouraging you to look at this seasonal material from at least two perspectives. First, celebrate the current holiday such as Thanksgiving yet be actively looking for experiences that you can write about this holiday, then publish next year. Second, pull out your calendar and look about four or five months ahead. Then query or pitch full article ideas to magazine editors for these holidays. In November, you should be pitching editors on Easter experiences or ideas.

Years ago when I was working as an editor at Decision magazine, I recall our struggle to find enough quality articles about love for the February issue (Valentine's Day). We couldn't locate the articles from the unsolicited manuscripts. Instead we reached out to different published authors and asked them to write what we needed. I had the same experience for Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter.

If you propose these seasonal articles, then deliver a quality, well-written article to the editor, you will build your relationship with the editor and get published.

These magazine articles can be recycled as reprints to non-competitive publications. After your article is published, you can market it to another magazine as a reprint. Some of these seasonal articles have years of use because they contain universal truth.

I meet many writers who are only focused on getting their book ideas published. Their work has never appeared in print yet they ignore the magazine market. When you write for magazines, you gain several important skills which will help your dreams of getting books published:

1. You gain publishing experience which your book editor will recognize and appreciate.

2. You gain exposure to readers and increase your name recognition in the marketplace.

3. You are building relationships with new editors which may become lifelong friends. Editors move from one magazine to another or from a magazine to a book publisher. If you have built a good relationship, then your relationship continues in the new position.

Seasonal magazine articles are an often overlooked golden opportunity. Your writing can meet this key need.

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Friday, October 16, 2009

Find Your Open Door

It's one of the most common failures for people who want to get their book published. They give up too quickly and lack the perseverance to keep looking for the open door.

Yes, rejection is difficult. With the information, skill and training that you have, you have poured creativity into your words. Yet when you send them out to an agent or editor, it's returned to you. There is great wisdom in this article from James Scott Bell, Rejecting Rejection. If you are struggling with rejection, I encourage you to read this article from time to time. One of the keys from my perspective is to continue looking for the open door and not give up on your dreams. Each writer is looking for the right opportunity at the right time and the right place with the right publishing house. Yes, my last sentence contains many "rights." Don't give up your search.

There are many examples of persistence throughout the writer community. I want to tell you about one of Intermedia's authors, Dr. Richard C. Harris. His book, One Nation Under Curse, has a startling cover with a hanging figure and KKK symbols. Thirty years ago, Richard was the Grand Dragon of the northernmost chapter of the Ku Klux Klan.

Why are individuals drawn into the world of the KKK? What happens in their secret meetings?

Racism is a growing force in our society and the KKK is growing in unprecedented numbers according to Dr. Harris. With page-turning true details, Richard Harris invites us into his world and reveals the details about how he was drawn into the KKK then quickly rose through their ranks to become the Grand Dragon of the Northern Indiana chapter.

The writing is engaging and the personal drama is spell-binding. This book is difficult to stop reading until you reach the final page. You will learn information which has never appeared in print before about the KKK. As you read it, you will increase your understanding of a curse which continues to hang over America and how you can break that curse in your own life and in the lives of your children. This book is ideal for small groups or individuals. The Reading Discussion Guide provides thought-provoking questions for any group to learn from this fascinating book.

Earlier this year, when I was at a writer's conference, a former acquisitions editor from Thomas Nelson saw Richard's book and exclaimed, "I pitched this book to the publication board over ten years ago and unfortunately it was rejected." She was thrilled to see that Richard persisted and it finally appeared in print.

When I spoke with Richard about this incident, he told me that he has a large file of rejections from submitting his book to different places. Also I learned that his book has changed and improved throughout those years of attempting to get it published.

On Monday, October 19th at 3 p.m. EST, Dr. Harris will be live on Janet Parshall's America. I encourage you to listen to his fascinating story--and get his book. Notice how Richard continually searched for his open door to get his book published and found it through Intermedia Publishing Group. I've heard similar stories from many other authors.

If you have been searching for the open door to get your work published, here are several ideas:

1. Join a writer's group and get to a writer's conference. I'm going to be speaking in Indianapolis on November 6th and 7th and then leading a one-day Intermedia seminar in Denver on November 21st.

2. Read good books about writing and find practical ideas that you can apply to improve your own work and try different opportunities. I continue to receive great feedback (check this link) from Jumpstart Your Publishing Dreams.

3. To learn the difference between traditional publishing and Independent publishing, catch this free teleseminar.

4. If you are trying to get a traditional publisher, learn what captured an editor or agent's attention at SecretsAboutproposals.

5. You can also learn from my free ebook about book proposals.

There are many different paths to achieve your dreams. Don't give up and keep looking for the open door.

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Sunday, October 04, 2009

The Engineered Bestseller

Gather a group of experienced writers and often the conversation drifts toward the elusive dream: the bestselling book. How do you write and achieve a bestseller? What is the definition of a bestseller?

In my many years in publishing, I've heard and read many different perspectives on these questions. The answer is complex and not something learned in a single place or book from my view. Bestselling books occur in many different ways.

Recently I read a resource that provides insight into these questions and is well worth reading. Eric Kampmann has written The Book Publisher's Handbook. From over 35 years in publishing, Eric Kampmann tackles this question of creating a successful bestselling book with remarkable candor and detail. For the uninitiated, publishing is a mystery and Kampmann breaks down the various ingredients into seven keys: 1) Editorial--an edited manuscript is critical 2) Design & Format: the appearance of your book inside and out 3) Printing: covers the key basics 4) Pricing: covers the pitfalls 5) Sales and Distribution: Explains the players and how to use them 6) Book Marketing & Publicity: Wise counsel in this section 7) The Publisher is You: he encourages every author to take the reins of responsibility.

This book contains six unique case studies and gives the inside story behind some bestsellers including ALL CREATURES GREAT AND SMALL, RICH DAD, POOR DAD and much more. These case studies show the necessity of every author being in the right place at the right time with the right publisher and lend reality to the detailed keys in the first portion of the book.

Whether you are working with a traditional royalty publisher or you have decided to self-publish your book, you can profit from the wealth of experience and detail in Kampmann's title. It is loaded with gems of information and I recommend you get this book.

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