Saturday, March 31, 2012

Simple Ways to Stand Out with Editors

Editors and agents get a lot of email—hundreds each day. You can ignore email. You can sit on your delete key and toss them in your electronic trash can. If you are looking for insight on how to the massive amounts of email, I recommend you read Taming the Email Beast by Randall Dean. You will quickly learn 45 strategies for managing your email.

In this article, I want to address how to stand out in a positive way from the other writers who are trying to get their attention. I've seen many writers stand out in a negative way. They are memorable but not someone one that an agent or editor wants to help get published.

I want to give you three simple ways make a positive impression.

1. Deliver Good Writing While many writers believe they have sent an interesting and targeted submission. I've often seen poorly crafted stories and not enough energy put into the concept. Good writing will always stand out and a fascinating story captures positive attention and earns a quick response from the editor or agent. Practice your craft in the print magazine world. If you are writing nonfiction, then learn to craft good personal experience stories. If you are writing fiction, then learn the skill of short stories—and get them published. The experience will be valuable and help you stand out in the submission process.

2. Submit Assigned Writing on Deadline or Early. The majority of writers are late with their assignments. If you pay attention to the deadline and deliver excellent writing on time or early, you will stand out because such attention is unusual. It seems like a small detail but it will make a difference in the impression you make with these professionals.

3. Express Gratitude. Whenever anyone does anything, large or small, make sure you express appreciation. We live in a thankless world where few people write handwritten notes. I make a point to continue to send handwritten thank you notes. My handwriting isn't beautiful and I have to work at clear writing but when I send notes, they make a positive impression. Also when I receive thank you notes after a conference or other occasions, it is appreciated.

Working in the publishing community is all about building and maintaining relationships. Whether you are trying to sell your writing to a magazine or sell a book project to a publisher, you need to continually be aware that every time you connect with the editor or agent, you are making an impression. Make sure you stand out in a positive way.

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Thursday, March 29, 2012

How to Handle Rejection

No one likes to hear the word “no” or “no, thank you.” Yet it is firmly a part of the publishing community. It's been a while since I've written about rejection. From time to time, I believe it is good to return to it and includes lessons for every active writer.

Notice I wrote that little word “active?” Some people call themselves writers (which is good in my view) yet haven't been recently rejected because they are not sending out their material. Getting rejected is a part of the writing life.

If you want to get published in magazines, then you need to be studying the magazines and regularly pitching ideas to them (a query), then getting feedback from the editor (hopefully an assignment) and turn in your well-written article on the deadline. I encourage you to write for print magazines because it will help you as a writer in a number of areas of your writing life. If you write nonfiction, it is good to write for magazines and if you write fiction, it is good to write for magazines. In general, print magazines have a higher standard of excellence than online publications so I'm talking about print publications.

It is the same constant action of pitching your idea which counts on the book side of publishing. Several years ago I was a fiction acquisitions editor then a literary agent (all former roles for me now) but I learned a great deal about the rejection process from my work in these areas.

Manuscripts and proposals and query letters come in all shapes and sizes. When I was acquiring fiction, I was consistently work on my stack of submissions so people hear from me. It’s often not the answer they want to hear. To receive a yes response takes time in publishing and involves a lot of consensus building within the publishing house.

The “no” response can often be determined quickly. If you send in a query about a 25,000 word novel or a children’s book, then you are headed for rejection. When I was working for Howard, they did not do children’s books and I was the fiction acquisitions editor. We were not considering youth books or young adult. Instead the focus was on six to eight adult length novels (generally 80,000 to 100,000 words). So…if your novel is 56,000 words, it’s too short for serious consideration—no matter how well it is written.

Now the writing—that’s another consideration. You would be shocked at the telling manuscripts which don’t jump into the plot. Or they meander around the story line before they jump into it. Editors and agents are looking for excellent storytelling and a plot that can’t be put down. I understand it’s a high goal—but there are many manuscripts and only a few manuscripts will be selected and even fewer ultimately contracted.

Because I am someone who also writes and loves writing books and magazine articles, it’s painful to send these rejection letters. I know people have poured their heart and dreams into these submissions. I’ve also learned the hard way if I add anything personal, I will get it revised and resubmitted to me—and often again rejected. Instead, I resorted to the standard editor response—the dreaded form letter. I don’t like receiving them and I don’t like sending them—but they come with the business.

Whether the writer likes the response or not is not the issue. It’s important to me that they have received a response. Often submissions go into a black hole and you never know if the editor received it, processed it or anything. With each submission, I know they have been read, carefully considered and rendered a decision. In some ways, I hope it softens the pain of rejection.

Finally I want to give you three key points to handle rejection:

1. Understand it. Every active writer is rejected. While you have put your best writing out into the marketplace, it is not personal. The editor or agent is looking for something specific and you are trying to make the right connection with your submission. If it was rejected, then the right connection didn't happen. It is part of the business.

2. Learn from it. You may or may not receive any feedback with the submission but you can still continue working on an excellent submission. If you don't know how to craft a query letter, then learn that skill. Get in a critique group to have a safe group of trusted writers to bounce ideas. If you don't know how to create an excellent proposal then learn this skill as you are sending out your ideas.

3. Persist and keep knocking on new doors. While you may have your mind and heart set on a particular magazine or book publisher or agent, the world is large. There are many places and ways to get your material out into the marketplace. Keep growing and looking for new opportunities.

Every writer can gain the skill of properly handling rejection. I know you can do it.

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Sunday, March 25, 2012

Why Every Book Needs a Proposal (Even Self-Published)

I've read thousands of book proposals as an acquisitions editor and a former literary agent. I continually teach on the topic because I believe many writers don't understand the critical nature of this specialized document called a book proposal.

On the traditional side of publishing, editors and agents read proposals. It doesn't matter whether you've written nonfiction or fiction because this document includes information which never appears in your manuscript yet is critical detail in the decisionmaking process. My Book Proposals That Sell has over 100 Five Star Amazon reviews and continues to help many writers. My online course, Write A Book Proposal has helped writers around the world to learn the step-by-step techniques of creating a proposal.

As a book publisher at Intermedia Publishing Group, many of my authors have not written a book proposal because we work with full manuscripts. From my perspective of working in book publishing for over 20 years, every author should create a book proposal for their book—whether eventually they publish the book with a company where they pay to get it published (subsidy or self-publishing) or whether they find a traditional book publisher. In the proposal creation process, the author learns some critical elements about their book concept plus they are better positioned in the marketplace.

Here are four benefits of proposal creation (and I'm certain there are many more):

1. You Define Your Target Market. Many authors believe their book will hit a broad target—everyone. No successful book is for everyone. Each book has a primary target audience and the proposal creation process helps you define, pinpoint and write about this audience. It is important in nonfiction but it is also important in fiction. For example, romance is the largest fiction genre yet there are many divisions within the romance genre. Every proposal needs a target which is defined—yet large enough to generate volume sales. You learn and achieve this balance when you create a page-turning book proposal.

2. You Understand Your Competition. While creating a proposal, the writer has to take a hard look at which books are competing with your idea. This process helps you understand the marketplace. Many new authors believe they are writing something unique with no competition. It's not true. Every book competes in the marketplace and you will be a better equipped author if you understand your competition.

3. You Create A Personal Plan For Marketing. Whether you like marketing or dislike it, the reality is every author has to market their own book. It doesn't matter who publishes your book—whether you self-publish or go with a large traditional house. As you create a book proposal, you will be including practical, specific and measurable ideas that you can execute when your book enters the market. The proposal will be a valuable reference tool for you because you've done this important creation process.

4. You Possess A Valuable Tool To Pitch Agents and Editors at Traditional Houses. I've written it a number of times but it bears repeating here. Literary agents and editors do not read manuscripts. They read book proposals. Even novelists need a book proposal for their initial pitch to an editor or agent. And if you self-publish and are successful with selling your book, because you own everything, if you receive an attractive offer from a traditional house, then you can move the book. Without a proposal you can't properly pitch the concept and you've eliminated this possibility.

I believe writers should explore every option and keep their possibilities open. You've narrowed the possibilities rather than expanded them if you don't have a proposal.

If you make the effort to create an excellent book proposal, then you will be ready to pitch your book at any time and any place.

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Thursday, March 22, 2012

Practice Makes Perfect

If you don't have publishing figured out, welcome to my world. It is always changing and evolving with new editors, new agents and new opportunities.

One of the best actions you can take each day is to continue to get your writing into the marketplace. As the saying goes, “Practice makes perfect.” You have to be actively working in the field to find success.

During a summer long ago, I took typing in summer school. It was in the pre-computer days and we learned on electric typewriters. If you hesitated or pushed the wrong keys, the mistakes were instantaneous. Yet these typewriters also had an amazing button to erase the mistakes. After using the old manual typewriters, that correction key was remarkable. I was an average typist during high school. I believe I earned a solid C in that class.

You’d never know it today. If you’ve ever seen me type, it’s pretty quick. When I work in an office, I get a steady stream of comments about my speed and the clicking on the keys. I’m a hard typist because for many years I used manual typewriters to write stories. Why the speed? Because I’ve done it repeatedly—every day for years. In the early days of my journalism training, we learned to compose at the typewriter. We created sentences in our minds, then put them instantly into the typewriter. It’s the perfect skill for any journalist since there is no time in the newspaper world to rewrite or stew about the syntax of the sentence. You need to spread your notes around you on the desk and spit out the story. It’s another skill which has served me well over the years.

I don’t know what you are facing today. You may be wondering if you will ever get a magazine article published. You may be struggling to find any children’s book editor to give your work some attention. Or possibly your book proposal is getting lots of rejection. Maybe your novel is languishing on some editor’s desk (or worse it’s stuck in your file drawer and has never been sent out—yet). I want to encourage you about the value of repetition. Select something—then do it repeatedly. If it’s children’s books, then write lots of them. Read lots of them and send them into the market. Try the children’s magazine market and also the children’s book market. Join organizations like the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators and learn about the current editorial needs and trends in the market. Then get your material out there—over and over—with excellence.

My skill set and learning in this market continues to grow daily. I understand the value of repetition—constantly throwing out new ideas and different types of writing. Then I write over and over. It’s not rocket science. You can do it too.

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Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The Crux of Good Business

It may seem pretty basic but if you are going to work in the communication business, you need to work at this thing called communication. It seems like I need to work at it every day--even when I don't want to work at it.

Recently one of my customers wrote and said, “This EBook has not been up to my expectations and I wish to request a refund. I don't believe the content was substantial enough to merit the $39 cost.”

The comment made me a bit angry and I wanted to come back in protest. After all I had sold many copies of this same Ebook around the world without a single person asking for a refund. Wasn't it my “right” to protest such a request?

Instead I dropped it and simply refunded the money. On my website, I have a “no questions asked refund policy.” It says that if you ask for a refund, then I refund the money. It’s straightforward and simple.

This customer had requested a refund so I was going to return the money. Within the hour, I sent the money along with this note to the customer, “I’m sorry it didn’t work out for you this time. I hope to work with you again later on.”

Notice my comment leaves the door open for this customer to return and purchase another product from me at a later date.

Over the years in business, I’ve learned several important lessons in this area of customer service which are important for every business person.

1. Never burn a bridge. Relationships are critical and it is important for you to take steps to preserve your relationship. Someone may return a product today but become a major monthly client if you handle the return properly. It is never worth burning a bridge with some snappy comeback.

2. Always deliver prompt customer service. When someone emails me about a product, I try and answer within 24 hours. I don’t care if I’m traveling and away from home or where I am when I get the request. I quickly send a response. If I can resolve it, then I try and resolve it. If I need to explain that I’m on the road and will resolve it in the next day, then I send that message. My customers deserve a timely response.

When I have a customer service issue with a product or service, I’m expecting a prompt response. As Jesus said in Matthew 7:12, “Do unto others as you want them to do unto you.” It’s called the Golden Rule for a reason.

3. Be certain to respond. Whether the customer service issue is someone asking for one of my free products or someone asking to return a product that they have purchased, I attempt to deliver prompt customer service. I have a simple principle: when someone write or calls, I call them back or email them in response. In today’s world it is shocking the lack of response from vendors. If you take this simple step, it will distinguish you from the others.

Communication and quick resolution will pay off for you and build rapport which will preserve your reputation and build trust.

Here's the “rest of the story.” The Ebook that I'm talking about was Writing For The Christian Market. Recently I was talking with som

eone about a Christian publishing company and the way they treated their customers. The person I was talking with was not a Christian but he complained, "This company talks all over their site about God and uses that reason why people should use their company. Because they are Christians, I hold them to a higher standard of excellence." While I didn't turn the discussion into one about faith and standards, I agreed with the person.

What are you doing to foster or hinder good communication in your writing life? That connection is critical in many different areas of life and it was a good reminder for me.

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Tuesday, March 20, 2012

6 Key Steps to Attract Readers Online Now

Your email list IS your financial security.

It's the most valuable resource in your business and will give you a never-ending flow of readers and sales.

But to get these results, you need to build a big list of your ideal readers...

And then nurture your subscribers so they stay responsive and interested for years to come.

Come learn the secrets to building (and keeping) a profitable email list at the Irresistible List Building Summit (Version 2.0 with new speakers and content)!

Check it out! Registration is FREE =>


Here are 6 Key Steps to get started and attract more readers online now.

The expert speakers will be going more in-depth on these topics in the summit!

Step 1: Attract potential readers by creating a content network of ads, articles, blog posts, Facebook comments, videos, and emails to reach your ideal audience online.

Step 2: Share content in virtual hubs where your ideal readers gather and invite people to do one thing - visit the home page or opt-in page on your website.

Step 3: Convert your visitors to subscribers by offering an irresistible free gift in exchange for a their name and email address.

Step 4: The words on your opt-in page are critical for conversion success, so use content that captures interest and invites direct action.

"Share your email address to subscribe to a generic e-zine" doesn't sizzle as well as "Learn 6 essential ways to magnetize, convert, and nurture your ideal readers so they become raving fans."

Step 5: Once a subscriber opt-ins in, stay in communication with messages that add value and nurture the relationship so that sales flow going forward.

Step 6: Offer with the right balance of free content and genuine, irresistible offers.

Learn more about how to implement these 6 steps and build a thriving list with 1,000's of your ideal readers at the Irresistible List Building Summit (V. 2.0).

It's happening now!

Check it out! Registration is FREE =>


I'll "see" you there!

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Monday, March 19, 2012

Tested Insight Is on Every Page

The introduction to this must-have book has a title which speaks volumes: "Communication is a Life-or-Death Matter." It's true because at the end of the day good communication is everything. Dianna Booher provides invaluable information in COMMUNICATE WITH CONFIDENCE! HOW TO SAY IT RIGHT THE FIRST TIME AND EVERY TIME.

Do you need hard evidence of the benefit of communication? "In 2012, Watson Wyatt Worldwide, a global management consulting firm, released a comprehensive study (covering 328 organizations representing five million employees) that reported that companies with effective communicators had 47 percent higher total returns to shareholders over the prior five years than the firms considered to have the least effective communicators." (p xiv)

Whether you use a particular chapter such as "Saying No and Giving Others Bad news without Damaging the Relationship" or read this book cover to cover. You will profit from the wealth of teaching. At 475 pages, you may wonder if the information in COMMUNICATE WITH CONFIDENCE! is overwhelming. It is not. Booher has organized the entire book into 1254 tips. You can read this book in short bursts to improve your communication skills in different areas. For example, in the chapter, Winning People over to Your Way of Thinking: Being Persuasive, "Tip 376. Repeat, Repeat, Repeat. If nothing else works, try the broken-record technique. If you state your message often enough in a variety of ways, eventually somebody will listen. If you hear something often enough, it becomes part of the atmosphere, like humidity. Repetition forms the core of advertising." (Page 134)

Communication affects every area of our life. As Booher says, "Failure to communicate is the frustration of modern management, the dating scene, and the family dinner table. Over time, all human relationships depend on the sum total of good interactions, stacked end to end. Personally or professionally, communications becomes a life-or-death issue." (p xvii)

I'm enthused about this book because at the heart of every valued relationship is good communication. As you become a better communicator, many areas of life will thrive. I highly recommend you get this book and use it to become a better communicator.

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Sunday, March 18, 2012

Use Teleseminars to Connect with Readers

If you are an author, you want to connect with your readers. Because as you connect with them, they learn about your book, talk about your book and tell others about your book. This type of viral spreading of the news about your book does not happen without a plan—at least in most cases.

On a regular basis, I use teleseminars to connect with my audience. If you read these entries about the Writing Life, over the last few years, I've held a number of teleseminars with different guests. Each one tackles a unique topic. Each of these sessions are recorded and the recordings provide on-going teaching and training for others. The tool that I've been using for my events is InstantTeleseminar. You can use this link to find out more about this resource and even get a 21–day trial.

Because of the global nature of the Internet, these teleseminars are not just United States or North America events. They are worldwide. I've had people on the call in Europe or Australia or Thailand.

Teleseminars are a terrific way to build relationships with readers yet many authors don't use them. Maybe they don't know how to use the technology. Or they are unsure what to teach or how to use the event and how does it connect with their books. There are many potential questions.

On Tuesday, March 27th, I'm hosting another event called Teleseminar Secrets for Authors. I'll be grilling my friend, D'vorah Lansky, author of the Amazon bestseller, Book Marketing Made Easy: Simple Strategies for Selling Your Nonfiction Book Online. This event is for every author—whether you write fiction or nonfiction. Teleseminars are a valuable tool for everyone.

I encourage you to ask D'vorah a question about how to use teleseminars to connect with readers and sell more books. If you don't have a question, then mark “no question” in the box and register with your first name and primary email address. You will reach the confirmation page. At this page, you can mark it to return to a live webcast on March 27th and you can have immediate access to a Special Report from D'vorah: 7 Teleseminar Tips and Tracking Sheets for Authors.

If you can't make the live event, I encourage you to go ahead and sign up. The event will be recorded and everyone who signs up will receive the link to the replay. With the replay, you can download the recording to your computer or iPod and listen to it on your schedule.

I'm excited about the teaching for every author about Teleseminar Secrets. I look forward to speaking with you soon.

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Saturday, March 17, 2012

What's Holding Back Your Writing?

I've got a new dog in my house. Well, she's not really new but acting in a new way. We've had Sophie, our Yorkshire Terrier for over four years and she's an integral part of our daily lives. Yet I'm not the “alpha” in our house but my wife fills that role.

For years, Sophie has had this annoying behavior of barking like crazy each time I come into the house or speak with my wife. We've tried many different things to correct this behavior—and nothing worked until this week.

We learned about the Pet Corrector. This simple red can makes a hissing sound with air. Whenever Sophie barks or misbehaves, I blast it toward her and she immediately stops barking. In fact, she's lost this barking habit. It is like we have a new dog in our house—one that has much better behavior.

This Pet Corrector is an amazing tool and we learned about it from a family member who used it with their dogs.

I thought about this tool in relation to my writing life. What is holding back your writing? Is there some missing tool that you could pick up which would move your writing in a new direction?

The correction process has several parts. First, you need to take some time and think about what is holding back your writing?

Maybe you need to learn to write a query letter. Maybe you need to learn the skill of writing a book proposal. Maybe you need to attend a writer's conference with different editors and agents (people you've not met in the past). I'm speaking at a number of conferences in the coming months and you can check my schedule at this link.

Possibly you need to purchase a new book which will stir ideas. In each chapter of my Jumpstart Your Publishing Dreams, I include resources so you can dig deeper into the material in that chapter.

Or maybe you are missing a critical skill that is holding you back. Or possibly it is financial and you need to make more money with your writing. I have a free teleseminar that you can access immediately along with my Ebook, Buzz Your Book Marketing That Matters.

Possibly you have a blog yet few readers and you aren't making any money with it because you've not set it up right and monetized it. I suggest you get my 31 Day Guide to Blogging for Bucks. You can get this resource any time day or night and it comes with my 60 day risk-free guarantee. Begin to use it right away.

After you determine what needs to change and locate the resources, the final step is critical: change your behavior. If you don't change your actions, then you will still be in the same spot a month or six months from now.

You can determine what is holding back your writing, find the resource and make a change. I believe in you and look forward to hearing about the results.

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Friday, March 16, 2012

Pick the Perfect Word

One of the most basic skills for every writer is word selection. If you choose the perfect word, then the reader knows exactly what you mean. But if you select the wrong word or wrong use of the word, then the reader veers off the page and begins to wonder what you are saying. It moves the reader in the wrong direction.

Editor Barbara McNichol has written a terrific resource for every author called WORD TRIPPERS, THE ULTIMATE SOURCE FOR CHOOSING THE PERFECT WORD WHEN IT REALLY MATTERS. It matters a great deal in my view. Because English words sound the same, the writer confuses them and uses the wrong one.

In the introduction, Barbara gives three benefits of this resource. "You don't have any:

- Fat reference books to contend with, or

- Delays searching through dense dictionaries, or

- Emergency calls to former grammar teachers!"

Organized alphabetically, McNichol distinguishes each "word tripper" and uses it in a sentence for quick reference. The next time you wonder if you should use it's or it—or numerous other similar words, reach for this resource and you will quickly be on your way to clear writing without tripping. I highly recommend this terrific resource.

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Thursday, March 15, 2012

Authors Should Get Full Information

On a regular basis I speak with authors that I've met at conferences about the publishing program at Intermedia Publishing Group where I work as a publisher.
In recent weeks, I've talked to a few authors who decided to publish with other companies. One novelist told me, “I'm going with CrossBooks Publishing because they are part of Lifeway and I'm a Baptist.”
Another author told me, “I'm going with WestBow Press because they are a part of Thomas Nelson.”
What would-be authors may not know is that “publisher” may not really be a part of those companies, but rather what turns out to be quite a money maker for that entity. Would-be authors need to take a hard look at these companies and who is doing the actual customer service, production and marketing for these books. 
I suspect these authors will be shocked when they discover the truth. Many authors are putting their trust in a referring company without looking closely at the details and receiving the full picture.
I encourage you to read the details in this March 7, 2012 article in Publishers Weekly. The article is about the parent company for 12 different publishing brands and how Author Solutions is looking for a buyer. 
A careful reading of this article shows the huge amounts of money being generated from this entity that published more than 27,500 titles (that's different books) in 2011 with an estimate of each author generating $5,000 for the company—or spending that much money with them. 
Here's the previously hidden information revealed in this article about Author Solutions. “Its workforce totals 1,565 full-time employees with by far the greatest number, 1,215, located in its facilities in the Philippines which handles not only production but sales and marketing as well.”
Authors who have worked with the “brands” of different publishing entities report that their customer service person changed with each call. One author who published with CrossBooks told me she was unsure if a person of faith even edited her book or not. Her concerns were valid because unknown to her, she was working with people in the Philippines.
I've been on the phone with the customer service people from one of these brands. When you fill out an online form, you start what they call a “lead” and the customer service people begin to telephone and email you. I asked one of them where they were located and they responded, “Bloomington, Indiana.” (The location of the parent company Author Solutions.) I suggested they were in the Philippines and the customer service person denied it and said he was in the United States.
Why do the authors go with these companies? They believe that it gets them attention from a company like Thomas Nelson, the largest Christian publisher, or Lifeway, the large Baptist publishing arm, or Guideposts or Writer's Digest or Hay House. The truth is something different.
During the last year WestBow Press (Thomas Nelson’s Author Solutions arm) did 1,000 new titles. I understand on average an author spends $8,000 to get a book produced. I do not know the percentage of revenue for Thomas Nelson from those authors but it is significant because of the volume.
Under the Author Solutions model, they set the retail price of the book and then the author buys the book at 60% off the retail price. The company makes their income from printing so they set a high retail price. Some would call it inflated. I spoke with an author this week who had a hardcover novel with WestBow. This first-time novelist had a retail price of $33.50 for a hardcover book. Yet the establishment of the price was outside of the author's control.
Recently one of my friends published through Inspired Voices, a service of Guideposts. She wanted to send me a review copy of her book and it took several weeks and multiple emails and telephone calls before it happened. Again this author was unaware that she was communicating with someone in the Philippines. It explains some of the communication challenges.
Authors need to get full information before they plunk down their money and begin working with these different entities. They have dreams of getting picked up with the referring entity—which has happened once or twice in the midst of thousands of other books being produced. The chances of it actually happening are about as good as winning a lottery or maybe you have a better chance with the lottery in my view. Yes, it is that slim.
There are twelve (an even dozen) of these publishing brands in the marketplace and authors need to fully understand what they are doing before taking the leap in this direction.
Why do these respected companies like Thomas Nelson, Lifeway, Guideposts, Writer's Digest and others join forces and produce these titles? It's not hard to understand. They are in business, and businesses need to make money. You as an author are in business as well. As such, I encourage you to look carefully at the company you are partnering with. 

Yes, you may be promised that you will be connected or helped. Look beyond the promises to look carefully at who is doing the work. and their results. How much knowledge of the American marketplace can you really expect from a company based offshore? This is the company that’s setting the prices and deciding on the marketing. 
As with any business venture, buyer beware. Make sure you will get your money’s worth and that the promises will be kept. 
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Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Strive for Excellence

This weekend, I was in Tucson, Arizona for the Tucson Festival of Books. There were over 400 authors at this event which had crowds estimated at 80,000 to 100,000 people. In the middle of this event, it is easy to get lost as an author. I enjoyed meeting other authors and learning about their books. In general, I was looking for ways to help others and learn from them instead of focused on hard selling. The event was mostly about exposure and networking.

When you attend such a large gathering, one of the keys is to manage your expectations about what will happen or not happen at such an event. Some authors expect to sell stacks of books at such an event. I did not. Instead, I focused on building some relationships with authors and readers—which is a much more reasonable expectation to actually accomplish.

As I sat in the author room at the Festival, I struck up a conversation with the woman beside me. She had a new beautiful book and pulled it out of her bag to show it to me. I read the title and admired the photo (which she took). Then I noticed the words “Forward by ____” on her cover. I pointed out the misspelling. Foreword is one of the most misspelled words in publishing and because of my experience, it jumped out at me.

I pointed it out to her and she responded, “My editor was supposed to catch such things.” I was unsure what to say because the misspelling was on a printed book or a little late to change without reprinting.

Then I opened the book and the inside pages were set in Courier New typeface. I didn't mention the typeface to her since she was already a bit stressed about the misspelling. How many books do you have on your shelf with Courier New typeface?

I would take a guess and the answer is zero. There are millions of books being produced in many different formats and methods. If you decide to use one of the alternative methods, that's terrific—but make sure your book fits the standards of traditional books. Different is not always good.

When someone reads your book, you want them to focus on the message in your book—not to spin off on a tangent wondering why your book was produced in such a “different” fashion. Ultimately it is the author's responsibility to maintain this high standard.

This week I checked the inside pages of one of Intermedia's books that is about ready to go to the printer. My day job is working as a publisher at Intermedia Publishing Group. If you want to know the details of our publishing program click this link and get a free teleseminar with the details.

I have a number of books in various stages of production. I looked at the Foreword and the word was spelled right but it was only one sentence. One sentence is inadequate for a Foreword. The majority of Forewords in books are about 1,000 to 1,500 words or like a short magazine article. The Foreword needs to have substance and length to fit the standard for books. When I saw this one sentence Foreword, I wrote my author and we made some changes. No one is going to see this one sentence Foreword in the final book.

As authors, it is important to strive for excellence. Will mistakes slip through our fingers and land in the printed books? Yes, you can easily find typos and mistakes in every published book. The good news is these errors can be fixed when the book is reprinted. I encourage my authors to take a book and mark it “corrections” so they can process and keep track of reader feedback. If the feedback makes sense, then let's correct it on a subsequent printing.

Each of us need to push ourselves and our books toward excellence. Our readers deserve our best effort.

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Friday, March 09, 2012

Work the Crowd So It Works For You

I'm headed to the Tucson Festival of Books this afternoon. Saturday and Sunday, they are expecting a crowd of 80,000 to 100,000 people. It is an active book fair.

I was there last year and I know many authors will attend the event—and nothing will happen. These authors want to sell books but have no idea how to work the crowd or connect with people to have success.

Intermedia Publishing Group will be visible at this event because we have a booth. We've invited all of our authors and some of them are scheduled to be there—and sign their books. Yet how will they handle this signing? Will they sit behind a huge stack of books and stare at people as they walk past? Or will they actively engage people, talk about their books and attempt to sell books?

I encourage you to study Patricia Fry's article How To Work A Book Festival So It Works For You. It is filled with specific helps for every author.

I'm expecting great things to happen this weekend.

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Thursday, March 08, 2012

Action Steps for Authors

During the past weekend, I was at Author 101 University in Los Angeles. It was a fantastic event on many different levels and if you get a chance to attend in the future, I encourage you to do so. Each year it is held in Los Angeles in the spring and in Las Vegas in the fall.

It doesn't matter who publishes your book. You will gain encouragement and insight from attending such an agent—and many new connections and ideas.

Some people attend these events with blinders and complain about the value of the event. It is a different writer's conference and each speaker is focused on a different way to market your books. At the end of the presentations (only in the last few minutes) these speakers will pitch a product so the participant can go deeper with the speaker (for an additional fee). Sometimes, the participants will only recall the dollar amount of the product and they forget the valuable insight that was given before the pitch. If that happens, I take the complaints with a grain of salt because the participant lost focus and missed the insights.

I sat in several of these presentations and when I was there, I was writing in my notebook constantly because of the valuable information from these speakers. Each one of them were seasoned experienced professionals who know how to help others get their message into the marketplace.

Many authors have this false expectation that if they publish a book, it will sell. It does not happen in isolation and without effort from the author. I gave five action steps and more of the details in an original article that appears on BookBuzzr called If You Build It & They Don't Come. I encourage you to click this link and follow the action steps for every author.

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