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Sunday, July 15, 2018


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 fall.”

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 you:

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 everyone).

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 here.

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.

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Sunday, July 08, 2018


Your Submission Must Be Electronic and Easily Readable

Every editor needs an electronic submission.
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.

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 can:

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 her book.

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 barrier.

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 consideration.

Have you been skipping a publishing basic as an explanation why your submission is not hitting the mark? Let me know in the comments below.

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Sunday, July 01, 2018


Two Ways to Write A Magazine Article

Two types of Leaves & Two Types of Articles

If you want to reach readers with your writing, one of the most effective methods is to write magazine articles. As your articles are published, you will reach thousands (if not millions) of readers. Through my years in publishing, I've written many different types of articles on all sorts of people and topics. The variety is endless in the print magazine world.

In the beginning of my magazine writing, I would be inspired to write a personal experience article or a how-to article.  I would sit down and write the article with no magazine or market in mind. After I wrote this article to the best of my ability, I opened up my writers' market guide and searched for some place to send the article or write a query. The process took a lot of searching and energy—and often involved getting rejected because I didn't send it to the right editor or right publication.

This type of writing is known as inspirational writing. You are inspired to write something so you sit down, put your fingers on the keyboard and write the complete article. It is one way that many people write and eventually with enough persistence, find the right publication or editor and get into print.

There is a second way to write a magazine article: write for a particular publication and what the editor wants or needs. As a writer, you learn about these needs as you read and study the submission guidelines. Almost every magazine has a set of editorial guidelines on their website. Some of these guidelines are more detailed than others. Sometimes the guidelines will say the percentage of freelance work they publish. The higher this percentage, the stronger the need of the publication for freelance writing (as opposed to something they write with their staff).

In addition to their guidelines, some publications include a “theme list.” These publications have planned specific themes they want to publish and they are solid indicator of what the editor believes their readers want to know. To get published, you can either write a query letter or write the entire article and send it to the editor (follow their guidelines). The second way to write a magazine article is a more targeted yet also involves meeting the needs of the editor and reader. Because it is targeted, it has a higher probability of publication and less time for the writer to search for a market and then get rejected and search for another market.

Inspirational writing is fun and something I still encourage you to do—particularly with personal experience articles. Each of us have unusual personal experiences in life but the successful published writers will take these personal experiences and use them as grist for their writing and craft their article. Almost every magazine uses personal experience stories (large circulation and small circulation).

My purpose in writing this article was to show you a more targeted (and potentially successful) method to get your writing into print publications. Writing for magazines is a solid way to build your platform or presence in the market, reach readers and build your reputation as a writer. After many years in publishing, I continue to write for magazines.

What tips do you have for writing for magazines? Let me know in the comments below.

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