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Sunday, September 16, 2018


Better Than Thinking: Action


Let It is great to have thoughts about the world of publishing. There is a place for careful deliberation in our writing lives. But the real difference maker is when you take action on those thoughts. How are you moving from idea to plan to action?

I noticed one of my writer friends launched a new book and recently made the New York Times list. Initially I looked at the details of the book and noticed it was over 500 pages. My reading time is limited so it is rare that I read a book of such length. Yet I was fascinated with the success of this book reaching the bestseller list. I noticed it was available on audiobook and I checked it out through Overdrive.

Listening to a few chapters, I could see why the book made the bestseller list. The writing and the storytelling was fascinating. I made a point to call my friend and congratulate her on the success of her book. We haven't spoken but exchanged voicemails where she told me that she has never listened to any of her books on audio. Our exchange was brief but we did make a connection. The continued connections is an important part of the writing life.


Last week I read a blog post from literary agent Wendy Lawton called An Innovative Approach—Case Study. Wendy wrote about the launch of a three book series from Doug Newton called Fresh Eyes.  I met Doug many years ago at the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference. David C. Cook where I used to work years ago, published these books. Often series books are released six months or a year apart but they decided to release all three of these titles at once. I looked at the books and found them intriguing. Then I looked at the pages on Amazon and Goodreads. I noticed the books had been out about a month and only had a few reviews.  I have plenty to read. In fact, people approach me almost daily to review their books. Yet I wanted to help my friend Doug Newton (even though I had not corresponded with him in many years).

I wrote asking for a review copy of the books and they arrived late last week. Over the weekend I read through one of them (Fresh Eyes on Jesus’ Miracles: Discovering New Insights in Familiar Passages) and caught the excitement and innovation in these books. I'm posting my review and promoting the book.

Why tell you about this process? Because you can follow the same course of action. If you learn about a book that you would like to read, don't hesitate to reach out to the author or publisher and request a review copy of the book. When you get the book, read it, then write an honest review. Finally send an email to the author or publisher after you have posted your review. This final step of follow-through is important. Everyone gets a lot of mail and email but the ones which stand out are the ones which actually take action.

How can you turn your ideas into action? What practical steps can you take today which will feed into your writing life? I applaud thinking and thoughtful consideration but even more I appreciate taking action.Let me know in the comments how you are taking action on your thoughts.

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Thinking is great but there is something better: taking action. Get ideas and the details here. (Click to Tweet) 

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Sunday, September 09, 2018


Levels of Persistence


Persistence is an important quality for every writer. When you get a rejection letter (and it happens to all of us), then you have to persist to look for the next opportunity for your writing. Instead of putting the submission aside, you take active steps to get it back into the market with a different editor or literary agent.

I've been thinking about the different levels of persistence and how it plays into the writing life. Since I studied journalism at Indiana, I have been a life-long newspaper reader. Not the digital version but getting a daily newspaper and reading it cover to cover. From time to time, my newspaper doesn't show up. Maybe the carrier skipped me or whatever happens but I have to call the circulation office for a replacement newspaper.

Recently my wife reminded me of a period years ago when I lived in a different city and the newspaper delivery problem was happening over and over. To resolved it, I actually drove to the newspaper office and spoke with someone face to face about it. My level of persistence was great and someone got the message and it was finally resolved.

In recent days I've been having repeated problems with my Denver Post not being delivered. I've called the circulation office almost daily but the paper has not been delivered. I decided to raise the level of persistence. I looked on the newspaper website and found the name, email and phone number of the Senior Vice President of Circulation. I called this executive and left a straight forward message and I emailed him as well about the poor customer service situation with a plea for him to get it fixed,. Now I understand thousands of people take my newspaper every day—but my level of persistence raised the situation. While my newspaper situation is not resolved, it is improving yet I'm determined for it to be fixed.

Do you have this level of persistence with your writing? Are you determined to get your book published or to get into a particular magazine or be represented by a particular literary agent? Maybe you want to speak at a particular conference or event? Are you contacting the leaders on a regular basis with innovative topics to speak at their event?

The reality is everyone has interruptions, family situations or some other personal crisis. It throws off their ability to handle your writing situation. With an email or a text or a call, can you get on their radar to help them with a need?As you meet the needs of this person, they will in turn help you meet your needs.

Are you persistent with your writing life? Tell me in what ways in the comments below.

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Sunday, September 02, 2018


The Hidden Costs of Publishing

Like an iceberg, there are hidden costs in publishing.

There are many things in the world of publishing which simply add to the cost and effort to happen but are never documented or talked about. In many ways, these elements become some of the hidden cost of publishing. In some ways publishing is like an iceberg. We can see the top on the water but don't realize all that is below the surface. In this article I wanted to tell you about a couple of these hidden costs then give you some tools and basic principles for your own writing life.

People look at my large twitter following and would like to have that ability to influence and touch others. Yet are you willing to do the work to build that following? I've detailed the five every day steps I take with twitter. I use a program called Refollow to help automate this effort. Sometimes the program does not work. Every day I can use it to quickly follow 800 people in my target market. Then I can also use this program to unfollow people who have not followed me back. Some of these people I followed years ago and I use Refollow to automatically unfollow them. This unfollow process involves clicking and unfollowing each person—up to 1,000 a day.

Recently several times the program gets stuck. The only way I've found to get it working is to leave the site (stopping the process) and to begin it again (and reclicking all those times). Other times error messages are thrown up on my screen. Maybe Twitter has blocked the unfollow process or something else. These stops and starts amount to some substantial time with zero or little results. Yet I persist because I understand it is all part of the process of continuing to build my audience and presence in the market.  I use these tools consistently day after day.

Over the years, I've created a number of online information products like Blogging for Bucks or my Write a Book Proposal course. I've automated many of these products through autoresponders and other tools. Each of these products include my 100% Love it Or Leave It Guarantee. If the buyer isn't satisfied in a period of time, they can send an email and ask for a refund. This guarantee is a key part of selling products online and it is rare that someone will ask for a refund. This email arrived at a time when I was challenged with other things—yet I took the time to make the refund. Carrying through with your promises is a key part of having an online business and successfully selling products online. It doesn't make it simple or easy.

Here's some basic principles for every writer to get beyond the hidden costs of publishing:

* Understand they are there and keep going in spite of them

*Automate when you can. Investing in tools like Hootsuite, Manage Flitter and Refollow allow me to continually grow my presence and saves time

*Keep growing in your craft of writing, attending conferences, taking online courses and reading books. I've got shelves of how-to books I've read over the years and continue to read them.

*Timing is critical and yet often out of your control. I've had authors who have looked for an agent for years (not found it) then return to Morgan James and ask if they can sign our book contract. I've had it happen numerous times. An author signed recently who I have been speaking with off and on for three years about her book.

*Take the long view of success yet keep doing the little things and working to promote you and your writing. Over and over I speak with authors who continue promoting yet have stopped telling their publisher about their promotion (big mistake in my view). The publisher is going to assume they are not promoting and has stopped talking about the author with their sales team and the sales team to the bookstores since it is tied together. Yet if the author continues to promote and tells the publisher, then the communication and promotion to the bookstores can continue. Consistent communication matters.

No little elves come out and write this material for us. We have to be the ones to tell the stories and complete the work. 

Do you recognize the hidden costs of publishing? What tips can you give us about how you persist and get it done? I look forward to reading your comments.

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