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Sunday, November 18, 2018


The Real Test of A Writer


For my writing life, I've created some routines and habits. These habits are important because I do them without thinking and they keep my writing and my publishing details on track and moving forward. For example, I've written about using Refollow to follow 800 new people every day on Twitter. Using these tools consistently allows my numbers to keep increasing and my platform to grow.

I am a long-term coffee lover. In fact, I have a coffee pot in my office area. I fill this pot with water and coffee ahead of time. When I get up in the morning, one of my first daily actions is to turn on my coffee pot. Then as I begin my day, I enjoy my coffee. Yet today my coffee was filled with grounds. The paper filter went wrong and the entire pot of coffee was wasted and filled with grounds. It was a giant mess. Instead of enjoying my coffee, I had to clean the pot and begin again. I finally got my coffee pot working today but it took more than simply pressing the button to turn it on. Instead of a calm start to my day, I had an immediate mess to clean.

From my recent back to back trips to events (with only two days in between), I picked up a cold virus. While I try and wash my hands on the road and be careful, despite my best intentions, I get sick. I've been increased my water consumption and trying to get more rest (even sleeping during the day a few times). I'm on the mend yet several days last week when I called authors, I'm certain I sounded different. Yet I continued making calls, writing emails, answering questions and pushing forward with the work.

Throughout my travels and illness because of using scheduling tools, my social media feeds continued without interruption. The consistency and persistence is important and a quality that I've mentioned many times in these articles. These interruptions is one of the real tests for a writer.

Everyone has unexpected things happen such as illness or a technical difficulty or countless other things. When you are at this point of decision, you have two choices. First, the unexpected can throw off your schedule and sour your attitude and prevent you from writing or meeting any other task you have as a writer. Or there is another choice: you can move forward with your writing, find a work around, switch gears to a different task and keep going. For me as a writer, I've tried to make the second choice my default action. It doesn't always work and some days I get thrown off track. Normally I determine to keep going and accomplish the task at hand. Sometimes it is consistency for writing. Other times it is working with my Morgan James authors and answering their questions and making phone calls. Your tasks will be different than mine. My encouragement is for you to find the way to make the choice to keep going.

Many others will make the first choice and get derailed from the process. Their writing will not get done and they will miss their deadlines and the books will not be published. Or maybe it is in the marketing area and their book will not get pushed and promoted so people hear about it and purchase it. If you have gotten derailed, every day is a new day. I encourage you to start fresh and keep going.

Recently in Nashville, I was talking with one of my Morgan James authors. This author has gone through some personal issues about the time his book was released two years ago. Now he has weathered that situation and is refocused on his book and the promotion. In my view, it is never too late to for a book. Yes you missed the launch of your book but are you still passionate about the topic and message in your book? As the author, your passion will drive the on-going marketing and promotion of your book. Your publisher will press on to other books. Your choice is to begin each day new and dig into the expansion of your topic and promotion. You are the only person who can determine it is too late.

What has derailed you and how are you making a fresh start on your writing life? Let me know in the comments below.

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Sunday, November 11, 2018


Four Reasons to Get With Other Writers

Terry Whalin teaching at the Independent Authors Conference
This weekend I just returned home from back to back conferences. I had two days at home between the events. Each one was a completely different experience. 

First, I spoke at the Independent Authors Conference in Philadelphia. Book Baby organized this event and it was their second year. I taught a six hour class in two three hour sessions about how to Jumpstart Your Publishing Dreams. This session was the day before the conference and included a small group of hungry writers—read fun to teach. This conference had about 400 people.
Some of IAC audience
I taught a packed room about the characteristics of successful writers. The speakers and sessions were on various topics and I met a number of people who I've corresponded with but never met face to face (again fun). Several of the people I met lived outside of the USA so it was a unique opportunity talk with them face to face.


Dr. Sherrie Campbell & Terry Whalin
Then I went to Nashville for our third Morgan James Publishing author event of the year. Our largest group of over 40 authors came to this unique gathering. As an acquisitions editor, I had not met many of the authors who I introduced to Morgan James. It was a brief but intense time with authors and my colleagues at Morgan James. Prior to the Morgan James event, I went to Lipscomb University for the Art of Writing Conference from the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association.


Author Panel at the Art of Writing
The afternoon and evening concluded with the Christy Awards to celebrate excellence in Christian fiction. The timing was perfect for me because of the Morgan James event and it gave me a chance to see old friends and meet new ones.

Our writing is a solitary experience. We sit and crank words into our computer. As storytellers (whether nonfiction or fiction), the start of the process is something we do individually. You don't have to continue alone. We are a part of a larger writing community which has been a large reminder to me again through these events. 

In this article,. I want to detail four reasons for you to attend events with other authors. While I've just returned from some amazing events, I recognize there are many types of opportunities for writers and my encouragement is for you to seize them and take action. 

Here's my four reasons why you want to attend these events:

1. Discover Innovative Ideas and Learn from Others. Whether in a classroom lecture setting or through a one on one conversation, I gained numerous insights from these events. The real work will come as I apply this information to my work. One author told me about how he was a poor typist and uses Dragon Naturally Speaking for all of his writing—including his emails. Years ago I tried this program with poor results so I did not continue yet this insight intrigued me and is something I hope to explore soon in my own work. I have pages of notes and insights from these events that I apply in the days ahead.

2. Invigorate your own writing and marketing. From being with other writers, I gained new insights and marketing ideas. Dr. Joe Malone and Sarah Harris have recently released Battles of the Sexes (Morgan James). They brought copies of their book and gave them to other authors (always a good idea). When I picked up the book, a page was sticking out from back. The natural inclination is to turn to this page and straighten it. This page thanked readers and encouraged them to be in touch with the authors—then it added something more with a handwritten note: “Review on Amazon and Connect with us. Joe & Sarah.” The bent page was brilliant to call attention. It takes some additional effort and work but will pay off for these authors.

3. Opportunity to give and help others. I've had numerous conversations with authors but also the chance to teach and give back and encourage. I will never know the impact of those conversations to help others.

4. Make new connections and renew others. I exchanged numerous business cards with authors at these events. The follow-up work will be critical to continue the relationship and explore new opportunities. If you follow-up, you will be rare since many people never do.

To attend a writers group, you don't have to travel. Maybe you have one in your area. Could you offer to speak at this group? There are infinite possibilities but you have to take action and attend. When you attend, bring your books and business cards to continue the relationship.

Are you consistently getting with other writers? Let me know in the comments below.

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Sunday, November 04, 2018


Are You Building a Body of Work?


The conversation happened years ago yet I recall it like yesterday. I learned a guiding principle for my writing life in publishing. I was on the faculty of a writers' conference which no longer exists. Along with another faculty member who was a literary agent, we were on our way to the event. I had written a few books and been a magazine editor but not worked inside a publishing company. It was early on in my writing career. This agent advised, “Be building a body of work.” It was sound and profound counsel.

Many writers are focused on a book or several books but not understanding the need to build a body of work. That work appears in many places—including books—but also in magazines and online. It is not built overnight but in a continual stream of publishing.

Last week I was speaking with a new potential author for Morgan James Publishing. During our conversation. she commented on my digital footprint. What happens when someone “googles” your name? What do they find on the first few pages? Your digital footprint is part of your body of work as a writer. It's something built over time and with consistent action—like these weekly articles for The Writing Life. Your faithful actions will pay off in the long run.

While on this important topic of building a body of work, let me include several other important reminders for every author.

1. Our words are eternal. Recently I read this article from publisher and long-term friend Dan Balow about the lasting element of words online. As you post on social media, blog or write magazine articles or books, it's good to be reminded these words are captured online forever—a very long time.

2. Your reputation matters. Whether you are conscious of it or not, each interaction with others is building your reputation in the publishing community. From my years in this business, good communication is important and the smallest details can matter.

3. Consistency counts. As you work in the writing field, make sure you do the basics like return phone calls and answer emails. These simple business practices will pay off for you in the long run and help you build an even larger body of work.

How are you building a body of work in the publishing world? Let me know in the comments below.

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