Sunday, November 28, 2021

Advantages to Batch Writing

By Terry Whalin @terrywhalin

Since my recent move, I've been doing some batch writing. This term “batch writing” is where I will write a series of the same type of writing. For example, one of the ways I support other writers is through writing and posting book reviews on Amazon and Goodreads. It happened gradually but I've written over 1,100 reviews on Amazon and over 700 reviews on Goodreads.  Because I've written so many of these reviews, I can write the review in a short amount of time. Several publishers have been sending me children's books and in particular board books—which do not have many words. I've been reviewing these books in a group or batch.
One of my long-term writing friends Bob Bly is the author of THE COPYWRITER’S HANDBOOK plus over 100 other books. His COPYWRITER’S HANDBOOK originally was published in 1985 and last year Bob's publisher released the Fourth Edition. If you have not read this book, I encourage every writer to get a copy and study it. For many years, Bob has made a highly profitable career as a copywriter and this valuable skill is one every writer needs to learn. Here's what I wrote about THE COPYWRITER’S HANDBOOK:
One of the critical skills for every writer is copywriting. I’m delighted to see this classic book from the 80s updated with a fourth edition. Years ago, I read the first edition and still have it on my bookshelf. As Bly writes in the preface, the psychology of convincing others has not changed in centuries but the details of achieving success with your words continues to change and evolve. As Bly writes, “For instance, we used to say a disgruntled customer would tell ten other people about his dissatisfaction with the merchant. Now, with online reviews and social media, some can and do tell thousands.” This new edition includes chapters on critical elements like landing pages, online ads, social media, video content and much more. Every writer needs to read and study THE COPYWRITER’S HANDBOOK. Your writing will be improved, and you will be able to profit more from your words if you have this invaluable skill. I highly recommend this book.”
I believe there are advantages to writing some things like reviews in batches. You get into a frame of mind and can crank them out in a brief amount of time. While each review is distinct and different. While I've been writing reviews in batches, you can also write entries for your blog, articles, guest blog posts and many other types of writing. Do you ever write in batches or groups? Let us know your insights in the comments below.

Are You Missing A Key Element to Publish Your Book? Get the details here

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Sunday, November 21, 2021

Writers Need Editors

By Terry Whalin @terrywhalin

It may surprise you to hear this statement: No writer creates a perfect first draft. Each of us have to get the stories and information out of our head and on to paper (or computer). Some of my writer friends will talk their writing into the computer then edit from that draft. They use a program like Naturally Speaking. Even when you use such a tool, your first draft will need additional work.
While I've been writing for publication for decades, I still need an editor.  In the writing process, I try and write enough ahead that I can let it cool for a few hours (or days) then I read through my writing and edit it. Each of us need to self-edit. Another process is to read your work aloud to yourself and edit it as you go through it. The ear is less forgiving than the eye and this process will help improve your work.
Yet s writers we can only take our writing to a certain level on our own. We need editors. A good editor will ask probing questions and force you to clarify areas that don't make sense or are incomplete. A good editor will push you to do more showing in your writing than telling. The editor can also react to the structure of your piece and push you to have a stronger conclusion. These various elements are just a few of the skills an editor will bring to your writing and publishing process.
There are numerous freelance editors who perform help many writers in this process. If you don't have such an editor, ask other writers and get some recommendations. Then check out that editor's references and even have them edit a portion of your book (often they will do this process without charge) to see if their work will be a good fir for what you need and are looking for with your work.
Another resource some writer use for the editing process is their participation in a critique group. In the early days of my publishing work, I was active in a critique group and it was a great help to propel my writing. If you don't have a critique group (in person or online), I recommend you read this detailed article that I wrote about critique groups (follow the link).
Do you believe every writer needs an editor? What tips do you have for finding a good one? Let me know in the comments below. 

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Sunday, November 14, 2021

You Must Do Your Part

By Terry Whalin @terrywhalin
As writers, we have big dreams for our work to get into the world. During my years of writing for publication, I understand many aspects of the publishing process are outside of my control. Yet there are many things I can control and that's why I wrote 10 Publishing Myths to help every writer understand some of these aspects and ways they can take action.
You may want to publish a book. To get that book published, you have to sit in your chair, put your fingers on the keyboard and write. I like what my friend bestselling novelist Bodie Thoene told me years ago: “No little elves come out at night and write my pages. I have to do it every day out of obedience to my calling.” Whether it is a book or a book proposal or any other type of writing, you have to do the work for it to possibly happen. It does not happen just because you think about it or want it to happen. For each aspect of the publishing process, there is actual work (and some of it hard) involved for it to transpire.
Weeks ago before the release of Book Proposals That Sell, I had the idea of publishing a Soapbox column article in Publisher's Weekly magazine. I subscribe to this trade publication and read it every week. A missing topic in this column was something about book proposals. As an acquisitions editor, I've actually been in the pub board meetings where key decisions about books are made. I believed the readers of Publisher's Weekly (like librarians and retailers) who have never been inside this room would be interested in my words about it. While I have written for Publisher's Weekly, it has been many years with different editors now in charge of the magazine. I had to approach them like a brand new author to get my article published.
I have been a magazine editor and written for more than 50 publications. While my background is helpful in this process of getting published, it does not guarantee that it will happen. Editors are the gatekeepers and make the decisions about what gets published and what gets rejected. What I'm writing about in this article is the need to do my part as a writer. I wrote my piece then pitched the editor and caught his attention. Even after I submitted it, I knew it could get rejected but last night I got notice the article is online and will be in this week's issue. You can follow the link to read my article.
Why did I want to write an article for Publishers Weekly? They are the most influential publication in the publishing industry with a circulation of 68,000 copies and annual readers of 14 million. Use this link to check out their media kit and more information about the magazine.  Libraries and many other places take this magazine. Your local library likely does not have Publisher's Weekly out in their magazine area but ask the reference librarian if you can read it. For many years I went to my local library every week and read the magazine before I became a subscriber.  
Much of the publishing world is outside of anything we can control as writers—but we must do our part—keep submitting, keep learning, keep knocking on new doors to see if they will open. Sometimes they happen and I'm celebrating that today.
Are y0u doing your part as a writer to open new doors of opportunity? Let me know in the comments below.

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Sunday, November 07, 2021

Why Write for Magazines

By Terry Whalin @terrywhalin

I want to begin with a bold but true statement: anyone can publish articles or writing online. For example, these articles about the writing life come directly from me to you. There is no editor or barrier in this process. It's the same type of standard with self-publishing books. You can choose to hire an editor and proofreader then produce something of a high standard which looks professional. Or you can self-publish your book without an editor or proofreader.

Throughout my decades in publishing, I have written for print magazines because they have a higher standard of excelllence than writing online. I've written for more than 50 publications and I've been a magazine editor on several publications. While many writers want to publish books, you can enhance your publishing credibiility in the magazine area of the market. You can reach more people to spread your message and magazine articles are much shorter to write than books. I've written more detail about writing for magazines in this article

To write for magazines, you have to learn how to pitch editors and often to write a query letter. The editors are the gatekeepers for their publication. They know their readers (target market) and hold to a high standard of what they will publish, I continue to write for magazines while writing books--and I encourage you to do this as well. 

For decades I have been taking a trade magazine and reading it cover to cover. This publication has a column which is the next to last page in the publication. I knew they had never covered the topic of book proposals. Several weeks before the release of my new Book Proposals That Sell, I wrote a specific article for this publication. I've written for this magazine before but it was many years ago. I had to  pitch like a brand new writer to get their attention. I understand editors get a lot of pitches and submissions so I pitched this editor several times. Finally he responded that my article was over the word limit for this column--and he gave me the correct length. 

With this valuable feedback, I cut my article to the required length then submitted it again--and heard nothing. I followed up and a lengthy period of silence. Then late last week I got an email saying they were preparing to publish my piece and asking for my headshot. My persistence and follow-up looks like it will pay off. When the piece is published, I will show it to you. I hope my experience is going to encourage you to write for print magazines.

Do you write for magazines? Why? Let me know in the comments below.

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Sunday, October 31, 2021

Organized Chaos

By Terry Whalin @terrywhalin

For the last several weeks, we have been planning to move. We are only going five minutes down the road to the neighborhood where we lived about five years ago. Whether you move across country or down the street, it is still a complex situation.  For my writing life, most of it is fairly organized into different categories and tasks. In general I have my various writing tasks organized and tackle them in a consistent and regular basis. Our move has thrown a wrench into some of those plans and added even more complexity. It's something I'm calling organized chaos.
Even while moving, I have to keep my various Morgan James Publishing authors moving forward through the publication process.  I have to keep my various writing tasks (like these weekly articles) moving. My various social media posts need to continue on a regular basis. Will something get missed in this process? Probably but not for lack of planning and trying on my part.
When you have a life distruption headed your direction (something like a move, an ill child, an illness, a broken down vehicle or any number of other things), how do you handle these elements?
My encouragement in these articles is to have created an organized system then use that system to complete the various tasks. For example, I use hootsuite to schedule my social media posts and I have scheduled the bulk of these posts through when my move is taking place next week. I've successfully used such a system when I travel and teach at conferences. That experience is going to serve me in this situation as well.
For any of us, life is filled with complexity. Each writer needs to figure out a way to handle this complexity and continue to meet deadlines and produce. Outside of these blog entries, from time to time as I have opportunity, I write other places. To end this post, I want to show you these new articles. I wrote an article about The Challenge for Every Book Author (follow the link). Also I asked the question, Do You Know Your Competition? then I answered it (again follow the link).
How do you handle the chaos of life? Is it organized? I look forward to your comments.

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Sunday, October 24, 2021

5 Steps to Getting Celebrity Book Endorsements

From the Editor: It is rare in these entries that I use a guest blogger. I found this valuable article from my friend Jordan McAuley that I'm going to publish here. Also for the BRMCWC blog, I recently published a two part series about how every writer needs connections. Just follow the link to read it.

Guest Post By Jordan McAuley, Founder Contact Any Celebrity
Getting a celebrity, notable VIP, or leader in your field to give your book a short testimonial or endorsement (sometimes called a “blurb”) is a great way to boost sales and garner extra publicity. Remember that this is a trade-off. You get a testimonial for your book, and the endorser gets additional exposure and/or credibility.


Below is the five-step process we teach authors and writers:

1) Choose potential endorsers based on your book’s subject.

If your book is about animals, for example, target celebrities and/or notable VIPs who have a vested personal interest in animals.

If it’s about a disease, target people who have suffered personally from it or who contribute to the disease’s cause. If it’s about kayaking, target people who like to kayak.

(Use our Celebrity Causes Database to choose your ’cause’ and get a list of celebrities who support it. (Animals, Children, etc.)

2) Ask potential endorsers to write your book’s introduction or foreword.

This technique can work really well as long as you remember the following: flattery is key. Don’t ask for an endorsement at this stage. 


Instead, flatter the person by saying that because of his or her expertise on your book’s subject, you’d like to ask him or her to write the introduction or foreword.You may want to point out that this is a great opportunity for the endorser to get some additional exposure.

When the book is published, you can mention “Introduction by (Expert’s Name)” or “Foreword by (Expert’s Name)” on the cover.

3) Gather a list of names and contact information.

The reference area of your local public library is a good start, but you can find more accurate information online.

Search Google for “celebrity contacts” or “celebrity addresses” for a list of resources.

If the celebrity has an official Web site, you can usually find his or her contact information there as well.

Of course, you can use our service, Contact Any Celebrity to save time and make your research much easier. Don’t forget personal and professional connections.

Take some time to sit down and brainstorm all the people you know who could put in a good word for you or at least pass along your book and request.

4) Make it as easy as possible to get a response.

Your request should include the draft of your book, a self-addressed, pre-paid FedEx or Priority Mail envelope, an easy-to-fill out testimonial form, and a personalized letter from you.

If you’re nervous about sending a draft of the book, you can also include a Confidentiality Letter.

You may even want to mention that the better the testimonial, the more likely it will appear in your book (and possibly on the cover), resulting in additional exposure for the endorser.

5) Point out the benefits of giving an endorsement.

Potential endorsers usually won’t mind (and will probably appreciate) the extra free publicity, additional exposure, and added credibility their blurb will provide when it’s featured in (and maybe on the cover of) your book.

Let the endorser know you’ll mention his or her name, company name, and city under the testimonial as an added benefit of giving you an endorsement.

BONUS STEP: Follow Up!

If you still haven’t heard anything, send a follow-up letter or email to the celebrities you asked for an endorsement from after a few weeks have gone. Know that getting a good endorsement or testimonial can take time. Celebrities and VIPs are busy, and their mail is often screened by an assistant or representative which can delay your request getting to them.

Always remember the “Three Ps” for getting celebrity testimonial and endorsements for your books: Be Polite, Be Persistent, and Be Patient!

Bio: Jordan McAuley is an American entrepreneur. Jordan started Contact Any Celebrity in 1997.

Have you been able to get celebrity endorsements for your book? Let me know in the comments below.

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Sunday, October 17, 2021

God Moments In Publishing

By Terry Whalin @terrywhalin
I've been in publishing for decades and captured some of my experiences in these entries. While not all of the books and articles that I write are for Christian publications, many of them are for the Christian marketplace. 

It is impossible in these short articles to cover every characteristic of a Christian writer, there are several which I want to include here. One of them is a commitment to excellence. My calling as a Christian writer is to excellence in the writing area but also to faithfully follow God's direction in my life. Some people call this type of inspiration and direction, a “God Moment.” These moments often occur in my own life when I call someone who I've not connected with for a long time—and when we speak, they say they were just thinking about me that day. As a Christian who wants to follow God's direction, as I listen to the still small voice in my life (from the Holy Spirit, then take action, then God can be involved and direct my steps.
I want to tell you about a new book from one of my long-term friends in publishing, Les Stobbe. At age 91, Les has published God Moments in My Publishing Life, The Making of a Writer and Publisher. At an age when many people are slowing down, Les is living an active and vibrant life. From reading his book, I understand why. We've been roommates at different writers' conferences and known each other many years. I believe the first time I heard Les was when he was the president of Here's Life Publishers and introduced his authors at a bookseller breakfast at the Christian Bookseller Association meetings. His involvement in publishing started years before this time period.

God Moments in My Publishing Life, The Making of a Writer and Publisher
 is an Action Handbook for Every Christian Writer. Thousands of Christians want to have a successful career in publishing. At 91, Les Stobbe shows us the well-worn path. The stories and action items in this book show his faithful life of listening to God’s direction and then taking action to seize the God opportunity of the moment. From his early days in Canada to writing for Christian magazines to writing for general market publications to interviewing and building relationships, every Christian author can use these stories as a roadmap for their own publishing life.
This book is packed with stories about God encounters with lasting effects on Christian publishing. Here’s one short example: “We were hanging on to the straps in a full commuter train out to the Lutzers’ suburb when Dr. Lutzer asked me, “Stobbe, what should I preach on for our next book?” Instantly the Lord gave me the topic, “Managing Your Emotions.” His quick response was, “I’ll do it.” That book became a perennial seller, partially because the local Christian television station had Dr. Lutzer deliver a series of messages on the topic.” (Page 60) [Dr. Erwin Lutzer was pastor of the Moody Bible Church for 35 years with a frequent radio and conference speaking schedule—just one of the many people tucked into the pages of this book.]
In the final chapters, Les gives an overview of his many years observing Christian publishing and a series of insights for every writer who wants to be a good communicator. I found these insights invaluable and I’m sure will be a wealth of instruction. As you read, God Moments in My Publishing Life, The Making of a Writer and Publisher you will be inspired and also encouraged. I highly recommend a careful reading of this book.

From reading this book, I know God Moments is just a hint at all of the ways God has worked through Les' life. Just like the Gospel says it does not have all of the stories about Jesus (John 21:25)—God Moments did not capture all of the stories and ways God has used Les Stobbe.  

Do you have God moments in your life as a Christian writer, let me know in the comments below.

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