Sunday, September 24, 2023

Create a Writer's Pipeline

By Terry Whalin

Take a look at the image for this article and you will see the inside of a pipeline. These pipes are built to move and transport material from one place to another. As a writer, I also need a pipeline of work. With this pipeline, I will continue to publish my writing and also earn a living to be able to pay my bills. Im going to give you some ideas how to create and maintain your own writers pipeline.  

What is a pipeline? A pipeline is what I am calling a series of actions that you take to get writing projects and increase your income as a writer. These actions are not singular but something you grow and do over and over on a consistent basis. You want to create this pipeline because it is the method to get consistent and regular writing work. Every writer needs a steady stream of work and writing projects. Your pipeline will be unique to you and whatever you want to write.

How to create one? This creation process can be formalized with a simple spreadsheet or some other method but you intentionally work at getting more projects on your schedule. And you need to create a method to keep track of what you are doing, the responses and to help you follow up in a consistent yet gentle way. The truth is every one of us have way too much in motion and a correctly handled follow-up will stir activity and possibly a book deal or a magazine assignment.

For example, last week, why was I creating and scheduling posts on social media posts which would not appear until the second week in October? These actions were a part of my planning process to stir connection, relationships and also add to my pipeline. Your pipeline will be completely different from mine but if you want a steady stream of writing projects, you need to be creating and maintaining it. 

While your pipeline will be different, every writer has some consistent elements in their pipeline. Each of us have to learn to use the right tools for your writing. For example, if you want to write magazine articles on a consistent basis, some publications require you send a query letter or one page pitch. It's a developed skill to learn what goes into a query letter but one every writer can do. I have detailed information in this article (follow the link). Also I have written a much more detailed resource (and inexpensive) resource called How to Succeed As a Magazine Writer.

If you are writing a book, then you need to learn how to write a book proposal--even if you self-publish. This document is where you create the business plan for your book and is another important skill for every writer to learn and develop. Ive written two book proposals that received six-figure advances and Ive reviewed many proposals in my years in publishing. The best way to learn about proposals is to read my Book Proposals That Sell (use this link to get it free) or you can buy it here. I've also created a free teleseminar answering your questions about proposal creation. You can use many different ways to learn about proposal creation. The key is to learn this information and give the editor or agent the best possible submission. 

Where do you want to take your writing? Do you want to have more assigned projects and more book contracts? Then you need to be pitching more editors and agents with your ideas. If you feel like those pitches are going into a black hole (no or little response), then you need to use the gentle follow-up. Hardly anyone talks about it but there is a large volume of submissions and things get lost or mishandled in the process. Your gentle follow-up can stir things back into action. 

Im encouraging you to create this writers pipeline then use it with persistence, clear and timely communication and consistency. That continued effort on your part may not have instant results but you will gain traction and results if you stick with it. Many writers give up way too early on the process. 

Do you have a writers pipeline? Let me know in the comments below.


Labels: , , , , , , ,


Sunday, September 17, 2023

Preserve and Expand Your Relationships

By Terry Whalin 

Admittedly at times, it is frustrating to be a writer. Ive been rejected and had books cancelled. Internally I moan and groan but I never burn my relationship bridge. To outsiders, the publishing world looks daunting and huge. After decades in this business, instead of huge, I find this world often interconnected and small. Many of us know each other from going to conferences, working on different projects and maintaining our connections. 

For example, Ive been acquiring books at Morgan James Publishing for over ten years. Even earlier, I acquired fiction at Howard Books (an imprint of Simon and Schuster) and before that experience I acquired books at David C. Cook. With each of those positions, I worked with editors and literary agents. Some of those agents Ive not spoken with in years but we maintain our relationships and connections. If I reached out to them via phone or email, I would likely get a response. 

In addition to my publishing work, Ive also interviewed more than 150 bestselling authors and written their stories for over 50 publications.  If you dont have this type of experience, dont be concerned. I didnt begin with these connections but they were built over time and one relationship at a time. Each of these relationships is important. You need to design your own system to keep track of the various emails, phone numbers and other critical information. You never know when you might need to revive one of these relationships.

Several years ago I was working on the audiobook version of my biography of Billy Graham. From listening to audiobooks, I was looking for a way to make my audiobook to be “different.” One of the most iconic songs related to Billy Graham is the hymn Just As I Am sung at the end of his crusades. I did a simple Google search and found a YouTube version with the Gaithers singing along with Cliff Barrows and George Beverly Shea. Using an audio program, I clipped out a few seconds but then I needed permission to use it in my audiobook. 

Years before I met and exchanged business cards with Gloria Gaither who was an author with Howard Books. In a few minutes, I crafted an email to Gloria Gaither and told her about my audiobook project. I sent along the YouTube clips and asked for royalty-free permission to use them. Within a few hours, I received the official permission. Each chapter in my audiobook begins with a brief clip from the hymn. If you follow this link, you can hear a sample. From this story, I hope you can see the value in preserving and maintaining relationships. 

One of the ways I have preserved my relationships with bestselling authors was through my unusual practice of pre-publication review. Years ago I learned that I could not control the editing process at magazines but what I can control is what I turn into the publication. Before I submit my articles, I returned to the subject and showed them my article asking them to check the facts. I was careful how I reapproached them because I didnt want them to rewrite my piece but I wanted to make sure it was accurate. When I told Chuck Swindoll about my practice, he affirmed something I knew saying, “The media never checks.

Journalists are taught they control the story and never to let your subjects see the article before it is printed (pre-publication review). Yet I have done it for the simple reason that it preserves and maintains my relationship with these authors. 

Heres some additional action steps everyone can take with their relationships:
--answer your emails
--return phone calls
--follow-up with authors and leads
--check in with others to see how they are doing and how you can help them

This week on social media, I noticed a new book from one of my friends. I reached out to that friend and ask for a review copy of the book so I could read it and write a review. I did not hear from my friend but someone in publicity later that day emailed to say they were mailing the book. The bottom-line is be known as someone who wants to help other people succeed. Look for creative and simple ways you can help them. 

Another wise place to expand and continue your connections is on LinkedIN. For years I ignored the email invitations to connect. Yet today I have over 19,400 LinkedIN connections. If Ive not reached out to someone in a long-time, LinkedIN is my first place to check on their email and sometimes their phone number. Editors, literary agents and writers will often change positions. When they change, they often will take their LinkedIN accounts with them. Recently I needed to connect with an agency for my work. I selected a couple of leaders in this organization and sent them personalized invitations to connect. A few hours later I was connected to one of those two leaders and sent them a personalized email. You can do the same thing on LinkedIN to expand your network. 

Are we connected on LinkedIN? If not, follow this link and send me a personalized invitation (even mentioning this article). What methods do you use to preserve and expand your relationships? Let me know in the comments below.


Labels: , , , , , , , , , ,


Sunday, September 10, 2023

Moving and The Writing Life


By Terry Whalin @terrywhalin

Last week I missed writing a new article about the Writing Life for the first time in years. After ten years in Colorado, we moved back to the community in Southern California where we lived ten years earlier. Change has been a key word in this process.  In this article, I want to show how my skills as a writer gave me what I needed to make this move.

Moving is Hard

To get published is also hard but possible. We used movers to pack some of our fragile possessions and to carefully lift outside our furniture. With publishing, there is much to organize and learn how to write a book proposal or a query letter or just formatting your magazine article so it looks professional. Each of these steps is part of the process and something every writer has to do if you want to get published. 

Much Is Different

Our new place is radically different from our former location. To enter the writing life, you have to continually make new connections and study different companies. For example, to get published in a magazine, you have to study that publication and see what types of stories they publish and do freelance writers send those stories or are they staff written? For three days to get to our new location, we drove eight or nine hours each day. Ahead of time we had made hotel reservations and planned our path. Yet at times there were delays in the process and it's the same with the writing life, sometimes it takes an unexpected amount of time to reach a particular editor or literary agent. 

There Is A Lot to Learn

Because we lived in this community years ago, the street names and various locations has a feeling of familiarity, yet we are struggling with even simple directions. Im constantly using the directions feature on my phone to go to anywhere. The world of publishing is similar and is always changing. Ive been studying the details for years yet I still have a lot to learn. It's an action step I encourage for each of you--always be learning more about the publishing world. 

Your Routines Are Changed

When we moved across country, the location of everything shifts. For several days last week, the bulk of the day was spent unpacking boxes and organizing the things as they came out of those boxes. The process of moving interrupted my writing and I wasnt able to blog last week. Often my writing routine has been changed or interrupted. Many writers create a certain pattern about when and where they write. Of necessity, Ive learned not to place restrictions on my writing routines. Ive written in busy environments such as coffee shops but also in libraries, on airplanes and in hotel rooms. Every writer needs a measure of discipline and persistence to get it done when your routine is interrupted.

You Have to Adapt

To prepare for our move, I used my scheduling program for my social media posts to Twitter and LinkedIN. Because of using this tool, these posts continued whether I was near a computer or not. My posts to Facebook simply didnt happen during these days. The move has forced many changes and Ive had to adapt to get things accomplished. For example, during our several days of driving to our new location, I had authors sign their Morgan James contracts. Often late at night, I was working on my laptop to keep these authors moving forward through the production process. Admittedly working on my laptop is different from using my desktop computer. I had to adapt to accomplish some simple publishing tasks. 

The same sort of action happens in the writing world. We need to adapt as writer to give the readers (and our editor) what they expect and want. If your book proposal is incomplete or missing a critical section, because of the volume of submissions, you will often get a simple form rejection letter. It is best in these situations to use a checklist to ensure you have all of the essential and expected items. It's why I created my book proposal checklist to help writers achieve this need and submit a complete proposal.

Each Day Gets Better 

As I explained in the opening, moving is filled with confusion, a feeling of being lost and many changes. Yet as weve worked through the details of each day, it has also gotten better. We love our new location. As weve unpacked our belongings, the routines of life are slowly falling into place and getting better. 

The same sort of process happens in the writing world. As you tackle something unfamiliar such as writing a magazine article or a book, the more you work at it, the process gets easier. Each day is filled with challenges yet also opportunities. As a writer, I am often a plodder and keep moving forward in the process. It's the same element Ive used with this move. Persistence and the ability to keep moving forward helps me know that eventually all the confusion will disappear and life will even out. 

Continue Your Routines

As weve set up our kitchen, weve intentionally kept many of the same patterns of our former kitchen. For example the plates and silverware are located in similar places. This pattern has helped us settle into the new location. I suggest the same is true in the writing life. If you have a place where you write, where you keep your pencils and computer, maintain that place as much as possible. It will help you be able to consistently take action with your writing life.

Overall there are some basic characteristics of every writer which have also been in play with our move:
--a commitment to continued learning
--a sense of curiosity and adventure
--knowing as I continue, things get better every day

My writing life feeds into my regular live including my recent move. Let me know what you think in the comments below.


Labels: , , , , , , , , , ,


Sunday, August 27, 2023

Save Or Discard

By Terry Whalin 

True confession, I am a lifelong saver of stuff. I love my books and its hard to part with them--even if they sit on my shelf and I never open them again.

There is a basic principle of human nature: if you have empty space in a drawer or closet or bookshelf, as new material comes into your life, you will fill that space with something. 

As I write this article, we are moving again. Every time you move there is a lot of sorting and getting rid of things as a part of the process. Ive been sorting through my various books and narrowing down the books which will actually stay in my office. Its been a difficult experience for me but with each book, Ive asked myself, “Will I ever open or read this book again? Will I need it for some forthcoming writing project?” If the answer is, “no,” then Im probably getting rid of it. 

Think about the various books on your bookshelf. Do you read one type of book such as suspense or romance or nonfiction? I read many types of books such as a variety of how-to-write books, nonfiction (Christian and general market), children's books, fiction (in many different genres). I also have a series of Bible reference books and a variety of translations of the Bible. My bookshelf space in my new location is limited so I've been reducing my books--which is a painful experience but Im being realistic with each book. If I get rid of one or two books, I can often track down the information which I need using another method. Ive done this process with past moves and it is rare that Ive gotten rid of a book which later on I needed. This sorting process while difficult is a necessary part of the move.

I understand the necessity to sort my possessions on a regular basis from the example of my parents. For over 45 years they lived in the same home. After their passing, we even found their report cards from grade school. The volume of stuff they accumulated was remarkable and has taken a lot of energy to process. As I mentioned earlier, in many ways Im a saver but Im also trying to walk a different path and regularly slim down my possessions--even if I miss a few books and need them later. 

How do you handle this process of saving or discarding? Do you have a regular system or just allow any empty space to fill? Let me know in the comments below.

My articles in other places. Often in these article, I encourage you to publish your work on other blogs and places. Here's some of my articles which have been published recently:

Every Writer Needs a Safety Net
appeared on Writers on the Move. I give the background and reasons for every writer to diversify in their writing life. 

Write an Evergreen Magazine Article
is a type of magazine article you can publish over and over. Get the details of how to put it together for your writing in this article. 

A Practical Story: Why A Proposal Is Important
 Once a month I write an article about book proposals and in this piece I give a practical story about why every author needs a proposal which is your business plan for your book. 


Labels: , , , , , , , ,


Sunday, August 20, 2023

Why Book Size Matters

By Terry Whalin 

Our growth as writers and authors is a combination of experience, learning about the marketplace then putting what we learn into practice. In this article Im writing about a detail of publishing which can be easily overlooked yet can be significant for your book and how you use it. Im going to tell you why your book size matters.

Recently a publishing friend reached out to ask me about this size detail. She heard me talk about it but didnt recall the specifics. Ive written in the past about how your word count affects the size and acceptance of your book with publishers. Follow this link to read this information if you havent. Space is limited in every bookstore and most books are spine out in the bookstore. Your book has to be large enough to take your space inside the bookstore (provided you have a way to even get your books into that space).

Some authors will not be able to do anything about the size of their finished book because they are publishing with traditional houses. Whether true or not, these traditional houses do not include the author as they plan the size of the book because whether right or wrong, they believe they know these details better than the author and there is no need to include them in the decision process. Education and knowledge is a key part of the publishing process. When you learn this detail, you may be able to have some influence on your own books during the production process--at least that is my hope and why Im writing this article. 

In the area of adult books, there are two common sizes: 6 x 9 and 5 1/2 x 8 1/2. If you do get a chance to discuss and influence this book production element, I prefer the slightly smaller size of 5.5 x 8.5. My reason is “unusual.” The smaller size will pack perfectly into the free priority mail boxes from the US postal service. The larger size does not pack as well in this process.  

This detail is important if you ship boxes of books because there is a flat rate priority mail box. There are different types of priority mail boxes and to get the best rate, make sure you get the right one). Then you can pile your books tightly into these containers and get the maximum use from them. The other reason that I prefer this smaller size related to my frequent travel to conferences. 

When I travel to a conference, I often have the opportunity sell some books in the bookstore. In my carry on bag, I will put two of these priority mail boxes and pack them with my books. Because they fit perfectly into these boxes, with no extra effort, the books arrive in pristine shape and no bent or damaged covers. 

Admittedly this size decision seems small but it can have big implications for your future if you dont consider it. 
this small decision can be significant later on. These small details are important as you create, market then sell your book. What other details are important to know about during the production process? Let me know in the comments below.


Labels: , , , , , , , , , , ,


Sunday, August 13, 2023

The Hardest Element to Find


By Terry Whalin 

Have you ever dropped a needle into a haystack? It is a challenge to find that needle when buried in the hay. The discovery is possible but will take considerable effort and possibly time to find it. Or maybe youve accidentally dropped a supplement like a clear vitamin D on your kitchen floor and struggling to find it? As with the needle, it will take time and effort to find that missing pill.

What is the most difficult element to find with our writing? Im not asking a trick question because the answer is: something which is missing

Within the publishing community, I have often heard it said the hardest thing to find in anyones manuscript or proposal is something that is not there. It is easy and obvious to work on the elements which are there but how to you find the material which is not there?

Heres some ideas how to find whatever you are missing:

1. Use a checklist. For example, if it is a book proposal, Ive created a free book proposal checklist with the elements in a standard proposal. You can use this list to make sure you are not missing something. 

2. Read often and widely. If you read extensively, you will have a better idea what should be included in your writing. 

3. Read your writing aloud to yourself. The ear is less forgiving than the eye and it will be easier to pick up on what is missing or not there. 

4. Have your critique group read it and react to it. Getting feedback from other writers can be helpful to find items which you are missing.

5. Hire an outside editor or proofreader. I encourage you to get recommendations from others. Dont hire someone blindly because they may or may not have the experience that you need. 

Whether you are writing a book proposal, a manuscript, a query letter or a magazine article, every writer needs feedback before you send it off to an agent or editor.  Which element do you find the hardest to find with your writing? Let me know in the comments below. 


Labels: , , , , , , , ,


Sunday, August 06, 2023

A Critical Difference Maker


By Terry Whalin @terrywhalin

Through the years, new books pour into my house from other authors, publishers and publicists. I open the packages then take the path of least resistance--put them in a stack. But the lack of action works against me. Stacks of books are sometimes scattered in different places in my office. It is only as I take action and process these books or take action, will things get moving forward. Some books I will read, write a review and tell others about the books. Others will be given away and others I will keep to hopefully read later or sometimes then give them away. 

Ive written about my consistent action to write book reviews for the books that I read or hear in audio format. In fact, Ive developed a detailed system about how I handle such books and after writing my review, promote them to others. No one pays me for such actions and its a way I support other authors. 

In this article, consistent action is the critical difference maker that Im writing about today. Opening books then stacking them doesnt count. It’s the same with writing. When you think about writing, that doesn’t count. The only action which counts on the writing front is putting your fingers on the keyboard and creating sentences, paragraphs and pages of cohesive writing. 

For example, I’ve been thinking about writing another book. Ive created a title, audience, shape and theme--even imagined the book proposal and other elements in it. Yet my work on this future book is all in my head. I have not taken the actions which will lead to an actual book: writing at my keyboard. Without the actual writing, this future book is simply a daydream and not a forthcoming reality. 

As writers, we play many mindgames with our work and at the end of the day your actions (writing) moves everything forward so something happens. 

There are many different types of writing. In the first chaptger of Jumpstart Your Publishing Dreams, I have a detailed list of possibilities. If you need some more ideas, I encourage you to download this chapter (follow the link which does not have an opt-in). If you are writing a book (fiction or nonfiction), you need to write a book proposal or a business plan--even if you self-publish. Get a free copy of Book Proposals That Sell (the Revised Edition) 

Whatever you are writing, take action and do a little bit every day. As you set personal and professional deadlines, you can make daily progress on your writing. This process is not a sprint but a marathon. Your persistence and consistency will pay off in the long run. There is a saying which is filled with truth about the writing life: “Inch by inch, it's a cinch.

Finally, keep building new relationships in the publishing community with editors, agents, publicists and other professionals. I encourage you to continue to pitch new ideas with these relationships. When you get an opportunity, take action and seize it. Its the path that Ive been taking for many years.

When I was in school, I often used the Encyclopedia Britannica which has an entry: Carpe Deim and says, carpe diem, (Latin: “pluck the day” or “seize the day”) phrase used by the Roman poet Horace to express the idea that one should enjoy life while one can.” If you want to get published, there are many steps along this journey but at the most basic level, each of us have to seize the day and take action and get some words into our computer.

With this article, I pictured a rock climber. Just like a writer, he will never be able to scale the top if he doesnt take action and begin to scale the wall. Your dreams of writing and publishing will never happen if you dont sit in your chair and keep your fingers moving on the keyboard. Action is the critical difference maker for every writer. What steps are you taking with this critical difference maker? Let me know in the comments below.


Labels: , , , , , , , ,