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Sunday, September 19, 2021


A Cautious Tale About Recommendations


By Terry Whalin @terrywhalin

As a writer, I am constantly looking for tips and insights to improve my work. In this process, I read books, blogs, articles and many other things. When I find a recommendation, I will track down the recommendation and sometimes buy the book.
 
Recently a long-term source of reviewing books strongly recommended a writing how-to book. This source said it was filled with practical tips for every writer. I went to the book's page on Amazon and ordered the book. I ignored the fact that this book was published a couple of years ago—and has zero customer reviews. The lack of reviews and customer feedback should have been a warning sign but I ignored it and purchased the book.
 
Last week I received and read the book. It turned out to be a lengthy rant with almost no valuable tips or advice. I wasted my money on this book and didn't find anything valuable. I will not be giving the name of the book or writing a review or promoting the book. I believe my recommendations and reviews have value and I want to recommend books—and not write about books I don't recommend. It's my personal stance on reviews. My experience with this book has tarnished my respect and appreciation for the source of the recommendation. In the future, I will check and double check those recommendations before I purchase the book.
 
When you get a recommendation for a book or an online course or a product, I encourage you to look for validation from another source. Does the book have customer reviews? How many reviews does the book have in relation to the date it was released? What is the overall ranking of those reviews? As I look back at my poor writing how-to book that I bought, I should have been clued into the poor content from the lack of Amazon customer reviews since the book has been out a couple of years. Yet I ignored this warning sign and purchased the book—a waste of my time and money.
 
When I teach at writer's conferences (which has been limited with this pandemic), people can easily look into my background and see that I've not just written one or two books but worked with a wide variety of publishers as an author. I've also been on the inside of three publishing companies as an acquisitions editor and for a season I ran my own literary agency. Just reading those sentences, you can see that I have had a wide variety of experiences in publishing and also in the magazine area (not just books). This type of information gives weight to my recommendations.
 
How do you validate recommendations? In particular, what adjustments do you make when you buy a recommended book or product and it doesn't meet your expectations? It's why I wrote this cautionary tale and I look forward to your comments and insights.
 
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Sunday, September 12, 2021


When You Miss Your Mark


By Terry Whalin @terrywhalin

As writers, we have big goals and dreams. We work at it every day and sometimes we hit it and most often not. What happens when you miss your mark or goal? Do you quit or do you find the courage to continue with new efforts?
 
It's one of the constant tensions in our work. Mistakes happen. Things you want to do, do not get done. Interruptions spring into your day. Or you pitch your heart out and hear nothing. Crickets. Yes it happens to me as well. Your mindset and next action steps when this happens is important.
 
Last week I mentioned the launch of Book Proposals That $ell and how you join my launch team. In this article, I'm going to tell a behind the scenes story that I don't have to tell. I include it here to illustrate an important point for every writer.

Several months ago I rushed through the printing process on this book so I could have copies for a writer's conference. Because of the audience (writers) I sold a number of copies at the event. One of the participants emailed me about some typos in the book. It turns out there were typos and missing words in the first couple of paragraphs. I was chagrined with this news but determined not to ignore it because the details matter and the book had to be right. I reached out to a proofreader who worked through the book and changed a number of things (mostly for consistency). The entire book has re-done. That means the type was completely reflowed into the book so that everything to the best of our ability was fixed before the launch and release date next month.
 
While I was chagrined at the typos, I knew for the life of the book and the readership of the book that it had to be fixed. Yes it cost me extra time and expense. I'll be ordering the revised version of the book to autograph and send with my appreciation to the various authors, literary agents and others who endorsed the book. Revising this error was not easy and took a lot of effort from a number of people but it's important to get it right from the beginning.
 
I wrote about this error and how it was fixed to point out the principle of extreme ownership, which is also the title of a bestselling book that I recently heard.  Fixing these mistakes was a choice. I could have ignored the person who wrote me about the typos. Or I could have learned, fixed and moved forward.  
 
What happens when you miss the mark? Do you ignore it and continue or fix it? Let me know in the comments below.
 

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Sunday, September 05, 2021


Help Me Launch My Next Book


By Terry Whalin @terrywhalin

In 2004, as a frustrated editor, I wrote Book Proposals That $ell, 21 Secrets To Speed Your Success. This book has over 100 Five Star reviews and has helped many writers find a literary agent and land a publishing deal.  One of my key reasons for writing it was to help more writers succeed in publishing and also to help agents and editors (like myself) to receive better submissions.
 
Publishing has changed a great deal since that book was published. In recent months I've revised the content, gathered new endorsements. The revised edition includes a foreword for the book from literary agent Marilyn Allen who has worked with Ken Follett, Stephen King, John Gray and many others.
 
Literary agent Steve Laube told me at a recent conference, my revised edition fixed a key flaw with my original book. At that time I was focused on nonfiction. Some fiction writers used the first edition and it helped them. The reality in today's publishing world, I believe every author needs to write a book proposal—fiction, nonfiction, children's book—even if you self-publish. Why? Your proposal is essentially your business plan how you are going to sell your book and it contains information which never appears in your manuscript yet is critical to the publishing process.
 
I worked with Misty Taggart at Trailer to the Stars to create a 60–second book trailer and you can watch it here.  In addition, I've reworked my old website with new information and a new free book proposal checklist ebook. In recent years I have participated in different launch teams for new books. I'm working with launch manager Tammy Karasek on the details of this book launch. I'm writing to ask if you will join my launch team for Book Proposals That $ell which releases on October 5th. 
 
My launch team will have a limited number of people. You will have access to our private Facebook group, drawings for prizes, special images to use and much more. The first step in this process is to fill out the launch application (which should only take you a few minutes).  
 
Through the years, I've helped a number of other authors as I've read and reviewed their books. I hope you will consider helping me to successfully launch Book Proposals That $ell. You have to apply to join the launch team and fill out the launch application. Thank you in advance for your consideration and help. Hope to see you in our private Facebook group.
 
Have you ever launched a book with a launch team? Or maybe you have participated in a launch team? Let me know in the comments below. 
 

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Sunday, August 29, 2021


The Constant Juggling of the Writing Life


By Terry Whalin @terrywhalin

As a writer and editor, my day to day life is a constant series of juggling between long-term priorities and the immediate.
 
Today I am writing a regular newsletter which goes out every week (a recent new assignment for me). I'm working with my authors as an editor at Morgan James Publishing. I'm writing some book reviews (something I do for fun if I read or hear a book). Plus I'm pitching some article ideas and handling other details like incoming emails.
 
It's just a glimpse at my writing life which to some would be stressful but I've tried to learn to roll with the changes and attempt to handle each detail methodically and deliberately (sometimes I succeed better than others). Also I'm constantly working on getting some regular exercise, hydrating with water, monitoring my food intake and diet along with other details called life.
 
What happens when you miss something? I'm keenly aware of the importance of meeting deadlines, showing up at the right time and place and keeping things moving with excellence (all key aspects of being a freelance writer). Yet my actions are not always perfect and at times I miss something. While I strive for perfection, I don't always achieve it.
 
When I do make an error or mistake, there are several key actions that I take:
 
1. I admit the error and apologize. Good communication is always a high priority with me.
 
2. I attempt to correct the mistake or error (if possible—and it is not always possible).
 
3. I resolve to do better in the future. My attitude is a critical aspect of these situations. To feel bad and inadequate will ultimately not move things forward. Instead, I try and move forward—sometimes easier said than done.
 
While to some people outside of publishing, the community seems large. Overall, it is a small group of relationships. Each of us need to maintain, keep and expand these relationships. Your actions and response is an important part of this process. Part of my reputation is people know I'm always eager to do whatever is needed and right.
 
Are you juggling different priorities and balls throughout your day? How do you handle it? What insights do you have for this process? Let me know in the comments below.
 

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Sunday, August 22, 2021


Consistent Experimentation


By Terry Whalin @terrywhalin

As a writer are you consistently trying new things? I've been doing this work for decades. As a part of it, I'm always trying new things. Recently my son, Tim, told me about substack (which I had never visited or heard about). I explored the website which publishes free and paid writing. I decided to join the site and create a publicatikon. What topic would make my writing distinct and stand out? For decades, I have been a freelance writer and I know making money is always a popular topic. I called my publication, Making Money Freelance Writing.
 
Like these articles which are always about some aspect of publishing, Making Money Freelance Writing is going to be about the various ways and skills needed to make money as a freelance writer. In this process, I will be consistently publishing articles on this subject. The regular writing on the focused topic is one of the keys to building an audience.
 
I'm working through the different tools on the site such as an About Page. Notice I filled out this page and included links to introduce the reader to my work in publishing. Any time you start a new website, it is  important to fill out the various introductory materials. Also I saw the site gives the ability to create an enviroment or look for your publication. This aspect is still in process but I've reached out to a designer on Fiverr.com and I'm working on changing the look. If you join me in this process, then you can watch this transformation and learn from the articles I will be publishing on the site.
 
As I write new articles and promote this publication I will be growing my readers. Like every publication, I have a small audience. I'm writing this article to ask you to join me in this journey at Making Money Freelance Writing. I'm going to be learning something from this process and hopefully you will as well. I encourage you to explore substack and see if there is something you want to create and promote. It's another step in my writing life.
 
Experimentation is a constant part of the writing life. What type of experiments are you making? Let me know in the comments below.
 

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Sunday, August 15, 2021


A Friendly Reminder


By Terry Whalin @terrywhalin

Recently I dropped into my local library. I was looking for some reference books like Literary Market Place and Writer's Digest Market Guide. Almost every public library in the country gets these much-used reference books. I located these books which from my experience are not normally allowed to be checked out. To My surprise, I could check out these large reference books and take them home. For several days, I brought the books to my office, found the information I needed, photocopied a few pages then returned them.
 
When the due date for a library book gets near, my library will send an email “friendly reminder.” This week I got one about the two-volume Literary Market Place which I had returned several weeks earlier. Something went wrong on the check-in system. To my surprise, I was still responsible for these expensive reference books. Literary Market Place retails at $449.50 for this two-volume set of books. I planned to call the library in a few hours when they opened but worried about what I might hear from this “friendly reminder.”
 
When I reached a librarian, I gave her my card number and she understood my question then put me on hold for a few minutes (which seemed like an eternity). Finally when she returned, she told me they had located the books and check them back into the library. While I had returned these books in the normal place, apparently reference books like these are handled differently. To get them checked in, I was supposed to take them directly to the reference librarian when I returned them.
 
I ended that phone call in relief these expensive reference books had been found and I was no longer responsible for them. I learned something new about how to check out reference books from my local library. I tell you this story for several reasons:
 
1. I'm a frequent user to my local library, checking out and using a variety of types of books. I love access to the audiobooks in my library through Overdrive. Also sometimes when I can't locate a book, I can fill out a request form and the library will order the book and because I suggested it, when it arrives, I will be the first person to check it out.
 
2. The library “friendly reminder” email system triggered my call to the library to locate these missing books which I had returned.
 
Do you use your local library? As writers, we need this important resource. Let me know how you use your library in the comments. 
 

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Sunday, August 08, 2021


Writers Must Wear Many Hats


By Terry Whalin @terrywhalin

As a writer, I get a lot of enjoyment telling stories—whether the stories of others or my own stories. Crafting those details on my computer screen is a lot of fun. Yet as a writer, the task is much more diverse than just telling stories. As writers, we must wear many different hats and play many different roles.
 
Many years ago as a young journalist, I learned a life-long lesson about myself and what I do.  I love to write, craft stories and put these words on paper then figure out how to share them with the world. Admittedly many others want to do this skill as well and at times it is a challenge to make a living in this work—but possible. There are many ways to use your writing. Many people focus on books but your writing can be used in many different ways. I detail some of the possibilities in the first chapter of Jumpstart Your Publishing Dreams. Get this free chapter here and look at the different writing possibilities.
 
I've written more than a dozen books for other people as a co-author and a ghostwriter. As a part of that writing process, I get to pretend to be in the mind and shoes of that other person. This little mind trick is one of the ways to successfully write those stories for others. As a part of my writing life, I spent 17 years with Wycliffe Bible Translators. Ten of those years were in linguistics then I returned to my writing and began writing for magzines and eventually my first book was published. During this period, my children were small and I would do some of my writing at the Wycliffe office—often on a Sunday afternoon. Almost no one was at the office during this period.
 
I noticed a light on in the director's office. On the way to my office I walked past to see who was there. To my surprise it was bestselling author Jamie Buckingham. Twice a year without any fanfare, Jamie came to our office and wrote the donor letter and various articles for our Wycliffe director. His name never appeared on these articles but Jamie was the storytelling pen behind this writing. He would tell me, “Terry, today I'm a jungle pilot in the jungles of Peru, South America.” I met people who gave to many different missions and said they normally tossed the donor letters and did not read them—but every time they read the Wycliffe donor letter. They loved trhe storytelling in that letter and behind it was the pen of Jamie Buckingham.
 
As a writer, we need to learn to pitch our work to the media, to editors and to literary agents. We have to learn to write documents called “book proposals” and others called “query letters” in this pitch process. Some people would call this pitching process, marketing. Your writing just stays on your own website or your own notebooks if you don't learn to pitch. It's another skill you need to learn and develop as a writer.
 
Also writers have to become editors—at least of their own writing. I will often write something, set it aside for several hours or days, then return to it and rewrite or edit it. Editng your own writiing is a skill each of us have to develop and then use over and over as writer.
 
Writers are also researchers to compile information and find interesting facts and statistics. We have to learn to ask good questions to get the stories and information that we need from others.
 
As our books get published, we have to become proofreaders (or hire an expert at this point in the process). Also in this process we need to gather endorsements and have to be connected to others in order to get these endorsements. Networking and your connections to others as a writer is another important skill or hat.
 
In this article, I've given you a starting point. We need a diverse set of skills in this business or wear multiple hats. Which hat are you wearing today? Have I missed some roles or hats? Let me know in the timments below.
 
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