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Sunday, November 27, 2022


Why The Tech Details Matter

By Terry Whalin @terrywhalin
 
My life as a writer is filled with many details. These large and small details dont seem important in some regards but they add up to making a difference.
 
Create It To Open When Clicked
Whenever I add a website link to a blog post, I make sure when someone clicks it, the reader opens a new window and doesnt click away from the page. This detail is important to keep people on your website and not moving away from where you want them to be reading. On a monthly basis, I write for a website. When the post launched recently, I checked the various links to make sure this advanced feature was initiated. It took a few minutes but I carefully reviewed each one and in many cases added this feature. Its just one example of where the tech details matter.
 
Tag Others on Facebook
When I post on Facebook, I will often tag others. Why make this additional effort? When you tag someone, Facebook adds your post to their news feed. It is a simple way to get more readers. Ive seen some people make excessive use of tags. They will tag me when I'm not involved at all in their article so I will remove the tag. Use it wisely and in a limited fashion but do use it. 
 
Use Hashtags with Your Social Posts
For each of my social media posts, I include two hashtags. You can certainly include more than two but the general standard is two. Many people search by hashtags and use it to read social media posts. I include this tool to get some additional readers. 
 
Shorten Your Links in Posts
Many times Ive seen long website links which are too long and broken. When someone clicks a broken link, they do not reach the intended destination. What is an easy way to prevent this issue from happening to you? Use an online tool to shorten the link. There are a number of these tools. I personally use Bitly but there are many others. It takes some extra time to use it but it is worth it to make sure your material gets read.  
 
Make Your Content Easy To Pass To Others
You've invested the time and energy into writing some content. Make sure you create an easy means for the reader to pass this content to others. There are many technical tools in this area which are simple to set up and use. I use ClickToTweet. I add this tool to the end of each of my blog posts. It takes effort to add this tool to my post. From my own social media, I can see others use my ClickToTweet to pass my articles on to others.
 
Why Do These Boring Actions?
The reality is my time is limited and valuable just like your time.  I want to end this article with some motivation about why these technical details are important. These boring actions help you reach more readers and increase the effectiveness of your taking the time to post it in the first place. Sometimes I want to forget it and not do it—but then I do it because it reaches more readers. Figure out your own motivation to keep going but that's the reason I continue doing it. As I handle these various technical details, I know that it will help the effectiveness of my posts and help me reach more readers. Reaching readers takes priority over boring for me every time.
 
These technical details are a few of the ones I use on a regular basis. Which ones do you use? Let me know in the comments below.
 
My Writing On Other Websites
On a regular basis, I encourage you to write for other websites. Heres several recent articles that Ive published on other websites.

Don't Depend 100% on Your Publisher It almost sounds counter-intutitive. Dont you get a publisher to lean on them? This article gives the reasons.

Five Ways to Break Through the Competition Publishing is a competitive field and I give five ways to stand out from others.
 
A Simple Proposal Formula I boil the book proposal process down to a simple formula and explain the details in this article. 


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Sunday, November 20, 2022


A Writing Secret


By Terry Whalin @terrywhalin

In many ways, as writers we live visible public lives. Our work gets published with our name on it in magazines and books. We speak to groups about our books or teach our particular topic. Yet not everything we do has to be visible to others. In this article, I want to tell you a writing secret and then give you a challenge.
 
Im comfortable writing about this author and his writing secret because hes no longer living yet his story continues to be an example in my own life and work. Jamie Buckingham was a remarkable writer, bestselling author and contributing editor at Guideposts, which is one of the top 20 circulation magazines. If you want to read the fascinating story of how Jamie got started in the publishing world, I encourage you to get a copy of Another Chance, How God Overrides Our Big Mistakes by Dean Merrill. Jamies story is one of the chapters.
 
I want to tell is a different story about Jamie.  Early in my writing life, I lived in Southern California and worked at the Wycliffe Bible Translators office. Many people have forgotten but I spent 17 years with Wycliffe (10 years in linguistics and seven writing). My kids were young and often on a Sunday afternoon I would go over to the office and write--when the office was dark and no one there. One time, I noticed the lights on in the directors office so I walked past and found Jamie Buckingham sitting at a keyboard. He told me, Today Im a jungle pilot, Terry. No one knew but twice a year Jamie would come from his home in Florida to our offices in California. Then Jamie would write all of the print pieces that our director needed--his column for the magazine, his column in a member publication and finally his letter to the Wycliffe donors. My supporters would tell me they gave to many organizations and didnt read the donor letter--but they always read the one from Wycliffe. What these readers didnt know is in secret those words were crafted from Jamie Buckingham. He did this work without credit or payment. I knew about Jamies writing because of my editorial work at Wycliffe. It was a great example to me about Jamies remarkable writing life and his servant leadership. 
 
What can you do with your writing talent which is in secret? Possibly you edit your church newsletter or write for a publication without your name or you write for someone else and your name is not included. There are endless possibilities and opportunties. Or possibly you mentor or teach someone (maybe your own child or grandchild). No one pays you or knows about this investment into another life.
 
While the public may not know about your writing in secret, God watches and records our every action and step. Im certain there is celebration in heaven because of Jamie Buckinghams unheralded writing work. Its a huge example in my own life and now hopefully will be so in yours.
 
Not all of our writing has to be done in public. Is some of your writing secret? Let me know what you can in the comments below.
 

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Sunday, November 13, 2022


A New York Times Bestseller From a Footnote


By Terry Whalin @terrywhalin

Throughout my years in publishing, I have read or heard many unusual publishing stories. Today I want to tell one of those stories to encourage you and show you how our world is full of opportunity for every writer. I was attending the American Society of Journalists and Authors annual conference in New York City and attended a workshop called “The Making of a Bestseller.” The purpose of the workshop was to pull back the curtain of how a bestseller happens. The various key players in the front of the room behind a series of tables and included the author, the editor, the literary agent and the publicist.
 
The author Simon Winchester had publshed a number of historical nonfiction books. Originally from the United Kingdom and now an American, Winchester told about he liked to read in the bathtub. One day he was reading a history book and in a footnote found an obscure reference to the greatest contributor to the making of the Oxford English Dictionary, which is the largest dictionary in the English language.
 
From the footnote, Winchester began to research and learned the greatest contributor to the dictionary never showed up in the meetings. Professor James Murray traveled to the Broadmoor Assylum to meet this contributor. To his surprise, he learned Dr. William Chester Minor was a lifetime inmate in the institution. He continued to receive a stipened as a retired Union officer and used these funds to purchase books. It's a remarkable story which became a New York Times bestseller and even a movie with Mel Gibson and Sean Penn as the lead actors. Here's the film trailer.
 
The book, The Professor and the Madman, A Tale ovf Murder, Insanity, and the Making of the Oxford English Dictionary, is one of my favorite books on my shelf. I encourage you to read the story whether you buy the book or get it from your library. I tell this story for several reasons:
 
1. Yes, over 4,500 new books are published every day. It is hard to find the right connection and many details have to come together to become a bestselling book. Even though it is hard, you should continue to try.
 
2. The story is one element but you must also learn to write a good pitch or book proposal. (Use this link to get your free copy.) As I've mentioned in these entries, you have seconds with your proposal to capture attention—yet it is still possible if you persist and get it to the right person.
 
3. It will take persistence and continued work to find this right connection for your book. As the author, you believe in the work more than anyone else—more than your literary agent, publisher, editor or publicist. It takes a skilled team to achieve success like The Professor and The Madman. Above I include the page with various signatures on my signed copy.
 
I believe in a world of possibilities and hope this story has stirred that hope for you. Let me know in the comments below.
 
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Sunday, November 06, 2022


Insights About Deadlines


By Terry Whalin @terrywhalin

Writers are notorious about being late on deadlines. As an editor, Ive heard almost every possible excuse from writers about why they need a deadline extension. Deadlines are a part of the publishing world and built into contracts. Years ago, I wrote all night to meet a deadline.  One of the simple ways any writer can standout to an editor and others in the publishing world is to meet or exceed their deadline.
 
Earlier this year at the Evangelical Press Association meetings in Colorado Springs, I heard and met communication expert Phil Cooke. If you follow this link to Phils bio, you will learn he has a wide variety of experience. While I have read many how-to books, Id never seen an entire book focused on deadline until I recently read Cookes Ideas On a Deadline, How to Be Creative When the Clock Is Ticking.  Until reading this book, Id never understood why with some writing projects, I cant get motivated to write pages until I get closer to the deadline. According to Cooke, this tendency is a common one and many of the best creative ideas when you are under deadline pressure to produce words. The book has numerous short chapters filled with a combination of personal stories, detailed research and how-to information.
 
In an early chapter, Cooke writes, “True creativity—especailly at a high level—isnt easy, but if youre willing to understand it, prepare for it, and activate it in your life, theres no end to whats possible. This book is about delivering great ideas on a deadline. Hopefully, it will forever dispel the myth that truly creative people must wait for a moment of inspiration before the start a project. Your days of waiting are over. Now is the time to create!” (Page 17)
 
Cooke's breaks the topic into four key areas:
1. The Mindset– “how we need to reset our thinking for tackling creative challenges…the role passion plays in creativity, why deadlines matter, and the truth about having eureka moments.”
2. The Motivation– “how to build confidence in your creative abilities, how to open up space in your day for new ideas, dealing with fear, and how to look at the challenges with a fresh vision.”
3. The Method—”how to use creative extensions and get clarity…a list of techniques Ive discovered that will help breakthrough ideas happen with the pressure is on.”
4. The Momentum–  “where do you go from here? As you become more comfortable with creating ideas on a deadline, how do you become a creative leader? How do you inspire other creative people?” (Page 25)
 
Ideas On a Deadline is a compelling read and every type of creative person will find insights and action steps for a more successful writing life. I encourage you to read it with a highlighter or book flags to mark different sections. This book is the type which could be read each year for new practical insights. I highly recommend you study Ideas On a Deadline.
 
Every writer can gain multiple insights from a book like Ideas On a Deadline. The insights only come if you get it, read it then take action and apply it into your everyday life. What how-to books are you reading and applying to your writing life? Let me know in the comments below.
 

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Sunday, October 30, 2022


The Writing Life Rollercoaster

By Terry Whalin @terrywhalin

Our life as writers is filled with highs and lows. When our work gets published, it's a high. Maybe it is a magazine article or a chapter in an anthology or your first book or ____ book. When each of these pieces get into the world, it makes you feel good.
 
Then there are the lows when you get a negative royalty statement. If you've never heard this term, it's where you received an advance from your publisher but the book hasn't earned back or sold enough books to make any more money. You still get statements from the publisher but they are in the minus or negative category. Or you look at your reviews and see a one star review where someone threw your book into the subway trash can. I didn't make up that line but someone actually wrote that statement on an Amazon review about one of my successful books.
 
These highs and lows of the writing life can be compared to riding a rollercoaster. As you ride, the rollercoaster slowly climbs to the top but when you reach it, you know you are headed down on the other side. Every writer experiences these highs and lows as a part of our writing life—including me. 
 
How do you ride through these highs and lows of the writing life? It's what I want to give you in this article. There are several key practices for every successful writer to practice. I'm not talking about practicing something once but building it into the fiber of your life and doing it over and over.
 
Persistence and Perserverance. As writers, we are told “no” a great deal—at least it happens in my life. Phone calls aren't returned. Contracts are not taken when offered. Projects get cancelled and many other things happen in the process of working with others. Yes, it hurts and is “not personal but business” along with other phrases people use to soften the blow. When you have this experience you can certainly quit and move away from the project. Or you can do what Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen did as they were rejected 140 times for the Chicken Soup for the Soul proposal. They looked at each other and said, “Next.” See the hope built into that word? The current project wasn't a fit for you but you are turning and looking for the next one. Your persistence and perserverance is what will count to eventually make it happen.
 
Consistency.  Since July, 2008, I've posted on Twitter over 68,000 times. Yes, that is a lot of posts. If you look at my Twitter Feed, I post about 12–15 times a day in a consistent pattern.  At times, I wonder if anyone is reading these posts or cares. In April, I met a high-profile author and the first thing he told me is that he reads my Twitter posts. He applauded my consistency and how I stay on message with these posts.  I blog consistently and write these new entries every week. These are just two examples of my consistent actions. What steps are you taking consistently. Are you meeting new people through LinkedIN or Facebook, then helping those people? Are you pitching new editors or podcast hosts or radio programs or something else you want to do? Your consistency will pay off in the long haul. Nothing is immediate in this business. As Jerry B. Jenkins wrote in the Foreword of my 10 Publishing Myths: Left Behind was his 125th  published book. He was not an overnight success but has consistently worked at his craft and presence in the publishing world. Left Behind was originally published over 20 years ago and continues to sell at least 10,000 copies each month and the series has sold over 60 million books. Consistency is an important quality.
 
Continued Improvement and Growth. I've never claimed to be the best writer in the room but I am one of the more persistent and consistent writers. Another key to this writing life rollercoaster is continuing to grow and improve as a writer. I love what Darren Hardy encourages in his Darren Daily. He has created the hashtag #BetterEveryDay. It's why I continue to read books on the craft of writing, take online courses and learn from others. It's a key part of my writing life—and hopefully your life as well.
 
Knocking on New Doors. I've gotten wound up on this article so I'm going to bring it to a conclusion. Be meeting new people and pitching new projects in new places. The opportunities are there but you have to be knocking on the doors.
 
I've given you some important characteristics for the writing life rollercoaster. Let me know what you think in the comments below.
 

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Sunday, October 23, 2022


Communication Snafus


By Terry Whalin @terrywhalin

The communciation snafu possibilities are endless. Last week through email I introduced two people. One of them responded but only sent his response to me instead of responding to both of us. Thankfully I noticed and forwarded it on to the person he was trying to reach. I called this individual about the missed email—and I called the person he was trying to reach—but her voicemail box was full. I was persistent to reach her and I texted her the information so it shows up on her phone. Do you see the lengths that I went to make sure the communication happened? I understand that I am an exception in my efforts to communicate. Many people would not be as persistent in their communication.  
 
In a different situation, I was emailing a long-time editor friend who I had not tried to reach in years. I went to his profile on LinkedIn and his email address had not changed and was still his publishing company email. When I used it, my email came back as undelivered. I knew I was not communicating. 
 
I reached out to another editor friend. This second editor knew our friend had left that publisher and gave me his current email. I reconnected with this editor and exchanged a couple of emails. Several days passed and I noticed his LinkedIN email remained unchanged with the wrong information. Normally when people change positions, they take their LinkedIN account with them since it is tied to the indikvidual and not their publishing house. I reached out to this friend again and encouraged him to revise his LinkedIN contact information. He thanked me for encouraging him to make this update. When you set up your social media profiles, is your email a generic one that will always work to reach you? If you are using a company email, I encourage you to change it. None of us can predict our future yet we can always plan for the long-term if possible. 
 
Also I encourage you to monitor the various comments on your social media posts. Last week I had a series of comments with one post where someone accused me of piggy-backing on another writer's brand (which was not true). I've learned such a pubic exchange is not good for anyone and that forum is not the place for such communication. Instead of engaging (which could have wasted hours of fruitless exchanges), I took control of the situation and deleted the communication chain. If you get into such a situation, it's the step I recommend you take.
 
As you communicate with others, be aware of these communication snafus. If I don't hear from someone after a number of days, I will send my email a second time or use a different communication method such as a phone call or text. There are many different reasons and ways to miscommunicate. Good communication is important and you have to constantly be aware of your reputation and protect it. In fact, Proverbs 22:1 says a good name is to be prized above riches. Have you experienced communication snafus? How do you avoicd them, let me know in the comments below. 
 

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Sunday, October 16, 2022


Graphics for the Non-Technical


By Terry Whalin @terrywhalin

Last week I corresponded with John Riddle, one of my long-term writer friends. John is launching a new book next month and he is the creator of the I Love to Write Day which will mark 20 years on November 15th. He told me, “I'm not technical.”
 
I identified with the statement because I'm a journalist, writer and editor but not technical. I acknowledge my lack and make up for it through hiring others or using simple tools that anyone can use. Today I want to tell you about a tool that I've been using for about a year called MockupShots. I purchased lifetime access to this tool for $80 and I use it almost daily. In fact, the tools have been expanded and improved in the last year with zero additional expense for me. Instead the improvements make the tool even more valuable and useful to me. This tool also created the GIF images that move and I use with my blog posts and social media.
 
The tools in the MockupShots package are extensive so I will not be detailing everything. Book Mockup Creator is where you upload your book cover and in seconds, it generates several hundred images with your book. If you can save an image on your computer then upload it to this tool, you can quickly create amazing images. I've used these images on social media, with book reviews and many other places.
 
Stock Photos gives you access to over two million images. You simply put in a keyword and it will show you the images. I often use this tool to find the royalty-free images for my various blog posts. Also to promote the posts, I use it on social media. The only limits on the usage is your own imagination.
 
Are you going to release a new book in the coming months? Then you can use their cover reveal builder.  It's as simple as the other tools but you can hide part of the cover and reveal it in stages.
 
I have enjoyed using the Testimony Builder too. Have people reviewed your book? If so, you can take those words and create images with the reviews. I've used this tool several times and continue to use the images on social media. If you can upload an image, you can use this tool. Yes, it is that simple.
 

Possibly you enjoy using short videos with your book cover. It's as simple as uploading an image into the tool, selecting which words and images, then the tool creates the video. As I've said in this article, I'm non-technical so if I can do it, anyone can do it.
 
There are many other tools and resources in this package that I have not covered but hopefully I've given you some ideas. When I write a book review, I use this tool to create a unique image I can post with my Amazon review and use when I promote my review on social media.
 
Do you use MockupShots in a different way? Or maybe you have a completely different tool to tell me about? Let me know in the comments.
 
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