Use Reminders on Your Phone to Meet Deadlines
By Terry Whalin @terrywhalin
As a writer and editor in publishing, I have many different
deadlines and responsibilities. Years ago, I used lists and post-its to make
sure I got things done. For the last year or so, I have used another tool that I
often carry with me all the time—my iPhone. If you look in your phone, a
standard app which comes with every phone is called reminders. Are you using
this tool? From my experience, it is way better than tying a string on your finger which is an old fashion reminder.
I use reminders for my work but also personal
deadlines—basically anything I want to remember. It only takes a few minutes to
create the reminder and set a deadline for the reminder. For example, last week
I flew Southwest Airline. As a part of flying this airline, you can check-in 24
hours ahead of the departure. Of course you can pay the Early Bird check-in fee
and avoid this process but I don't. Instead I set a reminder on my phone for a
few minutes before the check-in time, then use it to recall when to check-in.
I have several publications where I send material every month on
a certain date. It's another way I use reminders to make sure I meet these
deadlines, create this material in a timely fashion then send it—and don't lose
Here's some other areas where I use reminders:
—a request for something (a resource or a book). Last week I was
on the road talking with various authors and when I had an idea for a resource,
it was simple to create a reminder to get it to them.
—On the road last week, I had phone messages and calls
to return. Creating a reminder is a good place to make sure these calls are
—I have a number of authors and projects that I am chasing for
different reasons. I use reminders as a tool to reach out to them again (on the
phone or email or both). I've learned through the years that follow-up is a key
part of this process. I regularly follow-up through my use of
—other tasks to handle. I've only scratched
the surface of how to use reminders. You will have your own uses and creative
spin on this tool.
A hallmark of a professional writer is the ability to juggle
different tasks and meet the deadlines. Reminders are one of the valuable tools
I use to make sure I don't forget something and let it slip through the cracks.
Yes I'm human and occasionally some things get missed but overall reminders has
been a terrific tool to help me. I've had to learn to use this tool then take
action on a regular basis for it to be effective.
Do you use reminders on your phone? Or maybe you have a
completely different method and tool. Let me know in the comments
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Labels: consistency, deadlines, phone, professionals, reminders, writ3re
How to Listen to Bestselling Books (For Free)
By Terry Whalin @terrywhalin
Recently I listened to the new memoir by actress Demi Moore
Out. About the time I finished listening to the book, the hardcover
print memoir was #1 on the nonfiction bestseller list from Publishers Weekly.
While Inside Out
was unusual listening for me, it wasn't the first time I heard a current
bestseller about the time of its release. In fact, it happens to me often. I
read or listen to many bestselling books. In this article, I want to show you
how you too can listen to the latest books about the time of their release and
when people are talking about them and you are reading about them in the
1. Read about forthcoming books and use free online publications
like Publishers Weekly, Shelf Awareness, newspaper or magazines. As you read, be
watching for the information about forthcoming books and then take action. The
action that I'm encouraging you to take is to sign up to get the book coming
your direction (free).
2. If you see something of interest, search for it at your
local library on Overdrive and
get on hold list for the book. You will have to learn how to use the search tool
of Overdrive then get on the
waiting list for the book. The beauty of this process is to find the book, put a
hold on it, then get in line for when the book is available. Using the hold
process, when the book is ready for you to check out, it will automatically be
checked out to you and you will receive an email that the audiobook is ready for
you to download on your phone. I love the Overdrive process because it is free, easy and I carry the
books everywhere on my phone. It allows me to listen when I'm in my car for a
few minutes or a longer drive. I can listen to an audiobook when I exercise or
even when I travel on an airplane—because the audiobook is on my phone. After 21
days the book “expires” and returns to the library. This expiration process is
automatic and does not involve physically returning the book since it is all
3. If you can't find it, then make a request for it through your
local library. They can possibly buy the book and if you have requested it, you
get to be one of the first people to get the book. I've gone through this
process a number of times with books and my local library has ordered the
4. From looking at the books that I've been reading and writing
about on Goodreads or Amazon (follow these links to
see the books), I hope you will see the diversity. While I'm a conservative
Christian, I do not read or listen to only conservative Christian books. I mix
into my reading books from people who are at the opposite political spectrum
from me. For example, in recent days, I listened to Susan Rice's memoir called
Tough Love. I
enjoyed this audiobook and heard it cover to cover (which I don't do with every
Also I vary the types and genres of books that I consume. The diversity
builds something intangible but important in my life. It is a pattern I
recommend for you as well. Don't be in a reading rut but be open to many
different types of books. Because I'm using the library, there is a wide
spectrum of available books.
I've given you the steps and ways I learn about forthcoming
titles and then listen to them for free. Are you listening to audiobooks? Maybe
you do something completely different. Let me know in the comments
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Labels: Amazon, audiobooks, bestselling books, books, Demi Moore, Goodreads, magazines, newspapers, Overdrive, Publishers Weekly, publishing, Shelf Awareness, Susan Rice, writing
When Something Goes Wrong In the Writing Process
By Terry Whalin @terrywhalin
From my experience in publishing, there are many tests and
trials in the process. You plan things and then those things don't happen or go
off kilter or break or many other possibilities. As I see it, there are two
tests in this process—the one on the surface and then the real rest of how you
handle this situation.
Last week I began working with an author on writing his book. He
came into town from across the country and we spent two days together working on
gathering the stories and contents of his book. The work was interesting and I
believe a fascinating book will result from those hours of working together.
From my experience, something always goes wrong in this creative process—always.
Now I tend to forget that this happens (also part of the process) and it always
catches me by surprise.
For years when I work with someone to interview them, I record
it. I have an old fashion tape recorder and use real tapes (hard to find these
days but possible). I have used my recorder over and over in this process and
set it up. After several hours of interviewing and storytelling, I decided to
listen to the tapes. To my shock, nothing was on it. My author took ear phone
and listened to the tapes. Again he heard nothing. Hours of work was gone on
these empty tapes. We were stunned yet came up with another way to record the
stories and continued working inspite of the missing tapes. We worked through
the rest of the outline and spent about 12 hours together in this process.
Besides this recording fiasco, the local weather was also a
challenge: a snow storm dropping several inches of fresh snow. Tired from a day
of interviewing, I cleared the windows of my car and drove carefully home.
Grateful to have this time with the author for storytelling. He was flying home
early the next morning.
When I got home, the next day, I have a different tape recorder
and decided to test my recorded interview tapes (several of them). To my
surprise, two of the three tapes had recordings. Hours of work was on the tape.
I called my author to tell him and could hear the relief in his voice with this
news. We worked together on the phone later in the week to redo the missing
stories. I have the bulk of the contents and stories needed for this book
I wrote these details to show you the types of challenges that
happen when you work on a writing project. Your experiences may be different but
I suspect you will have something to overcome each time in the process. Do you
let it derail and stop your work or do you figure out another means to get it
done? How you handle this choice will be the difference between getting it done
or not; completing the project or not.
When you work on a writing project, do you have these types of
things happen to you? How do you handle it? Let me know in the comments
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Labels: author, books, interviews, persistence, publishing, recording, snow storm, terrywhalin, writing
The Downside of Persistence (A Cautionary Tale)
By Terry Whalin @terrywhalin
I've written a number of times in these entries about how a key quality for every writer is persistence. People tell us “no” a lot in this
business and you have to persist to find the right place to get published. In
this article, I want to tell a cautionary tale about the downside of
persistence. Yes, persistence can be carried to far and make a negative
At Morgan James Publishing, we get a number of authors and
literary agents approaching us with material. Internally we call these leads
because they may lead to a published book (or not). There are a many books that
we are looking for and a number of books that we do not publish. The key at the
end of the day is a good fit for the author and the book to publish with Morgan
James. We receive over 5,000 submissions a year and only publish about 150
books. Despite what some people on the outside of the company say, we have a
selection process and are not a vanity publisher. If we were a vanity
publisher, then we would publish anything that comes in the door. From my years
of working at Morgan James, I know this is simply not the case.
Last week someone associated with the U.S. space program
James with a book idea. This contact was sent to me because I've worked with
a couple of different astronauts on their book submissions. I reached out to
this person. It turned out they were in the film side of the business and did
not have a book
proposal or a manuscript but according to them had lots of unique
information. The email response pushed me toward lots of video links and photos.
Bottom-line this “author” had no manuscript. His idea was that a manuscript
would be created later. His vision was a coffee-table type of book with loads of
color photos. From my years of working in this business, when I see an author
has a vision for something completely different than what we publish, the best
course of action is to tell that author in a straight forward and honest manner.
It's how I handled the exchange and I wished him the best in finding the right
place for his material. I “thought” that wrapped up my exchanges with this
Then last week I get a text from my founder at Morgan James. He
had heard from this author again and thought I had not handled the initial
exchanges (not the case). I explained how I had exchanged emails and made sure I
told him the coffee-table book vision for this author. It was confirmed that we
don't publish these types of books. To keep the communication clear, I returned
to this author and reminded him of our exchanges—and asked him not to send
something again to our founder. It would be the same as knocking on the front
door of a publisher when you are already in dialogue with someone else in the
same company on the same matter. Such duplication is not necessary and only
When this author received my email, he apologized and claimed he
has “hundreds” of submissions in the works and couldn't keep track. When I read
those words, "couldn't keep track," I thought, Who wants to work with that type of author?
It's a case where his persistence had a huge downside and shows an
unprofessionalism and leading to certain rejection.
Several lessons here:
1. Keep track of your submissions and avoid duplicate
submissions to the same publisher. Publishers and literary agents keep track of
submissions—and you as an author need to keep track as well.
2. Listen to the feedback and respond rather than persisting to
submit and look unprofessional and inept.
3. Publishing looks huge but in reality we are a small
community. I hope this author finds the right place for his book (and I told him
that). Inside I know he is going about it in the wrong manner.
Hope this cautionary tale helps some of you. Have you discovered
a downside to persistence? Let me know n the comments below.
Persistence is a valuable trait for writers but it does have a downside. Learn the insights in this cautionary tale. (ClickToTweet)
Labels: book proposal, books, editor, literary agent, Morgan James Publishing, perseverance, persistence, publishing
Boost Your Writing To A New Level
By Terry Whalin @terrywhalin
I'm heading to another conference this week and I'm looking
forward to it for a number of reasons. Our work in publishing as writers and
editors is isolated. Yes I work with my Morgan James Publishing
colleagues to get contracts, negotiate with agents and authors and
do book deals. I work for a New York publisher yet I live in Colorado. The bulk
of my work is done on the phone and email rather than face to face. It's the
same with my writing work. The work is often done on my computer or phone rather
than face to face. Yes there are some of these physical meetings but not
often. During each day, I set my own schedule for phone calls, meetings, and
many other tasks. Conferences are a chance to break the routine and do something
A conference is an opportunity for me to reconnect with old
friends. I've been traveling to some of these events for years and met
remarkable editors, writers and people in other roles in this business. Follow this
link to a list of various conferences that I know firsthand and recommend.
Conferences are a chance to catch up on what they are doing—even if it is only
for a few minutes. Also at these events, I meet new writers and editors,
exchange business cards with them. From my experience, a lot of the people who
attend these conferences are coming for their first event. I know some of
these new relationships will grow to be significant in my own future work. Why?
Because I've seen this type of connection over and over in my past
While I read trade magazines and online newsletters and other
tools to keep up on publishing, conferences give me the chance to learn about
other changes in the business (maybe something that hasn't been in a
publication) or listen to others about what they need for their publication or
are looking for. These conversations move the information beyond something from
print to something practical that I could possibly do. There is a lot of this
type of give and take during a conference whether at a meal or late at night in
a hotel lobby or any number of other locations.
Also these conferences give me a chance to give back to others
and to teach. I'm teaching a couple of workshops at the conference this coming
week. I've prepared my handouts and resources for this class and believe it will
help the writing life of those in my workshop—provided they show up and take
action on the different resources I will be giving them.
Another reason I love these conferences is I meet people who are
looking for a publisher. I'm going to be having a number of one-on-one meetings
throughout the conference with writers. I will be able to listen to their
pitches and look at their work plus give them some of the distinctions about Morgan James
Publishing. I've met a number of people at these events that I've been able
to help them get their work into print—from our exchanges are the
I understand there are challenges for every writer to get to one
of these events—whether they are large events or small events. They have
challenges in terms of:
* cost. Each of these events have a financial
cost for the conference fee, the hotel, transportation, the meals, etc.
* time. These conferences take you away from
your current work and things pile up while on the road. Some of these events are
long and others are short but they still consume time.
* effort. Some people have to arrange childcare
or petcare or other details to be able to get free and go to these
From my experience of going to events and conferences for years,
I know they are worth any effort to overcome the challenges. It is important to
show up, learn then apply the information you gain into your writing life. I
know these events will boost your writing to a new level.
What do you get from going to a conference? How has it boosted
your writing? Let me know in the comments below.
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Labels: benefits, books, literary agents, Morgan James Publishing, publishing, writers conferences
Be "The Exception" Author
By Terry Whalin @terrywhalin
From my years in publishing. I know there are many authors who
want to write a bestselling book. They take classes and courses and work hard at
learning the craft of storytelling and writing. They join a
critique group and even hire an outside editor to produce an excellent
manuscript and proposal. They go to conferences and meet literary agents and
editors, then follow up with their writing. Each of these steps are important
and essential to the process.
Publishing has a lot of competition as a part of the mixture.
Thousands of new books enter the marketplace every day and there are many books
already in print with those authors trying to sell their books. While
self-publishing is always an option, it is not a route that I recommend to
authors because most of it is not successful (doesn't sell) and you end up doing
everything on your own (everything—including functions that you have no interest
acquisitions editor, I'm looking for authors who are the exception. As an
author, I'm trying to be the exception in my approach and life. Such an approach
is not easy-and if it were, everyone would be doing it. The path is filled with
failure and restarts yet there is a path and you can continue in spite of the
failure and restarts. From my experience, those persistent authors are the ones
who eventually succeed and find their way. Here's a couple of examples of these
Murphey has written many books including his bestselling 90 Minutes in Heaven. He
had written many books before this title and received a modest advance (and
expectation) from the publisher regarding this book. Through the tireless
promotion of Don
Piper, this book got on the New York Times bestseller list and has
continued to sell year after year. Cec has written many different types of books
and he is a great example of someone who is an exception as an
Jenkins has published 195 books and been #1 on the New York Times
bestseller list 21 times. Left Behind was his 125th book so he was not an
overnight success. The Left Behind series has sold over 70 million copies. Jerry
has written many different kinds of books and is another example of an author
who is the exception.
While you have probably heard of these last two authors, I'm
intentionally selecting a third author who is the exception and you've probably
not heard of him: Alan Williams. He is the author of The Little Teammate which is
a Morgan James children's book. I understand this book has sold over 400,000
copies—and you would not know it from the BookScan numbers or the Amazon
ranking. How did it happen? The author is selling copies in bulk to
corporation. Every author can use this strategy to sell books but few do so
Alan Williams is an exception. You
can learn about bulk sales through this free teleseminar that I did on the
Here's a few of my lessons from these exceptional
1. Be consistent and persistent.
2. Timing is not in your control but you can control your
effort—so make it consistent and persistent.
3. Look for the open doors and march through them. Most people
give up but the ones who succeed keep on knocking and trying and working to find
the right place. Persistence and the right connection will pay off in the long
Are you an “exception” author? Or maybe you know of one and
their actions. Let me know in the comments below.
Can you be “The Exception” author? Learn some of the key characteristics in this article. (ClickToTweet)
Labels: Alan Williams, author, Cecil Murphey, consistency, critique group, exception, Jerry B. Jenkins, open doors, persistence, proposal, publishing
A Simple Expression of Appreciation
By Terry Whalin @terrywhalin
The key book which has guided my life in publishing has been the
Bible. For many years, I've read a different version of the Bible from cover to
cover each year. Reading the Scriptures is a key part of the beginning of each
day. I have been reading in The
Passion Translation (Broadstreet). If you don't know about the Passion
Translation, I encourage you to get a copy and read it. From my experience,
often reading in a new translation will give you fresh insights and perspective.
One of the final letters the Apostle Paul wrote was his second letter to
Timothy. In 2 Timothy 3:1–5, he includes a series
of godless acts that will happen during the Last Days. tucked into some terrible
things is a single word: ungrateful. (2 Timothy 3:1-5).
The opposite of ungrateful is gratitude. As a writer, how do you
incorporate gratitude into your daily life?
How you express gratitude doesn't have to be complicated. A
simple expression of appreciation can go a long way. My first book,
When I Grow Up, I
Can Go Anywhere for Jesus, was published in 1992. When the
book first came out, I went to the booksellers convention and met with
best-selling author Richard J. Foster. His classic book, Prayer: Finding the Heart's True
Home had just released. I showed Richard my little 32–page
book and gave him a copy. He celebrated with me and prayed with me about the
book. Several weeks later, I got a surprise in the mail: a handwritten thank you
note from Richard Foster. He was letting me know how much he appreciated the
copy of my book.
This handwritten note from a bestselling author was amazing to
me—and a practical example of something I've done now for years. I've been
writing and reviewing books for many years—in print magazines and online. Almost
every day authors and publishers will send me physical books. I appreciate it
but to be honest, the volume is way more than anyone could read—even if that is
all I did. I read these books in my free time and for fun then write my reviews
and post them on Amazon, Goodreads
and my social media.
If you can't read every book that comes into your mail box, what
can you do? I can take a few minutes and handwrite a note to that author
expressing my appreciation for their efforts. I have a box of thank you notes
and pull one out, address the envelope and write my note often on the same day I
get the book. It is a practice of appreciation that I've done for years—and
something anyone can do.
What practices of appreciation do you incorporate into your
daily life? Let me know in the comments below.
Discover a simple expression of appreciation from this prolific editor and author. (ClickToTweet)
Labels: Amazon, appreciation, books, Goodreads, gratitude, ingratitude, publishing, Richard Foster, thank you