Sunday, May 15, 2022

What To Do With a New Book Review

By Terry Whalin @terrywhalin

Last week I got an email from our author support team at Morgan James Publishing. I'm intentionally starting the story here because from my years in publishing, it is important to select and work with a team who helps you in unexpected ways. The email told me about a new review for Book Proposals That Sell (the Revised Edition).  As an acquisitions editor, I watch many authors choose not to have a team but there are unexpected benefits from working with a team.
The author support email told me about a new review from a trade magazine. The team sends out review copies so I have no idea how the publication got my book for review. Typically publications receive many more books to review than they can possibly assign and publish. Many authors would like for their book to appear in a local newspaper yet that newspaper may only publish six or seven reviews a week—like what happens in my local Denver Post. These few published reviews come from hundreds of books which they receive.  Anytime you get a printed review it is rare.
In this article, I want to tell you about what I did next. You can use this information for any review for your book such as an online review which are public information just like my print review. I could have celebrated it and put it into a file. Instead I took additional actions and encourage you to do the same. It often takes author work to get reviews. The main way to get reviews is to ask people to review your book. I have a free teleseminar about getting reviews (just follow the link for this teaching).
When I rceived the review from the Morgan James author support team, the email had the text of the review in the email but they also sent the print review which included the entire publication. I could have cheered to myself and then filed the review and forgotten about it. But I didn't. Instead I loaded a program that I have called Corfel PDF Fusion. Google the name to purchase it or you may use another tool. This program allowed me to load the PDF, then separate out the single page with my review.
After isolating the single page of my review, I carefully read the review several times and isolated a couple of glowing sentences from the review. Because I had isolated a single page for the review, I uploaded this page to my website (so it will always be there and not disappear).
For my next step, I loaded a program called Author Lab. Follow the link to learn more and gain lifetime access for only $80.  For my work in publishing, I use this program almost daily. It has royalty free stock photos for example that I use on my blog. 

One of the tools in this program is called Testimonial Builder. I read the review several times and look for a glowing statement or two. Then I opened Testimonial Builder. In a few mouse clicks, you can select a background and image (I selected a woman since it was a woman who reviewed my book). Then this tool allows you to add a sentence and her name, then save the image. I am not a designer but in a matter of minutes I created a professional image with a sentence from the review.
For my final step in the process, I created several social media posts (check here and here), then scheduled them on Hootsuite for release. Notice my social media post includes a link to the full review where I got the sentence for the image. I will be using these posts on a regular basis in the days ahead.

Every day potential customers are reading reviews and making buying decisions about your book. A key part of my personal philosophy is every author has to take 100% responsibility for their own success. I encourage you to take similar actions with your reviews to get them into the market.
What actions do you take with a new review? Let me know in the comments below.

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Sunday, May 08, 2022

When You Fall Behind

By Terry Whalin @terrywhalin

As writers, each of have the same time constraints—24 hours. Within that time, there are family responsibilities and other things which cut into our work time. A week ago I went to a live event in Louisville, Kentucky with over 850 people in attendance. I spent the majority of those days meeting and connecting with new people to see if they will be potential authors for Morgan James Publishing. Through the years, I've been finding many of my authors for Morgan James through live events. With a pandemic, these events haven't been happening but have returned. I'm grateful for these opportunities but when I seize them, I understand that I fall behind in other aspects of my work.  Also I understand the initial meeting is important but the real work happens through the follow-up emails and phone calls—which require even more time and energy which makes me fall even further behind.
When you fall behind, you have two basic choices. You can get overwhelmed and stalled so little happens during your day. The other choice is the one is to lean into these opportunities. Every day I write a few of these new contacts and follow-up on my conversations with them. Also I continue to do my social media posts and work on my current writing projects. Here's some other “truths:”
--you have to take your own responsibility for your own success
--if you don't do the work, it simply does not get done—follow-up emails, phone calls and other aspects
--you have to chip away at the work one day at a time until it gets done
As I've mentioned in some of these entries, every day I leave with work which did not get done—pages that didn't get written, phone calls that did not get made and emails that did not get answered. I'm grateful for the work but this reality is inherent in the process. No one can be a master of every aspect of the publishing work. We have to make choices what we write or create or do. Because of those choices, other things are not able to happen.  Life is a balancing act and each of us have to find our place in the world.
Here's some things I've learned which help:
--use tools like your phone and scheduling tools like Hootsuite to be consistent
--continue to work at growing in your craft and storytelling ability
--your commitment to communicate clearly and learn new techniques will help
The publishing journey is complicated for each of us and filled with many twists and turns. The people who continue in the marketplace are the ones who have learned how to handle the bumps and the delays and the feelings of being behind. These people continue to keep their fingers on the keyboard and produce in spite of the rejection—and every one of us (including me) gets rejected. This rejection is business and not personal (even if on the surface it feels personal). My encouragement is for you to continue moving forward—even when you fall behind. 
How do you handle your writing life when you fall behind? Let me know in the comments below.


Does your fiction or nonfiction book have a business plan? Every type of book needs a proposal—even if you self-publish. Get this resource.

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Sunday, May 01, 2022

A Writer's Reality Check


By Terry Whalin @terrywhalin

In my recent writing life, I’ve been calling and emailing editors and others with little or no response. This sort of response is common and happens in seasons. Sometimes the responses are often and other times, you hear crickets—nothing.

Today I want to write about several realities of the freelance life. First, there is a basic principle: always be pitching. Without pitching or proposing or telling others about your idea, nothing happens. If you want to get more speaking opportunities, then you need to be pitching your speaking topics to different leaders and organizations. If you want to write more magazine articles, then you need to be pitching these article ideas. Or maybe you want to be on more podcasts as a guest, then you carefully target these podcasts. As you target your pitches, the podcast hosts know you understand their audience and why you have valuable information for their audience. 

If your calendar is not full of activity such as writing projects and speaking opportunities, then you need to take action and pitch more speaking or other types of activities.

I like what one of my bestselling writer friends, Bodie Thoene, told me about writing novels—and it applies to every other aspect of publishing:  “No little elves come out of my closet to write 650 manuscript pages. Some mornings I don’t feel like writing, but I do it out of obedience to God.”  In some cases, you can hire a publicist with connections to pitch you on radio shows or television or podcasts. Or you can do it yourself, but you must take action.

I’ve been in publishing for decades. If my phone isn’t ringing off the hook with opportunities, I expect yours is not either. Always be expanding your network of connections. Who you know is often as important as what you know. Be reaching out to these people, checking in, learning what new projects they are working on and is there something they need that you can help them with? This innocent question can turn up opportunities for you, but you have to raise or ask the question in the first place.

Also you have to follow-up. Recently I was at an event in Colorado Springs. I had dozens of conversations with people and we exchanged business cards. I need to follow-up on those conversations and connections. It is because of follow-up that ideas turn into reality and projects. Sadly, many people never follow-up and they miss out on these opportunities.

Another reality: a lot of the work is repetitive and, in some ways, boring. I’m writing these words in an airplane on the way to another conference. I’m grateful live events have returned. But to prepare for this live event, I scheduled the majority of my social media posts for the entire week. Yes, it took some planning and effort, but my audience is expecting my posts and they will be happening even if I’m away from my computer.

At Morgan James Publishing, we are publishing new books every week. This process doesn’t happen randomly but involves a chain of events. As an Acquisitions Editor, I’m working on the front end of this process. An author reaches out to me with an idea about their book or maybe it is a query letter or maybe they send a proposal or a full manuscript or part of a manuscript. The key action is they have something they would like to publish. I respond and get their material into our internal system for processing and things start to move forward. The author has to make the initial pitch in this process. Sometimes an editor will have an idea of something they want written—but that is extremely rare from my decades in this business. The more typical path is for the writer to create and pitch their idea.

Over the years I’ve read thousands of submissions (no exaggeration) and out of my frustration as an editor, I wrote Book Proposals That Sell in 2004  to help writer understand the publishing process and also (selfishly) so I could receive better submissions. My original book helped many writers and has over 130 Five Star reviews. But publishing has changed over the years.

Last year the revised edition of Book Proposal That Sell released. One of my original 21 secrets was to always include an SASE (self-addressed-stamped envelope) because in the pre-internet days there were no electronic submissions. To receive a response from a publisher—even a printed rejection letter—you needed to send them the return postage. 

Today submissions are electronic, but editors and agents are leery of clicking on attachments from people they don’t know. You need to approach the editor or agent via email then get their permission to send your material as an attachment. It’s a completely different process and one every writer needs to understand to get into the submission process. It is simply another reality of our lives as a writer.

As an author another reality is consistent promotion of your book. You bear the greatest passion and responsibility for telling others about your book. There are many different ways to be effective in this process but if you stop promoting, then your book sales will tank (in general). My advice is not to stop but weave appropriate promotion into your life every day. If you follow my social media feeds on Twitter or LinkedIn, you will notice that I promote several of my books every day with different images and different messages yet continually pointing toward my book. Someone has to hear about your book at least a dozen times before they will purchase your book. You can be actively involved in getting these various messages out into the market. It’s another reality of our life as writers.

I see the world as full of opportunity. For me the glass is half full rather than half empty but you have to move for something to transpire. 

When you face discouragement and rejection (as we all do—including me), understand it is not personal, but you are looking for the “right” opportunity and the “right” fit. That search will take some time and effort on your part. Nothing happens without effort—another reality check for the writing life. What resonates with your writing life? Let me know in the comments below.

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Sunday, April 24, 2022

A Favorite Place to Read

By Terry Whalin @terrywhalin

Consistent reading is one of the important skills for every writer to maintain and develop. To write for a particular mnagazine, you want to read this publication either in print or online to know what they are publishing. Publications have guidelines and you want to read those guidelines and follow them before sending in your query or article. This information is critical to give your submission the best chance of getting published. Also in the book area, you want to be reading books like you want to write. If you want to write children's books, you need to be aware of what is getting published and if you are writing fiction, you need to be reading what others are doing in your area. While reading is an important skill, do you have a favorite place to read?
Many years ago when I worked at Christianity.com and lived in northern California, my wife surprised me with a brown leather chair for my office. We've moved a number of times but this chair has been a consistent part of my office and it's where I've been reading for years. In my current office, the movers struggled to get this chair into the room. They had to manuever a narrow hallway and turn it to get it into this room—not an easy process but they got it done.
My leather chair is an important part of my office equipment. I read some things on my computer screen but for concentated reading or reading for pleasure, I physically move from my desk to my leather reading chair. For me, the physical movement from my desk to my reading chair is also a mental mind shift from writing to reading or consuming information.
There are several things which are important about in my writing life about this physical shift:
1. It is a consistent habit
2. when I get books to read and possibly review, I know how to handle it
3. when I read magazines I know where I will read them and put them beside my reading chair. I have a plan and don't clutter my desk or mix it into other paperwork.
4. It helps me keep organized and orderly in my office. In general an organized writer is a productive writer.
A reading chair is a consistent part of my writing life. Do you have a favorite place to read? Let me know in the comments below.

Reading is an important skill for every writer. This prolific editor and author tells about his favorite place to read and asks if you have such a place. Get the details here. (ClickToTweet)

Does your fiction or nonfiction book have a business plan? Every type of book needs a proposal—even if you self-publish. Get this resource.

Other recent articles I've written:

Five Reasons to Review Books In a related topic to this one about my reading chair, I encourage every writer to review books with five different reasons for such action.

Every Writer Must Build An Audience In this article, I give details about the mysterious word “platform” and why every writer needs to find their audience and what it takes to build one.

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Sunday, April 17, 2022

Why Live Events Are Valuable

By Terry Whalin @terrywhalin

After a two-year delay because of the pandemic, last week the Evangelical Press Association meetings took place in Colorado Springs, Colorado. While I'm a former board member of the EPA and have worked planning a number of their conventions, I had not been to one of their meetings in 20 years—because I'm mostly in the book world with some continuing magazine work. It was a great experience to return to a live event. In this article, I want to give you some of the distinctions and value of these opportunities.
The Give and Take Conversations
Whether you are standing around drinking coffee at a break or meeting people around you during a workshop, there is a give and take in the conversation that does not happen on the phone or virtually but does happen at live events. I saw a number of old friends and had the opportunity to get an update, hear about their work, tell them about some of my work and exchange business cards (because this information often changes over the years). A number of these people I had not encountered face to face in years and the exchanges were priceless in my view. As I've often said in this publishing  business, who you know is almost as important as what you know. These types of exchanges happen over and over during these types of events.
Meeting and Making New Friends
Whether I was sitting at a meal at the event or any other place, these events give the opportunity to get acquainted and learn about each other and exchange business cards. In a publishing world that is often saying “no” or sending a silent rejection (no response), I was one of the few (if not the only book acquisitions editor) at this event. I made a point to often say and show that I am actively looking for new authors and new books. Who knows what will come from it but I was certainly trying in my conversations and actions to open the doors of opportunity.
The Opportunity to Teach
At the EPA meetings, I taught two workshops—one on social media and a second on book proposals. The first one on social media was a part of the overall conference with a much larger attendance. The second one about book proposals was added to the schedule when the overall event was delayed two years with the pandemic. For each of my handouts and presentations, I appreciated the opportunity to give back to others and provide value from my resources and experience. I also appreciated the opportunity to hear other speakers and workshop leaders. I found great value in attending different workshops during the event.
Open to the Unexpected
I made a point to introduce myself to several of the main speakers at this event. To my surprise, one of them followed my work on social media and was appreciative of what I do in this area. Until I had this exchange face to face, I had no idea that he was aware of me and my work. I suspect there will be opportunity to work together in the days ahead—particularly if I follow-up (which I will). From attending live events for years, I know the follow-up emails and other connections are some of the most important actions for anyone attending these events.
In the next few weeks, I will be attending other events. Follow this link to my schedule and I hope to see you at one of these events and talk face to face.
There were many more things which come from these live events but these are a few of the distinctions from these opportunities. What am I missing? Let me know in the comments below.

Live events have returned. This prolific editor and author explores why live events are valuable. Get the details here. (ClickToTweet)

Does your fiction or nonfiction book have a business plan? Every type of book needs a proposal—even if you self-publish. Get this resource.

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Sunday, April 10, 2022

The Unexpected Value of Free

By Terry Whalin @terrywhalin

It's one of our favorite words: free. When you write any advertising copy for an email or a social media post or an article, I encourage you to use this word because it will attract readers and keep people reading your material. Copywriters use the word free and sprinkle it into their work.
I've used this word frequently in my lead magnets which can be an audio file or a PDF document or a teleseminar. For the reader to get the free resource, I ask them to give me their first name and email address in exchange for access. These types of resources are called lead magnets because they drive people to subscribe to your email list—which is one of the most important tools for a writer to create and control. I've written about lead magnets in the past and encourage you to follow this link to see a variety of images and lead magnets which I am using in this area.
Besides lead magnets, writers need to develop and grow their email lists. Recently I spoke with an author who told me that she had 250 subscribers to her email list and that she was working to grow it. I also spoke with another author who had an email list of 60,000 subscribers. It's easy to see which one of these two authors would be more attractive to a publisher. I encourage you to be working to grow your email list through events, promotion on business cards, pop-ups on your website and any number of other methods. If you need more help in this area, I have an inexpensive resource called List Tycoon and hope you will check it out.
In other articles about the Writing Life, I've told you about the importance of a book proposal—even if you are going to self-publish. Your proposal is your business plan for your book. I've launched a free page for you to get the Ebook version of Book Proposals That Sell. Here's where you can get this free ebook in whatever version you need (Kindle, iPad, Nook, etc). In the process of getting this free ebook, you will give me your email address. Why would I give away a book which came out last October?
If you download the free ebook and begin to read it, statistically there is a high probability that you will buy the print version of the book at wherever you purchase print books. We've learned about this principle from the actions of other authors like Morgan James author Russell Brunson. All over Facebook (and on his own website—just follow the link), Brunson has ads for Dotcom Secrets and Expert Secrets. The ads say if you send me the postage of $9.95 then you receive a free copy of the physical book. Every year, Brunson gives away 100,000 copies of each title. Not everyone buys his book from those Facebook ads. Some people watch the ad and decide to buy the book in their local bookstore. Year after year, Brunson sells a six-figure volume of books in the bookstore and makes royalties on those sales. I tell this story to show you lose nothing when you give away the ebook version. Instead, you build your email list and potentially drive more people to purchase your print book.
Are you giving away your book for free? Do you have other ideas about the value of free? Let me know in the comments below.

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Sunday, April 03, 2022

Where Is the Easy Button for Publishing?

By Terry Whalin @terrywhalin

Writing is easy. You sit at your keyboard, open a vein and bleed. This statement has been attributed to Ernest Hemingway. On the surface, publishing looks easy. You write a book and publish it. People are looking for something easy—an easy button. One of my friends, Joel Comm, was selling easy buttons that you could have on your desk and push when you needed it. Yet the button only went up and down—and didn't do anything. From my decades in publishing, there is no easy button and instead the days are full of many “minor” decisions which will make a huge difference in the success or failure of your book.
In the pages of these entries, I've told the story about Mark Victor Hansen and Jack Canfield, co-authors Chicken Soup for the Soul (one of the most successful series of books in the English language). People often forget these books were rejected 140 times before they finally found a small publisher. That is a lot of rejection. Mark tells the story in the foreword to my book Jumpstart Your Publishing Dreams. Just follow this link to download and read the foreword and first chapter.
Last year, on The Write Conversation blog, I told the story of Andy Andrews and his struggle to get published and then how he became a New York Times bestselling author. Follow this link to read this article but the key fact is to notice the persistence and perserverance Andy did to finally succeed with his books and writing. There was nothing easy about it.
A great deal of publishing is being in the right place at the right time with the right stuff. Those qualities of persistence and perserverance are key elements for every writer. Here's some ideas of action steps you can take—no matter where you are on your publishing journey:
1. Write shorter pieces or magazine articles and be pitching them to editors. It takes skill to write a book and it also takes skill to write a shorter article. I would rather be learning on the shorter article than the longer book. Plus you will reach many more people with an article than most books. I continue to write for magazines and have been doing it for many years.
2. Be making connections consistently through LinkedIn. Millions of people are on this business network and I ignored it for years but today I have over 19,000 connections. Last week I called a long-time friend's cell number and someone else answered. I checked the number with a colleague—and they had the same wrong number. I went to LinkedIN and found a different number in this friend's contact area—so I called it and left a message. I was reaching him with an old number which was forwarded to him—and apparently dropped during the last month.  Repeatedly LinkedIN has been a great source of information because generally when people move or change positions, they take their LinkedIN account with them. Each of us need the right connection and you can be expanding your network through LinkedIN. If we aren't connected, then send me a connection invitation (use the link) You might not need it today but maybe you will need to connect at a later point.
3. Get to an event and make new connections.  After two years of a pandemic, live events are returning. I will be at two of them this month and another in June. In May I will be teaching and meeting authors at a vircual event. Follow this link to see my schedule and possibly meet. This week an author who attended one of my workshops in 2018 reached out to me with some questions. She was going to attend the Write His Answer conference in May (which will be virtual and a combination of the Philadelphia and Colorado Christian Writer Conferences). This author was surprised that I answered her email and questions. Even four years after an event, I continue to be in touch with people that I met.
Your persistence and consistency is important—even in the face of rejection like Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen and Andy Andrews. Keep moving forward is my encouragement—whether you find the easy button or not. 
If I'm missing the easy button for publishing, let me know in the comments below.

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