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Sunday, September 27, 2020


Six Keys to Consistent Social Media

By Terry Whalin @terrywhalin

If you follow me on Twitter or LinkedIn or Facebook, you may wonder how I manage to post such focused content 12–18 times a day. Since 2008, I have posted over 55,000 times (yes a lot of posts). In this article, I want to give you some basic principles I use week after week.

1. My Mindset is to act like I'm running a writing magazine. Your attitude is critical in this process. In my mind, my Twitter feed is like I am running a writing magazine about various types of publishing. My posts are targeted to my readers. If you read these posts, it's like getting an education in publishing. I've told you what my attitude and mindset is about my social media posts. What is yours? Your mindset is important to get the right mindset for this process.

2. Collect and read blogs from others—but not randomly—with a plan. I subscribe to a number of blogs about writing and publishing that come into my email box. I don't have to search for them and use these article in my social media plans. I have a plan and in general, I know where I'm going to put a particular type of article on my plan. I've made these choices to make it almost automatic and take little time.

3. Work ahead using Hootsuite (or some other schedule program). Throughout the week in focused times, I am working on my social media plans. Hootsuite allows me to schedule my posts. It has been a valuable tool in this process for me. Other people use buffer but use a scheduling program in this process. In general, I am filling out the bulk of my scheduled posts ahead of time.

4. Once a week, I fill out the remainder of my schedule plan. I keep a text file with various posts that I've used in the past. Some of them are in categories while others are random. It often takes me about 30 minutes once a week to fill in the remainder of my social media plans. Every day I take a few minutes to double-check my Hootsuite and make sure everything is going to work properly.

5. Always add the unexpected or current content. I read through my various posts and make sure they are relevant for where I am scheduling them. Often my current spot for posting them is weeks in the future. Sometimes an article will not be timeless and have information which needs to get out to my readers now—instead of weeks in the future. I add those posts to my scheduled plans. It is flexible—but I have a plan.

6. Consistency counts and people are reading these posts.  I intentionally do not spend a lot of time reading social media posts. Through my Hootsuite, I engage with people who do respond to my various posts. Without focus and a plan, social media can be a huge time waster. Your consistency will pay off and I can tell from the reactions that people are reading my posts and I know it has value for these readers.

Admittedly this process takes work, time, focus and planning to successfully execute. In my view it has been well worth it. In the comments below, let us know what I'm missing or other ways you achieve consistency with your social media. I look forward to reading your comments.

Tweetable:

What are the keys to consistent social media? Get the details from this prolific editor and author. (ClickToTweet)

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Sunday, September 20, 2020


Interview Insights When The Roles Are Reversed


By Terry Whalin @terrywhalin

Over the years I've interviewed New York Times bestselling author Jerry B. Jenkins a number of times for different magazine articles. When we met at least three decades ago, both of us were magazine editors and attending the Evangelical Press Association convention. One evening at EPA, three of us (all editors) played scrabble against Jerry—and Jerry won. He is a world-class scrabble player and knows all of the strange three letter words.

When Jerry and Tim LaHaye wrote the first Left Behind novel, Jerry sent me a review copy. I read it while on a trip and was skeptical about the plot. The opening scene where half of the people in a 747 are raptured (disappear) seemed unbelievable (even though I understood this concept from the Bible). Then I got hooked with the characters and read every one of those books (which have sold over 60 million copies).

Jerry graciously agreed to write the foreword for my newest book, 10 Publishing Myths. Both of us have appeared on the same stages at various writers' conferences yet Jerry had never interviewed me—until recently. Jerry runs the Jenkins Writers Guild and each month has a Master Class interview (follow this link to see a sample and even sign up.) Several months ago, the Jenkins Guild released our interview. I asked (and received) permission to post this 36-minute interview hereEither click the link to open the video in a new window or use the video below.

 

We covered a wide range of questions including:



Yes there is a great deal of valuable content packed into this video. I had fun answering Jerry's questions and I hope each of you will enjoy and gain value from this video. It was a different experience for us to reverse roles for this interview and Jerry interviewed me instead of my interviewing him.

Have you experienced this interview reversal? Tell us about your experience in the comments below.


Tweetable:


Bestselling author Jerry B. Jenkins interviews this prolific editor and author. Watch this valuable video when the roles are reversed. (ClickToTweet)


 

 

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Saturday, September 12, 2020


A Simple Way For Writers To Stand Out



By Terry Whalin @terrywhalin

The publishing world is competitive. Thousands of new books are released into the world every day. Yet there is a simple way for writers to standout. While this method is simple, it is not easy: do what you say you will do.
 
Years ago when I was an acquisitions editor at another publisher, a colleague needed me to connect with a contracted bestselling author who was late on his manuscript—a year late. As someone who has stayed up writing all night to meet a publisher deadline, I was surprised this author could be so late. At this publsher, we had weekly schedule meetings where we talked about our contracted books and where they were in the publishing process. I learned a lot just listening to the details about these various books.
 
As a writer I have all sorts of deadlines. Some of them are self-imposed and some are from my editors. Last week I received an email from a friend about her new children's board book. She was looking for reviews. I reached out, asked for a copy and the marketing director at her publisher sent it to me. I loved the creativity in this little book, wrote my review and posted it on Amazon and Goodreads. There was no money exchanged in this process. I read books and write reviews for fun. I receive many books and don't get all of them read and reviewed but in this case a board book only has a few pages the process was easy to do. 
 
As the Bible says in Matthew 5:37a, “All you need to say is simply 'Yes' or 'No'.” It is a simple way to stand out as a writer. If you meet your deadlines with high quality material, if you promise to write something, and then do it, you will separate yourself from other writers.
 
How do you stand out as a writer? Do you have other ideas? Let me know in the comments below.
 

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Sunday, September 06, 2020


A Critical Writer's Help

 



By Terry Whalin @terrywhalin

 
With the worldwide pandemic, our days as writers have been different than any other time in history. People are working at home instead of offices. Children are learning online instead of in the classroom and many other things have changed in our world. There is good news for writers in that books continue to sell (in fact book sales are up in many areas), publishers continue to offer book contracts then produce and distriubte books.
 
These changes have been hard on many writers (including myself). For some people spending this intense time has disrupted their marriages. I've read where the high divorce rate has even increased during this pandemic. In this article, I want to talk about a rarely discussed but one of my most critical writer's helps: my wife. Do you have a supportive spouse? If not, can you find a supportive writer friend?
 
Recently I was contacted about updating a book that I wrote over 20 years ago. This book is out of print and an organization continues to use this book in their work. Some of the stories in this book are dated because we no longer have phone booths. As I talked over the updating project with my wife, it called to my attention something that I “knew” but didn't focus on: she has not read the majority of my publshed books. She had not read this book and offered to go through and mark some things that needed revision. Her efforts on this project were a huge help to me. 
 
This year marked my 25th  year of marriage. My journey as a writer has not been simple but involved multiple moves, job changes and much more. Christine has supported me throughout this entire journey. I'm talking primarily about emotional support. She has given me support in these critical areas that every writer needs:
 
1. A Sounding Board for New Ideas and Directions. As writers there are many different possibilities for our work. It's good to have someone to bounce around ideas. If you need some possibilities, check out the first chapter of my Jumpstart Your Publishing Dreams (no opt-in).
 
2. Someone to talk about books and publishing (sometimes too much). Just so you know our conversations are not just one-sided. Yes she listens to my publishing stories but she has her topics that she discusses with me. For example, she loves plants (indoors and on our porch).
 
3. Accountability to keep me on task. Yes we talk about this important area as well even though I've been meeting deadlines for many years before we even met.
 
These factors are only a few of the critical ways I've been blessed with her support. On the fun front, one fo the activities that we've done together for years is go to the movies once a week (normally on Saturday). With the pandemic, movies have not been possible. Last week we purchased an Amazon fire stick and installed it on our television.  I've known about this option but never used it until last week. The fire stick has opened up another large range of original movies and television series. It has added something else we do together.
 
Where are you getting this critical writer's help? Let me know in the comments below.
 

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Sunday, August 30, 2020


Five Reasons to Write Work-Made-For-Hire


 

By Terry Whalin @terrywhalin

 
Last week I mentioned writing the study guide for the bestselling book, Halftime. What I did not say in that article is I wrote this study guide as a work made for hire project. Over the years I've written several articles about Work Made for Hire contracts (follow this link to see some of them). Many writers run away from such work and refuse it. These people believe they are protecting their rights and want to publish royalty projects instead of selling all their rights to someone else.
 
My literary attorney has told me that I've signed more Work Made for Hire agreements than anyone she knows. I've also been a working writer in the publishing community for decades. The truth is sometimes it is better to earn the money upfront from a publisher rather than hope for royalties (which may or may not happen).
 
In this article, I want to give five reasons to write Work Made For Hire projects. I call them projects because they are not always books. Sometimes they are articles or white papers or any number of other types of writing. 
 
1. You Get Immediate Work. Often in the publishing world, you have to write your article or book with the hope that you will find someone to publish it. With Work Made For Hire, you have found paying writing work which you can do right away—and get payment.
 
2. You Get Paid for Your Work. Depending on what you negotiate in a Work Made For Hire agreement, often you get half of the money upfront. This fact helps your cash flow as a writer—especially those of us who write full-time.
 
3. You Can Build Your Reputation and Get a Writing Credit. Some Work Made For Hire is ghostwriting (no credit). On other occasions, my writing is credited. Sometimes this work appears in the tiny print on the copyright page. Other times my name appears on the title page of the book and not the cover. On other books where I've co-authored the book for someone else, my name appears on the cover as “with W. Terry Whalin.” To the publishing world, this “with” credit indicates I wrote the book. If you are new in the publishing world, this credit can be an important part of building your reputation in the publishing world.
 
Several of the children's books that I have published were Work Made For Hire. The finished children's books had high quality illustrations and were a beautiful finished product. In some cases my name only appears on the copyright line (small print) but in other cases, my name appears on the cover. How it turns out for you is all about watching the details of the agreement. Several of my devotional books which I wrote as a Work Made For Hire have sold over 60,000 copies (which is a great credit for any writer—and something I use from time to time). 
 
4. Provides A Way to Work for a Publisher. For many new writers, it's a challenge to publish with traditional publishers for your own work. Sometimes publishers need a writer to complete a manuscript in a short amount of time. Years ago I wrote a book for a publisher in a short amount of time and exceeded their deadline. My name is in the small print on the cover of this book and it continues to sell. When I checked a few years ago, this book had sold over 100,000 copies. As the other examples in this article, I wrote this book as a work made for hire and haven't been paid anything additional but it is a great credit for a writer.
 
5. In a hard enviroment, provides a way to seize an opportunity. I know some publishers are making cautious decisions about what to publish (for a number of reasons including the pandemic). This caution has made it hard for writers. Work Made For Hire is writing that will always be needed and is a way for you to seize the opportunity, get published and get paid. If you find it, my encouragement is for you to seize the opportunity.
 
Do you write Work Made For Hire or have you avoided it? Let me know in the comments below.
 

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Sunday, August 23, 2020


What Is Your Second Act?


By Terry Whalin @terrywhalin

Recently I listened to the audiobook version of Patricia Heaton's Your Second Act. The book is well-done with interesting stories. The theme of the book is reinvention or discovering what you are going to be doing during the second part of your life (or the second act). 

I know for in my life, I have reinvented myself a number of times and filled different roles in the marketplace. For example, I've been a writer, a magazine editor, an acquisitions editor (now at my third publisher), a literary agent, a ghostwriter, a collaborator and probably a few other roles. Different roles come at different periods in my life. I stopped writing books for others for about ten years then almost two years ago I began again to write for others (something which is a firm part of my current writing life).
 
Before listening to the Your Second Act audiobook, I knew very little about the life of Patricia Heaton. Yes I had watched her on Everyone Loves Raymond but knew little else. It was fascinating that her father was a journalist and both of her brothers. It makes sense she studied journalism at Ohio State before switching her major to theater. I loved how the center of Heaton’s life is not the theater or acting but her faith—and she makes this clear in the first chapter. Heaton is a spokesperson for World Vision and has made overseas trips with the organization.
 
The audiobook cover says read by the author and the “full cast.” Until listening to the book, I didn’t understand “full cast.”  Other than the first couple of chapters where Heaton tells her personal stories, each chapter is focused on a single person. That person reads part of their own story in the book. After telling their story they include a Q & A section with Heaton asking questions and the person answering. Then each chapter includes Patty’s Points which gives readers action points from that particular chapter. Finally there are “Reflection Questions” for the reader. 
 
 Your Second Act includes important details for every person in their own second career. For example, professional golfer Betsy King tells about forming a nonprofit GolfForeAfrica.org and how she found a partner, made her 501(c)3 and many other important details. It doesn't have to be creating a separate organization. Your Second Act includes information about volunteerism which can take many forms such as BigSunday.org. The stories are excellent but have universal application to readers trying to figure out their own second act. Each one is well-done and interesting. Each chapter includes “Reflection Question” for the reader to apply the material to their own life.  The result is a well-done thoughtful book with application for every reader about reinvention. I highly recommend Your Second Act.
 
Listening to this book, reminded me of another book about reinvention, Halftime by Bob Buford. Several decades ago I wrote the study guide for Halftime. Originally it was published as a separate booklet but then at some point, Zondervan added it into final pages of the bestselling book. I'm certain many people have forgotten I worked on Halftime. This book continues to be a significant book on this topic of reinvention or transitioning into your second act or career.

What are you doing for your second act? Or maybe it is your third or fourth career? Let me know in the comments below.
 

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Sunday, August 16, 2020


Use A Book Review Template

 

By Terry Whalin @terrywhalin

 
I do not like to reinvent the wheel. If someone else has already created a pattern that I can follow, then that is easier than making an original. I have written over 1,000 book reviews on Amazon and over 600 reviews on Goodreads.  I've written about these reviews in the past—but never this particular aspect of my reviews. In this process, I use almost the same pattern for my reviews every time. 
 
I've written about how I add my bio and a link to my latest book in a previous article (follow this link if you haven't seen it).  As I read or listen to a book, I will open a Word file on my computer and even before completing it, I will add some thoughts about the book. Often these “thoughts” become the outline of what will eventually become my review. I use the previous review as my template. Every review needs a headline, then an opening paragraph and possibly a middle paragraph with a quotation from the book (optional) and a concluding paragraph.
 
I've also written about how I often listen to bestselling books. Part of my stance in publishing is to always be learning and listening to what the current public is reading. It comes from reading the trades and following the publishing market. Recently I heard the bestselling books from Chris Wallace about the making of the first atomic bomb called Countdown 1945. While this book released in early June, I got on the Overdrive list for the book and just recently was able to listen to it. Ironically I was listening to the final portion of this book on August 6th  or exactly 75 years since the first atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, Japan. Listening to the details of these stories exactly 75 years since they occurred gave me chills about the timing. I post the same review on Goodreads as I post on Amazon (follow the links if you want to see how the review appears on these sites).
 
Last year I wrote about the missing link for writing book reviews. I pointed to an inexpensive template my friend Sandra Beckwith has created. Here's the link to her product (and it is not an affiliate link from me). Many people who are not writers, have no idea what to write for a review. Sandra has a fiction and a nonfiction template for writing a book review. In this article I'm recommending that you create your own little template.  For example, each of my recent reviews on Amazon include an active link to one of my books. Currently I am promoting my latest book, 10 Publishing Myths, using this feature. You can learn how I do it in this article.
 
One of the keys from my experience is having a plan, creating a simple system that works for you, and then executing that system every time. For example, almost every book that I read or hear, I write and post a review. Over the years, that amount of reviewing has added up to be substantial. It is not anything fancy but happens through taking consistent action. Whether you create your own book review template, as I have done, or use one from Sandra Beckwith, I recommend you use a template to speed up the writing process and get it done.
 
Do you use a template when you write a book review? Let me know your tips in the commends below. 
 

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