Sunday, November 17, 2019

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 the opportunity.

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 done.

—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 reminders.

—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 below.


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Sunday, November 10, 2019

How to Listen to Bestselling Books (For Free)

By Terry Whalin @terrywhalin

Recently I listened to the new memoir by actress Demi Moore called Inside 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 news.

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 done electronically.

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 book.

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 book). 

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 below.


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Sunday, November 03, 2019

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 project.

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 below.


Does something derail you in the writing process? How do you get around the difficulty?  Get insights from this prolific writer.  (ClickToTweet)

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Sunday, October 27, 2019

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 impression.

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 approached Morgan 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 potential author.

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 causes confusion.

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)

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Sunday, October 20, 2019

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 different.

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 trips.

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 conferences.

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 events.

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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Sunday, October 13, 2019

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 in doing).

As an 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 authors:

Cec 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 author.

Jerry B. 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 topic

Here's a few of my lessons from these exceptional authors:

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 run.

Are you an “exception” author? Or maybe you know of one and their actions. Let me know in the comments below.


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Sunday, October 06, 2019

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.


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