Friday, August 31, 2007

Writing for the Christian Market Now Available

Several months ago I was talking with my friend, Bob Bly, about Ebooks. He knows that for many years I've been writing in the Christian market. He suggested that I write an Ebook called, Writing for the Christian Market. In fact, Bob and I worked together on the project and he edited the book, arranged for the cover design and the design for the interior.

I've poured a lot of my background and experience into this new product and hope you will benefit from getting it and learning from my insight into how to write for various publications and publishers. If you read these entries often, you know that I'm constantly learning new methods and using different software and techniques. It's part of how I continue to grow and improve in my craft of writing. I'm also someone who handles most of the routine parts of the marketing and website efforts. Many years ago I had a "webmaster" and found it a poor experience not to be able to update my own website--and update it when I want it updated. I know many other writers have chosen to go a different way with this matter. I've decided to learn some basics about website, copywriting and some other skills which are often delegated to others.

Because I worked with Bob Bly on this project, I benefited from his prodding and clarification of different aspects of the book. He pushed me for some answers to different questions and resources in the book which on my own I probably would not have included. It's one of the benefits to working with someone else on the production of this type of project. Every writer can benefit from a good editor.

Bob arranged for the designer who created a beautiful cover for the Ebook and also the links inside the book are active for the reader. It's a feature which I have not learned how to execute. To this entry, I'm adding an image of the interior of the Table of Contents for Writing for the Christian Market. While the image is small here, I hope you can see the little lines underneath each number. They are links which take you immediately to the appropriate page within the Ebook.

To launch Writing for the Christian Market, I'm holding a free teleseminar on Wednesday, September 5th where people can ask their questions about writing for the Christian market. I will answer them during this teleseminar. A special mystery guest magazine editor has agreed to join part of the teleseminar. He's the editor of one of the best publications where writers can break into the Christian market and will be providing insight about how to catch his attention when you pitch your magazine ideas. I'd encourage you to sign up at for this free teleseminar. If you can't attend at that time, you will be notified where you can listen to the replay of the session.

I'm celebrating the release of this new Ebook into the marketplace.

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Wednesday, August 29, 2007

The Unwelcomed Teacher: Adversity

This teacher shows up at the most inopportune times and demands your attention. When he arrives will you see it as an opportunity or an obstacle? I've already revealed the teacher in my title: adversity. No one that I know in publishing is immune to it yet it continues to teach valuable lessons.

This week, Harvey Mackay writes about adversity and the way perseverance is a key to success. I loved this line in his column, "We must push through the adversity we face. If we don't, we will be poorly prepared for winning. People are successful because they face adversity head-on to gain strength and skill. They don't take the path of least resistance. Adversity is a powerful teacher." Then a bit later he wrote, "When you get discouraged, when you seem unable to make it, there is one thing you cannot do without. It is the priceless ingredient of success called relentless effort. You must never give up. Success cannot be achieved without experiencing some adversity." I hope you will read his entire column because it is filled with pointed quotable insight.

As one of my projects for the week, I've been preparing to launch a new product. I mentioned using Sound Forge to brand a couple of my workshops for the bonus items. I could not get these files into my shopping cart or figure out how to deliver them. I persevered and tried many different ways--without success. Finally at 2 a.m., I gave up and the next day I turned to a friend who is much more knowledgeable about these audio files and asked for his insight. It turned out I was using the default setting on Sound Forge which saved the audio file in the highest possible quality. There is a direct relationship between the size of the file and the quality of the audio. As the quality is higher, the file size increased. I lessened the quality of the audio and the file became more manageable or something that I could deliver to the customer. I've played the files on my computer and can't tell any difference between the high quality and the lesser quality. While I don't have all of the details completed, I know I can deliver the product to the customer and once again my perseverance has paid off.

Many people are amazed at the volume of my body of writing work. I didn't do it to amaze anyone. I'm convinced there are better writers and communicators in the marketplace who have published fewer books and written for fewer publications. I am doggedly persistent to work through the challenges of the day and discover the solutions.

As you think of your writing life, which way are you headed?

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Monday, August 27, 2007

Updated Straight Talk

Last October, I wrote about the Amazon Short program as a way for authors to gain additional exposure with a short original article. Some people will recall that I created Straight Talk From The Editor, 18 Keys To A Rejection-Proof Submission as a part of this program. A number of people have purchased this Short and especially when it released it was the number one ranked Short at Amazon. Part of the arrangement with this Amazon program is that they receive an exclusive arrangement on the material for the first six months then they switch into a non-exclusive arrangement. I suspect many of the authors have pressed on to other things and don’t think about this arrangement.

Over the last few weeks, I've been working toward using Straight Talk From The Editor for some other purposes. It's part of the suggestions I've made to repurpose content. I took the edited version of this manuscript and updated it for my own purposes. I added links into the PDF file which will be a greater benefit for the reader. Plus I've switched from working for a publisher to being a literary agent since Straight Talk From the Editor released. I wanted the updated version to appear as professional as the Amazon version. With a brief Google search, I learned about Ebooks Graphics.com which sells templates for Ebooks along with simple instructions for using it. I created this version of Straight Talk From the Editor as you can see from this different graphic.

How do I get the maximum use for this updated version? I'm still working out the details but I have a partial answer with this entry about The Writing Life. I used Marketing Makeover Generator to create a squeeze page. If you don't know the term "squeeze page" it's a place where you send people to give their first name and email address. When they give this information, you give them the item or in this case they get Straight Talk From The Editor as a free download. Marketing Makeover Generator is simple to use and I've arranged for you to have a trial subscription if you click this link.

I created the form and made it easy to locate and download with this new link: http://www.straighttalkeditor.com/.

Why go to such effort? It is another means to collect first name and email addresses so I can continue to increase the number of subscribers to my free Right-Writing News.

OK, here's my question for you: can you follow my steps and do the same thing? Absolutely. Literary agents, acquisitions editors and publishing executives are looking for people with visibility in the marketplace or some people call it platform. I see it all the time with some good writers who have good ideas--yet they are stuck marketing and remarketing their single book manuscript. It doesn't matter if they have written nonfiction or fiction because I see it in both cases. Maybe they have written for a few magazines (which I recommend) but they have never started a newsletter or have not done the work to continually increase the size of their newsletter list (get this free resource, download it and read it). They do not understand why their good material is consistently rejected. The reason is simple: it takes a tremendous effort for a publisher to push and promote a new author into the marketplace. It's not impossible and it is done but infrequently.

As a book author, you need to do everything you can do to increase your attractiveness and value to the publisher. Last week I was listening to Mark Victor Hansen from the Mega Book Marketing University last March and he said that to get into the bestselling area of the book market, you needed to have at least 100,000 people on your newsletter list. Doesn't that sound like an impossible dream? It's not everyone has to begin some place. Make a plan and get started today.

And if you can, spread the news about my free resource, Straight Talk From the Editor.

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Saturday, August 25, 2007

Add Value With Repurposed Content

Recently I wrote about the value of repurposed content. As writers and editors, we have a lot of this material which is "hanging around." Are you using it?

In the next few weeks, I will be releasing a new product into the marketplace. It is premature to write about the specifics but I can tell you about the process and hopefully help some of you readers to think creatively about some of your material and how it can be repurposed.

I'm still in the preparation stage to release this new product. I have purchased a website address and I'm in the process of building a landing page. If you don't know this term, landing page, it is a one-page website with persuasive words where someone can purchase the new product. If you want to learn more in depth about this process, I'd encourage you to pick up a copy of Bob Bly's four audio CD set called The Internet Marketing Retirement Plan. While many people try to make the Internet marketing process into something complex (and charge an expensive price to teach it to you), Bob and Fred Gleeck reduce it into three simple steps. This set of CDs is packed with information. I've listened to all of it twice and learn something new each time. I'm sure I would benefit from a third session with it.

While there are several key factors to building a good landing page, one portion of the process is adding some bonus items to the purchase which have value for the customer. Some times I will purchase a product not because of that particular product but because of the attractive bonus which comes with that product. I suspect my buying habits are fairly typical in this area.

As I was considering the possibilities for the bonus items, I turned to something which has been sitting around in my desk drawer for several years. I’ve been traveling around the United States and Canada teaching at various writers' conferences. Usually, my workshops are recorded and I receive a copy of the CD presentation. Normally I pick it up at the conference (if available), tuck it into my carry-on luggage and bring it home. When I unpack, I put the workshop into my desk drawer where it is not replayed and does absolute zero good for anyone (including me).

Over the last few months, I've been listening to the CDs from Mega Book Marketing University 2006 and Mega Book Marketing University 2007. Each of these presentations begins and ends with the same jazzy little tune. From the instant you turn on the program, the music begins and it mentally prepares you for the next speaker. In simplistic terms, it's called branding and each of these CDs are branded or connected through the music. I've learned this music is called "needle music" and if you search for it online, you can find many different vendors for royalty-free music.

Let's turn back to my need for some bonus items for my forthcoming product. I turned to these workshops which have been taught before live audiences and is my material in a readily available format. In a relatively short amount of time, I extracted the workshop from the CD, selected a short piece of needle music, then branded the workshops so they contain identical music at the beginning and the end of the workshop. I know almost nothing about how to edit audio tapes. I used a program called Sound Forge which is menu-driven and simple to use. Just like you can use Microsoft Word to edit a text file, you can use Sound Forge to edit an audio program. If you are wondering about the illustration for this entry, it is the Sound Forge editing program from my computer. The little blue lines are audio music which I was editing.

The editing process wasn't a chore but actually fun. I snipped out some silence at the beginning of my workshop and added a few seconds of the music introduction. Then I moved to the end of the workshop and again cut out some silence so it ended with some applause from the audience. Then I added a few more seconds of the same music. Now my workshops are a package and I've repurposed my content. These audio workshops will become a valuable addition to my product.

Here's my question with this entry about The Writing Life: what are you doing with your material to repurpose it and add value to your products? Explore the possibilities and the results may surprise you.

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Tuesday, August 21, 2007

A Free Ebook Teaches About Email Newsletters

Almost every day I receive pitches from writers who have great dreams and desires for their writing. Some of them have worked hard on their own writing craft and the idea that they are pitching. It is evident to me as I look at their proposals or manuscripts. Yet many of them are missing the critical ingredient. You can call it platform or visibility in the marketplace or a network or connections. No one outside of their own social network knows them. They have curled up with their keyboard and produced a masterpiece in their view--without a market.

In many ways it's a shame because they have passion yet little understanding about how to build that visibility. One recommendation that I have made frequently (and here it comes again) is to begin building a newsletter list. Yes there are millions of ezines online. You have to be wise about how you focus such an ezine then deliver great content issue after issue on a consistent basis. If you take some of these steps, over time you can build your audience.

Last night I was talking with an author about his nonfiction book proposal. The idea seemed to have merit and he was writing to a real felt need that he saw around him. Yet he has no market visibility or promoted expertise in the area that he wants to write. The best course of action in my view is to begin a newsletter and a website to start building that momentum.

I've found a free 150–page ebook resource called Email Newsletters 101, A Small Business Reference Guide which covers many of the basics for starting an excellent newsletter. I read this resource and it offers sound advice that any writer could immediately use--whether they already have a newsletter or want to know about starting one.

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Monday, August 20, 2007

Creative Fiction Marketing

This weekend the latest issue of Publishers Weekly arrived (August 13th) and toward the front of the magazine, a two-page ad proclaimed, "Highly Flammable." It was for the new novel from Brock Clarke called An Arsonist's Guide to Writers' Homes in New England. I read the title to my wife and she asked, "So it's about an arsonist who burns down writers' homes in New England?" It's what is sounds like to me but I have not read the book which is a September 4 release from Algonquin Books.

Then I went to the book website which was listed on the ad (and I have added an image of that site to this entry). Notice the different ways the reader is engaged in the content of the novel--besides a blog from the author--if you click the book of matches in the upper right-hand corner it will take you to a page which includes a Memoirizer. At this creative spot the reader can create the beginnings of their own memoir. I'm not sure about the complexity of the computer programming to pull off such a marketing idea. This Memoirizer provides a viral addition to the site which people can send to their friends, put on their own website or blog and many other uses--and each time it promotes the book. Apparently some of the choices for the memoir have limitations since when I did it some of the selections were maxed out.

Its been said, Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. On several occasions I have heard Alex Mandossian encourage writers to always improve and never invent.

I'm unsure how you will apply this material to your own novel and the marketing for it. There are several aspects that I wanted to point out in this entry about The Writing Life. First, notice the provocative title for the book. Most readers will ask the same question my wife raised when she heard it. Then notice the creative marketing efforts with the author site. It is much more than simply a brochure about the contents of the book. It encourages interaction and viral marketing to pass along this site to others. I hope this stirs the novelists to pour more energy into their own marketing efforts. I hope for the sake of Brock Clarke, it pays off. Yes, even Brock Clarke's website is pointed to the book site.

I hope it stirs some ideas for you in this area of creative marketing.

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Friday, August 17, 2007

The Value of Repurposed Content

Yesterday during The Talking Book Show with Stacy Hawkins Adams, I spent almost an hour and a half talking about different aspects of book proposals. If you missed the live program, you can still download the entire interview and listen to it on your own schedule. Just follow the link.

I know the replay is available because after the program, I went to the site, checked on it, then downloaded the program. Why? In situations like this in the past, I would have pressed on to the next writing project or my next radio interview. I'm grateful for the opportunity to help would-be writers to understand more about the book publishing world and to promote my Book Proposals That Sell. Over the last 20 years, I've spent the majority of that time writing original content. I've learned a great deal about how to write for various magazines and how to write different types of books for different ages and styles. I've moved from project to project. Yet in recent years, I've tried to be wiser about the value of repurposed content. If you don't know what I'm talking about, stay with me because I'm going to explain it.

Probably about 15 years ago, I attended a workshop at a writer’s conference with the topic of reselling reprints. While I can't recall the specific author, she was a master at reselling her magazine work and normally had about 1,000 of her reprints in circulation at any given time. When one of her submissions came back rejected, she had a system to send it to another magazine and get it into the consideration process. That effort on her part was adding considerable income and exposure to her work in the marketplace. At the time, I was writing for a number of magazines. I tried to remarket the reprints and did place a number of them and earn some more income from it. But in general, I found it to be a bothersome experience which didn't bear as much fruit as writing original material. I chalked it up to experience and returned to my bent of crafting original content for another magazine or another book project. To me at that time, it seemed more productive. I didn't understand the value of repurposed content.

I downloaded The Talking Book Show interview because I can use that material for something else related to marketing my book proposal material. I can do some minor edits and even rebrand the program with music at the beginning and the end or a new introduction using Sound Forge. The process isn't complicated or time-consuming. I can use this interview in a promotional effort or as a bonus when someone purchases another product or any number of other ways. I can only use it if I'm taking advantage of this content and intentionally repurposing it. If I press on to another project where I am creating original material, I leave behind a potentially valuable asset.

One of the best examples of how I've repurposed content is with my Book Proposals That Sell. When I signed my contract on the trade paperback, I kept the exclusive electronic rights to the material. In other words, I can sell the ebook version for whatever price and do whatever I want with it. I turned the book into an ebook which is a part of my affiliate program and continues to sell. It takes a bit of planning for the writer to take this step. First you have to protect your rights and make sure you control whatever you need to control in order to repurpose the content. Next you need to proactively move that repurposed material into the marketplace.

I continue to write original material and I'm not pretending to have all the answers about how to repurpose my content into other forms such as an audio or an ebook or a home study course. The possibilities are endless if you are open to the concept.

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Thursday, August 16, 2007

Catch Today's Talking Book Show

Later today at 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. Eastern or 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. Pacific, I will be on The Talking Book Show with Stacy Hawkins Adams speaking about book proposals. I believe if you want to ask a question, you can call the phone number on the website. It's a podcast so I'm unsure if there is a link to listen to the program live or not. If not, notice the call is recorded and you can listen to it online or download it after the fact.

Last year Stacy and I met at the Greater Philadelphia Christian Writers Conference. It was a brief meeting over a meal where we exchanged business cards. We've kept in touch over the past twelve months and a while back, Stacy asked if she could interview me for her program. We agreed on a date and got it on our calendars. Today is that day.

There are several worthwhile points from this experience. First, are you actively showing up at writer's conferences where you can meet editors and literary agents and other active freelancers? There some terrific conferences around the country and opportunities. Many writers have introvert personalities. Most editors and agents are exactly the same. We rise to the occasion and meet people during these conferences. We exchange business cards. We answer questions and talk about the business of publishing. My encouragement is not to be reluctant or shy about these opportunities. Now you don't want to be a pushy author either and I've met a number of those folks who stand out from a negative standpoint. Seek some balance and you will be surprised at where those relationships can take you. As I've heard John Kremer, the author of 1001 Ways to Market Your Books often say, publishing is about relationships. Where are you actively working to build those relationships? It can be at a conference. It can be with an online forum or other places.

Also another key is taking that introductory meeting and building it into an on-going relationship. You will have to be patient with some of these relationships and other times a bit persistent (yet not a nuisance--again I'm a proponent for gentle balance). Opportunities are around us if we take advantage of them.

Finally while my Book Proposals That Sell has been in the market for a couple of years, I continue to look for opportunities to talk about it and promote it to new audiences. An author's responsibility in my view is not just a seasonal push on that new book when it releases, but it is an on-going effort. Not every book slams out of the gate like a bullet when it is published and bursts on a bestseller list. Some times the sales are slow and steady and that counts for as much or more than the book which was a flash then fizzled.

I hope you can catch The Talking Book Show about book proposals.

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Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Craft The Unexpected Ending

Recently I wrote about Cynthia Kersey and her Unstoppable Enterprises. Last week Kersey sent out a short story that caught my attention. The story led me down one direction then surprised me with the unexpected ending:

"One day a farmer's donkey fell down into a well. The animal cried piteously for hours as the farmer tried to figure out what to do. Finally, he decided the animal was old, and the well needed to be covered up anyway; it just wasn't worth it to retrieve the donkey."

"He invited all his neighbors to come over and help him. They all grabbed a shovel and began to shovel dirt into the well. At first, the donkey realized what was happening and cried horribly. Then, to everyone's amazement he quieted down. A few shovel loads later, the farmer finally looked down the well. He was astonished at what he saw. With each shovel of dirt that hit his back, the donkey was doing something amazing. He would shake it off and take a step up. As the farmer's neighbors continued to shovel dirt on top of the animal, he would shake it off and take a step up. Pretty soon, everyone was amazed as the donkey stepped up over the edge of the well and happily trotted off!"

"Life is going to shovel dirt on you, all kinds of dirt. The trick to getting out of the well is to shake it off and take a step up. Each of our troubles is a steppingstone. We can get out of the deepest wells just by not stopping, never giving up! Shake it off and take a step up."

Whatever story you are writing today, can you craft a surprise ending? Can you move the reader one direction then add the unexpected twist? Or is your story simply predictable? I hope not. Whether you are writing nonfiction or fiction, you should be looking for ways to add the unexpected to your writing. It will make it stand out to the editor or agent. And hopefully it will keep your submission out of the rejection pile. I freely admit that it's not easy and takes work to create these sorts of endings. It's a great technique and worth your consideration.

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Friday, August 10, 2007

Roll With The Punches

It is a refrain that I hear often from writers--particularly new writers. "I don't want to learn about marketing or promotion. I just want to write then write some more." It may be their desire yet reality often deals you something quite different. My advice is to get ready and make sure you can roll with the punches. Yes, a few elite writers don’t have to worry about promotion because their publisher will send them on book tours, arrange all sorts of media for them or they have an “assistant” who handles a lot of these matters. For the majority of writers, they will have to learn some of these aspects of the business. Or they will have to outsource to a freelance publicist or website designer or webmaster. If they do not take these steps, then those writers will lament their weak royalty statements. If you have taken these steps and still garner small sales, then at least you know that you’ve done whatever you could do to get the word out about your book.

Last night I was reading the latest Publishers Weekly to arrive in my mailbox or the August 6th edition. I live in the West and understand that people in the East get their magazine earlier in the week. The Soapbox column tucked inside the back cover has become something I almost never miss. This week Gerard Helferich writes “Mergers, Acquisitions and Me.” It reminded me of the truth that change will often occur during the book publishing process and you have to roll with the punches. In this author's case, for the publication of his second book, a five city book tour had been planned. The publisher was sold and Helferich's publicist decided to leave the company the week before his tour. He writes, "Although there had been some nibbles, no media had been finalized in the tour cities, and it was clear that extensive follow-up was needed. But the new publicist wouldn't start until August 1--a week after my tour would end."

Thankfully Helferich took a proactive approach and set up his own media--including an hour-long piece on National Public Radio. He concludes, "Looking back, I wouldn't trade my under-the-gun publicity experience for anything. It was a real pleasure to see, in this age of multilevel media platforms, that dedicated booksellers and engaged reporters and producers can still connect directly with authors to help get a book into the hands of readers."

I'd encourage you to read the entire article and learn from Helferich's experience. Ironically, I did a quick google search for "Gerard Helferich" and only found this link with much background information on the author. It points that there is always more to be done.

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Thursday, August 09, 2007

The Merit of Consistency

While it's not often recognized, there is great merit to consistently working at the craft of your writing. Which part of that craft you select to work on will vary for each of us. For some people, they need to develop the basic skill of writing a magazine article. It's a good place to start whether you are writing for a large magazine or a small newsletter. You need to learn how to craft a single story with an engaging opening paragraph, a solid section in the middle, then wrap it up with a take-away or single point for the reader. If you learn this skill, then you can apply it to other area of storytelling and writing--whether you are putting together a newsletter or a single letter or a chapter of a forthcoming book.

For the last couple of years, I've been putting together the Right Writing News. Now the back issues have built up to over 400 pages of how-to-write information. It is free but to access this information, you have to subscribe to the publication. I'm constantly looking for additional material that I can use in future issues of this publication. There is a wealth of material in these back issues. It didn't suddenly appear but came one issue at a time.

I continue to regularly work at these entries on The Writing Life. This piece marks the 700th entry which means another wealth of material and resources for anyone who will take the time to search and examine them. I've tried to simplify this process of locating older material with a search tool in the right-hand column.

Today another issue of The Foster Letter, Religious Market Update arrived in my mailbox. Gary Foster compiles a rich publication every two weeks and it comes like clockwork. If you want to know more, I'd encourage you to look at some of the excerpts from his archived issues. You can find a lot of valuable information here.

Yesterday I was interviewed during a teleseminar about Book Proposals That Sell and I was asked about when my first book was published. The common misconception is that it was many decades ago. It was 1992 and now over 60 books later they wonder how such a body of work was created. It's not difficult to understand when you consider the merits of consistency. I'm constantly working to develop new projects and knock on doors for new books--not just for myself but also for my clients at the literary agency. I write my work like everyone else--one page at a time then one chapter at a time and one book at a time. Over a period of time, it ends up being something substantial. It’s not magic but consistency counts.

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Wednesday, August 08, 2007

The Missing Puzzle Piece

The July 30th issue of Publishers Weekly is the most recent printed issue that I've received. Living in the West, it normally doesn't arrive until late in the week. This particular issue had a fascinating short article which ranked the top 20 bestsellers from January to June 2007 called "It’s 'The Secret' By a Long Shot" Normally the bestseller lists and rankings are separated according to the type of product such as fiction, nonfiction, hardcover, trade paperback, or mass market (I didn't list all of the categories but gave you an idea of them). This list combines all of the various products and ranks the top 20 bestselling products from any category. The title for the article comes from the fact The Secret book and audio are both on this list of bestsellers.

One of the things to spot is something which is not there. It's true when you proofread your manuscript and it's true when you read publications -- whether articles in the newspaper or magazines or books. It's part of your challenge as a reader to pick up on what is missing as well as what is actually there. I see it as actually processing the information instead of simply absorbing everything like a sponge.

One of the elements which bothered me about this list is the lack of any Christian product. First you have to understand these numbers come from Nielsen BookScan which measures the actual sales from the general marketplace. A number of Christian authors have some substantial sales--yet not all of their sales are reported in Nielsen BookScan. Why?

I returned to an article which Mike Hyatt wrote in late December about the inaccuracy of bestseller lists. I'm encouraging you to read the entire article along with the sequel article from Mike. For the purposes of this post, I want to quote a couple of paragraphs from his excellent information for you:

"The best solution of all would be for Nielsen’s BookScan to collect data from Christian bookstores. It already collects data from 6,500 general market bookstores and other retail outlets, including Target, K-Mart, and Costco. (It apparently does not collect data from Wal-Mart or Sam’s.) It is also based on point-of-sale data, so the data is thus more reliable. It reflects what customers are actually buying. The sad fact is that Nielsen can't get Christian bookstores to participate. They don't want to share their data. They are afraid that general market booksellers and mass market outlets will use this data to gain a competitive advantage. In my humble opinion, this is nonsense."

"For starters, competitors to Christian bookstores already have access to Christian bestsellers lists. This data is published monthly by the two major trade magazines and is readily available on the Web (see previous links). In addition, all the major Christian publishers call on the general bookstores and the mass market outlets. In the ordinary course of business, they tell these accounts which of their particular books are selling best. So, these competitors have access to all the data they need. Because Christian bookstores refuse to cooperate with Nielsen they either intentionally or unintentionally reduce the visibility of Christian products on the major bestsellers lists. Because sales through Christian bookstores can't be counted, many books never hit the list that are, in fact, probably outselling those on the list! (Just to give you an example, in the last 12 months, we have had over 100 of our books at Thomas Nelson sell more than 100,000 copies. You can make it onto the list, depending on the velocity and the season, with as few as 20,000 books sold.) As a result, people who might be interested in Christian books, never get the opportunity to discover those books, because--to be blunt--Christian booksellers are "hiding their light under a bushel."

"In addition, the larger Christian publishers, in an effort to drive the bestseller lists, tend to send their authors to general market bookstores, because they know that they report to the various bestsellers lists. If Christian bookstores reported to these lists, particularly Nielsen, then it wouldn't matter to most of us if the author signs books at a Christian bookstore or a general market bookstore. Both would get reported. But Christian booksellers aren’t giving us that choice. As a result, everyone loses, especially the would-be Christian book consumer who doesn't get the opportunity to discover books that are, essentially, invisible."

OK, these three paragraphs from Mike Hyatt explain the missing puzzle piece in the bestsellers. My encouragement is to read deeply but also think deeply about the material that crosses your screen or your desk or your mailbox.

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Tuesday, August 07, 2007

The Origin of Junk Mail

In recent days I've seen several news reports about spam or junk mail. It's an element in our work as writers and editors and others in publishing. I know many people have spam filters. I will see it when I send them an email response to their question on Right-Writing.com. I have to fill out a form on their spam filter in order to get my response returned to them (an understandable nuisance--yet still a nuisance in my view).

Over the weekend, I was in Houston, Texas for the Texas Christian Writers event at First Baptist Houston. When I returned home I found the August 6th issue of The New Yorker. It includes an article about spam called Damn Spam, A hundred billion junk e-mails a day. If you want to know about the origins of electronic junk mail, read this article.

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Thursday, August 02, 2007

Are You Unstoppable?

Earlier this year in March, I met Cynthia Kersey who is the founder of Unstoppable Enterprise when she was a speaker at Mega Book Marketing University in Los Angeles. We exchanged business cards and I was added to her Unstoppable Insights list. Every day, I get a short email with an inspirational quotation such as the one today from Harvey Mackay, "Find something you love to do and you'll never have to work a day in your life." Some of them are more relevant to my situation at the moment than others but they are excellent. If you want to receive these insights, follow this link where you can sign up.

On a regular basis, Cynthia sends a longer email and I received this one last week with an excerpt from her book, Unstoppable Women. Within the publishing community, we face a lot of rejection of our ideas. Yes, we know it's just business and not personal but we pour our hearts into these projects. The encouragement that I received from Cynthia--and I want to pass along to you is to treat rejection as another hurdle and continue making progress toward your goal. Eventually you will attract others who want to help you. Look at this brief excerpt and the persistent attitude and action from Michele Hoskins. Also notice the positive persistence that Hoskins used to reach her goal.

"Michele Hoskins's recipe for success came from her great-great-grandmother's honey cream syrup. But persistence was the major ingredient. She won a $3 million contract with Denny's after calling them every single week for 2 years straight.

"At the time I got the idea to market my honey cream syrup to Denny's restaurants, they were known as the worst company to do business with for minorities, and they were experiencing a lot of bad press and discrimination suits. I was a woman and a minority, and I made a great syrup, something they sold a lot of. I believed that they needed me as much as I needed them.

Each Monday morning at 10:30, I'd call their corporate office. Over a period of time, everyone in the organization knew I wanted their business. The receptionist would say, 'Michelle's on the phone. Who's talking to her today?' I talked to a lot of people, all promising to get back with me, but they never did. I spoke with the receptionist, secretaries, people in the diversity department, procurement, product development, sales - anyone who would listen.

They really didn't know what to do with me, but they continued to take my calls. After two years, they got a new CEO, Jim Adamson, who restructured the company. He was very interested in making Denny's a diverse organization and improving their reputation. He had heard about my story and asked, 'Why aren't we doing business with this woman?'

I ended up getting business from their diversity division and doing what I set out to do, not only delivering syrup to their 17,000 restaurants, but helping their image by becoming their poster child for diversity.

The funny thing was that at the time I was approaching them, I was a small manufacturer in Chicago making syrup locally. I wasn't remotely prepared to manufacture and deliver my syrup to more than 17,000 restaurants. But I thought once I got the business, I'd figure out how to do it. I've learned that anything the mind can conceive, can manifest through hard work, perseverance, and faith."

Find something you love to do and you'll never have to work a day in your life."

Yes, Michele Hoskins was unstoppable. Are you unstoppable? If not, can you become unstoppable?

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Wednesday, August 01, 2007

A Peek Behind the Curtain

It’s probably not a question that many writers ask but I'm going to write about it in this entry—the salary of people in the publishing houses. If you've written a book, maybe you've never wondered about the salary of your editor or the marketing person. Where do you locate this information?

While 93% of the publishing workforce holds a college degree, the average salary is relatively small compared to other professions. The people who work in publishing are motivated with much more than financial compensation. The salary information is located in Publishers Weekly. The annual salary survey article appeared in the issue which landed in my mailbox yesterday. Occasionally a student will write me about the business and want such detail. It's always good to have a place to send people where they can peek behind the curtain and see something that isn't normally shown. You can find this type of information in this article.

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