Sunday, May 31, 2009

Every Email Counts

Since the beginning of 2004, I've had a newsletter called Right Writing News. Ideally, I write one a month but because of my schedule and other responsibilities, the newsletter hasn't gone out as frequently recently. There are 38 back issues of Right Writing News and it's free to subscribers. These back issues contain more than 400 pages of how-to write articles and information--a rich resources for anyone who wants to learn about writing.

Also anyone who subscribes will receive three valuable Ebooks worth over $100. The main page of Right Writing.com has a pop-up menu which offers the newsletter and anyone can instantly subscribe. It isn't automatic--but generates an email which I manually add the person to my email newsletter list--and they confirm they want the subscription. I know the system isn't perfect but I've been using it for five years and it is what it is. This list has almost 7,000 emails which have been collected over the years.

For many reasons, I've not kept up on processing the emails which go into the web mail for Right-Writing.com. In fact, part of me has been ignoring it. This weekend I looked in the email box and it had over 500 emails. I started to check the emails against my master list to see if the subscriber had gone ahead and gone to the newsletter page and subscribed. In fact, I was hoping they had subscribed, then I could delete the email and move through the pile of unprocessed emails.

Instead I learned that only about two in 100 emails had subscribed. If I had been rushed, I would have deleted 98 people who requested my newsletter yet didn't get on my list. It reminded me of a simple lesson when it comes to newsletters and subscribers: every email counts. It's part of the discussion that many publishers and writers frequently discuss--platform. If you want to sell a book to a traditional publisher, you need a platform. You can build your platform in many different ways (get this free Ebook for some of my ideas) but one of the keys is to gather every email and add it into your newsletter. Then through the newsletter continually build your relationship with the individual. It's something I've been encouraging writers to do and faithfully modeling for several years.

Platform building and building an online presence are two chapters in my Jumpstart Your Publishing Dreams. Part of my motivation in writing this book was to encourage every author to understand some proactive steps they can take to build an audience and presence in today's marketplace.

During the next few days, I will be processing the Right Writing email address--and adding those emails to my list. I want each person who wants the free newsletter to have it and profit from that valuable information. Once again I was reminded of the value of each email.

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Saturday, May 30, 2009

Back At My Computer

Over the past couple of weeks, I've been on the faculty of a couple of different writers conferences in Colorado and North Carolina. It meant nine straight days on the road away from home. I came home for two days.

Last Sunday I flew to Buffalo, New York and drove an hour and a half to the small town of Houghton which is in Southwestern New York State. For four hours I spoke last Monday morning to a class at Houghton College, then I did my Sunday trip in reverse getting home to Phoenix late Monday night.

This past week, I've been on the phone and computer attempting to get my various book projects for Intermedia on track. While it's not totally under control, it is getting there and I'm grateful. The work has left no time for these entries on the Writing Life.

For fun, check out this article in the Ashland, Kentucky newspaper about my forthcoming speaking event next month at the Kentucky Christian Writers Conference.

I've met many people over the last few weeks and I've been adding their names, emails and addresses into my rolodex. If you are headed to a writers conference in the weeks ahead, let me give you some of my insights about exchanging information with the editor.

1. You'd be surprised the number of people who want one of my business cards (which I freely gave) yet did not plan ahead and bring cards to the conference. Instead of letting that person off the hook so they didn't give me their contact information, I collected their email and phone and address in my notebook. If you want to be professional with the faculty at a conference, plan ahead and bring your business cards.

2. When you create your business card, completeness is much more important than a fancy appearance for the card. One writer gave me a business card and the typeface had so many curls in it (so it would appear to be fancy) that it was almost impossible to read it.

Another book author included her name, address, phone and website on her business card--but was missing her email address. I wanted to connect with this author on email so it forced me to go to her website and look around until I found the email address. It should have been on her business card in the first place. Many editors will not make the effort that I made to connect with this author--and she's probably unaware that her business card is missing her email address. Make a point to check and double check your business card to make sure it has all of the critical information.

Another tech oriented writer neglected to include his email on his business card. I went to one of his websites and all I could find was his twitter account. While I like and use Twitter, I was looking for an email address. I had to search another one of his websites before I located the email address. Many others will give up instead of pursuing and collecting this type of information.

The follow-up is where the actual work comes to fruition. I am actively returning to these business cards and the handwritten contact information to re-connect with these individuals. Why? From my experience, it is only through the on-going development of the relationship and my interest in their work that we end up working together on a project. It's one of the critical steps that many writers neglect--to their own detriment.

Yes, it's terrific to get to meet different people at these writers conferences but what active steps are you taking to reconnect and follow-up on the ideas you discussed? It is the difference between dreaming and putting reality to your dreams from my perspective.

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Sunday, May 10, 2009

Jumpstart Your Conference Experience

Several days ago, I wrote a post for the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writer's Conference Blog. What I didn't mention on that entry is the Blue Ridge Conference will be my second one--in a row. There are a number of us at the Blue Ridge Conference who are traveling from Denver, where we will be attending the Colorado Christian Writers Conference in Estes, Park. I leave on Wednesday for Colorado. Without returning home, we go straight to the Blue Ridge conference. It will make blogging difficult (if not impossible) because time will be spent in other places.

Here's what I wrote about how to Jumpstart Your Conference Experience:

In a few days, I’m traveling to Asheville and the glorious Ridgecrest Conference center. I love the crisp clean air of the North Carolina Mountains and look forward to it. I’ve been preparing to teach my continuing workshop, Jumpstart Your Publishing Dreams. I’ve been sorting through my 20+ years in publishing and preparing which stories to tell during my classes.

I love writers’ conferences. It’s a grand idea haven to talk shop and learn from other writers. If you want to succeed in the writing business, I’ve got four keys to Jumpstart your Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference experience:

1. Take daily time to pray about the various people you will meet and the ideas you will discuss. Ask the Lord to guide you through each detail of the conference such as who you will sit with at the opening meeting or where you will sit at each meal and what will be discussed. Ask for God to give you divine appointments. These encounters will be far beyond anything that you could have orchestrated or planned. Be looking for the Lord’s handiwork at the conference.

Some people call those divine appointments or “a pack your bags experience.” That means if you had to leave the conference early for some reason, then you would have had such a great experience with the greatest personal benefit. Through prayer you will come to the conference full of expectation and a spiritual sensitivity that God will work while you are on the conference grounds.

2. The second way to Jumpstart Your Conference Experience is to come prepared to meet others and start new relationships. Prepare some business cards and be prepared to give them out to everyone you meet—but don’t make it a one way exchange. When you give a business card, make sure you receive a business card. Writing is a solitary occupation and we need each other. You will form new and lasting friendships at the conference if you come prepared for it.

3. The third way to Jumpstart Your Conference Experience is to study the background for the various faculty members and get familiar with their different roles. Publishing is constantly changing. I’m in a different role as a publisher than my last time I came to Blue Ridge as a literary agent or when I’ve been as an acquisitions editor. Your familiarity with the different faculty will help you form deeper relationships during the conference. I believe your time in preparation will be rewarded.

4. The final way to Jumpstart Your Conference Experience is to come with the right heart attitude. Many writers come to their first conference expecting to sell their book manuscript or magazine article. Yes, there will be some of those exchanges at the conference. A much more central part of every writer’s conference is where individuals learn new aspects of publishing and take great strides of personal growth. Come with expectations and a willingness to learn and grow. With the right heart attitude, I’m convinced that you will not be disappointed but your expectations will actually be exceeded.

How can I say that expectations will be exceeded? Because I know each member of the faculty is a Christian and a person who is filled with the Spirit of the Living God. I love the verse in Ephesians 3:20 which says, “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us.”

Today God is preparing for you the people and lives that will be touched during the time we are together in the Blue Ridge Mountains. I will be coming with high expectations and anticipations. I’ve not ever been disappointed in the past.

See you soon in the mountains!

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Friday, May 08, 2009

Book Size Matters

Yesterday, I packed two boxes of Jumpstart Your Publishing Dreams to mail to the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference.

I packed the books in the flat rate priority boxes from the U.S. Post Office. The mail clerks could see the boxes were heavy.

"Let's see how much it would have cost without the flat rate," one of them eagerly said. They were curious. Without the flat rate, each box would have cost over $33 in postage. Because of the flat rate, each box was $10.35 to be shipped priority mail anywhere in the United States. I saved over $23 a box on shipping those books.

The size of your book makes a big difference for this shipping process. As a publisher, I am guiding authors in the creation of their books. One of the standard book sizes is 8.5 x 5.5 in either a hardcover or paperback. Another standard book size is 9 x 6. If I have a choice, each time I will select 8.5 x 5.5.


A 8.5 x 5.5 book will pack perfectly in the free boxes from the U.S. Post Office. For my Jumpstart Your Publishing Dreams, I can pack 16 books into each box or two stacks of eight books. The books are tightly packed into each box so that if they are thrown around in the shipping process, each book will arrive in pristine and perfect shape.

As marketing guru Seth Godin has said, "Marketing begins before the product is created." It takes some planning and intentional design to make sure your finished book is the right size, but that planning will result in repeated savings for you.

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