Monday, May 30, 2011

Open the World of Publishing with This Book

The publishing world is full of possibilities. Many people want to enter it and often jump in with little understanding or background. Without a good guide or mentor, they make many mistakes and waste lots of time, money and energy going down the wrong paths. This book will help you avoid some of those missteps.

In the preface, Joel Friedlander clearly defines his purpose and audience: “instead of a how-to book, I decided to create a kind of ‘why-to’ book. In A Self-Publisher’s Companion, I’ve pulled together the writing I think is the best I’ve done on the world of self-publishing today. I hope it will be a real companion to authors thinking about getting into the exciting and fast-changing world of self-publishing.”

The contents are divided into six helpful divisions: A Self-Publishing Orientation, Bookmaking, Social Media for Authors, The Ebook Revolution, The Electronic Life and You Are the Market.

Friedlander fills this title with practical information and insight. You will want to keep your yellow highlighter handy as you read it and mark sections to return and re-read. For example in his chapter, Things I Love—and Hate—About Self-Publishing, he writes, “There’s a lot to love about self-publishing, and a lot to hate. My hope is that by educating yourself, you’ll avoid the worst of these situations and end up with a book you can be proud of, and which you can sell for a profit. I love that idea.” Whether you are starting in publishing or exploring options or experienced and looking for some new ideas, you will gain from a careful reading of A SELF PUBLISHER’S COMPANION. I loved this book and I’ve become a new fan of TheBookDesigner.com.

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Friday, May 27, 2011

The Message in the Book Numbers

Did you see the book production statistics for 2010 which Publishers Weekly released (follow the link). Over three million books were release last year. Yes, that is a huge number.

From my perspective, there are at least two ways to interpret those numbers. You could moan, "My book will never get published. I can barely get my book written. Much less get the attention of an agent and get a publisher."

Or you can take a much different attitude and one that could open the doors for publishing success. You could say, "Yes there were a lot of books published last year but how many of those books actually reached their audience? My book is excellent and I'm going to redouble my efforts to find the right place for it."

These two views are common. One side says I can't and the other perspective says Yes I can. As I've said in the past, one of the keys to publishing anything (magazine or book) is to approach the right person at the right time at the right place with the right material. Yes, lots of "rights" have to align for that to happen but it is entirely possible and much of it is in your control--especially when it comes to creating an excellent idea.

The foundation of every bestselling book whether fiction or nonfiction is great storytelling. You learn to write great stories as you practice your storytelling technique over and over. I recommend the shorter writing form of magazine articles as a way to learn to tell good stories. If you are writing nonfiction, then write magazine articles for printed magazines. Yes, any of you can blog and publish newsletters online but the higher standard in the publishing community is writing that appears in printed publications. If you are writing fiction, then you need to be crafting short stories and publishing those stories in printed magazines. There are markets for these short stories and you need to be actively looking for them, sending out your material to editors and getting those stories into print. Why? It helps you build credibility (a publishing track record) with editors and agents plus it gives you experience with a shorter form of writing rather than a long novel or full length book.

Peter Guber encourages authors to tell stories with purpose in Tell to Win. If you have not read this book, I recommend this book because of the insight in it. He emphasizes that it's important to use storytelling in your persuasion process but don't just tell stories for the sake of telling them. You create a story which moves the audience toward your intended purpose. To be successful with this storytelling process you have to know your purpose and be intentional about the writing process.

In addition, to excellent writing, you have to continually focus on reaching out to your audience and touching them with your writing. I've heard the horror stories from every type of author about their lack of book sales. Whether you have been published with a large mainstream publisher or a small independent press or self-published, the reality is still the same: the author has the greatest passion for your topic and your own writing. What are you doing each day to pour that passion into telling others about your work. You have to make continual and steady effort in this area. No one else will do it for you or do it to the extent that you will do it. Step out of your comfort zone and speak or use social media to tell others in a targeted fashion. Follow the instructions and insights in this handout that I recently used at the Tucson Festival of Books about social media.

Finally, another way to build your audience and overcome the message in the book numbers is to give back to others around you. Some of you feel like you are just beginning in publishing and have nothing to give others. That is untrue. No matter where you are in the publishing world, you have learned things that you can pass on to others. This process of giving will help draw people to your message and help you enter the publishing community. It is a foundational part of my operation in the community. Here's a simple way every reader can give to others: support good books with a few words of review and a positive Five Star review on Amazon or another review site. These reviews do not have to be long or involved or complicated. They take a few minutes to write and are a way to support good books. I've written over 300 Amazon reviews. No one pays me to write these reviews but it is a consistent way that I can support good books. You can take this step with good books that you are reading.

Don't let the numbers of books overwhelm you. Be aware of these numbers but keep focused on telling good stories, getting those stories into the market and building your audience.

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Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Twitter Tool or Gimmick?

One of my writer friends and I were talking about twitter. He suddenly said, "Terry, you use a program to automatically grow your following right?" I agreed that I'm using a program called Tweet Adder. I've been using Tweet Adder for about seven or eight months and yes it has dramatically increased my followers on twitter. I see Tweet Adder as an important tool and not a gimmick because it does automate a number of functions. Previously I was working each day at increasing my followers on Twitter and now Tweet Adder handles these functions.

From my experience with Twitter, one of the best ways to increase your followers is to first tweet excellent focused content and second to follow others who have an interest in that content. You have to follow others gradually and consistently. If you decided to follow 400 people in a single day, then that would appear to twitter like you are abusing the tool and they could suspend your twitter account and defeat your entire purpose for being on twitter.

You can invest the time and energy and follow people to grow your twitter following. Or you can use a focused tool like Tweet Adder to help you in this process.

The program runs 24 hours a day in the background of my computer and will gradually follow new people. They don't follow random people but individuals that I've selected through keywords. For example for my Terry Whalin twitter account, I'm looking for followers who are interested in writing, publishing, books or those types of words. Tweet Adder searches the profiles of people on twitter and you can select whether you want them to speak only English (my preference) or to be in a certain geographic area and other limitations. The program will search for new followers, eliminate any duplicates and follow more of these selected people each day.

After a period of time, if the person does not follow you in return, then Tweet Adder unfollows this person. It keeps the balance between people you are following and people who follow you on Twitter.

The program has a one-time fee and not something monthly (like some other Twitter programs). Also from time to time, Twitter will change how their program works. The folks at Tweet Adder keep up on these shifts and modify their program so it still keeps working--and send out an update to you without any additional expense. Other programs will charge you a fee for that update but it's not the case with Tweet Adder.

At this writing, I'm still learning how to use this tool but it is not a gimmick. It is a valuable tool for you to grow your twitter following without spending massive amounts of time and energy. If you are looking to increase your presence on Twitter, then I recommend you try the free download of Tweet Adder and eventually purchase this tool.

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Sunday, May 22, 2011

Yes, You Can

Often I've met writers who are struggling financially. They are looking for a publisher or magazine to publish their work and promptly pay them to solve their mounting bills. Writing can pay but it does not always happen in the way that you presume it will happen. There are many different ways to earn a living in the publishing world.

As a writer, I've discovered many different ways to make money in the publishing world. One of those ways is through advertising other people's products and using an affiliate link. The affiliate industry is a multi-billion dollar industry and is something that any writer can use to supplement their income.

You may have a blog or a website. Have you monetized your website or blog so you have created a revenue stream? Or are you simply putting content online with no expectation that it will make money? If you are wondering, "What is affiliate marketing?" Or "What is Terry talking about?" Then I've got good news for you.

In the last few weeks, I've written a new Ebook called You Can Make Money. A Step-by-step Guide to Passive Income through Affiliate Marketing. This free 30-page Ebook provides the details of how to get started on affiliate marketing. I wrote it and used my own examples and illustrations. I have my own affiliate program at www.TerryInfo.com The program is free to sign up and includes banners and other tools for you to promote my products and earn 50% of the income. I used the Pop up Domination program to make it easy for you to receive this free Ebook. Just go to www.TerryInfo.com and enter your first name and email address. You will immediately receive the free Ebook.

I wrote this new resource to help you understand and use the tools in my affiliate program. The principles in the book are universal and something you can use with many other affiliate programs than mine. I hope you will sign up for my affiliate program then take action and use the tools to make money. Why? Because you will touch people that I will never encounter. You can tell them about my products and lead them to my sales page for the product. If they buy the product, then you will receive an email about it--and I will receive an email about their purchase. After the guarantee period, then you will receive 50% if the income from that purchase.

I believe there is great opportunity--if you take action. Will you?

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Friday, May 20, 2011

The Constant Drumbeat for Every Writer

Twice last year at writers' conferences, I taught a continuing series of classes called The Constant Drumbeat for Every Writer. In these classes, I revealed the continual effort that I make as a writer to tell people about my books and products. I would love for someone else to beat the drum and tell others about my books. In a few cases, I do have some people who tell others. But at the end of the day, I understand that I have the greatest passion and concern about the value of my own books. It is my responsibility to tell others about the value and benefits of my books and products.

Many authors live in a fantasy world about this matter of telling others about their books. They believe their publisher will do it or their friends or _______ (anyone but themselves). It taken me years to come to this conclusion but I'm the best person to tell other people about my book. Like every author, I wanted someone else to carry this responsibility. Yet no one has the passion and interest in your book like you do. It is the author's responsibility to continually use tools like blogs, Twitter, Facebook, newsletters and even physical items like postcards and business cards to spread the news about their products.

As the world of Ebooks and self-publishing grows, the competition for our products only increases. It is easier than ever for an a writer to push their material into the marketplace. According to this article there were at least 3.1 million books in 2010. While those numbers can be daunting, let's also recognize that you can stand out in several ways. First, be committed to excellence. If you are going to put out a book, make sure it is edited and well-designed. I see a great deal of material that looks like it is thrown together and the authors probably wonder why nothing happened with it. The craft of good storytelling will shine in your work but it does take work.

What are you doing to tell others about your writing? Are you crafting a book proposal to make the best first impression on an editor or literary agent? Are you writing a query letter to pitch a magazine article? Are you writing a magazine article and sending it to an editor for consideration? Are you writing another portion in your book to keep advancing toward a full manuscript? Nothing happens overnight but it can happen bit by bit or little by little. What are your priorities for your writing and how are you making choices for those priorities with your available time?

Last week at the Blue Ridge conference, I gave a keynote talk about writing with courage (the theme of the conference). As I prepared my message, I could have simply told stories but I decided to take it a step further. I prepared a small business-size card with my five key points. Toward the end of my time, I gave each member of the audience one of these cards and encouraged them to take it home, put it near their computer and focus each day on how they can write with courage. On the back of this card, I provided a series of five resources to write with courage and my personal email address. My intention was to do more than tell interesting stories. I wanted to become memorable so each listener would take action and move forward with their writing dreams.

Bestselling author Jack Canfield talks about the importance of following the Rule of Five. If you follow the link, you can watch this short video and understand the necessity of continual focus on a goal to achieve it. Are you constantly beating the drum for your writing?

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Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Make The First Move

Last week I was teaching at the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference near Asheville, North Carolina. It is an outstanding conference and I enjoyed meeting many new writers. It is always interesting to listen to their ideas and see how I can help them.

Throughout the conference I met dozens of writers and spoke with them about the Intermedia Publishing Group program. In today's publishing environment, it is a challenge to get published at times. The clear advantage of a program like Intermedia is how quickly we can get your book produced with excellence and into the marketplace. We can get your book into the market in about 90 to 120 days as opposed to the typical 18 to 24 months of a traditional publishing house. For many unpublished authors, the Intermedia system is attractive. After talking with these writers about our program, I would exchange business cards with them. Some of them did not have a business card. For those situations, I made a point of collecting their information in a notebook or on another scrap of paper so I would have it to follow-up with them. Why?

From my years in publishing, I understand the importance of maintaining a connection and following up. Any writers' conference is a wonderful experience and many ideas are exchanged. Which ideas actually become reality? The ideas which are carried out are the ones where there is follow-up and an on-going connection.

In the last couple of days, I've already heard from a few writers I met during the conference. We've exchanged emails and are in touch with each other. I encourage you to follow-up with the people you met while the memory is fresh.

My first step is always to get their contact information into my computer. If their contact information is on a business card or another scrap of paper, then it is hard to access. In some cases, I will type in their information. In other cases I use a business card scanner. The scanner isn't perfect but it is simple and will synch with my Outlook files. If you have the person's business card data in your computer, you can always find it using a free tool like Google Desktop. The process begins in my view with saving the other person's contact information.

The next step is to reach out to the person with a short email. I often express gratitude that we met and in my signature line, I give the other person something of value (a free Ebook or a link to my twitter feed for continued contact).

Many people stop after sending this first follow-up note. Like many of you, I receive a lot of email (several hundred a day). After a trip like last week, I'm behind on answering my email and a number of different areas. As a typical publisher, I have authors that I'm working with on their projects and a number of things that prevent my follow-up work. Yet I understand the importance and I'm working as quickly as I can to follow-up and connect to the people that I met.

Here's something else to understand: email doesn't always reach the intended person. Maybe my email got caught in their SPAM filter and was accidentally deleted. Maybe I inputed their address wrong and it never reached them in the first place. If you need to connect to the person and do not hear from them, there is nothing wrong with sending a short little email to see if they received your first email. If you still do not hear something, there is nothing wrong with using the telephone and checking to see if they received your information.

At the end of the day, it is the connection and relationship that you want to build and to last way beyond a single conference. It's one of the important lessons that I've learned about the publishing business.

Gentle persistence with your communication works from my experience. You can achieve your publishing dreams as you reach out to the other person and make the first move.

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Wednesday, May 04, 2011

How To Swim In A Sea of Ideas

Many years ago at a writer's conference I took a continuing session from long-time Guideposts Contributing Editor Elizabeth Sherrill. One sentence from that teaching has stuck with me for years, "Writers are swimming in a sea of ideas."

Our writing can go in a million different directions. There are countless print magazines, book publishers, online magazines and much more to pull our writing talent. How do you keep track of the various ideas yet still focus and not have a bunch of half-baked material in your files?

Many writers have asked me how in the world I've created such a large body of published works. Normally I respond, "Writing a book is like eating an elephant. You do it one bite at a time--or one page at a time or one paragraph at a time." It is a matter of consistently working toward a goal and completing that goal. Then you plan a new goal and work toward that goal. Half-written articles and stories do not get published or go anywhere.

I want to give you several ideas to capture those ideas yet to also focus on moving forward and accomplishing your publishing dreams.

First, take time to plan. Have a daily "to-do" list and cross off those items. Are you moving forward toward your short-term and long-term goals? What is holding you back? Can you eliminate or lessen those things that are holding you back? The time you spend in planning will reap huge benefits to your writing life.

Also, write down your ideas. Every writer needs a place to keep these ideas. I suggest you purchase a simple blank notebook and use it to write down your ideas, dreams and possible writing projects. Here's the key: you write them down but do not execute them. They are captured so you can return to them but not overwhelming you.

Weave these ideas into your daily writing life. If you want to get into magazines, then you need to be pitching or writing queries for magazine editors. If you want to get a book publisher, then you need to learn how to write a book proposal and be pitching book editors with your proposal--yet only after it is carefully crafted and not half-baked.

Commit to consistent writing and submitting. Besides the necessity to write and complete your ideas, you need to be sending it out into the marketplace--to editors and agents who can move you toward publication. You accomplish nothing to have partially written or completely written manuscripts in your computer or paper files. I have a number of projects that are in different stages of completion. I'm working consistently to get these projects completed and launched into the marketplace. You can follow the same path.

Keep Knocking on Different Doors. You never know which door will be the right one for your writing. In fact, you will never know if you don't consistently knock on that door to see if it will open. Persistence and perseverance will pay off.

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Sunday, May 01, 2011

A Valuable Free Resource for Every Writer

I will often find a book reviewed or mentioned that I would like to possibly read. During some periods of my life, I would often turn to an online bookstore or a physical bookstore and purchase that book. In these tight economic times, I tend to look in a different direction for my first course of action: the public library. Here's just a few of the ways I'm using my local library:

I have a public library near my home which I frequent several times a week. I've discovered an amazing array of movie DVDs at the library (and many of them are some of the newest releases).

I've become skilled at using their online catalog to request forthcoming books. If I read about a new novel which I'd like to read, I can often find the library has that book (or has it on order). I can get on the list of people to receive the new book when it is available.

If I look and the book isn't in the library, our library has an online system to "make a suggested purchase." It requires that I list the title, author, ISBN (International Standard Book Number) and the form that I would like the book (book, audio, etc) then the branch where I'd like to pick up the book if ordered. If my request is accepted, then I receive an email about it and I'm one of the first people to get the book when it gets into the system. Some of my requests are not accepted as well (par for the course but at least I tried). Recently I was looking for a new book from one of my American Society of Journalists and Author colleagues. It was not in the library system so I made this request and the librarian decided to order the book and I'm on the list for it. I wrote my author friend and she was naturally thrilled since I pointed a way that her book is getting into my local library system.

I enjoy listening to audio books in my car and the library is a perfect place to find some great books in this category. Last week I noticed some inexpensive audio books the Friends of the Library were offering. I've been wanting to read Barbara Walters' bestselling memoir, Ambition. I purchased the audio book for the grand sum of $3 and the audio for a Michael Connelly novel, The Fifth Witness that is currently on the bestseller list. I bought the audio for $8--at the public library.

As an author, I'm always interested to see if my books are in the public library. For my local librarian, I asked the name of the person in charge of the collection then called her and introduced myself. I offered to send a few of my bestselling books to the library (without charge). She wanted the books to put into the collection and explained how to get them to her. I followed her instructions and a few months later my books were in the public library system. Now I know we can't give our books away to every library but in a few cases like this one, it makes sense. If you donate books in my library without going to this extra effort, then the books are put in the "Friends of the Library" section and sold to the public. They don't accomplish my goal of getting them into the library collection. Make sure you investigate if you want to get them into the library collection.

If you want to know more about how to sell your books into the public library, I have a free teleseminar that I did with one of my author friends, Max Davis who has sold his book into over 3,000 public libraries. He gives the full details in the teleseminar so I hope you will listen to it. I will probably be changing this teleseminar soon but for now it is available and a great resource to learn about selling your book into the public library.

Do not overlook this valuable writing resource. Begin using it on a regular basis and you will be surprised at what you will gain.

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