Sunday, November 27, 2011

Move Into High Gear

Time has marches on. We've reached the holiday season again. I can hear the Christmas music in the malls and watch the decorations spreading throughout my neighborhood. The family has celebrated their Thanksgiving feast and is looking forward to holidays together. I love this time of year.

In the publishing world, many of the key decisions grind to almost a standstill. When I was an acquisitions editor, it was almost impossible to have a publication board meeting to present new book ideas and authors. That means proposals and pitches pile up until after the holidays. Many of the publishing professionals are focused on sending holiday greetings, attending company functions and generally taking some time away from the office for family and vacations.

When you hear about this standstill you have two choices about how you react. You can throw your hands up and say, “Guess it's a bad time to send anything to publishers or agents.”

Or you can lean into it and decide it's a great time to move your work on a proposal or pitch into high gear. I encourage you to take the latter approach because it will help you move forward. Recently I held a free teleseminar about proposal creation. I answered many questions from writers. As I've held these events, I've found many people ask almost exactly the same question for a particular topic. This event was recorded and you can download the replay right away to your computer or iPod and hear my teaching. Plus you will receive a free 24–page resource, Book Proposal Basics when you go to the website. If you don't have a question, just type “no question.” Take action today and get my teaching about proposals.

If you want to push forward with your book idea and get your proposal in the best possible shape, I recommend you take my step-by-step Write A Book Proposal course. I set up this course on auto-responders which means if you sign up on a Tuesday, you will immediately receive the first lesson. Then seven days later or on the next Tuesday, you will receive the next lesson. This 12 lesson course includes a number of surprise bonus lessons and a graduation gift over three months. You complete the lessons on your own pace and it builds until you have a complete book proposal and sample chapter. You will be ready to hit the new year running hard and find a traditional book deal for your book.

Maybe you feel like you have a handle on creating an excellent book proposal. My next suggestion is to establish your own Simple Membership System. Almost every writer that I know has some skill that they teach to others. What do you teach? Can you take that information and repurpose or use it to create your own course? I believe the next few weeks create an opening for you to begin to craft your own teaching into an online course. The Simple Membership System is a complete package with three bonuses and detailed information to launch your own teaching.

If you are checking your email repeatedly looking for a response from a publisher or literary agent. You will be hard pressed to get a response during the next few weeks while they are focused on the holidays. It's not a time to relax but instead you can move your writing life into high gear.

I've written this article to encourage you to take action and move your writing into high gear. I'm taking my own advice and finalizing several of my own projects over the next few weeks. I believe you can achieve your publishing dreams. Yet it doesn't happen on its own steam. You have to take action each day to keep things moving forward.

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Saturday, November 19, 2011

The Beauty of Gratitude

We live in a thankless world. It's rare to receive a handwritten Thank You note for any act of kindness. It's almost a lost practice to send little notes of appreciation.

Repeatedly I've seen the beauty of gratitude as I express it for different actions. For example, recently I received a book in the mail from an author. He was excited about the contents and sent it to me. I often write about books and review books so I can appreciate the effort from this writer to send it to me and get it into my hands. Unfortunately from my years in publishing, at a glance, I could tell this product was homemade and lacking in a number of areas. I'll not be writing about this book nor reading it. What could I do to encourage this author? I decided that I could express my appreciation to this author and wish him all the best with the book.

I pulled out a Thank You note and expressed my appreciation and put it into today's mail.

Because I've been writing about books for years, authors will often send me their books. I appreciate the gesture but often it is a challenge to find any time to read these books. Even writing a short note of appreciation takes time but it is time well-spent in my view.

I love the season of Thanksgiving because it renews our focus on gratitude. Are you looking for a way to touch people, build relationships and get noticed? A simple step is to develop an attitude of gratitude. As you increase your focus on thankfulness and gratitude, it will lift your spirits and help you become a positive influence to the people in your life. I'm committed to being grateful much more than during this season. It's a pattern I want to carry out every day. How about you?

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Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Where Do You Autograph a Book?

I love autographed books from the author and keep them on my shelves for years. In yesterday's mail, I received a new book. The author and I corresponded about it through email and I asked her to autograph it. I was surprised at where she signed my book—on the inside of the front cover.

In the last few months, I've received several autographed books from new authors who signed with a ballpoint pen on the inside of the front cover.

From my years in publishing, the inside cover of a book is not the normal place for an author to autograph a book. For years I've been attending book trade shows where authors sign books for booksellers and others who attend. The most common place to autograph a book is on the title page.

Often the title page has a little space for the author to sign the person's name, a little personal sentence along with their signature. When it comes to hardcover books, they frequently have a blank page right inside the cover or the opening page of the book. It's another spot where authors frequently sign books. Paperbacks are almost always signed on the title page of the book.

Also when you autograph a book, it is best to use a permanent fine point marker. Over the years, ballpoint pen tends to fade where the permanent marker will continue to look good for years to come.

I've signed a number of books. My first step is always to ask if the person wants me to write their name. Some times they have purchased the book for someone else. Other times they just want me to sign the book without personalizing it. Also carefully make sure you spell that name correctly since you are signing directly on the book. I never presume I know how to spell the name and have heard many unusual spellings of names over the years.

Besides writing the reader's name, I will write something to commemorate the occasion of our meeting like “Terrific to meet you in _____.” I make a point to sign something personal and unique to each person. Why?

Years ago I was interviewing bestselling authors. I was new to publishing and I carefully prepared for each interview and read as many books from an author as I could before I spoke with them. I carried these books to my interview and in the final moments would ask them to autograph the book. It was a great learning experience for me to see where each person signed the book, how they personalized it and handled the autograph process.

One of the most memorable experiences is an example of how not to autograph. I lived in Southern California and drove to the home of a bestselling author to interview him for a magazine article. I sat in his living room for about an hour for the interview. At the end of our time, I pulled out a copy of his most recent book and asked him to autograph it. “No problem,” he said as he flipped to the title page. He quickly scrawled his name and returned the book to me. I thanked him but inside I was floored that he didn't even personalize it with my name, the date or anything else.

This experience taught me a lifelong lesson about autographing books. If possible, I always personalize every book that I sign. My goal is to create a prized book that the reader will want to keep for years.

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