Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Grow Your Twitter Followers in Less Than 5 Minutes A Day

Several months ago, I saw New York Times bestselling author of Twitter Power, Joel Comm and told him that I had over 100,000 followers. He told me, “You have twitter power.”

If you check my twitter following, I recently went over 136,000 followers. For the last several months, they have been growing at about 100 new followers each day. I'll admit some of this growth is organic and not the result from anything that I'm actively doing. But a good portion of my daily growth comes from my active involvement and use of a tool called Refollow. I use the pro version which is $20 a month but it is well-worth it from my perspective. In less than five minutes a day, I'm able to follow 800 new people.

One of the keys to effective use of social media from my perspective is to not allow it to suck large amounts of your time. For months, I've been using Refollow and whether I'm on the road or at home, using it does not take more than five minutes. In fact, often I spend less than five minutes. 

Here's the home page:

One of the basic principles of twitter is that you follow others and a certain percentage of those people follow you back. I follow the followers of leaders in the publishing and writing community. Here's how my numbers have been increasing:

Here's the publishing people that I follow their followers:

Besides using Refollow, each day I use Hootsuite to regularly send out tweets to my followers. I make sure I'm sending different articles and educational information about publishing. I use the free version of Hootsuite and it does not take much time to load up this tool so it will add tweets every hour throughout the day. 

Finally every few days I use the free version of Manage Flitter. It allows me to find the spam followers, the followers who do not speak English and also to quickly unfollow people who have not followed me back. It can take a while to load all of my followers and tweets for analysis but I simply open a tab and allow it to work as I work on other things. 

I have great things happen in my writing life because of being on twitter. I regularly meet new writers and help them through my involvement on twitter. I'm careful with my time so it does not consume my day. And it does not have to consume your day. I wrote these details in this article so you can follow my example and grow your own twitter following. If some detail is not clear or you have questions, feel free to leave a comment below and I will respond. 

For every reader, I wish you great success on Twitter and that you too will find Twitter Power.

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Friday, January 23, 2015

Effective Use of LinkedIn

For years I ignored the LinkedIn emails asking me if I wanted to “connect” with someone. Yet there are 300 million people on LinkedIn and it is an effective tool—if you use it properly.

I changed my resistance to active use of LinkedIn. While my public profile says that I have 500+ connections, it is really over 4,000 connections. It is one of three or four social networks that I use constantly. For example, I regularly post updates and publishing information on LinkedIn. I use Hootsuite (an effective free tool) for these posts and they appear throughout each day with articles that I'm reading and other comments related to publishing.

Here's an example of a profile that I did not accept their invitation--in fact I marked it as spam so they will not be able to invite me again:

To make effective use of LinkedIn, your first priority is to fill out your profile. I see some people who don't have their photo or location or background with their profile. Unless I recognize your name, I'm probably not going to connect with your LinkedIn profile. It does take a bit of effort but is well worth it.

The second step is to connect with people that you know—and people who know you. We live in a mobile society where individuals change positions. The publishing world is fluid and it's common for people to change positions several times during their career. Here's one of the key details for LinkedIn: many professionals and business people use this network. If they change positions or move, they take their LinkedIn information with them. They change their emails, phone number and address information in the contact section of LinkedIn. 

If you are trying to pitch a particular editor or literary agent and you are connected to them through LinkedIn, you can quickly check to see if they are in the same location by checking their profile—before you fire off your proposal or query and learn they are no longer with the company or have changed positions.

LinkedIn has tools to help you expand your connections. Because of my large number of connections, I receive several invitations a day to connect with individuals. I do not want to be connected to spammers or individuals who I don't immediately recognize. Each time I check their profile and:

—If blank or only starting their connections, often I do not connect with them.

—If they are outside of the U.S. and I see no immediate relationship, then I do not connect with them. Sometimes I mark the person as spam and if so, LinkedIn will not allow them to send me another invitation.

—If I see they have connections with other publishing people that I know, like and trust, then I will often connect with those individuals.

Notice several things about how I used LinkedIn:

1. I do not spend much time on the site.

2. My profile is completely filled out—and LinkedIn lists me as an “all-star” with my information which has a great deal of detail.

3. I'm cautious and thoughtful about the people that I do connect with on the site.

There are many other ways to use LinkedIn. There are groups and other tools on the site. I have not chosen to get involved in these aspects because my time is focused mostly on being an acquisitions editor at Morgan James Publishing and helping other authors get their books into print.

If I receive an invitation to connect with someone I do not recognize, some times I will reply to that invitation. The email goes directly to their in box. In my short email, I ask them to remind me of our connection or relationship. 

Sometimes I hear that the person and I met at a conference or has a connection with me. In those cases, I will accept their Facebook and Twitter. In those cases, it is often unlikely that I will connect with them for that reason. I have thousands of friends on Facebook and Twitter. You need to give me a stronger connection for LinkedIn.

There are probably many more effective ways to use LinkedIn. I suspect many of those ways I'm not using involve large volumes of time (something I do not have to spend on LinkedIn at the moment). As an additional resource, I encourage you to grab this 35 page report on LinkedIn from my friend John Kremer. Through this post, I hope I've given you some new ideas how you can connect with others in your profession and increase your use of this site.

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Wednesday, January 21, 2015

The Unexpected Discovery of My Book

Last weekend I was in Hershey, Pennsylvania at the Hershey Lodge for a conference called Writer to Writer. It was a terrific event which will be repeated in the fall and I met some new writers. Also I got to hang out with a couple of my long-term friends. Jerry B. Jenkins taught the fiction track and Cecil Murphey taught the nonfiction track of the conference. I had the opportunity to speak at a breakfast to the group and also to teach a couple of workshops.

After the conference was completed, the Hershey Lodge was hosting a regional Christian bookseller conference. On Sunday afternoon, I signed over 125 copies of my Billy Graham biography as a way to introduce the book to these retail stores. The experience was a terrific way to help retailers know about the book and its availability. Also it gave me a chance to tell them about the benefits and distinctions of my biography for their customers. My biography is an easy-to-read 172 pages and in a couple of evenings readers can gain an overview of Mr. Graham's life. I included a number of new stories and the book is completely up-to-date.

If you don't know, I worked for Mr. Graham about 20 years ago as the Associate Editor at Decision, the official publication of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. I gathered endorsements and a foreword from Luis Palau for my book. You can see these endorsements and a short book trailer on my website. You can order it different ways from my website—even get an autographed copy if you want.

Depending on the time of year, traveling can be challenging. It's exactly what I found on Monday when I traveled home. I was on the early flight from Harrisburg to Philadelphia. I had an hour and a half to change planes but my flight was delayed for over an hour. Supposedly it was because of weather—some other place than Harrisburg where the sun was shining with a blue sky. I missed my connection from Philadelphia to Denver and the next flight was about 6:30 p.m. Yes, I was stuck all day in the Philadelphia airport

Since I had a lot of time on my hands, I wandered into Heritage Books. As I looked around, I discovered copies of my Billy Graham biography:

I asked the shopkeeper if I could sign my books. She called her manager to check and the manager said, “Yes.” I pulled out my pen and autographed all of the copies. Throughout November, December and January, my book has been in 25 different airports besides other bookstores across the country. Here's the list:

Travel delays are a nuisance but I made an unexpected discovery of my book in the Philadelphia airport. Fun.

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Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Are you Pursuing the Different or the Same?

January is a wonderful time of the year. We've turned the page on a new year and we can take a fresh start at our writing and work in publishing. Repeatedly I have read the definition of insanity—doing the same thing over and over expecting a different result. Yes, that is insanity. 

What is your specific goal or dream for the days ahead? Is it to build your platform or connection to the audience? Maybe you want to have an opportunity to write for different magazines or book publishers? Possibly you want to increase your writing income or your impact on the world.

The pursuit of a different path begins with formulating a new plan and target for your writing. Recently, I was watching Sunday Morning on CBS and heard the unlikely story behind “Diary of a Wimpy Kid.” 

There are several lessons for writers from this short video:

1. Jeff Kinney wanted to be a cartoonist and pursued his dream for years. While he was pursuing his dream, he worked in a related field (animation for games). In the evenings, he worked on his adult book about the Wimpy Kid Diary--which grew to 1300 pages. Also notice his persistence to work on this adult book for eight years.

2. He was actively looking for a publisher and took a sample of his writing to a Comic Book Convention and had the courage to speak to an editor at Abrams.

3. Kinney listened when the editor took a look at his sample and said he had a great book for kids (a different target audience). Abrams ended up publishing the first Diary of A Wimpy Kid book for early readers. Now Kinney has over 150 million copies of those books in print.

Are you continuing with the same actions and expecting different results (insanity) or are you trying different types of writing and actions to achieve something different? If you want to sell more of your writing this year, then I encourage you to try something different. If you want to sell more books, then you need to touch your audience more frequently. We buy from people we know, like and trust. What steps are you taking to build that exposure in the marketplace?

Be encouraged to take action--yet different action from what you did without results.

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Sunday, January 04, 2015

Enter My Goodreads Giveaway

In the last few months, I've become more active on Goodreads. If you have a book or love books, you should be involved on Goodreads. Why?

According to their site, they have 30 million members. That's a huge number of people who love books, read books and write reviews about books. If you are an author, I urge you to get this inexpensive teleseminar from my friend, Sandra Beckwith and discover three things you can do right away to begin to promote your book. 

One of the opportunities for any author is to use the Goodreads Giveaways. I'm following the advice of Catherine Ryan Howard who wrote this article, “Don't Do What You Are Told.” For my first Giveaway I limited the entrants to Goodreads members from the United States and the Giveaway was for a month. Each time I've been giving away the two new books that released last Fall. I had over 500 people enter the Giveaway. 

With my second Giveaway (again with two books), I followed Catherine's advice and ran it for a shorter period of time and allowed anyone in the world to enter the Giveaway. I had about 700 people enter this Giveaway for each book.

Any author can set up a Giveaway. Goodreads picks the winners and your obligation is to mail physical copies of the books to the winners. You affirm to Goodreads that you've sent the books to the winners. If they receive complaints about the winners not receiving the books, then you can't do any more Giveaways. When I widened the Giveaway to anyone in the world, I did send a couple of books outside the U.S. but it was still relatively low cost to mail the books—and a wise investment from my perspective. 

While you are giving a limited number of books, the concept is rooted in exposure. Hopefully some of the people who did not win a copy of your book will track it down, purchase it, love it and tell others about your book.

On January 5th, I'm launching my third Goodreads Giveaway. You can use the buttons below to enter and possibly win a free copy of my book. For this Giveaway, I'm limiting the time to ten days

Here's where you can enter for a copy of Billy Graham, A Biography of America's Greatest Evangelist:

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Billy Graham by W. Terry Whalin

Billy Graham

by W. Terry Whalin

Giveaway ends January 15, 2015.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter to win
I have a second new book, Jumpstart Your Publishing Dreams, Insider Secrets to Skyrocket Your Success:

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Jumpstart Your Publishing Dreams by W. Terry Whalin

Jumpstart Your Publishing Dreams

by W. Terry Whalin

Giveaway ends January 15, 2015.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter to win
I wish you all the best with the Giveaway—as I said above, Goodreads selects the winners. If you aren't active on Goodreads, then I encourage you to learn about it, get this teleseminar and take action to become active on the site, where people love books. Just becoming more active on Goodreads could be a strategic addition to your life and help you sell more books in the days ahead.

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Saturday, January 03, 2015

Always Learning

The world of book publishing is ever-changing. What was effective five years ago to reach readers is different today.  These changes aren't new.  I encourage you to locate and read former Simon and Schuster Editor-in-Chief Michael Korda’s Making the List, A Cultural History of the American Bestseller 1900-1999. Publishers, editors and agents are always trying to pick books and authors which will sell enough copies to make the bestseller list.         

"The bestseller list is full of surprises, too. Publishers have always bemoaned the fate of the dreaded “first novel," but the bestseller lists are full of first novels by unknown authors that sold hundreds of thousands of copies--even millions of copies--and made their author, and publisher, rich and famous; Margaret Mitchell's Gone With the Wind is the example that comes to everybody's mind," Korda writes (p. xiii) And a little later, "Editors cling to the advice that's always worked for them, when dealing with authors--'Concentrate on story, story, story!' 'Show, don't tell!'" (p. xxv) 

Now as an acquisitions editor, authors often want me to predict whether their book will be a bestseller. While I can recognize a well-written book, I learned years ago it is unwise to predict which books will bomb and which will become bestsellers.

As we tell our Morgan James authors, every bookstore buys books based on their perception of what the author is going to be doing to promote the book. We have a system established to regularly take the reports from our authors and feed it to the bookstores to keep our books selling in the stores. I recommend every author find out how to report their regular activity to their publisher.

My watershed moment as an author came at Mega Book Marketing University in 2007 (now called Author 101 University). I attended as a literary agent and listened carefully to each session. I had written over 55 books with traditional publishers yet I was doing almost nothing to promote my books. Yes I had a personal website but I had no teleseminars, a few entries in my blog and no twitter followers. I decided to change and take action. I became actively involved in the promotion of my books and building an audience of readers with a newsletter and regular communication. I would not delegate or outsource this activity to a designer or a webmaster but I did it myself. I've built a large digital footprint--and here's the good news: you can do it too.

Every author is surrounded with opportunity (even if you don't know it). The activities to build an audience don’t have to consume your life or prevent your writing--but you do need to take consistent action. I am constantly learning about publishing, bookselling and marketing. There is always more to learn and I will never figure it all out.

Here are nine principles as I've engaged the market (and expanded in Jumpstart Your Publishing Dreams):

1.   Always be prepared.
2.   Decide to be consistent.
3.   Decide to be generous and help others.
4.    Count the cost of new activities.
5.    Gain knowledge before you leap into an activity.
6.    Look for ways to automate.
7.     Be open to new tools.
8.      Don't neglect old fashion print tools.
9.      Create a clear goal for each new tool.

I wish I could say that I have it all figured out--but I don't. I'm still growing in my daily knowledge of this publishing business. I wouldn't have it any other way because I have chosen to follow my passion for the printed page every day. I know books change lives. Many years ago, reading a book changed my life.

What principles do you use to engage the marketplace? 

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