Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Take Consistent Action to Achieve Your Goals

Are you taking consistent action to meet your writing or marketing or publishing goals?  In the first place, do you have a goal or dream? If so, are you writing down the goal then taking consistent action to achieve it?

Last week I was at Author 101 University in Los Angeles. This life-changing event happens twice a year. Each time I meet new authors and also reconnect with some of my publishing colleagues. Several of these colleagues who are active in the publishing community also want to write books.  As a part of our conversation, I make a point to ask them about the book and see if they are making progress.  Yes, they still want to write the book but have been consumed with other things so their book writing has taken a backseat and hasn't been happening.

I'm empathetic about their situation of trying to write a book in the middle of other business. Then I encourage them to be writing their book in small pieces—even 200 words a day can add up to become a completed book. It will only happen if you take consistent action to achieve this goal.

At the event, I met a new writer who was enthused about building her presence in the market and using different tools like Twitter. She was aware of the frequency of my tweets and that I was providing excellent content on a consistent basis. How did she know? This writer had set her phone to beep every time I sent a tweet. I've written a number of articles in The Writing Life about the different tools and methods I use for my social media. It is not time consuming but to grow a large following, you do have to take consistent action.

Every day I'm adding content to my Twitter feed and always looking for good articles to pass on to others along with my own content. I'm also consistently growing my own followers and social media presence. Whether I'm traveling or at home, I regularly work on these areas. The constant effort pays off and if it doesn't then you stop that action and try something else.

I didn't suddenly have over 150,000 twitter followers. I've been growing it gradually. I didn't instantly write over 550 customer reviews on Amazon or gain 5,000 friends on Goodreads. These milestones took place with consistent action. For this blog, I'm a few articles away from having 1300 different articles. This large volume of content was built through consistent action.

What types of goals or dreams do you have for your writing and publishing life? Do you want to sell more books? If so, then you need to be increasing the number of people that you tell about your book. Make an action plan and then consistently execute that plan so you can achieve your goals. It does not happen overnight but can happen—provided you take action.

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Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Grow Your Writing By Teaching Others

Twice last week I taught about helping authors be more effective on Goodreads. I helped some of my colleagues at a local meeting of the American Society of Journalists and Authors. We brought our laptops and worked on improving our Goodreads tools right on the spot. I'm still learning about Goodreads and feel like I'm far from an expert—but I was further along the path than the people I was helping.

Then on Saturday, I spoke about Goodreads again to the Colorado Author League. There were more people in attendance during this second session and I helped authors increase their effectiveness on this significant site which has 40 million registered participants.

From this experience, I want to draw a couple of principles for you to use in your own writing and publishing life.

Teaching Forces You To Know The Details

While you may have experimented and learned some things when you create your own work, I have found teaching forces me to return to the basics and recall my early mistakes and successes. I have to capture the sequence of steps that I used and write them down.

As a part of teaching a workshop on a topic, I prepare teaching notes and a detailed handout for the participant. It is one step to gather information but quite another to put it into a format where the listener can take action and apply the information to their own work. I was focused on the people who take action and helping them succeed with the promotion and exposure for their books and writing.

Goodreads provides many tools for authors to help in this effort. It does not happen in a vacuum without action. It is passive to learn about a topic and gather information. The rubber meets the road when you begin to do something with this information.

You may intellectually understand millions of people use Goodreads, but if you don't become a Goodreads Author, work on your profile and use the site, then that knowledge is not being used. I've gained a much more detailed working knowledge of Goodreads because I taught it twice this past week to others.  You will have the same opportunity as you teach the skills you learn to others.

Teaching Gets You Out With Others

Most of us spend too much time in our office and computers alone and not interacting with anyone. Yes we are cranking words into our computers and sending emails. That process is great but does not get us out of our office into the world to interact face to face with others. This personal time with others is important on several levels. It helps you to listen to others and their ideas and learn what they are writing and working on. Also it gives you fresh opportunities.

When I taught twice about Goodreads, at each session I made new connections with other speakers and also with participants who attended the event. We exchanged business cards and emails. When you teach, make sure you bring business cards. As you meet new people, offer the other person a business card and at the same time, ask for one from them. Because I initiate this interaction, I'm often surprised that agents and others only have a few business cards and I get one of those few exchanges. If you bring plenty of business cards (which I do), you can make sure to be liberal with your business cards. 

Each participant at the event received my handout. I made a point to include some of my key websites and email information on the document. Why? Even if I don't exchange business cards with an individual, they have my information and can easily reach me. It is critical that anyone can easily reach you.

My major point of this article is the teacher learns more about a particular subject than anyone else. You can grow your writing life by learning new areas, then teaching it to others. How have you found this effective in your own writing life? 

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Sunday, October 18, 2015

Enter My Goodreads Giveaway

Until the final day of October, I will be running a Goodreads Giveaway for two of my most recent books. If you are on Goodreads, I encourage you to go over and enter this contest with just a few clicks.  You could be one of the winners—but only if you enter the contest. 

After you enter the Giveaway, I encourage you to use the social media buttons at the bottom of this post to tell others about it.

If you are an author, are you using these Giveaways? The author or the publisher can set them up and they are simple and inexpensive exposure for your books. It doesn't have to be a new book because I've tried it successfully with older books as well.

The details are below about my Giveaway: 

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Billy Graham by W. Terry Whalin

Billy Graham

by W. Terry Whalin

Giveaway ends October 31, 2015.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter Giveaway

Here's my second book Giveaway:

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Jumpstart Your Publishing Dreams by W. Terry Whalin

Jumpstart Your Publishing Dreams

by W. Terry Whalin

Giveaway ends October 31, 2015.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter Giveaway
I wish you all the best with this Giveaway so enter right away while you are thinking about it and use the buttons below to tell your friends about it. The clock is ticking and it will end the final day of October.

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Saturday, October 17, 2015

Is Book Publishing Like A Marathon or a Sprint?

Many writers want to publish a book. From my many years in publishing, I find few of them have thought about whether the process of publishing a book is like a sprint (something with a burst of speed) or a marathon (steady and consistent to complete the task). I often see authors who want to sprint to publication or sprint to get a book contract or a bestseller. Reality is that often it takes consistent, hard work to produce anything of excellence—the writing or the marketing. Authors are not overnight successes but instead spend years in the trenches faithfully working to get their work noticed and sold.

This week a young author outside of the U.S. wrote and asked if a decision had been made on his manuscript. It had been less than two weeks since I had corresponded with this author and it took a number of emails until he gave me what I needed to submit his work. I told this author if he wants a “no, thank you” then I could do that right away but if he wants a “yes” with a publishing contract then that takes patience and time.

While there are many keys in book publishing, in this article, I want to emphasize four important areas.

You Need A Great Product

Too many authors want to dash off something and rush it into the marketplace. I've seen it in my own work and the work of others. Haste often makes waste or mistakes. Take the time to write an excellent book or book proposal. The book proposal is your business plan for your book—whether you are writing nonfiction or fiction—whether you are self-publishing or traditional. You need a plan and it is important to build the plan with a great manuscript. The writing has to be excellent. You need others to affirm that excellence before rushing it to the market. 

The devil is in the details. Are all of the details in place for your book before you take it to the marketplace? Does it have a great title? Does it have an attractive cover? Does the first page make me want to turn to the second page? Does the copy on the back cover, draw me to going to the cash register? This week I was a full-color children's book which had no descriptive information on the back cover. Yes it had a barcode and the name of the publisher but nothing to draw me to buy the book. It is a huge omission and lowers the standard for this product. Don't make these basic errors because you are eager to get your book to the market.

You Need to Build an Audience

You've poured a lot of energy and effort into your book. Will you have readers or people who want to read your work—and who are excited about it that they tell others? When someone tells another person about a book, that is called “Word of Mouth.” It is golden when it happens and takes work from the author. As an author you can't lean on your publisher to market your book and build your audience. You have to take your own responsibility for marketing your own book. I understand the reluctance—and I've been there too but I tell every author as an acquisitions editor at Morgan James that they have 80% of the responsibility. Our publishing house will sell the book into the bookstores but all of those books can be returned if the author doesn't promote their book. 

I have much more detail and many more ideas in Platform Building Ideas for Every Author which is free (just use the link). 
You Need to Have Patience

The majority of book publishing is not quick. You send your material to editors and agents yet do not get a response or receive a response months after your submission.  The reality is that it takes time to build consensus among colleagues to issue a book contract or to make a contract offer to publish. As a writer you want to follow-up and make sure the editor or agent received your material and everything is in process. But in contrast, you do not want to push because most of the time when you push, you will nudge that professional toward sending you a polite “no thank you.”

Instead of pushing for a decision, you are better to begin another project. Write a one page query letter for a magazine article. Pitch a magazine editor to assign you to become a columnist. Begin a new book project or book proposal. This effort will remove your focus on the project which is under consideration. 

You Need to Have More Than One Project

If you have more than one proposal or one book, you will be less anxious about the submission and be able to shift your focus to the new project or new writing assignment. It will increase your own productivity in the writing world. Recently I was interviewed on this topic of productivity. I encourage you to listen to Productivity in Writing on the Northern Colorado Writers Podcast. It's about a 35 minute session about how to become more productive as a writer.

How do you view book publishing? As a marathon or a sprint? I'd love to have your comments or any other way I can help you with this process. As an acquisitions editor, I'm constantly looking for good books to publish. Don't hesitate to contact me and my work contact information is on the second page of this link.

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Thursday, October 08, 2015

New Billy Graham Book Is Focused on Heaven

At the age of 96 (soon to be 97), Billy Graham does a lot of thinking about heaven and eternity. The title from WHERE I AM is unusual and comes from John 14:1-3 but also a statement, Mr. Graham proclaimed after his 95th birthday saying, “When I die, tell others that I’ve gone to my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ—that’s where I am.” 

I purchased a copy of this new book last week when it released in the bookstores and then I read every chapter before I wrote or published anything about it.  Many times I see people writing a review or thoughts about a book which reveals they haven't read the book. It lessens your credibility if you write such things in my view. I always read the books that I review.

All 36 chapters in this well-written book are crafted from different sermons that Mr. Graham has preached about heaven. The chapters start with Genesis and cover the entire scope of the Bible through Revelation. 

I was fascinated with the contents and especially Chapter 24 RIGHTEOUSNESS FOREVER, The Everlasting Foundation (about 1st  and 2nd  Corinthians), where Mr. Graham writes in the opening, “Staying youthful was always a goal of mine. Nothing in me was attracted to old things, not even to my wife’s beloved antiques. When I was young, I could not imagine being old. I had an unusual amount of energy, and it followed me into young adulthood. When middle age set in, I dealt with physical weariness, but my mind was always in high gear, and it never took long for my physical stamina to return after a grueling schedule. I fought growing old every way I could, faithfully exercising and pacing myself as I began to feel the grasp of Old Man Time. This was not a transition I welcomed, and at one point I began to dread what I knew was coming.” (Page 177-178) Like the rest of the book, this chapter focused on eternity and that as Christians we will spend eternity in heaven.

I found reading this book fascinating and encourage every Christian to marvel at how the theme of eternity and heaven is woven into the fabric of every book in the Bible. I highly recommend WHERE I AM.

W. Terry Whalin is the author of BILLY GRAHAM, A BIOGRAPHY OF AMERICA’S GREATEST EVANGELIST learn more at: http://BillyGrahamBio.com

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