Monday, April 24, 2017

Take Action in the Midst of Your Writing Fears

“Do one thing every day that scares you.” 
― Eleanor Roosevelt

I've read this quotation in a number of places and many different contexts.  It is a solid action step for every writer. 

Why? Because from my experience, fear can prevent us from taking action and moving forward with our writing. Will anyone want to read what I'm writing?  Will it sell? Can I find a publisher or literary agent? Is my writing good enough to publish in   a magazine or book? The questions in our minds can appear endless.

While I've published a great volume of material over the years, if I'm honest, I have a number of fears that I face each day. The key from my perspective is are you taking action with your writing in spite of those fears.  I have my ideas and pitches rejected and don't hit the mark—yet I continue pitching my ideas and looking for opportunities.

Years ago as a new writer, I was at a conference sitting around with several more experienced and published authors. It was late at night and I was learning a great deal from these new friends. One author who had published a number of books mentioned how every time he begins a new project he had huge doubts and fears in his mind. He wondered if he could do it and if the book would succeed. In the same breath where he mentioned these fears, he explained that he pushed ahead and beyond the fear to write the book. It's the key distinction between those who want to write and those who actually write: they push ahead and take action in spite of the negative thoughts and fears.

Possibly today your manuscript or book proposal is getting rejection letters from agents or editors. From my experience, you have not found the right place for your book when you get rejected. It means you have to keep looking for that right connection or champion. When the rejection arrives (even if that rejection is through no response), you face a critical choice.  You can either take action and seek another opportunity or you can quit and not respond.  Many authors will send out their material one or two times, get rejected and figure no one wants to work with them and publish their submission. Their writing fears have stalled them into no action.  

When you have writing fears, there are several things:

1. Everyone has these fears. Whether they admit them or not, you should understand it is part of the process.

2. The writers who get published, understand timing and the right connection are a critical part of the process. You have to be proactive to find the right connection with your material.

3. Rejection is a part of publishing. Everyone gets rejected—beginners and long-term professionals. The key is what do you do with the rejection. Do you quit or do you look for the next opportunity?

I believe the world is full of opportunity—yet as a writer you have to make the right connection and have to be facing your fears and continuing to move forward with your writing. One of the most published series of books in English is Chicken Soup for the Soul. What many people forget is Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen were rejected on their proposed series 144 times. Now that is a lot of rejection. I'm sure they had fears to face, yet they continued moving forward. You can get some of their story in the foreword for Jumpstart Your Publishing Dreams. Just follow this link to download the foreword and free sample chapter (no opt-in and you can download immediately).

For your encouragement and inspiration, remember this saying. If you need to do so, I would write it out and put it over your computer and read it often:

It will not fly, if you don't try.


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Monday, April 17, 2017

Be Knocking on Doors to Find Opportunity

In the publishing community, I've discovered a basic principle: If you want something to happen, you have to be knocking on doors to find that opportunity. For example, as an acquisitions editor, I've found some of my best projects meeting with authors face to face at a writers' conference. I understand the value of this personal contact with writers. 

While I've been speaking at different events for many years, the invitations to speak at these events does not happen organically (without any action on my part). From my experience, the directors of conferences are pitched many times from many more qualified people than they could possibly use at an event.

What is the difference maker so one editor is picked to be invited and another is not? I believe it is a combination of things—a personal relationship with the director or decision maker at these events but also knocking on the doors in a gentle way but letting them know of your availability and willingness to speak at their event. In the last few days, I've pulled out some resources on my bookshelf that list forthcoming conferences, then I've sent emails to these leaders. In a few cases where I know the people but haven't been to their event in several years, I've picked up the phone and called them. Will my actions pay off? I know many will fall flat and never garner a response.  I'm a realist with my expectations—yet I also know that some of them will succeed and garner an invitation to their event—maybe not this year but next year.

While I've been writing about getting speaking opportunities, the actions for a writer are exactly the same if you are looking for writing opportunities. What types of writing opportunities are you looking for? In recent days, I've been working on some book proposals and writing projects. Yes I've written a number of books over the years but most of my efforts have been in my work as an acquisitions editor at Morgan James Publishing. I've been knocking on some doors of opportunities with agents and editors to find some writing projects. Like my knocking on doors for speaking opportunities, many of my emails and calls have not been returned and feel like they are going into a black hole. Yet I persist and continue to pitch and look for new opportunities. 

Why? From my experience, I know some of these pitches will actually turn into writing assignments and future work.

Here's several actions for every writer:

1. Learn how to write an excellent book proposal. Get my free book proposal checklist or my Book Proposals That Sell or take my Write A Book Proposal course. It will take effort but it will pay off in getting more attention from literary agents and book publishers.

2.Learn how to write an attention-getting query letter. Every writer can learn this important skill of writing a one page pitch letter. It will be a valuable lesson for writing for magazines or getting the attention of literary agents or editors.

3. Continually work at fostering and strengthening your relationships with others in the community. Help them in any way that you can—and you never know where that help will lead to future opportunities.

In general, the world of publishing is busy with lots of activity, emails, manuscripts, proposals and pitches. If you wait passively for someone to reach out to you, then most likely little will happen. Instead I encourage you to be proactive in your approach and be knocking on different doors to find the right opportunity. I believe these opportunities are out there—but you have to be knocking to find them.


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Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Why You Should Try Ghostwriting

Years ago, I decided there were a finite number of stories and articles and books that I could write from my own experiences. I've written personal experience magazine articles from my own life and published in various publications.  Also I've written many different types of books such as devotionals or biographies or how-to books.

For any writer, there are many different types of writing. In fact, I list the variety in the first chapter of Jumpstart Your Publishing Dreams. The first chapter is free with this extensive list.  If you are looking to diversify your writing, I encourage you to look at this list and try a different type of writing.

Today I want to highlight one of the most overlooked types of writing called ghostwriting. When you write a book for another person is called ghostwriting. Cec Murphey is one of the most skilled writers in this area with over 140 published books to his credit and a number of New York Times best-selling books. Many writers have never attempted ghostwriting or co-authoring or collaborating to write the story of someone else. Murphey has tackled this type of writing over and over. He has recently published a new book called GHOSTWRITING.

Through a combination of his own personal experience, he takes the mystery away from this area and helps writers learn the value. He gives them a vision for how they too could earn good money but also help others birth stories which would never be written.

Murphey covers the gamut of topics in this well-written book. He defines the terms like book doctor or collaborator or ghostwriter. He goes into ethical concerns and where you find subjects and answers a critical writer question: how do you make money and what do you charge for this service.
I’ve got shelves of how-to writing books and only have one other book on this topic (written years ago). This new book is fresh and engaging. Also Murphey has tapped his wide network of other ghostwriters for their experiences and added it to enrich his book. The key application points for the reader are distilled at the end of each chapter into a series of bullet points called a Takeaway.

As I read GHOSTWRITING cover to cover, I found myself nodding in agreement at the wisdom in this book. I’ve written more than a dozen books for other people as a collaborator and rarely a ghostwriter. I highly recommend GHOSTWRITING for anyone who wants to learn the inside story about this much needed area of the writing world.

Many writers are trying to figure out how to make a living with their writing. One of the most lucrative and needed ways to earn a living and tell the stories is in this area of ghostwriting. I encourage you to get GHOSTWRITING to learn how to open up this possibility.


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Monday, April 03, 2017

Are You Looking for Your NEXT Opportunity?

This past weekend I was in Lakeland, Florida speaking at a conference and meeting with writers. I love these opportunities to give back to writers, listen to their ideas and encourage them. At this event, I attended a number of amazing sessions from other speakers. Several of these speakers I have admired from a distance but never had the opportunity to meet face to face until attending this event.

When they finished their session, I made a point to connect with them personally for a few minutes, express my appreciation but also exchange business cards.  I asked for their card and if they did not have one (which happens often), I asked for their contact information.

Why take such actions? Because I want them to be able to reach out to me. Also if I have a need, I want to be able to reach them. As a consistent practice, I'm always looking for the next opportunity. These possibilities are everywhere. Are you sensitive to them? Are you seizing them when they come?

Here's five action steps for every writer:

1. Send a follow-up email right away. During the weekend, I reached out to one speaker and turns out he was working on a book proposal and promised to send it to me in a few weeks.

2. Be generous with your business cards and contact information. Ask for the contact information from others. Make sure they can reach you and you can reach them. For example, I included my contact information on my handouts.

3. Always be looking and open to the possibilities. There are many different types of opportunities. Sometimes the opportunity is to write and other times it is to speak. The director of the conference this past weekend, I met a year ago at one day event in Orlando with the Florida Writers Association. You have to be open to various possibilities and see what happens. 

4. If possible, respond right away to the idea. Send email, respond to their emails, etc. We are in the communication business. The reality is that few people communicate—so if you do, you will stand out.

5. Express gratitude to others. I can't emphasize enough the importance of gratitude. We live in a thankless world where few people express gratitude. You will stand out and have other opportunities if you express gratitude. Did someone give you a book? I received on this past weekend. I will be writing this author a personal thank you note.

Bonus Action Step: When you see that you've let an opportunity slip past you, take action on it after the fact and see what happens. If you do nothing, then nothing will happen but if you do something then something may happen. 

I've had authors send me their book proposal and submission years after we first met (yes years). As an acquisitions editor, I continue to look for new authors and book projects every day. When this author sent her book, I was still looking and she ended up publishing her book with Morgan James and now it is out into the bookstore. I'm sure this author hesitated to reach out to me months after we first met—yet she still took action and it paid off.

As writers, we must seize the opportunities which come across our path. You never know where your next opportunity will take you.


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