Sunday, April 29, 2018

Are You Searching for a Magic Bullet?

As I talk with writers at many different levels and places in the publishing world, it seems like many of them are looking for a magic bullet.  They are searching for the one place to publish their book and propel them to the bestseller list. These writers have created a book proposal or a book manuscript and believe with the right publisher or the right literary agent or the right publicist, they will sell many copies of their book and succeed in their quest to accomplish their dreams.

I don't want to burst anyone's optimism and dreams in their quest, but from my experience and years in publishing, it is not finding a magic bullet or single path. There are many paths and options to achieve success in the publishing world. If there was a single path or formula, then every book would become a bestseller—and succeed—and we know that is not the case.

Many details have to come together in the publishing world for a book to sell and succeed. Last week one of my authors at Morgan James told us they and their book were going to be promoted on a national television show this coming week. I was excited for them to hear this news—but also a bit skeptical about the actual results. 

Yes people will be able to buy the book online—yet 76% of our book sales are in other places such as brick and mortar bookstores. A bookseller has to order and carry your book inside their store for it to be there. This sales process takes time and is very fluid. If the author doesn't promote and tell people about their book (a continual process) then the bookseller assumes no one will come in their store asking about the book. As a result the bookseller returns the book to the publisher and it is no longer available for the customer to buy it.

Let's return to this author who is going to be on a national television program. She has not been in communication with her publisher (Morgan James) about her promotion efforts. This information has not been passed on to our sales team who promote the author to the bookseller and get the book sold into the bookstores. In fact, the opposite has been happening with this author. We've not heard about their efforts (even if they were happening) so no information has been passed to the sales team and I suspect many of the books that were sold into the stores several years ago, have now been returned. 

Because of the short window of notification from the author, there is little opportunity to resell the book into the various bookstores. It means this book is not positioned for such a national appearance. I did not name this author and hope their television appearance is a huge boost for this book (despite my skepticism).

A single appearance is like looking for a magic bullet—hard to imagine it being successful. Studies about sales have proven that someone has to hear about your book or product at least seven or eight times before they purchase the book. The television appearance is just one of the exposures. As an author, you have to use many different means to expose your audience to your book.

Here's a different author and situation. Last week Amberly Lago launched her book, True Grit and Grace. I acquired Amberly's book for Morgan James Publishing and encouraged her to work with an editor (which she did to produce a well-written book). Also Amberly is working with a publicist who has set up some great events for her. Amberly also has an email list and is using this list to stir excitement and promote her events and her book. About a month ago, I learned that Amberly was scheduled to appear on the Today Show. Megyn Kelly was going to interview her. Notice the timeframe (a month) which gives us time to sell the book into the bookstores so it is physically in the stores (as well as available online).

I encourage you to watch this less than ten-minute video clip. It was two segments on the show and you can't get much better to have Megyn Kelly tell her audience to “buy the book.” Notice the book cover and title of the book was shown several times during the interview.  On the day the book launched the book was #127 on Amazon (where the numbers change every hour and the lower the number the better in a place with millions of books).

It takes multiple exposures, broad distribution and on-going and varied promotion to sell books. The team (publisher, author, distributor, publicist) have to work together—not in isolation. I hope these stories and details give you some ideas for your own book. As the author, you have the greatest passion but good communication and teamwork is also an essential element.

Are you still looking for that magic bullet or on-going, steady sales? Tell me in the comments below.

If you are searching for a magic bullet to sell your book, get these insights from an editor.  (ClickToTweet)
 AddThis Social Bookmark Button

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Labels: , , , , , , , , , , ,


Sunday, April 22, 2018

Updated One of My Popular Free Ebooks

Do you ever return to an old Ebook and update it? Over ten years ago, I wrote Straight Talk From the Editor, 18 Keys to a Rejection-Proof Submission. It has been one of my most popular free Ebooks. It is also one of the entry points where someone signs up for my email list.

I've worked at three publishing houses as an acquisitions editor plus for several years I had my own literary agency (now closed). I've read thousands of submissions and worked with many authors to contract and publish their books. Also I've published over 60 books for traditional publishers. From this vantage point, I wrote Straight Talk From the Editor.

Whether a writer is brand new and trying to get published for the first time or someone has been in the market for years, every type of writer can gain insights from this Ebook. I detail things not to do and actions to take which will rejection-proof your submission. Each story and detail are packed with practical insights from my experience. Each chapter ends with a summary and action steps for the reader.

Originally I wrote this Ebook for the Amazon Short program (which was stopped years ago). Amazon had the book exclusively for a period of time then it went to a nonexclusive relationship. Recently this Ebook wasn't working and I got that little technical glitch worked out so it does work.

I pulled up the Ebook on my screen. I had not revised this Ebook in four years. Some of the details needed revision and I had some new resources to add to the Ebook. In other places, links in the Ebook did not work and needed to be fixed. The book needed an update—something we can easily do in this electronic world. Admittedly it took a little editing and writing time to revise it. Then I had to do some technical work to upload the revised Ebook. Finally I tested these changes to make sure the replacement Ebook was in the
right place and everything in the book works.

I use this Ebook in a variety of places including on my blog on the Writing Life. Also this Ebook is on the back of my personal business card which I use at events and conferences. Often I am with other writers so an Ebook from an editor is an appropriate gift to others. Also this Ebook is one of the few links in my personal email signature (another way I let people know about it and encourage them to get it).

If you haven't read this Ebook, I encourage you to subscribe. You will have access to the Ebook right away.  Or maybe you read this material years ago as a subscriber and want the latest version, then subscribe again for access.

I wrote Straight Talk From the Editor (and have updated it) because I want you to succeed as a writer. Editors and agents receive hundreds of pitches, proposals and submissions. If they respond, they send a generic rejection letter which gives no idea why it was not accepted. From my experience, writers struggle to get real insights about why their pitch didn't hit the mark and get published. My Ebook is focused on providing information which is not easily accessed from my experience in the publishing world. Even at a writer's conference where you are face to face with the literary agent or editor, it is hard to get this information. I love conferences but editors and agents know the attendees have invested a lot to get to this event and the purpose is to encourage and train rather than give the hard truth. In Straight Talk, I've attempted to be transparent and balanced to help writers succeed with their submissions. Admittedly it is tricky to achieve.

Do you update your Ebooks from time to time? Let me know in the comments below.


Why has this prolific editor updated one of his most popular Free Ebooks? Learn the details here.  (ClickToTweet)

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Labels: , , , , , , , ,


Sunday, April 15, 2018

When You Face Discouragement

While I've been in publishing many years, not everything that I try succeeds. In fact, I've had some pretty unproclaimed but spectacular failures over the years. One of my books got a six-figure advance for my book proposal (exciting). Then when this book was published, the sales were way less than expected (read poor) and the publisher put the book out of print after six months. I have a few copies of this book but most of them were returned and destroyed.

Other times I believe in an author, convince my colleagues to believe, Morgan James issues a contract and the author signs the contract, so we are going to publish the book. A beautiful book is designed and published—but the author doesn't generate pre-sales or orders and the book launches with zero pre-sales and zero orders. Because of the huge financial investment to publish a book, these facts can be discouraging.

Discouragement comes in all sorts of shapes and forms. I've reached out to conference directors to see if I can teach at their event (one of the ways I find new authors as an acquisitions editor). My requests are ignored (unanswered) or they choose to go in a different direction with other faculty. I give these examples of a few ways that discouragement has come knocking on my door recently but it can be in many other areas of the publishing world. The reality is “no thank you” is a frequent response (or simply silence and no response). How do you keep moving forward in the face of such obstacles?

1. Switch gears to a different type of writing. One of the best and most basic ways to find new opportunities is to change to a different type of writing. If you are writing books, begin writing some query letters and getting magazine assignments. If you are not getting much response on your books, maybe work on getting some speaking engagements or workshops. If you can't get any traction on personal appearances, then set up teleseminars. As writers we have a lot of diverse possibilities with our skill set. If you need more ideas, look at the first chapter of my Jumpstart Your Publishing Dreams book which includes a list of different types of writing. This change might be exactly what you need to find the next open door. 

2. Read and take a break. Can you read a how-to book and learn something new to apply to your writing? I continue to read how-to books and learn from each of them. A new opportunity can come from your reading.

3. Reach out to old friends and colleagues. Pick up the phone and call some of your writer and editor friends. Is there something new they are working on that you could do or help with? From my experience many editors and agents have possible projects yet are looking for the right fit for that project.Your call to check in with them might be arriving at the right time for you to get one of these pending opportunities. If you aren't on their radar, that casual phone call might put you on their minds again.

Life is full of every day challenges and surprises. You will hit periods of discouragement. In those times, it is critical to move forward and jump into a new activity. It will push the discouragement away and your concentration will be focused on something new.

What steps to you take when you face discouragement? Tell me in the comments below.


Do you stall or take action as a writer when you face discouragement? Get insights here. (ClickToTweet)
 AddThis Social Bookmark Button

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Labels: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


Sunday, April 08, 2018

The Importance of Multiple Follow-up

My Billy Graham biography has been released for three and a half years. I'm still working on increasing the number of book reviews. As of this writing, I have 73 Amazon reviews, which are mostly four and five stars from readers. I've had others promise to review the book. I've written these people to follow-up and confirm they received the book (which they have) and are still working on reading and writing their reviews.

With the passing of Billy Graham, my book has garnered attention from the media and I've been able to do a number of interviews. In late March, I was surprised to learn from the founder of Morgan James that my book was trending in the top five books from the publishing house. See this link for the details. When you receive this type of news, some authors would believe they can coast instead of continuing to promote their book—which would be wrong in my view. Instead of coasting, I've been working even harder at my promotion.

As people agreed to write a review, I have kept a list. A couple of times, I've used this list to follow-up with these individuals and stir more of them to write their reviews.  I understand the challenges with writing reviews. Because I've written over 850 Amazon reviews and I have 5,000 friends on Goodreads, several times a day, I'm approached to review books. I answer these emails but the majority of these requests, I turn down because of my limited reading time and I'm already committed to write reviews on other books.
Why should I care about adding new reviews for my Billy Graham book? The book has been in the market several years but there are new things to talk about. On November 1st, the audiobook of Billy Graham released. While I have a number of reviews, few of these reviews relate to the audiobook (like this one). I continue to promote this audiobook and look for people to listen and write an honest review.

Each new review gives me something else to promote and talk about the book. Book promotion activity will stir more book promotion activity.

As the author, I have the greatest passion for my own book. If I've given up, why wouldn't others (like my publisher) give up on the promotion of the book? My advice is to keep going on the promotion of your book—despite the amount of time your book is on the market, how it was published (traditionally or self-published) or when it released.

If you are not happy with your book sales, then it is never too late to change and take action to promote your book. The consistent promotion is an important aspect. If you don't try, it will not fly. Not everything that you attempt will succeed but I applaud your continued efforts.

Are you continuing to promote a book which you published and are in it for the long-term? Tell us your experience in the comments below.


Why is it necessary to follow-up multiple times? According to this prolific author, it's part of the process. (ClickToTweet)
 AddThis Social Bookmark Button

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Labels: , , , , , , , , ,


Sunday, April 01, 2018

Escape the Catch-22 of Publishing

For many years, I've known about the Catch-22 of publishing. The Merrian-Webster dictionary defines Catch-22 as “a problematic situation for which the only solution is denied by a circumstance inherent in the problem or by a rule.” Last week in Spokane, I taught a workshop on 12 Ways to Jumpstart Your Publishing Dreams and the details are in my Jumpstart Your Publishing Dreams book.

Here's the problematic situation for every new writer: they want to get published yet professionals (editors and literary agents) are looking for people with publishing experience. It's the same sort of situation you face when you enter the job market and need to create a resume which lists your job experience (yet you have nothing to list). What is the best way for writers to gain publishing experience? It is not in book publishing. Books are lengthy writing projects and sometimes reach a limited number of readers (yes even when traditionally published). The easiest way for a writer to escape the Catch-22 of Publishing is to write magazine articles.

I have an ebook called How to Succeed As An Article Writer. Also I've gathered a series of articles about writing for magazines at this link. Every month, I write a new article for A3 on different aspects of writing for magazines. I began my writing career in the magazine area and continue to often write for magazines. For the last several years, I've written a column for Southern Writer Magazine about book proposals called Book Proposal Boot Camp.

In this article, I want to tell you about a new resource to help you succeed in the magazine writing world. My long-term friend, Linda Gilden, has recently published ARTICLES, ARTICLES, ARTICLES! Subtitled, “A Comprehensive Guide.” This book is an excellent resource and Gilden has done a great service to the writing community publishing this book.  In the introduction, Gilden tells how as a stay-at-home mom with small children, writing articles seemed her best option to get published, “My children were small and still required a lot of hands-on attention. So, my writing sessions were short, very short or nonexistent. Much of what I wrote took place in my head until naptime, then I wrote furiously hoping the children were exhausted and would sleep a long time.” (Page 11)

This book contains a cornucopia of information for every writer.  Here’s some of the topics covered: where to get started, how to break in, types of articles, elements of articles, the rights to sell, marketing your articles and even how articles are a great way to market books and build an author’s presence in the marketplace (commonly called a platform—and follow this link to get my free ebook on the topic).

In addition to Gilden’s own depth of experience writing for magazines, throughout the book, she includes tips from other editors, authors and professionals called “Expert Word.”  Also key phrases are scattered throughout the book to remind reader of key lessons such as, “A kill fee is a fee that is paid when a contracted article is never published.”

Whether you are brand new to the writing world or an experienced professional, you will gain insights and ideas and action steps from ARTICLES, ARTICLES, ARTICLES! I highly recommend this well-crafted book.

Are you actively writing for magazines? If so, let us know about how you are escaping the Catch-22 of publishing in the comments below. I look forward to your feedback.


How can writers escape the Catch-22 of publishing? Explore the possibilities here. (ClickToTweet)
 AddThis Social Bookmark Button

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Labels: , , , , , ,