Sunday, June 24, 2018

The Ever-Changing World of Publishing

Last week I learned one of my regular writing assignments was disappearing. For every issue of the publication, I've been writing a column for the last six years. It was sad to receive such news but in some ways it was not unexpected. One of my key relationships at the magazine was leaving. With this change, the staff took the opportunity to revamp their publication through this revision my column was no longer needed. I responded to the editor with a gracious and understanding way with the hopes I can write articles in future issues. My response was well-received and possibly I will be able to write more in the future.

This experience reminded me that the world of publishing is always changing. During my years of writing, I've seen publications start and fold (cease to exist). Publishing companies are sold to other entities and as a writer I get a letter saying my book is going out of print. These are only a few of the variety of changes. Sometimes your work is a part of that decision and other times, the decision has nothing to do with you or the work and everything rests within that company.

In the ever-changing world of publishing, here's several key principles to keep in mind:

1. Change is always a part of this business.  Some of the changes you can control but many of them you can't. Your attitude in the middle of change is critical.

2. Never assume your writing opportunity will continue. As you submit your material and it is accepted, each time express gratitude and flexibility. These attitudes will go a long way with your publishing colleagues. 

3. Diversify your writing and your income streams. Look for other opportunities and be knocking on doors. Your skills have many different possibilities. If you need to explore other possibilities I have a free list in the first chapter of Jumpstart Your Publishing Dreams. You can download this chapter here (follow the link).

4. Persevere with your writing. I've watched many people give up on their writing over the years. The ones who get a publisher and continue in this business are the writers who persevere with the work. Admittedly some days it is hard but each of us need to keep our fingers on the keyboard and keep writing. 

What are your tips for handling and thriving in the ever-changing world of publishing? Let me know in the comments below and I look forward to hearing from you.


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Sunday, June 17, 2018

Four Actions After A Conference

The Billy Graham Center at Wheaton College

This weekend I traveled home from Write To Publish, held on the campus of Wheaton College at the Billy Graham Center. Off and on, I've been going to this event for many years but had not been for two or three years. Throughout the event, I spent time with old friends, met many new ones and spent several intense days talking about publishing and writing and books. 

Often these events are filled with writers attending their first conference. Others attend each year to give a boost to their writing. These writers come with their writing and their dreams and plans to speak with editors and agents during the event. As an editor, I taught a few classes during the event but also met with numerous writers one-on-one listening to their pitches and helping from my years of experience.

I heard some remarkable stories and pitches. From others I heard about their heart-wrenching stories about their struggle to get published and find the right place for their work. Throughout the event I listened and spoke with them. Admittedly these events can be overwhelming when you return. The world of publishing contains many different opportunities and a wide variety of publications and publishers. When you are overwhelmed, one response is to spin and do nothing. My encouragement is for you to take action and here are four steps:

1. Take time for reflection. Which opportunities did you hear about which you want to do? Make a list of these publications or publishers, and then reconnect with the editor.

2. Review the editor's guidelines or theme list. Are you writing something that they want or are seeking? If so, read through your book proposal or query and send the editor what they requested. Throughout the event, I heard about some great book ideas—nonfiction, fiction, Christian, general market, and children's books. Some people handed me a paper copy. In each case, I asked them to email the material to begin the process. A few writers emailed the material during the event (very few). A number of them will go home, revise and improve their material, then send it to me. Others will never respond. 

3. Organize your business cards and contact information. Get it in a form you can access quickly. We work with people who we know, like and trust. A business card with an email and phone is a great first step, but add the information into your address book. You might not need it now but you may need it several months from now and want to be able to easily access it.

4. Apply what you have learned to your writing life. Throughout the conference, I taught three different workshops (social media, book proposals and Goodreads). It is wonderful to learn about these topics and listening to the information is the first step. Yet your actions after the conference are critical to your writing success. In each of these workshops, I gave specific action steps for the writers to do. The writers who take these actions steps will move forward with their writing and be closer to achieving their dreams and plans.

During the conference, I met several editors and learned about publications that I want to write for in the months ahead. I am taking my own action steps to move ahead for these dreams to become reality.

5. Bonus action. Reach out to some of the people you met at the conference and write them right away via email or even snail mail. It will do a great deal to foster and build your relationships. 
What steps to you take after attending a conference? Let me know in the comments below. I look forward to learning your action steps.


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Sunday, June 10, 2018

The Importance of Sending Good Content

Are you learning from others online? Excellent. Are you passing along this content to others? For me, this process of sending good content to others is an important part of the writing life. In this article, I want to give you some ideas how you can pass along what you are learning or reading to others.

I have been on twitter since 2009 and tweeted thousands of times. If you look at my twitter feed, you will notice the majority of my posts are pointing to articles from others. I follow a series of blogs from experienced writers and receive these blogs in my email box. If you have a blog, it is important to add this feature to your blog so others can read your content on their email. Over and over email has been proven as one the most effective ways to reach others.

If you want to send out good content to others, you need to develop a method or system for taking consistent action. The regular action is important to establish your reputation in the market as someone who helps others—not just once but over and over.

For example, I use Hootsuite to schedule my social media posts then I tweet about 12 to 15 times a day but these posts are spaced throughout the day and each one is different (with different words and a different image). Each day I have developed a pattern with my posts. This pattern is something I've created with different spots on my posts for different types of content and from different people. For example, I post content from a writer about once a day and not multiple times. I begin each day of social media posts with an inspirational quotation and image. The fact that I have a pattern makes my repeat actions easier. I don't have to create something and instead I am simply filling in the designated positions.

Your social media posts will be different than mine and in a different pattern. My key point is encouraging you to develop a system that works for you and your writing life. After you have such a system, your actions will be routine. Each week I take about 30 minutes to finalize my social media posts. I say “finalize” because the grid or slots for my different posts is not finished until I finalize—but I have much of that grid filled in because I take a few minutes each day looking for great content and adding it to my posting plans in Hootsuite.

Reading about my actions are a good first step but here's some action steps for you to take:

1. Decide to send good content to your audience on a regular basis

2. Create a system (possibly using Hootsuite) to make your actions regular and consistent.

How are you sending out good content to your audience? Let me know in the comments below. I look forward to learning from you.


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Sunday, June 03, 2018

Why Every Writer Needs Persistence

Publishing is an imperfect process with many variables and much which can go off the rails in the process of making or marketing a book. For example, one of my authors launched a one-day only giveaway of her book on Amazon. She had sent emails, Facebook posts and all sorts of other means to spread the word about this one day event. The author had worked with our team at Morgan James and gotten it all set—so she thought. Then Amazon did not reduce the price.

Early in the morning, I got a call from the author about this potential disaster to her marketing effort. I reached out to a colleague who reached out to someone else to get Amazon to quickly adjust the price to zero for the day. In an hour or two, it was resolved and the author was able to continue to market her one-day special event. Morgan James does not control Amazon but we work with Amazon to make such campaigns happen and the author persisted to get it going.

Today I tried to call an author using the app which I use for my Morgan James work. The app shows my New York phone number and why I consistently use it for calling authors. In my case, the app did not work or dial the number and only gave me an error message. This app had been updated overnight and something was not working. I persisted to get it working, deleted the app on my phone and reinstalled it. Then it worked again. For this author, I only had her phone number. I did a quick search and found her website—which had no email address or phone but did have a contact form. I filled out the form so she would have my email and know what she needed to do to reach me with her submission. I persisted rather than giving up when I could not get my phone app to work. These types of actions are what we have to do as writers and professionals. Normally there is a way around the challenge—if you persist.

Or another example, I have almost reached the limit on my Facebook friends and throughout each day I post material related to publishing and writing. Facebook continually makes changes to their system and recently I noticed the images on my posts from twitter were not showing up. I figured out how to edit those posts and add the images so I made that adjustment.Then a day or so ago, Facebook removed the ability to add images to such posts when you are editing them. I had to make another adjustment to get it to work. Persistence is key to this process for every writer.

There are many strange technical things that happen every day in the process of my work. Do I let it derail me and keep me from working or do I persist and find a way around it? These challenges often have nothing to do with me but it takes persistence to accomplish the work.

How are you applying persistence into your writing life? Let me know in the comments below.


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