Sunday, September 30, 2018

Use the Power of One Word

Are You Looking for The Next Big Thing?

In the publishing world, words fill our lives:
  • a number of times each week, new books arrive in my mailbox
  • new submissions from authors come into my email box
  • new relationships happen on the phone or email or in person
  • new opportunities to speak and help other authors
If you are in stall and spinning your wheels, I encourage you to use the power of one word to propel you forward. It does seem amazing but you can tap into the power of one word if you consistently use it. Are you ready for this word? The word is next. Speak it aloud: next. This one word is hopeful and expecting something to happen in the future.

Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen, co-authors for Chicken Soup for the Soul, have a story that many people have forgotten because of their success. The Chicken Soup for the Soul series is one of the most successful in the English language. Yet these books were rejected 144 times—which is more rejection than most people will take. In this rejection process, Jack and Mark learned to look at each other and say the word: next. Yes they mourned the rejection but they did not stop and kept moving ahead to the next opportunity. If you want to read Mark Victor Hansen talking about this issue, follow this link to the free sample of Jumpstart Your Publishing Dreams. Mark writes about it in the foreword to my book.

As writers, we hear the word no a great deal in the publishing world. We write a book proposal and try to get a literary agent or a publishing contract. Yet we get rejected and sometimes that rejection is over and over. We get little feedback and form rejections saying things like “not a good fit” or “not right for us.”

For others, we get a book contract from a publisher, yet you decide the timing isn't right so you don't sign that particular contract. I understand the timing and publisher and details have to be right. I have it happen often with my work at Morgan James. We go through our internal process to evaluate a book and decide it will be right right book for the publisher (a team process). Then we issue a contract but the author doesn't sign it. I've had authors sigdn their contract years (yes years) after I've initially presented it to them. It is all about timing, passion of the author, resources,vision and other such intangibles. As someone who has been in publishing many years, I understand these intangibles but they are still frustrating. When I feel the frustration, I say to myself the single word: next. Then I move forward on something else.

For other authors, their book is not selling and they wonder what to do next. I spoke with an author last week who published his book a year ago, then was plunged into a personal medical situation which prevented him from marketing and promoting his book. Now his health situation is resolved and I encouraged him to begin again. Yes he had missed the launch window for his book since it is already in the marketplace, but it is never too late to work on the promotion of your book. Next.

I wrote this article to give you hope and encourage you to keep moving—in spite of the rejection and the no thank yous. If you can't write or publish in this place, look for the next opportunity. I know nothing will happen if you don't move forward, take responsibility and take action. You can do many things in the publishing world but your action will be the difference maker in this process. If I can help you in this process, my work contact information is on the bottom of the second page of this link.

What steps do you take to get it done? Let me know in the comments below.


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Sunday, September 23, 2018

How To Get It Done

Life is full and complicated for every writer. We have spouses and children and grandchildren and pets and extended family. There are interruptions and unexpected things which happen. In this article, I want to give you some ideas about how to get it done. 

Admittedly in publishing there is a lot to do—writing the work is a challenge, finding a publisher, then getting it into the market and on-going marketing. Every aspect of the business involves effort and work. Many of the aspects are routine and involve simply siting at your keyboard and moving your fingers. I don't want to be too simplistic but getting the ideas out of your head is often the first active step in the process.

On the surface, people look at my work and believe I must be doing something different. I've written more than 60 books for traditional publishers (and in many different types—but all nonfiction). I've also written for more than 50 print magazines (stopped counting at 50). Plus I'm now working in acquisitions at my third publishing house. I'm blessed to have great opportunities (which I try and seize) and I continually work at growing my relationships.

First, let me give you basic truth about how to get it done. There are many things which are not getting done in the process of getting something done. I have my own share of unanswered emails, unreturned phone calls, Things around the house to fix or clean…..the list goes on and on. No one gets it all done—even if they look like they are getting it done.

How do you get things done? Several things:

1. Baby steps and continually pushing ahead with your writing—in spite of what else is going on in your life.

2. Persistent and continual knocking on new doors of opportunity. I've written about this in the past and it's the need of every writer. When you aren't writing for magazines and the book contracts have stopped, take a minute and think about why this is happening. Are you still writing query letters and pitching your ideas to editors? Are you writing book proposals and pitching those new ideas? If not, maybe that is the reason.

3. As you have ideas, consistently take action on these ideas. For example, today I was scanning through my news feed on Facebook. I noticed one of my Morgan James authors talking about how her book will make a great Christmas present. It was a terrific action on her part—which linked to her book on Amazon. I clicked the link and noticed this book had one Amazon review. This book came out four years ago—the same year as my Billy Graham biography, which just went over 100 Amazon reviews). I reached out to this author on email, complementing her on the marketing effort—and giving a number of other ideas of what can do to improve. I may or may not hear from this author but I had some ideas and took action on them.

Also maybe you've seen my little personal campaign to get over 100 reviews on Amazon. It happened and I'm grateful for everyone who helped me. I blogged. I emailed (individually and on my email list). I called people and any other way I could to get to this number. My point is it did not happen organically or naturally or without any effort.

Nothing happens without your taking action and responsibility. You can do many things in the publishing world but your action will be the difference maker in this process. If I can help you in this process, my work contact information is on the bottom of the second page of this link.

What steps do you take to get it done? Let me know in the comments below.


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Sunday, September 16, 2018

Better Than Thinking: Action

Let It is great to have thoughts about the world of publishing. There is a place for careful deliberation in our writing lives. But the real difference maker is when you take action on those thoughts. How are you moving from idea to plan to action?

I noticed one of my writer friends launched a new book and recently made the New York Times list. Initially I looked at the details of the book and noticed it was over 500 pages. My reading time is limited so it is rare that I read a book of such length. Yet I was fascinated with the success of this book reaching the bestseller list. I noticed it was available on audiobook and I checked it out through Overdrive.

Listening to a few chapters, I could see why the book made the bestseller list. The writing and the storytelling was fascinating. I made a point to call my friend and congratulate her on the success of her book. We haven't spoken but exchanged voicemails where she told me that she has never listened to any of her books on audio. Our exchange was brief but we did make a connection. The continued connections is an important part of the writing life.

Last week I read a blog post from literary agent Wendy Lawton called An Innovative Approach—Case Study. Wendy wrote about the launch of a three book series from Doug Newton called Fresh Eyes.  I met Doug many years ago at the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference. David C. Cook where I used to work years ago, published these books. Often series books are released six months or a year apart but they decided to release all three of these titles at once. I looked at the books and found them intriguing. Then I looked at the pages on Amazon and Goodreads. I noticed the books had been out about a month and only had a few reviews.  I have plenty to read. In fact, people approach me almost daily to review their books. Yet I wanted to help my friend Doug Newton (even though I had not corresponded with him in many years).

I wrote asking for a review copy of the books and they arrived late last week. Over the weekend I read through one of them (Fresh Eyes on Jesus’ Miracles: Discovering New Insights in Familiar Passages) and caught the excitement and innovation in these books. I'm posting my review and promoting the book.

Why tell you about this process? Because you can follow the same course of action. If you learn about a book that you would like to read, don't hesitate to reach out to the author or publisher and request a review copy of the book. When you get the book, read it, then write an honest review. Finally send an email to the author or publisher after you have posted your review. This final step of follow-through is important. Everyone gets a lot of mail and email but the ones which stand out are the ones which actually take action.

How can you turn your ideas into action? What practical steps can you take today which will feed into your writing life? I applaud thinking and thoughtful consideration but even more I appreciate taking action.Let me know in the comments how you are taking action on your thoughts.


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Sunday, September 09, 2018

Levels of Persistence

Persistence is an important quality for every writer. When you get a rejection letter (and it happens to all of us), then you have to persist to look for the next opportunity for your writing. Instead of putting the submission aside, you take active steps to get it back into the market with a different editor or literary agent.

I've been thinking about the different levels of persistence and how it plays into the writing life. Since I studied journalism at Indiana, I have been a life-long newspaper reader. Not the digital version but getting a daily newspaper and reading it cover to cover. From time to time, my newspaper doesn't show up. Maybe the carrier skipped me or whatever happens but I have to call the circulation office for a replacement newspaper.

Recently my wife reminded me of a period years ago when I lived in a different city and the newspaper delivery problem was happening over and over. To resolved it, I actually drove to the newspaper office and spoke with someone face to face about it. My level of persistence was great and someone got the message and it was finally resolved.

In recent days I've been having repeated problems with my Denver Post not being delivered. I've called the circulation office almost daily but the paper has not been delivered. I decided to raise the level of persistence. I looked on the newspaper website and found the name, email and phone number of the Senior Vice President of Circulation. I called this executive and left a straight forward message and I emailed him as well about the poor customer service situation with a plea for him to get it fixed,. Now I understand thousands of people take my newspaper every day—but my level of persistence raised the situation. While my newspaper situation is not resolved, it is improving yet I'm determined for it to be fixed.

Do you have this level of persistence with your writing? Are you determined to get your book published or to get into a particular magazine or be represented by a particular literary agent? Maybe you want to speak at a particular conference or event? Are you contacting the leaders on a regular basis with innovative topics to speak at their event?

The reality is everyone has interruptions, family situations or some other personal crisis. It throws off their ability to handle your writing situation. With an email or a text or a call, can you get on their radar to help them with a need?As you meet the needs of this person, they will in turn help you meet your needs.

Are you persistent with your writing life? Tell me in what ways in the comments below.


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Sunday, September 02, 2018

The Hidden Costs of Publishing

Like an iceberg, there are hidden costs in publishing.

There are many things in the world of publishing which simply add to the cost and effort to happen but are never documented or talked about. In many ways, these elements become some of the hidden cost of publishing. In some ways publishing is like an iceberg. We can see the top on the water but don't realize all that is below the surface. In this article I wanted to tell you about a couple of these hidden costs then give you some tools and basic principles for your own writing life.

People look at my large twitter following and would like to have that ability to influence and touch others. Yet are you willing to do the work to build that following? I've detailed the five every day steps I take with twitter. I use a program called Refollow to help automate this effort. Sometimes the program does not work. Every day I can use it to quickly follow 800 people in my target market. Then I can also use this program to unfollow people who have not followed me back. Some of these people I followed years ago and I use Refollow to automatically unfollow them. This unfollow process involves clicking and unfollowing each person—up to 1,000 a day.

Recently several times the program gets stuck. The only way I've found to get it working is to leave the site (stopping the process) and to begin it again (and reclicking all those times). Other times error messages are thrown up on my screen. Maybe Twitter has blocked the unfollow process or something else. These stops and starts amount to some substantial time with zero or little results. Yet I persist because I understand it is all part of the process of continuing to build my audience and presence in the market.  I use these tools consistently day after day.

Over the years, I've created a number of online information products like Blogging for Bucks or my Write a Book Proposal course. I've automated many of these products through autoresponders and other tools. Each of these products include my 100% Love it Or Leave It Guarantee. If the buyer isn't satisfied in a period of time, they can send an email and ask for a refund. This guarantee is a key part of selling products online and it is rare that someone will ask for a refund. This email arrived at a time when I was challenged with other things—yet I took the time to make the refund. Carrying through with your promises is a key part of having an online business and successfully selling products online. It doesn't make it simple or easy.

Here's some basic principles for every writer to get beyond the hidden costs of publishing:

* Understand they are there and keep going in spite of them

*Automate when you can. Investing in tools like Hootsuite, Manage Flitter and Refollow allow me to continually grow my presence and saves time

*Keep growing in your craft of writing, attending conferences, taking online courses and reading books. I've got shelves of how-to books I've read over the years and continue to read them.

*Timing is critical and yet often out of your control. I've had authors who have looked for an agent for years (not found it) then return to Morgan James and ask if they can sign our book contract. I've had it happen numerous times. An author signed recently who I have been speaking with off and on for three years about her book.

*Take the long view of success yet keep doing the little things and working to promote you and your writing. Over and over I speak with authors who continue promoting yet have stopped telling their publisher about their promotion (big mistake in my view). The publisher is going to assume they are not promoting and has stopped talking about the author with their sales team and the sales team to the bookstores since it is tied together. Yet if the author continues to promote and tells the publisher, then the communication and promotion to the bookstores can continue. Consistent communication matters.

No little elves come out and write this material for us. We have to be the ones to tell the stories and complete the work. 

Do you recognize the hidden costs of publishing? What tips can you give us about how you persist and get it done? I look forward to reading your comments.


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