Sunday, September 29, 2019

Learn How to Reach the Library Book Market

By Terry Whalin @terrywhalin

You spot a new book that looks interesting. Where do you turn to get that book? Some of you are thinking Amazon—and yes Amazon would have some information about the book. Yet on Amazon to actually get the book in your hands, you have to buy that book and spend money.  Often the first place I look is not to buy the book but to explore my local library. Can I get the book there? Can I get the audiobook through my library? Can I get the book through interlibrary loan? Often the answer is yes.

I have a branch of my local public library about three blocks from my house. As I've learned to use their online catalog, I can often reserve books from home, then get an email they are ready for me to pick up and go get these books. If I don't find the book in their catalog, then I can use interlibrary loan to locate the book and get it. Or sometimes I will make a book purchase suggestion. For example, last week in my email I saw a book where the title caught my interest. I searched for the audiobook version on Overdrive but did not find it.  I returned to my local library and filled out a form to make a suggestion on a book. Later that day, I got an email from the library they were ordering the audiobook version through Overdrive and it should be available later that day. A few hours later, I searched for this audiobook, found it, checked it out and downloaded it to my phone—all without leaving my home.

Hopefully through these stories you are seeing the value and diversity for book lovers to be using your local library. Last week I did a 45-minute online class about libraries with Amy Collins. Here's some facts Amy pointed out:

* Over 57% of Millenials have been in a library or on their library website in the last month

* 71% of Americans have used a library in the last year

* The American Library annual budget for materials and books is just over 2.8 BILLION Dollars.

If you don't know Amy,  she is the most trusted and experienced teacher in our industry and teaches hundreds of classes each year on how to get your books INTO libraries. There is no special trick to getting your book approved and purchased by libraries. But there ARE things you have to know and do to make this amazing side of the book business work for you. Amy Collins is the founder of Bestseller  Builders and president of New Shelves Books. Collins is a recommended sales consultant for some of the largest book and library retailers and wholesalers in the publishing industry. She is a USA TODAY and WALL STREET JOURNAL bestselling author and in the last 20 years, Amy and her team have sold over 40 Million books into the bookstore, library, and Chain store market for small and mid-sized publishers. She is a columnist for and a board member of several publishing organizations and a trusted teacher in the world of independent publishers.

With over 10,000 libraries in North America alone, this wonderful opportunity to learn exactly HOW to sell into thousands of libraries is a wonderful opportunity. Amy recorded her workshop and includes a handout and valuable information. You can access it right away at:


Do you use your local library? Are you selling your books into libraries? Let me know in the comments below.


Are you reaching the library market with your books? Get insights and a free workshop from a respected expert. (ClickToTweet)

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Sunday, September 22, 2019

A Critical Responsibility for Every Writer

By Terry Whalin @terrywhalin

I often hear fascinating stories from writers about their experiences in publishing. I listen to these stories because I learn more about the world of publishing. Often in the process, I discover some pitfalls to avoid with my own publishing efforts. Yes after years in publishing, I continue to learn—and I hope you are learning too because that is how we continue to grow as writers.

This author has written a number of nonfiction books. For his most recent book, he signed with a literary agent and had high hopes for the success of this book. While I'm not including the name of this agent, she is well respected within publishing. She has a large number of clients and has placed a number of books with various publishers. In other words, this agent has a good reputation and this author was thrilled to sign with such an agent. This agent took his nonfiction book and placed it with a small traditional publisher located in the midwest.

With the agent placing his book with a traditional house, he had high hopes for the success of this book. The author is connected and worked hard at getting reviews and book signings and other events to promote his new release. Yet this author could not get much traction (exposure and sales) in the brick and mortar bookstores. They would not order or carry his book inside the bookstores. Then he discovered the reason: this publisher did not allow retailers to return unsold books.

An aside: books inside bookstores have been 100% returnable for the lifetime of the book since the great depression in the 1930s. Publishers take all the risk on these books and while it seems unusual to people outside of publishing, returning books from retailers is simply a part of the fabric of publishing.

This author was enraged to learn his traditional publisher didn't allow returns. He spoke with his agent and she shrugged it off, saying, “Most books are sold through Amazon anyway. Returns is not an issue.”

Another aside: Amazon is a large player in the book publishing business but books are still selling in brick and mortar bookstores and other venues. You narrow your possibilities if you are only selling through Amazon (in my view).

This author learned a lesson from his experience—and one that every author should learn. You can delegate some things to your agent or a publisher, yet at the end of the day, the author bears the ultimate responsibility. The agent doesn't sign the bottom of the contract. Only the author signs the contract with the representative of the publisher. Yes the devil is in the details. It doesn't mean you have to do everything, but you have to know enough to monitor everything because if something falls apart, you will take the blame.

What did you learn from this story? Does it help you take the critical responsibility for your own writing and work? Let me know in the comments below.


Learn The Critical Responsibility for Every Author—one that can't be delegated to an agent or publisher from this prolific editor and writer. (ClickToTweet)

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Sunday, September 15, 2019

How To Eat An Elephant

By Terry Whalin @terrywhalin

How do you eat an elephant? It's an old joke but you eat an elephant one bite at a time.  It the same way to accomplish any huge task—one action at a time. Recently I began to write another book.  It doesn't matter that I've done it over and over through the years. Each time it looks daunting to write an entire book manuscript. No matter what others will tell you for everyone getting started is hard. The writing in the middle is hard and finishing is hard. Yes the task is difficult and looks impossible. So how do you get it done? One bite at a time.

What is the deadline for completing your book? If you don't have a deadline, then I suggest you set one. After you have a deadline, how many words a day are you going to write to complete the deadline? Make sure you build in some extra days for the unexpected (happens to everyone) but make sure you hit your deadline.

Or maybe your goal is tied to your social media. You want to reach a certain number of followers on Twitter or a certain number of connections on LinkedIn. Are you actively working on these networks? Are you posting a number of times each day? Are you connecting with new people? Without your regular actions, then it will be hard to increase your presence and meet your goals.

Do you want to do more speaking? Are you pitching different conference directors and leaders? From my experience you have to be proactively promoting your speaking skills to get more speaking meetings.

Do you want to appear on more radio shows and talk about your latest book? There are thousands of radio stations and programs which use guests on their program. These bookings do not happen just sitting back and waiting for them to call. Your phone will be silent if you take this action. Instead, you need to be actively pitching the producers of these programs.

Or maybe you want to write more magazine articles or appear on more podcasts? Waiting for the phone to ring will likely not happen. What proactive steps are you taking to either go ahead and write the article then submit it to the publication? Or you can write a query letter and send it simultaneously to different publications and get an assignment?

Many are surprised that I have written over 60 books through the years. There are several keys in this process but one of the most important is consistent writing.  It is a matter of writing one paragraph, then another paragraph which becomes one page then another page. It is the same process as eating an elephant—doing it in bite-size pieces.

Do you break your writing into smaller pieces? I'd love to have your tips and insights in the comments below.


How do you eat an elephant? Learn the secret in this article from this prolific writer and editor. (ClickToTweet)

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Sunday, September 08, 2019

What Is Writing Success?

By Terry Whalin @terrywhalin

Success is a pursuit for many writers, authors and publishing professionals. If we are honest, each of us will define success in different terms. In this article, I want to give you some ideas which hopefully will encourage you to keep going with your writing.

Occasionally book authors will ask me about success or becoming a bestseller. When asked, I attempt to give them my best answer—and basically it will boil down to that author's marketing activity and drive to sell books. There is no single path for each author. If there were such a path, then every book would be a bestseller and we know that isn't the case.

For me, I write about topics and people which interest me. Thankfully I have a broad spectrum of interest so there is never a lack of possibilities for my writing. I learn a great deal with each article or book or writing project. Each one has built a great deal into my life and the richness of that experience. I hope writing brings that sort of experience in your own life.

I've been promoting my book about Billy Graham every day for over four years. I post different messages and links and images but have been doing this process over and over every day. Last week one of my long-term friends added a message to one of my Facebook entries about Billy Graham saying, “Wow I didn't know you wrote that book.” She purchased the book and is reading it and has told me she is going to write a review of it when finished. I'm grateful this friend discovered my book and is reading it. This one exchange is success for me and one of the reasons I wrote that book.

As authors (from my experience), we don't get lots of feedback from readers of our work. Yes you may see an occasional review or get an email or comment. For every review or comment, I expect there are many more readers who never reach out to the author.

It's the same with these articles in my blog. The people who comment are rare (outside of the spammers which I delete). Yet each week for years I continue to write and post a new entry in The Writing Life. I see these lists of the top writing blogs—and mine is not on it. These lists come from well-known and respected writing magazines. Yes I have an email subscriber list of about 500 which goes up and down but stays around that same number.

Last week I got an email about this list of ranked writing blogs. To my surprise, The Writing Life blog was the fourth rank of 100 blogs. Notice this ranking includes several criteria for the ranking—including followers. It was encouraging to see my followers and be listed on this ranking.

My encouragement to you:

1. Follow your own path with your writing and persist to reach the right publisher and right readers.

2. Understand that success varies for each piece of writing and some writing will reach people you have no idea that it reaches.

3. Continue to move forward in spite of rejection, doubts, fears and other emotions. The journey is a key portion of the reward.

Success is different for each of us and I hope in this article, I've given you some insights and motivation to persevere and move ahead with your writing. Enjoy the journey.

What is your definition of Writing Success? Let me know in the comments below.


What is Writing Success? Get some ideas from this prolific writer and editor. (ClickToTweet)

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Sunday, September 01, 2019

Get Inspiration

By Terry Whalin @terrywhalin

Where do you find inspiration for your writing? For me, this inspiration comes from many different sources but as a writer we have to be aware and watching for it. I love a good story and find myself returning to these stories mentally and thinking about them over and over.

I've mentioned in the past about listening to audiobooks through Overdrive. It is a free resource through the public library. You can easily check out audiobooks, download them on your phone then listen to them as you walk (through earphones) or drive (through bluetooth) or many other means.

I love listening to memoirs and self-help books. Recently I listened to actor Michael Caine's memoir, Blowing the Bloody Doors Off. At 85 years old, actor Michael Caine has lived an amazing life. Like you would expect, his life is filled with ups and downs—and both aspects are captured in the pages of this fascinating book. I listened to Caine’s narration of the audiobook version cover to cover and enjoyed the book.  It is filled with stories and life lessons. To give you a taste of some of these insights, I tracked down the introduction to this book and wanted to include a few paragraphs:

“THE FIRST TIME I was in the United States, when I had just made Alfie, I was sitting on my own in the lobby of the Beverly Hills Hotel and heard the sound of a helicopter landing in the gardens opposite. This, the porter told me, was strictly illegal. He and I stood at the door to see who was so flagrantly flouting the law—presumably the President, of the United States or at least of the Beverly Hills Hotel. Across Sunset Boulevard, out of a swirling sun-flecked cloud of dust, six foot four and in full cowboy get-up, strode the unmistakable figure of John Wayne. As I stood there with my mouth open he caught my eye and altered his course to come over to me. What's your name, kid? he asked.

Michael Caine, I managed to croak.

That's right, he agreed, with a tilt of his head. You were in that movie Alfie.

Yes, I said. I wasn't really keeping up my end of the conversation.

You're gonna be a star, kid, he drawled, draping his arm around my shoulders. "But if you want to stay one, remember this: talk low, talk slow, and don't say too much."

Thank you, Mr. Wayne, I said.

"Call me Duke. He gave me a chuck on the arm, turned around and swaggered off.

It was a mind-blowing Hollywood moment for an ambitious young actor on his first visit to the city of dreams. And it was great advice for anyone who was going to be acting in Westerns and delivering all his dialogue from a horse. Talk low and slow so you don't scare the horses, and say as little as possible before the horse runs away. But it was not such great advice for someone like me, an actor who was going to play all kinds of characters with tons of dialogue, and mostly, thankfully, with my feet planted firmly on the ground.

I am often asked what advice I have for actors starting out in this business. And for many years my answer was Never listen to old actors like me." That was because, until John Wayne offered me his words of wisdom, I always used to ask older actors what I should do, and the only thing they ever told me was to give up.

But as I've got older, I've been reflecting on my life, as older people often do. And I've realised that, over my sixty years in the movie business and my eighty-five years of life, I have been given a lot of useful advice—by Marlene Dietrich, Tony Curtis and Laurence Olivier among many others—and I have learnt a lot of useful lessons, from my many glittering successes and my many disastrous failures. I started to think I could do a bit better than never listen to advice. In fact, my advice would be, don't listen to that advice.

This book is the result of that reflection. I wanted to look back on my life from the Elephant and Castle to Hollywood, and from man-about-town Alfie to Batman's butler Alfred, with all its successes and all its failures, all its fun and all its misery and struggle, its comedy, its drama, its romance and its tragedy, and find, among it all, the lessons I've learnt and want to share, not just for aspiring movie actors but for everyone.

A few of my 
lessons are quite specific to movie acting. But I hope that most of them will speak, somehow, to most of you. You won't all have to audition for parts but in some ways life is always an audition: everyone has moments when they have to put themselves out there for what they want. You won't all have to learn lines but everyone sometimes has to make sure they're properly prepared. We all have to deal with difficult people and we all have to learn how to balance our professional and personal lives.” (From the introduction of Blowing the Bloody Doors Off.

I just gave a taste of the profound material in this well-crafted book. I highly recommend Blowing the Bloody Doors Off (which was the last line in the entire book). I hope this example has given you some ideas about where I find inspiration—and you can too.

Where do you find inspiration? What are some of your sources? Let me know in the comments below.


Where do you find inspiration? Get some ideas from this prolific writer and editor. (ClickToTweet)

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