Sunday, October 27, 2019

The Downside of Persistence (A Cautionary Tale)

By Terry Whalin @terrywhalin

I've written a number of times in these entries about how a key quality for every writer is persistence. People tell us “no” a lot in this business and you have to persist to find the right place to get published. In this article, I want to tell a cautionary tale about the downside of persistence. Yes, persistence can be carried to far and make a negative impression.

At Morgan James Publishing, we get a number of authors and literary agents approaching us with material. Internally we call these leads because they may lead to a published book (or not). There are a many books that we are looking for and a number of books that we do not publish. The key at the end of the day is a good fit for the author and the book to publish with Morgan James. We receive over 5,000 submissions a year and only publish about 150 books. Despite what some people on the outside of the company say, we have a selection process and are not a vanity publisher. If we were a vanity publisher, then we would publish anything that comes in the door. From my years of working at Morgan James, I know this is simply not the case.

Last week someone associated with the U.S. space program approached Morgan James with a book idea. This contact was sent to me because I've worked with a couple of different astronauts on their book submissions. I reached out to this person. It turned out they were in the film side of the business and did not have a book proposal or a manuscript but according to them had lots of unique information. The email response pushed me toward lots of video links and photos. Bottom-line this “author” had no manuscript. His idea was that a manuscript would be created later. His vision was a coffee-table type of book with loads of color photos. From my years of working in this business, when I see an author has a vision for something completely different than what we publish, the best course of action is to tell that author in a straight forward and honest manner. It's how I handled the exchange and I wished him the best in finding the right place for his material. I “thought” that wrapped up my exchanges with this potential author.

Then last week I get a text from my founder at Morgan James. He had heard from this author again and thought I had not handled the initial exchanges (not the case). I explained how I had exchanged emails and made sure I told him the coffee-table book vision for this author. It was confirmed that we don't publish these types of books. To keep the communication clear, I returned to this author and reminded him of our exchanges—and asked him not to send something again to our founder. It would be the same as knocking on the front door of a publisher when you are already in dialogue with someone else in the same company on the same matter. Such duplication is not necessary and only causes confusion.

When this author received my email, he apologized and claimed he has “hundreds” of submissions in the works and couldn't keep track. When I read those words, "couldn't keep track," I thought, Who wants to work with that type of author? It's a case where his persistence had a huge downside and shows an unprofessionalism and leading to certain rejection.

Several lessons here:

1. Keep track of your submissions and avoid duplicate submissions to the same publisher. Publishers and literary agents keep track of submissions—and you as an author need to keep track as well.

2. Listen to the feedback and respond rather than persisting to submit and look unprofessional and inept.

3. Publishing looks huge but in reality we are a small community. I hope this author finds the right place for his book (and I told him that). Inside I know he is going about it in the wrong manner.

Hope this cautionary tale helps some of you. Have you discovered a downside to persistence? Let me know n the comments below.


Persistence is a valuable trait for writers but it does have a downside. Learn the insights in this cautionary tale. (ClickToTweet)

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Sunday, October 20, 2019

Boost Your Writing To A New Level

By Terry Whalin @terrywhalin

I'm heading to another conference this week and I'm looking forward to it for a number of reasons. Our work in publishing as writers and editors is isolated. Yes I work with my Morgan James Publishing colleagues to get contracts, negotiate with agents and authors and do book deals. I work for a New York publisher yet I live in Colorado. The bulk of my work is done on the phone and email rather than face to face. It's the same with my writing work. The work is often done on my computer or phone rather than face to face. Yes there are some of these physical meetings but not often. During each day, I set my own schedule for phone calls, meetings, and many other tasks. Conferences are a chance to break the routine and do something different.

A conference is an opportunity for me to reconnect with old friends. I've been traveling to some of these events for years and met remarkable editors, writers and people in other roles in this business. Follow this link to a list of various conferences that I know firsthand and recommend. 

Conferences are a chance to catch up on what they are doing—even if it is only for a few minutes. Also at these events, I meet new writers and editors, exchange business cards with them. From my experience, a lot of the people who attend these conferences are coming for their first event. I know some of these new relationships will grow to be significant in my own future work. Why? Because I've seen this type of connection over and over in my past trips.

While I read trade magazines and online newsletters and other tools to keep up on publishing, conferences give me the chance to learn about other changes in the business (maybe something that hasn't been in a publication) or listen to others about what they need for their publication or are looking for. These conversations move the information beyond something from print to something practical that I could possibly do. There is a lot of this type of give and take during a conference whether at a meal or late at night in a hotel lobby or any number of other locations.

Also these conferences give me a chance to give back to others and to teach. I'm teaching a couple of workshops at the conference this coming week. I've prepared my handouts and resources for this class and believe it will help the writing life of those in my workshop—provided they show up and take action on the different resources I will be giving them.

Another reason I love these conferences is I meet people who are looking for a publisher. I'm going to be having a number of one-on-one meetings throughout the conference with writers. I will be able to listen to their pitches and look at their work plus give them some of the distinctions about Morgan James Publishing. I've met a number of people at these events that I've been able to help them get their work into print—from our exchanges are the conferences.

I understand there are challenges for every writer to get to one of these events—whether they are large events or small events. They have challenges in terms of:

* cost. Each of these events have a financial cost for the conference fee, the hotel, transportation, the meals, etc.

* time. These conferences take you away from your current work and things pile up while on the road. Some of these events are long and others are short but they still consume time.

* effort. Some people have to arrange childcare or petcare or other details to be able to get free and go to these events.

From my experience of going to events and conferences for years, I know they are worth any effort to overcome the challenges. It is important to show up, learn then apply the information you gain into your writing life.  I know these events will boost your writing to a new level.

What do you get from going to a conference? How has it boosted your writing? Let me know in the comments below.


Want to boost your writing to a new level? Get the details here from this prolific writer and editor. (ClickToTweet)

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Sunday, October 13, 2019

Be "The Exception" Author

By Terry Whalin @terrywhalin

From my years in publishing. I know there are many authors who want to write a bestselling book. They take classes and courses and work hard at learning the craft of storytelling and writing. They join a critique group and even hire an outside editor to produce an excellent manuscript and proposal. They go to conferences and meet literary agents and editors, then follow up with their writing. Each of these steps are important and essential to the process.

Publishing has a lot of competition as a part of the mixture. Thousands of new books enter the marketplace every day and there are many books already in print with those authors trying to sell their books. While self-publishing is always an option, it is not a route that I recommend to authors because most of it is not successful (doesn't sell) and you end up doing everything on your own (everything—including functions that you have no interest in doing).

As an acquisitions editor, I'm looking for authors who are the exception. As an author, I'm trying to be the exception in my approach and life. Such an approach is not easy-and if it were, everyone would be doing it. The path is filled with failure and restarts yet there is a path and you can continue in spite of the failure and restarts. From my experience, those persistent authors are the ones who eventually succeed and find their way. Here's a couple of examples of these authors:

Cec Murphey has written many books including his bestselling 90 Minutes in Heaven. He had written many books before this title and received a modest advance (and expectation) from the publisher regarding this book. Through the tireless promotion of Don Piper, this book got on the New York Times bestseller list and has continued to sell year after year. Cec has written many different types of books and he is a great example of someone who is an exception as an author.

Jerry B. Jenkins has published 195 books and been #1 on the New York Times bestseller list 21 times. Left Behind was his 125th book so he was not an overnight success. The Left Behind series has sold over 70 million copies. Jerry has written many different kinds of books and is another example of an author who is the exception.

While you have probably heard of these last two authors, I'm intentionally selecting a third author who is the exception and you've probably not heard of him: Alan Williams. He is the author of The Little Teammate which is a Morgan James children's book. I understand this book has sold over 400,000 copies—and you would not know it from the BookScan numbers or the Amazon ranking. How did it happen? The author is selling copies in bulk to corporation.  Every author can use this strategy to sell books but few do so Alan Williams is an exception. You can learn about bulk sales through this free teleseminar that I did on the topic

Here's a few of my lessons from these exceptional authors:

1. Be consistent and persistent.

2. Timing is not in your control but you can control your effort—so make it consistent and persistent.

3. Look for the open doors and march through them. Most people give up but the ones who succeed keep on knocking and trying and working to find the right place. Persistence and the right connection will pay off in the long run.

Are you an “exception” author? Or maybe you know of one and their actions. Let me know in the comments below.


Can you be “The Exception” author? Learn some of the key characteristics in this article. (ClickToTweet)

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Sunday, October 06, 2019

A Simple Expression of Appreciation

By Terry Whalin @terrywhalin

The key book which has guided my life in publishing has been the Bible. For many years, I've read a different version of the Bible from cover to cover each year. Reading the Scriptures is a key part of the beginning of each day.  I have been reading in The Passion Translation (Broadstreet). If you don't know about the Passion Translation, I encourage you to get a copy and read it. From my experience, often reading in a new translation will give you fresh insights and perspective. One of the final letters the Apostle Paul wrote was his second letter to Timothy. In 2 Timothy 3:1–5,  he includes a series of godless acts that will happen during the Last Days. tucked into some terrible things is a single word: ungrateful. (2 Timothy 3:1-5).

The opposite of ungrateful is gratitude. As a writer, how do you incorporate gratitude into your daily life?

How you express gratitude doesn't have to be complicated. A simple expression of appreciation can go a long way. My first book, When I Grow Up, I Can Go Anywhere for Jesus, was published in 1992. When the book first came out, I went to the booksellers convention and met with best-selling author Richard J. Foster. His classic book, Prayer: Finding the Heart's True Home had just released. I showed Richard my little 32–page book and gave him a copy. He celebrated with me and prayed with me about the book. Several weeks later, I got a surprise in the mail: a handwritten thank you note from Richard Foster. He was letting me know how much he appreciated the copy of my book.

This handwritten note from a bestselling author was amazing to me—and a practical example of something I've done now for years. I've been writing and reviewing books for many years—in print magazines and online. Almost every day authors and publishers will send me physical books. I appreciate it but to be honest, the volume is way more than anyone could read—even if that is all I did. I read these books in my free time and for fun then write my reviews and post them on Amazon, Goodreads and my social media.

If you can't read every book that comes into your mail box, what can you do? I can take a few minutes and handwrite a note to that author expressing my appreciation for their efforts. I have a box of thank you notes and pull one out, address the envelope and write my note often on the same day I get the book. It is a practice of appreciation that I've done for years—and something anyone can do.

What practices of appreciation do you incorporate into your daily life? Let me know in the comments below.


Discover a simple expression of appreciation from this prolific editor and author.  (ClickToTweet)

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