Sunday, November 24, 2019

Right Fit: The Search Within Publishing

By Terry Whalin @terrywhalin

For over seven years, I've been acquiring books for Morgan 
James Publishing. As an acquisitions editor, I have a lot of interesting exchanges wtih authors, editors and literary agents about books. In this article, I'm going to tell you a few stories related to a constant search within publishing: finding the right fit.

If you can't find the right fit for you. You can always self-publish. Last year over 1.6 million new books took this route of self-publishing. One of my writer friends self-published and told me how he spent over $10,000 in the process of creation, editing and launching his book. When I spoke with him, he was wondering if he made the right choice for his book. As an editor, I've heard this story many times from various authors. For many houses if you self published, they will not consider taking it into their publshing house—unless you have huge sales like 100,000 copies. The good news is occasionally at Morgan James we take a self-published book and move it into our books. It does not happen often but it is possible and something to explore if you have gone this route with your book.

I regularly read a number of blogs and online articles. While reading a recent article, I learned a detail buried in the article. This author (also a book editor) was looking for a publishers for her historical novel. Because Morgan James publishes some fiction, I used her website to reached out and suggested she submit to Morgan James. We are looking for clean fiction (no profanity) and 100,000 words or less. This author responded that her story was gritty and over this word count. It was not the right publishing fit for this author.

Recently a Christian author with an unusual proposal approached me. While over the years I've reviewed thousands of submissions, I had never seen a book with this particular topic. From my understanding of the publishing world, I believe it will be a challenge for this author to find the right publishing fit but I liked the concept and wanted to help. As an editor, I went ahead and processed his submission and moved it forward through the process. My colleagues agreed with me that it would be a fit for Morgan James (doesn't always happen—yes my pitches get rejected at times) and we offered this author a contract. He responded that he's looking for a literary agent and a different type of fit. Will he find it? I don't know. He has an opportunity with Morgan James but like several other authors that I've spoken with, he is looking for the right fit.  

This search for the right fit is not just something writers are doing. Literary agents are looking for the right fit. They do not represent every type of book but search in specific categories and types of books they want to represent and place with publishers. Publishers are looking for the right fit. In fact, every person in the process is looking for this right fit. In many ways it is one of the constant factors in the publishing search.

One of the best actions any writer can take to find the right fit is to make sure they have a solid pitch or proposal to send to the editor or literary agent. Often these pitches are missing a critical element. Years ago as a frustrated acquisitions editor, I was not getting the right pitches from writers to be able to convince my colleagues to give them a book contract. I wrote Book Proposals That Sell, 21 Secrets to Speed Your Success

This book has over 110 Five Star reviews—and I have all of the remaining print copies—and I've discounted the book from $15 to $8. No matter what you write, you will find valuable information in these pages and be able to use it to improve your pitch and search to find the right fit in the publishing community.

What steps are you taking to find the right fit for your book? Let me know in the comments below.


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Sunday, November 17, 2019

Use Reminders on Your Phone to Meet Deadlines

By Terry Whalin @terrywhalin

As a writer and editor in publishing, I have many different deadlines and responsibilities. Years ago, I used lists and post-its to make sure I got things done. For the last year or so, I have used another tool that I often carry with me all the time—my iPhone. If you look in your phone, a standard app which comes with every phone is called reminders. Are you using this tool? From my experience, it is way better than tying a string on your finger which is an old fashion reminder. 

I use reminders for my work but also personal deadlines—basically anything I want to remember. It only takes a few minutes to create the reminder and set a deadline for the reminder. For example, last week I flew Southwest Airline. As a part of flying this airline, you can check-in 24 hours ahead of the departure. Of course you can pay the Early Bird check-in fee and avoid this process but I don't. Instead I set a reminder on my phone for a few minutes before the check-in time, then use it to recall when to check-in.

I have several publications where I send material every month on a certain date. It's another way I use reminders to make sure I meet these deadlines, create this material in a timely fashion then send it—and don't lose the opportunity.

Here's some other areas where I use reminders:

—a request for something (a resource or a book). Last week I was on the road talking with various authors and when I had an idea for a resource, it was simple to create a reminder to get it to them.

—On the road last week, I had phone messages and calls to return. Creating a reminder is a good place to make sure these calls are done.

—I have a number of authors and projects that I am chasing for different reasons.  I use reminders as a tool to reach out to them again (on the phone or email or both). I've learned through the years that follow-up is a key part of this process. I regularly follow-up through my use of reminders.

—other tasks to handle. I've only scratched the surface of how to use reminders. You will have your own uses and creative spin on this tool.

A hallmark of a professional writer is the ability to juggle different tasks and meet the deadlines. Reminders are one of the valuable tools I use to make sure I don't forget something and let it slip through the cracks. Yes I'm human and occasionally some things get missed but overall reminders has been a terrific tool to help me. I've had to learn to use this tool then take action on a regular basis for it to be effective.

Do you use reminders on your phone? Or maybe you have a completely different method and tool. Let me know in the comments below.


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Sunday, November 10, 2019

How to Listen to Bestselling Books (For Free)

By Terry Whalin @terrywhalin

Recently I listened to the new memoir by actress Demi Moore called Inside Out. About the time I finished listening to the book, the hardcover print memoir was #1 on the nonfiction bestseller list from Publishers Weekly.  

While Inside Out was unusual listening for me, it wasn't the first time I heard a current bestseller about the time of its release. In fact, it happens to me often. I read or listen to many bestselling books. In this article, I want to show you how you too can listen to the latest books about the time of their release and when people are talking about them and you are reading about them in the news.

1. Read about forthcoming books and use free online publications like Publishers Weekly, Shelf Awareness, newspaper or magazines. As you read, be watching for the information about forthcoming books and then take action. The action that I'm encouraging you to take is to sign up to get the book coming your direction (free).

2.  If you see something of interest, search for it at your local library on Overdrive and get on hold list for the book. You will have to learn how to use the search tool of Overdrive then get on the waiting list for the book. The beauty of this process is to find the book, put a hold on it, then get in line for when the book is available. Using the hold process, when the book is ready for you to check out, it will automatically be checked out to you and you will receive an email that the audiobook is ready for you to download on your phone. I love the Overdrive process because it is free, easy and I carry the books everywhere on my phone. It allows me to listen when I'm in my car for a few minutes or a longer drive. I can listen to an audiobook when I exercise or even when I travel on an airplane—because the audiobook is on my phone. After 21 days the book “expires” and returns to the library. This expiration process is automatic and does not involve physically returning the book since it is all done electronically.

3. If you can't find it, then make a request for it through your local library. They can possibly buy the book and if you have requested it, you get to be one of the first people to get the book. I've gone through this process a number of times with books and my local library has ordered the book.

4. From looking at the books that I've been reading and writing about on Goodreads or Amazon (follow these links to see the books), I hope you will see the diversity. While I'm a conservative Christian, I do not read or listen to only conservative Christian books. I mix into my reading books from people who are at the opposite political spectrum from me. For example, in recent days, I listened to Susan Rice's memoir called Tough Love. I enjoyed this audiobook and heard it cover to cover (which I don't do with every book). 

Also I vary the types and genres of books that I consume. The diversity builds something intangible but important in my life. It is a pattern I recommend for you as well. Don't be in a reading rut but be open to many different types of books. Because I'm using the library, there is a wide spectrum of available books.

I've given you the steps and ways I learn about forthcoming titles and then listen to them for free. Are you listening to audiobooks? Maybe you do something completely different. Let me know in the comments below.


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Sunday, November 03, 2019

When Something Goes Wrong In the Writing Process

By Terry Whalin @terrywhalin

From my experience in publishing, there are many tests and trials in the process. You plan things and then those things don't happen or go off kilter or break or many other possibilities. As I see it, there are two tests in this process—the one on the surface and then the real rest of how you handle this situation.

Last week I began working with an author on writing his book. He came into town from across the country and we spent two days together working on gathering the stories and contents of his book. The work was interesting and I believe a fascinating book will result from those hours of working together. From my experience, something always goes wrong in this creative process—always. Now I tend to forget that this happens (also part of the process) and it always catches me by surprise.

For years when I work with someone to interview them, I record it. I have an old fashion tape recorder and use real tapes (hard to find these days but possible). I have used my recorder over and over in this process and set it up. After several hours of interviewing and storytelling, I decided to listen to the tapes. To my shock, nothing was on it. My author took ear phone and listened to the tapes. Again he heard nothing. Hours of work was gone on these empty tapes. We were stunned yet came up with another way to record the stories and continued working inspite of the missing tapes. We worked through the rest of the outline and spent about 12 hours together in this process.

Besides this recording fiasco, the local weather was also a challenge: a snow storm dropping several inches of fresh snow. Tired from a day of interviewing, I cleared the windows of my car and drove carefully home. Grateful to have this time with the author for storytelling. He was flying home early the next morning.

When I got home, the next day, I have a different tape recorder and decided to test my recorded interview tapes (several of them). To my surprise, two of the three tapes had recordings. Hours of work was on the tape. I called my author to tell him and could hear the relief in his voice with this news. We worked together on the phone later in the week to redo the missing stories. I have the bulk of the contents and stories needed for this book project.

I wrote these details to show you the types of challenges that happen when you work on a writing project. Your experiences may be different but I suspect you will have something to overcome each time in the process. Do you let it derail and stop your work or do you figure out another means to get it done? How you handle this choice will be the difference between getting it done or not; completing the project or not.

When you work on a writing project, do you have these types of things happen to you? How do you handle it? Let me know in the comments below.


Does something derail you in the writing process? How do you get around the difficulty?  Get insights from this prolific writer.  (ClickToTweet)

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