Sunday, December 29, 2019

When Your Book Isn't Selling

By Terry Whalin @terrywhalin

I used to cringe when I saw the mail or email from one of my publishers. It probably contained a royalty statement and experience told me many of those numbers would begin with a minus (negative balance).  I’ve written for many different traditional publishers and have had this experience from a broad spectrum of types of books including how-to, self-help, biographies, gift books and children’s books.

When your book sales are off, it’s a natural tendency to want to blame someone. Maybe my editor has left and my book was orphaned inside the publisher with no champion or advocate. Maybe my publisher didn’t market the book to bookstores. Maybe they changed the title between what was printed in the catalog and what was published. Or _______(fill in the blank). I’ve had all of these things happen to my published books. 

Good publishing involves a cooperative process and working with many different people. Much of this process is outside of the author’s control. I’ve also learned there are many pro-active steps authors can take to change their situation.

1.      Take 100% responsibility for your own success. In The Success Principles, Jack Canfield makes this the first principle. Over ten years ago, I heard this principle and adopted it in my publishing efforts.

2.      Be active in the promotion and marketing of your book.  As the author, you have the greatest passion for your book—way beyond anyone else including your publisher. The great promoter, PT Barnum said, “Without promotion, something terrible happens—nothing.” Consistent promotion of your book is important.

3.      Be Generous with your book. Reviews sell books but many authors have few reviews for their book on Amazon or Goodreads or Barnes & Noble. Give books to people who are willing to write a review. If they’ve never written a review, give them a tool to help them like with this form.

4.      Ask for others for help. In the New Testament, James 4:2-3 says, “You do not have because you do not ask.” If you need endorsements, ask but make it easy for them to say yes (offer to draft it). If you need social media promotion, ask but create possible posts. Here’s an example of a page, I created to help others help me spread the word on my latest book. Use this page as an example of something you can create for your own book.

5.      Take the long view of publishing. Publishing and promoting a book is more like a marathon than a sprint. With the huge volume of published books, someone has to hear about your book seven to twelve times before they purchase it. What actions can you take every day to give your book this exposure? My Billy Graham book trailer has been seen over 11,500 times in the last five years.

6.      No matter what happens in your life, keep going. In Perennial Seller, New York Times bestselling author Ryan Holiday writes, “The hard part is not the dream or the idea, it’s the doing.” If there were a simple formula to create a bestseller, every book would be a bestseller. There are practical actions every author can take. Each part of the publishing process has challenges and as writers your persistence and consistency is critical. As #1 New York Times bestselling author Jerry B. Jenkins wrote in the foreword of my book, 10 Publishing Myths, “Only one of a hundred writers literally make their deadlines.” If you meet deadlines with quality writing, it’s an easy way to stand out from the crowd. I wrote 10 Publishing Myths (released December 17th) to give writers realistic expectations and practical steps every author can take to succeed. Today, you can get the 11th Publishing Myth as a free ebook (which is not in the book).

When you point a finger at others because your book is not selling, just remember: when you extend your pointer finger, four more fingers are bent back toward you. Take action today.

Am I missing an action idea you can take? Or maybe you have other feedback. Let me know in the comments below.


What action steps can you take when your book isn't selling? Get some ideas from this prolific writer and editor. (ClickToTweet)

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Sunday, December 22, 2019

Take Simple Action Steps

By Terry Whalin @terrywhalin

When I was a high school sophomore, my English teacher, Mr. Smith, saw something in my writing and encouraged me to join the newspaper staff. I started writing sports even though I was non-athletic and didn’t follow sports. I learned the jargon and began to write sports. Ultimately I was the editor of my newspaper my senior year and went on to Indiana University and majored in journalism. I thought I was going to be a newspaper reporter but instead joined Wycliffe Bible Translators and spent the next 10 years in linguistics. I began to work on the mission magazine and ultimately became the editorial director and in charge of the public face of Wycliffe in print.
My return to writing from linguistics began in the magazine world. I learned to write a query letter to pitch my idea and then got assignments and completed those assignments. Over the years, my writing has been published in more than 50 publications.

My first book was published in 1992 because an editor at David C. Cook asked me if I had any ideas for children’s books. As a company, their mission statement charged them to teach children about missions, yet they didn’t have a single book on the topic. Since I worked for Wycliffe, she asked if I had any possible children’s book manuscripts. I pitched a possibility and she said, “That’s a good idea, Terry. Write that up and send it to me.” 

I went home and submitted my manuscript. While I went through a number of versions but ultimately it became my first book called When I Grow Up, I Can Go Anywhere for Jesus. This 32 page picture book started my work in books. Since then I’ve written over 60 books for many different publishers. I’ve been an acquisitions editor at three different publishers and for a while had a literary agency (closed).  Many wonder how I’ve done it—and it’s really simple action steps.

At a conference or on the phone or on email, I pitch my ideas to editors. When they respond positively and are willing to read it, I follow up, write it and send it to them. I don’t get published each time—but I do give myself a chance to be published. From being an editor and asking writers to send me their work, I know only about 10% or less actually submit it for consideration. They miss the opportunity by not doing what the editor has asked.

I’ve spoken with hundreds of writers and read thousands of submissions. I compiled a lot of my lessons into my new book, 10 Publishing Myths, Insights Every Author Needs to Succeed. Watch my one-minute book trailer for the book.

One of my 18 endorsers told me I was missing the 11th myth. I decided to write that chapter and give it away (looks exactly like the rest of my book). You can use this link to get the 11th Myth right away

My journey as a writer continues with simple action steps: do what the editor asks and submit what they need. 

Are you taking these simple action steps? Let me know in the comments below.


Are you taking simple action steps as a writer? Gain insights from this prolific writer and editor. (ClickToTweet)

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Sunday, December 15, 2019

Face the Silence With Action

By Terry Whalin @terrywhalin

Are you getting silence as you reach out to literary agents or editors during the holidays? Yes you might get a little response such as holiday greetings or Merry Christmas. From my years in this business, there is often a shift in the community from right before Thanksgiving until right after New Year's Day. People put off sending manuscripts. If they have a book contract from a publisher, they often delay to sign it until after January 2nd and any number of other decisions of this nature.

My authors are Morgan James are still active and corresponding with me but little is finalizing and moving forward—so mostly silent in some ways. How do you handle this silence? Does it stop your writing and your work in the community? In this article, I want to give you some pro-active idea of what you can do to be productive and face the silence with action.

1. Read books on the craft of writing. As you read these books, use a highlighter and post-it notes to take action on what you are learning. For example, my book, 10 Publishing Myths will release on December 17th. I encourage you to go to my website—and use one of the four different ways I offer to get the book. Also you can immediately get the 11th Publishing Myth (a chapter not included in the book).

I need your help to promote and tell other people about 10 Publishing MythsUse this page for some social media posts as well as links to the various places to write reviews and much more.

2. Plan an event for January. Maybe you want to plan a webinar or a local speaking event. Send some emails or make some phone calls or take some action for this event to get schedule and promoted.

3. Write a new book proposal or begin a new book manuscript. You can also take my Write A Book Proposal course and begin step-by-step to learn the important craft of writing a book proposal. This proposal will be your blueprint for writing and marketing your book. Do this writing work during these days in December.

4. Make plans to get to a writers' conference in the new year. Which one will you select? Who will you pitch? Take this time to plan and strategize your next publishing steps.

5. Look for new writing markets. Get the first chapter in Jumpstart Your Publishing Dreams (follow this link) and study the various writing opportunities. Pick one or two and try a new one.

6. Try some new ways to market your book. Get 1001 Ways to Market Your Book or a similar type of marketing book with proven ideas.

Each of us have the same amount of time. Let's seize the day during these silent days and move forward into the new year with great action and expectations.

How are you facing the silence in the publishing community? Let me know what actions you are taking in the comments below.

How do you face the silence of the publishing community with action? Learn from a prolific author and editor. (ClickToTweet)

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Sunday, December 08, 2019

Get A Realistic Publishing Perspective

By Terry Whalin @terrywhalin

I've spoken with many authors about their plans and ambitions for their published book. Authors pour a lot of energy into writing their manuscript and creating a book proposal or careful pitch of their book for editors or literary agents. These authors make statements to me like:

“My book will be a bestseller.”

“My book will make a lot of money.” 

“My book will sell ____ copies.”

Also over many years in publishing, I've had publishers tell me that my book would be in airport bookstores and they had plans to market and sell many copies of the book. Conventional wisdom in publishing says the larger the advance, the greater the publisher investment and the greater they will have to invest in marketing to get this investment back and more. I've been blessed to get a couple of six-figure advances—but I have lengthy stories (not good ones) about how each of these books turned out in the market.

From my years in publishing, I know and understand that much can go off course (wrong) in the publishing and marketing process. A great deal goes into publishing a book and then selling that book to readers, getting their enthusiasm about the book and telling others for even more sales. Many of the details of this process are outside of anything the author can control or do about it—a reality.

On December 17th, my next book, 10 Publishing Myths, Insights Every Author Needs to Succeed will release to bookstores nationwide. I wrote the book to give authors practical action steps they can take with their book to get it into the market.

Let me encourage you to watch the one-minute book trailer here:

Also when I was gathering 18 endorsements for this book from editors, literary agents, bestselling authors, PR experts and others, Alice Crider told me I was missing the 11th Myth: If I send my book to Oprah, she will book me on her show.  When I heard this myth I laughed but then I decided to write this chapter. It is designed like the rest of my book and you can get it free here (follow this link). You will get this PDF immediately and it will have the foreword by New York Times bestselling author Jerry B. Jenkins, the various endorsements and the chapter with the 11th myth.

Help Me Promote 10 Publishing Myths

I hope you will order my book through one of the four options on my website—but even if you don't order the book, I would encourage you to tell others about it using my ClickToTweet links on this page.

As you need gifts for the writers in your life, I want to encourage you to buy a copy of 10 Publishing Myths and give it to a friend who needs the encouragement and practical advice.

I'm excited about how 10 Publishing Myths is going to help authors all over the world—whether you have a new book or want to put more life and sales back into a book that has been in the market for a while. As long as you have enthusiasm for telling others about your book, there is hope for you in the market.

Do you have a realistic publishing perspective? What myths have you fallen for? Let me know in the comments below.


How to do you get a realistic publishing perspective? Get ideas and resources here from a prolific author and editor. (ClickToTweet)

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Sunday, December 01, 2019

Write a Review AND Promote Your Book

By Terry Whalin @terrywhalin

Through the years I've been in publishing, I've met many different writers and they share at least one common characteristic: writers are readers. Yes we are people who love books, buy books, tell others about books and read books.

Often in these entries, I have talked about Amazon reviews (click this link to see some of those entries). I have a long-standing practice where any book that I read or listen to (audiobook), I take a few minutes a write a review then post it on Amazon and Goodreads. I have written over 500 reviews on Goodreads where I have 5,000 friends and my reviews get a lot of attention. On Amazon I have written almost 1,000 reviews. It only takes me a few minutes after reading the book (where the time is involved) to write and post my review. In the past, I've shared the details about how I promote one of my own books with my reviews on Amazon (follow this link to read that post).

Writing reviews is one of the ways I support other authors. No one pays me for these reviews and I do not review every book that comes into my home because it would be impossible. Publishers, authors, and PR people send me books almost every day. I read these books for fun and often late at night and in my off work hours.

Amazon (like much of the rest of the world) continues to evolve and change. In recent months, they have made it even harder for people to get reviews (or so I read online). In the midst of these changes, I continue to write and post reviews. My reviews sometimes take a day or two to post—and I have no idea why it takes so long or what review process is in place behind the scenes. Eventually the reviews do post on Amazon and when that happens I get an email notification about my review.

In the past, Amazon made it easy to link within your reviews to other products. This feature disappeared months ago on the review page—yet I'm still linking to my most recent book in the final lines of my review. How am I able to add this information? First, I create a little plain text file in Notepad which contains my bio information which I add to the bottom of each review. I use this little file to promote my latest book as a part of my review. My current file says: W. Terry Whalin is an editor and the author of more than 60 books including his latest [[ASIN:164279452X 10 Publishing Myths: Insights Every Author Needs to Succeed]].

Notice several things about this little file. It is short (one sentence) and when it is posted includes an active Amazon link to the product. Here's the formula which you can use with your books:


The beauty of using this formula is it gives an active link inside your review. An active link means the reader can click and instantly go to the page with your Amazon product. This process is all about adding to the discoverability of your book. Someone needs to know about your book eight to twelve times before they will purchase the book. Each of us as authors need to continually work so others discover our work.

What Is The Book You Are Promoting?

If you haven't heard of the book I'm promoting (10 Publishing Myths), it's because this book will release on December 17th. You can check out the book, watch the one-minute trailer and pre-order the book (four different ways). Also you can see the 18 endorsements for this book from bestselling authors, editors, publishers and publicity experts. I hope you will get the book, read it and apply it to your life--and please write a review for my book.

Writing reviews and including a one sentence bio along with a clickable link to your product is one more step for readers to find and discover (and buy) your book.

Do you read books and write reviews and promote your book? Let me know in the comments below.


Write a review AND Promote Your Book. Learn the details in this article. (ClickToTweet)

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