Sunday, February 23, 2020

Three Actions When You Hit a Tech Snag

By Terry Whalin @terrywhalin

It happens to me daily and sometimes several times a day: I hit some snag with a technical issue. I don't like it when this happens to me. Sometimes getting through the tech issue can consume hours of time and energy.  Yet it is a reality of our world and culture—whether we like it or not. In this article, I want to give you several illustrations of tech snags and then several actions to take when it happens.

This coming week for several days I'm attending a bootcamp (an intensive conference). As a part of the preparation, the leaders asked us to survey our target market with a specific question. I crafted my question but then needed to figure out which online tool to use for collecting the input. I know about several of these tools but each tool I tried, I ran into technical snags where when testing it, I could not get it to work properly. It was frustrating and time consuming to resolve. To resolve it, I reached out to one of the leaders of this bootcamp and asked for help. In a short time, I got a response and worked through the issue and made my survey.

One of my relatives struggles with technology issues—like when I want to send this person some photos from my phone. Each time when I speak with her, she claims, “I'm dumb with _____.” When I hear these types of statements, I explain to her that everyone struggles with these issues and it has nothing to do with being dumb or smart. It is a part of our world and culture. I hope my explanation helped her work through the tech snag. My caution to you is not to speak such things to yourself because they become self-fulfilling. There is a solution to whatever issue you are facing, you just need to persevere and find it.

This week I found a charging device for my phone. I had purchased this device months ago but never used it and the charge had worn out so it wasn't working. As I looked at this device, I could not figure out how to charge it. I was inclined to throw it away—yes that frustrated with it. Eventually my wife found a connection on the device (which was not immediately obvious to me). This connection was different from anything I had seen before. Instead ot throwing it away, I looked to see where I could possibly plug this connection. With a couple of attempts, I found a place to start recharging this device and got it to where it is a useable tool again. I'm glad I didn't throw it away.

My hope is you learned some insights with each of these three recent tech snags. The overriding principle I want to emphasize is: there is an answer to your tech snag. You have to use different resources and persist to resolve it. Here's three possible actions when you hit a tech snag:

1. Ask Google to help you. Yes this one is obvious but many of us forget to use the obvious tool called Google with tons of technical help for you.   

2. Go to YouTube and search for videos that will help give you the answer. Whether basic or advanced, there are often resources here to help you with your tech issue. 

3. Ask someone for help.  Is there an online help tool? Can you fill out an online form and write support to resolve it? Is there a friend you can email or call and ask for help? I pay an annual fee to the Geek Squad and don't use them often but when I need them, they readily come to my help on some technical issues. Also use inexpensive tools like Fiverr.com.  I have a designer with a good rating that I use for some small design issues occasionally. Maybe Fiverr would be a route to help you through your technical issue.

4. (Bonus Action) Keep working at it until you find the solution. It may not be something you can resolve in a day or two, but keep chipping away at it and you will find the answer. You can't be the only person who is having such an issue that needs resolution. You have to be persistent with these tech snags to get them resolved. 

These tech issues are going to continue. We live in a technology driven world. Do you have another resource or maybe another action item? Let me know in the comments below. 


What actions do you take when you hit a tech snag? Get ideas and insights from this prolific editor and writer. (ClickToTweet)

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Sunday, February 16, 2020

Get Inspiration from Quotations

By Terry Whalin @terrywhalin

Early on in my journalism training, I was taught to look for key quotations. Often these statements would be in the lead of my story or they would drive home the point of my story.  

As writers interviewing other people for the content of a chapter of a book or a magazine article, I encourage you to be looking for these key quotations. They will help you as you craft your stories.

When I read inspirational quotes, I get insights and encouragement. I look for them from many different sources like my own reading of books or blogs or articles online. When I find them, I will often cut and paste them into my social media plans for the future. It's been my pattern for years with my social media feeds for the day: I begin every day with an inspirational quotation and an image.

In the social media world, you can attract more attention, retweets and responses if you include an image. Through the years of my using social media, I have collected images of different people into a file labeled “Twitter Images.” These images are stored alphabetically so when I need one again, it is easy to locate and use again.

Here's an example I saw today:

“Remember that the happiest people are not those getting more, but those giving more.”
-- H. Jackson Brown, Jr. 

I add the image and then save it into my HootSuite. It will begin my day of social media postings on Sunday, May 3, 2020 at 6:05 am. Yes on inspirational quotations, I am way ahead on my postings. I use Hootsuite (the paid version with unlimited posts to schedule—and I take full advantage of this feature and schedule my posts way ahead of time—at least some of them).

I have another reason I'm way ahead on my inspirational quotes. Several weeks ago, I was behind on gathering these inspirational quotations. I learned to use another feature of HootSuite which I had not before. This program stores all my old tweets which number in the thousands. I went back and took the inspirational quotes for a month (at least one year ago so no one would remember) and worked them into my future schedule. I created a pattern of beginning every day with this inspirational quotation. Do you have a pattern or grid for your tweets? I do and it makes it simple to schedule with this grid for certain types of tweets in mind.

Do you get inspiration from quotes? Do you use them and see them on a regular basis in your writing life? Let me know the details in the comments below.


Inspirational quotes are often seen in articles and online. What do you do with them? Get some ideas from this prolific editor and author. (ClickToTweet)

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Sunday, February 09, 2020

Simple Truths for Writers

By Terry Whalin @terrywhalin

More than a dozen years ago, as a frustrated acquisitions editor, I wrote Book Proposals That $ell, 21 Secrets To Speed Your Success. In the back of that book, I included a series of simple statements for writers that I called Maxims. 

Today I'm returning to these truths as reminders for every writer (including me). I hope they will be something important to you and help guide your writing life:

1. Never forget the impact of your words—positive or negative. Most days, I feel the pressure of motivation to make money as a freelancer. I’ve got bills and obligations which demand payment. Yet if you are so money-driven that you never make any decisions about your writing except ones which are motivated from finances, it will be difficult for you to advance in nonfiction or whatever category you choose. Don’t get me wrong. I want to be fairly compensated for my work but I also want to enjoy my work and what I do day in and day out. You need to be conscious of your motivation behind your writing and let that drive your daily efforts.

2. Never forget your writing is a privilege and a business—so seek to maintain balance. Too many writers hesitate to ask for their materials or for a decision about a query or proposal. They send it out once or twice, then it’s rejected and they don’t properly market.

3. Celebrate your writing successes. Never lose the wonder of the opportunity. At another conference I attended—a secular writing conference in Southern California—I was fascinated by a secular novelist and his message. While waiting to ask him a question after the session, I turned to another person and asked if she had taken this instructor’s writing class. The woman puffed up her face in disgust and replied, “No, I’m a published author.” Just because our material is printed in magazines or books, it should not build us up in pride. Believe me, sometimes it’s difficult but as writers we need to keep things in balance, especially when it comes to nonfiction books.

4. Believe in the quality of your work and the value of your message. Surprises always happen. I work hard at my craft and perseverance is a key factor. Don’t get me wrong but I love to receive my material in print. It’s a surprise and a special blessing. It’s the new box of books hot off the press or the magazine article in a missionary publication. I marvel at the grace in my life. I’d encourage you to absorb the same attitude no matter how many books you publish.

5. Expect to serve an apprenticeship. It’s a false expectation to go from nothing to book contracts. Everyone is expected to move through the ranks of this business. It takes diligence and perseverance to succeed.

6. Learn all you can from every possible source. If you approach life in this fashion, you will find that you can learn from a multitude of sources.

7. Act wisely and thoughtfully. Haste usually makes waste.

8. Never resist rewriting. Your words are not etched in stone.

9. Never resist editing. Again, your words are not etched in stone.

10. When you receive advice about your writing, learn to evaluate it critically. Sometimes you will get advice from a fellow writer or a family member and it doesn’t “feel” like something you should take. Follow that instinct.

11. Treat editors as the coach on your team. They know their audience, so respect their counsel and only reject it with good reason.

12. Never rest on your laurels. Be looking for your next opportunity. I’ve discovered that writing opportunities abound—particularly when I’m actively looking for them.

As I read through these truths which I wrote many years ago, they still ring true. In fact, I've based much of my writing career on following these statements. I hope they will encourage you and help your writing life.

If you haven't read Book Proposals That $ell,  let me give you several reasons to get a copy: First, the book has over 130 Five Star reviews on Amazon. Second, many people have used this information to get an agent or snag a traditional book deal. Third, I have all of the remaining print copies (so don't buy it from Amazon). Finally I've reduced the price from $15 to $8 and added bonuses and other elements. I hope you will check it out and order a copy.

As you read through this article, which principles are important to you? Am  I missing something? I look forward to your comments and feedback in the comments below.


Read this article about Simple Truths for Writers from this prolific writer and editor. (ClickToTweet)

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Sunday, February 02, 2020

Do Whatever The Task Takes

By Terry Whalin @terrywhalin

Last month, my latest book, 10 Publishing Myths, released into the bookstores (online plus brick and mortar). Even though I've published many books, every book is exciting and a fresh opportunity. It never grows old to me.  If you have a new book (or even one that has been out a while), one of the most important things you can do to market your book is to get others to review your book. Why?

Thousands of new books are released into the market every day—and there are already many other books already in the market. Your book has to stand out and get attention (whatever it is about) for others to see it and purchase it. Someone has to hear about your book probably eight to a dozen times before they actually decide to purchase it (a well-known sales statistic). In this article, I want to give you some ideas how to get reviews and encourage you to do whatever it takes to get those reviews.

1. Ask others. If you are active in an email group (as I am), tell others about your need for reviews and ask them to help you. I'm in a couple of groups and encouraged people to private message me about reading my new book. A number of people have responded and I've gotten a few reviews from taking this action.

2. As people respond to your request, ask them what they need for the review. Do they prefer an ebook or a print book? If it is a print book do they want it to be signed or not? Sign it to them or to someone else? Everyone is different what they want and will use. For example, one friend did not want the PDF version of my book but wanted the MOBi version. I didn't have this version so had to return to my publisher and ask for it. The process took a few days but eventually I got the MOBi version for this friend. In the process, I saved the MOBi version and will send it to others who need this version. I've already had a second person ask for the MOBi version and because I had it, was able to send it right away.

Other people prefer a print version of the book. To send this version, you need their mailing address and whether they want the book signed or not. Some people do not prefer signed books while others do. As with the ebook, it is a choice and you have to ask to make sure you are giving your readers what they want and need to write the review.

3. Give them some additional help. While I have written many reviews over the years, other people have no idea how to write a review. Sandra Beckwith created this inexpensive yet important tool (follow this link to purchase). If it is a print book, then I print a couple of pages and tuck it into the back of the book when I mail it. If it is an ebook, I send it along withi the ebook. Also I created a promotion page for my book. This page includes links to three spots in particular where I need reviews (Goodreads, Barnes & Noble and Amazon).
Most authors just focus on Amazon (which is a huge player in the book business—but not the only player). My advice is to include all these companies. I give the exact page or link where they can go to write their review. My purpose is to make it easy for them to write and post their review.

Does it work? Not always. People are busy and have good intentions but don't always get the book read and your review written. Or it may be months down the road they will actually do it. I mention this fact because you will need to enlist way more people to do this process than will actually get it done. For example, if you want 25 reviews, you will need to ask and get commitments from at least 50 people. Yes half of them will not do it but the other half will do it and you will get your review. My key point in this article is to do whatever it takes to get the reviews. And—keep asking people to help you. Otherwise they forget that you need their reviews.

Take action today. Make a list of the people and steps you are going to take.

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


Do you do whatever the task takes to complete it? Learn some insights from this editor and author.  (ClickToTweet)

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