Sunday, February 28, 2021

What Action Do You Take When You Fail?

By Terry Whalin @terrywhalin

I have many aspects of my work in publishing which fail to yield many results (if anything). Failure and rejection is a consistent part of this business. As a writer, I've been published many times in magazines and books but I've also failed in this process. In this article I want to give you some examples and what I do in these situations. I write this information in hopes, it will encourage you to keep going inspite of these situations. The worst action you can take when failing is to stop and give up. I've watched many others stop writing or trying to get their work published.
Here's just a few of the ways I have failed:
I craft and send emails that don't get a response (silence). It happens whether I'm pitching an editor on a magazine article or a book editor on a proposal or writing a friend to endorse my book or promoting somethng to my email list. These situations are a part of my life and in a sense a failure—but only a failure if I let it stop me from continuing the journey.
I work with authors and my publishing colleagues at Morgan James Publishing to send them a book contract—which they never sign and return. I understand authors have many options where their book is published and we are not always the best fit for them. It is frustrating to invest the time and energy into another person then have them not respond or not sign their contract (even though I follow-up with them). Sometimes the reason is simply a timing issue. In recent weeks, I've had a couple of authors where I offered them a publishing contract several years ago and they did not sign it, but now the timing is right and they are going to sign their contract and move forward. Through the process, I've learned we only see what we see and not all of the dynamics in the other person's situation. It may look like failure.
Or maybe I launch a marketing campaign for a book or a product with few results or no sales. These are only a few examples of things I try and little happens. When you face a failure, what actions do you take? Here's some of the things I do:
1. I change the pace and write something different. The writing world has many possibilities for you to write. If you need some ideas, check out the free chapter of my Jumpstart Your Publishing Dream book. Follow this link to get it.
2. I pitch someone else with my rejected project. Use Google or your market guide to find other places for your pitch then get that project back into the marketplace for consideration. You are looking for the right fit and that process often takes multiple times to find.
3. I read a how-to book for ideas and motivation. I read how-to books all the time for ideas, insight and motivation. While I've written several of these books (see the offer below), these books often move me into a different mindset and I'm ready to try again and take action.
4. I make some new connections on LinkedIN or another network. Often in publishing, it is who you know as much as what you know. LinkedIn will suggest people for possible connection. As you expand your network, you also expand your possibilities for writing opportunities. Editors and others move around in the publishing world, but they take their LinkedIn accounts with their change.
I've only given a few ideas about what to do when what I try fails. There are many other ways. What actions do you take? Let me know in the comments below.

Labels: , , , , , , , , , ,


Sunday, February 21, 2021

Don't Play the Blame Game

By Terry Whalin @terrywhalin

When things go wrong (and they often do in the publishing world), it is easy to blame someone else. 

As an editor, I hear writers who are disappointed with their book sales. They blame the publisher for not doing enough marketing and pushing on their book. Yet when we look to see if we've heard anything from this author in the last few months, often we find nothing but silence. We can't be promoting the author if we don't hear about their marketing activity. Are they marketing (hopefully so) but then they also have the responsibility of telling their publisher about their marketing efforts. In my detailed calls with authors, one statement that I always make sure and include is: “80% of the marketing is up to the author.” 

This statement is true no matter who publishes your book—whether they pay you a large advance or a small advance. 80% of the marketing is up to the author and the author's activity. Your publisher may be able to sell the book into a brick and mortar bookstore but it is the author's activity (marketing) which drives people into that bookstore to buy the book.
When you point your finger, think about the way your different fingers are pointing. One is extended but the other four are directed back to you. A pointed finger is a good illustration of what authors need to think about when it comes to blaming others for something not happening. My key message in this post is rather than blame others, take your own actions and responsibility.
If you aren't getting enough sales, what are you doing to tell people about your book? Are you booking yourself on podcasts? Are you collecting the recording and continuing to use the recording to market your book? There are many different ways to market your book? You can be on talk radio. You can write print magazine articles on a related subject to your book. You can write blog posts on your blog. You can write blog posts on other people's blogs as a guest blogger. You can advertise on Facebook or some other platform. You can market your book to your email list.  You can write a newsletter and send it to your list. You can market your book on social media (various platforms and methods). You can market your book in person to others and also when you speak. The list of possibilities and opportunities are endless and only limited by your own imagination and energy.
Have you hired a publicist to promote your book? You still have to market and can't give the entire responsibility to the publicity firm. Many of these places charge $3,000 to $5,000 a month. One of my authors told me that last year she spent $50,000 with a firm and wasn't going to do that again. When I heard that information, I thought to myself, “Wow, that is a huge investment and would have to sell many books to get a return on that investment.” It was not a wise move in my view. During my conversation, I affirmed that she needed to do something different in the future.
Bestselling author Jack Canfield has studied what it takes to be successful and wrote his book, The Success Principles. The first principle is I will take 100% responsibility for my own success. I suspect no one wants to take 100% responsibility for their own success (I don't) but it is the best course of action for every author. If you take this responsibility, then you don't play the blame game and point the finger at others. Instead, get busy and take action yourself to make things happen. 
Have you played the blame game in your conversations, writing or thoughts? What steps are you going to take to move in a different direction? Let me know in the comments below.

Labels: , , , , , ,


Sunday, February 14, 2021

The Details Matter

By Terry Whalin @terrywhalin

Last week I taught a zoom class at a local writer's group. I selected a topic that I've taught before with a prepared handout and solid information. I did not carefully review all the links in my handout before the workshop (a normal part of my practice). Several of the links didn't work and I had to rework my handout after the workshop and upload the corrected handout to my server.  These details matter.
I prepared a series of emails and social media campaign. I crafted a social media post and used it a number of times (each with a different image). From my active role on social media, I know that not everyone sees every posting. You need to post at various times and places because you never know who will be reading your work. In my carefully written post, I discovered a single word which was misspelled. I scheduled it in my Hootsuite program to post repeatedly over the next week. While it was time consuming that no one sees, I carefully edited each posting and fixed that single misspelled word. The details matter.
One of my writer friends purchased a product that I was promoting several months ago and could not find the place to login and use the program. She sent me a short email about it. Why? She knew I would respond (which I did). The first link I sent her did not work, then I thought of a second link to send her (more email exchanges). The second link worked and she got into her product. The details matter.
There is the ever-changing world of technology. Hard coded program that I use the operating system failed and needs to be reworked. Adobe flash stopped at the end of last year and several of my sites are not working properly and need to be revised. The list goes on but it's all part of the writing life—and using what you have in front of you. Not easy but the details matter.
Handling these types of details is time consuming and somewhat annoying but part of being a professional writer. As writers, our lives are often filled with mundane tasks like reading and answering email, engagement on social media, even doing social media, answering and returning phone calls and many more such tasks.  I recall what I've heard about elite sports figures and how they practice their craft over and over during days no one sees them or knows about their workouts. Yet such routines feed into their excellent results. It's the same in the world of publishing. The details have to be handled and matter.
Are you resisting or mired in details with a writing project or task? Why do the details matter in your work? Let me know in the comments below.

Labels: , , , , , , ,


Sunday, February 07, 2021

You Must Seize Opportunity

By Terry Whalin @terrywhalin

The subject line of the email worked and performed it's function. It got my attention saying, “Can I promote you?”  Yes I opened the email and read it. A CEO was looking for case studies for people using his product (which I use). I hit reply and crafted a pitch or response. Will I get selected? I don't have any idea but I seized the opportunity and made a relevant and timely pitch.
One of the basic principles of publishing is that to secure any work or deal, you have to pitch. It might be as simple as returning a phone call or email. Or the process might mean learning how to create a book proposal then crafting a 30 to 50 page document that you send to literary agents and editors. Another way to express opportunity is through a series of doors. As a writer, you need to be knocking on different doors for the right one to open.
From my years in publishing, I believe every writer has many opportunities. For example, there are many radio shows and podcasts who are booking guests every day on their programs to talk about their topic and promote their books in this process. Will every pitch I make succeed? No, but like the homerun baseball player, I have to bat (or pitch) to get consideration.

Here are several keys in this process:
1. Awareness is the first step and the necessity to respond.
2. Read your email and look at your social media feeds to look for opportunities.
3. Take action when you find an opportunity and craft your pitch. For example, last week I received an email about a conference where I've been on their faculty several times (but not in several years). They were asking for proposals for their 2022 conference and gave a deadline. When I spotted this opportunity, I printed the page and have been thinking about my pitch/ proposal. It is the same process each of us have to do as writers—whether we've written many books or no books.
4. While taking action in a timely way is important, follow-up is also important. For example, I've been working with a potential Morgan James author on a contract. We were emailing back and forth. Their lawyer came back with some questions. We responded to their questions and then for several weeks, the dialogue ended. My phone calls and emails were ignored without response. Today I decided to use text to reach my contact and get some information. I learned the lawyer was recovering from COVID-19 (something I had no idea about), their manuscript was several months away from being final and the “author” was out of the country. Each of these bits of information helped me understand the delay in their response. My point is be a good communicator and let the other person know what is going on. Your follow-up and communication is an important part of the process.
Are you making an intentional effort to respond to the opportunities which cross your desk? Let me know in the comments below. 

Labels: , , , , , , , ,