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Sunday, March 28, 2021


Why I Don't Review My Publisher's Books

By Terry Whalin @terrywhalin

For years I have consistently reviewed books. In fact, I've written over 1,100 Amazon reviews and over 700 reviews on Goodreads. I've frequently written in these articles about the importance of reviews to support other authors and how every day readers use these important reviews to make buying decisions. I've alwo written about my work with Morgan James Publishing acquiring (or finding) the books to be published.  Sometimes my authors will ask me to review their book—and I respectfully decline. Why not?
 
In this article, I want to give some of these reasons and it will help you understand. As a trained journalist, I understand the dangers of conflict of interest. I can't acquire or find an author for Morgan James and then when their book is published, read and write a review because it is a clear conflict of interest. It's the primary reason I don't review books from my authors. I don't acquire every book that Morgan James publishes so at times I do review some of these books.
 
There are good reasons to be careful in this process. Amazon and Goodreads monitor their reviews (often through an algorithm or bot). If you mention you are a friend or a relative, your review may be deleted or never appear in the first place. Be wise and careful about these issues as you write reviews.
 
I read and review many different types of books such as nonfiction, Christian and general market books, children's books, and occasionally a novel. I write these reviews for fun and no one pays me for them. Yes from the publisher or author I receive a review copy of the book or Advanced Reading Copy, but these books come into my mailbox in an almost daily stream. It is way more reading material than anyone could possibly do—even if they did it full-time (which I don't). I'm selective about what I read and review. I'm fairly certain I disappoint some authors who don't understand the volume of books I've received over the years. Just to give you a visual, there is a church library in Kentucky where I donated the majority of their books and years ago the mayor of the town in appreciation declared a “Terry Whalin Day.”
 
From an early age, I learned to love books. I'm in publishing because I know firsthand books change lives. Years ago I wrote a magazine article about it called Two Words That Changed My Life (and follow this link to read it).
 
How do you select the books that you read? Do you write reviews? Why or why not? Let me know in the comments below.
 
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Sunday, March 21, 2021


The Dangers of Being Pushy


By Terry Whalin @terrywhalin

From working with many different authors over the years, I know some authors can be pushy. They may or may not be aware of the way they come across (to give them the benefit of my doubts). Yet they still come across as pushy and demanding. In this article, I want to caution you about such an attitude and hopefully you will take a few minutes to look inside and see if this is how you come across—and make steps to change.
 
There are several aspects of the publishing world that may seem common sense at first—but I need to make explicit in this article. While you may think there are many people in this community, in some ways it is a small community—and we talk with each other (at events, through email and on the phone). Also within a publishing company like Morgan James Publishing, we are speaking with each other about our authors. Most of the time those exchanges are positive but not always.
 
As you work with your editor or assigned person within the publishing house, I encourage you to be aware that you are making an impression—positive and negative. When I worked inside another publisher, I always remember the complaints the “editorial assistant” who answered the phone took from prospective authors. This editorial assistant worked in the next cubical and sometimes I could overhear her side of the conversation. These pushy authors were making an impression—and not a good one.
 
If you are an author with multiple book prujects that you want to publish, that is normally a good thing. Publihers and literary agents are looking for authors with multiple projects. Here's the exception to this general rule: pushy authors, difficult authors, demanding authors—do not get another opportunity. Hopefully you see the danger. In the heat of the moment, you were pushing on some aspect (timing of your book, the cover design, the title, or whatever) and this conversation made an impression—and not the one you wanted.
 
Now fast-forward in time to when you pitch your next book to this agent or publishing house, you get an unexpected “no thank you.” The response is surprising because you wanted to continue the relationship—yet it has suddenly gone into a pause. You've forgotten the easiest answer for any editor or agent is no thank you. Yes takes time and is built (at least partially) on your relationship with this person. If you are pushy, that action plays into future books. 
 
Here's some basics in this area:
 
1. Never burn a bridge to a relationship. None of us can see our future and that person may be important to you or your work at a later time. Always keep extending not limiting your relationships.
 
2. Every interaction is important so have respect. Whether a person is brand new or been in the industry for decades. Your interaction is important so treat others with respect.
 
3. Kindness and respect is always valued and remembered. Your actions may not have an immediate returtn but will pay off in the long-run. Always express appreciation and gratitude—verbally, throuigh notes and many other ways.
 
I've rarely seen this aspect of publishing discussed but it is important. Maybe I'm missing a basic concept or something you have learned. I look forward to your comments and feedback.
 
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Sunday, March 14, 2021


How to Help Others Promote Your Book


By Terry Whalin @terrywhalin

As an author, I understand thousands of new books enter the marketplace every day. It is a real challenge for every author to get any attention for their book. Most of us are introverts and don't like to market and tell others about our books. Yes I included myself in this category. Yet I know the truth of the
statement from P.T. Barnum, 
Without promotion, something terrible happens. Nothing.” Raleigh Pinskey, author of the book  101 Ways to Promote Yourself  taught me this quote. In the early days of her public relations career, Raleigh promoted rock and roll groups. Learn more about Raleigh and take a free teleseminar (follow this link).
 
In simple terms promotion or marketing means including others. As the Bible says in James 4:2–3, “You have not because you ask not.” I've often heard David Hancock, the founder of Morgan James Publishing summarizes this verse saying, “Don't ask don't get.”  A key part of the process is asking or including others in your marketing or promotion. There are many simple yet significant ways to as others to help you.
 
For example, in the final pages of 10 Publishing Myths, I ask readers to post a review on Amazon, Goodreads, Barnes & Noble.com and other places. I've seen many other authors use this strategy. In addition to asking for their help, I include a simple link where the reader can get a book review template to help them know what to write for a review. I got my template from my friend and public relations expert Sandra Beckwith. Yes I purchased this product which comes with the rights to use it for your own promotion.
 
I created a page for 10 Publishing Myths with resources and ideas to help people tell more people about my book. You can see the variety of resources and suggestions at this link.

One of my Morgan James authors Lily Taylor has a new book called Unconfined. She created this page (follow the link) with various ideas and resources. Notice she has created a free study guide for her book and also given readers a place to ask for prayer. I call these two book examples to your attention to give you ideas for your own book. It doesn't matter if your book is brand new or has been out for a while. Every author can create such a page of resources to help their readers tell others about their book. 
 
Have you created a page to help others promote your book? What does it include? Let me know in the comments below.
 

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Sunday, March 07, 2021


The Value of Reading Plus Action


By Terry Whalin @terrywhalin


Writers are readers and reading is a wonderful way to get ideas and find opportunities for your writing. Years ago I read about Disney Dollars in my local newspaper.  Since my childhood, I've been interested in coins and at that time I subscribed to a publication called The Numismatist. The Numismatist is the monthly publication of the American Numismatic Association I crafted a short query letter pitch to the editor and got an assignment to write an article about Disney Dollars. With my magazine assignment in hand, I approached the media office at Disneyland and scheduled an interview with a vice-president on the backlot of Disneyland. As you can see from this story, I turned reading a short newspaper article into a published magazine article. I did more than read the article. I used the article as a springboard to approach a magazine, get an assignment, then publish a magazine article. The process began with reading my local newspaper.
 
I found my idea through regular reading of my newspaper. Your ideas may come from an experience or reading a magazine or a book. I encourage you to read broadly—different genres and types of books and blogs and publications. You never know where the idea will come so be open. While reading is the foundation, it takes more than reading. You have to take action on what you have read.
 
While I've been blogging regularly since 2008, it's only in the last few years that I've included a ClickToTweet link toward the bottom of each entry. On a regular basis, I read Edie Melson's The Write Conversation blog. Over four years ago, she wrote a detailed entry with a Screencast about ClickToTweet. I carefully read that article and applied it to my own blogging. I began using ClickToTweet. As I monitor my social media feeds, I've seen many others use my ClickToTweets as an easy tool to pass on my article to others. Reading was my path to learn about this tool but I did more than simply read it, I took action.
 
Almost daily, authors and publishers mail books that they want me to read and review. I receive more material than anyone could possibly read—even if they read all the time. My own time to read is limited and something I do for fun and to support other writers and good books. If I read a book, then I write a short book review which I post on Goodreads (where I've written over 700 reviews and have 5,000 friends) and Amazon (where I've written over 1,100 reviews). I also post about my review on social media and tell the author or publicist about my actions. For example, last week I read Dr. Scott James children's book, GOD CARES FOR ME, HELPING CHILDREN TRUST GOD WHEN THEY'RE SICK. Here's my post about it.
 

In other articles, I've written about using Hootsuite to post 12–14 times a day on various social media platforms. You may wonder if people read these posts. Recently I spoke at the
Faith Writers Writing Conference (virtual). One of the participants was in Nigeria—because he read one of my tweets about the upcoming event. This coming week, I'm speaking at the Carolina Christian Writers Conference (virtual). There is still time for you to come to this event so just follow the link or click on the image.
 
How are you applying your reading into your writing life? For example, you can read about list building and the importance for every author but it does you little good if you don't apply this information into your writing life and work.  Let me know how your reading brings value to your writing in the comments below.
 
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