Sunday, June 27, 2021

What To Do When "Nothing" Is Happening

By Terry Whalin

Some days particularly in certain seasons like summer seem like “nothing” is happening. As an editor, I'm calling authors who have received contracts but they aren't responding via email or returning my phone calls. Or maybe you are pitching agents and no one is responding to your proposals. Or maybe your agent is pitching your latest project and it is not getting a response. Or maybe you are querying magazine editors about writing articles and not getting responses. Or pitching podcasts or radio stations and not getting responses. You get my idea. You are actively working but getting nothing in response. I have this experience as well and in this article want to give you some encouragement and action-oriented ideas.
I've written about the importance of how every author has to continually pitch to get magazine assignments, book deals, podcast interviews, endorsements or anything else in this publishing business. It is a continual part of the process and at times the response is underwhelming or even silence.
From my experience in publishing, your consistent actions are important and will pay off for you—maybe not immediately but in the long run. No one reads every blog post when you want them to read it. No one reads your social media posts when you want them to be read. No one listens to your podcasts or radio interviews when you wanted. Or reads your magazine article when you wanted them to read it or reads your latest book release. It is important to keep building relationships and continue to pitch.
Several months ago, a fairly high profile podcast sent me an email asking me to pitch and possibly be a guest. It took me about a week to respond and give them what they requested. I didn't get a response. I sent it a second time. Finally I heard they were backed up at the moment from the responses. It was essentially saying thanks but no thanks. OK, on to the next opportunity. This exchange was four months ago. Then last week I got another email from the same podcast saying they were scheduling again with a calendar link to select a time. I chose a time and had a wonderful interview which will be published soon. I tell this story to remind you that we only see the situation from our viewpoint and not the person who is receiving it.
I sent birthday greetings to an editor this week via text since I had his cell phone number. We exchanged several texts and it gave me an opportunity to say how I'd love to work with him in the right project. Our exchanges gave me an opportunity to get in his mind for possible future work.
Here's some ideas for you when “nothing” is happening:
1. Pitch some new magazine articles.
2. Begin a new book proposal or book manuscript.
3. Create a new website to sell a product.
4. Create a new ebook to promote your mailing list.
5. Take an online training course to get new ideas.
6. Read a book about the craft of writing then apply it to your writing life.
7. Pitch some podcasts or radio stations to be a guest.
8. Write a guest blog posts or a pitch to a blog for a guest blog post.
9. Organize your office and pair down the clutter (something I've been doing lately).
Yes the list of possibilities for action can be endless. Here's a simple truth that I've learned: if you are stuck and do nothing, then nothing will happen. What actions do you take when “nothing” is happening? Let me know in the comments below.
I've recently published some articles on other blogs and Richelle Wiseman Buzz on Book Biz released a podcast. I hope you will check out: Writers, Use This Simple Way to Stand Out and Learn Before You Leap into Ads (just follow the links).  These articles may give you some additional ideas about action steps for your own writing life.

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Sunday, June 20, 2021

Why Bestselling Authors Advertise

By Terry Whalin @terrywhalin

Publishing is a complex business with thousands of new books entering the marketplace every day. Recently I was on a webcast with bestselling author Adam Grant and Markus Dohle, the CEO of Random House. They were talking about publishing and said now is one of the best times to be in publishing since Guttenberg invented the printing press. 
With all of these books entering the market, authors need to understand several key factors:

*they need to be actively promoting their books in various places (something I've written about often in these entries on the writing life--just check this link).

*Readers need to hear about your book at least 8 to 12 times before they purchase your book

*Bestselling authors advertise to sell books and also to build their readers on their email list
There are many different websites like Goodreads, Facebook, BookBub, Amazon and others which will gladly take your money for you to advertise on them. I've watched many authors jump into these ads and in a short time (or longer), they discover they have wasted their limited financial resources on advertising. Their efforts have brought little results (sales) because they didn't learn the insider techniques on how to advertise.
While it is helpful to learn bestselling authors advertise on websites, I encourage you to use some common sense about how to apply this information to your own book marketing. From my experience, authors need to learn how to navigate the advertising from authors who are succeeding with it.  One of the bestselling authors who is effective (generating sales) using advertising is Mark Dawson, who lives in the United Kingdom. He is a multi0bestselling novelist yet wants to help others succeed as well. He has created training courses with detailed insights about how to successfully use various book advertising programs. His courses are only open a few times a year and in general you have to get on a waiting list to get information about them.
Dawson's course, Ads for Authors is open now and only for a few weeks. (If you are reading this article later and the course is closed, get on the waiting list for the next opportunity.). I encourage you to watch this short video to hear what his students say about the course.  Maybe you don't write fiction, this teaching is still for you and follow this link to watch short videos from different types of writers. Also you can go to the image below and scroll down to see various videos and authors.

I'm taking this Ads for Authors course and understand it takes consistent action to watch the instruction, then apply it to your writing life. The key is to add this training into your writing life, learn from someone who is using it successfully then apply the information to your own plans for book marketing and selling.

As I was writing this article, I learned on June 21, 2021, Mark Dawson is holding a free webinar with Carlyn Robertson from BookBub. They will be giving top tips for success with BookBub advertising. Follow this link to get registered.  
Have you taken one of Mark Dawson's courses? Tell us about your experiences in the comments. Or maybe you want to tell us about your results using advertising for your books in the comments. I look forward to your comments.
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Sunday, June 13, 2021

Work Around Writing Obstacles

By Terry Whalin @terrywhalin

When you hit a writing obstacle, does it stop you or do you use a work around? Within the tech world, they talk about using a work around. Your current path has some blockage so you find a different way to get the same task done—or a work around.
For example, while traveling, I was using my laptop to update my Hootsuite and schedule social media posts.  On my screen, I could not schedule any posts for 1:05 pm within the program. How did I work around this glitch? I left that time blank for several days, then when I returned home I filled in those days with this missing post.
Our world is filled with technology and apps and new programs to learn. Almost every day I face some technical issue which is not working. When these situations happen, I have a choice. I can either figure out a work around the obstacle, quit the program and go on to something else. I've learned that persistence will pay off if you keep at it—which is the path I recommend. Normally there is some work around or way through the challenge.
The pandemic has thrown off many writing plans. Over a year ago, as a Morgan James Publishing editor, I participated in a three and a half hour virtual pitch session. A group of writers were physically in one place and pitching to different editors and literary agents. It was an intense series of meetings with pitch after pitch. To my knowledge. I was the only editor who tracked down the emails of these various writers and sent follow-up emails. A few weeks ago, I pulled out this list of writers—and sent a fresh set of emails to the various writers who I had never received their submissions. Why? I wanted them to know they had not missed their opportunity to submit their manuscripts. Because of the time lapse and the fact that I've been a writer for years, I assumed many of them believed the opportunity had passed—but it hasn't. A number of my emails did not get a response—but I heard from about a dozen of these authors. Many had gotten stalled yet had recently returned to working on their manuscript. Some of them had their manuscript out to beta readers and were getting feedback. Others were finalizing their work. Each of them were happy to know the opportunity was still out there.
I told this story for a reason. Many of you are facing obstacles for your writing. It could be any number of obstacles which have stood in your way. While some of these obstacles can be family or work related, other blocks are mental and internal. Your mindset in these situations is critical. How can you create a way forward to work around the obstable? It may be the difference maker for your writing life.
Maybe you wrote and published a book last year (or even further back). Is that book doing what you imagined in terms of selling and reaching readers? As I've written in the past, as the author, you are the best person to be telling other people about your book—and you can always begin fresh to promote and tell people about it. Look for new ways to promote the book. Check a marketing book out of the library or buy one and try a different method to reach your readers.
Whatever your obstacle, there is a work around for it—but you have to be taking action (not just thinking about it) to find that path. If I can help you, don't hesitate to reach out to me. I'm cheering and pulling for your success. Let me know how you are working around your writing obstacles in the comments below.

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Sunday, June 06, 2021

How Do You Kill Time?

As I write these words, I’m traveling to my first live event in 14 months. The connection on my flight got pushed back several hours. I had three hours to fill in my connecting airport which gave me plenty of time to reach my connecting gate. What do you do during those times of sitting around waiting?

Some people pull put a novel and read. Others sit and watch people. Others shop in the airport shops. I tend to pull out my AlphaSmart 3000 and do a bit of writing.

This little gismo is rarely seen—old technology yet it holds over 140 pages of text. A full size keyboard, you only see four lines on your screen and it is not connected to the Internet. It works on several AA batteries and you never lose anything you put into it.

Of course when I get to my computer, I move the material from my AlphaSmart to my computer for editing and safe keeping. This little keyboard is just for writing. I’ve written on airplane, in libraries and all sorts of places because it is so easy to use.

To be honest I am not skilled at texting on my phone.  If I were, I could possibly do this unexpected writing on my phone. You do have to plan ahead to carry the AlphaSmart with you and then pull it out and use it in these unplanned moments to kill time.

For each of us, unexpected things come in our day.  Maybe you plan a meeting and that person doesn’t come. Or you arrive at a session at the wrong time. Do you have something which feeds into your writing life to pull out and use in these spare moments? 

Here are some writing related ideas:

Listen to an audiobook. In the past, I’ve mentioned my love for audiobooks. I carry some ear buds. I’ve checked out these audiobooks through my local library (overdrive). If I have a few moments, I will put on my ear buds and listen to a few more minutes of my audiobook. I’ve listened when I’m standing in a long line and other places. I normally listen to nonfiction books which feed into my writing life. After I complete the audiobook, I usually take a few minutes and write a review to post on Goodreads and Amazon.  

Read a small physical book. I select a small book and carry it with me in my briefcase or travel bag. In these unexpected moments, I will read more pages in my book. Like the audiobook, when I complete it, I will write a short review.  

Plan a new writing project. Like most of us, I have more ideas than I can ever possibly write. When these ideas come, often I will make some notes and maybe the start of an outline for it to get it moving. For my writing life, capturing the essence of the idea is an important part of the process and can happen in these moments when I’m killing some time.

I’m probably missing some ways to kill time. Let me know your methods in the comments below.

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