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Sunday, January 16, 2022


Facing the Mundane

 

By Terry Whalin @terrywhalin

Within the process of the Writing Life, there is a great deal of routine and mundane tasks. How do you face these tasks? Do you ignore them or move ahead and do them?
 
If I'm honest I love to tell stories and write words into my computer. Then I send those stolries to editors who see it is a fit for their publication, so they publish the material published in magazines or books or online or another format. It sounds simple but is much more complex.
 
While you may be writing the stories for yourself, each writer has to understand they are writing for the reader and have to have them clearly in their focus to capture the editor's attention. Many magazines require you write a one page pitch letter called a query letter. You have to learn how to use words which catch attention. There are thousands of these publications and you have to learn which ones will be a fit for whatever you are pitching and reach that editor with your pitch. Often you have to pitch numerous times before you find the right fit and this process can be repetitive and boring—yet it is a necessary part of the business. If you don't pitch, then you don't get the hearing and opportunity to be published.
 
The other specialized document which every writer needs to learn to craft—whether they write fiction or nonfiction is a book proposal, which is your business plan for your book. The proposal contains information which never appears in your manuscript but the various gatekeepers like agents and editors use to make decisions. Even if you self-publish your book, you still need a proposal.
 
There is often a lot of change within editorial offices. You have to reach these new editors, develop your relationships with them and pitch your ideas. Then when they agree to look at it, your pitch has to be on track and something they will want. It sounds simple but there are many places where the process can be stopped.
 
Also as an author, I have to use a gentle follow-up when I don't get a response. Every editor or agent get a lot of email and if you don't follow-up, it's easy for that pitch to slip through the cracks and not happen. Your approach has to be gentle and not pushy—because the easiest answer to get (and one you don't want) is “no thank you” or silence. These follow-up skills are something everyone can develop but are often a part of the mundance aspects or repetitive aspects of publishing.
 
Part of being an author is to market my work in various ways such as email, social media, magazines, media interviews or numerous other ways. As an author, I report my activities to my publisher, who passes these activities on to our sales team who passes it on to the bookstores. This communication process is important and what keeps my books out in the bookstores (selling rather than getting returned). But filling out these forms is routine and mundane—yet a necessary part of this business. At the core, we are in the communication business and you have to communicate in the expected manner.  
 
These are just a few of the routine tasks that I do in my writing life. I have a number of other routine tasks that I do as an acquisitions editor. Even if I don't like them, I can't ignore them because they are a part of the business. Much of what I do is outside of my direct control.
 
Here's what I can do:
 
--be responsible for my own actions.
--keep pitching and knocking on new doors as well as places where I have established a relationship.
--keep doing the routine —even when something crashes or gets cancelled (which has happened recently)
--use the gentle follow-up when you aren't getting response. It's what I have been doing over and over (yes mundane) for years.
 
It's not easy but possible—if you continue down the path. As I've written about some of the obstacles are my own internal struggles. My advice is to just do it.  Otherwise it often does not happen.
 
How do you face the mundane aspects of the writing life? Ignoring it will not make it go away. My encouragement is to keep doing it. Let me know in the comments below.
 

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Sunday, January 09, 2022


The Biggest Obstacle


By Terry Whalin @terrywhalin

As writers, we face numerous obstacles. We write something that gets the attention ot the editor or agent (the gatekeepers) then gets into print. Then when in print, we must reach readers with our message (often numerous times) before they purchase the writing and read it. No one has said the journey will be easy—and it is not. In this article, I want to give you some ideas and encouragement to get over the walls in your writing life.
 
I understand firsthand that every part of the process has some unique challenges. Yes it is hard with a variety of obstacles. The people who succeed, face these obstacles and continue forward inspite of them. Its what I am doing every day and I encourage you to do the same. A great deal of publishing is outside of your control but you can always be looking for the right opportunity and connection at the right time. From my experience is doesn't just “happen.” It takes continued effort on your part.
 
One of my writer friends bemoaned she didn't have any current deadlines or book contracts. If you don't have a deadline or writing assignment, then you create one.  Where is writing on your schedule? The world is full of opportunity but you have to take the initiative. Magazine editors are looking for articles to publish. Radio talk show hosts are looking for guests for their show. Podcasters are looking for guests for their show. Agents are looking for authors to represent and editors are looking for books to publish. Whether you are aware of it or not, each of these are open doors and opportunities—but you have to take the initative for that door to open. It doesn't come to you but you have to knock or pitch and see if it will open.
 
Here are several things to help you in your writing life:
 
1. Don't blame anyone else. It's easy to blame others. The harder and more productive road is something I have written about often in these articles. Take 100% responsibility for your own success. It is the first success principle in Jack Canfield's bestselling book, The Success Principles. It is not easy but a necessary step for your attitude in my view.
 
2. Work on your mindset and craft.  Our culture is filled with negative voices but you can have a positive mindset filled with gratitude. Keep working at your craft as you read how-to books—then apply the information to your writing life.
 
3. Keep going even when facing obstacles. Each of us have challenges within our lives. It may be a child or a car or your health or any number of things. Keep moving forward through and around these challenges. It's the difference between those who get it done and those who do not. The biggest obstacle in this process might be something you don't want to consider: you.
 
I believe our world is filled with opportunity. You simply have to find the right one for you and your message. If I can help you in this process, don't hesitate to reach out to me. What are you doing today to move forward with your writing? Let me know in the comments below.
 
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Sunday, January 02, 2022


Wisdom In A Small Package


By Terry Whalin @terrywhalin

On the shelves in my office, I have a wide variety of books. Some of these books are lengthy reference books. Others are picture books for children. Some of these books are even pocket size. Today I want to tell you about two pocket size books which are related and have some great information for writers. While I read both of these books in the print version, I'm also going to tell you how to get each of these books for free online and why.
 
Pocket Guide to Book Marketing
 
Last week I read John Koehler's Pocket Guide to Book Marketing. I have known John for a number of years. (As an aside, your personal connection to an author is something I can include in this blog but it is best not to include it in a book review. If you do, your review can get pulled from places like Amazon). Through Koehler Books, John has published a number of books. I recently learned about his little Pocket Guide to Book Marketing.
 

As an author, I want to learn from experienced professionals who understand the realities and complexities of publishing. Thousands of new books enter the marketplace every day and publisher John Koehler knows these realities. Pocket Guide to Book Marketing provides insights for every author.
 
As Koehler writes in the opening chapter, “I do not pretend that this pocket guide is an exhaustive discourse on book marketing. Rather, it’s more of an overview providing enough specifics to know what to ask about and where to look….What I offer here are not specific marketing or techniques, but rather lessons we have learned in the past fifteen years of publishing books. Among those lessons is a dizzying array of prescribed solutions or approaches. Deciding what works best for your book is key.”
 
This book is loaded with insights. For example, “There are a number of things authors can do on their own, or with some help. Others require more technical knowledge or skill. Some authors are comfortable with technology; others fear it. How much you do on your own depends on what you kknow, your willingness to learn, and how deep your pockets are.” (page 60) This sentence is an example of the practical information in these pages.
 
Whether you are publishing your first book, or you have published many books, you will find valuable  action steps in the pages of Pocket Guide to Book Marketing. I highly recommend every author get this book and not only read it but where the real value comes is when you apply it to their own books.
 
Pocket Guide to Publishing
 
Several years ago, I read Pocket Guide to Publishing and gave this book a five star review on Amazon and Goodreads. In fact, as I reviewed this book today, I saw my endorsement on the first page. Publisher John Koehler co-authored this book with In this book with Joe Coccaro, vice president and executiuve editor at Koehler Books. It provides a terrific overview of publishing and the various complexities.
 

As I wrote several years ago in my revieww: When I’m going to learn on any topic, I want to get information from experts or someone who has produced hundreds of books and worked with many different authors. You gain this type of experience with Pocket Guide to Publishing. To successfully publish a book, you will need to consider and handle hundreds of details such as type of publisher, contracts, editing, production issues, distribution, understanding what a publisher does and what the author does, and marketing. John Koehler and Joe Coccaro have worked with hundreds of authors and give straight-forward easy to understand insights in small doses in this little but powerful book. As the subtitle says, “100 Things Authors Should Know.” Every author needs this tool. This book is a lasting resource and highly recommended.”
 
How to Get Each of These Books
 
Each of these books include templates and valuable resources outside of the book. I read the printed book but reaching these additional resources is much easier using the electronic version. John Koehler told me each of the electronic version of these books have been downloaded thousands of times. You can get them at:
 
Pocket Guide to Book Marketing or Pocket Guide to Publishing Use the links and the PDFs come right away to your email address. Scroll down on these webpages to find where you can get each book.
 
No matter where you are in the process of getting your book published or into the market, you can gain a great deal of wisdom from these two books that come in small packages. Have you discovered some great resources in publishing or marketing? Let me know in the comments.
 

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