Sunday, May 29, 2022

The Value of A Routine

By Terry Whalin @terrywhalin

Consistency is one of the most important characteristics of a productive writer—at least from my decades of working in publishing. For example, I've been writing an original blog post every week for years. I write it and post it at the same time so people expect it—and read it. Not that I get a lot of feedback about them and often I hear nothing (crickets) yet I continue writing them. It is one of my consistent routines.
Another one of my consistent routines involves my posting on social media. I post 12–15 times every day and have been following this pattern for years. As I've mentioned in these posts I use Hootsuite. Because I use this scheduling tool, my posts appear whether I am in my office or traveling and away from my computer.  Some days I don't get a lot of engagement with these posts but I know people are reading them.
I encourage you to create your routines carefully and if you do, it will have tremendous value to your writing life. In this article, I want to use the details of my social media posts to give you ideas about when you create your writing habit or routine.
Each day, I've created a pattern for my posts. The bulk of my posts are from other people yet they are focused on helping you improve your skills as a writer (in the broadest sense of the word). At the beginning and end of each day I post something personal. The bulk of my posts from others go into specific spots in my grid for the day. It may appear random but I've pre-determined the spot for the majority of these posts. Because I've developed a routine or habit and considered these details, I don't use any decision time about where the posts go and instead simply put them into place. As an example, each day I begin with an inspirational quotation. Every one of my social media posts also includes an image becasue they have proven an image will draw the eye to the words. Admittedly it takes a bit of effort to find an image for each post but this effort pays off in increased readership.
My social media routine brings consistency. If you read my social media stream on a regular basis you cfan get educated about the world of publishing and grow in your writing career. From my decades in publishing I've learned there is always more to learn. I wrote this post to encourage you to create your own routines.
What routines have you created for your writing life and are you aware of the value? Let me know in the comments below.

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Sunday, May 22, 2022

You Can Always Find A Way

By Terry Whalin @terrywhalin

 As writers we love to make excuses and procrastinate. It’s one of the reasons that writers are notoriously late on their book deadlines. As an editor, I’ve heard every possible excuse when writers call or email me to extend their manuscript deadline or their deadline for a magazine article during my magazine editor days.

Every writer needs persistence and perseverance. In this article, I’m going to tell some personal stories for your encouragement. If you want to get published, you need to use your creativity to find your way forward through the task ahead of you. There is always a way even if it is not your first choice.
Last week I logged on my PayPal account and it was zero and a shock because it was supposed to have much more in it. I had a dozen transactions that I did not make. I reported these transactions and some of these funds are being restored. A day later I watched on my phone as another charge (which I did not make) came into my email, then several more emails which were suddenly deleted and my trash was emptied (to cover their tracks). All of my devices including my desktop, laptop and phone were hacked or controlled by an outside force. I took action and changed some critical passwords then I took my computers to be fixed.

I’m without my computers for a couple of days in this process but still using my phone (which has been made secure). I’m writing these words on my AlphaSmart 3000 which is not hooked to the internet and can hold up to 150 pages of text. 

While I have no computer, I’m still writing pages today and moving forward on several different writing projects. I have found a way to overcome the situation. If I can find that way in this situation, then I know that you can also find a way forward with your writing. Like many things in life, these steps are conscious choices.

I’m also currently facing a family situation where a family member is recovering from surgery and a short stay in the hospital. Yes, this fact consumes some of my day but I’m continuing to find a way to work and move forward. It’s part of my “no excuse” mentality and determination to keep moving forward—even if some days I’m only making small amounts of progress.

Planning Is Critical.

Before I turned in my computers for repair, I set up the majority of my social media posts for the week using Hootsuite. I’ve also made several other communication steps to move forward on projects and plan ahead. This type of effort keeps my various projects in motion. Without my computer, there are certainly some things which are not happening, but these can be done later or are not significant and don’t matter in the long run. Each of us can only do what we can do but you have to be persistent and keep moving forward.

I’ll be doing some new functions on my phone today because it is the only way I can do these tasks. In other cases, I’m sending email to explain the delays and I continue communicating even in the middle of these situations. I encourage you to keep clear communication because again these actions are some of the keys to keep your work and projects moving forward.

Our lives as writers are filled with challenges which maybe work related or personal. How do you handle these situations in your own life? Let me know in the comments below.

Other articles I've Recently published:

Writers on the Move: What Drives your publishing? 

The Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers conference blog:  Adding Consistent Action To Your Writing 

The Pro-Active Author on The Wordsmith Journal: The Unexpected Value of Free

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Sunday, May 15, 2022

What To Do With a New Book Review

By Terry Whalin @terrywhalin

Last week I got an email from our author support team at Morgan James Publishing. I'm intentionally starting the story here because from my years in publishing, it is important to select and work with a team who helps you in unexpected ways. The email told me about a new review for Book Proposals That Sell (the Revised Edition).  As an acquisitions editor, I watch many authors choose not to have a team but there are unexpected benefits from working with a team.
The author support email told me about a new review from a trade magazine. The team sends out review copies so I have no idea how the publication got my book for review. Typically publications receive many more books to review than they can possibly assign and publish. Many authors would like for their book to appear in a local newspaper yet that newspaper may only publish six or seven reviews a week—like what happens in my local Denver Post. These few published reviews come from hundreds of books which they receive.  Anytime you get a printed review it is rare.
In this article, I want to tell you about what I did next. You can use this information for any review for your book such as an online review which are public information just like my print review. I could have celebrated it and put it into a file. Instead I took additional actions and encourage you to do the same. It often takes author work to get reviews. The main way to get reviews is to ask people to review your book. I have a free teleseminar about getting reviews (just follow the link for this teaching).
When I received the review from the Morgan James author support team, the email had the text of the review in the email but they also sent the print review which included the entire publication. I could have cheered to myself and then filed the review and forgotten about it. But I didn't. Instead I loaded a program that I have called Corel PDF Fusion. Google the name to purchase it or you may use another tool. This program allowed me to load the PDF, then separate out the single page with my review.
After isolating the single page of my review, I carefully read the review several times and isolated a couple of glowing sentences from the review. Because I had isolated a single page for the review, I uploaded this page to my website (so it will always be there and not disappear).
For my next step, I loaded a program called Author Lab. Follow the link to learn more and gain lifetime access for only $80.  For my work in publishing, I use this program almost daily. It has royalty free stock photos for example that I use on my blog. 

One of the tools in this program is called Testimonial Builder. I read the review several times and look for a glowing statement or two. Then I opened Testimonial Builder. In a few mouse clicks, you can select a background and image (I selected a woman since it was a woman who reviewed my book). Then this tool allows you to add a sentence and her name, then save the image. I am not a designer but in a matter of minutes I created a professional image with a sentence from the review.
For my final step in the process, I created several social media posts (check here and here), then scheduled them on Hootsuite for release. Notice my social media post includes a link to the full review where I got the sentence for the image. I will be using these posts on a regular basis in the days ahead.

Every day potential customers are reading reviews and making buying decisions about your book. A key part of my personal philosophy is every author has to take 100% responsibility for their own success. I encourage you to take similar actions with your reviews to get them into the market.
What actions do you take with a new review? Let me know in the comments below.

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Sunday, May 08, 2022

When You Fall Behind

By Terry Whalin @terrywhalin

As writers, each of have the same time constraints—24 hours. Within that time, there are family responsibilities and other things which cut into our work time. A week ago I went to a live event in Louisville, Kentucky with over 850 people in attendance. I spent the majority of those days meeting and connecting with new people to see if they will be potential authors for Morgan James Publishing. Through the years, I've been finding many of my authors for Morgan James through live events. With a pandemic, these events haven't been happening but have returned. I'm grateful for these opportunities but when I seize them, I understand that I fall behind in other aspects of my work.  Also I understand the initial meeting is important but the real work happens through the follow-up emails and phone calls—which require even more time and energy which makes me fall even further behind.
When you fall behind, you have two basic choices. You can get overwhelmed and stalled so little happens during your day. The other choice is the one is to lean into these opportunities. Every day I write a few of these new contacts and follow-up on my conversations with them. Also I continue to do my social media posts and work on my current writing projects. Here's some other “truths:”
--you have to take your own responsibility for your own success
--if you don't do the work, it simply does not get done—follow-up emails, phone calls and other aspects
--you have to chip away at the work one day at a time until it gets done
As I've mentioned in some of these entries, every day I leave with work which did not get done—pages that didn't get written, phone calls that did not get made and emails that did not get answered. I'm grateful for the work but this reality is inherent in the process. No one can be a master of every aspect of the publishing work. We have to make choices what we write or create or do. Because of those choices, other things are not able to happen.  Life is a balancing act and each of us have to find our place in the world.
Here's some things I've learned which help:
--use tools like your phone and scheduling tools like Hootsuite to be consistent
--continue to work at growing in your craft and storytelling ability
--your commitment to communicate clearly and learn new techniques will help
The publishing journey is complicated for each of us and filled with many twists and turns. The people who continue in the marketplace are the ones who have learned how to handle the bumps and the delays and the feelings of being behind. These people continue to keep their fingers on the keyboard and produce in spite of the rejection—and every one of us (including me) gets rejected. This rejection is business and not personal (even if on the surface it feels personal). My encouragement is for you to continue moving forward—even when you fall behind. 
How do you handle your writing life when you fall behind? Let me know in the comments below.


Does your fiction or nonfiction book have a business plan? Every type of book needs a proposal—even if you self-publish. Get this resource.

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Sunday, May 01, 2022

A Writer's Reality Check


By Terry Whalin @terrywhalin

In my recent writing life, I’ve been calling and emailing editors and others with little or no response. This sort of response is common and happens in seasons. Sometimes the responses are often and other times, you hear crickets—nothing.

Today I want to write about several realities of the freelance life. First, there is a basic principle: always be pitching. Without pitching or proposing or telling others about your idea, nothing happens. If you want to get more speaking opportunities, then you need to be pitching your speaking topics to different leaders and organizations. If you want to write more magazine articles, then you need to be pitching these article ideas. Or maybe you want to be on more podcasts as a guest, then you carefully target these podcasts. As you target your pitches, the podcast hosts know you understand their audience and why you have valuable information for their audience. 

If your calendar is not full of activity such as writing projects and speaking opportunities, then you need to take action and pitch more speaking or other types of activities.

I like what one of my bestselling writer friends, Bodie Thoene, told me about writing novels—and it applies to every other aspect of publishing:  “No little elves come out of my closet to write 650 manuscript pages. Some mornings I don’t feel like writing, but I do it out of obedience to God.”  In some cases, you can hire a publicist with connections to pitch you on radio shows or television or podcasts. Or you can do it yourself, but you must take action.

I’ve been in publishing for decades. If my phone isn’t ringing off the hook with opportunities, I expect yours is not either. Always be expanding your network of connections. Who you know is often as important as what you know. Be reaching out to these people, checking in, learning what new projects they are working on and is there something they need that you can help them with? This innocent question can turn up opportunities for you, but you have to raise or ask the question in the first place.

Also you have to follow-up. Recently I was at an event in Colorado Springs. I had dozens of conversations with people and we exchanged business cards. I need to follow-up on those conversations and connections. It is because of follow-up that ideas turn into reality and projects. Sadly, many people never follow-up and they miss out on these opportunities.

Another reality: a lot of the work is repetitive and, in some ways, boring. I’m writing these words in an airplane on the way to another conference. I’m grateful live events have returned. But to prepare for this live event, I scheduled the majority of my social media posts for the entire week. Yes, it took some planning and effort, but my audience is expecting my posts and they will be happening even if I’m away from my computer.

At Morgan James Publishing, we are publishing new books every week. This process doesn’t happen randomly but involves a chain of events. As an Acquisitions Editor, I’m working on the front end of this process. An author reaches out to me with an idea about their book or maybe it is a query letter or maybe they send a proposal or a full manuscript or part of a manuscript. The key action is they have something they would like to publish. I respond and get their material into our internal system for processing and things start to move forward. The author has to make the initial pitch in this process. Sometimes an editor will have an idea of something they want written—but that is extremely rare from my decades in this business. The more typical path is for the writer to create and pitch their idea.

Over the years I’ve read thousands of submissions (no exaggeration) and out of my frustration as an editor, I wrote Book Proposals That Sell in 2004  to help writer understand the publishing process and also (selfishly) so I could receive better submissions. My original book helped many writers and has over 130 Five Star reviews. But publishing has changed over the years.

Last year the revised edition of Book Proposal That Sell released. One of my original 21 secrets was to always include an SASE (self-addressed-stamped envelope) because in the pre-internet days there were no electronic submissions. To receive a response from a publisher—even a printed rejection letter—you needed to send them the return postage. 

Today submissions are electronic, but editors and agents are leery of clicking on attachments from people they don’t know. You need to approach the editor or agent via email then get their permission to send your material as an attachment. It’s a completely different process and one every writer needs to understand to get into the submission process. It is simply another reality of our lives as a writer.

As an author another reality is consistent promotion of your book. You bear the greatest passion and responsibility for telling others about your book. There are many different ways to be effective in this process but if you stop promoting, then your book sales will tank (in general). My advice is not to stop but weave appropriate promotion into your life every day. If you follow my social media feeds on Twitter or LinkedIn, you will notice that I promote several of my books every day with different images and different messages yet continually pointing toward my book. Someone has to hear about your book at least a dozen times before they will purchase your book. You can be actively involved in getting these various messages out into the market. It’s another reality of our life as writers.

I see the world as full of opportunity. For me the glass is half full rather than half empty but you have to move for something to transpire. 

When you face discouragement and rejection (as we all do—including me), understand it is not personal, but you are looking for the “right” opportunity and the “right” fit. That search will take some time and effort on your part. Nothing happens without effort—another reality check for the writing life. What resonates with your writing life? Let me know in the comments below.

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