Sunday, January 29, 2023

Handling Disruption

By Terry Whalin

I believe disruptions happen to every writer. The critical question is: when it happens, how do you handle disruption in your writing life? Each of us face health issues with ourselves or a family member. Or we have family issues that take us away from our writing. Or our equipment has technology issues and it disrupts our writing. 

In recent days, my computer was attacked. As I sat working a sign blocked my computer saying something like security update dont turn off computer. A hacker had gotten through to my computer, put up this sign and was messing with my computer. When the sign was removed, everything on my computer was upside down. The bar normally on the bottom of my screen was on the top. The icons and everything else was upside down. It was a total disruption to my writing and work.

Determined not to be hindered with this attack, I pulled out my laptop and began to work on that machine. In addition, I scheduled a session with the Geek Squad to take my desktop to be fixed. For a couple of days I worked on my laptop then the Geek Squad told me my machine was repaired. When I brought it home and hooked everything up, my screen was still upside down. 

According to the technicians, my monitor remembered my old settings. I disconnected everything and hauled it back to the Geek Squad. I took an additional step to purchase a new desktop computer and monitor. It was a change I had not made in ten years going from Windows 8 to Windows 11. These changes were disruptive to my writing life but overall I continued working inspite of them which is a critical action step. 

A new computer involves reinstalling old programs and getting them working including my printer and other devices. At the present time, not everything is working but the critical elements like my printer are connected and working. The change is a work in progress and each day is improving. 

Last week I was on an Ads for Author webinar about how to use Tik Tok to sell books. Thousands of people gathered for this workshop but the Go Webinar technology didnt work and after a few minutes of not getting it going, they cancelled the workshop. The Ads for Author training course is only open a few weeks each year. I encourage you to explore the link and take the course if you want to learn to use these tools--which bestselling authors use to sell books. 

From these experiences, I want to give you several lessons for your writing life:
1. Disruptions happen to each of us
2. Dont let the disruption stop you or derail you
3. Figure out how to keep going. If you pause and think about it, you can often determine a way to keep writing.
4. Build some padding into your deadlines so you can still meet them.

For whatever you write, your persistence and perserverance are key qualities for each writer. How do you handle disruption? Let me know in the comments below.

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Sunday, January 22, 2023

The Value of A Template

By Terry Whalin @terrywhalin

As writers, we have many repetitive tasks. There are emails to write, articles to pitch, books to propose and many other forms to fill out. These various templates have value because you dont have to re-invent or create anything. Instead you simply fill out the form. Through the years I have found great value in templates. If there isnt a template that I can get from a program or someone else, I create my own template. 

One of the most common templates would be a printed business letter with the name of your company or your name at the top, then your address, phone and email at the bottom. For any type of document which is repeated, I find it easier to create a template in this process. Several years ago I wrote a detailed article about using a book review template. I've also written about creating a template to get your book into libraries.  To pitch at writers conferences or other times, writers often create a one sheet which is another common template because as authors we dont just pitch one book but many different books. 

Some agents will send their authors a proposal template to make sure the author answers all the variuous parts of a book proposal. Other agents have a distinct template they will pour an author work into before the agent sends it to publishers. The agent does this step to create a brand or distinct look for their publihsher submissions.

Publishers like Morgan James Publishing where Ive worked for the last ten years have a number of templates. For example, we acknowledge every submission with a letter in the mail and use a template. There is an acceptance letter and next steps letter which is a template. The book contract is also a template. We even have specialized contracts for different agencies and agencies because they have negotiated distinct clauses for their writers. Im sure you can see there are many different types of templates and Ive only scratched the surface.

While templates save time and have value, you also have to use them with caution:

1. Before you send it to someone, make sure you have rewritten it and personalized it to that particular person. Otherwise it comes across as canned. 
2. In general I give the form a second and maybe even a third look before I send it. Its one of the advantages to using the "draft" feature in a program.
3. I think about when Im sending an email to someone else and if I especially want them to read it, I make sure the email will arrive during their working hours. Most of the email programs allow you to schedule your email and I take advantage of this feature if Im concerned about such a detail.

While you may use a template for a professional look and to make sure you cover all the necessary details, heres what you should not to forget: you are communicating with another person and you want to connect with that person in the best possible way and make the right impression. Our communication skills as writers is an important aspect of our work.

Do you use templates in your work? Let me know in the comments below.

Do you use templates in your writing life? This prolific editor and author details the value of a template and some cautions. Get the details here.  (ClickToTweet)

My Writing In Other Places:

In these articles, I encourage you to write in different places. In this section, I model such actions.

Searching for the Right Writing Fit 

With the amount of submissions and rejections every writer gets I wrote this article to encourage writers to keep going to find the right fit for their writing.

Five Essentials for Every Book Proposal Last week I was on Your Best Writing Life Podcast talking about these critical elements and I encourage you to listen and take advantage of the resources and information for your writing life.

Every Writer Needs Connections Whether you are new to publishing or have been in it for years, you need the right connections and contacts. I give details about how to grow those contacts.

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Sunday, January 15, 2023

Change Can Mean Opportunity

By Terry Whalin @terrywhalin

When it comes to change, Im as guilty as the next person. I love my routines and doing things with a system and pattern. At times, I complain about the constant changes around me in technology, in my personal life and in my work in publishing. It is not easy to make these constant adjustments yet they are a part of our publishing world.
In the articles, I write about what Im learning about the publishing world and heres a simple truth: if you lean into those changes and watch for them, they can mean opportunity for your writing life.  I want to give you several examples of how you can seize the opportunities from change.
New Publications
The magazine world is in constant change. Because Ive worked as a magazine editor, I understand the business side of producing these publications. Each publication must have subscribers but the bulk of the publication is normally paid through advertising. This fact explains the costly nature of such these ads. When you find a new publication, I encourage you to read it, study their guidelines then make a strong pitch to the editor. That editor is looking for regular contributors to the magazine and you have the opportunity to become one of those writers.
New Editor
At the magazines and book publishing houses, new editors enter the marketplace. Some editors who have been there for years are retiring and are replaced with younger editors. These new editors are looking for writers and the change is your opportunity to become one of them.
New Literary Agent
The agencies are often adding new agents or changing agents. To catch attention, you have to have the right pitch or proposal. These new agents are looking for a list of clients who they can sell into the market. Through your research and excellent writing, you can stand out and be someone they want to sign to their agency.
New Publisher
On a constant basis new publishers are entering the marketplace. A key action step for every writer is to ask good questions before signing with the publishing house. One of my Morgan James authors who just signed with us was exploring different publishers. One of the innovative steps he took was to order a book from each of these places. Then with a book in hand, he could check the quality of the product, see how quickly they delivered it and much more.
How To Find These Changes
The trade magazines like Publishers Weekly and Rush to Press from the Evangelical Christian Publishers are places to begin to notice shifts and changes in the market. With each contact, you have to make a good and appropriate pitch.
Continue to Build Relationships
I encourage you to continue to build relationships in the publishing community. As Ive often said in these articles, who you know is as important as what you know. As you attend writer's conferences, you should exchange cards and information with everyone you meet—not just the faculty. When you get home from an event, input the information into your phone or computer so you have easy and continual access to it. Are you and I connected on LinkedIN? If not, follow this link and send me a connection invitation.
As editors and publishing people, we are actively looking for authors who can be a good fit for our company. You can seize these opportunities if you are aware of it and make the right pitch. How are you taking advantage of these changes and turning them into opportunities? Let me know in the comments below.

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Sunday, January 08, 2023

The Payoff For Consistency

By Terry Whalin @terrywhalin

Most of our writing feels unnoticed. We send it out and wonder if anyone is reading or following us. Because of the large volume of submissions, often publishers only response is silence and they dont devote the energy to sending out a rejection letter. What plans do you have for your writing? Are you writing a book that you want to get published? Or maybe you have a personal experience story that you want to get into a magazine? Or maybe you want to build a website or start a blog or begin to be more active on a social media platform. Each of these plans are admirable but how do they happen? It does not happen by thinking about it. You have to sit in your chair, put your fingers on the keyboard and write the words or send the submissions or any number of other things.
Successful writers are consistent in their efforts. They take consistent action whether their work is published or read or not. A 50,000 word book manuscript is not written in a single session. Instead the writer writes words into their computer day after day until they complete the manuscript. If they miss a day or something interrupts their writing, they continue to move forward.
Because of the volume of articles in The Writing Life, in 2008, I sorted those articles into different categories and created a blook or a book which began as blog articles. While the concept sounds simple, it is a lot of work to transform random articles into a cohesive book manuscript which I called Jumpstart Your Publishing Dreams, Insider Secrets to Skyrocket Your Success. I self-published this book and sold a number of copies. Later when I began to work for Morgan James Publishing, they published the updated edition in 2014. This book contnues to help many writers. I created a free sample at this link.
Since 2008, Ive been blogging each week. While I dont get much feedback or many comments about these entries, Ive been consistent in writing then launching them into the world. Overall, it has felt like a limited number of people read these entries but occasionally it pays off. Last week I found my name and blog in this article called 27 Top Content Writers Sharing Their Talents. This article begins saying there are an estimated 600 million blogs online. The article includes a remarkable group of writers like Seth Godin, Ryan Holiday and Jeff Goins—and I was surprised to be included.
Also last week, The Writing Life was listed among 100 Best Writing Blogs You Must Follow in 2023. My consistency to write these articles is not with any expectations to be recognized or included in such lists. I write these entries teo encourage other writers and to document some of what I am learning about the writing life. Sometimes my consistency pays off.
Do you get these articles on email? If not, you can subscribe here. Also please forward this email on to others and ask them to subcribe. Thank you in advance for your help. While I'm mentioning help, I'll be speaking at a few conferences this year and have updated them on my speaking schedule. I hope you will check the link but also make plans to attend one of these conferences and we can meet in person. I look forward to it.
How has consistency paid off for you as a writer? Let me know in the comments below.

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Sunday, January 01, 2023

Elements of Effective Pitching

By Terry Whalin @terrywhalin

Many writers love to crank out words into their computer. They dream of a literary agent or editor reaching out to them with a writing project. From my decades in this business that sort of event rarely happens. That editor phone call or email youve imagined coming is a fantasy. If you want to publish a book, you need to effectively pitch a literary agent or an editor. 
From my experience in publishing, one of the foundational skills to develop is an effective pitch. Whether you want to write a magazine article or a book or teach at a conference or appear on a radio program or podcast or almost any other activity, it all comes down to your skilled pitch. In this article, I want to give you some of the critical elements in this process so you can be much more effective in this critical process.
To write for magazines, you need to learn to write a query letter. Ive written for more than 50 publications and have written a detailed article about this process (follow the link but also study the contents then apply them to your own writing life). Like with a book proposal, there are different variations on how you do the tool but the key is to send something that the editor or agent wants. How do you learn what they want? You study their guidelines about what they publish or their specialty. It is different for each publication, agent or publisher but they will tell you what they are looking for—and they expect you to do this research before you clog their email box with your pitch. 
If you are writing a book, then you need a book proposal or business plan. I undrstand that writing a proposal is a great deal of work but even if you self-publish you need to know the various parts of a proposal. Every author whatever they are writing (nonfiction, fiction, childrens books, etc) will gain value through writing a book proposal.
The process of creating a book proposal will teach you about the current marketplace for your book. For example, the majority of publishers are looking for fiction which is 100,000 words or less. Last week I was looking at the submissions for a service to writers. One of the novelists was pitching a 250,000 word novel. Immediately I rejected this author and didnt approach the author to submit to Morgan James Publishing.

Why? Recently I have had negative reactions when I tell an author they need to divide their story into several parts so they can get to a lower word limit. If the novelist is in tune with the marketplace, they have learned this information before completing their novel and pitching it to possible publishers.
Another element in effective pitching is developing your relationship with the literary agent or editor. At the end of the day, you are looking for the right fit. This search will take skill (to learn how to craft a proposal and/or query) combined with persistence and consistency.
What are the elements to effective pitching? If I am missing something, please let me know in the comments below.

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