Sunday, June 25, 2023

Encourage A Writer--Today


By Terry Whalin @terrywhalin

Every writer gets discouraged.  While Ive been in publishing for decades, it happens to me. I send emails which are targeted and specific yet are ghosted or not answered. I make phone calls and leave voicemail which is not returned. I make pitches to hosts of radio programs which are unanswered. These rejections can feel like Im spinning my wheels and not making any progress. Instead of wallowing in those discouraging feelings, I understand every writer faces such actions but the ones who get published and accomplish something persist and perservere inspite of it. 

Not everyone returns calls right away. Not everyone answers their email and sometimes they ignore it. Not every pitch gets a response or gets accepted. These facts are reality and as writers we need to face life realistically.

Wherever you are in the writing life, you can help other writers. In this article, I want to highlight some simple yet important actions you can take to encourage a writer today. I've selected actions every writer can take no matter where you are in the writing journey--whether you are not published or have written many articles and books. 

Who do you know that someone else needs to meet? Finding the right connection is a challenge for many of us in publishing. Often people will introduce someone to me and I will help them. Or I introduce a couple of people to each other to help them. It's a matter of thinking about your connections, then writing a short email to introduce people to each other. I've often said that who you know is as important in this business as what you know. Introduce some people to each other. 

If you are a writer, you are a reader of others books. As you read a book, take a few minutes and write a review and post that review online. As I've mentioned before 97% of the people who buy a product like a book online, have read a review before they buy it. Recently I went to the page of an author I met at a recent conference. This author and his co-author had about 14 reviews for their book which released several years ago but had not had any new reviews for months. I ordered the book and now I'm reading it so I can post a review. It's a smple action anyone can take to help others.

I have purchased a box of simple thank you notes and another box with sympathy cards. There are always people to send a brief note of thanks and another group who have experienced the loss of a parent, spouse or other loved one in their life. In these computer-driven days, a physical note can mean the world to someone else. It's something anyone can do in a few minutes. 

As you read blog posts and articles from others who influence your life, take a minute to write a sentence or two of appreciation or add something to their article. Since 2008, I've been blogging and it's pretty rare someone will comment on these articles. Several times a week, I make a point to comment on other people's blogs or articles.

Throughout your day when some else comes to mind, call them or send a short email of encouragement. If you have written books, can you mail a book to someone to encourage them?

These are a few ideas but there are many other ways to encourage another writer. What else comes to mind? Let me know in the comments below.


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Sunday, June 18, 2023

Four Ways to Handle Feeling Overwhelmed


By Terry Whalin @terrywhalin

Some days the emails and opportunities pour into my life. I feel overwhelmed with the volume of submissions and wonder how to tackle this on-going and interesting work.

Recently I spoke at the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference and have a lot of follow-up work to do with the various people I met. Also while I was away the submissions didnt stop but continued to pour into my email. From my years in publishing, I understand the importance of following up on the various contacts and people I met at the conference yet I have the tension of these submissions which also require time and need to be processed sooner rather than later. 

These are some of my tensions which are creating a feeling of being overwhelmed. The issues in your writing life will be different but maybe you are feeling overwhelmed. How do you handle it? I have written about this feeling before which is not a surprise since this blog has over 1600 entries. My previous article about feeling overwhelmed was written in the early blog days of 2008 and covers different points. 

In this article, I want to give you four key action steps and help you keep moving forward. 

1. Dont get stalled and instead chip away at it. One of the worst ways to handle overwhelming feelings is to go into stall and not do anything. If you stall, the work just continues to pile up and those feelings will only grow. Instead I encourage you to take daily action on this work. Maybe you cant do the same volume as in the past but you can do something to keep moving forward. 

2. Touch base with people and communicate. People will give you grace if you are in communication with them. The lack of communication doesnt help you. Send a short email just to let them know you are still working on it and moving forward (even if not as quickly as in the past).

3. Reach out and get help. In my view, the best type of publishing is a team effort like we have at Morgan James Publishing. I reached out to my colleagues and let them know I had too many submissions to handle alone. I moved a number of submissions for a colleague to handle instead of feeling crushed under the load of these submissions. It helped me to feel less overwhelmed. I still have a healthy pile of work but its not as high now because I got help.

4. Be grateful for the opportunities. I am grateful for each submission and the chance to speak with them about their book and how we publish at Morgan James. I encourage you to seize each day and keep moving forward with your writing and work in the publishing community. Your attitude of gratitude, consistency and persistence will pay off in the long run. 

As I told my class when I taught at the conference, we live in one of the greatest times in human history with vast opportunities all around us. Our responsibility is to be faithful and seize those opportunities. We need to keep our fingers on the keyboard and keep moving ahead--inspite of feeling overwhelmed.

Ive given you some actions to take when you feel overwhelmed. What am I missing? What steps do you take? Let me know in the comments below. 


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Sunday, June 11, 2023

The Important Search Tool


By Terry Whalin

Several times a week, writers will ask a question about something related to writing and I turn to an important search tool. Its right in plain sight but I suspect few people know about it or use it. In this article, I want to call attention to this important search tool which is on my blog.

To locate this too, you have to go to my blog on The Writing Life then scroll down to find the tool. Here's what you are looking for:

After you find it, change the search button from web to my blog. Then type in your specific word or phrase to locate entries which have this information.

Since 2008, Ive been writing each week about publishing and the writing life. Ive covered many different topics from my perspective as a working writer and an acquisitions editor at three different publishers.  Often throughout my week, I will be talking with writers about publishing. I will use this search tool to find specific articles which I email to them.

Over the years, Ive written about different attributes of writers like consistency and persistence. Also Ive covered writing for magazines, devotional writing, book publishing, proposals, query letters, work made for hire, contracts, marketing, social media and much more. You can use this search tool to look for these articles and learn for your own writing life. 

No single person has all of the answers to your various questions but I believe we can learn (and continue to learn) from each other. Through the years, I have written about my various editorial and publishing experiences in these entries. I encourage you to tap into this search tool as another consistent source and tool to gain publishing insights and wisdom.

Do you have a search tool on your blog? Why or why not? I encourage you to add it and make it easy for others to search your blog. It is simple HTML which I added to my blog years ago and continue to use often. Let me know what you think about this search tool and how you can use it on your website or blog in the comments below.

Now that you know about this hidden gem, you can use it too.

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Sunday, June 04, 2023

The Pros and Cons of A Pen Name

By Terry Whalin

With surprising frequency, as an editor, I get submissions where the author wants to use a pen name. One of my first questions to the author is why? Then I listen to the answer.

Often they dont have much of a reason for using a pen name. I find many of these authors wrongly believe it is easier to use a pen name. From my years in publishing, it is better to build your online presence using your own name rather than a pen name. The online world is full of false names and sometimes fake profiles. People have more confidence and trust if they can see from multiple sources the person is real and using a real name. 

There are pros and cons to this critical decision. In this article I want to lay out some of those issues.


If you use your actual name, you can use a real photo and other information which helps the reader know your expertise and background. 

Ive met some writers who have been through a protracted and horrible divorce. They used a pen name to hide their identity from this spouse.


If you use a pen name then you have to build everything online using that pen name. Your website, your blog, your various social media accounts and other places would be built with this pen name. 

You often have to use a fake photo since you don't want to use your actual photo. 

This entry is shorter than some of my articles because Ive been away from my computer at a conference with limited time to write. Hopefully I make up for this lack with the links below to some of my other recent articles published in other places (outside my blog).

Have you used a pen name? Let me know in the comments and add to my information about using a pen name.

My Articles in Other Places

In these entries, I encourage you to write articles for other places. Here's some of my recent articles:

Beginning Writers Do Get Published Some writers believe (wrongly) that only professional writers get published. In this article I debunk this myth.

Should I Self-Publish? I speak with many writers going in this direction and explain the reasons not to go in this direction from my years in this business. 

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