Sunday, July 30, 2023

Kindness Always Counts


By Terry Whalin @terrywhalin

The incident happened years ago when I worked at a different publishing house. I dont recall the author but the reaction of our editorial assistant is seared into my memory as well as the internal discussion.

“What a rude author,” she exclaimed. Our editorial team worked in an area with cubicals and the various editors could easily hear such an outburst. This author made a lasting impression on each of us and marked themselves as someone no one wanted to work with on any additional books. 

While infrequent, these types of conversations happen within the publishing house. In these articles, Im committed to write about my journey as an editor and writer. As writers and authors, we only see our side of the interaction yet with each exchange you are making an impression. Its the focus of this article that kindness always counts.

As an acquisitions editor, some authors submit a second book. To my surprise my colleagues will respond with details about this author like they were not happy with anything we did for them or no way we want to do another book with this author.

From working with different editors and publishers as a writer, I understand many details in the process are outside of our control as authors. Its why I wrote 10 Publishing Myths to give authors realistic expectations and action steps every author can take to suceed with their book. Follow this link for a special offer to get it. 

Heres some insights for authors as you interact with editors and agents:

--Realize every conversation counts. If you are upset or angry or fiesty about something, walk around the block or some action to calm down before you unload on the unsuspecting editor or agent. 

--Publishing Is A Small Circle. While to the outside, the publishing community appears large and diverse, it is actually small and inter-connected. As a member of this community, I understand how we speak with each other online, email and phone conversations. Ive watched one bestselling author couple bounce from publisher to publisher with fewer books selling each time. The difficulties were always someone else rather than the author. These authors have faded from the marketplace and if you asked them probably dont understand it. They would blame others when the challenges are their own actions. 

--Never burn a bridge or relationship. No matter what happens to you, take whatever necessary steps to preserve and continue the relationship. I have a long-time publishing friend who brought me into a publishing deal then months later called to cancel my publishing agreement. The experience hurt and cost me financially--yet my relationship continues with this friend. Since that experience, we've done other work in the publishing community. I encourage you to think about each relationship as you start them and as you continue them. 

--Dont be a knucklehead. While likely unknowingly, some authors have made a bad impression. Internally they may be called a “knucklehead” or something worse. With each conversation you are making an impression whether good or bad. 

It is not easy to write these details but my emphasis and reason for writing them is to affirm kindness always counts. We need each other and I encourage you to keep expanding your relationships within and outside of the publishing community.

As you read my article, what am I missing or what else comes to mind? Let me know in the comments below.

My Recent Articles In Other Places

In various articles, I have encouraged you to publish outside of your blog. Its a practice I do on a regular basis and heres three recent articles as examples:

One of the most important relational skills for every author: An Important Skill for Writers: The Gentle Follow-up.

If you want to be published, every author needs to learn: How To Write What The Editor Wants

On the surface it may seem like a simple distinction but writers need to learn this aspect: The Difference Between a Fiction or Nonfiction Proposal


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Sunday, July 23, 2023

Getting to Yes


By Terry Whalin @terrywhalin

As a writer, it takes some careful effort to get a yes from an editor or a literary agent. For magazine work, you have to learn how to write a query letter. For a book contract, you have to learn how to write a query letter and a book proposal. Pitching the right person at the right time at the right place is a key part of the process. As Ive often written in these entries, who you know is almost as important as what you know. 

As an editor, Im looking for books that Morgan James can publish. Because Ive been doing this role for about ten years, I know my colleagues are looking for with submissions and authors. As I speak with the authors, I want their submissions to succeed and get a contract offer. This basic desire on my part sometimes forces me to have some difficult conversations with authors.

When I have these conversations, the author has two options. They can listen to my suggestions and make changes until I receive something that will work for the publisher and my colleagues. Or they can discount my suggestion and go elsewhere to publish their book.

Recently Ive had a series of difficult conversations. Its part of my role as an editor to diplomatically explain why their book got rejected. If the author is open to it and makes suggested changes, I can go back to my colleagues and try again (but this rarely happens). 

Also this week I had an author with a powerful book and the resources to become a bestseller, return our contract completely rewritten. I dug out the audio recording of a call with this author in late May--which I assume his attorney never heard. I sent back some diplomatic yet stern comments about the contract and how it needed to be lightened with marks for it to actually go forward. Ive seen such actions in the past and essentially it is a deal killer for that author. I did not write the deal killer words to the powerful author but I did use this language with his writer who sent me the deal in the first place. Im unsure what will happen in this situation yet I am  hopeful this unknown attorney will rework the red-lined contract. I tell this story so you know each of us are looking for the right fit to publish our books. Either side (the author or the publisher) can walk away. Its a delicate dance and I use my decades of experience in these issues to advocate for our publishing program--which is different and exceptional. These emails are not easy to write but essential to get to yes and a part of my responsibility from being in this business for a long time.

I went through a season where I worked mostly with authors of adult fiction and nonfiction. These days, Im also working with a number of childrens authors which have their own unique challenges. My colleagues passed (rejected) a childrens book because the story didn't connect with the illustrations. I had encouraged this author to reach out to an editor for childrens books and get her suggestions and help. The author didnt do this work and my colleagues picked up on the mis-matched text and illustrations then passed on offering a contract. I could see the rejection was coming but wasnt able to prevent it which is frustrating.

Ive written about why word count matters. I continue to get submissions from adult authors who submit books which are massive in length and will not sell unless they cut--divide or cut the current story. Ive referred these authors to editors who can help them get fresh perspective and the revision they need--but they have to reach out to these editors then be willing to listen to the changes. These actions are hard ones for authors who care about every word in their manuscript. Yet this sort of reality is necessary for them if they want to successfully publish their book.  

To get the author a contract from my colleagues, I often have to ask the right questions and give the right information. During these conversations, I dont always say or ask the right questions. In fact, I fail as much as I succeed. The longer Im in the publishing world the better I ask good questions and have the right words. The process isnt easy for any author or editor. What challenges have you experienced to get a yes? Let me know in the comments below. 


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Sunday, July 16, 2023

How to Locate a Hard to Find Book


By Terry Whalin

Several years ago I started writing a daily gratitude journal. I believe each of us as writers need to incorporate gratitude into our lives. For this purpose, I used a blank journal which I picked up at a bookseller convention. With the changes during the last few years, this convention doesnt exist any longer. I am coming to the end of my current journal and needed to locate another blank one. I wanted it to match the others I have used for several years. 

In this article, I want to show the tools and process I went through to find this book. I believe anyone can use this process to locate a hard to find book--and not pay a fortune for it. I use this processs. When Im searching for a book from the library, I use a different process. If you arent going to buy the book, I recommend you get it from your local library--which is an often overlooked option.

Preparation Ahead of Your Search

Before starting my search, I have taken several steps which prepared the way for locating the book. First, like millions of people I am an Amazon prime member which means I get free shipping if I order something directly from Amazon.

Also I am a member in good standing on Ebay. Over the years I have purchased items on Ebay, paid for them properly through PayPal and received a good customer rating on this website. 

Finally I have also purchase books on Barnes & Noble with a solid customer track record. These three preparation steps will play into my results below. I suspect many of you have done these steps for your own online shopping experiences.

My Search for The Hard to Find Book

I started my search on Amazon. Some people stop and start at Amazon for buying books. Im suggesting you take some additional steps. On Amazon, I learned I could purchase a new copy of the book and there were some used copies available. 

Keeping my Amazon tab open, I went to a new tab on my browser and went to BookFinder4U.com. This site compares over 100 online bookstores and ranks them based on the cheapest price combined with the postage. It is my go-to place to find inexpensive books.

For this particular book, the site didnt work for me because the various options and postage appeared too expensive. Instead I typed the title into Google and used the shopping tab to bring up different options. I purchased one copy through Amazon, then I located a second copy on Ebay and purchased it. Finally I found a third copy which I ordered from Barnes & Noble. Each of these books cost different amounts but were relatively inexpensive and are from dependable online retailers which reassure me that I will get what I have ordered in a timely fashion.

A key part of this process is to consider the purchase price of the book combined with the postage. Also I used different online retailers to find what I needed. What am I missing in this process? Or what process do you use to locate a hard to find and purchase a hard to find book? Let me know in the comments below.


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Sunday, July 09, 2023

The Details Matter


By Terry Whalin @terrywhalin

Often in the writing community, I see someone who has missed the details and they matter. Inside a publishing company, there are many steps in the process (and through the years these steps seem to grow in detail). For example, if I dont put a manuscript or proposal into our internal system  (which means responding to my email), then it does not get a letter of acknowledgement in the mail and then I dont process it for a possible contract. If I miss this particular detail the author and their submission doesnt get considered. Because of the large volume of submissions I have missed sometimes despite my best attempts to promptly communicate and keep these submissions moving forward. 

These details matter throughout publishing. In this article, I want to give you some specific examples that I have seen recently. I write these stories to emphasize and encourage you to take care of the details in your own publishing. The best publishing is also a team effort. Its not my sole decision whether a submission is published or not. I have to champion your book to my colleagues, then each of them have to respond about the book. Sometimes I get a contract and other times the group decides to pass on a submission inspite of my best efforts to get the author a contract. From my years in publishing, I understand and respect this team effort. 

Recently another author reviewed one of my books on Goodreads. I was grateful for this positive review. When I read it, I noticed his incomplete profile on Goodreads which didnt even have his photo. I was in the same position several yerfs ago. I took action and updated my profile, connected it to my blog and many other details. Today some people read these articles from my blog over on Goodreads. Its not where I would read it but as authors we need to have our material accessible to people wherever they want to read it. 

For a variety of social media sites, other authors will use the ClickToTweet which Ive added and share it with their audience. Im always grateful for the additional exposure. Many of these people are missing a key detail: the royalty-free image from my article. Its been proven that adding an image to your social media posts will increase your readership. People are drawn to the image then read the words. If you are like me and have no graphic design skills, I recommend getting lifetime access to MockUp Shots (follow the link). In a matter of minutes, you can have instant access to hundreds of images. 

Another simple way to get more attention with your posts is to tag the various people named in the post. I will often see these types of post on social media with this missing detail.

As I read various blogs and online articles, Im looking for valuable content. If I find it, I look for an easy way to share this information on my various social media networks. While there are many different tools to easily add this information to your blog or article, I find many content creators have missed this important detail. Because it is missing, it is much more time-consuming to share the story.  It takes a bit more cutting and pasting, but I often go ahead and add the article or blog post to my social media feed. 

As an editor, Im constantly receiving and processing new submissions from authors. Often I see where the author is missing some critical information such as their mailing address, phone number or word count.  Because of the missing address and phone information, Im forced to write the author and ask for it. Without it, I cant get their submission into our internal system to move forward. I suggest before you submit your material, take one last look to make sure you arent missing such a detail. Your editor will appreciate your additional effort. 

Ive given a number of different types of examples where the details are important. Can you think of another area where the details matter? Let me know in the comments below. 


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Sunday, July 02, 2023

Getting Reviews Is Hard But Possible


By Terry Whalin @terrywhalin

This week I looked at the reviews on a major online bookseller site for a childrens book which released several weeks ago. It had three five star reviews. This beautiful book was from a major publishing house which sends review copies to various people ahead of the release date. I know because Im one of those people who receive these releases. Just seeing this lack spurred me to get my review written and posted. It also showed me the challenge for every writer to get reviews.

To understand this process, there are several basics. First write and produce an excellent book. Your book should not look homemade or self-published. Your writing should be excellent with an attractive cover, well-written back cover, endorsements and all of the markings on your book just like something from Random House with a proper barcode including the price, a publisher imprint on the spine and other important details. 

Also understand getting reviews is hard for every writer but you have to constantly work at it. For example, add a page in the back of your book and ask readers to write a review. Just including this page takes planning but will spur some readers to write a review.

Another important step for every author is to be a part of the solution--write reviews. As you read a book or even listen to an audiobook, take a few minutes and write a review. As you become a part of the community of reviewers, when you ask others to review your book, they will be more inclined to write a review. 

People who are readers and not writers likely need your help to write that review. They have no idea of the importance or even what to say for a review. In this situation, you need to provide a template or tool for these readers. Ive mentioned this resource in other articles but my friend and PR Expert Sandra Beckwith has created an inexpensive reader review form. I purchased both the fiction and nonfiction templates. The form comes with the rights for you to give the template to others and use it yourself. 

For years, Ive been writing reviews. As a result, publishers and authors send their books for me to read and review. Way more material pours into my mailbox than I could ever read and review. While Im grateful for these opportunities, it bothers me that I cant do it all--yet it does not keep me from continuing to chip away at it, write and post reviews.

Another tool I use when I write reviews is MockUp Shots. There are numerous tools in this package but one of them allows up to upload the book cover, then create a variety of images with the book. I use this cover on social media to tell others about my review and also post it with my Amazon review. 

Its not simple for any writer to get reviews. My encouragement is to not shy away from it but lean into it through asking others and also writing reviews. How have you gathered reviews for your book? Id love to hear your ideas in the comments below.


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