Sunday, September 17, 2023

Preserve and Expand Your Relationships

By Terry Whalin 

Admittedly at times, it is frustrating to be a writer. Ive been rejected and had books cancelled. Internally I moan and groan but I never burn my relationship bridge. To outsiders, the publishing world looks daunting and huge. After decades in this business, instead of huge, I find this world often interconnected and small. Many of us know each other from going to conferences, working on different projects and maintaining our connections. 

For example, Ive been acquiring books at Morgan James Publishing for over ten years. Even earlier, I acquired fiction at Howard Books (an imprint of Simon and Schuster) and before that experience I acquired books at David C. Cook. With each of those positions, I worked with editors and literary agents. Some of those agents Ive not spoken with in years but we maintain our relationships and connections. If I reached out to them via phone or email, I would likely get a response. 

In addition to my publishing work, Ive also interviewed more than 150 bestselling authors and written their stories for over 50 publications.  If you dont have this type of experience, dont be concerned. I didnt begin with these connections but they were built over time and one relationship at a time. Each of these relationships is important. You need to design your own system to keep track of the various emails, phone numbers and other critical information. You never know when you might need to revive one of these relationships.

Several years ago I was working on the audiobook version of my biography of Billy Graham. From listening to audiobooks, I was looking for a way to make my audiobook to be “different.” One of the most iconic songs related to Billy Graham is the hymn Just As I Am sung at the end of his crusades. I did a simple Google search and found a YouTube version with the Gaithers singing along with Cliff Barrows and George Beverly Shea. Using an audio program, I clipped out a few seconds but then I needed permission to use it in my audiobook. 

Years before I met and exchanged business cards with Gloria Gaither who was an author with Howard Books. In a few minutes, I crafted an email to Gloria Gaither and told her about my audiobook project. I sent along the YouTube clips and asked for royalty-free permission to use them. Within a few hours, I received the official permission. Each chapter in my audiobook begins with a brief clip from the hymn. If you follow this link, you can hear a sample. From this story, I hope you can see the value in preserving and maintaining relationships. 

One of the ways I have preserved my relationships with bestselling authors was through my unusual practice of pre-publication review. Years ago I learned that I could not control the editing process at magazines but what I can control is what I turn into the publication. Before I submit my articles, I returned to the subject and showed them my article asking them to check the facts. I was careful how I reapproached them because I didnt want them to rewrite my piece but I wanted to make sure it was accurate. When I told Chuck Swindoll about my practice, he affirmed something I knew saying, “The media never checks.

Journalists are taught they control the story and never to let your subjects see the article before it is printed (pre-publication review). Yet I have done it for the simple reason that it preserves and maintains my relationship with these authors. 

Heres some additional action steps everyone can take with their relationships:
--answer your emails
--return phone calls
--follow-up with authors and leads
--check in with others to see how they are doing and how you can help them

This week on social media, I noticed a new book from one of my friends. I reached out to that friend and ask for a review copy of the book so I could read it and write a review. I did not hear from my friend but someone in publicity later that day emailed to say they were mailing the book. The bottom-line is be known as someone who wants to help other people succeed. Look for creative and simple ways you can help them. 

Another wise place to expand and continue your connections is on LinkedIN. For years I ignored the email invitations to connect. Yet today I have over 19,400 LinkedIN connections. If Ive not reached out to someone in a long-time, LinkedIN is my first place to check on their email and sometimes their phone number. Editors, literary agents and writers will often change positions. When they change, they often will take their LinkedIN accounts with them. Recently I needed to connect with an agency for my work. I selected a couple of leaders in this organization and sent them personalized invitations to connect. A few hours later I was connected to one of those two leaders and sent them a personalized email. You can do the same thing on LinkedIN to expand your network. 

Are we connected on LinkedIN? If not, follow this link and send me a personalized invitation (even mentioning this article). What methods do you use to preserve and expand your relationships? Let me know in the comments below.


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2 Comment:

At 7:52 PM, Blogger Lisa Jo Barr Left a note...

Very solid advice. It's all about relationship and connection. As a matter of fact, that's how I live my whole life.

At 10:16 AM, Blogger Terry Whalin Left a note...

Lisa Jo,

Thank you for this comment. Keep up the great effort.



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