Sunday, November 26, 2023

Seasons of Publishing

By Terry Whalin @terrywhalin

Sometimes because of my role as an acquisitions editor at Morgan James Publishing, authors will ask when is the best time of year to publish their book. There used to be seasons for books and their release was much more segmented and planned. With the volume of books being released, I believe most of those plans have been tossed. 

In 10 Publishing Myths, I told the story of Penny Sanseveri teaching a workshop and explaining over 4500 new books are published every day. That story was several years ago and the volume of new books which are being published continues to increase. Recently I read on Brian Feinblums blog about trends in publishing. He said there are 7,000 new books every day (follow the link to read the full article). 

Like clockwork from now until after New Years Day, a different season begins. I call it the silent days of publishing. While I am making phone calls and writing emails and even sending new book contracts to authors, these actions are almost met with silence or no response. Some people might call this inaction ghosting. 

For many writers, this season can be challenging and full of your own inaction. In this article, Im encouraging you to take a different course of action and standout. During these silent days you can move your writing life forward--but only if you take action. 

I understand the lack of response. People are traveling, taking a break from their writing and involved in other types of activities. Some years Im surprised with the people who do sign and return their contracts and move forward. Other times the response is silence. 

What can a writer do in such a season? My encouragement is for each of you to lean into it and use these days wisely through writing something new. As writers, we have an almost endless list of possible writing projects such as:

--work on an online course

--write a new book proposal

--write a new book manuscript

--create query letters that you send out at the first of the year

--review some books

--if you havent received a response to your submissions, use the gentle followup to make sure the editor or agent got your submission.

Normally Im prompt at processing my Morgan James Publishing submissions but some times they slip through the cracks. Im going to make a true confession. Last week an author sent me an email asking about his submission which was sent in April. Yes, this is November and I hadnt processed it. I apologized for my oversight, and then set up a phone conference for next week. 

What submissions do you have which have not received a response? Can you gently ask about them and get something moving forward? Some editors and agents make more time to read and process submissions during this season. Others do not but you might reach out to someone and get a quick response. 

Sometimes as writers we feel powerless and like our words do not impact our world--but they do--and only if you continue to take action. Use tools to pass along valuable content to others and subscribe to newsletters. If you are not a subscriber to these blog articles, heres where you can subscribe. If you are a subscriber, please pass this link along to other writers and encourage them to subscribe. If we get our words into the world, they can change lives.

Do you have things you wanted to do this year but didnt get done? Maybe a book to read and review or a new area to explore and learn. I have a number of those things. Tackle them during these silent days. Print this article and use this list as action items for your writing life. Get your fingers on the keyboard and keep pressing forward.

Each of us have limited time and energy for writing. We have to seize our days and do it: write something. How do you handle this season of publishing? Let me know in the comments below. 

My Articles in Other Places. 

In these articles, I often encourage you to publish your book on other blogs and other places. Here’s some of my articles which have been published recently: 

Writing is a Business. Many writers think of their writing as a ministry or a way to get their message out. In this article on the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference Blog, I remind authors of the business aspects of our writing. 

Consistent Action Instead of Perfection. While we want to publish excellent work, many writers hold back from submitting as they seek perfection. In this article on Writers on the Move, I encourage consistent action instead of perfection. 

Understand and Know Your Competition. Many writers believe their idea is unique without competition. In this article on Almost an Author, I stress the importance of understanding and knowing your competition because every book competes in the marketplace. 


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Sunday, November 19, 2023

What Can A Writer Do?

By Terry Whalin

As a trained journalist, I continue to follow the news around me. I limit my consumption but I still follow the major events around the world. In many ways it is frustrating because as a writer, there is little I can do about it. Yet I can tap into one of the most powerful resource for every Christian: prayer. I continue to pray.

Through my work as an editor, Ive learned that I cant make people sign their contract. All I can do is faithfully work with my colleagues to get them a contract, then follow-up and answer any questions and encourage them to move forward. Last week an author told me his decision was between Morgan James Publishing and another publisher. He selected the other publisher (which I know is mostly smoke instead of actual publishing). My response to his decision: I wished him all the best and hope we can work together in the future. Ive had authors who have published with that entity return to me with their next book for a different result. 

As an editor, I cant make authors market their book and tell others about their work. Last week I worked with another author on his second book with Morgan James Publishing. When I checked on the sales of his first book, I learned over the last couple of years, he had sold about 50 books in the bookstore. The bookstore sales number is key to the publisher--not what the author sells on their own. This news was dismal for his possibility of getting a second contract from my colleagues unless he has a different marketing plan. 

The best publishing from my experience is working with a team. Sometimes like last week, my colleagues dont like the writing--even if it is an unedited manuscript and Ive referred this writer to some excellent editors. Not every pitch that I make to my colleagues gets a book contract. Yet I continue pitching different authors. 

As people, God made us each with free will to make our own choices and sometimes learn our own hard lessons. Each day I try and use the hard earned lessons from my own publishing journey to help and encourage others even if they dont take my advice. 

Ive given several examples here but bottom-line, there is much I cant do in the publishing world. You may feel discouraged about the response or lack of response from editors and readers. My encouragement in this article is to keep going.

As a writer or editor, I cant take on the responsibility of others--but I can take on my own responsibility. As Jack Canfield told us in The Success Principles, each of us have to take 100% responsibility for our own success. I can keep growing in my craft of writing and learn to be a better communicator and writer. If my books and book proposals aren't selling, then I can write something different like a short magazine article and get it into the market.  I can create my own products and market them to my email list--even if I dont like my open rate for my emails. I can keep expanding my personal connections to editors and other writers. I can continue pitching and looking for new opportunities. 

As writers, the only way for our opportunities to dry up and stop is if we quit. Dont quit and continue pressing forward. As Ive written in these articles, we live in one of the greatest times in human history--but we have to take our own responsibility for our own actions and find the right place for our work to get published. It will not be easy and simple but is possible. If I can help you, dont hesitate to reach out. 

What can a writer do? Our writing can change our world but only if we continue the journey. What steps are you going to take this coming week? Let me know in the comments below. 


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Sunday, November 12, 2023

The Only Path to Success

By Terry Whalin

It sounds counterintuitive. The only path to success is through regular failure. To consider this topic, let’s begin with a couple of stories. 

Thomas Edison invented numerous inventions which we continue to use today--like the light bulb. “But despite his outstanding success, Edison failed frequently. In fact, it sometimes took thousands of attempts – literally – to perfect his experimentation. That was exactly the case when Edison was working to devise a novel storage battery. According to his close friend Walter S. Mallory, Edison had already tried 9,000 experiments and hadn’t yet found a solution. When Mallory commented about the lack of results, Edison promptly responded, “Results! Why, man, I have gotten lots of results! I know several thousand things that won’t work!”

Or consider James Dyson and his 5,126 failures to invent a vacuum cleaner. acuum cleaner. “That’s how many failures James Dyson went through before finding the winning prototype for his first vacuum cleaner. Five thousand — one hundred — twenty-six! That meant four years of developing the product, going deep into debt and putting up his house as collateral to the bank loan. He pinned everything on this invention without any guarantees that it would ever work. That level of determination and patience is absolutely mind-blowing to me. James is now the fourth richest person in the UK with an estimated net worth of £16.3 billion. Well deserved, I say!”

As writers, we face a great deal of rejection. Many people have forgotten those early days of finding a publisher for Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen, the co-authors of Chicken Soup for the Soul (one of the bestselling series in the English language). Their submission was rejected 140 times which is a lot of rejection. Yet they continued looking for a publisher. Mark wrote this story in the foreword of my book Jumpstart Your Publishing Dreams. Follow this link to dowload a free section of this book including the foreword.  

If your work is getting rejected from editors and literary agents, keep submitting and writing. Your persistent effort will pay off if you continue looking for the right fit for your work. I admit the path is not an easy one. Ive been rejected many times in my own journey. Ive come to understand that rejection is not person but saying my writing was not the right fit for that particular editor or agent. I have to keep submitting and keep connecting with new people to find the right fit for my work.

The process or journey is not easy but possible. I encourage you to: 

--keep making new connections. Who you know is almost as important as what you know.

--keep learning your craft and reading how-to books, articles and online courses. Ive been studying publishing for decades and continue to learn new aspects all the time. 

--keep trying new types of writing. In the free excerpt from Jumpstart Your Publishing Dreams, I have a detailed list of the variety of writing. You may not be a book author but you may be excellent at magazine articles. Its a conversation I had recently with a contributing editor at Guideposts (one of the top circulation publications). She hasnt published a book but loves writing short magazine articles and reaching millions with her writing.  

The only way to fail in your publishing efforts is to quit the journey. I encourage you to continue to move forward on the only path to success. Let me know what you think in the comments below. 


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Sunday, November 05, 2023

Your Responsibility As A Writer

By Terry Whalin

Through the years as an editor, Ive spoken with many writers especially during my last eleven years with Morgan James Publishing. A number of these authors express their skepticism about the company. These authors have googled the publisher name and found critical reviews. It is a wise step on their part to do some research about the publishing house. Some of the worst comments are on reddit which allows anyone to write anything and it doesnt use their name. These posts are forever preserved online--even if they arent true. Every publisher has detractors yet the publishing scams have pages and pages poor comments.

I believe it is healthy to have a bit of skepticism as you explore publishing opportunities. A number of companies use sales techniques to lure writers into their companies. Ive met authors who have spent over $20,000 to get published and their books have poor covers and design with only limited online distribution. 

I encourage you to explore your options but have a healthy balance of disbelief until you hear the details of each publishing option. Many days Im on the phone with authors for 45 minutes to an hour talking about their books and the unique ways Morgan James publishes books. How many editors and people with experience in publishing, can you get on the phone for that length of time? From my experience such an opportunity for any author (mostly unpublished) to interact with an editor or agent would be extremely limited. Many editors and literary agents never respond and the only way you know they arent interested is their lack of response. 

Because I am connected to the writing community, I hear some of the horror publishing stories from other authors. For example, one authors book is supposed to release in the next couple of weeks--yet her publisher hasnt loaded the cover and marketing copy on Amazon (or any other website). Because of the publisher, the launch plans for this author are in limbo. 

Through my years with Morgan James Publishing, I have watched our authors and they are happy with my colleagues and how their books get through the system and into the marketplace. Several years ago New York Times bestselling author Jerry B. Jenkins interviewed me for his writers guild. Weve known each other many years and spoke during our conversation about the details of Morgan James. Jerry affirmed that the company operates with integrity and distinction in the publishing world. Follow this link to watch our interview.  

Authors have many options to publish their books. Even when I ask for a submission, some authors dont submit it--which is the first step in the exploration process. Ive had other authors interrupt my presentation about Morgan James and disconnect without hearing the entire program--which in my view is not a good reaction. 

Authors have many choices for their books. I encourage you not to believe the lies which are out there without gathering the facts. Every author should explore your options and listen  to the possibilities, look over the contract--then make a decision.

I understand this article is a bit of a rant but for me it is an important responsibility for every author. After you explore your options, seize one and move forward. We live in one of the greatest times in human history--but only if you take actions on what crosses your path. Let me know what you think in the comments below. 


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