Sunday, February 25, 2024

Missed Opportunities

By Terry Whalin 

As writers and others involved in publishing, I believe we live in one of the greatest times in human history. Markus Dohle, the former CEO of Penguin Random House wrote a couple of years ago about books are now enjoying their biggest renaissance since Johannes Gutenberg invented the printing press in the fifteenth century. I was on a webinar listening to Dohle where he made this statement and gave his reasons. If you follow the link, you can see a webinar where he talks about the explosion in book publishing around the world.  

In my own life and work, Im finding great opportunities for my writing and other aspects of my work. Recently I was on a zoom call with a writer and an agent. During this call the writer talked about his new podcast and offered the agent and myself, the opportunity to be on his podcast. I appreciated this offer, made a note and a bit later, followed up with an email. In my email, I pitched my topic which was tied to one of my books. The writer sent a link to his calendar and we recorded the podcast recently. One of these days I will get a notice about when the recording will be published. Im including this story as an example of how we are surrounded with such opportunities. They can slip through our fingers and never happen--unless we take action and pitch.

As a part of my work at Morgan James Publishing, I get leads of authors who are pitching their work. For anything to happen, I have to craft an email and encourage these authors to submit their work, get into the consideration process and possibly get a Morgan James contract. When I sent this series of emails asking for submissions, some people respond right away and others do not respond. 

A week or so after sending a series of these email requests, one of these writers called me. She looked at our website and was interested in possibly submitting to me. On our website, we clearly say that our process includes a financial commitment from the author to purchase their own books--during the lifetime of their book. Her question to me was a good one, “Do you work with authors who are cash poor and dont have those funds?”

“Yes,” I responded then told her about a creative way to raise the money. Morgan James Publishing has their own branded version of a program called Publishizer. Its like a GoFundMe or KickStarter campaign but Publishizer is only for book authors. Heres an example of one of my authors who raised the funds for her book using Publishizer. As we spoke about it, this author caught the vision of how she could use this tool to raise the funds for publishing and marketing her book. I admit it will take some additional creative effort for the author to create such a campaign, market it, then succeed with it. 

After my call, I followed up and sent this author some detailed information so she could explore the possibilities. Currently I have not heard anything additional from this author. I have not received her submission or anything else to move forward through the Morgan James process. Im hopeful that she will still send it but if not, it is another missed opportunity. 

Any author can publish their book through Amazon, which is a big customer for Morgan James but only 24% of our overall business. If you publish with Amazon, you are missing 76% of where we sell books, which are being sold in 98% of the bookstores in North America including the brick and mortar bookstores. 

Many authors miss their opportunity when they dont submit their material. Others miss their opportunity to publish with a traditional publisher and are impatient to get their work into the market. These authors self-publish and essentially eliminate any traditional publisher. The only exceptional authors who dont get eliminated in this process are the ones who are wildly successful selling their own book like The Shack. Thousands failed yet The Shack succeeded. 

There are many other opportunities that I miss because I didnt craft a pitch to a radio station or a podcast. Another way I miss opportunities is through a lack of follow-up. In fact, many writers will submit their work and not use the gentle follow-up to get an update on their submission. 

As Ive written in these articles, a key part of the publishing process is finding the right fit. It is not an easy or simple business. The author has to work to find the right connection and not miss the opportunity.

Several weeks ago, a publicist reached out to me about a new book from Joyce Meyer called The Pathway To Success. She complimented my reviews on Goodreads and asked if I would like to read this book. Yes, I responded with my mailing address and I received the book. Ive been reading it and learned a great deal. Heres my review of it. Even for a much published author like Joyce Meyer, she has faced rejection and adversity on the pathway to success. 

Each week, I get rejected. Yes, things that I pitched are not answered (rejection). Contracts that I send to authors are turned down and other events that I try fail. In the face of rejection, I have two choices. I can wallow in my disappointment and quit. Or I can renew my determination and keep knocking on new doors for some additional opportunities. If I stop, it will become a missed opportunity. Its a strange juxtiposition but Ive learned failure and success are a part of the journey and necessary if you dont want to miss an opportunity. 

How do you handle the opportunities that are coming your way? Are you missing them or do you have another strategy? Let me know in the comments below.


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Sunday, February 18, 2024

Invest In Your Writing

By Terry Whalin 

Many editors and agents are difficult to reach. These gatekeepers play an important role in the publishing community. This aspect of publishing is rarely discussed but your connection to this person is important aspect of publishing. As Ive written in these articles, every author needs a champion for their submission. 

As a new writer, how can you connect with these important gatekeepers? Many publishers dont take electronic or mail submissions which is sometimes called a slush pile. They are not on LinkedIN or interested in developing new connections. These professionals are busy with their current books and authors. Its the same story with the literary agents and often more difficult to get their attention much less to have them represent your work. In fact, its rare for them to sign a new author. 

If you want to break into the publishing business, what are your options? They are limited but one of the best ways to make connections with an editor or literary agent is to attend a writers conference. For many years Ive been teaching and attending various writers conferences. In detail, this article gives the reasons why you should attend a conference. At the bottom of the article, there is a link to learn about various conferences.

Next month I will be teaching at the Blue Lake Christian Writers Conference. This particular event is a smaller conference (about 100 people) which gives each person the opportunity to get to know the faculty, talk about why you want to do what you want to do, then get their ideas and input. 

I understand that attending such an event is an investment in your writing. It will cost you time and money to make this effort but it is an investment that Ive seen return many fold through my years in publishing.

I encourage you to invest in your writing and attend a conference--even plan to come to Blue Lake next month. Take the time to get prepared, select your classes and the people you want to meet at the event. Also create a business card and bring lots of them to exchange with people. Create a one-page pitch with your article idea or your book project. Then go to the event with an open heart. You never know who you will met and what door of opportunity they will open to you during your conversation. I find often what happens is not what you expect or anticipate. At these events, Ive made life-long friends who have read and reviewed my books. Ive also met editors who have called or reached out to me when they have a writing need or a project for me to tackle. These relationships often began at a writers conference. 

As writers, we spend a lot of time alone but we need each other to accomplish this work and reach others. Some of these connections happen at a writers conference. I look forward to what will happen at Blue Lake next month. I hope to see you there. In the comments below, let me know what steps you are taking to invest in your writing


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Sunday, February 11, 2024

The Consistent Writer

By Terry Whalin

Last week I picked up the phone and called a writer I met over a year and a half ago. I encouraged her to send me her material. It was not my first phone call or email to this author but in a consistent pattern since we met, Ive been reaching out. As of this writing, she hasnt sent her material. Months ago I recall reading her book proposal and seeing potential. My follow-up work has not been done in a nuisance way so she wonders about my persistence. I have had a steady pattern. This characteristic of consistency is an important one for every writer. In this article, I want to give you some ideas how to build consistency into your writing life.

First, each person needs to determine what do you want to accomplish with your writing? Do you want to increase your presence on a specific social media platform? Do you want to get more readers to your blog or your newsletter? Do you want to get more reviews for your books? Do you want to sell more books? Do you want to write more magazine articles? There are endless possibilities and questions. My point is to select something specific. 

Now with a specific writing target clearly in focus, how are you going to execute this task? From my experience the consistency comes from creating a system. For example, I post on my social media about 12 to 15 times a day. Yet I only spend about 30 minutes a day on these posts. I am consistent in this process because Ive developed a system for creating and posting my social media. Years ago I decided to post my tweets every hour throughout the working day--and not at the top of the hour but at five minutes past the hour. In a few cases each day I post at 35 minutes past the hour. Each of these posts are scheduled a planned. 

Sometimes I will post immediately and often happens when I review a book and promote the book and review. If you follow my social media stream (which some writers do because they repost and share my material), Im providing an education in publishing and the writing world--particularly if you read the various articles. My posting is a continual part of my effort to share what Im learning and also educate others on this complex and ever-changing world of publishing. Other writers, editors, agents and leaders in the publishing world are reading these actions--including these articles in The Writing Life

My results and success in publishing didnt happen overnight but happened because of my consistent action. I tried something, then adjusted the plan and then continued it--thousands of times. Im consistent because Ive created and continued my system. It is that simple and something you can do as well. 

Or maybe you want to blog each week or several times a week or once a month. Select a schedule which will work for your writing life and is something you can do over and over. I write these articles about The Writing Life once a week and have posted consistently for years. Throughout the week and often at odd times, I will have an idea for an article. I write it down and keep a running list of these ideas. During spare moments throughout my week, I will write my article. Sometimes I have it written early and other times I do it at the last minute but every time I get it done because I have developed a system.

For my blog, each entry is intentional to my particular audience with topics and labels (to help the SEO), a clear by-line who wrote it, a relevant, royalty-free image, a different image at the bottom of my blog and tied to my special offer (and if you click the image it goes to the offer), a click-to-tweet at the end of each article to help people easily pass along my writing to their audience, and many other details are included. If you want to know how to make money with your blog, I have a risk-free resource (just follow the link or click the image). Yet each detail is planned and a part of my created system which I use on a consistent basis. Because I have been blogging on a consistent basis, with millions of blogs, my blog was named as one of the top 27 content writers (which was a complete surprise to me).

Recently I received a proposal submission which was probably this writers first attempt. The submission was incomplete with a hand-drawn illustration which will likely never be published (unless the author does it herself). As an editor, I could have:

1) ignored it and not responded (a common response) 
2) scheduled it for rejection or 
3) responded 

I chose to respond to this writer and take a few minutes to send her some free resources and guidance. I have no idea if she will take my suggestions or ignore them (another choice). I recall my own early submissions and the mistakes which I made over and over. If no one helped me, I would still be unpublished. I include this story to show that each of us have things we have learned in our publishing journey. I encourage you to make the effort to pass along these lessons to others and help them. 

How can every writer become consistent? It begins with creating a system which works for you, executing your system over and over, then reworking it as needed. None of these actions happen randomly. My consistent actions and development of an ever-improving and refined system is working. What actions can you take to become a more consistent writer? Let me know what else you suggest in the comments. 


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Sunday, February 04, 2024

How to Keep Moving Up

By Terry Whalin 

Notice the tiny lady bug on a leaf. This insect uses persistence and consistency to keep climbing upward on the plant.  I see this effort as a metaphor of the same sort of continual effort we make as writers to keep in motion toward our goals and dreams for our writing. The path isnt often clear and filled with challenges and set backs. Yet the people who succeed are the ones who continue forward despite any setbacks.

My own path has been filled with false starts and stumbles along with surprises and opportunities. I began writing for magazines and was trained in newspaper journalism at a top school, Indiana University. To the surprise of my classmates, I joined Wycliffe Bible Translators out of college and spent ten years in linguistics before I returned to my writing. I started writing for magazines and learned how to craft a query along with other skills. 

At one of my first writers conferences, an editor told me about her problem then asked me if I had any ideas. I pitched and she said, “That sounds like a good idea, Terry. Write that up and send it to me.” I made a little note, went home and sent the submission. It started a chain of events which ultimately led to my first published book, When I Grow Up, I Can Go Anywhere for Jesus.

Since then Ive written many different types of books and even had two of my book proposals receive six-figure advances. I have long stories about what happened to those books and will give those details another day. While I have had many failures, Ive also succeeded with a number of writing projects. Throughout my journey, I continue to meet new people and learn from different sources. 

Last week a friend asked me if I was interested in reading her book. As Ive mentioned in these articles, publishers and author often send this question because Ive written a large number of book reviews. I turn down the majority of these books because no one could read the volume of material that pours into my home. I agreed to read WRITING FOR MONEY & MEANING

Ive read many how-to writing books (and written several of them). I have never seen anyone tell me the path and direction to move upward and increase your income and fulfillment. The detailed information and questions to ask a prospective client is something I have not found in other books.  

Every writer is trying to find the right place for their work. Publisher Julie Anne Eason has been in that place and with honesty and insight opens the door of opportunity in the pages of WRITING FOR MONEY & MEANING. She clearly says there is not one path but some essential attitudes and practices for every freelance writer. 

Many writers are looking for black and white answers to different questions related to the publishing world. Eason encourages writers to experiment, learn and find their own path. As Eason writes in the opening pages, “This book is going to give you a glimpse into dozens of ways to move your career forward.” (Page 4)

Deeper in the book, Eason writes, “Its up to you to ask the right questions and find out what their expectations are before you quote a price for your writing services. Some short books fall in the $10,000 range for your services,  while others can run into six figures for a project. That a huge range and it took me a long time to figure out how to get to those $100,000 ghostwriting contracts.” (Page 44) 

If you want to earn more money, Eason provides readers with a detailed path and questions for writers of every level. As I read the book, it stirred a cornucopia of possibilities for my own writing life. I wish I had read this book 10 or 20 years ago but it didn’t exist. The opportunity for every writer is out there. You have to read the information, ask the right questions and then seize the project. I learned a great deal reading this book and highly recommend it. 

Have you found this type of information in another source? What steps are you taking with your writing life to keep moving up? Let me know in the comments below. 


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