Sunday, April 28, 2024

Unfulfilled Dreams (And How to Move Forward)

By Terry Whalin

Do you have dreams and plans for your future which have not happened? Its true in my life and work in the publishing community. I have books to write, places to speak, articles to write and pitch, authors that I want to get into print and much more. In this article, I want to give you some ideas about unfinished dreams, how to handle them and keep moving forward to achieve them. As I go through some of my unfulfilled dreams, I encourage you to think about your own writing life and the things you have not accomplished but still want to complete.

--I have authors who have submitted their work to Morgan James and I need to process and move it forward. Working for a New York publisher as Ive been doing for the last 12 years, there is an internal process to follow and Im the person to drive these authors and get them a book contract.
--I have meetings to set up with these authors and move their submission ahead in the process.
--I have to make follow-up calls and emails to authors who have received a contract yet not made a decision about whether to sign it or not.
--I have many other unfulfilled tasks and dreams for the authors Ive brought into the publishing house and need to encourage.

As a writer and author:
--I have several books that Id like to write and publish. The stories are mostly in my mind and not on paper (not a good thing). 
--I have books that need need to get in front of more people to help them know about them and purchase them. 
--I have articles to pitch and write for various publications--in print and online.
--I have stories from others that I want to help get into print and into the world.

As an online marketing author:
--I have websites and products that I need to do more promotion and reach different audiences with them.
--I have some websites and online courses which are not working properly and need correction.
--I have online websites Ive purchased and not built or launched the planned products on them.
--There are many more elements I could add here but you get the idea of the unfinished business.

As a learner:
--I have online training courses (some of them an expensive investment) which I have not heard or used.
--I have training that I have read or heard yet not applied the information to my marketing and writing life. I know getting the information is only the first step but the real work is in the implementation.

As an author:
--I have books from other authors and publishers that I have not read nor written reviews.
--I have books that I want to learn from but haven't read nor applied to my life. 
--I have audiobooks that I plan to hear and learn from the information.

As a person:
--I need to get outside and increase my movement or exercise for my health.
--I need to drink more water and better monitor my food intake.
--I need to become a better listener and increase my love and devotion to God and my family.

Even if you skim this lengthy list of unfulfilled dreams, you can see there are large numbers involved.

How to Move Forward

While I work hard on these different tasks and goals, I'm realistic and understand that I end each day with unfinished tasks. My method is to keep inching my various tasks forward. Some of them will be more rapid than others but every day I keep chipping away at the various unfulfilled dreams.

None of us can predict our future, our health, the lives of our family and much more. Each of us have the same 24 hours in a day and cant go back and redo yesterday. Instead we have to seize each day with celebration and gratitude. What is your way forward for your unfulfilled dreams? Let me know in the comments below.


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Sunday, April 21, 2024

A Different Author Strategy

A Different Author Strategy

By Terry Whalin

Some publishing experts estimate 1,000 new books are published every day. This estimate includes the self-published books and it can be overwhelming when you consider the volume of print material which is entering the world. 

How can an author standout, be different and sell books? In this article, I want to give some strategy ideas and action steps. Upfront, I will tell you each of these methods are not quick and easy. They require effort and work to sell books. 

As you read and study the path of other authors, you need to understand success leaves traces. If you study the details of the success of others, you can discover the path for your own success and sales of your book. First, you have to gather some basics. What type of book are you writing? In general the techniques and path for a childrens book will be different from a novel from a nonfiction self-help book. Each of these types will often follow a different strategy and path to sell their books.

Several years ago I interviewed an author friend who self-published a nonfiction book. In the creation process, he created a book which was well-written with an attractive cover. He crafted the back cover copy and made sure there was a publishing logo on the spine and the barcode on the back was perfect. This friend paid attention to the details as he self-published and produced a book which when placed along side any other book would be accepted. Many people self-publish but they slip on these production details. 

This author targeted book sales to libraries. The American Library Association says there are over 123,000 libraries in the United States. He located a list of these libraries with the phone numbers. For several hours every day, he called the libraries, introduced himself and had a brief pitch for his book. He got the librarian interested in his book, got their name and with their consent, mailed a book with an invoice. It took hours of work and the development of a plan and execution of that plan, but he sold thousands of books in this process.  If you want more of the details, I have this interview in the extra products when you purchase my 10 Publishing Myths book. This strategy to sell books worked for this author and you could learn from his success.

I follow the teaching and stories from book marketing expert John Kremer, author of 1001 Ways to MarketYour Book. Recently he made a bold claim encouraging authors to make up to $150,000 before your book is published! The strategy of pre-sales is one every author can learn about and practice.

If you have published or plan to publish a childrens book, then look at the information and actions in this section from John Kremer. As with the other strategies in this article, you can learn and then implement the practices for your books. 

Have you heard of bestselling novelist Terry McMillan who has several movies including Waiting to Exhale and How Stella Got Her Groove Back. As John Kremer said, Her first novel was published by a large New York publisher, but they didnt do much with it. This was in 1987. They sent out press releases. They sent out some review copies. But Terry was a first-time novelist, so media didnt care. Nothing much happened. How did Terry turn around this experience? John gives the details in the Rule of 3,000. McMillan handwrote personal letters to 3,000 bookstores. It was a huge commitment of time and energy but it got attention and paid off. Few authors would make this sort of effort but it launched a bestselling novelist. Maybe you want to follow this path for your book.

John wrote some additional details saying, “The response was so great that she ended up doing a 39-city book tour. Her efforts gained her plenty of rave reviews for her book as well as two reprintings in six weeks. Thats a major success for a first-time novelist. Her publisher got behind her once they saw that the book was selling, and it was worth reprinting again and again. The key point to this story is not who Terry sent letters to, but how many letters she sent. Its a numbers game, and what happens with most authors, even though Ive told them this story many times, is that they ignore this crucial advice. Write a lot of emails.”

One of my Morgan James Publishing authors published a personal story with a tie to the pro-life issue. She mailed 1,000 copies of her book to Crisis Pregnancy Centers around the United States. The effort was a financial and time investment in her book. One of the keys for her success will be the strategy behind it. Did she offer bulk sales to these places and how is she following up on the mailing? Each of these strategies have different details which are important for them to succeed. 

My encouragement is for you to learn about these different author strategies for selling and marketing your book. Try some of them and see if they work for you. If they work, then do it some more. If not, then press on to another one. There is not one path to success but many paths and as an author you have to select the one for you. If there was a single path, every book would be a bestseller. Instead we know some books have dismal sales and others succeed. 

My encouragement is to try a different author strategy to sell your book and keep doing it over and over until you find success. Is there another strategy that you have used to successfully sell books? Let me know in the comments.

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Sunday, April 14, 2024

Why Social Media Is Important

By Terry Whalin

When writers begin to submit to book publishers, they are often surprised with the questions about social media and their specific numbers on various platforms. Isnt social media a waste of time? I often hear this waste of time push back from writers about social media. In addition, Ive read other articles from those inside publishing who say social media does not sell books. In this article, I want to give a series of reasons and insights why every writer needs to be on social media yet also control their time on it so it is productive and not wasted.

At first glance, social media looks like a huge time waster for writers. If you use it well, it can yield great connections and even book sales. Like a lot of publishing, the results for you as an author are buried in the details. 

Choose Your Platform

There are dozens of social media platforms. You want to choose the ones where your target audience is active and using. You can't be on every platform and its unproductive if you are trying to be on everything. Instead select two or three of these websites. Recently I noticed one of my author friends had dropped off Twitter/ X. When I asked her about it, she confirmed that her audience was not on this website and she had deleted her account and instead was emphasizing some other sites. I could see the wisdom in such a decision.

Complete Your Profile and Plan

After you select the sites, fill out all of the details on the profile such as photo, bio and other fields. Each one is different so look at others on the platform and learn from their actions. 

The next step is creating a consistent plan for posting on the selected platforms. Your posts should be interesting, contain an image (for visibility and to increase readability) and diverse. Have you been on radio or podcasts? Do you save those recordings on your own website? If you control them, they will not disappear. Then use those live recordings over and over to promote your book and yourself. 

Create A System and Use Tools

For years, Ive posted thousands of times on three social media sites. On average, I post 12-15 times a day. Ive created a system for myself, a plan and a pattern. As Ive mentioned in these articles I use a scheduling program called Hootsuite. The other common program is Buffer. My encouragement is to create a system which will work for you to be consistent and regular yet effective. You may decide to post three times a day or five times a week or some other schedule. Whatever number of posts that you select, be consistent and do it over and over. 

Sometimes I do not get a lot of response or engagement. It makes me wonder if anyone is reading my posts--yet I continue in my same pattern of posting. Then out of the blue, someone will reach out to me or respond to a post. Your consistency pays off.

Heres the key reason you need to share the benefits of your book over and over. Its been proven in the marketing world that someone needs to hear about your book at least seven or eight times before they purchase your book. The exposure and highlight of the benefits of your book are a part of the promotion process for your book. Heres another key fact, your publisher may place the book inside a brick and mortar bookstore (which is excellent) but if you dont encourage or drive a reader to go to the bookstore and buy your book, then eventually the book gets removed from the store and returned to the publisher. 

The average return rate for a traditional publisher is 40%. At Morgan James Publishing, most of our books are running around 15%. Last week I checked on the sales from one of my authors who is pitching a second completed novel and synopsis. Admittedly, it took a lot of this author's writing time and effort to produce a second novel manuscript. His return rate from the bookstores for the first novel was 73%! This author needs to make some radical changes in his actions to sell that first novel. If he doesnt take action, he is unlikely to get a second book contract to publish with Morgan James. Authors forget each published book is producing a sales track record. The author is the one who drives this track record through their continued promotion to readers.

Emphasize Benefits for Continued Exposure

As you create your plans to promote your book, look at your different resources. Use live radio and podcast recordings along with other resources to emphasize the benefits of your book to your readers. Also create and use different images with your books and social media posts. In these articles, Ive mentioned using Mock-up Shots for this effort. Follow the link to get lifetime access and use it for your books. Almost every day I use this tool.

Take 100% of Your Responsibility

Some of you reading these words wonder if you have to do it yourself. Couldnt you hire someone or some organization to handle your social media? There are virtual assistants and social media consultants and companies which you could handle your social media. Ive met a number of these people through the years yet Ive chosen to continue to handle it myself. Ive often written in these articles about the first principle of success: I will take 100% responsibility for my own success. The process takes regular and focused effort but is important to reach your readers and attract publishers to your work. The first step is to get the insight, wisdom and knowledge from others. For example, read my 10 Publishing Myths book and see the special offer at the end of this article. After reading it, you must take action for your own writing life. From my experience knowledge without action doesnt give any results. 

I hope Ive helped you understand why social media is important and some action steps to take for your books. What am I missing that you could add? Let me know in the comments.

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Sunday, April 07, 2024

Is It Time for Spring Cleaning?

By Terry Whalin

I love the freshness of spring. Baseball season starts. We freshen up our place from the trials of winter and plant flowers for spring along with other activities. The darkness of winter fades and we celebrate the newness of life with new growth and flowers.

As I ask in this article, is it time for spring cleaning? Ive found that the more Im organized and block different parts of my schedule, then it increases my productivity and output. As Ive mentioned in past entries, almost daily books pour into my mailbox. In general, I unpack them and put them on my bookshelf but over the last few weeks the area for this book has filled. As a part of my spring cleaning, I sorted through some books and took a hard look at each one. Do I have the time to read it? I will look at a few pages and see if the writing is going to hold my interest. If “no” is the answer to these questions, then I remove the book from my shelf and get the books ready to go to a good home elsewhere. This book sorting process is a necessity to organize my office several times a year including spring. 

Creating a Pile Doesnt Work

Like my bookshelves, I do the same evaluation process with the papers on my desk. From my experience, it doesnt work to take a piece of paper or a stapled article and put it into a pile. Instead I have developed a system to know exactly where Im keeping that article and why Im keeping it. 

I admit every author is different in this area. One of the most prolific writers was Ray Bradbury. Recently an article about Bradbury came across my screen with a photo of his office with piles of paperwork. This novelist created a different system for organization which worked for his writing life. My encouragement is for you to create a working system for how you organize your desk, paperwork, books and other tasks so you continue moving forward each day. 

If You Are Stuck in a Rut...

I have a couple of projects which have been stuck on my desk and have not moved--which is a problem if I want them to get published. Ive been stuck in a rut and proscratating on this work. I suspect you have a pitch or two which is also stuck. Spring cleaning is a great time to plot and take a new course of action. 

First determine what you want to accomplish? Do you want to increase your speaking? Do you want to sell more books? Do you want to publish more magazine articles? To achieve these goals, you have to take action and increase the amount of your pitches. Maybe you want to be on more podcasts or radio shows? These programs can be an effective way to sell more books and dont require travel or other elements. The key to booking a radio broadcast or a podcast is pitching to the decision maker?  Craft your pitch and even use a pitch template from someone else if you need some ideas. Then get these pitches into the world. 

When you pitch, you will get turned down (rejected). This process happens to all of us including me. As Ive written in these articles in the past, you are looking for the right fit and this process involves getting a number of rejections before you get acceptance. Learn what you need to do from others, then continually pitch. It sounds simple but takes consistent effort for it to actually happen. 

When You Havent Received a Response

Spring is a great time of year to do follow-up work where your pitches went into a black hole without a response. Did the other person receive the pitch? As editors and agents, we lose things and they get stuck in our email and never processed. I encourage you to use the gentle follow-up approach to prod that other person. Many writers are afraid to follow-up then they wonder why nothing is happening. One of the critical steps for every writer is to follow-up. 

Heres some other ideas and approaches for your spring cleaning:
Each of these actions will take effort on your part as a writer but could yield great results. As Ive written in the past, it will not fly if you dont try and try on a consistent basis. 

Each of us have the same amount of time or 24 hours. How you use that time will affect your results. Is it time for you to take some spring cleaning actions? Let me know in the comments.

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