Sunday, June 16, 2024

The Necessity of Continual Pitching

By Terry Whalin @terrywhalin

I would love for writing assignments, speaking opportunties and many other aspects of the publishing world to just appear in my email or on my phone. While Ive worked in this business for many years, it is rare that anyone approaches me about teaching or speaking or podcasting or writing or anything else. Instead everything that I want to get published involves continued pitching.

In this article, I want to show you what I do as an author, writer, journalist or speaker and encourage you to follow follow a similar well-worn path. 

Read Widely and Watch for Opportunity

I read books, print magazines, and numerous online publications. Also I subscribe to newsletters and blogs. When I get these publications, I read them (sometimes skim). As I read, Im looking for opportunities or needs that I can take action and help the author but also expand the opportunities for my books and my work in publishing. As you read, look for changes--new editors, retiring editors, editors and agents changing roles. These shifts are often opportunities because in this new role, that person is looking for new people to write or publish or whatever skill is involved with their company. 

A Practical Example

In recent months, I have recorded two different podcasts with an author about two different books. In each case, I sent this podcaster a list of possible questions and a signed copy of the book. Then when the podcast was edited and appeared on the site, I have promoted this podcast a number of times. From my reading about others, some of these actions are different from others. Many people dont furnish a list of suggested questions which means more work for the podcast host. Also they dont mail a physical and signed copy of their book. Finally when the podcast interview goes live, they dont promote the interview. 

This author / podcaster noticed my actions and wanted to do something to help me. He introduced me to three different podcasters in my topic area which could be a fit for their podcast. In each case, the podcaster sent me their calendar link and I offered suggested questions and mailed a signed copy of the book that we were discussing on the show. 

Ive recorded these three shows but none of them have been launched--yet. With one podcaster, she asked if I would be willing teach an online class to her writers group. I agreed and have this workshop on my schedule. Another podcaster expressed interest in a return visit to her show and talking about a different book and topic. I noticed the opportunity and Im working to get that second show scheduled and on our calendars.  

None of these actions are complicated but as an author, I have to be listening for the opportunities, then seize them and get them on my schedule. 

As an author, there are many possibilities for your work but you have to be listening for them, then when you hear an opportunity, seize it and follow-up. 

Learn to Create the Response Tools

Within the publishing world, every writer needs to learn to create the various pitching tools such as a query letter, a book proposal, a pitch letter, a news release and a suggested list of interview questions. 

Its not complicated the create these pitching tools then when you get some interest or opportunity, follow-up on it. The follow-up could be to write and deliver whatever you pitched or simply a follow-up to make sure the other person received it. Using the gentle follow-up doesnt push the other person toward saying no or a rejection. 

Whats Your Action Plan?

Your goal and desire may be completely different from mine but whatever your goal, you still need to continually pitch. As you consistently pitch, you create a steady stream of opportunity and potential additional writing work. If you arent continually pitching, then you will suddenly face a period where little is happening in your writing life. When you hit this silent period, I encourage you to return to the basics and do more pitching.

Its also critical to continue to expand your network and reading as you look for opportunities. For example, LinkedIN will often suggest people for new connections. Take a look at those suggestions and if they make sense, then connect with these individuals and expand your connections. 

Continual pitching is a necessity for every published author and the awareness of opportunities. They are everywhere--whether thumbing through a market guide or using google to find more podcasts to pitch. Your continual actions is a critical part of this process.

What steps are you taking to pitch your ideas and your writing? If Im missing some aspect or you have another aspect, let me know in the comments. 


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Sunday, June 09, 2024

How To Get Free Books

By Terry Whalin @terrywhalin

I love books--whether they are brand new, forthcoming or older books. Ive been in publishing for decades but Ive not written in these articles about the details of how to get free books and what to do with them when you receive them.

Authors and publishers need reviews yet you dont have to buy those books to get them. I write reviews about books that Ive purchased or checked out from my local library. If you love a print copy of the book in this article, Im going to give you the details about how to get these books. This process is a basic because Ive been in publishing for decades, I assumed others know this basic. Im going to correct this assumption with this article. Through the years, I’ve written over 1,000 Amazon reviews and over 800 reviews on Goodreads. Also I’ve written many print magazine book reviews. 

My title for this article includes an exaggerated word (Free). The books are not really free whether they come from the author, a publicist or a publisher because they have been sent to you with a spoken or unspoken commitment. Because you requested this book, you are promising to write an honest book review about it.

You Ask For The Book

Within the world of book promotion, a print copy of the book from the author or publisher is one of the least expensive promotion tools--especially compared to other promotions like paid ads, print materials and other promotions. The easiest way to get a copy of the book is to ask the author or the publisher. Some people read electronic books on NetGalley. I have rarely used this system. I spend hours looking at my computer and phone. I do not like to read ebooks and prefer to receive a print copy. I can mark key passages and quotes in the print book. Your preference may be different.

As a writer, you want to be known as someone who does what they say they will do--i.e. write a review because many people who receive the book dont post their reviews. If you do write then post your review, you will be the exception and easily stand out to the author and the publisher. 

Join Launch Teams

Another way to read new books before they release is to join a launch team. You will help other authors in this process and learn some of the behind the scenes details about book promotion. There is one caveat with launch teams. In recent years since the pandemic, publishers do not print as many advance reading copies nor sent out print copies to launch teams. You will likely get an ebook version or access to NetGalley and have to read the electronic version. I like and appreciate launch teams and do participate in a few of these efforts.

The Importance of The Release Date

I encourage you to be aware of the release date for a book you are going to review. Books launch on a Tuesday whether online or brick and mortar bookstores. You can write your review on Goodreads but not before the release date on Amazon or another online website (unless you are a part of a special group within those websites). 

In general, the closer you can write and post your review to this release date, the more positive attention you will get from the author and the publisher. These early reviews are important and appreciated. Ive read that 90% of people who purchase a product online have read a review before they buy it. This fact is one of the critical reasons you want to encourage and gather reviews for your book as well as others. I have a free teleseminar about book reviews. Follow this link to have access

When You Get The Book

I have written the details about how to write a book review. I encourage you to develop your own pattern and style for these reviews. If you havent written reviews, then use a template to get going on your review.     
After You Read The Book

In general, I write my reviews in a Word file. Then I cut and paste this review on Goodreads as well as Amazon. At times I review it a third time on BarnesAndNoble.com but not every time. As Ive written in these articles, I use MockUp Shots where I have a lifetime access with my reviews to create a unique image and add that image to my review. Also I use the image on social media when I promote my review (and the book). Finally I show the author or the publisher or the publicist, my published review on Goodreads and Amazon or anywhere else. I send the permanent link along with a sample of my promotion of my review. This final process shows this professional that I have completed what I promised and builds integrity and trust that I will do it in the future.

Just so you know, no one pays me to write these reviews and I do it on my free time. I receive many more books to read than there are hours in the day (even if I was doing it fulltime). In some cases, I dont get the book read or reviewed. In general I have a good track record in this area. You can develop the same sort of reputation, if you do it consistently. 

What process do you use to get books for reviews? Am I missing something from the process? Let me know in the comments. 


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Sunday, June 02, 2024

Writing Mind Games

By Terry Whalin @terrywhalin

Is there a best time for your writing? Are you a morning person or a night owl and how does that affect your writing? Do you need some perfect environment to be able to write? Do you play music in the background or have to be out at a coffee shop or in complete silence? 

Many writers are playing mind games when it comes to the answers to such questions. In this article, I want to dispel some of these misconceptions of the mind and encourage you to take a different mindset and action strategy.

Some people feel like they cant write on their current project until they get in the perfect place and environment. Their pencils have to be sharp and the surrounding atmosphere has to be right. Maybe you like writing on your home computer in silence or you prefer being at a busy coffee shop tucked into a back corner with your laptop and a cup of your favorite drink. 

Many writers set a specific word count goal for their work in progress to make sure they hit their deadlines and produce what their editor is asking from them. I like the word count strategy and have used it a number of times when Im in production on a book project. The issue is what happens when something is off from your expectations. Do you still manage to write or does it throw you off track? 

For my writing life, my mindset in these situations is critical.  I began writing for publication in high school, then trained as a journalist in college. For the college newspaper, we wrote our stories in a busy room with about 30 manual typewriters and shoulder to shoulder with someone else writing their story. I spent one summer working as an intern in the city room of a local newspaper. Reporters were talking on the phone and sometimes shouting at each other. In the middle of it, we were charged to write our stories and meet deadlines. From this experience, I learned a valuable lesson: I can write anywhere. Its a trick of the mind to tell you that you cant write in a less than perfect situation. 

Because I learned to type on a manual typewriter, Ive always been hard on my keyboards where I spend a lot of time every day. In fact, the several frequently used letters on the keyboard wear off because of my extensive use of them. About once a year, Ive been replacing the keyboard on my desktop computer. 

I often write in my office on my desktop computer and without any background music. I admit it is a simple environment. Ive written in coffee shops, in airports, in airplanes, in hotel rooms and many other locations inside and outside. Whether I crank out a number of pages or just a few paragraphs or phrases of things which I will write, there is one consistent fact: I put my fingers on the keyboard and move them cranking out words. In this process, I set aside any mind questions about whether I can do it or not or whether it will be productive or the right words. Instead of answering these questions of the mind, I simply tell my stories and write.  This process has served me well through the years because Ive written for numerous publications and many books. 

In past entries, Ive mentioned using my Alpha Smart 2000 which I bought on Ebay for about $20. When Jerry B. Jenkins interviewed me, I mentioned using this tool and he had not heard of it. Follow this link to hear my 35-minute interview. The Alpha Smart is a full-size keyboard and holds about 150 pages of words. Some of my novelist friends will use it on their back porch or in their local library or any number of other places. Its old technology and works on three AA batteries. You never lose anything and can simply write. When you get to your laptop or desktop, you hook up the Alpha Smart to your computer, open a Word file and push the send button. Yes, it is that simple. 

How do you stop your mind games about where and when you should write? Let me know in the comments. 


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