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Sunday, April 13, 2014


Why Words Are Magic

Dennis Welch knows the right words can be magic. The challenge for anyone who writes is selecting the right words. In this hurry-up-and-get-it-out world, "SO...WHAT ARE YOU SAYING?" is a clarion call to choose your words with care.

In places, the storytelling and writing in these pages is laugh-out-loud funny. Yes, I laughed as I read several of the stories--a real testament to the craft inside this little book. The lessons for any writer or communicator are profound. Read this book with a highlighter so you can return to the messages and think about them again and again. 

To give you an example of the insights in this book, I’m going to excerpt a few words from one of the final sections called “How You Can Make Magic.” Dennis gives a key principle, “Don’t rush unless you have to.” He writes, “Look, I know everybody is in a hurry. Hardly anybody sits down to write anything for fun. You probably have a reason why you need to communicate more clearly and more effectively. And, you probably have a deadline. You’re not doing this for your health.”

“We live in a fast-paced, get-it-done-yesterday environment, and the biggest danger we fast is speeding along and just getting stuff done so we can mark it off our list.”


“Huge mistake.”


“Take your time. Think through your message. Plan out your writing time, if you can, to allow for some breathing room. Write it down, and then go back later and re-read it with fresh eyes. Check the taxonomy and the tone. I heard someone say once it’s hard to read the label when you’re inside the bottle. That happens a lot. You’re an expert and you use those terms every day in your work and life. But, are you writing to the uninitiated or someone who’s never heard of this stuff (but should)?”


“We all have blind spots as writers. Take the time to let someone else look it over if you can.” (Page 127)


I gave one little snippet of the type of wisdom packed into this little volume. I've got shelves of how-to-write books. In fact, I've given away many more boxes of how-to-write books that aren't on my shelves but I've read through the years. "SO...WHAT ARE YOU SAYING?" is among the best of these books. There are simple, profound insights that are worth reading repeatedly. Dennis Welch has written what I hope turns into a classic. I highly recommend this book.


In fact, I encourage you to get a copy for yourself and a second one to pass to a writer friend. They will appreciate your thoughtful gift.

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Thursday, April 10, 2014


Read the Fine Print

I subscribe to a number of magazines and read them cover to cover. Admittedly I will skim parts of them but I learn a great deal in this process which is a regular part of my reading life. 

I'm one of millions of subscribers to Readers Digest magazine. For many years I've faithfully read this publication. In the January issue, I was drawn to A full color ad and the words, “Love to Write? Pursue Your Passion with LifeRich Publishing and Reader's Digest.” I scanned my page and have included it with this article. 

The page was positioned near the front of the magazine near the index to catch a lot of attention. Because I'm constantly reading about publishing and had never heard about LifeRich Publishing, I read a little closer. 

Then I located the publishing connection—see the second image that I'm including which says, “The Reader's Digest Association Inc and Author Solutions LLC.”



In the next few months, I'm almost certain to meet authors who will claim they have been published by Reader's Digest through LifeRich Publishing. It is the same way writers will claim they have been published by Thomas Nelson through WestBow or Lifeway through CrossBooks or Guideposts through Inspiring Voices

There are at least 20 different company names for the various Author Solutions companies. I've met numerous authors who have paid $8,000 to $20,000 to these publishers and have many books in their garage. The authors who took this leap did not read the fine print of their agreement. 

These companies are only online—i.e. no book placed inside brick and mortar bookstores. Yes there are some exceptions but of the thousands of titles they are producing each year, it is only online sales.
 
I have written about this issue in the past. Make sure you carefully read this Publisher's Weekly article from 2012. Notice this sentence in the article about their employees, “Its workforce totals 1,565 full-time employees with by far the greatest number, 1,215, located at its facilities in the Philippines which handles not only production but sales and marketing as well.”
 
The volume of books these Author Solutions companies are producing is staggering. Just check out this article from 2011 which shows they produced over 47,000 titles (yes different books). These numbers have only increased in the last few years.
 
Recently I heard Mark Coker, the CEO of Smashwords speak at the San Francisco Writers Conference. He said, “Author Solutions has put the capital V in Vanity Publishing.” Coker was talking about the cost of publishing for authors and how they are paying these various Author Solutions companies with very little return on their investment. There is a reason that Penguin purchased Author Solutions for over $116 million. Large amounts of money here but not necessarily beneficial for the authors.
 
Last fall, I wrote an article about how authors can avoid being cheated. I raised a series of questions that many authors never ask when they are considering publishing. If more people ask the questions, they will be wiser about what they are doing. It grieves me to see authors spend a great deal of money with the expectation their book is going to sell and become a bestseller—yet in reality they haven't asked enough questions or the right questions to make an informed business decision.
 
Yes publishing a book with anyone is a business decision. Ask lots of questions to make sure you make the right decision.

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Saturday, April 05, 2014


The Power of Consistency

If you want to get your writing published, are you consistently working at that goal? From interviewing more than 150 bestselling author, many authors set a specific word count they want to produce in a day or a week. With this goal firmly in place, they sit in their chair and put their fingers on the keyboard and crank out words toward their goal. There is immense power in working toward a goal on a consistent basis.

If you want to write a novel, then you need to be writing ___ words a day consistently for __ days to achieve this goal. 

If you want to be published in magazines, then you need to be writing query letters to editors and pitching your ideas on a regular basis. Then when an editor gives you the assignment, you consistently write excellent material and return it on their deadline.


If you want to write a nonfiction book, then you need to create a riveting proposal which captures the attention of literary agents or editors. A good proposal isn't created in a single session but takes time and energy to craft one.


If you want to build your social media presence in the marketplace, then you need to consistently work at growing your Facebook friends or increasing your twitter followers. I've written about my methods to do this in the past. It is one of the reasons that in the past few days I've gone over 100,ooo twitter followers. I've worked at this goal on a regular basis.


Besides working to increase my numbers, I'm also delivering good content to my twitter followers and my Facebook friends and my LinkedIn connections.


At a recent writers conference, I met with a writer who thanked me for the good content that I put on my twitter feed. She had noticed that it was consistently worth reading. I appreciated this feedback. It is true that I do not spend a great deal of time on what I post on twitter—but I am consistent. It's why I've tweeted almost 18,000 times since the summer of 2008. There is power in consistency.


If you want to be selling your book to people and having them talk about it, then you need to be consistently working to build a larger audience and get in front of people and the media. Whatever your goal, I encourage you to follow what Jack Canfield calls The Rule of Five. In this short video (less than two minutes), Jack explains the rule and how it will help you tap into the power of consistency to accomplish your goals and dreams.



Consistency doesn't have to take a lot of time but the results will add up for you. Eventually you will achieve your goals if you take regular and consistent action.


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Saturday, March 29, 2014


Get My Personal Insights At These Events

Throughout my years in publishing, some of my greatest insights have come from attending a small group seminar. In this environment, you can:


  • gain personal insights from the instructor
  • have the opportunity to ask specific questions
  • receive the attention of the instructor for your needs
 
Your relationships in the publishing community are key and I hope you are continuing every day to build those relationships through tools like Twitter and Facebook. You never know when one of those relationships will be important to you and move you forward in your publishing life. 

In the next few weeks, I'm holding two events that will provide you with this type of opportunity.

First, I'm teaching a four-hour workshop on How to Jumpstart Your Publishing Dreams. It will be held in Irvine on Wednesday, April 23rd. The topic goes with the updated version of my book, Jumpstart Your Publishing Dreams. I will be giving at least a dozen different ways for you to propel forward your publishing life. 

Second, I'm teaching a two-hour workshop on Go Viral: Making Sense of the Social Media Networks. It will also be held in Irvine on Wednesday, May 14th. Social media does not have to consume massive amount of time but it is something you have to tackle consistently to grow your target audience. I've got almost 100,000 followers on Twitter and large numbers on other social networks. I'm going to give you my step-by-step insights during this workshop. You will leave with an action plan for your social media.

These workshops are not for everyone. In fact the room only holds ten people. Talk about some personalized attention! 

Each of these workshops are backed up with my “no questions asked” money-back guarantee. I hope to see you at one or both of these events.

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Friday, March 28, 2014


Be The Exception



This past weekend I was speaking in Spokane, Washington at the Inland Northwest Christian Writers Conference. It was my first time at this terrific event and the fourth year for this conference. 

Besides giving a couple of workshops, I met throughout the day with various writers to speak with them about their book projects and to guide them about what they can do next to achieve their dreams.

I love this opportunity to hear about different books and help them learn more publishing. I heard about some wonderful books for different target audiences. In each case, I gave the author my business card and encouraged them to send me their material so we can consider publishing it at Morgan James. While I know our program isn't right for every author, our company has many unique benefits which I stressed during the meetings.
 
I've been meeting with authors at these conferences for years and here's what I understand: few of these authors will carry through and actually send me their material. If they do, then they will be the exception. I'm actively looking for terrific authors that I can champion to my publication board and get them a book contract. For the last two years, I've been sending contracts to authors almost every week.
 
Yes we receive many submissions at Morgan James (over 5,000 each year) and less than 3% of those submissions are actually contracted and published. It's a long shot for every author—but here's the reality: you can't get published if you don't send in your proposal or part of your manuscript. You have to take action as an author to achieve your dreams.
 
During the conference, I saw a woman who looked familiar. Over a year earlier, we had met at the Seattle conference and talked about her book idea. She reminded me of the idea and I expressed my continued interest to champion this author and her idea.
 
“What happened to your book?,” I asked.
 
“Oh, life got in the way and I haven't sent it anywhere,” she admitted.
 
This sort of situation happens much more frequently than you would think. People are amazed at my number of published books (over 60) or the number of magazines that I've had articles published (over 50–-I stopped counting a long time ago).
 
This type of publishing success does not come from being the best writer in the room or the most skilled communicator. I am persistent and I do follow through on the open doors. If an editor says to me, “That's a good idea. Write that up and send it to me.” Then I take that editor's statement at face value for the opportunity. I go home, write up the material and send it to the editor.
 
Yes I get rejected and not every one of my submissions get published. Rejection is a part of the process of finding the right opportunity at the right time at the right place. Yes a number of rights need to line up for that opportunity to happen.
 
You can't get published simply cranking out the material on your computer and leaving it there. You have to take action and follow-through and send it to the editor. If you do this simple step, you will be the exception and give yourself the best possible chance for success.
 
You have to do the work and craft an excellent manuscript. Writing is hard work and takes a lot of effort from you as an author. But you have to take one more step—connect with an editor and follow-through on what they requested.
 
I'm hoping you will be one of those authors in the small percentage who actually send in their material and get their books into print. It is possible for you if you will be the exception.

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Sunday, March 02, 2014


Affirmation from Peers

While there are many different awards in Hollywood, the pinnacle of achievement in the motion picture industry is to receive an Oscar. That little gold statue is highly prized because the affirmation comes from peers. While there are other awards which are appreciated, the award from industry professionals makes a huge difference.

Watching this process, I started thinking about what equivalent we have in the book publishing world. In some ways, when an author get his book listed on the New York Times list, that is something they carry with them throughout their career. They are introduced as “a New York Times bestselling author.”

Ok, that is great for authors but what about publishers? The reality is that many readers aren't even aware of who published a particular book. They recall the author and the title of the book but don't remember who published it. As someone in the publishing world, I do look at a book to see who published it and if it is a publisher that I know or not.


In the publishing world, Publishers Weekly is the news magazine publishing professionals, authors, librarians and booksellers read to follow the world of books. In this week's issue (which I haven't received in the mail yet since it takes longer), Publishers Weekly compiled a list of the fast-growing independent publishers. Morgan James Publishing was the seventh publisher on the small list of 11 different companies.


For almost two years, I've been working as an acquisitions editor at Morgan James. It was exciting and an affirmation from our peers to make this small list. You can read the complete article called Shaking It Up (follow the link). The online version looks a bit different from the magazine version. You can see the magazine version here.


It has been exciting and fun for me to help other authors get their books into the bookstores through my work at Morgan James. I explained many details about Morgan James in this article or this one. You can download these interviewed to your computer and listen to them.


This coming week I will be with some of my colleagues from Morgan James at Author 101 University in Los Angeles. I look forward to meeting with many new writers at this conference. If you can't make this event, then I hope to see you at the Author 101 University in the fall (October 23–26). The fall event will also be in Los Angeles at the Westin Hotel—right down the street from the Los Angeles airport.


Many times we receive little affirmation from our peers in the publishing world. I'm celebrating that Morgan James has made this list of the Fastest-Growing Indie Publishers.

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Saturday, March 01, 2014


At 110, Let's Mark a Dr. Seuss Milestone


It has never been my writing gift to write rhyming verse. This talent is especially important for children's books. The man who wrote The Cat in the Hat and other children's classics, Dr. Theodor Seuss Geisel would have turned 110 tomorrow (Sunday, March 2nd).

As a child, I loved Dr. Seuss' sixth book, McElligot's Pool and asked my mother to read it over and over until she almost couldn't read it again. 

Each morning I read The Orange County Register and in Friday's newspaper, they had a beautiful illustration of Dr. Seuss celebrating his publishing life and his 110th birthday. Thankfully I found it saved as a PDF when I searched online. Make sure you follow this link to see the full effect.

Many beginning writers have this mistaken idea that they can sit down and in a few minutes whip out a children's book. From my years in this business, it's rare for anyone to write a quick children's book. Instead every word in these books is a labor of love and carefully selected and crafted to work.

Today I want to celebrate the gift and talent of Dr. Theodor Seuss Geisel and the way his work continues to be something which children love and demand be read to them over and over. How many times have you read Go Dog Go or Green Eggs and Ham?

What is your favorite Dr. Seuss book?

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