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Wednesday, June 25, 2014


3 things you can do today to get amazing book blurbs tomorrow


What’s worse than not making the effort to get glowing blurbs for your book before it’s published?

Not planning ahead to make sure that you get them from the most impressive and influential people possible.

While you can completely “cold call” the rock stars of your genre or industry and get cover blurbs that will make your mother proud, you’ll have a greater success rate – and work half as hard at it – if you take a few steps in advance.

Why? Because you’re more likely to get a positive response from someone who knows your name than from someone who has never heard of you.

When it’s time to ask people to write blurbs – those endorsements and testimonials you place on your book’s cover and inside front pages or on your retail sales page – you will be talking to people who “know” you instead of people who think, “Who is this person?”

Maybe you’ve been in this situation yourself before: Two people ask you for a favor. One is someone you’ve heard of and the other is a stranger. If you’re like most, you’re probably quicker to respond favorably to the person you know of than the person you don’t. That’s just human nature.

Take action now

Fortunately, you can take specific actions now so that you’re no stranger to the people you want to endorse your book in a few months. And the good news is that it’s not hard or painful.

Here are three things you can do today that will pay off when you’re ready to make that important request later.

1. Socialize online.

Connect on social media, but make sure that you’re using the right social media networks. 

Going after high-profile foodies or chefs? Look on Pinterest. Are the people who will blurb your book in the business world? Check out LinkedIn. Looking to connect with Millennials? Try Twitter, Instagram, or Tumblr.

Follow them. Retweet or share what they share. Comment on their status updates and blog posts. Use your best judgment about how much of this is enough and how much is “too much.” You don’t want the person to feel like they’re being stalked, but you do want them to learn your name. 

2. Socialize in person.

Is your dream blurber making a presentation near where you live? Attend and introduce yourself before or after. 

Compliment the speaker and presentation in a follow-up e-mail, mentioning something specific that resonated with you.

When author Minda Zetlin attended a conference featuring Tom Peters as a speaker, she was smart enough to introduce herself on site and ask if he’d write a blurb for her book. To her delight, he agreed to do it. 

“It wouldn’t have occurred to me to ask him if I hadn’t seen him speak,” she said.

Attend networking events where you might meet someone who will be an ideal endorser. Register for key conferences, seminars, and trade shows where you will meet the right people while you learn even more about your topic and audience.

3. Ask for introductions.

Do you know somebody who knows somebody who knows somebody? Ask for an in-person or virtual introduction. (This is a particularly good approach when you want blurbs from celebrities and other famous people.)

Don’t even think of leveraging the introduction to request a favor immediately, though. Help that person get a sense of who you are and what you do, first. Be generous with your time and information before ever expecting anything in return. You might send that person links to articles you think he might be interested in, or compliment her when you see she’s been quoted by the press. Notice what others do to keep you engaged with them – in a good way – and emulate that.

Add structure now that will pay off later

Do more than connect with these people you think will help you sell more books when they provide an endorsement.

Catalog or document your contacts, too, in an Excel file or a Word grid. Record their name, contact information, why they will be good “blurbers,” and how and when you’re staying in touch with them. You’ll then be able to use that documentation to your advantage later, when you ask them to write an endorsement for your book that will influence the people you know will benefit from your knowledge or story.

What’s holding you back from going after your dream endorsement?

About the author
Sandra Beckwith is an award-winning former publicist who now teaches authors how to publicize, promote, and market their books through her training programs and free “Build Book Buzz” newsletter. Sandra’s new multi-media program, “Blurbs, Endorsements, and Testimonials: How to Get Experts, Authorities, Celebrities, and Others to Endorse Your Book,” takes the guesswork, uncertainty, and mystery out of this important process and shows you how to get the blurbs of your dreams. Use coupon code BLURB before June 27 to save 33% off the already low purchase price.

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Friday, June 06, 2014


I'm Moving Back to Colorado (Again)

“Don't you live in Arizona?” a friend asked me recently. 

“No, I've been living in Southern California for the last two years,” I explained. We moved here to be near our youngest daughter. It turned out Kim had twin boys last October and added to her two year old. We've been able to help out over the last two years during a critical time in life.

I often spend my days on the phone and email speaking with different authors because of my responsibilities as an acquisitions editor at Morgan James. I was telling another author about how we were going to be moving again. She asked if I was going to have time to get together with her for breakfast or coffee. I said yes and I was speaking with this author on her Los Angeles cell number—but she was in Arizona. So we didn't get together. The two conversations showed me many people are confused about where I live.

I understand the confusion because I work for a New York publisher, I have a New York phone number and extension on my business card. Yet I have been living in Southern California. Two years ago we sold our home in Arizona and have been renting—which makes moving a bit easier. We are in the process of moving again for the third time in three years. Whew. 

Moving does strengthen your organization skills. It's fruitless to keep moving things that you don't use on a regular basis.

Our family takes a number of magazines—several of them weekly magazines. I've learned the majority of my addresses can be easily changed online. I did a google search for “Name of the magazine” + “customer service” and almost immediately I went to the right location. Entering my account number and zipcode my current address came up, then I could change it to our new address. If you are moving, I recommend you change the addresses online since it will be immediate and quicker than other methods.

We are moving to Highlands Ranch, Colorado where we have two children and five grandchildren. Other children are nearby and we will see them more often in Colorado. We've lived in Colorado Springs two other times so going back to Colorado seems familiar. Instead of Colorado Springs, we will be living in the Denver area.

Our movers will arrive tomorrow but already I've taken some public steps to change my address. First, I've changed the contact details in my LinkedIn profile. Also I've changed my location on twitter. Finally I've changed the contact page on my terrywhalin.com website.

I do not have all of my addresses changed but I have changed several of the critical ones. For example, I have a regular newsletter which reaches many people. I will not be changing that address until I reach Colorado early next week.

In the last ten years, many activities have shifted to the Internet. With the move, my work with Morgan James Publishing will continue without interruption. Thanks to email and cell phones, I'm fairly easy to reach. Here's the key: I'm reachable when I want to be reached. I can ignore a call and let the call go to voice mail then call the person back when it fits my schedule.

All too often people feel like technology drives and controls their world. In reality, technology can help you control your environment if you use the tools that you have been given. Lots of transition is in the works here. It's been ten years since we've lived in Colorado where there are distinct seasons (spring, summer, fall and winter). It is going to be exciting—and a bit disruptive for a few days but then everything will settle down.

How do you handle the transitions or moves of life? I hope you handle the changes with grace and high expectation.

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Tuesday, May 27, 2014


Watch Your Subject Lines


Over a year ago, I attended the annual American Society of Journalists and Authors Conference. I moderated a panel on how to get on the New York Times bestseller list during the conference. Because I was at the event, I was able to attend a terrific workshop from Sree Sreenivasan (@sree). He is a remarkable instructor in the area of social media and someone that I recommend you follow his wise advice. 

Sree called to our attention that a Senior Feature Writer for the New York Times has his email address in his twitter profile. Why does he publicize his email address? Sree answered, “It's because he wants to be accessible to the public and if you have a feature story idea, he wants you to be able to reach him through his email.”

I thought it was a great idea. I want to be accessible to others. During this workshop I added my email address to my twitter profile. It did make me more accessible and on a regular basis (almost daily and sometimes several times a day), I receive emails from writers who wonder what type of help I can give them. Some of them ask for a specific type of help such as in marketing or promotion. I answer each email and send them to material in my blog or free teleseminars that I've done or other resources. It does not take much of time because I have a ready answer for these questions.

I'm delighted to help these people and it's one of the reasons I wrote these resources on the first place—to help these writers.

Recently I got one of these requests and it got me thinking about the subject lines in email here the email I received:

Subject Line: Important
 
Hello Terry,
 
I hope you are well.
 
My name is ________, I am a student at ________________. I live in _____. I would like you to call me at ______. To discuss a book that I am writer.
 
Respectfully yours,

Sent from my iPhone

 
Yes that is the actual email and subject line. I took out the specifics and left blanks. I wrote back to this writer and said “As important as you believe your email is, I will not be calling you to talk with you about your book.” Then I pointed out my various online resources for this writer to use. Calling on the phone might be something they want but most editors and literary agents are difficult to get on the phone and then they limit their time on the phone because they are focused on their work.
 
A random phone call may or may not (usually not) develop into a publishable project. This writer didn't look promising to me—especially with the ungrammatical sentence that she concluded her email.
 
Here's several tips for crafting the words in your subject lines:
 
1. Make Them Specific & Interesting. Give me a reason to open your email. I get a lot of email. Many people get a lot of email so you have to be mindful of this fact when you write your subject line.
 
2. Do not Be Generic because you are “asking” for deletion.
 
3. Think about the person Receiving the Email. As you craft the subject line, ask yourself if they get a lot of email or a little bit? How can you help them to be eager to open your email? It's with your few words for the subject.
 
4. Use Power Words That Demand to Be Opened. Begin to analyze your own email and notice which subject lines catch your attention and which ones do you automatically delete? It will help you with your own emails.
 
At the end of the day, I'm delighted to have would-be writers email me. My email address remains in my twitter profile. I have met some amazing people through my work on twitter.

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Thursday, May 15, 2014


When You Hit A Bad Day

Let's face it head on. Everyone has a bad day. You know what I'm talking about. 

When you walk out to your car and see the tire is flat—and naturally you are trying to rush off to some important meeting.

Or your computer crashes in the middle of an important rewrite on an article or book and you lose hours of work because you didn't back it up. 

Or you get sick and land in bed. Or someone in your family gets sick. Or a dear friend suddenly dies.

Or a friend or a co-worker promises they will do something—and they don't. So it creates huge amounts of unexpected work for you or a project you were counting on completing didn't happen.

These various possibilities that I just listed are a fraction of what happens to everyone. The unexpected happens to each of us with our writing and publishing lives. 

Here's the critical question for you: when you meet one of these difficulties, does it totally derail you so you don't complete what needs to be written. Or do you rise to the challenge and continue forward with your writing?

Something derails writing for a day. Do you shake it off and return to it the next day? Or do you set it aside and say, the time must not be right? There is a time and place to persevere. 

This month many publications and programs have been celebrating the storied career of journalist Barbara Walters. At 84, she is retiring this week from 17 years on The View. This week I read an article about Barbara Walters in AARP magazine, which claims have the world's largest circulation at 24.4 million (more than three times the circulation of Reader's Digest).

In the AARP article called What I Know Now: Barbara Walters, she shares the secrets of her success saying, “I think the secret of my success is that I persevered. I didn't give up. I didn't say, 'This is a lousy job, and I'm unhappy, and I'm going to quit.' I went through the tough times, and they were tough. And I was fortunate that I came out the other end.” I admire Barbara Walter's perseverance.

Recently my agent friend Steve Laube wrote an article What to do when technology fails? I did feel bad for the author who lost the entire manuscript on a computer the day it was due at the publisher. As a result the book was canceled. Buried in the story was the fact the author had missed the third extension. What happened in the case of the first two extensions? This story wasn't told.

About ten years ago when I started working as an editor on the inside of publishing houses, I learned that writers are notoriously late. I've often been the editor who the author calls and tells about their bad day then asks for an extension. Publishers know about bad days so they often build some flexibility into the deadline.

Yet writers should not count on that flexibility or extension. Here's how to distinguish yourself as a writer and make editors love you: turn in your writing when you promise to turn it in—with excellence.

It's one of the elements that I've done over and over with my writing deadlines—met them. I recall writing one section of a book where I stayed at my computer all night in order to meet the deadline. At that time, I had a full-time editorial job and I had taken on a book project to write. 

When I didn't come to bed, in the middle of the night my wife came down to my office to see if everything was OK. Everything was fine except I had to meet a deadline and did not make it to bed that particular night. I fired off my deadline material to the editor, cleaned up and went off to my full-time job. Yes, I drank some extra caffeine that day and was tired but I delivered what I promised to the editor and put in a full day at work. I've only done it once so I don't make a regular habit of such actions. 

How do you handle bad days? Does it derail you so you don't complete what needs to be written or do you shake it off and continue?

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Sunday, April 27, 2014


A Celebration of Books!

April is the first ever Wimpy Kid Month, which will become an annual event. Tomorrow, April 28th, the cover and title for the 9th book in the Diary of a Wimpy Kid will be revealed in a free webinar.
This event reminds me of an amazing experience that I had with books last October. I love printed books. I've written numerous books. For years as an acquisitions editor at Morgan James, I’ve helped others get their books into print.
Yet something was missing from my experience. I had never toured a book manufacturing plant. I wanted to see how books were assembled from large rolls of paper to books you can hold in your hand.

Last October I finally had that magical experience. I spoke at the Wisconsin Writers Association and I knew one of the largest book manufacturers was in Stevens Point, Wisconsin. I arranged a tour of Worzalla Book Publishing which has been operating since 1898. The plant runs 24 hours a day and seven days a week.
You’ve got to wear your walking shoes because the plant is over 300,000 square feet of building space. They were running many different print jobs as I walked through. Some machines were binding paperbacks while others were adding the jackets on hardcovers. Others were assembling the signatures of books into stacks and another machine added the hardcover binding.
The large project in the plant was printing six million copies of Book #8 of the Wimpy Kid Diary books. I was not allowed to take any photos of this printing because the book is embargoed and will not release in the bookstores until November 2, 2013. Yet six million books are not magically printed overnight and shipped to stores around the country. It happens ahead of time in book plants like Worzalla.
I saw the book in pieces in some places and at other machines like in the bindery, they were completely assembled and packed into boxes and on pallets for shipping.
With permission, I took a few photos to include with this post. The rolls of paper are massive and weighed 1300 to 1600 pounds EACH. Notice the tall stacks in their warehouse. These rolls of paper become books.
I’ve been wanting to visit this plant for years and last fall, one of my dreams came true. My plans paid off and I managed to see how books are manufactured.
What are you dreaming of seeing manufactured? How can you take action to set something into motion where you can see this take place? Or maybe it is some trip you want to take. How will you achieve this dream in the days ahead?

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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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