Thursday, November 19, 2015

Before You Create a "New" Category of Books

It happens fairly often. An unpublished writer will pitch a new genre or type of a novel. Or it happens in the children's area, another inexperienced writer will create a new type of children's book. What they don't understand is their pitch sets off all sorts of warning bells to the editor or literary agent (at least if they are actively thinking about the market when they read the submission).

For example, I read a novel manuscript that had several recipes in the final pages. These recipes ties to the story line and weren't random that the author included it but these recipes are not the reason the target audience picks up the book. They will purchase the novel for entertainment or escape. The inclusion of the extra material does not fit the expectations of the market. If someone is going to need a recipe, they will purchase a cookbook.

I've also met authors who believe they are creating a new genre of fiction. Yes they have created a catchy name for this new category. The question the literary agent or editor is asking (internally), how will this book fit into the marketplace? If they can't answer this question, then the author will receive a polite “thanks but no thanks” rejection/ pass letter.

I also see this experience in the children's book area—particularly in the picture book market. Writers will read tons of picture books to their own children and decide to write a book. While they may have a terrific concept and story and their manuscript may be well written, they have never stopped to learn the details of how the children's book market works. 

The children's book market is very segmented. Your book will not reach all ages of children but needs to have an expected target. This target age will affect the words you use for your manuscript, the illustrations, the subjects and much more. Also picture books have a specific format and length. The shortest picture book is 24 pages and make sure you layout those 24 pages properly with a trial “dummy” book. Just use google to find some examples, then follow the expectations. If your book is short, then you need to rework your story until it is the right length.

I've seen a number of unpublished picture book authors that just decide to “fill in” the blank pages in the back of their book with other information (not connected to the story or the concept). Or maybe they use CreateSpace to create their book but see extra pages in the smallest format and “fill in.” Here's the insight for you: “fill-ins” are probably landing in the rejection stack. They will not garner serious consideration because they break the expectations of the picture book market.

As a writer who wants to find a publishing home, you need to learn the expectations for a particular type of writing and write with excellence before you try and break those patterns.   Yes you can always self-publish but this action is full of challenges and potential dangers (spending a lot of money with little return for example). Writers who are not in publishing don't understand there are thousands of people (at least 50,000 for most of these self-publishers) and on average sell only a few copies. That is not where as a writer I want to put my limited time and resources.

Publishers have to meet the expectations of their authors but also to produce excellent books which will be prized, discussed and promoted among booksellers and librarians as well as the general public. If you haven't seen a particular type of book, often there is a good reason why you haven't. I encourage you to get into a writer's group, attend a writer's conference, join a critique group and get into the community to learn before you leap. It will help propel your writing life forward.

I have a mixing bowl illustration because many writers believe writing a book is like mixing a cake. You simply gather the ingredients (words) and put them into a document and fire them off to an editor or agent. Just like with a cake, if you put in the wrong ingredient, you can ruin your cake. It's the same with a manuscript. The unexpected additional element could ruin your opportunity to get published.

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Saturday, November 14, 2015

Six Platform-Building Short Cuts

For years, platform has been a buzz word throughout the publishing community. Every agent and editor is looking for authors who have visibility or a platform in the marketplace. I've written a free ebook on the topic, Platform-Building Ideas for Every Author.

One of my key mentors in this process of building an online presence has been Internet Marketing Expert Jimmy D. Brown. Several years ago, it was through Jimmy I learned how to create a membership site like my Write A Book Proposal course. His insights and teaching has been incredible and helped me in many different areas. I continue to learn important lessons from him his information.

In the last week, Jimmy started giving away a series of six one-page documents that he calls Cheat Sheets. Each of these documents are packed with information for every author. In this article, I want to call to your attention each one of these resources and explain why author's need to study each Cheat Sheet. I've made these cheat sheets easy to download. Just click the link in each section and it will open to the resource.

List Building Insights

While there are many different ways to market your books, I believe every author should be building an email list where you are collecting names and emails of people who care about you and your work. Jimmy has created The 1-2-3 List-Building Cheat Sheet which helps you understand the steps and gives specific information about how to do it.

Product Creation

Besides selling books, as an author you can create other products to sell to your audience. I've got a series of ebooks and other products that sell all the time such as Blogging for Bucks or the Simple Membership System. I encourage every author to create such products and create their own income stream which is separate from their books and other aspects. You need to get The 24–Hour Product Creation Cheat Sheet and study this information, then take action in your writing life.

Turn Content Into Income

You may be a blogger or write magazine articles but how do you turn your content into money? The details are in The Content Into Cash Cheat Sheet. Yes the information is in brief but this resource will certainly get the idea wheels turning.

Get Others to Create for You

Most of us as writers operate alone. How do you find competent people to assist you and get more accomplished and make more income? Study The Hands-Free Outsourcing Cheat Sheet and you will begin learning these details.

Is Earning Six-Figures Possible?

Many writers are struggling financially yet The Simple Six-Figure Cheat Sheet provides the step-by-step insights for every author to achieve success. This resource gives five different models to reach the six-figure mark. Study this cheat sheet and take action then six-figures becomes do-able.

Drive Traffic to Your Content

Your website can look fantastic but if you don't learn traffic techniques to get people to see it, that beautiful website is worthless. You need The Traffic Master Cheat Sheet. Study the words on this page then apply them to your writing life.

While each of these cheat sheets contain seasoned guidance, there is no easy fix. You need to take daily action to achieve success. These pages contain rich knowledge and make it well worth saving to your hard drive, printing and study. Jimmy D. Brown's newest course is at Earn Income.com. He's a master of  marketing and every author can learn valuable insights from his teaching. I know I have learned a lot and continue to learn a lot from him.  

Let me know what you think of these cheat sheets in the comments. 

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Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Perfect or Detailed. Mutually Exclusive?

As an acquisitions editor, I see many different types of writers.  For almost eight months, I've been emailing and occasionally speaking with an author who “talks” like she has a terrific book—even more than one book. Despite my encouragement to send the material, this author has never completed her proposal or a sample of her manuscript.  In her view, it still needs more work and isn't ready to send to an editor or agent—despite the multiple requests.  Her perfectionism is keeping her from taking action and moving forward. Know anyone like that in your own life?

In contrast, I often see submissions which are unprofessional and missing elements.  Maybe the proposal doesn't have the word count for the manuscript or the author's contact information including their mailing address (or skype if they are outside of the U.S.). Or when I read the material it has no pattern or cohesion like it was thrown together and sent off to an editor or agent to sort out the details and see if it is a fit to be published.

The balance is some place between these two extremes. You want your submission to be complete and professional.  Many of us in the publishing community have created terrific resources so you can learn what a literary agent or editor expects with a submission. I often refer writers to my free book proposal checklist (use the link).  I want to encourage you to take action on your book or book proposal. What are you doing to keep moving forward?

Do you already have a book and want to sell more copies? Then what actions are you taking to make that happen? Are you reaching out to book reviewers or writing a press release or the dozen other ways to stir book sales? If you want this information, follow the links in my last sentence because each one goes to a free teleseminar that I've created.

From my years in publishing, it is important to take action every day. The details are important but it is also important to constantly be expanding your network of people.  You will never reach the right person by yourself. I encourage you to attend conferences and meet new people. Last Friday and Saturday, I was at the Castle Rock Writers Conference meeting writers and editors.  As I spoke with others, I freely gave out my business cards (yes plural because I have two—my Morgan James Publishing card and my local Colorado business card). 

While giving my own cards was important, I also made a point to ask for a card from each person—or at least wrote down their basic contact information if they didn't have a business card. Why? Because I want to continue to work at expanding my network and connections to others. You can take the same actions.

Here's a reality of the publishing world: you only need one connection. It's like the realtor reminding me when we sell a home, you only need one buyer. For your writing, you are looking for the right agent or the right editor to champion your cause. This connection is out there—but you have to be taking daily action to make this connection.

Our world is full of dreams, joy and hope. Notice the image I included with today's article—a pile of rocks with words on them. Take action today and let me know how I can help you.

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Thursday, November 05, 2015

Happy Birthday, Billy Graham

Billy Graham has touched millions in over seventy years of preaching the Good News about Jesus Christ. One of the most admired men in the world, Mr. Graham will be 97 years old on November 7th.  
You can help Billy Graham celebrate this milestone birthday in two ways. First, use the sample tweets and images for your own social media connections (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest, etc.). Second, use the tools to enlist others in your church or circle of influence to join in and wish Billy Graham a Happy Birthday.
  1. Send your own tweets and Facebook posts. Use the sample tweets below and modify them to make them your own. Also add an image with your post. Studies show that posts with an image will have a greater response and visibility. I’ve included four different images of Mr. Graham below. Also use a free tool like Hootsuite to schedule your tweets using the hashtag so it will “trend” on twitter and other social media sites.
  2. Pass the resources below to others. Use the announcement in your church bulletin to get others. Include the announcement in your newsletter or use twitter to send others to this page of resources.
Your efforts can help many people wish Mr. Graham a Happy 97th Birthday and to mark this special milestone.
Here’s some sample tweets:
I’m celebrating @BillyGraham’s 97th Birthday #HappyBirthdayBillyGraham
Congratulations @BillyGraham on Your 97th Birthday #HappyBirthdayBillyGraham
#HappyBirthdayBillyGraham Thank you for a life committed to serving others. Congratulations on your 97th birthday
Your 97 years have changed many lives. Thank you, @BillyGraham #HappyBirthdayBillyGraham
 Use Images With your Social Media posts
 Images with your social media will have greater appeal so save these images on your desktop (right click and use the "save as" feature), then add them to your post. Here are the four images:

W. Terry Whalin is the author of Billy Graham, A Biography of America’s Greatest Evangelist. Over 20 years ago, Terry worked for Mr. Graham as Associate Editor of Decision magazine.
Questions or Feedback?: You can reach Terry at: terry@terrywhalin.com or follow Terry on twitter at: http://twitter.com/terrywhalin  If you are new to twitter and want to learn more information, get Terry’s free handout at: http://terrylinks.com/goviral
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Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Take Consistent Action to Achieve Your Goals

Are you taking consistent action to meet your writing or marketing or publishing goals?  In the first place, do you have a goal or dream? If so, are you writing down the goal then taking consistent action to achieve it?

Last week I was at Author 101 University in Los Angeles. This life-changing event happens twice a year. Each time I meet new authors and also reconnect with some of my publishing colleagues. Several of these colleagues who are active in the publishing community also want to write books.  As a part of our conversation, I make a point to ask them about the book and see if they are making progress.  Yes, they still want to write the book but have been consumed with other things so their book writing has taken a backseat and hasn't been happening.

I'm empathetic about their situation of trying to write a book in the middle of other business. Then I encourage them to be writing their book in small pieces—even 200 words a day can add up to become a completed book. It will only happen if you take consistent action to achieve this goal.

At the event, I met a new writer who was enthused about building her presence in the market and using different tools like Twitter. She was aware of the frequency of my tweets and that I was providing excellent content on a consistent basis. How did she know? This writer had set her phone to beep every time I sent a tweet. I've written a number of articles in The Writing Life about the different tools and methods I use for my social media. It is not time consuming but to grow a large following, you do have to take consistent action.

Every day I'm adding content to my Twitter feed and always looking for good articles to pass on to others along with my own content. I'm also consistently growing my own followers and social media presence. Whether I'm traveling or at home, I regularly work on these areas. The constant effort pays off and if it doesn't then you stop that action and try something else.

I didn't suddenly have over 150,000 twitter followers. I've been growing it gradually. I didn't instantly write over 550 customer reviews on Amazon or gain 5,000 friends on Goodreads. These milestones took place with consistent action. For this blog, I'm a few articles away from having 1300 different articles. This large volume of content was built through consistent action.

What types of goals or dreams do you have for your writing and publishing life? Do you want to sell more books? If so, then you need to be increasing the number of people that you tell about your book. Make an action plan and then consistently execute that plan so you can achieve your goals. It does not happen overnight but can happen—provided you take action.

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Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Grow Your Writing By Teaching Others

Twice last week I taught about helping authors be more effective on Goodreads. I helped some of my colleagues at a local meeting of the American Society of Journalists and Authors. We brought our laptops and worked on improving our Goodreads tools right on the spot. I'm still learning about Goodreads and feel like I'm far from an expert—but I was further along the path than the people I was helping.

Then on Saturday, I spoke about Goodreads again to the Colorado Author League. There were more people in attendance during this second session and I helped authors increase their effectiveness on this significant site which has 40 million registered participants.

From this experience, I want to draw a couple of principles for you to use in your own writing and publishing life.

Teaching Forces You To Know The Details

While you may have experimented and learned some things when you create your own work, I have found teaching forces me to return to the basics and recall my early mistakes and successes. I have to capture the sequence of steps that I used and write them down.

As a part of teaching a workshop on a topic, I prepare teaching notes and a detailed handout for the participant. It is one step to gather information but quite another to put it into a format where the listener can take action and apply the information to their own work. I was focused on the people who take action and helping them succeed with the promotion and exposure for their books and writing.

Goodreads provides many tools for authors to help in this effort. It does not happen in a vacuum without action. It is passive to learn about a topic and gather information. The rubber meets the road when you begin to do something with this information.

You may intellectually understand millions of people use Goodreads, but if you don't become a Goodreads Author, work on your profile and use the site, then that knowledge is not being used. I've gained a much more detailed working knowledge of Goodreads because I taught it twice this past week to others.  You will have the same opportunity as you teach the skills you learn to others.

Teaching Gets You Out With Others

Most of us spend too much time in our office and computers alone and not interacting with anyone. Yes we are cranking words into our computers and sending emails. That process is great but does not get us out of our office into the world to interact face to face with others. This personal time with others is important on several levels. It helps you to listen to others and their ideas and learn what they are writing and working on. Also it gives you fresh opportunities.

When I taught twice about Goodreads, at each session I made new connections with other speakers and also with participants who attended the event. We exchanged business cards and emails. When you teach, make sure you bring business cards. As you meet new people, offer the other person a business card and at the same time, ask for one from them. Because I initiate this interaction, I'm often surprised that agents and others only have a few business cards and I get one of those few exchanges. If you bring plenty of business cards (which I do), you can make sure to be liberal with your business cards. 

Each participant at the event received my handout. I made a point to include some of my key websites and email information on the document. Why? Even if I don't exchange business cards with an individual, they have my information and can easily reach me. It is critical that anyone can easily reach you.

My major point of this article is the teacher learns more about a particular subject than anyone else. You can grow your writing life by learning new areas, then teaching it to others. How have you found this effective in your own writing life? 

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Sunday, October 18, 2015

Enter My Goodreads Giveaway

Until the final day of October, I will be running a Goodreads Giveaway for two of my most recent books. If you are on Goodreads, I encourage you to go over and enter this contest with just a few clicks.  You could be one of the winners—but only if you enter the contest. 

After you enter the Giveaway, I encourage you to use the social media buttons at the bottom of this post to tell others about it.

If you are an author, are you using these Giveaways? The author or the publisher can set them up and they are simple and inexpensive exposure for your books. It doesn't have to be a new book because I've tried it successfully with older books as well.

The details are below about my Giveaway: 

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Billy Graham by W. Terry Whalin

Billy Graham

by W. Terry Whalin

Giveaway ends October 31, 2015.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter Giveaway

Here's my second book Giveaway:

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Jumpstart Your Publishing Dreams by W. Terry Whalin

Jumpstart Your Publishing Dreams

by W. Terry Whalin

Giveaway ends October 31, 2015.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter Giveaway
I wish you all the best with this Giveaway so enter right away while you are thinking about it and use the buttons below to tell your friends about it. The clock is ticking and it will end the final day of October.

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