Saturday, September 13, 2014

When You Can't Find A Tweet

Check out SnapBird at www.SnapBird.org

In the last six years since I've been on Twitter, I have consistently tweeted. When I find an interesting article in my reading or anything else related to writing, I often will take a few seconds and send a tweet with a link to this article. Days, weeks and months of consistently tweeting has added up to over 21,000 tweets. Now that amounts to a bunch of information in my twitter profile

Sometimes I will reference an article and want to return to it. One of the best ways to find that article is to locate my tweet. But I have thousands of them and how do I easily find that information?

When I face this situation, I will turn to a free tool called Snap Bird. The first step is to authenticate your twitter account. You have to be logged on to your twitter account. It is a one-time process to authenticate your account. 

Snap Bird is easy to use and menu driven. You can search your tweets, a friend's tweets, your direct messages or tweets mentioning you or where you are someone's favorites. I like how this tool is quick and sorts through a number of tweets. If it doesn't find the tweet, then it can continue searching. The program has limitations but often using it, I can locate my missing tweet.

This tool has a specialized use—searching your tweets. For some of you, it may come in handy. I hope so.

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Monday, September 01, 2014

Five Ways to Get Your Writing Unstuck

Throughout my day writers will email me for help with their writing. The words I have in my Twitter profile is one of the key reasons: I love to help writers. Let me know how I can help YOU! I include my email in my twitter profile to encourage such correspondence. 

As an acquisitions editor at a New York publisher, I get a lot of email every day. Yet I make a point to answer each one of the emails from writers who are asking for help. From my 20+ years in publishing, I know it is hard to navigate the publishing world. I've sent my share of emails and letters into the system which have gone into a void—or so they seem because nothing came back from my careful shaping and sending them. It can be discouraging.

Recently a ministry leader wrote me about being stuck. He had started writing a book but gotten stuck at the second chapter. What actions should this leader take to move forward on his dream of writing a book?

Many times writers are stuck and unsure how to move forward. It happens with book projects because they are not simple 30 minute or an hour in length. To write a book takes a great deal of consistent effort and energy. When it comes to writing a book, one of the best tools is to first, write a book proposal. The key portion of the proposal that will keep you writing and moving ahead is the chapter-by-chapter outline. This simple outline is the structure for your book. You can even print it out then cross off the chapters as you write them.

If you are stuck in your writing, here's five ways to get unstuck:

1. Evaluate Your Goal. Are you committed to this writing project? I've always found if I've made a commitment, then the writing will get handled. OK. I've committed to write a book or a magazine article or an online article or a press release. Think about the type of consistent effort will it take to accomplish your goal. For example, books are not produced overnight but will take a consistent effort.

2. Set a Goal You Can Accomplish. Be reasonable with yourself and set a writing goal that you can achieve. From my experience it is often a certain number of words such as 500 words a day or 5,000 words a day (which is a lot of intense writing to reach 5,000 words a day but it can be done). 

3. Move Consistently toward Your Goal. To accomplish any goal you have to move forward. I like what one of my writers friends told me about creating a 400+ page novel, “No little elves come out at night and write my pages.” No one else can do the work for you. You have to find the time and simply do it. If it means getting up an hour or two earlier or staying up late at night or skipping some television, then you have to work at it to meet your goal.

4. Periodically Evaluate Your Goal. If you are having success, then take moments to celebrate. Each of us will celebrate differently. It is important to evaluate and celebrate if you are moving toward your goal. If you measure how you are doing with your goal and you are not making progress, then possibly it is time to readjust your goal and make it more reasonable or something that you can actually accomplish. Don't beat yourself up that you have to readjust. Simply acknowledge it and keep moving forward.

5. Get an Accountability Partner. Yes maybe you could accomplish your goal on your own. From my experience, it is better if you have someone else asking you periodically about your goal and how you are moving toward it. This person can be someone that you speak with periodically on the phone or email or best physically see often. 

I know I was only going to write five ways to get your writing unstuck. I'm throwing in a bonus sixth method. Maybe you are stuck in your writing because you have been trying to accomplish a long piece of writing such as a book or a novel or a workbook. If you have been chipping away at completing a longer work, here's something to consider in this process:

6. Diversify Your Writing. While many people want to write a book, there are many ways to get published—outside of books. Often books take a long time to get into the market—especially if you go through a traditional publisher. Magazine articles are short and fun to write plus you can get them published a lot quicker than a book and it will reach many more people than the average book.

People like me who are in publishing want to see that you have been published. Your magazine publishing credits will help you attract the attention of a literary agent or book editor. My updated version of Jumpstart Your Publishing Dreams has a great deal of information about publishing to help you get unstuck.

Use these five methods to get unstuck and move forward with your writing. Take action today.

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Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Showing Up Is The First Step

It may seem pretty basic but in the writing world (as well as other aspects of life), the first step is simply showing up. If a magazine requires the writer to send a one-page query letter, then you will need to learn how to write a query, then send an appropriate pitch to the publication. If you take one step, and then the next step, you will give yourself the best possible opportunity for success.

Many people wonder how I've managed to get my writing into more than 50 magazines or to write more than 60 books. I have never claimed to be a fantastic writer but I am a very consistent writer. If I'm at a conference talking with an editor about ideas and the editor says, “That's a great idea, Terry. Write that up and send it to me.” Immediately after the meeting, I make a note, go home and write up my idea and send it to that editor. 

Over the last few years, I've met with hundreds of writers at various conferences. These writers have pitched their idea either in writing or orally and I've told them, “Terrific idea. Write that up and send it to me.” Yet few people follow through and send me their material. Showing up is the first step.

Wednesday night (August 20th), you have one of these opportunities—but only if you show up to the live event. I'm going to be interviewing the Morgan James publisher, Rick Frishman. The questions for this teleseminar are not coming from me or from Rick but from the audience. Rick has been involved in the various aspects of book publishing for many years. Twice a year, Rick pulls together the illustrious faculty of Author 101 University, which is one of the premier writers conferences in the United States. It is not a Morgan James event—but there are a number of Morgan James authors at the event. Editors and agents from many different area of publishing attend Author 101 University.

While I'm confident Rick will provide great information during our 70–minute teleseminar, something else is happening during this session. Throughout the teleseminar, Rick will be giving away some registrations for the October Author 101 University event. To win one of these registrations, you must take the first step—show up at the live event and be prepared to possibly win.

Will you take the first step to show up? I encourage you to register. If you don't have a question, then put “no question” and keep going through the simple registration process until you reach the confirmation page where you can listen to the teleseminar or dial in on your telephone.

Hope to speak with you soon.

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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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