Sunday, October 22, 2017

Help Me Celebrate a Milestone

Years ago I worked for Billy Graham and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association as the Associate Editor at Decision magazine. I learned a great deal from my years with Mr. Graham. After I left I had the opportunity to write a biography about Mr. Graham as a part of the Men of Faith series of books from Bethany House. Yet that book is long out of print (a sad fact that happens in book publishing).

A couple of years ago, I updated my old book and added new stories and brought out a new book, Billy Graham, A Biography of America’sGreatest Evangelist. I built a book website, gathered endorsements and Luis Palau wrote the foreword for my new book. I’ve received great feedback about my book which currently has over 60 reviews on Amazon and Goodreads.

For the last six decades, Mr Graham has been on the list of the most admired men in America. He has mostly disappeared from the public eye except for rare occasions. I’m encouraging you to wish Mr. Graham a Happy Birthday and I want to give you some tools and ideas for those wishes. I’ve prepared a series of social media posts and some images that you can use at:

Besides this advanced planning to celebrate Mr. Graham’s birthday. I’ve been working on the audiobook version of my book. You can hear the retail sample of the book here and even use this link to encourage your local library to order the book.

If you hear this sample, you will know that it is not my voice but Andrew L Barnes, an experienced audiobook specialist. As I wrote about recently here, audiobooks continue to explode in the book world and I’m happy to announce my book’s availability in audio.

What is the milestone that I need your help to celebrate? 

November 7th Mr. Graham turns 99. No one has preached the Gospel of Jesus Christ face to face more than Billy Graham through over 70 years of faithful ministry. In preparation of Mr. Graham’s 99th birthday, I’ve created a means for you to add to the celebration.

1 1. Use social media like twitter and Facebook to wish Mr. Graham a Happy Birthday.
   2.      Schedule your greetings using a tool like Hootsuite
   3.      Social media gets more attention when it includes an image. I’ve created four images of Mr. Graham that you can use with your greetings.

Let’s start a movement of celebration for this milestone birthday. Each of us can wish Mr. Graham a Happy Birthday with our actions. Please pass this information along to your church or small group Bible study. I suspect many people would like to help me mark this celebration.

Tell me what actions you are taking in the comments below.


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Sunday, October 15, 2017

When You Can't Locate an Individual's Phone Number...

With the proliferation of smartphones, most of us carry one of the most powerful communication devices in our pockets—our phone. As an acquisitions editor, I get a lot of email—and I regularly send a lot of email. While I love the convenience of email, I also know email is easy to ignore and not answer. You can put it off for another time and another day.

The phone is a completely different communication device. It is immediate and if we reach the person, we can have a short conversation with them. We can leave messages into their voicemail (something I do a great deal as an editor). Each time I leave a message, I try to think about the person getting that message—so I leave something upbeat and to the point with my phone number and email so they can respond.

The Internet has given us tools where we can guard and protect our actual phone number. For example, I've got a New York phone number through my work at Morgan James. When I call authors or literary agents related to my work, I use this tool and it shows up on their phone as a New York phone number—even though I live in Colorado and work remote. Sometimes authors will answer because it is a New York phone number. 

What if you can't locate the phone number for someone? The other day I wanted to have a short conversation with an author. I looked in my contact information. I had his email and mailing address but not his phone number. I checked the author's website to see if it contained a phone number—and it did not. It had a contact form but no email and no phone number. See how this author is limiting the people who have his number?  How was I supposed to find it?

To find a phone number, one of the tools I often use is Godaddy WhoIS Database.  You can use Google to look up “WhoIs” and see there are a number of these databases. As the first place I turn, I use this one from Godaddy. With the author's website, you put that into the search engine and in a matter of seconds, you get the contact information for that author—including their phone number.  I wrote down the number then called it. Immediately I was speaking with the author I needed to reach—on his cell phone. Also I saved the cell phone number I had located for if I need to use it in the future. This system is not perfect. Sometimes authors have paid for an extra service called Domain Privacy Protection—and their real phone number is not in this WhoIs record—but from my experience, many times you can locate their phone number.

Maybe you have other tools and websites that you use to gather this information. Please let me know in the comments section. I look forward to learning from your experiences. 

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Sunday, October 08, 2017

How to Engage & Connect for Greater Profits

Editor's Note: I rarely have guest bloggers but loved what MaryEllen Tribby wrote about how to reach an audience and wanted to make sure you saw it—and learned about her new free special report.

By MaryEllen Tribby

“Here is a simple but powerful rule: always give people more than what they expect to get.” 

~ Nelson Boswell

Have you ever noticed that a lot of writing in your niche is actually fairly boring or not in the least bit helpful?

Well that’s actually good news for you. Because if everyone else in your niche is creating dry, mediocre content, then you’ll stand out if you create something entertaining, educational and enriching.

And if you really connect with your audience, you can bet they’ll want to read every word you publish. And over time consider you a trusted resource and once that happens you have a bona fide fan base! 

That was exactly what happened to me almost six years ago when I started Working Moms Only. I noticed that the market was sooooo under-served. All the other newsletters and products were tedious and quite frankly not practical. 

So how did I create this connection between words and the heart and souls of the audience?

Well just like this...

1) Tell Stories

Stories are good ways to connect with your readers, because a story tends to help you form that emotional connection. It helps the reader identify with you. And a story is much more memorable than simply telling a reader what to do.

You can write this story either about you or someone else. Either way, however, the story will be more impactful if the main character is very similar to your readers.

So if your readers are moms who are looking for an opportunity to make incremental money or money from home, then you’ll connect to these readers if your story is about a real mom who overcame this same problem.

Another thing a story can do is help demonstrate to your readers that you really understand them and their problems.
And when a reader feels like the author understands him, you can bet they will keep reading.

2) Create “Reader Oriented” Writing

Your readers have no doubt read plenty of articles, reports and ebooks on the same topic as the one you’re writing about. However, a lot of this content is “author oriented.” That means that it seems to be more about the author rather than the readers.

Example: You might read a book about dog training in which the author seems to boast repeatedly about his credentials or delve into personal stories that actually aren’t of interest or relevant to the reader.

One way to quickly check if your writing is author-oriented is to see how many times you’ve used words like “I” or “me” versus how often you use words like “you” and “yours.” You want to use more “you” writing, since this is reader-oriented writing.

Here’s a great example:

• Author-oriented writing: “I’m going to tell you about how I lost weight.”

• Reader-oriented writing: “You’re going to discover a weight-loss trick that’s worked for me – and it will work for you, too.”

3) Engage the Audience

If you’re writing a “how to” article, then it’s easy to fall into the familiar pattern of writing a straightforward article: “This
is step 1... this is step 2...”

Basically, it’s the same kind of article everyone else publishes. Instead, engage your audience by freshening up your writing.

This includes:

• Adding in your own tips. In particular, include unique tips and tricks not found anywhere else.

• Using stories to illustrate points. Be sure to engage all five of your reader’s senses to really bring him into your story.

• Inserting examples to make things more clear. Just look at the way I gave an example of reader versus author-oriented writing above.

• Including “spiced up” writing. For example, instead of merely describing someone as nervous, you could say “He was more nervous than a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs.”

That’s much more memorable, impactful and fun – don’t ya think?

You’re writing with a purpose, whether it’s to presell your readers, teach them something, solve a problem, overcome a challenge or just develop a good relationship with them.

However, these goals are not possible if your writing doesn’t engage and connect with your audience.

That’s why you’ll want to use the tips above to improve your ability to engage and connect with your readers!

And here’s the best news – you can start today. You can be among the first to check out this extraordinary new report.
I have just put the finishing touches on a brand-new, hot off the presses, special report with 52 Essay and Blog Posts Ideas to save you hours and hours of writing time. 

MaryEllen Tribby is the premiere business consultant and coach to some of today’s most successful entrepreneurs in the information publishing and digital marketing arena. She also works with a number of the largest most lucrative traditional corporate publishing organizations in the world. Her quarter century experience includes but not limited to successfully running multi-million dollar divisions of companies such as Forbes, Crain’s New York Business and Times Mirror Magazines.

Later taking the entrepreneurial world by storm as Publisher and CEO of Early To Rise where she was responsible for growing the business from 8 million dollars in sales to 26 million dollars in just 15 months. In 2008, she founded and remains the proud CEO of Working Moms Only, the world’s leading Media Company for the empowerment of the working moms.


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Tuesday, October 03, 2017

Continual Experimentation

While editors, agents and other publishing executives would like to proclaim they know what makes a successful book, the real story is the process involves continual experimentation. If there was one formula or path, then every book would be a bestseller—and that is certainly not the case.

No matter where you are in the writing process, every writer needs to be reaching their audience with their website, social media, email list, physical events and more. Some people fall into the “shiny object syndrome” where they are chasing the latest and greatest tool. Every week there is a new social network or a new tool or program. Each of us must find the right path for our writing and our audience.

In the last few years, one of the growing areas is video with the explosion of YouTube and other ways of adding video to your website. I've had limited participation with videos. I've watched other writer friends launch a YouTube channel and incorporate more video into their websites but I have not.

In the last few months, I was invited to attend the Ohio Christian Writers Conference and will be there in early November. You can see a short interview here with some tips for writers:

These writers have also launched Serious Writer Academy and invited me to be a part of their faculty. For my first class, I taught one of my most popular writer's workshops: Editors Read Proposals Not Manuscripts. This video format is available 24/7 and I broke my teaching into four sessions:

1. Five Questions Every Book Editor Asks
2. Six Reasons Book Ideas Are Rejected
3. Book Proposal Check List
4. Six Ways for Your Proposal to Stand Out

I've reviewed hundreds of book proposals and the teaching in this video session can be a game changer for your submissions. Because the session is on video, you can watch it multiple times and capture all of the details and information to build your submissions to editors.

This class is hopefully the first of several which I will be teaching ate the Serious Writer Academy. I look forward to your feedback as you take this workshop.

This class shows how I'm continuing to experiment and look for new audiences—as well as provide new products for people who have been in my audience for some time. I hope you are continually experimenting as a writer with new opportunities—testing to see which ones will work, then stopping those which do not work. Tell me about your experimentation in the comment section.


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Monday, September 25, 2017

Move Beyond Bleeding on the Page

Within the writing community, I've often read, “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” 

According to Ryan Holiday in his book, The Perennial Seller, this statement is attributed to Ernest Hemingway. Then Holiday continues saying, “This is a wonderful, seductive line as we consider sitting down at our proverbial typewriters. The problem is that it is preposterous and untrue.  It is directly contradicted by Hemingway's own meticulously edited, often handwritten manuscript pages. The John F. Kennedy Presidential Library has some forty-seven alternative endings for Hemingway's A Farewell to Arms. He rewrite the first part of the book, by his own count, more than fifty times. He wrote all of them, trying them like pieces of a puzzle until one finally fit.” (Page 37-38--and the italic emphasis is from Holiday)

From my study of writing, this aspect of the writing life is rarely discussed: there is hard work involved to practice the craft of storytelling and write something which sells well and continues selling year after year.  The successful writers continue to learn and grow in their craft—and also grow their audience or tribe or platform. You can pick your term because different people interchange these terms. The work of writing is way more than bleeding on the page.

As a writer, I encourage you to continue to grow in your craft and your skills. You need to be practicing your writing craft with continuing to work on longer work like books but also writing shorter articles for magazines and blogs and other places.  I've been publishing for many years but I continue to read a book about writing every month—and grow from reading those books.
In addition to studying about writing, I continue to try new programs and learn new skills. As I look at the various types of media that I have online, I have one area which is lacking—video.  I do not have a YouTube channel nor have I recorded many videos. 

Last week, I made some progress in this area. I've joined the faculty of the Serious Writer Academy. As a part of this faculty, I learned to record on video one of my writing workshops: Editors Read Book Proposals Not Manuscripts. Over the years, I've taught this workshop at numerous writers conferences—but it has never been recorded—until now. Just use the link in this paragraph and you can learn about the video and the cost details about accessing and taking this workshop. In the days ahead, I plan to record and launch additional workshops as a part of Serious Writer Academy.

As a writer, make sure you plan to attend a writer's conference. Follow this link to see a list of several conferences. Also make sure you check my speaking schedule and see where I'll be teaching in the weeks ahead. I'd love to meet with you face to face during one of these events.

If you want to keep up with what I'm learning, one of the best ways is to regularly read my posts on twitter. A second way would become an email subscriber to this blog on the Writing Life. Use this link. It has over 1400 entries and I add new entries every week.

As a conclusion to this article, I want to show you a short video about bestselling author Ann Patchett who also owns an independent bookstore. The video contains a lot of current information and insight about what is going on in the ever-changing world of publishing.

With my work for Morgan James Publishing, I'm working with authors to get them a book contract all the time. Sometime people will ask what I'm looking for. My answer is always “good stuff.” We publish many different types of books at Morgan James. I understand “good stuff” is subjective but I also know that I recognize quality work when I see it. When you are ready to pitch your book, reach out to me and let me know how I can help you. My work  contact information is on the bottom of the second page of this link.

In the comments below, let me know what active steps you are taking to move beyond bleeding on the page.


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Monday, September 18, 2017

How To Keep Moving When Stopped

Recently I was driving into downtown Denver for breakfast with a Morgan James author. There are many one-way streets in this section of the city. Suddenly the street where I was going was blocked off and had a detour. Without even a second thought, I turned and followed the detour and soon was back on track heading toward my meeting place. I did not let the detour throw me off from my destination. I did not get put off and quit and return home but found the way forward. My response comes from years of driving experience and understanding that sometimes roads are blocked and you have to locate the way around the roadblock.

Just like driving and finding roadblocks to get around, the writing world often has roadblocks and detours. Maybe you pitch an editor who requested your manuscript and you don't get a response. I've been working with an author who has a children's book and she has been promising to send it to me. It has never come. A few weeks ago when I saw this author in person, she asked me if I had received it. My conversation with her was the first I had known she had even finished it and tried to send it. No, I had not received it. She promised to resend it—and that still has not happened. We depend on things like email when sometimes even email breaks down and doesn't reach the intended editor.

From my years in publishing, I find every step of the process has pitfalls and potential breaks in communication. Editors don't respond to your magazine pitches or a program which you use often isn't working or someone promises to review your book and doesn't follow through. These types of roadblocks happen all the time.

How do you respond to a roadblock? Do you stop and say to yourself, “Guess no one wanted that idea.” “Or “it wasn't meant to be.”  Or do you persevere and look for another way to move around the roadblock?  The writers who succeed (and that measure of success is different for each of us)—find their way around the barriers.

Earlier this year, I wrote about listening to Lauren Graham's memoir, Talking As Fast As I Can. She sat next to best-selling author, James Patterson and ask him, “How do you do it?”

Patterson responded, “Keep going, keep going, keep going.” As writers, each of us get rejected. Our plans get interrupted and changed.  My encouragement is to continue looking and find the path forward. If you are struggling with an area, then create a new habit or new system to help with this area. Your goals and dreams as a writer are important.

The stories of persistent and perseverance in the face of challenges is often a theme in different biographies and how-to books that I've heard recently (check my list of books here). In Robert Greene's Mastery, he told the story of Henry Ford and his early failures and persistence to ultimately form the Ford Motor Corporation.
Admiral William H. McRaven told about his persistence in his Navy seal training in Make Your Bed. Historian David McCullough told about the early failures of Harry S. Truman in Truman. While he had no college education, Truman became the 33rd  President of the United States. I learned valuable lessons from each of these successful people. Persistence and perseverance is an important quality for every writer.

Tell me in the comments below, what actions you take to continue and move forward with your writing.


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Monday, September 11, 2017

Celebrate the Writing Journey

I often meet writers with big dreams: writing and selling a bestseller for example. They want to win contests or writing awards or speak at large events. I applaud these dreams and encourage them yet today I want to celebrate and write about a different aspect of the writing life—the journey.

The writing journey is filled with many different twists and turns in the road. The process of getting the ideas and stories in your head down on paper takes hours of work and creativity. It's not easy but involves sweat and hard work. Beth Vogt recently included this quotation from Colin Powell: “ A dream doesn't become reality through magic, it takes sweat, determination and hard work.”

I encourage you to understand the process and enjoy the journey.

  • Did you get an email from someone telling you about how your book helped them? Did you ask them to write a review on Amazon and send them a little link to that page? Celebrate.
  • Did you meet a new editor who can publish your material in their magazine? Celebrate.
  • Did you complete a magazine query letter that you sent out to a number of publications at the same time? Celebrate.
  • Did you read a new book which gave you insight into your own writing? Celebrate.
  • Did you write a review of a book you read on Amazon and Goodreads? Celebrate.
  • Did you meet your word count goal for writing your current work in progress? Celebrate.
  • Did you get out of your chair and walk around the block or exercise to help your health and physical health? Celebrate.
  • Did you reach out to an old friend when you read their article (or newsletter) and it touched your life? Celebrate.

I was listening to Darren Hardy in one of his Darren Daily recordings discuss the successful people that he's interviewed. His fascination (and learning) is not their particular achievement or way they were made famous. His keen interest is in the lessons and process they went through to achieve that success. His focus is what I'm driving at in this particular article: the writing journey.

The road is not easy. At times you fail (get rejected). Other times you publish a beautiful book that you promote and market—yet few people buy it. Yes these situations happen. When it happens to you, what do you do? Keep moving forward or quit. I hope you keep moving forward because from my experience the people who succeed in publishing understand that rejection and failure is part of the journey.

The publishing journey is full of twists and turns. Not everything goes smoothly. Almost daily I face some technical glitch. Do I let that glitch completely throw my day or do I press on to something else that I can accomplish, then work on that later?  The longer I'm in this business, I try and take the second action. It's a process to learn to do what you can do and be grateful for those action—and to let the rest go.

Is celebration a part of your writing journey? I hope so. Tell me in the comments below. 


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