Monday, April 24, 2017

Take Action in the Midst of Your Writing Fears

“Do one thing every day that scares you.” 
― Eleanor Roosevelt

I've read this quotation in a number of places and many different contexts.  It is a solid action step for every writer. 

Why? Because from my experience, fear can prevent us from taking action and moving forward with our writing. Will anyone want to read what I'm writing?  Will it sell? Can I find a publisher or literary agent? Is my writing good enough to publish in   a magazine or book? The questions in our minds can appear endless.

While I've published a great volume of material over the years, if I'm honest, I have a number of fears that I face each day. The key from my perspective is are you taking action with your writing in spite of those fears.  I have my ideas and pitches rejected and don't hit the mark—yet I continue pitching my ideas and looking for opportunities.

Years ago as a new writer, I was at a conference sitting around with several more experienced and published authors. It was late at night and I was learning a great deal from these new friends. One author who had published a number of books mentioned how every time he begins a new project he had huge doubts and fears in his mind. He wondered if he could do it and if the book would succeed. In the same breath where he mentioned these fears, he explained that he pushed ahead and beyond the fear to write the book. It's the key distinction between those who want to write and those who actually write: they push ahead and take action in spite of the negative thoughts and fears.

Possibly today your manuscript or book proposal is getting rejection letters from agents or editors. From my experience, you have not found the right place for your book when you get rejected. It means you have to keep looking for that right connection or champion. When the rejection arrives (even if that rejection is through no response), you face a critical choice.  You can either take action and seek another opportunity or you can quit and not respond.  Many authors will send out their material one or two times, get rejected and figure no one wants to work with them and publish their submission. Their writing fears have stalled them into no action.  

When you have writing fears, there are several things:

1. Everyone has these fears. Whether they admit them or not, you should understand it is part of the process.

2. The writers who get published, understand timing and the right connection are a critical part of the process. You have to be proactive to find the right connection with your material.

3. Rejection is a part of publishing. Everyone gets rejected—beginners and long-term professionals. The key is what do you do with the rejection. Do you quit or do you look for the next opportunity?

I believe the world is full of opportunity—yet as a writer you have to make the right connection and have to be facing your fears and continuing to move forward with your writing. One of the most published series of books in English is Chicken Soup for the Soul. What many people forget is Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen were rejected on their proposed series 144 times. Now that is a lot of rejection. I'm sure they had fears to face, yet they continued moving forward. You can get some of their story in the foreword for Jumpstart Your Publishing Dreams. Just follow this link to download the foreword and free sample chapter (no opt-in and you can download immediately).

For your encouragement and inspiration, remember this saying. If you need to do so, I would write it out and put it over your computer and read it often:

It will not fly, if you don't try.


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Monday, April 17, 2017

Be Knocking on Doors to Find Opportunity

In the publishing community, I've discovered a basic principle: If you want something to happen, you have to be knocking on doors to find that opportunity. For example, as an acquisitions editor, I've found some of my best projects meeting with authors face to face at a writers' conference. I understand the value of this personal contact with writers. 

While I've been speaking at different events for many years, the invitations to speak at these events does not happen organically (without any action on my part). From my experience, the directors of conferences are pitched many times from many more qualified people than they could possibly use at an event.

What is the difference maker so one editor is picked to be invited and another is not? I believe it is a combination of things—a personal relationship with the director or decision maker at these events but also knocking on the doors in a gentle way but letting them know of your availability and willingness to speak at their event. In the last few days, I've pulled out some resources on my bookshelf that list forthcoming conferences, then I've sent emails to these leaders. In a few cases where I know the people but haven't been to their event in several years, I've picked up the phone and called them. Will my actions pay off? I know many will fall flat and never garner a response.  I'm a realist with my expectations—yet I also know that some of them will succeed and garner an invitation to their event—maybe not this year but next year.

While I've been writing about getting speaking opportunities, the actions for a writer are exactly the same if you are looking for writing opportunities. What types of writing opportunities are you looking for? In recent days, I've been working on some book proposals and writing projects. Yes I've written a number of books over the years but most of my efforts have been in my work as an acquisitions editor at Morgan James Publishing. I've been knocking on some doors of opportunities with agents and editors to find some writing projects. Like my knocking on doors for speaking opportunities, many of my emails and calls have not been returned and feel like they are going into a black hole. Yet I persist and continue to pitch and look for new opportunities. 

Why? From my experience, I know some of these pitches will actually turn into writing assignments and future work.

Here's several actions for every writer:

1. Learn how to write an excellent book proposal. Get my free book proposal checklist or my Book Proposals That Sell or take my Write A Book Proposal course. It will take effort but it will pay off in getting more attention from literary agents and book publishers.

2.Learn how to write an attention-getting query letter. Every writer can learn this important skill of writing a one page pitch letter. It will be a valuable lesson for writing for magazines or getting the attention of literary agents or editors.

3. Continually work at fostering and strengthening your relationships with others in the community. Help them in any way that you can—and you never know where that help will lead to future opportunities.

In general, the world of publishing is busy with lots of activity, emails, manuscripts, proposals and pitches. If you wait passively for someone to reach out to you, then most likely little will happen. Instead I encourage you to be proactive in your approach and be knocking on different doors to find the right opportunity. I believe these opportunities are out there—but you have to be knocking to find them.


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Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Why You Should Try Ghostwriting

Years ago, I decided there were a finite number of stories and articles and books that I could write from my own experiences. I've written personal experience magazine articles from my own life and published in various publications.  Also I've written many different types of books such as devotionals or biographies or how-to books.

For any writer, there are many different types of writing. In fact, I list the variety in the first chapter of Jumpstart Your Publishing Dreams. The first chapter is free with this extensive list.  If you are looking to diversify your writing, I encourage you to look at this list and try a different type of writing.

Today I want to highlight one of the most overlooked types of writing called ghostwriting. When you write a book for another person is called ghostwriting. Cec Murphey is one of the most skilled writers in this area with over 140 published books to his credit and a number of New York Times best-selling books. Many writers have never attempted ghostwriting or co-authoring or collaborating to write the story of someone else. Murphey has tackled this type of writing over and over. He has recently published a new book called GHOSTWRITING.

Through a combination of his own personal experience, he takes the mystery away from this area and helps writers learn the value. He gives them a vision for how they too could earn good money but also help others birth stories which would never be written.

Murphey covers the gamut of topics in this well-written book. He defines the terms like book doctor or collaborator or ghostwriter. He goes into ethical concerns and where you find subjects and answers a critical writer question: how do you make money and what do you charge for this service.
I’ve got shelves of how-to writing books and only have one other book on this topic (written years ago). This new book is fresh and engaging. Also Murphey has tapped his wide network of other ghostwriters for their experiences and added it to enrich his book. The key application points for the reader are distilled at the end of each chapter into a series of bullet points called a Takeaway.

As I read GHOSTWRITING cover to cover, I found myself nodding in agreement at the wisdom in this book. I’ve written more than a dozen books for other people as a collaborator and rarely a ghostwriter. I highly recommend GHOSTWRITING for anyone who wants to learn the inside story about this much needed area of the writing world.

Many writers are trying to figure out how to make a living with their writing. One of the most lucrative and needed ways to earn a living and tell the stories is in this area of ghostwriting. I encourage you to get GHOSTWRITING to learn how to open up this possibility.


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Monday, April 03, 2017

Are You Looking for Your NEXT Opportunity?

This past weekend I was in Lakeland, Florida speaking at a conference and meeting with writers. I love these opportunities to give back to writers, listen to their ideas and encourage them. At this event, I attended a number of amazing sessions from other speakers. Several of these speakers I have admired from a distance but never had the opportunity to meet face to face until attending this event.

When they finished their session, I made a point to connect with them personally for a few minutes, express my appreciation but also exchange business cards.  I asked for their card and if they did not have one (which happens often), I asked for their contact information.

Why take such actions? Because I want them to be able to reach out to me. Also if I have a need, I want to be able to reach them. As a consistent practice, I'm always looking for the next opportunity. These possibilities are everywhere. Are you sensitive to them? Are you seizing them when they come?

Here's five action steps for every writer:

1. Send a follow-up email right away. During the weekend, I reached out to one speaker and turns out he was working on a book proposal and promised to send it to me in a few weeks.

2. Be generous with your business cards and contact information. Ask for the contact information from others. Make sure they can reach you and you can reach them. For example, I included my contact information on my handouts.

3. Always be looking and open to the possibilities. There are many different types of opportunities. Sometimes the opportunity is to write and other times it is to speak. The director of the conference this past weekend, I met a year ago at one day event in Orlando with the Florida Writers Association. You have to be open to various possibilities and see what happens. 

4. If possible, respond right away to the idea. Send email, respond to their emails, etc. We are in the communication business. The reality is that few people communicate—so if you do, you will stand out.

5. Express gratitude to others. I can't emphasize enough the importance of gratitude. We live in a thankless world where few people express gratitude. You will stand out and have other opportunities if you express gratitude. Did someone give you a book? I received on this past weekend. I will be writing this author a personal thank you note.

Bonus Action Step: When you see that you've let an opportunity slip past you, take action on it after the fact and see what happens. If you do nothing, then nothing will happen but if you do something then something may happen. 

I've had authors send me their book proposal and submission years after we first met (yes years). As an acquisitions editor, I continue to look for new authors and book projects every day. When this author sent her book, I was still looking and she ended up publishing her book with Morgan James and now it is out into the bookstore. I'm sure this author hesitated to reach out to me months after we first met—yet she still took action and it paid off.

As writers, we must seize the opportunities which come across our path. You never know where your next opportunity will take you.


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Monday, March 27, 2017

Learning On the Road

For many years, I’ve been traveling on airlines to different events and conferences. Admittedly traveling is hard on your bags and suitcases. I’ve had to replace bags and once I even had to send my my laptop bag sent off for repair.

With all of my travel, I’ve never gotten my bag off the plane with damage—until this month. My travel goes in spurts and during the month of March I am making four different trips and a series of flights each time. On the first flight to celebrate the 89th birthday of my mother, I landed in Lexington, Kentucky and pulled my suitcase off the baggage carousel. Several hours earlier in Denver when I checked in the bag, the suitcase had four rotating wheels. Now in Lexington, my suitcase had three wheels. With the missing wheel, it wobbled.

My sister suggested I file a damage bag report with American Airlines. I learned these damage reports have to be filed immediately before leaving the airport. I went to the ticket desk and filled out the report, then went on with my trip to celebrate time with my Mom. A few days later, I returned home with my broken suitcase then noticed the bag sustained additional damage—a missing zipper. With a damaged bag, you have to give it back to the airline empty. Then they will either repair it or replace the bag. 

I emptied my suitcase and  took it with me to the Denver airport on my second of four trips. American Airlines took my bag when I checked into the airline with my bags for travel. I made my second trip and returned home. Then I called American to check on my bag repair. They told me it could take as long as three weeks so I assumed I would not have my suitcase for my month of travel. Also they told me the broken zipper (which happened on the return trip) was not on the original claim and likely would not be repaired. I wondered what would happen with my bag.

Between my second and third trips, the FedEx man delivered a huge box to my front door. It held my repaired suitcase and everything including the broken zipper was repaired.  I hear a lot these days about the challenges of travel and the poor customer service from the airlines. I believe it is also worth praising the airlines when they serve their customers well and do something exceptional. It’s why I believed I should include this article.

Several things:

1. If your bag is damaged, report it immediately to the airline.

2. Praise and thank the airline for their good customer service when you receive it. 

I love having a good news travel story to report to you.


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Wednesday, March 22, 2017

An Unusual Publisher Event for Authors

Last weekend, I was in Nashville for an unusual author event. Over the last four and half years, I’ve acquired books for Morgan James Publishing. It’s the nature of book publishing to introduce a steady stream of new books into the market. Often this event is called an author launch where they launch their book into the marketplace.

As a publisher, we set the date of this launch months ahead and encourage the authors to work to build buzz and momentum for that date. We encourage their activity but typical for publishers, the author will handle the actual work such as getting people to review the book on Amazon.

Several weeks ago, Morgan James invited authors whose books released from December 2016 through March 2017 to come to a red carpet event. The authors dressed up, held their books and were interviewed on the red carpet. The interviews were live streamed on Facebook Live. After the interviews, Morgan James had special dinner to honor our authors at the famous Wild Horse Saloon in downtown Nashville.

From my many years in publishing, I’ve never seen a publisher put on this type of separate and special event to honor their authors. As a part of the event, David Hancock, the founder of Morgan James, gave each author a special “challenge coin” in a presentation box. “Challenge Coins” started during World War I where a unit carried a coin and were challenged to present the coin to prove their affiliation. These coins are popular with the Army Special Forces. David created these coins which on one side have a book and include the words “Educate, Encourage, Inform, Inspire.” The reverse includes the Morgan James book logo and “the entrepreneurial publisher” and the Morgan James website address. The coin is a remarkable reminder to every author of the partnership with their publisher.

The next day, some of the authors stayed for a day of marketing training. Not every author could stay both days but a number of them stayed and invested in themselves. The training day was excellent and included a representative from Ingram Publishing Services (the distributor for Morgan James books), specific marketing training, media training and much more. Bret Ridgway, co-author of the book, Mistakes Authors Make, spoke about  some of the mistakes authors make and his services at Speaker Fulfillment Services. One of the key mistakes that authors make is writing a book without understanding the endgame with their book. What do they want the reader to do after reading the book? Hire them for coaching or get some of their services or sign up for the author's email list? These elements have to be written into the foundation of your book from the beginning. The training session was excellent and I learned a great deal from this valuable education.

Morgan James Publishing planning two more of these events in Nashville and will follow the seasons of releases for these books. I was honored to be included and look forward to going to the events later this year.  


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Monday, March 13, 2017

A Simple Promotion Idea for Your Reviews

Several times a week, someone will email and ask me to read their book and write a review. It is a good strategy to approach well-known reviewers. Normally their request mentions a book that I have read and reviewed, then pitches their book. Because I've written almost 700 book reviews on Amazon, I get these requests. To be honest, I look at their books and in most cases I politely decline the offer—for several reasons. Most of them are ebook only books on Kindle and I do not have an Ebook reader. Also when I look at the books, I'm not interested in reading their book so again I decline.

Because I've been reading and writing book reviews for many years, I have publicists and publishers often pitching for me to read their books and write about them. I am committed to continuing to read new books and write book reviews about those books. I review the book on Amazon but also on Goodreads, where I have 5,000 friends (the limit).

Repeatedly I see authors launch their book with no book reviews on Amazon--zero. In fact, during the last week, I've seen two long-time publishing professionals (literary agents) launch new books with no Amazon book reviews. If Amazon is selling 70% of the books (a number that I've seen recently in the publishing press--unsure if true or not), then it is critical for every author to get book reviews. I've mentioned this resource from Tim Grahl but get it and use it: https://booklaunch.com/amazon-reviews/ Scroll down and on the bottom get the free download from him because it has templates for emails and spread sheets and all sorts of valuable tools. It doesn't matter if your book came out last month or last year, you need to be working on these reviews. If someone goes to the page on Amazon and there are no reviews or only one or two reviews, this information affects whether others will buy your book.

Last week I was traveling and met with Charles Billingsleya well-known Christian recording artist. Charles released a new book from Worthy Publishing on March 7th. Charles he gave me a copy of Words on Worship. The book is a well-designed, attractive hardcover. Inside Charles had gathered four pages of great and well-known endorsements. I know that effort took work and is something every author should do for their new book. For my own curiosity, I looked on Amazon on his launch day and he had no book reviews on Amazon. 

To help Charles, I quickly looked at the book, wrote a review and posted it on Amazon--and also Goodreads. I also tweeted about the book a couple of times to my 200,000+ twitter followers. Writing book reviews is a simple way you can support other authors.

Here's my simple yet important idea for you when you write book reviews: include a live link to your own book at the end of the review. Within their customer reviews, Amazon allows you to include a link to another product. Why not use this tool to tell readers about your latest book?

Now take a closer look at my review for Words on Worship. Now notice at the end of the review, I write: “W. Terry Whalin is an editor and the author of more than 60 books including his latest Billy Graham, A Biography of America's Greatest Evangelist.”  Because this link is live to my book page on Amazon, a reader interested could go over to the page and purchase my book. 

As long as I'm writing about book reviews, I have a free teleseminar on this topic. Just follow the link and get the full replay and download the gifts associated with it.

Your work to tell people about your book is on-going after it is published. The key from my perspective is to always be looking for new ways and on-going ways to promote your own book--even when helping others with a book review.


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