Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Are You An Evangelist?

Many people assume an evangelist is an occupation for someone like Billy Graham. I'm using the word in the secondary Webster definition: “Someone who talks about something with great enthusiasm.”  Pause for a moment and consider what topics you face with enthusiasm and are actively telling other people about it.

In recent weeks, I've been an Overdrive evangelist. Using Overdrive on my phone has raised the amount of books I'm consuming—audio books. Overdrive is a free app that I downloaded on my phone and it is tied to your local library. You can check out the audio book from your library for 21 days then download the entire book on your phone. Now that I have the audio on my phone, I can use it anywhere. I listen to the book while I walk on the treadmill. Because of Bluetooth, I listen to the same book in my car—even when I drive a short distance. Recently I've been traveling and I've listened to these audio books in the airport or on the airplane. If I have my phone, then I have access to the audio book.

You can have different library cards on Overdrive. Each library has purchased different books so you can access a different selection. Currently I have three library cards and recently drove into Denver to get a Denver Public Library Card because they have a larger selection of books on Overdrive.

I listen to a great deal of nonfiction—business books, biography, memoir and how-to books. You can see many of these books just checking this location on Goodreads. After I hear a book, I will write a short review and post it on Goodreads and Amazon. This practice doesn't take much time but increases the number of reviews I post because of the increased volume of audio books I've been consuming.
In my conversations at writers' conferences, I've been asking people if they use Overdrive. If they say, “No.” Then I pass along my experience and how they could use it as well. I've become an evangelist for this program.

Passion and enthusiasm is important for every writer. It is your passion that sustains you for the writing and marketing of a book. For example, for many years I've been passionate about teaching writers how to craft a great book proposal or pitch for their book. I've written a book.  I've taught the material at various writers' conferences. I continue to write about book proposals in my Book Proposal Boot Camp column for Southern Writers Magazine. I have a free teleseminar on the topic and also my free book proposal checklist.

My passion for book proposals has been actively passed on to others. Others have recommended my Book Proposals That Sell or my Write a Book Proposal course or other resources. It's been encouraging to see the Amazon reviews for the book and the feedback from other writers who have used my book to locate a literary agent or get a publishing deal.

How is your passion for your writing translating into action? A book? An online course? A teleseminar? A workshop for a conference? The possible ways for you to pass on your enthusiasm are endless.


How does your passion show in your conversation and writing? Some ideas at: (ClickToTweet)

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Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Start To Get Your Writing Published

Where do you begin the process to get your writing published? Most people instantly think of books and want to have a book published. While I understand these thoughts, from my years in publishing books is not the first place to start.

At the recent Write to Publish Conference, I had a series of fifteen-minute back to back meetings with people who were attending the conference. One of my stand-out sessions was with a gray-haired cheery woman who immediately told me, “This is my first conference and I'm here to ask your advice. If you were just getting started in in the writing world, where would you begin?” What a thoughtful question!

“I would begin writing for print magazines,” I said. “It's a wide open opportunity for writers which is often forgotten. In particular, I would start with publications called Sunday School Take-home papers.” 

Almost every denomination has a variety of publications for different age groups. Within these papers, a common type of article is called the personal experience article. It's a story written in first person with a single point to the story (also called a take-away).

Here's several key points about this type of writing:

* Magazines reach more readers than books. It is a solid performance if a book sells 5,000 copies during the lifetime of the book sales. In contract, many magazines have a circulation of 100,000 or even 300,000. You definitely reach more readers with magazines.

* Magazine articles are shorter in length than books. Magazine articles have a short headline, a beginning, a middle and an ending (all good skills for any writer to learn on the short form). A typical book has  50,000 or 100,000 words where magazine articles range from 500 words to 1500 words in length so are easier to finish and get into the market.

* Magazines are a great place to learn to write for a target audience. Each magazine has a distinct reader or audience—just as your books will be targeted to a particular reader.

* Magazine articles get published quicker than books. In general magazines have a three to six month turnaround from publication acceptance to getting into print. Many book publishers are 18 to 24 months out from when you deliver your manuscript and the book is released into the bookstore.

* Editors and literary agents read magazines looking for writers. These publishing professionals are looking for writers who have experience in publishing (which you gain from writing for magazines).

I encourage you to check out the writer's guidelines for the particular publication. Many of these guidelines are online so use Google to find them.  The writing is fun and anyone can do it.  Almost every publication uses personal experience articles. Each of us have unique and interesting experiences which can be the backbone of these articles and you can write. A personal experience article is an excellent place to begin writing for magazines.

If you want to know more details about writing for magazines, I encourage you to explore this link where I give the basics of writing for a magazine. This type of publishing is great exposure and helps you build your platform and publishing credentials with editors. In fact, it is good for any writer at any place in the publishing journey. As I write these words (even as much material as I have published), it spurs me to write a few query letters and articles for magazines. If you don't submit the articles or ideas to an editor, it will never happen.

What magazine will you target today for your writing?


Read this article to learn the Best Way for Anyone to get published. (ClickToTweet)

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Thursday, June 16, 2016

Do More Than Just Write

Writing is important. That first step in the process of getting published is to put your words on paper but what happens next? I've returned from another writers' conference which is a perfect place to get recharged and learn new insights for your writing life. 

Numerous times in these articles I've written about the importance of writers' conferences and taking action from what you learn at these events.  I understand the investment to attend a conference in actual cost, time and energy. There are also other ways of getting such training. 

One of my favorite ways to learn about the writing craft and market is through reading how-to books. I have purchased shelves of these books over the years--and they are not just for appearance. I know some people buy books and do not read them. On a consistent basis, I read these books, mark in them and take action from the suggestions inside the pages. 

Today I wanted to tell you about a recently published how-to book called Just Write by James Scott Bell.

I’ve known James Scott Bell for many years and long admired his work and his commitment to the craft of writing. I do not write fiction but have spent most of my writing life in the nonfiction world (yet I acquire fiction and read fiction). 

Whether you write fiction or nonfiction, you need Just Write to learn from this skilled teacher and bestselling novelist.
Every chapter of this book is packed with insights. I encourage you to read with a yellow highlighter. The book is broken into two sections: Unforgettable Fiction and A Rewarding Writing Life. Each section has four chapters. Whether you have written numerous novels or never written a novel, you will profit from Bell’s instruction.

Here’s a couple of samples: “Craft mastery in any subject is a matter of study, observation and practice. As a writer, the better handle you have on the craft, the better prepared you’ll be to break a rule when the time comes. You’ll know why you’re doing it and whether it’s worth the risk to break it.” (Page 31) Or the chapter on Study the Craft begins, “When in doubt, just write. Write your way out of a corner, out of your fears, out of your setbacks. It’s a good default setting. But right up alongside it put another track: study the craft. Make constant and never-ending improvement a goal just as important as your daily pages. Just write and keep learning—these are the two steel rails that will carry you to a productive career.” (Page 146)

Every writer or would-be writer will profit from the study of these pages. I highly recommend Just Write.


Writers must do more than just write. They need to study the craft. (ClickToTweet)
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Tuesday, June 07, 2016

Easy Children’s Books

Last week at a writer’s conference, I met with writer after writer in back to back 15 minute sessions. It amounts to an editor’s marathon when you have six or seven appointments in a row. After three or four of them it is a bit of a challenge to listen to these new ideas. Yet these appointments or pitches is the main reason that I attend these conferences. I'm actively looking for new writing talent. The prepared author is always easy to spot. They have their manuscripts ready—some of them have even brought the material on flash drives. Several authors submitted their manuscripts via email right after our session.

A number of the authors I met were writing children's books.  Several of these writers came from a teaching background and showed a passion for their manuscript and work. I'm a former instructor for the Institute of Children's Literature and have published more than a dozen children's book. I understand these feelings. Reading a pile of picture books, some writers have the impression that it's easy to write these children's books. Nothing could be further from the truth.

It's not easy to get a children's book published. I've been reading a new memoir from Robert L. Bernstein called Speaking Freely. Bernstein was president of Random House for 25 years. One of the best-selling children's authors was Ted Geisel, otherwise known as Dr. Seuss. As Bernstein writes, "There are more than 220 million copies of his books now in print--but he was not an instant success. And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street was rejected by twenty-seven houses before an old Darthmouth friend who worked at Vanguard Press got it published there." (page 60). 

As a child, I loved Mulberry Street and it was my favorite children's book--and to think it almost didn't get published without the persistence of the author. Every author has to find their place to be published. In particular children's authors need to study and understand the marketplace. The marketplace is specialized into different age categories. For example if you are writing a children's picture book, then you need to understand whether your book is 24 pages, 32 pages or 48 pages (the standard lengths).  As the book grows in length, your book will need more illustrations so the preference is for 24 page books.

Your number of words are limited and each word has to be carefully selected. Also you don't have the ability to write on all 24 pages because each book has a title page and a copyright page. The prepared children's writer is encouraged to create a dummy or sample layout of the book. When you do this process, you will begin to see how your book will layout and it will help you rework the book into the proper format and length.

I met with one children's book writer last week who thought she had a picture book but from the length fo the story, it was an early reader book (which has more words and less illustrations). As a writer, the more work you do on refining your manuscript into the proper length and format, the more interest you will generate from editors in your work. Then your pitch sessions or appointments with the editors will be more productive and have more potential.

If you are writing children's books, I encourage you to study the market for your type of manuscript. Also create a book proposal for your children's book. Because children's books are short, the writer often comes with the complete manuscript. Writing a book proposal will help you pinpoint the distinctions of your book, the market for your book, and also the competition for your book. A book proposal will help your submission  stand out with an editor from the other writers. It will help you make a lasting and positive impression. 

My Book Proposals That Sell has never been so inexpensive and comes with a series of bonuses and extras. Whether you get the book or not, I encourage you to step up your preparation before you head to a writer's conference or email your pitch to an editor. It will help you succeed and get published.

Whether you are writing children's books or adult books or fiction or nonfiction, you need to give the best possible pitch to an editor or agent so you capture their attention.


Are children's books easy to write? Not according to this experienced editor. Get his insights here: (ClickToTweet).

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Thursday, June 02, 2016

Where Do You Buy Books?

Whenever I ask other writers where they buy their books, I receive a variety of answers but often it is Amazon. This online retailer has been around a long-time and makes it easy to purchase their books since all of your information is often stored in their system.

Amazon is not the only place to purchase books. I encourage you to support your local physical bookstore but also consider Barnes & Noble. If you check out my website for my Billy Graham biography, you will notice I have a number of different ways you can purchase my book. You can get it directly from me (and signed) or you can get it from your favorite independent bookstore or from Barnes & Noble or Amazon. Readers love to have different purchase options instead of sending them to one place.

In fact, if you take action today, you can get my Billy Graham book at Barnes & Noble and save 20%. Here's how:

1. Use this link to go to the book on Barnes & Noble.com

2. When you check out, use this coupon code: BNSUNNY20 and it will immediately take off 20% of the price. In fact, you can purchase other books or items from Barnes and Noble and save 20% on other purchases. To get this discount, you will have to move quickly since the coupon will expire after June 2nd.

There are many different ways to purchase books and if you are in a rut if buying from one website, I encourage you to explore your options. There are many terrific places to purchase books online or in the bookstore.  


Where do you buy books? Here's some fresh ideas from a long-term editor. (ClickToTweet)

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