Use The Gentle Follow-Up


By W. Terry Whalin

The path for a book to get published is filled with many twists and turns.Each leg of the communication process can break down at some point. One of the most critical steps is the beginning where you get connected to an editor or an agent who can champion your book and guide you through the process.

A couple of months ago, one of my writer friends recommended an author send their material to me through Morgan James Publishing. This author followed our submission guidelines and yet never heard from Morgan James. Following the guidelines is important and often the submission process will shift and change.

After over a month of hearing nothing, he sent me a short gentle follow-up email. It was the first I had heard about his submission. I explained to the author that I’m not the only person doing acquisitions at our company and his material could be with another editor.

Yet when I checked internally I learned the material had been forwarded to me from my colleague's cell phone—and I never received it. Because I never received it, the submission didn’t get entered into our system. No follow-up acknowledgement letter was sent. Nothing happened. Because the communication channel (sending by cell phone) didn’t work, the communication process was broken.

This author was wise to check with me. Now I have his material and it is in the system. Now this author has received the follow-up acknowledgement letter in the mail and his submission is engaged in the process.

Over my 20+ years in publishing, I’ve seen the communication process break down over and over. Sometimes things get missed or lost. I’ve watched writers who do not follow up miss their opportunity or delay their work getting published because they fail to do this important work.

There is a right and a wrong way to follow-up. The right way is to gently check with the editor or agent and ask, “Did you get my submission?” Notice the question isn't asking for a decision on the submission. You are simply trying to find out of the communication process worked and your email or submission reached them. If not or if they have lost it, they can ask you to resend it and things can get on track.

If you push and ask for decision, nine times out of ten you will get an immediate “no thank you.” Publishing is often a team effort and this consensus-building process takes time. To get a “yes” takes time to achieve but “no” can be said quickly—except writers don’t want to hear “no.”

Where are you with your submissions? I encourage you to follow-up. As you take action and ask about your submission, you are doing a critical part of the process to make sure nothing slips through the cracks. You want to have your opportunity for your submission to be considered and receive a response. Who knows, you might get a “Yes” response.


Do you follow-up? Tell me in the comments below about your good and poor follow-up experiences. I look forward to hearing from you. 

Tweetable:

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W. Terry Whalin has been an acquisitions editor at three publishers and is a former literary agent. For the last five and half years, Terry has been acquiring books for Morgan James Publishing, a New York publisher doing about 150 books a year. His contact information is on the bottom of the second page. Terry has written for more than 50 print magazine and published more than 60 books including his classic Book Proposals That $ell, 21 Secrets to Speed Your Success. He has over 220,000 followers on Twitter and lives in Colorado.
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Writing a Book - 6 Tips to Hiring a Freelance Editor

Will hiring a freelance editor ensure you pitch the perfect game? In writing terms, will it ensure you get published?

Do you really need an editor? 

There are a number of pros and cons related to whether you should hire a freelance editor. Some writers benefit greatly from the experience while others have a difficult time and may even get insulted.

Six Points to Examine Before Hiring a Freelance Editor

1. Can you handle it?

One of the most important aspects of hiring someone to critique or edit your work is to be open to criticism. If you do not have the personality to handle constructive criticism, suggestions, and/or edits, then you shouldn’t hire a freelance editor.

2. Learn the craft.

Before you contemplate hiring a freelance editor, get your manuscript in the best shape possible by learning the writing craft.

What this means is you should know your craft or be engaged in learning it. You should obviously belong to a critique group that focuses on the genre you write. This group should have new and experienced/published authors in it. This will help you to hone your craft through the critiques you receive and the critiques you give.

There are also a number of fantastic free online writers’ conferences such as the Muse Online Writers Conference  that will help you hone your craft. There are workshops offered covering just about every writing genre, plus freelance writing and marketing. AND, you will have the opportunity to pitch to publishers. Between the networking and learning, it’s not something you should lightly pass on.

Next up on the road to learning your craft is to join a couple of writing groups – again be sure they have new and experienced writers. You can even look into a writing coach or instructor.

3. Self-edit, self-edit, self-edit.

Before you pass your manuscript off, be sure you’ve gone over it meticulously. Make sure you’ve gone over all the tips and tricks to have your manuscript in ‘good’ showing form.

Editors frown upon authors who send sloppy, error-filled manuscripts.

4. There are NO guarantees.

Hiring a freelance editor to go over your manuscript will not guarantee it will get published, even the best in the field can’t promise this. What they will do is help you to get it in the best shape possible. But, whether or not you take their advice is another story. And, again, even if you do, there are no guarantees.

This holds true everywhere in the writing world. After your manuscript is polished, you may send it to forty publishers and agents, and get forty rejections. Then, you send it to one more and it happens, this publisher was looking for just what you’re offering. They were looking for your story. Time and chance, my friends . . . and more importantly, perseverance.

But, it’s a sure bet if you’re manuscript isn’t polished you won’t ever get that far.

5. Ask around.

If you did your best to get your manuscript into what you think is publishable shape and you
want an editor to give it a final once over, be sure to ask for recommendations from other writers.

6. It ain’t over till it’s over.

Although you may spend money to get your manuscript edited before submitting it to publishers or agents, once it’s given a contract, it’ll be back to editing again – this time with the agency or publishing house.

Keep this in mind, so when it happens you’re not taken aback. It’s just the way it works.


Karen Cioffi is an award-winning children’s author and children’s ghostwriter. She is also an author/writer online platform instructor with WOW! Women on Writing.

Need help with your children's manuscript? Stop by Writing for Children with Karen Cioffi for help.

And, be sure to connect with Karen at:
Twitter 
Facebook
Google+
LinkedIn 
Pinterest 

This article was originally published at:
http://karencioffiwritingforchildren.com/2016/08/21/writing-a-book-hiring-a-freelance-editor/  

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SharingwithWriters Tip That Pretty Much Made a Subscriber's Day!

I rarely include reprints from my newsletter on this blog, but one of my longtime SharingwithWriters newsletter subscribers, Valerie Allen, got such a kick out of this tip when she followed through (see below for the tip), I thought I'd share it with you. I'm also going to put her note to me--you know, to prove that she did, indeed, get a big charge out of the results of the discovery prompted by this suggestion. 

HERE'S THE TIP

Have you done a search on the Walmart site's bookstore for your book? Authors are telling me that their Createspace-printed books have been appearing there with no extra effort on their part. In the past—even before Createspace—I have found my books magically appearing in sites as varied as Harvard’s bookstore and Costco. If you find your book on one of these sites, check to see if the buy page needs any special attention from you—like the addition of reader reviews as suggested in Howto Get Great Book Reviews Frugally and Ethically.

HERE'S THE LETTERS-TO-THE-EDITOR NOTE

Carolyn ~

Great info for authors in your January newsletter. Will feature your blog on my new Facebook group, Authors for Authors.

Please join us on FB.

I followed your suggestion and checked out my books at Walmart.com.

Yes!  They have four of my books! I am thrilled. Who knew?.
Two of my novels "The Prodigal Son" and "Suffer the Little Children."
One of my kids books, "Bad Hair, Good Hat, New Friends."
One of my short story collections, "'Tis Herself: Short Story Collection Volume One" in large print.

Yay me!

P.S. Thanks for your great tips and ideas. 

Valerie Allen
Valerie is an author and book fair director.  

Valerie's letter is coming out in the Letters-to-the-Editor feature my SharingwithWriters newsletter in February with her permission. We all need an upper now and then! Letters-to the editor is a great way for authors to get more exposure--in writing-oriented newsletters or magazines and newspapers with wide distribution. One of #SharingwithWriters' mottoes is

Sharing with Writers
Since 2003

A newsletter that is also a community. Share your ideas. Learn from theirs! 

Find back issues at howtodoitfrugally.com/newsletter_copies.html. There is a SharingwithWriters subscription window in the top right corner of almost every page. 


MORE ABOUT THE AUTHOR



Howard-Johnson is the author of fiction, creative nonfiction, and poetry. She is also a marketing consultant, editor, and author of the multi award-winning HowToDoItFrugally Series of books for writers including the award-winning second editions of The Frugal Book Promoter (where she talks more about choosing and the advantages of winning contests and how to use those honors)  and The Frugal Editor. Her latest is in the series is  How to Get Great Book Reviews Frugally and Ethically. Learn more on her Amazon profile page, http://bit.ly/CarolynsAmznProfileGreat Little Last Minute Editing Tips for Writers is one of her booklets--perfect for inexpensive gift giving--and, another booklet, The Great First Impression Book Proposal helps writers who want to be traditionally published. She has three FRUGAL books for retailers including one she encourages authors to read because it will help them convince retailers to host their workshops, presentations, and signings. It is A Retailer’s Guide to Frugal In-Store Promotions: How To Increase Profits and Spit in the Eyes of Economic Downturns with Thrifty Events and Sales Techniques. In addition to this blog, she helps writers extend the exposure of their favorite reviews at TheNewBookReview.blogspot.com. She also blogs at all things editing--grammar, formatting and more--at The Frugal, Smart, and Tuned-In Editor (http://TheFrugalEditor.blogspot.com )


Plot or Character?

Which is more important in fiction: a page-turning plot or deep and compelling characters?

I've always thought it depends on the genre, the audience, and personal taste. However, I've just started reading a book in which the author, Jeff Gerke, argues convincingly that both are equally important but most authors are naturally good at only one.

Moreover, many character-first writers underestimate the need to have a good plot and may even feel that they're selling out if they add too much Hollywood-esque excitement. Plot-first writers may use their characters mostly to advance their fantastic plots, not realizing that their characters come across more like props than actual people. To create truly great fiction, whether it's literary or commercial, a writer needs to master both character and plot. It's got me really thinking about what kind of writer I am: a character writer. So this year my new goal is to work on becoming a great plotter too.

I challenge each of your to analyze what you're best at and focus for a while on the other skill. In future posts, I'll pass on anything particularly useful I learn from this intriguing book: Plot Versus Character; A Balanced Approach to Writing Great Fiction by Jeff Gerke.

Melinda Brasher's most recent sale is a twist on Rumpelstiltskin, appearing in Timeless Tales. You can also find her fiction in Nous, Electric Spec, Intergalactic Medicine Show, and others. For what readers have called "extraordinary character development," read Far-Knowing, her YA fantasy novel. Visit her online at http://www.melindabrasher.com

Storytelling vs. Writing a Story

A children’s publisher commented on the difference between storytelling and writing. She explained that storytelling involves visual aids, whereas writing does not.

Granted, children’s picture books do provide illustrations in the form of
visual aids, but they are not the same as storytelling’s visual aids.

I had never thought of this before, but once this was said I could see it clearly.

Storytelling

Storytelling allows for the use of visual aids, which includes facial expressions. There is also voice tone, word pronunciation, along with word or phrase stressing that help aid in conveying sadness, anger, fear, and an array of other emotional sediments. This is also known as voice inflection.

Along with facial expressions and voice inflection, the storyteller can also take advantage of movement.

Imagine telling a group of children a spooky story that has the protagonist tiptoeing around a corner to see what’s there. As a storyteller you can actually tiptoe, hunched over; and exaggerating the movement enhances the suspense. Visual aids are easy to use and are powerhouses of expressions.

Another example might be if you are telling a pirate story to a young boy. You can use toy props, such as a toy sword or pirate’s hat, while limping with a pretend wooden leg. These visuals enhance the story experience for the child without the storyteller having to create the imagery with words.

Writing

Writing on the other hand depends solely on the writer’s interpretation of what the facial expressions, voice, mannerisms, image, and body movement of the characters might be. And, that interpretation must be conveyed through words that preferably ‘show’ rather than ‘tell.’

If you think about it, storytelling is much easier than writing a story. But, most of us authors are writers, not storytellers, and as writers we need to convey emotions and activity through showing.

In the storytelling examples above, how might you write the scene as an author?

For the first scenario of a spooky story, one example might be:

Lucas grabbed his little brother’s hand and pulled him close. “Shhh. Don’t make any noise. It might hear us.” They crept along the wall, barely breathing, until they reached the . . .

While this passage doesn’t have the advantage of the storyteller’s visual aids, it does convey a feeling of suspense and fear.

In regard to a pirate story, as an author you might write:

Captain Sebastian grabbed his sword and heaved it above his head. “Take the ship, men.”

The pirates seized the ropes and swung onto the ship. Swords and knives clanking, they overtook their enemy.


This short passage clearly conveys a pirate scene with Captain Sebastian leading his men into a battle aboard another ship. No visual aids, but it does get its message across.

You might also note that while trying to write your story through showing, you need to watch for weak verbs, adjectives, and a host of other no-nos. In the sentence above, the words, “barely breathing” might need to be changed if it reached a publisher’s hands. Why? Because “ly” and “ing” words are also frowned upon.

So, knowing the difference, if you had your choice, which would you prefer to be, a storyteller or a writer? Let's us know in the comments!

Karen Cioffi is an award-winning children's author and ghostwriter. For more tips on writing and book marketing and to check out her services, visit: Writing for Children with Karen Cioffi

And, be sure to connect with Karen at:

Twitter 
Facebook
Google+
LinkedIn 


This article was originally published at:
http://karencioffiwritingforchildren.com/2017/06/25/storytelling-vs-writing-a-story/

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10 Ways to Find More Time to Write



Whether you're a full time writer, or someone who just wants to give writing a try, these tips should help you find more time to write.

Tip #1 - Get Organized.

Here are just a few ways to organize your writing and your writing space:

° Create project folders so you can easily and quickly locate whatever you are working on.

° Keep an idea notebook handy at all times, so you can jot down ideas for articles, stories, etc. whenever they come to you and you'll have them all in one, easy to find, place.

° Clean off your desk or other writing space. If it's a mess, you'll spend precious time trying to find things you need. Put pens and pencils in containers. Get file folders for loose papers you wish to keep.

° Keep reference books handy as you’re writing so you can refer to them whenever you need to.

Tip #2 - Make Decisions Ahead of Your Actual Writing Time.

New writers don’t seem to realize it, but the planning stage and the writing stage work best as two different stages.

If you plan what you’re going to write, then it will be easier once you sit down to write it.

No more wasting your precious writing time, staring at a blank page or computer screen.

Tip #3 - When Writing a Nonfiction Book or a Novel, Work from an Outline.

Make your outline in the planning stage of your book, then when it’s time to write you can simply work on the book, a chapter or section at a time.

But you’ll know what material you wish to include in that section (because you figured that out in the planning stage) so all you’ll need to do is sit down and write it.

It doesn't have to be a formal outline either.

Just notes that let you know what you will be writing in each section or chapter of the book.

Tip #4 - Let Go of Activities That Take Your Time but Offer You No Real Benefit in Return.

You can stay really, really busy during the day without much to show for it if you aren’t careful.

Checking emails, spending too much time on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media sites can eat up your writing time.

And do you really need to watch all those crazy cat videos on Youtube?

Tip #5 - Do Many of Your Morning Chores the Night Before.

If you have a day job, take a shower the night before, lay out your clothes the night before, make your lunch the night before.

Then, the next morning you can get up early and write because it won’t take but a few minutes to get ready for work.

Tip #6 - Outsource as Many Activities as You Can.

Once you start making money as a writer, hire a VA (virtual assistant) who can do many of your marketing chores for you.

This person can also upload new content (that you write and send to him or her) to your blog, etc.

If you can afford it, hire someone to clean your house once a week or pay your older kids to do it.

Let your younger children fold clean laundry and put it away.

They might not do a perfect job, but so what?

Tip #7 - Train Your Kids to Work/Play Alongside You While You Write.

If you have young children who are home with you during the day, train them to play quietly alongside you as you write.

As they get older, encourage them to write, too, while you are writing. (I did this when my sons were children and one of them is a professional writer now. He says he just got in the habit of writing when he was a kid and liked it.)

Tip #8 - Hang Out with Other Productive Writers.

There are many, many people out there who say they are writers.

Yet, a great percentage of these people rarely, if ever, write anything.

You don’t want their bad habits rubbing off on you.

Instead, find writers who write regularly and hang out with them.

You’ll see how they manage to get so much writing done and you’ll begin to write more, too.

Tip #9 - When people ask you what you do, don't be afraid to tell them you’re a writer.

If you tell people you’re a writer, then they won’t be surprised when you tell them you need to write.

They won’t expect you to drop everything and join them for lunch or a shopping trip, etc. whenever they call because they’ll know you have writing to do.

Tip #10 - Set Specific Writing Goals for Each Writing Session.

When you know what you wish to accomplish during each writing session, you’ll be more productive.

Plus, you’ll become more confident and feel more successful because you’ll be able to see how you are meeting specific goals each session.

This will help you look forward to your next writing session.

You’ll also tend to write for longer periods of time, just to reach a specific writing goal.

Okay, so those are just a few ways to find more time to write.

Do you have other ways that work for you?

If so, please share them here in the comments section.

Try it!

Suzanne Lieurance is a full time freelance writer, the author of 35 published books (at last count) and a writing coach.

She lives and writes by the sea in Jensen Beach, Florida.

Learn more about her books and her coaching services at www.writebythesea.com and sign up for her free email, The Morning Nudge, with tips and resources for writers delivered to your mailbox every weekday morning.

SEO for Authors Part3 - Outbound Links in Your Blog Posts

Outbound or external links are clickable links you have on your website and in your blog posts that link to other websites.

And, it’s a good practice to use outbound links within your articles.

For instance:

Suppose I’m writing a post for Writers on the Move and it’s on self-publishing. I find a relevant article over at Kindlepreneur that will give my readers more information on the topic or reinforce what I’m saying.

#1 Doing it right by linking properly

There are a few ways to link to the Kindlepreneur article (I added yellow highlight to show which words or phrases would be hyperlinked):

1. I can use the keyword SELF-PUBLISHING as an anchor text. The word would be hyperlinked to the outbound article.

Example: Kindlepreneur has a great article on creating your own book publishing company if you’re self-publishing.

2. I can link to the article using the site’s name.

Example: There’s a great article over at Kindlepreneur that says . . .

3. I can include the URL and hyperlink it.

Example: There’s a great article over at Kindlepreneur (https://kindlepreneur.com/how-to-start-a-publishing-company/) that says . . .

4. I can create a MORE READING section at the end of the article and include the Kindlepreneur article title and link to it: How to Start a Book Publishing Company.

Which strategy is the most SEO effective?

Numbers 1 and 4 are the way to go. But if you had to choose between the two, go with #1.

The reason is it offers Keyword-Power that’s highly relevant to your article. Google and the other search engines like this practice.

Okay, that’s pretty easy. Use anchor text to link to outbound links whenever possible.

NOTE: If you notice, I hyperlinked in Example #2. This was a mistake, but since outbound links are involved, I'm leaving it as is. Moral to the story: don't do things in haste.

#2 Linking when using quotes

Suppose that in the article I’m also quoting from The Article Writing Doctor. I must give the URL to the article I’m quoting from.

There are a couple of ways to do this also:

1. Hyperlink a keyword within the quote, if applicable.

Example: “If you want to self-publish, you must edit your manuscript before moving forward.”

Since I already hyperlinked to Kindlepreneur using the keyword Self-Publishing, I wouldn’t want to use that word again as a hyperlink. So, I’d use Edit Your Manuscript.

2. Tag the quote and hyperlink the article title at the end of the article in a References section.

Example: “If you want to self-publish, you must edit your manuscript before moving forward.” (1)

Then at the bottom of the article you link to the article via the title:

References:

(1) Self-Publishing – You’ve Got to Edit First

The benefit of using outbound links:

Using outbound links effectively produces two benefits:

It’s good to link to HIGH-RANKING sites. It reinforces what your site is about to Google. And, if the site you’re linking to pays attention to its Pings or Trackbacks, they’ll notice you linked to them.

So, you make Google happy which makes them like your site better and you get noticed by a high-ranking site.

This is all good.

Now, let’s move on to the Don’ts.

#1 Warning: Try to keep the visitor on your site

While outbound links within the body of your article can be good SEO, those links are taking the reader away from your website. So use them sparingly, especially if you manage your own site.

Suppose I had that Kindlepreneur outbound link in the first paragraph of my article. The reader sees it and clicks on it.

Off he goes – off of my site.

This does two things:

It drastically shortens the visit length of that reader and if he hops off too quick, you just added to your bounce rate.

Google tracks the length of time a visitor stays on your site. The longer the better.

Google also tracks if the visitor is there 5 seconds or less. This is considered a bounce and it’s terrible for your website ranking.

If you have a high bounce rate, Google will assume your site is very poor quality. It will assume your content isn't measuring up to your linkbait. This is not good.

So, be careful using outbound links within the body of your article. And, definitely limit the number of outbound links you use.

One way around this problem:

When you’re creating the outbound link, make sure it will open in a NEW WINDOW. This will keep the reader on your site while he’s reading the article at the other site.

#2 Don’t use too many outbound links.

Google has its hands in everything. It keeps track of your outbound links and inbound links (sites linking in to your site).

If you have a lot of outbound links compared to inbound links, Google will think it’s suspicious and black-hat (unethical) behavior. It could think you’re getting paid for those outbound links. 

You could get penalized. At the very least, you’ll lose ranking power.

#3 Warning – They’re distracting

If you’re article is littered with outbound links, they’re distracting to the reader. Even if they don’t click on them, they cause distraction.

#4 Don’t outbound link to the same URL more than once within your article.

This is considered suspicious activity.

#5 Warning – Broken links are a NO-NO

The more hyperlinks you have on your website, the more chance there is of having broken links. Google frowns upon broken links.

If you manage your own website, it can become burdensome having to check on whether your links are broken.

While WordPress has plugins to help with the process of checking for broken links, Blogger does NOT.

This means, if you have a Blogger site and want to check for them, you’ll have to go into every post and check the links.

As of the writing of this post, Writers on the Move has around 1500 blog posts. That’s a lot of checking.


Summing it up

As mentioned, using outbound links can be a useful SEO strategy. But, you generally don’t want to overdo it.

There are exceptions to this rule as when you have a resource page with links to valuable tools for your readers.

Or, you have a media page with links to all that’s going on with you.

Or, if you’re creating a blog post that offers links to say, The Best Writing Sites or Best Books of 2017, or other.

As with all guidelines, they’re guidelines and should be thought of when creating and posting your articles.

Definitions:

Pingbacks and trackbacks are very similar functions using different protocols/systems. Their purpose is to make a referenced site aware that it’s been referenced to by another blog/website, and allow that site to link back. Both the pingback and trackback go to the referenced website’s pending comments, awaiting approval or rejection.

Not all websites have this feature. If it does, you usually need to enable it.

Linkbait  is content (usually titles) designed to attract attention and encourage those viewing it to click on its hyperlink to the site.The purpose is to improve the site's position on the list of results returned by a search engine. But, if it's done unethically, if the title is a tease and doesn't provide what it promises, Google won't be happy and neither will the people who click on the link.

If you have any comments or questions, please put them in comments!

The next article in the SEO for Authors series is: Blogging with LSI Keywords.

If you'd like to follow the series, you'll find the links to each Part in RESOURCES in the Menu bar.

Karen Cioffi is an award-winning children’s author and children’s ghostwriter as well as the founder and editor-in-chief of Writers on the Move. She is also an author/writer online platform instructor with WOW! Women on Writing.

If you'd like to learn more about building a powerful author platform, check out Build Your Author/Writer Platform.

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