How to Use the Power of Asking

By W. Terry Whalin

Mega-promoter P.T. Barnum said, “Without promotion, something terrible happens. Nothing.” This statement is true for promotion and marketing but it is also true for almost every aspect of the publishing business. If you are not tapping into the power of asking, you are not having opportunities for your writing to be published and sold.

For example, if you want more reviews on Amazon for your books, are you consistently asking people if they are willing to read your book and write a review? It's been proven that a steady stream of reviews on Amazon (even if your book has been out a while) helps your book to sell even more copies. I understand it is important to get over 20 Amazon reviews (if possible) and 50 reviews is another benchmark. And when it comes to these reviews, I've often found willing people—but they haven't posted their review. Part of the process is to return to these individuals and make sure they have the book and remind them about the review. I get the challenges in this situation. There is a lot to read and write about since new books are being released into the market every day.

If you want to do more publishing in the world of print magazines, are you creating article ideas and pitching them to editors? I'm not talking about doing it once but over and over on a regular basis. You need to learn how to write a query letter then write your ideas and send them out to editors. I'd love for more editors to approach me with their ideas—but that is not my reality—even though I've written for over 50 magazines. Instead I have to ask editors to write for their publication.

If you want to get a literary agent, are you crafting your proposals then consistently pitching agents? Every agent receives numerous pitches every day and you have to be part of those pitches. As another strategy, are you going to conferences to meet agents and editors face to face and make your pitches? As editors (and a former literary agent), we work with people that we know, like and trust. Nothing happens if you sit back and do not actively pitch editors and agent.

Are you writing a book and need someone with a high profile to write the foreword for the book? Or does your book need some endorsements? Readers buy books every day because of endorsements and the foreword for the book—even if behind the scenes you had to write these endorsements. You will have to ask others for these endorsements, then probably give them a deadline, follow-up and even offer to write them a “draft” endorsement for it to happen. See how you have to be actively involved in this process and be asking for something to transpire?

While we depend on email, know that email can often not deliver—so make sure your pitch is reaching the right person and they are able to read it—even with a quick follow-up call or follow-up email to see if they got it.

If you don't have enough writing work or your books aren't selling, then I encourage you to become more active in asking others to buy your book or publish your work. Every writer (including me) would love to not have to ask others and have editors and agents clamor for their writing and work. In an extreme few cases, these writers exist—but for the bulk of us, we have to continue to pitch our work, promote our writing and get in front of new audiences.

How are you using the power of asking in your writing work? Let me know in the comments below.


Are you using the power of asking? Get ideas here from a prolific writer and editor.  (ClickToTweet)

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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Internet Distraction

I heard a quote by author Jonathan Franzen today:

"It's doubtful that anyone with an internet connection at his workplace is writing good fiction."

Do you agree?

I think it's a bit strong, but there's certainly truth behind his words.

I admit I can be prone to distraction and the internet is a huge one. I sometime use a computer program to block all websites for a certain amount of time to help me focus on writing.

If you're interested, I use Stay Focussed, a Google Chrome add-on. You can also use it to block only certain websites, to block everything but certain websites, or to give yourself only 5 or 10 minutes per day on time-suckers.

When I'm suffering from writer's block, I like to work on paper. Sometimes I'll send my current document to my Kindle, where I can read it for reference if I need to but can't edit. I have to do everything by hand and though it takes longer, it often gets me unstuck.

As for being influenced by other people, other ideas, other's constant flood of input can dilute your own style and make you doubt what is your own idea and what is not, but you can also use it to gain inspiration and deeper understanding of the human race and the world we live in. Just try to be aware of which way you're using the information overload that is the internet.

I think the most important thing is to analyze how resistant you are to internet distraction and negative influence and plan accordingly.

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. If you're dreaming about traveling to Alaska, check out her guide book, Cruising Alaska on a Budget; a Cruise and Port Guide. Visit her online at

Practice Creating Strong Story Settings with Visual Writing Prompts

Setting plays a big part in any novel or short story.

And the best way to create a strong sense of setting is to "show" your readers where your characters are living out your story.

But how do you do this?

Well, it takes practice.

Generally, you will want to weave in details about your setting within the dialogue and action provided by your characters rather than include paragraph after paragraph of description.

To do this, you'll want to use strong sensory details that bring your setting—and your entire story—to life.

Here's a way to practice creating a strong setting.

Use each of these photos, below, as visual writing prompts and describe each setting using a variety of sensory details.

In other words, describe how each scene looks, the sounds you would hear there, the smells you would smell, what things you could feel there, and even the tastes you might experience there.

It might feel awkward at first to include details for each of the five senses, but, if you keep practicing this, it will get easier.

After you've created sensory details for each of the above photos (or settings), now create some characters to live in each setting.

Next, have these characters interact through dialogue.

Also, have them take action and move through the setting for some reason important to your storyline.

If nothing else, this little exercise should help you see and understand the importance of sensory details in setting.

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 and sign up for her free email, The Morning Nudge, with tips and resources for writers delivered to your mailbox every weekday morning.

Build a Successful Online Business: 5 Must-Know Steps

As an author / writer, you sell your books and/or services. This means you are in business.

You may not think of yourself as a business person or solopreneur, but you are.

So, now that you realize you are in business, how do you make your online business successful?

Below are the top 5 steps to building a successful online business.

1. You’ve got to plan your way there. And, you’ve got to have vision.

2. I’ve been talking about this one for years now. You’ve got to have a website.

3. You’ve got to build authority. People need to believe you’re the ‘go to’ person for information or engagement.

4. You’ve got to build social proof. Show others that other people see your value.

5. You need to be involved in social media.

6. Bonus Tip: Focus is key.

To read what’s involved in each step, go on over to my in-depth article at WOW! Women on Writing:

5 Steps to Building an Online Business

Please SHARE and comment when you’re there!

Self-Publishing - Main Tips and Worst Mistakes

Guest Post by Chris Mercer

What are the main tips and worst mistakes of self-publishing with no money?

Self-publishing has become a huge business, with it having grown by about 400% between 2010 and 2015 alone. Some even manage to make it big.

According to a story in the New York Times from 2016 there are 40 authors who have sold a million copies on Amazon.

Okay, that’s not a lot, particularly considering that in the same year 700,000 books were self-published. But it does mean it’s possible.

And besides, to begin with, we don’t have to publish a million books.

Most of us are happy with selling some multiple of a thousand (okay, a high multiple of a thousand). That fortunately, is far more achievable.

But to do so, you do have to do a few things and avoid doing some others.

Below are a couple of DON'Ts and a couple of DOs

Don’t think that when you’ve published your book you’re done.

Yes, writing that book was incredibly hard. It took a lot out of you. And really, you’d like to move on to the next one now that it’s finished.

The truth is, however, that you’ve barely gotten started.

Now that you’ve written the book what you need to do next is market it. And that is just as much work as actually getting to that last page.

In fact, it’s probably more work because if you’re anything like me, the writing is what you enjoyed and the marketing is something you really don’t want to do.

But if you don’t do it, your book will never climb the rankings. Your book won't sell.

There are just too many books out there and most of us use the shorthand that we only buy books we’ve heard about and we’ve heard good things about.

Very few people go through the dark corners of the self-published books to decide on what book they’ll buy.

Don’t use one of the self-publishing companies

Most of these companies make their money off the money you pay to publish your book. That’s their main source of income.

While some of them, like hybrid publishing companies, do make money if they sell copies of your book, the truth is most self-published books don’t sell. And so, on average they won’t recoup the money they invested in publishing your book.

In fact, often self-publishing companies have a conflict of interest.

These companies make their money from you. And to boost their profits, they may also be looking to cut corners.

They may not hire the best editors or illustrators, or other workers.

The less they spend on making your book look good, the more of your investment they have left over. So, what you want and what they want are at odds. Hence why I mentioned the conflict of interests.

My suggestion is to research book designers, book publishers, and distributors carefully.

It might be wiser to hire individuals or separate companies to work on the different elements of production.

Build a following

The best way to be successful as a self-published author is to already have people who you can sell your product to.

To do that, you should build a following.

After all, you don’t have money and you do have words, so use the words to push your product, be it a book, an AMA citation generator, or anything else.

You might be tempted to write the book first and then push up your platform. That’s fine if you’re alright with waiting a few years with your sales.

If you would like to start getting some sales immediately, however, then you should definitely start building up that following now.

Build a page. Share some excerpts, insights and ideas from your book.

Build a following on social media and push it relentlessly.

Yes, again, it will be a lot of work.

There is one big advantage of doing it this way, though. Once you’ve got that following you don’t just get to push the first book, you also get to push everything else you’re going to write in the future as well. In fact, each new book builds on the success of the last.

Keep at it

You hear about people who get famous in a day all the time.

But the truth is, most people get famous over a lifetime (yes, even those people who get famous in a day have often been building towards that for decades).

So keep going. Don’t get discouraged if that first book doesn’t sell immediately (or ever) it is still your property.

What’s more, you’ve learned some vital lessons writing it, which you can apply to the next one and the one after, building a reputation all the while.

Another thing to remember is that while it might seem like famous people walked a road that led straight from being unknown to being famous, they didn’t know they were on it when they weren’t famous yet. They, just like you, didn’t know where their big break would come from (or if it would come).

So keep at it. The biggest difference between those who make it and those who don’t is that the ones who do didn’t quit. 


Chris Mercer, pro writer, developer and founder of Citatior, a powerful academic formatting tool for the students.


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Your Networking Challenge

Last month, I challenged you to try a new marketing initiative. Now, I have a networking challenge for you. This networking blitz is a great way to expand your network, find prospects, and gain new business.

Here are five days of options. However, you don't need to do everything. Pick two or three things to do regularly, and choose the day that works best for each task.

1. Message. You may be connected with lots of peers and friends on social media, but when was the last time you had a one-on-one communication? Send a Facebook or LinkedIn message to three people you haven’t heard from in a while. These should be simple, “Hi. How are you?” notes, and see where the conversation leads.

2. Meet. Do a different IRL (in real life) outreach each week. Meet an old colleague for lunch, go to a networking event, have dinner out with a friend, attend an event where you know no one … except for perhaps a friend who is acting as wing-man/wing-woman. You won't meet new people unless you put yourself in a position to do so.

3. Post. Share an update on LinkedIn. It could be your own image and link, letting people know what you have been up to, or a link to a resource your network might find valuable. Be sure to add a comment to anything you post, in order to personalize it. The idea is to show up in the news feed of others, and remind them of you and your business.

4. Comment. Another way to show up in the feed on LinkedIn is to comment on the posts and milestones of friends. This is another opportunity to reconnect with someone with whom you've lost touch.

5. Plan. I know I said you can move these dates around, but Friday is a great day for planning. You can also consider it as a day off of networking for good behavior. Go through your friends’ list on Facebook and LinkedIn, and target who to reach out to the next week. When you do the prep-work, it makes options 1 through 4 much easier.

Use this networking experiment to shake things up, reconnect with old friends, and meet new people,. Then see what comes from it, because you never know ... Good luck and remember to have fun!

What is your favorite way to network, either in person or online? Please share what works for you in the comments.

* * *

Debra Eckerling is a writer, editor and project catalyst, as well as founder of Write On Online, a live and online writers’ support group. Like the Write On Online Facebook Page and join the Facebook Group.  She is author of Write On Blogging: 51 Tips to Create, Write & Promote Your Blog and Purple Pencil Adventures: Writing Prompts for Kids of All Ages, and host of the Guided Goals Podcast and the #GoalChat Twitter Chat. Debra is an editor at Social Media Examiner and a speaker/moderator on the subjects of writing, networking, goal-setting, and social media.

How To Be A Success At A Book Event

Have you ever done an in-person event and felt like it flopped? Don’t worry. This happens to all of us. I have done several different types of in-person events from Craft Fairs to School Visits to Book Fairs. My first attempts were flops, but eventually I got the hang of it. And you will too with a few simple tips.

When I first started out, I used to sit behind my table and hope someone would come over and talk to me. I had my children’s book, a “For Sale” Sign, and some crafts for kids to make. Since my first events were at Craft Fairs, people just assumed I was offering a free craft. Sometimes they would pick up a book and realize I was the author.

You guessed it, it was a flop.

Learning the ropes.

Then, I went to a Book Fair and was seated beside two dynamic authors. I learned very quickly that you had to stand up and engage everyone that walked by.

Now, I don’t know about you, but I personally don’t like when people are too aggressive or assertive when I’m at events as a shopper. So, I wasn’t too sure about this method. But, they sold WAY more books than I did. Yes, I flopped again. But, I learned to stand up and engage with people who came to my table.

For my next craft fair, I made a sign to hang at the back of my tent that said, “Meet the Author and Book Signing” to make it more obvious who I was and what I was doing there. Then, I started engaging people as they walked by asking them if their child wanted to make a craft.

It was easy to ask and kids always wanted to make something, so that got the parent over to my table. I would talk to them about my book and usually the child would like it and the parent would make a purchase. Much better, but I was missing the people who were there but didn’t have their kids with them.

So, I started engaging people not too aggressively, but with a “Hi,” or “I like your shirt,” kind of interaction. Sometimes people would come over and I could talk to them more about my books and I had to just let it go when people didn’t come over.

If they had a child with them, I would offer to let them make a craft, but I would engage the adult. This produced a lot of sales and I no longer flopped at events.

If you are shy, like me, it can be hard to learn the skills necessary to make a sale. But, here are 4 tips that should definitely help you.

Tip #1 stand-up. This puts you at eye level and people are more likely to interact with you.

Tip #2 talk to people as they walk by. It doesn’t have to be overly aggressive, but just a nice “hello” will do as if you are making a friend for the first time.

Tip #3 introduce yourself, tell them you are the author of these books, and begin telling them about your books. More often than not, people will listen politely. If the books pique their interest, great, and if not, that’s okay. You’ve done your best to connect with them. Who knows? They may know someone who would be interested in your books and tell them about you.

Tip #4 always stay positive. This is hard to do, but believe in yourself and your books. You love your book, otherwise you wouldn’t have put all the time and effort into writing it and publishing it.

Go on out there to an in-person event and by following these simple tips, you’ll be a success and not a flop!

Wanda Luthman has her Masters of Arts in both Mental Health Counseling and Guidance Counseling from Rollins College located in beautiful Winter Park, Florida. She has worked as a Licensed Mental Health Counselor, Adjunct Professor, and Hospice Counselor for teens. She’s currently a Guidance Counselor at a local High School. She is an award-winning, best-selling, international author who has self-published 5 children’s books (The Lilac Princess, A Turtle’s Magical Adventure, Gloria and the Unicorn, Little Birdie, and Franky the Finicky Flamingo). She belongs to the National Pen Women Organization in Cape Canaveral; the Florida’s Writers Association; Space Coast Authors; and Brevard Authors Forum. She presently resides in Brevard County Florida with her husband of 22 years and 2 dogs. Her daughter is away at college, like Little Birdie, she has left the nest. To download a free ebook, visit Wanda Luthman’s website at and follow her on Facebook at