Monday, March 21, 2022

Don't Avoid This Writer Responsibility

 


By Terry Whalin @terrywhalin

It was a life-changing moment and a revelation to my writing life. In 2007, I was a literary agent with, the Whalin Literary Agency, a small Arizona-based agency. Mark Victor Hansen, co-author for Chicken Soup for the Soul, invited me to Mega-Book Marketing University in Los Angeles. About 400 people attended this event with well-known speakers over several days. At that point in my writing life, I had written over 50 books for traditional publishers. Two of my proposals received six-figure advances and publishers made beautiful books and got them into bookstores. Yet my books were not selling and I had the negative royalty statements from my publishers to prove it. 

Throughout the conference, I listened carefully and took notes. One of the speakers was Jack Canfield who had just published The Success Principles. For years he has studied what it takes to be successful and I certainly wanted to be successful as an author. The first of his 64 principles is: “Take 100% Responsibility for Your Life.”

I didn’t want to take 100% responsibility.  I wanted to write the books and then have my publisher sell the books. Wasn’t marketing their responsibility? Didn’t they sell the books into the bookstore? I was writing excellent books and delivering them on deadline and working through each editorial process. But I was doing very little to market the books. I had a single website with my name but no email list, no social media, no blog or other type of writer’s platform. At Mega-Book Marketing University, I learned publishers make books and distribute them to bookstores. Here’s what I was missing and I learned: the author drives readers into the bookstore (brick and mortar or online) to buy those books. Ultimately, the author sells the books to the readers.

Like many writers that I meet, my expectations were unrealistic and I was not taking my responsibility as a writer. I made a decision to change. I started to blog and today my blog has over 1500 searchable entries in it. I began an email list (which continues to be a unique way to reach my readers).  Also I’m active on social media with over 190,000 Twitter followers and over 19,400 LinkedIn connections. For years, I post on these platforms 12-15 times a day.

If I’m honest, I don’t want 100% responsibility for my own success as a writer. Yet from my decades in publishing, I’ve watched many things go wrong in the publishing process. Good books don’t get marketed and go out of print. Editors change while you are working with a publisher. Those situations are just two of a myriad of things which can push your book off the rails in the wrong direction. I can’t control my publisher, my editor, my agent, my marketing person or ____. But I can control myself and my own efforts.

My acceptance of this responsibility means I have to continually grow and learn as a writer. It means I often take courses or read books and I’m always looking for new ways to build my audience and reach more people.  Thankfully as writers we are not alone. Others have shown us how they have achieved success. This path may work for me or it may not. There is no success formula used for every book to make it sell into the hands of readers. Instead there are basic principles others are using to build their audience and find readers. I have one certainty: it will not fly if you don’t try. I continue to take action—and encourage you to do the same. It’s the writer’s journey.

Tweetable: 

Are you looking for someone else to sell your books? This prolific writer andeditor has taken an unusual responsibility. Learn the details here. (ClickToTweet)

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W. Terry Whalin, a writer and acquisitions editor lives in Colorado. A former magazine editor and former literary agent, Terry is an acquisitions editor at Morgan James Publishing. He has written more than 60 nonfiction books including Jumpstart Your Publishing Dreams and Billy Graham. Get one of Terry’s recent books, 10 Publishing Myths for only $10, free shipping and bonuses worth over $200. To help writers catch the attention of editors and agents, Terry wrote his bestselling Book Proposals That $ell, 21 Secrets ToSpeed Your Success (The Revised Edition). Check out his free Ebook, Platform Building Ideas for Every Author. His website is located at: www.terrywhalin.com. Connect with Terry on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

10 comments:

Karen Cioffi said...

Terry, this is a motivating article. Authors too often don't get that marketing their books is a must, then they wonder why their books aren't selling. I noticed an increase in sales once I actively used social media to promote my books. Marketing matters.

Terry Whalin said...

Karen,

Thanks for this comment and feedback. Yes each of us would love for someone else to take the reins of selling our books--but I've learned the hard way it falls to us as authors.

Terry

Linda Wilson said...

Terry, thank you for your insightful article. Taking full responsibility is so true. I'm still struggling with trying to find time to market. I've been working with a media specialist who suggests picking a day and doing nothing but marketing for at least two hours. I'm going to try it. The other days I at least look at results from my efforts but I have to admit, It's discouraging as I find it very hard to make sales. But I'm continually trying to make the mark. Part of my plan is to get better known locally by selling books at fairs and getting acquainted with local bookstores. All efforts should help!

Terry Whalin said...

Linda,

Thank you for this comment. There is no formula which works for everyone--so you need to explore many options to find the right one for you and your books. For example, some people sell lots of books on the radio while others do radio with little results. You are wise to begin locally and expand from there. Persistence and consistency is one of the keys in my view. Pulling for your success,

Terry

deborah lyn said...

Love this article, its insight & motivation!
"My acceptance of this responsibility means I have to continually grow and learn as a writer. It means I often take courses or read books and I’m always looking for new ways to build my audience and reach more people."
Terry, you are a fabulous example for every writer! Thank you!

Terry Whalin said...

Deborah Lyn,

Thank you for the encouragement and comment. I don't have everything figured out and continue to learn and work at seizing different opportunities--our life in publishing.

Terry

Carolyn Howard-Johnson said...

Wow. Your story should be required reading at every authors’ event and classroom! Kudos, @terrywhalin—not just for telling your story but for being flexible enough to change!
In admiration,
Carolyn Howard-Johnson
HowtoDoItFrugally.com

Terry Whalin said...

Carolyn,

Thank you. change is hard but everyone can do it.

Terry

Carolyn Howard-Johnson said...

@ terrywhalin. “Can” is a good word, but in this case we need more “wills.”😊

Terry Whalin said...

Carolyn,

Yes will takes effort--that sadly many do not do.

Terry

Every Writer Needs Connections

  By W. Terry Whalin   @terrywhalin Wherever you are in the writing world: brand new or experienced every writer needs publishing connection...