Monday, November 21, 2022

Five Ways to Break Through the Competition


By Terry Whalin (@terrywhalin

While many people are publishing books with over 4,500 new books every day (including the self-published books), the competitive nature of this work is rarely discussed. Editors and agents get pitches and proposals from many different authors. What are some of the difference makers that every author can use to break through the competition?

As a writer and an editor, I’ve been in publishing for decades and met thousands of authors. Plus I’ve been studying publishing and interviewing hundreds of bestselling authors about how they practice their craft. In this article, I want to give you five characteristics which will make you stand out from the competition. 

Be an Action Taker

Fear of failure and rejection may be holding you back on taking action and getting your writing into the market. Here’s the truth: every writer (including me) gets rejected and tries things that fail. In the face of such challenges, I continue taking action and encourage you to do it too. It’s been decades since I published a devotional in The Upper Room because I hadn’t tried it. Susan King, a long-time Upper Room editor, encouraged me to submit. I followed their guidelines (key) and submitted four devotions. Three were rejected and one was accepted. Last year, on May 12th my devotion reached six million readers (follow this linkto read it). Yes it up to 300 words but you have to send the right words. If you don’t pitch or submit then you can’t get published. Have to take action even if you fail.

When you attend a writers’ conference and an editor or agent invites you to submit, take action and do it. You would be shocked at the few writers who actually follow through and send the requested material. Yes you risk rejection but taking action is the path to possibly getting published. And I would encourage you to follow-up even if the editor made the request weeks or months ago. I've had some authors approach me with their material even years after they pitched it originally. Admittedly they are a bit hesitant but still reach out to me. Here's the good news, after ten years, I'm still actively looking and read their submission. Whenever a professional opens the door, you have an opportunity to march through it but have to take action. If you move forward, then you increase your desirability to other professionals.

Be Connected to Your Readers

Writers dread this word—platform. Editors and agents are looking for authors who have a connection to their readers or audience. Desirable authors have a platform. I understand (from my own actions) that it will take work and effort for you to build these connections. Every writer begins with a limited number of connections but the greater your connections, the more you will become a desirable author to others. The sooner you start this process, the better. Here are some action ideas for you: Begin or grow your email list. Begin or grow a blog. Increase your connections on your LinkedIn account. Take these steps to get connected to your audience.

Always Learning New Things

Desirable writers invest and attend writers’ conferences and are always learning something new. They try different types of writing and have learned to write a query letter or a book proposal. Then they submit their work with excellence. There are many different types of writing and I have a list in the first chapter of Jumpstart Your Publishing Dreams (follow this link to the sample).  

Continually Pitching 

Desirable authors are always pitching something new. There is always something new to write like a magazine article that ties to your latest book or a guest blog post or a news release to the media or a pitch to a podcast. The list of possibilities is endless. Everything I publish begins with pitching someone. It’s a key part of the business no matter how much you have published. 

No one said the life of a writer would be simple or easy but it is filled with great opportunity. You can break through the competition and become a desirable author. Our writing changes lives and I know this fact because years ago a book changed my life.  

Which of these ways resonated with you? Let me know in the comments below. 

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Discover five ways to break through the competition. This prolific writer and editor gives 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 Terry’s newest book, 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 To Speed Your Success. Jim Cox, Editor-in-Chief of Midwest Book Review wrote, If you only have time to read one how to guide to getting published, whether it be traditional publishing or self-publishing, Book Proposals That Sell  is that one DIY instructional book.  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.

8 comments:

Karen Cioffi said...

Terry, thanks for sharing these tips on breaking through the competition of publishing your book. Taking action steps is crucial, whether writing, submitting, book marketing, building a platform, social media, attending writing events, and networking. It's certainly not an easy path but as you say, "it is filled with great opportunity."

Terry Whalin said...

Karen,

Thank you for this comment and feedback. Publishing is a complex process with many details and twists and turns for every author. It all starts with understanding then taking action.

Terry

deborah lyn said...

As always, your tips are very helpful, Thank you Terry! deborah

Terry Whalin said...

Deborah,

Grateful for you, your comment and your feedback.

Terry

Carolyn Howard-Johnson said...

Oh, if more authors understood the importance of thi advice, Terry: “ Desirable writers invest and attend writers’ conferences and are always learning something new. They try different types of writing and have learned to write a query letter or a book proposa…”. Thank you!
Best,
Carolyn

Linda Wilson said...

Terry, I enjoyed your article very much. We do need to "put ourselves out there." Your words are very encouraging. Thank you for sharing your expertise.

Terry Whalin said...

Carolyn,

Thank you for this comment and picking up on the lifetime of learning. One of my writer friends has written over 200 books and retired. He will turn 90 next month and is continuing to read, learn and grow because he has decided to continue this path forever. He is an example for every writer that wants to break through the competition.

Terry

Terry Whalin said...

Linda,

Thank you for your feedback and encouragement. Every writer has to put themselves out there--especially if we want others to read our work. As John Kremer, the book marketing guru, has said there are 1001 Ways to Market Our Books. As writers, we need to pick one or two and get going. King Solomon had it right when he said there is nothing new under the sun. Everything that I wrote in my article stands on the foundation of what I've learned (and continue to learn from others).

Terry

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