Showing posts with label Terry Whalin. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Terry Whalin. Show all posts

Only One Life


By Terry Whalin 
@terrywhalin

Sometimes during my day, I will take a few minutes and watch some YouTube or Tik Tok videos. Whenever I watch, I make sure to limit it so I don’t fall down a rabbit hole and lose a lot of time. One day I stumbled on this minute and a half video where billionaire Warren Buffett was speaking to a group of students. He encourages them to imagine that he would give each of them whatever car they wanted. These students could select the make and color of the car. His gift would come with one “catch.” His gift  would be the only car the student would receive for their lifetime. Buffett knows each of us use more than one car in a lifetime but then he calls to our attention that we only get one body and one mind for a lifetime.

The British missionary to China, C.T. Studd wrote a stirring poem called Only One Life which begins, “Only one life, ’twill soon be past, only what’s done for Christ will last.” It’s easy when we are young to not think about self-care for our body and mind. In this article I want to encourage you to take a portion of your writing day and fit in some self-care actions.

Through the years, my wife, Christine, has watched me gain and lose weight six or seven times. As someone who loves eating candy and anything sweet, I mount a daily battle in the food area for every meal. It’s an important element in my personal self-care and I’ve learned balance is more important than a particular weight. As I’ve studied my ancestors, I learn the majority of them were known as “big” men or overweight. My simple goal is not to be big and something I work at daily.

Let’s look at several areas of self-care: physical, emotional and mental. I’ve started with physical. It’s more than eating. As writers we spend a lot of time sitting in front of our computers. Several times a week, I spend time walking around my neighborhood. Often, I’m listening to an audiobook while I take a brisk walk and I do it throughout the year. Consistent exercise is an important value. Also, physical rest or sleep is important to fit into my day.

In the emotional area, I will call a friend or two throughout the day without any agenda other than checking in on them. It is an important element in my daily activities.

For the mental area of my self-care, I regularly listen to audiobooks but also read different types of books such as nonfiction, fiction, general market, Christian, how-to, children’s books and many others. In our negative world, each day I spend time in the Bible and have been reading it cover to cover for years. Also I limit my consumption of news and social media as part of my effort to achieve balance. Yes, I have an active social media presence, but I control my own consumption in this area.

Heres the reality: as much as the next person I fail in achieving these goals. When that happens, I make a point not to beat myself up but to dust myself off and get back on track.

Use the Compound Effect

Recently, I listened and read The Compound Effect by Darren Hardy. Many of the examples in the book relate to self-care and show you don’t have to make drastic changes to improve your life. Instead, you can make small adjustments which over time will reap large results. Each of us need to take daily actions to care for ourselves and our only life.

Tweetable: 

In the rush of daily living, it’s easy to forget we only have one life. This prolific writer and editor encourages us to practice self-care. Learn the details here.  (ClickToTweet)

W. Terry Whalin, a writer and acquisitions editor lives in California. 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 recent 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. Check out his free Ebook, Platform Building Ideas for Every Author. His website is located at: www.terrywhalin.com. Connect with Terry on TwitterFacebook and LinkedIn.

Take An Underused Author Path


By Terry Whalin 
@terrywhalin

As I meet writers at conferences and speak with them, the majority are focused on publishing a book. It makes sense most people speak to me about books since I’ve been an acquisitions editor at a New York publisher for over ten years. There are over 7,000 new books published every day (including the self-published books). This number shows the huge volume of printed books pouring into the marketplace. Yet if you study the sales numbers, you gain a different perspective. The average self-published book sells 100 to 200 copies during the lifetime of the book. I know it takes a lot of effort and energy to write a 50,000-word nonfiction book or an 80,000-word novel. In this article, I want to point out an underused path for your writing which has much greater audience reach and potential: writing for print magazines.

Many years ago, I began writing for print magazines. These publications have a high standard of quality (much more than online which is much easier), help you to learn to write for a particular reader and to a particular word length. One of the huge benefits is reaching more readers with your work and building your presence and reputation in the marketplace. It is common in the magazine world to reach 100,000 or 200,000 people. My 250-word devotion in The Upper Room reached over six million readers.  

How to Begin

Whether you write fiction or nonfiction, every writer can write for print magazines. The Christian Writer’s Market Guide lists many of these publications. Each one has different publishing needs and requirements. It’s basic but many people skip this important step: read and follow the submission guidelines. The editor is telling you exactly what they need and expect you to follow their guidance. When I was an editor at Decision with the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, I was amazed to see the many submissions which had no connection to the editorial needs of the publication. These articles and queries were quickly rejected and not published. Our circulation back then was 1.8 million copies, and with each rejection. the writer missed an opportunity to reach these readers.

While there are many different types of magazine articles, I encourage you to try writing a type of article that every writer can do: the personal experience story. Whether you are brand new or experienced, each of us have unusual experiences. It’s key to capture the dialogue and details when it happens, then use this raw material for your storytelling. You can also use personal experience stories in devotions or how-to articles because these personal experiences will add value to your article.

An Insider Tip

When you look at the various magazines and publications, it’s easy to get overwhelmed with the possibilities. Let me give you an idea where to begin--if you write for the Christian market: Sunday school take-home publications. These editors need material for 52 weeks which is more frequent than a monthly publication. They use personal experience stories but follow their submission guidelines to give them the right material.

If you have published books, in one or two sentences at the end of the article, you can include a single website link for the reader. This process is a simple way to build your platform and credibility in the publishing world because literary agents and book editors read magazines as they search for writers. 

While many of the Christian magazines, don’t pay much, the opportunity and exposure make them an underused path to publishing—yet one I continue using and recommend you do as well. 

Tweetable: 

Are you looking for an underused author path to publishing? This prolific writer and editor gives the details here. (ClickToTweet)

W. Terry Whalin, a writer and acquisitions editor lives in California. 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 recent 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. Check out his free Ebook, Platform Building Ideas for Every Author. His website is located at: www.terrywhalin.com. Connect with Terry on TwitterFacebook and LinkedIn.

Build A Body of Work


By Terry Whalin 
@terrywhalin

Have you had golden moments of conversation which stick with you and your writing life for years? These may happen late at night during a writer’s conference or maybe in the car with someone on the way to a conference? During my decades in this business, I’ve had amazing opportunities and had numerous special conversations. 

Years ago, I was on the faculty of an East Coast writer’s conference and had several hours in a van to meet and get acquainted with a literary agent. It was early in my writing career, and he asked me, “What are you doing to build a body of work?” I’d never heard the term “body of work.” As we talked, I understood this agent was probing me for a long-term game plan in the writing world. At that time, I didn’t have a long-term plan and had written for a few magazines and published a couple of books. 

As writers, I find most of us are focused on publishing (or promoting) a single book or writing for a magazine. We are not thinking about building a body of work. This agent and I discussed our mutual friend, Jerry B. Jenkins who has written a variety of types of books but also published in print magazines. To build a body of work, it is important to intentionally be diverse. For example, I’ve written adult books but also children’s books. I’ve written for adult print magazines, but I also wrote a cover story for Clubhouse, a children’s magazine with Focus on the Family.

Early in my writing life, I began writing profiles of different bestselling authors. Some of my close writer friends questioned me about why I was doing this type of writing. I ignored the questions and continued writing these types of articles. I’ve interviewed over 150 bestselling authors and learned much more from each interview than I could possibly include in a 1200-to-1500-word article. I’m one of the few journalists who has interviewed Chuck Swindoll. Chuck told me, “There are no heroes in the Body of Christ. We are all like a bunch of guys in the back of a pick-up truck trying to get our stuff together.” Each one of these interviews brought great opportunity and helped me build my body of work. On another occasion, I was on the back lot of Disney Animation interviewing Glen Keane when he was drawing Beast in the film, Beauty and the Beast

For you to build a body of work, you will have to learn some key skills like how to write a query letter and how to write a book proposal.  When you learn the skill of writing these specialized tools, you can use them many times to pitch the editor, get an assignment then complete the writing on their deadline. When you are building a body of work as you are published more frequently, your reputation among the editors will increase which opens more doors and opportunities for your writing. 

The process of building a body of work doesn’t happen overnight but it is something every writer can do with their writing. What steps are you going to take to build a body of work?

Tweetable: 

Are you building a body of work? This prolific writer and editor encourages authors to take a long view in their writing life. Learn the details here. (ClickToTweet)

W. Terry Whalin, a writer and acquisitions editor lives in California. 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 recent 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. Check out his free Ebook, Platform Building Ideas for Every Author. His website is located at: www.terrywhalin.com. Connect with Terry on TwitterFacebook and LinkedIn.

Consistent Action Instead of Perfection

By Terry Whalin @terrywhalin

We love a good story. When we hear or read the words, it makes us lean into the conversation or the words fly past as we turn the pages. It’s a skill every writer needs to learn and constantly improve. Some of us write our stories, then rewrite them and tweak and rewrite them—to the point we never submit them. They are constantly in motion and never submitted. It’s this action that I’d like to address in this article.

Over my decades in publishing, I’ve had great opportunities to write for magazines and various books. It’s not that I’m the best storyteller in the room but I am one of the more consistent and persistent authors. It’s a key trait. At conferences, I meet with editors and pitch my ideas. The editor says, “Great idea. Write that up and send it to me.”

After the meeting, I make a little note then I go home, write it up and send it to them. Now taking that action doesn’t mean I get published. It means I gave myself a chance to get published. It’s key to take action and submit your material. If you don’t submit, then you don’t give yourself a chance for that to happen.

As an editor, I go to conferences and meet with writers and listen to their ideas. I encourage them, “I’m interested. Send it to me.” Then I hand them my business card. What I’ve found is only about 10% will actually follow up and send it to me. I follow-up and ask for it but still only a small percentage will send it.

The process is balancing act. You have to learn the skill of storytelling. I encourage you to perfect this skill in the magazine world. It’s easier to write 1200-word magazine article than a 50,000-word book. A magazine article needs an interesting beginning, solid middle then a takeaway ending (a single point to the article). AND if you put ten of these articles together into a single theme, then you have a book manuscript. 

Consistent action is one of the keys. Admittedly we want our writing to be excellent and help others. I’ve seen many people get stuck in the process and never submit their words for publication. Even if your material isn’t perfect, you need to get it into the market and published.

A resource to help you in this area is the book from Michael Masterson called Ready, Fire, Aim: Zero To $100 Million In No Time Flat. Whether you buy the book or check it out of your library or listen to the audio version of the book, you will be encouraged to move forward even if it isn’t perfect. 

The publishing world is full of opportunity, but you have to build the relationship, follow-up and then take action and submit your material. It is not complicated but requires consistent action taking.

A true statement: nothing is built instantly. Instead, it takes consistent and persistent effort. If you make such an effort, then you can find your place in the world of publishing. If you pitched something years ago and never sent it, then you have not missed your opportunity. I encourage you to reach out to that editor and still send it. The other day, a writer who had pitched something to me in 2018 emailed and asked if she could still send her submission. Immediately I responded that she should send it.  I’m continuing to look for the right books and the right authors. If I can help you, don’t hesitate to reach out to me. 

Tweetable: 

Are you a perfectionist? This prolific writer and editor encourages consistent action instead of perfection. Learn the details here. (ClickToTweet)


W. Terry Whalin, a writer and acquisitions editor lives in California. 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 recent 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. Check out his free Ebook, Platform Building Ideas for Every Author. His website is located at: www.terrywhalin.com. Connect with Terry on TwitterFacebook and LinkedIn.

Six Reasons to Review Books


By Terry Whalin 
@terrywhalin

For many years, several times a week, publishers and authors send new books which arrive in my mailbox. To libraries, I’ve given away so many books that a church in Kentucky was able to gain accreditation for their school and it amounted to thousands of books. The mayor of the town even declared a Terry Whalin Day (a one-day event). I receive many more new books than I could possibly read—especially since I do it in my “free” time and write book reviews. Whether you are a new writer or experienced professional, in this article, I want to give six reasons to write book reviews.

As an editor, I often ask writers what they are reading. If they write fiction, I’m expecting they will tell me about novels they are reading. Years ago, I met an older man who had written a romance novel. He confessed that he did not read romance novels but only wrote them. This answer did not give me the right impression about this author. You don’t write a novel just because it is a large genre. Writers are readers and writing reviews documents your reading habits—and my first reason for writing reviews. 

Writing reviews helps you understand your market and audience. I encourage you to read and write about other books in your area of the market. As a writer, you can either be a competitor or cooperate and support your competition. I believe you are stronger if you support your competition with reviews.

Book reviews sell books and everyday people read reviews to make buying decisions. If your book on Amazon has less than 10 reviews and has been released for a year, that gives one message where if it has over 50 reviews (mostly four and five stars) then that sends a different message to the reader. As authors, we need to continually work at getting more reviews—even if your book has been out for a while.

When you write a five-star review for an author, reach out to that author and tell them about it. Reviews are an important means for you to support other authors and build relationships.

Books change lives and this reason is my fifth one about why to write book reviews. You can influence others to buy a book and read it from your review. I know firsthand books change lives because a key part of how I came to Christ years ago involved reading a book.I read a book called Jesus the Revolutionary and you can follow this link to read the magazine article that I wrote called Two Words That Changed My Life. Books can have powerful impact on our lives.

My final reason: Writing the short form is an important skill for every writer. For example, I do not review electronic books—only print books. If I read or listen to a book, then about 99% of the time, I will write a review on Amazon and Goodreads. Create a personal standard for your book review. Mine are not a single sentence but at least 100 words and often include a quote from the book to show that I’ve read it with a unique image.

Are you reviewing books or going to start reviewing books? Let me know in the comments below.

Tweetable: 

Do you write book reviews? This prolific writer and editor gives six reasons to write reviews. Learn the details here. (ClickToTweet)


W. Terry Whalin, a writer and acquisitions editor lives in California. 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 recent 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. Check out his free Ebook, Platform Building Ideas for Every Author. His website is located at: www.terrywhalin.com. Connect with Terry on TwitterFacebook and LinkedIn.

Do You Have a Side Hustle?


By Terry Whalin 
@terrywhalin

Do you have a side hustle? Almost every writer has one but maybe you aren’t calling it a side hustle. I’m talking about something you do on the side apart from your main writing. Last month I encouraged every author to have a safety net. In this article, I want to give some ideas about various paths to diversity your income stream and begin a side hustle. Sometimes the side hustle will take over your main task.

Here’s why you need to read my advice and get ideas for your own life: I have not had a full-time job with a regular salary for decades. Within the publishing community I have fulfilled various roles: acquisitions editor, writer, author, co-author/ collaborator/ ghostwriter, internet marketer, teacher at conferences, and many others. Whichever role I’m taking at a particular time interacting with you, the bottom-line is I am an independent contractor with diverse ways of making income. It is nothing steady and a lot like the up and downs of riding a rollercoaster. Yet I also compare it to a monthly walk of faith. 

Decades ago, for 17 years I was a missionary with Wycliffe Bible Translators. During this period, I raised my own financial support through monthly donations from individuals and a few churches. Through the years, I saw many times the Lord provided in unusual ways—and this process continues during my life as a writer. Admittedly there are some tests of my faith experiences, but I can tell you God has been faithful to provide through my work and writing.

The Role of Non-paying Writing

You may read my writing here, or on my blog, The Writing Life (subscribe to it via email here), book reviews on Amazon and Goodreads, my social media posts and other writing. The bulk of this writing earns zero income. Why do it? For the exposure, the marketing and other reasons. Podcasts, radio interviews, etc. are all about exposure to my free information and lead magnets where readers sign up for my email list. The statistics have proven that someone has to hear about your book at least seven times before they buy it.  These nonpaying markets are about exposure which sometimes leads to other writing opportunities.

Ideas for Multiple Income Streams

In the information below, I’m going to give a number of different possible ideas and resources. Whatever you write, look at these opportunities as side ventures that you can do in addition to your main writing task. At times these side hustles will become your predominate task for a day or several days. From my experience, the more diversity you can add into this mixture, the better. The first chapter of Jumpstart Your Publishing Dreams (which I originally self-published) includes a detailed list of different types of writing. Here’s the link (a 29-page PDF) for you to look at the variety of writing tasks and try some of these for your writing. 

Here’s nine different ways to get you started (Please copy and paste URLs that are not hyperlinked into your browser.):

1. Write and sell your own books. In this teleseminar, I give about a dozen different ways to make money with your books. 

2. Edit books for others. Some people have made a consistent career editing books for others. 

3. Earn Affiliate Income. I give the details and a free ebook about how to make money with affiliate income (http://www.right-writing.com/makemoney.html?unique=15872190210738811). 

4. Create Online courses. Creating book proposals is one of my areas of expertise and I created an online course: https://www.writeabookproposal.com/

5. Speak at events online and in person To get these opportunities, you have to pitch directors and other leaders.

6. Write Work-Made-For-Hire Projects (Learn more at http://terrywhalin.blogspot.com/2020/08/five-reasons-to-write-work-made-for-hire.html.) Many writers resist such projects but they are great for cash flow and consistent work.

7. Ghostwriting/ Collaboration. Many writers only want to write their own books but there are an infinite number of stories to write for others. 

8. What do you teach? I have an inexpensive program to teach you the details. Also, a free teleseminar on how to get more mileage from your content. 

9. Magazine writing to high paying markets. Some writers have stopped writing articles because the Christian market doesn’t pay much for them. In the general market many publications pay $1 per word or more—and you can write for them.

Find Your Side Hustle

Throughout this article, I’ve included website links to audios and other resources. First, save this article, then follow each link and explore it for your writing. Then take consistent action on the side hustles that make sense to you and get started. If you write fiction, consider writing nonfiction. If you write nonfiction, consider adding fiction to your mixture. The possibilities and opportunities are endless, but you have to open the door and get started. 

Tweetable

Do you have a side hustle? This prolific writer and editor recommends you create diverse income streams. Learn the details here. (ClickToTweet)


W. Terry Whalin, a writer and acquisitions editor lives in California. 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 recent 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. Check out his free Ebook, Platform Building Ideas for Every Author. His website is located at: www.terrywhalin.com. Connect with Terry on TwitterFacebook and LinkedIn.

Every Writer Needs A Safety Net


By Terry Whalin 
@terrywhalin

Every summer, Peru, Indiana has a local circus to celebrate the history of the town. Students train all year for these performances. That summer one student walked the high wire on stilts. Each time the crowd gasped because he performed without a safety net. As an intern at the Peru Daily Tribune, I wrote most of the material in the annual circus edition.

As writers, I know the importance of having a safety net and in this article, I want to give you several reasons for this added protection. Because of my role as an editor, I’ve met numerous writers at conferences. I recall one writer boldly telling me that she had quit her day job and was writing her novel full-time. Yes, she was all-in for the publishing world—and I only listened but recognized her potential danger and folly.

Publishing Is Unpredictable

This week a New York Times bestselling novelist was telling me about how several of her publishers have gone out of business. No one could have predicted the challenges to the supply chain or a worldwide pandemic or many other factors inside publishing. There are many decision points where despite your best intentions, the projections for book sales do not happen.

Life Is Unpredictable

While it happened decades ago, I clearly recall the details. I had been out to lunch with a major Christian magazine editor and was telling her that my publishing company was “part of a revolution.” A few hours later, I sat at a conference table with my editorial director, and he began, “I’ve got to let you go.”  I’ve faced unexpected job changes, divorce, illness, death of a family member and even a costly lawsuit. No one has a crystal ball to forecast the events in our future. As a Christian, I understand God has numbered our days and knows the shortness of our lives.

How to Keep Moving Forward

While publishing and life can be unpredictable, I want to give you several action steps to take to help your writing life to continue to move ahead.

1.  Don’t quit your day job. Many well-known authors have written in their off times and kept their day jobs. Several years ago, the New York Public Library published an article about 10 Famous Writers who kept their day jobs. I encourage you to read this article and learn about authors like Kurt Vonnegut and Margaret Atwood. These authors show us the value of their day jobs and how they continued publishing and writing.  

2. Diversify Your Writing. There are many ways to get published and when one aspect slows or folds, you can tackle another type of writing. In the first chapter of Jumpstart Your Publishing Dreams. I have a fairly extensive list of various types of writing. Follow this link to download the chapter.

3. Keep working to expand your personal network and relationships and look for the open doors. Who you know is almost as important in publishing as what you know. I continue to expand my connections with editors, agents and others. As you help them, they will help you. You never know when a relationship from the past can become an important one. 

While publishing has challenges there are also many opportunities—if you are actively looking for the right one. Make your plans and get knocking on those doors to see which one will open for your writing. It’s the active role I’m taking for my own safety net.   

Tweetable

Do you have a writer’s safety net? This prolific writer and editor details the reasons every writer needs a safety net. (ClickToTweet)


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 recent 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. Check out his free Ebook, Platform Building Ideas for Every Author. His website is located at: www.terrywhalin.com. Connect with Terry on TwitterFacebook and LinkedIn.

An Important Skill for Writers: The Gentle Follow-Up


By Terry Whalin 
@terrywhalin

The publishing world is full of things which drop through the cracks. Your ability to use the gentle follow-up is a critical skill to acquire and use. Repeatedly in my years in publishing, I have used the gentle follow-up to keep things from getting stalled and not happening. 

As an editor, several years ago I was headed to a large conference where I wanted to sell some books. I rushed my book through the process and even had a case of books dropped shipped from the printer to the conference. At the event, I sold some copies. Then I received an email from one of those people who bought my book. She asked, “Are you going to fix the typos in this book?” I could have ignored the email, but I asked for more specifics. To my horror, I learned there were many typos in my published book. I engaged a proofreader and paid to have the type on this book reset. Thankfully all of this happened before the book’s publication date. My gentle follow-up with this reader saved me a great deal of future heartache.

Let’s face reality. Mistakes happen in publishing and as an author you need to be actively engaged in getting everything into excellent shape. Recently I received a book with the word Foreword misspelled on the cover (Forward). This word was spelled correctly on the interior pages but not on the cover.  The authors or someone in the publishing process could have fixed this error but I will not be writing these authors because the book has been published.

I understand the esteem writers hold editors and agents (since I’ve been a part of this group for years). Unfortunately, this esteem creates some fear for the writers to follow-up with these professionals. In this article, I want to encourage you to use the gentle follow-up.

Notice the key adjective in my title: gentle. Why gentle? From my decades in publishing, I understand there are many moving pieces in the process. I have high personal goals to accomplish a great deal every day. Yet I would be the first to admit many things are not accomplished and left undone when I stop each day. You can’t know the pressure or personal situations for each editor or agent who you are approaching. Maybe they have been traveling. Maybe they have been ill or tied up in a personal crisis with a child or a last-minute book project. As you approach these gatekeepers, understand they have a lot of pitches and manuscripts. If you ask for a quick response, you will probably get the answer you don’t want: “no, thank you.” I’ve found that “yes” takes time.

If several weeks or a couple of months have passed with no response, it is appropriate to check in with a brief email to see if they received your submission. Was it lost and you need to resend it? Notice my questions and focus are gentle and not accusing anyone or pushing for a decision. Technology isn’t perfect and things do get lost sometimes and need to be resent. 

With this gentle follow-up I didn’t call or text my editor or agent. The phone or a text is more of an in-your-face action where the receiver can respond to their email whenever they can answer.

This gentle follow-up skill is not just for book submissions. I used it recently with a magazine editor I was trying to reach. As long as you are not pushing for a decision, your follow-up shows your professionalism (and persistence). Both of these qualities are a critical aspect of the publishing business. 

Every writer needs to acquire this important skill. Like any skill, you have to exercise it on a regular basis. Your tone and words are important so handle it with care and you will improve your communication and respect from your fellow professionals. Many people forget publishing is a communication business and the gentle follow-up is good communication. 

Tweetable

According to this prolific editor and writer, one of the most important skills for every writer is the gentle follow-up. Learn the details here.

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 recent 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. Check out his free Ebook, Platform Building Ideas for Every Author. His website is located at: www.terrywhalin.com. Connect with Terry on TwitterFacebook and LinkedIn.

Why Writers Need to Build An Audience

  


By W. Terry Whalin @terrywhalin

At every writer’s conference or group of writers, there is buzz around the word “platform.” Editors and literary agents are searching for authors with a platform or a personal connection to their readers. What’s that about? Many authors believe their task is to write an excellent book and get it to the right publisher. Don’t publishers sell books to bookstores? The questions are good ones and in this article, I want to give you some answers from my decades of writing books for publishers, yet also sitting on the inside of several publishing houses as an acquisitions editor. Admittedly publishing is a complex business and I’ve been studying the various nuisances of it for years (and still learning more every day).

              Writing a Good Book Is Foundational

While I’ve looked at thousands of submissions in my years in publishing, I also have interviewed other acquisitions editors. During one interview, I asked, “How do you know when you find a good submission?”

He said, “Terry, I read the first sentence and if it is a good sentence, I read the next one. If it is a good paragraph, I read the next one. If it is a good page, I read the next one.” You want to start your manuscript with a bang and draw the editor immediately into your writing. Don’t bury your best material over in a later chapter because the editor may not read that far. Good writing in your submission is essential.

Every Writer Needs a Proposal

Whether you write fiction or nonfiction, you need to put the writing energy into creating a proposal. I understand they take lots of work to create. Two of my proposals got six-figure advances from publishers (and I have lengthy stories about what happened with those books—for another time). Your proposal shows you understand the market and your target reader. It includes your game plan about how you are going to reach your audience and sell books. The proposal is an important document for you to write even if you self-publish. I have a free book proposal checklist

The Editor’s Search

I often tell authors that making books is easy but selling books is hard. Over 4,500 new books are published every day (including the self-published books). Yes that is a lot of books and why every author needs to have a plan and ability to reach readers. As editors, we are searching for these types of writers. 

Publishers produce beautiful books and sell them into bookstores (online and brick and mortar). Authors drive readers to those bookstores and sell the books out into the hands of readers. Publishers certainly have an investment in the books they publish but authors need to be even more invested in reaching readers. It’s what many people call building a platform (audience).

Action Is Key

It’s easy to get overwhelmed with this process and confused about what action to take. Here’s the key (no matter what you are writing): do something and do it consistently day after day. Here are some basic facts about this process:

• Everyone starts small and builds

• Your personal email list is more important than your social media audience

• You should focus on what you can control (email list) instead of rented media in places like Twitter or Facebook (which you don’t own or control)

• It takes hard work for every writer but you need to do this work

• There are many different ways to build your audience. Pick one or two and see what works best for your writing.

• If the process were simple everyone would succeed (sell many books),

• Persistence and consistency are important for every writer.

Every editor and agent is actively looking for the right author who is building their connections to readers and has learned how to sell books. I’ve been in some of the top literary agencies and publishers in the nation. From their questions, I know they are actively looking for these authors—no matter what how they respond to your pitches. Be encouraged and keep growing in your craft (ability to write) and your knowledge about your readers and the market. It doesn’t happen overnight but can happen if you continue to work at it. 

Tweetable:

Why Do Writers Need to Build An Audience? Isn’t that what publishers do? Get the details from prolific writer and editor Terry Whalin. (Click-To-Tweet)

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 recent 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. Check out his free Ebook, Platform Building Ideas for Every Author. His website is located at: www.terrywhalin.com. Connect with Terry on TwitterFacebook and LinkedIn.

Should I Self-Publish?

 

By W. Terry Whalin @terrywhalin

I could see the resolution in the eyes of this author across the table from me when she said, “I’m going to self-publish.” 


We were meeting at a conference (pre-pandemic) and talking about her manuscript. I liked the shape of her proposal, her title and the energy that she had put into her book idea. In just a few minutes, I could see the potential. I acquire or find books for one of the top independent publishers. We spent the next few minutes exploring why she wanted to self-publish. I’ve heard these words from other authors:


“Everyone is doing it.”


“Isn’t this the best way for any author to get started in publishing?”


“I want to get it out quickly while the market is hot for my topic.”


“I don’t want to give up my rights to a publisher (and the control).”


Without a doubt, no matter what direction you decide to publish, just entering the field is challenging. I’ve been working with books for decades and yes, every book is filled with unique challenges.


Before you take the leap into self-publishing, I encourage you to move forward armed with a bit of reality: “According to the latest Bowker data (Publishers Weekly, February 20, 2023), 2.3 million books were self-published in the US in 2021, which was the third year in a row that more than two million books were self-published. This is the number of new titles that received an ISBN from Bowker. Several years ago Bowker stopped releasing the numbers of new titles that were not self-published, but a recent industry estimate is that each year “between 500,000 to 1 million . . . new titles are published through traditional publishers” Here’s where I got this information with much more detail: The 10 Awful Truths about Book Publishing.


Anyone with a computer (and everyone has a computer) feels like they can get a book published.  I understand some of their motivations. I often tell authors that making books is easy. Now selling those books you make—that is a completely different story. Statistics have proven the average self-published book sells 100-250 copies during the lifetime of the book.


Many companies are happy to take your money and make books (and a number of those companies are scams). In fact a prominent large Christian publisher has a self-publishing imprint. I’ve seen some poorly created books from this publisher. While on the surface it looks like an “easy” way to get published. The reality is something quite different. You are not really working with that publisher (giving money to them for the referral yes). In the production, you will be working with people in the Philippines (part of why you speak with a different person each time). The books will not be sold inside any brick and mortar bookstores (poorly distribution—a key consideration). And, the parent company (something they will not tell you about) has many different imprints and produces over 20,000 books a year (anything from poetry to porn). Yes, these companies are a scam preying on uneducated writers. I’ve met several authors who have unnecessarily spent $20,000 with such companies which is tragic because they will never sell enough books to recover such an investment.


To be fair, every publisher has unhappy authors and complaints. It’s part of the publishing landscape. Yet some companies have many complaints which should be a red flag to potential authors. 


One of the best ways to learn about complaints is to use Google and type in “NAMEOFPUBLISHER + complaint” and see what you learn.  Ask questions about what you discover and listen to the answers. Occasionally I field complaints about Morgan James and have answers but authors have to take the initiative and ask questions (your responsibility).


From my experience, the best publishing involves working with a team and involves cooperation, give and take. To get this experience, you have to write a book proposal. I believe even if you self-publish, you should write a proposal because this document will become your business plan or blueprint for your book. To help writers, I wrote Book Proposals That $ell. Writers have used my book to get an agent, get an advance and much more.


Or you can write an excellent manuscript and skip the proposal if you send the book to me for possible publishing. For eleven years, I’ve been working with one of the top independent publishers (Christian owners but not all Christian books). Our books have been on the Wall Street Journal bestseller list over 100 times. This fact alone demonstrates broad distribution not just online but selling in brick and mortar bookstores.


On the surface, publishing looks simple but in reality is complex with many decisions and variables. I encourage you to watch this 36-minute video master class where New York Times bestselling author Jerry B. Jenkins asked me a number of questions—including about publishing. Keep learning all you can from every possible source and reach out to me if I can help you.


Tweetable:

Everyone is self-publishing. Should you? This prolific writer and editor gives his insider’s perspective. Learn the details here. (ClickToTweet)


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 recent 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. Check out his free Ebook, Platform Building Ideas for Every Author. His website is located at: www.terrywhalin.com. Connect with Terry on TwitterFacebook and LinkedIn.

I Fought This Writing Responsibility

By W. 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 book 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 1,600 searchable entries in it. In January, I found this article which says of the over 600 million blogs, I was one of The Top 27 Content Writers. 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 180,000 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 and editor has taken an unusual responsibility. Learn the details here. (ClickToTweet)


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 recent 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. Check out his free Ebook, Platform Building Ideas for Every Author. His website is located at: www.terrywhalin.com. Connect with Terry on TwitterFacebook and LinkedIn.

How to Sell Your Book in Bulk

  by Suzanne Lieurance Did you know that studies have shown that most self-published authors sell fewer than 200 copies of their book?   Tha...