Showing posts with label acquisitions editor. Show all posts
Showing posts with label acquisitions editor. Show all posts

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. 

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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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Six Writer Actions For the Holidays


By W. Terry Whalin

Each year I can see the shift in publishing communication. This shift arrives right about Thanksgiving and carries through New Year's Day. Emails and submissions do not get answered and it is like your communication with editors and agents comes to a screeching halt. Why does this happen and what can you as a writer do about it? For a few minutes, I want to help you with this topic.

Admittedly a lot of publishing is slow to communicate. From my experience, it often takes weeks to hear from an editor or agent. This process is even slower during the holidays. Instead of processing submissions, these publishing professionals are focused on holiday shopping, spending time with family and other events. 

As an acquisitions editor at Morgan James Publishing, I'm still processing manuscripts with authors and contracts.  While our publication board meets weekly (instead of the typical once a month) in a long-standing tradition, Morgan James will be closed from the end of business today (December 22nd)  until January 2nd .


With this silence from the publishing community, how can you be productive with your writing? It is possible for you to be active during this silent period of publishing. About two weeks ago I had the opportunity to drive to Denver and do an in-studio radio interview about my book, Billy Graham, A Biography of America's Greatest Evangelist

Most of these types of interviews are 20 to 30 minutes and I “thought” that was what I was doing. As I settled into my place in the studio, they thanked me for co-hosting the program (which I learned was two hours). I loved the opportunity to talk for two hours about Billy Graham—even if unexpected. You can catch seven minutes of that time on this little video. Use this link to download it and watch.

Here’s six different ways to make the most of your writing during the holidays:

1. Rework or update your website.  It has been some time since I reworked my own website and I'm going to use this time to update some of my websites.


2. Work on building your platform and presence in the marketplace. Use my Ebook, Platform Building Ideas for Every Writer on this topic or something else for some idea starters. Can you take some actions to increase your twitter followers or add to the number of people who are reading your newsletter?

3. Write a free ebook for a list generator. Can you take a series of blog posts or articles and turn them into a free ebook that you offer to your mailing list? Use this time to create such an ebook.

4. Create your own event in January. Your new ebook (#3) could be the ethical bribe that you use with this new event. Now is the time to be planning the details of such an event. 

5. Read a book on marketing such as 5–Minute Book Marketing for Authors or Online Marketing for Busy Authors. Follow the links of those books because I wrote in detail about each of these books. When you read the book, apply some of the lessons to your books and writing.

6. Begin a new income stream. Writing has multiple paths and income possibilities. During this quiet time, select a path that you are not currently using such as affiliate marketing, then begin to develop a new income stream. I have a list of writing possibilities in the free sample of Jumpstart Your Publishing Dreams. Follow this link to get this free resource.

You may not want to tackle all six of these ideas but hopefully several of them help you. Notice each of them are something you can do without a connection to an editor or agent.
As a seventh way,I encourage you to polish or create a book proposal. Even if you are going to self publish, you will still need a proposal. The proposal is the blueprint for your book—especially if you are writing nonfiction. If you are writing fiction, you will still need this information for the platform and marketing section. A free resource to learn more insights about proposal creation is at: AskAboutProposals.com.

I understand this time of year has many things pulling for your attention. It is a matter of commitment and focus to get these actions for your writing in motion. You can move forward with your writing even during the holidays.

How do you keep your writing life going during the holidays? Or do you put it on hold for these weeks?  Tell me in the comments.

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W. Terry Whalin has written more than 60 books for traditional publishers and his magazine work has appeared in more than 50 publications. He is an acquisitions editor at Morgan James Publishing and always looking for great books to publish. Terry is a book proposal expert and the author of Book Proposals That $ell, 21 Secrets To Speed Your Sucess. He has over 200,000 followers on Twitter.
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To Find Opportunity, You Must Knock on Doors


By W. Terry Whalin

From my years in publishing, I've discovered a basic principle: If you want something to happen, you have to be knocking on doors to find that opportunity. For example, as an acquisitions editor, I've found some of my best projects meeting with authors face to face at a writers' conference. I understand the value of this personal contact with writers. While I've been speaking at different events for many years, the invitations to speak at these events does not happen organically (without any action on my part). From my experience, the directors of conferences are pitched many times from many more qualified people than they could possibly use at an event.

What is the difference maker so one editor is picked to be invited and another is not? I believe it is a combination of things—a personal relationship with the director or decisionmaker at these events. Also it is necessary to be knocking on the doors in a gentle way but letting them know of your availability and willingness to speak at their event. In the last few days, I've pulled out some resources on my bookshelf that list forthcoming conferences, then I've sent emails to these leaders. In a few cases where I know the people but haven't been to their event in several years, I've picked up the phone and called them. Will my actions pay off? I know many will fall flat and never garner a response.  I'm a realist with my expectations—yet I also know that some of them will succeed and garner an invitation to their event—maybe not this year but next year.

While I've been writing about getting speaking opportunities, the actions for a writer are exactly the same if you are looking for writing opportunities. What types of writing opportunities are you looking for? 

In recent days, I've been working on some book proposals and writing projects. Yes I've written a number of books over the years but most of my efforts have been in my work as an acquisitions editor at Morgan James Publishing. I've been knocking on some doors of opportunities with agents and editors to find some writing projects. Like my knocking on doors for speaking opportunities, many of my emails and calls have not been returned and feel like they are going into a black hole. Yet I persist and continue to pitch and look for new opportunities. Why? From my experience, I know some of these pitches will actually turn into writing assignments and future work.

Here's several actions for every writer:

1.Learn how to write an attention-getting query letter. Every writer can learn this important skill of writing a one page pitch letter. It will be a valuable lesson for writing for magazines or getting the attention of literary agents or editors.

2. Learn how to write an excellent book proposal. Get my free book proposal checklist or my Book Proposals That Sell or take my Write A Book Proposal course. It will take effort but it will pay off in getting more attention from literary agents and book publishers.

3. Continually work at fostering and strengthening your relationships with others in the community. Help them in any way that you can—and you never know where that help will lead to future opportunities.

In general, the world of publishing is busy with lots of activity, emails, manuscripts, proposals and pitches. If you wait passively for someone to reach out to you, then most likely little will happen. Instead I encourage you to be proactive in your approach and be knocking on different doors to find the right opportunity. I believe these opportunities are out there—but you have to be knocking to find them.

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W. Terry Whalin has written more than 60 books for traditional publishers including Jumpstart Your Publishing Dreams, Insider Secrets to Skyrocket Your Success. He is an acquisitions editor at Morgan James Publishing, a New York publisher. Terry has an active twitter following (over 200,000) and lives in Colorado.

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How To Increase Your Reading of Books

By W. Terry Whalin

There is an old saying in the writing community: Writers are readers. As I child in the summers, I hung out in my local library and read stacks of biographies. That early experience shaped my continuing love of reading biographies. 

While I love to read, as an acquisitions editor, I have a lot of material coming my direction. I often say that being an acquisitions editor is like trying to drink water from a fire hose. The volume of information coming my direction is staggering.

As a part of being an editor, I'm always looking to see if the writer is reading the type of material that they are pitching to me. For example, if you are a novelist and writing romance (the largest genre), I'm probably going to ask if you read romances. And if you don't that tells me something about your knowledge (or lack of knowledge) about the genre that you want to publish.

In recent months, I've greatly increased the amount of books that I'm reading through audio books. In particular, I'm using Overdrive on my smartphone. Overdrive is a free app that I downloaded on my phone and it is tied to your local library. You can check out the audio book from your library for 21 days then download the entire book on your phone. Now that I have the complete book on my phone, I can use it anywhere. I listen to the book while I walk on the treadmill. Because of Bluetooth, I listen to the same book in my car—even when I drive a short distance. Recently I've been traveling and I've listened to these audio books in the airport or on the airplane. Almost always I have my phone and have access to the audio book. 

You can have different library cards on Overdrive. Each library has purchased different books so you can access a different selection. Currently I have three library cards and recently drove into Denver to get a Denver Public Library Card because they have a larger selection of books on Overdrive. Like any library, Overdrive has a wide variety of books—fiction and nonfiction.

I listen to a great deal of nonfiction—business books, biography, memoir and how-to books. You can see many of these books just checking this location on Goodreads. After I listen to the audio book, I will write a short review and post it on Goodreads and Amazon. This regular practice doesn't take much time but increases the number of reviews I write because of the increased number of books I've been consuming. 


Are you using audio books to increase the number of books that you “read?” Tell me about your experiences in the comments below.

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W. Terry Whalin is an acquisitions editor at Morgan James Publishing. He has written more than 60 books for traditional publishers and his work has appeared in more than 50 print publications. As a frustrated acquisitions editor, Terry wrote Book Proposals That Sell, 21 Secrets to Speed Your Success, which has over 130 Five Star Amazon reviews. Get the book exclusively at this link. He has over 180,000 twitter followers and blogs about The Writing Life.

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Five Ways NOT to Attract an Editor's Attention


Will Rogers wisely said, “You only have one chance to make a good first impression.” As an acquisitions editor, I read proposals and manuscripts from authors every day. It’s no exaggeration to say I’ve read thousands of submissions in my years in publishing. Besides my work at Morgan James Publishing, I’ve acquired for two other publishers.

In minutes, I can scan your submission and see if it is going to move forward or be rejected. This may sound harsh because of the work and energy writers poured into their submission. Here’s the reality, every year our publishing house receives over 5,000 submissions and we’re going to publish about 150 books this year.

In spite of these large rejection numbers, I’m actively looking for quality work and daily interacting with authors and literary agents. Here’s five ways not to stand out:

1. Unprofessional appearance. Are you using a serif font like Ariel that is the default for most writing programs? Change it to Times New Roman or a serif font because it is easier to read and shows you care. This small change makes a huge difference to editors.

2. Untargeted submission. Many cover letters begin “Dear Sir or Madam” yet it is sent to my email address. It is an instant red flag. You want to write a particular editor or agent and address them in your submission.

3. Not specific for my publishing house. Every agent or editor is looking for certain subjects and types of books. Research online (big hint: use Google.com) then follow their guidelines.

4. Incomplete with the basics. An email address is not enough contact information. Many writers forget to include their mailing address and phone number. Without  this information, I can’t get the submission into our system nor can I easily reach you to engage you about your work.

5. Lack a memorable title or opening sentence. We read the opening and if compelling, we continue. If not, it is rejected. It is business and not personal but one way to handle the volume of submissions. Some of my agent friends receive hundreds of pitches every day. Make sure you start with a bang.

Every editor and agent is actively looking for the next bestseller. Your manuscript or proposal will stand out if you are professional with quality work. If you follow the basics and persist, you will be published.
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W. Terry Whalin is an acquisitions editor at Morgan James Publishing. A former magazine editor and literary agent,

Terry has written more than 60 nonfiction books including Jumpstart Your Publishing Dreams. To help writers, he has created 12-lesson online course called Write A Book Proposal. Get his free Ebook Book Proposal Basics and teleseminar at www.AskAboutProposals.com. His website is located at: www.terrywhalin.com. Terry has over 161,000 twitter followers and lives in Colorado. 


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