Showing posts with label consistency. Show all posts
Showing posts with label consistency. Show all posts

Friday, January 21, 2022

Are You Building a Body of Work?


By Terry Whalin @terrywhalin

Are you writing consistently? Are you continuing to work at building relationships with the gatekeepers (magazine editors, online editors, book editors, literary agents and other professional writers). I know it is basic but consistent writing and working at this business is critical. It rarely comes easy or quickly to any of us. In fact, we often fight the discipline and consistency of writing.

Occasionally someone will look at the volume of my own writing and exclaim, “How do you do it?” As writers, we write one sentence then one page at a time. Some days I’m amazed that I’ve written over 60 books and the first one. When I Grow Up was published in 1992. In these years, I’ve been able to build a body of work. The concept of consistency and building a body of work may be new to you.

Years ago on the way to a writer’s conference, I chatted with a literary agent. I was just beginning to be published and he encouraged me to continue building a body of work. It’s not a single book or a single magazine article but the sum of your work in publishing that eventually makes an impact. Are you growing in your understanding of the publishing business? On a consistent basis, I learn new terms and new aspects.

Some days I don’t feel like cranking out some words but I do it. As I’ve traveled the country and worked with different writers. I know some writers are inspirational writers. They only write when they feel the story in their fingers and put it on paper. Others are journeymen and professional writers. They pound the keys day in and day out—whether they feel like it or not. I fall into that latter category (most of the time). It’s helped my consistent writing.

As a young journalist training in news editorial, one summer, I interned on the Peru Tribune, a small town newspaper in Peru, Indiana. We had no computers and the typesetting was done with a Linotype machine in the back of the building. We had our story meetings at 7:30 a.m where the managing editor talked with the reporters about the stories to be written that day. In that short meeting we received our particular assigned stories, then hit it with the full knowledge of our 11 a.m. copy deadline. Our stories went quickly through the editor and appeared in the printed afternoon paper at 3 p.m. We had no time to sharpen our pencils or hem and haw about writer’s block. We had a deadline to meet—which we met day after day.

Whatever you write (children's books, fiction books, nonfiction books, magazine articles, online publications or anything else) what steps are you taking to build a body of work? It will not happen overnight but can certainly happen if you are consistent. I’m committed to writing consistently. I want to keep my fingers on the keyboard and keep them moving to write articles, chapters for books and book proposals. I’m committed to building a body of work. It might not pay off immediately but in the long run, I know consistency counts.

How are you building a body of writing work? Tell me in the comments below.

W. Terry Whalin is an acquisitions editor at Morgan James Publishing. 
He has written for over 50 magazines and more than 60 books with traditional publishers.  His latest book for writers is  Book Proposals That $ell (the revised edition) released to online and brick and mortar bookstores. 
Jim Cox, Editor-in-Chief at 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. You can get a free Book Proposal Checklist on the site. He lives in Colorado and has over 190,000 twitter followers

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Thursday, July 22, 2021

How To Write A Book


By Terry Whalin @terrywhalin

Often writers will ask me, how in the world have you written over 60 books with traditional publishers? I have a simple answer, writing books is like eating an elephant. The task seems daunting and impossible at first.

How do you eat an elephant? It's an old joke but you eat an elephant one bite at a time.  It the same way to accomplish any huge task—one action at a time. Recently I began to write another book.  It doesn't matter that I've done it over and over through the years. Each time it looks daunting to write an entire book manuscript. No matter what others will tell you for everyone getting started is hard. The writing in the middle is hard and finishing is hard. Yes the task is difficult and looks impossible. So how do you get it done? One bite at a time.

What is the deadline for completing your book? If you don't have a deadline, then I suggest you set one. After you have a deadline, how many words a day are you going to write to complete the deadline? Make sure you build in some extra days for the unexpected (happens to everyone) but make sure you hit your deadline.


Or maybe your goal is tied to your social media. You want to reach a certain number of followers on Twitter or a certain number of connections on LinkedIn. Are you actively working on these networks? Are you posting a number of times each day? Are you connecting with new people? Without your regular actions, then it will be hard to increase your presence and meet your goals.


Do you want to do more speaking? Are you pitching different conference directors and leaders? From my experience you have to be proactively promoting your speaking skills to get more speaking meetings.


Do you want to appear on more radio shows and talk about your latest book? There are thousands of radio stations and programs which use guests on their program. These bookings do not happen just sitting back and waiting for them to call. Your phone will be silent if you take this action. Instead, you need to be actively pitching the producers of these programs.


Or maybe you want to write more magazine articles or appear on more podcasts? Waiting for the phone to ring will likely not happen. What proactive steps are you taking to either go ahead and write the article then submit it to the publication? Or you can write a query letter and send it simultaneously to different publications and get an assignment?


Many are surprised that I have written over 60 books through the years. There are several keys in this process but one of the most important is consistent writing.  It is a matter of writing one paragraph, then another paragraph which becomes one page then another page. It is the same process as eating an elephant—doing it in bite-size pieces.


Do you break your writing into smaller pieces? I'd love to have your tips and insights in the comments below.


Tweetable:


It appears impossible. How do you write a book? Learn the secret in this article from this prolific writer and editor. (ClickToTweet)

W. Terry Whalin is an acquisitions editor at Morgan James Publishing. His work contact information is on the bottom of the second page (follow this link).  He has written for over 50 magazines and more than 60 books with traditional publishers.  His latest book for writers is 10 Publishing Myths, Insights Every Author Needs to Succeed. Get this book for only $10 + free shipping and over $200 in bonuses. On October 5th, his classic Book Proposals That $ell will be released. He lives in Colorado and has over 190,000 twitter followers

Monday, July 22, 2019

Perseverance Pays Off


By Terry Whalin @terrywhalin

Whether they know it or not, many book authors are doing aimless marketing. These authors have no plans or goals and are almost certain to fail.

Yes, I understand I’ve made a sweeping statement which is a bit harsh. Yet from my years of experience watching authors and working with them, I know it’s true. I encourage you to keep reading because I’m going to provide a series of steps so you can change from aimless marketing to a targeted effort for your books. If you take action, then you will move forward with your dreams of reaching others with your books.

The old saying goes “If you aim at nothing you will be sure to hit it.” The first question you need to answer is who is your target reader? Please don’t say “everyone” because no book is for everyone. While some books achieve a broad spectrum of readers, every book has a specific target audience. Write to a specific group of people and you will have your target clearly in front of you. Next write down a secondary group of people who would be your target.

Create what Mark Victor Hansen calls a “Big Hairy Goal.” What is your overall plan to reach your target audience? Set aside anything that your publisher or anyone else is going to do for your book and focus on yourself and your efforts. Do you plan to sell 5,000 books over the next 12 months? Write down your specific goal on the back of a business card, and then stick that card in your wallet or someplace where you will visually see it often. It can serve as consistent reminder of your goal. 

For your next step, break down your large goal into incremental steps. How are you going to take the tiny steps to achieve those book sales? Maybe it means taking an hour a week to focus on having a more active role in an online forum (where you include mention of your book). Or maybe it means you will create a postcard about your book then send it to 1,000 names and addresses. Each goal should be definable and specific. The successful Internet marketer, Dan Kennedy, wrote about the most important component of success in business boils down to “one thing.” Implementation was the “one thing” which means to take action and complete the most important activities in your business. I encourage you to take small steps yet also make consistent action to complete those goals.

If you are going to take consistent action, you need perseverance. Consider the perseverance in the story of Andy Andrews, author of The Traveler’s Gift. A popular speaker, Andy wrote a manuscript which he tried to get published. It was rejected 54 times. How many of us can handle this level of rejection? He continued in his popular speaking work but did not have a book for his audience. One day Gail Hyatt was in Andy Andrews’ audience. She came up to him afterwards and suggested that he write a book.

Looking a bit sheepish, Andy told Gail, “Your husband’s company (Thomas Nelson) has already rejected my manuscript.” Gail asked for a copy of his manuscript and promised to read it. Andy sent her the manuscript. She showed it to her husband (Michael Hyatt,  at the time he was the president of Thomas Nelson, the largest Christian publisher) and the book was published.


Notice the perseverance in what happened next. When Andy got his new book, he gave away 12,000 copies of the book. Most of those review copies didn’t make much of a difference. But one of those copies got in the hands of Robin Roberts, who at the time was a producer of ABC’s Good Morning America. Roberts selected The Traveler’s Gift as their Book of the Month. The Traveler’s Gift sold 850,000 copies and the rest is history.

From my study of publishing, there is no formula to make a bestseller or achieve success with your book. Each author has a different definition of success. For some it is simply creating their book and getting it into the market. For other authors, they want to get on a particular bestseller list. A range of answers lies between these two extremes. What is your goal and how are you going to reach it? Consistent action is the key. Michael Hyatt wrote about The Power of Incremental Change Over Time. I encourage you to take action and turn aimless marketing into consistent marketing. Productive authors have a commitment to marketing their books on a personal and consistent basis.

Have you seen perseverance pay off? Let me know in the comments below.

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How can perseverance pay off? Get insights and encouragement in this article. (ClickToTweet)

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W. Terry Whalin is an acquisitions editor at Morgan James Publishing. His work contact information is on the bottom of the second page (follow this link).  One of his books for writers is Jumpstart Your Publishing Dreams, Insider Secrets to Skyrocket Your Success. One of Terry's most popular free ebooks is Straight Talk From the Editor, 18 Keys to a Rejection-Proof Submission. He lives in Colorado and has over 205,000 twitter followers

Monday, October 22, 2018

Five Ways to Get Your Writing Unstuck


By W. Terry Whalin

Throughout my day, writers will email me for help with their writing. One of the key reasons is because of the words in my Twitter profile: “I love to help writers. Let me know how I can help YOU!”  I include my email in my twitter profile to encourage such correspondence.

As an acquisitions editor at a New York publisher, I get a lot of email every day. Yet I make a point to answer each one of the emails from writers who are asking for help. From my 20+ years in publishing, I know it is hard to navigate the publishing world. I've sent my share of emails and letters into the system which have gone into a void—or so they seem because nothing came back from my careful shaping and sending them. It can be discouraging.

Recently a ministry leader wrote me about being stuck. He had started writing a book but gotten stuck at the second chapter. What actions should this leader take to move forward on his dream of writing a book?

Many times writers are stuck and unsure how to move forward. It happens with book projects because they are not simple 30 minute or an hour in length. To write a book takes a great deal of consistent effort and energy. When it comes to writing a book, one of the best tools is to first, write a book proposal. The key portion of the proposal that will keep you writing and moving ahead is the chapter-by-chapter outline. This simple outline is the structure for your book. You can even print it out then cross off the chapters as you write them. 

If you are stuck in your writing, here's five ways to get unstuck:

1. Evaluate Your Goal. Are you committed to this writing project? I've always found if I've made a commitment, then the writing will get handled. OK. I've committed to write a book or a magazine article or an online article or a press release. Think about the type of consistent effort will it take to accomplish your goal. For example, books are not produced overnight but will take a consistent effort.

2. Set a Goal You Can Accomplish. Be reasonable with yourself and set a writing goal that you can achieve. From my experience it is often a certain number of words such as 500 words a day or 5,000 words a day (which is a lot of intense writing to reach 5,000 words a day but it can be done). 

3. Move Consistently toward Your Goal. To accomplish any goal you have to move forward. I like what one of my writers friends told me about creating a 400+ page novel, “No little elves come out at night and write my pages.” No one else can do the work for you. You have to find the time and simply do it. If it means getting up an hour or two earlier or staying up late at night or skipping some television, then you have to work at it to meet your goal.

4. Periodically Evaluate Your Goal. If you are having success, then take moments to celebrate. Each of us will celebrate differently. It is important to evaluate and celebrate if you are moving toward your goal. If you measure how you are doing with your goal and you are not making progress, then possibly it is time to readjust your goal and make it more reasonable or something that you can actually accomplish. Don't beat yourself up that you have to readjust. Simply acknowledge it and keep moving forward.

5. Get an Accountability Partner. Yes maybe you could accomplish your goal on your own. From my experience, it is better if you have someone else asking you periodically about your goal and how you are moving toward it. This person can be someone that you speak with periodically on the phone or email or best physically see often. 

I know I was only going to write five ways to get your writing unstuck. I'm throwing in a bonus sixth method. Maybe you are stuck in your writing because you have been trying to accomplish a long piece of writing such as a book or a novel or a workbook. If you have been chipping away at completing a longer work, here's something to consider in this process:

6. Diversify Your Writing. While many people want to write a book, there are many ways to get published—outside of books. Often books take a long time to get into the market—especially if you go through a traditional publisher. 

Magazine articles are short and fun to write plus you can get them published a lot quicker than a book and it will reach many more people than the average book.

People like me who are in publishing want to see that you have been published. Your magazine publishing credits will help you attract the attention of a literary agent or book editor. My updated version of Jumpstart Your Publishing Dreams has a great deal of information about publishing to help you get unstuck.

Use these five methods to get unstuck and move forward with your writing. Take action today. 

When you are stuck in your writing, how to you get unstuck? Let me know in the comments below and I look forward to reading your tips.

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Are you stuck in your writing? Read five tips from this prolific writer and editor. (Click to Tweet)

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W. Terry Whalin is an acquisitions editor at Morgan James Publishing. His work contact information is on the bottom of the second page (follow this link).  One of his books for writers is Jumpstart Your Publishing Dreams, Insider Secrets to Skyrocket Your Success.  He lives in Colorado and has over 210,000 twitter followers.
 




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Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Are You Building Publishing Habits?


By W. Terry Whalin

If you are writing a novel or a nonfiction book or ???. What are you doing each day to succeed with this writing project? 

Yes, it is important to craft an excellent work with terrific storytelling and craft. We learn these skills through our own reading and continual practice. Writing should be a habit which you continually cultivate and practice on a regular basis.

Yet what about other areas of publishing where you need to develop habits?

Recently I heard from an unpublished author who was getting rejected or no response from literary agents. She was sending out a children's book and couldn't understand why she could not succeed. 

I wrote this author that she needed to do more to understand the marketplace. Only a few literary agents that I know represent children's books for several reasons. First, the advances are very low for children's books. 

Also it's hard to get a children's book published through a traditional publisher. It is not impossible but difficult and much of the writing work is Work Made for Hire or something an agent wouldn't be involved in. Finally agents are looking for writers who demonstrate that they have been published. You have to show this skill through writing for print magazines or other recognized forms. 

This unpublished author was floundering because she had not done the basics to understand the market. As a daily habit, she needed to be reading published authors and how-to books as well as connecting with someone to help her.

Reading in the field is another publishing habit that every author or would-be author should be developing. There are free newsletters and many ways to learn from others. Are you tapping into these resources? 

Another publishing habit is to constantly build your connections to others. It doesn't require tons of time but it does require consistent effort. For example, posting on twitter and Facebook in your area of expertise is a publishing habit. You can use tools like Hootsuite so it does not have to consume much time but the consistency will pay off.

I spend the majority of my days working with authors as an acquisitions editor at Morgan James. My personal goal is to help as many authors as I can to achieve their dreams of getting published. As a result of these goals, I'm on the phone with authors or literary agents. Or I'm answering emails or interacting with my Morgan James colleagues about book projects. I have a series of habits that I execute each day related to my work at Morgan James.

What goals do you have for your publishing life? Have you written them down and are you looking at them on a regular basis? What habits do you need to develop in order to achieve these goals? 


As you are consistent, it will pay off for you in the marketplace. I have a great deal of free information in my ebook, Platform-Building Ideas for Every Author. If you haven't read this Ebook, I suggest you get it and study it, then apply the lessons to your writing life.


What new publishing habits are you developing? Let me know in the comments below.

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Publishing habits are important for every writer. Get some ideas from this experienced editor.  (ClickToTweet)
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W. Terry Whalin is an acquisitions editor at Morgan James Publishing. He has written more than 60 books including his latest, Billy Graham, A Biography of America's Greatest Evangelist. Also Terry has written for more than 50 magazines and lives in Colorado. Follow him on Twitter where he has over 200,000 followers.
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Friday, April 22, 2016

How To Grow A Large Twitter Following

Almost once a week, one of my writer friends will email a comment about my large twitter following (currently over 172,000). As one said,”I believe I'm pretty active on twitter and I only have about 9,000 followers. How did you get to such a large number without buying them?”

Yes you can buy the followers and in a short amount of time your amount of followers will radically jump from a low number to over 100,000. There are several problems with using this strategy. First it will cost you money but more importantly you will gain some credibility but mostly you will gain fake followers. These plastic followers will never engage you, take advantage of your content or care about your content. It will not help you get where you want to go in terms of real followers.


I've been on Twitter since June 2008 and consistently giving good content on twitter. If you watch my twitter feed you will see that it is not all my content but comes from others in the writing community and in my target market of publishing and writing. From my consistent involvement in twitter, I have had many great results in my writing life. Some people email me for help and I refer them to my blog or my Ebook products or my online courses. Other people I will encourage and actually acquire their books at Morgan James. Yes, it can begin on Twitter. 


From my years in publishing, I find many people want to have a large audience or following. Yet these same people never ask this question: are you willing to do the work to get this audience? I may not be the best writer in the room (still have a lot to learn all the time).  But I am a persistent and consistent writer. These two qualities are ones that you can acquire and build into our life as well.


A basic principle of Twitter is following other people. Some of those people you follow, will follow you back. I use a tool called Refollow.com (which costs $20 a month). In less than ten minutes, I can follow the followers of people in the publishing community (my target market). Every day I follow 800 new people. A certain percentage of these people will follow me back (increasing my followers). If they don't follow me after several days, then I unfollow them using the tool, Manage Flitter


Another key to grow your twitter following is to constantly give good content. I use the free tool Hootsuite to schedule my tweets throughout each day. If you watch my twitter feed, you will see that I'm posting almost every hour throughout the day. Also I try to include an image with each tweet. If you use an image, it has higher visibility and interest (more people read it). 


The reality is my large following didn't happen overnight. My numbers have been growing gradually—but steadily upward. In fact, I'm gaining about 100 new followers a day. I spend less than 30 minutes a day on Twitter—yet I consistently spend this time (day after day). I do it on the weekend and I do it during the week. I do it when I travel and I do it when I'm at home. If I have any “secret” it is that I've made my own system and use it every day. You can follow the same path if you want to develop this type of following for your own writing.

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W. Terry Whalin is the author of more than 60 books including Book Proposals That $ell and has written for more than 50 magazinesFollow this link to his speaking schedule. He is an acquisitions editor at Morgan James Publishing.

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What Drives Your Publishing?

By Terry Whalin ( @terrywhalin )  Few people talk about this truth of publishing: it is hard. I’ve been doing it for decades and it is still...