Showing posts with label editors. Show all posts
Showing posts with label editors. Show all posts

Friday, October 21, 2022

A Simple Way To Be "Different"


By 
Terry Whalin (@terrywhalin) 

While I’ve been in book publishing for decades, one topic is central to our business yet something I rarely see written about or discussed: communication.

Communication undergirds everything from email to print to phone calls to face to face. I believe it is infrequently highlighted because we work in a non-communication environment. Writers work hard on crafting their query letters or proposals. They edit and rewrite them and even send them off to their critique partners or outside editors before sending them to the literary agent or editor. This extra polish and set of eyes gives them a better chance at success.

After you fire off your gem of an idea, it goes into black hole. You hear: nothing or it earns a form rejection letter or form email rejection letter. The experience brings despair or determination to find the right place. I hope you are determined because finding the right fit is a key part of the publishing process.

Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen were rejected 140 times for Chicken Soup for the Soup, one of the most prolific series of books in the English language. Determination and persistence are qualities for every writer.

Why don’t editors and agents communicate? Can’t they send a simple email that they received it? Unfortunately this practice is not built into our publishing community. If you are a good communicator, your use of this skill is another way that you can use this simple way to be a "different" type of writer.

My authors at Morgan James Publishing consistently tell me they are surprised with my speed of communication. Sometimes they will write me after they have tried others (with no response) because they know I will help them.

I’ve learned a number of tips for communication and I want to detail some of them in this article.

Email is the best tool to use.  If you are following up a submission, a brief email asking if it was received is the preferred approach. 

Last week I got multi-paragraph email from a writer I will see at conference this week. It was too much information and while I read it, it would have been better in a few sentences and made a better impression. Here are some other key tips:

1. Text is OK—but use sparingly.

2. Phone is the worst way to approach an editor or agent and something I recommend you rarely use if at all. 

At Morgan James Publishing, we acknowledge every submission with a physical letter in the U.S. mail—and each year we receive over 5,000 submissions for only 180 to 200 books which are published. Communication with authors is built into the fiber of Morgan James. Many writers neglect to send their mailing address with their submission yet it is a critical part of our process of getting a submission started. Fairly often I have to email a writer and ask for their mailing address.

Some of my publishing professional colleagues have boundaries on their emails. For example, they only answer emails between their working hours in their office Monday through Friday 8 am to 5 pm. If you have emailed me, you know I don’t have such a boundary and will often answer emails early or late or on the weekends. It is all part of my commitment as a writer and editor to be a communicator. 

As a writer what steps do you need to do to increase and improve your communication skills? Let me know in the comments below.

Tweetable: 

Good communication is a simple way every writer can stand out. Get some tips and insights here from this prolific editor and writer. (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 newest book, 10 Publishing Myths for only $10, free shipping and bonuses worth over $200. To help writers catch the attention of editors and agents, Terry wrote his bestselling Book Proposals That $ell, 21 Secrets To Speed Your Success.  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.

Tuesday, June 21, 2022

Why I’m Still Blogging (and You Should too)


By Terry Whalin @terrywhalin

“As an acquisitions editor, you should not be blogging,” one of my long-term writer friends told me in 2008. I worked inside a well-known publisher and she believed a blog was a complete waste of my time.  I was an early adapter to the blogging trend.  I ignored her advice and I’m still blogging for many different reasons. Isn’t blogging out of step? Many writers are still blogging regularly including my long-term friend, Jerry B. Jenkins, who has been on the New York Times list 21 times. We talk about blogging some in this Master Class interview (follow the link). In this article I will help you understand why you should be blogging too.

Pick Your Audience and Focus for Every Entry

Before you post your first blog article, you need to determine your audience or readers. Just like no book is for everyone, no blog is for every reader. You can’t be all things to all readers and the focus of your blog will be critical to drawing returning readers. For example, my blog is called The Writing Life because each entry (now over 1,600 of them) are focused on various aspects of my life in publishing. I tell personal stories, point out resources and things that I’m learning. It is not just books but magazine and other aspects of the publishing business. My focus is broad enough to allow a great deal of variety. It never grows old to me (so I abandon my blog—which many people do) and I have an endless supply of material. These aspects are foundational and critical when you start blogging. Also determine how frequently you can post. If you post once a month, that pace is too infrequent for drawing readers. If you post daily, the pace may be too consuming—and you will possibly give up. I decided to blog once a week and I post on the same day every week.  Throughout each week, I have numerous ideas and I keep track of these ideas (develop your own system to capture them) and they become articles.

Some people organize a team of contributors on a topic and rotate article. Others (like me) post my own blog articles. 

Multiple Reasons to Blog 

From my view, there are multiple reasons to regularly blog:

Consistency. Blogging is an easy way to build a consistent writing habit. You can also mentor and help many others with your blog entries.

Platform and influence. Literary agents and publishers are looking for writers (despite their form rejection letters). Your blog is part of your platform, a way to show your writing skills and influence others.

A place to store your various ideas. Articles for my blog are made quickly and random topics. A number of years ago, I took those random entries and organized them into a book. Within publishing we call this process a Blook. My Jumpstart Your Publishing Dreams originally started as blog entries.

A place to repurpose my ideas. When I need a blog article for someone else, I often turn to my blog with a wealth of material. In a short amount of time I can repurpose and rewrite a blog entry for these needs.

A way to make money. It’s not my first reason to blog but I make money from my blog. Through blogging, I’ve found authors that publish through Morgan James. I’ve made affiliate income from my blog and much more. I’ve even got a risk-free eBook called The 31 Day Guide to Blogging for Bucks (follow the link) for more insights on this topic.

Practical Lessons for Your Blog

Here are several practical lessons I’ve learned for your blog

--Get a header or look to your blog which people will recognize when they go to it. It doesn’t have to be complicated but should be distinctly your look. You can use a template or get help from someone at Fiverr.com but do invest this energy into the appearance.

--Add a search tool into your blog. I picked up mine from google but look for a simple HTML addition that you can add to help your readers. For The Writing Life, my search tool is in the right hand column (scroll down to find it). I use this search tool often when I’m looking for something among my many entries.

--Always include a royalty-free image with each blog entry. You can’t use just any image you find but should get it from a royalty-free source (check this link for some resources). The image gives others an easy way to pass on your articles and give you additional readers.

--Add a subscription tool to your blog. I use Feedblitz and have about 500 people who receive any update to my blog through their email. Use this link to subscribe to my blog.

--Add a ClickToTweet for every entry. There are other tools but I use ClickToTweet and from monitoring my social media, I know a number of people use this tool. Follow this link to learn how to install it.  Make it easy for people to share your articles.

A key part of the writing life is a word I don’t really like but actively do: discipline or the discipline of consistently writing. A blog is an important part of this process for me.

Tweetable:  

Are blogs still relevant? This prolific writer and editor tells why he is stillblogging (and you should too). Get 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 newest book, 10 Publishing Myths for only $10, free shipping and bonuses worth over $200. To help writers catch the attention of editors and agents, Terry wrote his bestselling Book Proposals That $ell, 21 Secrets To Speed Your Success. Check out his free Ebook, Platform Building Ideas for Every Author. His website is located at: www.terrywhalin.com. Connect with Terry on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

Thursday, October 22, 2020

Published Writers Must Be Pitching


By Terry Whalin @terrywhalin

The magazine business changes constantly—as other elements within publishing. Editors change. The focus of a publication changes. The types of articles that they take changes. Themes for a magazine develop over a period of time and even what an editor takes and rejects changes.  If the editors don’t know what they want to achieve or do with the magazine (occasionally true), imagine how it confuses the people who are trying to write for them. At times it feels like a pure shot in the dark—but you have to continue taking the shot if you want to be published.
 
There are several realities to mention here. Nothing gets published if it’s only in your head or in your computer or in a file folder. It’s only when you send it into the marketplace that you have an opportunity for something to transpire.
 
Many years ago I was writing query letters about a little article on Listening Through the Bible. I targeted the idea for January issues of the magazine (perfect because people make resolutions and are looking for a new idea, etc.).  I learned if you listen to the Bible 20 minutes a day, you can make it through the entire Bible from Genesis to Revelation in four months. It’s an amazing—and true fact. The tape recording of the Bible simply keeps on going where you would get stalled—like in 2 Chronicles in the genealogy section.
My query letter on Listening Through the Bible was soundly rejected—all over the place. I crafted the query letter, targeted it to appropriate publications and received rejection after rejection. I didn’t think I was going to be able to write this particular article on assignment (which comes from writing the one-page query letter).
 
One day I received a phone call from a magazine editor. She was brand new at that magazine and had taken the helm of this publication (editor-in-chief type of role). Her initial words were apologetic about going through old query letters. (In fact, the publication had already rejected my idea and returned my SASE with the form rejection). This editor loved my Listening Through the Bible idea.  Then she asked, “Can you write 500 words on this topic by _____ a specific date a few weeks away?” Instantly I agreed. The article was published and reprinted numerous times. (In fact, I need to pull out that reprint and get it back into the market. As a former magazine editor, I know the editors are looking for content for their January 2021 issues).
 
Hope springs eternal for writers — who are in the marketplace of ideas. Jump in the water with excellent writing. The water is fine.
 
Are you pitching editors at magazines? What are some of your stumbling blocks as a writer? Let me know in the comments and I look forward to helping you.
 
Tweetable:

It's a simple truth: Published Writers Must Be Pitching. Get the details 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. 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 200,000 twitter followers

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

The Necessity of Simple Follow-up


By W. Terry Whalin

Good and clear communication is a critical element in the business of publishing. Otherwise authors and editors have wrong expectations.

Recently I was at Wheaton College for Write to Publish. During the question and answer portion of a workshop, a woman asked, “I sent my manuscript to an editor who asked for it at the last conference. I never heard and checked on it about six months later. When I called, the editor said she had not received it and could I send it again. I sent it a second time. Now it is six months later and I’ve heard nothing. What do I do?”

See the challenge for the author? She has been waiting for a response to a requested submission and hearing nothing. This new writer is too timid to email or call and check with the editor about it. I understand the reluctance because sometimes when you check, it gets rejected—and no one wants to be rejected.

Here’s what the writer isn’t thinking about. As editors, we receive a lot of material. For example, at Morgan James, we receive over 5,000 submissions a year and only publish about 150 books. Did you see those numbers? A massive amount of material is floating through our system at any single time period. I’m constantly putting submissions into our system and sorting through my acquisitions files.

To be transparent, other editors are not as careful with their submissions. It is not uncommon for me to receive several hundred emails a day. If I’m traveling or at a conference, and then I can’t be as conscious of my email and the submissions. Manuscripts, proposals and submissions are misplaced and sometimes the editor doesn’t receive them. Or maybe they have moved into a new computer or their computer has crashed or any number of other possibilities.

Here’s what I suggested to the writer asking about her manuscript: follow-up with the editor. Don’t wait weeks yet at the same time give it at least a week so you don’t seem overly anxious. Then you can email or put in a quick phone call to the editor asking, “Did you receive my submission?”

Notice the question. You are not asking if the editor has read it or reached a decision—which if you ask is pushing them to say, “no.” Instead you are simply asking if they received it.
You avoid waiting months for a response, hearing nothing and then asking only to learn the editor never received it. I never mind an author checking with me to see if I received their material and this simple follow-up is professional and appreciated.

Other authors are extreme in the other direction of follow-up. They follow-up too frequently. I have a children’s author who submitted their material three weeks ago. I got their material into our submission system and they received an acknowledgement from me in the mail. In addition, I emailed the author to tell him I received his submission. Yet, in the last several weeks, I’ve been in Seattle, New York City and last week Chicago. With my travel, I have not been processing manuscripts. Yet this author has called multiple times—essentially making himself a nuisance. In my last email to him, I leveled with him and asked for patience—and no more calls or checking—or I would be rejecting his submission. I’ve not heard from him in the last few days so hopefully he is following my last instructions or I will follow through with the rejection letter (whether I’ve read his material or not).

Why take such a direct response with this eager author? Because if he is eager with his submission then he is showing that he will be eager throughout the entire publication process. You can substitute my use of the word “eager” with the word “high maintenance.” No publisher wants high maintenance authors. Every publisher wants to work with professionals and not with eager authors who simply waste volumes of time and energy over nothing.

If you are submitting your work, that is excellent. Many writers never get published because of this simple fact: they never submit their material. As a professional writer, you also need to use this simple follow-up method to make sure that your material was received. It will help your work be considered and move forward through the publication process. This follow-up work is critical.

How do you follow-up? Do you have some insights or tips for other writers. Let me know in the comments below.

Tweetable:

Writers have to follow-up their submissions—yet need to do this work carefully or risk immediate rejection. Get insights from a seasoned editor here. (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 24, 2016

Five Ways to Annoy an Editor

Image courtesy of jesadaphorn at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The wonderful thing is that you can annoy an editor at any and all points throughout the publishing process. This allows you to get your own back for all the odd comments sprinkled on every page of your great works from kindergarten onwards. After all, your inbox is full of emails insisting you can make a fortune with your writing in a weekend. Who needs an editor anyway?

Well, if you want to be traditionally published, an editor comes with the package deal. So let's get off on the most annoying foot from the start.

Submissions


1) Resist reading the publishers' instructions for sending in submissions. Send in a hefty paper manuscript with all pages stapled together when the instructions ask for email only.

   Choose a jolly font -- something unusual like Bauhaus 93 or all caps like Algerian. Ignore the boring fonts  like Times New Roman which are so often requested by publishers. Word will happily suggest something it considers better if you run out of ideas.

    You'll get more words on the page if you use single spacing and keep the font tiny --try 8 pt.
   
    And  better not reread your manuscript before sending it off. After all, you want your editor to have lots to do. 

Remember the Rules


2) Follow every typewriting rule you can remember. Sadly we no longer need two spaces before every new sentence. With computers, one space throughout is all that's necessary. Your editor can sort that one out fairly easily but hitting the space bar to create paragraph indents or using tabs does mean tedious days of  extra formatting.

    Life is hard enough with the latest version of Word happily saving every copy of your work in a single file and creating huge files which need to  be reduced to manageable size.


3) Ignore all rules regarding point of view. After all if you know who's speaking what's the problem? 

The problem is that readers like identifying with a particular character or characters in a story. This is difficult if they can't have an in depth involvement. If characters are batting thoughts and feelings about like ping pong balls, it may be exhilarating but it is more likely to lead to confusion than empathy.

However, it's your book. 

Find the right agent


4} Choose an agent who supports your beliefs and ignores requests for blurbs and synopses, sends in an unread manuscript on parenting to a house specializing in Romantic Fiction. Yes, we can see there is a connection there somewhere but publishers and their editors are apt to concentrate on fact or fiction, or at least have different imprints for each.

What's an Editor For, Anyway?


5} And the final definite No-no. Your editor is not there to write your book. Your editor is there to help you polish your book, make it shine. If you have problems with spelling and grammar, at least do your best to check the manuscript through with Word's tools if nothing else. Read your manuscript out loud--that's a good way to find missing words.

*****
Any more thoughts on annoying editors, or even on annoying editors? Let us know in the comments below :-)
  



Anne Duguid
Anne Duguid Knol

A local and national journalist in the U.K., Anne Knol is now a fiction editor for award-winning American and Canadian publishers. As a new author, she shares writing tips and insights at Author Support : http://www.authorsupport.net .

Her Halloween novella, ShriekWeek is published by The Wild Rose Press as e-book and in print  included in the Hauntings in the Garden anthology. (Volume Two)

Her column on writing a cozy mystery appears  in The Working Writer's Club .

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