Showing posts with label follow-up. Show all posts
Showing posts with label follow-up. Show all posts

Saturday, February 22, 2020

Why I "Fish" Every Day (And You Should Too)


By Terry Whalin @terrywhalin

It takes great practiced skill to fish successfully. While some people fish for a hobby, the seasoned fisherman knows he has to fish many times to gain skill and also to catch fish.

To be honest, it has been years since I've been fishing but I “fish” every day. A fisherman puts his line into the water and is positioned to catch a fish. I put quotations around the word “fish” in the headline since I'm using fish for the word networking or connections. You have to be in the market talking and connecting with others every day to make a difference with your writing. Yes you need to craft an excellent book and good storytelling. I always encourage writers to learn that skill but you need something more than good writing. You need the right connection.

Much of publishing (and any business) is a matter of making the right connection with the right person at the right time at the right place. You can't make that connection working alone in your office at your computer or curled up with your legal pad writing your story.

What steps are you taking today to “fish” or network with others? It begins with your goals for your writing. Do you want to sell more books? Do you want a traditional publishing deal or are you going to self-publish? Do you want to build your platform or group of readers? Do you want more people to know who you are and what you ar doing? Then you have to make a conscious effort every day to reach out and touch other people.

Some of us reach out to others through Twitter.  I tweet frequently—like 12 to 15 times each day. To post frequently is one of the dynamics of Twitter. To be effective on it, you have to tweet often. I use Hootsuite to diversity and schedule my tweets. Look for tools to help you with social media.

Also I dig into my network of friends and connections. I pick up the phone and call people leaving little messages or connecting with them for a few minutes. On a regular basis, I speak with several literary agent friends. Why? Because these agents represent numerous authors who they want to get published.  Those agents need to be reminded that I'm constantly looking for great authors to publish through Morgan James. Our publishing program will not be right for every one of their authors. Yet it will be perfect for some of them. I'm looking for the right author—every day.

I have authors who have submitted their manuscripts and I'm scheduling calls with them to see if Morgan James is the right fit for these authors. I spend a great deal of time on the phone and answering my email but it's part of my daily work. Your daily work will be different but are you working every day at expanding your connections? I hope so.

I think about activity in the past which has been productive for me. For example, I've made terrific connections speaking at conferences. I'd like to do more speaking next year. It will not happen if I don't take any action. Instead, I'm making a list of conferences where I'd like to speak and conscious of who runs these conferences. Can I fill a need for this event with a workshop or keynote? There are numerous conferences and events where I can help others—but I have to be proactive to get on their radar.

My newest book, 10 Publishing Myths released in mid-December. I'm continuing to work to find people willing to read and review the book. It means I am looking for ways to promote it. 

It's not just with my new book but with older books. I continue to promote my Billy Graham and Jumpstart Your Publishing Dreams books (as well as other books that I've written or been involved with). Can I book a radio show or podcast or do a guest blog post or some other event to get in front of a new audience? The answer is yes but from my experience it does not happen without my initiative (sometimes but rarely). Most of the time these opportunities come through proactive pitching and follow-up work. Are you building this type of fishing into your daily schedule?

Throughout today I will be emailing and calling people. You have to have a line in the water to catch fish. What steps are you taking? Let me know in the comments below.


Tweetable:

This prolific editor and author will be “fishing” today and believes you should too. Get the details 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 Book Proposals That $ell. 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.  

Friday, June 22, 2018

Five Keys for Writers to Profit from a Conference


By W. Terry Whalin

I've been attending writer's conferences for many years. Some times I attend for the training. Other times I'm invited to speak and when I have a spare moment, I attend the workshops and sessions of other speakers. Normally my workshop is recorded and I get a copy of the recording. At a recent writers' conference, they gave the faculty the opportunity to get the recordings for the entire conference (over 40 sessions). I downloaded everything on a flash drive and look forward to listening to these sessions.

Some people wonder how I’ve published in more than 50 print magazines and written more than 60 books with a variety of types and age groups. While I may not be the best writer in the room, I am one of the most consistent. If I pitch an idea and an editor says something like, “Sounds good. Send it to me.” I will make a little note, then go home, write the article or book and send it. Yes you have to write what the editor wants and many writers do not want to write what the editor is requesting. Overall I’ve found such a simple strategy works.

I understand to attend a conference is an investment of money, time and energy. In this article, I want to highlight five ways writers can profit from a conference.

1. Listen for opportunities, and then take action. For example, one editor I met told me about a forthcoming series of Bible studies that his publisher will be doing. In the past, I’ve written Bible studies  and enjoy this type of writing. Because I heard about the opportunity, I emailed this editor and affirmed my interest in the project. The editor was grateful for my interest and said at the right time he would be in touch. This type of follow-up work leads to additional writing opportunities. You have to be listening for them and take action.

Another editor at the conference has worked on a publication that I’ve never written for. It has a large circulation and I wanted to write for this publication for the exposure as much as a new writing credit. I’ve emailed the editor and we are corresponding about some ideas which I believe will lead to an assignment and eventually publication. There are numerous opportunities at these conferences—if you listen for them.

2. Take time to prepare in advance before the event. Study the faculty and see what they publish and then write pitches and book proposals. Most publications have writer’s guidelines and other information easily available online. At a recent conference, several writers brought flash drives with the electronic copy of their material. I appreciated the quick response from these writers and it moved their submission to the top of my stack. I put their material into our internal system and moved it forward through the consideration process. In one case I’ve already turned in a writer’s project to my publication board and I’m hoping to get a contract for this author in a few weeks. The germ of this activity was her arrival at the conference prepared for her meetings. You can learn and mirror such actions when you attend an event.

3. Pick up the free copies of the publications and their guidelines at the conference. These publications are looking for freelance writers. You have to pick up the publications, read the guidelines then make your pitch or query or follow-through. When someone mentions an interest in your material, make sure you exchange business cards with them. Then when you get home, send them an email and follow-up.

4. Exchange business cards with editors and other professionals during the conference. You must bring plenty of business cards to the event. I met many people and came home with a large stack of business cards. I’ve been following up with writers and encouraging them to send me their proposal and/or manuscript. Yet few of them have reached out to me—and this type of situation is typical from my experience. If you reach out to the editor and take action, your actions will receive positive attention and you will get publishing opportunities
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5. One of the reasons to attend a conference is to learn a new skill or a new area of the writing world.  Are you learning how to write fiction or a magazine article or tap a new social network? A variety of skills are taught at conferences. It’s easy to put away the notes and never look at them again. The writers who get published take a different course of action. They review the notes and apply it to their writing life.

As writers we are continually learning and growing in our craft. A conference can be a huge growth area if you take action and follow-up.

Have I given you some ideas? If so, let me know in the comments below.

Tweetable:

Here’s Five Keys for Writers to Profit from a conference. (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 220,000 twitter followers.  
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Sunday, April 22, 2018

Publishing Takes More Than Good Intentions


By W. Terry Whalin

Through the years, I've met face to face with many writers. I know they have big dreams and good intentions. Maybe they want to write a novel or a nonfiction book. Or they want to get published in a magazine and understand the value of perfecting their craft in a shorter form of writing before they try a longer book project.

During our brief meeting together, I listen to their pitch. I often give them some input or direction from my experience. Often I will encourage them saying, “That sounds like a good idea. Write that up and send it to me.” As an acquisitions editor, I only asked for the manuscripts that were a fit for my publishing house. My encouragement to send their manuscript was sincere.

Yet I never heard from them again. I believe there is a chronic challenge among writers. To get published takes more than good intentions. You must follow through with your intention and get your writing into the marketplace.

Here's five tips on how to have more than good intentions and follow through:

1. Divide the Work. Every task needs to get broken into bite size parts. If you are writing a magazine article, then set a word count goal for your production. If you are trying to get more magazine writing, then decide how many queries you are going to send this week. Or if you are writing a book proposal, then tackle the sections one at a time. Or if you are writing a novel, set a number of words you want to produce each day. Make the work or task specific and then move forward and get it done.

2. Make a check list and cross it off. Take your planned writing and write it down every day. Often I will make a list the night for the next day. Then I cross it off when it is completed. It feels good to complete something and mark it off the list—and I know I'm moving ahead with my intentions.

3. Keep taking action. Without a doubt, you will have interruptions and other things which enter your life to cause delays and capture your attention. Recognize these interruptions ahead of time and make an internal commitment to continue moving forward. It will take on-going commitment to achieve what you want with your writing.

4. Create your own deadlines. Editors give writers deadlines for their writing—whether magazines or books. I encourage you to create your own deadlines for your writing and commit to making those deadlines. It will keep your writing moving forward. And if you don't make your deadline for some reason? Set a new deadline and push forward.

5. Get an accountability partner. Verbalize your goal to some other person. It could be a friend, a writer friend, a family member or whoever. Ask that person to hold your feet to the fire and check with you about whether you are accomplishing your intentions or not.

If you follow through with excellent writing, you will stand out in the publishing world. Many people dream and the ones that get it done, follow-through with their good intentions.

Tweetable:

Successful publishing is more than good intentions. Discover some action steps here. (ClickToTweet)

References:

Getting a Novel Published
Publishing Nonfiction
Magazine Writing Leads to a Published Book
Guide to Freelance Writing

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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 including Jumpstart Your Publishing Dreams, Insider Secrets To Skyrocket Your Success. Also Terry has written for more than 50 magazines. He lives in Colorado.

Monday, January 22, 2018

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. 

Tweetable:

Are you using the gentle follow-up with your submissions? Get the details here.  (ClickToTweet)

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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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