Showing posts with label literary agents. Show all posts
Showing posts with label literary agents. Show all posts

Monday, February 21, 2022

Do You Know Your Competition?


By Terry Whalin @terrywhalin 

Over decades, Ive reviewed thousands of book submissions (no exaggeration). Many proposals are missing the competition section. Its common for them to write, This topic is unique and has no competition. When editors and agents see such a statement, many of them will stop reading and reject the project. Others will roll their eyes in a look that says, Not again.

When someone says there is no competition, they are not considering the larger sense of the book market. Every book has competition in the marketplace. It's the responsibility of the writer to understand and describe that competition in their book proposal. It is not the responsibility of your editor or literary agent to create this competition but the authors responsibility who should intimately know their topic and area of expertise.

I often encourage authors to visualize their book inside a brick and mortar bookstore. Which section does your book appear? What other books are in tht section? Those books are your competition and competitive titles. In this section, you list the titles with a brief description and tell how your book is different. I encourage you to carefully select your words because you are not slamming or downplaying those other books. Instead you are emphasizing how your book is different.

Publishers need this information throughout the internal process within publishing houses. For one publisher, when they complete their internal paperwork to secure a book contract for an author, they are required to list the ISBNs of competitive titles.

Some of you are familiar with Book Proposals That Sell. In the final pages of this book, I include a sample of one of my book proposals which sold for a six-figure advance. This proposal is exactly what was submitted to the various publishers. The missing ingredient in my proposal (despite its success) is the lack of specific competitive titles. I wrote that proposal almost twenty years ago and in today's market it would need to have those competitive titles before it would go out into the marketplace. Hopefully Ive learned (and continue to learn) a few things about book proposal creation over the last few years.

When I started as an acquisitions editor, the president of the company (no longer there) sat down and went through the various topic areas where I would be acquiring books. One of these areas was parenting books. I raised a question about this area since within several miles of our offices was a major marketing force in this area of parenting called Focus on the FamilyOh yes, Terry, we will continue to publish parenting books, he said with passion. Marriages continue to fall apart in record numbers and children are leaving the church in droves. With my marching orders, I continued to acquire parenting books but silently I wondered whether a book can solve those two explicit issues about the family.

Each week Publishers Weekly tackles a different area of the market. Sometimes they cover parenting books which is highly competitive with loads of successful titles in print. The article gives a rundown of several forthcoming parenting books. Heres what is interesting to me (and hopefully for you): Notice the sub-categories for each title in the article: publisher, first printing, target audience, author's credentials, why the book is needed, and what distinguishes it from the competition. The final four categories are what every author needs to include in their book proposal when it is submitted to a literary agent or an editor.

The actual language for the competition section is tricky. The author needs to point out the competition and how their book takes a different slant on the subject or deeper or some improvement--without slamming the competitive title. Why? Because the publisher of that competitive title may be the perfect location for your book. You dont want to offend that publisher with how you've written about their title. Like many aspects of the publishing world, when you write your competition section, it calls for education, understanding and some sense of diplomacy because the relationship will often be the distinction.

Every author needs to create a proposal for their book--even if you self-publish because this document is your business plan for your book and has important elements for every author to understand and convene to their readers.

Do you include the my book is unique in your proposal or do you include a competition section? Let me know 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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Sunday, November 21, 2021

Why You Should NOT Be Making Publishing Assumptions

 

By Terry Whalin @terrywhalin

We live in a hurry up world with limited time and resources. Are you making publishing assumptions which are limiting your publishing options? Admittedly there are many different ways to get published and thousands of new books released into the market every day.

For over nine years, I've been an acquisitions editor at Morgan James Publishing. As an acquisitions editor, I work with authors and literary agents to find the right books for us to publish. From my 25+ years in publishing and working with many types of publishers and authors, I know firsthand our model at Morgan James is different. In many ways, it is author-driven yet it has the team and consensus-building elements that comprise what makes traditional publishing work.

I've had the negative experiences in publishing. For example, a book proposal that I wrote received a six-figure advance. My co-author nor I saw the book cover or title before the book was published. In fact, there was a different title in the publisher's catalog than the printed book. The cover had a photo of my co-author that he didn't like. He didn't get behind the book in promotion and talking about the book—which every book needs if it is going to succeed. With the poor sales, the publisher took our book out of print in about six months. The stock was destroyed and I have some of the few remaining copies of this book.

While you may think this story is unique, I've often hear such experiences from others who have followed the traditional path. In this path, the publisher is in charge of the title, cover, interior, etc. They may show the author the information but at the end of the day, they feel like they have more publishing experience than the author so they make the decisions. The lack of author involvement from my experience leads to less author promotion and less sales. Some of these actions explain why 90% of nonfiction books never earn back their advance (a little talked about fact in the publishing community).

Recently a literary agent (that I had not worked with before) submitted a novel to Morgan James. As a professional courtesy when receiving an offer, he reached out to me to see if we were interested in the book. I had not spoken with this agent—the next step in the process of getting a Morgan James book contract. I tried to set up a phone meeting with the agent that day—and we arranged a time. At first, he downplayed the need for us to take the time to talk because he heard the model was a hybrid. Even the term “hybrid” means many different things in publishing. I was grateful this agent took the time to hear the details about Morgan James. Whether the agent does a deal with us or not, at least I got the chance to talk about the unique aspects. He did not discount the opportunity and assume he understood it.

Until an author submits their material and goes through the process, I don't know if they will receive a publishing offer from Morgan James. We receive over 5,000 submissions and only publish about 180 books a year—and of those books only about 25 to 30 are Christian books. We publish about 25 to 30 novels a year and about 25 to 30 children's books. The system is strong but not right for every author—and that is why there is a process.

Here's the basic principle that I'm emphasizing in this article: don't make publishing assumptions because of something you have found through a search or speaking with someone. Instead take the time to listen and read and explore. You will find some surprising opportunities if you explore them.  Behind the scenes, I've seen great integrity and transparency with Morgan James Publishing. If I can help you, don't hesitate to reach out to me. My email and work contact information is on the bottom of the second page of this information sheet.

Are you making publishing assumptions as you look at options? 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 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 (the revised edition) released to online and brick and mortar bookstores. At the book website, you can get a free Book Proposal Checklist.Terry recently had an article about proposals in Publisher's WeeklyHe lives in Colorado and has over 190,000 twitter followers

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Saturday, August 21, 2021

Are You Writing A Perennial Seller?


By Terry Whalin @terrywhalin

In the last fifteen years, the publishing world has changed. In the past, self-publishing was the poor step-sister to traditional publishing. These self-made titles often looked poor and were not accepted in libraries or bookstores. As book production has improved, this attitude is shifting. There are still poorly made self-published books and the average self-published title sells less than 200 copies during the lifetime of the book

My bent in this area is for you to get the largest distribution and produce the best book you can produce. It's why I continue to encourage authors to create a book proposal and work with traditional publishers as well as explore other models like Morgan James Publishing (where I've worked for over nine years).

While there are many ways and companies to help you create your book, at the end of the day, the key question relates to sales of that book. Is it selling? Are people buying it on a consistent basis? Are you as the author promoting your book consistently? After all, as the author, you have the greatest passion for your book—whether you went with one of the big five publishing houses or a small publisher or self-published.

One of the best ways to learn about publishing is to consistently read how-to books about writing or marketing. As you read these books and take action from the information, you will grow as a writer. I've got stacks of these types of books that I read.


Several year ago, I learned about a book from Ryan Holiday called Perennial Seller, The Art of Making and Marketing Work that Lasts. Books that last and continue to sell in the market are rare. Traditional publishers are known to be fickle in this area. I have seen it when I've worked inside publishing houses (not Morgan James). You work hard to get a book published and into the market, then for whatever reason it does not sell, then a publishing executive writes a letter to the author or literary agent and takes the book out of print.

Every day thousands of new books enter the market.  Which books become continual sellers? Bestselling author Ryan Holiday has studied these details with his own books and with other books. Perennial Seller is loaded with the details for every author or would-be author to read. Ryan has a keen sense of what it takes to create an excellent book and each of his sections includes gems of information for the writer.

While many writers believe their key failure is in the marketing areas, Ryan writes in the opening pages, “Promotion is not how things are made great—only how they are heard about. Which is why this book will not start with marketing, but with the mindset and effort that must go into the creative process—the most important part of creating a perennial seller.” (Page 19)

Also for those writers who believe they can quickly crank out such a book, Ryan cautions, “Creating something that lives—that can change the world and continue doing so for decades—requires not just a reverence for the craft and a respect for the medium, but real patience for the process itself. (Page 29-30)

No matter who you are working with to get the book out there, Ryan is realistic in Perennial Seller encouraging the writer to take their own responsibility rather than feel like they can delegate it to someone else. In the section on positioning, he writes a section called “You’re the CEO” saying, “If the first step in the process is coming to terms with the fact that no one is coming to save you—there’s no one to take this thing off your hands and champion it the rest of the way home—then the second is realizing that the person who is going to need to step up is you.” (Page 67)

Wherever you are in the publishing process, you will gain insights reading  Perennial Seller. I found the book engaging and valuable—in fact, maybe a book that I will read multiple times (unusual for me). I highly recommend this title.

Whether you read Perennial Seller or not, I recommend you get the free gift from the back of this book. You subscribe and confirm to be on Holiday's email list, then you get a series of case studies which were not included in the book—yet from experienced publishing people.

Are you writing or dreaming of writing a perennial seller? What steps are you taking as a writer to make that happen? Let me know in the comments below. 

Tweetable:

Are You Writing A Perennial Seller? Check out this article to  Make Your Book a Perennial Seller.  (ClickToTweet)


W. Terry Whalin is an acquisitions editor at Morgan James Publishing. His work contact information is on the bottom of the second page
.  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

Sunday, November 22, 2020

Some Good News for Writers


By Terry Whalin @terrywhalin
 
If you read the news or watch the news (as I continue to do), it is easy to get discouraged and completely stalled in your writing and publishing efforts. I've read where a number of writers are stuck, not writing anything and not moving forward. In some ways, I understand and it makes sense to be stalled. It has been a strange and different year with a worldwide pandemic. Yet you do not have to be stuck and stalled. In this article I want to give you some good news and ideas to move out of stall and into action.
 
1. People are reading more than recent years. Just check out this article from PR Expert Sandra Beckwith.

2. Books are selling. People are buying books from authors, online bookstores and brick and mortar bookstores. Books are getting translated into different languages and libraries continue to purchase books. As an writer, celebrate each of these opportunities and be knocking on new doors.

3. Publishers are still making new books. As an acquisitions editor, I am continuing to send process submissions, sign new authors and we are releasing new books. Yes some details have changed in this process but it is still happening.

4. Writers have opportunity to tell others about your book. Radio programs are still booking and looking for guests. Podcasts are still looking and booking guests. If you aren't getting on these programs then you need to take steps to learn how to pitch and get booked. There are online programs to teach you these skills.

5. Print magazines are still looking for quality writers to fill their pages. It's a simple fact, every magazine editor begins their next issue with blank pages which need to be filled with the right stories from writers (many of them freelance writers). You can be that writer—but only if you learn how to write a query letter, study their magazine guidelines (where the editor tells you what they need), then give the editor what they need. Yes it is that simple but it takes your effort and work to find the right fit.
 
Shake off rejection or any bad news and move forward. Seize these opportunities. Learn how to write a query and book proposal. Be pitching editors and literary agents. Don't get discouraged. Sit at your keyboard and write your story. If I can help you in this process, don't hesitate to reach out to me. It's one of the reasons I have my personal email address in my Twitter profile.
 
As we move into the holiday season with Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year, I encourage you to focus on the positive things in your world, life and family. We have good news as writers and let's celebrate it.
 
What is your good news as a writer? In the comments, let me know what you are celebrating.  I look forward to cheering you onward.
 
Tweetable:

There is good news for writers. Get the details here from this prolific editor and author. (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  190,000 twitter followers

 

  

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, June 20, 2018

Book Marketing and the Query Letter


If you are contemplating writing a book or you’ve already written one and intend on going the traditional publishing path, you’ll need a query letter and a cover letter.

This is true whether you’re an author, a writer, or a business owner who wants to build his authority with a book.

Wondering what a query letter has to do with book marketing?

The query is part of the second step in your book marketing journey. Think of it as the beginning of a hopefully rewarding relationship with a publisher or agent.

The first step is writing a great story. The second is getting a contract – this is where the query comes in.

If you’re not sure what a query letter is, Jane Friedman notes that it’s a stand-alone letter and has only one purpose. Its sole purpose is “to seduce the agent or editor into reading or requesting your work. The query is so much of a sales piece that you should be able to write it without having written a single word of the manuscript.” (1)

The query letter is your foot in the publishing door. So, you can see how much rides on this one or two page letter (preferably one page).

The query letter usually has 8 elements to be aware of:

1. Do your research. Have you gone to the publisher’s or agent’s website to make sure your manuscript topic is something s/he handles?

You can do an online search for publishers or agents that will be a fit for your story. Or, you can use an online service, like WritersMarket.com.

2. Know what you need to do. At the site, did you carefully go over the submission guidelines? I mean really, really, really, carefully!

3. Is your opening (in the query) grabbing? Will it get the reader’s attention?

4. Edit, edit, edit. Have you checked for grammar errors? Have you checked for redundancy? How about spelling? Don’t rely on a word processors speck check feature alone. Edit your letter manually.

5. Keep it short and sweet. Eliminate non-essential personal information.

6. Include credentials, and/or pertinent background information that is relevant to the story you’ve written, if any.

7. Include your book marketing strategy for promoting your book. In this section, include your social media following, only if significant: 500 followers, 1000 followers, 5000, 10,000. Obviously, the more the better. And, it’s essential that you have an author website and include the link in your heading.

8. Have you studied the query letter format?

The format consists of several paragraphs?

a. Your introduction, mentioning that you’ve visited the website and why you’re querying.
b. A very brief gist of what the manuscript is about and the intended age group.
c. A very brief synopsis of the story.
e. Your background, if pertinent. Include your marketing intentions.
f. Thank the editor/agent for her time. Mention that you included XXX pages (the number the guidelines said to send), if applicable.

Taking the time to do it right and write an optimized query letter may make the difference between the slush pile and a contract.

The query letter is the portal to a contract. If the reader says NO at the letter, your manuscript may be great, but it won’t have a chance.

Sources
(1) The Complete Guide to Query Letters
How to Write the Perfect Query Letter

Karen Cioffi is an award-winning author, successful children’s ghostwriter who welcomes working with new clients, and an author/writer online platform marketing instructor.

For more on children’s writing tips and writing help, stop by Writing for Children with Karen Cioffi.
Be sure to sign up for her newsletter and check out the DIY Page.

Karen is also the founder and editor-in-chief of Writers on the Move.

This article was originally published at:
http://karencioffiwritingforchildren.com/2015/11/15/book-marketing-and-the-query-letter/ 

 MORE ON WRITING AND BOOK MARKETING

So You Want to Write a Book - Now What?
Point-of-View and Children’s Storytelling
Items to Bring for Your In-Person Book Events



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Saturday, October 22, 2016

Three Reasons Authors Need An Online Press Room


By W. Terry Whalin

When it comes to telling others about your book, every author has to be proactive. I'm not encouraging you to use messages like “buy my book” which do not work. Instead your active steps should highlight the benefits of your book and what readers will gain from it. One area of the best ways to increase your active presence is to make an online press room.

Increasingly the media are using tools like Google to find sources for interviews. One of the best tools to increase your visibility with the media is to create an online press room for your book. 


For some time, I've had this tool in my plans and finally built it for my book, Billy Graham, A Biography of America's Greatest Evangelist. On November 7th, Mr. Graham will turn 98 years old. I encourage you to follow this link and check out my online press room which is full of information.
What does an online press room include?

Journalists (print or broadcast) are looking for easy ways to reach an author. Your first step is to understand what they need:

  • Author contact information — provide several easy methods to reach you via phone and email
  • Author biography or information about the author
  • A Book Press Release
  • Suggested questions for the author about the book
  • Media samples of when the author is interviewed
  • Samples of the book
  • Visuals for the book—cover photos and author photos

I hope you will check out my online press room and notice each of these resources. Because I've launched my press room, I hope different people in the media will begin to use this resource.

As the author, you have to be doing interviews to have media samples for your book. Often authors forget to ask for a copy of the interview or download it from the journalist after the interview. You need this material for your online press room and to show the media that you are regularly being interviewed about your book.

Here's three reasons to create an online press room:

1. Every day the media is actively searching for authors to interview. Are you visible and easy to find?

2. A well-designed press room makes it easy for the journalist to: 1) reach you and 2) interview you

3. An online press room shows your understanding of the needs of the media and that you are eager to help them—and in this process help yourself.

Proactive authors have built an online press room and gathered the essential documents where a journalist can connect with the author and write a story or schedule their own broadcast interview. According to PR and marketing expert Rusty Shelton increasingly media are using these online press rooms to reach out to authors and schedule interviews. Your first step as an author is awareness that you need one. Next gather the materials for such an effort or create them such as writing your own press release or a list of suggested questions. Finally build your site and begin promoting it through social media to others.

Do you have an online press room? Has it helped you gain increased opportunities to promote your book or schedule interviews with the media? If so, let me know in the comments below. Proactive authors are always looking for the next opportunity. Literary agents and editors are attracted to these types of active authors.

Tweetable:

Here's Three Reasons Why Authors Need an Online Press Room. (ClickToTweet)



Once again, I made the list of the Top 100 Marketing Experts to follow on Twitter from Evan Carmichael. He creates this list from different variables such as retweets and more. I'm honored to be #61 on this list. Hope you will check it out.

W. Terry Whalin is an acquisitions editor at Morgan James Publishing. He has written over 60 books including Jumpstart Your Publishing Dreams and for more than 50 publications. You can follow Terry on Twitter and he lives in Colorado.

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