Showing posts with label wisdom. Show all posts
Showing posts with label wisdom. Show all posts

An Important Skill for Writers: The Gentle Follow-Up


By Terry Whalin 
@terrywhalin

The publishing world is full of things which drop through the cracks. Your ability to use the gentle follow-up is a critical skill to acquire and use. Repeatedly in my years in publishing, I have used the gentle follow-up to keep things from getting stalled and not happening. 

As an editor, several years ago I was headed to a large conference where I wanted to sell some books. I rushed my book through the process and even had a case of books dropped shipped from the printer to the conference. At the event, I sold some copies. Then I received an email from one of those people who bought my book. She asked, “Are you going to fix the typos in this book?” I could have ignored the email, but I asked for more specifics. To my horror, I learned there were many typos in my published book. I engaged a proofreader and paid to have the type on this book reset. Thankfully all of this happened before the book’s publication date. My gentle follow-up with this reader saved me a great deal of future heartache.

Let’s face reality. Mistakes happen in publishing and as an author you need to be actively engaged in getting everything into excellent shape. Recently I received a book with the word Foreword misspelled on the cover (Forward). This word was spelled correctly on the interior pages but not on the cover.  The authors or someone in the publishing process could have fixed this error but I will not be writing these authors because the book has been published.

I understand the esteem writers hold editors and agents (since I’ve been a part of this group for years). Unfortunately, this esteem creates some fear for the writers to follow-up with these professionals. In this article, I want to encourage you to use the gentle follow-up.

Notice the key adjective in my title: gentle. Why gentle? From my decades in publishing, I understand there are many moving pieces in the process. I have high personal goals to accomplish a great deal every day. Yet I would be the first to admit many things are not accomplished and left undone when I stop each day. You can’t know the pressure or personal situations for each editor or agent who you are approaching. Maybe they have been traveling. Maybe they have been ill or tied up in a personal crisis with a child or a last-minute book project. As you approach these gatekeepers, understand they have a lot of pitches and manuscripts. If you ask for a quick response, you will probably get the answer you don’t want: “no, thank you.” I’ve found that “yes” takes time.

If several weeks or a couple of months have passed with no response, it is appropriate to check in with a brief email to see if they received your submission. Was it lost and you need to resend it? Notice my questions and focus are gentle and not accusing anyone or pushing for a decision. Technology isn’t perfect and things do get lost sometimes and need to be resent. 

With this gentle follow-up I didn’t call or text my editor or agent. The phone or a text is more of an in-your-face action where the receiver can respond to their email whenever they can answer.

This gentle follow-up skill is not just for book submissions. I used it recently with a magazine editor I was trying to reach. As long as you are not pushing for a decision, your follow-up shows your professionalism (and persistence). Both of these qualities are a critical aspect of the publishing business. 

Every writer needs to acquire this important skill. Like any skill, you have to exercise it on a regular basis. Your tone and words are important so handle it with care and you will improve your communication and respect from your fellow professionals. Many people forget publishing is a communication business and the gentle follow-up is good communication. 

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According to this prolific editor and writer, one of the most important skills for every writer is the gentle follow-up. Learn the details here.

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 recent 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.

Should I Self-Publish?

 

By W. Terry Whalin @terrywhalin

I could see the resolution in the eyes of this author across the table from me when she said, “I’m going to self-publish.” 


We were meeting at a conference (pre-pandemic) and talking about her manuscript. I liked the shape of her proposal, her title and the energy that she had put into her book idea. In just a few minutes, I could see the potential. I acquire or find books for one of the top independent publishers. We spent the next few minutes exploring why she wanted to self-publish. I’ve heard these words from other authors:


“Everyone is doing it.”


“Isn’t this the best way for any author to get started in publishing?”


“I want to get it out quickly while the market is hot for my topic.”


“I don’t want to give up my rights to a publisher (and the control).”


Without a doubt, no matter what direction you decide to publish, just entering the field is challenging. I’ve been working with books for decades and yes, every book is filled with unique challenges.


Before you take the leap into self-publishing, I encourage you to move forward armed with a bit of reality: “According to the latest Bowker data (Publishers Weekly, February 20, 2023), 2.3 million books were self-published in the US in 2021, which was the third year in a row that more than two million books were self-published. This is the number of new titles that received an ISBN from Bowker. Several years ago Bowker stopped releasing the numbers of new titles that were not self-published, but a recent industry estimate is that each year “between 500,000 to 1 million . . . new titles are published through traditional publishers” Here’s where I got this information with much more detail: The 10 Awful Truths about Book Publishing.


Anyone with a computer (and everyone has a computer) feels like they can get a book published.  I understand some of their motivations. I often tell authors that making books is easy. Now selling those books you make—that is a completely different story. Statistics have proven the average self-published book sells 100-250 copies during the lifetime of the book.


Many companies are happy to take your money and make books (and a number of those companies are scams). In fact a prominent large Christian publisher has a self-publishing imprint. I’ve seen some poorly created books from this publisher. While on the surface it looks like an “easy” way to get published. The reality is something quite different. You are not really working with that publisher (giving money to them for the referral yes). In the production, you will be working with people in the Philippines (part of why you speak with a different person each time). The books will not be sold inside any brick and mortar bookstores (poorly distribution—a key consideration). And, the parent company (something they will not tell you about) has many different imprints and produces over 20,000 books a year (anything from poetry to porn). Yes, these companies are a scam preying on uneducated writers. I’ve met several authors who have unnecessarily spent $20,000 with such companies which is tragic because they will never sell enough books to recover such an investment.


To be fair, every publisher has unhappy authors and complaints. It’s part of the publishing landscape. Yet some companies have many complaints which should be a red flag to potential authors. 


One of the best ways to learn about complaints is to use Google and type in “NAMEOFPUBLISHER + complaint” and see what you learn.  Ask questions about what you discover and listen to the answers. Occasionally I field complaints about Morgan James and have answers but authors have to take the initiative and ask questions (your responsibility).


From my experience, the best publishing involves working with a team and involves cooperation, give and take. To get this experience, you have to write a book proposal. I believe even if you self-publish, you should write a proposal because this document will become your business plan or blueprint for your book. To help writers, I wrote Book Proposals That $ell. Writers have used my book to get an agent, get an advance and much more.


Or you can write an excellent manuscript and skip the proposal if you send the book to me for possible publishing. For eleven years, I’ve been working with one of the top independent publishers (Christian owners but not all Christian books). Our books have been on the Wall Street Journal bestseller list over 100 times. This fact alone demonstrates broad distribution not just online but selling in brick and mortar bookstores.


On the surface, publishing looks simple but in reality is complex with many decisions and variables. I encourage you to watch this 36-minute video master class where New York Times bestselling author Jerry B. Jenkins asked me a number of questions—including about publishing. Keep learning all you can from every possible source and reach out to me if I can help you.


Tweetable:

Everyone is self-publishing. Should you? This prolific writer and editor gives his insider’s perspective. Learn 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 recent 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.

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