Showing posts with label work. Show all posts
Showing posts with label work. Show all posts

Why Writers Need to Build An Audience


By W. Terry Whalin @terrywhalin

At every writer’s conference or group of writers, there is buzz around the word “platform.” Editors and literary agents are searching for authors with a platform or a personal connection to their readers. What’s that about? Many authors believe their task is to write an excellent book and get it to the right publisher. Don’t publishers sell books to bookstores? The questions are good ones and in this article, I want to give you some answers from my decades of writing books for publishers, yet also sitting on the inside of several publishing houses as an acquisitions editor. Admittedly publishing is a complex business and I’ve been studying the various nuisances of it for years (and still learning more every day).

              Writing a Good Book Is Foundational

While I’ve looked at thousands of submissions in my years in publishing, I also have interviewed other acquisitions editors. During one interview, I asked, “How do you know when you find a good submission?”

He said, “Terry, I read the first sentence and if it is a good sentence, I read the next one. If it is a good paragraph, I read the next one. If it is a good page, I read the next one.” You want to start your manuscript with a bang and draw the editor immediately into your writing. Don’t bury your best material over in a later chapter because the editor may not read that far. Good writing in your submission is essential.

Every Writer Needs a Proposal

Whether you write fiction or nonfiction, you need to put the writing energy into creating a proposal. I understand they take lots of work to create. Two of my proposals got six-figure advances from publishers (and I have lengthy stories about what happened with those books—for another time). Your proposal shows you understand the market and your target reader. It includes your game plan about how you are going to reach your audience and sell books. The proposal is an important document for you to write even if you self-publish. I have a free book proposal checklist

The Editor’s Search

I often tell authors that making books is easy but selling books is hard. Over 4,500 new books are published every day (including the self-published books). Yes that is a lot of books and why every author needs to have a plan and ability to reach readers. As editors, we are searching for these types of writers. 

Publishers produce beautiful books and sell them into bookstores (online and brick and mortar). Authors drive readers to those bookstores and sell the books out into the hands of readers. Publishers certainly have an investment in the books they publish but authors need to be even more invested in reaching readers. It’s what many people call building a platform (audience).

Action Is Key

It’s easy to get overwhelmed with this process and confused about what action to take. Here’s the key (no matter what you are writing): do something and do it consistently day after day. Here are some basic facts about this process:

• Everyone starts small and builds

• Your personal email list is more important than your social media audience

• You should focus on what you can control (email list) instead of rented media in places like Twitter or Facebook (which you don’t own or control)

• It takes hard work for every writer but you need to do this work

• There are many different ways to build your audience. Pick one or two and see what works best for your writing.

• If the process were simple everyone would succeed (sell many books),

• Persistence and consistency are important for every writer.

Every editor and agent is actively looking for the right author who is building their connections to readers and has learned how to sell books. I’ve been in some of the top literary agencies and publishers in the nation. From their questions, I know they are actively looking for these authors—no matter what how they respond to your pitches. Be encouraged and keep growing in your craft (ability to write) and your knowledge about your readers and the market. It doesn’t happen overnight but can happen if you continue to work at it. 


Why Do Writers Need to Build An Audience? Isn’t that what publishers do? Get the details from prolific writer and editor Terry Whalin. (Click-To-Tweet)

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: Connect with Terry on TwitterFacebook and LinkedIn.

Writers: Let Mistakes Be Your Teachers

Secret in the Stars: An Abi Wunder Mystery
was self-published in June, 2020

By Linda Wilson

Three mistakes—whoppers, and very painful, I might add—stand out in my writing career, all the rest are small (and many!)

Mistake #1: Taking on more work than I could handle. Back when my daughters were growing up, both in their 30’s now, I landed a terrific job as a writer for a well-known library journal. I had left teaching elementary school for a while and had made the big time! Our subjects were short biographies, called by the journal “biosketches,” about famous people. The editor gave me my pick of subjects and any number of sketches I wanted to write. Up to that point, I had experience writing newspaper articles, period. Not to worry! One of the other writers advised me that my sketches needed to be conversational as well as factual.

I started out with only one or two, with 2-3 weeks to research and write. A research assistant sent me articles and information, but the perfectionist in me decided that wasn’t enough. So, while my husband was at work and my daughters were in school, I did more research in the library. My subjects were such interesting personalities as Stephen King, Troy Aikman, and William Shatner.

The extra research paid off. My sketches were tight with information, and friendly. The editor was pleased.  

Piece of cake. I decided to take on more, 3-4 sketches at a time. That’s when I hit the wall. I didn’t realize the time crunch I was getting myself into while volunteering at my daughters’ school, being a girl scout leader, and more. I missed a deadline, and I was toast.

Lesson Learned: Take on only what you’re sure you can handle.

Mistake #2: Signing up with a Vanity Press without doing a search for complaints. According to Wikipedia, “a vanity press or vanity publisher, sometimes also subsidy publisher, is a publishing house in which authors pay to have their books published.”

About two years ago, I chose a publisher that I’d been following, sold by the way the company presented itself on their website and in phone conversations I had with the company rep. I loved the packages they offered, which included everything under the sun that I would need.

My husband and I lived in a small town at the time. I didn’t have the advantage of a critique group or contact with the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrator’s chapter as I do now, living in Albuquerque, New Mexico. I joked that my package—the Ultimate, mind you, promising the moon—was my “Harley,” a gift from my husband a few years after he bought his dream Harley. I would buy my dream: a way to publish my book with the help I believed I needed.

Now, after finding help in critique groups with my fellow SCBWI-NM authors, and information from the SCBWI organization itself, I see how misguided I had been. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

As luck would have it, just days before my book—my first, Secret in the Stars: An Abi Wunder Mystery, a ghost story for 7-to-10-year-olds—was to be published, I read a book that changed everything: 10 Publishing Myths, by W. Terry Whalin. I had barely turned the first few pages before a feeling of dread crept into my soul. In Chapter One: “Myth One: I Will Make a Lot of Money Writing My Book.” Of course, I understood that. But in this chapter, Whalin makes the case that “to be a best seller, the book needs broad distribution to online plus brick-and-mortar bookstores who report their sales to a bestseller list. Balboa Press [a press that he uses as an example] is online and their books are not sold in brick-and-mortar bookstores.” This was not the case with my company, I assured myself. Whalin goes on to say that the overall production of these books is not good quality. Not mine. I'd already seen the cover and had worked closely with the artist. My book was beautiful. Whalin hoped this author didn’t spend a lot of money to produce her book.

Well, I did spend a lot of money. Harley's are expensive! As my alarm grew, I turned to the next page, where Whalin suggests doing a Google search to check out potential publishers, by typing "Publisher’s name + complaints." I did that and was in for the shock of my life. Not only were there a substantial number of complaints against my publisher, but these complaints were made by twenty-nine authors who had published with my company and created a revolt on a private Facebook page. Why? Not one of the twenty-nine had received one royalty check. Not one. Today many more authors have joined the group, an attorney has gotten involved, and the owner is facing several lawsuits. 

I spent two taxing days and sleepless nights reading the authors’ experiences, sent an email to one of them, and he invited me to join the group and tell them about my experience. The group welcomed me, and in their posts, I found the help I needed to obtain my files from the company and proceed to self-publishing my book.

My caveat: I was lucky. I already had possession of my files which were print-ready and easy to publish on KDP. Some others are still battling to obtain their files and as a result, are unable to publish their books.

Lesson Learned: Before doing business with anyone, do a Google search to see if there are any complaints against them.

Mistake #3: Being out of touch with my calendar. Recently, I entered a picture book manuscript in a contest, and it won an award—first, second, or third to be announced at a later date. I wrote to everyone I could think of with the news, then read the fine print. The manuscript had to be unpublished. I forgot that tiny fact when the illustrator finished her work. I went ahead and published the book on Amazon as soon as I could. 

Lesson Learned: Make sure you write down your important dates on your calendar. If I had written the date the announcement was to be made about the contest, I would have waited to publish the book and received the award. Instead, I had to disqualify myself and the award went to someone else.

Ultimate Lessons Learned: It’s become natural for me to know how much work to take on now. I check the companies I work with on Google, and am making it as a self-published author. As for the contest? I’m determined to win an award with the same contest next year. It’s taken me about a week to come up with an idea. Soon, I will begin work on it and when the contest opens, I will enter it and put the important dates on my calendar. This experience has also encouraged me to search out other contests which I plan on submitting to. Who knows? Maybe I will win another contest.  

Linda Wilson, a former elementary teacher, has published over 150 articles for children and adults, several short stories for children, and her  books, Secret in the Stars: An Abi Wunder Mystery, and A Packrat's Holiday: Thistletoe's Gift, are available on Amazon, Publishing credits include biosketches for the library journal, Biography Today, which include Troy Aikman, Stephen King, and William Shatner; PocketsHopscotch; and an article accepted by Highlights for ChildrenSecret in the Mist, the second in the Abi Wunder series, is coming soon. Follow Linda at

Work-Made-For-Hire Writing: Five Reasons Writers Should Do It


By Terry Whalin @terrywhalin

Over the years I've written several articles about Work Made for Hire contracts (follow this link to see some of them). Many writers run away from such work and refuse it. These people believe they are protecting their rights and want to publish royalty projects instead of selling all their rights to someone else.
My literary attorney has told me that I've signed more Work Made for Hire agreements than anyone she knows. I've also been a working writer in the publishing community for decades. The truth is sometimes it is better to earn the money upfront from a publisher rather than hope for royalties (which may or may not happen).
In this article, I want to give five reasons to write Work Made For Hire projects. I call them projects because they are not always books. Sometimes they are articles or white papers or any number of other types of writing. 
1. You Get Immediate Work. Often in the publishing world, you have to write your article or book with the hope that you will find someone to publish it. With Work Made For Hire, you have found paying writing work which you can do right away—and get payment.
2. You Get Paid for Your Work. Depending on what you negotiate in a Work Made For Hire agreement, often you get half of the money upfront. This fact helps your cash flow as a writer—especially those of us who write full-time.
3. You Can Build Your Reputation and Get a Writing Credit. Some Work Made For Hire is ghostwriting (no credit). On other occasions, my writing is credited. Sometimes this work appears in the tiny print on the copyright page. Other times my name appears on the title page of the book and not the cover. On other books where I've co-authored the book for someone else, my name appears on the cover as “with W. Terry Whalin.” To the publishing world, this “with” credit indicates I wrote the book. If you are new in the publishing world, this credit can be an important part of building your reputation in the publishing world.
Several of the children's books that I have published were Work Made For Hire. The finished children's books had high quality illustrations and were a beautiful finished product. In some cases my name only appears on the copyright line (small print) but in other cases, my name appears on the cover. How it turns out for you is all about watching the details of the agreement. Several of my devotional books which I wrote as a Work Made For Hire have sold over 60,000 copies (which is a great credit for any writer—and something I use from time to time). 
4. Provides A Way to Work for a Publisher. For many new writers, it's a challenge to publish with traditional publishers for your own work. Sometimes publishers need a writer to complete a manuscript in a short amount of time. Years ago I wrote a book for a publisher in a short amount of time and exceeded their deadline. My name is in the small print on the cover of this book and it continues to sell. When I checked a few years ago, this book had sold over 100,000 copies. As the other examples in this article, I wrote this book as a work made for hire and haven't been paid anything additional but it is a great credit for a writer.
5. In a hard environment, provides a way to seize an opportunity. I know some publishers are making cautious decisions about what to publish (for a number of reasons including the pandemic). This caution has made it hard for writers. Work Made For Hire is writing that will always be needed and is a way for you to seize the opportunity, get published and get paid. If you find it, my encouragement is for you to seize the opportunity.
Do you write Work Made For Hire or have you avoided it? Let me know in the comments below.

This prolific editor and author gives five reasons to write Work Made For Hire. Get the details here. (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).  His latest book for writers is 10 Publishing Myths, Insights Every Author Needs to SucceedOne 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

Your Children's Story and the Message

  By Karen Cioffi, Children's Writer I get a lot of clients who want to tell children something through a book. These people want to sen...