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Right Writing News, February 21, 2011 Issue #44
February 21, 2011
Welcome to the 44th issue to subscribers of Right Writing News. If you are reading this issue forwarded from someone, be sure and use the link below to get your own free subscription.
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Table of Contents1) Can We Speak About Book Proposals?
By W. Terry Whalin
2) Be Active on Twitter & Automate It
By W. Terry Whalin
3) 12 Things Authors do to Sabotage Their Success
By Penny Sansevieri
4) Why It's Called The Slush Pile
By W. Terry Whalin
5) To Get In Print, Hit 'Em Where They Aint!
By Laura Backes
6) An Idea Factory Packed with Inspiration
By W. Terry Whalin
7) Get My Step-by-Step Proposal Help
By W. Terry Whalin
Can We Speak About Book Proposals?
By W. Terry WhalinMany writers don't know a key fact about publishing. Editors and agents don't read manuscripts. They read book proposals.
Tuesday, February 22nd at 7 p.m. EST / 4 p.m. Pacific (starts promptly according to www.Time.gov), I'm hosting a 70-minute teleseminar. I want you to sign up and ask me any question about proposal creation and proposal marketing at:
Wait--there is more. I've created a special free Ebook for everyone who signs up at the teleseminar: ACCEPTANCE OR REJECTION? 5 STRATEGIES THAT MAKE A DIFFERENCE. You can get this 19-page Ebook packed with content
when you sign up at:
During the teleseminar, I'm introducing a new training course called Write A Book Proposal (http://WriteABookProposal.com). I encourage everyone to ask a proposal question at:
If you can't make the time of the call, please go ahead and sign up anyway. The entire teleseminar will be recorded and EVERYONE who signs up will receive an email with the replay link. Also if you sign up, you will be able to download the FREE special report right away. This report is loaded with valuable advice.
I look forward to speaking with you on Tuesday.
Be Active on Twitter & Automate It
By W. Terry WhalinWhen I meet with writers at a conference or on the phone, they will often tell me, "No one knows me or my writing." Maybe they have written a few magazine articles but never published a book. Or maybe they haven't published anything but want to get published. Other people have written for magazines or newspapers but never written a book (nonfiction or fiction).
First a reminder: I know of no overnight successes in the publishing business. If you have someone who appears to become an overnight success, then look closer at the journey of that person. I've often found they have been in the trenches for years before they achieved their dream of success.
OK, with this reality check, now what can you do to begin building your visibility in the community? There is not a singular answer to this question.
There are many answers.
One answer is to become active on Twitter. According to Twitter's site, as of September 14, 2010, there are 175 million users who tweet 95 million times a day. Those numbers are right--a million. What are you waiting for? Let's get started.
1. Who is your target audience? Who do you want to reach and with what message? It is important from the beginning to select one or two "themes" to your tweets because this consistency will attract your audience and help you.
2. Create your Twitter profile and add your photo and bio. Get more details in my free Ebook, Mastering Twitter in 10 Minutes or Less.
3. Add a distinctive twitter background to your twitter profile. Here's a free tool to create it.
4. Use a free tool like Hootsuite to send out your tweets and also to schedule them.
5. Locate Twitter Leaders in your area at Twellow. Follow those leaders and learn from their tweets.
6. Use a tool like TweetAdder to automate your twitter process of gaining followers. It is excellent and adding about 100 to 150 followers a day to my Twitter account. You can get 15% off TweetAdder by using code NICHE15.
If you don't like to tweet, then automate your content on Twitter using Google Alerts. Select several key words and pull in content to your twitter account. Follow these ten steps:
1. Do you have a Gmail account? If not create one. While you are signed on to that Gmail account…
2. Go to Google Alerts
3. Select several phrases that you want to turn on alerts
4. Leave the Type as "comprehensive" or from anywhere on the web
5. Change How Often to "as-it-happens" because you want it throughout the day and fresh
6. Change Deliver to: and select "feed."
7. When you save it, you will see the feed in Google. Notice the orange icon or the word "feed." Right click on that and copy out the feed URL because you will need it for the next step.
8. Go to Twitterfeed and log on to this free application using your twitter username and password.
9. After you log on to Twitterfeed, you are creating a new Feed. Give your feed a title and paste the RSS feed URL from Google alerts into the feed spot.
10. Click the Advanced Settings. Change "Update Frequency" to every 30 minutes and post up to "3" new updates at a time.
This ten step system will automatically pull content into your twitter account. I have this system set up for some twitter accounts that I do not monitor as closely as I do for my main twitter account. It is critical to provide content, point to articles, give free resources and not to engage in hard selling (buy me, buy me). It’s a soft sell approach that works on Twitter. With millions of people on Twitter and using some (or all) of these techniques, every writer can increase their presence and activity on Twitter.
12 Things Authors do to Sabotage Their Success
By Penny SansevieriWriting, publishing, promoting, publicizing. It all seems quite daunting, doesn't it? Well, it doesn't have to be. First you need to start out by doing the right things and knowing what can help, or harm, your success. Keep in mind that while there is always a creative element, publishing is a business. It's important to know your business to be successful. Here are a dozen ideas that I hope will help you on your journey from writer to successful author.
1. Waiting too long to market. When it comes to marketing, some authors wait too long to get the word out there. If you're sitting on top of your publication date wondering where to start with your marketing, you're about six months behind the curve. Book marketing is what I call the long runway of promotion. A great campaign will consist not only of a focused marketing plan, but a plan that starts early enough to support the ramp up that a good book marketing campaign needs. And this isn't just for the self-published market, any book that's being released these days needs a minimum of a six-month ramp up. This doesn't mean that you are marketing during that time, but ideally you are getting ready for your launch by having a website designed, starting a newsletter, building your mailing list, building your media list, planning your events, etc.
2. Not having enough money. I see it all the time; authors spend all their money on the book process (book cover, editing, etc.) and then don't have enough for the marketing. That's like opening up a store and not having money to stock it with inventory. Before you jump headlong into publishing a book, make sure you have the funds to do so. So, how much is enough? It depends on what you want to accomplish. Be clear on your goals and market, then sit down with someone who can help you determine a budget.
3. Not getting to know others in their market. Who else is writing about your topic? If you're not sure, then you should do your research. Getting to know your fellow genre authors is not only important, but it can really help you with your marketing. How? Because most readers don't just buy one self-help book, or one dating book, they will generally buy in multiples. So getting to know others within your market can not only help you market your book, but it could also help you connect with fellow authors, and there is truth to the fact that there is power in numbers.
4. Ignoring social media. While social media may seem confusing to most of us, it's important to know that it can sometimes be a make or break situation when it comes to marketing your book. If you can't make heads or tails out of Twitter vs. Facebook, then hire someone who can help you or guide you through your choices.
5. Thinking bookstores don't matter. While it's nice to think that most of us do our shopping online and via Amazon, bookstores (especially local stores) can really help or hurt your marketing efforts. If your book isn't going into bookstores, then you'll want to get to know your local area stores to see if you can present your book to them for consideration and/or do an event in their store. Having a local presence in bookstores is important, especially if you are doing local events and local media. If the bookstore won't stock the book (and many of them won't if you're a first time author), then make sure at the very least that your book can be ordered. You don't want people walking into your neighborhood store and being told "Sorry, we can't get that book."
6. Printing too many copies. In order to get large printing discounts, authors will often print huge numbers of their books. I've seen ranges from 10,000 on up. Generally I recommend a run of no more than 2,000. You can always go back to print and likely when you do, you'll want to make changes to the book, possibly adding new testimonials, endorsements, and reviews. Also, you have better things to do with your marketing dollars than spend them on storage space.
7. Not spending enough time researching their market. If you were going to open up a store in a mall, let's say a yogurt shop, would you ever consider opening a store without doing the proper research? Probably not. Yet every day authors publish books and haven't done market research. This research, while it can be tedious, could save you hundreds of dollars in promotion and/or cover design.
8. Not hiring a professional to do their book cover. In tight financial times, it's ok to cut corners in marketing or find less expensive ways to do things. But one corner you shouldn't cut is on your book cover. Your cover is important because it's the first impression your audience has of your book. Don't shortcut your success by creating a cover that doesn't sell. In the long run, the money you save on the cover design could cost you four times that in book sales.
9. Not having their work professionally edited. Your book is your resume; not only that but it's your reader's experience as well. What kind of experience do you want to give them? If the answer is a great one (and it likely is) make sure the work you do on your book mirrors that. Your work should always be professionally edited, no excuse. If you don't have enough money to do this, then ask yourself if publishing this book is really a good idea. Perhaps waiting until you have the funds to get the book released the right way is a better idea.
10. Expecting immediate book sales. Nothing happens immediately, especially book sales. The sales process for books can be lengthy, especially when you're dealing with multiple reporting agencies. Most authors don't know that places like Amazon, Baker & Taylor, and Ingram don't all pay on the same timeframe. They all have particular cycles to how they pay. For example, Amazon might pay 90 days after the sale, whereas some folks I've talked to say that Baker & Taylor sometimes lags five months behind. What this means is that if you are pushing your book in December and hope to see the fruits of your labor in January, that timeline isn't realistic. Don't end up disappointed if your royalty statements aren't reflecting the promotion you've done. It could be that the agencies just haven't caught up with your sales.
11. Not having a website. Someone once asked me if all authors should have a website, to which I responded: does your book need a book cover? Every author should have a website. It doesn't have to be fancy, lengthy, or expensive, but it's a 24/7 sales tool and the only way to build credibility online.
12. Giving up on their book too soon. Like anything, book marketing takes time. I see authors all the time who start to grow impatient after a few months, wondering where their success is. How long will it take? That depends. But you might not be the best person to determine that. If you've been marketing your book for a while and can't figure out why nothing has taken off, spend an hour with a professional who can tell you if you're on the right track. Do this before you decide to throw in the towel. You might be inches away from success; don't give up before you do your research.
Making headway in marketing is as much about the
good decisions, as it is avoiding the bad. Good
luck in your publishing journey!
Reprinted from “The Book Marketing Expert newsletter,” a free ezine offering book promotion and publicity tips and techniques. http://www.amarketingexpert.com
Why It's Called The Slush Pile
By W. Terry WhalinEvery writers pitch their ideas to literary agents and publishers. I've listened to many of these pitches personally at writers conferences and I've received stacks of these submissions as an editor and agent.
In a matter of seconds, I can tell if something is going to be worth reading and considering. Yes, seconds. Millions of submissions are in circulation at different offices. The editors and agents are actively looking because it is their business to find fresh talent and publish authors.
I've received many unusual submissions. The number and variety of these submissions grew that I started a file in my desk and labeled it, Strange But True. Recently another one landed in my mail box. Just to be clear, I've not worked for Howard Books for five years Yet a handwritten letter was addressed:
Manuscript Review Committee Howard Books Suite D-3 #481 23623 N. Scottsdale Rd. Scottsdale, AZ 85255
It came to my personal address yet it was addressed to the "committee." OK. I opened it and thankfully it has an SASE (self-addressed stamped envelope). After I post this message, I'm going to print this entry and mail it to the author with the hopes it will help her see the necessity to have a much better presentation with her pitch.
The letter (typed) and dated February 15, 2011.
First paragraph: "If you could hold in your hands, this moment, the most urgent, significant, consequential revelations of the century, a manuscript so meaningful as to rival the Holy Bible of old, a manuscript containing the most sacred and controversial heavenly truths ever bestowed on the eath (she meant earth); would you publish it?"
OK, this paragraph is engaging yet full of hyperbole (exaggeration). It is in many respects over the top in terms of exaggeration.
Second paragraph: "This manuscript exists. _______ is about 900 pages of the most sacred words of the holy angels of God. This is a powerful, dynamic manuscript from a heavenly perspective, not a mortal imagination. These are deep, thought-provoking, intelligent, inspirational words which will invoke an indelible emotion in the reader. Some will tremble in the soul. Eyes will fill with tears as they recognize these are actual truths of angel's wisdom. This is not another "angel book."
A typical nonfiction book (which this claims to be) is 40 to 80,000 words. The world of books and magazine looks for the word count--not the page count. Estimating 200 words a page, this manuscript is 180,000 words or over 700 pages of a typeset book. That fact alone is enough to get this instantly rejected. The author has no concept of the challenges of book production or the difficulties that such a large book will mean to any publisher--much less thinking about the contents. I'm speaking only of the word count. It is way beyond the normal range.
While these changes are mostly cosmetic (the lack of a personal name address and the lengthy manuscript), let's address a core issue with submissions. You have to send your pitch to the right agent or editor. It has to be someone who identifies with the topic. Howard Books is a "Christian" part of Simon and Schuster. While there is broad definition for the word Christian, as a minimum, the editors hold to the basic Christian doctrines. For example, what do the editors believe about the Bible? I would expect their view to agree with what Billy Graham writes on his website, "But the Bible isn't just another human book.
The Bible claims to be something far greater than this: It claims to be the Word of God. In other words, it says that behind its human authors was another author: God Himself. The Bible says, "For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit" (2 Peter 1:21). If this is true (and as a Christian I believe it is), then it means we aren't free to pick and choose what parts of the Bible we will believe. The whole Bible is God's Word, and the whole Bible teaches us God's truth. The Bible says, "As for God, his way is perfect; the word of the Lord is flawless" (2 Samuel 22:31)."
This submission includes a page of quotations to entice the editor to request a partial or full manuscript submission. Here's one of the quotations, "About hell: "This is not for you or others. Do not be afraid because you think yourself not good enough to enter heaven. Even the most sinful of souls have a place in God's plan. A place will be waiting for all souls, where each will find happiness."
Really? You can follow this link to see what Billy Graham writes about hell but it is a real place. Bottom-line this author has no idea how to approach an editor with the book idea nor how to send this idea for proper consideration.
As I have written here before, you only have one chance to make a good first impression. Tuesday, I'll be answering your questions about book proposals in a free teleseminar. I hope you can attend and will ask a question and pick up my free Ebook.
Also this teleseminar will be the launching my Write A Book Proposal training program. In 12-weeks, I teach step-by-step how to craft a book proposal and sample chapter which will gather the right sort of interest.
Every writer needs to learn all they can to make the best possible impression on the agent or editor. They are searching for a champion who will move their idea through the publishing process and they will ultimately get their book published and into the marketplace. As for this "submission" to the Manuscript Review Committee, it will only land in my "Strange But True" Manila folder.
To Get In Print, Hit & 'em Where They Ain't!
By Laura Backes, Children's Book InsiderBaseball great Willie Keeler had a simple explanation for his batting prowess: "I hit 'em where they ain't". If you yearn to see your name in print, you might follow Willie's example. Why not "hit 'em where they ain't" by going where there's less competition?
One excellent -- and underserved -- field is writing nonfiction magazine articles. Nonfiction can be profitable because you can use the same research on several pieces. Find a topic you love, gather your information, and then craft several articles for different markets. Remember that children are most interested in the "how" and "why" of a subject, especially if you present it in a humorous or unique way.
Longer how-to articles. These differ from straight activities because they require more of an introduction than, "Have you ever wanted to make paper dolls? Here's how!" Many magazines have theme lists for each issue, and want activities that also present information related to the theme. That same paper doll activity might be prefaced by several paragraphs on the history of paper dolls in the U.S., or focus on paper dolls manufactured during a particular decade. The "how-to" element would follow, with clear, step-by-step instructions children can complete on their own, or with minimal adult supervision. How-to articles for older readers might involve self-help topics, or tips for improving relationships, getting organized, or landing a summer job. Break these more abstract topics into several steps and use catchy subheads to keep the article entertaining.
Interviews and profiles. You don't have to look far to find subjects to profile for magazines. Many publications want articles about kids doing interesting or unusual things. Research potential markets before finding your subjects, as each magazine's audience and focus differs. Interviews with adults in your community who have unusual jobs or ordinary people who are making a difference in the world are also good subjects. Center your interview questions around areas the magazine's target audience would find most fascinating.
Biographies. Many magazines need short biographies of adults whose lives are connected to themes for upcoming issues. When writing a magazine biography, focus on a small aspect of the person's life, such as a pivotal childhood experience that inspired him to take a certain path in adulthood, or the one or two accomplishments for which that person is best known. Or, for famous subjects, highlight some obscure achievements. Many magazines love to receive biographies of unknown people who had an impact on a big moment in history. .
Feature articles. If you enjoy research and are passionate about a topic, wait until you uncover some new, interesting, or tantalizing facts that would fascinate kids. Then study several recent issues of magazines for different age groups to determine which publications might be interested in a feature article on your subject. Many nonfiction editors prefer to see a query letter describing the article, the age group, and the slant you're planning to take on the topic before you write the entire piece. Note the format of each publication you're querying so you can mention any necessary sidebars, graphs, timelines or photos you'd need to provide.
Reviews. Some magazines have regular departments that take freelance reviews of children's software, video games, books, or other products. Check the magazine's guidelines before submitting any reviews, as sometimes they're staff-written or written by kids. Also note if the reviews are targeted to the children reading the magazine, or to their parents.
Regardless of the type of magazine nonfiction you write, your best chance for publication is if you custom-fit each submission. Study each magazine's style, note if the articles tend to be light and humorous or have a more scholarly tone. Design your submission to look as if it belongs in the magazine by including sidebar material or photographs, if needed. Give the editor something she can use, but written in a way she's never seen before.
About the Author: Laura Backes is the publisher of Children's Book Insider, the Newsletter for Children's Writers. For more information about writing children's books, including free articles, market tips, insider secrets and much more, visit Children's Book Insider's home on the web at http://write4kids.com
Reprinted with permission.
An Idea Factory Packed with Inspiration
By W. Terry WhalinAlmost daily I meet people who are stuck. They've created a product or book or service and need more people to know about it. Yet they have no idea how to take action and get publicity or increase their exposure (and ultimately sales).
If you are in this situation, then you need a copy of Marcia Yudkin's PUBLICITY TACTICS: INSIGHTS ON CREATING LUCRATIVE MEDIA BUZZ. For many years, I've subscribed to a weekly column Yudkin writes called The Marketing Minute. It is excellent. Now she's compiled and organized these columns into this excellent book which is packed with ideas.
The entries into eight parts: Why Pursue Publicity?, Your Attitude Counts, Stellar Publicity Successes, Understand Publicity Timing, Ways to Become Newsworthy, Frequently Overlooked Publicity Tools, and Dealing With Reporters. Each chapter is two pages long. It's the perfect book to pick up, read several of them--then take action on the ideas and improve your visibility in the marketplace. Most of the ideas are free or call for small investment of money but can reap large dividends in publicity and sales. As Yudkin explains in the introduction, "My tips apply whether you're promoting a major product launch, your long-established professional firm, a save-the-redwoods campaign, a church fundraiser or yourself as an authority."
Many chapters include a short quote as Food for Thought such as this one from John D. Rockefeller, "Next to doing the right thing, the most important thing is to let people know you are doing the right thing." (page 74)
Whether you need a jolt of creativity to your marketing or a fresh idea, reach for this title and keep it handy to refer to it again and again. I highly recommend this power-packed book.
Get My Step-by-Step Proposal Help
By W. Terry WhalinDuring the last seven years, I have a stream of writers who have contacted me in person or on email. They tell me about the life-changing results from Book Proposals That Sell. They studied the book, used it to write and shape their book proposal and pitch to an agent or editor--and snagged a literary agent or a book contract--when before they had been getting rejected.
I wrote this book as a frustrated acquisitions editor. Each day I searched through the submissions from authors and received incomplete, inadequate and at times strange pitches for book ideas. These authors were not giving me what I needed to champion their projects within the publishing house. I wrote the book to be an agent of change and help writers succeed with their dreams.
While the reactions to this bestselling book have been gratifying., to be honest, the book is not without it's critics. On a regular basis, I hear about the perspective of Book Proposals That Sell--that it is geared toward nonfiction writers. Sometimes novelists will return the book or ask for a refund if they have purchased it online. Early on in this book, I mentioned that it is geared toward nonfiction writers.
Many novelists have gotten a lot of great insight and information from the book--at the time of the writing (key), I was immersed in nonfiction as an author--and as an acquisitions editor. I had spent a fair amount of time in fiction but I didn't work that information into this book. The critics continue as people purchase the book and study it. Nothing has been changed in that book for years.
However as an author and communicator, I have changed and grown and improved. For example, for three years I acquired fiction for Howard Books (a part of Simon and Schuster). I read thousands of submissions and championed novels for the publisher. Also I spent several years as a literary agent--again selling fiction and nonfiction to publishers during this period of my career--and learning a lot of information not built into Book Proposals That Sell.
I've decided to take action on these elements and have developed a new teaching strategy for book proposal creation. I've not seen anything like it in the book publishing marketplace. You can learn about it at: www.writeabookproposal.com. It is a 12-week program to teach you step-by-step how to create an excellent book proposal and sample chapter. Each week during the program, the participants receive a lesson on part of the book proposal creation process along with a specific assignment. The course builds the proposal and sample and at the end of the program (provided you follow the instruction), you will have a solid pitch for your book idea--whether fiction or nonfiction.
To launch this product, I'm holding a free February 22nd teleseminar on proposal creation and marketing. Feel free to ask any question about proposal creation and marketing. I will answer them live during the event. If you can't make the event, don't be concerned because it will be recorded. Anyone who registers for the event, will receive the link with the recording. In addition, I've created a new Ebook that you can get free just signing up and asking a question. The ebook is called Acceptance or Rejection? 5 Strategies That Make a Difference. When you reach the confirmation page, you can immediately download this free Ebook.
After the event, I will change the teleseminar into an evergreen mode so it will continue to serve you for the days ahead. I look forward to helping you step-by-step to create excellent book proposals.
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