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Right Writing News, December 3, 2012 Issue #55
December 03, 2012
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Table of Contents1) Become a Follow-up Expert
By W. Terry Whalin
2) Use Twitter to Create Opportunities with Journalists
By Sandra Beckwith
3) Snatch Writing Time
By W. Terry Whalin
4) Make Plans for Next Year
By W. Terry Whalin
5) The Constant Search of Publishing
By W. Terry Whalin
6) 10 Surefire Ways to Succeed in Publishing
By Penny Sansevieri
7) Why You Should Meet Your Deadlines
By W. Terry Whalin
Become a Follow-up Expert
By W. Terry WhalinOver the last seven weeks, I've been moving around the U.S. speaking at six different events. It has been a marathon of meeting different authors and learning about their various projects.
Each week I've returned with possible books—nonfiction and fiction for Morgan James Publishing. If I could find the time, I've been sending emails and calling these individuals to get their manuscripts into the consideration process for our publication board. We receive over 5,000 submissions a year and only publish about 150 to 200 books a year. Here's the operative phrase in that last sentence: if I could find the time. To be honest, I couldn't always find the time to follow-up with these new authors.
The critical element in the process is follow-up. Over the last few weeks, I've heard about some great new book projects. Writers have showed me brief samples or told me about their work. I've looked them straight in the eye and said with sincerity, “That sounds like a great idea, send it to me.”
Others I've seen their printed materials and I've asked them to send the electronic version of their proposal or manuscript to my Morgan James email address. Our publication board is scattered around the country and we work with the electronic version of your submission. For example, some of my colleagues live on the East Coast while I live in California. This electronic version of your material is critical. If I don't have it, then nothing happens—zip.
Numerous writers circled my work email address on my card and promised to send me their materials. Here's the reality: only a few of them have actually followed up and sent their materials.
Several of these writers sent in their materials right away. Because I had the electronic version of their work, I was able to get their books into our internal system for consideration from our publication board. When they get into this system, the author (or literary agent) receives an acknowledgement letter in the mail. It let's them know things are moving forward inside the publishing house. Each week our publication board meets and considers new books.
One of these authors I met a couple of weeks ago, submitted his proposal and sample chapters right after the conference. I put this project into our system and yesterday this author received a note of congratulations, a publication agreement (contract) and a short document outlining next steps for publication. Because I want to be a follow-up expert, I called this author and alerted him to the presence of this email with the documents attached. He was excited to receive this news.
In fact, I received this news for three authors yesterday. I called one of these authors and they returned my call. While on the phone, I realized they didn't have the three attachments so I followed up and immediately sent it to them. See the importance of tracking the details? With one little slip, an author doesn't receive the good news of a publishing contract.
With several of the others, I've written them and even called to follow-up and get their materials. I may love their printed information but without the electronic version, I'm stuck and can't help them move forward in the consideration process.
This week I noticed several emails in my work SPAM folder. I opened it and discovered a follow-up note from an author I met at the last minute during a recent conference. I exchanged business cards and had not had a chance to follow-up with her. I removed that email from my SPAM folder and sent an apologetic follow-up note. She immediately responded and is sending her materials early next week. This brief exchange again proves my point that you must become a follow-up expert.
While on the road, an author called me about a friend who has an interesting manuscript. I called this author early last week, gave him my email address and he promised to send it to me. Several days later (yesterday), I had not received the promised material and decided to call him again. He had gone to the publisher website and submitted his material online—instead of sending it directly to my email address. That means his material went into the unsolicited submission area instead of something coming directly to me for handling. Eventually I tracked down the submission but here's the lesson: send your material in the way the editor suggests you to send it.
Another author contacted me through twitter this week and wanted me to read his blog posts. Yes, I looked at it for a second but it gave me no context about the vision for his book, his overall marketing plans and his timetable for it. He was pitching a nonfiction book idea without doing the work of creating a book proposal.
There is an old saying that is attributed to Will Rogers: You only get one chance to make a good first impression. The author who contacted me to read his blog material did not make a good first impression. Instead, he raised all sorts of questions that will return to me if and when he sends another email to me.
To help your submission process, I'm including a short audio (less than three minutes). The audio is part of Southern Writers Radio Show and you can catch the entire show at this link: http://www.southernwritersonline.com
You can either use the button on the screen below. Or if you can't see it then click on this link: http://terrylinks.com/wtwswrf2012 and either save it to your computer or listen to it online. The audio includes a link to my book proposal checklist.
My great hope is this resource will help you in your journey to become a follow-up expert.
Do you have a blog? Want your blog to make money? Check out my 65-page risk-free 31-Day Guide to Blogging For Bucks at: http://bit.ly/gtbfb
Use Twitter to Create Opportunities with Journalists
By Sandra BeckwithBeing opportunistic means creating opportunities - or jumping on those that drop in front of you. For most of us, those that seem to just appear magically before of us are often the result of a long-term effort that involves establishing relationships with journalists who write about our topic.
To make sure you can act on as many publicity opportunities as possible, follow these eight steps to connect with journalists on Twitter:
1. Figure out who you need to follow. As soon as possible - ideally, months before your book is available - spend time developing a target list of the 10 to 12 media outlets that are the most important to your book's success. Study each to determine the media gatekeeper for your information. For example, if your book's target audience is small business owners, the small business reporters at daily newspaper business sections will be important to you - as will editors at city and state business journals, which are popular with entrepreneurs.
2. Find and follow them on Twitter. The websites of many local media outlets often list reporters' Twitter names. You can get this information from online resources such as Journalist Tweets, too.
3. Get their attention. Retweet their information, reply to their tweets with positive comments, and ask questions about their stories or segments.
4. Make your profile relevant. Make sure that your Twitter profile describes you appropriately and includes the URL to your website. This way, when a journalist checks you out after noticing your retweets and comments, she will see that you are (or aren't) a good source for future stories.
5. Create relevant content. Similarly, you want most of your tweets to relate to your area of expertise. In addition to getting more appropriate followers, it will help convince a journalist that you’re an appropriate person to interview.
6. Send fan mail. When a reporter you're following writes an article or reports a story that strikes a positive chord with you, switch to e-mail to send a brief, complimentary message sharing what you liked about the piece. Don't use this as an opportunity to pitch a story, though. Simply say something nice and move on. You will be remembered.
7. Do this consistently. Build this into your social media time so that it becomes part of your regular routine.
. Give it time before leveraging your connections. You wouldn't ask somebody you just met at a party to do you a favor, so don't do that with your new media connections, either. It takes time to establish virtual relationships with journalists (and other key influencers), so start early and work on it often.
Sandra Beckwith uses her background as an award-winning publicist to teach authors how to promote their books. Subscribe to her free bi-weekly e-newsletter,Build Book Buzz, for tips and advice and visit her publicity blog.
Editors and literary agents do not read manuscripts (a surprise to authors). They read book proposals. Learn more at: http://bit.ly/wbkpro
Snatch Writing Time
By W Terry Whalin“What are you writing these days?,” one of my friends asked. I had to do some personal accounting for a second. I’m not currently facing a book deadline and I’m not cranking out a certain amount of words each day.
Most of my personal writing is emails to authors and my colleagues at Morgan James. This type of communication does not show up in print.
If you aren’t writing much but would like to do so, are you committing time to regular writing? If not, then I suggest you take a step back and see how you are spending your time.
Maybe you are doing more reading or maybe you are spending more time playing games or watching television or spending time on social media such as twitter or facebook. Each of these ways of spending time are OK but none of them include regular writing and do not move ahead your dreams and desires as a writer.
I’m writing these words on a two hour flight. As I look around at others. Some people are asleep. Others are making small talk with each other. Still other people are reading while some are playing games on their computer like solitaire.
As writers we can choose a different path and way to use our time. Instead of those other activities, I’m using my AlphaSmart and pounding out a few more words. I’m writing.
Prolific novelist James Scott Bell teaches writers to snatch time. Check out this video where he talks about it:
If you aren’t accomplishing your novel or your magazine writing or your blog, then I encourage you to take an accounting of how you are spending your time. If your writing is a priority, it will get done.
I’m choosing to write some words and get them out to you. What about you?
Make Plans for Next Year
By W. Terry WhalinRecently I marked off my second weekend in a row where I'm home. Why is that different? I recently completed going to six conferences in a seven-week stretch. I met some fabulous writers and had the opportunity to teach and help other writers. It was intense but in a good way.
With a month and a half, left in this year, I've turned my attention to my speaking schedule for next year. If you follow this link, you will see some events are already on my calendar. There are only a few conferences at the time I'm writing this material. I expect it to grow in the coming weeks because I'm actively working at adding events to my schedule.
In recent months, I've moved to a new location and now I'm working with a New York based publisher—yet living in California. I've written friends who run conferences where I've spoken in the past but I'm also exploring new conferences and opportunities.
In a word, I'm proactively asking the conference director to consider me for their 2013 or 2014 faculty. I wrote some friends who lead a large conference. They responded their conference was set for 2013 and they would think about me for 2014. I wrote back and asked when I should send a reminder for 2014–-and they told me the time period for next year. So I would not forget to send them a message next year, I set a reminder which will sound on my computer some time next year and send this conference director a reminder.
For some conferences, I'm approaching their director as a cold call (someone that I do not know). I'm introducing myself, pitching my position as an acquisitions editor with Morgan James, sending my short bio and list of possible speaking topics and workshops. I do not know if I will hear from them or not—but I'm asking for their consideration—and I'm expecting that some of this asking will result in scheduling more conferences in 2013 and 2014. I'm not passively waiting for it to happen.
What are you planning or dreaming about for the year ahead? Some writers would like to get their book published next year or get published in some magazine. What active steps are you taking to accomplish these plans?
Some writers would like to meet a particular editor or agent in the year ahead. Are you making plans to cross paths with that person in the year ahead? Publishing is a relational business and who you know is important and who you can reach out and touch is a key part of succeeding with your plans and dreams. It does not happen in isolation or without taking active steps.
One of my friends has completed a novel that he would like to see in print. Yet he's not reached out to a single editor or literary agent. The manuscript remains in his computer and will stay there until he takes active steps to get it into the marketplace. The writing and story has to be excellent—and this excellence is foundational—yet the writer must take action and enter the marketplace.
Some of those pitches will be completely cold—as I've been doing to line up some speaking for 2013 and 2014. Other pitches will be where the author has a connection (however slight) to that editor.
Maybe you are planning to attend a particular conference in 2013. That is excellent. Are you watching the conference website to see which editors and agents will be attending that conference? Then are you targeting those editors with material that they need or are searching for? I always enjoy my meeting with writers who have done some initial research about my publishing house. For those conversations, they instantly plunge to a deeper level than someone who has no idea what types of books we publish.
What are your plans for the year ahead? Are you actively working at seeing those plans come to reality? Take some steps today to move forward.
As you knock on the doors, you will be surprised at the opportunities which open to you.
Get a copy of my free Ebook, Bloggers Guide to Profits & a replay of a teleseminar at: : http://ht.ly/fMSsc
The Constant Search of Publishing
By W. Terry WhalinRecently when I was speaking at a conference, over and over, individuals thanked me for being willing to meet with them. As an acquisitions editor, I'm constantly looking for great writing. Meeting with authors is a key part of my job and the back and forth dialogue is where some of the important work of publishing takes place—even though to some it may be in a few minutes.
Normally a conference will send their schedule to me ahead of time and see if I want to block off any time to attend sessions or just do other work outside of the conference.
Repeatedly I do not block off time and try and take as many individual meetings as I can during the conference.
From the reaction of others, I've learned my willingness is a bit unusual. Apparently other editors take more control of their schedule and often limit the number of sessions they will take with new authors.
I wish you could see some of my conference schedules with these back to back meetings. These ten or fifteen minute sessions fly past. Sometimes I've met with as many as 20 to 30 different authors during a day. I'll admit by the end of the day it is hard for me to listen to another new idea.
Why do I have these sessions? There are several reasons:
1. I want to explore as much writing as possible because it is the constant search in publishing for excellent writing. I'm always looking for well-written material—fiction or nonfiction. From my years in the business, I can spot a quality project in just a few pages of writing.
In my view, looking for good writing is like searching for treasure. When you find it, you recognize it and want to bring it to my publishing house.
2. One of the key ways that my own books have been published is through personal relationships formed at a writers' conference. It is my opportunity to give back to others and “pass it forward” through acquiring their work and publishing it at Morgan James.
At any given time, there are millions of proposals, pitches and manuscripts in circulation. Publishing continues to be a relational business. You have to have quality storytelling and writing but you also need that right connection. By attending conferences and listening to pitches from writers, I'm helping others form these key relationships.
Writers need to be vigilant and continually look for their next publishing opportunity. Several weeks ago, I met a writer with a novel at a conference. This author had a literary agent and after the conference I followed up and spoke with the agent. Following my phone call, I immediately sent the agent an email with my request for the electronic version of the manuscript.
Today or almost a month after this phone exchange with the agent, I realized I had never received anything. I picked up the phone and got the agent on the phone asking about it. She said she had never seen my emails. I confirmed the email address and time I sent it—and as we were speaking, she found the emails. It's the type of follow-up work that I'm constantly doing to look for quality projects to publish. As I was writing this material, the agent sent me this manuscript. My follow-up work paid off.
After I receive the author's submission, I need to read it and process it. This means the author receives an acknowledgement letter for their submission in the mail. Also I write my feedback to the publication board and champion the author's work.
Our publication board meets each week and issues contracts to authors. It's been my joyous role to send the contracts to the authors and receive their excited responses.
Here's one of the amazing things to me as I travel the country and meet one-on-one with different authors. I repeatedly ask people for their material—and they don't do it.
I encourage you to do your follow-up work and follow through sending your requested material to the editor or agent. It's a critical part of the process of getting published.
10 Surefire Ways to Succeed in Publishing
By Penny Sansevieri
I've written a lot of pieces on publishing
success. I've talked about picking the right
publisher, finding an editor, etc. All helpful,
for sure, but this time I wanted to dig a bit
Why You Should Meet Your Deadlines
By W. Terry Whalin
As a young reporter, I learned the importance of meeting deadlines. One summer I worked for my local newspaper. We would have an editorial meeting early in the morning and get our assignments. I had to turn in my story by our 11 a.m deadline and the paper was printed by 3 p.m. If I missed my deadline, the story was killed. Deadlines motivated me to keep my fingers on the keyboard and complete my writing.
Many writers are notorious procrastinators. They sharpen their pencils, read Facebook, answer email, make coffee or anything that will prevent them from writing more on their manuscript.
Some book authors are repeatedly late in meeting their book deadlines. Some writers miss their due date by years. These authors who are late cause a huge negative ripple effect on their relationships within the publishing house (whether they know it or not).
When you sign a book contract with a publisher, it sets off a detailed chain of events within the publisher. They have specific deadlines for internal benchmarks like writing your catalog copy or the press release for your book or presenting your book to the sales team. If you miss your deadline, then without knowing it, you have potentially derailed the success of your book.
It doesn't matter what you write: newsletters, magazines, nonfiction books or novels, it's important for you to meet your deadlines—even if you don't come from a journalism background (like I do).
Here's some tips for you in this important writing area:
1. Set your own deadlines and make them. Break down your assignment into smaller steps and complete those benchmarks. Success will breed success and you will get better and better at achieving your goals.
2. Many writers set a production word count for their writing. You can do this with short magazine articles or chapters for your current work-in-progress or any other type of writing. Set a realistic word count that you can achieve.
3. Set your personal deadline ahead of the deadline from the publication or publisher. Interruptions, sickness, accidents and other things are bound to interfere with your schedule. It happens to everyone. The central question is how will you handle those delays. Will you make up for the time with extra effort? Will you write so you are ahead of the curve and can make allowance for the delay? Or will you have to call your editor (or email them) asking for more time?
If you want to be a stand-out, go-to writer among writers (and most of us do want to be that type of writer), then you need to consistently beat (turn in ahead of time) or meet your deadlines. Editors want to work with writers who are dependable—and no matter what the writer is facing, they are able to deliver excellent writing that meets their needs.
Let's be honest. Quality storytelling is a challenge to locate. And if the writer can deliver quality material on or before the deadline, then the writer has elevated his profile and becomes attractive to the editor.
It's important for you to meet your deadlines with editors.
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