Archive for the ‘book proposal’ Category

Each Day Do A Little Bit

June 19, 2007

About ten years ago, I ghost wrote a daily radio program for a bestselling author. They were short pithy daily reminders for the listener which were one-minute in length. This author recorded the programs and sent them to radio stations around the country who played them for free since they fell into the Public Service Announcement category (PSA). I wrote over 300 of these programs and provided a steady stream of material going out to the radio community and reminding the listening audience about this author. It was a simple and effective strategy. I don’t know if the program continues today or not. This daily challenge is a powerful tool. My question today is: Are you incorporating some daily action into your life to build your writing career or boost your latest book?

The June 11th issue of Publishers Weekly used Christopher Lee Nutter’s article in the Soapbox Column called Author, Media Savant. While his book is a year old (ancient in terms of most publicity), he is “still on book tour” and a smart author who understands the necessity of continual publicity about his book.

This section was particularly insightful about how magazines and newspapers handle galley copies of new books, “It is true that my 13 years working as a writer and editor at magazines and newspapers has made me savvy. I’ve been on the other end of the pitch, so I know how to craft one. I also know that most book PR departments simply hurl galleys blindly at the media, using generic lists of publications and dated lists of editors, letting the galleys fall where they may–which is usually on the giveaway table. Countless times I surveyed the cemetery of galleys headed to their early graves, and determined to avoid this destiny at all costs. So way before I ever even met my publicist, I decided to take responsibility for my book’s publicity.” (I added the emphasis on this last sentence.)

Later in the article, Nutter gives this great attitude, “It’s a lot of work and uncertainty, no doubt about it. But it’s worth it. I love my book, and I didn’t write it for no one to hear about. While it’s true that I can’t make people buy the book, I can make sure they’ve heard of it.”

With the sheer volume of new books entering the market daily, it’s entirely possible that many people have never heard of you or your book. Nor have these people heard of me or my books. For example, my Book Proposals That Sell, 21 Secrets To Speed Your Success has been in print for over two years. And new people continue to discover it and use it to accomplish their own publishing dreams. I’m grateful whenever they find it.

Each day, I continue to do little things which spread the word about my book. Here’s a couple of ideas for you readers of these entries on the Writing Life:

1. Join my affiliate program which is free and takes minutes to fill out the form. But don’t just join the program. You need to take the next step and begin using your own affiliate link in emails and banner ads on your websites. Why? Because as people click those banners or emails, if they come to my landing page and purchase the book, then you receive an email of notification (and I do as well). Here’s the great news: after the 60 day guarantee period, I send you 50% of the commissions–for any of my products. For example, with Book Proposals That Sell in the ebook format, that means $19.50 each time someone buys it that you have led to the site. There are even greater payments with other products such as Editor Reveals Book Proposal Secrets.

2. Use my free articles in your own newsletter or website. I’ve got these articles for anyone to use them so feel free–and I do have plans to add to them.

Take your long-range goal and put it into smaller pieces and attack it every day. Some of your efforts will begin to reap rewards.

A New Resource for Writers

May 30, 2007

For the last several years, I’ve been on the road about once a month teaching at various writers conferences. If you look at my schedule for this year, I’ll be at a number of forthcoming events including three conferences next month.

I know it takes time and financial resources to attend a writer’s conference and isn’t available for everyone. I’ve collected several of my resources and bundled them into a three-CD audio set called Editor Reveals Book Proposal Secrets. This product is available and you can learn about it on the website but I wanted to do something more to launch it into the marketplace.

Whether you’ve heard me teach at a writer’s conference or not, do you have a question about the creation of book proposals or the publishing process? I’d love for you to ask that question and have created a place for you to do it. Go to http://www.askterrywhalin.com/ and register for my free live teleseminar next Tuesday, June 5th. If you are away from your computer, you can call into the teleseminar on your phone or if you are near a computer, you can listen to the free webcast. I’m eager to receive your questions and the contents of the teleseminar will answer your questions.

It’s almost impossible for the average writer to get an editor on the telephone–and if they do get the editor or the agent, they are probably making the wrong impression (a negative one). Why? The bulk of publishing doesn’t involve an oral pitch to an editor but comes from your written materials–your actual manuscript and your book proposal. Yes, you have appointments at writer’s conferences where you give a short oral pitch, but in the end, it will be the words you’ve written on the page which will make the difference between receiving a book contract or a rejection letter.

As an additional incentive for you (and others) to register for the free teleseminar, on the confirmation page (where you receive the phone number for the teleseminar and the website for the webcast), you will receive a link to a free hour-long workshop that I taught called Straight Talk from the Editor. This workshop material relates to my new audio product.

I hope to speak to you during next week’s live teleseminar.

Dodged Another Error

May 17, 2007

Some times I will get a book from a publisher or a book proposal from an author. Because I’m looking at their product or manuscript or proposal for the first time, I see something they have completely missed like a typographical error.

People wonder how in the world someone could let something so basic slip out of their hands into the world for others to see. It happens fairly often. My encouragement with this post is for you to check something then check it again before sending it out.

Yesterday I dodged another error for my own product and I wanted to use my own story to illustrate this point.

For the last several months, I’ve been developing my first audio CD product teaching about a topic which I am passionate about–book proposals. With the first product, it was two CDs or an hour of teaching combined with a bonus CD. I’ve been receiving proto-types of the product and testing it. In the first attempt, the files on the CD had not been converted. They played on the computer but not in a regular CD player. The goal is for the product to be as flexible as possible and play in both areas. The second version of the product arrived recently and it worked great in my regular CD player. When I ran the product by a mentor, he told me that I needed more value or content for the product. I returned to my wealth of teaching files and added a third CD to the product. Now it is over three hours of teaching about book proposals and a tremendous value for anyone who wants to gain my insight into the publishing process.

Because my product changed from a two CD package into a three CD package, I had to look at another proto-type of the product. I tested all three CDs and they ran perfectly in the computer and in the regular CD player. I checked the copy on the package and everything looked great. Earlier this week, I gave the OK to go into production and I’ve been making plans to launch this product next week.

As I’ve been writing the materials to launch this product, for inspiration, I’ve had this three CD package on my desk. Then yesterday afternoon, I re-read the spine of the product. Beneath the title, it says, “Presented by W. Tery Whalin” Hopefully you spot the typo in my last sentence–a common word–especially for me.

After I saw this typo, I checked the other two proto-types. They contained the same typographical error. in this case, the product hasn’t gone out to any customer and I was reassured this morning via email that it will be fixed in the production process. Whew, I dodged another error. And when someone puts this new product on their bookshelf, what do they see? The spine which contained the typographical error.

My encouragement to you today: whatever you are working on–a query letter to a magazine, a book proposal, a book manuscript, a product to launch into the marketplace–take a second, third and fourth look at it. If you don’t, then you risk launching something that needed that one additional touch.

Apply The Lessons

March 22, 2007

Each of us have some things we do very well and others–well, we simply don’t do them at all. Maybe that’s OK not to do them but maybe you simply aren’t applying the lessons that you’ve been taught. It’s always good from my view to continue to grow, change and learn. It’s the mode that I’m in these days–and I’m determined to stay in this mode.

I’ve come to the understanding that I’ve not been as effective with my teaching for writers as I could be in the future. For many years, I’ve traveled the United States and Canada teaching at various writers’ conferences. It’s a rich experience for me and the opportunity to give back as well as learn from other writers. If you look at my schedule, you will see I’m continuing to travel and teach. In fact, I need to get over to the schedule page and add another conference from the last couple of weeks.

Many of these conferences are set up to record the sessions and sell workshop CDs (and it used to be cassette tapes). It’s a normal practice for the speakers to sign a release then receive a complementary copy of their workshop if they pick it up on the spot after the session. After my workshop, I’ll drop by and get my CD and carry it home. Then I stick it in a drawer and don’t think about it again–until I return from another conference. I haven’t been irresponsible with this material. I have not been proactive and sharing this wealth of information with others. I’m changing and applying some of what I’ve been learning.

At the Mega Book Marketing University in Los Angeles, I acquired some equipment to make some changes. I picked up an Edirol R-09 MP3 recorder, a telephone bridge and Sound Forge Audio Studio. I learned about this material from Mike Stewart, who is known as the Internet Audio Guy. You can follow his link to learn more about creating audio products and watch his demonstration videos.

I’ve been learning how to use the Edirol R-09–which is a complex professional digital recorder with loads of features. In the last couple of days, I managed to record a new introduction to one of my workshops about book proposal creation. Yesterday I used Sound Forge for the first time to make some simple edits to the workshop, then pasted in the new introduction. To my surprise, editing sound was like Mike Stewart had told me–very similar to editing a text file with the same sort of cut and paste functions. With a bit of a learning curve, it worked like the instructions and I managed to edit the audio of my workshop and send it into production. In the coming days, I’ll be telling you (and others) more about Editor Reveals Book Proposal Secrets.

One of the challenges with this project was getting the audio files sent to the production company. They told me about a site called Yousendit.com. This site was easy to use and accomplished the task to get the large file sent to someone else. It’s a good resource to know about if you need it. I learned the bulk of the techniques to produce audio product from Bob Bly’s Internet Marketing Retirement Plan. This four CD package is loaded with insight. I like the simplicity of the program. Bob out sources the majority of his production. I’m learning to apply the lessons from this material.

Each of us are on this journey to learn more information and apply it to our writing life. If you don’t have an online e-newsletter, I’d suggest you subscribe to my free newsletter and read the free ebook about it. Also read these articles about producing a newsletter. There are many articles to teach you about different aspects of writing through Right-Writing.com and these entries about the Writing Life. If you are looking for information about a particular publishing topic, use the search engine in the right-hand column of these entries. Then apply the lessons to your own writing life. It’s the course I’m taking and you can do the same.

Countdown Timer Resource

March 20, 2007

What does it take for you to focus on your writing and move ahead with a book proposal or a query letter or a magazine article or a book project? The answer will be different for each of us.

People are constantly amazed that I’ve written the volume of material over the years–especially when you consider my first book was released in 1992. My response is that writing a book is just like eating an elephant. You do it one bite at a time. You write one page at a time.

Yesterday a friend wrote and asked if I’d like to clone myself. My instant reaction was “of course, then I would accomplish even more things.” With a bit more reflection, I’m not really interested in cloning myself—even if it were possible. Instead, I’d like to increase the amount of things that get done through greater effective work habits. Believe me over the years, I’ve heard almost all of the excuses that people give for not getting it done–kids at home, traveling too much, ADHD, poor equipment, no writing space or something else. Also I know accomplished writers who have overcome each of these challenges and continue to publish valuable prose.

I continue to apply lessons from the recent Mega Book Marketing University in Los Angeles. As I drive around in my car, I’m listening to some of the material from this conference. I’m also returning to my large notebook from the session and recalling ideas from the various speakers. Alex Mandossian gave some terrific tools in one of the final sessions of the conference. I’m going to pass along one of them in this entry about the Writing Life in hopes it will help you as well.

The resource is a free countdown timer. Set it to whatever amount of time works for you. Alex suggested 45 minutes since almost anyone (even someone who is ADHD) should be able to concentrate on a single task for this amount of time. Make a plan and stick with it. You will be surprised at what can be accomplished.

Persist With Your Passion

March 13, 2007

What are you doing each day to persist with your passion? Are you passionate about fiction? If so, what are you doing to continue growing in your craft? What are you doing to continue writing the stories in your heart and get those stories on paper? Or maybe your passion is to be published in magazines? Are you faithfully pitching new ideas and writing the assignments which come your way? Or possibly you have a nonfiction idea that needs to get published? Or maybe you have a friend with a nonfiction book idea that “should” be published? What proactive steps are you taking today to get those ideas moving?

Your breakthrough opportunity might be around the corner. It certainly can’t happen if you don’t keep knocking on the doors and trying to open the way. If you read these entries, you will know one of my passions is to help writers produce better book proposals and pitches to editors and literary agents. Why? Because as an editor (and now an agent), I see many proposals which have a gem of an idea–but it’s buried or not pitched in the most compelling fashion. I can’t fix every one of these proposals. It’s impossible. What I can do is encourage writers to read Book Proposals That Sell and study the contents and grow in their abilities.

When I go to a conference, I bring several copies of my book and make a pointed case to give these books to key individuals. After the conference, I follow up and see if I can provide any additional information or open another opportunity from the gift. While my book has been out for almost two years, I continue to mail review copies to people. In fact, yesterday I mailed two more review copies. I’ve seen firsthand how persistence will pay off.

My book continues to be reviewed. This week Shane Werlinger posted a review about Book Proposals That Sell on Suite 101. I hope you will check it out.

Almost daily I received notices about selling electronic versions of Book Proposals That Sell. Some of these sales come from affiliates, who are leading people to my book and earning 50% of the commission from this web link. If you haven’t taken two minutes, join my affiliate program and begin using your own link to lead people to Book Proposals That Sell. As people read the book, they will improve their own book submissions so you will serve others in that process. In addition to helping your audience, you will be adding some passive income from the experience. The process is simple. First, join my affiliate program, then add your link to your website, your newsletter or your emails.

Everyone needs to follow the persistence of Andy Andrews who wrote the bestseller, The Traveler’s Gift. I told this story almost two years ago but I’m going to repeat it here. A popular speaker, Andy wrote a manuscript which he tried to get published. It was rejected 54 times. How many of us send out our material to this degree? He continued in his popular speaking work but did not have a book for his audience. One day Gayle Hyatt was in Andy Andrews‘ audience. She came up to him afterwards and suggested that he write a book.

Looking a bit sheepish, Andy told Gayle, “Your husband’s company (Thomas Nelson) has already rejected my book.” Gayle asked to receive a copy of the manuscript and promised to read it. Andy sent her the book. She showed it to her husband (Mike Hyatt, president of Thomas Nelson) and the book was published.

Note the perseverance in what happened next. When Andy got his new book, he gave away 12,000 copies of the book. Most of those review copies didn’t make much of a difference. But one of those copies got in the hands of Robin Roberts, a producer of ABC’s Good Morning America. Roberts selected The Traveler’s Gift as their Book of the Month. The Traveler’s Gift sold 850,000 copies and the rest is history.

The writing life isn’t easy for any of us. You have to persist with your passion. It is a key characteristic of the writers who ultimately find success.

A Dose of Reality

February 16, 2007

Writers are creative people who are dreamers. Now there is nothing wrong with dreams and I’ve got them as well as the next person–and I’m working toward achieving these dreams every day.

In the midst of your dreaming, every now and then it’s good to get a dose of reality to spur you in the right direction.

I actively participate in a large online group of writers. This morning one of the writers in Florida put out some figures of a presentation from a small publisher (who was not identified and that’s OK because the information is widely applicable). Here’s a bit of what was written:

“They get an average of 35 book submissions every week. Agented and otherwise. That’s at least 1500 per year and they publish only 5-7 every year. That’s about 99.5% rejection rate. We asked about criteria for rejection. They take first 30 pages of your manuscript and give it to at least 5 independent “readers” who then suggest to the publishers which manuscripts to read in full. They also give advances, which means you sell them your book. When they decide to publish they go with traditional printers and print 5000 copies or so to have a very low cost and leave as much margin as possible for promotion and marketing costs. They announce a new title at least 6 months before it is scheduled and then send up to 100 copies of book to reviewers.”

In today’s post, I’m going to include most of what I responded to this post and maybe it will give you a healthy dose of reality and encouragement toward excellence:

As someone who has read these over the transom, unsolicited submissions sent to a publisher, I can agree with these percentages. It can be pretty discouraging–yet you need to understand that most of these proposals are untargeted, unfocused and incomplete.

As an acquisitions editor, I can only help you if your proposal is about 70 to 80% perfect. Most of them are about 20% and a few are in the 50% category. They are missing some critical element like the word count or the vision for the book or the competition or the author’s marketing plan (yes every proposal whether fiction or nonfiction needs a marketing plan from the author–and don’t tell me you will appear on Oprah and are willing to do interviews–people actually write that into their proposals and it’s their marketing plan). As a result, these proposals are sent back with a form rejection letter. It is not the editor’s responsibility to fix your incomplete proposal–that’ s your responsibility as the author.

Book proposals are hard work–plain and simple–and most people aren’t willing to do that hard work. They’d rather dream about their fiction getting published yet they’ve not done the hard work of learning their craft and practicing their craft in the PRINT magazine world (and building publishing credits). Why print? It’s a much more demanding form than online–anyone can put stuff online.

I guess the question is whether you will be one of those people who write a riveting proposal that gets publishers climbing over each other to get your project. Yes, it’s possible. I’ve had those proposals in my hand–and I’ve even written a couple of them.

I’m eager for writers to be successful and that’s why I put the energy into Book Proposals That Sell. Now if only more people applied the information to their own work…

And if you need any more reality about this business, then check out this publishing quiz from a great book called Putting Your Passion Into Print–and in particular notice the answer to question #9–which is another truth you should recognize. Sorry to be a bit cynical, folks. Maybe it’s the material that has crossed my desk recently. It IS possible–if you put it together in the right way and pitch it in the right manner at the right time. As I’ve said before–and it’s worth repeating here–every agent and every editor is actively looking for these top proposals.

Here’s a little challenge which was not included in my post to the other writers. It’s terrific to read these how-to-write books or attend a writer’s conference yet will you be in the small percentage of people who will actually take the information and apply it to their own project. Many people at the conference will be inspired and encouraged. Yet this encouragement is temporary until they receive the next rejection or get home to face their own challenges. The key is to practice the craft and do the hard work of writing with such excellence that your work is irresistible.

Resource for Book Marketing

February 13, 2007

Early next month I’ve been invited to participate in Mega Book Marketing University in Los Angeles on March 2, 3 and 4. I’ll be meeting with participants and listening to their pitches and reading some of their book proposals as a literary agent. I’m looking forward to this opportunity and what I can learn from the experience. Also I’m eager to help the participants with their various book ideas.

If you look at the various speakers and read their backgrounds, you will see each of these people are heavily involved in selling millions of books.

Whether you attend Mega Book Marketing University or not, you can take advantage of their Free Preview Teleseminar Series. After you register for the calls, you can listen to these calls either live (the next one is Thursday, February 15th or you can listen after the call. The various calls are stored on this page and include the notes. Each one can be a valuable part of your personal education about book marketing.

As you listen to these calls, look for the transferable concepts. The speaker may be talking about a business book or something else which is completely outside of the type of book which you want to write. How can you take the principles and methods then apply these aspects to your own situation? If you approach these calls with the right mind set, then you can gain more than the normal listener.

Build New Business

February 12, 2007

The article addressed booksellers but I was instantly interested in the topic: Booksellers: Tips for Building New Business by Janet Switzer in the February 5th issue of Publishers Weekly. I knew Switzer’s name associated with marketing Chicken Soup for the Soul.

While this article is addresses to booksellers, much of the information can easily be applied to writers–at least writers who are working at their craft more like a business than a hobby. Switzer is a skilled marketer who has sold millions of books. Next month she has a new McGraw-Hill book, Instant Income. Notice the planning that went into this article. It’s targeted to a niche audience for Publishers Weekly and it appears immediately following one of the most read sections of the magazine (the various bestseller lists).

The online version of the article includes an active link at the end of the first paragraph along with this sentence: Switzer also has developed an entire book signing promotion kit for bookstores, at http://www.instantincomebooksigning.com/. I clicked the link and when I reached this landing page, I signed up for her Instant Income Book Promotion Kit. It is a fascinating study in a smart campaign with great tools for any retailer to use and promote her book which releases next month. Notice how each item in the package considers her audience (retailers) and is targeted to them with useful tools.

I’ve seen too many book authors not enter the process until too late or with too little energy. Then they are surprised with the lack luster sales results. It will take consistent work on your part–just like you’ve had to work at learning to write a book proposal or other parts of the writing business. I appreciated this post from John Jantsch, the author of Duct Tape Marketing who asks, “How Long Should It Take For My Marketing To Work?” It’s not a one time event but something you work at for the long haul.

Let’s return to Janet Switzer’s article for the writer and I’m going to ask a few probing questions for you. Are you targeting your book proposal to a specific category and niche of buyer? Are you working to create media events around the launch of your books or your travel plans to other places? In Switzer’s materials, she’s open to scheduling a teleseminar for a “informative virtual booksigning.” I’m sure she qualifies these teleseminars to make sure the audience is going to be substantial.

The other key points of her article can also be developed for writers with a little creative spin. Are you working to open new doors and build new business for your writing? It’s more of a lifestyle mentality than a one time event.