Archive for the ‘editor’ Category

Why Social Network?

June 29, 2007

The majority of writers are introverts. It’s something that I’ve read as well as personally observed over and over. Yes, we dig down deep inside to write words and get them out to others. A few writers are extrovert in personality but the majority are not. An editor from a well-known Chicago-based company told me their entire office took the Myers-Briggs Personality Inventory Test a few years ago. This company has many different print and online publications. Of the group of editors something like two of them were extrovert and the rest were introvert.

Even someone who is basically an introvert can rise to the occasion. It’s what I do when I teach at writers conferences and in other situations. Yet selling books is about creating relationships. You have to reach outside of yourself to create those relationships. The more relationships, the more people who know about your writing and you as a person.

John Kremer at BookMarket.com included a tip about the Book Marketing Network in this week’s Book Market Tips. I’ll admit when I read it my curiosity got the best of me—so I went to it and joined. John is the creator of this social network which is a growing network of people interested in the topic of book marketing. If you get real fascinated with social networks, you can even create your own social network. It’s another free networking spot. I’ve not spent a lot of time on my particular page but I have added a few links to some of my resources. There are several hundred people on this spot–and it is growing all the time. I exchanged greetings with a few old friends and have been meeting some new ones. It’s another resource to check out and become a bit more social.

A Solid Resource for Chidren’s writers

June 18, 2007

Last April, I participated in a several hour workshop on Perfecting Your Nonfiction Book Proposal as a part of the American Society of Journalists and Authors Conference in New York City. One of the panelists was Liza N. Burby who is also an ASJA member. While Liza has written for many magazines, she has also specialized in children’s books.

There are many misconceptions among writers related to children’s books. Anyone can write these books is one of the predominant misconceptions. Particularly when my children were little and now for my grandchildren, I’ve read a number of children’s books. Some times you wonder how in the world such a book got printed. And other times, you read a book and think, I could have written that book.

The children’s book market has equal challenges to the adult book market. Recently at the Frontiers in Writing Conference, I participated in a several hour critique session with a small group of writers. One or two of them had children’s book manuscripts which were read then I critiqued on the spot. I mentioned the stiff competition and the difficulty of getting a children’s book published. Of course this last statement was my educated and subjective opinion about this market from my long-term experience. Another speaker at this conference, Andrea Brown, head of the Andrea Brown Literary Agency spoke on “The Hot Children’s Book Market.” Two of the participants in the conference tracked me down later in the day to ask about the difference in viewpoint. I explained that it was my perspective and opinion and that other people bring a different perspective.

This weekend I read through Liza’s excellent book, How to Publish Your Children’s Book, A Complete Guide to Making the Right Publisher Say Yes. I love the practical, tested nature of the material in this book. It gives wise approaches about how to look for available markets, how to approach editors, how to research the needs and how to shape an excellent book proposal. And if you get a bunch of rejection letters for your effort, then Liza has good advice about that as well in the chapter called “If It Doesn’t Happen.” In her final chapter she writes, “I absolutely believe that you can get your children’s book into publication. The very fact that you’ve come to the end of this book shows that you have the drive you need to reach your goal. But, as you know know, there are no shortcuts to success. Hard work and dedication are needed to turn your dream into a reality. The rewards, however, are well worth the work. I strongly urge you to enjoy every moment of the process, from the time an idea first seizes you while you’re standing in line at the supermarket or driving down the road. Even the anticipation of preparing submission packets and flipping through the daily mail delivery can be enjoyable. Then one day, when an editor calls and expresses an interest in your book, you’ll feel an almost unbeatable thrill–unbeatable, that is, until the day you see your name in print on the cover of your book.”

You will definitely increase your odds of success if you follow the advice in this book. Throughout her book, Liza has scattered seven rules, which are explained in detail. The first rule summarizes what any published author should feel, “Sometimes, you just get lucky.”

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.

Truth Telling at Conferences

April 7, 2007

Over the years, I’ve attended many conferences. Each conference has a different personal value in my life and distinction. I’ve learned to value the little conversations at these conferences and the short bursts of information–either that I am giving to others or they are giving to me. I learn a great deal from the exchanges.

Some elements of a conference are recorded such as most of the workshops. At Mount Hermon, I gave two workshops. Originally I was scheduled for one then at the last minute several members of the faculty couldn’t come so I substituted for one of them and taught an additional hour. For my additional hour, I taught Straight Talk From The Editor (or Agent), 18 Keys To A Rejection-Proof Submission. If it sounds familiar to you, much of the content is from my Amazon Short with the same title. I updated many of the examples in it and told some different stories yet the overall outline was the same. I brought some examples of submissions from my “strange but true” file which I keep just for these occasions (naturally not including the name of the writer or any way to identify this person). I had a packed room full of listeners and I thought it was well-received.

While the conference recorded the sessions, the audio people at this conference don’t duplicate the talks on the spot and sell them to the participants. Instead, they take orders and mail the product later. I brought my Edirol R-9 digital recorder to the conference and recorded my own sessions. Admittedly it looked a bit strange to have two microphones yet it allowed me to record my own session. Before the end of the day, I had transferred the recorded file to my laptop. Why take that step? Because the Amazon Short contract is an exclusive arrangement for the first six months. I will cross the threshold of this date soon and be positioned to launch another product from my recorded session. It’s a much more proactive step than I’ve taken in the past. Normally I pick up the recording, throw it into a drawer and do nothing with it. I’m learning to use these resources in other formats.

Back to my theme of conversations and truth telling. I asked one popular acquisitions editor at the conference from a large publisher about his work. He told me, “I love to acquire books but it takes such a high threshold to acquire a book. I can rarely find anything here.” I followed up asking what sort of threshold he was talking about. In all honesty, he said, “I need a guaranteed sale of at least 60,000 books through the trade channel (bookstores and chain stores).” Yeah, that’s a pretty high threshold and it would be rare for someone at the writer’s conference to have that sort of idea. Not impossible but rare.

During another conversation, a seasoned author explained her frustration with one of her writing projects. From her experience she knew the book would meet a need, yet she also knew it would be a difficult sell to the traditional publishers. With this author, I encouraged her to try and different course of action. Can she and her co-author tap the Internet market and create a buzz with an Ebook that may or may not become a traditional book product? She felt encouraged about the possibilities and to try it after our conversation.

Several times writers approached me with devotional book projects where they had poured their heart and soul into the proposal and the writing. The writing was built on the anvil of difficult personal experiences. From my view, I told them that it would be challenging to place such a project with a traditional publisher. Why? Because it’s rare for a publisher to take this type of book as a single book product. Instead the publishers are turning more to book packagers for these efforts. I encouraged them to look into approaching the packagers or working with the packagers and their idea. These authors were published in magazines but not books. Their book idea had merit but not in the way they were expecting. I hope they will learn from my hard-earned experience in this area. Yet I know each individual has to decide what they will do with the information and how they will apply it to their writing life.

With the millions of ideas and manuscripts in circulation, there are no easy answers for any of us. The key is to keep working on the storytelling and searching for the right place at the right time.

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.