Archive for the ‘magazine’ Category

Press Release Tools

June 13, 2007

Many writers have never written a press release. They figure that’s something their book publisher handles or something they can delegate to someone else. In the normal course of events, your book publisher will prepare a press release for the book. This release is focused on the content of your book and a mixture of information about you as the author and the unique marketing position of your new book. It’s a one time event then the publicity person moves on to another book.

There are almost limitless opportunities to promote your events, your forthcoming workshops, your new products and other aspects of your work–if you know how to write an effective press release. It’s another critical skill that every writer should add to their base of knowledge. The first part of this process is learning to write the release, then you need to effectively get that release to the right media person (newspaper, magazine, Internet, radio or television) and follow-up. The key will almost always be in the follow-up.

Whether you’ve never written a press release or it’s been a long time or you just want a tool to help you in this process, I’ve found this resource from John Jantsch at Duct Tape Marketing. It’s an online press release generator. You fill in the blanks and it generates a press release which you can receive via email and send out. You have to subscribe and confirm your subscription to reach the Instant Press Release link but then you can save this link in your browser and use it over and over. John is using this tool as another way to build subscribers and it’s admirable. If you don’t want to be on his list, you can unsubscribe at any time but I see he provides continual value to his audience and recommend you stay with his list.

Another resource in this same area (where you don’t have to register for the tool) is the Press Release Builder. If you follow the various links here, you will gain an education in this aspect of the business, learn how to email reporters and much more.

A few readers are probably grousing about this post and wondering why they should even care. They want to get published in magazines. Or they have a novel that they want to get published. Or they have a nonfiction idea that they are putting together into a book. Here’s why you should care: you are the best person to promote yourself. Unless you write certain press releases and send them into the market and follow-up with the media, they will never be written. Yes, you can hire a publicist to write them for you but if your resources are limited, then you should broaden your skills and learn to write press releases.

The Seven-Year Difference

May 22, 2007

Yesterday I mentioned listening to iUniverse CEO Susan Driscoll when she spoke at Mega Book Marketing University 2006 in Florida. During this talk, Susan mentioned the difference that seven years can make in the life of a person. I found it fascinating and tracked down the specifics. She was talking about The Da Vinci Code author, Dan Brown. No matter what you think about the book, it found tremendous success.

Susan encouraged listeners to track down a court transcript where Dan Brown was defending himself against accusations of plagiarism in the London Court (and Brown was successful in his defense). With a little work on Google I located the transcript which is 77 pages.

In the transcript, Brown talks about his journey as a novelist and here’s the quote which Susan highlighted for her audience, Dan Brown said, “This was not an easy time financially. I remember that we were forced to literally sell books out of our car at low profile publishing events. The few readers who read Angels & Demons had gone wild for it.”

Brown and his wife were traveling to small events and selling books from the back of their car in 2000. What a difference seven years makes in the life of a person. Last year (2006), Brown landed in the tenth spot on the Forbes 100 list of earning an estimated $88 million or up from 12th spot the year before.

Where are you in the process of pursuing your dreams about publication? It is hard work to make the right pitch with the right book proposal. Many people don’t put the energy and effort into their proposal to craft the right pitch. Or they send it to the wrong places. Or they give up on the idea too easily. It’s a subjective business and you have to tell your story over and over to build enough enthusiasm for it that it succeeds in the marketplace of ideas.

Why is it so difficult? The statistics repeatedly show that each year reading statistics are on the decline. Each year about 190,000 new books are published with millions of backlist books already in print (published in the past seasons or backlist). If you are feeling low, take some of the smaller steps.

Begin to build a newsletter list. Everyone has to start some place so launch a free newsletter and continue building that group of subscribers, feeding them great content on a regular basis. The back issues of my Right Writing News have over 400 pages of how-to information which is free but only available to subscribers. If you don’t now what you would write for a newsletter, then go to this link and read every article and follow the advice.

If you are getting rejected, make sure you are building your relationships and learning your craft at writer’s conferences. Learn how to craft a basic magazine article or short story. It will take you down the road to achieve your larger dream because you are learning the process and building your publishing credits. I’ve traveled the country teaching about book proposals. As a home study tool, pick up my new product, Editor Reveals Book Proposal Secrets and listen to it over and over.

Most of all, keep holding on to your dreams and working each day to make a difference. You can do it and if you need the encouragement, consider the seven year difference in Dan Brown’s life–selling books in the back of his car to #10 on the Forbes 100 list.

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.

Look For A Mentor

May 7, 2007

Throughout my writing and editorial life, I’ve learned a great deal from many different sources. About twenty years ago, I had no idea how to focus my magazine articles for the marketplace. It was through the patient teaching of a more experienced writer that I learned the skill of crafting a query letter and writing the assigned magazine article. The learning process wasn’t easy. Often my manuscript was returned with many editorial marks and I could have grown discouraged and given up. Instead I pressed on and continued writing. It’s a lesson I hope you will do as well with your writing–press on in the midst of rejection.

One of the biggest authors in the thriller writer area is James Patterson. I’ve read several of these books and enjoy Patterson’s crisp style and fascinating plots. I’ve wondered he has been co-authoring some of his books and how that process worked. You can gain a bit of insight from this Soapbox column in the April 30th Publisher’s Weekly by Andrew Gross titled, The Patterson School of Writing. I found several fascinating elements of this article. First, his connection to James Patterson came from his publisher talking with his agent. Catch that little detail in this article.

Next look at the different lessons Gross learned as he worked seven years with James Patterson. He gives five specifics (you can read the article for the various lessons) but here’s the truth which struck me: “In sum, I learned how to write for one’s audience, not the people you want them to be.” It’s a common flaw in writers. They are writing for themselves and not the audience.

Another key lesson that I’ve been learning is to focus on the people and the relationships instead of trying to figure out how to speculate what will happen from an income or financial standpoint. Yes, we need to have the financials in mind but it’s the relationship which will hopefully continue long into the future. I’ve had many mentors in my life and I continue to be mentored. I’m grateful for each person who continues to teach me either through a book or an audio program or face to face.

The Unknown City

May 6, 2007

Several years ago at an ASJA luncheon, I had the opportunity to meet lifelong New Yorker Pete Hamill. Whether fiction or nonfiction, Hamill writes about New York City.

I love the feeling in New York City with its rich heritage and diversity. It’s fun for me to melt into the crowd and ride the subway to different parts of the city. I often purchase a seven-day unlimited pass to ride to different parts of the city. It’s normal for New Yorkers but it stirs a sense of adventure for me to go uptown or downtown on the local or express trains.

Later this month, New York will be the host for Book Expo America. In honor of that event, Publisher’s Weekly included a stirring piece from Hamill about his city. Hamill writes, “Nobody truly knows New York, not even most New Yorkers. The city is too large, too dense and layered to be intimately known by anyone. I was born here, the first son of Irish immigrants, during the first term of Franklin D. Roosevelt. I grew up on the streets of Brooklyn, attended schools here, and worked for more than 40 joyous years as a reporter and columnist on the newspapers of the wider city.” I loved how the heritage and memories of the long tradition of the city are woven into this article. I hope you will read the entire article.

How can you weave this type of emotion and detail into your own writing? Can you capture the sense of place in your nonfiction magazine articles? Can you take me to the place with your fiction? It takes continual creative work for each of us to find the right words for each piece of our writing. Many people aren’t willing to do this work. Today I’d encourage you to lift your head and rise up beyond the ordinary in your writing. You can do it with the right amount of energy and effort. Let’s learn from the example from Pete Hamill.

A Community in Change

March 26, 2007

Each month over six million copies of National Geographic are circulated worldwide. I’ve loved and read this magazine for years. I do not save them! Because of the beautiful production quality, many people have a hard time throwing the magazine away.

In the March issue, I was fascinated to read this well-crafted article from T.D. Allman titled, “The Theme-Parking, Megachurching, Franchising, Exurbing, McMansioning of America, How Walt Disney Changed Everything.” The article is online and gives a picture of how the Orlando community has changed with the arrival of Disneyworld. It shows the fluid nature of our culture and how it is constantly evolving.

The world of publishing is also constantly evolving and changing. It is a challenge (and somewhat impossible) for any of us to keep up. The key from my perspective is to continue growing in your communication ability and try different types of writing to see where you find your niche. Then when you find the type of writing that you do best, to write it with excellence and market it with excellence.

Of necessity, over the next few days these entries about the writing life are going to be more limited. I’m trying to complete a number of deadlines before I travel on Thursday to the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference. It’s one of the oldest and longest running in the United States. I know my schedule says that it starts on Friday–and it does. Like many of these conferences, they want the staff to arrive the day before. It will be a busy time. I have not been to this conference for several years. In many ways, it’s like an old fashion family reunion and some place I’ve been going since the mid 1980s. Yes, there will be many people at the conference who are attending for the first time. Also there are a number of writers who plan to attend this conference if they can’t attend anything else in the whole year. From early in the day until late at night, this conference is full of activity.

If the weather is good, I often will make time to slip away from the conference for exercise and to visit one of my favorite spots with redwoods on the planet. There is something about walking or running through a bunch of redwoods that helps you have a proper perspective on where you fit into the universe and the sea of change around you.

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.

A Brilliant Yet Flawed Book Campaign

March 16, 2007

At the recent Mega Book Marketing University in Los Angeles, one of the presentations was about the virtual book tour. If you haven’t heard about this new technology from Alex Mandossian, it’s brilliant and involves several parts.

First, you create an “Ask page” which gathers questions from anyone who wants to ask you a question during a teleseminar. They gave us the template for this page. Each one is created the same and one of the examples they gave is from an attorney in the Phoenix area, Steven Allen. Steve is promoting his new book, You Can’t Take It With You and was attending the event in Los Angeles. They told us about his virtual book tour on March 7th.

I did not make the live book tour but in yesterday’s mail I received a personal handwritten card from Steve as a follow-up from our personal meeting along with an invitation to see the replay of his teleseminar. I went to the page, looked around and the link for the teleseminar replay was not on the page. I’ve written a short note to Steve and encouraged him or his webmaster to fix it. Hopefully by the time you look at this example, the right link will be added to the section that is turning from blue to red.

Then I began to look a bit closer at the handwritten card from Steve. It came from Sendoutcards. I checked that site–and it’s another fascinating technology company. For a fee, you can program their system to handwrite cards and mail them out to your list. I wondered how a busy attorney like Steve Allen would be able to handwrite such a card and I found the answer.

My point is these types of book campaigns are only excellent if every part of them works. It does not work to send me to a page so I can listen to the replay of a teleseminar and the link isn’t on the page. As I’ve mentioned repeatedly in these entries, the devil is in the details.

Alex Mandossian has created an amazing set of tools. Through the Ask page, the author gathers questions about the book that his listeners want to hear the answers. These questions shape the content of the teleseminar (and the replay). Here’s some of the other books which have toured and more information about it.

No matter what you are doing–Internet, writing a book, writing a magazine article or anything else–you have to check and double check these details to make sure everything is working. And if it is not working, then take immediate steps to fix it. Otherwise you will do brilliant yet flawed work.

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.

Great Interview Tips

February 28, 2007

Through the years, I’ve interviewed many different people in various situations. Some times I’ve interviewed in a restaurant or in the corner of a busy room. At other times, I’ve been in the home of a particular person and interviewed them in this environment. Each interview is unique and calls on a different set of circumstances and skills, which I’m constantly developing and improving.

This week I found a great article loaded with solid tips for anyone who is interviewing someone else. That interview may be background for your fiction novel or the interview might be for a magazine article that you are crafting or numerous other writing projects. Eric Nalder at the San Jose Mercury News has valuable insight into this key area. While you are reading the article, also follow Bill Stoller’s various links at Publicity Insider. He’s another solid resource to check out.

If you’ve not subscribed to Right Writing News, click over there and sign up for my FREE Ezine and you will receive three FREE Ebooks valued at over $100 with your confirmed subscription.

My entries about the writing life will be a challenge over the next few days. Tomorrow I head for Los Angeles and Mega Book Marketing University. It looks like a tremendous learning experience.