Archive for the ‘writers conferences’ Category

The Extra Degree of Effort

July 5, 2007

What will take your writing to the next level? Is it a writer’s conference where you invest and travel across the country and have a significant conversation with an editor? Or maybe it’s a class which you take from one person at the conference or several of them. Or it’s an email that you get from a writing friend which spurs you ahead in your craft.

It’s easy to get discouraged in publishing if you look at the massive amount of material in circulation for consideration or the large number of books which are constantly being released (and few of them selling in a significant way). Rather than look at the negative, it is better to be focused on the positive. What can you do today that will make a difference in your life and move you along the path to success? Where is your personal “tipping point” to use a phrase from the best-selling book by Malcolm Gladwell called The Tipping Point. I’ve had other entries about this book.

If you need a bit of inspiration, I recommend you check out this short film, 212 The Extra Degree Movie.

May this presentation inspire you to put out the extra effort and not only today but into everything that you write. I’ve watched this inspirational piece several times. See if you can raise your efforts by one degree.

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.

Follow Or Ignore The Ideas

June 25, 2007

This past weekend I was definitely in the minority.

Over 400 women were attending the She Speaks Conference in Charlotte, North Carolina. I was one of half a dozen men who were around at this conference. Besides being in the minority as a man, I was the only literary agent at the event. This annual conference trains women in two primary areas–as speakers and as writers. During the conference, I taught an hour workshop about Book Proposals then met individually with over 25 writers in 15–minute sessions.

Because this group of women have been receiving training about book proposals and talking with editors, in general I was impressed with the quality of their submissions. The majority of them came prepared to talk about their book idea. Many of them were petrified because it was their first time talking with an editor or a literary agent. There were several other editors and publishers represented at the conference who were also holding these 15-minute sessions. The format alone is always a challenge for these meetings. The participants are anxious for my feedback and I have to listen carefully to their idea and ask some probing questions as I flip through their proposal.

Years ago I sat in the position of these writers and hung on every word from the editor. I made lots of notes as they talked then tried to go home and follow through on each of their suggestions. I learned the hard way–and I suspect these people from last weekend will learn it as well–that I take the suggestions as just that “suggestions” and not the absolute truth. No one editor or literary agent has this absolute truth perspective with a massive amount of wisdom to pass along to the writer who is pitching. Some of those ideas are right on target while others need to be ignored. That choice is up to the individual.

I’ve told this story in at least one other entry. Years ago I had a 15-minute meeting with an editor that I respect. I took detailed notes as this editor critiqued my book proposal. I returned home and followed each of the suggestions then sent the proposal back to this editor. He didn’t recall that he had even talked with me about this idea. I was crushed and disillusioned and all sorts of other disappointed feelings. I thought I was receiving the total straight scoop about how to navigate the waters of publishing.

Now that I’ve had a few more years of experience in this area plus had the opportunity for the last few years to be the person who meets with writers, I return to the choice factor. The individual writer has to evaluate the advice, then decide if it’s right for their manuscript or book proposal or not.

You can imagine that I was a bit whipped and worn after meeting with writer after writer. I’m unsure if my counsel had much value at the end of the day. Never-the-less, I gave it my best shot. It’s all anyone can expect during these sessions. People forget the subjective nature of the publishing world. One person loves your idea while another person rejects it. One person believes your book is the absolute best thing they’ve ever read on the topic while the next person believes with equal passion that you’re work is only for beginners and lacked “freshness” (whatever that means).

As you listen to the opinions of various writers, editors, literary agents and other professionals, don’t forget to listen to your own internal voice about the writing.

If It’s Thursday Then…

June 21, 2007

I must be headed to the Phoenix airport for another conference. I’ll be going out to the She Speaks Conference in Charlotte, North Carolina this coming weekend.

Several of my friends are road warriors and travel almost weekly or several times a month. It’s not my normal travel schedule to have three weekends in a row in three different areas of the United States. In each place, I’ve had some good meetings and opportunities.

I’m excited about the potential in Charlotte and we’ll see what happens. I’ve been learning how to be very productive during the long airplane trips. I’ll have my AlphaSmart in my laptop bag. I continue to get some weird comments but it’s been a lifesaver for getting work done on the airplane–yes even in the coach section when the person in front of you puts their seat in recline. Because the AlphaSmart has a much smaller screen, it doesn’t have the difficulties of a laptop in that same situation.

My entries here will be scarce for a few days. If you ever wonder, just check my schedule and it may give you the answer.

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.

Control What You Can

June 11, 2007

After several days on the road at the Frontiers In Writing Conference in Amarillo, Texas, I’m home before I take off later in the week for another conference. I’m using a beautiful new coffee mug that I received from the Amarillo conference. It’s one of those Barnes and Noble Cafe montage with illustrations of different famous writers. Fun.

Best-selling thriller writer Barry Eisler was the keynote speaker at the conference. I had never met Eisler but enjoyed his messages to writers and I purchased his first novel, Rainfall and enjoyed my conversation with him. Eisler was driving across country promoting his latest novel which landed one week on the New York Times bestseller list. He told about arranging to go to 200 bookstores in 15 days. It was an innovative way to tour the country and stir interest in a new title.

A former CIA agent turned lawyer turned novelist, Eisler gave writers some solid advice and I wanted to repeat part of it. He determined that he would not be at fault for not realizing his dream of publishing his novel. Yes, the fault would arrive with someone else–publishers who didn’t see his vision or agents who turned him down or ______ (you can fill in the blank here). Eisler encouraged writers to control what they can control and that they can not control if they will get published. He said the journey is not all about luck and it’s not all about hard work. Yes, luck and hard work are involved. While you can influence luck through some decisions, you can’t control luck. His message was for writers to write their book because if they don’t write their book, then they will regret it. He said, “If you can to it, finish your novel then you will have nothing to regret. And your mission as much as possible is to get it published.”

He encouraged writers to break down their writing goals into weekly and daily and even hourly chunks of writing and to approach their task one day at a time. Each of us make choices about how we will spend our time. For example, Eisler doesn’t watch much television or even have a television in his home. Instead, he’s committed to the task of writing. It was a solid message that I appreciated.

The Weekend Traveler

June 6, 2007

For the next few weeks, I’m turning into a weekend traveler. I’m out on ether Thursday or Friday and back on Sunday. It’s one of those schedules that looked good on paper but as the dates approach, I’m wondering what compelled me to agree months ago and some times well over a year ago. I’m committed to helping new writers and training other professionals.

Tomorrow I’m headed to Amarillo, Texas and the Frontiers in Writing Conference. I met some great folks there several years ago and look forward to seeing them again and making new friends. If you check the link you will see that I’m teaching a couple of workshops. I could have pulled out my old notes and handouts and used them with the group. It’s tempting since it is in a different part of the country from where I’ve taught the information in the past. I’ve attended such workshops where it feels like the speaker has pulled out their shop-worn notes to try on a new audience. As an audience member, I don’t like it so I’m not going to do that to others. Instead, I’ve put some extra effort into reworking my materials and bringing new information. It takes more effort but I believe it will pay off in the long run.

On a completely different topic, from time to time I read the Church of the Customer blog and enjoy their information. I found this post fascinating about how a blogger took a customer service matter and turned it into a PR nightmare for CompUSA.

If these entries about the writing life are some times sparse during June, just remember that I’m a weekend traveler this month–and on the road the next three weekends in a row.

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.

Soak In The Information

May 21, 2007

These days I don’t spend much time in my car. Because I don’t have a long drive to get to my workplace, my time in my car is often limited to a few minutes each day when I drive to my mailbox and return home. That time amounts to about 30 to 45 minutes a day or not much time. I’ve been in jobs where I’ve had a much longer commute in the car but even on a short drive, there is an opportunity to soak in information–if you choose to take this path.

I could be listening to the radio, music or something else. Instead, I’ve been listening to the Mega Book Marketing University 2006 tapes–a conference which I did not attend but I know many of the speakers personally. I’ve met Susan Driscoll, president of iUniverse on several different occasions but until I reached her presentation at Mega I had never heard her speak to a group. Her insight was fascinating. You can catch some of her information about publishing on her iUniverse blog and I liked this entry about returns (something most book authors never think about but is a critical part of the overall process in traditional publishing).

My idea for you with this entry is to look for short bursts of time when you can soak in some burst of information. For example, follow this link for Mega Book Marketing University 2007 in Los Angeles yet look at the special offers in the top right column. Some of these sessions are several years old yet the insight and information is still valuable–yet substantially discounted. I continue to learn a great deal from these older tapes and hope you will as well.

A Stirring Place for Ideas

April 27, 2007

For the last several years (maybe five), the American Society of Journalists and Authors Conference has included a feature called the Idea Marketplace. Different vendors who want to reach writers have a little exhibit and pass out information during the conference. I’ve always found my interaction with these people stimulating for ideas and research.

Many of these exhibitors try to stir interest with interesting giveaways that make an impression. This year Memorial Hermann Health Care Systems was giving away jump drives or memory sticks which contained their press kit. It was not a hard sell to get me to put one of these little boxes into my bag and then use it. The New York Public Library gave away a beautiful full-color bookmark along with information on their services. Pharmavite was handing out vitamins with their information plus they gave out a DVD that shows how vitamins are manufactured. The American Academy of Osteopathic Surgeons were back with their writing pens that look like a large bone (always a conversation piece and a functioning writing instrument). The Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing people were handing out small Teddy Bears along with ornate luggage tags and a reporter’s notebook (each item included their website address and contact information). Even the United States Government was exhibiting with their little red, white and blue uncle sam hats (a stress relieving device). The Society of Professional Journalists were handing out plastic mugs which asked the question, “Has your career gone cold?” Then when you add a hot beverage, it changes and shows logo for journalismtraining.org (part of their society).

Ok, I picked up a bunch of different gadgets and stuff. What’s the pay off for that exhibitor? They are stirring ideas and resources for writers. Months down the road when I need some bit of copyright information, I can turn to the USA.GOV website and search for it because I have a little uncle sam hat stress relief gizmo. Or if I write about health and need some resources to interview, I can contact Memorial Hermann because their press information is on a memory stick that I carry with me.

The payoff for the writer is stimulation of ideas for magazine articles or books. It was a terrific spot to walk around and collect information and another one of the benefits from attending the American Society of Journalists and Authors Conference. As writers, we have many different ideas. The key will always come in the execution. How can you take one of these ideas and carry it into action?