The Writing Life by Terry Whalin | Non Fiction Book Writer
Terry has written more than 60 nonfiction books plus been published in
more than 50 magazines. For five years, he was an acquisitions editor at two book publishers and he's a former literary agent. Now Terry is an acquisitions editor at Morgan James Publishing, a NY based traditional publisher. Terry encourages writers of any level (from beginners to professionals) at Right-Writing dot com.
Within the publishing community, who you know is almost as
important as what you know. Yes, it is important to pitch an excellent book
proposal or manuscript to the right publisher. As an editor and an author, I
also understand people buy (books or manuscripts) from people they know, like
and trust. How can you know more publishing people? From my years in publishing,
one of the challenges is keeping track of the moving people.
Years ago, one of my six-figure book deals was cancelled because
my New York editor had changed companies. My book was orphaned or without an
editor directly responsible for my project. It taught me the importance of
having a champion within the publishing house for each book.
How does a new author with no connections, begin to get
connected to publishing people? Everyone can use a social network which has over
562 million users: LinkedIn. This network is primarily business related and
publishing is a business.
To get connected, you need to take several
1. Rework your LinkedIn profile to show your activity in publishing. Do you
write for magazines? Have you published books? Or possibly you have some other
explicit publishing role such as leading a local writer’s group. If you have
these types of qualifications, then add them to your LinkedIn profile.
2. Begin to send connection requests to different people in publishing. These
people could be book editors, literary agents, magazine editors, authors and
many other roles. In some cases you will want to send them a little personalized
message with your invitation. In other cases, you simply send out the generic
invitation that you want to connect with the person.
For many years, I received LinkedIn invitations and ignored them. I had very
few connections on LinkedIn and was not connected. Then I began to look at the
background of the person and for most people, I accepted their invitation to
connect. My number of connections increased and my public
profile says the common “over 500 connections.” The real number of my
LinkedIn connections, as of this writing, is over 7,900. These connections are
varied with many different roles (mostly within publishing) Here’s the critical
reason you want to be connected: when I need to reach someone that I’ve not
emailed or called in a long-time, I check their LinkedIn contact information.
While there is a lot of movement within the publishing community, when they
change positions or companies or physical location, everyone takes their
LinkedIn account with them. This account belongs to the individual and is a way
to consistently keep up and reach them.
LinkedIn has a lot of other functions as well but being connected and
maintaining those connections is one of the basics and best reasons to
consistently use this network. Are we connected on LinkedIn? If
not, send me an invitation and let's get connected.
How are you using LinkedIn? Let me know in the comments below.
I love books and have written many books over the years. I'm working at my third publishing house as an acquisitions editor working with hundreds of authors on their books. Yes the book is important and every author has to be passionate about their books and telling others about it. Yet in this article, I want to ask a different question: How can you move beyond the book?
In November, I spent several days with over 40 Morgan James authors in Nashville. Most of these authors were launching their book and we celebrated the launch with interviews on the red carpet and special time together. After this celebration, Morgan James organized a second day of marketing training for our authors. I don't know another publisher making this type of effort to train and encourage authors with their books. The marketing training was open to any of our authors—not just the ones launching their books. Morgan James did three of these events last year, three this year and three more are scheduled for next year.
There is great synergy at these events where authors swap books (to review each other's books) and much more.
Whether you have published your book with a well-known publisher or self-published, you have accomplished something amazing in getting your book into the market. Now the real work begins of telling people about your book. Your on-going marketing efforts are important to tell others about your book. The key piece many authors miss in this process is: your book has made you an authority on your topic. Every author has to use their book to open new doors of opportunity.
Because you have published a book, others will want to hear you speak As you speak on the topic, people learn about you and hopefully purchase your book. I encourage you to approach event organizers and open up opportunities to speak on your topic. It's always best to begin in your local area with Rotary or Kiwanis or other such groups looking for speakers. Sometimes these are free opportunities where you sell books in the back of the room. Other times they will pay a fee. The key is to use your creativity to pitch yourself and book these opportunities. They are definitely out there.
Can you use your book as a springboard to create other information products that you sell online? If you want to know more details, I recommend you listen to this free interview I did with Bob Bly and look at the free Ebook with it.
Can you use your book and create an online course or membership site where you deliver content instruction and insights for your audience? I have a risk-free Simple Membership System product to give you much more detail and insight. Notice my 30 day no questions asked love it or return it guarantee.
Can you use your book to launch a personal coaching program? Your book has made you an authority and now use that influence to begin another aspect of your writing life—coaching. You will have a limited number of people but it can also create a regular stream of income for your business.
The overall key for any author is to create multiple streams of income. This article only gives a few of the possibilities. As an acquisitions editor, I repeatedly see authors focus on their royalties (or they tell me about their lack of royalties). There are many dynamics in play with a publisher receiving and paying these royalties such as the slow rate that bookstores pay publishers—which is something many authors forget. In my view, the royalty focus is the wrong focus. As an author, you can't control your royalty payment. If it comes, terrific. There are many element I mentioned in this article that you as an author can control. Seize those elements for your focus and work on them. It will yield a far greater financial result.
Every author needs to continually work at building their platform and expanding their influence. If you want or need to know more about building an author platform, get my free ebook on the topic. You can do it but it will take effort and initiative on your part. From my experience, it is not a simple one-two-three process but the journey is different for every author. Keep at it and if I can help you, just reach out to me and let me know what you need.
How are you moving beyond the book? Let me know in the comments below.
The conversation happened years ago yet I recall it like
yesterday. I learned a guiding principle for my writing life in publishing. I
was on the faculty of a writers' conference which no longer exists. Along with
another faculty member who was a literary agent, we were on our way to the event. I had written
a few books and been a magazine editor but not worked inside a publishing
company. It was early on in my writing career. This agent advised, “Be building
a body of work.” It was sound and profound counsel.
Many writers are focused on a book or several books but not
understanding the need to build a body of work. That work appears in many
places—including books—but also in magazines and online. It is not built
overnight but in a continual stream of publishing.
Last week I was speaking with a new potential author for Morgan James
Publishing. During our conversation. she commented on my digital footprint.
What happens when someone “googles” your name? What do they find on the first
few pages? Your digital footprint is part of your body of work as a writer. It's
something built over time and with consistent action—like these weekly articles
for The Writing Life. Your
faithful actions will pay off in the long run.
While on this important topic of building a body of work, let me
include several other important reminders for every author. 1. Our words are eternal. Recently I read this article from
publisher and long-term friend Dan Balow about the lasting element of words
online. As you post on social media, blog or write magazine
articles or books, it's good to be reminded these words are captured
online forever—a very long time. 2. Your reputation matters. Whether you are
conscious of it or not, each interaction with others is building your reputation
in the publishing community. From my years in this business, good communication
is important and the smallest details can matter. 3. Consistency counts. As you work in the
writing field, make sure you do the basics like return phone calls and answer
emails. These simple business practices will pay off for you in the long run and
help you build an even larger body of work.
How are you building a body of work in the publishing world? Let
me know in the comments below. Tweetable:
For many years, I've admired and read the books from New
York Times bestselling author Joel C. Rosenberg. We follow each other on Twitter and have
exchanged emails. I've reviewed and promoted his books but never met face to
face. His parents live nearby and attend Calvary Chapel South Denver. When
Joel's father retired after four decades as an architect, they created Ministry
Architecture. I learned about their annual fund raiser at their church,
bought a ticket and attended the event. As a writer, be aware of these types of
events (which may be in your city) then make plans and attend them. In my local
Denver Post newspaper, the Tattered Cover announces author events each week in
the Sunday newspaper. Attending these types of events can give you some unique
opportunities—if you are aware and seize them.
His first novel was The Last
Jihad (Forge Books) published in 2003. This political thriller was
a page turner with an opening that I still recall 15 years after reading it (yes
that good and memorable). The book caught on and reached the New York
Times bestseller list. A
committed Christian, Rosenberg moved this book and his future books to
Tyndale House Publishers.He has written several nonfiction books but the
majority of his books are fast-paced political thrillers.
Rosenberg spoke to a packed crowd for over two hours. The
majority of his talk was about flash points and current geo-political events
where he has first hand knowledge. I found it educational and fascinating. Woven
into his speaking were several keys for writers that I want to emphasize in this
1. Joel C. Rosenberg is a brilliant storyteller and writer. I
suspect some of it is his natural ability but other skills he learned and
perfected. Every writer needs to learn how to spin a solid story whether in
print or orally.
2. As a writer, Joel Rosenberg is plugged into the world
geo-politics, traveling and meeting with world leaders. He mentioned meeting
with the President of Egypt, the U.S. Secretary of State and other officials—and
these meetings were recent with a current and fresh perspective. Formerly he
lived in Washington, D.C. and now he lives in Israel. His lifestyle plays into
his writing. If you want to know more details and keep up on Rosenberg's
insights, one of the ways he suggested was subscribing to his blog updates (follow this
3. He pours his personal insights about the world into his
novels. He talked about writing chapters that were like eating Pringles. He
dares his readers to just read one chapter without continuing to the next
chapter. The ongoing action and short chapters compel readers to keep going.
Rosenberg told about getting regular emails from readers who
have stayed up all night reading his novels. Now that is amazing
storytelling and something each of us should aspire with our writing. Are you
making your book chapters to be consumed like Pringles?
Each of us can be learning and growing from our world around us.
I encourage you to take action in this area in the days ahead.
When a bestselling author comes near you, do you attend the
event and what do you learn or gain? Let me know in the comments