Monday, September 18, 2017

How To Keep Moving When Stopped

Recently I was driving into downtown Denver for breakfast with a Morgan James author. There are many one-way streets in this section of the city. Suddenly the street where I was going was blocked off and had a detour. Without even a second thought, I turned and followed the detour and soon was back on track heading toward my meeting place. I did not let the detour throw me off from my destination. I did not get put off and quit and return home but found the way forward. My response comes from years of driving experience and understanding that sometimes roads are blocked and you have to locate the way around the roadblock.

Just like driving and finding roadblocks to get around, the writing world often has roadblocks and detours. Maybe you pitch an editor who requested your manuscript and you don't get a response. I've been working with an author who has a children's book and she has been promising to send it to me. It has never come. A few weeks ago when I saw this author in person, she asked me if I had received it. My conversation with her was the first I had known she had even finished it and tried to send it. No, I had not received it. She promised to resend it—and that still has not happened. We depend on things like email when sometimes even email breaks down and doesn't reach the intended editor.

From my years in publishing, I find every step of the process has pitfalls and potential breaks in communication. Editors don't respond to your magazine pitches or a program which you use often isn't working or someone promises to review your book and doesn't follow through. These types of roadblocks happen all the time.

How do you respond to a roadblock? Do you stop and say to yourself, “Guess no one wanted that idea.” “Or “it wasn't meant to be.”  Or do you persevere and look for another way to move around the roadblock?  The writers who succeed (and that measure of success is different for each of us)—find their way around the barriers.

Earlier this year, I wrote about listening to Lauren Graham's memoir, Talking As Fast As I Can. She sat next to best-selling author, James Patterson and ask him, “How do you do it?”

Patterson responded, “Keep going, keep going, keep going.” As writers, each of us get rejected. Our plans get interrupted and changed.  My encouragement is to continue looking and find the path forward. If you are struggling with an area, then create a new habit or new system to help with this area. Your goals and dreams as a writer are important.

The stories of persistent and perseverance in the face of challenges is often a theme in different biographies and how-to books that I've heard recently (check my list of books here). In Robert Greene's Mastery, he told the story of Henry Ford and his early failures and persistence to ultimately form the Ford Motor Corporation.
Admiral William H. McRaven told about his persistence in his Navy seal training in Make Your Bed. Historian David McCullough told about the early failures of Harry S. Truman in Truman. While he had no college education, Truman became the 33rd  President of the United States. I learned valuable lessons from each of these successful people. Persistence and perseverance is an important quality for every writer.

Tell me in the comments below, what actions you take to continue and move forward with your writing.


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Monday, September 11, 2017

Celebrate the Writing Journey

I often meet writers with big dreams: writing and selling a bestseller for example. They want to win contests or writing awards or speak at large events. I applaud these dreams and encourage them yet today I want to celebrate and write about a different aspect of the writing life—the journey.

The writing journey is filled with many different twists and turns in the road. The process of getting the ideas and stories in your head down on paper takes hours of work and creativity. It's not easy but involves sweat and hard work. Beth Vogt recently included this quotation from Colin Powell: “ A dream doesn't become reality through magic, it takes sweat, determination and hard work.”

I encourage you to understand the process and enjoy the journey.

  • Did you get an email from someone telling you about how your book helped them? Did you ask them to write a review on Amazon and send them a little link to that page? Celebrate.
  • Did you meet a new editor who can publish your material in their magazine? Celebrate.
  • Did you complete a magazine query letter that you sent out to a number of publications at the same time? Celebrate.
  • Did you read a new book which gave you insight into your own writing? Celebrate.
  • Did you write a review of a book you read on Amazon and Goodreads? Celebrate.
  • Did you meet your word count goal for writing your current work in progress? Celebrate.
  • Did you get out of your chair and walk around the block or exercise to help your health and physical health? Celebrate.
  • Did you reach out to an old friend when you read their article (or newsletter) and it touched your life? Celebrate.

I was listening to Darren Hardy in one of his Darren Daily recordings discuss the successful people that he's interviewed. His fascination (and learning) is not their particular achievement or way they were made famous. His keen interest is in the lessons and process they went through to achieve that success. His focus is what I'm driving at in this particular article: the writing journey.

The road is not easy. At times you fail (get rejected). Other times you publish a beautiful book that you promote and market—yet few people buy it. Yes these situations happen. When it happens to you, what do you do? Keep moving forward or quit. I hope you keep moving forward because from my experience the people who succeed in publishing understand that rejection and failure is part of the journey.

The publishing journey is full of twists and turns. Not everything goes smoothly. Almost daily I face some technical glitch. Do I let that glitch completely throw my day or do I press on to something else that I can accomplish, then work on that later?  The longer I'm in this business, I try and take the second action. It's a process to learn to do what you can do and be grateful for those action—and to let the rest go.

Is celebration a part of your writing journey? I hope so. Tell me in the comments below. 


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Monday, September 04, 2017

Why I Give Away Books -- And You Should Too

If you have a published book, you have a powerful tool in your arsenal. I hate to admit it but when I entered publishing years ago, I was tight (cheap) with my books. Each time I gave away a book, I was thinking about what that book cost for me to purchase it. As the years have passed, I've become less cautious about the actual cost and more aware of the way books can help others. In this article, I want to give you some reasons to give away your books.

At a recent Morgan James author event in Nashville, I asked one of the authors for her business card. She didn't have one. Immediately she said, “Why don't I give you a book and I will write my website into my book?” Your book can be the perfect business card in that situation. This author has been around publishing many years. I'm certain she had no idea that I've written over 800 Amazon reviews. I gratefully received her book and carried the book home. A week or so later, I read the book cover to cover. It was excellent and I wrote a short book review on Amazon and Goodreads. While this author had recently launched her book, she only had eight book reviews. My short review helped her add to this number and I told others about my review through a short tweet with the book on twitter. 

To be realistic, I understand that my response to the gift of a book is not your normal response—but you can suggest readers post a review on Amazon and Goodreads as you hand them your book. Simply from the power of your suggestion, some people will do it.

At the same event, another Morgan James author asked for a copy of my Billy Graham book. I pulled it out, autographed it and handed it to her. She promised to read it and write a review.  Each time I discover a new review, gives me an opportunity to tell others about this review on social media (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.).  Marketing people understand a reader has to hear about your book seven or eight times (at least) before they decide to purchase your book. With each new review, you should seize the opportunity on social media to tell others. That exposure is building and adding to the time when that reader will purchase your book.

Here's several reasons to give away your books:

1. Books change lives of readers. I know books change lives because years ago, I read a book called Jesus the Revolutionary and it changed my life. You can watch me tell my story about the book in this short video. Or you can read my story in this magazine article called Two Words That Changed My Life

2. Books in the right hands can help you promote your book. Be watching for other readers and others who write reviews of books and give them a book. Also be generous with people who are in the media to give them copies of your book. 

Be prepared to give away your books. Carry the books in your car or briefcase and use them as you have the opportunity. 

Finally, follow up with the individuals after you have given away your book. In your follow-up note, tell them what you would like them to do and make it easy for them to do it. If you aren't telling them (asking), they may not think of the idea on their own. Your follow-up note can be simple saying something like:

“I’d appreciate it if you could leave your honest review of my Billy Graham book in three places:

Amazon: http://amzn.to/1gYtzbx

Barnes & Noble.com: http://bit.ly/1zLviz6

Goodreads: http://bit.ly/1rTDzYB  Your review will be a huge help.”

Notice several details about my follow-up note. It was short, specific and I gave them the actual links to go to the right location online to leave their review. You can use my follow-up note as a template for your own actions with others.

If you are generous with your books (give them away) and tell people what you need from them, many of them will be glad to help you. Are you continually giving away your books and then following up with these people? Let me know what you are doing in the comments below.


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Monday, August 28, 2017

Have You Written a Perennial Seller?

In the last ten years, the publishing world has changed. In the past, self-publishing was the poor step-sister to traditional publishing. These self-made titles often looked poor and were not accepted in libraries or bookstores. As book production has improved, this attitude is shifting. There are still poorly made self-published books and the average self-published title sells less than 200 copies during the lifetime of the book

My bent in this area is for you to get the largest distribution and produce the best book you can produce. It's why I continue to encourage authors to create a book proposal and work with traditional publishers as well as explore other models like Morgan James Publishing (where I've worked for over five years).

While there are many ways and companies to help you create your book, at the end of the day, the key question relates to sales of that book. Is it selling? Are people buying it on a consistent basis? Are you as the author promoting your book consistently? After all, as the author, you have the greatest passion for your book—whether you went with one of the big five publishing houses or a small publisher or self-published.

One of the best ways to learn about publishing is to consistently read how-to books about writing or marketing. As you read these books and take action from the information, you will grow as a writer. I've got stacks of these types of books that I read.

Recently I learned about a new book from Ryan Holiday called Perennial Seller, The Art of Making and Marketing Work that Lasts. Books that last and continue to sell in the market are rare. Traditional publishers are known to be fickle in this area. I have seen it when I've worked inside publishing houses (not Morgan James). You work hard to get a book published and into the market, then for whatever reason it does not sell, then a publishing executive writes a letter to the author or literary agent and takes the book out of print.

Every day thousands of new books enter the market.  Which books become continual sellers? Bestselling author Ryan Holiday has studied these details with his own books and with other books. Perennial Seller is loaded with the details for every author or would-be author to read. Ryan has a keen sense of what it takes to create an excellent book and each of his sections includes gems of information for the writer.

While many writers believe their key failure is in the marketing areas, Ryan writes in the opening pages, “Promotion is not how things are made great—only how they are heard about. Which is why this book will not start with marketing, but with the mindset and effort that must go into the creative process—the most important part of creating a perennial seller.” (Page 19)

Also for those writers who believe they can quickly crank out such a book, Ryan cautions, “Creating something that lives—that can change the world and continue doing so for decades—requires not just a reverence for the craft and a respect for the medium, but real patience for the process itself. (Page 29-30)

No matter who you are working with to get the book out there, Ryan is realistic in Perennial Seller encouraging the writer to take their own responsibility rather than feel like they can delegate it to someone else. In the section on positioning, he writes a section called “You’re the CEO” saying, “If the first step in the process is coming to terms with the fact that no one is coming to save you—there’s no one to take this thing off your hands and champion it the rest of the way home—then the second is realizing that the person who is going to need to step up is you.” (Page 67)

Wherever you are in the publishing process, you will gain insights reading  Perennial Seller. I found the book engaging and valuable—in fact, maybe a book that I will read multiple times (unusual for me). I highly recommend this title.

Whether you read Perennial Seller or not, I recommend you get the free gift from the back of this book. You subscribe and confirm to be on Holiday's email list, then you get a series of case studies which were not included in the book—yet from experienced publishing people.

Are you writing or dreaming of writing a perennial seller? What steps are you taking as a writer to make that happen? Let me know in the comments below. 


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Monday, August 21, 2017

A New Way to Locate Book Reviewers

With thousands of new books launching every day, it is a challenge for any author to get book reviews.If you read my blog, you know that I'm an advocate for writing book reviews--like these recent posts: http://bit.ly/2rIE2of or http://bit.ly/2mXsM86 

Because I've written over 800 customer reviews on Amazon, I've been regularly getting emails from authors saying something like, “You reviewed ___ book and I hope you will be interested in reviewing my book, ____.” 

Until the last few weeks, I had no idea how these emails were being generated--but I do now.  I learned about a company called Book Razor.  As an experiment, I tried their $30 package.  As a part of the process, you give them links to books similar to your book which have lots of reviews (over 4,000 total is their request)--and part of the key process where you control the results picking these similar titles. They have some program that collects email addresses of these reviewers and they send you a spreadsheet of this information (in a day or two after the submission). They give you a little email template then you write each of these people offering them the ebook version of your book and seeing if they are interested in reviewing your book.

Because these people are active reviewers, you will get a response from some of them. Now to be honest, it is a lot of work to enter their emails into your address book and write each of them. I did this experiment with my Billy Graham biography which has been out over two years and has pretty much been stuck at 48 reviews with no new reviews for at least six or eight months.

From my reading, fifty reviews is some sort of benchmark for Amazon--i.e. they do more behind the scenes if you reach this level.  I'm trying Book Razor to push and get beyond 50 reviews. I've had several people ask for the ebook version.  Also in my email, I offered the print version--and several people took me up on this offer so I mailed them a print version of the book. 

So far, I've added eleven so I'm up to 59 Amazon reviews and I expect to see several more added soon. With each review, I tout it on social media and it gives me something else to use and promote my book. I did not get a response from many of the people that I emailed and Book Razor suggests you wait a week or so then write them again. Email is not always reliable and not everyone answers their email. 

Have any of you tried Book Razor? Tell us about your experience in the comments below.  


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Thursday, August 17, 2017

Serve Libraries With Your Books - Time Sensitive

If you follow the publishing news, you are aware the physical bookstores are shrinking. This year over 240 Family Christian bookstores closed their doors.  One of the wide open areas for authors is the public library.

Libraries have:

• People who love authors and books
• Budgets to buy books
• Hold events for authors to sell books
• And much more

Yet how to you sell your book to these librarians who are buying books? In the last week, I have purchased the Real Fast Library Marketing program and I’ve been working through the various lessons. I’m about to begin actively selling my Billy Graham book to libraries using this system. I marked this post as Time Sensitive because the two-hour webinar and discounted program will only be available for a limited time (as shown through the countdown timer on the site). Use this link to watch the webinar.

Whether your book is brand new or has been out a couple of years (like my biography, Billy Graham) you can actively use this library program. It is not a quick fix and will take work. Every author can use this system and the training for their book. I encourage you to check it out.

Also, I have one more request. Two years ago I wrote a biography of Billy Graham. The book has been well-received and has over 50 reviews on Amazon and Goodreads. You can learn more about the book at: http://BillyGrahamBio.com Also I’m working on the audiobook which will soon be released.

Using the Real Fast Library Marketing program, I’ve learned how to create this single page about my Billy Graham book:  http://terrylinks.com/BGLibrary

Can you please:

1. Look at the document and print it. http://terrylinks.com/BGLibrary
2. Take it to your local librarian and ask them to consider buying the book.

The Bible says in James 4:2, “You have not because you ask not.” I’m asking for you to touch your library and ask them to order my book. Thank you in advance for your help.

Whether you have published traditionally or self-published your book, you have the greatest passion for your book. This two–hour webinar about marketing to libraries is only available for a few more days. Also use the link and scroll down to the middle of the page. You will find a 24-page FREE PDF about libraries to learn about this market. As you can see, I’m learning a lot from the course and recommend it.

Throughout this program on a repeated basis, one of the keys to successful selling into libraries is the attitude of the author.  Authors need to serve the librarians and prepare materials to show they are actively marketing their books and encouraging people to go to libraries. It is the attitude of service to libraries which will catch the attention of librarians.

What are you doing to get your books into libraries? Let me know in the comments below.

Note: Normally I only post once a week but this week I'm making an exception because of the time sensitive webinar.    


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Monday, August 14, 2017

What's Your Nonfiction Hook?

Every writer (book author or not; fiction or nonfiction author) needs a nonfiction hook--the enticement you use for media and readers. You need to carefully consider your hook because it is what you will use to build your platform, gather your tribe, get interest and interviews from the media and much more. 

I have seen many fiction novelists struggling with this area and it's partially why I'm writing this article. These writers have crafted a great page-turning novel and gotten a publisher. Each of these steps are terrific and to be applauded. Yet when you get your book published, you are only part of the way in the publishing journey. The next step is to attract readers and media and sell your book (marketing). It's where many fiction authors struggle.  No journalist in the media cares that you've written a brand new novel. You have to take the nonfiction hook in your novel and use that expertise to attract readers and media and generate excitement for your book. 

To catch a fish, every fisherman uses some type of bait on their hook. It's the same process with writers. You need to think about your bait that you use with your hook to catch the attention of readers and media. As a novelist, in the process of writing your book, you have focused on a particular nonfiction topic or subject. What is that topic? Write it down because this topic is your nonfiction hook to interest readers and media. Because you have completed a novel, you have become an expert in this area. Now use this expertise to build your platform, attract readers and media. Each novelist will have a different and unique area of expertise.

For example, Rabbi Marc Rubenstein has completed a new novel from Morgan James Publishing called Weddings By The Glass. The novel releases in February 2018 but follow this link and you can order an advanced copy from Rabbi Rubenstein. I love the beautiful cover on this book. Rabbi Marc has conducted over 3,000 Jewish weddings and is an expert in this area. Also he lives in wine country of Temecula, California and has trademarked the term “kosher wine.” Each of these areas of expertise are hooks for readers and the media. His novel is excellent (and yes I was the acquisitions editor for this novel so I'm a bit bias in my endorsement).

As a novelist, you have poured great creativity into writing your story through making unique characters and plot twists. Now that your book is completed and published, I encourage you to pour some of this creative energy toward determining then exploiting your nonfiction hook. It will help you build your audience and get attention from the media so you can tell others about your novel.

If you like this article and want to learn more, I encourage you to get my free Ebook, Platform-Building Ideas for Every Author. Just use this link and you will get immediate access.

In the comments, let me know if this article was helpful and what sort of action you are taking with your nonfiction hook. 


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