Terry Whalin @terrywhalin
Throughout my decades in publishing, I’ve written many different types of nonfiction books: biographies, how-to, diet, self-help, co-authored books, children’s books and others. I’ve interviewed more than 150 bestselling authors and written their stories for various magazines. It’s not that I’m the best writer in the room but I am one of the more consistent, persistent writers.
I attend conferences and pitch my ideas to editors. I listen to their response and sometimes they say, “That’s a good idea, Terry. Write that up and send it to me.” I make a little note, then I go home. write and send it. Now that doesn’t mean I get published, but I did give myself a chance to get published because of my submission.
Now I go to conferences as an editor and listen to writers pitch their ideas. I listen carefully and if I hear a good idea, I encourage them to send it to me. I’ve been to conferences across the United States and Canada listening to writers and encouraging them to send me their material. Here’s a startling statistic: probably only about 10% of those writers actually submit their requested material. I follow up through email and often a phone call to encourage them to send it—but they don’t submit.
There are several other key factors from my experience:
Professionals continue to work at learning the craft of writing. I’m constantly reading books and taking online courses and learning. The authors who disappear off the bestseller list figure they have arrived at their craft and don’t have anything else to learn. Yes, I’ve met some of these writers.
Professional writers keep in touch with readers through an email newsletter and have invested the time to learn about their audience (readers) then write what they want and expect. These professionals also understand the importance of a gentle follow-up. Notice the word “gentle” because if you are too pushy, the easiest answer to give is “no thank you.” Yes often takes patience, persistence and time.
These professional writers also understand the importance of continual pitching to decision makers (editors but also radio show hosts, podcast creators, and others of influence). Authors who succeed in the publishing world are looking for opportunities. When they find the open door, they have the boldness to move forward and seize it.
Also professional writers understand the importance of deadlines and meet those deadlines with quality writing. As an editor, I’ve fielded calls from writers who are not going to make their deadlines. They have many reasons—some of them even reasonable. Writers are notoriously late so publishers often build some room for such excuses into their schedule—but don’t be one of those writers. I’ve taken some crazy deadlines from publishers and sometimes stayed writing at my keyboard all night to send my manuscript on the deadline. It’s another key for those writers who succeed in the book business.
The path is not easy for any of us and takes persistence, consistency and discipline. But it is possible for you to find the right idea and the right book and the right publisher at the right time. I understand there are many rights which need to align. It simply will not fly if you don’t try.
W. Terry Whalin, a writer and acquisitions editor lives in Colorado. A former magazine editor and former literary agent, Terry is an acquisitions editor at Morgan James Publishing. He has written more than 60 nonfiction books including https://jumpstartdreams.com/Jumpstart Your Publishing Dreams and Billy Graham. Get Terry’s newest book, 10 Publishing Myths for only $10, free shipping and bonuses worth over $200. To help writers catch the attention of editors and agents, Terry wrote his bestselling Book Proposals That $ell, 21 Secrets To Speed Your Success. The revised and updated edition will be out later this year. Check out his free Ebook, Platform Building Ideas for Every Author. His website is located at: www.terrywhalin.com. Connect with Terry on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.
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