Saturday, 27 November 2021

T The Pro-Active Author

You Must Seize Opportunity

The subject line of the email worked and performed it's function. It got my attention saying, “Can I promote you?”  Yes I opened the email and read it. A CEO was looking for case studies for people using his product (which I use). I hit reply and crafted a pitch or response. Will I get selected? I don't have any idea but I seized the opportunity and made a relevant and timely pitch.

One of the basic principles of publishing is that to secure any work or deal, you have to pitch. It might be as simple as returning a phone call or email. Or the process might mean learning how to create a book proposal then crafting a 30 to 50 page document that you send to literary agents and editors. Another way to express opportunity is through a series of doors. As a writer, you need to be knocking on different doors for the right one to open.

From my years in publishing, I believe every writer has many opportunities. For example, there are many radio shows and podcasts who are booking guests every day on their programs to talk about their topic and promote their books in this process. Will every pitch I make succeed? No, but like the homerun baseball player, I have to bat (or pitch) to get consideration.

Here are several keys in this process:

1Awareness is the first step and the necessity to respond.

2. Read your email and look at your social media feeds to look for opportunities.

3. Take action when you find an opportunity and craft your pitch. For example, last week I received an email about a conference where I've been on their faculty several times (but not in several years). They were asking for proposals for their 2022 conference and gave a deadline. When I spotted this opportunity, I printed the page and have been thinking about my pitch/ proposal. It is the same process each of us have to do as writers—whether we've written many books or no books.

4. While taking action in a timely way is important, follow-up is also important. For example, I've been working with a potential Morgan James author on a contract. We were emailing back and forth. Their lawyer came back with some questions. We responded to their questions and then for several weeks, the dialogue ended. My phone calls and emails were ignored without response. Today I decided to use text to reach my contact and get some information. I learned the lawyer was recovering from COVID-19 (something I had no idea about), their manuscript was several months away from being final and the “author” was out of the country. Each of these bits of information helped me understand the delay in their response. My point is be a good communicator and let the other person know what is going on. Your follow-up and communication is an important part of the process.

Are you making an intentional effort to respond to the opportunities which cross your desk?


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A basic publishing principle is you must seize the opportunity. Nothing happens without taking action according to this prolific editor and author. Get the details here. (ClickToTweet)

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Columnist: Terry Whalin

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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 Jumpstart Your Publishing Dreams. To help writers, he has created 12-lesson online course called Write A Book Proposal. His website is located at: www.terrywhalin.com.

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