Thursday, 23 September 2021

T The Pro-Active Author

Determine What is Holding Back Your Writing

by W. Terry Whalin

Recently I was one of three editors on a panel about different ways to publish at the first Colorado Book Festival. After the session, an older writer wanted to show me his manuscript. I asked if he had a copy to give me, he said no. He could show it to me. Glancing at his material, he held neatly handwritten pages.

“Is your work on a computer to send me?”

“No,” he explained with sadness in his eyes, “I can't type.” Then he explained that he lived in a retirement community. I could see his passion and desire to get his material into a book and considered. “What I really need is an agent,” he continued.

From my years in publishing, I knew no literary agent would even glance at this handwritten manuscript. Many agents are overwhelmed with hundreds of electronic submissions every day. Even writers who have had their manuscript edited with a freelance editor can't get a literary agent to read their submission. The barriers to publication looked overwhelming for this writer.

I encouraged him to hire a student to type his words into the computer.  As I think about it, there are other possibilities for this author. He could:
--check out a typing book from his library and learn how to type. Ironically we were having this conversation in the downtown Denver Public Library. When computers were going to be on every desk in our office, the leader of our company didn't type. Secretaries and assistants had always typed for him and now he had to answer his own emails. This executive got a typing book and learned to type.

--read the book into a microphone and use a computer program to change the audio into text.
--use a self-publisher to take the handwritten material and turn it into a typed version. This option could be expensive—as much as $4 per page.

My conversation with this writer provided several insights for every author:
1. Whatever publishing challenge you are facing, understand there are multiple paths around your challenge. As a writer, you need to explore the various paths and understand your options around the challenges.
2. Every author needs to learn and follow the truth of the marketplace. This writer believed he needed a literary agent—yet agents don't consider representing handwritten manuscripts. His proposed solution was going to send him down a path which had little possibility of success. Each of us need to listen and explore the truths that we uncover as we explore different solutions to our challenges. Some solutions will have more potential than others and you need to select the right solution for your situation.
3. After you explore your different possibilities, you need to select a path and take action. I've seen way too many authors grow discouraged and put their manuscript away and never get it published.  The publishing world takes determination to succeed.

What skill or information is holding back your writing? Or maybe you have written a book and need to find new options in the marketplace to reach readers. At this event, I also spent time with someone that I met at least ten years ago, Brent Sampson who is the president of Outskirts Press, based in Parker, Colorado. We met at the Florida Writers Association and had not seen each other for years. Brent and I were two of the three participants in the panel discussion about how to get published.

The Outskirts Press exhibit was next to the Morgan James Publishingtable and I noticed Brent's new book,The Book Marketing Coach.  He gave me a copy which is subtitled, “Effective, Fast and (Mostly) Free Marketing Tactice for Self-Publishing Authors.” Outskirts Press is a self-publishing company and from looking through this book (that I will read soon), I see ideas that any author can use—no matter how your book is published. The Book Marketing Coach is packed with short chapters for every author to apply to their writing.

Consider what is holding back your writing life then take action today to move forward.  Let me know in the comments section what you are doing and how I can help.
What is holding back your writing life? Learn three steps to move forward. (ClickToTweet)

Columnist: Terry Whalin


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:

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