Your working as an acquisitions editor at Morgan James Publishing. Can you describe in a few sentences what you’re exactly doing?
I’m often the first person that an author or a literary agent approaches with their book proposal or manuscript. We receive over 5,000 submissions a year and only publish about 150 books that are sold into 98% of the bookstores in North America including the brick and mortar bookstores. Morgan James Publishing is based in New York and one of the top independent publishers and has often been on this Publishers Weekly list. Here’s a two-page handout about the publisher and my work email and phone is at the bottom of the second page: http://terrylinks.com/mjponesheet
When you read book proposals/manuscripts what are often read mistakes by authors? What are 2–3 common mistakes they make?
I’ll give you some common mistakes.
1. Poor writing and storytelling. I’ve read thousands of submissions and can tell in a few sentences.
2. No identified market for the book or the market is too small or says “everyone.” Every author needs a solid market for the book and the author needs the ability to reach that market. Every publisher is going to expect the author to do 80% of the marketing. Every author needs a practical marketing plan in their pitch to the publisher.
3. Missing a key element in the proposal. Last week I saw a proposal that did not have an author bio. It’s easy to leave out a necessary element. Here’s a free book proposal checklist: http://terrylinks.com/bookcheck
What would you encourage authors to do when they are rejected many times by publishers?
Many authors pitch a few times and get rejected and give up. Every writer is looking for the right publisher for their material and the process often takes time and trying again and again. People forget the co-authors of Chicken Soup for the Soul were rejected 144 times before they found a publisher. Now it is one of the most published series of books in the world. Mark Victor Hansen tells that story in the foreword for my Jumpstart Your Publishing Dreams: http://terrylinks.com/jypd
You also published many books throughout your career. What would be your author advice if you could speak with your younger self who is working on the first book?
Build a body of published work. Don’t be in a hurry to publish books but build your audience in the magazine world — and learn how to craft a good story in the shorter magazine format. Much of the publishing world is outside of your control but control what you can and let the rest go. For example, you can control your own blog, your own website and your own email list. Every author needs to have their own email list to touch their readers. You can get my free ebook on this topic at: http://terrylinks.com/pb
What are in your opinion trends within the publishing industry for the next 2–3 years that authors have to have in mind?
Trends are hard for any writer to capture since they change constantly. In traditional publishing it takes 18 to 24 months normally to get a book into print. Self-publishing ill continue to grow but the number almost no one says is the average self-published book sells less than 100 copies during the lifetime of the book. However you publish, you need to have multiple ways to touch your readers: email list, twitter, Facebook, etc. Ebooks have topped out for their growth and print books continue to thrive. Also get your books into as many formats as possible because different readers consume in different formats (ebook, print, audiobooks, etc).
I have a lot of information on my blog: http://thewritinglife.ws (over 1400 entries) and mny other ways for people to reach me including my free ebook, Straight Talk From the Editor, 18 Keys to a Rejection-Proof Submission: http://straighttalkeditor.com
Thank you, Terry for this interview.
About Terry Whalin:
Terry has written more than 60 books through traditional publishers in a wide range of topics from children’s books to biographies to co-authored books. Several of Terry’s books have sold over 100,000 copies.To encourage writers of nonfiction and fiction, Terry is the creator of Right-Writing.com at: www.right-writing. com. Also his blog about the writing life at: www.thewritinglife.ws includes over 1,200 searchable entries. Terry and his wife, Christine, live in Colorado.