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When Your Book Isn't Selling

By Terry Whalin @terrywhalin



I used to cringe when I saw the mail or email from one of my publishers. It probably contained a royalty statement and experience told me many of those numbers would begin with a minus (negative balance).  I’ve written for many different traditional publishers and have had this experience from a broad spectrum of types of books including how-to, self-help, biographies, gift books and children’s books.



When your book sales are off, it’s a natural tendency to want to blame someone. Maybe my editor has left and my book was orphaned inside the publisher with no champion or advocate. Maybe my publisher didn’t market the book to bookstores. Maybe they changed the title between what was printed in the catalog and what was published. Or _______(fill in the blank). I’ve had all of these things happen to my published books. 



Good publishing involves a cooperative process and working with many different people. Much of this process is outside of the author’s…

Take Simple Action Steps

By Terry Whalin @terrywhalin



When I was a high school sophomore, my English teacher, Mr. Smith, saw something in my writing and encouraged me to join the newspaper staff. I started writing sports even though I was non-athletic and didn’t follow sports. I learned the jargon and began to write sports. Ultimately I was the editor of my newspaper my senior year and went on to Indiana University and majored in journalism. I thought I was going to be a newspaper reporter but instead joined Wycliffe Bible Translators and spent the next 10 years in linguistics. I began to work on the mission magazine and ultimately became the editorial director and in charge of the public face of Wycliffe in print.



My return to writing from linguistics began in the magazine world. I learned to write a query letter to pitch my idea and then got assignments and completed those assignments. Over the years, my writing has been published in more than 50 publications.



My first book was published in 1992 because an edi…

Face the Silence With Action

By Terry Whalin @terrywhalin


Are you getting silence as you reach out to literary agents or editors during the holidays? Yes you might get a little response such as holiday greetings or Merry Christmas. From my years in this business, there is often a shift in the community from right before Thanksgiving until right after New Year's Day. People put off sending manuscripts. If they have a book contract from a publisher, they often delay to sign it until after January 2nd and any number of other decisions of this nature.


My authors are Morgan James are still active and corresponding with me but little is finalizing and moving forward—so mostly silent in some ways. How do you handle this silence? Does it stop your writing and your work in the community? In this article, I want to give you some pro-active idea of what you can do to be productive and face the silence with action.





1. Read books on the craft of writing. As you read these books, use a highlighter and post-it notes to take ac…

Get A Realistic Publishing Perspective

By Terry Whalin @terrywhalin



I've spoken with many authors about their plans and ambitions for their published book. Authors pour a lot of energy into writing their manuscript and creating a book proposal or careful pitch of their book for editors or literary agents. These authors make statements to me like:



“My book will be a bestseller.”



“My book will make a lot of money.” 



“My book will sell ____ copies.”



Also over many years in publishing, I've had publishers tell me that my book would be in airport bookstores and they had plans to market and sell many copies of the book. Conventional wisdom in publishing says the larger the advance, the greater the publisher investment and the greater they will have to invest in marketing to get this investment back and more. I've been blessed to get a couple of six-figure advances—but I have lengthy stories (not good ones) about how each of these books turned out in the market.









From my years in publishing, I know and understan…