Writing a Book - 6 Tips to Hiring a Freelance Editor

Will hiring a freelance editor ensure you pitch the perfect game? In writing terms, will it ensure you get published?

Do you really need an editor? 

There are a number of pros and cons related to whether you should hire a freelance editor. Some writers benefit greatly from the experience while others have a difficult time and may even get insulted.

Six Points to Examine Before Hiring a Freelance Editor

1. Can you handle it?

One of the most important aspects of hiring someone to critique or edit your work is to be open to criticism. If you do not have the personality to handle constructive criticism, suggestions, and/or edits, then you shouldn’t hire a freelance editor.

2. Learn the craft.

Before you contemplate hiring a freelance editor, get your manuscript in the best shape possible by learning the writing craft.

What this means is you should know your craft or be engaged in learning it. You should obviously belong to a critique group that focuses on the genre you write. This group should have new and experienced/published authors in it. This will help you to hone your craft through the critiques you receive and the critiques you give.

There are also a number of fantastic free online writers’ conferences such as the Muse Online Writers Conference  that will help you hone your craft. There are workshops offered covering just about every writing genre, plus freelance writing and marketing. AND, you will have the opportunity to pitch to publishers. Between the networking and learning, it’s not something you should lightly pass on.

Next up on the road to learning your craft is to join a couple of writing groups – again be sure they have new and experienced writers. You can even look into a writing coach or instructor.

3. Self-edit, self-edit, self-edit.

Before you pass your manuscript off, be sure you’ve gone over it meticulously. Make sure you’ve gone over all the tips and tricks to have your manuscript in ‘good’ showing form.

Editors frown upon authors who send sloppy, error-filled manuscripts.

4. There are NO guarantees.

Hiring a freelance editor to go over your manuscript will not guarantee it will get published, even the best in the field can’t promise this. What they will do is help you to get it in the best shape possible. But, whether or not you take their advice is another story. And, again, even if you do, there are no guarantees.

This holds true everywhere in the writing world. After your manuscript is polished, you may send it to forty publishers and agents, and get forty rejections. Then, you send it to one more and it happens, this publisher was looking for just what you’re offering. They were looking for your story. Time and chance, my friends . . . and more importantly, perseverance.

But, it’s a sure bet if you’re manuscript isn’t polished you won’t ever get that far.

5. Ask around.

If you did your best to get your manuscript into what you think is publishable shape and you
want an editor to give it a final once over, be sure to ask for recommendations from other writers.

6. It ain’t over till it’s over.

Although you may spend money to get your manuscript edited before submitting it to publishers or agents, once it’s given a contract, it’ll be back to editing again – this time with the agency or publishing house.

Keep this in mind, so when it happens you’re not taken aback. It’s just the way it works.

Karen Cioffi is an award-winning children’s author and children’s ghostwriter. She is also an author/writer online platform instructor with WOW! Women on Writing.

Need help with your children's manuscript? Stop by Writing for Children with Karen Cioffi for help.

And, be sure to connect with Karen at:

This article was originally published at:


Writing - 4 Powerful Steps to Breaking Bad Habits
Don't Give Up - Seek Inspiration
Tips for Building Your Writing Community

SharingwithWriters Tip That Pretty Much Made a Subscriber's Day!

I rarely include reprints from my newsletter on this blog, but one of my longtime SharingwithWriters newsletter subscribers, Valerie Allen, got such a kick out of this tip when she followed through (see below for the tip), I thought I'd share it with you. I'm also going to put her note to me--you know, to prove that she did, indeed, get a big charge out of the results of the discovery prompted by this suggestion. 


Have you done a search on the Walmart site's bookstore for your book? Authors are telling me that their Createspace-printed books have been appearing there with no extra effort on their part. In the past—even before Createspace—I have found my books magically appearing in sites as varied as Harvard’s bookstore and Costco. If you find your book on one of these sites, check to see if the buy page needs any special attention from you—like the addition of reader reviews as suggested in Howto Get Great Book Reviews Frugally and Ethically.


Carolyn ~

Great info for authors in your January newsletter. Will feature your blog on my new Facebook group, Authors for Authors.

Please join us on FB.

I followed your suggestion and checked out my books at Walmart.com.

Yes!  They have four of my books! I am thrilled. Who knew?.
Two of my novels "The Prodigal Son" and "Suffer the Little Children."
One of my kids books, "Bad Hair, Good Hat, New Friends."
One of my short story collections, "'Tis Herself: Short Story Collection Volume One" in large print.

Yay me!

P.S. Thanks for your great tips and ideas. 

Valerie Allen
Valerie is an author and book fair director.  

Valerie's letter is coming out in the Letters-to-the-Editor feature my SharingwithWriters newsletter in February with her permission. We all need an upper now and then! Letters-to the editor is a great way for authors to get more exposure--in writing-oriented newsletters or magazines and newspapers with wide distribution. One of #SharingwithWriters' mottoes is

Sharing with Writers
Since 2003

A newsletter that is also a community. Share your ideas. Learn from theirs! 

Find back issues at howtodoitfrugally.com/newsletter_copies.html. There is a SharingwithWriters subscription window in the top right corner of almost every page. 


Howard-Johnson is the author of fiction, creative nonfiction, and poetry. She is also a marketing consultant, editor, and author of the multi award-winning HowToDoItFrugally Series of books for writers including the award-winning second editions of The Frugal Book Promoter (where she talks more about choosing and the advantages of winning contests and how to use those honors)  and The Frugal Editor. Her latest is in the series is  How to Get Great Book Reviews Frugally and Ethically. Learn more on her Amazon profile page, http://bit.ly/CarolynsAmznProfileGreat Little Last Minute Editing Tips for Writers is one of her booklets--perfect for inexpensive gift giving--and, another booklet, The Great First Impression Book Proposal helps writers who want to be traditionally published. She has three FRUGAL books for retailers including one she encourages authors to read because it will help them convince retailers to host their workshops, presentations, and signings. It is A Retailer’s Guide to Frugal In-Store Promotions: How To Increase Profits and Spit in the Eyes of Economic Downturns with Thrifty Events and Sales Techniques. In addition to this blog, she helps writers extend the exposure of their favorite reviews at TheNewBookReview.blogspot.com. She also blogs at all things editing--grammar, formatting and more--at The Frugal, Smart, and Tuned-In Editor (http://TheFrugalEditor.blogspot.com )

Plot or Character?

Which is more important in fiction: a page-turning plot or deep and compelling characters?

I've always thought it depends on the genre, the audience, and personal taste. However, I've just started reading a book in which the author, Jeff Gerke, argues convincingly that both are equally important but most authors are naturally good at only one.

Moreover, many character-first writers underestimate the need to have a good plot and may even feel that they're selling out if they add too much Hollywood-esque excitement. Plot-first writers may use their characters mostly to advance their fantastic plots, not realizing that their characters come across more like props than actual people. To create truly great fiction, whether it's literary or commercial, a writer needs to master both character and plot. It's got me really thinking about what kind of writer I am: a character writer. So this year my new goal is to work on becoming a great plotter too.

I challenge each of your to analyze what you're best at and focus for a while on the other skill. In future posts, I'll pass on anything particularly useful I learn from this intriguing book: Plot Versus Character; A Balanced Approach to Writing Great Fiction by Jeff Gerke.

Melinda Brasher's most recent sale is a twist on Rumpelstiltskin, appearing in Timeless Tales. You can also find her fiction in Nous, Electric Spec, Intergalactic Medicine Show, and others. For what readers have called "extraordinary character development," read Far-Knowing, her YA fantasy novel. Visit her online at http://www.melindabrasher.com

Storytelling vs. Writing a Story

A children’s publisher commented on the difference between storytelling and writing. She explained that storytelling involves visual aids, whereas writing does not.

Granted, children’s picture books do provide illustrations in the form of
visual aids, but they are not the same as storytelling’s visual aids.

I had never thought of this before, but once this was said I could see it clearly.


Storytelling allows for the use of visual aids, which includes facial expressions. There is also voice tone, word pronunciation, along with word or phrase stressing that help aid in conveying sadness, anger, fear, and an array of other emotional sediments. This is also known as voice inflection.

Along with facial expressions and voice inflection, the storyteller can also take advantage of movement.

Imagine telling a group of children a spooky story that has the protagonist tiptoeing around a corner to see what’s there. As a storyteller you can actually tiptoe, hunched over; and exaggerating the movement enhances the suspense. Visual aids are easy to use and are powerhouses of expressions.

Another example might be if you are telling a pirate story to a young boy. You can use toy props, such as a toy sword or pirate’s hat, while limping with a pretend wooden leg. These visuals enhance the story experience for the child without the storyteller having to create the imagery with words.


Writing on the other hand depends solely on the writer’s interpretation of what the facial expressions, voice, mannerisms, image, and body movement of the characters might be. And, that interpretation must be conveyed through words that preferably ‘show’ rather than ‘tell.’

If you think about it, storytelling is much easier than writing a story. But, most of us authors are writers, not storytellers, and as writers we need to convey emotions and activity through showing.

In the storytelling examples above, how might you write the scene as an author?

For the first scenario of a spooky story, one example might be:

Lucas grabbed his little brother’s hand and pulled him close. “Shhh. Don’t make any noise. It might hear us.” They crept along the wall, barely breathing, until they reached the . . .

While this passage doesn’t have the advantage of the storyteller’s visual aids, it does convey a feeling of suspense and fear.

In regard to a pirate story, as an author you might write:

Captain Sebastian grabbed his sword and heaved it above his head. “Take the ship, men.”

The pirates seized the ropes and swung onto the ship. Swords and knives clanking, they overtook their enemy.

This short passage clearly conveys a pirate scene with Captain Sebastian leading his men into a battle aboard another ship. No visual aids, but it does get its message across.

You might also note that while trying to write your story through showing, you need to watch for weak verbs, adjectives, and a host of other no-nos. In the sentence above, the words, “barely breathing” might need to be changed if it reached a publisher’s hands. Why? Because “ly” and “ing” words are also frowned upon.

So, knowing the difference, if you had your choice, which would you prefer to be, a storyteller or a writer? Let's us know in the comments!

Karen Cioffi is an award-winning children's author and ghostwriter. For more tips on writing and book marketing and to check out her services, visit: Writing for Children with Karen Cioffi

And, be sure to connect with Karen at:


This article was originally published at:


Reasons Why to Self-Publish Your Nonfiction Book
Is Series Writing for You?
Writing the World Around You

10 Ways to Find More Time to Write

Whether you're a full time writer, or someone who just wants to give writing a try, these tips should help you find more time to write.

Tip #1 - Get Organized.

Here are just a few ways to organize your writing and your writing space:

° Create project folders so you can easily and quickly locate whatever you are working on.

° Keep an idea notebook handy at all times, so you can jot down ideas for articles, stories, etc. whenever they come to you and you'll have them all in one, easy to find, place.

° Clean off your desk or other writing space. If it's a mess, you'll spend precious time trying to find things you need. Put pens and pencils in containers. Get file folders for loose papers you wish to keep.

° Keep reference books handy as you’re writing so you can refer to them whenever you need to.

Tip #2 - Make Decisions Ahead of Your Actual Writing Time.

New writers don’t seem to realize it, but the planning stage and the writing stage work best as two different stages.

If you plan what you’re going to write, then it will be easier once you sit down to write it.

No more wasting your precious writing time, staring at a blank page or computer screen.

Tip #3 - When Writing a Nonfiction Book or a Novel, Work from an Outline.

Make your outline in the planning stage of your book, then when it’s time to write you can simply work on the book, a chapter or section at a time.

But you’ll know what material you wish to include in that section (because you figured that out in the planning stage) so all you’ll need to do is sit down and write it.

It doesn't have to be a formal outline either.

Just notes that let you know what you will be writing in each section or chapter of the book.

Tip #4 - Let Go of Activities That Take Your Time but Offer You No Real Benefit in Return.

You can stay really, really busy during the day without much to show for it if you aren’t careful.

Checking emails, spending too much time on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media sites can eat up your writing time.

And do you really need to watch all those crazy cat videos on Youtube?

Tip #5 - Do Many of Your Morning Chores the Night Before.

If you have a day job, take a shower the night before, lay out your clothes the night before, make your lunch the night before.

Then, the next morning you can get up early and write because it won’t take but a few minutes to get ready for work.

Tip #6 - Outsource as Many Activities as You Can.

Once you start making money as a writer, hire a VA (virtual assistant) who can do many of your marketing chores for you.

This person can also upload new content (that you write and send to him or her) to your blog, etc.

If you can afford it, hire someone to clean your house once a week or pay your older kids to do it.

Let your younger children fold clean laundry and put it away.

They might not do a perfect job, but so what?

Tip #7 - Train Your Kids to Work/Play Alongside You While You Write.

If you have young children who are home with you during the day, train them to play quietly alongside you as you write.

As they get older, encourage them to write, too, while you are writing. (I did this when my sons were children and one of them is a professional writer now. He says he just got in the habit of writing when he was a kid and liked it.)

Tip #8 - Hang Out with Other Productive Writers.

There are many, many people out there who say they are writers.

Yet, a great percentage of these people rarely, if ever, write anything.

You don’t want their bad habits rubbing off on you.

Instead, find writers who write regularly and hang out with them.

You’ll see how they manage to get so much writing done and you’ll begin to write more, too.

Tip #9 - When people ask you what you do, don't be afraid to tell them you’re a writer.

If you tell people you’re a writer, then they won’t be surprised when you tell them you need to write.

They won’t expect you to drop everything and join them for lunch or a shopping trip, etc. whenever they call because they’ll know you have writing to do.

Tip #10 - Set Specific Writing Goals for Each Writing Session.

When you know what you wish to accomplish during each writing session, you’ll be more productive.

Plus, you’ll become more confident and feel more successful because you’ll be able to see how you are meeting specific goals each session.

This will help you look forward to your next writing session.

You’ll also tend to write for longer periods of time, just to reach a specific writing goal.

Okay, so those are just a few ways to find more time to write.

Do you have other ways that work for you?

If so, please share them here in the comments section.

Try it!

Suzanne Lieurance is a full time freelance writer, the author of 35 published books (at last count) and a writing coach.

She lives and writes by the sea in Jensen Beach, Florida.

Learn more about her books and her coaching services at www.writebythesea.com and sign up for her free email, The Morning Nudge, with tips and resources for writers delivered to your mailbox every weekday morning.

SEO for Authors Part3 - Outbound Links in Your Blog Posts

Outbound or external links are clickable links you have on your website and in your blog posts that link to other websites.

And, it’s a good practice to use outbound links within your articles.

For instance:

Suppose I’m writing a post for Writers on the Move and it’s on self-publishing. I find a relevant article over at Kindlepreneur that will give my readers more information on the topic or reinforce what I’m saying.

#1 Doing it right by linking properly

There are a few ways to link to the Kindlepreneur article (I added yellow highlight to show which words or phrases would be hyperlinked):

1. I can use the keyword SELF-PUBLISHING as an anchor text. The word would be hyperlinked to the outbound article.

Example: Kindlepreneur has a great article on creating your own book publishing company if you’re self-publishing.

2. I can link to the article using the site’s name.

Example: There’s a great article over at Kindlepreneur that says . . .

3. I can include the URL and hyperlink it.

Example: There’s a great article over at Kindlepreneur (https://kindlepreneur.com/how-to-start-a-publishing-company/) that says . . .

4. I can create a MORE READING section at the end of the article and include the Kindlepreneur article title and link to it: How to Start a Book Publishing Company.

Which strategy is the most SEO effective?

Numbers 1 and 4 are the way to go. But if you had to choose between the two, go with #1.

The reason is it offers Keyword-Power that’s highly relevant to your article. Google and the other search engines like this practice.

Okay, that’s pretty easy. Use anchor text to link to outbound links whenever possible.

NOTE: If you notice, I hyperlinked in Example #2. This was a mistake, but since outbound links are involved, I'm leaving it as is. Moral to the story: don't do things in haste.

#2 Linking when using quotes

Suppose that in the article I’m also quoting from The Article Writing Doctor. I must give the URL to the article I’m quoting from.

There are a couple of ways to do this also:

1. Hyperlink a keyword within the quote, if applicable.

Example: “If you want to self-publish, you must edit your manuscript before moving forward.”

Since I already hyperlinked to Kindlepreneur using the keyword Self-Publishing, I wouldn’t want to use that word again as a hyperlink. So, I’d use Edit Your Manuscript.

2. Tag the quote and hyperlink the article title at the end of the article in a References section.

Example: “If you want to self-publish, you must edit your manuscript before moving forward.” (1)

Then at the bottom of the article you link to the article via the title:


(1) Self-Publishing – You’ve Got to Edit First

The benefit of using outbound links:

Using outbound links effectively produces two benefits:

It’s good to link to HIGH-RANKING sites. It reinforces what your site is about to Google. And, if the site you’re linking to pays attention to its Pings or Trackbacks, they’ll notice you linked to them.

So, you make Google happy which makes them like your site better and you get noticed by a high-ranking site.

This is all good.

Now, let’s move on to the Don’ts.

#1 Warning: Try to keep the visitor on your site

While outbound links within the body of your article can be good SEO, those links are taking the reader away from your website. So use them sparingly, especially if you manage your own site.

Suppose I had that Kindlepreneur outbound link in the first paragraph of my article. The reader sees it and clicks on it.

Off he goes – off of my site.

This does two things:

It drastically shortens the visit length of that reader and if he hops off too quick, you just added to your bounce rate.

Google tracks the length of time a visitor stays on your site. The longer the better.

Google also tracks if the visitor is there 5 seconds or less. This is considered a bounce and it’s terrible for your website ranking.

If you have a high bounce rate, Google will assume your site is very poor quality. It will assume your content isn't measuring up to your linkbait. This is not good.

So, be careful using outbound links within the body of your article. And, definitely limit the number of outbound links you use.

One way around this problem:

When you’re creating the outbound link, make sure it will open in a NEW WINDOW. This will keep the reader on your site while he’s reading the article at the other site.

#2 Don’t use too many outbound links.

Google has its hands in everything. It keeps track of your outbound links and inbound links (sites linking in to your site).

If you have a lot of outbound links compared to inbound links, Google will think it’s suspicious and black-hat (unethical) behavior. It could think you’re getting paid for those outbound links. 

You could get penalized. At the very least, you’ll lose ranking power.

#3 Warning – They’re distracting

If you’re article is littered with outbound links, they’re distracting to the reader. Even if they don’t click on them, they cause distraction.

#4 Don’t outbound link to the same URL more than once within your article.

This is considered suspicious activity.

#5 Warning – Broken links are a NO-NO

The more hyperlinks you have on your website, the more chance there is of having broken links. Google frowns upon broken links.

If you manage your own website, it can become burdensome having to check on whether your links are broken.

While WordPress has plugins to help with the process of checking for broken links, Blogger does NOT.

This means, if you have a Blogger site and want to check for them, you’ll have to go into every post and check the links.

As of the writing of this post, Writers on the Move has around 1500 blog posts. That’s a lot of checking.

Summing it up

As mentioned, using outbound links can be a useful SEO strategy. But, you generally don’t want to overdo it.

There are exceptions to this rule as when you have a resource page with links to valuable tools for your readers.

Or, you have a media page with links to all that’s going on with you.

Or, if you’re creating a blog post that offers links to say, The Best Writing Sites or Best Books of 2017, or other.

As with all guidelines, they’re guidelines and should be thought of when creating and posting your articles.


Pingbacks and trackbacks are very similar functions using different protocols/systems. Their purpose is to make a referenced site aware that it’s been referenced to by another blog/website, and allow that site to link back. Both the pingback and trackback go to the referenced website’s pending comments, awaiting approval or rejection.

Not all websites have this feature. If it does, you usually need to enable it.

Linkbait  is content (usually titles) designed to attract attention and encourage those viewing it to click on its hyperlink to the site.The purpose is to improve the site's position on the list of results returned by a search engine. But, if it's done unethically, if the title is a tease and doesn't provide what it promises, Google won't be happy and neither will the people who click on the link.

If you have any comments or questions, please put them in comments!

The next article in the SEO for Authors series is: Blogging with LSI Keywords.

If you'd like to follow the series, you'll find the links to each Part in RESOURCES in the Menu bar.

Karen Cioffi is an award-winning children’s author and children’s ghostwriter as well as the founder and editor-in-chief of Writers on the Move. She is also an author/writer online platform instructor with WOW! Women on Writing.

If you'd like to learn more about building a powerful author platform, check out Build Your Author/Writer Platform.


SEO for Authors Part 2 – Keywords and Descriptions

Help for Second Edition Blues

Reasons Why to Self-Publish Your Nonfiction Book

5 Marketing Initiatives for the New Year

The beginning of the year is the perfect time to start a new project. While you may have great ideas for a new fiction or non-fiction work - and that’s great. you should definitely work on them - you may want to take the time to amp up your marketing.

Visibility is so important in this day and age. You need to make yourself known online, so potential readers and clients can find you. There’s plenty you can do from the simple to more intricate efforts. Here are some ideas.

1. Update Your LinkedIn Profile. LinkedIn is the business social network, so it’s a great platform to showcase your work and make connections. As with your bio and resume, take a look at your LInkedIn profile at least once a year … tho ideally once a quarter. Make sure all of your experience is up to date. You can also refresh your profile by uploading new links and media. When you are looking to meet new people, put your best foot forward, so people who want to connect get a better idea of your experience and accomplishments.

2. Try a New Social Network. When you get started with social media, it’s helpful to have a presence on the main platforms - Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram - but master one at a time. Once you’re comfortable on one social network, take the time to increase your activity on another. Start small. Do research to learn more about your beta network. Then, jump on in.

3. Host a Contest. Want to drive more people to your business? Create a contest. You can do a raffle or accept submissions for a more intricate contest. For instance, I ran a query contest on my website for many years. I currently I raffle off a book each month; everyone who posts goals on my Facebook page or in my group is entered to win. See what fits your brand or business and come up with something good.

4. Amp Up Your Blog. A blog is a wonderful way to share your expertise and set yourself apart from everyone else in your field. Consistency and continuity are the most important. But if you have hit your comfort level, amp up your blog. This could mean posting more content (if you post one day a week, try two), longer (or shorter) content, or different content (add interviews, trivia, news). Play with the different types and see where it takes you.

5. Test Something New. What is the one thing you have been meaning to try but can’t seem to going? Want to start a podcast? Do video updates? Launch a Twitter chat? What’s stopping you? Nothing. Take a leap. You never know what the results will be unless you try. Note: I recently launch the #GoalChat Twitter Chat on Sunday nights. This is something I’ve been noodling for years, and am very excited about the possibilities.

Regardless of your strategy, you need to allow for ample time for marketing each week. Add something new to the mix. If it doesn’t work, you can move on. If it does, you never know where it may propel you, your writing, and your business. Good luck and have fun!

What new marketing initiate will you try this year? Please share what you are working on in the comments. 

* * *

Debra Eckerling is a writer, editor and project catalyst, as well as founder of Write On Online, a live and online writers’ support group. Like the Write On Online Facebook Page and join the Facebook Group.  She is author of Write On Blogging: 51 Tips to Create, Write & Promote Your Blog and Purple Pencil Adventures: Writing Prompts for Kids of All Ages, and host of the Guided Goals Podcast and the #GoalChat Twitter Chat. Debra is an editor at Social Media Examiner and a speaker/moderator on the subjects of writing, networking, goal-setting, and social media.

Ingredients for a Perfect Picture Book

Writing for young children can be tricky. It’s not as straight forward as writing for adults. You can’t use your own vocabulary and you need to be careful of age appropriate storylines. You also need to introduce your main character immediately.

It’s also important to keep in mind that children don’t have the same comprehension level as an adult, so all aspects of the story need to be clear and geared toward the age group you’re writing for.

So, what exactly does a children’s writer need to include in a picture book?

Let’s go over the basic ingredients of picture books:

1.    The story should include: a surface level, an underlying meaning level, and a take-away level. This means young children should be engaged by it; older children should get a little deeper meaning or realization from it; and parents or the reader should be able to see the take-away value.

2.    The story should be written with a 50/50 formula. Be sure to allow for 15 or 16 illustrations (a picture book usually has 32 pages). And, allow the illustrator to tell part of the story. Picture books are a partnership between the author and illustrator. For example: Instead of telling the reader that John grabbed his favorite blue shirt with red and yellow footballs on it, just write that John grabbed his favorite shirt. Your illustrator will know how to show the scene.

3.    Children love action and need to be engaged so be sure to include action. As children are used to TV, videos, and movies, writers need to account for their waning attention spans.

4.    Show rather than tell. The ‘powers that be’ in the children’s publishing world frown upon telling a story.

5.    The story should have a flow or rhythm and structure to it.

6.    The story should have predictability. This pulls children in. They think they know what’s going to happen next based on what’s happened before in the story.

For example: In the story Caps For Sale by Esphyr Slobodkina, a group of monkeys took a peddler’s caps and put them on their heads. The peddler tried to coax the monkeys to give back the caps, but every action the peddler took, the monkeys mimicked. They stomped their feet, shook their hands, but they wouldn’t give the peddler back his caps. Finally, in anger, the peddler threw his own hat from his head to the ground.

Can you see a child's mind working and thinking each time the peddler does something else? She is going to guess that the monkeys will mimic each action.

7.    Finally, the story should have an unexpected ending relating to something that happened in the story. We'll go back to Caps for Sale. The peddler tried everything and finally, in anger and not realizing, he threw his hat to the ground. What do you think the monkeys did? Down came all the caps.

"Ah," the reader will say, "he should have done that in the first place."

Along with these basic ingredients, there are a couple of toppings needed:

1.    Use age appropriate words.
2.    Use age appropriate storylines.
3.    Be sure to have your main character (point of view) speak first so the child/reader will quickly know who the protagonist is.
4.    Use proper grammar and punctuation.
5. Have only ONE point of view.

Now you can cook up a top-notch picture book!

Originally published at:

Karen Cioffi is an award-winning children's ghostwriter. You can find out more about writing for children and her services at: Karen Cioffi Writing for Children

Connect with Karen at:


SEO for Authors Series: The Basics
One Last Edit? Rethink Before Submitting
5 Ways to Annoy an Editor

New Year, New Possibilities

As we begin 2018, I don’t know about you, but I hate resolutions! I know that’s not right to say, but I think I don’t like them because it feels like a farce. I know I’m not going to lose 50 lbs this year, so why make that my goal?! LOL

But, what I do like is the feeling of a fresh start. Now, any day, and actually every day, is a fresh start but do we really perceive it that way? I don’t know about you but I know I don’t. I forget. I have so much to do and there are pressures and deadlines and I just get up and do the next thing. And that’s okay. Sometimes we just have to do the next thing. But, when a new year starts we all seem to collectively take a deep, cleansing breathe and think, “Okay, here’s my do-over.”

That’s what I like. The year stretches before me like a blank canvas or blank sheet of paper for us, writers. Last year, there were struggles and wins and this year, I’m sure there will be the same. But, for right now, let’s breathe in that fresh air and close our eyes and dream.

I would love to win the lottery. I would love for one of my books to make it to Amazon’s top 100 list. I would love to invent something that every shark on shark tank is clamoring to invest in. Those are my big dreams. But, I also want to connect with my family members in deep, meaningful ways. I want to make a difference at my job. I want to give the best of me to the world.

I read a book once and it said, ‘you can have anything you want as long as you give it away’ or something like that. The idea was that you can have anything you want, not just for you to solely have it but in order for you to use it to bless the world. And maybe you’ve seen the post on Facebook that was a church sign that originally said God Bless America but the “d” had fallen off so it now reads ‘Go Bless America.’ I would challenge you to “Go Bless the World.” Use your gifts and talents and make the world a better place and I guarantee you will get your dreams. Maybe not the ones you think you want, but the ones you get will be ones you love.

Happy New Year!

Wanda Luthman has her Masters of Arts in both Mental Health Counseling and Guidance Counseling from Rollins College located in beautiful Winter Park, Florida. She has worked as a Licensed Mental Health Counselor, Adjunct Professor, and Hospice Counselor for teens. She’s currently a Guidance Counselor at a local High School. She is an award-winning, best-selling, international author who has self-published 4 children’s books (The Lilac Princess, A Turtle’s Magical Adventure, Gloria and the Unicorn, and Little Birdie). She belongs to the National Pen Women Organization in Cape Canaveral; the Florida’s Writers Association; Space Coast Authors; and Brevard Authors Forum. She presently resides in Brevard County Florida with her husband of 22 years and 2 dogs. Her daughter is away at college, like Little Birdie, she has left the nest. To download a free ebook, visit Wanda Luthman’s website at www.wandaluthmanwordpress.com and follow her on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/wluthman.

Help for Second Edition Blues

I sometimes run Q and A a la Ann Landers columns in my SharingwithWriters newsletter using questions that my clients ask me or that subscribers send to me. This is one of my favorites because involves two subjects that seem to interest authors most--Amazon sales and getting reviews. 

Wahh! I Don’t Want to Lose All My Amazon Reviews

Do you lose your Amazon reviews when you publish a second edition of your book

You can get Amazon to post reviews from the first edition to the second through Author Connect.
 And you can get Amazon to put a referral widget from the first edition to the second. They tend to move this widget around, but it's always been near the top of the first edition buy page (though not as prominent as I'd like to see it!).

Please note: Amazon will not remove the first edition from their site. 

But please don't buy the first edition! The second edition is expanded by at least 100 pages,  updated, and, if I do say so, lots prettier! (-:

Do know that when Amazon does this they transfer all of the reviews from old edition to New; you can't pick and choose. So if something in the first edition has been criticized and you fixed it in the second edition, they won’t discard that earlier review. A recourse is to use the comment feature that is
found at the end of each review to dispute the claim—maybe with a thank you to the reviewer for helping you correct that in the second edition. There are some other ways to help fix Review problems  in the newest of the #HowToDoItFrugally Series of books for writers, How to Get Great Book Reviews Frugally and Ethically.

Just an extra here: If you just update your old edition rather than publish a new one, you may be losing more marketing opportunities than you ever dreamed of.  Of course, a second edition should have something new about the cover like the words second edition or a whole new cover and at least 10% new content. 

 Carolyn Howard-Johnson, author of This Is the Place; Harkening: A Collection of Stories Remembered; Tracings, a chapbook of poetry; and how to books for writers including the award-winning second edition of, The Frugal Book Promoter: How to get nearly free
publicity on your own or by partnering with your publisher; The multi award-winning second edition of The Frugal Editor; and Great Little Last Minute Editing Tips for Writers. The Great First Impression Book Proposal is her newest booklet for writers. She has three FRUGAL books for retailers including A Retailer’s Guide to Frugal In-Store Promotions: How To Increase Profits and Spit in the Eyes of Economic Downturns with Thrifty Events and Sales Techniques. Some of her other blogs are TheNewBookReview.blogspot.com, a blog where authors can recycle their favorite reviews free. She also blogs at all things editing, grammar, formatting and more at The Frugal, Smart and Tuned-In Editor . And, be sure to sign up for SharingwithWriters newsletter.