Don’t Depend 100% on Your Publisher

By Terry Whalin (@terrywhalin)

In 2007, America’s Publicist Rick Frishman invited me to participate on the faculty of MegaBook Marketing University in Los Angeles, California. At that time, I was running a small literary agency and representing authors in Scottsdale, Arizona. Mark Victor Hansen, co-author of Chicken Soup for the Soul was leading this event. Besides meeting with authors who pitched their books, I attended every single session of the event and took notes. Throughout these sessions, I learned that traditional publishers are skilled at making beautiful books with well-designed covers and interiors. Book publishers also know how to get the books inside the bookstore and available to the public.

My first book, a children’s picture book for David C. Cook, was published in 1992. Since then I had written over 50 books with traditional publishers, received a couple of six-figure advances yet most of my books had negative royalty statements. A little known but important publishing fact is ninety percent of nonfiction books never earn back their advance. All my books are nonfiction. 

While I loved writing books, I did very little promotion for my work. I had a small website ( but I had not blogged and had no social media presence or email list or consistent and on-going connections to my readers. I believed because I was working with traditional publishers, receiving an advance against my royalties (sometimes thousands of dollars) that my books were going to be selling. I had fallen for the myth that my publisher was going to promote and sell my book. 

During MegaBook Marketing University, I learned a key truth about publishing: publishers know how to make beautiful books and get them into bookstores, yet these actions are only one part of the process. The other key element (mostly up to the author) is actually selling the book to the consumer. Attending MegaBook Marketing University transformed my life. I could no longer assume the responsibility for selling my books would be in the hands of the publisher (or someone else besides me). I made a decision to change and take action.

Every writer needs to be able to tell stories and create an excellent book manuscript. The writing is a foundational skill for every writer. If you don’t have this writing skill, a developmental editor, ghostwriter, co-author or any other person in this role can help you create an engaging book. But marketing and selling yoiur book requires a different set of skills. . The good news is: every writer can learn to market their book

Writers are looking for a simple formula to sell books. If such a formula existed, then publishers would use this method and every book would make a lot of money. In fact, some unexpected books are hits while some well-written books do not get purchased. One of the keys to selling books is building relationships. John Kremer, the author of 1001 Ways to Market Your Book says marketing is about building relationships with your readers. 

Consider your reader or target audience. How much detail do you know about them? Where do they live? Where do they shop? What other books do they read? Are they active in book clubs? What are their needs and how can you write material that will meet those needs? Can you answer these and other audience questions?

One of the most effective tools for every book author is to create their own email list. As an author, you control your email list including what you say and how often you use the list. While not everyone looks at Facebook or a website or Twitter, most people open and read their email. If you email too frequently, they might not open your email or they might unsubscribe. When an author has an email list and uses it properly, it is the best way for them to reach their readers. If you are a brand-new author, how to you start a list and use it effectively?

As an author, you take control of what you can for your book. You cannot depend on your publisher to sell your book. You have the greatest passion for your book, so you need to show that passion and create an email list and different ways to connect with your readers.  


This prolific author and editor was lulled into depending 100% on his publisher to sell books. He learned this publishing myth the hard way. Get the details here. (ClickToTweet)

W. Terry Whalin, a writer and acquisitions editor lives in California. 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 and Billy Graham. Get Terry’s recent book, 10 Publishing Myths for only $10, free shipping and bonuses worth over $200. To help writers catch the attention of editors and agents, Terry wrote his bestselling Book Proposals That $ell, 21 Secrets To Speed Your Success. Check out his free Ebook, Platform Building Ideas for Every Author. His website is located at: Connect with Terry on TwitterFacebook and LinkedIn.

Include Diversity in Your Characters

Using Your Author Platform for Change
Contributed by Margot Conor

Authors have a powerful platform to challenge established role models and inequities in society through their writing. By using their platform to provoke thought, inspire change, and amplify marginalized voices, authors can contribute to a more equitable and inclusive literary landscape. Here are several ways they can do so:

1.    Representation and Diversity: By representing a diverse range of characters in their writing. By portraying characters from marginalized communities in prominent and empowered roles, authors can challenge stereotypes and promote inclusivity.

2.    Subverting Tropes: By subverting traditional tropes and expectations in their writing. For example, they can create complex and multidimensional characters who defy gender norms, challenge societal expectations, and break free from stereotypes.

3.    Exploring Power Dynamics: Challenge inequities by exploring power dynamics and privilege in their writing. Through nuanced portrayals of characters from different backgrounds and social classes, authors can highlight the ways in which systemic inequalities shape individual experiences and opportunities.

4.    Addressing Social Issues: Challenging established role models by addressing social issues such as racism, sexism, homophobia, and economic inequality in their writing. By shining a light on these issues and examining their impact on characters and communities, authors can provoke thought and inspire change.

5.    Empowering Marginalized Voices: Authors can challenge inequities by amplifying the voices of marginalized communities in their writing. By centering stories around characters from underrepresented backgrounds and giving them agency and autonomy, authors can empower readers to see the world from different perspectives and challenge their own biases.

6.    Promoting Empathy and Understanding: Authors can promote sympathy and understanding in their writing by portraying characters with empathy and compassion, authors can encourage readers to see the humanity in others and recognize the ways in which their own actions and attitudes contribute to inequality.

7.    Offering Alternatives: Authors can offer alternative visions of society and culture in their writing. By imagining worlds where traditional hierarchies are dismantled, and individuals are free to be their authentic selves, authors can inspire readers to envision a more equitable and inclusive future.

Avoiding Cultural Appropriation

Navigating the line between ethnically inclusive writing and cultural appropriation can be complex, especially for authors who are white. However, there are several ways they can strive to be inclusive without appropriating cultures:

1.    Research and Sensitivity Reading: Authors should conduct thorough research into the cultures they wish to represent in their writing. This includes reading books written by authors from those cultures, consulting cultural experts, and seeking feedback from sensitivity readers who can provide insights and ensure accurate representation.

2.    Avoid Stereotypes and Misrepresentations: Authors should be mindful of avoiding stereotypes and misrepresentations when depicting characters and cultures. Instead, they should strive to create nuanced and multidimensional characters who reflect the diversity and complexity of real people.

3.    Show Respect and Humility: Authors should approach the task of writing about cultures outside their own with respect, humility, and a willingness to listen and learn. They should be open to feedback and willing to make changes to their writing based on the insights of cultural experts and sensitivity readers.

4.    Focus on Universal Themes: While it's important to acknowledge and celebrate cultural differences, authors should also focus on universal themes and experiences that resonate with readers from all backgrounds. By highlighting the common humanity that binds us all, authors can create stories that are inclusive and accessible to a wide audience.

5.    Collaborate with Diverse Voices: Authors can collaborate with authors and creators from diverse backgrounds to ensure authentic representation and avoid cultural appropriation. This can include co-writing projects, consulting with cultural advisors, and seeking input from members of the communities being represented.

6.    Acknowledge Privilege and Power Dynamics: Authors who are white should be mindful of their privilege and the power dynamics at play when writing about cultures outside their own. They should approach the task with humility and a willingness to interrogate their own biases and assumptions.

7.    Promote Own Voices Literature: Authors can support and promote literature written by authors from the cultures they wish to represent. By amplifying diverse voices and ensuring that marginalized authors have opportunities to tell their own stories, authors can contribute to a more inclusive literary landscape.


Margot Conor has been writing for as long as she can remember, but it wasn't until the COVID lock-down that she had enough time to dedicate to the craft and bring something to completion. Having finished her first novel, she went through the grueling two-year process of editing. Now she has jumped into the author's world with both feet. She's preparing to debut her first novel, which means learning how to promote it. The last year has been spent attending many writing retreats, seminars, and writers' events. She also listened to presentations specifically on the topic of publishing and book marketing. She will be sharing what she learns with the reader.
Learn more about Margot at



On Mourning the Loss of Ask Amy for Her Daily Wisdom with My Oatmeal and Coffee Each Morning


The Guest Blogger with Typewriter 
She Used  in Early Ann Landers Days

To #WritersontheMove Subscribers and Visitors:

Amy Dickinson just announced that she would be retiring her Ask Amy advice column after several decades of serving readers like me who enjoy learning from others’ mistakes and successes.  Unbeknownst to Amy, we have a history that goes way back and I am pretty sure it is unique after reading her columns (and her predecessor Ann Landers’ columns) for so long.  I hope you will find it interesting and help me help her celebrate doing something new with her writing from her home in New York State.  Here it is just as it appears in the snail mail I sent to her. 

Dear Amy,                                                                            June, 2024

Chapter Twenty-Two
Getting Questions Answered 
à la Ann Landers, Amy, or Eric

“There is only one thing better than learning from our own mistakes. It’s learning from the booboos, blunders, and gaffes of others.” ~ CHJ


So, dear reader, what if you didn’t get it right the first time! What if you feel frozen or depressed about an aspect of your review process? If you’ve read this book through, you probably suspect I don’t much like being told no or that there is only one right way to do something. It is part of my onward-and-upward-with-no-delays philosophy.

That’s one reason I love Q&A formats; they tend to highlight alternative views and illustrate what destructive thinking consists of. That love comes, in part, from some of my first experiences as a journalist. The editor at my first “real” writing job put me to work making Ann Landers’ columns fit into space allotted on page layouts the advertising and backshop departments had designed for what we then called the “Society” pages. (Advertising is where the money comes from that keeps newspapers’ presses rolling so they get first dibs on the available space on newspaper pages.) Sometimes there was not enough room for all of Ann’s letters so it was my duty to edit, cut, and fix so they fit and were still intelligible.

     In the process, I learned a lot in the letters about life’s little problems including the roadblocks similar to the ones we authors run into with reviews. Q&As are an easy way to identify problems and to make them understandable because they are anecdotal. So, you are going to get a few short Q&As that answer some questions about the review process that keep you awake at night. Sometimes they are questions about specifics, sometimes general. But they are exercises in learning from one another. All are adaptations of actual Q&As à la Ann Landers (or her Ask Amy successor!) that I use in the seminars I teach.  


PS: Amy, I am enjoying your reruns this month, too. Though I have to admit I have never seen one of those professed reruns when it was (theoritically) first published. Not once. Over all those decades I have been avidly reading your column.

How can that be? My memory isn’t what it once was, but I’m still not that forgetful and I couldn’t have missed more than a few of your columns while on vacation over the years. Just wondering…

And, please pass along good wishes to Eric, too!

Very best, your faithful reader, 

Success in 2024,
Carolyn Howard-Johnson

Promise yourself better editing of all your work—query letters to books--in 2024 
with the 3rd Edition of my “The Frugal Editor." 

“…The Frugal Editor is part reference guide, part do-it-yourself editing manual, part masterclass on the writing and publishing industry…and all with Carolyn’s signature humor and encouraging energy! She is a master at simplifying overwhelming tasks into relevant, can-do information…” -Dallas Woodburn, best-selling author and book coach 

Cover by Doug West
Headshot by Uriah Carr 
Amazon Series Page:
Submit to my #SharingwithWriters blog:
Twitter: @FrugalBookPromo
Amazon Profile:

PS: Learn more about my fiction and poetry at [Do not use https or http with this. Use it as you see it-- naked. LOL.]

Podcast Guesting Goals

Part of being an author is putting yourself out there, sharing your knowledge, and cultivating new audiences. A great way to do that is to be a guest on podcasts.

On a recent GoalChatLive, I talked about podcast guesting with Mike Allton, Head of Strategic Partnerships at Agorapulse; Jackie Lapin, founder of SpeakerTunity, and Anastasia Lipske, founder of Access Speakers. Mike hosts multiple podcasts, while Jackie and Anastasia focus on helping experts find stages … and microphones.

How to Find Podcasts to Guest On 

  • Mike: Decide what kinds of show, topics, audiences, and start listening to those kinds of shows 
  • Jackie: Google podcasts on your topic, make sure it’s still recording new episodes
  • Anastasia: Search topics on and then look the shows up on Apple podcasts to check out the most recent episodes; before pitching yourself, do your due diligence and make sure they interview guests 

How to Be a Good Guest 

  • Anastasia: Be smart, be helpful; bless the audience with your knowledge 
  • Jackie: Have a media kit to send to the host after they book you. This includes your bio, on-air intro, 20 questions you want to be asked (in order), and the “learn more” page with your contact info and social media links 
  • Mike: Have the gear, you need to look and sound good 
  • Mike: Talk about the pains and problems that you solve, add value 
  • Anastasia: Share the episodes; no host ghosting 
  • Jackie: Use quotes from your episodes (and/or testimonials from hosts) in your speaker sheets

Watch Our Conversation:


  • Mike: Carve out time to repurpose a clip out of a previous podcast 
  • Anastasia: Ask friends and clients what shows they listen to that they think you should be on 
  • Jackie: Book 3 hours in your calendar every week to dedicate to podcast guesting activities
When you guest on podcasts the goal is to have an experience that's a win-win-win: for the host, the guest, and the audience.

* * * 

For more inspiration and motivation, follow @TheDEBMethod on Facebook, Instagram, and Linkedin! 

* * *

What's your best podcast guesting tip? Please share in the comments. 

* * *
Debra Eckerling is the award-winning author of Your Goal Guide: A Roadmap for Setting, Planning and Achieving Your Goals and founder of the D*E*B METHOD, which is her system for goal-setting simplified. A goal-strategist, corporate consultant, and project catalyst, Debra offers personal and professional planning, event strategy, and team building for individuals, businesses, and teams. She is also the author of Write On Blogging and Purple Pencil Adventures; founder of Write On Online; host of  #GoalChatLive aka The DEB Show podcast and Taste Buds with Deb. She speaks on the subjects of writing, networking, goal-setting, and social media.

Boosting Book Sales for Specialty Books


By Carolyn Howard-Johnson

   Yes, it is time to plan for holiday season book sales. 

 Here is a road-less-traveled to consider for specialty books.

It’s June and holiday gift catalogs from fine stores and not-so-fine are planning and designing theirs right now--both the kind that land in you snail mail and the ones that come to your e-mail box. Authors who put their marketing hats on and think out-of-the-box for places to expose their books to a new audience will find all kinds of benefits they never encountered selling books “the usual way.”  (See below for a few of  idea of how to make them work for you.) 

Commercial catalogs (now often called gift guides)—benefit from the great blurbs you have excerpted from your reviews. In fact, you are more likely to get a contract for your book to be featured in a commercial gift guides if you have excerpted a stunning blurb from a review. The catalog’s designers use them to prompt their readers to buy your book. And, wow! Are these catalogs a way to pick up musty book sales!

Catalogs are show business. They spotlight a product for the purpose of selling merchandise, but they also create a buzz, project an image, tell a story, leave an impression. They create celebrity for themselves and for each of their products.

Brick-and-mortar stores and online retailers of every kind—from department stores to gadget stores to catalogs for seniors to museums and charities—still send catalogs by USPS and big online retail outlets send individual suggestions for products their algorithms tell them you’ll like. Millions of them.

Before authors or publishers pitch a book to one of these entities, they must find a catalog-match for the genre, theme, or topic of their book. Here are a few examples of how books can add a new dimension to catalogs: 

§  Your nonfiction book on the life of Picasso or your historical fiction account of his life are prospected for exhibition catalogs produced by art galleries like Smithsonian or the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art. Some still have honest-to-goodness brick and mortar stores where some books make great point-of-purchase items.

§  Your how-to travel book or travel-oriented memoir will fit on the pages of Travelsmith or Magellan’s.

§  Your book on the history of porcelain or bone china could be featured in Geary’s online gift guide.  Geary’s is an ultra-fine gift store located on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills, so a fiction book set in that area or about a Beverly Hills lifestyle might give their catalog a dimension they haven’t tried before.

Once you find a match, pitch your idea with the query-letter basics described in my How to Get Great Book Reviews Frugally and Ethically now being edited for its second edition from Modern History Press. This query, however, must emphasize why this book is a fit for the catalog buyer’s publication and how the designer might best showcase it. Because catalogs need great visuals, include an image (not as an attachment) of your knockout cover.

Here’s how to find catalogs that might be interested in your book:

  • Search online for “retail catalogs.” About 31,000 lists will appear. See if the search brings up online or real paper catalogs that might be a fit for your book. Don’t judge too narrowly. If you have an idea for them, they might have leeway enough to make room for it.
  • Go to a bookstore or library and ask to see their Catalog of Catalogs. Find one with a recent update or copyright date. Tada! You’ve found another way to see your book cover and your blurbs in print and realize sales at the same time.
  • Become familiar with the catalogs that come to your home. Sign up for gift guides that might offer possibilities. Ask your friends to share their used catalogs with you. When you find an appropriate one for your book, go for it! Contact information is usually on the inside of the front cover or on the back cover. 

The benefits of these kinds of retails sales far exceed those of selling retail through bookstores: 

§  The primary reason for your book to appear on the pages of a retail catalog is sales, but that exposure is also extraordinarily good publicity.

§  Though commercial catalog exposure looks like advertising, it has more benefits than most ads. Here’s the best part: It is not usually exposure you pay for. The catalog administrators buy books from you and do all of the production and distribution work. Your only job is to sell them on the idea of your book, provide them with ideas for copy including one of your book’s rave reviews, and send them a great image of your book, perhaps a 3-D image, which you can get from author Gene Cartwright if you don’t know how to do it on your own.

§  Catalog buyers reorder just before their stock is depleted, usually with no prompting from you or your publisher.

§  Unlike most bookstores or other retail outlets, print catalog companies expect to pay the freight for their book shipments.

§  Unlike most bookstores, catalog producers do not return what they cannot sell. They probably won’t ask for returns unless you suggest it, and why would you do that? This is their usual way of doing business. When in Rome, do as the Romans do.

Hint: These no-return sales terms should be included on order forms, invoices, and the sales contract.

§  Catalog buyers must be sure they have stock to cover their sales, so their orders will be substantial enough to make both you and your publisher smile.

§  If catalog sales are successful, administrators may ask for a contract for their next catalog. The beauty here is that you can help make sales soar by promoting the catalog on Twitter, your newsletter, and many of your other marketing efforts. Use the motto “As seen in Smithsonian’s Holiday Catalog!” everywhere.

§  Commercial catalogs expect you to set minimum quantities of what you sell them. That means you can tell them—as an example—that their minimum first order must be forty-eight books and orders thereafter must be in lots of at least six or twelve. I’m sure you can see the benefits of this policy, not least of which is that they will be less likely to run out of stock. You’ll save on accounting time, too.

§  If, after the catalog has expired, you can coax the administrators of these catalogs to share their graphics with you, you can repurpose them for your website and about any other place great graphics will help your marketing. They probably won’t charge you if you make it clear that you intend to keep using their catalog in your marketing. Depending on how the segment is designed, it might become a logo, a banner for your social networks, and on and on.

§  Catalogs usually don’t care if the copyright date on your book is current; they are more interested in a title that fits their product mix, has a history of great sales, and has appealing cover art. 

§  Most catalogs don’t require exclusivity for their products.

§  You might interest some online catalogs to buy rights to give your e-book to their customers as a value-added gift for a limited period of time. 

Note: Many small-to-medium size publishers have no experience with catalogs and, though it seems self-evident that increased sales benefit them as well as you, you may need to convince them of that fact and then coach them through the process.

Catalog disadvantages are:

§  Learning curve ahead! You’ll need to expertly pitch your book and negotiate sales to catalog buyers. That means you have to readjust your thinking and tailor your sales tools to their needs. As you can see from the bullets in the list above, catalogs do business differently from bookstores.

§  Because print catalogs buy products in quantity and in advance they demand a hefty discount. If you or your publisher cannot give fifty percent or more, there is no point in pursuing them. However, if you only break even on catalog sales, it may be worth the trouble for the publicity benefits. 

§  Some authors and publishers fail to print enough books to supply a catalog’s immediate needs. Authors and publishers who use print-on-demand technology have the advantage of fast turnaround time, something a partner- or self-published author may use as a sales point in his or her query letter.

§  Nonfiction books are generally more suitable for catalogs, but as with other marketing, anything that works for nonfiction may work for fiction, too. It may just take more research and planning to achieve success.

Hint: It’s hard to believe that some publishers don’t jump at the chance to work with their authors on catalog sales. If your publisher can’t be convinced of the profit possibilities in partnering with you on a project like this, handle the details of this sale yourself. Ask your publisher for a large-quantity price break to stock your own books or work with the press that prints your book so you can save postage and time by having catalog orders drop-shipped.

Authors can produce catalogs of their own. Self-published catalogs are generally sponsored or organized by authors with independent instincts who have the support of charitable and professional organizations including writers’ organizations. 

Tip: Don’t let that “self-published catalogs” scare you. Authors who are traditionally published can use this idea as effectively as those who have had experience publishing their own work. 

These independently-produced catalogs become cross-promotional efforts that increase exposure for holiday gift-giving. They are great promotional handouts at literary events. They are take-it-home marketing tools that continue to sell after attendees have returned home, and they can be targeted at any demographic. 

When Joyce Faulkner and I sponsored a booth for Authors’ Coalition at the LA Times Festival of Books we published a full-color catalog that featured all our booth participants. We handed them out at the fair, but we also mass-mailed them to influential creative people in the Southern California area including Hollywood movie moguls who often adapt novels for the screen. We didn’t forget to include regional bookstore buyers and event planners, and the fair logo gave it even more credibility. (Fair administrators encouraged fair participants to use the logo liberally.) The catalog included an invitation to come to the fair and visit our booth. And, yes—because blurbs are superior sales tools—a quote excerpted from reviews was featured prominently on each author’s page.

Cooperative catalogs benefit by linking to great reviews of each book. When this is part of the concept, those online entities (bloggers, journals, etc.) may be thankful enough for the additional traffic to help with the catalog’s digital marketing—things like social networking and blog posts.

Catalogs like these usually rely on each participating author to distribute it to their own contact lists to achieve mass readership. All benefit from each author’s list. Because postage can get expensive, it is best if the bulk of your catalogs get distributed by e-mail, but paper catalogs are keepers and can be distributed as giveaways or through the mail. You can use the images you produce for your catalog participants in slide shows or YouTube to encourage people to subscribe so they will receive your next catalog.

 When individuals or organizations spearhead catalogs like this, there is usually a fee to cover the time and expense of putting them together and for coordinating the dissemination. They can be used as fundraisers for charities or to help a small publisher increase their bottom line so they can take on more publishing clients the following year. 

Note: To make an idea like this work, it is best to have participants sign agreements that clearly delineate the marketing expectations of each participant and the duties to be performed by the organizing entity.


Carolyn Howard-Johnson was founder and operator of her own gift retail chain with five stores including the only gift specialty store at the Santa Anita Race Track at the foot of the beautiful San Gabriel Mountains in California. She is now author of two series on of how-to books, one for retailers and one for authors—both traditionally and self-published. Learn more about her at

PS: The character I am with at a Miami Book Fair was the star of many gift guides and holiday catalogues that had nothing to do with children’s books because star-power followed him wherever he happened to go. Smart retailers! Smart publishers and authors cashed in on his...mmm--sex appeal. 

Don’t Depend 100% on Your Publisher

By Terry Whalin (@terrywhalin) In 2007, America’s Publicist Rick Frishman invited me to participate on the faculty of MegaBook Marketing Uni...