Small Business Marketing - Know Your Customer’s Online Behavior

By Karen Cioffi

Part 3 of a 3 part series.

You’ve done your research and created a product or service to sell to others. And, you’ve researched your target market. Everything is in place to attract potential customers to your site.

But, once you get the prospect to your site, then what?

The purpose of bringing visitors to your site is the have them buy what you’re selling – this is called conversion. The ratio of the number of visitors to the number of buyers is your conversion rate.

Knowing your customer’s online behavior will help you enhance your site’s conversion rate.

According to a webinar presented by Marketing Experiments, How to Increase Conversion in 2012, for every action or step you want a visitor to take, it must be worth his time and money – it must be worth the opportunity cost.

In other words, the buyer must feel that choosing your product or service is of greater benefit compared to spending that money and time on another product or service. And, each step in the buying process must equate to a perceived benefit. The perceived value must outweigh the perceived cost, including time and effort.

The webinar offered four factors or key principles to small business marketing that will help guide the potential customer to the desired online behavior:

1. Appeal – Is your product desired enough by the prospect? Have you made your product and promo copy effective and enticing enough?

2. Exclusivity – Can the prospect find your product or service elsewhere online or is your offer unique and exclusive?

3. Credibility – Are your promo copy claims believable enough for the prospect to take action?

4. Clarity – Can the prospect quickly and easily understand what your site and offer is about? And, are the steps needed to purchase what you’re offering easy to follow and minimal? Having an effective heading that conveys the value of the offer, is essential to this element.

These four key principles are necessary to your small business internet marketing strategy – they’re needed to effectively lead a customer through the steps of buying.

Testing and research demonstrate that you must have “an unbroken chain of Yeses” in order to get the conversion. Along with this you must reduce buyer anxiety that usually appears during an involved buying process.

This means you must simplify the buying experience for the customer to allow for a smooth flow that maintains “cognitive momentum.”

Steps you can take to simplify the customer’s buying experience include:

•    Have an effective image on your site – studies show that images increase clicks
•    Have a clean and uncluttered page – clutter causes distraction, which breaks the “yes” chain
•    Make the shopping cart steps as minimal as possible – keep it short and simple

In its simplest form, your 'customer value proposition' needs to answer the question of ‘why should that customer buy from you, rather than from your competitor.’ And, you must convey that answer quickly, simply, and effectively in order to drive desired online behavior.

What strategies do you use to determine your customer's online behavior and how to persuade him to say YES to your call-to-action?

To read Part 1 of this Small Business Marketing series, go to:
Small Business Marketing – Meet Your Customer’s Wants

To read Part 2, go to:
Small Business Marketing – Know What Customers Buy


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Karen Cioffi
Award-Winning Author, Freelancer/Ghostwriter, Author/Writer Online Platform Instructor
Build an Online Platform That Works

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My #2 Pencil

Do you compose on paper? On your computer? Or somewhere in between? These days, I compose on paper, on my computer, standing on my head. Any way the muse strikes me. But back twenty-five years ago when I started out, I brushed off my trusty #2 pencil and wrote everything intended for publication longhand. Back then, in addition to reading how-to books, I read up on authors' lives--how they got their ideas, their trials and tribulations, etc. In this post, I thought it might be interesting to explore how famous writers did their composing. I've summarized a few.

Quirky, Yet Effective

Mark Twain (Samuel L. Clemens - 1835-1910), lived in many houses during his lifetime, but he owned only one special bed. It is large and decadent, made of carved oak; he and his wife Olivia bought it in 1878 in Venice, Italy. Today, Twain's bed can be viewed at his 19-room Victorian mansion in Hartford, Connecticut.

It is in Twain's beloved bed that he did much of his writing, including Tom Sawyer and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Twain was enthusiastic about this writing method, as quoted in the May 9, 2010 article, "Mark Twain Wrote (and Smoked!) in Bed," by Lisa Waller Rogers. "Just try it in bed sometime. I sit up with a pipe in my mouth and a board on my knees, and I scribble away. Thinking is easy work, and there isn't much labor in moving your fingers sufficiently to get the words down." Truman Capote said he wrote "horizontally," lying down in bed or on a couch. He would write the first two drafts in longhand, in pencil; and although draft three would be accomplished on a typewriter, it was done in bed. Vladimir Nabokov, author of Lolita, Pale Fire and Ada, stood up and wrote on 3 x 5 index cards. Once captured on the cards, scenes could be rearranged later. Nabokov's novel, Ada, took up more than 2,000 cards! For his best inspiration Stanley, a journalist and one of my favorite characters in the recent STARZ miniseries, "Dancing on the Edge," which took place in London during the early 1930s, pounded out his articles on his '30s-era typewriter under the sun and stars on the roof that adjoined his office. Twain said it best, as one of America's best loved authors was known to do, "I used to think there was only one place where I could write, and that was in Elmira, [New York] . . ." where Twain spent his summers. "But I've got over that notion now. I find that I can write anywhere."

Mind-Hand-Heart Combo

Remember in grade school when the pencils we carried in our zipper bags had to be #2's? #1's simply wouldn't do (my #1's squeaked anyway, and came out looking light and weak. And for the record, mechanical pencils never worked for me.) Just for fun I did a five-minute online search and found many U.S. school systems still require #2's in 3rd-5th grade. Some school systems didn't specify. One required a #2 with eraser, and a pencil or cigar box! The term "cigar box" was followed by "Plastice, small size with secure lid." Okay, so the term "cigar box" is used loosely here? Does anyone even have a cigar box these days?

Later, I got Bic'd. I was never the same. What a smooth ride my Bic pen was. That lasted a while. Much later, when I became a writer in earnest I had to revert back to my pencil, mainly so I could erase all the mistakes. I had good company. After all, didn't Capote write his first drafts in pencil? Hey, the research backs us up (Capote and me, that is.) According to John Roger and Paul Kaye in their book, Living the Spiritual Principles of Health and Well-Being, there is an important connection between your brain and hand. "The neural impulses from the fingers are sent back to the brain so that the writing actually releases and records the patterns of the unconscious. I call them 'beach balls,' those things we have suppressed for a long, long time and on which we have expended energy to keep under the surface. They can carry tremendous emotion. So at times you may end up writing very forcefully."

Trial by Fire

In this field of ours, no one gets to bypass the heart. I was no exception. In the beginning, one night I woke up in a cold sweat and actually sat up in bed. I wanted to write freelance articles for our local newspaper but I had to ask myself, Who am I to think I can put together an article anyone would want to read? I was scared. But I couldn't ignore what my heart was telling me to do. I read a lot of how-to books and then went out and found a subject, a blind woman who was a storyteller. I interviewed her and took copious notes in ink. I also recorded every word she said. Then, somewhat like Capote, I laid down on my couch and transposed the interview. As you can imagine, this took hours and hours. All in ink. Even then, I understood the difference between ink and pencil. I couldn't use my pencil. I couldn't take the chance that my notes might smudge; every word had to be verbatim. When I finally got to writing the piece, I reverted back to pencil, wrote it all out in longhand, then typed it on my computer, printed it and hand-delivered it to the editor who had told me he would read it "On spec." Happy days, he accepted it! Thus was born my very first published article. We won't mention that my husband took the photo for the article and made three times more than I did. The fact was, I had sold my first piece.

I soon found that this method took far too long. I had to learn how to compose on my computer. Luckily, this turned out to be a natural transition, and I soon arrived at a comfortable compromise, which is how I have continued to compose today. It doesn't matter where I start--on paper or on the computer, though composing on the computer is faster. The important thing is I begin. I go as far as I can. Usually this first inkling of a story stinks. But of course, that's the nature of the beasty first draft. After the initial flow, I usually write the rest on the computer and print it. It sits for a while. The first edit takes place at a different place than my desk on paper, with my pencil. Oh how refreshing a change of scene can be! Back to the computer. This back-and-forth process continues until the piece is finished.

#2 Goes to Work

Recently, I took another look at a short story that needed revising. Over several years I have tried to make this story work. But, the plot was weak. I've never given up on it, though, thanks to advice from one of my creative writing instructors. She encouraged our class to never give up on a story--just re-work it. Since then following her advice, I have sold several stories that needed a new ending, cutting down, etc. So with this story, I tried an experiment. I changed the point of view, or main character, from an animal to a human (a boy). The transformation was stunning. Gone was the anthropomorphic world I had created, which I understand has very few markets anyway. Enter a realistic story. True, I had to give up much of the original story's charm. Who knows, maybe that charm can work in a new story. The important thing is, I now have a new main character and a viable story. Which brings me to my point: The changes couldn't have been accomplished without a  mind-heart connection--on paper--and without a pencil. I have learned from experience that the very first idea, or change in this instance, may not be the best. However, it's a first attempt, so I write it down. I see if the new idea fits with the story. If it doesn't, I erase it and put in a another new idea. I keep going until I start to feel excited. That's another indicator I have learned. That you will know when the story works. For me, my feelings about the story go from ho-hum to visceral excitement. I rant and pace and get out of breath, I love it so! Thanks to my pencil, I suppose composing in this way offers flexibility, much like the 3 x 5 cards Nabokov used. I had to learn, though, that so many story fixes don't work. I had to learn that often better ideas have to evolve. It is the rare story or article that falls in place and takes very little editing. Although happily, those do occur. With re-worked stories, once the necessary elements are covered--once the story works--the process of editing by going back and forth between paper and computer can begin. Until finally, the story is ready for market.

Next month: My Purple Notebook

For more information, please visit the websites below that were consulted for this article:
"Mark Twain Wrote (and Smoked!) in Bed," May 9, 2010 by lisa waller rogers
"Mark Twain in Hartford," by Susan Breslow Sardone
"Learn from the Greats: 7 Writing Habits of Amazing Writers," by Leo Babauta
"Weird Writing Habits of Famous Authors, December 25, 2011, by Kathleen Massara

Linda Wilson, a former elementary teacher and ICL graduate, has published over 40 articles for children and adults, six short stories for children, and is in the final editing stages of her first book, a mystery story for 7-9 year olds. Publishing credits include seven biosketches for the library journal, Biography Today, which include Troy Aikman, Stephen King, and William Shatner; Highlights for Children, Pockets; Hopscotch; and true stories told to her by police officers about children in distress receiving teddy bears, which she fictionalized for her column, "Teddy Bear Corner," for the Montgomery County Sheriff's Office Crime Prevention Newsletter, Dayton, Ohio. Follow Linda on Facebook.

The Importance of Rest

Are you feeling the holiday "let-down" yet? Go with it!

The hustle and bustle of preparing for holidays has always been enjoyable for me. But when it's over, I'm left with feeling, "Now what?" or "Shouldn't I be doing something?" 

Rest. The only one who can get off that treadmill is you.

Now is not the time to rev up your engine for January 1st. Goal setting can be over-rated. Are we driving ourselves too hard? 

My challenge for you busy writers out there is to give yourself the next 10 days to rest. That means to purposely set aside a routine.

It's going to look different for each of us but here are some tips:

  • No cooking. Purchase lost of wonderful sandwich and salad fixings and let everyone know the kitchen is closed. It might be a good time to even have a 3 day juice fast.
  • Don't be in such a hurry to pack up the Christmas tree (if you had one). Linger awhile longer with a cup of tea or hot chocolate and cozy up in your favorite spot and enjoy the warmth of candles and lights.
  • Read a book. 
  • Stay in your pajamas all day.
  • Limit or ignore all emails, social networking, and anything that will make you tempted to take care of business. 
  • Watch movies.
Be lazy!

If you work outside the home, schedule this time on the weekends and/or after work. If you have children at home, get on the floor and play with them. The key is to do the opposite of your routine. Make the changes.

Consider what marathon runner, Jeff Gaudette says:
"Perhaps one of the biggest mistakes new runners make is not taking enough rest, or downtime as it is called in running circles, between long training segments or after marathons. Not only does resting for seven to 10 days have little negative impact on your current fitness, the long-term gains you will be able to make will enable you to continue to make consistent progress, year after year without overtraining."
Writing is like a marathon. With the finish line in sight we know how to faithfully stay the course. Taking this time off will not have a negative impact on your career. If anything, it will have a positive impact. 

Part of our success will come from recognizing the need to schedule in rest. We have to take care of ourselves. If we're in it for the long haul we will acknowledge the necessity of scheduling it. And the last week of the year is naturally a great time to do it!


Kathy Moulton is a freelance writer. You can find her passion to bring encouragement and hope to people of all ages at When It Hurts -

Thank You From Writers on the Move

I know it’s a HUGE cliché, but this year has really flown by. On the personal side, I went through hurricane Sandy, got flooded, fixed up, and then moved. I also started a new business, the Article Writing Doctor.

But, the purpose of this post is to THANK YOU for being a part of our online lives, for following our authors and writers, for commenting and sharing our work, and for subscribing to our site.

To further emphasis our appreciation, members of Writers on the Move compiled an ebook of quotes as a gift from us to YOU.

Our members are writers, just like most of you and the following quotes have been inspirational and motivational to them, in writing and in life. It is our wish that these quotes give YOU, our reader, the same motivation and inspiration they have given us.

Without each one of our members and without you, our blog would not be as rich and fulfilling as it is.

Special thanks to Linda Wilson for her contribution to this post.

So, without further ado, here is the link to, Winter 2013 Compilation of Quotes from Writers on the Move: 

As a bonus, this ebook is SHAREABLE, as long as it remains intact. You can use it as an end of the year gift to your readers, as a freebie, or for some other incentive.

Have a healthy and happy Holiday Season and a Healthy and Prosperous New Year!

Happy Christmas

Christmas Eve and those of us who have everything under control can relax and look forward to a more--or less--peaceful day. Me? I'm still winding tinsel round the bannisters and hanging cards, wrapping parcels and eyeing in despair the muddy mess that was my kitchen floor. Yep--feeling just like the cross-eyed penguin in the front row right.

And it struck me that maybe how we cope with Christmas is how we cope with our writing life. I'm a deadline junkie, always flying in at the last possible moment when I know in my heart how much easier everything would be with better planning and, more importantly, sticking to a plan.

Happy. Happy Christmas if you're ready and set to go and scanning this post at leisure.

Happy, Happy Christmas if you're like me in the manic throes of preparation.

And Happy, Happy Holiday if you're managing to take the time out to catch up with your writing life.

My dear husband keeps asking what I want for Christmas. Dare I ask for the day off to plan a new novella?

What's your life lesson from the run up to Christmas? Whatever you're doing, have a wonderful day. And remember, even the disasters will be marvelous fodder for your writing.

 Anne Duguid is a freelance content editor with MuseItUp Publishing and she tries to pass on helpful writing,editing and publishing tips at Slow and Steady Writers 

Writing and Book Marketing - Pitching the Media (Part4)

By Carolyn Howard-Johnson

Pitching the media requires courage. And knowledge. It helps to know that the likes of journalists, hosts, and bloggers need you as much as you need them. Without content (that’s where you come in!) they have no reviews, no stories, no interviews.

Think of yourself as building relationships when you approach the media. You present yourself as someone who can help them do their job. You present your book or expertise as something that will interest their audience. To do that, your pitch might include:
  • Information that is brand new to a gatekeeper’s audience.
  • Something that will solve a problem for him or for his audience.
  • Something that will entertain his audience.
  • Something that will involve the audience emotionally (a human interest story).
  • An idea how he might use your message or skills in a regular feature that appears in his magazine or an idea for an article for his blog.
The time or space you have to catch a prospect’s attention is limited. The journalist/editor/host/producer needs to know what you can offer that will make his job easier. In the sample Tip Sheet I give you in the Appendix of this book are twelve publicity “No-Nos,” one of which tells you that editors you are pitching do not exist to give you free publicity because you want or need it. They are on deadlines and overworked. It is your job to make this editor’s job really, really, really easy for him. Make it clear that you are there to help and that you have all your ducks quacking in unison.

Start your pitch quickly. Make the media person aware of a problem that you can solve for him, then—just as rapidly—outline how information about you or your book is the solution to that problem. He won’t want your life’s story or a synopsis of your book until he’s convinced that he needs you.

Here are some ways you—not necessarily your book—might be interesting to the media gatekeepers:
  • Hometown reporters want to know they have a published author living in their town.
  • Journals for seniors are interested if you are over fifty-five, but almost all publications will be interested if you are very young.
  • Perhaps you’ve changed careers midstream. That might interest editors of newspaper business sections or business magazines.
  • You might have a women’s or men’s angle that will work for gender-related periodicals.
  • You are a vegetarian or practice yoga and that affects your creative process.
  • You can be controversial. Some say there is no such thing as bad publicity. The exposure and sales of Richard Clarke’s book, Against All Enemies: Inside America’s War on Terror was helped considerably by controversy and its well-timed release.
Here’s how your book might fill a reporter’s need:
  • Some editors like the idea that a novel is set in their locale.
  • Are there any premises or themes in your fiction that shed light on what is happening in the news? A book that exposes the corrosive nature of intolerance after 9/11, as an example.
  • Is there a literary interest? You might have written in a cross-genre or experimented in some other way. If your concept is unusual enough, that will be news for periodicals marketed to authors.
  • Is there a strong similarity in your work to a film or book that everyone is talking about? Sometimes reporters tie one book to another, and some reviewers pack reviews of two or more similar books into one commentary.
When we are squeamish about meeting the media face-to-face or by phone, we often rely on mail, e-mail, and faxes. We shouldn’t. In-person contacts bring a caring attitude to your association with editors. Aesop said, “Do you, while receiving benefits from me and resting under my shade, dare to describe me as useless and unprofitable?” He knew that those with whom you’ve built a relationship are more likely to do you a favor and more reluctant to be negative about you to others.

Hint: Scripting a pitch can help. In fact, when you make contact by phone, you can use your script as crib notes to guide the conversation. Well-known publicist and author Raleigh Pinskey graciously allowed me to use her scripted pitch in Appendix Five of this book. I encourage you to learn from her example.

Why do publishers put the pictures of authors on the flaps of dustcovers? Because human beings relate to faces. Although editors try to be impartial, they are human; they relate best on a one-to-one basis just like readers or anyone else. You will have more success if you get to know your media contacts at close range. When that’s impossible, include your photograph in your media kit or add a link to a video of you on the Web or, second best, a podcast of your voice.

If this feels scary to you, make your first contact a fact-finding mission so the editor is aware you want to make her job easier. You might even arrange to see her in her office. Let’s pretend you’re working on your first, big event—your book launch. This contact will require your short pitch to be as close to letter perfect as you can make it. It will include one or two sentences about your book and then a sentence about the launch you are planning. Then ask her questions like these:
  • “How can I help with pre-event coverage?” Word this so that the benefits of covering your event before it occurs rather than after are visible to her.
  • “May I give you photos to accompany your stories or would you prefer to have your photographers cover them?” I wrote to ask for a copy of a picture the head photographer of my local paper had taken of me, complimented her on it, and copied that praise to her superior. All sincere. They didn’t charge me for a copy of the photo.     “How are photos best submitted? Electronically? By mailing slick copies? Color or black or white?”
  • “Would you be interested in learning about (you fill in the blank about one of the remarkable people associated with your launch) as the subject of a feature article?” In case she shows an interest, be prepared with specifics about your story idea. When an editor uses your idea, she usually mentions you and your event.
  • “I would love to have you attend as an honored guest. May I send you a map? A parking pass?” If the editor accepts, formally introduce her to the audience during your presentation.
Caveat: Match the editor to the kind of coverage you’re seeking. Study the newspaper’s roster to learn what each editor covers. Call TV and radio stations and ask the receptionist to direct you to editors interested in different kinds of stories. Check Web sites. Pronounce names correctly. You may want to contact more than one editor for a given event. Here are some possibilities for newspaper editors who specialize:
  • Calendar Editor.
  • Feature Editor.
  • Weekend Editor.
  • Book Review Editor.
  • Assignment Editor (usually TV).
  • City Editor.
  • Beat Reporters. (These can range from business to arts and entertainment.)
When you work with the media, you may need more than one pitch. You’ll need one for what your book is about. That can be wrapped in a pitch about how your story can benefit a specific audience. And you’ll need a pitch about you!

That's it, the last part of this December 2013 four-part series on pitching you and your work.

Excerpted from the multi award-winning Frugal Book Promoter,

Carolyn Howard-Johnson
Instructor for nearly a decade at the renowned UCLA Extension Writers' Program
Author of the multi award-winning series of HowToDoItFrugally books including the second edition honored by USA BOOK NEWS
Web site:

Finish Your Last Minute Holiday Shopping with Books

Are you still trying to finish your Holiday shopping?  Books are the perfect present for young and old and can easily be purchased without the hassle of the crowds.  Here is a list of books I’m giving this year, as well as, two that were on my wish list.

For the Writer:
  • Bird by Bird by Ann Lamott -- An inspirational book for any writer.

  • The Frugal Book Promoter by Carolyn Howard-Johnson --This is the perfect gift for someone out there marketing their book or still writing it! 

  • Writing It Right!  by Sandy Asher -- This book is a must for any writer in the middle of the revision process.


For the Adult Reader:

For the Tweens:
  • The Smell of Old Lady Perfume by Claudia Guadalupe Martinez --- Combing the struggles of coming of age, with loss and cultural assimilation the author provides a engaging story that will connect with all readers. Martinez’s lyrical writing makes this story a great read for tweens and their families.

For the Younger Child:
  • A Troop is a Group of Monkeys by Julie Foster Hedlund.  This book app is fun and educational. Children will learn the collective nouns for a group of animals, and if you are like me….you will learn the names of a few groups too!

  •  Seeds of Change, Planting a Path to Peace by Jen Cullerton Johnson -- Through her poetic text Johnson weaves the story of Nobel Peace Prize winner Wangari MaathaiThe batik style illustrations combined with Johnson’s powerful story make this a wonderful gift for any child.

I love giving books…getting books…and sharing some of my favorites.  What some of your favorite books to give?

Mary Jo Guglielmo is writer and intuitive life life coach. For more information check out   or folllow her at:  

Friends in the Marketing Business ~ Part II

Last month we looked at some questions about our marketing. We asked,
            • Where are we marketing?
            • Who are we marketing to?
            • Do people really follow our marketing attempts?
            • Are we missing the point with our marketing?
            • How can we be social and still market?
If you didn't read part 1 you can read it here. I shared a catchy advertising jingle that first appeared in South Africa in 1970. It says, “You’ve got an uncle in the furniture business: Joshua Doore!” (Click on the link to enjoy the original version. 

I pointed out that although it has changed through the years, the original gimmicky statement remains and is a well-known catch phrase that is played virtually every day through our media—43 years later! Now that to me is a successful marketing device. When you want to buy furniture, the name Joshua Doore springs to mind. 

Surely, that's what we want of our marketing. When someone hears of a loved one diagnosed with Breast Cancer, I want that person to immediately think, Strength Renewed, by my friend Shirley Corder.

Today I want to look further at that final question. How can we be social and still market? How can we effectively use social media to market our books (or articles) while not losing the concept of social media?

Social media is what it says. It's meant to be social. We want to make friends or, at the very least, get to know a little about the writer of the post. The various social sites are places where we can talk, laugh, and share information of mutual interest.  Look at Facebook pages and see the number of "likes" posts receive when they are about topics that create an emotional reaction. (And in that connection, if you're an author, yes you do need an author page (a.k.a. "fan page"). There are plenty links that will walk you through this if you don't already have one.

So if we want to be effective with our marketing on social media, maybe we need to look at these three main elements:
  • Make friends
  • Talk, laugh, create emotion
  • Share information

1.   Making Friends:
I recently made friends through a social media site with a young woman way younger than me, who belongs to a different faith system. She lives in a foreign land that is at war with the countries most of us regard as “civilised” and safe. The other day she told me, “About 15 people die in our area every X days.”

We have very little in common as women. In the “real world” we would never be friends, but she has been following me on Facebook. She has read my book of Christian meditations for those doing battle with cancer. She has passed it on to family members. And she asks me to pray for her and for her family needs. We are friends. Does she follow my links? You betcha!

How do we make friends on social media? Well, how do we make friends in real life? The first thing we do is introduce ourselves.

    We share our names. These are our most important asset. Think of Max Lucado, Francine Rivers, Janette Oke, J.K.Rowling, C.S.Lewis, William Shakespeare, Stephen King, Ernest Hemmingway, William Faulkner . . . we know them all by name. So on social media, we need to use our names, and we need to introduce ourselves. Give a little about yourself in the profile or "about the author" section of the site.

    Use a photograph on your profile, showing you to be a real flesh and blood person. Cute icons of furry bunnies might look good on the cover of your book, but how many people want to be friends with a furry bunny? (Okay, don't all stick your hands up at once! You know what I mean. Look like who you are.)

HINT: For your author page on Facebook, use a photo with your book if possible. As soon as you log into Facebook, switch to the author page and use that to leave comments on other's posts. Whenever you post, that little picture shows up together with a link to your author page. If you say something clever or witty, they can hover their cursor over your name and they will see you're an author.

     Watch for your friends' birthdays and send a greeting. It doesn't have to be long, but it reminds them you're there, and your link will show up on their pageanother reason for using your real name and a suitable picture.

2.   Talking, Laughing, Showing Empathy:
    Engage others in conversation. 'Like' posts that interest you. Add the odd comment. Avoid always promoting your work. You are trying to build relationships, and again they will see your title and your picture. If all you do is promote your own work, you will quickly bore your readers and they will pass by your posts . You don't need to spend hours but do try to show an interest in them. If your friend posts a picture of her new baby, "Gorgeous!" will make her smile, and remind her of you. If she posts bad news, "So sorry" doesn't take you any time at all. But it shows that you read the post.

     Create emotion:
Every post or image has the power to create emotion. Don't waste time on this. When you see a picture, a post, or a video, that makes you laugh, click on share. Do the same if it is something thought-provoking or even sad (if there's a point to it!) Add a comment and make sure your link is clearly visible.

     Show empathy: Look for ways to relate to your readers to help them feel less isolated, especially in your niche area. For example, I make a point of connecting with those who are struggling with cancer. I have sold a number of books as a result of this policy.  People don't care how much you know until they know how much you care. (John C. Maxwell.) 

3.   Sharing Information
     There is no need to spend hours on social media. Learn to use the scheduling facility that is available on most sites. Facebook recently simplified the scheduling process on the author (fan) page, and it really takes very little time. Here are the three steps:
  •      Author page - type or paste your message into the status box.
  •      Click on the little grey clock icon and select the date and time you want it to appear.
  •      Hit "Schedule". That's it!
For example, I spend about an hour once a month, copying and pasting sentences into my Facebook Author page. I then schedule posts so that twice a day a post appears on my page.

     Every odd day, I post a quote from my book, Strength Renewed, Meditations for Your Journey through Breast Cancer. This is not an outright promotion. I use quotes that I believe have something to encourage my visitors, regardless of whether they have cancer or not. Nevertheless, it has the title of my book and of course a link to a sales page.

     Every even day, I post a quote from another famous writer. I collect these from Goodreads, where the quotes are easy to come by. At the same time I 'like' the quote on Goodreads, which draws attention from the writer of the quote.

     The second post varies. Alternate days I post "ENGLISH TRIVIA", using a statement that I've found on the Internet. If I'm not certain if it's accurate, I add "Do you agree with this?" and that almost always gets a response. During the ten days of world-wide mourning for Madiba, our past president, I posted a quote by Nelson Mandela, one of the world's greatest ever political leaders.

Two or three times a day I pop onto my Facebook profile and page and respond to any comments. They are my friends, after all.

Perhaps you're wondering what this has to do with marketing?
I believe it is building a network of cyber friends, who in turn will become part of your "tribe" as it's often called. These are the people who will watch out for your next book, read, like and maybe even share your next post, RT your tweets, and talk about what you've shared.

Instead of constantly promoting our own posts and links, we will have moved out there into the big bad world, making friends and chatting to readers. If we hang out in areas where we can fit in and add the occasional comment or post, people will get to know us. As we allow them limited access to our personal space, they will see us as real and come to see that we care about them. Then when we have something to share, they will be interested.

Let's truly try to be an “uncle (or aunt, or friend) in the marketing business”. Then when people need our products, they will know where to come knocking—because they know we care

Surely that is what social media is all about? Being social. Making friends. And then sharing information that our friends will be interested in.

SHIRLEY CORDER  lives in South Africa, with her husband Rob. She is author of Strength Renewed: Meditations for your Journey through Breast Cancer, the e-book of which is on special right now at Amazon or Barnes and Noble. Shirley is also contributing author to eleven other books and has published hundreds of devotions and articles internationally. 

Visit Shirley on her website to inspire and encourage writers, or on Rise and Soar, her website for encouraging those on the cancer journey. Do pop onto 
her Author's page on Facebook and introduce yourself so she can be your friend. 

All Kinds of Ways to the Means.... What is Yours?

Writing advice comes in all styles and for all types of genres. A beginner writer can be so wrapped up in reading and researching the best advice about writing that the real writing takes a back seat. The fact is there are all kinds of ways to the means of being an author.... and there are all kinds of acceptable ways to get published but the successful writer will find the way that keeps them moving forward with their story.

And it also may not matter to others if you are writing an essay, a blog post, a magazine article, a picture book, or a 80,000 word novel the premise is the same. You need a story. You need an audience. And you need to market your work so your target audience can find your words.

If your story is fiction, you need believable characters that your reader will relate to. It won't matter if you write better with an outline, a story arc, morning pages, or free write ideas into little clouds on the back  of a napkin. What matters is that you see, feel, and know your character so well that you have no other way than to describe it for your readers on the page.

If you write nonfiction, you may not have a particular character but you will have a specific subject or topic that your reader will relate to. Your job will be to make the reader care about that subject. They won't know if you write with an outline, a story arc, or standing upside down. The reader wants a beginning, middle, and an ending that makes them want to care about or learn more about your subject.

Marketing on the other hand does matter. If the author doesn't market their work, no one will see it. That may not be a big deal if you are keeping a personal journal but if you want to attract more readers, an agent, or a traditional publisher you want to be noticed and noticed in the right places.  And it really matters if the writer wants to make an income from those words because your need that audience to find buyers for your work.

Advice books, writing circles, and social media are all sources of information on marketing your work but each writer must still find the way that leads to the means so to speak. What works for picture book writers may not work for nonfiction medical writers and so on. The market or target audience will be different as will be the publishers for different types of writing.

Self publishing is slightly different when it comes to marketing because most of the marketing becomes the responsibility of the author and may then take time away from the actual task of writing.

Authors, no matter what is written or how it is published must keep in mind the ways to their own means.... another words.... find what works. Finding the balance between writing, marketing, publishing, and managing the business of writing is individual yet we can all take tips and advice from others and continue learning from those that are successful. In that way we will all find our way to our means and be able to call ourselves writers.

As the year draws to an end and celebrations occupy some of regular writing time, make sure to take note of what works and what doesn't in your own writing career. Look at your audience, your marketing techniques, and where you want your career to head in the New Year so the start of 2014 will be  focused.

  • Note any lack of knowledge or skill you need to improve and be ready to find the sources for information that will give you more confidence.
  • Network within social media where your genre or niche fits best and reach out to others to offer what you can to help them too.

It takes a village to raise a child as they say and it takes a village of marketers, authors, mentors, publishers, and agents to help writers succeed.

Pitching in the Publishing Industry (Part3)

By Carolyn Howard-Johnson

Pitching the publishing industry is like offering a taste of perfectly chilled spring water to the publisher or agent most suited to selling your book. You proffer your book’s essence so that whoever drinks of it is sure to want more.

When authors offer their book, they generally don’t use the term “pitch.” They say “shopping a book.” Many are averse to the term “sales.” In reality, they are pitching, and their efforts will be more effective if they admit they are . . .  mmmm . . . selling.

Even if authors don’t know or won’t confess to what they are doing, most already have experience as pitch writers. That’s because they have been writing query letters, a basic skill we discuss in Chapter Fourteen. Some of you have already used pitches to get an agent, to get published, to get reviews. You may have embedded pitches into media releases and book proposals.

A book proposal is, in fact, a very long pitch. Some fiction writers need to know how to write them but proposal writing is essential for writers of nonfiction. Learn more about when to write a proposal and how to write one with my booklet The Great First Impression Book Proposal: Everything you need to know to sell your book in 20 minutes or less (

Pitching your readers is like sending them a love letter. It may be commercially packaged, but it must be delivered with passion for your book and the needs of your reader.

Early on you pitch readers in writing; later you’ll pitch both friends and strangers verbally. In an elevator or a restaurant, at a book signing, and when you’re being interviewed by an editor or radio or TV host.

When a reader (anyone really) says, “What is your book about?” you need to tell her quickly (in the time it takes her to get to her floor in an elevator) why she will benefit from reading your book or give her a synopsis of your fiction that will make her want to read it.

When you see a tease like this on a movie poster, they call it a logline but it’s also a mini pitch. It goes something like this: “When  . . . (fill in the blanks here), then . . . (fill in the blanks here).” Here’s an example:

“When an earthquake rocks Carrie’s world, she faces the consequences with a pickax, stored water, and the talents of her two young sons.”

Notice that a good pitch or logline for fiction focuses on conflict just as all great fiction does. Nonfiction authors can find conflict in their books, too.

Stop back on December 22nd, for Part 4, the final part, of this Pitch series.

Excerpted from the multi award-winning Frugal Book Promoter, 

Carolyn Howard-Johnson
Instructor for nearly a decade at the renowned UCLA Extension Writers' Program
Author of the multi award-winning series of HowToDoItFrugally books including the second edition honored by USA BOOK NEWS
Web site:

An Introduction

Introducing Your Characters

The goal of every writer is to create a character that will be loved. Now this doesn't mean your character needs to be perfect - in fact, imperfection is sometimes the thing that makes your character most loved. But something needs to draw your reader in and keep them close.

For many novelists a starting point will be to create a character sheet. This will list important things like name, age, weight, height, hair and eye color, background, etc. Once you, as the author, have an idea of who your character is it is now time to introduce them to your audience. If your character has some physical challenge - a limp, a missing limb, is wheelchair bound - it will be important to inform the reader quickly, but if that's not the case, perhaps the best way to introduce your character will be to never mention any of the things on your list. 

Readers want to be engaged and to figure some things out for themselves. They really want to get to know your character in action first and see how they relate to the situation and world around them. They want to enter a character's head and understand what they are thinking - all of which forms an impression. Tease them. Allow them to envision the character on their own. Create curiosity, or mystique in the opening scene. Show your character's sensual appeal.  And even if it is your antagonist you are introducing, give your reader some hope of goodness. All of which can be done without ever using that character sheet.

What? Why even do the character sheet then, you may ask. Because you need to know your character intimately, but when introducing them to your reader work on showing and not telling. That way your reader can feel empowered by their ability to really get to know and be engaged with your key figures. Yes, it is sometimes challenging and it would be so much easier to just insert a word or two to describe, but refrain and see how it takes your writing to another level.

So now challenge yourself: write that introductory scene!


D. Jean Quarles is a writer of Women's Fiction and a co-author of a Young Adult Science Fiction Series. Her latest book, House of Glass, Book 2 of The Exodus Series was written with coauthor, Austine Etcheverry.

D. Jean loves to tell stories of personal growth – where success has nothing to do with money or fame, but of living life to the fullest. She is also the author of the novels: Rocky's Mountains, Fire in the Hole and, Perception. The Mermaid, an award winning short story was published in the anthology, Tales from a Sweltering City.  

She is a wife, mother, grandmother and business coach. In her free time . . . ha! ha! ha! Anyway, you can find more about D. Jean Quarles, her writing and her books at her website at

You can also follower her at or on Facebook

7 Ways to Overcome Writer’s Block

Guest Post by Ken Myers

Sometimes the hardest thing to overcome in writing is the inability to write. You may have all these great ideas swimming around in your head, but they’re meaningless if you can’t get them down on paper. Nothing is more frustrating than staring at the screen, waiting for something to come pouring out of your fingertips, only to be left with nothing more than a blank page. It can be disheartening, frustrating and even leave you feeling hopeless. This inability to write, known as writer’s block, is a mental block that keeps you from being productive as a writer. Whether you write for your profession or for a hobby, writer’s block will be something you will face at some point. However, you can overcome it. Here are a few ways that you can beat the infamous writer’s block and get back to work:

1.    Start Writing –This sounds deceptively simple. Just write! Easier said than done, isn’t it? However, I don’t mean you can just start being creative when you have writer’s block. What I mean is that you need to go through the actions. Our bodies and minds have connections that we are not consciously aware of, so even though your mind may not be cooperating, you can force your body to go through the action of writing. Write about how much you hate writer’s block. Write about what is on your desk or what you can see from your window. Write one word over and over again. Just write. The act of writing itself is often a trigger for creativity. Keep in mind where and how you are writing as well. If you usually write at your computer in your office with your headphones on, then go through the whole experience. Do not just think you can plop down in the living room and write the same way you would in your office space. To get the full effect, the entire atmosphere must be prepared for you to do some serious writing. If you always write in the mornings, then sit down at the same time and write. You can actually fool your body and mind into believing you are being creative BEFORE you start being creative. I am not saying that this always works, but many times you’ll find yourself writing for real before you are even consciously aware something has changed. Habits do matter.

2.    Do Something New – If the first way didn’t work for you or you don’t want to try it or you just can’t do that right now, then try this next way. Sometimes writer’s block is not due merely to uncooperative minds. Sometimes you are just burnt out or out of new ideas. When you write every day or very frequently you can easily run out of fresh things to talk about. This is compounded if you do not have anything new coming in. Routine is great, but you need to shake things up once in a while. Do something new. Try out a new hobby or sport or activity. Check out a play or a new band. Join a club, volunteer at a food bank, eat at an ethnic restaurant. Everything new you do adds to your experiences, and that means you have more to write about. If you can’t get out and do something new then go online. Invest yourself in a new group. Cat people, gamers, sports fans – they all have forums, groups and websites online. Most groups love new members and are more than willing to introduce you to their passion. New genres of books, new types of art, and even new television shows can open up your mind to new ideas and get your creativity flowing again.

3.    Change Your Perspective – Related to doing something new, try viewing your writing in a new way. Look at what you want to write from a different perspective. For fiction writers, if you are writing from the hero’s perspective, try being the villain for a while. How do things change? How do characters look from the other side? You may get insight into a whole different world within your writing, which can help you want to write again. For non-fiction writers, you know you have an internal bias. You are for or against whatever you are writing about, no matter how balanced you try to be. Instead of being balanced, why not play Devil’s Advocate and be vehemently opposed to your natural viewpoint? Writing as your own critic can open you up to flaws in your argument that can actually enhance your viewpoints and make them stronger. Or you could change your own mind! Both fiction and non-fiction writers can also look at their idea from the reader’s point of view. What if a teenage boy read your writing? A retired lawyer? A police officer? A factory worker? A parent? Looking at your writing from a new point of view is sure to open your mind to new possibilities.

4.    Find Inspiration –Another way to open up your creativity is to find inspiration. Inspiration can come in many forms. Many of us are inspired by other writers. Reading something by our favorite author can often stimulate our own creativity. Or something by a new author can spark an idea we may not have imagined. Some people find inspiration in nature. Like Walden, getting out into nature and back in touch with the Earth can inspire new ideas and concepts. Being out in the woods alone, by the sea shore or at a calm lake can be both relaxing and invigorating to the mind. Other writer’s find inspiration in people. People watching at a park or gathering place can fill your mind with new characters. Talking to people about their lives can spark inspiration. Although many writers are not going to invest in a biography, the stories people tell become part of your memories and can inspire future writing. Visual art and beauty can also open the mind to new ideas. From sculptures to abstract art to photography, the visual aspects can inspire ideas.

5.    Get Active –Sometimes writer’s block can be more physical than mental. You are just plain tired. The human body was not meant to sit in one place for long periods of time. After a while you get knotted up, achy, sleepy and distracted. Instead of fighting to be productive in these circumstances you should get active!Do some jumping jacks and stretches at your desk, go for a walk outside, take the stairs up and down, turn on your favorite song and sing and dance along with it. Getting your blood pumping gets your mind moving and prevents those pesky aches and pains. When you do sit down again you will feel full of energy and ready to get started.

6.    Make an Outline – One thing that often happens to writers that makes it hard to write is that they have too many ideas at once. Sometimes your head gets filled up with all these great ideas and you can be scared to pick one in fear of forgetting the others. Get around this by writing everything down. Take quick notes on your ideas, fleshing them out briefly so that you don’t forget them. Once you figure out which one you want to focus on, create an outline. This does not mean you have to write according to your outline. You can still go with the flow and let your writing shine. However, having an outline available helps keep you on track when you get bogged down. You can easily look over and see what was coming next without having to keep it all in your head. It is much easier to focus on the now without having to keep track of the future as well. Writing down your ideas and creating an outline frees up your mind to concentrate more on what you are doing and can help you overcome a block.

7.    Turn Off Distractions – Last but not least, distractions can be a huge reason behind writer’s block. You may not even be aware you are being distracted sometimes. Things like construction noise, people talking, movements and even the climate can affect your concentration. Not to mention phone calls, texts and social media. The constant barrage of sensory information can overload your brain, making it impossible to focus on writing. Help your brain regain its calm by turning off the distractions. Shut down your phone, unplug the internet, shut the door or window and turn on some white noise. Many times you can control the distractions around you. White noise, nature sounds, and instrumental music can all help you block out disturbing sounds and keep you focused on your writing. People can also be a distraction, especially if you work in an open office or from home. Try to set strong boundaries with your co-workers or family. Let them know that you are not to be disturbed during set hours when you are writing. Having a set time to write frees you up to not answer emails, phone calls, or even open your door. It is not wrong to make time to concentrate, and if you make it a regular thing then you will be disturbed less and less frequently.

Writer’s block can be hard, but it is not insurmountable. Don’t give in to the feeling of hopelessness and frustration; instead, act to overcome it. There is always something you can do. From getting away to getting focused, you can overcome writer’s block and be productive once again.

About the Author:

Ken Myers is a father, husband, and entrepreneur. He has combined his passion for helping families find in-home care with his experience to build a business. Learn more about him by visiting @KenneyMyers on Twitter.


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