Be Specific and Professional When Submitting Queries

By Karen Cioffi

All writers face the dreaded query. Did I put enough information? Did I put too much? Did I have a great hook? Am I submitting to the right publisher?

These are just a few questions that run through a writer's mind when mailing, or clicking the send button for the query. So, how do you answer these questions and the many others that go along with the job of crafting a query?

Well, the first simple response to this question is to READ the publisher's or agent's guidelines. Okay, that's not accurate-you need to STUDY and FOLLOW those guidelines precisely.

Items to watch for when reading those guidelines:
1. What genre does that particular publishing house, agent, or magazine publish?
2. Does the publisher/agent accept simultaneous submissions?
3. Is there a specific word count involved if querying for articles?
4. Does the publishing house accept unagented queries?
5. Does the magazine only accept specific themes, if so, is your article on target?

This list is not complete, there are obviously more items to watch out for. So, we go back to the main rule for querying: FOLLOW the GUIDELINES!

But, following the guidelines is just part of the querying process; you also need to know some inclusion essentials.

Six rules to use that will help you create a winning query:

1. Be professional. Writing is a business just like any other-treat it as such.

2. Be sure to include your contact information: address, telephone number, email address and website.

3. If you were referred by someone include it in the query. Every little bit helps, but be sure it's a referral from someone the editor actually knows.

4. Write tight - be specific and jump right in. You want to provide enough information to warrant the editor to want more, but you need to keep it to one page.

5. The first paragraph is the pitch-within a couple of sentences you need to hook the editor or agent. The second paragraph is about you, again keep it brief and include your credentials. The third paragraph is your conclusion; thank the editor/agent for his/her time and mention if you are enclosing a SASE and if the query is a simultaneous submission.

6. In regard to your bio: Limit personal information unless it adds to your credentials as a writer qualified to write for this publisher.

A good way to practice for queries and pitches is to write a one sentence out of the ball park description of your manuscript. This will help you to think and write tight and choose the perfect words to hook the reader and convey the essence of your story.

Reprinted from:

Karen Cioffi is an award-winning children’s author and children’s ghostwriter/ rewriter. For tips on writing for children OR if you need help with your project, contact Karen at Writing for Children with Karen Cioffi.

And, you can follow Karen at:


Does Your Business Card Include the Basics?
Getting Unstuck When Writing a Novel
You Know You’re a Writer When

A First Look at Writing Historical Fiction

Your approach to writing historical fiction can go one of two ways, according to the Writer's Relief article, "How to do Research for Historical Fiction: Balancing Fact and Fiction:" Research then write or create your story, then weave in the facts from your research. For Book Two in my mystery/ghost series for 7-11 year olds, I chose the latter approach. And I'm glad I did. Here's why.

Walking a Fine Line
There is a fine line between "historicizing" fiction and "fictionalizing" history. Or simply put, in finding the "truth" in historical fiction. (The Alan Review: this article is geared to teachers, but the discussion is excellent for historical fiction authors on what's at stake.) Other helpful observations for writers of historical fiction from this article include:
  • As we know, careful research is a must.
  • Weigh any bias that might be present in historical accounts.
  • Historians examine the complexities of history.
  • Novelists create clear characterizations and forward-moving plot lines.
  • "A danger for the novelist lies in achieving [resolution often denied to history] at the expense of excluding significant nuances and complexities."
  • Please consult this excellent article for more thought-provoking information.

Ready for a Supreme Balancing Act?
Decide to write historical fiction and you will be launched into one of the most delicate balancing acts of your life. Solution? Find a happy medium. For years, the story of Book Two had taken up occupancy in my head. Curiosity got the better of me a few years ago when I decided to explore the historic event I wanted to illuminate: what the people were like. The times they lived in. More think-time ensued. Recently the muse came knocking: Enough! It's time: get to work! I began to write the book and now it's half done! Now it's time for a breather from the writing and return to the historical facts the book is based on. That changed everything. I realized the story must change.

Children's Writers have Yet a Tougher Line to Tow
Novelists of children's books beware! In children's books, "Events must be more closely winnowed and sifted; characters more clearly delineated, but without condenscension or over-simplification." (The Alan Review article) And there's more. As is true for all historical fiction authors, children's authors must:
  • Find the optimum balance between fiction and history, such as zeroing in on the details: clothing, food, transportation, etc.
  • Be accurate: accuracy is another balancing act. In writing for children, the historical fiction author must weigh the facts describing life "the way it was" while keeping the information appropriate to the age group.
  • Language must be accurate: the vocabulary of the period must ring true.
What I Learned
Upon the second examination of my research for Book Two, I decided to throw out my original idea. The event in history is just too horrifying for young readers. The historical event took place during the Civil War and involved the burning of many farms and mills in northern Virginia. But ghosts die, right? Not in a fire while trying to rescue the ghost's horse as first imagined: way too graphic. No, I've decided my ghost needs to save her horse from a burning fire and dies later of natural causes. Much better. If illumination of the historical event is possible with elementary students, I plan to first speak with teachers of my age group for their opinion on whether a discussion of the event should be addressed in their classrooms. If a teacher agrees, then I will tell the full story of the event in history and how I came up with the idea for the novel.

My toe-dip into historical fiction has been fruitful. This story takes place in the present day, is pure fiction, is loosely based on a true event, and I think works for this particular series. Ideas for a completely different book set in history are popping up in my brain like mushrooms. This is going to be fun!
Image found on Pinterest, saved by: Source: Ethel Traphagen: The Wiley Technical Series Costume Design and Illustration (New York, NY: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 1918.)

Additional Source: Writing Historical Fiction: Create an Authentic and Compelling Story Set in the Past, by Emma Darwin.

Linda Wilson, a former elementary teacher and ICL graduate, has published over 100 articles for adults and children, and six short stories for children. Recently, she has completed her first book, a mystery/ghost story for children 7-11 years old, and is hard at work on Book Two in the series.  Follow Linda at

Tips for Researching

Whether writing an article, post or novel research is vital. Research should be logical and organized for writing, citation, and avoiding any hint of plagiarism. 

The rule of research is that a great deal more knowledge will be gained than used for your piece; but a solid foundation gives authenticity to your writing and your voice.

1. Writing about a general or familiar subject, or if the setting is in your hometown, the research required will be less time consuming.

2. Research has a pre-writing role.

3. Consider the areas you need to delve into, for example, era, community, lifestyles, specialized jobs, area employment, health issues, and education.

4. Simplify your delivery without dumbing down the facts, and putting your reader off by an impersonal, authoritative voice.

5. Avoid exposition. It’s better to weave in details and keep the reader’s interest.

How do we gather the resources and knowledge needed to research a topic?  It takes a lot of reading, searching, and selection. Here are some ideas:

• Investigate your topic through web-searches.

• Gather a list of books, documents, and oral histories to explore.

• Use professional journals, magazines, and pod-casts.

• Take research trips, tour specific areas, and consult experts.

• Keep a journal for your research, resources and materials.

• Be sure to verify each source and to confirm its credibility. Not all sources are created equal. Work to prove credibility through established works that recognize industry professionals in the field you are studying.

• Research material requires analysis and interpretation to be effective in your piece. Choices await as we glean points specific to our focus.

Dive in, plan-ahead and have fun!
Research takes up-front time; let’s begin while working on other projects.

Deborah Lyn Stanley is a writer, artist, and editor.  She is a retired project manager who now devotes her time to writing, art and caregiving mentally impaired seniors.  Deborah writes articles, essays and stories. She has published a collection of 24 artists’ interviews entitled the Artists Interview Series.  Careful editing preserves each artist’s voice as they share their journey. The series published as monthly articles for an online news network, can also be found on her web-blog: Deborah Lyn Stanley - Writers Blog.  Her “How-To” articles have appeared in magazines. 
“Write your best, in your voice, your way!”
“Explore, Dream, Discover”

How Do You Face the Daily Challenge for Writers?

By W. Terry Whalin

As I grow older, I begin to understand why the Bible calls that our days are fleeting. Each of us have the same 24 hours in each day. The key detail is how we use this time.  As I think about the challenges of each day, I understand several facts:

1. Everyone has interruptions. Recently I spent several hours at the Apple Store because my wife's iPhone 5C was having screen problems.  At the store, we upgraded her phone to an iPhone 7 Plus and it took several hours that I was not planning on spending. These types of unexpected situations are part of our life. Yet do you wisely use the time which you do have available to you?

2. Not everything gets done. Yes on the surface I may look like I get a lot done. I do tweet almost 14 times a day with great content. Also I have over 100 new followers a day on Twitter. Yet the bulk of my day is spent as an acquisitions editor at Morgan James Publishing, talking with authors, emailing authors and others about their books.  Despite the things I accomplish in a day, I know and understand that not every email is answered. Not every phone call gets made or returned.  As an editor, I work hard at customer service, answering key concerns and returning calls—but there is still more to do. I have magazine articles to write and books to finish and websites to update. If I paused to make a list, it would be endless and to be honest I'm assuming that you have a lengthy list of things to do as well which and while you chip away at it, everything does not get done.We have to live with this fact.

3. Use the right tools to have the best results. Through
trial and error, I've learned to use different tools on my phone, different computer programs and other ways to cut down on time and get things done. For example, when I travel, I continue to write on my AlphaSmart 3000 which I purchased years ago on Ebay for about $30. The AlphaSmart is not connected to the Internet, runs on batteries and holds large volumes of information with a full size keyboard. This tool is not right for every writer but it is one that I've used repeatedly to get my writing done. Are you experimenting with different tools and programs to see if they help you get more done in a shorter amount of time?

4. Balance is important. Every one of us need to have a certain level of balance in our daily lives. Have you listed your key goals and priorities? Just the act of writing these goals can be a great first step. Then have you broken those goals into small steps that you can accomplish? 

As I think about the big picture of my own life, I have a number of things which are a key part of my day. I need Time for Faith (reading the Bible and prayer each day). I need Time for Family (the connection to my wife and children—even if they are grown children). I need Time for Work. I also need Time for Health ( and I build exercise into almost every day). I need Time for Relaxation (yes some of you may find it hard to believe but I go to movies, I read for fun and I watch television). Finally I make Time for Friends. Admittedly some of my days are out of balance but it's part of the way I'm wired and working to attempt to have some level of balance in my life and work.

These are my ideas to help you face the daily challenges of life. Are they helpful? I hope so. Do you have other ideas? Tell me in the comments below. 


Everyone has the same amount of time. Get some ideas to Face the Daily Challenges. (ClickToTweet)

W. Terry Whalin is an acquisitions editor at Morgan James Publishing and has written more than 60 books including his latest Billy Graham, A Biography of America's Greatest Evangelist--which will soon be available in audiobook. A former magazine editor, Terry has written for more than 50 publications and lives in Colorado. Get over a dozen ideas about how to make money with books in this FREE teleseminar.

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How to Get Great Writing Opportunities to Come Right to You

As a writer, do you always have to go after writing projects yourself, or do great opportunities sometimes just come right to you?

Chances are, if you've been around a while, and you've published either in some traditional markets or you've done a good job of marketing your own self-published books and other products and services, great opportunities often come right to you.

You don't have to go chasing after them all the time.

However, if great opportunities are not coming right to you—at least occasionally—then you probably need to look at what you're currently doing as a writer.

You need to start doing all—or at least some—of the following:

1. Create and develop a strong online presence.

To start, set up a website or blog, then post to it regularly.

Make sure your posts help establish you as an expert in your genre or type of writing.

2. Don't just expect people to show up at your website or blog to read your new posts.

Instead do things to drive traffic to your site.

Each time you write something new for your site, post the link to it on your Facebook and Twitter pages.

At least once a month, create a press release about something new you're doing or have to offer.

3. Visit other blogs with the same target market as yours and leave helpful comments.

With your comments, be sure to include a link to your site.

4. Get published in local, regional, and national publications as quickly and as often as you can.

When you do, blog about it.

Nothing (with the exception of writing a best-selling book) will give you more credibility as a professional writer than being published in a magazine that everyone recognizes.

5. Network with other writers in your genre or areas of expertise.

If you write for businesses, for example, join online forums for other business writers.

If you write middle grade novels, join forums about middle grade novels or for authors of middle grade novels.

You'll learn a lot from other writers in these forums.

But, better yet, they'll begin to recognize you as a fellow writer and fellow expert.

6. Join local professional groups and attend these groups' events.

Networking locally can be even better than networking online.

You just never know who will give you a referral or a tip about a great writing opportunity.

7. Guest blog at least once a month.

At first you'll need to submit queries or proposals for guest posts.

But, after awhile, once you've built a strong online presence, some great guest blogging opportunities should come right to you.

8. Start and keep building a mailing list.

This is perhaps THE most important thing you can do to build your business and eventually have great opportunities come right to you on a regular basis.

Of course, you also need to send out regular mailings to everyone on your mailing list.

Be sure you take action on a regular, consistent basis, too.

Make a decision as to the type of freelance writing career or business you want, then stick with the actions it takes to build that career or business.

If you do, it won't be long before some great opportunities come right to you.

Try it!

Suzanne Lieurance is a fulltime freelance writer, writing coach, certified life coach, and the author of over 30 published books.

For more tips, resources, and other helpful information about writing and the business of writing from Suzanne, get your free subscription to The Morning Nudge at

The Path to Writing Success - Focus, Determination, and Perseverance

By Karen Cioffi

Focus, determination, and perseverance are essential to just about every aspect of your life. Each characteristic is unique and together create a synergy. This is applicable to your writing for children career also.

So, what are these three elements that lead to success?

Focus is one’s ability to concentrate exclusively on a particular thing through effort or attention.

Determination is an unchanging intention to achieve a goal or desired end.

Perseverance takes determination a step beyond by using steady and ongoing actions over a long period of time to ensure its intention is accomplished. It continues on through ups and downs.

These elements combined with positive thinking and projection can be an unstoppable force.

I’m a huge fan of positive thinking and projection. I believe our mind has a great influence over our well being and the direction our life can take. Granted, it’s not always easy to harness that influence, but there is enough content out there, including The Secret, to at least strive to think positive and project.

For example, Jack Canfield and co-creator Mark Victor Hansen, of Chicken Soup for the Soul, were rejected 144 times from publishers. Finally, in 1993, their book was accepted. Since they were in debt and couldn’t afford a publicist, they did their own promotion. In 1995, they won the Abby Award and the Southern California Publicist Award.

In a teleconference I attended with Jack Canfield as the speaker, he said he and his co-author created vision boards of what they wanted. They even took a copy of the New York Times Best Selling Page, whited out the #1 spot, and replaced it with Chicken Soup for the Soul. They put copies of it everywhere, even in the toilet. They had focus, determination, perseverance, and they envisioned and projected success. The rest is history.

On a much smaller scale, my daughter Robyn, practices the philosophy of The Secret. For ten years she had dreamed of being in the audience of the Oprah show. She actually got tickets twice, but for one reason or another she was unable to attend. It didn’t stop her though; she persevered and kept trying. She knew one day she’d accomplish her goal and she did. She attended O’s 10 Anniversary celebration in New York City.

She even got her picture taken. You can check it out at (she’s on the right):

So, what has this to do with you as a children’s writer? Plenty.

The elements for obtaining your goals are the same whether for business, marketing, life, or writing. Just about every writer has heard the adage: it’s not necessarily the best writers who succeed, it’s the writers who persevere.

Be focused and determined on your writing goals. Have a ‘success’ mindset. This means to project success, along with taking all the necessary steps to becoming a successful and effective children’s writer. And, don’t let rejection stop you – persevere.

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

For tips on writing for children OR if you need help with a project, visit: Writing for Children with Karen Cioffi.

And, you can follow Karen at:

The 3 Ts for Launching Your Book
Get Your Book Reviewed
Fine Tune Your Character's Friendships

Feedback: Friend or Foe

When I took my first screenwriting course, I received a piece of advice I always keep at the forefront. Be careful of when and where you seek feedback. 

This is especially true at the early stages of any project. Share your ideas before they're developed, and you may be steered off the right path or encouraged to go in the wrong direction. Plus, when you receive too many ideas on your work from others, you run the risk of getting stalled by information-overload. This is neither good for you or your project.

For these - and other reasons - always be mindful of where and when you seek advice. I'm not saying never get input. (Sorry for the double-negative.) There are perils in going to the other extreme. Constructive feedback - and of course editing - are imperative for those who want to put out a professional project, which, by the way, should be everyone. 

Here are some rules to keep in mind where feedback is concerned.

1. Know your Work Before you Share It. You must have a sense of your project before you can be objective about any recommendations, and know whether you should keep or disregard them. Having trouble finding a path for your characters or the outline for your non-fiction book? Try writing things a few different ways, and give yourself the opportunity to decide on direction.

2. Choose a Few Trusted Advisors. Especially for longer work, at some point you will need feedback, editing, and maybe even some help with development. That's fine. Just keep your circle small and be selective. Reach out to no more than three or four people to be a part of this tribe. Make sure you have vetted any paid advisors before you bring them on board, and that the friends and peers you choose have your best interest in mind.

3.Share Work in Pieces. If you are having trouble with something specific and desperately need feedback, especially at the early stages, ask only about that bit. Keep your project as vague as possible, but share a scene, a character description, or an idea for something you might include. Compartmentalizing in this way will keep the conversation focused and unwarranted feedback at bay.   

I have a vivid memory of attending a critique group as a guest many years ago. A women read the first chapter in her romance novel, and people were offering her suggestions right and left. They ranged from changing the characters' traits and adding new ones to altering the plot entirely.

Afterwards, I sought out the author. It was my first meeting and I was not allowed to offer feedback in the group setting - don't get me started on that one. I told her to keep going in her direction, to follow her gut. There'd be plenty of time for input once she had a better sense of her novel, and could be objective about any recommendations.

What are your thoughts on getting feedback on your work? With whom do you share your work? Please share 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.

Debra is an editor at Social Media Examiner and a speaker/moderator on the subjects of writing, networking, goal-setting, and social media.

How Do You Build a Successful Writing Career? (3 Tips)

By Karen Cioffi

Writers need to be tough. It’s not an easy arena to be in. Did you know that writers get so many rejections there have actually been studies done on it? And, the statistics aren’t good. Most (well over 90%) of authors who seek representation by agents are rejected. (1)

That’s pretty severe.

Those in the industry, say not to contemplate ‘throwing in the towel’ until you’ve queried a minimum of 100 agents.

Another article at Writer’s Digest says, “don’t even think about giving up until you’ve queried at least one hundred agents.” (2).

But, what if Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen gave up after 100 rejections. They were rejected 144 times before landing a publishing contract.

So, how does a writer become successful?

Well, there are at least 3 characteristics that go a long way in giving a writer a fighting chance.

1. Perseverance.

Perseverance is probably the single most important factor.  You can learn to write. You can improve your writing. You can submit you work more often. But, if you get discouraged when successes don’t come as fast as you’d like or expected, you may start writing less, you may give up.

This is where you need to persevere. Know that it’s not the best writers who succeed, it’ those who persevere.

From personal experience I can attest to this. I work in two niches. I did it for years with not much success. Then suddenly, clients began finding me and hiring me in one of those niches.

More often than not, success is just around the corner. You’ve got to persevere.

2. You MUST set goals.

While perseverance is an essential factor in writing success, without setting goals, what are you persevering toward? You need to be a goal setter.

Your goals need to be specific. What do you really want to succeed at?

- Getting ongoing publishing contracts.
- Getting freelance writing projects on a regular basis.
- Supplementing your income.
- Earning $50,000 per year. Earning $100,000 per year. Earning $500,000 per year. Being a millionaire.
- Becoming a New York Times Best Seller.
- Becoming famous.

I found it more tangible to create monthly income goals rather than yearly ones.

You need to find what your goals are and what strategy to use to obtain them. And, you need to make those goals visible. Create a vision board or write them down and read them every day.

3. Focus

One big pitfall in writing is not having focus.

I mentioned earlier that after years of struggling along, I began to get clients on a regular basis. And, I’ve gotten lots of return and series clients.

One important factor how this came about is I began to focus on one writing niche. I devoted the majority of my time and energy in that area and it paid off.

This doesn’t mean you can’t have more than one writing niche, but if you want to succeed in something, you need to prioritize. You need to focus.

As my writing coach would say, focus on what’s making you money.

Get to work building these three characteristics and see if it doesn’t make a difference. And, let us know how you make out.


Karen Cioffi is an award-winning children's author and children's ghostwriter.

You can connect with Karen at:

This article was originally published at:


Pros and Cons of Outlining Your Novel
The 3 Ts for Launching Your Book
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Literary Magazines with Themes--Fall 2017 Edition

It's time for another of my roundups of literary magazines with themes. Due dates range from the end of this month to January 2018

As always, read website guidelines carefully and have fun!  Entry is free to all the magazines listed below, and all are paying markets.

On the Premises
Theme:  Community
Genres:  Fiction
Deadline:  September 1, 2017
Word Count:  up to 5000
Pay:  $60-220

Timeless Tales
Theme:  Rumpelstiltskin
Genres:  Fairy Tales--Fiction, Poetry
Reading dates:  August 18-Sept 1
Word Count:  up to 2000, 1500 preferred
Pay:  $20

Theme:  Spaceships and Superheroes
Genres:  Fiction, activities, crafts, activities, recipes for kids age 6-9
Deadline:  August 31, 2017
Word Count:  varies depending on type of work, but very short
Pay:  varies by type--professional rates

Enchanted Conversation
Themes:  Godfather death (reading period Sept 1-Sept 30)
      Elves and the Shoemaker (reading Period Nov 1-Nov 30)
Genre:  Fairy Tale, fiction and poetry
Reading Period:  Sept and Nov 2017
Word Count:  700-3000 stories, poems of any length

The First Line
First line must be: "I'm tired of trying to see the good in people."
Genres:  Fiction
Deadline: November 1, 2017
Word Count:  up to 5000
Pay:  $25-50

THEMA Literary Journal
Theme:  Dancing in the Wind
Genres:  Fiction
Deadline: November 1, 2017
Theme:  New Life
Genres:  Stories, Poetry, Non-fiction
Deadline:  November 5, 2017
Word Count:  2000-7500
Pay:  Up to 25 GBP

Ouen Press
Theme:  Taste
Genres:  Fiction
Deadline:  Dec 31, 2017
Word Count:  3000-10000
Pay:  Contest winners:  100-300 GBP

Theme:  Gorgon; Stories of Emergence
Genres:  Flash fiction issue--dark, weird, speculative, horror
Reading Period:  Opens January 1, 2018
Word Count:  Around 1000 words preferred
Pay:  $.06/wd

Melinda Brasher's fiction appears in Nous Electric SpecIntergalactic Medicine Show, and other magazines. One of her first sales was to THEMA above.  For an e-book collection of some of her favorite published pieces, check out Leaving Home.  

Her newest book, Cruising Alaska on a Budget; a Cruise and Port Guide helps budget travelers plan a trip to majestic Alaska.  Visit her online at

Why Purchase Your Own ISBN?

First of all, what is an ISBN and why do you need it?

ISBN stands for International Standard Book Number. An ISBN is a 13 digit number that identifies your book and publisher. You have to have one in order to sell your book.

Now that we have that out of the way, why is it important to own your own ISBN?

For the first book I ever self-published, The Lilac Princess, I went through an agency. They provided the ISBN. This means their publishing company was identified with that title. For my second book, A Turtle’s Magical Adventure, I used the free one on CreateSpace. This means CreateSpace is identified with that title. Then, for my third book, Little Birdie Grows Up, I purchased my own ISBN because the person doing the formatting for me used IngramSpark and IngramSpark requires you to have your own ISBN. This means I am identified with that title as the publishing company. At first, I was unhappy about having to purchase my own ISBN for IngramSpark because it costs $125 for one ISBN. But, then I did a little research and found out the importance of having my own ISBN. The good news is there are sales where you can buy 10 ISBN’s for $250 and sometimes even cheaper than that.

What I have come to realize is that in order for me to control the price of my first book, I had to take it back from the agency which fortunately was okay and in accordance with my contract. I used my own ISBN and I did change the cover and added some pictures to the inside but I didn’t have to. However, with my second book, I cannot take it back from CreateSpace. Well, not easily anyway, I would need to change the title, possibly cover, and then provide my own ISBN.

What’s interesting and also disconcerting is that when using CreateSpace and providing my own ISBN, my book isn’t available for wider distribution.

So, you have to think about what you want to do with your books. If you’d like to be able to take them somewhere else and have them printed through other printing companies say Smashwords, LuLu, etc. then you’ll need your own ISBN. If you want to be able to market to libraries and stores, then you’ll need to use IngramSpark who is fine with you using your own ISBN or if you use CreateSpace, you’ll need to use the free one they provide.

All in all, for maximum freedom, it’s best to have your own ISBN so you can take your book wherever you want to and also use IngramSpark so you can use your own ISBN and have wider distribution.

This is all a learning curve for those of us new to self-publishing. Hope this tidbit helps you a little. Please feel free to comment and share your experiences and expertise.

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 has self-published 4 children’s books (The Lilac Princess, A Turtle’s Magical Adventure, Gloria and the Unicorn, and Little Birdie Grows Up). 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 and follow her on Facebook at

The Fine art of Asking for Reviews

By Carolyn Howard-Johnson

Excerpted from the newest in Carolyn's multi award-winning 
HowToDoItFrugally Series of books for writers.

To find even more reviewers, you can put your reporter’s hat on and ask—tactfully—for what you need. Make the point that a review is a gift to you, a gift that authors treasure above all others—whether it comes from a reviewer or a reader. Try some of these possibilities:
  • Ask fellow attendees at writers’ conferences.
  • Ask directors of writers’ conferences if they offer a review exchange or have other suggestions for you.
  • Ask writing instructors if they have a list of reviewers or know where you can find one.
  • When you’re on the Web, look at the resource pages of the Web sites owned by how-to authors of books for writers and of online book review sites.
  • Think about classes you have taken. The instructors may have a policy against reviewing students’ work, but your fellow students may review yours. (I hope you would try to do the same for them!)
  • Ask members of your critique group.
  • Ask members of the organizations you belong to. Writing organizations come to mind, but members of other organizations may be even more open to your suggestion. It may be something they’ve never done, may never have thought about doing, and they may find it is lots of fun.
  • When you read, make a note of reviews and the names of those who wrote them that you find in some issues of magazines like Time and newspapers around the world.
  • Learn to write great query letters that won't tick off agents (or reviewers!) from my The Frugal Editor (  I interviews dozens of agents to learn about their pet peeves and most of them didn't mention typos! You'll want to know what they did mention! 

This little how-to article was extracted from my giant (415 pages) of How to Get Great Book Reviews Frugally and Ethically: The ins and outs of using free reviews to build and sustain a writing career ( third in the multi award-winning HowToDoItFrugally Series of books for writers by Carolyn Howard-Johnson. It was released a few months ago. There is just so much to know about putting reviews to work for your book!  I am still celebrating its release because authors are still benefitting from it. Learn more about my books for writers and visit my free Writers’ Resources pages at It’s also easy to use my review blog. Just follow the submission guidelines in the left column at

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