"Show" in Your Stories, but Sometimes it's Okay to "Tell"

"Don't tell me the moon is shining;
show me the glint of light on the broken glass."
                                                  Anton Chekhov

Learning how to “show” and not “tell” our stories seems to be one of the more challenging aspects of writing for children. We are all storytellers after all, and it’s only natural for us to want to “tell” our stories in person or on paper. When it comes to writing for children, “showing” our stories makes our stories come alive. But contrary to the common concept of “show, don’t tell,” I’ve found that it is sometimes okay to “tell.”

What is the difference between “show” and “tell?” With “show,” readers become the character. A connection is created between the reader and the character. The reader has the freedom to interpret what the character is going through, and feels the character’s emotions—his joy, his pain, his sorrow—whatever he is feeling. A book that has helped me interpret my characters’ emotions into actions is The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Character Expression, by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi.

On the other hand, telling the story does not allow the reader to discover for themselves what the character is going through—she’s being told what is happening. Rather than the reader using her imagination and empathizing with the character, she is being told by the author what is happening to the character.

Examples of “show, don’t tell” from Jerry Jenkins’ blog:
  • Telling: The temperature fell and the ice reflected the sun.
  • Showing: Bill’s nose burned in the frigid air, and he squinted against the sun reflecting off the street.
  • Telling: Suzie was blind.
  • Showing: Suzie felt for the bench with white cane.
If you haven’t mastered “show, don’t tell,” don’t worry. Leona Brits writes, “Once you understand [show, don’t tell] and use it, there’s no going back: your writing will include it, intuitively.”

Get Rid of the Narrator 
In a fiction course I took when first learning how to write stories, my instructor would listen to one of my paragraphs and blast me with: Author Intrusion! You’re telling not showing! Get rid of the narrator!

At the time I asked myself, who is this narrator? I found out the narrator is that sneaky behind-the-scenes person who speaks up, thinking experiences the characters are having need to be “explained,” so that the reader will understand what the character is going through.

Here is what I would do. I would begin by “showing” what was happening with dialogue and action, and then in the next sentence, so that my reader would understand, I would explain what the characters were doing and saying. Needless to say, like most beginning writers, it took a while for me to rid myself of the need to “tell” my reader all about my story. I learned, though. From that uncomfortable moment with my instructor on I’ve snuffed out that sneaky narrator whenever I find her lurking in the background.

Problem solved? Not quite. I’ve written four books now, and during revision I still find “telling” sentences, though now that I've had more practice (and mind you, patience), I can spot "telling" sentences more easily.

Try Using a Pattern
Two mentor books that sit on my desk are Chris Eboch’s, You Can Write for Children, and Advanced Plotting. In the former book, Eboch suggests using a pattern that she quotes from Manuscript Makeover, by Elizabeth Lyon. Here is the pattern: Stimulus—reaction/emotion—thoughts—action. 
  • Stimulus: Something happens to your main character.
  • Reaction/emotion: Your character has an emotional reaction, which can be shown with dialogue, such as an exclamation or an expression; add to that a physical reaction, such as he clenches his fists or blushes. The Emotion Thesaurus is a good reference to help with giving your characters physical reactions to emotions they are experiencing.
  • Thoughts: What your character thinks about the situation, and what he decides to do about it. Action: your character acts on the decision he has made. Eboch explains that this sequence can take one sentence or several pages, as long as the character’s emotional and intellectual reactions are shown, and they lead to a decision. Also, the pattern can be varied.
Get to Know your Characters
One of the books that brought home to me how to “show,” is Creating Characters Kids Will Love, by Elaine Marie Alphin. In a nutshell, Alphin suggests:
  • Decide on a general idea of the plot.
  • Decide who your character is, his background, experiences he’s had. What is his motivation? What’s at stake? What will happen if he doesn’t succeed?
  • Decide what your character will be doing, the actions he will take in order to develop the plot.
  • Then put yourself in your character’s shoes—get into his head—and perform his actions according to who he is: a skilled third grader or a third grader who is unsure of himself.
  • Go through the series of actions he is taking, step-by-step, even trying these actions out yourself to see what they feel like.
  • Develop your scenes to show something about your character.
Here is an example of how Benjy, Alphin's twelve-year-old main character, climbed down a precarious roof, from her book The Ghost Cadet:

Benjy’s actions: His sneakers were braced against the roof’s shingles. Slowly, Benjy took one hand off the sill and gripped a lower shingle instead. Then he took a deep breath, told himself very firmly not to be afraid, and let go of the sill with his other hand. There was a bad moment when his free hand couldn’t seem to find a shingle, but Benjy made himself stay calm, and finally his damp palm slid down one row of shingles and he hooked his fingers over the next one and held tight. After that, inching his way down row by row didn’t seem so terrible. Two more paragraphs continue Benji’s climb.

In the last paragraph, we delve into Benjy’s thoughts: Why couldn’t he have been a few inches taller? Benjy cursed his height silently. Even just a couple of inches would have meant his toes might have been able to feel the bench beneath him. But wishing wouldn’t make him grow. Benjy looked down one last time and asked himself whether this was really necessary. Flexing his arms, knees, and body, he ordered himself to relax, and took a deep breath, and let go.

While writing my first book, Secret in the Stars, this example from Alphin’s book helped me “show” my story.

A Case for “Telling, not Showing” 
“Telling” is acceptable at times, when you need to fill in brief mention of necessary information. Here’s an interesting example from the first paragraph of The Red Ghost, by Marion Dane Bauer; interesting because of Dane’s use of the word “was,” normally a no-no, especially at the beginning of a story:

The doll wore red velvet. Her dress was made of red velvet, and her bonnet was, too. Both were trimmed in white lace, but the white lace only made the velvet seem more red.

As in all of Dane’s books, there is a lilt to her first paragraph in The Red Ghost that is most pleasing, appealing, and enjoyable, despite her use of the word “was.” But for writers with less experience such as moi, using “was” might not be the best choice for a book opening unless it captivates the reader right away, as Dane’s first paragraph does.

And there is the case of “Good Telling:” that “telling” is sometimes better than “showing.” In Mary Kole’s article, “How to Write Fiction: When to Tell Instead of Show,” Kole discusses how she learned about J.K. Rowling’s use of “Good Telling,” as described in a speech given by Cheryl Klein, titled, “A Few Things Writers Can Learn from Harry Potter.”

Klein claims that in the Harry Potter books there is a pattern of topic sentences that explains how Harry is feeling, or heralds in a change about something that could happen, rather than "showing." In chapter two of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, the topic sentence explains how excited Harry is that he’s going to go to the zoo: “Harry had the best morning he’d had in a long time.” The caveat is that the sentences that follow “show Harry keeping out of Dudley’s punching range and eating a dessert Dudley doesn’t want. This does a double job of showing: it makes Harry’s life seem pretty dismal, and it makes him seem like a nice kid. Without the Good Telling topic sentence, those neat details wouldn’t pack as much punch. As Klein puts it, “Sometimes readers need the plain straightforward direction of telling to elucidate the point of all that showing.”

To read Kole’s article, go to: https://kidlit.com/when-to-tell-instead-of-show/. It is well worth your time.

Then there are the children’s classics, such as The Velveteen Rabbit, by Margery Williams, The Tale of Peter Rabbit, by Beatrix Potter, and The Little Prince, by Antoine de Saint-ExupĂ©ry. I could be wrong, but I think the term “storybook” has been lost, at least it was in my cursory search on Google, as I tried to find examples of books that are narrated, or “told” by the author. The closest I could come was a list of classic children’s books on the website Milwaukee with Kids.We all know that these stories are among the most beloved of children’s classics such as the books I mentioned, and serve as another example of when it’s okay to “tell” a story.

For now, as a new children’s author, I plan to stick to “showing” in my stories. And with the practice I’ve had, I find that when to “show” and when to “tell” comes intuitively, just as Leona Brits predicted.

The best part? Learning the ins-and-outs of this technique will give us as children’s authors more confidence than we ever thought possible, and will make writing our treasured stories more fun to write, and fun for children, to read.
For six tips on implementing "Show, don’t Tell," go to “My Golden Rules to ‘Show Don’t Tell,’ by 
Watch for Tall Boots, available
on Amazon in paperback, eBook, and
audiobook, coming soon!

Linda Wilson, a former elementary teacher, has published over 150 articles for children and adults, several short stories for children, and her first book, Secret in the Stars: An Abi Wunder Mystery, which is available on Amazon. Publishing credits include biosketches for the library journal, Biography Today, which include Troy Aikman, Stephen King, and William Shatner; PocketsHopscotch; and an article for Highlights for ChildrenSecret in the Mist, the second in the Abi Wunder series, is coming soon. A Packrat Holiday: Thistletoe’s Gift, and Tall Boots, Linda’s picture books, will be published soon. Follow Linda on https://www.lindawilsonauthor.com.

Writing Inspiration from Old Autograph Books

by Suzanne Lieurance

Are autograph books still a thing?

With today’s modern technology, I fear young people these days tend to mostly use their cell phones to communicate, so autograph books may have gone by the wayside.

But I hope not, so I looked on amazon.com to see if autograph books are still available, and luckily, they are.

Why do I care about autograph books so much?

Well, here’s why.

My mother passed away several months ago, and I’ve been going through her big pulldown desk—full of all sorts of keepsakes—that she had for years and years.

It’s taking me weeks to get through all the drawers of paperwork.

Among mountains of other things, I found two small faded autograph books.

One was my grandmother’s (her name was Bell) from her final year at the State Teacher’s College in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, in 1926.

It was fun reading through the pages to see—not just the messages—but all the elaborate penmanship, especially since cursive writing is becoming a thing of the past nowadays.

The other book was called My School-Day Autobiography, and it was a Christmas present to my mother (her name was Mary Ann) in 1942.

It is full of sweet, fun little messages from my mother’s elementary school friends at the end of the school year in 1943.

I found it interesting how the style of the messages in these two books was somewhat different.

The messages in my grandmother’s book were written by her friends of college age, of course, while my mother’s friends were much younger, so naturally, the messages would reflect the age differences.

Still, I think the autographs were also reflective of how times changed between 1926 and 1942.

In 1926, writing was a bit more formal or “flowery” as we might call it.

Here’s an example from my grandmother’s book:

“Dearest Bell,
In the garden of my heart, there are found dear flowers for friendship and thoughts of you.


“Dear Bell,
Adieu, it shall not be farewell.
We hope again to meet.
But happy hours are ever short
And days of yore are fleet.
There is much to learn and much to do.
And may our aim be high
And ever lead to that bright land
Where none shall say goodbye.
Always remember me,
Your friend Jessie”


“Bell, Dearest,
Your friendship has been a great pleasure to me and I wish for you a very happy life, much sunshine and joy.
God Bless You and Yours to be,

In contrast, here are some of the messages in my mother’s little autograph book:

“Dearest Mary Ann,
Your hair is made to curl,
Your cheeks are made to blush,
Your legs are made to whistle at.
Your eyes are made to sparkle.
Your lips are made to …..aw, hush!
Yours till hairpins get seasick from riding permanent waves,”


“Dearest Mary Ann,
If you get to heaven before I do,
Punch a hole and pull me through.”


“Dear Mary Ann,
When you slide down the bannister of life,
Be sure not to stick a splinter in your career!”
Your loving classmate,


Dear Mary Ann,
If a mountain should ever grow between us
And we should ever part,
May my name in golden letters be written on your heart.
Yours til’ butter flies,

I found these little messages quite inspiring, and I thought you might, too, so here’s a fun writing exercise.

Create a few short autograph-book-type messages to a friend in a more flowery style, as if you were living in the 1920s.

Then, come up with some short, rhyming messages, reflective of more modern times—today’s world, or imagine you’re living during the 1940s or maybe even in the future.

Try it!

Find more inspiration for writing as well as free resources and helpful articles about writing and the business of writing at writebythesea.com, and don't forget to sign up for The Morning Nudge.

Suzanne Lieurance is the author of over 40 published books and a writing coach.

Why Writers Must Follow-up

By Terry Whalin

These words could change the course of your writing career—if you take action and follow-up. I know this is a bold statement but I want to explain why I'm saying it.

During a writers' conference, I meet with many different writers. I listen to their ideas (pitches), read some of their work and then respond saying something like, “I love this idea and concept. Please send it to me.”

At this point in the process, we exchange business cards and I tell the writer to send the proposal or partial manuscript or all of the manuscript to my work email address as an attachment. The writer will frequently circle my email and make a note on their business card. If they have an extra hard copy, I will take this document home with me. Why? So I can follow-up our conversation with an email (and sometimes a phone call).

If you respond to this request, then you will be among the few from the conference who take such action. I understand the challenges of life. You return home from the event and plunge into your family and life. All sorts of things pull at your attention and prevent you from sending the requested manuscript.

Several of the people I met with gave me flash drives with their submission. Even during the conference, I used these flash drives and put their work into our internal system at Morgan James Publishing. Later this week those writers will receive a letter of acknowledgement in the mail (part of our unusual practice at Morgan James). To be honest, it does not mean they will receive a contract from the publisher or be published with the company since there are still a number of other steps to go before that happens. But they have taken a huge step in the right direction.

We work with people that we know, like and trust. This principle is a basic of sound business. It's true that we receive thousands of submissions and only publish about 180 books a year yet even with the mounds of material to examine, I am always looking for solid authors to publish.

Over the next few days, I will be creating and sending follow-up emails to the people who gave me promising proposals and submissions and exchanges. I follow-up to encourage the writer to take action and send me their submission. When they send the requested material (electronically) then they will keep moving forward in the process and possibly get their book published. It never happens if they do not follow-up and take action.

Years ago my first book was published after a conversation with an editor during a writers' conference. She encouraged my pitch and asked me to send my manuscript to her. I made a note about it, went home, wrote the manuscript and sent it. There were many more steps in the process before my book was published but the ball began rolling from my follow-up action.

Sometimes authors will follow-up with me many months after my request. That is OK with me because eventually they took action. I'm always eager to read their material and keep it moving in the process.

What follow-up work do you need to do with your writing? It might be a short email to an editor or literary agent? Maybe you've sent something and never got a response. Did they receive it? You must follow-up. Each of us as professionals have many things in motion. Your follow-up work is critical to the process and why you must follow-up.


Why writers must follow-up. Here's some insights from a much-published editor. (ClickToTweet)

W. Terry Whalin is an acquisitions editor at Morgan James Publishing. His work contact information is on the bottom of the second page (follow this link).  He has written for over 50 magazines and more than 60 books with traditional publishers.  His latest book for writers is 10 Publishing Myths, Insights Every Author Needs to Succeed. Get this book for only $10 + free shipping and over $200 in bonuses. He lives in Colorado and has over 190,000 twitter followers

Tips for Getting Known

Tips for Getting Known: Platform – Brand - Content

Your Platform is a useful necessity for all authors whether you write essays, articles, blogs or books, fiction or nonfiction. Brand is who you are. You are your brand, built by words, images and delivering as promised. Success depends upon visibility. We communicate with clarity and offer valuable information through our websites because Content is King.
Getting Known is all about providing content of interest.
Your Platform includes all the ways you are visible to readers:
•    Communicates your expertise quickly with clarity
•    Where to find you online, books, magazines, etc
•    Optimized metadata, SEO and keywords
•    Consistent delivery of valuable content
•    Balanced creativity and business

The Essential Commonplace book:
Useful and informative content makes for great visibility, thus using a commonplace book is essential.

Have you ever lost an idea because you couldn’t jot it down? Writers have been carrying notebooks for centuries, so I thought I’d mention commonplace books. Renaissance humanists of classical scholarship began using commonplace books as a form of study and note taking.  

There’s just too much to recall and consider further later. A commonplace book is uniquely yours, a central storehouse of knowledge. It is a helpful resource to gather your notes of wisdom, impressive sayings, and practical applications. As you read, collect what pops out; capture an idea by making notes, scribbles and comments.

Let your commonplace book become your treasure store of ideas and wisdom. It will help you realize what is most important to you. Organize it as you wish, in traditional format, diagonal snippets, and vertical standout points. It’s your book and best handwritten with your doodles and diagrams. Like Melissa Donovan says, “There’s something about the tactile experience of writing in a notebook that seems to boost creativity.”

During corporate meetings, I’ve used ringed notebooks to capture significant points of the meeting, schedule and plans. I wrote every which way, no one could make sense of it but me. However, with these notes I recalled where I was, what the meeting was about and my next steps. I’m sure you have a method also.

As a source of creativity, use your commonplace book, your everyday book, as a resource for writing your next article, essay or blog post.

Helpful Links:
Melissa Donovan, Author, Coach, Teacher, Editor of Writing Forward

Deborah Lyn Stanley is an author of Creative Non-Fiction. She writes articles, essays and stories. She is passionate about caring for the mentally impaired through creative arts.
Visit her My Writer’s Life website at: https://deborahlynwriter.com/   
Visit her caregiver’s website: https://deborahlyncaregiver.com/
Available on Amazon --- Mom & Me: A Story of Dementia and the Power of God’s Love 

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7 Ways to Be Healthier Right Now

After a very long 14 months of isolation, things are finally starting to open up. Depending on where you live and what you do, you'll have a different level of change. 

But remember this: no matter what your level of active out-of-the-house lifestyle, any change is stressful. This means that prioritizing self-care ... and renewed attention to your health!

Here are 7 health goals you can set for this spring, summer, and beyond: 

1. Commit to Work Boundaries. When the topic of self-care comes up, this is always my first recommendation. Set a time to stop working every day ... and then set a cutoff for looking at your email ... come on, we all do it. While you're at it, schedule time for lunch, breaks throughout the day, and time off on the weekends. When you are fully present 

2 Eat Healthier. This can mean different things for everyone. For some, eat healthier equates to adding a vegetable to your meal ... or eating healthier snacks ... or fewer snacks. Others may want to set a goal to do more cooking and get less prepared foods. Whatever your food-prep habits, there should be something you can do to up the "healthy" on your eating.

5. Find a Workout You Like. You are without a doubt more likely to exercise if you enjoy the exercise you are doing. Now that nearly everything is online these days, you can sample different types of workouts. You can try kickboxing one week, Zumba the next. Or just do some good old-fashioned walking, running, or biking. Set a reasonable workout schedule ... and follow it!

4. Drink More Water. This one always gets me. Hydration is super-important. And I always mean to drink more water, but sometimes get distracted from my water-drinking goals. Set water reminders on your smartwatch, or in your calendar. Or just drink a glass before each meal, and also mid-morning, mid-afternoon, and throughout the day. Figure out what a good water-drinking habit is for you ... and do it!

5. Start Meditating. Take up a Hobby. Or Both. Find a fun, healthy activity for your downtime.

6. Remember to Breathe. Are you stressing out? STOP. Feels better, right? When I get stressed out, I allow myself two minutes to feel it,  then it's back to business as usual. That may not work for everyone, but you know how your body functions, so see what works for you.

7. Get Good Sleep. A good night's sleep sets any day up for success, so stop burning the midnight oil. Turn off the devices while you are winding down at night - the National Sleep Foundation says 30 minutes before you go to sleep. Maybe treat yourself to a new pillow, as a reward for shutting down early. And get some good zzzzs.

* * *

No matter what you do or where you work (from home, office, or hybrid), good health is always in style. Take care of your body ... and your body will take care of you.

* * *

What's your best healthy-living tip? What are your health goals? Please share in the comments.

* * *

Debra Eckerling is the 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 writer, editor, and project catalyst, Deb works with individuals and businesses to set goals and manage their projects through one-on-one coaching, workshops, and online support. She is also the author of Write On Blogging: 51 Tips to Create, Write & Promote Your Blog and Purple Pencil Adventures: Writing Prompts for Kids of All Ages, founder of Write On Online, Vice President of the Los Angeles Chapter of the Women's National Book Association, host of the #GoalChat Twitter Chat and #GoalChatLive on Facebook, and a speaker/moderator on the subjects of writing, networking, goal-setting, and social media.

Writing Inspiration - Get a Club


There are authors and writers who feel the need to wait for writing inspiration to come knocking at their door in order to produce creative work.

Unfortunately, you may have a very long wait.

Writers who write all the time know that as Jack London put it, “You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.”

Juggling multiple children’s ghostwriting clients all the time, I don’t have the luxury of waiting until some kind of inspiration takes hold of me to get the creative juices flowing. I have to create sound fiction stories that are engaging and publishable.

To get things done, I sit with my laptop and write.

To be creative, to be inspired, you need to get the words down. You need to WRITE.

You need to allow the process to unfold as you’re writing whether you’re an outliner or a pantser.

Another aspect of writing, if you’re not a skilled writer or don’t have the time, is to at least get your story ideas down.

Once you have your idea down, try to write an outline.

- Where do you want the story to go?
- How do you picture your characters, especially your main character?
- How do you want your story to end?

It doesn’t have to be elaborate or even ‘good’ writing. It’s about getting your ideas out there.

So, instead of waiting for inspiration, just WRITE!

And if you have an idea, an outline, or a simple draft and don’t know how or where to go from there, you can email me or give me a call. I can help. Find out more at: Writing for Children with Karen Cioffi

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

You can follow Karen at:

LinkedIn  http://www.linkedin.com/in/karencioffiventrice
Twitter  http://twitter.com/KarenCV
 Check out her books' page: https://karencioffiwritingforchildren.com/karens-books/ 



The Lazy Way to Be a Great Writer

Setting Self-Care Goals

Writing Book Reviews Can be a Great Marketing Tool

How to Write a Chase Scene that Works


On Writing Chase Scenes


By Carolyn Howard-Johnson
Author of The Frugal Editor, the winningest in her award-winning HowToDoItFrugally Series of books for writers
This article is excerpted from some editing I did for a writer of experimental fiction when I was on a Greater Los Angeles Writers Society (GLAWS) panel. No matter what genre you prefer, you can apply these suggestions to the chase, getaway, or high action scene in your script or manuscript. Do it before you send it to an agent or publisher or, better still, while you are writing the first draft.

Sometimes even the most fascinating, interesting and irresistible detail can slow down the forward movement of your story. So as much as writers are told that detail is important, purge as much as you can from your action scenes and put it somewhere else or dribble it into narrative in other places in your manuscript. In the process, ask yourself if your reader really needs to know the color of the protagonist’s eyes. As important as detail is, some is better left to the imagination of the reader. I can imagine where eye color might be very important--even in that moment--but, on average, it probably isn’t necessary. It more likely it will take your reader out of the moment, maybe even make her laugh when you want her to be tense. Here are some quick suggestions:

1.    Remove some of the detail entirely. Double check. Make it meet the test!

2.    Use stronger verbs—especially verbs of movement. Use a Thesaurus to explore related words.

3.    Use shorter sentences. By doing so, the rhythm could emulate a fast-beating heart and the pulse of danger. Note that clauses slow copy as surely as passive voice (or tense).

4.    In the interest of a faster pace, try dropping into present tense and moving out of it when the run or danger is past. Write the scene that way and wait a day or two before rereading it. By doing so, you’ll be able to honestly compare the effects of the two and adjust the tense change so it doesn’t feel obtrusive.

5.    If you are trying to achieve a truly heart-beating moment, consider using fragments. Even one-word fragments.

6.    Commas can slow the pace. Sometimes you must follow grammar rules for commas for clarity. Often that comma slows things down for the reader. Does the comma indicate a pause where the reader wouldn’t normally pause or does it reinforce a natural pause? Does it really help with clarity? Would you achieve this clarity better if you made your long sentence into short ones. Don’t assume that because grammar rules would indicate a pause in normal prose, this isn’t normal. Pausing probably isn’t in the picture if one is running for his life. This is a style choice you get to make. You are looking for the times readers will never notice a comma is absent. You may choose to discard some of them even if it breaks a rule.

7.    Consider saving the description of your protagonist for a time when life doesn’t depend on his or her speed. His “bright face of youth” doesn’t meet that test. Is there a way to work the major description into this narrative using smaller bites or to arrange to have it come before or after the chase?

8.    Though I love sensory detail, be careful not to overdo that, especially in an action-moment. The writer of the action scene I was critiquing had the protagonist leaning against a strut for a moment’s rest. The strut’s sensory role in this passage should probably be the emotional reassurance it offered, not how it felt to the touch. Further, this kind of thing might best be left to your reader who will draw that conclusion anyway.

9.    At the risk of being repetitious, the sense of danger shouldn’t be interrupted unless it is necessary for understanding. Sometimes that isn’t speed (like a chase). Sometimes it is. Regardless, you—the author—want to keep the momentum going for the reader.


Carolyn Howard-Johnson is the author of the multi award-winning series of HowToDoItFrugally books for writers including USA Book News’ winner for The Frugal Book Promoter. An instructor for UCLA Extension's renowned Writers Program for nearly a decade, she believes in entering (and winning!) contests and anthologies as an excellent way to separate our writing from the hundreds of thousands of books that get published each year. Two of her favorite awards are Woman of the Year in Arts and Entertainment given by members of the California Legislature and Women Who Make Life Happen, given by the Pasadena Weekly newspaper. She is also an award-winning poet and novelist and she loves passing along the tricks of the trade she learned from marketing those so-called hard-to-promote genres. Learn more and find tons of free resources on her website at https://HowToDoItFrugally.com or on her Amazon profile page: https://bit.ly/CarolynsAmznProfile. While you’re there, click on the follow button and then make sure your own Amazon profile page is up-to-date. If you need help with that, check out my The Frugal Book Promoter, 3rd Edition, published by Modern History Press.


Book Marketing Your Way to Visibilty and Book Sales


I used to write a lot about book marketing and content marketing but a few years ago I gravitated more toward writing.

The thing is, while writing has a beginning, middle, and end, marketing and selling your book is never-ending … if you want to sell books.

This is why knowing about book marketing is crucial to every author.

When I read Neil Patel’s article on his content marketing formula, I knew I had to share it.

Before I dive in, let me explain these terms.

Book Marketing

This marketing strategy is ‘everything’ you do to bring visibility to your book and actually sell it.

While there are some authors who just want to have a book written and don’t really care about selling it, most authors want to sell their books.

This is especially true of authors who spend money to self-publish their books where costs can be from under $1000 to well over $1000.

A few of my clients have spent well over $10,000 for just ONE book.

Recouping the money invested in your book is a big deal to most.

And, it’s just as important if you’re traditionally published. Your publisher will definitely want you to help sell your book/s.

In fact, it you and another author both submitted great manuscripts to a publisher, a determining factor on who gets the contract could be who has a better book marketing platform.

So, here are a few elements to know about before and after your book is available for sale:

1. Create a book worthy of publishing and learn about pricing it effectively
2. Create and maintain an author website
3. Write articles and post them on your website’s blog
4. Be active on social media and share your blog posts and those of other users
5. Get an email list going and maintain it
6. Look into guest blogging and interviews
7. While doing all this and more, start on your next book

Once your book is available for sale, you’ll also need to get book reviews and create an Amazon Author Page.

Content Marketing

This strategy is about writing and sharing content to your specific target audience.

 According to Content Marketing Institute, “Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.”

To clarify a bit, it’s about bringing visibility to you and your product/s through content (things you write and share, usually online). It’s about building a brand (what you want people to think of when they see your name or logo).

The marketing world is driven on content.

Below are a few strategies of content marketing:

1. Blogging
2. Video
3. Podcasts
4. Infographics
5. Sales pages on your website
6. Books

There are many other elements that go into these marketing strategies, but this should give you a basic understanding of both these terms.

And more importantly, it’s important to understand that pretty much everything you do to sell your book is a form of content marketing.

Now on to content marketing expert Neil Patel’s tips.

1. Optimize your headline.

Everything you write, whether a blog post or a description on social media, starts with a headline.

An example of this is the title of this article.

There are thousands and thousands of tidbits of information online, why would someone click on your bit of information?

The very first reason would be the headline. It’s what will initially grab the reader’s attention.

2. Add three internal links.

Internal links is when you link from one page on your website to another.

It allows you to bring the reader at your website to other of your website pages and/or blog posts through clickable links.

You can check out this article to learn more about internal or inbound links:

3. Share your content on social media.

Once you put up a blog post, use sharing tools, like Shareaholic and WP Social Sharing Plugins, and share it to your social networks.

4. Message everyone you link out to.

This tip pertains to external links also called outbound links. Links from your website (usually from your blog post) to other websites.

Patel recommends that you contact the site you’re linking out to and let them know that you’ve linked to their site from your blog post or webpage.

Ask the site to stop by and share the article.

5. Email blast your new blog posts.

Email your subscribers every time you post new content.

To learn the basics of email marketing, check out this article:
Email Marketing – 10 Top Reasons to BE Doing It

I know some of this may sound too complicated, but just knowing the basics will be of tremendous benefit to you.

So, give your book every chance at finding readers and making sales.

For a more in depth look at marketing your books, check out my WOW! Women on Writing eclass: Build Your Author-Writer Platform


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

You can follow Karen at:

LinkedIn  http://www.linkedin.com/in/karencioffiventrice
Twitter  http://twitter.com/KarenCV

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