Friday, August 5, 2022

How to Jumpstart Book Sales with Reviews and Excerpts

August 5, 2022, #2 in Carolyn's Guestpost Series for #WritersontheMove Blog

How to Use Your Reviews and Excerpts

By Carolyn Howard-Johnson

This is the second in Carolyn’s guest post series with excerpts from her 
Feel free to retrieve the first entry for this series from this blog’s July 5, 2022 entry, 
and follow the four-part series through to October 5, 2022.

“Very simply put, reviews are the gift that keeps giving.” ~ CHJ

This is the second in my guest post series on getting and using credible reviews and on making them into forever reviews to launch a book or to jumpstart the sales of a book that has been around for a while. It is always my pleasure to share excerpts from my multi award-winning HowToDoItFrugally Series of books for writers when I can reach (and help!) more authors with that information. Do go back to the first in this series of posts published on this blog on July 5, 2022, or read the entire book, How to Get Great Book Reviews Frugally and Ethically: The ins and outs of using free reviews to build and sustain a writing career, to get a more complete story on the magic of reviews and blurbs. You’ll benefit from all 300 pages of it, including how to get and use mail order catalogs and why you should.

Using Your Reviews and Excerpts Now and Forever

The beauty of reviews and the praise extracted from them is that you can continue to use them as long as you want, and some can be used for more than just the book that is being reviewed. An example of that is a review or excerpt from a review that praises your writing style as opposed to the specific title. With that in mind, you are ready to go to work making your new reviews (and your old ones) into marketing workhorses for your entire writing career.

§   Post full reviews on your blog. The post works best if you introduce it with a little information about the reviewer, the journal, or your personal response to having received it. You can use excerpts in the sidebar of your blog, too.

To extend the exposure of your review, submit it to my The New Book Review blog ( I started it to help authors when I realized it would be a physical impossibility to say yes to review requests from my many readers and students. If you use it, please follow the submission guidelines in the tabs on the home page of the blog exactly. Because I am frugal with time, I try to make this process a copy-and-paste operation.

Use both full reviews and excerpts on your web site.

o   Put your favorite review on your book’s page within your web site. You should have one complete review for every book you publish (and a separate page on your web site for each book you publish).

o   Use short excerpts from reviews on almost every page of your web site: In the footer of each page, in a sidebar, and in a table or cell to help break up copy. You may find other places to install an excerpt/blurb/endorsement as your web site grows.

o   Should you get a review in a prestigious journal, use a phrase like “As seen in Publisher’s Weekly” on your homepage, on other appropriate spots on your site, and in your general marketing campaign.

Announce any new reviews you get on your social networks. When you do this, use a light voice to avoid appearing braggadocio like a Donald-Trump-Running-for-President. He may be able to get away with it, but you probably won’t. Instead, frame it as a thank you to the person who gave you the review, the medium where it appeared, or both. Link to the review (that’s doing the reviewer a favor) and tag her using the little @ sign so she is aware that you cared enough to promote her web site or journal. By doing so, you are paving the way to assure she more easily accepts your next book for review.

Send out media releases (also called—less accurately—press releases) to the local press when you get a review in a prestigious review journal. Use the filter on your contact list to pull out media that might be interested. If you live in a metropolitan area with a major newspaper, they may view this kind of release as clutter, but your local throw-away paper or subsidiary news or feature editor may love it.

Use an excerpt from your review in any one or all of these places where an endorsement will make people more aware of your book:

o   Use quotations excerpted from reviews as part of your signature.

o   Put the crème de la crème excerpts from your reviews on the Praise Page in your media kit. For media kits, use short blurbs rather than long ones. Bullets help each excerpt (blurb) stand out and indicates to gatekeepers who read it that you cared enough to make it easy for them. Get step-by-step instructions for writing and assembling a professional media kit in the third edition of my The Frugal Book Promoter ( now published by Modern History Press.

o   Use an excerpt on your preprinted mailing labels as part of your branding.

o   Use them the same way on your checks.

o   Feature them on your return-address labels. Your return labels can be much larger than the ones charity organizations send you. I use for these. I try to find room for my book cover image and sometimes an excerpt from a review as well.

o   Use them on the back cover of your book, of course.

o   In How To Get Great Book Reviews I talk about how you can use excerpts on a page of praise just inside the front cover of you next book or future editions of the book you are working on.

o   Send the excerpt from your review to event planners at bookstores in your hometown or cities you’ll be visiting. Encourage them to post it near the display of your book when you read or do a workshop for them.

o   Make a short excerpt praising your book part of your query letter for a book signing or workshop.

o   Use praise in the header or footer of your stationery.

o   When appropriate, use or adapt something someone has said about your book as a motto.

o   Use excerpts from your reviews (credited, of course!) in handouts you distribute when you speak or present at conferences or tradeshows. Use them like this:

Examples you share in the body of your handout.

o   In the header or footer of your handout.

o   Near your contact information.

o   Use excerpts on your business cards or bookmarks.

o   The U.S. postal service now offers specially printed postage stamps. Did you ever dream your picture might someday land on a postage stamp? Now you can do it (for a fee). Include your book’s cover and a brief excerpt from a review. Sometimes you can take a cue from the movie industry and excerpt just one word like this:

“ . . .  Scandalous!” ~ Publishers Weekly

o  Don’t forget to use excerpts (blurbs) as endorsements in your newsletter.

o   A thank-you feature in the #SharingwithWriters Newsletter I am about to reinstate served (and will serve) several purposes. Yes, gratitude. But it also extends the exposure of my reviews or other promotions. It’s about networking. It acts as a resource for my subscribers with links they will find valuable for getting reviews for their own books or to find books for their own reading pleasure. Subscribers who choose to submit their successes also get a little extra publicity.

o   Use excerpts from reviews judiciously in the footers, backmatter, or frontmatter of other books you publish, or new editions of the book that was originally reviewed.

Note: “Books you publish” might include whitepapers, e-books, or booklets you give away as promotions. Read the case study of my most successful cross-promotional booklets of this e-cookbook in The Frugal Book Promoter ( The idea can be adapted to most genres.

Use one of your pithiest excerpts on the signs you take to book fairs, book signings, conferences, and tradeshows.

Tip: Kinko’s/FedEx is a good place to get a poster made and laminated. Floor- and table-standing retractable canvas banners (as seen in photo) are expensive but worth it if you frequently choose these kinds of events because they are sturdy enough to use over and over and easy to roll and fold for travel.

Circle September 5, 2022, on your calendar for the next post in this series of four excerpted from How To Get Great Reviews Frugally and Ethically. Earlier posts in this series start on July 5, 2022, and cover topics that help you make your reviews into marketing magic that pretty much lasts forever.

More on Guest Blogger and Regular WritersOnTheMove Contributor 

Carolyn Howard-Johnson brings her experience as a publicist, journalist, marketer, and founder and owner of a retail chain to the advice she gives in her multi award-winning HowToDoItFrugally series of books for writers and the many classes she taught for nearly a decade as instructor for UCLA Extension’s world-renown Writers’ Program. All her books for writers are multi award winners including both the first and second editions of The Frugal Book Promoter,now in its third edition from Modern History Press, and her winningest book, The Frugal Editor, won awards from USA Book News, Readers’ Views Literary Award, the marketing award from Next Generation Indie Books and others including the coveted Irwin award. The third full book in the HowToDoItFrugally series for writers is How to Get Great Book Reviews Frugally and Ethically.

Howard-Johnson is the recipient of the California Legislature’s Woman of the Year in Arts and Entertainment Award, and her community’s Character and Ethics award for her work promoting tolerance with her writing. She was also named to Pasadena Weekly’s list of “Fourteen San Gabriel Valley women who make life happen” and was given her community’s Diamond Award for Achievement in the Arts.

The author loves to travel. She has visited ninety one countries before her travels were so rudely interrupted by Covid and has studied writing at Cambridge University in the United Kingdom; Herzen University in St. Petersburg, Russia; and Charles University, Prague. She admits to carrying a pen and journal wherever she goes. Her Web site is

Tuesday, August 2, 2022

Benefits of Using a Content Planner for Your Novel


 Contributed by Christina Queen

Raise your hand if your writing is unorganized!

Sometimes unorganized writing happens, and that is ok. The good news is you can learn from it, don’t worry, I have a plan.
I began my novel, please don’t judge, a few years ago, and I’m still working on it. The sad part is that I have it finished in my head, but I can’t submit my thoughts.
A couple of months ago, I realized I needed to do something. I needed to create a plan.
During my day job, I am a freelance writer, and of course, like any writer, I contribute to my blog.
I have a content calendar and planning guide to keep me organized and on top of what I need to do.
Which got me thinking.
Why do I not have a content planning calendar for my novel?
After mentally slapping myself, I immediately went to the interwebs and tried to research this. After all, my job is to research, but I found nothing: Nit, rein, zero. I found template after template that I could download for nine different things, such as character profiles, story planners, etc.
This inspired me, the self-proclaimed queen of researching and spreadsheets, to create a spreadsheet for my novel.
And guess what?
I am now two weeks away from finishing my novel.
What the heck did I include in that novel content planner?
1.     Goals
My very first page was to outline my goals. I needed my goals in a place where I could see them daily and hold myself accountable.
There are no unique formulas for this page, so don’t flip out! I only created two columns, one for the title and topic and the other for a short description of my goals.
2.     Weekly Planner
Now what kind of newly founded organized writer would I be if I didn’t have a weekly planner. While this may seem much, the weekly planner holds me accountable for my tasks. For instance, I plan out time for my Mind Mapping, planning ideas for each scene or chapter. I block out specific times for this to feel relaxed and not stressed about finding the time or completing other things.
3.     Story Structure
This tab is a little more detailed. But this is the fun, creative part! Here are the questions I include that help me to put the plot together.
•      A plot point is the worst thing to happen to the story and characters. Your characters’ desires, loves, and fears should drive and dictate your plot.
•      What does your character want the most, and why can’t they have it? What is the external goal of the character?
•      Who/what do they love most? What do they have to lose?
•      What is their fatal character flaw?
•      Ally?
•      What are they afraid of?
•      What is the best thing that could happen to them?
•      Relative to the answers above, what is the worst thing that could happen?
•      Ending
When I mapped out my story like this, I organically discovered the antagonist and enemy. The book practically built itself-ok that may be stretching the truth a little.
4.     Character cheat sheets and backstories.
I love love this part of writing. I love creating backstories and building a character. Having all this in a spreadsheet makes it convenient and helps me see what I need to call upon instantly and not dig through my memory.
The best part of having this spreadsheet “workbook” is the ease of having everything in one place, ready for me to reference.
But the other best reason I feel these spreadsheets are helpful is they give me the organization and efficient time management I desperately needed to get this monster of a novel out.

Christina is the Friends-obsessed creative behind Christina Q Writes. As a full-time freelance writer, she helps clients in need of fantastic content. Christina Q Writes is where she shares tips and advice on freelance writing, blogging, and creative entrepreneurship to help people just like you pursue your dreams of working from home!
LinkedIn: Christina-Queen-Writes


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Monday, August 1, 2022

A Picture Book - The Business Side


 By Karen Cioffi

In a children’s picture book workshop, the editor (from Scholastic) delved into why editors are so choosy when finding their next project.

It’s pretty simple.

Children’s books is a business. And like any other business, publishing houses think profit and loss. The editors are very aware of this and their reputation depends on them finding stories that will sell.

The editor conducting the workshop, Natalia Remis, was very upfront about what goes on behind the scenes and what takes place once she likes a manuscript.

Editors can’t afford to step out on a limb. And even if an editor wants to, there are hoops to jump through to actually get a story acquired.

The first thing editors need to look at is the story’s appeal to the mass market.

Picture books need to sell to a wide market, to the mass market. This means they need to sell to the majority of people.

Publishing houses are thinking of schools, Target, and other large outlets.

A small niche story won’t cut it with the big companies. They want broad appeal.

Next, editors actually have to fight to get their books acquired.

Editors want their books to be acquired and to get the attention.

The more profitable books an editor takes on, the more respected she will be as an editor. It’s a boost to her reputation.

If an editor likes a picture book, she has to go over a list of considerations:

1. Is the book right for the publishing house: Does it have enough commercial appeal and kid appeal? Does it have the right hook for Barnes and Noble and the mass market?

2. Does it have enough institutional appeal for awards? It’s always a plus if a book wins awards.

3. Is the book from a known author, possibly one from another publishing house?

4. Does the editor want to spend the next two years working on this particular book? Publishing a picture book is a LONG process. The editor needs to stay motivated and engaged throughout the process.

If at this point, the editor decides it’s worth moving forward with a book, it needs to be approved by the Acquisitions Committee.

This committee has all the top marketing people in it and the editor has to:

- PROVE that they’ll make their investment back in the FIRST YEAR.
- Prove that there is a market for this particular book.
- Show that it will be a valuable product for the publishing house.

Choosing a book, seeing that ‘something’ in it is a very personal thing. The editor needs to see and feel ‘it’ in order to be willing to do battle for the book.

Editors fight hard to get a book acquired and published.

So, if you’re asked to make non-contractual revisions, jump at the opportunity.

This means the editor sees potential in the story, but it needs to be in its best shape possible to appeal to the acquisitions committee and get approval.

An editor can’t take a chance on a new author unless they see something special. And, it’s that ‘something’ that the editor needs to convince the acquisitions committee of. The editor’s reputation is on the line.

It was an enlightening workshop.

I had no idea how difficult it is for an editor in a large publishing house. It’s now easier to understand why the submissions process is like it is. And, why it’s so difficult to get a contract with the large houses if you’re a new author.

A BIG thank you to Natalia Remis for an information packed workshop.

I hope this information on editors and picture books has been helpful. 


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

Karen’s children’s books include “Walking Through Walls” and “The Case of the Stranded Bear.” She also has a DIY book, “How to Write Children’s Fiction Books.” You can check them out at: If you need help with your children’s story, visit:  



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How to Jumpstart Book Sales with Reviews and Excerpts

August 5, 2022, #2 in Carolyn's Guestpost Series for #WritersontheMove Blog How to Use Your Reviews and Excerpts By Carolyn Howard-Johns...