Showing posts with label authors. Show all posts
Showing posts with label authors. Show all posts

A Call for Writers to Find Balance

By Terry Whalin 

Within the publishing world, I’ve often heard it is harder to sign with a literary agent than to locate a publisher. Because publishers have been inundated with poor and inappropriate submissions, many of them have created policies of only accepting submissions from literary agents.  This practice created pressure on the agents to find the right authors, shape the right pitches and send to the right publisher. Also, agents have become gatekeepers in the publishing process. 

For over 30 years, I’ve worked with multiple agents on proposals and pitches. For several years I ran my own literary agency and I’m currently an acquisitions editor at my third publishing house. I’ve read thousands of submissions. Every writer needs to learn the skill of producing an excellent manuscript, book proposal and query letter or pitch.  You can learn each of these skills. Now you have created each of these tools and you are looking for the right literary agent. Here’s some basics (rarely verbalized facts you need to know):

1. The literary agent works for you. When you sign an agency agreement, you become one of their clients or the authors they represent. 

2. Some agents are former editors and will work back and forth with you to perfect your proposal and/or pitch. Other agents will take your proposal, add a cover letter and get it out to various publishers. Before you sign, I encourage you to ask about how they work with their authors and make sure it is the right fit for what you need.

3. How frequently does the agent communicate with you? Do they send you the rejections? Years ago, a well-known agent represented me and he never sent me the rejections. Instead, he would tell me, “Everyone passed, Terry.” When I asked who, he never gave me the specifics but repeated “everyone.”  When I was an agent, I sent each rejection to the specific author. Maybe you don’t want your rejections but ask about this practice ahead of signing.

4. Does the agent work with you on a list of possible publishers or do they create the list and handle it? Does the agent guide your future projects and bring you writing opportunities they have discovered from speaking with publishers? 

Some additional areas to examine include years in the industry, their list of other clients and ask if you can speak with a few of their clients. Also use google and see what you can learn. Also ask about their negotiation skills with contracts and some of their results. The business of publishing is filled with complexity. These are just a few of the questions to ask and make sure you have the right fit before you sign with a particular agent or agency. The agent or agency you select is an important decision. My encouragement is for you to ask questions before you sign their agreement and make sure it is the right fit for you and your writing goals.  I know many excellent literary agents. Writers have multiple choices in this area—whether you are aware of it or not. Good and clear communication is a critical part of the process.


As writers look for a literary agent, this prolific writer and editor has seen an imbalance in publishing. He calls writers into a balanced approach. Learn the details here. (ClickToTweet)

W. Terry Whalin, a writer and acquisitions editor lives in California. A former magazine editor and former literary agent, Terry is an acquisitions editor at Morgan James Publishing. He has written more than 60 nonfiction books including Jumpstart Your Publishing Dreams and Billy Graham. Get Terry’s recent book, 10 Publishing Myths for only $10, free shipping and bonuses worth over $200. To help writers catch the attention of editors and agents, Terry wrote his bestselling Book Proposals That $ell, 21 Secrets To Speed Your Success. Check out his free Ebook, Platform Building Ideas for Every Author. His website is located at: Connect with Terry on TwitterFacebook and LinkedIn.

Six Reasons to Review Books

By Terry Whalin 

For many years, several times a week, publishers and authors send new books which arrive in my mailbox. To libraries, I’ve given away so many books that a church in Kentucky was able to gain accreditation for their school and it amounted to thousands of books. The mayor of the town even declared a Terry Whalin Day (a one-day event). I receive many more new books than I could possibly read—especially since I do it in my “free” time and write book reviews. Whether you are a new writer or experienced professional, in this article, I want to give six reasons to write book reviews.

As an editor, I often ask writers what they are reading. If they write fiction, I’m expecting they will tell me about novels they are reading. Years ago, I met an older man who had written a romance novel. He confessed that he did not read romance novels but only wrote them. This answer did not give me the right impression about this author. You don’t write a novel just because it is a large genre. Writers are readers and writing reviews documents your reading habits—and my first reason for writing reviews. 

Writing reviews helps you understand your market and audience. I encourage you to read and write about other books in your area of the market. As a writer, you can either be a competitor or cooperate and support your competition. I believe you are stronger if you support your competition with reviews.

Book reviews sell books and everyday people read reviews to make buying decisions. If your book on Amazon has less than 10 reviews and has been released for a year, that gives one message where if it has over 50 reviews (mostly four and five stars) then that sends a different message to the reader. As authors, we need to continually work at getting more reviews—even if your book has been out for a while.

When you write a five-star review for an author, reach out to that author and tell them about it. Reviews are an important means for you to support other authors and build relationships.

Books change lives and this reason is my fifth one about why to write book reviews. You can influence others to buy a book and read it from your review. I know firsthand books change lives because a key part of how I came to Christ years ago involved reading a book.I read a book called Jesus the Revolutionary and you can follow this link to read the magazine article that I wrote called Two Words That Changed My Life. Books can have powerful impact on our lives.

My final reason: Writing the short form is an important skill for every writer. For example, I do not review electronic books—only print books. If I read or listen to a book, then about 99% of the time, I will write a review on Amazon and Goodreads. Create a personal standard for your book review. Mine are not a single sentence but at least 100 words and often include a quote from the book to show that I’ve read it with a unique image.

Are you reviewing books or going to start reviewing books? Let me know in the comments below.


Do you write book reviews? This prolific writer and editor gives six reasons to write reviews. Learn the details here. (ClickToTweet)

W. Terry Whalin, a writer and acquisitions editor lives in California. A former magazine editor and former literary agent, Terry is an acquisitions editor at Morgan James Publishing. He has written more than 60 nonfiction books including Jumpstart Your Publishing Dreams and Billy Graham. Get Terry’s recent book, 10 Publishing Myths for only $10, free shipping and bonuses worth over $200. To help writers catch the attention of editors and agents, Terry wrote his bestselling Book Proposals That $ell, 21 Secrets To Speed Your Success. Check out his free Ebook, Platform Building Ideas for Every Author. His website is located at: Connect with Terry on TwitterFacebook and LinkedIn.

Getting Your Book on Newsletter Lists


Contributed by Margot Conor

Whichever way you publish, your sales will depend on your ability to market your book. Traditional publishers will do some promotions but how much they do will depend on who you are, and how much they believe in your product.

But let’s face it, no one else cares as much as you do about your book, so it will be largely up to you to market it. It's your marketing strategy that determines how much money you can expect to make from your book.

Statistically, 80 % of readers get their next read from written word media. It is the #1-way readers find their favorite books. If you don’t know what that specifically refers to… it’s newsletters.

These newsletters are directly from authors or newsletters from organizations that promote books. Most authors today know how important it is to grow their audience through a newsletter.

Getting your book titles seen by readers, outside of your personal contacts, will be a big boost for your sales.

Here are a few ways to take advantage of these phenomenal opportunities, gain exposure to thousands of subscribers who read company newsletters, and pick up new followers for your creative works:


Goodreads platform has over 125 million members, it is likely the biggest database of books on the planet. I did’nt find how many subscribers they have for their newsletter. But there are other ways to utilize their site to get more visibility by using their Lists.

Here are the methods for using Goodreads to promote your book:

-The “Similar To” algorithm: connects books on similar topics, and gives you a selection to choose from. Find user lists which have books similar to yours. Use genre, theme, and other specifics. Add your title to those lists. Spread this out over time. don’t do it all in one day. Also, join as a reader and compile your own lists, and of course, add your own books to them.

-The “Listopia” Feature: a more general genre search offers Featured Lists.
These include: Best books ever, Best books of the 21st century, Best books of the decade, Best books of a specific year, Best books of a specific month and year. Users choose and rank them.

-By Book Title: Chose a title that you use as a comp for your book, (something comparable by genre, mood, style, theme). Use this feature to “look for Lists with this book title.” It gives you access to how other readers listed the book you like (your comp), and what books they feel are similar.

Add your book to the lists of comparable book titles. If those readers liked your comp, they should like your book too. Books rise on the list to the top as readers vote for them.

Even if you are a fledgling author with no book published, I recommend joining GoodReads as a reader and starting your list of books you love. If you have a book or multiple books published, begin adding those titles to various featured lists, as outlined above, to gain more visibility.

The survey information below is gleaned from Written Word Media. I include it in this article because it corroborates my point that these companies have thousands of dedicated users that welcome the information shared in their newsletters. You can benefit from that as well.

You’ve probably been told if you can offer a free book, it will get you a lot of readers. Although it is a hard choice to make. After all the time and money you put into creating your book, offering it for free, seems counterproductive. Some authors use a Novella, while others who are perhaps more prolific, bite the bullet and use their first book, or the first in a series, for promotion.

Freebboksy’s site notes 519K readers. But a more recent poll by Written Word Media says they have nearly 700K newsletter readers. Which means they are growing fast!

Seventy-five percent of subscribers use the Freebooksy newsletter to find their next read.

Here is a step-by-step process of how to get your book promoted on this site:

Bargain Booksy:

If you can’t make yourself give your book away, this might work for you. It is a site that sells discounted books.

Bargain Booksy Review is a promotional book-deal site that will share your book to several mailing lists they maintain. You pay a fee to have your book reviewed and promoted to one of their niche-specific mailing lists. They have 400K newsletter readers.
More than 70% of their subscribers use the Bargain Booksy newsletter to find their next book.

To help bring even more attention to your Booksy Profile, you can use their Boost option to increase your exposure.

The basic options are very affordable, Bargain Booksy Features range in price from $25-$240. Prices vary depending on your book's genre and promotion type. For more detailed information go to this link:

Red Feather Romance:
This service has 176K newsletter readers and they read more than10 books per month. More than 80 % of their subscribers use the Red Feather newsletter to find their books.

It will cost you a little to promote your book on this site, but it’s pretty reasonable.

They have 130K readers and on average their readers spend $25 per month on books. Seventy-five percent say they love the NewInBooks newsletter.

There’s a fee to get mentioned in their newsletter, it’s part of their Book Launch promo stack. Cost to the author: $299 to $499. But they have a lot of engaged subscribers, so this is not a bad way to advertise.  

According to surveys, a little less than half of modern readers are Kindle Unlimited subscribers. This means having an e-book option is important.

Wishing you all success on your writing journey!

Please copy and paste URLs for the sites you'd like to check out that aren't hyperlinked.


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

Marketing Your New Book on a Budget

 Contributed by Karen Cioffi

Within one week, a couple of years ago, I self-published a nonfiction book on writing for children, How to Write a Children’s Fiction Book, and had a traditionally published picture book released, The Case of the Plastic Rings – The Adventures of Planetman.

Dealing with one book being published is tough enough; two is a bit overwhelming, especially if you’re ghostwriting another story, or two, or three at the same time.

The first purpose of this article is to emphasize how important it is to market your book. If you don’t, you won’t get any sales, and just as bad, no one will read the story you worked so hard on.

The other purpose is to explain the strategies I used, am using, and will use to promote my books.


1.    Your Website’s Book Page
As soon as my books were available for sale, I added them to my Books page on my website.

I also included links to the sales pages.

I linked to the Amazon sales page for How to Write a Children's Fiction Book . And I linked to the publisher’s sales page for the traditionally published book.

To find out why I rarely link my books to their Amazon sales pages, you might read this:
Amazon, Your Book, And Third-Party Sellers

It’s important to note that you can and should do pre-publication promotion.

Let people know you have a book coming out. Give tidbits about the book to whet the reader’s appetite. If you have an email list (which you should), send a promotional email about your upcoming new book.

I didn’t do this at the time, as everything happened too fast, and I had too much on my plate.

2.    Video / Book Trailer
I created a video for my nonfiction book and for Walking Through Walls.

I have a paid subscription with Powtoons – that’s how I make my videos. You can add music or a voice-over.

They also have a free plan that gives you up to 60 seconds for your video.

I also intend to create a video (book trailer) for each of my children’s picture books.

3.    Author Interview
My publisher for the picture book did an author interview with me.

You can check it out here:
Interview with Karen Cioffi – The Case of the Plastic Rings

I promoted the interview through my social networks.

You can also ask peers or others with a ‘relevant to your book genre’ website if they’d be willing to do an interview with you.

4.    Book Reviews
Reviews help sell books.

I asked around for peers and others who would review my books and post their reviews to Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Goodreads (or at least one of them).

For this, you’ll need to send a PDF of the book or a print copy if the reviewer requests it.

You can also find people who review books online. It’s important to make sure they’re reputable.

It’s also a good idea to ask the reviewer if you can post the review on your website.

Again, reviews help sell books.

5.    A Press Release
I didn’t have the time to do this step, but writing a press release for each of your new books is important, and asking fellow authors if they’ll put it up on their sites.

You should also post it to a press release distribution service.

There are free press release sites where you can upload the release to.

6. A Book Website
I had thought about creating a separate website for The Case of the Plastic Rings and the other three books in the series once they’re revised and re-published. But I decided against it.

While I have separate sites for my other two children’s fiction books, Walking Through Walls and Day’s End Lullaby, adding individual and detailed pages for each of my books to my ‘writing for children’ website will work better.

Keeping everything in one spot (on one website) has its advantages. You can see what I mean with my Books Page.

7.    Social Media
As soon as the books were available for sale, I posted about them to my social media accounts.

Currently, I’m using Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn.

And I regularly promote them through my social media networks.

8.    Encourage Affiliate Marketing
A writer friend has an affiliate account with Amazon and was happy to promote my books.

If a friend or peer has an affiliate account with Amazon, they have more incentive to help you by promoting your book on their site.

They get a small payment for every book sold from their Amazon affiliate link. It’s not much, but it can add up if you do volume.

9.    Using PayPal’s Buy Buttons
If you’re self-publishing your book on Amazon, in addition to selling through them, you can use PayPal Buy Buttons on your website.

That’s what I did.

You can see how it works here:

Why did I do this?

In case you didn’t read the article above about Amazon and 3rd-party sellers, the gist of it is that Amazon allows 3rd-party sellers to sell your book.

My nonfiction book had just come out and 3rd-party sellers were already selling it through Amazon. I set the paperback price at $14.95, but it was being sold for $14.95 to $25. It’s crazy.

These 3rd-party sellers do the same thing with traditionally published books which is why I usually link to the publisher’s selling page rather than Amazon’s.

There’s no way to know where those 3rd-party sellers are getting the books from – they may be bootlegged. This means the author and publisher don’t get the money they should from the sale.

Another reason to sell from your own website is that you’ll make more money. If you’ve distributed your book through IngramSpark, there are a lot of fees taken from your book sales for paperback and hardcover books.

I hope this gives you some ideas for your own book marketing journey.


Karen Cioffi is an award-winning children’s author, ghostwriter, editor, and coach with clients worldwide.


FICTION WRITING FOR CHILDREN Self-Guided Course and Mentoring Program

WRITERS ON THE MOVE PRESS (self-publishing help for children’s authors).

You can check out Karen’s books at:


Do You Know Your Competition?

By Terry Whalin @terrywhalin 

Over decades, Ive reviewed thousands of book submissions (no exaggeration). Many proposals are missing the competition section. Its common for them to write, This topic is unique and has no competition. When editors and agents see such a statement, many of them will stop reading and reject the project. Others will roll their eyes in a look that says, Not again.

When someone says there is no competition, they are not considering the larger sense of the book market. Every book has competition in the marketplace. It's the responsibility of the writer to understand and describe that competition in their book proposal. It is not the responsibility of your editor or literary agent to create this competition but the authors responsibility who should intimately know their topic and area of expertise.

I often encourage authors to visualize their book inside a brick and mortar bookstore. Which section does your book appear? What other books are in tht section? Those books are your competition and competitive titles. In this section, you list the titles with a brief description and tell how your book is different. I encourage you to carefully select your words because you are not slamming or downplaying those other books. Instead you are emphasizing how your book is different.

Publishers need this information throughout the internal process within publishing houses. For one publisher, when they complete their internal paperwork to secure a book contract for an author, they are required to list the ISBNs of competitive titles.

Some of you are familiar with Book Proposals That Sell. In the final pages of this book, I include a sample of one of my book proposals which sold for a six-figure advance. This proposal is exactly what was submitted to the various publishers. The missing ingredient in my proposal (despite its success) is the lack of specific competitive titles. I wrote that proposal almost twenty years ago and in today's market it would need to have those competitive titles before it would go out into the marketplace. Hopefully Ive learned (and continue to learn) a few things about book proposal creation over the last few years.

When I started as an acquisitions editor, the president of the company (no longer there) sat down and went through the various topic areas where I would be acquiring books. One of these areas was parenting books. I raised a question about this area since within several miles of our offices was a major marketing force in this area of parenting called Focus on the FamilyOh yes, Terry, we will continue to publish parenting books, he said with passion. Marriages continue to fall apart in record numbers and children are leaving the church in droves. With my marching orders, I continued to acquire parenting books but silently I wondered whether a book can solve those two explicit issues about the family.

Each week Publishers Weekly tackles a different area of the market. Sometimes they cover parenting books which is highly competitive with loads of successful titles in print. The article gives a rundown of several forthcoming parenting books. Heres what is interesting to me (and hopefully for you): Notice the sub-categories for each title in the article: publisher, first printing, target audience, author's credentials, why the book is needed, and what distinguishes it from the competition. The final four categories are what every author needs to include in their book proposal when it is submitted to a literary agent or an editor.

The actual language for the competition section is tricky. The author needs to point out the competition and how their book takes a different slant on the subject or deeper or some improvement--without slamming the competitive title. Why? Because the publisher of that competitive title may be the perfect location for your book. You dont want to offend that publisher with how you've written about their title. Like many aspects of the publishing world, when you write your competition section, it calls for education, understanding and some sense of diplomacy because the relationship will often be the distinction.

Every author needs to create a proposal for their book--even if you self-publish because this document is your business plan for your book and has important elements for every author to understand and convene to their readers.

Do you include the my book is unique in your proposal or do you include a competition section? Let me know in the comments below.

W. Terry Whalin is an acquisitions editor at Morgan James Publishing
He has written for over 50 magazines and more than 60 books with traditional publishers.  His latest book for writers is  Book Proposals That $ell (the revised edition) released to online and brick and mortar bookstores. 
Jim Cox, Editor-in-Chief at Midwest Book Review wrote, If you only have time to read one how to guide to getting published, whether it be traditional publishing or self-publishing, Book Proposals That Sell is that one DIY instructional book. You can get a free Book Proposal Checklist on the site. He lives in Colorado and has over 190,000 twitter followers


Is Book Publishing Like a Sprint or a Marathon?

By Terry Whalin @terrywhalin
Many writers want to publish a book. From my many years in publishing, I find few of them have thought about whether the process of publishing a book is like a sprint (something with a burst of speed) or a marathon (steady and consistent to complete the task). I often see authors who want to sprint to publication or sprint to get a book contract or a bestseller. Reality is that often it takes consistent, hard work to produce anything of excellence—the writing or the marketing. Authors are not overnight successes but instead spend years in the trenches faithfully working to get their work noticed and sold.

Recently a young author outside of the U.S. wrote and asked if a decision had been made on his manuscript. It had been less than two weeks since I had corresponded with this author and it took a number of emails until he gave me what I needed to submit his work. I told this author if he wants a “no, thank you” then I could do that right away but if he wants a “yes” with a publishing contract then that takes patience and time.

While there are many keys in book publishing, in this article, I want to emphasize four important areas.

1) You Need A Great Product

Too many authors want to dash off something and rush it into the marketplace. I've seen it in my own work and the work of others. Haste often makes waste or mistakes. Take the time to write an excellent book or book proposal. The book proposal is your business plan for your book—whether you are writing nonfiction or fiction—whether you are self-publishing or traditional. You need a plan and it is important to build the plan with a great manuscript. The writing has to be excellent. You need others to affirm that excellence before rushing it to the market. 

The devil is in the details. Are all of the details in place for your book before you take it to the marketplace? Does it have a great title? Does it have an attractive cover? Does the first page make me want to turn to the second page? Does the copy on the back cover, draw me to going to the cash register? Another author sent me a full-color children's book which had no descriptive information on the back cover. Yes it had a barcode and the name of the publisher but nothing to draw me to buy the book. It is a huge omission and lowers the standard for this product. Don't make these basic errors because you are eager to get your book to the market.

2) You Need to Build an Audience

You've poured a lot of energy and effort into your book. Will you have readers or people who want to read your work—and who are excited about it that they tell others? When someone tells another person about a book, that is called “Word of Mouth.” It is golden when it happens and takes work from the author. As an author you can't lean on your publisher to market your book and build your audience. You have to take your own responsibility for marketing your own book. I understand the reluctance—and I've been there too but I tell every author as an acquisitions editor at Morgan James that they have 80% of the responsibility. Our publishing house will sell the book into the bookstores but all of those books can be returned if the author doesn't promote their book. 

I have much more detail and many more ideas in Platform Building Ideas for Every Author which is free (click on the image). 
3) You Need to Have Patience

The majority of book publishing is not quick. You send your material to editors and agents yet do not get a response or receive a response months after your submission.  The reality is that it takes time to build consensus among colleagues to issue a book contract or to make a contract offer to publish. As a writer you want to follow-up and make sure the editor or agent received your material and everything is in process. But in contrast, you do not want to push because most of the time when you push, you will nudge that professional toward sending you a polite “no thank you.”

Instead of pushing for a decision, you are better to begin another project. Write a one page query letter for a magazine article. Pitch a magazine editor to assign you to become a columnist. Begin a new book project or book proposal. This effort will remove your focus on the project which is under consideration. 

4) You Need to Have More Than One Project

If you have more than one proposal or one book, you will be less anxious about the submission and be able to shift your focus to the new project or new writing assignment. It will increase your own productivity in the writing world. 

How do you view book publishing? As a marathon or a sprint? I'd love to have your comments or any other way I can help you with this process. As an acquisitions editor, I'm constantly looking for good books to publish. Don't hesitate to contact me and my work contact information is on the second page of this link.

W. Terry Whalin is an acquisitions editor at Morgan James Publishing. 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. On October 5th, his classic Book Proposals That $ell (the revised edition) released to online and brick and mortar bookstores. At the book website, you can get a free Book Proposal Checklist. He lives in Colorado and has over 190,000 twitter followers

7 Ways Authors Can Support Their Author Friends: Kindled Spirits

As authors, we have an advantage in the online world, whether we realize it or not. Fiction. Nonfiction. Screenwriting. Poetry. Essays. Articles. It applies to all. 

In order to connect with our audience, authors must be active on multiple platforms - websites and social media, as well as live and virtual stages. This leads to a plethora of opportunities to collaborate, support, and highlight our author friends. 

When Dr. Meg Haworth (author of Get Well Now; Healing Yourself with Food and The Power of The Mind) interviewed me for her YouTube series earlier this week, I noted how in three months, we will have collaborated five times. 

- We met when we were interviewed for a Meet the Author series
- We both spoke at Alina Fridman's Finding Fabulous Summit
- Meg was a guest on my live show in May 
- I will be a guest on her YouTube series in July
- We are speaking on a self-care goals panel for the Women's National Book Association - San Francisco Chapter Lunch N Learn in July 

As "Kindled Spirits," as Dr Meg called it. we know there is more to come.

Here are 7 easy ways authors can support each other through collaboration: 

1. Create a Joint Blog. Writers on the Move is a great example of authors coming together to share their knowledge.

2. Trade Book Reviews. On Amazon, Goodreads, or write one on your blog.

3. Do Interview Swaps. This can take place on a blog, live show, video, or podcast.

4. Spread Social Media Love. Make a point to tweet or post about an author-friend at least once a week ... once a day is even better. Share their books, an article, or a photo. You can also take the time to comment on their posts.  

5. Curate Panels and Events. Create events with author friends in mind, so you can ask them to participate.

6. Send Ideas. Do you receive a newsletter that shares podcast interview opportunities? Are you part of a cool networking group or meetup? Share the deets with author friends who would get the most out of it! 

7. Refer and Recommend. When someone asks for a referral - whether it's a speaker for an event, a book for a book club, or an author interview - think of who you know who would be a good fit and make an intro. Keep a list of author friends, along with their specialties. Don't know what that is? Just ask.

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As an author, getting out there is a lot about the power of relationships. Authors' relationships with other authors: priceless!

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How do you support your author friends? What collaboration opportunities get the best results? Please share in the comments.

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Watch the Ladies Take the Lead Meet the Authors Panel: 

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Debra Eckerling is the award-winning author of Your Goal Guide: A Roadmap for Setting, Planning and Achieving Your Goals and founder of the D*E*B METHOD, which is her system for goal-setting simplified. A 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, #GoalChatLive on Facebook and LinkedIn, and The DEB Show podcast. She speaks on the subjects of writing, networking, goal-setting, and social media.

The Necessity of Simple Follow-up

By W. Terry Whalin

Good and clear communication is a critical element in the business of publishing. Otherwise authors and editors have wrong expectations.

Recently I was at Wheaton College for Write to Publish. During the question and answer portion of a workshop, a woman asked, “I sent my manuscript to an editor who asked for it at the last conference. I never heard and checked on it about six months later. When I called, the editor said she had not received it and could I send it again. I sent it a second time. Now it is six months later and I’ve heard nothing. What do I do?”

See the challenge for the author? She has been waiting for a response to a requested submission and hearing nothing. This new writer is too timid to email or call and check with the editor about it. I understand the reluctance because sometimes when you check, it gets rejected—and no one wants to be rejected.

Here’s what the writer isn’t thinking about. As editors, we receive a lot of material. For example, at Morgan James, we receive over 5,000 submissions a year and only publish about 150 books. Did you see those numbers? A massive amount of material is floating through our system at any single time period. I’m constantly putting submissions into our system and sorting through my acquisitions files.

To be transparent, other editors are not as careful with their submissions. It is not uncommon for me to receive several hundred emails a day. If I’m traveling or at a conference, and then I can’t be as conscious of my email and the submissions. Manuscripts, proposals and submissions are misplaced and sometimes the editor doesn’t receive them. Or maybe they have moved into a new computer or their computer has crashed or any number of other possibilities.

Here’s what I suggested to the writer asking about her manuscript: follow-up with the editor. Don’t wait weeks yet at the same time give it at least a week so you don’t seem overly anxious. Then you can email or put in a quick phone call to the editor asking, “Did you receive my submission?”

Notice the question. You are not asking if the editor has read it or reached a decision—which if you ask is pushing them to say, “no.” Instead you are simply asking if they received it.
You avoid waiting months for a response, hearing nothing and then asking only to learn the editor never received it. I never mind an author checking with me to see if I received their material and this simple follow-up is professional and appreciated.

Other authors are extreme in the other direction of follow-up. They follow-up too frequently. I have a children’s author who submitted their material three weeks ago. I got their material into our submission system and they received an acknowledgement from me in the mail. In addition, I emailed the author to tell him I received his submission. Yet, in the last several weeks, I’ve been in Seattle, New York City and last week Chicago. With my travel, I have not been processing manuscripts. Yet this author has called multiple times—essentially making himself a nuisance. In my last email to him, I leveled with him and asked for patience—and no more calls or checking—or I would be rejecting his submission. I’ve not heard from him in the last few days so hopefully he is following my last instructions or I will follow through with the rejection letter (whether I’ve read his material or not).

Why take such a direct response with this eager author? Because if he is eager with his submission then he is showing that he will be eager throughout the entire publication process. You can substitute my use of the word “eager” with the word “high maintenance.” No publisher wants high maintenance authors. Every publisher wants to work with professionals and not with eager authors who simply waste volumes of time and energy over nothing.

If you are submitting your work, that is excellent. Many writers never get published because of this simple fact: they never submit their material. As a professional writer, you also need to use this simple follow-up method to make sure that your material was received. It will help your work be considered and move forward through the publication process. This follow-up work is critical.

How do you follow-up? Do you have some insights or tips for other writers. Let me know in the comments below.


Writers have to follow-up their submissions—yet need to do this work carefully or risk immediate rejection. Get insights from a seasoned editor here. (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).  One of his books for writers is Jumpstart Your Publishing Dreams, Insider Secrets to Skyrocket Your Success. One of Terry's most popular free ebooks is Straight Talk From the Editor, 18 Keys to a Rejection-Proof Submission. He lives in Colorado and has over 205,000 twitter followers.  

Traditional Publishing and the Author Platform - Be Realistic

Best sellers happen to unknown authors. Getting on the New York Times Best Seller list happens. Breakout books happen to new authors.

But . . .

Yes, of course, there’s a ‘but.’ Statistically speaking, about 80% or more of all books don’t succeed.

Every new author needs to enter the publishing arena with open eyes. She needs to be realistic as to what’s required of her and what her chances are.

So, how do you help increase your chances of getting your book to succeed? How do you create a successful writing career, even if you don’t have a breakout book?

3 of the Most Important Tips to Effective Author Platform Building and Book Marketing

Whether you landed a book contract or not (if you’re self-publishing these three tips are just as important, if not more so):

1. You absolutely need an author website. And, it needs to be optimized.

Optimization means having the right domain name, the right website title and subtitle, using keywords, optimizing your blog posts, creating the ‘right’ web pages, using optimized images, and so on.

Another key optimization trick is to keep your website simple: easy to read, easy to navigate, and uncluttered.

If you want to learn how to create an optimized website, or if you already have one but need to optimize it, you should check out Bluehost. They have techs to help you get your site up and running for FREE if you get their hosting service.

You can get your website up and running in one day or take five days.
It’s got one-on-one with the instructor and video training.

2. You need an understanding of how to market you book.

According to the February 2013 issue of The Writer, “The slam-dunk team” article explains, “Publishing houses want a business partner, someone who’s going to work hard from the get-go, tirelessly promoting, working connections, and never saying no to an opportunity.”

Do you know how to blog effectively? Do you know about creating a subscriber list and using email marketing for more sales? Do you know how to work social media marketing to increase website traffic, boost authority, and boost sales?

These marketing strategies are all part of an optimized author/writer platform – they’re considered inbound marketing. While it’s all must-know-stuff, it can be easy to do.

There are lots of online opportunities to learn these skills. One super-effective and super-reasonable tool is this 4-week e-class through WOW! Women on Writing:

Give Your Author/Writer Business a Boost with Inbound Marketing

3. Put your website and new found knowledge to work.

It’s true there is much involved in building your platform and book marketing, but once you get the hang of it, it will become second-nature. Think of it like a puzzle. You have to put the pieces together before you get the results you want.

Have an optimized author website; create an Amazon Author Page; get book reviews; blog your way to traffic; use email marketing to promote new releases; and use social media marketing to widen your marketing reach.

Give your publisher what she wants: A book marketing savvy author.

4. This is a bonus tip:

According to just about all expert book marketers, including Chuck Sambuchino and Jane Friedman, you need to have all your marketing strategies in place before you even start submitting to book publishers or literary agents.

So, if you’re writing a book or you’re in the submissions process, be sure to get your author platform and book marketing strategies in place.

Be able to tell a publisher or agent that, YES – you can help market your book.

This article was first published at:

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

You can check out Karen’s e-classes through WOW! at:

And, be sure to connect with Karen at:


SEO or Authors Part10 - Friendly URLs for Blogposts

The Ins-and-Outs of Contests and Your Book

How to Name Your Protagonist

Writing - Are You an Outliner?

Are you an outliner or a pantser? I don’t know if there has been a study of how many writers prefer each, but I know there are many in both camps. You know the saying, “different strokes for different folks.”

But, before I go on, the definition of an outliner is a writer who creates a written (or typed) outline of the plot of their story. A pantser is a writer who creates the story as she goes along – no outline. The story unfolds as she is writing it.

If I had to take a guess though, I’d say the majority of writers/authors are outliners (plotters).

The reason?

Creating an outline of a story before delving into it provides a foundation. It’s something to build upon. It’s like a map. You mark out your driving route. You know you’re going from Point A to Point B. You see the highways, roads, and so on between those two points. And, they’re all written out in your outline.

It’s interesting to know that there are different kinds of outliners. Some create full detailed accounts of getting from Point A to Point B. Some simply have a rough outline of what the story will be about – possibly that John is at A and has to get to B.

Jeff Ayers (a top crime writer), in his article “Doing What He Loves,” in the May 2009 issue of the Writer, says:

“Outlining allows me time to think. Does this ever happen to you--you're in line at the market, some pushy person cuts in front of you, you mumble something ineffectual or stupid, then when you're 10 blocks away the light bulb goes off, and you think "That's what I shouda said!" Well, outlining gives me the 10 blocks to think of something better.”

I think this is an excellent explanation of why writers use the outline method of writing.

In the article, Ayers explains that he spends lots of time outlining. In addition to coming up with ideas, it allows him to get better acquainted with his characters. This more intimate knowledge allows him to bring them to life.

As I mentioned earlier, outlining is like using a map. But depending on how detailed you make your outline, it can be more like a GPS. It can lead you street by street from your starting point to your ending point.

Even if you run into a detour that was unexpected, as in writing can happen, you have a guided system in place to get you back on track. And, if it’s very, very detailed, you even know where the rest stops are, where to eat, where the scenic sites are, and so on. It doesn’t leave much to chance.

Knowing every step, every detour, all the characters . . . there is a comfort in this method.

I’m much more of a pantser, but I have used outlines now and then. And, it certainly does offer a sense of security. But, with that said, I love to watch my story unravel before me. I love to watch characters develop and move forward. This comes with the pantser method.

It seems though that no matter which style you use, it’s not a guarantee of success or failure. Gail Carson Levine has some good advice in regard to this, “Quality comes from word choice, plot, characters – all the elements [of a good story].”

Which writing method do you use?

Outlining vs. Pantsing

This article was originally published at:
The Outline Method of Writing (Are You an Outliner?)

Karen Cioffi is an award-winning author, successful children’s ghostwriter who welcomes working with new clients, and an author/writer online platform marketing instructor.

For more on children’s writing tips and writing help, stop by Writing for Children with Karen Cioffi.
Be sure to sign up for her newsletter and check out the DIY Page.

She is also the founder and editor-in-chief of Writers on the Move.


Deep Point of View

3 Most Important Components for Publishing eBooks

Are You Building Publishing Habits?

Small Book Publishers Fill the Gap

Oh, boy. In 10 years I've never missed a post publishing, but I did on the first of this month. Between family and work, my life is a bit out of control. I'm working hard to reign it in. To make up for the first, here's an interesting post for those who are having trouble getting a major house publishing contract.

One of your primary concerns as an author is to get your book published. While self-publishing is a viable option, many authors still strive to be traditionally published.

The problem though is getting your manuscript past the acquisitions editor of a major publishing house. And, while I always say nothing ventured nothing gained, getting published by one of the “Big 5” publishers isn’t very probable for a new author.

According to Book Business, the Big 5 are: Penguin Random House, HarperCollins, Simon & Schuster, Hachette, and Macmillan. (1)

And, while you may have a better chance with one of the Big 5’s imprints, getting published will still be a tough goal to achieve.

So, what do authors who want to be traditionally published do?

Simple, they submit to small publishers.

In an interview with her local paper, Edmond, Oklahoma, Vivian Zabel said, “There needs to be something between the major publishers who won’t accept anything and the vanity or self-publishing entities.”

Taking the ‘bull by the horns,’ Zabel created her own small publishing company, 4RV Publishing. It’s put out 115 quality books over the last 10 years.

Zabel went on to say, “4RV looks for authors who fall through the cracks at major publishing houses.” Larger publishers look for the “marquis authors.” Because of this, 4RV gets to find some great stories.

To read about 4RV and get an idea of how a small publisher works, check out Zabel’s interview at:
Small Publisher Fills the Gap Between Major and Vanity Publishing

This post was originally published at:


Karen Cioffi is an award-winning children's author and children’s ghostwriter as well as the founder and editor-in-chief of Writers on the Move. You can find out more about writing for children and her services at: Karen Cioffi Writing for Children.

Check out the DIY Page and don’t forget to sign up for the Newsletter that has great monthly writing and book marketing tips.

And, get your copy of Walking Through Walls (a middle-grade fantasy adventure set in 16th century China. Honored with the Children’s Literary Classics Silver Award.)


3 Most Important Components for Publishing eBooks

How to Handle a Difficult Critique

Are You Building Publishing Habits?

5 Must-Use Tips on Writing Fiction

SEO for Authors Part9 – Duplicate Content

Some bloggers (book marketers) are under the misconception that having their article reprinted on another website is a problem. They fear Google will penalize them.

This is NOT true. And, this comes from expert advice.

But, first let’s understand what duplicate content is. It’s when the identical or near-duplicate content appears on more than one webpage.

It doesn’t matter whether it’s on your own website or whether you have a guest post on another website, or whether a scraper site steals your article and posts it.

Scraped content is when a site takes your content and posts it on their own site without permission. Unfortunately, there isn’t much you can do about this, but you don’t have to worry about being penalized for it.

Allowing Reprints or Syndication of Your Blog Posts

According to Moz, Google understands syndication. What will possibly happen is the duplicate content (reprint) “will be filtered out of search results.”

I use guest posts on my site because it adds value to my readers. It brings a wider perspective and hopefully more information on a topic. So, I’m not concerned about it being in search results for the content.

On the flipside, I allow my articles to be reprinted because it broadens my visibility. The hosting site has its own readers and visitors who will possibly see my content for the first time.

This is a win-win for me and the hosting site. I broaden my marketing reach and the hosting site gets fresh content that will hopefully help its readers.

To further emphasis the myth of duplicate content, Neil Patel says:

Googlebot visits most sites every day. If it finds a copied version of something a week later on another site, it knows where the original appeared. Googlebot doesn’t get angry and penalize. It moves on. That’s pretty much all you need to know.

A huge percentage of the internet is duplicate content. Google knows this. They’ve been separating originals from copies since 1997, long before the phrase “duplicate content” became a buzzword in 2005.

Playing It Safe and Being Ethical

Syndication can be a valuable marketing tool and it’s definitely a legitimate strategy, but to play it safe and give credit where it’s due (for Google’s sake), always reference the original content link.

You might be saying, “But, I allow the author a tag or bio that links back to their website.”

While this may be true, it has nothing to do with Google.

You want to let Google know that the content you're reprinting originated from another webpage. Again, your blog post may not be put in the search results, but you’ll be playing the game right.

I try to always reference the original URL of a guest post I use. I say “try” because sometimes I’m in a rush and forget to do it even though it’s something that shouldn’t be forgotten. I do have to try harder.

What Google Says on the Matter

Did you know that Google has a page just about duplicate content. Below is what it says about allowing reprints or syndication of your content:

If you syndicate your content on other sites, Google will always show the version we think is most appropriate for users in each given search, which may or may not be the version you'd prefer. However, it is helpful to ensure that each site on which your content is syndicated includes a link back to your original article. You can also ask those who use your syndicated material to use the noindex meta tag to prevent search engines from indexing their version of the content.

If you have a question related to this post, just enter it in the comments. I’ll try my best to answer it.

To read the previous articles in this SEO for Authors series, go to:

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

If you need help with your author platform, check out Karen's e-classes through WOW:


Importance of Email Signatures

Reasons Why to Self-Publish Your Nonfiction Book

Book Marketing – To Give or Not To Give

Authors Need to be Realistic

By Terry Whalin  @terrywhalin Over the years, I’ve met many passionate writers. One brand new writer told me, “My book is going to be a best...