5 Marketing Initiatives for the New Year

The beginning of the year is the perfect time to start a new project. While you may have great ideas for a new fiction or non-fiction work - and that’s great. you should definitely work on them - you may want to take the time to amp up your marketing.

Visibility is so important in this day and age. You need to make yourself known online, so potential readers and clients can find you. There’s plenty you can do from the simple to more intricate efforts. Here are some ideas.

1. Update Your LinkedIn Profile. LinkedIn is the business social network, so it’s a great platform to showcase your work and make connections. As with your bio and resume, take a look at your LInkedIn profile at least once a year … tho ideally once a quarter. Make sure all of your experience is up to date. You can also refresh your profile by uploading new links and media. When you are looking to meet new people, put your best foot forward, so people who want to connect get a better idea of your experience and accomplishments.

2. Try a New Social Network. When you get started with social media, it’s helpful to have a presence on the main platforms - Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram - but master one at a time. Once you’re comfortable on one social network, take the time to increase your activity on another. Start small. Do research to learn more about your beta network. Then, jump on in.

3. Host a Contest. Want to drive more people to your business? Create a contest. You can do a raffle or accept submissions for a more intricate contest. For instance, I ran a query contest on my website for many years. I currently I raffle off a book each month; everyone who posts goals on my Facebook page or in my group is entered to win. See what fits your brand or business and come up with something good.

4. Amp Up Your Blog. A blog is a wonderful way to share your expertise and set yourself apart from everyone else in your field. Consistency and continuity are the most important. But if you have hit your comfort level, amp up your blog. This could mean posting more content (if you post one day a week, try two), longer (or shorter) content, or different content (add interviews, trivia, news). Play with the different types and see where it takes you.

5. Test Something New. What is the one thing you have been meaning to try but can’t seem to going? Want to start a podcast? Do video updates? Launch a Twitter chat? What’s stopping you? Nothing. Take a leap. You never know what the results will be unless you try. Note: I recently launch the #GoalChat Twitter Chat on Sunday nights. This is something I’ve been noodling for years, and am very excited about the possibilities.

Regardless of your strategy, you need to allow for ample time for marketing each week. Add something new to the mix. If it doesn’t work, you can move on. If it does, you never know where it may propel you, your writing, and your business. Good luck and have fun!

What new marketing initiate will you try this year? Please share what you are working on in the comments. 

* * *

Debra Eckerling is a writer, editor and project catalyst, as well as founder of Write On Online, a live and online writers’ support group. Like the Write On Online Facebook Page and join the Facebook Group.  She is author of Write On Blogging: 51 Tips to Create, Write & Promote Your Blog and Purple Pencil Adventures: Writing Prompts for Kids of All Ages, and host of the Guided Goals Podcast and the #GoalChat Twitter Chat. Debra is an editor at Social Media Examiner and a speaker/moderator on the subjects of writing, networking, goal-setting, and social media.

Ingredients for a Perfect Picture Book

Writing for young children can be tricky. It’s not as straight forward as writing for adults. You can’t use your own vocabulary and you need to be careful of age appropriate storylines. You also need to introduce your main character immediately.

It’s also important to keep in mind that children don’t have the same comprehension level as an adult, so all aspects of the story need to be clear and geared toward the age group you’re writing for.

So, what exactly does a children’s writer need to include in a picture book?

Let’s go over the basic ingredients of picture books:

1.    The story should include: a surface level, an underlying meaning level, and a take-away level. This means young children should be engaged by it; older children should get a little deeper meaning or realization from it; and parents or the reader should be able to see the take-away value.

2.    The story should be written with a 50/50 formula. Be sure to allow for 15 or 16 illustrations (a picture book usually has 32 pages). And, allow the illustrator to tell part of the story. Picture books are a partnership between the author and illustrator. For example: Instead of telling the reader that John grabbed his favorite blue shirt with red and yellow footballs on it, just write that John grabbed his favorite shirt. Your illustrator will know how to show the scene.

3.    Children love action and need to be engaged so be sure to include action. As children are used to TV, videos, and movies, writers need to account for their waning attention spans.

4.    Show rather than tell. The ‘powers that be’ in the children’s publishing world frown upon telling a story.

5.    The story should have a flow or rhythm and structure to it.

6.    The story should have predictability. This pulls children in. They think they know what’s going to happen next based on what’s happened before in the story.

For example: In the story Caps For Sale by Esphyr Slobodkina, a group of monkeys took a peddler’s caps and put them on their heads. The peddler tried to coax the monkeys to give back the caps, but every action the peddler took, the monkeys mimicked. They stomped their feet, shook their hands, but they wouldn’t give the peddler back his caps. Finally, in anger, the peddler threw his own hat from his head to the ground.

Can you see a child's mind working and thinking each time the peddler does something else? She is going to guess that the monkeys will mimic each action.

7.    Finally, the story should have an unexpected ending relating to something that happened in the story. We'll go back to Caps for Sale. The peddler tried everything and finally, in anger and not realizing, he threw his hat to the ground. What do you think the monkeys did? Down came all the caps.

"Ah," the reader will say, "he should have done that in the first place."

Along with these basic ingredients, there are a couple of toppings needed:

1.    Use age appropriate words.
2.    Use age appropriate storylines.
3.    Be sure to have your main character (point of view) speak first so the child/reader will quickly know who the protagonist is.
4.    Use proper grammar and punctuation.
5. Have only ONE point of view.

Now you can cook up a top-notch picture book!

Originally published at:

Karen Cioffi is an award-winning children's ghostwriter. You can find out more about writing for children and her services at: Karen Cioffi Writing for Children



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New Year, New Possibilities

As we begin 2018, I don’t know about you, but I hate resolutions! I know that’s not right to say, but I think I don’t like them because it feels like a farce. I know I’m not going to lose 50 lbs this year, so why make that my goal?! LOL

But, what I do like is the feeling of a fresh start. Now, any day, and actually every day, is a fresh start but do we really perceive it that way? I don’t know about you but I know I don’t. I forget. I have so much to do and there are pressures and deadlines and I just get up and do the next thing. And that’s okay. Sometimes we just have to do the next thing.

But, when a new year starts we all seem to collectively take a deep, cleansing breathe and think, “Okay, here’s my do-over.”

That’s what I like.

The year stretches before me like a blank canvas or blank sheet of paper for us, writers. Last year, there were struggles and wins and this year, I’m sure there will be the same. But, for right now, let’s breathe in that fresh air and close our eyes and dream.

I would love to win the lottery. I would love for one of my books to make it to Amazon’s top 100 list. I would love to invent something that every shark on shark tank is clamoring to invest in. Those are my big dreams. But, I also want to connect with my family members in deep, meaningful ways. I want to make a difference at my job. I want to give the best of me to the world.

I read a book once and it said, ‘you can have anything you want as long as you give it away’ or something like that.

The idea was that you can have anything you want, not just for you to solely have it but in order for you to use it to bless the world. And maybe you’ve seen the post on Facebook that was a church sign that originally said God Bless America but the “d” had fallen off so it now reads ‘Go Bless America.’ I would challenge you to “Go Bless the World.” Use your gifts and talents and make the world a better place and I guarantee you will get your dreams. Maybe not the ones you think you want, but the ones you get will be ones you love.

Happy New Year!

Wanda Luthman has her Masters of Arts in both Mental Health Counseling and Guidance Counseling from Rollins College located in beautiful Winter Park, Florida. She has worked as a Licensed Mental Health Counselor, Adjunct Professor, and Hospice Counselor for teens. She’s currently a Guidance Counselor at a local High School. She is an award-winning, best-selling, international author who has self-published 4 children’s books (The Lilac Princess, A Turtle’s Magical Adventure, Gloria and the Unicorn, and Little Birdie). She belongs to the National Pen Women Organization in Cape Canaveral; the Florida’s Writers Association; Space Coast Authors; and Brevard Authors Forum. To download a free ebook, visit Wanda Luthman’s website at www.wandaluthmanwordpress.com and follow her on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/wluthman.

Help for Second Edition Blues

I sometimes run Q and A a la Ann Landers columns in my SharingwithWriters newsletter using questions that my clients ask me or that subscribers send to me. This is one of my favorites because involves two subjects that seem to interest authors most--Amazon sales and getting reviews.


Do you lose your Amazon reviews when you publish a second edition of your book?


You can get Amazon to post reviews from the first edition to the second through Author Connect. And you can get Amazon to put a referral widget from the first edition to the second. They tend to move this widget around, but it's always been near the top of the first edition buy page (though not as prominent as I'd like to see it!).

Please note: Amazon will not remove the first edition from their site.

But please don't buy the first edition! The second edition is expanded by at least 100 pages, updated, and, if I do say so, lots prettier! (-:

Do know that when Amazon does this they transfer all of the reviews from old edition to New; you can't pick and choose. So if something in the first edition has been criticized and you fixed it in the second edition, they won’t discard that earlier review. A recourse is to use the comment feature that is found at the end of each review to dispute the claim—maybe with a thank you to the reviewer for helping you correct that in the second edition. There are some other ways to help fix Review problems in the newest of the #HowToDoItFrugally Series of books for writers, How to Get Great Book Reviews Frugally and Ethically.

Just an extra here: If you just update your old edition rather than publish a new one, you may be losing more marketing opportunities than you ever dreamed of. Of course, a second edition should have something new about the cover like the words second edition or a whole new cover and at least 10% new content.

Carolyn Howard-Johnson, author of This Is the Place; Harkening: A Collection of Stories Remembered; Tracings, a chapbook of poetry; and how to books for writers including the award-winning second edition of, The Frugal Book Promoter: How to get nearly free
publicity on your own or by partnering with your publisher; The multi award-winning second edition of The Frugal Editor; and Great Little Last Minute Editing Tips for Writers. Some of her other blogs are TheNewBookReview.blogspot.com, a blog where authors can recycle their favorite reviews free. She also blogs at all things editing, grammar, formatting and more at The Frugal, Smart and Tuned-In Editor . And, be sure to sign up for SharingwithWriters newsletter.

Social Media Part 2

This is a new year to think about what goals you want to set for your book(s). How do you start? What media should I consider? How do I get the word out about my book?

As a virtual assistant for authors, I think it’s a good way to get the word out while you continue writing your next book. Virtual assistants are your right, or, left-hand person. They are the thinkers of your book. They have a personal plan for your genre. My Goal is Your Goal, is my Motto. I want to see you succeed.

On Twitter, there is a software that will make it easier to build your account and have your genre of followers, follow it. This is a monthly paying software that I use to help my clients. I also use automatic tweets that are set up to post every two days. It will post a picture of your book and a link and message too.

Posting on twitter should be set up to go directly to your Facebook account. You are killing two birds with one stone, so-to-speak.

Don’t forget to post an article about your book on LinkedIn. You can post a picture of the book, and share your link. Posting your links is very important to people wanting to buy or at least, look at it. They may consider it for the future.

Make sure you have your book information link under your email signature. Anytime you send a message, you should have all links under your signature.

You should also be sure you have a blog and update it often. I advertise new book launches, guest bloggers, writing articles and interviews. Sometimes, I’ll use my blog for book tours.

There are places you can publish your book for a nominal fee, like Kirkus Reviews. Search Google. You will find an overwhelming bunch of links to anything you are looking for. I do research, so I know.

I try to get blog interviews for my clients. That’s always a good way to get the word out about your book. Even radio is good to try. Go to blogradio.com and see if you can find the right host for your genre.

It’s my intention to help the author in any way possible. I like to learn new things so I can be a better assistant to my clients.

Make sure you do the right promotions for your book. Make this year THE year you sell more and write to your heart's content. Whatever your goals, a Virtual Assistant can help promote while you write. We can take away that burden and stress.

Your writing friend,

Linda Barnett-Johnson is a Virtual Assistant for authors and enjoys writing poetry, short stories, articles about writing and making up quotes. Many of her articles and poetry have been published. She’s a former editor, former assistant editor of Long Story Short ezine, former administrative director of Long Story Short School of Writing. You can locate her website at: www.lindabarnett-johnson.com. She also posts new books, writing articles and author interviews on her BLOG.  Always looking for guest bloggers that would post writing tips, articles and anything to do with writing.

SEO for Authors Part2: Keywords and Descriptions

Writers on the Move will be giving some basic tips on using SEO to get more visibility and build authority in your niche . . . and hopefully sell more books. Part 2's topic is keywords and descriptions.


If you want to be a savvy book marketer, every thing you do online should have keywords in it. This goes for your webpages and your blog posts.

With that said, you definitely don't want to overdo them.

Keywords are simply words or phrases that people use to search for things online and help search engines to determine what your website and/or post is about. And as an author, you should know the basics for your book marketing journey.

As an example, let's look at the title of this blog post:
SEO for Authors Series: Keywords and Descriptions

This is a heavy keyword title. I didn't do this for search engine optimization in particular, I just wanted to make the article's intent clear to the reader.

Google and the other search engines have come a LONG way. You don't need high-handed antics to get them to know what you're talking about.

But, let's go over the keywords in the title: SEO, authors, keywords, and descriptions.

Since 'descriptions' is kind of a generic term, it really doesn't help searchers. But Google, from the rest of the title and from the article itself, will know that it means in regard to SEO and book marketing. Because of this, they may very well use if for a searcher looking for information on descriptions for search engines.

I wouldn't advise using a lot of keywords in your articles or webpages. This article is full of them because it's the topic and I really couldn't avoid them.

Ordinarily, you only want two or three uses of a particular keyword. In fact, with Google's advancements in their algorithms, they can get the gist of your article without any keywords. That's how advanced it's become.

Other places to use keywords is in the sidebar when you're creating your blog post. You have  areas where you can input keywords. This further helps the search engines index and categorize your article. And, it's a quicker way for them to find them.

Here's an picture of the area in Blogger - the Labels section is where your keywords go:

Here's what it looks like in WordPress:


Now it's on to descriptions. As you can see in the Blogger picture above, there's a separate area to input a brief description of what your article is about.

Unfortunately, most authors don't take advantage of this feature and it's a mistake.

When Google looks for the answer to a searcher's query, it looks at everything, including titles,  keywords, the article itself, the description, and even the optimization of photos. And, if it decides to use your article as the results of a search query, it will use the description along with the link.

If you don't provide a description, Google will, it seems, take the beginning of your blog post.

Now, if your post doesn't jump into a motivating pitch to get the searcher to click on YOUR link, then s/he will  click on another results supplied by Google.

On the other hand, if you create an effective description, you'll have a better chance of getting that click back to your website.

Below is the results for a search for 'book marketing.'

This is what the searcher will see when the results of his query comes up. It's the description that will be a determining factor if that searcher clicks on your link.

And in the Blogger picture above, you can see how I filled in the 'search description' area for this blog post.

So, where ever you have the ability to input information to make it easier for the search engines to use your link and people to find and be motivated to click on your link, DO SO.


The same goes for using social media. Make your posts keyword effective and ALWAYS include a description.

Here's an example from Twitter:

It's an effective, motivating description that will encourage searchers or readers to click on your link.

The next article in the series will be on Outbound Links in your blog posts.


Karen Cioffi is an award-winning children's author and ghostwriter. She is also an author/writer online platform instructor with WOW! Women on Writing.

To find out more about Karen's online platform classes, visit:


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Happy New Year

We wish you all a healthy, happy, 
and prosperous New Year!

To start the year off right, here is a gift to help you create your own success in 2018:

7 Steps to Writing Success Through Positive Thinking

Stop on back and let me know what you think in the comments!

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