Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Why Every Book Needs a Proposal

By Terry Whalin @terrywhalin

I've read thousands of book proposals as an acquisitions editor and a former literary agent. I've taught on this topic of book proposals for many years because I believe many writers don't understand the critical nature of this specialized document called a book proposal.

On the traditional side of publishing, editors and agents read proposals. It doesn't matter whether you've written nonfiction or fiction because this document includes information which never appears in your manuscript yet is critical detail in the decision making process. I wrote my first edition in 2004 as a frustrated editor who wanted to help writers send better submissions. Book Proposals That Sell has received over 100 Five Star Amazon reviews and helped many writers. Publishing has changed a great deal since I wrote this book and now the revised edition is going to be released on October 5th.

From my perspective of working in book publishing for over 30 years, every author should create a book proposal for their book—whether eventually they publish the book with a company where they pay to get it published (subsidy or self-publishing) or whether they find a traditional book publisher. In the proposal creation process, the author learns some critical elements about their book concept plus they are better positioned in the marketplace.

Here are four benefits of proposal creation (and I'm certain there are many more):

1. You Define Your Target Market. Many authors believe their book will hit a broad target—everyone. No successful book is for everyone. Each book has a primary target audience and the proposal creation process helps you define, pinpoint and write about this audience. It is important in nonfiction but it is also important in fiction. For example, romance is the largest fiction genre yet there are many divisions within the romance genre. Every proposal needs a target which is defined—yet large enough to generate volume sales. You learn and achieve this balance when you create a page-turning book proposal.

2. You Understand Your Competition. While creating a proposal, the writer has to take a hard look at which books are competing with your idea. This process helps you understand the marketplace. Many new authors believe they are writing something unique with no competition. It's not true. Every book competes in the marketplace and you will be a better equipped author if you understand your competition.

3. You Create A Personal Plan For Marketing. Whether you like marketing or dislike it, the reality is every author has to market their own book. It doesn't matter who publishes your book—whether you self-publish or go with a large traditional house. As you create a book proposal, you will be including practical, specific and measurable ideas that you can execute when your book enters the market. The proposal will be a valuable reference tool for you because you've done this important creation process.

4. You Possess A Valuable Tool To Pitch Agents and Editors at Traditional Houses. I've written it a number of times but it bears repeating here. Literary agents and editors do not read manuscripts. They read book proposals. Even novelists need a book proposal for their initial pitch to an editor or agent. And if you self-publish and are successful with selling your book, because you own everything, if you receive an attractive offer from a traditional house, then you can move the book. Without a proposal you can't properly pitch the concept and you've eliminated this possibility.

I believe writers should explore every option and keep their possibilities open. You've narrowed the possibilities rather than expanded them if you don't have a proposal.

If you make the effort to create an excellent book proposal, then you will be ready to pitch your book at any time and any place.

W. Terry Whalin is an acquisitions editor at Morgan James Publishing. His work contact information is on the bottom of the second page.  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) will be released. At the book website, you can get a free Book Proposal Checklist. Watch his 60-second book trailer hereHe lives in Colorado and has over 190,000 twitter followers

Why does every book need a proposal (even if you self-publish)? Get the details here from this prolific author and editor. (ClickToTweet)

Sunday, September 19, 2021

Free Coffee Chat with Pinterest Specialist Deb Gonzales

Writers on the Move's Linda Wilson has been working with Pinterest guru, Deb Gonzales and is sharing her information with all of us, along with an invite to a free Zoom meeting where Deb will discuss marketing strategies.


                                                   Hello, there!

I’m jumping in real quick to see if you’d like to join me for a quick Coffee Chat via Zoom on Thursday, September 23 at 1:00 EST. Our clients are  doing so many cool things with their websites and platforms. I’d love to share their marketing strategies with you. Perhaps they’ll give you some ideas you might like to try. 

You see, we’re preparing our platforms to capture the holiday content trends on Pinterest. We’re busy culling our content and crafting our pins with an eye to capturing our audience’s fancy at the precise time they’ll be searching for our wares. I’m eager to show you what we’re doing.

I’d also like to lead a discussion about why someone would choose to establish a marketing platform on Pinterest in the first place. Is it really worth the effort? We’re discovering so much about clarifying goals and establishing strategies to meet them. We’re also learning that, unlike other social media platforms, we have to step away from the impulse to shine the light on ourselves to discover ways to edify our audience. As one client mentioned, “I love that this [Pinterest] is all about the other and not about me. It feels right.”

I agree.

I hope you can join us  for the Coffee Chat on Thursday, Sept. 23 at 1:00 EST.  Sign up here if you think you might be able to come

Have a great week!







Copyright © 2021 deb gonzales, All rights reserved.

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Friday, September 17, 2021

Read Well, Creative Writing Resources

by Deborah Lyn Stanley

When we read well, we write well. I list a few good Creating Writing books below.
Standout subjects include; plot and story structure, developing creative ideas, the flow of narrative, dialogue, and character development.

1.    Ready, Set, Write: a Guide to Creative Writing by Melissa Donovan

2.    Writing the Wave by Elizabeth Ayres

3.    Telling True Stories: Nonfiction Writer’s Guide–Multiple Contributors, edited by Mark Kramer, Wendy Call

4.    Plot & Structure by James Scott Bell

      “Plot & Structure, Techniques and exercises for crafting a plot that grips readers from start to finish,” is 234 power packed pages in 14 chapters and 2 appendices.  

The introduction lays out a fine tuned strategy for learning to write fiction.
What it takes to Learn Plot: Become your own plotting coach. Get Motivated:
1.    Write a statement of purpose, one that gets you excited, and print it. Put it where you can see it every day. Come up with your own visual motivation. Inspirational words taped to your computer, or maybe a photo.
2.    Try Stuff—try out what you learn, see if you get it, try some more. Take time to digest and apply what you learn about plot & structure to your own writing.
3.    Stay loose—A tense brain freezes creativity. The guidelines in this book give you material to work with techniques that can help you.
4.    “First get it written, then get it right.”
5.    Set a quota—Writing is how we learn to write. Write daily – by a certain number of words or for a period of time.
6.    Don’t give up—the difference between a successful writer and an unsuccessful one is persistence. Keep writing.

The author: James Scott Bell developed the LOCK system, a simple set of foundational principles for the writers and his success:
L = Lead Character
O = Objective (A want, A desire, driving force - Will the lead realize her objective?)
C = Confrontation (obstacles in the way)
K = Knockout
The author’s intent is to share his writing gems to strengthen all writers for a lasting career of productivity and publication.


Deborah Lyn Stanley is an author of Creative Non-Fiction. She writes articles, essays and stories. She is passionate about caring for the mentally impaired through creative arts.
Visit her My Writer’s Life website at: https://deborahlynwriter.com/   

Visit her caregiver’s website: https://deborahlyncaregiver.com/
Mom & Me: A Story of Dementia and the Power of God’s Love



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Monday, September 13, 2021

Guesting 101: How to Be a Good Guest on a Blog, Podcast, or Video Show

Writers must be promoters. After all, how else are new readers going to find us? 

One of the best ways to get introduced to new audiences is to be a guest for other writers. This could be a blog interview, guest post, podcast, or video show (pre-recorded or live). Traditional media is good too, but that's another article altogether. They introduce you to their community and vice versa.

Many people use guest appearances to get referrals for other guesting opportunities. Finish a show and ask the host if they have any recommendations or intros for you. The key to leverage that strategy is to be a good guest.

Here are Tips for Being a Good Guest ... and Tips for Hosts too

For Hosts: 
- Set Expectations. Send instructions - specs on your needs/what your guest can expect - ahead of time. Send connection requests on Facebook and LinkedIn. Ask for their short bio, headshot, and social media profile links (and follow their accounts). This will make compiling posts and sharing easier. 

For Guests:
- Follow the Instructions. This includes requests for your profile and social media info, as well as word count and deadlines. Also, if you are being recorded, be early, especially if it's a live broadcast. Follow your host's social media accounts, comment on posts; be an active member of their community.

For Hosts:
- Send a Calendar Invite. This is essential for audio or video recording appointments, especially live shows. However, you can send an invite as a reminder for the due date of a guest post or interview. 

For Guests: 
- Test Your Tech. Super-important for recording is to have good lighting, a nice background, and earbuds or a microphone (there's too much external noise when you use the computer speakers). 

For Hosts: 
- Make the Content Easy to Share. Send links for live events to your guests beforehand, so they can pass them along to their communities. That way, their people can watch in real-time. Also, send links - with custom images - to your guests after their blog post, podcast, or video interview goes up. 

For Guests:
- Share the Content. Also, keep an eye out for comments and respond to them.

For Hosts:
- Thank your Guests. Let them know you appreciate their time.  

For Guests: 
- Thank your Hosts. Let them know you appreciate their time. Also, if it's a podcast, leave a positive, thoughtful review.  

For Hosts and Guests: 
- Continue the Relationship. Stay in touch. Continue to comment on each others' posts. Ask how you can support each other. Suggest a blog or show swap. And see if they know of any good fits for your blog or show, as well as recommendations or introductions for you. 

* * *

I host the Sunday night #GoalChat Twitter chat, Monday #GoalChatLive show (broadcast on Facebook and LinkedIn), and Thursday Podcast, called The D*E*B Show (which is the podcast version of my Live). I do blog posts recaps of each ep - along with links to my guests' websites and information they mention. It's a lot of work, but the idea is to create content that benefits everyone.

You want any guest relationship to be win-win.  

One thing is certain: All guests leave an impression. It's up to you what that impression is, so make it a good one.  

* * *

What's your best tip for being a good guest? Please share in the comments.

* * *

If you need some help setting and achieving your goals, please reach out!

* * *

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 entrepreneurs, executives, and creatives 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 and Purple Pencil Adventures; 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.

Thursday, September 9, 2021

Writing Controversial Topics

Mindy Lawrence

Controversial topics abound these days covering religion, race, politics, social issues, and gender/sexual issues. As writers, we deal with these spiny topics, trying to be as neutral as possible but still getting the point across. There are ways to succeed in writing about hot-button issues and the controversial successfully. Here are some pointers.

·         Write with utmost care:

·         Research your topic well from ALL angles.

·         Don’t belittle the “other side.”

·         Stay away from vehement words so often seen on Facebook or Twitter.

·         Write FACTS, not half-truths or propaganda. Do your research.

·         Write to pass on information helpful to ALL of your readers.

·         Check your writing for clich├ęs, prejudicial comments, and other no-nos.

·         If you are making a specific point, check out all of the info and research you’ve done on the topic to make SURE you are accurate.

·         Check YOURSELF to see if you can write honestly about the topic.

Although this is mainly for nonfiction writers, it doesn’t hurt ALL writers to consider these suggestions.

Ruth Seaber, Department Chair & Associate Professor of English at Mineral Area College in Park Hills, Missouri, gives these suggestions for writers dealing with controversial topics:

·         I would differentiate “Truth” from facts. Because of the very nature of a controversial subject, “Truth” is a matter of interpretation.

·         (Writers should) Stay away from subjects they can’t write objectively about. They’ll know these subjects when they encounter intense emotional reactions when researching the opposing view.

·         First and foremost ask a question and research the answer. Don’t look for or cherry pick arguments or “evidence” to support one’s pre-existing opinion. That is, don’t have an opinion going in—find out the facts first. At the very least, check to be sure the facts you’ve recited since 1975 are still verifiable. New evidence does come about.

·         I advise writers to know the lenses through which they view the world, which helps them spot their own biases.

·         Distinguish between controversial and hot button issues. A controversial topic is any topic about which people disagree, upon which two cases can be made. A hot button issue is an extremely controversial or divisive issue. Controversial —we need a new shopping center in XYZ township. Hot button —we need a homeless shelter in a residential neighborhood in Clayton, Missouri.

Caroline Giammanco, author of Bank Notes: The True Story of the Boonie Hat Bandit, Inside the Death Fences, and Into the Night, is no stranger to controversial writing. She’s written about the Missouri prison system with great skill. She says:

“Just be honest and don’t fabricate details just to make it sound more exciting. If it’s controversial, it will be exciting enough.”


Writing about Controversial Topics, Michael Gallant



Writing Controversial Topics, Scott Kuttner



How to Write about Controversial Subjects, Iain Broome



Grasping Both Sides: The Challenge, T. Statman



Mindy Lawrence is a writer, ghost blogger, and artist based in Farmington, Missouri. She worked for the State of Missouri for over 24 years and moved to Farmington in 2020. She proofed the Sharing with Writers newsletter by Carolyn Howard-Johnson and wrote “An Itty-Bitty Column on Writing” there for ten years. She has been published in Writers Digest magazine and interviewed by NPR’s All Things Considered.



Sunday, September 5, 2021

Personal Essays: A New-Found Interest in the Time of Covid

Exploring Personal Essays
By Carolyn Howard-Johnson
Do you subscribe to Writers’ Digest’s newsletter? Once upon a time—maybe as far back as the 50s or 60s—that magazine got delivered to my mailbox. When I was living in New York City, I didn’t miss an issue because I could pick it up at the corner newsstands. Today, though I don’t always open their mail, it is comforting to see it in my e-mail box. Since I started writing to publish, it has occasionally served me well.  Their magazine named my SharingwithWriters blog to their 101 Best Websites list one year. My move-loved poetry book, Imperfect Echoes, earned an honorable mention in one of their contests. I keep reading it (and entering contests)  to keep up with the industry I love.
Recently I noticed an essay contest. I don’t remember ever seeing a RD essay contest! And then I noticed they were offering a webinar on writing personal essays. That was new to me in the context of creative writing, too, though I started writing as a journalist as was surely familiar with them. And then I ran across this letter I recently sent to my grandkids who live in Colorado accompanied by a very heavy box of Childcraft books. (It went book rate, of course!)
 It occurred to me that my #WritersontheMove audience might enjoy my little trip back to my childhood and maybe even tell me how I might change it to become a “personal essay.” You know, what it needs to become a personal essay.  


Literature in the Time of Covid
To Travis, Sarah, Lance, James, and Alexa:
Lance, (my husband, your Papa Lance) is on a book-buying, book-sharing roll. Perhaps because he is more or less glued to his computer in this time of Covid-19, that is to say, glued to Amazon.com for shopping and entertainment. Perhaps it is because we are cloistered and therefore keep finding nooks and crannies in the house we’ve lived in for fifty-three years that beg to be tidied and—maybe—decide some of our treasures would be better off given to another generation. Naturally, many of those are…well, books!
That brings me to Childcraft. It strikes me as the perfect thing to have around the house during our Covid isolation. After all, it served my brother and me quite well before we had what we now call TV!
It is a series of twelve encyclopedia-size books covering everything from nursery rhymes to child psychology, meant—I assumed—for my mom and dad. I had two favorites. The one full of fairy tales—everything from Grimm to Hans Christian Anderson. They were illustrated with drawing that were colored almost as if they had been painted in pastels. Quite different from the full color children’s books you have today.
There were two other books, big and flat. Just large enough to act as a base for all the others to sit on in our bookcase.  They were full of “real” stuff like industrial machines, musical instruments, and African animals. They were more like our real color photographs of today, too.
These books are copyrighted 1945. Your Grandma Birdie bought them from a door-to-door salesman—maybe the same one who sold things like encyclopedias back in those days. I was in the 3rd or 4th grade when they had little money, but she managed by paying a little each month. She called payments like that “will call.”  
These books did not molder away on a shelf. She read them to my brother and me often. We also played games using the intaglio imprints on the covers that illustrated what was within each volume. She had us cover our eyes and she would put her hand over one of the images and we were to tell her which one she was hiding. It was a little like playing peek-a-boo. Who was hiding, Jack-Be-Nimble or Little Miss Muffet?
I followed her example with our children and perhaps with our grandson, Travis, (your dad) who was often at our house. That Childcraft set probably made fifteen moves with us, from state to state, as our lives changed. When you open the box, you will see they have been well (lovingly!) used, but they are still in good shape, made of sturdy materials, slick paper, solid printing as books were made in those days when publishing was treasured, publishing was king, publishing didn’t think so much about its bottom line as about the value of books.
We had libraries back then, of course, but Childcraft was our own library. We didn’t have to hike through the snow of winter or the heat of summer to find something great to read. Our library was to be used, to be read, to be saved and now to be passed along to the third generation.
Great Grandma Carolyn
More About the Contributor:
Carolyn Howard-Johnson was an instructor for UCLA Extension's renowned Writers Program for nearly a decade. She believes in contests and reading literary journals as excellent ways to learn more about craft and branding writing careers. Her favorite awards are Woman of the Year in Arts and Entertainment given by members of the California Legislature, “San Gabriel Valley Women Who Make Life Happen” given by the Pasadena Weekly, and an award for her work promoting tolerance with her writing given by Glendale’s Character and Ethics Committee. She has been publishing poetry and fiction for years and loves passing along the tricks of the trade she learned from marketing those so-called hard-to-promote genres with her acclaimed HowToDoItFrugally Series of books for writers.
Carolyn is a frequent contributor to Karen Cioffi’s respected #WritersontheMove blog. 

Wednesday, September 1, 2021

4 Reasons Self-Publishing Your Children’s Book May Be Your Best Option


 To traditionally publish or self-publish?

That's a question just about every author thinks about. Well, if you're a children's writer, self-publishing may be a good choice.

Here are the reasons why.

1. You know it’s getting more and more difficult to get signed on with a traditional publishing house or literary agent.

Publishers are businesses. They want as sure a thing as possible to ensure a profit on their investment. Unagented authors or authors without a huge social following don’t stand a chance.

In an article at Huffington Post, the author noted, “Nowadays, most publishing houses only read manuscripts submitted by agents. Finding a literary agent is as difficult as finding a publisher, unless you are a celebrity, of course.” (1)

You know the odds – they’re super-slim. So, instead of spending lots of time and effort on research and submissions that could go on for years without any results, you’d rather invest in you.

If you believe in your story, go for it.

Keep in mind here, although you’re bypassing the gatekeepers of traditional publishing, you still need a quality story. Self-publishing isn’t a free pass.

2. You really, really, really, want to be author of a children’s book.

If this is what you really want, then go for it.
There are a couple of things to do first though:

A. Have a GOOD story. This means the story, structure, grammar, punctuation, formatting, and so on.
Please take the time to do it right, even if you have to get it ghostwritten.

B. Have GOOD illustrations. If it’s for a picture book or chapter book, get decent illustrations. Don’t self-publish a substandard book. Be proud to be the author of that book.

You don’t have to break the bank, but you will need to make an investment for quality. I know illustrators who do good work and charge $80-$100 per interior illustration.

Know what your expenses will be before jumping in. If you’re budget’s willing, go for it.

3. You know the chances of becoming rich or famous are slim to none.

In an article at Jane Friedman.com, author Brent Hartinger said, “I actually think it’s easier to land a traditional deal right now, especially in children’s books, than it is to successfully self-publish.” (2)

Going into something realistically helps you avoid major let down. The market is oversaturated, so keep your expectations in check.

If your purpose for a book is to share something or say something then by all means go for it. But again, keep your expectations in check.

If your purpose is to write a story for the children in your life, go for it.

Maybe there’s a story in your family that’s been passed down from your great grandfather and you want to get it in a book. Again, go for it.

There are lots of reasons people may want to write a children’s book and not expect it to be more than they intended.

Whatever your purpose, if you’re going to write and publish a children’s book or any book for that matter, please create a quality product. Don’t add to the inferior books that are being self-published. Publish a book you’ll be proud of.

4. You have a middle grade or young adult story.

Middle grade and young adult stories done usually include illustrations, although middle grade might have a sketch at the beginning of each chapter. Because of this, they’re less expensive to self-publish.

As with any type of book, you do want a quality book cover and back cover. And, you want the interior design done right. You can get this done with self-publishing services.

Helpful sites to get your story published:

Services that will take your Word document or PDF and format it for upload to sites like Amazon, Createspace, Smashwords, Ingram Spark, and so on, include:

– Digital2Digital.com
– FormattingExperts.com
– Word-2-Kindle
– EbookLaunch.com

Some of these services will format your manuscript and upload it for publication and distribution. Some will only format it. Some only do ebooks. You’ll have to review their services.

You can also do some research for self-publishing services over at:

If you want a bigger pond to fish from, you might do some research and hire someone on Upwork or Fiverr to design and format your book for uploading.

If you have experience self-publishing a children’s book, it’d be great if you’d share some tidbits of advice or services you found helpful.

(1) https://www.huffingtonpost.com/sue-shanahan/four-reasons-to-selfpubli_b_6757278.html
(2) https://www.janefriedman.com/childrens-book-self-publishing/

This article was originally published at:


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: https://karencioffiwritingforchildren.com/karens-books/. If you need help with your children’s story, visit: https://karencioffiwritingforchildren.com



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