Podcast Guesting Goals

Part of being an author is putting yourself out there, sharing your knowledge, and cultivating new audiences. A great way to do that is to be a guest on podcasts.

On a recent GoalChatLive, I talked about podcast guesting with Mike Allton, Head of Strategic Partnerships at Agorapulse; Jackie Lapin, founder of SpeakerTunity, and Anastasia Lipske, founder of Access Speakers. Mike hosts multiple podcasts, while Jackie and Anastasia focus on helping experts find stages … and microphones.

How to Find Podcasts to Guest On 

  • Mike: Decide what kinds of show, topics, audiences, and start listening to those kinds of shows 
  • Jackie: Google podcasts on your topic, make sure it’s still recording new episodes
  • Anastasia: Search topics on ListenNotes.com and then look the shows up on Apple podcasts to check out the most recent episodes; before pitching yourself, do your due diligence and make sure they interview guests 

How to Be a Good Guest 

  • Anastasia: Be smart, be helpful; bless the audience with your knowledge 
  • Jackie: Have a media kit to send to the host after they book you. This includes your bio, on-air intro, 20 questions you want to be asked (in order), and the “learn more” page with your contact info and social media links 
  • Mike: Have the gear, you need to look and sound good 
  • Mike: Talk about the pains and problems that you solve, add value 
  • Anastasia: Share the episodes; no host ghosting 
  • Jackie: Use quotes from your episodes (and/or testimonials from hosts) in your speaker sheets

Watch Our Conversation:


  • Mike: Carve out time to repurpose a clip out of a previous podcast 
  • Anastasia: Ask friends and clients what shows they listen to that they think you should be on 
  • Jackie: Book 3 hours in your calendar every week to dedicate to podcast guesting activities
When you guest on podcasts the goal is to have an experience that's a win-win-win: for the host, the guest, and the audience.

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For more inspiration and motivation, follow @TheDEBMethod on Facebook, Instagram, and Linkedin! 

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What's your best podcast guesting tip? Please share in the comments. 

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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 goal-strategist, corporate consultant, and project catalyst, Debra offers personal and professional planning, event strategy, and team building for individuals, businesses, and teams. She is also the author of Write On Blogging and Purple Pencil Adventures; founder of Write On Online; host of  #GoalChatLive aka The DEB Show podcast and Taste Buds with Deb. She speaks on the subjects of writing, networking, goal-setting, and social media.

Boosting Book Sales for Specialty Books


By Carolyn Howard-Johnson

   Yes, it is time to plan for holiday season book sales. 

 Here is a road-less-traveled to consider for specialty books.

It’s June and holiday gift catalogs from fine stores and not-so-fine are planning and designing theirs right now--both the kind that land in you snail mail and the ones that come to your e-mail box. Authors who put their marketing hats on and think out-of-the-box for places to expose their books to a new audience will find all kinds of benefits they never encountered selling books “the usual way.”  (See below for a few of  idea of how to make them work for you.) 

Commercial catalogs (now often called gift guides)—benefit from the great blurbs you have excerpted from your reviews. In fact, you are more likely to get a contract for your book to be featured in a commercial gift guides if you have excerpted a stunning blurb from a review. The catalog’s designers use them to prompt their readers to buy your book. And, wow! Are these catalogs a way to pick up musty book sales!

Catalogs are show business. They spotlight a product for the purpose of selling merchandise, but they also create a buzz, project an image, tell a story, leave an impression. They create celebrity for themselves and for each of their products.

Brick-and-mortar stores and online retailers of every kind—from department stores to gadget stores to catalogs for seniors to museums and charities—still send catalogs by USPS and big online retail outlets send individual suggestions for products their algorithms tell them you’ll like. Millions of them.

Before authors or publishers pitch a book to one of these entities, they must find a catalog-match for the genre, theme, or topic of their book. Here are a few examples of how books can add a new dimension to catalogs: 

§  Your nonfiction book on the life of Picasso or your historical fiction account of his life are prospected for exhibition catalogs produced by art galleries like Smithsonian or the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art. Some still have honest-to-goodness brick and mortar stores where some books make great point-of-purchase items.

§  Your how-to travel book or travel-oriented memoir will fit on the pages of Travelsmith or Magellan’s.

§  Your book on the history of porcelain or bone china could be featured in Geary’s online gift guide.  Geary’s is an ultra-fine gift store located on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills, so a fiction book set in that area or about a Beverly Hills lifestyle might give their catalog a dimension they haven’t tried before.

Once you find a match, pitch your idea with the query-letter basics described in my How to Get Great Book Reviews Frugally and Ethically now being edited for its second edition from Modern History Press. This query, however, must emphasize why this book is a fit for the catalog buyer’s publication and how the designer might best showcase it. Because catalogs need great visuals, include an image (not as an attachment) of your knockout cover.

Here’s how to find catalogs that might be interested in your book:

  • Search online for “retail catalogs.” About 31,000 lists will appear. See if the search brings up online or real paper catalogs that might be a fit for your book. Don’t judge too narrowly. If you have an idea for them, they might have leeway enough to make room for it.
  • Go to a bookstore or library and ask to see their Catalog of Catalogs. Find one with a recent update or copyright date. Tada! You’ve found another way to see your book cover and your blurbs in print and realize sales at the same time.
  • Become familiar with the catalogs that come to your home. Sign up for gift guides that might offer possibilities. Ask your friends to share their used catalogs with you. When you find an appropriate one for your book, go for it! Contact information is usually on the inside of the front cover or on the back cover. 

The benefits of these kinds of retails sales far exceed those of selling retail through bookstores: 

§  The primary reason for your book to appear on the pages of a retail catalog is sales, but that exposure is also extraordinarily good publicity.

§  Though commercial catalog exposure looks like advertising, it has more benefits than most ads. Here’s the best part: It is not usually exposure you pay for. The catalog administrators buy books from you and do all of the production and distribution work. Your only job is to sell them on the idea of your book, provide them with ideas for copy including one of your book’s rave reviews, and send them a great image of your book, perhaps a 3-D image, which you can get from author Gene Cartwright if you don’t know how to do it on your own.

§  Catalog buyers reorder just before their stock is depleted, usually with no prompting from you or your publisher.

§  Unlike most bookstores or other retail outlets, print catalog companies expect to pay the freight for their book shipments.

§  Unlike most bookstores, catalog producers do not return what they cannot sell. They probably won’t ask for returns unless you suggest it, and why would you do that? This is their usual way of doing business. When in Rome, do as the Romans do.

Hint: These no-return sales terms should be included on order forms, invoices, and the sales contract.

§  Catalog buyers must be sure they have stock to cover their sales, so their orders will be substantial enough to make both you and your publisher smile.

§  If catalog sales are successful, administrators may ask for a contract for their next catalog. The beauty here is that you can help make sales soar by promoting the catalog on Twitter, your newsletter, and many of your other marketing efforts. Use the motto “As seen in Smithsonian’s Holiday Catalog!” everywhere.

§  Commercial catalogs expect you to set minimum quantities of what you sell them. That means you can tell them—as an example—that their minimum first order must be forty-eight books and orders thereafter must be in lots of at least six or twelve. I’m sure you can see the benefits of this policy, not least of which is that they will be less likely to run out of stock. You’ll save on accounting time, too.

§  If, after the catalog has expired, you can coax the administrators of these catalogs to share their graphics with you, you can repurpose them for your website and about any other place great graphics will help your marketing. They probably won’t charge you if you make it clear that you intend to keep using their catalog in your marketing. Depending on how the segment is designed, it might become a logo, a banner for your social networks, and on and on.

§  Catalogs usually don’t care if the copyright date on your book is current; they are more interested in a title that fits their product mix, has a history of great sales, and has appealing cover art. 

§  Most catalogs don’t require exclusivity for their products.

§  You might interest some online catalogs to buy rights to give your e-book to their customers as a value-added gift for a limited period of time. 

Note: Many small-to-medium size publishers have no experience with catalogs and, though it seems self-evident that increased sales benefit them as well as you, you may need to convince them of that fact and then coach them through the process.

Catalog disadvantages are:

§  Learning curve ahead! You’ll need to expertly pitch your book and negotiate sales to catalog buyers. That means you have to readjust your thinking and tailor your sales tools to their needs. As you can see from the bullets in the list above, catalogs do business differently from bookstores.

§  Because print catalogs buy products in quantity and in advance they demand a hefty discount. If you or your publisher cannot give fifty percent or more, there is no point in pursuing them. However, if you only break even on catalog sales, it may be worth the trouble for the publicity benefits. 

§  Some authors and publishers fail to print enough books to supply a catalog’s immediate needs. Authors and publishers who use print-on-demand technology have the advantage of fast turnaround time, something a partner- or self-published author may use as a sales point in his or her query letter.

§  Nonfiction books are generally more suitable for catalogs, but as with other marketing, anything that works for nonfiction may work for fiction, too. It may just take more research and planning to achieve success.

Hint: It’s hard to believe that some publishers don’t jump at the chance to work with their authors on catalog sales. If your publisher can’t be convinced of the profit possibilities in partnering with you on a project like this, handle the details of this sale yourself. Ask your publisher for a large-quantity price break to stock your own books or work with the press that prints your book so you can save postage and time by having catalog orders drop-shipped.

Authors can produce catalogs of their own. Self-published catalogs are generally sponsored or organized by authors with independent instincts who have the support of charitable and professional organizations including writers’ organizations. 

Tip: Don’t let that “self-published catalogs” scare you. Authors who are traditionally published can use this idea as effectively as those who have had experience publishing their own work. 

These independently-produced catalogs become cross-promotional efforts that increase exposure for holiday gift-giving. They are great promotional handouts at literary events. They are take-it-home marketing tools that continue to sell after attendees have returned home, and they can be targeted at any demographic. 

When Joyce Faulkner and I sponsored a booth for Authors’ Coalition at the LA Times Festival of Books we published a full-color catalog that featured all our booth participants. We handed them out at the fair, but we also mass-mailed them to influential creative people in the Southern California area including Hollywood movie moguls who often adapt novels for the screen. We didn’t forget to include regional bookstore buyers and event planners, and the fair logo gave it even more credibility. (Fair administrators encouraged fair participants to use the logo liberally.) The catalog included an invitation to come to the fair and visit our booth. And, yes—because blurbs are superior sales tools—a quote excerpted from reviews was featured prominently on each author’s page.

Cooperative catalogs benefit by linking to great reviews of each book. When this is part of the concept, those online entities (bloggers, journals, etc.) may be thankful enough for the additional traffic to help with the catalog’s digital marketing—things like social networking and blog posts.

Catalogs like these usually rely on each participating author to distribute it to their own contact lists to achieve mass readership. All benefit from each author’s list. Because postage can get expensive, it is best if the bulk of your catalogs get distributed by e-mail, but paper catalogs are keepers and can be distributed as giveaways or through the mail. You can use the images you produce for your catalog participants in slide shows or YouTube to encourage people to subscribe so they will receive your next catalog.

 When individuals or organizations spearhead catalogs like this, there is usually a fee to cover the time and expense of putting them together and for coordinating the dissemination. They can be used as fundraisers for charities or to help a small publisher increase their bottom line so they can take on more publishing clients the following year. 

Note: To make an idea like this work, it is best to have participants sign agreements that clearly delineate the marketing expectations of each participant and the duties to be performed by the organizing entity.


Carolyn Howard-Johnson was founder and operator of her own gift retail chain with five stores including the only gift specialty store at the Santa Anita Race Track at the foot of the beautiful San Gabriel Mountains in California. She is now author of two series on of how-to books, one for retailers and one for authors—both traditionally and self-published. Learn more about her at HowToDoItFrugally.com.

PS: The character I am with at a Miami Book Fair was the star of many gift guides and holiday catalogues that had nothing to do with children’s books because star-power followed him wherever he happened to go. Smart retailers! Smart publishers and authors cashed in on his...mmm--sex appeal. 

The Who, How, and Why of a Children's Ghostwriter



Contributed by Karen Cioffi, Children's Writer

A while ago, I had a conversation with a fellow attendee at a children’s picture book workshop. When I mentioned I’m a children’s ghostwriter, she was curious how I got started in the field.

I couldn’t answer her. I couldn’t remember how it actually came about.

Thinking back, though, I did start out editing for authors. Many of the manuscripts I received were in such poor condition that I ended up rewriting the stories, some almost to the point of ghostwriting.

It just seemed to evolve from there.

In case you’re wondering, a ghostwriter is a writer who will take your idea, notes, outline, or other information and write a story for you. And they write in every genre you can think of: fiction, nonfiction, memoirs, screenplays, video, TV scripts, technical, medical, speeches, music, and so on.

The ghostwriter offers a nondisclosure agreement if the potential client wants one. Most of my clients never ask for one. The ghostwriter also provides a freelance agreement. And she usually doesn’t get any recognition for her work. However, there are instances where the ghostwriter and client agree to other terms.

Two other terms that may arise between a ghostwriter and a client:

1. The ghostwriter has her name on the book as co-author for a reduced fee.

2. The ghostwriter gets a percentage of the sales, again for a reduced fee.

In my opinion, it’s never a good idea to accept either of these terms unless you absolutely know the book will be successful or the author is famous.

WHO hires a children’s ghostwriter?

The answer to this question always amazes me.

There are people from around the world who want to be the author of a children’s book but don’t have the skills, time, or inclination to do it themselves.

I’ve worked with well over 350 clients from lots of different countries, including Italy, the United Kingdom, Scotland, Norway, Saipan, Jordon, Dubai, and all over the United States, even Hawaii.

It seems that most often, it’s parents or grandparents who develop a desire to be authors of children’s books. They usually want to have a story created about their children or grandchildren or impart some wisdom to children.

I’ve also worked with child therapists and child psychologists who use children’s books as a tool to broaden their ability to help children.

And then there are the business people who see a children’s book as part of a marketing strategy for their industry or as an addition to a product they already have.

In addition to this, I’ve worked with clients who wanted a series of children’s books to use as the foundation of a new business.

I’ve even ghostwritten for a dentist.

WHAT skills does a children’s ghostwriter need?

1. Being a skilled writer.

While a number of authors who self-publish have the “I want it now” syndrome and ‘wing’ their books into publication, you can’t do this when someone is paying you to write a professional story.

Aside from knowing how to write, it’s essential to understand the specific rules of writing for children. The ghostwriter needs to know what the current industry guidelines are.

2. Knowing how to listen.

Listening carefully to the client is a must. The ghostwriter needs to take simple things like an idea given over the phone or in an email, notes, or a basic outline and create an engaging and publishable book.

Along with this, the writer needs to ensure the book reflects the client’s voice and vision. Listening is an essential factor in doing this.

3. Being patient.

It may seem unusual, but a ghostwriter needs to be patient.

I’ve had a couple of clients who approved a final story, then came back in a week or two and decided they wanted revisions.

I had a middle-grade client who kept putting multiple POVs within one chapter. I’d edit it, and he’d change it again.

I had another client who kept ignoring my advice as I rewrote his young adult novel.

It’s important to be patient and tactful while explaining over and over why something doesn’t work. The reason to keep after the client is that it’s the ghostwriter’s job to make sure the final product is professional.

4. Being organized and focused.

I usually handle more than one project at a time. I’m currently juggling ten clients; it’s an all-time high number of simultaneous clients for me.

If you’re dealing with multiple clients, you need to be able to switch stories and sometimes genres without losing a beat. This takes focus… and flexibility while handling all the emails from clients.

For organization, I use a Word and Excel file for each client. I keep track of every email and every phone call.

When you’re dealing with writing clients, you must things moving smoothly and keep your clients satisfied and in the loop throughout each project.

5. Having the ability to follow through and be on time.

As with any writing project, you’ve got to complete it and come in on time.

In the terms of the agreement, there is a time period for the project to be complete. The ghostwriter must meet the deadline.

WHAT'S the motivation?

I can’t speak for all children’s ghostwriters, but for me, I love writing for children. It’s satisfying to teach children, engage them, amaze them, take them on adventures, and stretch their imaginations.

And I love helping others fulfill their desire to see their children’s story ideas come to life.


Karen Cioffi is an award-winning children’s author, ghostwriter, rewriter, and coach with clients worldwide. If you need help with your children’s story, please visit Karen Cioffi Writing for Children.

A 250+ page book that cover everything to help you write your children's book.

And for those children’s authors who are self-publishing, you might check out WRITERS ON THE MOVE PRESS.

Symbols Add Texture to Your Story

Abi's gold heart-shaped locket.
She never takes it off, even for P.E.

By Linda Wilson   @LinWilsonauthor

Symbols add layers to deepen your story. Symbols can provide a break in the action. Your reader can take a brief respite from the action, then plunge right back in to find out what happens.

What is a symbol? I tested examples of the symbols in my latest work-in-progress, Secret in the Mist, Book Two in my Abi Wunder mystery series, with the Wikipedia definition of “symbol:”

“A symbol is a mark, sign, or word that indicates, signifies, or is understood as representing an idea, object, or relationship. Symbols allow people to go beyond what is known or seen by creating linkages between otherwise very different concepts and experiences.”

Ideas in Mist

Perfect temperature and a full moon: The ghost in the story doesn’t show herself any old time. She waits till the temperature is just right and there’s a full moon. Ah-whooooooo!

Change in time: Abi’s perception of time and space change whenever the ghost is near—Abi's present world halts, and she instantly travels back to the time when the ghost was alive. Spooooooky!

Relationships in Mist

There are many different types of relationships in Mist. Here are the most prominent:

The two main characters, Abi and Jess: Abi and Jess’s friendship is very important to each of them. When a bump comes along—a disagreement—they part ways. Yet, Abi continues their quest even though Jess is mad at her. But they reconcile and their friendship is stronger than ever. My intent in showing various parts of this best-friend relationship is to show how real relationships can be mended even when there is a problem.

Abi and Jess vs Angel: Angel and Jess had been best friends until Abi came along. Angel is rude to Abi and does everything she can to discourage Abi from being Jess’s friend—a symbol typical of a jealous relationship. Angel must learn to accept Abi and not try to keep Jess to herself. Both Jess and Angel must change to make their relationship work. Abi must be friends with both of them.

Abi and Grandma: Abi’s Grandma died a year ago last summer. Abi misses her. She accepts Jess’s invitation to visit to help find the ghost that has been haunting Jess's neighborhood for 100 years. Abi accepts the invitation, of course, for the obvious reason, she wants to see a ghost. But also, she’s hoping that if  ghosts truly exists, then ghosts are real. And if ghosts are real, she will  see her grandma again.

Objects in Mist

Riding boots: In Book 1 Abi ignored physical activity in favor of creating art. She was attached to her flip flops and didn’t want to wear any other type of shoe. Her single-minded purpose was to create art and grow up to be an artist. She meets Jess, who thrives on athletics, and by the end of the book, Abi can run as fast and as far as Jess. 

In Book 2, Abi has given up the notion of wearing flip flops all the time. Jess has invited her to go horseback riding in addition to going ghost hunting. Even though long pants and a long-sleeve shirt are required to ride, and are hot clothes to wear at the end of summer, Abi appreciates the extra layers of clothing needed for the sport, including wearing riding boots.

Unicorn-Cat and Rainbow: In Book 1, Abi named her sketchbook Unicorn Cat and her backpack Rainbow. These names are carried through in Book 2. In Book 3, the last in the series Abi will have grown out of this stage. But in the first two books, my intent has been to show how much Abi values some of her most important possessions. 

Hearts: I’ve saved my favorite symbol for last. A locket that Abi’s grandma gave her before she died, which has her photo inside, is a gold heart. It's Abi's most prized possession. She never takes it off, even in P.E.

If the locket warms to the touch, it means that Grandma’s ghost is near, come to help Abi as she so often did in life. 

Faith, a ghost horse, has a white marking on its forehead in the shape of a heart. My intent is to bind these hearts, the gold heart locket, and Faith’s heart marking, together with Abi’s heart—forever. Having hearts so prominent in this book segues into Book 3, the last book in the series, Secrets of the Heart: An Abi Wunder Mystery.

Also, the locket is mentioned quite a few times in the story, which serves as a thread that binds the story together. Abi held up her hand. “Give me a sec.” It was her locket. It felt warm. She grasped it, and a familiar voice whispered in her ear, "Follow that still voice inside, child. It will tell you what to do." 

Abi glanced around. The only person standing in Jess’s yard—was Jess. And she hadn’t said a word. That’s something Grandma would say, Abi thought. But it couldn’t be her. Could it?

A chill ran down Abi’s spine. Grandma died a year ago right before school started, this time last year. She remembered because she missed the first few days of fifth grade. She fingered her locket, cool now, straining to hear more. But the voice had fallen silent. 

Those hushed words gave Abi faith that her grandma was still with her. As she was in life, and now in death. Abi let the locket fall back in place. Deep inside she said, Thanks, Grandma.

Symbols not only add texture to your story, but they're a lot of fun to create. Look over your story. Make a list of symbols you have found. Make sure your symbols offer deep meaning to your story.

Illustration: By Danika Corrall. I was so happy with Danika's work in creating my website, bit.ly/3DtEXiV, I asked her to illustrate Mist. Her illustrations are terrific. If you are interested in learning more about Danika, she can be reached at hello@danikacorrall.com. hello@danikacorrall.com.  

For other editing tips, please visit my article: "Keep Your Self-Editing on Track," January 2024; https://www.writersonthemove.com/2024/01/keep-your-self-editing-on-track.html

Thistletoe Q. Packrat points out
information from his book,
A Packrat's Holiday during
a school visit.

Linda Wilson is the author of the Abi Wunder Mystery series and other books for children. Her two new releases are Waddles the Duck: Hey, Wait for Me! (2022) and Cradle in the Wild: A Book for Nature Lovers Everywhere (2023). You’ll find Linda on her Amazon author page, on her website at LindaWilsonAuthor.com, and on Facebook.

Tips for Creating Subplots in Middle Grade Novels

by Suzanne Lieurance

 If you’re writing a middle grade novel, you want to include at least one or two subplots.

Subplots in fiction are secondary storylines that run alongside the main plot, adding depth, complexity, and interest to the narrative. 


They enhance the main storyline by providing additional layers of conflict, character development, or thematic exploration. 


Subplots often intersect with the main plot at certain points, influencing or being influenced by the actions and events of the primary storyline.


For middle-grade novels targeted at kids aged 8-12, subplots can be a fantastic tool to engage young readers and keep them invested in the story. 


Here are some different types of subplots in middle-grade novels and some examples of published novels that contain these types of subplots:


Friendship Dynamics Subplot


Explore the dynamics of friendships among the main characters. 


Introduce conflicts, misunderstandings, or new friendships that challenge the established relationships. 


Subplots could revolve around resolving conflicts between friends, navigating peer pressure, or discovering the importance of loyalty and trust.


Example of a MG novel with this kind of subplot


Diary of a Wimpy Kid series by Jeff Kinney


Throughout the series, protagonist Greg Heffley navigates various friendships and social dynamics, including conflicts with his best friend Rowley and attempts to fit in with different cliques at school.


Personal Growth Subplot


Develop subplots that focus on the personal growth and development of individual characters. 


Each character could have their own arc, facing challenges or overcoming obstacles that help them grow and mature throughout the story. 


These subplots could involve facing fears, overcoming insecurities, or discovering hidden talents. 


Example of a MG novel with this kind of subplot


Wonder by R.J. Palacio


While the main plot focuses on Auggie Pullman's journey as he enters fifth grade, there are subplots involving the personal growth of supporting characters like Auggie's sister, Via, as she learns to assert her identity and navigate her own challenges.


Mystery or Puzzle Subplot


Introduce a mystery or puzzle that runs parallel to the main storyline. 


This could be a treasure hunt, a secret to uncover, or a series of clues leading to a surprising revelation. 


Subplots involving mystery and intrigue can add excitement and suspense to the narrative, keeping readers eagerly turning pages to unravel the mystery.


Example of a MG novel with this kind of subplot


The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin: 


This classic mystery novel follows a group of heirs as they compete to solve the puzzle of Samuel W. Westing's will and claim his inheritance. 


The subplot involves the characters unraveling clues and uncovering secrets about each other while trying to solve the mystery.


Family Dynamics Subplot


Explore the family dynamics of the main characters. 


Subplots could involve family secrets, sibling rivalries, or conflicts between generations. 


These subplots provide opportunities to delve into themes of family, identity, and belonging, while also deepening the characterization of the main protagonists. 


Example of a MG novel with this kind of subplot


Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson


While the main storyline focuses on the friendship between Jess and Leslie, there are subplots that delve into Jess's complex family dynamics, including his strained relationship with his father and his evolving understanding of his role within his family.


Community or School Events Subplot


Incorporate subplots centered around community or school events. 


This could include a school play, a sports competition, or a town festival. 


Subplots involving these events can bring the setting to life and provide opportunities for characters to interact with a wider range of supporting characters, adding richness and diversity to the story world. 


Example of a MG novel with this kind of subplot


Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling


Alongside the main plot of Harry's first year at Hogwarts and his quest to stop Voldemort, there are subplots involving various school events such as Quidditch matches, the annual Halloween feast, and the end-of-year House Cup ceremony.


Parallel Adventures Subplot


Introduce parallel adventures or quests that run alongside the main journey of the protagonists. 


These subplots could involve secondary characters on their own quests or facing their own challenges, which intersect with the main storyline at key moments. 


Parallel adventures add depth and complexity to the narrative, while also highlighting different perspectives and experiences within the story world.


Example of a MG novel with this kind of subplot


Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan


While Percy's quest to retrieve Zeus's stolen lightning bolt is the central focus of the novel, there are subplots involving other characters on their own quests, such as Annabeth's quest to find and retrieve the stolen Helm of Darkness.


Themes and Lessons Subplot


Develop subplots that explore specific themes or lessons relevant to the target age group. 


These could include themes such as courage, empathy, or environmental awareness. 


Subplots focused on thematic exploration allow for deeper engagement with the material and provide opportunities for readers to reflect on important values and ideas. 


Example of a MG novel with this kind of subplot


Matilda by Roald Dahl


In addition to Matilda's extraordinary abilities and her quest for acceptance and understanding, there are subplots that explore themes of friendship, courage, and the power of standing up to injustice, particularly through the character of Miss Honey.


By incorporating well-crafted subplots into your middle-grade novels, you can create rich and immersive storytelling experiences that captivate young readers and keep them eagerly engaged with the story from beginning to end.

Suzanne Lieurance is a freelance writer, the author of over 40 published books and a writing coach at writebythesea.com.

Subscribe to her free newsletter, The Morning Nudge, for writing tips and resources delivered to your e-mailbox every weekday morning. 

You'll also get immediate access to a private Resource Library for Writers.


Build Your Brand

  Contributed by Margot Conor While you are writing your novel, or even when it is just an idea in your head, start to build your brand. Res...