Wednesday, January 17, 2018

5 Ways for Authors to Promote Themselves and Their Book(s)

5 Ways for Authors to Promote Themselves and Their Book(s)
 by Vivian Zabel

            Whether an author has a book released through a traditional publisher or goes the self-publishing route, he/she must promote that book. Publishers may point the way, but the author does the work. Promotion may appear overwhelming, but many ways to help a writer promote exist. Now, an author does not try all the methods and tips at once, but one at a time to find what works.
            One tip all promoters suggest is writers must begin promoting themselves before they ever mention a book. Possible readers must know the author and be familiar with the name before they will be interested in any book. In fact, many tips are repeated from source to source.
            This article will cover only five suggestions, but the sources are listed at the bottom of the text. Writers can and should do research to discover their “perfect” way or ways to promote themselves and their book or books.

Promotional Tips and Suggestions

 1. Start early, not too late: Promote yourself by becoming an interesting person, one who shows interest in others. Cathy Presland states, “Comment on threads in Facebook groups or on other people’s threads to build your reputation as an expert.” Using material researched, for background or facts used for a book, to build a reputation as an expert allows an author to “double-dip” with one’s work.
            According to Tony Levelle, a writer should begin as much as three years, or as soon as possible, before any book is released: “… start building a network of supporters and reviewers. Keep track of everyone you meet as you research and write the book. Pay special attention to, and make notes about, those who demonstrate a genuine enthusiasm for you and your project.”
            One problem many authors have, says Brian Feinblum, is they “don’t think about marketing until the book is already written.”

2. Start a blog and a website: Every writer needs a blog and website, before any book is released.
A blog should help build the reputation of the author as an expert in one or more fields. A blog shouldn’t be used to “pound” readers with the book. It shouldn’t be “buy, buy, buy.” It should be somewhere for readers to want to read and learn more about the author and what the author knows and shares. For example, an author could write in-depth posts on a topic researched for his/her book, referencing the book and linking to it at the end of the post. If the book is not finished or even written yet, the author can still post information about the research, creating a useful amount of knowledge over time           
All authors need a website dedicated to themselves and their book or books, which they update regularly. All information should be correct and complete. Tonly Levelle gives a list of what such a website should include:
* A book blog with updates and corrections concerning the book. It should include responces to reader comments and suggestions.
* Sample chapters from the book (I disagree with this one. I suggest using short stories or articles linked to the book).
* A link to where the book could be ordered online.
* The authors media kit.
* Book reviews and blurbs.
* The author’s schedule of appearances, such as at bookstores, speaking engagements, and conferences.
* Contact information.

3. Write an outstanding, well-written book: All the preparation, all the promotion, all the planning in the world means nothing if the book isn’t the best it can be. An exceptional book will create word-of-mouth publicity.

4. Create a Media Kit: According to Levelle, a media kit should include the following information –
·       Professional business cards that include the author’s contact information.
·       A head shot by a professional photographer or talented amateur.
·       A short biography, 100-150 words, to tell readers why the author is qualified to write this book.
·       A “one sheet” with a glassy print of the book cover and a description of the book (think back cover blurb) as well as a few short reviews and recommendations from others.
5. Prepare to do a heavy load of work: Since even well-known, famous authors must promote their book, ALL authors must be prepared to do the major portion of promotion and marketing for their books. Authors should find as much help as possible from anyone and everyone, but authors must realize that the hard work is theirs. [Brian Feinblum]
            Authors can find hundreds of suggestions and tips for promoting and marketing their books. Each should find and use those which work for him/her, trying, and ignoring unusable ones, keeping those that do work.
            A book means the most to the author, and, therefore, the author needs to promote and market his/her book.

               Brian Feinblum, “Promotional Pitfalls,” The Writer, September, 2018 page 16
               Tony Levelle, “15 DIY Book Promotion Tools You Need to Know,”
               Cathy Presland, “50 (and more) Ways to Promote Your Book,”

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Book Marketing – 6 Tips to Give Your Author Platform a Boost

By Karen Cioffi

So, you’re an author. That’s great. But, just writing books isn’t enough – you’ve got to promote you and your books.

The first step to doing this is to have yearly, monthly, and weekly book marketing goals. With goals, you know where you’re heading and can work toward that end.
Marketing goals can be considered a marketing plan and it will have a number of steps or objectives that must be set in motion and accomplished.

To market your book. You need to generate visibility for you and your platform. Six of the bare basic online marketing strategies to increase you visibility are:

1. Create a presence and platform

Creating an online presence and platform is initiated by creating a website. First though, you’ll need to be sure of your niche because the domain name, site title, and content should reflect your niche and/or your area of expertise.

Remember, plan first. Choose a domain name and title that will grow with you. As an example, if you choose a site name, Picture Books with [Your Name], you’ve limited yourself. What if your next book is a chapter book or young adult, or other?

As part of your book marketing strategy, you should also create a ‘hub’ site that will act as the center to your offshoot sites, such as the individual sites for each of your books.

Leave room to grow; it’s always advisable to use your name as the hub site’s title, or part of it.

In addition, with today’s gone-in-a-second attention span, it’s a good idea to keep your site simple. Marketing expert Mike Volpe of points out that it’s more important to spend time, and money if necessary, on content rather than a flashy website design; simple works.

Google verifies this ‘simple is better’ strategy and notes that milliseconds count in regard to your page load time. In fact, Google gives a ‘poorer’ score to pages that are slow to load.

Sites that take a few seconds or more to load may also cause you to lose potential subscribers and buyers.

TIP: You should have an author website up and running before you start submitting you manuscript to publishers or before you self-publish.

2. Increase visibility

Writing content, blog posts, for your readers/visitors is the way to increase visibility – content is definitely still King. Provide interesting, informative, and/or entertaining content that will prompt the reader to come back and, just as important, to share your article.

Also, be sure your content is pertinent to your site, and keep your site and content focused on your platform.

3. Draw traffic to your site with blogging

To draw traffic to your site, promote your posts by using social media. You should also include guest blogging. This will increase your visibility reach.

This is considered organic marketing; it funnels traffic back to your site with valuable content and free offers.

TIP: When using social media, choose two or three networks and ‘work’ them. It’s important to be active on the networks you promote your books on.

You can learn more about using social media at:
The Social Media Marketing Smorgasbord

4. Have effective call-to-actions

Your site must have call-to-action keywords that will motivate readers to visit and click on your links. Keywords and phrases to use include:

- Get your Free gift now for subscribing
- Free e-book to offer on your own site
- Buy Now
- Get Access Now
- Get Started Today
- Join for Free
- Don’t hesitate, take advantage of our expert services
- Be sure to Bookmark this site
- Become a better writer – tips right to your inbox
- Are you blogging wrong? Find out how to do it right!
- Know what email marketing is? Find out here!

You get the idea, motivate the reader to want what you’re offering and give him/her a CLEAR and VISIBLE call-to-action. Make it as simple as possible for the visitor to buy what you’re offering.

You can also check out this article from Hubspot for more ideas on CTAs:
Great Call-to-Action Examples

5. Develop a relationship with your readers
It’s been noted that only 1% of first time visitors will buy a product. Usually, only after developing a relationship through your newsletter, information, and offers will your potential customer or client click on the BUY NOW button or other call-to-action you have in place.

While it will take some time and effort to implement and maintain these strategies, it will be worth it in the long run. Think of it as a long-term investment.

6. Create an ebook for increased visibility and opt-in enticement

Another strategy is to offer your readers an ebook relevant to your niche. This will help to increase your usefulness to the reader and help establish your authority.

As an author, you might offer a chapter or an excerpt of your book in ebook format.

So, there you have it - six tips on boosting your book marketing results.

This is a revised reprint from 2013.

Karen Cioffi is an award-winning children’s author, children’s ghostwriter, and online platform instructor with WOW! Women on Writing. For must-know writing and marketing tips, get free access to The Writing World.


Build Your Author/Writer Platform
Basic website tips, blogging smart, email marketing basics, and tips on social media marketing.
It's a 4-week in-depth and interactive e-class through WOW! Women on Writing and covers all the tools you’ll need to build visibility and traffic, and boost sales.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

How Do You Build a Successful Writing Career? (3 Tips)

By Karen Cioffi

Writers need to be tough. It’s not an easy arena to be in. Did you know that writers get so many rejections there have actually been studies done on it? And, the statistics aren’t good. Most (well over 90%) authors who seek representation by agents are rejected. (1)

That’s pretty severe.

Another article at Writer’s Digest says, “don’t even think about giving up until you’ve queried at least one hundred agents.” (2).

But, what if Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen gave up after 100 rejections. They were rejected 144 times before landing a publishing contract.

So, how does a writer become successful?

Well, there are at least 3 characteristics that go a long way in giving a writer a fighting chance.

1. Perseverance.

Perseverance is probably the single most important factor.  You can learn to write. You can improve your writing. You can submit you work more often. But, if you get discouraged when successes don’t come as fast as you’d like or expected, you may start writing less, you may give up.

This is where you need to persevere. Know that it’s not the best writers who succeed, it’ those who persevere.

From personal experience I can attest to this. I work in two niches. I did it for years with not much success. Then suddenly, clients began finding me and hiring me in one of those niches.

More often than not, success is just around the corner. You’ve got to persevere.

2. You MUST set goals.

While perseverance is an essential factor in writing success, without setting goals, what are you persevering toward? You need to be a goal setter.

Your goals need to be specific. What do you really want to succeed at?

- Getting ongoing publishing contracts.
- Getting freelance writing projects on a regular basis.
- Supplementing your income.
- Earning $50,000 per year. Earning $100,000 per year. Earning $500,000 per year. Being a millionaire.
- Becoming a New York Times Best Seller.
- Becoming famous.

I found it more tangible to create monthly income goals rather than yearly ones.

You need to find what your goals are and what strategy to use to obtain them. And, you need to make those goals visible. Create a vision board or write them down and read them every day.

3. Focus

One big pitfall in writing is not having focus.

I mentioned earlier that after years of struggling along, I began to get clients on a regular basis. And, I’ve gotten lots of return and series clients.

One important factor how this came about is I began to focus on one writing niche. I devoted the majority of my time and energy in that area and it paid off.

This doesn’t mean you can’t have more than one writing niche, but if you want to succeed in something, you need to prioritize. You need to focus.

As my writing coach would say, focus on what’s making you money.

Get to work building these three characteristics and see if it doesn’t make a difference. And, let us know how you make out.


Karen Cioffi is an award-winning children’s author, children’s ghostwriter, and online platform instructor with WOW! Women on Writing. For must-know writing and marketing tips, get free access to The Writing World.

You can connect with Karen at:

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

SCBWI December 2017 Book Critique Boutique

On December 10th, 2017, I'll be at Touro College in Bayshore, Long Island along with other SCBWI members. We'll be selling books and giving 10 minute critiques for ONLY $10.

The Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators is having it's first ever (as far as I know) Book Critique Boutique.

If you're in the area and you're a children's author or illustrator, stop on by. I look forward to seeing you!

Karen Cioffi, Children's Author

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Submitting Queries – Be Specific and Professional

By Karen Cioffi

All writers face the dreaded query. Did I put enough information? Did I put too much? Did I have a great hook? Am I submitting to the right publisher?

These are just a few questions that run through a writer's mind when mailing, or clicking the send button for the query. So, how do you answer these questions and the many others that go along with the job of crafting a query?

Well, the first simple response to this question is to READ the publisher's or agent's guidelines. Okay, that's not accurate-you need to STUDY and FOLLOW those guidelines precisely.

Items to watch for when reading those guidelines:

1. What genre does that particular publishing house, agent, or magazine publish?
2. Does the publisher/agent accept simultaneous submissions?
3. Is there a specific word count involved if querying for articles?
4. Does the publishing house accept unagented queries?
5. Does the magazine only accept specific themes, if so, is your article on target?

This list is not complete, there are obviously more items to watch out for. So, we go back to the main rule for querying: FOLLOW the GUIDELINES!

But, following the guidelines is just part of the querying process; you also need to know some inclusion essentials.

Six rules to use that will help you create a winning query:

1. Be professional. Writing is a business just like any other-treat it as such.

2. Be sure to include your contact information: address, telephone number, email address and website.

3. If you were referred by someone include it in the query. Every little bit helps, but be sure it's a referral from someone the editor actually knows.

4. Write tight - be specific and jump right in. You want to provide enough information to warrant the editor to want more, but you need to keep it to one page.

5. The first paragraph is the pitch-within a couple of sentences you need to hook the editor or agent. The second paragraph is about you, again keep it brief and include your credentials. The third paragraph is your conclusion; thank the editor/agent for his/her time and mention if you are enclosing a SASE and if the query is a simultaneous submission.

6. In regard to your bio: Limit personal information unless it adds to your credentials as a writer qualified to write for this publisher.

A good way to practice for queries and pitches is to write a one sentence out of the ball park description of your manuscript. This will help you to think and write tight and choose the perfect words to hook the reader and convey the essence of your story.

Karen Cioffi is an award-winning children's author, children’s ghostwriter, and online platform instructor with WOW! Women on Writing. For must-know writing and marketing tips, get free access to The Writing World.

You can connect with Karen at:

Monday, October 2, 2017

Writing to Get Published – 5 Power Tips

By Karen Cioffi

All writers have one primary focus—to get published. What makes each of us different is our slant or perspective on the story we’re telling, and how we tell it.

It’s true that anyone can write, but writing to get published is another story. To accomplish this, there four steps you need to include in your writing. (The fifth tips is a bonus.)

1. Write an out-of-the-ballpark beginning

This is the crucial step that will determine whether the agent or editor keeps reading. Your beginning needs to grab the reader; it needs to lead the reader on without him having to think about it.  

Here are different slants on a possible beginning:

A. Jan saw blood dripping down the wall. She screamed.

This idea is a beginning that might entice a reader to read on, but the problem is it’s telling not showing. To add showing:

B. Blood dripped down the stark white wall, adding to the puddle already formed on the floor. Jane felt a quiver run down her spine. Reacting before thinking of the consequences, a blood curdling scream issued from the depths of her being.

C. Blood slowly dripped down the stark white wall. A quiver ran throughout Jane’s body. An urgent eruption welled up from the depths of her being and brought forth a blood curdling scream.  

D. Jane stood frozen as blood trickled down the stark white wall, adding to the dark red puddle already formed on the floor. A quiver ran throughout her body. Suddenly, a blood curdling scream welled up from the depths of her being and issued forth.  

Examples B, C and D do a much better job of showing rather than telling. While they can easily be taken apart and reworded for tightness, more description or less description, whatever the author deems necessary, for this article they serve their purpose.

And remember, using descriptive words and adverbs adds to the word count. So, analyze each word you use; be sure they enhance the story and move it along, not weigh it down. In today’s writing world publishers and agents want tight writing.

2. The body of your story
This area needs to fulfill the beginning’s promise. It needs to keep the reader interested in the characters and plot—this will ensure the reader keeps turning the pages. You also need to keep track of everything going on in the story and follow through. Readers don’t want to feel cheated or disappointed.

Some authors use character and event cards or sheets to keep track of each character’s qualities and the details to each event. This will guarantee continuity and help prevent loose ends.

3. Your ending
The ending must tie everything together and tie-up all loose ends. If you wrote a paragraph or chapter about John and Jane contemplating marriage then segue into something else, let the reader know how it ends up.

It’s also a plus if you can come up with a twist at the end, something the reader won’t expect.
But, keep in mind it’s essential that you leave the reader satisfied.

4. Submitting your work

You’ll never know if you’ve written the next best seller if you don’t submit your work. Research publishers and/or agents who work in the genre you write. Choose the ones that you think are the best fit and study their guidelines. Then, follow the guidelines and submit your work. Don’t let fear or uncertainty keep you from moving forward—nothing ventured, nothing gained.

5. Attend conferences.

If you’re able to, attend writing / pitching conferences, like the one Writer’s Digest has. A client of mine got nibbles from 10 out of 14 agents and publishers. Big enough nibbles that they requested 25-50 pages of her story. And, one requested the entire manuscript.

This is the power of pitching at a conference.

Along with this, it’s important to network as much as you can – conferences are a great place to do this.

Karen Cioffi is an award-winning author, children’s ghostwriter, and online platform instructor with WOW! Women on Writing. For must-know writing and marketing tips, get free access to The Writing World.

You can connect with Karen at:

Monday, September 25, 2017

Last Real Cowboy by Kathleen Gibbs

    Kathleen Gibbs new 4RV release Last Real Cowboy is garnering attention from historical societies and museums. 

     In 1871, Jonathan Calhoun lives an unfulfilled life working for his father’s magazine company in New York City and attending pretentious social events with his fiancĂ©e . Longing for one thrilling adventure in his life before he settles down, he jumps at the job opportunity at the Cripple Creek Cattle Ranch in Armadillo Flats, Texas. He soon realizes this venture might be more than he expected as he changes from an “Easterner” into a real cowboy.

     Gibbs has a flare for taking the reader with her back in time to the period and lives found in her books. 

      One reader sent the following comments about Last Real Cowboy

Comments from Milton Smith Sept. 2017

I finished your book. I am still feeling the emotion from it hours later. I appreciate the honor and respect you gave the cowboy and the feel for the hard job they do. Your book is one that I believe people will enjoy reading the second time. I believe others will appreciate your work, your story and the history that goes with it.
I never felt like this book was written by a woman, per se. I sensed that you understood the cowboys and let them be themselves.

           from Milton Smith, former wheat harvester, former president of Wordwrights ,OKC. and current playwright enthusiast.

       Copies of Last Real Cowboy can be ordered from Kathleen's page on the 4RV Bookstore,  brick and mortar bookstores, and other online bookstores such as Amazon.