By-Pass Marketing and Book Selling

In a recent teleseminar presented by Steve Harrison, with featured speaker Jack Canfield, I learned that “only one out of seven people in the United States go into book stores to buy a book.”

According to an April 17, 2010 release from The Association of American Publishers:
The Association of American Publishers (AAP) has today released its annual estimate of total book sales in the United States [for 2009]. The report, which uses data from the Bureau of the Census as well as sales data from eighty-six publishers inclusive of all major book publishing media market holders, estimates that U.S. publishers had net sales of $23.9 billion in 2009, down from $24.3 billion in 2008, representing a 1.8% decrease. In the last seven years the industry had a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 1.1 percent.
 Although net sales were down 1.8%, American book publishers still had net sales of $23.9 billion. So, where are all these books being sold if not in book stores.
Through this teleseminar, I learned of the term, by-pass marketing—Jack Canfield mentioned it. What exactly does it mean? And, since Canfield explained that only one in seven people buy books through bookstores, where exactly are the rest of the books being purchased?

By-pass marketing is selling in places you wouldn’t expect to see books for sale. Canfield mentioned venues I never even thought of. Putting on my thinking cap, I thought of a couple more.

Some By-pass Venues for Selling Books:

  • Bakeries
  • Nail salons
  • Gas stations
  • Beauty salons
  • Spas
  • Cleaners
  • Tailors
  • Doctor offices
  • Chiropractic and Acupuncture offices
  • Radiology offices
  • Local restaurants

You get the idea; sell anywhere you can. Think of establishments in your area where you have to wait for services or that get a lot of traffic. Talk to management or the owner and offer a percentage of sales or a set amount per book. This is a win-win situation for you and the establishment. They have absolutely no investment of money, time, or effort, therefore no risk. Yet, they have the opportunity to make money. This should be a no-brainer on their part. All you need to do is ask.

Remember: Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

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Karen Cioffi
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Beyond Book Sales Income: Marketing and Diversification

I love the internet . . . you can find almost anything and learn just about anything by doing a search. My latest learning session was on a teleseminar provided by Steve Harrison of Quantum Leap. The guest speaker was Jack Canfield. For those of you who haven’t yet hear of him (this would be amazing if you are in the writing field), Canfield is the co-creator of Chicken Soup for the Soul.

Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen had a dream. They would have a New York Times best selling book. But, the road to success wasn’t easy . . . they received 144 rejections from publishers. This did not stop them—they moved forward with visualization and positive projection techniques. Chicken Soup for the Soul came out in 1993. Since they didn’t have enough money for a publicist so they did their own marketing. By 1995, they won the Abby Award and the Southern California Publicist Award.

This is the second teleseminar I’ve had the privilege of attending featuring Canfield. The information offered was geared toward the strategies needed to make money publishing books through marketing and diversification. This concept is very similar to a video clip I watched of Robert Kiyosaki, author of Rich Dad Poor Dad, which was also presented by Steve Harrison.

So, what exactly are these concepts of marketing and diversification?

Tips to Make Money Along with or After Book Publication

1. Have a platform.

Start your platform when you are thinking of writing a book—don’t wait until you are published. Creating connections, contacts, and readers takes time.

2. Realize you will most probably not get rich writing books.

Yes, that’s right, you will not automatically become wealthy from book publication. But, while you won’t get rich, it will open doors that will not otherwise be open. This is the opportunity for diversification—don’t just look straight ahead—use your peripheral vision.

3. Learn how to market and sell YOU and your books.

Never stop learning about writing, marketing and promotion. Read about the subjects; attend conferences and teleseminars; join writing and marketing groups, and follow blogs that provide valuable and up-to-date information. But, remember, you don’t want to just sell your books, you want to sell what you have to offer along with your books.

4. Research areas you can diversify in.

If you are published, there are a number of doors that will magically open. You can create e-books; you can present teleseminars or workshops; you can offer classes or coaching; you can even write a book about your experiences and successes.

Tip: Before you start charging for your expertise, offer some free services to help others learning to write and learning to market their books and themselves.

5. Never stop selling.

Find new avenues to sell your books and services. Utilize some of the suggestions in #4 above.

6. Believe you can do it.

This is probably the most important tip for success. Canfield is a firm believer in the power of tweaking your subconscious and projection.

7. Pay it forward.

As the Bible tells us, “There is more happiness in giving than there is in receiving.” New World Translation, Acts 20:35.

Aside from being good for you as a writer and marketer, giving back is good for the universe and our troubled world.

Please note: I am not promoting Quantum Leap; I do not belong to it—I can’t afford it. I do however, attend a number of  teleseminars that Steve Harrison presents.


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Final Stages of Self-Editing Part 2

In Monday's post we covered Steps 1-5 of Final Stages of Editing; today we'll finish up and focus on the remaining points.

If you missed it, click on the link:
Final stages of Self-Editing Part 1

Final Stages of Self-Editing Steps 6-10:

6. Check formatting
Now it’s time to check the formatting of the manuscript.

Are your paragraphs all indented with proper punctuation?

Did you use the Show/Hide function in your word processor to check the inner workings. For instance, years ago the proper spacing between sentences was two spaces. Now, the protocol is one space between sentences. The Show/Hide function displays a dot for each space.

Is your manuscript double spaced?

Did you use the correct formatting for dialogue?

7. Get your manuscript edited
When you think it’s perfect, have it edited before you start submitting it. Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know, you think this step is overkill, and it will cost money. You’re right on the second part, it will cost money, but it will be money well spent.

No matter how many times you self-edit, and how many times your critique group goes over your manuscript, there will be errors. Ask around for a reputable editor.

8. Create a log line

A log line or pitch line is a one sentence description or your manuscript. This may take a bit of trial and error.

9. Create a synopsis

A synopsis is a short description of your story. Your writing should be tight and focused--leave out the fluff. The content should be self-edited and proofread before sending it off to an agent or publisher. You are trying to grab the reader's attention and let the reader know that you are grammar literate.

Basically, the synopsis should briefly let the editor know what the book is about: the beginning of your story, your main character/s needs or wants, how he strives to reach his goals, the obstacles/conflicts in his way, and how he overcomes the conflicts moving forward to the final outcome.

I read an interesting article recommending that your synopsis should be created using your detailed outline.

10. Create a query letter or proposal

 A query is a sales pitch. It should be three paragraphs and only one page long. The first paragraph quickly and interestingly describes the story; it’s the hook. The second paragraph tells a bit about you, your qualifications for writing the book. And, it’s a good idea to include a bit on how you intend to help market the book. The third paragraph is the conclusion; keep it short.

11. Final Step: Submissions

Okay, your manuscript is polished and shiny, now it’s time to submit. But, hold on . . . check each publisher’s guidelines before you submit.

In fact, don’t just check the guidelines, you need to study them, and follow them implicitly. If a publisher asks for submission by mail only, don’t email your submission. If the word count on an article or story is up to 1000 words, don’t submit a story with 1150 words.

There is just so much involved with self-editing, and as I keep learning new tricks I'll pass them along.

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Final Stages of Self-Editing Part 1

Since the article is pretty long, I divided it into two parts. I hope you follow along!

There is so much involved in self-editing; the, tips, lists and checkpoints can fill a book. But, in this article we’ll look at how to do a final once over. These are steps you can take after you’ve proofread and self-edited the manuscript, had it critiqued, checked for grammar, storyline, punctuation, showing, . . .

1. Read you manuscript.
Read it again. Try to read it slow and watch for all the self-editing tips you’ve learned and think you’ve applied. Spotting one’s one errors is difficult since we know what we wrote and intended. Some of the other tips here will help with this problem.

2. Change the font and read it again.

Surprisingly, you will spot errors you just glazed over before. You won’t run through it the same way you did with the original font.

3. Read each paragraph from the last sentence to the first.

This is an interesting method for an additional self-edit. It’s helpful because your brain won’t be on auto-pilot. You will spot glitches within sentences that you would glaze over when reading normally.

Note: I don’t mean reading each sentence backward; read each sentence as you would normally, but read the last sentence first and work your way to the beginning of the paragraph.

5. Print your manuscript.

Okay, I know what you environmentalists are thinking . . . I’m one also. I try very hard not to waste paper and protect our trees. But, there is a difference between reading on a computer and reading paper copy. I’ll be honest, I don’t know why our brain perceives it differently, it just does.

As you’re reading your manuscript, use a colored pen or pencil and mark the text you find errors in. Once you’re finished go back to your computer document and correct the errors.

The other practical aspect of this process is it’s a good idea to have a hard copy of your manuscript near its final stage. Unless you have an offsite backup, you can’t be too careful (I’d be skeptical of this also – you never know with any online system). I’ve lost a number of files when my computer broke. And, I’ve even lost files on zip drives when the drives failed. So, from experience I’m cautious when it comes to saving my work.

Another step to take if you print this copy of the manuscript, is to recycle it. I reuse paper I print by using the back for notes; when it can be discarded, I recycle! You can either rip it into pieces or shred it so your valuable content isn't usable to others.

Click on the link for Part 2:

Final Stages of Self-Editing Part 2


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Tips 5-10 of the 10 Tips Checklist for Self-Editing

Last post we listed four tips in our checklist for self-editing; they were: check for clarity; check for ‘telling’ and lackluster sentences; check on point of view; and watch for story consistency, conflict and flow.

Now we’re back with the remaining six tips to complete our 10 Tips Checklist for Self-Editing to help clear the path to getting published.

5. Use spell-check

Make sure you write with spell-check on or use your word processor’s spell-check when you’re finished with your manuscript. I like writing with it on.

Just be careful here because spell-check will catch misspelled words, but it won’t catch words that are spelled correctly, but are the wrong words in regard to meaning.

Example: He was to tired.
Correct: He was too tired.

Example: She used purple stationary.
Correct: She used purple stationery.

These type of words are called homonyms and spell-check will not catch them.

6. Use your Find function on your word processor

This is a great tool to check for “ly” words, “ing” words, weak verbs, and overused words such as “was.”

7. Watch for redundancy

Check the story for repeated phrasing and even paragraph beginnings.

8. Check for tight writing

In today’s market, tight writing is important—readers have a shorter attention span. So, get rid of unnecessary words and text.

Example: Joe had a really hard time lifting the very heavy and big trunk.
Alternative: Joe struggled to lift the huge trunk.

Also, watch for words such as “began” and “started.”

Example: He began to lift the trunk.
Alternative: He lifted the trunk.

9. Check for punctuation and grammar

There are a number of great books and even online articles that will help you learn proper punctuation and grammar. Do a Google search.

10. For children’s writers: Take illustrations into account

When writing a picture book you need to allow for illustrations. Picture books are a marriage between content and illustrations—a 50/50 deal. So, watch for text that an illustration can handle. With picture books your content doesn’t have describe every little detail—the illustrations will embellish the story.

Well, that's the 10 tips, but please know that self-editing is a tricky business; even knowing all the obstacles to watch out for, it's still tough. And, this 'tips' list is not complete. As I've mentioned before, it's almost impossible for a writer to catch all her own errors. We're much too close to our work. We know every nook and cranny of the story and that makes it difficult to read it in a fresh manner. Even if we think we're reading every word, our mind is way ahead of us, that's why it's advisable to look into hiring an editor. If you're strongly against the idea, think of the possible opportunity cost if you don't take that extra step.

If you missed Part One, click here:

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Karen CIoffi Freelance Writer
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Ten Tips Checklist for Self-Editing (Tips 1-4)

After you’ve written your story, had it critiqued numerous times, and revised it numerous times, it’s time to proofread and self-edit. Be sure to take all precautions so you don’t meet any obstacles on your road to publication.

First 4 Tips to Self-Editing your Manuscript

1. Check for clarity

Check each sentence for clarity. It’s important to remember that you may know what you intend to convey, but your readers may not. If you have to have someone else read the manuscript for you. This is where a good critique group comes in handy.

2. Check for “telling” and lackluster sentences

 Check each sentence for telling. You want to have “showing,” not “telling.”

Example: Joe hit head and was dazed.

Alternative: Joe banged his head against the tree. He wobbled a minute and fell to the ground.

Show, don’t tell. Use your imagination and picture your character going through motions—maybe he’s turning his lip up, or he’s cocking his head. Try to visualize it; this will help in showing rather than telling.

A good way to add more showing is to add more sensory details. Use the five senses to create a living character and breathe life into your story.

Example: Joe felt cold.
Alternative: A chill ran through Joe’s body.

Example: Joe was frightened.
Alternative: Joe’s breath stopped. Goosebumps made the hair on his arms stand at attention.

3. Point of View: Watch for head hopping

This is especially important for children’s writers since their stories should be told from the protagonist’s point of view or perspective.

If the story is being told from your main character’s point of view (POV) make sure it stays there. If my POV character Joe is sad and wearing a frown, you shouldn’t say: Noticing his sad face Fran immediately knew Joe was distraught. This is bringing Fran’s POV into the picture. You might say: Joe knew Fran would immediately notice his despair. They were friends for so long. Or, you can just use dialogue: “Joe, what the heck is wrong with you?”

4. Watch for story consistency, conflict and flow

This is another must for all writers of fiction. If you’re a children’s writer this is even more important.
Children need a structured story; the story needs to be easy enough for them to understand. And, children need action and conflict to keep them engaged.

Check out tips 5-10:


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3 Key Phrases (Keywords) Needed to Create an Effective Website

All writers need a website; it’s just the nature of the writing business these days. But, just throwing a website up won’t cut it. You need to create, actually build, an effective, engaging and appealing website.

Think of a house . . . you can't just throw up a foundation and frame . . . you need to add floors, ceilings, walls . . . you get the idea.

According to a number of marketers, the most essential words on your site are: SIGN UP.
These two little words are the building blocks of your empire. They are the link to developing a relationship with the visitors to your site.

2014/15 Update on this first essential keyword: Marketing is ever-changing. "Sign up" is now thought to create visitor anxiety and should be avoided. Words, such as "Get Access," seem to have less of a  'commitment tone' to them.

With attention spans dwindling and competition increasing, the main goal of your website is to get email addresses that convert into sales. During an initial visit, your visitor may not have the time to spend browsing your site for information to entice him to make the decision to purchase your book or product. This is where those two little words come in; it takes less than a minute to type in a name and email address. And, if you have a FREE GIFT offer for signing up, you’ve made the sign up decision even easier.

While it’s important to offer that Free gift, which is considered an ethical bribe, if it’s of no value to the visitor, he probably won’t bother signing up. So, how do you decide if your gift is valuable enough to grab that email address?

The answer to this question is easy: you know who your target buyers are. Think about it . . . what do they want? What would you want? If your site and product is about writing, guess what…your visitors would probably appreciate an e-book on that topic, maybe a how to write guide. Or, if you’re into marketing…offer an e-book of marketing tips and guidance. If your site is about cooking, offer recipes, or an instructional cooking e-book. The idea is to establish yourself as an expert…as someone your reader wants to learn from. They need to want what you’re offering, whether it’s for instructional value, information, entertainment, or other

Sounds, pretty easy, right? But, a word of caution here: make sure your new subscriber is able to get his free gift. There are a couple of sites I’ve signed up to because I wanted the free offers. When I received the link to the offer, either the link didn’t work, or I couldn’t download the gift. Either way, I unsubscribe to the sites. I have on occasion sent an email to the site owner and ended up receiving the gift, but most often I don’t, and I’m sure others don’t have the time to do this.

Just a quick note here: you need an opt-in box in order to acquire those email addresses. Services such as Icontact, GetResponse, and ConstantContact offer this service.

The next two words that are essential to every website that is selling a book or other product are, BUY NOW, or some other call-to-action. The call-to-action words or button needs to be visible and near the top of your home page. It should also be throughout your site on the sidebar. It’s been said over and over that only 1% of first time visitors will buy a product. It’s usually after developing a relationship through your newsletter, information, and offers that your potential customer or client will click on the BUY NOW button!

These are just three of a number of items that your website will need, but they are three of the most important.


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Karen Cioffi
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Pronouns and Non-Specific Genders

Have you ever wondered how you should reference a non-specific gender when writing? What pronoun should be used?

We all know that for eons, the masculine pronoun was used when faced with these questions. It was the accepted unspoken rule.

If a writer needed to use a pronoun for a non-specific gender, he would use “he.” No one gave it a second thought. But, times have changed . . . is this strategy still acceptable?

Of late, it seems many writers are unsure of the correct pronoun to use. Many of us, including me, use a number of different pronouns when faced with this situation. As an example, let me backtrack a bit first and explain how I use to tackle this dilemma.

My Old Strategy of Referencing a Non-Specific Gender

When I wrote a sentence, and realized I was referencing a non-specific genre, I’d write “he/she,” “he and she,” or “he or she.” More often I would revise the sentence to avoid having to be in this situation. But, I was never sure if what I was doing was correct.

For example, I might write the following: When a child suffers with allergies, he/she should be seen by his/her doctor.

Trying not to fall into the old masculine pronoun strategy or having a clunky looking sentence, I would try to use both genders or eliminate the problem.

To eliminate the problem, I'd change the sentence to: When children suffer with allergies, they should be seen by their doctor.

While this works well, sometimes you need to reference “a child,” or “an adult.” Not all sentences can be fixed by changed the noun to plural. Working through these problems took time and thought.

But the days of guessing are gone . . . we now have a clear cut strategy to use.

The New Protocol for Referencing a Non-Specific Gender

We have finally progressed beyond the old standard protocol of tackling this situation with a masculine pronoun.

Now, using either the feminine or masculine pronoun is allowed and even encouraged. It’s actually fine to use whatever you want, even “he/she.” But, again we want to avoid the clunky looking sentence.

According to a post in Writer’s Digest, Questions and Quandaries, using either “he” or “she” throughout an article or post is perfectly acceptable. Another method is to alternate between “he” and “she” within the same article or post. I guess we can now be called equal opportunity pronoun gender writers.


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Brigitte Thompson, Author and Accountant

Ah . . . April, the season of rejuvenation. It’s such a wonderful time of year for areas where it’s Spring. I have a sycamore tree right outside my house and it’s full of buds! Along with such a wonderful time of year, I have the pleasure of featuring author Brigitte Thompson.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with Brigitte, she is the founder and President of Datamaster Accounting Services, LLC. She has been active in the field of accounting since 1986 and is a member of the American Institute of Professional Bookkeepers and the Vermont Tax Practitioners Association.

A prolific writer, Brigitte is the author of several business books, contributing author and freelance writer specializing in accounting topics.

Her business has been featured in best selling book by Paul & Sarah Edwards, The Entrepreneurial Parent, and in Mompreneurs Online by Patricia Cobe & Ellen Parlapiano.

In addition to having a thriving business and being a published author, Brigitte lives in, what sounds to me like an ideal spot, the Green Mountains of Vermont. She lives there with her husband and three children.

But, there's much more to this accomplished woman. Brigitte took her accounting know-how and wrote an invaluable book for writers, Bookkeeping Basics for Freelance Writers.

Check out the synopsis for this must-have writer’s tool:

Bookkeeping Basics for Freelance Writers addresses issues writers face daily such as how to
deduct travel expenses, determine taxable writing income, and claim home office deductions.

Navigating through the recordkeeping required for a small business owner can be difficult. This
book is written exclusively for those of us who earn money by writing. It includes useful
information to help interpret the complexities of our federal tax code and proven techniques to
reduce taxable income.

Throughout the book we have included tips from both new and seasoned writers. In the Tips for
Success feature writers share the wisdom they have acquired over time. In the Writer’s Block
feature you will discover specific questions writers have submitted which, when answered, help
clarify points made about that topic.

You will also find that each part of this book works together to assist you in forming your overall
business plan. Each chapter steps through a comprehensive plan that works as a building block
towards a successful writing business.


Now, as an author and freelance writer I know how many questions cross our minds as we earn a living, or even supplemental income, from writing. Well, Bookkeeping Basics for Freelance Writers will answer all those questions.

But, don’t take my word, here are three amazing reviews:

A practical manual that covers far more than its title not just bookkeeping but many other
business aspects of running a freelance writing business in the U.S. I had to find all this out
from trial and error this book will give you a great head start.
    Shel Horowitz, author of Grassroots Marketing for Authors and Publishers

Becoming a freelance writer is really exciting, and it can be easy to get caught up in getting
your business off the ground. But many creative types do their bookkeeping basics on the
fly, or not at all.

Bookkeeping Basics for Freelance Writers explains how to track your expenses, file for
taxes, and organize your business in an easy-to-understand way. More importantly, it helps
freelancers understand that keeping the financial aspect of their business organized is just
as critical to success as that first big article published in a national magazine.
    Amy Forstadt, Freelance Communications and Marketing Specialist

Writers everywhere will be so happy to find this book! I am a writer, not a bookkeeper, but
bookkeeping is a big part of being a writer. Unfortunately, many writers do not have
bookkeeping or business skills.

This book can help you tremendously with forming your business, setting up what you need
to do legally, choosing a name, and documenting your income for the IRS. The forms
included in this book are invaluable and make the process much easier and streamlined,
including a freelance contract and subcontractor agreement.

Save yourself much time and aggravation and use this book and the forms included to begin
your successful writing career today!
    Michelle Dunn, columnist and author of eight books in the collecting money series


Okay, okay, I know as a writer you’ll want to have this book for your own, so here’s the information to get a copy of Bookkeeping Basics for Freelance Writers:

Amazon Link:

Brigitte, I want to say THANK YOU for being my featured guest today.