Monday, June 27, 2011

Creating an Ebook Workshop Aftertalk

LOL, I think I just made up a new word, "aftertalk."

Okay, moving forward, I presented the How to Create an Ebook and What Your Can Do With It on Friday night, and if I say so myself, it offered a great deal of information. But, since we went past the hour and I still didn't get everything in, I'm writing this post.

Now on to some of the information in the workshop and additional information on publishing your own ebook.

What is the purpose of creating an ebook?

•    To provide a solution to a person’s problem, need, or want.
•    To create a free gift, ethical bribe, to entice readers to subscribe to your newsletter.
•    To offer for free and allow reprinting (passed on), letting it go viral. This increases your visibility and expert status.
•    To offer for sale on your site or through sites such as Kindle and Smashwords, and/or to sell through services like Amazon’s CreateSpace as a physical book.

What Qualifies You to Write an Ebook? Are You an Expert?

•    Have you studied a particular subject for 10,000 hours? This is the generally accepted criteria for a ‘real’ certified expert.
•    But in the online world, if you’ve read 5 books on a particular topic, you are considered an authority and know more about that topic than at least 90% of other people; this gives you expert status.
•    While there may be those who know much more about your topic than you, you are the authority to the majority of people who know less than you!
•    Having knowledge in a specific area and being able to teach it to others gives you authority.

Is it worth it to create ebooks?

•    Amazon now sells more ebooks than physical books!
•    You should be taking advantage of this opportunity to create visibility and money

Places to publish and/or promote your ebooks (most for free)


*Read guidelines carefully on all sites: some sites charge a monthly fee, some free sites require you link back to them on your site, etc.

Related Articles:

Successful Writing Strategy: Know Your Intent
Writing With Focus

I can help. Check out: Karen Cioffi Freelance Writer

Friday, June 24, 2011

A Smorgasbord of 10 Writing Article Links

Today I'd like to share 10 writing articles; they range from writing for children to freelance writing and they all offer useful information to help you in your writing career. So, off we go:

100 Greatest Non-Fiction Books

The 20 Best Practical Tips for Freelance Writers

Making Your Writing Exciting at the Sentence Level

Tips for Writing Picture Books

15 Steps to Increase Your Chances at Publication

Story vs. Craft

Simple as ABC: 6 Basic Tips for Writing Children’s Fiction (Part 1)

Successful Writing Strategy – Know Your Intent

Is Your Manuscript Ready for Submission?

The Stages of Editing

Hee,hee - I snuck three of mine in the mix!



Write your own book with Novel Writing Made Easy

Andrea Rains Waggener is a 3X large-publisher un-agented author – she knows how to get it done. And, she’s created a program that includes a 196-page e-book with all the information you’ll need to easily plan and write a novel that editors will jump at the chance to publish. Plus, there’s a 103-page taskbook, 5 1/2 hours of audio instruction, and more.

This is a POWERFUL package of information to help you be the successful novelist you want to be. And, there’s a Money Back Guarantee.

CLICK HERE to get started today!



Writing Strategy – Pen Names and Pseudonyms
Writing a Fiction Story: Walking Through Walls Backstory
Writing an Ebook – What’s Stopping You? Part 1 of 4 Part Series


Wednesday, June 22, 2011

9 Steps to Writing a Saleable Novel

Today I have another information packed post based on an article from Penny Sanseveri's The Book Marketing Expert newsletter.

The article, "Nine Steps to Writing a Novel You Can Sell," discusses steps to take to make your story saleable.

Let's take a look at them:

1. It's all about the story.

With all the information out there and online courses, writers can get confused as to what's important in a story. Engagement is the key element for story telling. Even if you're writing a memoir, it needs to move forward, it needs conflict and/or suspense to keep the reader turning the pages.

2. You need conflict.

This was touched upon in number one, but it's definitely worth giving it is own tip section. Conflict keeps the reader turning pages.

If Joe is riding his bike and two bullies stop him and take his bike, that's conflict. How Joe handles the situation is conflict.

You even need conflict in children's books.

3. The idea.

Have a solid story idea that you can create a one sentence pitch line for. Your story shouldn't be so complicated that you can't clearly explain the gist of the story in one line.

4. Characters the reader will care about.

Sanseveri calls this tip, the sympathetic character. The reader needs to root for the protagonist.

5. The anti-protagonist is a must.

Readers love to hate the villain. Think of Superman's Lex Luther, or Batman's Joker.

6. Romance is always a winner.

People, especially women, love to read romance novels. Sex and love are powerful in a novel. If written right, the reader will hungrily turn the pages.

7. Reading is critical to good writing.

Any professional, from a doctor to a teacher, must get training, schooling, in order to get into the position they want. The same is true for a writer. Along with learning the craft of writing, you need to read in the genre you want to write.

8. Time and effort counts.

Writing a story takes time, sometimes even years. You don't want to haphazardly throw something together just to get it done.
Your writing is a reflection of your skills - make them shine.

9. You outline.

This one is on the optional side, but most writers do use an outline. Creating an outline helps you get from point A to point B easier than without one.

There you have it, 9 tips to write a saleable novel.


Headlines That Increase Website Traffic and Website Conversion Rates
The Author Website – Keep it Simple and to the Point
Content Marketing – Optimize Your Blogger Blog Posts


Monday, June 20, 2011

Children’s Writing and Publishing Process - The Traditional Path Part 2

Today is Part 2 of “Children’s Writing and Publishing Process - The Traditional Path”

The prior article focused on the writing aspect of writing for children to get published. The first step is to learn the craft and actually write. The second step is to have your work critiqued. The third step is to revise and edit until your manuscript is POLISHED.

If you missed Part 1, you can read it here:

Now, we can move on to Part 2’s focus: Submissions, a Contract and Sales, and a Career in Writing.

2. Submissions

Before you think about submitting your work anywhere, be sure you’ve completed the necessary steps in number one. You’re manuscript needs to be as polished as you can possibly get it.

Submissions can fall into two categories: those to publishers and those to agents. In regard to submitting to agents, in a Spring 2011 webinar presented by Writer’s Digest, agent Mary Kole advised to “research agents.” This means to find out what type of agent they are in regard to the genre they work with and the agent platform they provide: do they coddle their authors, do they crack the whip, are they aggressive, passive, involved, or complacent. Know what you’re getting into before querying an agent, and especially before signing a contract.

Here are a couple of sites you can visit to learn about agents:

The same advice works for submitting to publishers also. Research publishers before submitting to them. Know which genres of children’s books they handle and the type of storylines they’re looking for.

Whether submitting to a publisher or an agent, always follow the guidelines and always personalize the query. There may be times the guidelines do not provide the name of the editor to send the query to, but if you can find that information, use it.

According to Mary Kole, it’s also important to know how to pitch your story. This entails finding the story’s hook. Agents and publishers also want to know what the book’s selling points will be and what successful books it’s similar to. In addition, they will expect to be told what your marketing strategy will be. It’s a good idea to create an online presence and platform before you begin submissions; let the agents and publishers know you will actively market your book.

Along with the story’s hook, you need to convey: who your main character is and what he/she is about; the action that drives the story; the main character’s obstacle, and if the main character doesn’t overcome the obstacle, what’s at stake.

Ms. Kole recommends reading “the back of published books” to see how they briefly and effectively convey the essence of the story. This will give you an idea of how to create your own synopsis.

When querying, keep your pitch short and professional, and keep your bio brief and relevant. You will need to grab the editor or agent and make them want to read your manuscript.

3. A Contract and Book Sales

If you do your homework, you’re manuscript will eventually find a home. Don’t let initial rejections, if you receive them, deter you. A published writer may not be the best writer, but she is definitely a writer who perseveres.

After you sign a contract, you’ll be ‘put in queue’ and at some point begin editing with the publisher’s editor. From start to actual release, the publishing process can take one to two years.

A couple of months prior to your book’s release, you should begin promotion to help with book sales. After its release, you will want to take part in virtual book tours, do blogtalk radio guest spots, school visits, and all the other standard book promotion strategies.

4. A Writing Career

Now, you’ve got your book and you’re promoting it like crazy (this is an ongoing process). The next and final step is to repeat the process. You don’t want to be a one-hit wonder, so hopefully you’ve been writing other stories. If not, get started now. On average, an author writes a book every one to two years.

Along with keeping up with writing your books, having published books opens other writing opportunities, such as speaking engagements, conducting workshops and/or teleseminars, and coaching. There are a number of marketers who say your ‘book’ is your business card; it conveys what you’re capable of and establishes you as an expert in your field or niche. Take advantage of these additional avenues of income.


Powerful Book Marketing Strategy – Joint Ventures
Book Promotion – Creating an Information Funnel


I can help. Check out: Karen Cioffi Writing for Children


Friday, June 17, 2011

Following The Rules For The Genre

Today's guest post is from Filbert Publishing's newsletter and offers great advice on different types of writing genres and their rules.

Following The Rules For The Genre
By Billie Williams

Whether you are writing articles, non-fiction, short stories, movie or play scripts, poetry or novels, all have rules or principles unique to their type that should be followed, especially, by the beginner. Each type of writing has scores of books outlining and enlarging, enlightening you on these issues. Here we will look at them briefly as Henry Ford might look at the aspects of his vehicles.

Remember earlier we classified the written word as a vehicle type:

  • Articles – Sports Car
  • Short Story – Sport Utility Vehicle (SUV)
  • Essays/Letters – Sedan
  • Autobiography – biography – Station Wagon
  • Poetry – 4-door, hard-top, convertible
  • Novel – 4-wheel drive, Heavy-duty, stretch cab, pickup truck

Let’s examine them closer. Articles as sports cars are compact, concise, charged with and designed for speed. Readers scan magazines. If an article title grabs their attention, they’ll pause to read the first sentence. In the car, color, style, ease of handling apply to the car and the article. Color, the first sentence hook. If it doesn’t provide the keys, your reader likely won’t take it for a test drive. Think zero to sixty in under a minute. It needs to jump off the starting block, give the reader a reason to step on the gas and keep going. Quick and to the point. Once the reader has proven to him or herself that the versatility, and validity of the car, the read; she can relax, ease up on the throttle and watch the scenery unfold as she reads. Remember parts of an article after a dynamite title are introduction—the hook, Body—the scenery, and conclusion—a good ride.

A short story can be action packed, driven through with sports car verve or SUV ability that only a Sport Utility Vehicle can deliver. It can take you pretty much anywhere you want to go in style and comfort. Sometimes over rough terrain along roads less traveled or sometimes, down the highway with family and camping trailer in tow. Compact, yet rugged, a short story like the article hooks with the first sentence or paragraph. Economically and reliably it holds all the necessary elements of Goal, Motivation and Conflict, all the short story family necessities. It’s a quick start. It introduces the road map, the driver, the passengers and any necessary baggage right away so the reader is up to speed. At the end of the short trip, arriving at the destination, the reader should feel satisfied that the trip was successful and worth his while. The SUV carried its load and delivered its passengers, changed or the journey in some significant way.

Essays and Letters, the family sedan, usually with four doors so that passengers and whatever they carry can enter and exit with ease. Great gas mileage and comfortable seating, a healthy sized trunk to hold all the baggage out of sight until needed a reliable vehicle for travel. The less formal structure of the essay or letter can be seen in Ralph Waldo Emerson’s writing or Jane Austin’s. However, an essay has the prerequisites of beginning, middle and end. It takes a more leisurely drive through incident, experience, or quandary of thought, always with a goal—a destination.

By the same token, a letter has a more general approach, yet still has a goal. It may be staying in touch with a loved one, replying to an inquiry, seeking answers to your own query or a myriad of other reasons. Some books are written in this style or as a journal such as The Diary of Ann Frank. There is room to take passengers, allowing them easy entrance and exit in a sedan manner, and in essays or letters taking them on a journey long as is necessary to reach your destination.

Autobiographies and Biographies are the Station Wagons, the family cars, if you will. This genre is all about a person and the passenger he or she piles into that car on a trip, plus all their baggage.

It’s a historical and most often a chronological telling of a life past and present. It usually is hinged on some culminating event. Henry Ford’s autobiography takes us from him as a young man with an idea, through his struggles and creative striving to build and maintain his idea as it grew to a multi-million dollar business. Autobiographies are sometimes written by ghost writers’ with control for content always in the subjects hands.

Biographies are written by others with or without authorization of the person they’re written about. It is your obligation as an author/writer, to make it interesting as possible for your reader. With these genres you must clearly focus on your ideal readers. There’s plenty of room for extra passengers if you choose to include them to help reach the story goal, the roadmap to your destination is yours.

Poetry is the elite, one of a kind, eccentric use of medium to convey an idea with beauty, rhythm and style. The 4-door, hard-top convertible Ford built, or you build around a single idea. There are nearly as many styles of poetry as there are makes and models of cars available to the buying public. There are books, courses and classes that can enlighten you as to their requirements or rules.

The novel is the 4-wheel, heavy-duty, crew cab, pickup truck of the writing world. It has all the characteristics of all the other vehicles mentioned and yet, it is different. For instance there are rules for and reader expectations for all the genre’s within the broad canopy of novel, just as there are trucks of every color, size, shape, and engine design. Sized from novella as in a mini-truck – to a historical saga like our heavy duty pickup truck with all the bells and whistles. The genre, the story, determines the rules. What you can haul in your truck and where the journey should take you and the roads you will take. Hook, beginning, middle and end are all still present. No matter what style it’s written in, mystery, romance, thriller, horror—it’s your choice—as long as the vehicle is reliable, but that’s another chapter.

Bon Voyage and Happy Trails to you


Successful Writing Strategy – Know Your Intent
Is Your Manuscript Ready for Submission?


Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Famous Brother and Sister Pairs with Kathy Stemke

Today, I have the great pleasure of featuring my good friend, Kathy Stemke, on day 3 of her book tour for her newly released book Sh Sh Sh Let the Baby Sleep.

Showing the wonderful ways in which brothers and sisters have been paired together in entertaining children's books and other areas of literature and entertainment, Kathy has provided a brief synopsis of her book, along with examples of successful brother and sister pairings.

Famous Brother and Sister Pairs

By Kathy Stemke

In my new picture book, Sh Sh Sh Let the Baby Sleep, we find big brother Zachary a little jealous of his new baby sister.  Layla’s needs come first now. When given the job of keeping her asleep, he encounters all kinds of trouble. Zachary has a secret weapon! When he wears his thick black glasses, he has super powers! He rescues her from birds, bears, and all kinds of dangers. In the end, he makes a heartwarming discovery.  This action packed book with clever rhymes focuses on teaching consonant blends. The teacher supplement includes comprehension questions, songs, worksheets and activities.

The illustrator, Jack Foster, does a fantastic job depicting the action and humor of this heartwarming story. 

Zachary and Layla are sure to go down in history as a famous pair of siblings.  That got me thinking of other famous sibling pairs…….

Here are some that I've already got floating around in my head:

•    Hansel and Gretel team up to find a witch.
•    Raggedy Ann and Andy dress in primary colors.
•    Marsha and Greg Brady from the Brady Bunch put their heads together to solve family problems.
•    The Bobbsey Twins solve mysteries together.
•    Donny and Marie Osmond sing great duets.
•    Jack and Jill fetch water and fall together.
•    Michael and Janet Jackson sing and dance together and apart.
•    Dick and Jane see Spot together.
•    Apollo and Artemis rule in Greek mythology together.
•    And finally, Zachary and Layla learn what????

Can you suggest famous literary/historical/mythological/cinematic brother/sister pairs? 
Kathy Stemke has a passion for writing, the arts and all things creative. She has Bachelor degrees from Southern Connecticut State University and Covenant Life Seminary, as well as graduate coursework from New York Institute of Technology and Columbia University. Hanging her hat in the North Georgia Mountains, she has been a teacher, tutor, and writer for many years.

As a freelance writer and ghostwriter, Kathy has published hundreds of articles in directories, websites and magazines.

Kathy’s first children’s picture book, Moving Through All Seven Days, was published on Lulu. Her next picture book, Sh, Sh, Sh Let the Baby Sleep, was released in May of 2011. Her third picture book, Trouble on Earth Day is scheduled for release in June of 2011.

Sh Sh Sh Let the Baby Sleep can be found:


Barnes and Noble


Monday, June 13, 2011

Children’s Writing and Publishing Process - The Traditional Path Part 1

Children’s books fall into one of three categories: picture books, middle grade, and young adult. And, children's writers need to take the necessary steps to achieve success whether aiming at traditional publishing or self-publishing.

In regard to traditional publishing, there are four steps in a writing career: writing, submissions to agents and publishers, book sales, and a writing career.

1. Writing

Actually writing, and all that it entails, is the basis of a career in writing, whether writing books, articles, becoming a ghostwriter, or copywriter. And, each of these career goals takes a number of steps that involve time and effort. But, we’re focusing on writing for children.

A. The first step is to write, but in addition to writing, the new writer will need to learn the craft of writing, along with the particular tricks of writing for children. Children’s writing is more complicated than other forms of writing. The reason is because you’re dealing with children.

Rules, such as age-appropriate words, age-appropriate topics, age-appropriate comprehension, storylines and formatting are all features that need to be tackled when writing for children.

Within the first step rung, you will also need to read, read, and read in the genre you want to write. Pay special attention to recently published books and their publishers. What works in these books? What type of style is the author using? What topics/storylines are publisher’s publishing?

Dissect these books, and you might even write or type them word-for-word to get a feel for writing that works. This is a trick that writers new to copywriting use – you can trick your brain into knowing the right way to write for a particular genre or field. Well, not so much trick your brain as teach it by copying effective writing. Just remember, this is for the learning process only – you can not use someone else’s work, that’s plagiarism. 

B. The next step, number two, is to become part of a critique group and have your work critiqued. Critiquing is a two-way street; you will critique the work of other member of the critique group and they will critique yours. But, there are advantages to critiquing other writers’ works – you begin to see errors quickly and notice what’s being done right. This all helps you hone your craft.

C. Step three on the writing rung is to revise your manuscript according to your own self-editing and critiques from others. It’s also recommended to put the story away for a couple of weeks and then revisit it. You’ll see a number of areas that may need revising that you hadn’t noticed before.

There are also some self-editing steps you can take to help the process. You can check out:

Ten Tips Checklist for Self-Editing (Part 1)
Final stages of Self-Editing Part 1

D. It would also be advisable if you budget for a professional editing of your manuscript before you begin submissions. No matter how careful you and your critique partners are, a working editor will pick up things you missed.

Click here to read Part 2 of Children’s Writing and Publishing Process.


Rewriting a Folktale – Walking Through Walls
Storytelling vs Writing a Story


I can help. Check out: Karen Cioffi Writing for Children


Wednesday, June 8, 2011

About Blog Post Titles with Penny Sanseveri

Today I have information from"The Book Marketing Expert newsletter,"
a great source of book marketing tips, advice, and resources.

All titles are an essential part of any thing you write, that includes blog posts. Why? Well Penny has some great information answering that question.

Blog Post Titles and How Google Ranks Your Site


What is a Backlink? Clickable words or images that take a user from one web page to another. The more backlinks pointing to a site, the higher the receiving site tends to rank in all search engines.

Why Backlinks? Think of it as a 'Vote of Confidence.'

The more votes a site has, the higher your search engine ranking.

Not any backlink will do, though.

Google Webmaster Guidelines provides these basics for linking:

* Link should originate from a relevant site/topic
* Link is text based
* Anchor text of link is relevant (Anchor text are the words that when clicked on are linked to the site that is receiving the backlink.)

Social bookmarking, blog commenting, social media sites and article submissions are all great ways for achieving these backlinks.

Does Your Blog Post Title Grab Attention?

When I'm in read-a-blog post mode, I'll patiently work my way through my feedreader - and every single time I've done that, I've been astonished again and again at how 'ho hum' the majority of blog posts are titled.

Seriously! I've missed a plethora of truly sterling information because the authors made their blog post sound as exciting as tooth-brushing one of my dog's teeth after their morning meals.

It is CRITICAL that you make your blog posts intriguing enough to stand out of the clutter and visually grab my eyes and say, you MUST read this!!

I would truly urge you to make it a New Year's Resolution to REALLY hone your headline content at the very least. And once you have that mastered, you should also learn how to infuse your posts with emotional hooks that cause your reader to simply DO what you want them to (buy your product, sign up for your ezine, etc.).

Writing in a sales copy fashion is very different than writing for a book and has great rewards after adding it to your online skill set.
Reprinted from "The Book Marketing Expert newsletter," a free ezine offering book promotion and publicity tips and techniques.


Content Marketing: 5 Powerful Traffic-Generating Strategies
Add Screenshots to Your Blog Posts to Increase Reader Engagement and Understanding


Visit: Platform Building with Content Marketing


Wednesday, June 1, 2011

How to Write a Good Query Letter by Heather Paye

Today, I have the pleasure of featuring an article by a very talented author and graphic designer, Heather Paye. Since it’s on an important topic for writers, we’ll get right to it.

How to Write a Good Query Letter

by Heather Paye

Query letters are important if you're going to even think about sending your work anywhere, be it novel or other. Writing a query letter is actually quite easy, you may be surprised.

I've been around the web and have seen many different ways and different guides to writing a query letter. So anyways, here's the basic layout along with all of the information you'll need to include.

Name (not pen name)

Email Address
Phone number

Title of work (in parenthesis state genre/s)

In the first paragraph give a brief summary of what the book is about. Be clever, because this is the first sample and idea of your book that agent or publisher will be reading. This would make it the hardest part of the query letter that you are writing.

In this next paragraph you are going to include the following information: Target audience (Young Adult, Middle Grade, Adult, etc.), note if the book will be made into a series, and if so list a brief synopsis (2 - 3 sentences at most) of entire series, list the length of the book (how many words is it?).

Note if you'll be needed an illustrator or not.

In the next paragraph include a bit about your background in writing, list anything that qualifies you to be writing, any experience, etc. You may not have much to put here, so just do the best with what you have.

Next, note what your marketing and promotion plan is. If you don't have a marketing plan yet, then you shouldn't be writing a query letter so soon in the game anyways. We'll be going more into marketing plans later.

Now this is your brief closing sentence, I usually put something here like "thank you for your time and consideration" be creative, and be "professionally sweet".

Then you'll put Sincerely,

Your Name

TA-DA! You've just written an awesome query letter! It all should be able to fit on your basic 8 x 10 piece of paper, keep that in mind.

Alright, so after you write your query letter, make sure you edit and re-edit it, that is very important. If it has errors in it, it may just be rejected just like that, because errors are a sign of laziness. It's just one page, so make sure you edit it very well. Also, be sure to read the submission guidelines, you may have to add or remove sections depending on the publisher/agent, but usually this query letter works for everything.

After you've finished it's always comforting to get a second opinion, so feel free to send it to me, and I'll be happy to critique it and let you know what I think about it.

Heather Paye is an author and graphic designer. Currently she is working on a book series of nine, with the first installment finished and being prepared to be released on bookshelves soon. The first draft of the second installment is almost finished. Her novel "A Gift From Above" which she wrote for NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) in 2008 was published March 28th, 2009

You can learn more about Heather at:

BlogSite -


Successful Writing Strategy – Know Your Intent
Is Your Manuscript Ready for Submission?


I can help. Check out: Karen Cioffi Writing for Children