Showing posts sorted by relevance for query marketing. Sort by date Show all posts
Showing posts sorted by relevance for query marketing. Sort by date Show all posts

Tuesday, January 15, 2019


I'll be honest with you.  My marketing plan did not go as well as I had hoped.   

For my first book, you could say I was fairly successful.  But in my mind, I felt there could have been better strategies for promoting Maggie.  I wanted to be spotlighted in the local newspaper, have libraries buy copies, and secure a lot of school visits.  

This did not happen for me, and it left me feeling frustrated and nearly in tears.

Authors like me who are published by a small press must do most of the marketing by themselves.  So, I learned about marketing well before the release of Maggie.  In fact, I began marketing nine months before the release date.  

After signing the publishing contract, I studied marketing books, read articles on websites and emailed other published authors to find out how they marketed their books.  There was so much to grasp and at times it was mind-boggling.  Eventually, I began to see how the process worked.  Most published authors stressed the importance of contacting the local paper, libraries, and schools.  So, I followed suit.

But school media specialists didn't answer my emails or return my phone calls even after I had mailed packets detailing a school visit program that would benefit their students. 

Newspaper reporters were not was interested in a local author whose book was inspired by a local rescue dog.  

Librarians turned down my requests to read at storytime or to acquire the book for their collection.  

I got angry and whiny, but soon realized that was not going to help the situation.  There had to be other options to promote my book.  So, I worked on developing a new marketing plan.  Not the plan of other published authors.  MY marketing plan.  And here is what I did:    

  • Arranged book signings at local bookstores and gift shops
  • Partnered with non-profit organizations that connected to my theme
  • Placed books in local boutiques
  • Created strategic keywords for my book on Amazon
  • Visited day care centers for book readings
  • Sold my book at craft fairs
  • Developed a unique website 
  • Wrote articles and guest blogs  
  • Created a Pinterest account and made boards and pins that related to my book 
  • Got a book review in local magazine
  • Participated at the Kentucky Book Festival 
  • Placed copies of the book in a doctor's office with part of the proceeds benefiting an animal rescue organization
  • Signed books for Small Business Saturday

As I look back, I couldn't figure out why the newspaper never contacted me, even though my publisher sent a press release and I followed up with emails and phone calls.

But I did learn that the local libraries have a tight budget, and therefore they gravitate toward purchasing books published by larger publishing houses.

Likewise, schools have little funding for school visits.  On top of that, some schools require a background check for visitors.

It took me months to learn about marketing.  And even after a year, I'm still learning.  Marketing is still not easy, but this is what I discovered so far.

  • Authors must learn the ins and outs about promotion.  They must explore how other authors market their books and decide which of those methods might be worth implementing. 
  • Authors must be determined to think outside the box.  Not all of the ideas tooted in books and online are going to work.  Authors should think of ideas that have never been tried and dare to be original, different, and exciting.
  • Authors must be plot a new course when the best laid plans aren't working.  Authors must not give up and accept failure, but be flexible to change their marketing plan when things aren't going smoothly...

even if they have no clue where to start,

even if it means getting a little whiny,

even if it means shedding a few tears.  

✌ and 


"Thanks for this honest look at marketing."  J. Cornebise

"Ah, the lessons of life. Everything is more difficult than imagined."  D. Henley

Friday, May 15, 2020

                                                                                                                                                                                                               Photo: Jonathan Borba 

We want our lives to get back to normal, like they were before the onset of COVID-19.  As you know, that is going to take a while.  So if you're like me, you've found you have some time on your hands.  That said, you might like to think about developing a marketing plan for the book that you want to get published.

But, you say you're not ready for marketing because you haven't found an agent yet.  That's no excuse.  Agents want to see that you have a website.

Still, you push back on that idea.  I reacted the same way.  But the truth is, it's better to prepare now.  Case in point, the small press that published my book Maggie and the Summer Vacation Show-and-Tell expected me to carry the weight of marketing my book.  Which was daunting.  And frightening.  And worrisome.  I didn't know how to begin.

On the bright side, I had about seven months to prepare before the book was released.  After reading and researching everything I could get my hands on, I developed a plan which is presented below.  It may give you some ideas how you can go about marketing your book.  It takes lots of time to market a book.  So get started now.  Sooner or later, your book is going to get published and when that happens, you will need to have a plan.

Before you get an agent: create a website

  • Check out famous authors' websites.  Take note of what appeals to you.
  • Decide how to incorporate some of these ideas for your website. 
  • Establish your brand.  Your style and personality should be apparent on the homepage.

Before the book is released:  create some buzz    
  • Website:  Update pages at least once or twice a month.  Offer new content.  Tell followers about your writing projects.  If you blog, announce new posts along with the link to your blog. 
  • Marketing team:  Assemble a group of volunteers who will promote the news about your book on their social media platforms.  
  • Book reviews:  Give reviewers an advanced copy of your book.  Add the reviews to your website.  
  • E-mail list:  Compose a list of your friends, business associates, classmates, and family.  Platforms like Mailchimp, MailerLite, or Mad Mimi offer solutions to create a list.  Send a monthly email to the list to report news: book signings, awards, upcoming articles, book fairs, etc. 
  • Writer's magazines:  Create pieces for writer's magazines to inform people about the inspiration for your book or the process of writing your book. 
  • Online interviews:  Ask bloggers if they'd accept a guest post or if they'd write a blog about you and your book.  Find a way to reciprocate—feature them on your blog or use social media to promote their work. 
  • Local newspaper and magazines:  See if a newspaper journalist or a magazine writer would be willing to write an article about you and your book.  Your pitch should mention a current event, a fact, or a statistic that ties-in to your book.  Explain how an article would serve the audience.  
  • Lesson plans.  Develop activities, games and teaching ideas that kids can enjoy during a school visit.
  • School visit program.  Decide how long the presentation will be, how many classrooms you can visit, and how you will engage the students.  Discuss your plans with the school coordinator. 
  • Book signing.  Call a book store manager to set up a date to sign and sell books.  Send out e-invites to friends, business associates, and family six weeks before the date.  Make arrangements with the manager to discuss the location of your table, how to charge people for your book (will you handle selling or will the bookstore take control?), and what profits you and the bookstore will make.  Think about exciting ways to decorate your table. 

After the book is released:  create some more buzz
  • Press release:  Ask your publisher to send press releases to newspapers and bookstores so that your book can be advertised.     
  • Library story times:  Ask librarians if they have the funds to buy your book; and if so, offer to read your book at story time.  
  • School visits:  Talk with the school librarian to see if she would be interested in having you give a presentation for students.  Keep in mind that safety in a school environment is a priority, so it helps to have personal connections with teachers when trying to arrange school visits. 
  • Visit day care facilities.  Make fliers about the book and how to purchase a copy so that the day care can send them home to parents.  Arrange a time to read your book to the children.  Bring games or activities to engage the children afterward. 
  • Local craft fairs or book fairs:  Create an interesting table top display to attract readers to visit you.  Have items like cookies or bookmarks handy to give away.  
  • Local shop owners:  Figure out how your book is similar to the products sold in the store.  Tell the owner how your book would benefit the customers.
  • Online selling:  Ask your publisher to put your book on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other online bookstores. 
  • Speaking Engagements:  Give a talk about your journey from idea to publication.  Meet the fans of your book.  Bring copies to autograph and sell.
  • Book Signing:  Arrive at least 30 minutes in advance.  Check in with the manager.  Stand in front of your table to greet guests.  Have someone take pictures of the event to post online. Celebrate afterward.

Preparing for the next books:  keep connecting  
  • Twitter:  Connect with other writers and agents by tweeting encouraging quotes, writing news, and personal opinions.  
  • Blogging:  Create amusing, poignant, or informational blog posts that followers can relate to. 
  • Pinterest:  Develop your brand visually by creating boards and pins for your boards.
  • LinkedIn:  Connect with business associates and advertise blog posts or writing news. 
  • Facebook:  Share your writing projects with friends. 
  • Website:  Keep updating, sell your book, highlight your achievements.  

As you can see, there are many facets to marketing, before and after an author publishes a book.  My advice to you would be to learn about marketing as you write your book and as you pursue a publisher or an agent.  It may seem early, but the sooner you work on a strategy, the better prepared you'll be when your book is published.

Have fun developing your marketing plan.  Be original.  Get creative.  Think out of the box.  Do things differently than others.  Let it be all about you, because well, it IS all about you.  Remember most of the marketing will fall on your shoulders.  It's just how things are done these days.  But it won't be so daunting or frightening or worrisome when you figure this stuff out now.

✌ and 

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Getting a Start on Marketing

Last December I signed a book contract with Cactus Moon Publishing.  The creative director suggested that I get started marketing my book right away. Yikes!  Though I have been a children's writer for over twenty years, I didn't know much about marketing a book for kids. The only thing I knew was promoting a book should be done well before the release date.

Over the Christmas break, I started working on a marketing plan for my upcoming children's book Maggie and the Summer Vacation Show and Tell which will be released this summer.  
My publisher sent me a helpful marketing guidelines book.
I also studied websites on marketing.  Here's one of my favorite sites:    

This is what's been done:  

Developed a website (
Joined Linked In
Created an email list 
Became a guest blogger   
Got featured in writer's newsletters
Invited writers to guest blog
Joined Goodreads 
Began commenting on blogs
Wrote how-to articles
Created a media alert letter

Here's what will need to get done:  

Create a business cards 
Create bookmarks
Create a testimonial page 
Create a fan page on Facebook
Work on planning book signings and school visits
Ask to be interviewed by the local paper and local radio host

Marketing a children's book is overwhelming to me.  Writing is all I've ever known. But I'm eager to learn and I'm ready for the challenge.  If you've had some experience or have ideas on getting the word out about a book, I welcome for your suggestions and comments.  

Monday, May 9, 2011

Tips on Getting Published

Today Lisa Umina, author of the Milo book series, shares ways to help you get published.

Getting a book into print is just the beginning of the involved, and oftentimes overwhelming, publishing process. I started Halo Publishing International as an independently owned publishing company to help individual writers self-publish their books who don’t want to wade through the slush piles of traditional publisher for their chance at publication.
Trying to become a published author can be a difficult and lonely process, but it doesn’t have to be. Here are a few things to help you get your manuscript ready for publication.

Join writing communities and critique groups. You can learn from others who have been where you are or who are dealing currently with the same trials you are facing. Critique groups also help give you feedback on why your manuscript might be receiving rejections or help you overcome writers block.
Attend writing workshops and conferences. No matter what level you are at as a writer, you should at least once a year attend a conference and workshop to help hone your skills and learn about anything new in the industry. This is also a great way to make connections with editors, publishers, agents and others in your writing genre.

Get a freelance/professional editor to look your manuscript over. Authors are too close to the subject to objectively edit their own manuscripts. They often overlook the same mistakes time after time. By having an editor look your manuscript over before the submission process, you can be confident your manuscript will have correct grammar, punctuation, and spelling. At Halo, our creative editors watch for consistency, organization, clarity, character development, wordiness, sequential order, accuracy, and the right tone for the intended audience -- while always retaining your style. You want to make sure whomever you use doesn’t just do computer "mechanical" editing. Our editors at Halo get personally involved to hone your manuscript to a fine edge. This is key for a publishable manuscript.
Have a marketing plan outlined. Without an effective and comprehensive marketing plan, a book, although published, will sit in a box and collect dust. What sets HPI apart from other publishers is that our services do not end after a book is printed like most self-publishers and even traditional publishers; unless you are one of their top selling authors. Each and every HPI author is provided with an all-encompassing publishing solution that includes an essential marketing component. However, it is important to have a marketing outline ready to share with your publisher so you show what you are willing to do to help promote your book once it is published. Getting the word out to the media and, in turn, finding potential buyers for your book is a very important part of getting an editor or publisher interested in supporting you as an author.

Read the submissions guidelines and follow them. I cannot stress this enough. Each publisher, agent and editor has their own set of submissions guidelines and you need to make sure your manuscript follows them. You may have a great book idea and it would be a shame for it to be rejected because you didn’t follow the guidelines.
This are just some basic tips to help you achieve publication. Through Halo Publishing, I have helped countless authors realize their dreams and I hope that today, I have helped you reach your dream.

Thursday, August 16, 2018


I was like a kid in a candy store.  And Vistaprint was my candy store.

As a newly-published author, I was over the moon about marketing my book Maggie and the Summer Vacation Show-and-Tell.  So, I went crazy buying all kinds of promotional material.  You name it, I bought it: posters and postcards, bookmarks and sticky notes, and mugs and magnets.

Vistaprint met most of my needs.  But there was one special item I was dying to have. Like the State Farm commercial - I had to have it.

I made the decision to splurge on Budsie doll.  Budsies are customized stuffed dolls that can be created from a photo.  After seeing several finished products online, I felt confident that the manufacturers could create just what I wanted.  In a short while, I'd be holding my very own Maggie doll.  

Several weeks later, she arrived.  I could hardly wait to open the box.  But the moment I saw her, I was crushed.  Simply devastated.  

The doll's face did not resemble Maggie's face at all.  Its head was floppy.  The hair was made of red felt which made her look like she was wearing a hat.  

Maggie did not look like Maggie.  

This doll cost a fortune.  We're talking close to one hundred dollars and I could not use her.  She looked as sad as I felt.  

But rather than giving up on her, I made a bold decision.  This doll was going to get a makeover.  

To begin, the "hair" had to go.  I snipped it off and sewed a small red curly wig (think Little Orphan Annie) to the top of her head.  Next, Maggie underwent cosmetic surgery—I reshaped the nose and the mouth with thread and black markers.  Lastly, I strengthened Maggie's neck.  My husband suggested using VelCro to make the head more stable.  Finally when all of the work was done, Maggie looked more like Maggie.  

Now that she looks happier (and I am happier) I bring my Maggie Budsie doll to events.  She helps draw people to my book signing table.  However, spending lots of money on a doll that did not meet my expectations made me wonder if the money was well spent.  This big purchase brought me to my senses.  As the newness of authorship wore off, I started to tally my expenses—and I discovered that I had spent a fortune.  But the rationale was, I'd sell a lot of books to make up for the spending and get reimbursed from my publisher.  

Wrong on both counts.  

Every author envisions or plans how they hope to get their fans interested in their books.  With hindsight, I discovered that not every marketing tool was effective.  Here are some of the items I would not purchase to promote a second book:
  • Wooden ornaments used as gift giveaways
  • Magnets
  • A Facebook campaign boost 
  • 500 oversized postcards announcing the book signing 
  • Large cardboard table top displays for selling books at local shops
Also, I would not send as many free copies of the book to companies or to contests because they are not returned.

There were several items that were inexpensive and worth having.  I would purchase these things again:
  • Balloons for the book signing
  • Pencils and candy 
  • A poster of the book cover
  • Bookmarks (200)
  • Large envelopes for mailing books
  • Small metal display tripods
  • Personalized post-it notes
  • Plush mini toy puppies as a giveaway gift 

Promoting a book was new and confusing for me.  If I had realized that my publisher was unable to reimburse me, I would have had a stricter budget. I would have made  sensible spending decisions. 

There are no regrets however, because this was my first book and it was a learning experience.  

But next time, I will check to see if the publisher will shoulder some of the costs.   

Next time, I will know what marketing tools to invest in and which ones to resist.   

And next time, I will be wiser, thriftier, and Budsie-less.

The Maggie Project is published twice a month. 

✌ and 

Monday, November 7, 2011

Writing in Rhyme

Karen Cioffi's bedtime picture book, Day’s End Lullaby, is based entirely on a rhyming poem/song that she wrote when her first born was about a year old.  Her baby had trouble sleeping, so Karen made up lyrics which were soothing and flowing—and rhyming so that it would hold her baby's attention and help lull her to sleep. It’s begins:
“Now it’s time to close your eyes my dear.
Beside you lies your favorie bear.
The sun has set; it’s out of view.
The moon’s now shining bright for you.”

While she admits she's not a rhyming expert, the poem/lullaby does the trick. It really does sooth little ones and helps them settle down for sleep.

Karen's advice on writing rhyming books:
Rhyming, when done right, is a wonderful way to engage children. Children, as soon as they’re able, love to rhyme words. This can begin as early as two-years old: cat-hat, mouse-house, poopie-boobie  (you get the idea.) But, to write a rhyming story—a well written rhyming story—is difficult.  You need a good story, rhyme, rhythm/beat, meter, stresses, and more—all this in addition to the already unique rules and tricks in writing for children. And, some writers just don’t have that innate ability to do rhyme well. But, it can be learned.

According to Delia Marshall Turner, Ph.D., the elements of poetry are:

Voice (the speaker)
Stanza (the formatting of grouped lines)
Sound (rhyme/patterns)
Rhythm (the beat and meter – pattern of stressed/unstressed syllables)
Figures of Speech (types of figurative language)
Form (type of poem, its design)

Along with this there is perfect rhyme, and approximate rhyme:
Perfect rhyme: tie/lie; stay/day
Approximate rhyme: top/cope; comb/tomb

There are also many other bits and pieces related to writing poetry/ rhyme. But, the foundation that holds it all together is the story itself—you need a good story, especially when writing for children.

According to the article, “To Rhyme or Not to Rhyme” by Dori Chaconas, in the Writer Magazine, October 2001: “You may write in perfect rhyme, with perfect rhythm, but if your piece lacks the elements of a good story, your efforts will be all fluff without substance. I like to think of story as the key element, and if the story is solid, and conducive to rhyme, the rhyme will then enhance the story.”

Karen Cioffi is a published author, ghostwriter, and editor. 
You can find out more about Karen and her books at: (author site) (writing and marketing information and services) (Day’s End Lullaby information and reviews) (middle-grade fantasy adventure, Walking Through Walls)

Karen’s newsletter, A Writer’s World, offers useful writing and book marketing information and strategies. Subscribe today and get two e-books on writing and/or marketing.

You can find out more about Karen Cioffi’s World of Ink Author/Book Tour schedule at
There will be giveaways, reviews, interviews, guest posts and more. Make sure to stop by and interact with Karen and the hosts at the different stops by leaving comments and/or questions.

 In addition, come listen to Blog Talk Radio’s World of Ink Network show: Stories for Children at The hosts VS Grenier, Kris Quinn Chirstopherson and Irene Roth will be chatting with Karen Cioffi about her books, writing, the publishing industry and experiences with virtual tours. Karen will also be sharing writing tips and trials, and tribulations of the writer’s life. The show will be live November 21, 2011 at 2pm EST.

Thursday, August 2, 2018


In the fashion world, a catwalk is a narrow walkway where models show off the latest fashions of   ValentinoDonatella Versace, Oscar de la Renta and other famous designers.

In my world, a catwalk is a typical morning stroll.

That's because cats have the habit of showing up while I walk.  All kinds and colors.  On porches, driveways, sidewalks.

If I call them, they'll come up to me.  They rub against my leg as I try to take their photo.  Curious creatures. Full of affection and curiosity.

These are some of my feline friends.

Cats also show up on our family vacations.  In Rome, we stumbled across cats dwelling among the temple ruins in Torre Argentina.  We've spotted cats roaming the Old City in Dubrovnik and living in the Alhambra in Granada, Spain.

Cats don't always show up every time I take a walk.  It's possible I don't see them because I'm usually preoccupied thinking about new blog posts, writing projects, and marketing ideas.  Some of my best ideas come when I'm strolling the neighborhood.

But one day on a walk, my focus drifted from writely projects and marketing woes to the dynamics of business and personal relationships.  Several unpleasant circumstances had cropped up and these weighed heavily on my mind.  These situations totally bummed me out and made me angry and confused because close friends had let me down.  I tried to figure out why people were arrogant, mean-spirited, self-absorbed, and disrespectful.  I wondered how people could not be aware of the hurt and damage their actions (or lack of actions) cause.

The further I walked, the sadder I got.  There were simply no answers.

I headed to a shady spot to stretch my back.  To sip water.  To mop the sweat from my brow.  Despite the break, my mood persisted.  I couldn't shake it as I pushed on. 

And then a cat spotted me.

A big, beautiful fluffy Persian cat with icy blue eyes.

He trotted from a front yard garden to greet me.  This little bundle of fur.  Had he sensed my feelings? 

The only thing I could think about and wanted to think about was this gorgeous cat.

He didn't come to me for a rub or a pat on the head.  But his actions were purposeful and deliberate.

He pressed his lips against my hand—a common catlike thing to do—and he marked me with his scent, calling me his human, assuaging the hurt.

 He offer tender feline love at a time I needed it most.

The Maggie Project is published twice a month

✌ and 

Wednesday, July 15, 2020


Most everyone assumes that signing with a publishing company is like having a marriage made in heaven.  This is not always the case.

Three years ago, I was published by a small press.  This company helped me reach a goal:  to have a manuscript illustrated and published for children.  But there can be drawbacks working with a small press.  And you have to decide if the pros outweigh than the cons.

Cons, you say?  How can writers even think about cons when they have the chance to have a book published?

I get your starry-eyed enthusiasm.  It can take years to land a publisher or an agent.  Nothing is going to squash your dreams.

Still...if you submit to an indie press and they offer you a book contract, proceed with caution.

I researched my publisher and didn't find any negative comments about them.  A year later after signing the contract, I had to deal with issues that could not have been foreseen.

Before you sign a contract, google the small press to find out more about them.  See if there have been any complaints.  Contact some of the published authors and ask them about their experience with the press, both the good and the bad stuff.

Even after learning as much as you can and feeling safe with the publisher, you may find as I did, that concerns may flare up months afterward.  That said, be aware that certain matters are beyond your control and cannot be predicted.

Below are some facts to consider.

With a small press you may: 
  • publish a book in less than a year after signing a contract
  • have an opportunity to choose an illustrator if you write picture books
  • be able to take part in the revision process 
  • be able to make suggestions for the illustrations
  • have your book promoted on the small press website and sold by Amazon
But you may:
  • find your name and title of the book missing from the spine 
  • find the paper weight lighter than desired 
  • receive no help with marketing 
  • get little compensation for the money you invested in marketing 
  • find libraries will not purchase your book 
  • find your book dropped from the small press website after the contract has expired
  • discover the publisher expects you to buy back returned books (check your contract)
  • realize your publisher is not interested in your career    

I was excited to have my first book published by a small press.  But the relationship with this publishing company was lopsided.  I was putting in way more effort and receiving little in return.

So, after much soul-searching, I decided to part ways with this publisher after the contract expired.  It was the right move for me.  I have no regrets.  Working with the small press was a good learning lesson for me.  But now, I have higher expectations.  I want a better match.  Because a publishing partnership should be more than two people working toward a goal.  It should be like a great marriage—one that is built on commitment, teamwork, mutual respect, and decency.

✌ and 

Thursday, July 19, 2018


Let me set this straight.  I like massages.  But not with snakes.

While watching the Ellen Degeneres show, I learned about this strange practice called snake massage.

We're talking about a 550 pound, 6 foot long python wriggling across your naked skin.

We're talking about being tense because the snake squeezes your body.

And we're talking extreme adrenaline rush.

Pythons are the snake of choice.  Though they are not venomous, it takes time to feel relaxed getting a snake massage. 

The snake is washed and is well-fed (that's good to know) and its mouth is taped (also good to know) before it's draped over your torso and face and put to task.  Sometimes big and small snakes are used at the same time to achieve a graduation in pressure.  For some people, getting a snake massage provides a psychological release such as confronting a fear and wiping away stress.  For others, it relieves tension in a way that human hands can't.

I'm all for being different.  Different is good.

I love reading different kinds of genres:  nonfiction, novels, picture books, and books written in French.

I love traveling to different countries.

I enjoy different languages.  Parlez-vous fran├žais?

I like trying different kinds of foods.
While in Spain, my daughter got me to try mussels and octopus.

I did not try bull's tail.

I love working on different picture book projects and trying unconventional book marketing approaches.

And I've tried different kinds of massages.  Deep tissue massage is not for me, but a Swedish massage is soothing and helps relax tight muscles.  I'd love to try a hot stone massage.  According to, it relieves muscle pain, reduces stress, promotes sleep, and may boost immunity.

Snake massages sound intriguing.  They are inexpensive, costing about $45 for 90-minutes.  That's a bargain.  The average price for a massage is $60 an hour.

But I can barely look at a snake, much less have one slithering over my body.  I don't need an adrenaline rush—no matter what people say about them or how good it makes them feel.  Even my massage therapist has no interest in snakes rubbing her face and neck.

Don't get me wrong.  I'm not against snake massages.  They are probably perfect for the adventuresome.  But having a 500-pound python massage my skin—no thanksssss.

✌ and 

Thursday, September 20, 2018


Ozzie isn't crazy about his vest. 

Maybe he's not fond of the fabric.  Maybe he's not crazy about the pattern.  Maybe he doesn't like the color red.  Wait, are cats color blind?

"Want to try on your vest, Ozzie?"
Ozzie skedaddles away.

I'm feeling a little discouraged.

My husband Jim asks, "Who takes a cat outside on a leash?"
Well, that would be me.  If dogs wear vests, why not cats?

On cold days, the lean, short-haired breeds like the Greyhound, the Chihuahua, the French Bulldog, and many terriers and pinschers have trouble staying warm outside and benefit from wearing a vest.  According to, "Dogs whose bellies are close to the ground—the Dachshund and the Corgi, for example—need extra protection from frigid sidewalks and snowy paths. Toy and small breeds, light-bodied breeds, and breeds with very short or thin hair (even if it’s long by nature but you keep it clipped close) need the extra warmth of a dog jacket or sweater outside in the cold."

Though most cats don't need a vest to stay warm, a vest would keep an indoor cat safe outside. The decision is up to the owner and of course, the pet's cattitude.  Our vet said that getting Ozzie outside for some fresh air would be good for him because he is an indoor cat.  That's all I needed to hear.  And since I need to take breaks from writing and marketing Maggie, being outside would be good for me, too.

The plan:
Day 1 - 3:  Let Ozzie sniff the vest and get familiar seeing it
Day 4 - 6:  Let him wear the vest around the house
Day 7:  Let him enjoy the great outdoors

I placed the vest next to Ozzie's food bowl.  He didn't tear it to shreds.  He didn't pee on it.  I took this as a good sign.

But the first time he wore it outside, he hugged the back door, crouched, and slunk around.  This was not a good sign.

And yet, he didn't growl or cry.  So, here we had another good sign.

I wasn't going to torture him with a lengthy stay, just long enough to sniff plants and experience bugs and birds.  To feel sunshine on his back.  To feel grass beneath his paws.

Ozzie tolerated  seemed to like the grand outdoors, but being out in the backyard wasn't always the cat's meow.

On one occasion with Ozzie outside and all-vested up, Putt-Putt (our loving stray) wandered by.  I hadn't expected he'd show up.  His schedule is fairly random, unless it's breakfast or dinner time.

When Putty comes to visit, I leave the deck door open and the screen locked, so that he and Ozzie can enjoy each other's company.  Since they are buds, I allowed Putt-Putt to get close to Ozzie.  But then clear out of the blue, Putt-Putt bit Ozzie.

Ozzie screamed.  My interpretation:  get me the hell out of this vest and back inside where I belong.

I felt terrible for Ozzie and never expected Putty to bite him.  But Putty's home is outside and he felt inclined to defend it.

I gave Ozzie a break from going outside after Putty's attack.  Then after a while, I tried again.

My husband snickered.  The look on his face said are you really going to do that to him?

Yes, yes I am.  I wasn't going to give up.

It's been several months and Ozzie is still not crazy about his vest.  Though, he is a good sport.  He humors me.  We hang out on the front porch away from Putty's backyard space for a good five minutes!  We take in the sunshine and enjoy the great outdoors. Or, at least one of us does.

Trying new things takes time. Ain't that right, Ozzie?  He may not believe it now, but one of these days Ozzie will know he is one purrty cool cat.

✌ and 

Saturday, August 15, 2020

<img src=”BookEnds Literary.png” alt=”writers tips from Bookend's Literary">                querying for publication”>


I have to hand it to the agents at BookEnds Literary.  They offer expert writing advise for those who want to get published.  When you watch their Youtube videos, you'll learn about querying, being represented, marketing and much more.  

In this post for The Maggie Project, I'll present a short overview of one of their latest Youtube videos that centers on tips about writing.  But first, let's get to know a little about BookEnds. 

BookEnds was founded in 1999 by Jessica Faust and Jacky Sach.  They wanted to represent books that they had fallen in love with and to help authors achieve their dreams. 

This agency represents fiction and nonfiction for an adult audience. In fiction agents specialize in romance, mystery, suspense, thrillers, science fiction and fantasy, women’s fiction, historical fiction, literary fiction and upmarket fiction.  They are also seeking nonfiction in the areas of memoirs, history, food, current affairs, business and career, parenting, pop culture, and general nonfiction.

BookEnds Jr, represents fiction and nonfiction for the young adult, middle grade and picture book markets.  

Jessica Faust, President of BookEnds
I've watched nearly all of their Youtube videos.  What's nice is, you feel like you get to know each agent and their personal preference for books.  I also like that the videos last about 15 minutes and are concise, well-organized, and engaging. 

Listed below are four writing tips from BookEnds, recorded on Youtube June 5, 2020: 
  • Give yourself time in between drafts and come back to your work with a fresh mind.
  • Write from your synopsis and query before, during and after you write your manuscript.
  • Know your specific audience so that you can meet their expectations.
  • Write what you care about.
Each of the agents go into more explanation in the video:

Remember to check the BookEnds Youtube video often.  They update frequently and offer new information three to four times a month.  

Writing, editing, and submitting can be intense.  So, it's nice to switch gears and listen to valuable advice, especially from the agents at BookEnds.   

✌ and 

Monday, August 22, 2011

Avoiding Rejection

I hate delivering rejections.  I know what it feels like to be on the receiving end.  But last week, I had to reject two pieces.  The first submission was a short article for 7 – 9 year olds.  The second was a personal essay.   

Our magazine guidelines state that the word count for 7 – 9 year olds should run 400 – 800 words.  The writer had not achieved the correct word count that we require.  In addition, the concept and language were too advanced for young children.

The second submission was a first person narrative.  Most nonfiction articles that we publish are written in 3rd person or in some cases, 2nd person.  Though well-written, we simply don’t publish these kinds of pieces.  

All is not lost however, for the two writers whose articles were rejected.  My assistant and I offered them advice in terms of editing and marketing their work.  But what two things could they have done to have avoided rejection?  I have two suggestions:  follow our contributor guidelines and read a few published pieces from our magazine. 

By studying the guidelines, these writers would have known exactly what we expect from our contributors (topics, formatting, word count, etc.)  By reading a few sample articles, they would have gotten a feel for the voice and tone of our published pieces. 

There is no guarantee these two suggestions will garner an acceptance.  Every editor has her own likes and dislikes.  But when writers follow the guidelines and read sample copies, they can reduce the chances of getting a rejection.  Writers will be better equipped to offer an editor an article that she's more likely to publish.     



Sunday, May 15, 2022

Dealing with unethical Cactus Moon Publishing


About five years ago, a small press published my book Maggie and the Summer Vacation Show-and-Tell.  I was on cloud nine.  Nothing could go wrong.  But, well...things did go wrong, and therefore I feel the need to inform my readers. 

For me, the publishing process was daunting, frustrating at times, but overall thrilling.  I even got to audition illustrators for my book.  The best part was knowing my story would have the potential to entertain and educate kids.  Having a book published was a dream come true.  But now it's a bit of a nightmare.  

The publisher stated upfront that she would only do a few things for promotion.  She said she would get an ISBN number, sell it on Amazon, and write a press release.  That's it.  The author is supposed to do everything else:  design and pay for bookmarks, attend book fairs, market on social media (Facebook, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Instagram), get newspapers to write an article, persuade libraries to carry the book, arrange book signings and more.  I knew this from the get-go, and was up to the task.  

And even though I knew the publisher would do very little promoting, I wished she would have been more supportive when I informed her of the write-up in a literary magazine, the many positive reviews, and my television appearance and participation in a prestigious book fair.  I was hoping she might pay a small portion of my marketing expenses, or at the very least, promote my book on the company's website.  None of this happened for me. 

In fact, the opposite happened.

My publisher got angry at me for not selling all of the books the organizers had ordered for the Kentucky Book Festival.  She tried to coerce me into paying for the returned books and told me my contract stated that I was responsible for the unsold books.  Actually, it was not in the contract.  And I refused to be intimidated and comply.  

So, a punishment was dealt out to me:  she removed my books from the publishing company's online library and stopped carrying them on Amazon.

Wow.  How can someone be that mean, that childish?  Don't you think she could have found a way to work with me to promote and sell the extra copies?  No, she had to get even.  Revengeful.  

So, you might ask, what can I do now?  Lots.  I can edit my Amazon profile to direct people to my website where they can order a book.  Since I have a pdf of the story, I can upload it to Amazon and print copies.  What else can I do?   I can leave Google reviews.  I can report the company to Editors and Predators and to Writer Beware.  I can warn writers on Facebook and Absolute Write.  I shed light about the company's practices on LinkedIn. 

Don't get me wrong.  I was ecstatic to have a book published.  I only wished the publisher could have been more professional and honest.    

To sum up, when a publisher fails to be supportive, the author loses.  Actually, the publisher and the author lose.  No, the public loses, too, because a children's book has been removed from places where it can be printed and bought.   

I don't know how often a publisher gets vindictive.  But I want to bring this issue to light.  I want to warn others.  If ever you find yourself interested in working with a small press, here's what you need to know:  Research the publisher.  Read what others have to say about them before signing the contract.  Scrutinize the contract and be sure you will not be responsible for books that aren't sold.  Lastly, be sure that the publisher wants to help promote your book.  That she wants to make it successful.   And above all, that she wants to put your book in the hands of a child.   

✌ and 

Monday, October 15, 2018


I was totally bummed out and feeling low.  I was losing money on book sales.  

How does an author LOSE money instead of make money selling her book?  For me, the answer was giveaways.  

Professor, columnist, author Jane Friedman says, "Giveaways (or freebies) are popular for good reason; they’re a classic, frictionless way to make people aware of your work."  She also states, "The giveaway is one of the more powerful tools in the new author’s arsenal because it’s a way to get attention when you may not have anything else going for you."

Giveaways however, did not work for me.  I gave away copies of Maggie and the Summer Vacation Show-and-Tell as a contest prize and as a gift in a silent action.  I also gave free copies of my books to catalog companies, school book fairs, and other businesses in order to create attention and drive book sales.  And this starting adding up.

I decided to give up this practice.  No more giveaways.  I was stick-a-fork-in-me done with losing money.

And then an opportunity arose to have my book considered for the Kentucky Book Festival (which meant relinquishing another book.)

The Kentucky Book Festival is a week-long celebration honoring reading and writing in Kentucky.  Now in its second year in Lexington (my hometown), the 37th annual Kentucky Book Fair is the grand finale of the week.  This festivity attracts writers of all genres and patrons who share a passion and interest in writing and reading.  More than 140 authors will attend the Kentucky Book Fair to promote and support literacy, including Silas House (Clay's Quilt), Bobbie Ann Mason  (In Country), and Wendell Berry (Jayber Crow).

After giving away close to 20 books (well over $200), I was ambivalent about having my book evaluated.  This did not guarantee an invitation.  But, I felt it was important to send my book to the committee.  This could be an awesome opportunity to introduce readers to Maggie and her rescue dog.

During the waiting period, I grew doubtful of hearing good news and thought more and more about the difficulties of being a published writer.  Being published is supposed to be totally joyful, but for me, there were times when it was not always a bed of roses.  The more I considered the struggles, the sadder I got knowing:

  • Book expenses exceeded revenue
  • Page views on my blogs were not as high as I'd like
  • Responses from agents for new picture book submissions had been nonexistent

Don't misunderstand.  In spite of these disappointments, I feel lucky and blessed to have the opportunity to write.  Writing is still one of my biggest joys in life.  But it's hard to hold on to the good feelings all of the time.  Especially when I had just given away another book.  I had lost more money.  What were the chances that this "investment" was going to pan out?

Doubt and worry seeped in and gnawed at me.  Feeling discouraged, I released a question into the universe:  Is writing still the correct career choice or is it time to move on?

Silly as it may seem, I asked for a sign—something, anything that might give me an idea if I should continue being a writer.  And then I went back to writing.  In only a few hours, this email appeared in my inbox:

"Dear Randi,

On behalf of the Kentucky Book Festival Committee of Kentucky Humanities, it is my pleasure to invite you to participate in the  annual Kentucky Book Festival (KBF), presented by Kentucky Humanities and our sponsors." 

I was floored.  This was unbelievable good news.  And the timing!  The timing couldn't have been more perfect.

This situation got me thinking about how we should turn to the universe more often if we have questions or if we are troubled.

"When you need to know, you will. There will be no confusion or doubt about what is being said. Seek out this kind of relationship with the universe and it will most certainly support it. Don’t allow yourself to get part of the message and end up more lost. Trust in the source, within and outside of yourself. Signs are not meant to be ambiguous, even if they appear to be so at first. Seek and find, then receive fully, in order to find your truth." ~ The Chopra Center.

And so my decision is clear.  Moving on to a different career is not part of the plan.  Despite the doubts and disappointments, despite feeling low about marketing a book, and despite losing money, I was shown that my footsteps should follow the writer's path.

Kentucky Book Festival
at the Alltech Arena at
the Kentucky Horse Park
Saturday, Nov 17, 2018
from 9:00 am - 4:00 pm

✌ and 

"Great Stuff. Congratulations!"  M. Cook
"Congrats, Randi!"  C. Phelps
"Congratulations on the Kentucky Book Festival" A. Miller Hudson