Sunday, December 11, 2011

Writing for Niche Markets by John Vonhof

John Vonhof from Manteca, California is a freelance writer who writes for the Christian and secular markets. He has taught at the Mt. Hermon, Florida, and Castro Valley writers’ conferences. John has self-published two booklets and four books, two of which were later picked-up by mainstream publishers. He has been published in many Christian and secular magazines, newsletters and Internet sites. His current projects include two books, three Kindle ebooks, several websites, and spin-offs from his books.

Welcome to Writers in Business. Please tell us about your books and a bit about their inspiration.

I have run marathons and ultramarathons, and fastpacked in the High Sierras. Licensed as a paramedic and orthopaedic technician, with 6+ years experience in an emergency room / trauma center, I know about the medical field. That has lead to the following publications:

- Fixing Your Feet: Prevention and Treatment for Athletes, 5th edition, 2011
- Happy Feet! - Foot Care Advice for Walkers and Travelers
- A Parent's Guide to the Emergency Room: Managing Your Child's Crisis Without Fear

Over the years, I have served in many roles with the church body - clerk, deacon, elder, chair of many committees, youth leader, Sunday School teacher, and representative to many denominational boards. After serving as the secretary of the search team at my church, I saw the need for a resource about the pastoral search process and wrote The Pastoral Search Journey: A Guide to Finding Your Next Pastor.

My other publications include You Can Write for Niche Markets and Selling Your Book: The No Nonsense Step-by-Step Marketing & Promotion Workbook

I understand you are also a publisher.

Yes, I’m the publisher of Footwork Publications, a niche market small press that was founded in 1996. The name Footwork Publications was chosen to represent our commitment to doing the footwork—the study, research, and development of high-quality and unique resources that fill a special publishing market need. We publish specific, well thought out resources that fill a need.

I admire your wide range of non-fiction topics. You also do a lot to give back to the writing community. Your website and blog help writers navigate the conference submission process.

Yes, on it you’ll learn what goes into writing different parts of your submission package and how to do it right. There's information on queries, cover letters, book proposals, article and manuscript formats, genre tips, meeting with faculty, making the most of your conference, conference links, resources, a glossary, and more. Plus samples of queries, proposals, and manuscript formats. Contributors include conference faculty, editors, publishers, agents, and experienced writers.

With your comprehensive background as an author and publisher, can you share a tip with us?

Authors of nonfiction books should always consider whether their books could be released in a new edition. I have seen many nonfiction titles whose sales drop off after a few years. Out of the hundreds of nonfiction books on my home shelves, I'd estimate that less than 5% have been updated in new editions. Many of these could benefit from a new edition.

Generally, a new edition should be 10% new information. Over time, new information, statistics, research and studies, new or changed products, and new technology can provide us with content for a new edition. When a book is released in a new edition, it's like starting over. With a good marketing plan, sales usually go up.

Two of my book are in multiple editions, one in a 2nd and another in its 5th edition. These extend the value of my title and show my readers I am serious about staying current and helping them with my writing.

Thank you John! You can visit John online at the following websites.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Buried Deception by Gina Conroy

Today we welcome Gina Conroy to Writers in Business. She is president and founder of Writer...Interrupted where she mentors busy writers. Knowing how difficult it is to raise a family as well as a career, she also blogs at Defying Gravity where she chronicles her triumphs and trials hoping to encourage those on a similar path. She is here to announce her new release.

Welcome Gina. Tell us about your first novella.

My first novella is titled, Buried Deception and it is part of the Cherry Blossom Capers Collection. It will be released from Barbour Publishing in January 2012. This 352 page book includes three other novellas - State Secrets by Lynette Sowell, Dying for Love by Cara C. Putnam and Coffee, Tea and Danger by Frances Devine.

You must be very excited! Can you tell us about your story?

Mount Vernon archaeology intern and widow Samantha Steele wants to provide for her children without assistance from anyone. Security guard and ex-cop Nick Porter is haunted by his past and keeps his heart guarded. But when they discover an artifact at Mount Vernon is a fake, Nick and Samantha need to work together, set aside their stubbornness, and rely on each other or the results could be deadly. Will Samantha relinquish her control to a man she hardly knows? Can Nick learn to trust again? And will they both allow God to excavate their hearts so they can find new love?

How can readers order Buried Deception?

It can be preordered at Buried Deception.

Do you have an agent?

Yes, I’m represented by Chip MacGregor of MacGregor Literary

Can you share a writing tip based on your experience?

Yes, I've learned to write really bad. I used to have a problem with editing every little thing I wrote and taking forever to get to the end. Then a writer friend gave me permission to write bad and now I do! Then, of course, I go back and fix it!

I’ve run into the same roadblock in my writing and have learned it’s better for me to ignore the rules on the first draft and just let the words flow out of me. I spent some time visiting your blogs and web site. They are all very well designed and informative. I understand you offer a monthly newsletter with updates.

Yes, readers can subscribe to the Newsletter on my web site.

Gina, I wish you all the best with your new release. How can my readers learn more about your writing?

I love to connect with readers. There are Contact pages on my blogs, you can follow me at Twitter and friend me on Facebook. My new website will be live in January 2012.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Meet Carol & Bob Bridgestock - Crime Writers Extraordinaire!

Today we welcome authors Carol and Bob Bridgestock who work as co-authors under the name R C Bridgestock. They come to us from the Isle of Wight in England. These crime writers have a combined staggering 47 years of employment with the Police. Carol as a member of the Civilian Support staff and Bob as a Police Officer. Their first hand experience adds to the breadth and depth of their writing.

I understand your books have been republished recently.

Yes, our first book was ‘Deadly Focus’. This was first self-published in 2008 and received some fantastic reviews even from the best selling UK newspaper book reviewer. Having sold over 1500 we thought that we would try and get our second book published by a publisher without any cost to us and this would also give us some help with the marketing. I'm not sorry we did it this way first as it did give me a good insight into how hard marketing is and there is nothing like 'doing it yourself' to appreciate how hard those guys work!

The sequel, ‘Consequences’, was finished in November 2008 and so I sent it to an agent in London. She liked our work and we met for talks. She advised changes which we made and in spring 2010 she decided that the changes she advised didn't work and told us to send it to another agent or a publisher to see what feedback we got. As they say the rest is history.

The first publisher I sent it to was Caffeine Nights Publishing. They publish mainly crime fiction. It is a small company but the CEO is a crime writer himself. We were very privileged to be given a contract by him for ‘Consequences’. Since this was the sequel to ‘Deadly Focus’ (as well as a standalone book), he also asked if he could republish ‘Deadly Focus’ with some input from his team. We agreed. So in July 2010 we signed two contracts with them.

In May 2011 ‘Deadly Focus' was re published by Caffeine Nights with the full intention of 'Consequences' following soon after - to be honest we didn't know how much mileage there was left in Deadly Focus ... ! However, it went off like a rocket and WH Smiths Travel bought in which meant that as of July 2011 it was in 30 International Airports, Train stations and euro star in the UK. Our publishers thought it was best to hold back on 'Consequences' to let it run its course.

Now we are waiting for a hard copy of 'Consequences' which will be with us by early December and then it will go out to reviewers. It has already had one pre-publication review in August see

Caffeine Nights has contracted the RC Bridgestock series featuring DI Jack Dylan and his partner, Jen.

Very exciting! Where can we find your books?

'Deadly Focus' is available through and .com and it is in ebook form, too. 'Consequences' has already been issued its ISBN numbers and covers. It will be available soon.

What advice do you have for other writers?

For book signings be prepared to become the market trader and sell. A lot of authors sit on the seat provided for them behind a desk, but you don't have to use it. Interact with the customers instead! Also, why not create your own display boards? An A5 sized board can be bought quite cheaply from stationary store. Cover the board with press cuttings, photos and advertisements of your book – even the price. These advertisement boards about you and your novel will build up in time and are well worth investing the effort as they ‘draw in’ the customer and is a good talking point.

Thank you Carol & Bob. To learn more about their writing you can visit them online at

Sunday, November 20, 2011

New Release- Children's book, Marvin Monster's Monsterific Adventures by Tabatha Jean D´Agata

Author Tabatha Jean D´Agata was a redheaded, freckled-faced kid born in Lawrence, Massachusetts. As a child, she aspired to be as heroic and skillful as Nancy Drew, a super-sleuth, but was more like Pippi Longstocking.

Tabatha's respect for characters and their creators enveloped her throughout her childhood and she realized her creative skills thrived within her own writing. Over the years, she has moved past horribly rhymed poetry to carefully plotted stories.

She continued her desire for writing by freelancing and authoring several books for children including Silent Sam, Ick The Stick, Storm Tunes and Pampered Pals. She is also a regularly featured columnist in Parent Express Newspaper.

Today, Tabatha resides in the charming town of Hooksett, NH with her family, and their two dogs. When she isn't writing, she shares her enthusiasm for inventing stories and characters with kids of all ages by visiting schools and libraries!

She is here today to announce her new release, Marvin Monster's Monsterific Adventures, and a contest. The prize is a Marvin Monster Monsterific Character Hat.

Tabatha, tell us about your new book.

Marvin Monster's Monsterific Adventures is part of a Fearless Reader Flip Book Series. It's an 82 page book recommended for children 6-9 years of age. We explore
what happens when a monster doesn't keep his word and when Marvin Monster confronts what might be the most horrific thing to ever happen to Grim Castle Elementary.
Readers join Marvin Monster and his classmates for two fearless adventures in one monster-sized edition! Read BIG DATE and then flip the book over to read TEACHER JITTERS in reverse, it's monsterific!

I admire your creativity. As a successful published author, can you share a writing tip with fellow writers?

What if? I ask myself that question whenever I'm writing a new story, especially fiction. Whether you're a new or seasoned writer, when you utilize 'what if' when building plots, characters or points-of-view the possibilities are limitless.

I also believe problems we encounter in our own daily lives are story opportunities when combined with the hypothesis 'what if'. Ask yourself: What if she had answered the door and it wasn't the mailman? What if his boss had something other than money in the safe? What if the pond in the backyard surfaced human remains? Yes, the possibilities are limitless!

I'm excited to announce the new contest you are offering to readers of my blog. How can we enter?

This contest is called Name That Movie! Here's a quote from one of my favorite movies:

"She taught me everything. About life, hope and the long journey ahead. I'll always miss her. But our love is like the wind. I can't see it, but I can feel it."

If you know which movie this is from, email the title to me for a chance to win a Marvin Monster Monsterific Character Hat. All correct answers will be entered in the drawing on December 4th and the winner will be notified on December 5th.

Thank you Tabatha! To learn more about Tabatha's writing, please visit her web site and her Author Page on

Sunday, November 13, 2011

How to Price Your Writing Projects

Today we welcome Kate Croston to Writers in Business. Kate is a freelance writer who holds a bachelors degree in Journalism and Mass Communication. She writes for various clients and loves contributing internet service related topics.

As a freelance writer, I find it challenging to determine the price on some of my projects. I usually end up selling myself short. Kate is here to share her ideas with us on how to determine the correct price for our work.

How to Price Your Writing Projects

Freelance writing is a dream job for a lot of writers and bloggers out there, and with good reason – you get to basically set your own schedule and write what you want to write about. One of the biggest obstacles is figuring out how much to charge for your work – after all, you can’t be too expensive because you don’t want people to pass you by because you’re too pricey, but you can’t be too cheap either because hey, you’ve got bills to pay too! So how do you determine the right price for your writing projects?

Monthly Fees

To start, you have to determine how much money you need to survive. That means factoring in how much your rent or mortgage costs, your static monthly bills, your grocery and gas costs, and how much extra you need in case of an emergency or for some extra padding. At the end of the day, no matter what you’re fees are you have to be able to pay all of your bills otherwise freelance writing isn’t going to work out.


You’ll need to establish if you’re charging an hourly rate or if you’re charging per project – or if you’ll do a combination. Your rate per project should be loosely based off of your hourly rate anyway, so figuring that out is key when setting your rates. Be careful when charging hourly rates because you don’t want to end up in a position where you finish a project much sooner than you first thought you would and are now making less on a project then you originally thought you would. You’ll also have to take into consideration how much experience you have writing – seasoned writers with a lot of credible references and examples of work can charge more than those that are fresh out of school. If you’re moving from a salaried position to freelance writing, take a look at your current salary and see how it translates to what you’re moving into, especially if you’re leaving a full-time copywriting or writing position to freelance.

Regularly Evaluate

As your experience increases, your rates should to, so you’ll need to go through a few times a year and look at your rates, your work, and the feedback you’ve received from clients and assess if you’re still charging enough money. If you can back up higher prices with glowing accolades to a job well done, go for it. If you can’t back it up though, you’ll need to evaluate why you can’t raise your prices yet and fix it so that the next time around you can. Also, figuring out the market value of freelance writers in your area is a good way to determine if you’re charging too much or too little.

Don’t Sell Yourself Short

Freelance writers, especially new ones, have a tendency to low-ball their prices and thus ask for less then they’re actually worth. If you know you have a good product, charge for it. Freelancing can be a scary world to jump into, but people will pay a good price for excellent work – don’t sell yourself short.

Kate is a regular contributor to and can be reached at

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Inspirational Book About Living with Downs' Syndrome: How David Met Sarah by Anne Kelleher

Anne Kelleher holds a degree from Johns Hopkins University and has studied English literature at the University of Connecticut. A gifted intuitive medium, Anne helps others connect to inner guidance and deceased loved ones. The mother of four and grandmother of two, Anne lives and writes in Connecticut, surrounded by a large circle of family and friends.

Her new book, How David Met Sarah, is completely different from any of her previous eleven novels. Anne’s brother, David, has Downs’ Syndrome as does the main character in this story.

Anne, welcome to Writers in Business. I understand you have written this story not only for your brother, but for developmentally challenged adults everywhere.

I wrote How David Met Sarah at my mother's suggestion when she explained that as much as David is interested in reading, it's hard to find stories he likes. He reads at approximately a third grade level but as an adult, David doesn't relate to third grade level stories. This is the first in a series of five books written for intellectually or developmentally disabled individuals.

Can you tell us about the story?

How David Met Sarah is a very special love story written from the point of view of a young man who is developmentally disabled. It includes suspense, conflict, romance, and all the appeal of an adult book while using vocabulary appropriate for those who read at an elementary level.

The National Down Syndrome Society has discovered your book.

The National Down Syndrome Society is an organization that supports developmentally delayed adults. I am thrilled to say that they have graciously agreed to help spread the word about How David Met Sarah. I will be donating 20% of the profits from this book to this organization.

Currently the book is available electronically. Any plans for a print version?

Yes, a print version and book club/reader's guide are in the works. We anticipate that both will be available shortly.

Reading specialists, special education teachers and librarians agree that there are no other titles like this available. Thank you for creating this heartwarming and insightful book.

David loves "his" story and we both hope that others will enjoy it, too. If you know and love someone like David, I hope you will check out When David Met Sarah. If you've ever wondered what it's like to live so differently-abled, I hope you will check it out, too.

To read more about the book or order a copy, please visit Amazon. You can also read more on Anne’s blog How David Met Sarah.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Crazy Mom's Everywhere & Lit Fest Magazine's Amanda Goossen - Special Feature with Giveaway!

Joining us from Phoenix, Arizona is Amanda Goossen. She is blogging with Crazy Mom's Everywhere, and as well as working with Lit Fest Magazine and reviewing books for Publisher's Weekly. Today on Writers in Business, Amanda is announcing a short story contest, giveaway and guest blogging spots.
Welcome Amanda! Let's start with your Can you tell us about it?

Lit Fest Magazine was developed about a year and a half ago after I left my position at a literary magazine and I was determined to create an online magazine that included everything I love. I had just gone to the Los Angeles Times Literary Festival at UCLA and was feeling such bliss from everything that surrounded me at this event. I named my website Lit Fest because I wanted it to encompass everything that you would find at a really phenomenal Literary Festival...Literature, Music and Food. Living in Los Angeles my husband and I had a number of friends in these fields so I put out the word of what I was doing and that I wanted people to contribute. The reaction, feedback and eventual work submitted was terrific!

Our market for Lit Fest was originally Los Angeles based but because we had a few writers spread out through the country and actually the world (I have one book reviewer who lives in Australia) I knew it would be enjoyed internationally. I recently moved to Phoenix, AZ and I large amount of our material is based on things regarding our new city and may become our target market.

Our Guest Blogs and Weekly Short Story Contest tend to be two of the most popular parts of Lit Fest. Our Guest Blogs are done by authors who are usually promoting a book and want readers to read about their work as well as get a feel for who they are. My favorites have been the month long blog author Andrew Gross did from his vacation in Napa Valley, an author who wrote about why she was a terrible judge for a dance contest and another who write about getting her life back after spending a year in front of her computer writing her first book. In about 1,000 words these authors can crack you up laughing, make you cry or at the very least introduce themselves to you in a way you would have never known them otherwise. I love reading them each time they hit my inbox.
The short story contest is something I decided to include with Lit Fest because so many people are writing and don't know how to get their work seen by others. There are an incredible amount of talented people out there that just want a few people to read what they have to say...I think there should be more arenas to have writing viewed by other writers and readers. There are a few stories I've read by aspiring writers that were so incredibly amazing that I still think about them often.

Anyone interested in the Short Story Contest can find information on and authors looking for a Guest Blogging spot can email me Amanda (at)LitFestMagazine (dot)com about open dates and guidelines.

I love your graphics, design and content of Crazy Mom's Everywhere. Can you share your inspiration and purpose for this new blog?

Thanks! I have spent the past year teaching myself Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop and have loved everything I've learned. The 'Crazy Mom's Everywhere' graphic was developed while I was experimenting with what I learned and applying it by trying to create a logo and name for an event planning company I hope to have someday. Everything was kind of accidentally working as I went and I thought I had to use this now instead of holding on to it for a few years. So I pushed that logo aside and developed this instead.

My purpose for Crazy Moms Everywhere was originally to anonymously post the good times and bad of being a mom. I feel like sometimes us moms feel like we are going to go crazy in the mayhem of everyday. But we don't always realize how many others are in our same exact position. We are all going crazy, running here, doing this thing and then that. Trying to be perfect and never quite making it there. I had friends who would act like everything was perfect but if you asked them how they really felt they would break it down and explain all the chaos that filled their day. I wanted moms to realize we don't have to put up a front, we can be honest with each other about the good times AND the bad! Oh and I gave up on the anonymous part because I felt if we were being honest, we had to be completely honest.

The blog tends to have a lot of food based writing because food plays such a large part in my life and in our family. I have a hard time sharing some things about my kids and family because I believe in privacy and don't want my children to ever look back and think, "Oh thanks Mom" although I'm sure they will do that anyway, so instead I talk about our family through our relationship with food. I talk about how our stressful, frustrating day came through in our dinner when I burned the homemade pizzas I was so excited about but totally not relaxed enough to be preparing. Or how a certain incredible brand of breakfast items (Waffle Lady) has changed our life and the way we eat. You can say my food obsession translates to the blog in a huge way!
(<--Amanda's Fairy Cupcakes)

In the past week I have tried to vary things a bit, taking a few breaks from food discussions. Recently I started "31 Days of New Things" where every day I try something new, mostly food and cooking oriented but there will be some mommy firsts which will arise for sure! I am actually in the middle of writing one right now!

Speaking of food, I understand you are writing a new column in the Arcadia News and you are writing food and wine articles for and It's interesting to learn how writers acquire these regular writing projects. Do you send out query letters with clips?

Finding new writing jobs can be a challenge, but it's also about how much time you are willing to spend searching. I spend about two hours, one night a week looking for writing jobs on various websites. I'm registered in a couple online writing groups which send out emails about jobs as well. One thing I've had to learn is to apply, apply, apply. I send out resumes (with a few writing clips) every time I see something that might be up my alley. Every time I send an email for a writing job, however, I have a sudden tinge of fear before I hit send. I have a moment of doubt which quickly dissolves and hearing back a positive response makes it all worth it. I've just convinced myself that I can't get a job if I don't put myself out there!

Also, I have an outstanding friend who I went to college with who is also a writer and we talk non-stop about our progress, what we need to do to write more, find jobs, get better at what we're doing and how to juggle our passion for motherhood with our passion for writing. Our love of reading and writing is a major part of our friendship and a plays a large role in my writing career.

On top of all of this writing, you are also a reviewer for Publisher's Weekly. I'm sure many of my readers would like to learn more about this.

Reviewing books for Publisher's Weekly has been an incredibly exciting and enjoyable experience. Since I was six years old I have been an avid reader. Books have been one of the great loves of my life and being able read for a well-known company has been an honor. I can organize my time however I need to and depending on the length of the books I can usually read about 8 books a month, only having to devote a few hours a day about five days a week. This works out well for me because I also review books for Lit Fest and gives me time to read those as well.

Before we provide the information on your new giveaway, I wanted to ask if there is anything else you would like to share with my readers.

Yes, I would love for moms to know that writing (or whatever passion they have) is totally reachable, but they have to be willing to go after it. My kids and spending as much time as I can involved in their childhood is my main priority so I spend a lot of time up late. Coffee is my friend!

Thank you Amanda! I've spent years working around my childrens' nap times, bed times and now around their school days. It's wonderful to have that flexibility while still contributing to our family finances.

To end our interview, could you tell my readers how they can register to win your contest?

I'm happy to. We offer frequent contests and giveaways through Lit Fest Magazine and Crazy Mom's Everywhere.

To be entered into this Crazy Mom's Everywhere and Lit Fest Magazine Gift Bag Giveaway readers must go to or Crazy Mom's Everywhere and sign up to follow by email or as a Google follower. They must also send an email to Amandagoose (at) gmail (dot) com with their name, address and email. This information will only be used to mail the winner their prize.

Contest runs from Sunday October 30, 2011 until November 5, 2011. Winner will be notified by email on November 6, 2011 as well as announced on both websites.

Gift Bag Includes:

Waffle Lady Whole Wheat Waffle Mix (The absolute best waffle mix in the world)

Leo Monster made by Allison Barum (My favorite gift to give the special kiddos in my life)

Children's Books:
Superhero Joe by Jacqueline Preiss Weitzman
Mr Duck Means Business by Tammi Sauer

Young Adult Books:
The first two books in John Grisham's YA Theodore Boone series
Theodore Boone: Kid Lawyer
Theodore Boone: The Abduction

The Kitchen Counter Cooking School By Kathleen Flinn

A Pinch of Love by Alicia Bessette
Stories for Nighttime and Some for the Day by Ben Loory

Special Addition:
The Hallows Insider: New Fiction, Facts, Maps, Murders and More in the World of Rachel Morgan By Kim Harrison (Release Date: Oct. 25, 2011….beautiful hardbound book with color pages, illustrations and more)

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Understanding Business Expenses by Brigitte Thompson

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) requires that our writing expenses be ordinary and necessary in order for them to be acceptable. An ordinary expense is defined as common and accepted in our profession. A necessary expense means we need to spend this money in order to operate the business. The expenses must not be considered extravagant. They must be an essential part of doing business as a writer. It is important to differentiate between personal expenses and business expenses.

Writers are able to realize some unique deductions which may be considered personal for other taxpayers. For example, a book on the history of New Mexico used for researching my fiction manuscript based in that state could be deductible as a writer.

Other potentially deductible expenses include tickets to a ballet used to build the character of a ballerina I am writing about and an instructional DVD used to improve my public speaking skills. Most writers will call these expenses research or professional development. We need to be able to justify each expense if audited, so be sure it is legitimate and has the supporting documents to back up the claim.

Check out my book, Bookkeeping Basics for Freelance Writers, to learn more about deductible expenses and how to reduce the income taxes you pay as a writer. You can read about it on my web site and on

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Revised - Frugal Book Promoter: Carolyn Howard-Johnson

Carolyn Howard-Johnson has just released the revised, second edition of her award winning book, The Frugal Book Promoter.
Carolyn joins us today to tell us more about this updated title.

Your first edition of The Frugal Book Promoter changed the way authors view their role in marketing their titles. What can we expect in this revised edition?

The content has been expanded to include simple ways to promote books using newer technology--always considering promotion and marketing techniques that are easy on the pocketbook and frugal of time. It also includes a multitude of ways for authors and publishers to promote the so-called hard-to-promote genres.

You'll also learn to write media releases, query letters and a knock 'em dead media kit--all tools that help an author find a publisher and sell their book once it's in print.

Specific updates include:

~ The basics that make you into an on-your-own publicist or a great partner

~ Chapters on what I call the "game changers"

~ Information on using online bookstores to your benefit

~ Making your blog actually work for you

Wow... this sounds amazing! You mentioned offering suggestions on how to work with technology. Can you share some of that information?

Sure, this new edition covers how to use the e-book format to promote sales, provides information on how to use Google Alerts to their full advantage and how to put together Power Point presentations. All very timely promotional tips.

I understand you have received rave reviews for this new edition including one from self-publishing guru Dan Poynter.

Yes, here are a few.

"If you're going to read only one book to get other people to read your book, it should be this one."
~ Tim Bete, director Dayton University's Erma Bombeck Writers' Workshop

" Unlike other books and articles on the subject, this one is detailed--and it's chock full of ideas that even seasoned book promoters will not have tried."
~ Dallas Hodder Franklin, editor of

"Howard-Johnson has the comforting tone of a mentor and writes with the precision of a surgeon."
~ Francine Silverman, author and editor of Book Promotion Newsletter

"The most expensive parts of book promotion are the mistakes. This book will save you time and money."
~ Dan Poynter, author of The Self-Pubishing Manual

Carolyn, thank you for joining us today to share your exciting news! How can we order a copy of the revised book?

You can order it online through my web site Frugal Book Promoter and through

You can also visit Carolyn online at She also offers a newsletter and blog filled with useful information.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Making a Living Online as a Copywriter: Mission Impossible? by Kristine M. Smith

Kristine M. Smith has been a freelance writer for more than 35 years and a professional copywriter since 2007. The author of six books, her most recent title is SERVAL SON: Spots and Stripes Forever, a cautionary true story about what it’s like to own—and be owned by—a wild cat. Endorsed by several high-profile animal advocates, SERVAL SON debuted at #2 and #4 in two categories on the day it was released at Amazon (Sept. 1, 2011). She joins us today to share her tips on making a living as a copywriter.

Making a Living Online as a Copywriter: Mission Impossible?

Back in the day—not all that long ago—it was entirely possible to hang a shingle at Elance and other online freelance websites, take a battery of tests, post a portfolio of your best work, and within months hit some semblance of a stride and begin to make a living. It happened for me that way back in 2008-2009.

Things have changed dramatically.

Even those of us with stellar ratings from clients and hundreds of projects under our belts are finding the freelance jungle a tedious, tangled tribulation these days. It seems the bigger and better-known a freelance site gets, the worse it becomes at doing what it set out to do: serve as a matchmaker between buyers and providers.
Unfortunately, at the moment Elance happens to be the best known (and best) freelance website out there (in my opinion) so until a competitor comes along that is willing to do right by its buyers and sellers again, Elance it is. I have an awfully secure feeling that they’ll get their comeuppance one day when a group of savvy Creatives gets together and decides to do it right. At that point Elance will have to straighten up, change what it’s doing wrong, or die a sadly well-deserved death.

Just a year ago as I write this, providers (that’s what we’re called at Elance and at other sites) were able to ask questions (via a Public Message Board) of prospective “employers” (buyers) to clarify project parameters whenever a project description lacked vital details and to make sure the association would be a win-win for both parties. Not anymore.

Recently Elance decided that providers now must pay one or more connect fees (depending on the monetary value of the project) just to ask follow-up questions if a project description is incomplete! This has effectively priced the service out of most beginning providers’ ability to pay and has caused long-time providers to initiate strategies that will allow them to head for the exits as soon as practical without losing their shirts.

Charging providers to pay connect fees in every instance where project parameters need to be clarified (which is at least 50% of the time) makes about as much sense as charging job seekers to pay for the preliminary interviews they get with employers to find out what a total job entails and whether it’s a good fit. On the face of it, it’s completely ludicrous.

This new wrinkle has caused the search for good projects to take two to three times longer and to cost two to three times more in connect fees. If a project description is inadequate (which happens most of the time), all you can do to escape a connect fee is to submit a violation report that tells Elance “Insufficient detail to bid reliably” and hope that the powers-that-be will de-list it before someone else bids blind on it and lands it.

I have developed a content questionnaire, a multiple-page document of kudos from over 100 clients, and an article that instructs buyers how to write a complete project description when seeking copywriters. Whenever I find a project that intrigues me enough that I decide to pay a connect fee to bid tentatively on it until I learn more, I attach these three documents to the bid.

It’s no surprise that some potential buyers/employers balk when they see the attachments because they then understand what their part of the bargain must be in order for me to hit their project out of the ball park for them. Others are extremely appreciative that I care enough to show them what’s needed so the project can be completed to their vision in a fraction of the time it would take otherwise (and hence at less cost to them).

Incidentally, the three documents act as a great screening device. The kudos pages prove my value; the PD page educates the buyer; the content questionnaire solicits what I need to know to bid reliably and helps me discern if the buyer is someone I really want to do business with.

If a buyer isn’t willing to collaborate by filling out the questionnaire, or provide sufficient parameters so I can bid reliably, it’s a red flag and my first indication that—should I elect to take the job—I’d better charge significantly more than I would for a buyer who’s willing to do their fair share. After all, business owners know their customers, their product or service, and their USPs (unique selling propositions) like the back of their hands. If they don’t, that’s a red flag, too: the project will be more time-consuming research-wise and may require one-on-one counseling with the buyer. And if a buyer can provide testimonials as well, your job as a copywriter is that much simpler and becomes making what they offer so irresistible that only a nincompoop would go anywhere else!

Ready to Roll?
I know that what I’ve outlined here sounds discouraging, but if you’re a talented copywriter who can compete well in the space between a vast army of offshore (third world, English-as-a-second-language) and/or hobbyist writers and the handful of superstars who ask a bundle for their services, go ahead and throw your hat into the ring. In this economy, do whatever you have to do to bring home the bacon. If you can write (or edit) (or proofread) (or build websites), don’t hesitate.

I’ll be happy to send you my Content Questionnaire and the Elance article to get you started. Feel free to adapt the Content Questionnaire to make it your own. The Elance article will help you see what a complete project description (PD) should look like.

5 Quick Tips
Never bid blind. If a PD isn’t complete, report it to the website and move on unless you’re so intrigued by the partial description that it just won’t leave you alone.

Be sure your project is funded before you work on it. Grab-and-go “will you write this on spec” folks are out there ripping people off right and left. Don’t fall victim to them.

Read the buyer’s/employer’s feedback for other projects s/he has funded before bidding. Don’t risk your budding reputation on a chronically cranky character.
Take the website’s battery of pertinent tests. Don’t self-rate if given the option. Few people believe self-rated claims.

Post a portfolio at the website as soon as you can. If you don’t have anything to show at first, ask your clients whenever you get a great rating if you can post what you’ve written for them in your portfolio. (Unless they’ve asked you to sign a Non-Disclosure Agreement, most will be happy to let you do that.)

Thank you Kristine! You can visit Kristine online at Her email address is kristine m smith AT msn DOT com (all one word).

©2011 by Kristine M. Smith. Published here with permission.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

MomWriters - Outstanding Support & Encouragement

MomWriters is an online group of mothers who band together to support and encourage each other. Their web site provides an overview of the organization. However, the heart and soul of these women writers shines through the Yahoo online group.

Here daily conversations include requests for sources for articles, promotional & marketing suggestions, discussion regarding experiences with various publications and questions about what to charge for a writing project. In addition, since members are moms, parenting questions, goals and ideas are shared. There is no cost to join the group or dues to pay for continuing membership.
Carma Haley Shoemaker is a moderator at MomWriters. Carma, please tell us more about

There are writers out there who don't have support in any aspect in their life when it comes to their writing. They want to write -- it pains them they want it so badly. They do it in secret if they have to. They have tried to share it with their family and friends but have received feedback such as, "Why would you want to do something stupid like that?" or "You can't write -- you're not a real writer!" or maybe even, "Who do you think you are? J.K. Rowling?" Their efforts may be met with laughter, or anger, and it makes them feel that writing is not worth all of "this," so they quit, they don't write anymore.

Momwriters gives these writers a place to turn for support when no one else will support them. We offer them a place to say, "I want to write but my family says ..." and we listen, we hear them, and we know how they feel because more than one of the 1700+ of us have been there. We let them know that it is okay to write and that they CAN do it. We help them see that if they want to write -- if writing is what they really want to do -- then a non-supportive family of friends who don't understand should not stop them.

We have all been "beginners" at one time in our lives and we all know how scary it is. By offering each other support, Momwriters helps to make the whole process a little less scary.

Thank you Carma. If you are a mom who writes and is looking for support, visit and sign up for the MomWriters Yahoo online group.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Brenda Whiteside's Debut Novel- Sleeping with the Lights On

Today we welcome Brenda Whiteside to Writers in Business. Brenda has been writing all of her life in one way or another from the captions on her childish artwork to teenage psychedelic scrolls to her current novel. After publishing several short stories, she turned to writing novels.

Brenda, tell us about your debut novel.

My first novel, Sleeping with the Lights On, was published by Wild Rose Press in the summer of 2010.

What is it about?

Sandra Holiday thinks she’s met the man to end her years of less than perfect choices; choices that not only derailed her travel-related career plans but also left her single and broke.

Carson Holiday, a Las Vegas country crooner with swoon-inducing good looks, spent his adult life pursuing a recording contract and love, never holding on to either. After eighteen years, he drops back into Sandra’s life, reigniting an attraction he can’t deny.

When Carson reappears, Sandra must choose again. Only this time, nothing’s as it seems. A secret admirer, a redheaded stalker, and an eccentric millionaire throw her on a dangerous path, with Carson her only truth.

As life confronts her with yet another turning point, will her decisions find her eternally sleeping with the lights on – or will she finally discover a way to turn them off?

Are there any other books in the works?

Yes, An Elfin Secret will be released in November 2011 as part of an anthology (Warm Christmas Wishes); Tattoos, Leather and Studs will release in November 2011 as a short e-book; Honey On White Bread, a novel, will release in January 2012; and It Happened After Midnight, a novelette, will release in 2012.

Congratulations on the success of your writing! What inspires you?

I have two main sources of inspiration. One is real life stories of people close to me. Sometimes an event someone experienced will be a springboard for my book and other times it might be a path of discovery that person is on.

My second source of inspiration is maturity. I enjoy writing about women who are 40 plus and having an adventure of the heart or taking a new direction in their lives.

My life is also blessed with three creative soul mates; my son (a singer/song writer), my husband (an excellent photographer), and my dog, Rusty (the smartest dog in the world).

Brenda is available for book club and speaking engagements. You can find her online at

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Writing Resources

Writers often contact me to ask about resources. There are many options on the Internet, but which ones are reputable? Here are a few of my favorite sites.

1. Savvy Authors
Savvy Authors strives to provide the best tools, classes, and networking opportunities for authors in all stages of their writing careers, from aspiring novelists to multi-published authors.

2. Funds For Writers
Funds for Writers emphasizes finding money to make writing a realistic career. Other websites provide guidance on how to write, how to query or how to format manuscripts, but Funds for Writers gives you direction on the funding streams. They focus on markets, competitions, awards, grants, publishers, agents, and jobs for your writing abilities.

3. Christina Katz, The Writer's Workout Coach
Christina Katz is the author of three books from Writer’s Digest: The Writer’s Workout, Get Known Before the Book Deal, and Writer Mama. Through her site she teaches writers to prosper by building solid, saleable, life-long career skills via classes and training groups that work even in a rapidly evolving publishing marketplace.

4. Well-Fed Writer
Peter Bowerman is the author of several titles including The Well-Fed Writer. He offers one-on-one coaching, classes, seminars, newsletter and a blog providing information on how to succeed as a writer.

5. Carolyn Howard-Johnson-How To do It Frugally Series of Books"Author of several books on promoting & marketing your book within a budget, Carolyn offers a newsletter, seminars, workshops and ebooks.

6. Publicity Hound
Publicity expert Joan Stewart shows you how to use free publicity to establish your credibility, enhance your reputation, position yourself as an expert and sell more products. Her site offers workshops, seminars, blog, and newsletter which can be used to promote your writing.

7. Para Publishing
Wherever you are in the development of your book (thinking, planning, writing, producing or promoting stage), Para Publishing has the tools to make your venture faster, easier and more successful. Dan Poynter is the author of more than 76 books and provides consulting, seminars and a variety of reports writers will find useful.

This list is by no means comprehensive, but it's a start. What are some of your favorite sites?

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Marketing Your Writing Business by Brigitte Thompson

There is a lot involved in establishing your business and getting that first customer, but it is only the beginning. You will need to build a solid client base for your writing business to succeed.

Consider hanging signs advertising your business on public bulletin boards with tear off phone number strips. Contact local newspapers to ask about writing a short column for readers where you can share tips on a specific topic in exchange for the publicity. For example, you may be able to write a column and instead of being paid by the newspaper, you are allowed to include your contact information and web site which acts as an advertisement for your business.

Local radio stations may be interested in your tips for their listeners as well. If you are a sport fishing writer who can offer their listeners tips on great places to fish, pitch it to the station. You can record the tips and the station can air them with your name and contact information.

A web site provides an affordable means to reach your customers 24 hours a day. Domain names are affordable and several low cost hosting sites are now available online. Business cards and signs are a great way to let people know about your business. Hanging flyers at local colleges is a great way to attract professors looking for help writing their next article or book. Be sure to include all the benefits your service will provide and how it will make a positive difference in their lives. Keep your business cards handy so you can share them with people you meet who may have an interest in your services.

Networking is very important for any new business. Look into your local Chamber of Commerce or national writing organizations for additional people you can connect with or advertise through.
The Internet offers a multitude of ways to publicize, market, and promote your services as well as being a fantastic resource for learning more about the field of writing. Connecting with organizations and other writers through the Internet is a productive way to spend a few hours each day. Many discussion groups are available to writers through If you visit, just go to their Groups link then enter “writing,” “editing” or be even more specific and search for “moms who write comedy” or “science fiction screen play writers.” You will be amazed at what will turn up.

Brigitte is an accountant and the author of several business recordkeeping books including Bookkeeping Basics for Freelance Writers available through She is a freelance writer living in Vermont with her husband, three children, two cats and three dogs. You can visit her online at Datamaster Accounting Services, LLC and Bookkeeping for Writers .