Friday, September 23, 2016

New Books in Time for Christmas - More Coming




      Two of the books coming out in time for Christmas sales are the children's book Lions Can't Each Spaghetti, written by Bethany Ramos and illustrated by Nicole Marrow, and Joy and Mary Save Christmas, written by Wayne Harris-Wyrick and illustrated by Carrie Salazar.

     Pre-orders can be made on the 4RV Online Bookstore.   The picture book and middle grade book titles appear on the content page where one can click on the authors' names, and Lions Can't Eat Spaghetti is on the 4RV Children's Corner page while Joy and Mary Save Christmas can be found on the 4RV Tweens and Teens page. On the imprint pages, click on the book title to go to the author's page to order.

     Lions Can't Eat Spaghetti is a fun hardcover book with quirky cute illustrations for ages 3 to 6.

     Christopher finds a kitten on his doorstep, which, to his surprise, grows up into a lion! Since Christopher already loves his pet, he tries to introduce him to his everyday life, much to the horror of his friends, family, and neighbors.

       Joy and Mary Save Christmas comes in both paperback and hardcover versions.  The story and illustrations combine to create a Christmas story for the whole family, but it is written to appeal to the tween aged reader.

      Christmas, a time of magic and gifts, comes to a halt when stolen presents and electrical problems hit the North Pole.
      What can Santa or his elves do? What can two girls do? Joy and Mary are the only oneswho can save Christmas.

      Both books can be found on other online stores as well as through brick and mortar bookstores. Either one or both would delight young readers for Christmas.

Coming soon, information about other books to be released in time for Christmas.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Writing to Get Published

By Karen Cioffi

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

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

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

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

Here are different slants on a possible beginning:

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

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

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

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

D. Blood slowly dripped down the stark white wall, adding to the dark red puddle already formed on the floor. A quiver ran throughout Jane’s body creating an urgent eruption that welled up from the depths of her being—a blood curdling scream issued forth.  

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

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

2. The body of your story

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

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

3. Your ending

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

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

4. Submitting your work

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



Karen Cioffi is an award-winning author, working-ghostwriter, and content marketing instructor. Get weekly must-know writing and marketing information and more, right to your inbox. Join Karen Cioffi in The Writing World. (It’s all free - lots of freebies too!)





Sunday, August 7, 2016

Make Your Children’s Writing Website Focused (3 Must-Haves, 6 Tips)

By Karen Cioffi

Is your children's author site on the mark?

As we get caught up in our writing careers sometimes it’s easy to forget to remain focused.

That’s a no-no! It’s important to present a focused brand and site.

Okay, so what are three website must-haves and six tips?

The Must-Haves

1. Create a website using your own name.

As a writer, whether you’re co-writing with someone or not, you need your own website. And, your main (hub) site should have your name in it. This will be your central site linking off to your other related sites.

As an example, my children’s writing site is: Writing for Children with Karen Cioffi.

Now, with this title I have two essential elements covered: (1) my name, (2) the site’s keyword.

The visitor and search engines can quickly determine what the site is about. This is super important for website ranking and authority. While there are a number of other areas that need your keyword for website optimization, the title is one of the top ones.

Note: In this case, when I say “title,” I mean the URL also. Your URL is an optimization tool. It gives the search engines more information the site.

So, using my site above, the URL is http://karencioffiwritingforchildren.com

My site’s title and its URL both have the always-important keywords in them. This is focus.

2. Include the niche you write in as part of your URL and website title.

This was touched on in number one above. If you write in only one niche, say children’s historical fantasy, you should have that keyword in the title of your site, as well as in the domain name. Then you can have one site to list all your books. Just be sure to create separate pages for each book.

Tip: It’s really a much better idea to create a separate website for each book, in addition to your central author site. It allows you to create multiple must-have pages for each book. See number 4 in the tips below.

HOT TIP: If your title is too long, it’s better to use the niche keyword, say ‘children’s historical fantasy,’ and omit your name. Unless you’re Eric Carle, or Kevin Henkes, or James Patterson, you’re name has no search engine value.

3. If you are branding yourself as a children’s writer, keep your site specific to writing for children.

I originally had a problem with this. I ventured into a number of writing arenas including content writing and online marketing. Instead of keeping those areas separate, I brought them into my children’s writing site.
So, why is this a mistake? Well, because of dilution of expertise.

If you’re branding yourself as a children’s writer, the focus of your site must be children’s writing. If you promote yourself as ‘doing this, that, and the other thing,’ you’ll become known as the ‘jack of all trades and master of none,’ – dilution of expertise.

TIP: If you’re also involved in other writing arenas as I am, create a separate sites for promoting yourself as an expert in those areas. You wouldn’t want to have your steamy romance books listed on your children’s writing site.

Remember, whatever your site’s niche is, keep it focused on that niche.

6 TIPS for a Better Website/Blog

1. Always have an about page on each of your sites, include a short bio and photo.

2. Always have an opt-in box (for your mailing list) readily visible on your sites.

3. Always make sure your visitors can easily find how to contact you – a contact page is a good idea.

4. Have a page for reviews of your books, excerpts of your books, testimonials, illustrations, awards, etc. You can also link to interviews others have done about you and your books. (This is where a separate site for each book comes in handy.)

5. Offer a resources and/or tools page. The visitor will appreciate this and hopefully share your site with others and link back to it.

6. Get a book trailer or video on your site. Mix it up. People love visuals.

Using these tips will help you create a focused and reader/search engine optimized children’s writing website.

Karen Cioffi is an author-writer online platform instructor with WOW! Women on Writing. If you need to get your website up or you have one but it’s not bringing the results it should, check out:

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Friday, July 29, 2016

Some Facts Behind "My Name Is Jake"






     The following information was printed in the Cleveland County Life Styles, July 26, 2016:

...  she (Angela Steele) is wife and mother to four sons ranging in age from 6 to 14. It’s a close-knit family that enjoys working–and playing–together.


The youngest, Jake, has Down Syndrome, is autistic and was born with an AV canal heart valve defect. And while many families would find dealing with any one of these conditions challenging, Angie says “he’s nothing but a blessing.”

And therein lies another interesting story.

Angie was 35, and 14 weeks into her pregnancy, when she learned that her baby carried the genetic disorder. After getting over the initial shock, she and her husband, Todd, began to discuss how they would share the news with their young boys in a way they could understand it. Drawing on her journalistic background, Angie began researching the literature—and found nothing targeting children.

So, she wrote her own book and sent it out to over 200 publishers. Angie selected 4RV Publishing, based in Edmond, to sign with, and the publishing company contracted with illustrator Jessica McClure, who used photos of Jake to illustrate the book.

My Name Is Jake, which addresses the fundamentals of Down Syndrome and explains that while children may all be different in one way or another, their hearts remain the same, is available at angelagrahamsteele.com, Chris’ Express Drug in south Oklahoma City, the Washington Feed and Seed store, and on Amazon.

     A side note: My Name Is Jake  can also be found on the 4RV online bookstore.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Book Marketing and the Shotgun Social Media Strategy

By Karen Cioffi

Convince and Convert (Digital Marketing Advisors) had an interesting article by Jay Baer on how to create a more effective social media strategy.

Most marketers know that the majority of social media channels don’t send (share) your posts to everyone on your list or to your connections. So, if you post something to Facebook, the majority of your FB connections won’t see your post. We’re talking about at least 98% of your connections will never see that post. Pretty dismal, right?

And, the same holds true for most of the other channels, including Twitter.

This obviously affects your book marketing reach.

Baer explains that there’s something called ‘reliable reach’ and social media doesn’t make the cut.

“Reliable reach is the ability to send a message to a person who has asked to hear from you, and for that message to reach that person. Email has reliable reach. So does direct mail. And the telephone. And even fax. Social media does not have reliable reach, which is what makes it so challenging for marketers.” (1)

If you’re like me, you spend time and effort on working the social media channels. And, you’ve established connections on each channel who want to hear about your posts. BUT, the majority of those connections aren’t getting the opportunity to receive what you’re posting.

So, say you have 5,000 Twitter followers. This now becomes your “theoretical reach.” Your reliable reach is only 2% or less of that number which is about 100 followers.

The reason given for this lack of fulfilling the ‘promise’ social media channels give to their members of offering great marketing reach, is because of too much noise . . . too much information being posted and processed.

Sounds convincing, doesn’t it?

Well, if you want to cut through that noise, all you have to do is pay. If you pay Facebook, your posts will reach a lot more of your connections. Hmmmm.

But, what if you don’t want to pay or don’t have it in your marketing budget?

How do you compensate for this highly unreliable reach?

Baer recommends putting down your marketing ‘rifle’ for a marketing ‘shotgun.’

Let’s break it down:
The rifle approach according to Baer is based on producing great content, have a specific plan for each channel, and strive for a large following on the channels you’re working.

But, for the rifle approach to work, you need reliable reach. But, that’s not happening. So, your efforts won’t be fruitful.

The shotgun approach is based on using a large target.

The theory is if you send more posts in more places, you’ll reach more connections. It’s more important to actually reach your realistic number than your theoretical number.

The shotgun approach makes sense to me, as long as it’s not used abusively. People don’t want to be bombarded with your content or sales pitch for that matter. You’ll need to fine the “magic point” for the number of postings that enable you to reach more of your followers, but not so much that you put anyone off.

As with everything in life, moderation is best.

References:
(1) http://www.convinceandconvert.com/social-media-strategy/why-it-might-be-time-to-completely-change-your-social-media-strategy/
(2) http://www.hrmarketer.com/blog/label/theoretical-reach/

Karen Cioffi is an author, ghostwriter, and content marketing instructor.
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Sunday, June 5, 2016

5 Reasons Why You Should Use Content Curation as Part of Your Blogging Strategy

By Karen Cioffi

Content curation has been around for a while, but many bloggers, including book marketers, don’t realize the advantages or benefits it offers.

This form of marketing comes in various forms throughout the internet. Of those variations there is one common thread: content curation is related to article marketing, or more specifically to content marketing. You can think of it as one of the strategies under the content marketing umbrella, the same as content aggregation.

If you’re wondering whether content aggregation and content curation are the same, they’re not. A Forbes article by Susan Gunelius explains that the primary difference between the two is that content curation offers “the human element.”

What does this mean?

Well, content aggregation is simply finding and linking to hot topics, trends, and other news or information worthy content from your site. Some sites use all sorts of topics and others use content that is focused on their platform.

Content curation on the other hand offers more. While linking to the information source, those using this strategy add their own spin on the information, or enhance it with personal experience or additional information on the topic.

The information used for content curation is targeted and so is the audience it’s prepared for. As an example, if you have a health site on alternative medicine and alternative health options you would search for and use information/content on that topic or niche. You obviously wouldn’t use sports content on your site. It’s treated as any other niche marketing strategy – it must be focused to your platform or brand.

Content curation offers a broader view and understanding of a particular topic by providing your own input and that of the source content.

Now on to the five reasons you should use this blogging strategy.

5 Benefits to Content Curation that will Boost Your Blogging Efforts

1. Simply put and most importantly, it brings your readers more ‘bang’ for their stop at your site. Rather than offering a single view of a topic, or one site’s experience, you offer your reader the world and a broader information experience.

The reader will appreciate having more information to work with and this will motivate him to appreciate and trust you. That’s the beginning of a great relationship.

2. It’s a source of ideas for your blogging. Find current trends, hot topics, and new information in your niche. The content is already there, you simply add your spin on it in a paragraph or two and voila, you have new a new post.

3. It’s a time saver. Using tools like Google Alerts, you can quickly find relevant information to blog about. And, like ‘number two’ above, it’s ready made content you simply add to.

4. It can support or enhance your own blog posts, adding more value. Even if you write effective and engaging articles, the reader will find it helpful if you supplement it with additional information.

5. Linking to quality sites is an effective search engine strategy. When you link to a site that ranks high with Google, you’re noticed. It can help bring more traffic to your site and help convert visitors into subscribers. And, that’s what online marketing is all about, the ‘golden’ list.

Content curation will boost your blogging efforts. You don’t have to use it for every post, but you can switch it up a bit and offer your reader something extra.

So, why not give it a try and add it to your existing content marketing strategies.


Have you been blogging, but not successfully? Check out Karen’s e-class through WOW! Women on Writing, Blogging Made Easy. It’s 4 weeks of simple steps to blogging for results. Lots of hand-holding.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

A Family for Leona - reprint of blog post by Aidana WillowRaven

A Family for Leona ~ cover art and design for Beverly Stowe McClure (@beverlymcclure) and 4RV Publishing (@4RV)



I'm so excited to talk about today's book and cover. It was so much fun to do. A Family for Leona is a middle-grade historical fiction novel that all ages will love, even when they're crying. In true Beverly Stowe McClure style, this story runs the gamut of emotions while exploring an amazing story.
 
I met Beverly early in my career. I was still a new Art Director at 4RV Publishing and I fell in love with Beverly's book Just Breeze.
Since then, other 4RV books we teamed up on, Life on Hold and Star of the Team, have been Silver and Gold Winners in the Children's Literary Classics Awards (2013 and 2015, respectively).
Needless to say, I love working with Beverly and her characters. I can't wait to see what we are doing next. 
For A Family for Leona, I wanted a vintage look that also expressed apprehension, sadness, hope, and wonder. With any luck, some of that come across in the cover, enticing people to first read the blurb and second, grab a copy of their own. Myself? I already put my order in for a hardcover tomb.
Blurb for A Family for Leona ...
Ten-year-old Leona Chapter doesn’t understand why her papa left his six children at the Brooklyn Home for Homeless Children after their mother’s death in 1921. Each day she prays he’ll return and take his children home. God, however, isn’t listening. Her brothers and sisters are either adopted or run away, leaving only Leona and Baby Mildred in the orphanage. Leona promises she and Mildred will be together for always. A promise she cannot keep, for Leona, along with her friend Noah, who she defends from the bullies Hiram and Jehu, and several other orphans, are soon on a train headed to Texas, while her sister stays at the orphanage. Leona vows she’ll go back to Brooklyn, the first chance she gets.

Be sure to visit the 4RV Publishing website and bookstore (in the nonfiction section) for your discounted copy today. Also available on Amazon at a slightly higher retail price. (Bulk and wholesale orders must be made through 4RV directly.)