March 1, 2021

by Penny Sansevieri

For many authors, creating a successful book marketing campaign seems as difficult and mysterious as effectively whipping up a delicious chocolate souffle. What are the ingredients, what are the tricks, what are the best tools and in what order should I be using them?

While there is an art to baking and also an art to marketing, you don’t have to be a professional to find your way to the sweet smell of success. Marketing amateurs can make great progress toward a terrific book marketing campaign by working on bite-sized pieces. So instead of chocolate souffle, think Snickers fun-size – and let yourself have that fun!

Today, I have some small but mighty book marketing strategies for you; many of them are quick and/or free.

You might think about sprinkling them through your week, doing one a night. Or maybe grab a handful and settle in on a weekend afternoon. You’ll find you’re in a much better position, marketing-wise, when Monday rolls around.

Claim What’s Yours

Claim your Amazon Author Page. It’s Amazon. This is a Must Do and you already know that. If you’ve been reluctant, decide you’ll just add your bio. Baby steps ARE steps.

Claim your Author Profile on Bookbub and get your books listed. It’s free to submit your book to be added to your profile.

Claim and fill out your author page on Goodreads and claim ALL your books. At minimum you should have representation on this site, even if you haven’t taken steps to use all of its features as part of your well-rounded author marketing approach…yet.

Use What You Already Have

Celebrate declining Covid cases by masking up and making your way out into the world to leave five of your author business cards around town this weekend. If you have a way for someone to use a coupon code on your website – jot that down as well to really up the ante!

Brainstorm a bunch of ideas for your next blog posts. Don’t overthink it, don’t commit to all of them, just jot down every single idea that comes to you. Overthinking can be one of your biggest author marketing downfalls.

Publish one of your popular blog posts on Medium. It’s fast and super easy to find new readers and extend your author marketing.

Look at your blog or website and find three improvements you can make. Or, look at other authors’ sites and steal a few ideas you’re missing out on.

Read your author bio on Amazon and social media. Spend five minutes thinking about how you could improve it and make notes.

Plan an upcoming newsletter to send to your mailing list. You don’t have to plan it, write it, illustrate it, revise it, edit it, and send it all in one sitting. Break it into manageable chunks and take satisfaction in chipping away at the process to get to a great product!

Socialize and Network

Comment on a post on a popular blog or on a newspaper article. Commenting is one of the most effective ways to get noticed as an indie author. If there is the option to reply to already posted comments, even better, as you will be entering into a conversation and getting a chance to show off your knowledge or experience in a key area of interest to those who frequent that site.

Join a writers’ group. Sometimes other writers have good ideas you can steal!

Follow 100 people on Twitter. On average about 20 will follow you back. Do it regularly and you will build a solid following to help your author marketing on Twitter.

Follow 10 friends of your friends on Facebook. You’ll be surprised how many will accept your request because they will see that you are in some way connected to them. You never know, you might be connecting with new fans!

Follow 10 authors in your genre on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram (or whatever platforms you frequent). Not only is this good networking, you’ll also likely pick up some tips and tricks of the trade and learn from their own author marketing activities.

Share five posts of interest on Twitter, Facebook, or any of your social media accounts. It’s amazing how many people will notice and perhaps follow you back because you are sharing and playing nice, not shoving your books down people’s throats.

Find five new blogs that cater to your genre and add them to your master blogger list. Before you click out of each, leave a comment. Everyone wants feedback and bloggers will remember and be appreciative of whatever tracks you leave behind.

Learn New Tricks

Google search ‘book marketing for 2021’ and read two articles. You won’t ever come up with new ideas if you’re not always trying to learn. Learning does take time, but it’s free – pick your battles.

Read up on SEO and learn to write your blog posts around keywords to increase visitor traffic.

List some new materials or tools you’d like to master and then choose one to spend an hour on.  Maybe you’d like to learn more about using Canva (which is free!) so you spend your time making a few practice social media posts featuring your dog. Perhaps you’ve been wanting to up your Zoom game so you do some research on ring lights and the best way to set up your desk for video chats.

Check out a few websites and blogs for writers and independent authors with an eye toward free downloadable information. You might emerge from a dedicated surf session with everything from a monthly book marketing planner to a reader profile sheet. We routinely offer both of these tools at the end of Author Marketing Experts blog posts.

Final Thoughts

Book marketing doesn’t have to be a scary slog through the unknown if you make use of what you already have, build on your current success, look for holes in your learning, connect to others with like-minded interests, and, most importantly, enjoy the ride.

Best of luck to you!

What small actions have made a big difference in your book marketing efforts? Share them with us down in the comments!

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About Penny

Penny C. Sansevieri, Founder and CEO of Author Marketing Experts, Inc., is a bestselling author and internationally recognized book marketing and media relations expert. She is an Adjunct Professor teaching Self-Publishing for NYU. She was named one of the top influencers of 2019 by New York Metropolitan Magazine. 

Her company is one of the leaders in the publishing industry and has developed some of the most innovative Amazon Optimization programs as well as Social Media/Internet book marketing campaigns. She is the author of 18 books, including How to Sell Books by the Truckload on Amazon: 2021 Amazon Ads Powerhouse Edition, Revise and Re-Release Your Book, 5-Minute Book Marketing, and Red Hot Internet Publicity, which has been called the "leading guide to everything Internet." Her next book From Book to Bestseller is due out in Spring 2021.

AME has had dozens of books on top bestseller lists, including those of The New York Times, USA Today, and The Wall Street Journal.

To learn more about Penny’s books or her promotional services, visit

February 26, 2021

by Laurie Schnebly Campbell

We all know your main character can’t suddenly stand up and dance around the room without having SOME motivation for doing that. Maybe a red laser-dot just revealed there’s an assassin trying to get a clean shot through the window, or maybe somebody just announced “you inherited three billion dollars” or their favorite song just came on the radio. Without any motivation or inciting incident, the sudden dancing is gonna look plain weird.

We know, too, this same character can’t accept a job in Antarctica without some motivation for doing that. Maybe it’s a chance to work with an old love who’s indicated an interest in picking up where they left off, or maybe the pay will cover a new roof for poor Grandma’s house, or perhaps there’s a rare breed of penguin expected to appear and being the first to see it would rejuvenate a faltering career.

Motivation vs. Goals

It’s pretty easy to come up with a motivation for whatever gets your character started on the action of the story. But technically, avoiding an assassin or reconnecting with an old love or spotting the amazing penguin isn’t a motivation. It’s an understandable desire, but it’s not a motivation.

It’s a goal.

”Fine,” you say. ”But that’s all just semantics.”

It could be, sure. Or it could be the difference between a character who goes through predictable actions without ever really coming alive on the page, and one who makes readers feel like this character is so fully, vividly real that they’d recognize ‘em in an instant if they met each other on the street.

(Or a ranch, a windswept moor, a vintage boutique, a bustling emergency room, or wherever this character tends to be seen.)

Why do we care about motivation?

Motivation is what makes this character the person they are.

It also makes ‘em the person they’ve been long before the story ever began, and the person they’ll be long after it concludes.

That’s not to say their motivation must remain consistent from beginning to end. It certainly CAN, and still deliver your readers a truly compelling character all the way through the story and beyond, but it doesn’t HAVE to.

Think about someone who wants something.

It might be a character in a book you’re immersed in right now. It might be someone you live or work with. Heck, make it easy – think about yourself and something YOU want!

It doesn’t matter whether you choose a tangible goal like “a new phone” or “a trip to Paris” or something loftier like “a cure for Covid” or “the happiness of my children.” No matter how lofty the goal might be, it’s still driven by a motivation.

How to choose the right motivation?

We don’t always know, and neither do our characters, what motivation lies behind a goal. I might want a new phone to make life more convenient, or to have more room for photos of loved ones, or to impress my co-workers, or to quit spending so much on repair hacks, without ever thinking about why that particular outcome matters to me.

The same is true if I want to cure Covid. Saving the world is an understandable desire, and there are all kinds of possible motivations:

• Someone might want the acclaim that comes from discovering a cure.

• Someone might want the recovery of their beloved father who makes life easier for them.

• Someone might want the freedom of once again being able to go anywhere anytime with anybody who looks interesting.

• Someone might want the world to be a healthier, happier place.

Which of those will be the most interesting character?

Any one of the above would work, except the last.

Wanting the world to be a healthier, happier place is pretty bland. It’s pretty universal. It doesn’t really TELL us anything about this person.

Whereas a character who wants acclamation, who wants Dad to smooth things out, who wants to explore every avenue they can find, is almost certainly going to be less bland. More interesting.

More the kind of person we’d like to read about.

So does that mean your characters should never have truly good, noble reasons for doing what they’re doing?

We’ll get into that more next month during “Plotting Via Motivation,” which goes into considerably more detail on how to use motivation to make your book shine. And because I always give a free-class prize to someone who leaves a comment whenever a blog gets 25 or more commenters (hmm, is that a word?)...

Let me ask you a question:

What’s a book you remember enjoying, and what did the main character want?

Please share it with out down in the comments. You don’t need to say WHY they wanted it, just WHAT they wanted. That’ll be a good way of showing how many different kinds of motivation can lie behind just about any desire…which is one more reason books are so fascinating to read!

And, yes, write. 🙂


(Who should mention that as of February 22 the class is on a wait-list basis but it can’t hurt to email if you’re interested.)

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About Laurie

Laurie Schnebly Campbell has taught Plotting Via Motivation for every spring for the past decade, with some authors taking it annually to plot their next story and others saving the “Big Fabulous Worksheets” to use on their own for subsequent books. She still loves getting Amazon shipments of novels she watched taking shape during the class and reading them not as a coach but a fan.

February 24, 2021

by Tasha Seegmiller

There is a tricky situation that occurs in the lives of writers. To people who are not engaged in some kind of similar creative pursuit, explaining a difficult day can be met with expressions of disbelief. “You mean sitting in your seat and typing words was hard? Exhausting? Really?”

These people may also not understand why the words of others can hurt, whether that hurt was intentional or not. It can be anything from a bad review to a critique from a well-meaning colleague or beta reader that can make us doubt, stall, quit.

I’ve been on a bit of a Brené Brown kick lately.

[Full disclosure: I gave away nearly a dozen copies of her Daring Greatly, have been listening to every talk I can get my hands on, and recount key points almost daily to my very patient husband.]

Most recently, I’ve been listening to The Power of Vulnerability, which has been great because it is a live recording of Brené and I get to hear that she is a lot like me in her resilience to this whole open and honest thing.

But it has got me thinking quite a bit about what it might mean to be a whole-hearted writer. To start with, these are the guideposts she suggests of whole-hearted living:

  1. Practice Authenticity
  2. Find Self-Compassion
  3. Cultivate Resilience
  4. Build Gratitude, Joy, And Sufficiency
  5. Trust Your Intuition and Faith
  6. Foster Creativity
  7. Protect Your Play and Rest
  8. Don’t Fear Calm and Stillness
  9. Pursue Meaningful Work
  10. Laugh, Sing, And Dance

(There’s a great visual of these you can print and/or color here)

While writers may be some of the most generous people I’ve ever met, we are also, by necessity of our craft, hyper-aware of the world around us. That is great when it comes creating characters and stories and settings and plots, but it’s less than great when the business and real world side of writing comes trickling out.

To get a quick overview of where you might stand as a whole-hearted writer, consider how you’d respond in the following situations:

  • Someone signed with an agent after you and got a good book deal before you.
  • People who are not now (and probably never will be) writers ask why you aren’t done with a book yet.
  • You find an error in the final final copy of your book.
  • You are at a conference when an agent/editor says another genre is growing faster than the one you are currently writing.
  • You send out another batch of queries or go on submission.
  • You are told that is the cover for your book, thanks but no thanks to your offer for additional feedback.
  • You are presented with a publishing deal that is not quite what you were hoping for with a company you aren’t sure is a good match.
  • A call to your agent or editor goes unanswered. Two calls. Three calls. And emails.
  • Someone who writes a similar genre to yours had their book sell in several foreign countries.
  • A writer shares their victory in completing 10,000 words in a day.
  • Every week, you come across an article that undercuts your genre or mentions that the interest toward what you are passionate about is fading.

What was your response? Did you feel shame or unworthiness even though the situation was hypothetical? Did you want to hide, dismiss what you were genuinely feeling, or downplay the stress that was very tangible and very real? Could you envision yourself squaring your shoulders, bringing out your greatest attitude and showing “them” that you weren’t affected?

In these kinds of situations when we feel like something we hold dear, something we are working on or through is being attacked, Brené Brown suggests the following mantra:

Do not shrink.
Do not puff up.
Stand my sacred ground.

Is your writing sacred? Is your writing time? Do you allow yourself to acknowledge that people may not understand or do you feel the necessity to downplay what you are passionate about because it is entirely possible that explanation won’t change the opinion or someone else, or worse, will give them the excuse to think even less about your passion than they already do?

Do you have the courage to put out a piece of work that is honestly and truly the best you could do, knowing there is a decent chance it will be attacked in some way by someone? Do you have the courage to respond with grace and conviction, to acknowledge there was a mistake and you and your work might not be perfect? Do you really feel better when you belittle the person who left the review, gave the advice, passed you on the career path?

The greatest takeaway from all this is that being whole-hearted IS NOT EASY. But when compared with living a life that is detached, false, insincere or unfulfilled, I bet it’s the option where most of us would really like to spend a little more time.

How have you practiced being whole-hearted? What tips or tricks have you learned when your first instinct is to respond in a way you may regret later?

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About Tasha

Tasha Seegmiller believes in the magic of love and hope, which she weaves into every story she creates. She is an MFA candidate in the Writing Program at Pacific University and teaches composition courses at Southern Utah University. Tasha married a guy she’s known since she was seven, is the mom of three teens, and co-owner of a soda shack and cotton candy company. She is represented by Annelise Robey of Jane Rotrosen Agency.

February 22, 2021

by Tiffany Yates Martin

No creative soul likes receiving negative feedback on their work—no matter what we might tell you, beloved crit partners, beta readers, editors, agents.

Yes, we may admit we need it, and that it helps immeasurably to get objective input on what may not be as effective on the page as it is in your head, but as one author I work with memorably put it, having someone offer positive, constructive critique of your story is like an Orange Theory workout: You dread it going into it, hate every second while it’s going on, but afterward you feel great having done it.

But receiving negative, destructive input—criticism—can do more damage to your writing, and your creative efforts in general, than almost any other pitfall of writing life. I’ve heard too many horror stories—one just this week that inspired this post—about feedback that shut down authors’ creative impulses, filled them with self-doubt about their story and their writing in general, and in one awful case decimated the author’s confidence so badly that she told me she was giving up writing. (Don’t worry—ultimately she didn’t.)

“Positive” feedback in this sense doesn’t mean all praise, or empty flattery. It means framing feedback as the carrot, not the stick. “This scene isn’t working” feels a lot different from, “This scene might be a bit stronger/have more impact if…” Just like in a marriage or any relationship, as soon as someone feels under attack, they shut down.

So how do you solicit useful critique, and perhaps more important, how do you assess the input you receive to determine what’s helpful for you and your story and what isn’t?

Crit Partners and Beta Readers

As with so many areas of life, asking for exactly what you want gives you a much greater chance of getting it.

With beta readers and crit partners, you can save yourself—and them—a lot of wasted effort by offering specific guidance for what kind of input you’re looking for:

  • Does it hold together overall?
  • Was there any place your interest flagged?
  • Did anything feel unrealistic to you?
  • Were there any characters who didn’t feel real or believable or relatable to you—and if so, why, exactly?
  • Did you understand what they were working toward and why that mattered to them, and were you rooting for them; i.e., did you care about their goals?
  • Was the end satisfying?

I advocate giving your readers not only your manuscript, but an actual accompanying questionnaire. They will appreciate the clarity and structure of knowing what you want from them, and you will guide their feedback to the specific areas where you need it.

That also lets you set the tone of it with your questions so that you elicit information about their reactions to the story, but don’t leave a ready opening for their unsolicited elaboration on what you did wrong and how to fix it. You are looking for objective input into how well the story you wanted to tell is coming across on the page—so what you want to know is how it impacts readers, and your betas and crit partners are your “test cases.”

To paraphrase the famous Nail Gaiman quote, when someone tells you what’s not working for them in your manuscript, that’s good information. When they tell you what you did wrong or how to fix it, that’s generally not.

Industry Professionals

That brings us to agents and editors—the trained and experienced professionals who will, occasionally, offer more prescriptive input: not just how the story comes across to us on the page, but why certain areas may not be as effective as they could be, and sometimes suggestions for ways you might address the issue.

It pains me to say this, but some of the horror stories I’ve heard—no small number of them, in fact—involve these industry professionals. They may be harsh in their tone or assessment; might try to tell an author what she should or must do with her story; might co-opt her vision with the person’s own preferences, biases, or market needs. None of that is helpful to you as a writer.

A good editor/agent should offer feedback that, as with beta readers and crit partners, reflects her reactions—“Readers may not understand why she would leave her husband here after such a minor disagreement,” for example—as what they are: personal impressions and opinions, not absolute fact, as in, “It makes no sense why she leaves here.”

That may seem like a hairbreadth distinction or simply a nicety of phrasing, but it’s more than that—the former fulfills the proper function of any objective feedback, which is to hold up a mirror to the author so she can more clearly see what she actually has on the page, rather than what she’s filling in because she knows the story so well.

Our job is to tell you how what is on the page may come across to readers, based on our hopefully broad experience not only with many other manuscripts, but in your genre and in the current market. Good agents and editors weigh and need intimate knowledge of all those areas.

Trained professionals also ideally have a broad and very deep knowledge of writing craft so they can share with an author why something may not be working—the kind of actionable, practical input that lets her figure out how to address the issue. For instance, in the above example an editor might observe that the character’s motivations feel unclear and the stakes feel a bit low, because readers aren’t yet specifically seeing why saving her marriage is important to her.

Industry pros may even offer occasional suggestions for how an author might address areas that might benefit from strengthening (all respect to Mr. Gaiman)—but it should be a suggestion only: “Perhaps you could let us see a scene where her goal of becoming an artist is a bit more concrete, and how her husband doesn’t support it—for instance, maybe she’s throwing a new piece of pottery and he casually walks in and criticizes it, or she gives him one of her pieces for their anniversary and he tucks it into a drawer, or something similar that illustrates their dynamic more clearly?”

Suggestions like that should be used simply as a “for instance,” to illustrate the point and perhaps spark ideas. The author might love one of the specific suggestions and run with it, or she might use the ideas as a springboard to come up with her own version that accomplishes the same end—showing this fuzzy dynamic more concretely—but in a way that feels more organic to her vision.

But even with these pros, the tone should always be positive, constructive, and respectful of your work, your vision, and you as a writer.

Indie publishing has marvelously democratized the industry…but it also means a lot of people are hanging out their shingle who perhaps don’t have the qualifications or temperament to do so, from small presses to agents to developmental editors to book coaches.

I can’t stress this enough: Vet the professional you are paying or contracting with to assess your work. Not just by checking their experience, track record, references, etc.—although that’s also crucial—but get a sample of their work. See how they approach your writing.

Just as editors can tell from a few pages what areas of a story may benefit from strengthening or clarifying, authors can tell from a few pages of sample edit whether an editor is offering practical, actionable, positive critique. (You can find a free 13-page guide on finding and vetting professionals on my website here.)

The Most Important Takeaway

This is worth boldfacing: All feedback is opinion—whether that of a professional or not.

Ideally professionals’ opinions are informed by their breadth of experience and expertise, but just as with any other reader, they are still subjective impressions, and can be based on more than simply whether they think the story is good. Readers may be influenced by their personal preferences, market trends, the author’s platform, a publisher’s or agent’s current list of authors/titles, even their mood.

Which means no critique or criticism is a referendum on the objective worth of you, your story, or your writing.

And if someone tells you in any fashion that your story—or you as a writer—has little or no worth, walk away from them and never look back—never give it a second thought. That kind of feedback is utterly unproductive, and frankly it’s flat wrong.

In almost thirty years of working as an editor with everyone from major bestsellers to first-time authors, I can truthfully say I have yet to see a manuscript without worth, that doesn’t have something we can work with and build on.

Nor have I ever seen an author who should hang it up and stop writing—because you are human, and as such you have a story to tell—multitudes of them—and you, and they, are fascinating.

And because this is the process: Writing is rewriting. It’s how we improve. Good critique helps you dig out that gold; it doesn’t blow up the mine.

What are your thoughts on critique vs criticism? What is your favorite (or least favorite) type of feedback? Do you have any questions for Tiffany? Please share them down in the comments!

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About Tiffany

Tiffany Yates Martin has spent nearly thirty years as an editor in the publishing industry, working with major publishers and New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today bestselling and award-winning authors as well as indie and newer writers, and is the founder of FoxPrint Editorial and author of the bestseller IntuitiveEditing: A Creative and Practical Guide to Revising Your Writing. She's led workshops and seminars for conferences and writers' groups across the country and is a frequent contributor to writers' sites and publications. Under the pen name Phoebe Fox, she's the author of six novels, including the upcoming The Way We Weren't (Berkley). Visit her at or

February 19, 2021

by Margie Lawson

A hug is more than just a hug.

Hugs may be long or short, hot or cold, loving or perfunctory.

Hugs carry psychological messages. Do you have those messages on your pages?

Dig deep—and you’ll have more fun and depth and power on the page.

We’ve all read sentences like:

  • They hugged.
  • She gave him a quick hug.
  • He pulled her into a tight hug.
  • He grabbed his brother in a one-armed hug.

Nothing special there. No subtext. No power.

Hugs with Power

Check out these examples of hugs. I’ll share short deep edit points. The blog would be crazy-long if I Deep Edit Analyzed each one.

Please read them OUT LOUD. With feeling. Each one carries a compelling cadence.

(Plus I've sprinkled in some photos of happy hugs.)

Margie and Sheila

Amazing Grace, Elaine Fraser, 2-Time Immersion Grad

Emily wrapped herself around Grace in a hug so close that the thud and thump of their hearts harmonized, and for a few seconds, everything was close to perfect.

Deep Edit Point:  Notice the double alliteration – thud, thump, hearts harmonized

Since You’ve Been Gone, Christa Allan, Margie Grad

My mother hugged me, her elbows close to her sides. The kind of hug dispensed with brief and minimal contact, as if my body might scorch her hands if they lingered.

Deep Edit Points:  Definitely deepens characterization. Lots of power words too.

Test of Faith, Christa Allan, Margie Grad

1. Carried by the irrational current of the moment, Julia embraced her. As could be expected, there was a reciprocal effort—the teacher treated hugs like a contagious illness—but Julia didn’t care.

Deep Edit Point:  Universal Truth -- Most of us have been super excited and hugged someone we wouldn’t usually hug.

2. She passed around her signature faux-hug, one hand on your shoulder and enough forward body movement to suggest hugging.

Deep Edit Point:  Universal Truth. Conveys how the POV character feels about this woman.

The Mortician’s Daughter, C. C. Hunter (Christie Craig), Immersion Grad, NYT Bestseller

1. His arm comes around me and I feel him pull me closer. It warms my soul. But it’s the kind of hug that makes you want to fall against a shoulder and cry.

Deep Edit Point:  Shares impact on POV character. Smart. Smart. Smart.

2. We walk into each other’s arms. Her hugs started lasting longer since she and Dad separated. Mine got tighter when the big C stained our lives.

Deep Edit Point:  Uses a hug to slip in backstory.

This Heart of Mine, C. C. Hunter, (Christie Craig), Immersion Grad, NYT Bestseller

1. Brandy gives me a best friend hang-on hug. The kind that only comes from real friends.

Deep Edit Point:  Digs for her truth.

2. Mom and Dad give me the thumbs-up and a proud-of-you hug. There’s so much happiness in their expressions that I almost start crying.

Deep Edit Point:  Shares impact on POV character.

3. Moving in, I hug her, then Dad. It becomes one of those group hugs. I hear my mom’s breath shake, but it’s not the bad kind of shake.

Deep Edit Point:  Shares impact mom.

Jenny Hansen's "Little Bean" and my granddaughter, Scout

Summoned to Thirteenth Grave, Darynda Jones, 2-Time Immersion Grad, NYT Bestseller

1. By the time we got back to HQ, Belinda’s mother, Geri, was there. They hugged for twenty minutes before Belinda introduced her mother to her children. 

Deep Edit Points:  Hyperbole fun. And deepened characterization.

2. I bolted out of my chair and tackle-hugged him. He hugged me back, his lanky arms locking me into his viselike grip.

Deep Edit Points:  Fresh writing with a clear visual – tackle-hugged him.

3. I grinned and pulled her into a hug. She fought me, but it had to be done. I got about three-quarters of a second before she wiggled out of my arms.

Deep Edit Points:  Universal Truth -- Hugging a kid, And Humor Hits.

4. Two Paragraphs:

“I don’t care what you say, you are the bravest person I’ve ever known.”

I fought a tightening in my chest. Now was not the time to argue with her, so I simply thanked her and hugged her for as long as time would allow, wishing we’d had this conversation years ago. I think we could’ve been great friends growing up. We’d wasted so much time.

Deep Edit Points:  Shares visceral, shares impact on POV character

A Bad Day for Sunshine, Darynda Jones, 2-Time Immersion Grad, NYT Bestseller

1. Without another word, Quincy pulled her into his massive arms. His hug felt like home. Warm and comforting and oddly constrictive.

Deep Edit Points:  Shares impact on POV character. Frag with polysyndeton (Many Ands).

2. Sun tackle-hugged her. The duo soon became a dog pile when Elaine and Cyrus joined them, Elaine tickling her daughter while Cyrus held her down.

Deep Edit Point:  Tackle-hug again. Same author, different book.

3. Sun stood and hugged first Elaine, then Cyrus, and then she stole a sandwich.

Deep Edit Point:  Humor Hit!

4. Two Paragraphs:

Auri threw her arms around him.

He let her hug him for all of eleven seconds, then pushed away from her. Not in a bad way. Not to be rude. But to survive. He could only handle so much affection and Auri knew that.

Deep Edit Points:  Humor Hit. Deepened characterization.

5. Two Paragraphs:

Auri turned to Cruz, her top applicant and career hopeful, and she hugged him.

He hesitated, then hugged her back. His long arms wrapped around her and pulled her tight, and he buried his face in her hair. They hugged until someone, a teacher perhaps, cleared her throat.

Deep Edit Points:  Humor Hit. Clear visual.

6. Sybil latched onto her, and they hugged for a solid ten minutes. They both cried, and Sun sent up a quick thanks for having a kid like the one he’d given her.

Deep Edit Points:  Shared length of hug and impact on POV character.

2015 - Peggy, Mary, Edwina Hug!

Never Let Me Fall, Abbie Roads, 5-Time Immersion Grad

She turned in to him and gave him a hug. He stood there not sure how to react, then hugged her back, the little boy inside him clinging to the comfort his big sister offered.

Deep Edit Points: Sweet and deep.

Mad About the Marquess, Elizabeth Essex, 2-Time Immersion Grad

He shook his head and hugged her as if he could possibly contain all the impossible, contradictory feeling careering around within him. “Devil take me, I was right. I did know a thrill-seeker when I saw one.” He wrapped his arms tight around her, to show her what she meant to him. To prove to her that he did not mean to let her go.

Deep Edit Point:  Amplified hug, shares what the POV character hopes to convey.

Dear Wife, Kimberly Belle, 5-Time Immersion Grad, International Bestseller

1. “Now get up here and gimme a hug so I can go.” It’s the fastest hug on record, as is my trek down the stairs.

Deep Edit Point:  Humor Hit!

2. “Oh, Jeffrey, you poor, poor dear. I heard about Sabine on the evening news.” She rushes around her desk to pull me into a hug. What is the proper amount of time to stand here while a colleague holds you in her wrinkly arms? I count to three, then extricate myself.

Deep Edit Points:  Universal Truth and Humor Hit!

3. She grabs me by a shoulder and yanks me in for a hug. I wasn’t expecting it, and for the first few seconds, stand stiff as a board in her arms, but she smells so good and her breasts are like two giant, soft pillows against my cheek, so I relax and give in to the embrace even though the clock is ticking. She pats me on the back with a giant paw, murmurs into my hair, “Poor, sweet girl. It gets easier, you know.”

Deep Edit Point:  Super Amplified Hug. Shows emotional shift.

Final Thoughts

No blah-blah hugs in those examples.

You can see the difference between a shares-no-power hug, and a makes-your-scene-strong hug.

Amplify. Use power words. Go deep. Share subtext. Share humor hits. Share the impact on the POV character. And make every sentence cadence driven.


Want to share a fresh hug?

Or comment on these hugs?

Or just say Hi?

See you on the blog!

Big Hugs................Margie

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About Margie

Margie Lawson left a career in psychology to focus on another passion—helping writers make their stories, characters, and words strong. Tired of the same old writing rules and tools? Try something new.

Using a psychologically based, deep-editing approach, Margie teaches writers how to bring emotion to the page. Emotion equals power. And power not only grabs readers, it holds onto them until the end. Hundreds of Margie grads have gone on to win awards, find agents, sign with publishers, and hit bestseller lists.

As an international presenter, Margie has taught over 150 full day master classes in the U.S., Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and France, as well as multi-day intensives on cruise ships in the Caribbean. Pre-COVID, she taught over a hundred 5-day Immersion Master Classes across the U.S. and Canada and in seven cities in Australia too.

COVID Update: Immersion Master Classes are now virtual, taught through Zoom. Virtual Immersion classes are limited to six writers. They're two days long and, as always, writers get one-on-one deep editing sessions with Margie.

She presents a monthly series of "Dig Deep Webinars" and hosts a "Get Happy with Margie" open house each month too. She also founded Lawson Writer's Academy, where you'll find over 30 instructors teaching online courses through her website. To learn more, sign up for Margie's newsletter.

March Classes at Lawson Writer's Academy

Top Image - Margie and Lori Freeland, West Texas Writers Conference


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