January 23, 2019

By Anne Pisacano

When I met Lori Henriksen, award-winning author of The Winter Loon, at the WFWA Writer's retreat in September this year, she had mentioned that she was using tarot cards as a plot development tool for her current work-in-progress. I felt her fascinating story might be of interest to share. I contacted her, and she agreed to visit with me about her process.

How did this unusual idea first come to you?

Lori: When I attended the Golden Crown Literary Society writing conference, where my book was a finalist in two categories, one of the fascinating breakout workshops was led by Kimberly Cooper Griffin and Aurora Rey on Character Development.

During the workshop we broke into groups of two and were asked to analyze our character(s) using Tarot cards. They provided each group a deck of tarot cards, and the corresponding booklet that explained the imagery and symbolism. My partner and I were vaguely familiar with Tarot, but really not, in any sense, very knowledgeable.

We did a three-card spread:

First Card

  • Mind
  • Physical State
  • Subconscious
    • Option 1
      • What I think

Second Card

  • Body
  • Emotional State
  • Conscious
    • Option 2
      • What I feel

Third Card

  • Spirit
  • Spiritual State
  • Super consciousness
    • Option 3
      • What I do

How do you use your tarot cards in your own process?

Lori : I did a three-card spread reading for my main character, Lucy.

My process is, first, setting a sacred space as I would for meditation.

I shuffle the cards, cut them three times, and chose three cards. Along with the information from the Tattoo Tarot booklet, and a book called  Tarot Reversals—which has great explanation of symbolism—I also trusted my intuition to do the reading, just as though I knew what I was doing.

Three notes I have from the workshop:

  • You’re learning what is already in your head
  • The cards tell you something you need to know—that you already know
  • You are tapping into your insight/your gut feelings

How are they affecting your writing?

Lori : I feel I have insight into my characters’ psyche and also have a tool that if I’m stuck, e.g. wondering now what would Lucy do in this situation, I can pick a card and do a quick reading, or if it’s a major block, I can do another reading. It’s a learning process to develop my intuition.

Here is my three-card spread with my interpretation for my main character, Lucy.

First card. Mind – What she thinks

Three of Swords: Mental stress is too much to bear. A heart pierced by 3 swords suggests jealousy, heartbreak and rupture. Threes respond to creativity and integration, but swords bring disharmony and sorrow.

This card brought these questions about her main character to mind for Lori:

  • Does her heart want something her mind says she cannot have?
  • Is there a love triangle, failed affair, or separation?
  • The pain of loss and betrayal hits hard, a sword through the heart.
  • Is she blinded by the pain of her heartache?
  • A flower blooms in front of her pierced heart and a flame burns above, reminding us pain is temporary.
  • Her situation is fragile and so are the people around her.

Second card. Body – What she feels

Major Arcana – The Moon: Mysterious and not always what it seems. Has the power to pull the tides or illuminate the forest to show monsters that may not exist.

The second card allowed these questions and thoughts to be considered:

  • What fears and illusions beset her on her journey to unknown landscapes?
  • What delusions, deeply submerged fears or even terror are calling her survival instincts?
  • Something is at the edge of her consciousness that she can't quite grasp.
  • She may find herself swamped by emotions, misunderstandings, and secrets.
  • She feels herself drawn toward some undefined purpose.
  • Like the crayfish on the card, she may be cleansing the waters of unconscious habits by digesting debris from her past, and walking bravely between the needs of instinct and the domestication that dogs her.
  • Hard to tell fact from fiction when the moon lights your path.

Third card.  Spirit –What she does

Seven of Wands - Seven reminds her to stand tall and fight for what she wants, holding her ground and prevailing over the odds.

Here are the questions that came to mind from the interpretation of this card.

  • What obstacles will test her mettle?
  • Can she stand up to the passion of her heart in the face of adversity?
  • Be careful of unsure footing.
  • Don't give up in light of confrontation.
  • She must protect her passions.

Helpful resources

Tarot Card Meanings

Artist and creator of Lori’s Tarot Deck: Lana Zellner of Eight Coins

Thanks so much for sharing your interesting muse with us, Lori! Your story about tarot cards is as enchanting as I thought it would be.

What do you think?
Would you try tarot to learn more about your characters?

About Anne

Originally from New York,Anne Pisacano has lived in northern Arizona for over 20 years. From the city to the country, sidewalks to mountains, concrete to bare earth, night lights to starlight—she misses the beaches and her friends, but after more than two decades she now considers Arizona home. When not reading or reviewing other people’s books, Anne can be found editing a novel she’s co-written and plotting out her next book. Anne Pisacano writes contemporary Women’s Fiction with humorous, and strong romantic elements, because life is just too short to take it all so seriously. Oh, and she likes to add a touch of magic too. She is a grateful member of the Women’s Fiction Writers Association.

You can learn more about Anne on her at http://annepisacano.com, or she loves to connect on Facebook  or Twitter.

January 21, 2019

Barbara Probst

You’ve made your manuscript as good as you possibly can—for now. Everyone has advised you to take a break, let the book rest, so you can return to it with fresh eyes. Perhaps you’ve sent it off to a beta reader or developmental editor, hoping they’ll see the flaws and holes that you can’t and will show you how to bring your story to the next level. You know you have to avoid the temptation to keep tinkering with the manuscript while you await the very feedback you’ve requested—yet you can’t bear to do nothing.

The good news is that there are ways to work with your novel, rather than working on it—that is, without opening the Word document where it lives and awaits your return. Working with your book can help to loosen, deepen, shake up, and inject new energy your story while you prepare to work on it again.

Note: These exercises assume that you have an overview of your manuscript at your fingertips—a scene-by-scene summary that you can refer to. A good thing to have, for many reasons!

Write stuff you never intend to use.

  • Focus on secondary characters, especially their backstories. What kind of house did Jane live in, as a child? What were her favorite toys? What did she dress up as for Halloween? What’s her recurring dream? What’s inside that box in the corner of her closet? What is something she lost and tried to find but couldn’t?
  • Write a key scene from a different character’s point of view.
  • Pick an emotional turning point or dramatic scene and give it a different ending.
  • Interview your protagonist. Ask her the very questions she really doesn’t want to answer. Make her squirm. What lie might she tell you, to get out of answering?

Draw. Make maps and diagrams.

  • Identify five core scenes. Think of them as mountain peaks. What are the steps up the mountain (prior scenes that make this core scene inevitable)? What are the steps on the descent (consequences that also prepare for the next peak)? Map this out on a timeline. You can vary the distance between steps, depending on how much chronological time passes between them or how much narrative space (word or page count) each occupies.
  • Make a grid. Divide the left or vertical axis into scenes.  Across the top or horizontal axis, write the names of the major characters. That will give you a grid composed of boxes or "cells."  Mark where each character appears—that is, go down the column for Jane Smith and mark all the scenes that Jane is in. Then look at the frequency and position of her appearances. Are there big gaps? Does she need a tiny appearance in-between so we don’t forget about her, perhaps in another character’s conversation or interior monologue? Can she serve an additional role at a different point in the story? Do this for each character. Do certain characters always (or never) appear together? Try switching some of them around. How does that affect the tension and pace of the story?
  • Do a similar grid, replacing characters with settings. Where do scenes take place? Can any of the settings be changed from a boring or over-used location (e.g., around the dinner table) to a place that’s more evocative? If a lot of scenes take place in someone's office, for example, is there a way to make the setting do more work for the story by highlighting specific elements that vary during these scenes? If your character’s boss always has fresh flowers on her desk, what do the flowers look like, at different moods or points in the story?

Do super-summaries.

  • Write an epigram, slogan, or bumper sticker to capture the essential message of each scene. Do a lot of scenes have the same slogan? If so, think about variations on that message or its opposite. What small changes in some of the scenes could give them a different slogan?
  • Focus on upward and downward motion, not on specific content. Tag your scene beginnings and endings with a plus or a minus, a “chute” or a “ladder.” Up if the protagonist is closer to her goal and down if she’s farther away. If a scene starts with a plus (hope, luck, an opportunity, an unexpected opening, etc.), then it ought to end with a minus (disappointment, failure, barrier, fear, doubt, betrayal, etc.), and vice versa. If you discover a string of plus-to-minus scenes, switch some of them around.

Avoid the temptation to open the Word document and start changing words, sentences, and scenes.  That’s tinkering with the old, the already-known. These exercises are designed to push you into the not-yet-known—to help you re-vision your book, not simply revise it.  

If you do these exercises (or others that you invent), when you do return to the manuscript, you’ll have turned the soil so something truly new can sprout.  

Anyone out there waiting? Will you try one of these? Any other suggestions?

About Barbara

Barbara Linn Probst, author of the groundbreaking book on nurturing out-of-the-box children, When the Labels Don’t Fit, is a writer, researcher, and clinician living on a historic dirt road in New York’s Hudson Valley. She holds a PhD in clinical social work and is a frequent guest essayist on major online writing sites. Her debut novel More Than She Knew will be issued by She Writes Press in Spring 2020. To learn more about Barbara’s work, please see http://www.barbaralinnprobst.com/

January 18, 2019

Julie Glover

Last month, I posted a break down the basics of WordPress's new update, fueled by software labeled Gutenberg. This month, I'm exploring formatting options, and next month I'll give you a few hacks and plugins you might want to use.

Again the new format is laid out in blocks, which are simply boxes that can hold text, images, links, or combinations. The default box is a paragraph, but you can choose other options by clicking on the plus-sign toward the top left corner of your screen or the change block type option on the block menu itself. We covered text and images last time, but you have a lot of formatting options available and ways to customize them.

Text Color

For every formatting option below, the right-hand sidebar gives you the opportunity to change the text color or the color behind text. So just assume going forward that you have that feature. However, you cannot select just a little bit of text and color that. Rather, selecting a color will change the color of all text within a block.

Here's an example of what happens if I select blue Inline Text Colour (yes, WP uses British spelling) for a paragraph block.

If I choose the Inline Background Colour, this is the result.

For Writers in the Storm, we disliked being unable to select text within a sentence and change its color. Particularly since this is a primary feature of Laura Drake's fabulous first page critiques! So we installed a plugin that allows us to choose different colors within a block. The one we used is called Advanced Rich Text Tools for Gutenberg.

Now on to specific formatting choices.


If you select Heading for your block, you'll get larger text for subtitles. But within Heading, your choices range from H1 through H6. Some of those choices show up in the block menu, but once you click the block you can see more heading sizes in the right sidebar.

Block Menu Options
Sidebar Menu Options

Additionally, you can align the text left, right, or center. Here are the heading options, all left-justified:

Heading 1

Heading 2

Heading 3

Heading 4

Heading 5
Heading 6

Of course, what they look like on your website depends on the template and fonts you're using, but you can at least get a notion of the differences among the heading sizes.


You can use Quote to emphasize text.

This is a regular-sized quote.

This line at the bottom is for a citation.

But you can alter the quote default as well on that right sidebar after you've chosen the Quote option.

This is a large-sized quote.

And the bottom line again for a citation.


Of course, we still have lists, which we bloggers often enjoy using.

  • Once you change the block to List, you don't have many options on the right sidebar.
    • But you can indent...
  • Or outdent a list item.
  1. And you can make it a numbered list as well
  2. All these options being available in the block menu itself
  3. Which you can get to simply by clicking anywhere within the block


A Pullquote provides even more emphasis. You see this a lot in nonfiction books, where some point the author wants to stress gets "pulled out" from the regular text and featured on its own. Again, you have two choices in the right-hand sidebar.

Click on Styles, and you'll see Regular like this one.

With this citation line.

Or you can go for a more colorful look with a Main Color background of your choice.

Citation line still included.


Verse is another option.
Now when I chose Verse, the text in the editor
May look the same as a paragraph.
But if you keep typing, you'll see that it's not.
The wrap-text function doesn't work
Because Verse is intended for exactly that—
Writing in verse, or poetry.
Because of that, Verse does not advance to a new block
When you press the Return key.
It merely goes to the next line.
If you want a new block, you have to move the cursor down
And add a new block below the current one.


Let's say you want to add a picture with a text overlay within a blog post. This could be for a title or another way to create a pullout quote. You can choose Cover formatting, upload a photo, and change the text on top. Not only that, but you can filter the photo, provide a color overlay, change the text color.

So this is an original photo I uploaded with a text overlay.

But then I chose a bluish overlay and changed the text color for a different effect.

Cover doesn't give a ton of photo options, but it's a much quicker way to grab a picture, add text, and make a few changes than heading over to PicMonkey, Canva, or your PhotoShop software and fiddling around.


This feature simply allows you to easily create a table within a post. Once you click on Table, you'll be asked how many columns and rows you want:

The default is 2 X 2, but I chose 3 X 3.
Blog MistressMonthYear

But there are four rows, you say! Yes, because I added one. Once in a Table block, the block menu provides an Edit Table icon. Clicking that gives you options to add to and delete from your table.

In the right sidebar are the usual color options, but if you scroll down you'll see an option to have fixed width cells. If you don't choose that, the widths of columns will vary as you type in them, just as mine did above.


One last option I want to cover is embedding. If you click on the circled plus-sign at the top right corner, and scroll down to Embeds, you'll see a whole bunch of choices. You can now embed something directly from Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Spotify, Hulu, Scribd, Slideshare, and more.

Let's say I want to embed a tweet from WITS's Jenny Hansen. I select Embed, Twitter, and enter the tweet's URL and voila!

That was easy-peasy! But admittedly, I tried the same trick with Facebook several times over and couldn't get the embed to work. (I blame Facebook... for pretty much everything.)

Meanwhile, YouTube and TED Talks work just fine.

John Green, author of The Fault in Our Stars, and brother Hank
Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Big Magic

I didn't try all of the embeds, but you can! There's even an option for Kickstarter, if you have a fundraiser you're wanting to promote through your website.

As you can see, some changes to WordPress require extra navigation, either to find things which are now in different places or because there are some glitches (text color, for instance). But there are also some really great additions here with all the formatting choices. We authors can choose and use what works for us!

What other questions do you have about the new WordPress format? Or how can we talk you off the ledge?

About Julie

Julie Glover would far prefer to write books and leave the technology questions to her computer-savvy sons. But necessity is the mother of frustration despair invention.

When not wrangling with software, Julie writes mysteries and young adult fiction. Her YA contemporary novel, SHARING HUNTER, finaled in the 2015 RWA® Golden Heart®. She is represented by Louise Fury of The Bent Agency.

You can visit her website here and also follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

January 16, 2019
Social Media

The real title of this post is How To Put the Social in Social Media Without Losing Your Mind or All Your Free Time.

That's a heavy promise, right? Social media does like to suck up valuable family time, writing time, down time. If you think about it as a big vaccuum that gives nothing back, you WILL be resistant to this whole "online social thing."

This post is about how pick your online locations carefully and develop habits that help fit social media into the life you actually have. It's about how to make connections during the time you choose to spend online. And of course, I share what I do to keep my love alive. <lol>

We've had two posts in this throwdown already. One from Fae, who pretty much detests it. One from Julie, who has found the one place in social media that doesn't give her hives makes her happy.

Those two are introverts, whereas Laura and I are extroverts. All four of us have different stances on this topic. Even on the extrovert side, Laura is retired and I work more than full time.

Translation: I have two part-time day jobs that sometimes expand to three, plus writing, plus volunteering, plus an eight year-old. (Plus a very understanding husband.) Many things in life are more important than my writing and I've had to learn to be okay with that.

It was hard to let go of perfection and my yen to Fast Draft, but there are rewards from my overburdened schedule. A big one is my time-saving social media habits, which I will detail at the bottom of this post.

Important Note (like super-duper important): Taking the "social" out of social media defeats the entire purpose. You will resent all that wasted time. (At least I would.)

If you've hung out at WITS for a while, you've heard me wax rhapsodic about social media before. Below are several of my posts that will give you all the how-to and "what the heck is it" info you might want.

The above links are pretty big picture but there are also specifics to be had:

We've also had stellar tips for not getting overwhelmed on social media from veterans like Roni Loren who gave this sage advice: Only focus on the things that sizzle your bacon. Also, Colleen Story shared 7 Ways to Keep Social Media from Ruining your Mood.

And then there is little ol' former technology-trainer me. I have a confession that won't surprise you... I freaking love software and apps.

Love. Them.

I love the time-saving tools (although it's super hard to beat my own kitchen timer for time management). I love the way technology connects people. I love the way Excel's pivot tables summarize thousands of records into a table the size of your hand.

Technology is just cool.

However, time is in short supply and I've had to shoehorn social media into the schedule. Remember that promise from up top: How To Put the Social in Social Media Without Losing Your Mind or All Your Free Time ?

Here are my Top 5 "fit it in no matter what" social media tips:

1. The biggest trick I have is using the "in-between" time. In the long check-out line, or waiting in the doctor's office. Waiting in the car line to pick up my kid. While I eat lunch. Just before I go to bed. While my kid reads to me (with my phone hidden from her view so she isn't aware she only has half of my attention).

All those in-between moments add up. You'll at least get 30 minutes a day. You can do a lot with 30 minutes! Plus, you've turned those boring "waiting" moments into something that is a reward (at least for me). Boorah.

2. Planning is everything. Some of your time will just be spent scrolling, liking, commenting. But a smart author plans out the week or the month, so the important updates get out now mantter how busy you are.

You can do a ton of graphics in less than an hour each week if you use Canva. Laura Drake explains how to own Canva.

3. Decide who your audience is and focus your time in their neck of the online world.

I love what this article at Contently has to say - it's a few years old but it's still pretty accurate.

Let’s talk strategy. You have limited time, maybe limited content, and there is a very specific audience you want to reach. Here’s a quick, non-scientific breakdown of who uses which network:

  • Teenagers gravitate towards Snapchat, YouTube, Tumblr, and Instagram.
  • Soon-to-be-wives and soon-to-be-moms are all about Pinterest.
  • Young parents and grandparents alike can be found on Facebook.
  • Business types and leaders rule LinkedIn.
  • Influencers and bloggers love Twitter, WordPress and Tumblr.

Here's an infographic with my thoughts on the main social media apps out there. (Yes, I totally think Facebook is a huge time suck.)

Made in Canva...in about 8 minutes.

4. Set up Google alerts. You want the content you are passionate about to come to you so you don't have to spend time chasing it down. No one has time for that. Google Alerts email the info right to you.

To set up one (or ten) of these handy alerts:

  • Go to google.com/alerts in your browser.
  • Enter a search term for the topic you want to track. As you enter your terms, view a preview of the results below.
  • Choose "Show Options" to narrow the alert to a specific source, language, and/or region. Specify how often, how many, and how to receive alerts.
  • Select "Create Alert."

5. Don't be afraid to schedule. Especially during busy weeks, when I don't have time to both post AND monitor, scheduling tools let me "have it all." I go back and forth over whether I like HootSuite or Buffer better, but here is an article that compares them both. I also used Social Oomph for a while.

Overall, I'm super happy with social media. I don't use all the tools I'd like to use, and I always feel like I'm swimming up stream in terms of time, but notifications and alerts allow me to at least keep up with the people who are interacting directly with me. I count that as a win.

More than anything, your time online needs to be fun and productive. Find your tribe and enjoy them. If your time online is fun, you're less likely to resent it or view it as wasted.

Now it's your turn! Introvert or extrovert? Social media lover or hater? And what are the tricks that have allowed you to fit it into your busy schedule?

*  *  *  *  *  *

About Jenny Hansen

By day, Jenny provides training and social media marketing for an accounting firm. By night she writes humor, memoir, women’s fiction and short stories. After 18+ years as a corporate software trainer, she’s delighted to sit down while she works.

When she’s not at her personal blog, More Cowbell, Jenny can be found on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, or here at Writers In The Storm.

January 14, 2019

Penny Sansevieri

People ask me all the time when they should begin marketing book. So when is really the best time to start? Any book writing and marketing resource will say sooner rather than later. But how soon is too soon? Let’s examine this further.

First, not only is it important to understand where this advice comes from, it’s also important to understand the ways that publishing timelines have evolved throughout the years.

Most people who suggest marketing your book early are in traditional publishing because they have other factors that they need to deal with. For example, if you’re with, let’s say, Simon & Schuster, and you have a fall release for your book, they’ll probably need to pitch you to bookstores in March. You’ll have ARCs (advanced review copies) early in the year. Bookstores and other retailers like Walmart and Costco need to determine which books they will or won’t stock reasonably early since fall is one of the busiest seasons of the year.

What about magazines? It used to be that magazines closed issues six to eight months out and could only close an issue once all the advertising was sold for that issue. As times have changed, advertising sales aren’t what they used to be, and sometimes these issues don’t close until three months before their actual “on sale” dates. Sometimes, they’ll even close two months out. I’d suggest a timetable of three to four months as a reliable marker for pitching magazines for a review.

Of course, there are exceptions, like significant calendar events such as Breast Cancer Awareness Month. The magazines that cover this topic will need their content six months out in most cases. Care to take a guess which time of the year is most competitive for a magazine to get published in or receive coverage? That’s right, a magazine’s Christmas or holiday issue, and I’d definitely advise pitching these early.

If targeting magazines for the holiday shopping season are something you’re planning for, you’ll need to start marketing your book well in advance, because everyone wants to be involved in them. I’d put this in the six-month lead time window, too. Keep in mind any major anniversaries coming up such as the 20th anniversary of XYX or whatever, will see a massive surge of attention and these magazines will need the information very early on, also. (Are you ready for big media coverage? Find out how you fare!)

Magazine Editorial Calendars

If targeting magazines are in your book marketing plans (and they should be), you can get a jump start on what they’re looking for by getting their editorial calendars. Editorial calendars are a highly accessible and valuable resource for you. They’ll tell you the magazine focus for the entire year, as well as when issues are closing, which you can use to your advantage to punch up your pitching. I’ll list a few below, but a quick search of the name of the magazine and “editorial calendar” on Google will pull up pretty much anything you’ll need.

Another useful aspect of editorial calendars is that they’ll show you the magazine’s demographics, which helps determine if you’re hitting the right audience for your book.

Redbook is by far one of my favorites because it shows not only the “theme” of the issue but what the various departments are covering. Check out: http://www.redbookmediakit.com/r5/showkiosk.asp?listing_id=4925437&category_id=18968

O Magazine shows its demographics, which is crucial since everyone wants to get coverage in Oprah’s magazine. Make sure it’s the right target though before you pitch them: http://www.omediakit.com/r5/home.asp#rates

First for Women, another personal pitching favorite of mine has a separate segment for demographics and ads, which tells you when a magazine is closing. http://www.bauerpromotions.com/bauerpublishing/mediakits/FFW-2018dates.pdf

Let’s look at a different market than women’s interest as another example. Popular Mechanics works hard planning their issues and themes throughout the year. Have a look: http://www.popularmechanicsmediakit.com/hotdata/publishers/popularme2610043/popularmecha7335/pdfs/media-kit-2018.pdf

Newspapers, Dailies, and Freelancers

Let’s not forget about newspapers and freelancers who write for a variety of publications nationwide. You should prepare to pitch these folks one to two months out, with two months being ideal. They don’t have as much flexibility as a magazine might since some have a shorter lead time than others, but they do like to get materials in advance of the publication date so they can fit it in accordingly. Just remember that the bigger the newspaper or daily, the farther out you’ll want to target.

Here is a list of the top ten national newspapers. Keep in mind that some of these, like The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times, are considered national and will have long lead times, much like magazines do:

  1. The Wall Street Journal
  2. The New York Times
  3. Chicago Tribune
  4. New York Post
  5. Los Angeles Times
  6. Washington Post
  7. Newsday (New York)
  8. The Mercury News (Bay Area, California)
  9. East Bay Times (Bay Area, California)
  10. Star Tribune (Minneapolis)

National vs. Local Media

It’s also important to know the difference between pitching local media vs. national media. Local media is in (or around) your hometown, as opposed to, let’s say, the Chicago Tribune (which as I said before, needs a longer lead time).

With most local media, a 30-day lead time is pretty standard. You should include them in your pre-publication pitching and post-publication pitching since local press covers regional stories and loves their local authors.

Another aspect of local media that I love is the regional factor, as mentioned earlier, even if the outlet isn’t specifically in your town but still close by; there’s still a good chance you’ll get coverage. So, for example, if I have a great retirement topic, I might pitch local publications in high retirement areas.

National Broadcast Media and Radio

My advice would be to pitch these folks two to three months before your publication date, but you should be fine with just two. Once again, the exception is anniversaries or significant calendar dates or events.

Bloggers and Online Media

I’d put them on the one-month notification list, but start marketing your book to them two months before if you’re going for a very prominent blogger.

ARCs vs. Final Books: What’s Better for Marketing Your Book?

ARCs (also referred to as book galleys) are early copies of a book that usually aren’t fully edited and may or may not contain the finalized book covers. Most of the time, if I’m pitching a book for pre-publication and I don’t have a cover, it’s fine. I’ll go back and fill in the pitch with the finalized cover with a link to it from the author’s media room on their website. I don’t suggest sending the final cover as an attachment.

If you’re pitching very early for, let’s say a December/holiday issue, and your book is not finished, working on your cover is very important. Why? Although a cover should always be interesting and exciting, holiday issues are especially “pretty” and your book cover should connect with the holiday to which it’s geared.

You can—and should—also use electronic copies, which can be a convenient way to deliver a book quickly and easily. We use BookFunnel for this, but BookSprout is also a great place to consider, too.

Should You Pitch Magazines for Review if You’re an Indie Author?

Absolutely! The only catch is that your book must be marvelous and captivating. We’ve had indie authors in most major magazines, TV shows, and newspapers, but their books were a perfect fit for that market. Making your book the best it can be isn’t just for the benefit of your readers, but for the media also.

Libraries, Bookstores, and Distribution

Once again, pitch them early. Just remember that bookstore stocking in national stores is challenging and very competitive. Consider pitching indie stores in your area and check their websites to see how early you can pitch them. Most will go two months out and it’s the same for libraries and distributors.

Your Website

Make sure your website is online and accessible two months before publication (but ideally three). It doesn’t matter if you’re not marketing or pitching your book early—your website should still be active with enough time in advance for when your book is released.

Your Email List

Have an email list all ready to go? Tell people about your book two months out, including when they can purchase it and where. If you have any special offers, start to whet their appetite for those as well. Now is the time to research how to start building an email list if you don’t already have one.

Timing Is Everything

The timeline for book promotion marketing has changed somewhat over time. Some resources will swear you should plan a year out, but the reality is quite different. Planning is a crucial aspect your book marketing. If you can’t hit all of these targets, then go after the ones you can and vow to start earlier the next time.

The phrase, “Timing is everything” especially holds true for your book launch. Planning, preparation, and research are vital aspects to the success of your campaign. By starting early and knowing the right timelines, you’ll achieve much better results. L

Lots of great info here - are you going to try any this year?

About Penny

Author Marketing

Penny Sansevieri, CEO and founder of Author Marketing Experts, Inc. (AME) and Adjunct Professor at NYU, is a best-selling author and internationally recognized book marketing and media relations expert. Her company is one of the leaders in the publishing industry and has developed some of the most cutting-edge book marketing campaigns. To learn more about Penny and her company, visit www.amarketingexpert.com