Finding The Right Book Cover Design And Title

Finding The Right Book Cover Design And Title

Finding the right book cover design and title

Finding the perfect book cover design concept can be a stressful task. Book covers should give readers a sneak peek of what to expect and set an overall tone for the journey ahead. Without a strong cover, readers may decide against investing their time and money into reading your book.

As a freelance editor, I love it when clients share cover concepts for a manuscript I’ve edited. It’s fun to give my two cents and see how the final cover turns out. Sharon Waters is a longtime client and friend who I’ve worked with on several of her books. I didn’t think the original title and cover design for her latest project did her excellent memoir justice. I’ll let her tell you about her path to finding the perfect book cover and title.

I entered the tech business early in the Internet evolution and when websites entered the picture, I was creating them both as a regular job and as a personal sideline. They were so new I had to talk prospective clients into letting me design a website for them, sometimes for pay or even in exchange for their products or services. 

As a new medium, websites quickly became the focus of marketing study. I learned that text and images must capture the prospective audiences’ attention and interest within the first seven seconds of viewing. With so much competition in bookstores and online now, I’m sure those first few seconds are even more important. That’s the job of your title and book cover. 

I worked on ideas for my latest book for fifteen years and it morphed from a I’m-not-sure-what-it-is, to a social commentary, to finally, a memoir. The narrative never would have worked until I limited my topic to my own experience. But I blundered by staying stuck with my original title and cover concepts and trying to convince myself they’d work; my content came together, but my title and cover were as vague as the content I started with. 

My editor, Stacy, to the rescue! She commented that nudity (the image I had chosen was an illustration, but still, a mostly nude subject) would be rejected by publishers and promoters. The last thing I needed was to begin with that strike against me. Plus, my image choice was arresting, but not indicative of my content. 

With my content complete, I went back to the drawing board for my book cover. It was a miracle that I had saved a picture of me that was published in a national magazine when I was eight—it showed me perched precariously atop a post. It was the perfect example to indicate the precarious situations I had faced throughout my life. My title, Tipping the Balance: A Memoir of Life on the Edge, resulted from choosing that image. 

I prefer to design my own book covers, and my years designing websites has helped me accomplish that. For a memoir, I wanted the cover image to express something personal, not manufactured or slick. The choice of a faded image from the 1950s expressed it perfectly. A glance conveys that it’s about an individual, a young girl who grew up in those times and early on began to experience the precariousness of her life circumstances. With the pushback to find a better cover and title, I couldn’t have done better with the revision. 

About The Author

The variety of themes for her books parallel Ms. Waters’s diverse lifestyles. Raised in a small upper New York state town near the Lake Ontario, she attended a traditional liberal arts college nestled near the Appalachian region. From there, she broadened her constrained world with visits to the creative hubs of New York and Boston and jaunts through Europe, South America and the United States. 

She began her adult life as a conventional housewife mirroring her conservative upbringing, then became a single mother of three, returned to school, climbed the corporate ladder in technology, and finally dropped out of everything to become a vagabond wandering the eastern seaboard with her two dogs and a cat. Wherever she journeys, Ms. Waters strives to understand the landscapes, social cultures, and people around her. She has studied her topics in-depth, and her personal experiences enhance her perception of what many others must face. Throughout her shifting locations and lifestyles, animals have been her constant companions, from a goldfish that accompanied her to college to her beloved dogs that populate her books. People who love animals find particular comfort in her life stories.

Sharon Waters

Ms. Waters is always seeking the next place, the next experience. She explored a variety of interests from keeping an assortment of animals amounting to a petting zoo, to serving as a crew member on a tall ship. She achieved her open water diving certificate at the age of sixty-nine, completing it on a cold, windy day in November on the Atlantic seaboard. But she was just getting started. She had settled near the ocean, but then reduced all her possessions to what could fit in an RV and traveled for three years with just her pets.

Although her topics are varied, she has experienced each one of them profoundly and hopes to connect with her readers through the telling of her adventures, joys and sorrows. Ms. Waters broke through personal boundaries and cultural barriers to find satisfaction in a self-defined life. Through her many transformations, Ms. Waters found strength, confidence, and finally peace. She shows how learning and facing challenges can be successful at any age and in unlikely circumstances. She hopes her readers relate, enjoy, and find their own serenity through her writing.

She has authored books about family relationships (Estrangement of Parents by their Adult Children – first and revised second editions), her three-year odyssey in an RV (Three Years in a Walmart Parking Lot), the deep bond she’s shared with her animal friends (Milo, Fear and Joy in a Magic Dog) and her memoir including social reflections from the 1940s to the present (Tipping the Balance: A Memoir of Life on the Edge).

how to choose the right book cover

About The Book

Ms. Waters’s bittersweet memoir reveals an emotionally turbulent life teetering on the edge between anguish and resilience. In this manifesto-turned memoir, she writes of loves and loves lost, survival, forgiveness, and adventures in faraway places. Told in vivid anecdotes, this poignant story spotlights the precarious balance she maintains when her family and the people she meets impact her self-esteem and limit her ambitions in a male-dominated world, all the while examining the events and values from the 1940s to the present. 

The author survives ill-fated relationships, being swept out to sea, confronting an anaconda, raising children after divorce, and struggling with alcohol and prescribed drugs. Her recovery follows by crafting a dollhouse depicting good and evil, joining a tall ship crew, escaping on a three-year RV odyssey from New England to Florida with her pets, and befriending a wild bird. 

In spite of childhood illnesses and family trauma, summers gardening with her Gramma become a life-long reminder of what health and contented living are like. A zoo of animals, especially her Schipperke dogs, offer Ms. Waters comfort and salvation along her way. Just in time, she discovers that there’s no place like home in a garden of her own making. 

Buy Tipping the Balance: A Memoir of Life on the Edge on Amazon.

Visit Sharon on Facebook

Watch her video The Hello Bird on YouTube  – This backyard robin was befriended by Sharon, who dedicated Tipping the Balance to the Hello Bird.




Video Demo And Review Of MockUp Shots Book Promotion Graphics Software

Video Demo And Review Of MockUp Shots Book Promotion Graphics Software

I just uploaded a new video to YouTube.

It’s a demo and review of MockUpShots, a site that gives authors lifetime access to a library of images for book promotion purposes.

​You can watch my 12-minute demo here. ​

I’ll show you:

     * What the software does with the cover of my book, Dark Before Dawn, in a matter of seconds
     * Explain the types of designs you can create
     * Share the pros and cons

I’m an affiliate of this product, so I will receive a commission if you purchase through my link, but I’ve also been a customer for several years. It saves me time, and I think it could save you time, too. Best of all, through my affiliate link, you can grab this tool for $97 rather than the regular $207 price.

I don’t know about you, but I think writing a book is a lot more fun than promoting it! When there are ways to streamline tedious marketing tasks, I’m all for it.

Quick Links

​12-minute video demo​

​Buy link to get MockUpShots for just $97!


Refilling Your Creative Well, Finding Inspiration, And More Tips for Writers

Refilling Your Creative Well, Finding Inspiration, And More Tips for Writers

I love doing podcast interviews and wanted to share a link to a recent one I did for the Getting to the Heart of Why We Write podcast. Everyone has a story tell and the people on this show have published theirs. Host Gina Soldano-Herrle talks to authors about the stories they write and the underlying fire at the heart of their writing. 

Here are some highlights from my chat with Gina.

How I learned over many years to refill my creative well with meditation, yoga, reading, and jigsaw puzzles.

Finding inspiration from all the different corners of daily life from flag etiquette to theme park princesses.

The importance of ergonomics for writers.

How oracle cards are different from tarot and how they can help writers.

Using vision boards, action steps, and concrete goals to move past obstacles.

Here are a couple of my favorite quotes from the interview:

“Find those things that rejuvenate you and remember not to take it personally.”

“[Writing] gives me a voice. When I write, I feel like I’m fully myself.”

Check out the interview here!


Also, be sure to check out Gina’s article on my blog about the Kickstarter campaign for her children’s picture book.


Kickstarter For Authors: From Moldy Strawberries To Kickstarter Picture Book

Kickstarter For Authors: From Moldy Strawberries To Kickstarter Picture Book

kickstarter for authors

Kickstarter for authors. It’s a popular topic these days, but creating a Kickstarter campaign for your book can seem like an intimidating task. Luckily, we have Gina Soldano-Herrle visiting the blog today and sharing a behind-the-scenes glimpse into the Kickstarter campaign for her children’s picture book, Nia’s Rescue Box.

It all started with some moldy strawberries, or maybe they were blueberries. At Vindeket Foods, where I worked as a service participant (like a volunteer) every Tuesday night, I started telling myself stories.

Why A Food Rescue Picture Book?

Vindeket Foods is a food rescue and unlike any place I’ve ever been. It’s not just about any one thing; it’s much much more. So, I decided I’d combine it with my other passion, writing.

I wrote Nia’s Rescue Box in fall 2022 and queried for a minute before I decided to publish the picture book myself. With the encouragement of Vindeket’s founder and community support, I ran a Kickstarter the next spring so I could bring Nia’s story to life and share Vindeket’s philosophy with the world.

I could go on all day about their mission, but it’s basically about revaluing food and people providing a dual purpose solution that solves food waste and food insecurity in communities.

Kickstarters For Authors Done Well

There are A LOT of Kickstarters out there and many of them are done well. Below are a few that I’ve noticed, followed, or learned about that I think are examples of utilizing the platform well.

1. Rachael Herron’s Unstuck: An Audacious Hunt for Home and Happiness. Funded within a day at over 300% of target goal.

2. Joanna Penn’s Writing the Shadow: Turn Your Inner Darkness into Words. Funded at 729% of target goal.

3. Alice Oseman’s Heartstopper: Volume One. Funded at 655% of target goal.

Pre-Campaign Marketing For Kickstarter Books

This is the number one thing you can do to get your campaign up and off the ground. By marketing before you need any actual money, people will hear about your project with time to decide if they want to back it or not. And if not, they still might share it with a friend, coworker, or relative who could turn into a backer.

Pre-campaign marketing comes in a variety of ways. It could be webinars, social media posts, blogs, interviews, and more. Your focus will be determined by you, your project, and your target audience. No matter what your focus is, create your Kickstarter page as soon as you can.

The pages are editable and you can change the launch date as many times as you like before going live with the campaign. Once backers have picked certain rewards is when you need to stick to deadlines. Try to get your page published at least a week but up to a month in advance. Kickstarter has the option to “follow” a project. This lets you email potential backers to let them know your campaign is live. Also, having followers appears to help with the site’s algorithm.

Publicity For Kickstarter Author Campaigns

You know more than you think you know. For my own campaign, I was anxious about reaching out to people to publicize the project. I did what I could, but I know I could have reached out to way more networks than I did (think college, high school, home town, family, special interest groups).

I contacted some local news stations and was interviewed by a local paper. Other than that, I relied on grassroots support and my immediate networks through social media. Research who would be interested in your book, then reach out to those individuals, organizations, and news outlets to let as many people as you can know about your project. They can’t back it if they don’t know about it.

Community And Grassroots Support

Do NOT underestimate this powerful force. Community support is one of the biggest keys to having a successful Kickstarter.The campaign examples I mentioned above all had strong bases of support through readers, clients, and fans.

But, don’t worry. You don’t need to be famous to fund your book through Kickstarter. What is priceless are true fans.

Know the individuals who support your work. Reach out to your target audience. If you have a community-based project (like mine), let your community know exactly what you’re trying to do and what the rewards are for backing the project.

Rewards For Kickstarter Backers

Rewards can be tricky to figure out and I know now that I made a million mistakes. Lean into what you can offer that is a high ticket item and get people excited about it.

That could be “Ask Me Anything” calls in your subject of expertise. It could be a writing retreat, hiking retreat, meditation retreat, or online event. Offer classroom visits, guest speaker spots, special editions (Joanna Penn really nailed this one), whatever you can do that will be worth a backer’s dollar and fund your project.

Platform For Kickstarter Authors

You don’t need to have a huge platform, but you want people to be able to find you. Build that excitement like I said above before you launch your campaign. If your project doesn’t fund in time for your goal, you get $0. The stakes can feel impossible sometimes, but each campaign is a learning experience and you can always try again.

Although, you might as well take the time to do everything you can. It’d be way more exciting to hit your goal the first time, right? Use your platform on social media, email lists, and in local specialty organizations to build support and keep your project top of mind.

Updates And What Comes Next

Once your campaign funds (and even before), you’ll want to put out updates. For me, my first update went out when I decided on an illustrator and shared her first design. Updates can be once you have a cover or find a printer. Look at the examples above (all updates are visible to the public) for further inspiration.

You can also publish updates when timelines change. I originally told backers I’d publish in July 2023, but that changed to November 2023 because of a variety of factors. Don’t be afraid to be honest. Be human. The updates are also a great way to keep your project in front of people even well after it’s funded. You want to keep selling your book beyond the preorder, don’t you?

Keep updates coming as long as is reasonable or expected for backers and at least until they receive your book in their hands.

About The Author

Gina Soldano-Herrle is a professional core story consultant, ghostwriter, and author. She’s an active member of SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) and was recently awarded a 12×12 Picture Book Challenge scholarship for 2024. Her debut picture book, Nia’s Rescue Box is available at most online booksellers. You can also listen to recent author interviews about “Why We Write” on her website or your favorite podcast platform.

Hot tip: Listen to Gina interview Stacy on this episode.

Why we write

About The Book

kickstarter for books

Ashamed of her newfound food insecurity, Nia leaves the local food rescue with an empty box. Afterward, when confronted with the reality of food waste, she reconsiders accepting help and becoming a part of something greater. In this picture book, children learn about food rescues, food waste, food insecurity, and what they can do about it.

Buy it on Amazon.



Essential Tips For New Writers: Keep It Simple & Find Your Tribe

Essential Tips For New Writers: Keep It Simple & Find Your Tribe

tips for new writers

Recently, I had the opportunity to be interviewed on the BookTribe Podcast and we discussed some essential tips for new writers. I met the host, Erica Birtles, on Instagram and was impressed with what she has been doing for the book world.

Not only is she a dynamic podcast host, but she has also been building a community for readers and authors, called TheBookTribe, a one-stop shop for all things fiction. Through TheBookTribe, readers can connect with their favorite authors, discover new and exciting voices, and engage in a vibrant online community. Authors can reach a wider audience, build relationships with their readers, and discover promotional opportunities.

For the podcast, she interviews seasoned authors and literary experts to discover the secrets to writing and publishing a good book.

During my interview, we discussed various aspects of the writing process and provided valuable advice for authors. I shared my  journey into fiction writing and explained how I transitioned into providing support and guidance for other authors. 

Here are a few of the tips we delved into:

  • Surround yourself with other writers and join writing communities for support and guidance.
  • Read extensively in the genre you are writing to learn from well-written books.
  • Seek feedback from critique partners or beta readers to improve your writing.
  • Do thorough research and consult experts when writing about diverse characters or unfamiliar topics.
  • Focus on continuous learning and find mentors who resonate with you.

We also talked about common mistakes, developing a positive mindset, balancing writing with lifestyle, tools for writers, authentic representation of diverse characters, and much more.

You can check out the episode here or tune in below to get some helpful tips for writers.

Visit TheBookTribe website and sign up for free and start connecting with your peers.

You can also follow TheBookTribe on Instagram.

Essential Tips for New Writers: Keep It Simple and Find Your Tribe




Time Management And Body Language Tips For Writers – Podcast Interview @AWolfe6293

Time Management And Body Language Tips For Writers – Podcast Interview @AWolfe6293

Authors Alcove time management

Could you use some tips on managing your time better as a writer? How about advice on how to express your characters’ emotions through body language?

Then I hope you’ll tune in to my interview on the Authors’ Alcove Podcast: Writers Helping Writers, where I discuss these topics and more. Host Agnes Wolfe interviewed me about my motivation for starting the Shortcuts for Writers website, and how during my career as an author and freelance developmental editor, I observed common mistakes made by writers.

Throughout the conversation, I emphasized the importance of writers learning to think like editors to save time and money on the editing process. We briefly discussed my courses, which aim to empower writers with the skills to catch mistakes on their own, producing stronger manuscripts and reducing the need for multiple rounds of professional editing.

The conversation also delved into practical writing advice, including time management tips, the Pomodoro Technique, and the significance of writing routines. We stressed the importance of quality over quantity in writing time, encouraging writers to find small pockets of time for consistent writing rather than waiting for longer sessions. I also discussed the impact of clutter, both physical and mental, on writing productivity and suggested strategies for decluttering and organizing writing spaces.

Agnes and I also touched on the importance of portraying body language effectively in writing. I explained how I created a course, the Energize Your Writing Toolkit, to help writers diversify their descriptions of body language beyond common clichés. The course provides lists of phrases for different emotions so writers can use them as starting points to enrich character interactions and avoid overused expressions.

You can listen in at the below links or watch the interview on YouTube.


From Hospice Chaplain To Author: Bridging Personal Stories And Hard Facts

From Hospice Chaplain To Author: Bridging Personal Stories And Hard Facts

As a freelance editor, I have the opportunity to work on all kinds of projects, and one author I am extremely proud of is Maryclaire Torinus. A former hospice chaplain, Maryclaire had a powerful, poignant, and hard-hitting story to tell when we met. Unlike some manuscripts, it didn’t fit neatly into one particular category. She had beautifully written patient stories to share, chronicling their emotional final days, but this was more than a memoir. It was also an exposé that spotlighted the inner workings of for-profit hospice providers run by professional investors and the harmful effects on patients, families, and staff. Not only that, but it’s also a how-to guide for families. It’s a must-read book for families exploring hospice care and is truly an eye-opener. Below, Maryclaire shares how she blended enlightening stories at the bedsides of dying patients with the facts and statistics of investigative journalism. 

After wading through a mountain of research and working on my hospice narrative for six years (on and off), my book was released in mid-October with the Manhattan Book Group in NYC, a hybrid publisher. Surviving Hospice: A Chaplain’s Journey Into The Business Of Dying has finally found a home in the marketplace.

Early on, when fellow authors questioned me about the genre, I couldn’t quite put a finger on the category. It was complicated. My first attempt at writing this narrative was as a creative nonfiction piece; it seemed to fit my premise the best. In my lap, I had an expose written from a chaplain’s perspective sitting at the bedsides of dying patients. An untold story. Indeed, I had a lot of stories—those of my patients and my personal experiences during that period—and a poignant memoir was in the works.

However, when our company was purchased by a NYC equity firm (unbeknownst to us) and our hospice mission changed, our resources shriveled to the most basic care to increase the profit margin. Our best clinicians left for other hospice companies. The consequences of the new financially-motivated policies began to trickle down onto the beds of patients and into the lives of staffers. The harm occurring in our company, corroborated by negative hospice headlines appearing across the nation, was frightening.

Consequently, when the investors had evolved into the primary stakeholders of our hospice company, I started to possess more and more sobering statistics on the harm to patients from our lapse in care— separate elements—but, all based on a unifying theme. So, I needed to conflate the interaction of true events, facts, ideas, patient stories, and my personal experiences. I needed to gather the information and organize the literary styles into something that resonated with my readers. A clear, logical, unified, well-paced description that didn’t come across as a stuffy newspaper article. I knew I would need help.

My first attempt to begin my book was based on the current reality of the hospice market. The graying of America, coupled with the commercialization of the hospice benefit, has transformed hospice from a mission of mercy into a multi-billion-a-year healthcare enterprise. Every sector of society has been preparing for an aging world. Consequently, senior nursing care coupled with the hospice market is expected to grow into a $550 billion-a-year market by 2024. Nobody wants to die. But death is inevitable; so then, no one wants to die badly. Good hospice care offers the best hope for dying well and living fully until we do. Doula workers tell me that ‘their goal is to restore death to its sacred place in the celebration of life.’ As a result, consumers needed to understand the revelations highlighted in the July 2019 report released by the Department of Health and Human Services. Blah, Blah, Blah.

My book now begins with stories so my readers want to keep turning the pages.

In my third week on the job, I arrived at 7:30 a.m. and bumped into one of the medical directors at the front desk. The first words out of his mouth were, “I’m glad I’m not in your shoes right now.” He cocked his head toward the conference room. My pulse quickened as I rounded the corner and stopped just short of the conference room door to find members of my interdisciplinary team gathered inside around an oblong table, drinking black coffee. No doughnuts or creamer in sight.

No idle chatter, just heads huddled. When I entered the room, four somber faces turned to me in unison. As I pulled up a chair, Sandy, the registered nurse announced, “A chaplain is the most qualified person for this situation. You should go first. They all nodded.”

The Health Insurance Accountability Act sets standards and regulations to protect health information and patient privacy. To maintain these standards in my narrative, I reviewed the guidelines for confidentiality in the HIPPA. I was not able to locate the families of my deceased patients, so I fictionalized identifying information. The stories I related were a composite of my actual experiences ministering to patients and families over the course of my hospice internship and clinical career. Chaplains are trained to retain patient information and to archive it for documentation. We learn to write verbatims (word-for-word notes) during hospice visits to accurately record patient comments and the type of counseling provided at each appointment. I also learned to keep extensive notes on my patients to accurately reflect their lives to deliver heartfelt eulogies at their funerals.

Obviously, it would become necessary for me to look for the intersections or commonalities between the seemingly disparate categories: memoir, a how-to guide, and the sobering statistics of an end-of-life medical industry suffering under the sway of professional investors. Often, the two hundred sixty-five pages of patient accounts, my personal stories, statistics, and horrific facts seemed to take on a life of its own, more like a living species. It seemed too unwieldly to manage.

Therefore, it was not surprising that my first attempt to consolidate the breadth of my work was not satisfactory; the order was not compelling. I had begun the first chapter with the nuts and bolts of the current hospice market. The tempo was stoic and plodding, and I hadn’t captured the emotion and drama of what really occurred at my for-profit hospice company. I needed to rethink the approach.

As I began to query agents, it had become clear to me and to them that I had two books in the works: a memoir and a research-driven investigative piece. A lot of agents were interested in my timely topic and requested that I write two separate accounts of what had occurred at my former company. But I wasn’t interested in that approach. Writing one book was challenging enough. Sometimes a writer needs to do what I writer needs to do and that’s what I did. I said thanks, but no thanks. In the end, I did what was best for me. I didn’t want to write two books; I wanted to use my patient’s experiences to deliver the statistics.

And to be honest, I was weary of jumping through the hoops sometimes demanded by agents and owners of independent publishing firms. It’s important for authors to have boundaries and to be true to themselves. So, it was on me to figure out how to compose a unified and fluid account for the benefit of my readers and the integrity of my patients. One agent suggested I write an annotated outline of each chapter (which was a lot of work) to clarify the goals of my writing, and what order would best address my broad target audience: hospice consumers, hospice clinicians, chaplains, professional hospice trade organizations, lawmakers, lawyers, and medical personnel.

I also began to search for books that had similar themes as mine to see how the authors managed to mix stories with statistics. I stumbled upon the book called The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine by Michael Lewis. He utilized a character-driven narrative to tell how professional investors foresaw the collapse of the mortgage market in 2008 and then pocketed millions from their bets. The Boston Globe wrote about his style, “Lewis expertly describes a broken financial system that rewarded bad decisions and fraudulent alchemy, and then shifted the inevitable losses to the strapped U. S. taxpayer.”

My premise was so similar; it addressed the hijacking of hospice by private equity firms to generate wealth and the subsequent harm to dying patients, the hospice staff, and the image of the hospice Medicare/Medicaid benefit. Professional investors in the hospice market also left taxpayers holding the bag for their gaming of the hospice system. So, I decided to begin my narrative with the poignant stories of dying patients in pain and weave the data and facts of the current state of hospice care through those heartbreaking stories.

At this stage, I knew that I had at minimum, a solid memoir on my desk, but I still needed to jettison my two genre conventions (memoir and data-driven journalism) in a way that would keep my narrative from becoming too broad and confusing. Like Manhattan Book Group, a combination of traditional and self-publishing, I was creating a hybrid genre. I understood that stories were powerful and if the readers could just fall in love with John, Martha, Helen, George, and Mark, the statistics would bear the faces and voices of real people. Consequently, I decided to cordon off the information into three sections.

Part I includes how I ministered to my patients and their families under the selfish motives of a greedy owner and under the restraints of professional investors who had purchased our company (memoir). Part II includes the qualities of a reputable hospice provider and how to locate a trustworthy provider. Part III addresses the results from the 2019 OIG Report on the state of hospice care across the country, and what might happen next to dispel professional investors from end-of-life medical care. I also needed to include end notes and an index after the second and third sections of the book. In my preface, I explain to readers how to read through the schema of my narrative.

This partial list of chapter titles will give you an idea of the memoir section.

Part One – Spiritual Stories of Crossing the Threshold

Going Back * The First Year * On-Call * John and Martha * A Bullshit Barometer

Dark Nights * Secrets Lie in Shadows * A Day Away From Death

A Company Ruse Backfired * Let Them Eat Cake * The Quantum Leap

Part Two – How to Make What’s Invisible, Visible

Qualities of a Reputable Provider

How to Find a Trustworthy Provider

Behind the Window Dressing

Part Three – Helping Hospice Return to its Roots

Dying for Dollars

Weak Oversight Breeds Neglect

The US Government Sound the Alarm

Next Steps

As I was preparing to submit this beast to hybrid publishers (who do not accept every manuscript submitted), I hired Stacy Juba to do a thorough developmental edit of my second attempt to consolidate the unruly information into a unified structure. She did a fantastic job. I never could’ve gotten the professional results to publish this crucial and timely book without her expertise, experience, and talent.

hospice memoir

Buy the book on Amazon.

About the Author

Maryclaire Torinus received certification in Clinical Pastoral Education for Chaplaincy at St. Camillus Senior Living Residence. She worked as a hospice chaplain and as a hospice consumer advocate for eight years. She also worked for two years as a pastoral counselor in an acute-care wing of the Milwaukee County Behavioral Health Complex. Maryclaire is a Wisconsin native and met her husband, Mark, in the fifth grade. She and Mark were married for 37 years until his passing in 2013. They have three children and three grandchildren.





Stress-Free Networking For Freelance Editors

Stress-Free Networking For Freelance Editors

Are you a freelance editor wanting to advance your career but feeling overwhelmed by networking and promoting your business?

Whether you’re just starting your freelance editing career, are an industry veteran transitioning to freelance work, or are an experienced freelancer, the key to professional growth lies in building the right connections. I recently had the opportunity to read and review Networking for Freelance Editors: Practical Strategies for Networking Success, written by Brittany Dowdle and Linda Ruggeri.

This informative guide geared toward book editors offers practical advice and a fresh perspective on networking. We all know that networking is important, but it can often be a source of stress and discomfort. The authors tackle this issue head-on by helping editors identify and dismiss stale, stress-inducing ideas about networking that hold them back. By challenging these beliefs, editors can overcome Imposter Syndrome and wasted effort, allowing them to approach networking with confidence and purpose.

As a fiction author, freelance developmental editor, and online course creator, I do a ton of networking. I’m always hopping on Zoom calls, getting to know others in the publishing industry and brainstorming ways we can collaborate. This has led to forming affiliate partnerships, speaking at online conferences and inside membership programs, appearing on podcasts, exchanging guest blog posts, and receiving client referrals.

Over the past couple of years, I’ve attended conferences and participated in Facebook communities with collaboration opportunities. I thought I was a networking pro!

That’s why I was pleasantly surprised at the new insights gained from this book. Most of my experience has revolved around networking with fellow authors and course creators—not editors. Although I’ve collaborated with editors and book coaches, we usually met through an author community, online entrepreneur group, or mutual friend. Until reading this book, I never thought of seeking out organizations and Facebook communities specifically aimed at editors.

Suddenly motivated to fill this gap in my networking strategy, I joined the Facebook groups recommended in the book. As I browsed the archived materials and posts, I discovered wonderful resources to save for future reference. I’m also considering joining one of the professional organizations that Brittany and Linda suggested.

However, the book goes beyond recommending reputable, positive communities. The authors also provide a step-by-step guide that builds a strong foundation for professional, long-lasting relationships. This method allows freelance editors to grow their network at a comfortable pace, making the process enjoyable and sustainable. The book also emphasizes how each editor is unique, with individual strengths and talents that can be leveraged for networking success.

About the Authors

Brittany Dowdle, editor and owner at World Cat Editorial Services, is a freelance editor with over ten years’ experience in the publishing industry. She has edited the work of best-selling traditionally published authors, award-winning indie authors, and international best-selling authors. Brittany graduated summa cum laude from the University of North Georgia with a degree in English. She is a founding member of the Editorial Freelancers Association’s Diversity Initiative and helped design the Welcome Program, acting as its codirector in 2019–2020.

Linda Ruggeri, editor and owner at The Insightful Editor, is a freelance nonfiction editor, writer, and authenticity reader (Spanish/Italian) with a degree in communications and fine arts from Loyola Marymount University. Linda runs the Mentorship Program for PEN as well as the Welcome Program for the EFA.

networking for freelance editors

More About Networking For Freelance Editors

If you’re ready to take your freelance editing career to the next level and establish a powerful network that propels you forward, Networking for Freelance Editors is the resource you’ve been waiting for. This book is for editors, proofreaders, indexers, fact-checkers, translators, writers, and anyone pursuing a freelance career in the publishing industry.

Buy direct from Linda and Brittany

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Learn more about the book



How To Become A Ghostwriter – Busted Myths With The Ghostwriter JB

How To Become A Ghostwriter – Busted Myths With The Ghostwriter JB

how to become a ghostwriter

Have you ever wondered how to become a ghostwriter? My friend JB Favour, a ghostwriter and coach for aspiring ghostwriters, stopped by to explain how to become a “Ghost” and busted some common myths. Read JB’s post below.

If I had a dollar for every time someone asks me how they could become a ghostwriter–I’d be able to buy out my favorite Nike sneakers in every color possible. Thing is, ghostwriting has become a buzzing topic especially with the mouthwatering pay attached to it whenever it makes the news. Emphasis on the news, because not every ghostwriter gets to make headlines unless by facts you are ghostwriting for a public figure or celebrity. Now how many of us actually belong to that elite category? No shades, I’m not there either. 

Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, back to the million dollar question. How does one become a ghostwriter? In this quirky yet informative article, I’ll be guiding anyone who has ever wanted to become a Ghost through some common myths and busting them along the way. 

Let’s go!

Myth 1: Anyone can become a ghostwriter. 

Yes and no. 

How can anyone become a ghostwriter? I’ll answer this in simple, plain baby language. 

By waking up one morning and declaring that you wanna become one! Seriously, mindset first. You have to actually want it enough to get it. And I say this because you will need to put in some serious work and it is only if you want it bad enough that you can stick around till the end.

Next, you have to brush up your writing skills if you don’t already have one. Many writers recommend reading as one sure way to do this and I gladly agree. Books will open you up to a lot of awesome vocabulary and give you an idea of how a good book should look and sound. If you don’t have a strong command of language–abort mission. One of the key requirements of ghostwriting entails being able to express and communicate accurately in the language of your specialization. For example, if your primary writing language is French, what good will it do you to try writing in French without understanding French grammar or tenses first? Now you get me.

Fixing up your fluency in the language of your choice is my ultimate first step recommendation. Take spelling classes, grammar lessons, vocabulary classes, dust your writing and comprehension skills first.

So, nope! Anyone who doesn’t have a good command of the language they intend to write in cannot become a ghostwriter. Well, realistically they can tag themselves ghostwriters on any freelance platform of their choice as is common these days, but we all know how that pans out in the long run. 

But, if this doesn’t apply to you – congratulations, you may now proceed to; 

Myth 2: You can’t have proof of your work.

Big fat lie. Being a ghostwriter doesn’t mean you have no proof of work. Sure as Ghosts who typically sign an NDA (Non-Disclosure Agreement), you cannot disclose that you are the ghostwriter for a work you do unless by sheer will the author decides to give you credit in any way. Typically by ghostwriting, you’re signing away the rights to any material or work you develop under the limitations of an NDA. So how then can a Ghost show that they truly are a writer? 

Easy peasy. We write. Tons of ghostwriters have gone on to become bestselling authors of their own book. So while you cannot claim a work you’ve ghostwritten, you can write yours. Next, you definitely need to have an online digital footprint. I’m sorry but people should be able to find out who you are with a simple Google search or you’re not serious about business.

Build a portfolio or get a simple website and leave samples of what your writing style looks like. There are so many options and if you want to start with a free one–I’d recommend Journo Portfolio. Nope, this is not an ad, it is the one I use and I’m a big fan of the analytics feature it allows users for the free version. Grab a template and edit it to your style and voila – you can start uploading samples. 

Myth 3: You must be on freelance platforms like Fiverr, Upwork, and the rest to get clients.

Who says so? No seriously, who is selling this lie? As much as this is not in any way a discredit to those who are actually getting paid their worth on these platforms, the majority of freelancers can agree with me when I say, these places house the most modern form of slavery. The constant bidding and bargaining, the bulk jobs and the fact that these platforms leave freelancers at the mercy of prospective clients who can simply wake up one morning and cancel an order. Talk about audacity–yep, you can find it all on these platforms. 

Every time a newbie Ghost approaches me, I hear one sad, frustrating story after the other. So here’s a secret for free. 

In the last two years, the least I’ve ever earned for ghostwriting a book was $2000 – $2500 for a word count of 50k words. Prices go higher depending on project size, amount of research needed and of course if I’ll be doing an interview, I’ll get paid for that too. Memoirs and autobiographies which have been my special forte for a while have different rates beginning from $3000 – $15,000 depending on the project. 

All this and never having to pitch on any of these freelancer sites. In my early days when I first started, I signed up on as many of them as possible in a bid to get one single gig. Soon enough after burning out, I quit and found a way to get myself to the kind of clients I wanted without having to engage in pitiful bargaining.

Today, I teach those who I coach how to make a career out of ghostwriting, doing it their way and breaking free from the industry’s stereotypes. Listen, there are clients who will PAY. You’ve got to believe this. 

You don’t have to offer work for free, accept poor rates, or even work with middle men or agencies just to get gigs. And you certainly don’t need freelancing platforms to earn. You can be a ghostwriter by simply being good at what you do and learning to find your type of clients the right way. 

Lastly, there are several pathways to having a successful career in ghostwriting and mainstream is often not the only stream. Carve your path and walk the walk. It can be hard, but there’s nothing consistency, effort and knowledge won’t get you.

 More About JB Favour

Meet JB Favour, a passionate ghostwriter with a talent for turning ideas into captivating stories. With over five years of experience in the industry, JB has worked with a diverse range of clients, from memoirists to business leaders, trauma/abuse survivors and inspirational icons to bring their stories to life.

As a seasoned wordsmith, she understands that everyone has a unique story to tell, and is honored to be entrusted with the task of sharing it with the world. With a keen eye for detail and a talent for capturing the essence of a person’s voice, JB has helped countless clients to connect with their audience and inspire others with their message.

But JB’s work isn’t just about writing words on a page–it’s about creating a legacy. By helping people to tell their stories, she believes that they can make a lasting impact on the world and leave a meaningful legacy for future generations.

When she is not ghostwriting, she is running her agency FAVES_PEN, which is a content, branding and marketing agency for businesses and entrepreneurs who want to grow sustainable brands. In her free time she enjoys watching movies, listening to BTS and binging on K-drama. 

Connect with JB online:

Coaching with The Ghostwriter JB

Visit her website

Follow her on LinkedIn



5 Essential Research Tips For Fiction Writers

5 Essential Research Tips For Fiction Writers

essential research tips for fiction writers

Author and book coach Meredith R. Stoddard is visiting today to share 5 essential research tips for fiction writers. I met Meredith because we both had chapters included in Launchpad: The Countdown to Writing Your Book and were interviewed on a YouTube show together. Her chapter is full of valuable advice on how to do research, so I asked her if she would share some tips for my audience. Her post is below.

What can a fantasy author tell you about researching fiction? First, that it doesn’t matter what genre you write; believability is key. For everything from historical fiction to sci-fi, keeping your readers immersed in your story depends on making them believe what you are writing. That means that even when writing about the magic system in a fantasy book, or describing a government in a dystopian world, we have to start by grounding it in something familiar to your audience. Those things that readers already know to be true are the foundation that we can use to build castles, spaceships, and fairy realms. Even a fantasy writer like me, has to ground some things in reality, or at least the semblance of reality.

#1 Put yourself in your characters’ shoes

Building a credible world for your characters to move through, and telling how your characters relate to that world means that we need to know everything from what they eat to how they sleep. Where do your characters shop? What do they wear? Which jobs do they have? What kind of laws affect their daily lives?

Fortunately, YouTube is full of videos showing people walking through places, and activities that can give you clues. You can search for “day in the life” videos by location, profession, or demographic. There are videos of markets and grocery stores, and cooking videos of national or regional dishes. All of these things can give you ideas for describing how your characters live. If your settings are real, you can use Google Street View to walk around many places in the world.

#2 Research for all five senses

You’ve probably heard that you should write for all five senses. That means you should also research for all five senses. Your readers are going to want to know what your fictional world and even your characters smell like. They’ll want to know the sounds, tastes, textures, and sights of the world you’re creating and how your characters perceive them. Pay attention to those details while researching. Those details will draw your readers in.

#3 Look for more than just the facts

The way we and our characters experience the world is subjective. Just as much as facts make your work believable, giving your readers opinions and letting them react to the world around them is important. This helps with characterization and gives your work an emotional punch. Reaction videos and product reviews are great sources for understanding people’s opinions and seeing how they react to events. Listening to people tell their own stories is also helpful.

#4 Use Smart Search Terms

The amount of information on the internet is ever-expanding. Sifting through that information to find what you need can be difficult and overwhelming sometimes. Search engines help, but sometimes getting the exact results you’re looking for is a challenge. You can make search engines work for you by using some simple commands to refine your searches.

Putting your terms inside quotation marks will search for your terms exactly, while adding a tilde in front will include synonyms for the words you’re searching on. A dash before a word in your search terms will exclude the word that follows it. This is useful for narrowing searches of common terms. You can specify the kind of results you’re looking for by using location: or filetype: before your search terms. All of these refinements can help you sift through the volumes of information and get the results you need.


#5 Check your sources

Unfortunately, the internet is also full of misinformation or articles that are out-of-date. When you find the information you’re looking for, you should make note of the sources of the information. Because it is so easy to post articles on the internet, it’s important to be skeptical of the information you find. If you’re looking for facts, be sure to use multiple sources for confirmation. Know the business model of websites you are using as sources and be conscious of the potential for bias. Wikipedia is a great resource, but it is crowd-sourced so its accuracy will vary. It does require that editors include their sources, so it makes a good bibliography. You can also use fact-checking websites like, and

There is a lot more I could say about researching for fiction. In fact, I wrote a chapter on researching for Launchpad: The Countdown to Writing Your Book with more details. The key thing to remember is that everything we read or observe feeds into what we write. The best research for fiction is observing the world and the people around us.

The Once & Future Series

research tips for fiction writers

Celtic legends and modern life collide in this saga of a contemporary woman coming to grips with a destiny set in motion generations ago. Inspired by her unusual childhood in rural Appalachia, Sarah MacAlpin is set on pursuing a career as a folklorist. She had a rough start in life but has worked tirelessly to set herself on the right track. Just when Sarah comes closest to reaching her professional goals, a startling revelation turns her whole world upside down.

The River Maiden, book 1 of the Once & Future series is free on most ebook platforms.

Launch Pad: The Countdown to Writing Your Book

book for writers to read

You can read Meredith’s chapter on research and my chapter on grammar in Launch Pad: The Countdown to Writing Your Book.

Each focused chapter brings authors and would-be-authors closer to the creation of a story well told and ready for publication. The brainchild of entrepreneur, author, and speaker, Grace Sammon, this book series builds on the wildly popular radio show LAUNCH PAD – celebrating book releases and the authors who create them. With countdown tips, ways to connect directly to the authors, and bonus downloadable planning sheets, LAUNCH PAD delivers a craft book that speaks right to you.

Buy it on Amazon.

More About Meredith

Meredith R. Stoddard is the author of folklore-inspired fiction including her Once & Future Series, a contemporary fantasy series that blends Celtic legends with modern life. She is also a book coach at The Book Grower, and the Communications Director of Bookish Road Trip, a community of readers, writers, and travel lovers where she hosts an Instagram Live program called Author Ride Along. She is a contributor to the Launch Pad Countdown series on writing, publishing and marketing books from Red Penguin Books, and a member of Author Talk Network. Her latest novel Thistle & Lion will be released June 8th, 2023.

Visit her websites:


Transform Your Story With May Online Writing Retreat #writingcommunity #writer

Transform Your Story With May Online Writing Retreat #writingcommunity #writer

online writing retreat

Have you ever been to an online writing retreat before? They can really make a difference in your writing career, and I’m excited to tell you about one that’s affordable with fantastic instructors. On May 16 and 17, 2023, my friends, Kat Caldwell and Marci Renée, are launching the first Write With Us! Online Retreat, and it is going to be EPIC!

There will be 7 workshops to attend (recordings are included for those who sign up). The workshops range from finding your next book idea, to outlining your current book, to developing characters, to finding a better hook. 

I’ll be leading an interactive workshop on enriching your story through nonverbal communication and body language. I know most of the other instructors personally and can vouch for them as well.

If you have my Energize Your Writing Toolkit, then you may have heard me discuss nonverbal communication before, but this is a brand new workshop where we’ll study examples from published books, zero in on what many writers do wrong, and you’ll get a chance to put your creative skills to the test with some guided prompts. Participants will have the chance to share the mini excerpts they wrote during the workshop.

This is not a summit where you listen to writers talk about writing. Those are awesome (I’ve spoken at and attended several myself), but this is a writing retreat. What makes it different? 

There will be:

  • Introductions and sharing time to hear from each other about your writing.
  • Live workshops with implementable writing tips.
  • This gives you a chance to be up close and personal with some of the best writing teachers and time to ASK QUESTIONS!
  • Writing sprints after each workshop
  • In between the workshops, the Zoom room will be open for sprints. 
  • Giveaways each day! We’re giving away courses, print books and more!

This two day event is May 16 and 17 all on Zoom (with a private Facebook Group option as well) and is only $127. That’s SEVEN workshops for just $127. 

virtual writing retreat

Your ticket includes all seven workshops live, the recordings, access to the sprinting room, your name automatically entered in the giveaways, and these bonus offers:

  • Write Your Hero ebook by Lewis Jorstad
  • Author Life Fix ebook by Tracee Garner
  • Push a Pencil: 40 Prompts to Develop Your Creativity ebook by Kat Caldwell
  • Plan Your Novel Like A Pro ebook by Beth Barany
  • Adding Nonverbal Communication and Body Language To Enrich Your Story Workbook by Stacy Juba

I think this retreat will equip you to finish your book in 2023, and I’m excited to be a part of it!  You can sign up for this exciting online writing retreat here.


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