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Monday, October 8, 2012

Karen Cioffi-Ventrice, An In-Depth Interview About Marketing

Often writers become discouraged at the seemingly never-ending process of marketing their work. Common complaints run the gambit from, the market is over-saturated; what chance does a new writer got trying to break in? to, unless you're a celebrity, somebody already famous, who will care?

Meet Karen Cioffi-Ventrice, multi-award-winning author, freelance/ghostwriter, editor, and professional marketer. When it comes to locating an expert in the marketing field, Cioffi-Ventrice is the authority. And, thankfully, she has consented to a BookOrBust interview.

Welcome Karen. Thank you for being here.

1. Please tell readers a little about yourself.

To start off, Linda, you’re much too kind!

I live in New York City with my husband. I have two grown children and two grandsons, and a granddog. I’ve been writing for a long time, and have two children’s books published, Walking Through Walls and Days End Lullaby. And, I have a picture book series in contract.

Walking Through Walls received two awards this year:

Children’s Literary Classics Seal of Approval (and it’s now a finalist for the CLC 2012 Book Award) and First Place in the Editors and Predators January 2012 Readers Poll, in the Children’s Novel category.

In addition, I have an ebook on writing for children:

Fiction Writing for Children, which is also in an ecourse format.

And, I have an author platform ecourse:  

Creating and Building Your Author Online Presence

And, I have two marketing ebooks:

Article Marketing – Increase Website Traffic with Properly Formatted and Search Engine Optimized Content

Design Your Own eBook Covers in 10 Easy Steps Using Microsoft Office 2010

A writing platform is kind of like a soapbox. You let people know who you are and what you have to offer. This becomes your platform, the ‘thing’ you’re known for. And, you’re marketing efforts go forth from it.

3. What must a writer do to create a writing platform?

LOL I have a 6 week ecourse on how to create and build an author online presence / platform.

But, the first step for an author, after creating a quality product/book, is to create an effective website. Having an effective site means it needs to have the necessary optimization elements, pages, and content. The website is the foundation of your platform. And, simple works best.

4. As you and I both know, building a writing career means doing a lot of things we writers may not be accustomed to doing. Writing requires sitting quiet and being alone. Marketing does not. What advice do you have for the weary writer uncomfortable with meeting new people, networking, and tooting her own horn?

Today, there’s no such thing as being a solitary writer. If you want to write and actually have your work read and bought, you must move past your comfort zone and become part of social networking. That means just jumping in. Join the biggies: Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, Pinterest, and GooglePlus. Then start sharing your posts and be sure to be active by retweeting or commenting on other people’s posts. It’s all about socialization.

If you want to be recognized, you need to recognize others and socialize with others.

5. What tips do you have for writers experiencing fear, or lack of focus when it is time to market their books.

There are many writers who feel marketing is just too overwhelming. My advice is to first learn about marketing, learn the basics. Then take it one step at a time. Don’t look at the ‘whole’ thing; look at step one, step two . . .

In regard to focus, you need to have a marketing plan. Create two or three major writing goals. Then break each goal down as to how you’ll reach it. Try to focus on one strategy at a time. Once you’re comfortable and effective with one strategy move on to another.

It’s also a good idea to spend a bit of time on Sunday to plan your action steps for the week.

Having a plan and action steps helps keep you focused.

6. I receive a copy of your free newsletter, The Writing World, once a week. And, I love it! It is chock full of sensible advice and great marketing tips. If a BookOrBust reader wants to subscribe to your newsletter, how would she do that?

You can subscribe to The Writing World at

7. In your newsletter, you point out how when an individual stops by a website and leaves a comment, it is important for the owner of the website to respond to that visitor's comment. Please explain why?

Engagement, socialization, and shareability are today’s marketing tools. In regard to blog post comments, if a reader takes the time to leave a comment, it’s only common courtesy to respond to it. In addition, this is how a relationship is established.

Maybe it’s a first time visitor or someone who frequents your blog. If you create a relationship, that individual may very well be motivated to subscribe to your newsletter or say YES to another call-to-action you have on your site.

For more on this topic, you can check out my article:

Book Marketing Strategy:

Blog Commenting and Sharing Posts 

8. I'd love it if you shared with BookOrbust readers what a marketing niche is and how necessary it is to have one?

A marketing niche is simply a specific topic you’re focusing on – what you’re writing about. One writer may write for children, another may write business content. Then there are also more specific niches: writing children’s picture books or writing specifically on business incentives in the business arena.

Having a specific niche is important so you can create the element of expertise in it. This doesn’t mean you can’t have more than one niche, but you do need to keep them separate and promote each separately.

For an example, I’m a children’s writer of picture books and middle grade books. I’m also a nonfiction health, business, and online marketing writer.

If I had one website for all these niches, I wouldn’t be focused. And, when marketing who would I market to? I wouldn’t want to bring people looking for health information to a children’s book site or vice versa.

You can’t market to everyone; you need to decide exactly who you will focus your marketing efforts on. And, that audience needs to be brought to a site that focuses on that niche.

The adage, ‘jack of all trades, master of none,’ comes into play. You don’t want to be known as someone who knows a little on a lot of things. You want to be known as a master, or expert, in one or two specific fields or niches.

9. What is your recommendation on how often writers need to post at their blogs?

I actually recently read some statistics posted at about this. One of those statistics stated that websites that post around 20 posts per month get five times more traffic than sites that post only a few times per month.

For most, posting 20 times a month isn’t feasible, but shooting for three times a week might be. If that’s too much, post at least twice a week.

10. In closing, Karen, is there anything you want BookOrBust readers to know about you, and the work you do?

Thanks for asking Linda. Aside from my ecourses, I give six-week Author Online Presence classes through WOW Women on Writing – the next one starts January 7, 2013. And, I do a weekly book marketing column for the Working Writers Club, and a monthly teleclass.

In addition, my marketing group, Writers on the Move – offers great writing and marketing information, along with free webinars.

You can learn more about Karen Cioffi-Ventrice by visiting her


or, reading her


Feel free to contact Karen at:  Karencioffi AT ymail DOT com

Thank you, Karen Cioffi-Ventrice for sharing with BookOrBust readers really great information. On behalf of BookOrBust readers and myself, heartfelt best wishes on your continued success.

Thank you for featuring me, Linda! It was a pleasure.


Suzanne Lieurance said...

Hey, Linda, and Karen,

Great interview with loads of good information for freelance writers as well as authors.

Happy writing....and marketing!


Carol Fraser Hagen said...


As usual great information.


LindaDellaDonna said...


Thank you for stopping by and taking time out of your busy schedule to read Karen's interview with BookOrBust and leave a comment. What can I say? Karen is a great interview candidate; she is filled with energy and information and I might add regarding my interview skills, well, I had a very good teacher. :)

Be well. Again, thank you for stoppign by.

See you in print,


LindaDellaDonna said...

Hi Nancy,

Thank you for stopping by and reading this interview. Yes! I agree. Karen is great, as always!

See you in print,


Margaret Gower said...

Linda and Karen,

Great interview and information. Karen, I loved "Walking Through Walls" and I'm glad it has received awards. You deserve it.

Melissa Abramovitz said...

Great interview! It was fun getting to know Karen. Thank you for posting.

LindaDellaDonna said...


I agree. Karen's interview is great. Karen made it so easy.

Thanks for stopping by. Thanks for leaving a comment.

See you in print,

Karen Cioffi said...

Suzanne, Thanks for stopping by. I try!

Carol, Thanks so much!

Marge, Thank you so much for your kind words. They're appreciated!

Melissa, Thank you for stopping to comment!

Karen Cioffi said...


I actually stopped here yesterday and posted a comment, but for some reason it didn't appear.

Thank you for interviewing me. It was a pleasure!