How to Properly Pack Your Purse for Promotional Possibilities by Tristi Pinkston

… Or, How to Well-stock Your Wallet for Wonderful Writer … stuff.

You never know when you’re going to run into a potential reader. If you keep your eyes open, opportunities are everywhere. Did you see an old neighbor at the grocery store? Did you overhear someone at the library saying they wanted something new to read? Did you see someone wandering the aisles at Barnes and Noble with a lost look on their face? You might not feel the urge to approach a total stranger in a store, but nearly every time you leave the house, you will have the chance to share what you do with someone else. Don’t let that moment pass you by without making the most of it.

Make sure you always, always have business cards or bookmarks in your purse or wallet. And don’t tuck them clear in the back, or let them float around in the bottom where you can’t find them and where they’ll get crumpled. Have a specific place to keep them. Know that you can reach in at any moment and put your hands right on them. Replenish them often – when you see you’re down to five, it’s time to put more in there.

Successful businessmen are always on the lookout for new clients, new opportunities. You should train yourself to be on the lookout for those same things, and you should be prepared with hand-out material. And if you don’t feel comfortable blatantly saying, “Buy my book!” you can use the back of your business card to write down other information that person might need. Do they need the name of the PTA president? Pull out your card, write it on the back, and you’ve not only gotten your information in their hands, but they have the name of the PTA president.

This new mindset—this constant awareness of opportunity—does take a little while to get used to, but soon, you’ll be marketing like a pro.

Read Tristi’s previous guest posts on Promotion:


Tristi Pinkston is the author of seventeen (and counting!) published books, including the Secret Sisters mystery series. In addition to being a prolific author, Tristi also provides a variety of author services, including editing and online writing instruction. You can visit her at or her website at

When Shameless Self-Promotion is Shameful by Tristi Pinkston

Last year, I wrote a post about shameless self-promotion. You can read the full thing here, but essentially my point was this: if you have created something, why be ashamed to let others know you did it? Sometimes we are hesitant to say we have a new book coming out or that we’ve started a new business because we don’t want to sound like we’re bragging, but in reality, if we don’t tell others what we’re doing, we are missing the boat in expanding our endeavors.

As people stopped by and left comments, the conversation turned to a discussion of, “Yeah, but what about times when it really is inappropriate to self-promote?” I promised a follow-up post, and at long last, here it is.

Yes, I’m all about taking every opportunity to self-promote, but I’m also going to be the very first to encourage you to choose your moments. Let’s take a look at some completely made-up and over-dramatized examples.

The Right Way:

1. Standing in line at the grocery store, you overhear someone say, “Oh, these awful tabloids. I’m so tired of reading this mindless trash. Why, oh, why can’t I find a book that is intelligently written, reaches my inner core, and makes me think about the world around me in a new and different way?” And you hand her your card.

2. Walking down the aisle at the library, you spot a lady with a wistful, lost expression on her face, and she sighs, “I wonder what I should read next.” And you hand her your card.

3. You are at a class reunion and the person who broke your heart comes up to you and says, “So, what are you up to these days?” After mentally taking note of just how much they have let themselves go since letting you go, you hand them your card.

Seriously, if you are looking for opportunities, they will present themselves to you. Just don’t be afraid to open your mouth when they come along.

Now, let’s take a look at The Wrong Way:

1. Your best friend calls you up on the phone. “I’m getting a divorce,” she says. “Oh, I know how to cheer you up,” you reply. “My new book is on sale at Deseret Book! Go buy a copy. You’ll feel better in no time.”

2. You are walking through Barnes and Noble and you see someone approaching the register with Robison Wells’ new book in their hand. You dive in front of them. “Excuse me, you don’t want that book. You want this one instead,” and you shove a copy of your own book into their hands, then kick Robison Wells’ book under the counter.

3. You are at the reading of Great-Aunt Mildred’s will. Each person there was left the paltry sum of $20.00, and the rest of her vast estate was given to The Brotherhood of the Bunny Rabbits Who Wear Purple Pants. You stand up and say, “Twenty dollars? That’s great! Now you can all afford to buy my book!”

Seriously, there are times when you need to hold back, and obscure religious cults don’t always have to be involved.

Last April, I was given the opportunity to sign at Women’s Conference. My table mate was Tiffany Fletcher, author of Mother Had a SecretRead my review here. It’s a nonfiction memoir of Tiffany’s childhood growing up with a mother who had multiple personalities. As people came by our table and we gave them the rundown of our books, they seemed to need to hear what Tiffany had to say. Many of them had grown up with parents with mental illness, and she was able to bear them her testimony of how the Atonement helped see her through a rough childhood and bring her closer to Christ. Often, they left the table in tears, thanking her for what she’d said. Was I going to interrupt that and try to sell them one of my books? Absolutely not. Those women needed what someone else had to offer. As a result, I sold about five books, and Tiffany sold fifteen—all the store had in stock. Was I disappointed that I didn’t sell more? Of course. But the fifteen people who left that bookstore with Tiffany’s book will be uplifted as they read her testimony, and why on earth would I begrudge that?

I believe in karma, that when we do good, it comes back to us. I believe that when we are patient and wait for the right moment, that moment will come. It’s good to be actively seeking marketing opportunities, but it’s good to be sensitive to the situation and to know when to be quiet. You’ll get another chance later. It’s how the universe works.


Tristi Pinkston is the author of seventeen (and counting!) published books, including the Secret Sisters mystery series. In addition to being a prolific author, Tristi also provides a variety of author services, including editing and online writing instruction. You can visit her at or her website at

Writing a Great Book Review by Tristi Pinkston

It’s fun to write a book review. It’s fun to share opinions, to hear what others have to say, to find books that we otherwise might not know about, and it’s also a great way to bring traffic to your blog. No matter your reason for writing book reviews (it might even be for school, and not for the Internet at all), these tips should be helpful. (I say “should” because, really, I can hope that they are, but I can’t know for certain.)

I’ve been a media reviewer for about five years now, and I’ve developed a style that works for me. I’ll outline it below, and then you can tweak it to fit your own needs and parameters. It’s all right if you copy it step by step, too—whatever works best for you.

1. After I’ve read the book, I let it sit for a day or two and let it percolate in my brain. I think about the plot, the characters, the things I wondered as I was reading, the questions I felt were left unanswered.

2. When I sit down to write the review, I give a synopsis of the plot in my own words. Yes, you can use the text off the back of the book, but I personally prefer to write one of my own. It presents my interpretation of the book, rather than what someone else wants me to think about the book.

3. After I’ve written the synopsis, I will make a criticism sandwich. That is to say, I share something I liked about the book, something I felt could have been stronger, and then I close with another thing I liked. I rarely just praise without mentioning something I would have improved—I am a critical reader, and so I spot things. That’s just what happens when you work as an editor. You see stuff. I think it’s important that a potential buyer know for certain what they are buying. I also feel that the author can grow and strengthen their talents as they hear what they might have done better. But I also feel that writing in and of itself is a huge accomplishment, and I don’t ever want the author to feel slammed or harshly criticized. If I can’t be helpful, constructive, and edifying, then *I shouldn’t be critiquing. Simple as that.

4. And that moves us on to my fourth point. I try hard to keep my comments helpful and edifying. If I totally hate a book and can’t find anything good to say about it, I will contact the author or the publicist—whoever sent it to me—and I will explain to them that the book didn’t quite fit me, and that I’d like to pass it on to another reviewer. This is the most fair way for me to handle it—I don’t believe in ripping people up, but instead, I believe in allowing them to learn and grow from their experiences.

5. I always like to talk about how the book made me feel or the things it made me think about. That’s what makes the review unique to me. Anyone can post the text from the back of the book, but it’s hearing what the reviewer felt while they were reading that will sell the book.

6. I always, always include a purchase link to the book. The book review should tell about the book, it should tell how I feel about the book, and it should give my reader a way to buy the book when they are done reading my review.

In a nutshell, those are my tips for writing a great book review. Some reviewers like to include the author’s bio, or interview questions with the author, or book club-style questions. All of that is great. The main thing I can offer is this—be yourself and share how the book impacted you. When you do that, you will rarely go wrong.

*I do want to make one clarifying statement—there are some book reviewers who do like to mention all the negatives and things they didn’t like, and I’m not saying they shouldn’t do that. It’s their choice. I’m explaining what works for me, and every reviewer will have their own philosophy and their own take on what makes a review great.


Note from LDSP: Book reviews can make or break a book. Honesty is vital, and so is civility. I like Tristi’s take on this. Also, if you’re reviewing a book on your blog as part of a virtual book tour, or just for fun, it only takes a couple of extra minutes to post that same review on Amazon and GoodReads. Authors and publishers appreciate it!


Tristi Pinkston is the author of seventeen (and counting!) published books, including the Secret Sisters mystery series. In addition to being a prolific author, Tristi also provides a variety of author services, including editing and online writing instruction. You can visit her at or her website at

Finding a Good Editor by Tristi Pinkston

Part 1: How to Work with an Editor

[LDSP note: So many of my clients have made a bad match with an editor. I once had a self-published author who approached me about traditionally publishing or distributing their book. After reading the first chapter, I told them they needed to have it edited. They told me they’d already spent $2000 on an edit. And it was horrid!!! Incomplete sentences, verb tense issues, punctuation… My heart just broke for them. Editing is very much a “buyer beware” situation. I am very glad Tristi wrote this post and I support every sentence 100%!]

Yesterday, I blogged about how to work with an editor. Today, I’m blogging about how to look for—and find—a good editor. Perhaps I went about that backwards.

As a note of explanation, yesterday’s post was applicable to every author, whether they are self-published or traditionally published. Today’s post will be most beneficial to authors who either self-publish or are looking for a freelance editor to help them prepare to submit traditionally—once you sign with a publishing company, they will assign an editor to you, so you will not need to search for one.

So, let us begin. You’ve finished your manuscript and you’ve sent it through some trusted readers. You’ve incorporated their feedback, and you are ready to send it to an editor. How should you go about this? What should you avoid?

There are some fantastic editors out there, some pretty good editors out there, and some (quite frankly) frightening editors out there. About ten of my clients were badly burned by their editors, came hunting for help in desperation, found me (makes it sound like they had to be desperate to end up choosing me …) and sent me the manuscript after their editor had worked it over. In each of these cases, I have been appalled at the kinds of mistakes left in the manuscript. No editor worthy of the title would ever have left a manuscript in that condition. So it is with that in mind that  I write this blog today—to help you avoid that kind of frustration.

How do you find an editor?

You can go on Google and do a search for freelance editors, but word of mouth always has been and always will be the best way to find a good or a service. People love to talk about their good experiences and their bad. Ask your author friends who they use and recommend. Ask them who they do not recommend. And after they have given you a name or two, ask them the following things:

1. Did the editor treat them well?

2. Did the editor charge them a fair price?

3. Did the editor turn the job around when promised?

4. Did they deliver the kind of edit they promised?

5. Did the editor make any mistakes in the edit, and if so, were they apologetic, or did they get defensive about it?

6. Did the editor explain things clearly? Were they open to questions, and did they answer them respectfully?

7.  If they could change one thing about their editor, what would they change?

After you’ve spoken with your friend and you feel good about the answers they gave, visit that editor’s website and find out the following things:

1. Have they posted a list of books they edited? Are you familiar with any of their previous work? Note: Some brand-new editors are awesome, so if they don’t have a huge list of titles. That’s not necessarily a bad sign.

2. Are their rates compatible with what you can afford, and are they reasonable? Reasonable: $1.00 a page is not unheard of for a new editor, while $3.00 is pretty typical for a seasoned editor. The amount of work that will go into the edit also comes into play—some editors charge a little more if the edit will be complex.

3. Do they offer a sample of their work? Many editors will do a few pages for free, or will do twenty pages for a reasonable fee. This gives you the chance to see if you like their style, but it also gives them the chance to see if they like working with you.

4. Do they work with your genre? This is key! Don’t waste your time querying an editor who doesn’t work with (or enjoy reading) the genre you write, or who doesn’t do the type of edit you need.

If you still like what you see, contact that editor and ask them any other questions that might have risen to the surface. These might include:

1. How long does an edit usually take?

2. Do you ask for money down?

3. How long do I have to pay my bill? What methods of payment do you accept?

4. What system do you have in place just in case one of us is unhappy with the arrangement? (The author should be happy with the editor, but the editor should also be happy with the author.)

5. When is your next available slot?

6. What format should I use when sending my manuscript?

Some of these questions might be answered on the editor’s website, but feel free to ask any others that might be important to you.

You may find the most awesome editor right off the bat and fall madly in love with them and never leave them, or you may find that search to be a little more tricky. To help weed out the editors who will not be as beneficial to you, I suggest:

1. Take them up on that free sample, if offered. If they don’t offer one, be gutsy and ask. Say, “My friend (insert friend’s name here) recommended you, and I’d like to see if our styles are compatible. Would you do a three-page free sample for me?” If they give you lip, they probably aren’t the editor for you anyway. If you don’t care for their style from those three pages, you can thank them for their time and be under no obligation to hire them.

2. If you get a sample back and it just doesn’t seem right to you, ask another editor for a sample, and send in the same segment. Then compare the two. Of course they’ll each point out different things when it comes to the subjective parts of editing, but they should both find the same typos, etc. If you find that the first sample doesn’t match the second and is missing several important corrections (or the second sample doesn’t match the first), that will tell you who is going to be the more thorough editor.

3. Google the name of the editor and see who might have posted positive or negative comments about them online.

4. Make sure you have an out if the editor didn’t come with enough recommendations to make you feel comfortable. Start with a fifty-page edit, and if you like what you see, finish it out. Any time you have doubt, start with a partial. You don’t want to get halfway through an edit, decide you can’t stand each other, still have money owing on one side or work owed on the other, and create a really awkward parting of the ways.

This needs to go two ways. If the author can’t work with the editor, or if the editor can’t work with the author, either one of them should have the option to pull out. But discuss this before you begin any work. Know what the parameters are for that type of situation.

Now, I’m probably making this all sound a lot more complicated than it really has to be. Most authors get referrals from their friends, they trust that editor, they work well together, and they don’t have any issues whatsoever. But we don’t all have author friends with great editors, or maybe that editor is booked and we need to find someone else. These tips will hopefully help you to narrow down what you need and aid in the search for that editor you will love to work with for years to come.

Tristi Pinkston is the author of nine published books, including the Secret Sisters mystery series. In addition to being a prolific author, Tristi also provides a variety of author services, including editing and online writing instruction. You can visit her at or her website at

How to Work with an Editor by Tristi Pinkston

Believe me, I know how you feel. You’ve written a book, it’s taken you months/years/decades, you have large chunks of it memorized because you’ve gone over it so many times, and when you look at it, you see a big pile of blood, sweat, and tears.

It represents all the nights you went without sleep, all the television shows you gave up, all the nights out with friends you missed, the stomachaches you got . . . you have given your all to this book, and now it’s time to turn it over to someone else. You’re tense. You’re nervous. You wonder what they’re going to say. You are, understandably, on pins and needles, and yes, you’ve got your barriers up a bit. You don’t want to get hurt, and so you go into the edit with caution. Again, believe me, I know. I’ve been there.

I’ve also been on the editor’s side of the table. Actually, quite a lot more than I have the author’s side—I have written 14 published books, but I’ve edited a couple hundred books, so the ratio is a little lopsided there.

I’d like to share with you some things I’ve learned about the editor/author relationship from both sides. It’s my hope to help you avoid some of the pitfalls that a lot of new authors (and myself) have encountered on their journeys.

1. The editor is not your enemy.

I have to tell you, I’ve had some clients approach me like they thought I was a lion, and that everything I said was geared specifically to hurt them. There was this one experience, a few years back …

The editor’s job is to take what you have created and help you make it better. That is the only thing on the editor’s mind. They don’t wake up in the morning, rub their hands together, and say, “How can I make my author miserable today?” You might feel wounded when they ask you to rewrite a sentence or to rework a character’s motivation, but in the end, they are doing their best to help you look your best.

2. The editor is usually right.

If you have chosen a good editor (and again, we’ll be discussing that tomorrow), he or she has done their research and they know what they’re talking about. You can put a level of trust in them that they have looked up the answer to your particular question and they are leading you in the right direction. Good editors double-check when they have a question. They ask questions of other editors as need be. They keep Google and Merriam-Webster and up on their computers so they can be sure that what they’re giving you is their very best effort.

3. The editor is sometimes wrong.

Editors are humans, and humans make mistakes. There are times when your editor may make a correction that you know isn’t right. The way to handle this is to talk to them respectfully and explain your point of view, including links to your source, if available. If you have a good working relationship with your editor, based on the respect you show each other, you will be able to discuss it professionally and come to an answer that works for both of you.

Whenever there’s a disagreement, it’s important for both sides to share their feelings. Again, this should be done professionally, with the understanding that neither side is trying to be hurtful.

If you know you’re right, don’t hesitate to make a stand. Most editors are professionals and they will listen to you without the need for an unpleasant “discussion.” If you are proven wrong, be willing to concede the point.

4. It’s personal to the author, but it’s a job to the editor.

Editors take their jobs very seriously. They think about their authors, they’ll fall asleep mulling over plots, they might be out grocery shopping and all of a sudden realize that they need to go back and tweak that one sentence. They care very much about what they do. However, at the end of the day, they don’t have the depth of emotional attachment to the project that the author has.

The author knows that book inside and out. Like I mentioned above, it represents so much more to them than just the story on the page. They can look it at and say, “I remember the day I wrote that scene.”

When an editor makes a cut in a scene that’s very important to the author, it can feel like the author’s throat has been cut instead. It’s painful, especially when the author worked really hard on it. But keep in mind, the editor is making the suggestion based on what works for your story, and what works in the current market. Don’t take it personally. Step back and think of it from a different perspective. Be willing to consider that maybe it does need to go.

5. Ask Questions If You Don’t Understand

Your editor is there to help you, and if they make a comment you don’t understand, ask them to clarify. If they aren’t being clear, they aren’t doing the best job for you. Don’t feel stupid if you don’t get what they mean—they might use specialized editing terms you don’t know, or perhaps they are just approaching it from a different angle. Any time you are unsure what they are saying, ask for clarification. You should understand their viewpoint on every aspect of the edit.

6. You Are the Steward of Your Story

At the end of the day, this is your story. It’s up to you to decide how it should go. The editor is there to help you make it even better, but it’s your task to implement those changes. The trick is to understand what changes are absolutely crucial to make (I have had clients reject some very basic grammar and spelling changes … um, don’t do that) and what are, perhaps, more a matter of personal opinion. I urge you not to disregard good advice just because it’s not what you were thinking. Weigh everything that is said to you carefully. Put ego to the side and be willing to see your book from a reader’s perspective and from the market’s perspective. At the same time, know what’s most important to you and what you’re willing to sacrifice and what you’re not.

There are times when you will need to make a certain change in order to conform to what your publisher has asked. They might say to cut an entire scene that means a lot to you, or to revamp a plot line that is important to you. In a case like that, be willing to talk with them and see if you can compromise. Why do they want you to make the change, and can you arrive at a solution that will please both of you? Sometimes it’s a matter of making the motivation more clear, or heightening the conflict, or making the scene less filler and more usable content. Talk it over.

The editor/author relationship is one of the most important you will form in the writing industry. Authors need editors. Editors need authors . . . kind of hard to be an editor without something to edit. When both parties approach their jobs with professionalism, with an attitude of teamwork, with the willingness to put ego aside to work toward the greater good (and what greater good is there but an awesome book for the world to read), it can be an unbeatable combination.

Come back tomorrow when I discuss how to find an editor and how to make sure they’ll be a good fit for you.


Tristi Pinkston is the author of nine published books, including the Secret Sisters mystery series. In addition to being a prolific author, Tristi also provides a variety of author services, including editing and online writing instruction. You can visit her at or her website at

Ability vs Desire by Tristi Pinkston

My seven-year-old son is a total hoot. The other day he came up to me and said, “Mom, people are always asking the question, ‘How much wood could a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?’ I think the real question is, ‘How much does he want to chuck?'”

Like any good mother, of course I immediately put that on my Facebook status, but I’ve been thinking about it ever since. Out of the mouths of babes, they say. His innocent little question got my brain spinning in a million different directions.

Let’s think about this woodchuck for a minute. Let’s say that he can chuck two trees’ worth of wood in one day. That is his capability. If he works consistently for eight hours, taking a half-hour lunch break, he can chuck two trees.

But how much does he want to chuck?

If he decides that one tree a day is just fine by him, he may only ever chuck one a day. That’s what all the other woodchucks (possessed of similar inclinations) are doing. If he decides to be like all the other woodchucks and produce one a day, no one will think any the less of him. A wood-chucking woodchuck is an awesome thing all by itself. He can get away with living below his potential.

But what if he decides he wants more?

If that woodchuck had enough desire, and he was committed and dedicated and focused, and maybe even skipped his lunch break because he was excited to be chucking wood, he might find himself exceeding his wildest dreams and chucking three or four trees a day. He might have believed his ability only extended to two trees, but when his desire was brought into the picture, suddenly his ability didn’t matter anymore. His desire took his ability and magnified it and expanded it until it was a non-issue.

When you want something badly enough, the facts don’t matter.

Of course I’m going to tie this in to writing. It’s very like me to do that.

As authors, when we think about our writing journey, we shouldn’t think in terms of what we’re “able” to do. We should think in terms of what we “want” to do. If I set a goal to write a book this summer because I want to, it shouldn’t matter in the slightest that I’ve never done it before. I have the desire, and so I can achieve it. If I say, “You know, it’s awesome that I’m an author to begin with. It’s okay if I don’t push myself,” my productivity might slacken and my quality might decline because I’m making excuses and resting on my laurels. I’m like the complacent woodchuck who doesn’t care that he could be chucking more trees.

And what if I don’t want to write a book this summer? That’s okay – if I forced myself to do it anyway, it would probably be a stupid book because my heart wouldn’t be in it. Only I can determine my desires.

In summary, your level of ability doesn’t matter. It’s all about your level of your desire. Desire will take you further than any other determining factor. It doesn’t matter how fast you type. It doesn’t matter how little time you have to write each day. Desire makes things possible. Are you ready to listen to yourself, to your hopes, dreams, and deepest desires, and follow them?

Tristi Pinkston is the author of nine published books, including the Secret Sisters mystery series. In addition to being a prolific author, Tristi also provides a variety of author services, including editing and online writing instruction. You can visit her at or her website at