Category Archives: Articles

Guest Post: Using Amazon Categories to Sell More Books by Peggy Sansevieri

Guest Post: Using Amazon Categories to Sell More Books by Peggy Sansevieri

Thank you to Peggy Sansevieri for this fascinating book marketing article which previously appeared on Writers in the Storm.

By now most authors know the importance of choosing great keywords on Amazon, but Amazon’s categories are equally important. Choosing the right categories can boost your exposure. And exposure drives book sales.

So, while it’s good to spend a lot of time focusing on keywords, you should also focus on finding narrow categories on Amazon. The reason to look narrow is this: categories with fewer books have lower competition for the #1 spot. And the top ten is a great place to hit, not only because it creates more visibility for your book, but Amazon’s algorithms kick in as you start to spike within categories.

Books 3

The BIG Secret about Amazon Categories

When speaking to a contact at Amazon recently, she told me they had rolled out ten categories for each book. Which means that instead of just two categories, you can have up to ten for each of your titles. Why is this good? Well, the more categories your book has, the more places it will show up. And because you have more flexibility now, you can pick some super niche categories, along with less niche ones. This is especially good in markets where there aren’t a ton of niches. Business books often sit in this segment. Having more categories levels the playing field a bit more.

How to Choose the Right Categories

First, when I talk about Amazon categories (and in previous posts I’ve done for this blog), you’ve probably noticed that I always refer to the eBook side of Amazon. This is because the categories on the eBook side are more creative because there are more of them.

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My Surgery is Making Me Cut Back…


If you’re a regular reader, you may have caught on that surgery is imminent for me. I’m having hip replacement surgery today.

For months, as the pain has increased, my productivity has tanked. When you’re in pain, simple tasks, like grocery shopping or making the bed, become huge undertakings, taking much longer than it should.


I’ve been struggling to keep up with my blog. Frankly, it is apparent I can not keep up with my daily pace.

So I’m letting myself off the hook.

I’m not worrying about the month of July at all.

I already have posts scheduled for all the Sundays, Mondays, and Thursdays in July, so you’ll still be able to get your weekly From the Creator’s Heart, Monday Morning Wisdom, Video of the Week, and guest post. I’m just not up to hustling the original content: the Tuesday/Saturday articles, the Wordless Wednesday photos, the Friday memes. So, they’re gone for a while.

Once I’m off pain meds, I’ll start writing again, but I’ll concentrate on August and beyond (and my book projects).

So, please, bear with me. And send up a prayer to the Great Physician that my healing will be fast. Thanks!

Ballet Exercise Routines

Ballet Exercise Routines

I have an ulterior motive for compiling this post. I love ballet, but haven’t taken a class since the late 1970s. And I probably won’t. But I’m jealous of the strength these petite little dancers have.

I haven’t even done my folk dancing since November, because of my arthritis. The only place I can move without pain is the pool, so I’ve been in it a lot since the weather warmed up. I’ll be having hip replacement surgery next week, then six weeks of physical therapy. And eventually, I’ll be able to ease into dancing again. And I’d like to add ballet exercises to my workout rotation. So, I’m looking for YouTube videos.

And I’m generously sharing them with you.

(Some of these exercises will be forbidden for a while—risk of dislocation; so if you’ve just had hip replacement surgery, follow your doctor’s orders.)

The video below has an annoying purple rectangle blocking it. Click your cursor on its upper right corner to get rid of it.

So, do you think you’ll try some of these ballet exercise routines? Is this article helpful to you? Please click the “Like” button and share on all your social media. Thanks!

Best Websites for Folk Dancers


If you’ve been reading ARHtistic License, you know I’m an avid folk dancer (though I’m out of commission right now, due to arthritis—hip replacement surgery coming up soon). Besides being fun, it’s excellent exercise, especially for the brain. Folk dancing celebrates culture and beauty. It also necessarily involves one of my other loves—music.

Serbian folk dancers

Because it’s one of my passions, I regularly scour the internet looking for dances, dance instructions, and folk costumes. Here are some of the best resources I’ve found:

  • Folk Dance Musings. Curated by Andrew Carnie, this is the #1 best resource I’ve found for dance videos and dance instructions. The alphabetical list includes hundreds of dances from countries all over the world. Carnie embeds videos and gives detailed instructions, names the music commonly used for the dance, and often gives a brief history of the choreography. He also provides links for further information.
  • Folk Dance Federation of California. Lists dance events happening in California, plus instructions for many dances, and other resources.
  • Folk Dance Federation of California, South. Includes an extensive bibliography on folk dancing, and complete texts of many articles.
  • Phoenix International Folk Dancers. This is the group I dance with. Check it and the PIFD Facebook page if you’re in (or planning to visit) the greater Phoenix area. Come dance with us!
  • YouTube, of course, is the place to look for folk dance videos. Roy Butler has posted hundreds.
  • Pinterest is another source for folk dance visuals. Two places to try: my Folk Dance Costumes board and my Folk Dance Videos board.

folk dancers; children

Yo-Yo Ma

Yo-Yo Ma

Yo-Yo Ma was born in October 7, 1955, to Chinese parents living in Paris. His mother, Marina Lu, was a singer and his father, Hiao-Tsiun Ma, was a violinist and professor of music at Nanjing National Central University.

He began playing the cello with his father at age four. Three years later, his family moved to New York City, and he continued his cello studies at the Juilliard School. After his conservatory training, he attended Harvard University, graduating with a degree in anthropology in 1976.


10/6/1987 President Reagan Nancy Reagan Crown Prince Akihito and Crown Princess Michiko listen to Yo-Yo Ma perform in the Yellow Oval Room during a private dinner for Crown Prince Akihito of Japan

Prior to entering Harvard, Ma played in the Marlboro Festival Orchestra under the direction of cellist and conductor Pablo Casals. There he met and fell in love with festival administrator Jill Hornor. They married in 1978.

Ma has performed with many of the world’s major orchestras. He has also played chamber music, often with the pianist Emanuel Ax, with whom he has a close friendship from their days together at the Juilliard School of Music in New York.

Ma has an eclectic repertoire which include Baroque pieces; American bluegrass music; traditional Chinese melodies, including the soundtrack to the film Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon; the tangos of Argentinian composer Ástor Piazzolla; Brazilian music; a collaboration with Bobby McFerrin; as well as the work of modern minimalist Philip Glass.

Ma formed the Silk Road Ensemble, bringing together musicians from diverse countries historically linked via the Silk Road, the famous route which for more than two thousand years was used for trade, notably spices, all the way across Europe and Asia to China. He also founded the Silk Road Connect, involving children from middle schools in the United States.


Photo from the World Economic Forum; cropped

Ma is known for his smooth, rich tone as well as his virtuosity, and his humble spirit and humanitarianism. He has recorded more than 90 albums and received 18 Grammy Awards.

Creative Juice #98

Creative Juice #98

A dozen creative ideas to inspire you.

All About Author Visits

All About Author Visits

Today’s article is for teachers and librarians and media specialists as well as for authors of books for children and teens.

When my children were in school, occasionally a form came home explaining that an author was visiting the school and my child could purchase a book which would be signed by the author.

We never bought the books. We were on a budget. Most of my childrens’ books came from the library or the Scholastic book club flyers. I didn’t really get what author visits were all about.

author visit; Jeff Kinney

Author Jeff Kinney visits Malcolm X School; photo by Mark Coplan; used under CC Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic License

The next time I heard about author visits was in 2004 when I attended the Maui Writers’ Conference. I heard a talk by Christopher Paolini, who wrote Eragon when he was a home-schooled 15-year-old. His family originally self-published the book, and they traveled around to Renaissance festivals to market it, often standing in the rain all day to sell two books. Somehow he stumbled on the idea of offering to do a presentation at a school. His appearance was a success, and word spread among school librarians, who were happy to have him come to talk to kids about writing fantasy in exchange for book sales. The audience for his book multiplied, buzz got out, and Alfred A. Knopf snatched up Eragon and gave Paolini a contract for three more books.

After I returned to teaching, I got to attend some fabulous author visits at my elementary school. Now I understand what a win-win-win enterprise author visits are for students, teachers, and writers.

The best author visits are the ones where a large portion of the students have already read at least one of the author’s books (which are especially beloved by children of all ages and their teachers and the media specialists because they are so well-written and relevant), and the teachers have read at least portions of a book to or with their classes, and the author is prepared with an engaging educational presentation and activities that tie in to the state standards.

Author visits can be arranged through several different avenues:

  1. Through publishers. Most large publishers maintain lists of their authors who are willing to visit schools and libraries. There is a cost for this service: an honorarium for the author (somewhere between $200-$5000), plus travel expenses, including mileage or transportation, lodging, and meals, depending on the distance the author travels and the length of the visit.
  2. Through bookstores. When publishers send well-known authors on book tours, each bookstore they come to for a signing has the option of arranging school visits. Since the publisher is paying the author’s expenses, no honorarium or expenses are paid by the school, but they must order a certain number of books. These can be bought by the students to be signed by the author, or purchased for the library, or for classroom sets, or any combination therof.
  3. Directly through the author. Many authors are published through small houses which do not have the resources to set up visits, or are self-published. These authors may seek out schools and libraries that they are willing to visit, or list their availability on their author website or other websites and publications. They determine their own requirements and rates for honorariums and expenses.

Author visits can take a variety of forms:

  1. The author reads and/or talks about his book.
  2. The author talks about his process of writing, where he gets his ideas, his pathway to getting the book published.
  3. The author conducts a workshop to help the students write stories or poetry.
  4. A large scale presentation in an auditorium for several grade levels.
  5. A small scale presentation for a single class.

One of the best author visits I’ve ever seen was a presentation by Jack Gantos, who wrote the Rotten Ralph and Joey Pigza books. He’s kind of nerdy-looking in his narrow tie and eyeglasses. He had a slide show with illustrations on his computer that was projected on a screen while he told stories like this one. He had our students rolling on the floor laughing.

Author visits are excellent avenues for authors who write for children and teens to promote their books. They’re great for students, especially those who have already read the books, to see that ordinary people can write meaningful stories that touch people deeply. And they’re worthwhile for teachers, because they support and enhance the teachers’ writing and literature instruction.

Author visit resources:

Do you know of an author who does wonderful presentations at schools? Do you do school visits? Have any tips? Please share in the comments below.

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