1stNews from 1stBooks, March 6, 2002

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* Editor's Message
* Article: "Niche-Marketing for Print-on-Demand Authors 
(Part 1)" By Todd Hayes
* 1stBooks Success Profile: Joan Ifland
* Article: "So You Want to Write Poetry: Three Negatives 
and One Big Yes" by Conrad Geller
* 1stBooks News: Would YOU like to be in the New York 
* About 1stBooks Library
* About This Newsletter



Thank you! The response to our first issue was very 
supportive; it's nice to know you're enjoying what we're 
doing and finding it useful.

This issue features the first of several articles by Todd 
Hayes on specific niche steps for authors using a POD 
company like 1stBooks.

Continuing our attempt to pair an article about marketing 
with an article about the craft of writing, we also feature 
an essay by Conrad Geller on what makes a poet. His point 
is valid for any kind of writing; the crafter of fiction, 
creative nonfiction, even journalism can benefit from his 
advice (just substitute the word "writer" where he says 
"poet." Of course, poets will find it especially on target.

For those who write MEMOIRS, our friends at Silvercat Books 
offer a chance at the Silver Threads Memoir contest. 
There's no entry fee, and the prize is editorial and 
packaging services. For an entry form, write 

Of course, if you're the winner and you've published a book 
with us, we will be happy to feature you in a future 
Success Profile!

If you have a comment to make, or an article to submit, 
you'll find a contact address at the bottom. And feel free 
to pass on the whole newsletter to your writer friends.

Finally, if you missed the first issue, you'll find it at


By Todd Hayes, mailto:thayes&undergrounde.com;

[Niche-marketing strategies are quickly becoming a favorite 
small-business promotional model, thanks largely to 
Internet-related technologies and free resources available 
that help define and locate special interest groups. This 
article is the first of a seven-step niche-marketing series 
for print-on-demand (POD) authors. Check future issues of 
this publication to make sure that you will benefit from 
all seven steps.]

Niche-Marketing for POD Authors Step One: Set Specific 

I know this sounds cliche. You've heard about goal-setting 
in every marketing or business-development piece you've 
ever read, but there is good a reason for that. It works.

Setting a specific goal affects every part of your niche-
marketing strategy. It determines how your target markets 
are defined, how you define yourself for your markets, how 
you write your copy to attract them, and it will determine 
the results of your marketing efforts. You don't have to 
limit yourself to just one goal, but you should be aware of 
exactly which goal you are trying to achieve in every 
communication or planning activity you begin. Your specific 
goal is the header on your to-do list for any 
communications plan.

Here's a list of some sample goals for POD authors. Each 
type of goal must be treated like a separate animal when 
developing your marketing strategy.

- I want to sell 5,000 copies of my novel
- I want 5,000 people to read my novel (very different than 
the previous goal)
- I want to promote my POD essay collection on flavored gum 
to gum-loving readers
- I want to be THE world-renowned expert on flavored gum 
(again, different kind of goal than above)
- I want to earn a living selling my books (assign a 
specific number)
- I want to earn a living speaking about the material in my 
- I want to use my books as a promotional tool to attract 
100 more clients
- I want to use my consulting practice to sell 2,500 copies 
of my book
- I want to sell my book about field mice to a major 
publishing house
- I want to be paid a $20,000 publishing advance for my 
field-mice book
- I want to earn $10,000 from the reprint of my bow-hunting 
book that was originally published ten years ago
- I want to use my previously published books to gain 10,
000 new readers for my future titles

* The specific goal determines the course of action: fame 
vs. financial gain; steady income vs. lump sum; promotional 
opportunity vs. sales revenue. Is your POD book a 
promotional tool for attaining a goal, or is your final 
goal to sell many copies your POD book. Can it be both? Yes, 
of course. But as you go to market, you should be conscious 
of which goal you are attempting to achieve at any given 
time, so that the words you speak and the words you write 
feel consistent to your target markets. Consumers are 
easily confused. Your focus will help your prospects make 
the decisions you want them to make.

* Brainstorm. Write down as many goals as you can think of 
regarding your POD book. Be as general or as specific as 
you'd like. Look over what you've written and circle three 
that stand out as being the most important to you. Write 
down a sentence for each that explains why they are 
important. How will your life be better if you succeed in 
all three? State the answer to this question in an "I want 
to" phrase. This is your ultimate goal, one custom-made 
just for you. Each specific goal you create from this point 
forward should relate, as directly as possible, to your 
ultimate goal.

* As an independent author, you must revisit your 
objectives regularly, because there is no corporate 
committee to tell you if you're on the right track. If you 
take the time to write down that ultimate goal every day at 
the top of your journal page, followed by the specific 
goals you've set for each niche market you've targeted, it 
will be easy to remember why you're doing the things you're 
doing. It will also help you decide if you need to change 
your marketing plan along the way to better satisfy your 
most important objectives.

* Once you have set specific goals related to your books, 
it's time to begin defining the niche markets that will 
help you achieve them (see Niche-Marketing Step Two, coming 
up next month).
Todd Hayes is the CEO of UndergroundE Corporation and a 
regular lecturer on marketing and publishing topics. 
UndergroundE is the creator of Access Cards, an inexpensive 
distribution tool that helps independent authors and 
publishers sell their titles to targeted markets. For more 
information about Access Cards, please send a blank email 
message to mailto:authors&undergrounde.com;. UndergroundE 
also produces a goal-oriented Niche Marketing for Writers 
Workshop. To learn more about the workshop, send a blank 
email to mailto:nichewriter&undergrounde.com;.



"Thanks very much for your and your staff's efforts to put 
together the deal on the New York Times ad. As a new author 
with a hot topic, I am very grateful for the exposure. The 
ad paid for itself within a few days just from sales from 
my website and the phone. Sugars and Flours shot up to 571 
on Amazon's sales ranking on the day that the ad appeared. 
AND, much to my surprise, the ad also generated three 
incredible media leads: The Bloomberg Group Radio, which is 
broadcast in hundreds of cities, a producer for a 
TimeWarner program called Focus on New York, and a features 
writer for the LA Times. The Bloomberg interview has been 
scheduled, while I await developments with TimeWarner and 
the LA Times.

"The idea for the ad was innovative and productive. I am 
already signed up to participate in the LA Times ad. I very 
much hope that 1st Book's discussions for ads in other 
cities bear fruit. I am grateful for the opportunity. I 
feel that 1st Books is truly dedicated to helping unknown 
authors like no other publisher. This ad campaign may be 
the break into national prominence that I have been 
seeking. Many authors languish fortheir entire careers 
without such a break. You're doing a great job."

Joan Ifland
Author, Sugars and Flours: How They Make Us Crazy, Sick and 
Fat, and What to Do About It


Three Negatives and One Big Yes

Copyright 2002 by Conrad Geller, mailto:signpoet&aol.com;

I remember some years ago attending a seminar of poets at 
which Basil Bunting, the great British poet, went around 
the table asking each participant why he or she wrote 
poetry. After each response, he said, "Wrong!" or "That's 
not a good reason." At the end, we all waited for him to 
tell us his good reason for writing. But he never did; he 
just changed the subject abruptly.

So poetry remains a mystery to me, even after almost sixty 
years of reading it, writing it, and, it seems, endlessly 
talking about it. What makes a poet, and what makes poetry?

It's discouraging how little I know for sure about poetry 
after so much time. It doesn't help much, either, to look 
at what others have said over the years. William Hazlitt's 
"Poetry is the universal language which the heart holds 
with nature and itself" isn't much help, nor Robert Frost's 
"Poetry is what is lost in translation."

When they talk about poetry, most poets get, well, poetic. 
Worst of all was the always (I think deliberately) 
enigmatic Allen Ginsberg: "I have a new method of poetry. 
All you got to do is look over your notebooks ... or lay 
down on a couch, and think of anything that comes into your 
head, especially the miseries ... Then arrange in lines of 
two, three or four words each, don't bother about sentences, 
in sections of two, three, or four lines each." Maybe that 
sort of thing worked for him, but his recipe is probably 
not much help for the rest of us.

Maybe it's best to start with a couple of things I know 
poetry isn't:

Poetry isn't raw self-expression. There are plenty of 
yowlers out there, who think the essence of poetry is 
shouting about how they feel. Some yowlings, admittedly, 
even make it into the pages of The New Yorker. But yowlers 
aren't poets. They haven't paid their dues. Poetry is more 
than expression; it's communication. And real communication 
takes work, discipline, and a respect for writing as an art 

Poetry isn't decoration. Actually, some poetry is, the kind 
you see on mantlepieces at Christmastime, the sort of thing 
that comes in the mail from your elderly aunt. I have no 
quarrel with decoration, but the purpose of decoration is 
to soothe, while the purpose of serious poetry is--should 
be--to disturb.

Poetry isn't proof that you have a heightened, more refined 
sensibility than other people. Some of us read and write 
poetry. Others go bowling. Bowling, done right, requires 
plenty of discipline, intensity of purpose, attention to 
detail. If you love poetry, love it, but there is no need 
to put on airs.

OK, then. After we have disposed of the pretensions and the 
awful poses that sometimes surround poetry, what is left 
that might make someone call you, or me, a poet? It's very 
simple, in my opinion. You are a poet if, and only if,

You are obsessed with language.

Let's put the matter to the test. Do words, phrases, 
sometimes names keep repeating themselves in your mind 
until they suddenly become strange? Do you wonder about not 
only the bare meanings of the words you use, but also their 
feelings, their intimacy, even their social aspirations? 
Are you uncompromising about every word? W.S. Merwin had it 
about right when he spoke of the insufferable need for 
precision. He said, "Poetry is like making a joke. If you 
get one word wrong at the end of a joke, you've lost the 
whole thing." Gustave Flaubert had a different way of 
saying the same thing: "Poetry is as precise a thing as 

And Adrienne Rich gives the poet's sense of the cosmic 
importance of language in the scheme of things: "Poetry is 
above all a concentration of the power of language, which 
is the power of our ultimate relationship to everything in 
the universe."

Or, taking the passion for language to an extreme I'm not 
sure I can endorse, Montaigne rhapsodized, "Poetry 
reproduces an indefinable mood that is more amorous than 
love itself. Venus is not so beautiful all naked, alive, 
and panting, as she is here in Virgil." Different strokes 
for different folks, as they say.

Have you always been a reader of poetry? Virgil in the 
Latin may not be your dish, but do the tocsins of Milton, 
for example, roll around in your head, the cannonades of 
Whitman, the light, insistent melodies of Keats? If not, 
what kind of poet can you expect to be?

Maybe, if we're reviewing what poets have said is the 
essence of poetry, it might be best to end with another 
comment by Robert Frost: "Poetry is a way of taking life by 
the throat."
Conrad Geller has been a poet and teacher for more than 
fifty years. His honors include prizes from Charles E. 
Tuttle, Harvard Summer School, and Bibliophilos. Widely 
published in the smaller journals, he has taught poetry and 
poetic technique in the U.S. and abroad. Currently he is 
offering an e-course at http://www.writing-world.com



* 1stBooks Offers Its Authors Affordable Co-op Ad Space
As you saw in this issue's "1stBooks Success Profile," the 
right ad in the right newspaper can make a huge difference. 
Thus, 1stBooks has started a program of advertising in 
major newspapers, starting with a full-page ad in the New 
York Times once a month. We will feature 12 1stBooks titles, 
each with a 3.5 x 1.25 inch display space for a 40-word 
text ad. If you'd like to participate, please contact us 
via email at mailto:publish&1stbooks.com or toll-free at 1-
866-577-8877 for pricing and more information.

* Be part of the Publishing Revolution! Get your book 
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