1stNews from 1stBooks, April 17, 2002
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TABLE OF CONTENTS
* Editor's Message
* Article: "How I Got a Terrific Cover, for Free"
* 1stBooks Success Profile: Barry Cohen is a Media Star
with His First Published Book
* Article: "The Zen Method of Creative Writing"
* 1stBooks News: Six 1stBooks Authors Chosen as Book of the
Year Award Finalists!
* About 1stBooks Library
* About This Newsletter
Thank you for all your fan mail! It really brightens our
day to know that you appreciate what we're doing here. So
many of you have taken the time to drop a quick note and
tell us that you find this newsletter inspiring, helpful,
Since our goal is to help you become better at both the
crafts of writing and marketing your writing, it's nice to
see that you agree!
We got particularly great feedback on Jim Donovan's "write
a page every day and you'll have a book soon" article last
month. Today, we feature a different--but just as useful--
approach to the writing process. This article details how
one writer overcomes writer's block.
You'll also hear from 1stBooks author, David Kilpatrick,
about how he gets fabulous covers for his books. Covers are
a crucial selling tool, not only in bookstores, but on
websites and at author appearances. And, for those of you
who are publishing through 1stBooks to attract the
attention of a traditional publisher, the cover can play a
Without further ado, onto our fifth issue...
How I Got a Terrific Cover, for Free
By David L. Kilpatrick,
Self-published authors, for the most part, have some things
in common. We have a great deal of talent, not a lot of
money, and a strong desire for recognition. We often find
ourselves knocking on the doors of opportunity wherever we
may find them, wishing the people inside could see us not
as pests but as possibilities.
In this predicament, we are not alone; all artists have the
same problems we do. A few achieve notoriety. A few even
achieve fame and all that accompanies it. But the vast
majority of artists struggle to get their foot in the door.
Because we artists are all in the same boat, so to speak,
it makes sense for us to pool our resources for mutual
When it came time to publish my second novel with 1stBooks,
Undercover White Trash
(http://www.1stbooks.com/bookview/7552), I decided that I
wanted some input on the cover design. I felt the tone of
the story would be represented well with a photograph of a
rundown house trailer on the cover. So I began an Internet
search for such a photo. My surfing led to an artist in
California named Jena Moya Cardwell
She has a collection of trailer photographs online (don't
ask me why, but she does). I emailed her and asked her if
she had any outtakes from this collection, and she replied
not only did she have these, she had yet another set from
another trailer park! She posted these on a private page at
her web site, and I perused them.
When I finally decided on one to purchase from her, I had a
sudden thought: Why not get her to design the entire cover
for me? I knew she had a background in design and fine art.
I knew she was a talented artist. And I also knew that,
like me, she was trying to gain as much exposure for
herself as she could, using the limited resources we both
have. Since I was in no position to pay someone the going
rate for designing my cover, I made her this proposition:
design my cover in exchange for credit on my book cover, a
bio/contact page inside the book itself, and a link from my
web site to hers. Her answer was an emphatic "Yes."
What developed over the next few weeks was a wonderful
experience. We communicated entirely by email and website
postings. She would try something with the design, post it,
and I would suggest changes; then the process would be
repeated. In short time, we had the design that ultimately
became the book cover as you now see it. To make things
legal, I went online and found a contract for photographers,
tweaked it a little, and sent it to her. She then sent me
the final cover on a CD, and off to the publisher it went.
In a few weeks, I had some copies of the book, which I sent
This was a win-win situation for all of us: I received a
professional book cover design at no cost. Jena received
not only recognition in the book as the cover designer, but
also gained a new experience to enhance her marketability
as a professional artist: Book Cover Designer. After the
publication, she was approached by someone else to design a
cover, this time for money. The publisher received a great
cover design which didn't cost them a penny to develop.
Bookstores received an eye-catching book that sells.
Everybody benefited, and everybody won.
The process worked so well that I am now working with Lee-
Anne Raymond, the noted Australian surrealist painter, on
the cover of my next book, "Cuqui" (you can see her work at
style will be perfect for the sci-fi/horror tone of
This process doesn't have to be limited to book cover
design. Think about the possibilities: Illustrators,
technical advisors, voice talent and studio time for audio
books, web designers, proofreaders, publicists…. The sky's
the limit. They'll walk away with something they can put on
their resumes, and you'll walk away with a professional
service you paid little or nothing for.
If you think you might try this method, here are some tips:
1) Make it legal. Get a written contract between you and
the artist. Here's a great site for free artist-oriented
contracts: http://www.allfreelance.com. You may have to
tweak these a little (basically substituting "fee"
notations with "exchange" wording). Everyone will feel much
more comfortable if you get this done up front. 2) Be
patient. Artists work at their own pace. Don't rush them,
and don't contact one at the last minute and expect them to
jump for you. 3) Be nice. Even though the deal calls for no
money to be exchanged, it is a nice gesture to pay the
artist a token gratuity for their time. It is also a good
idea to provide copies of the book to them after
publication. Be sure to autograph them as well.
To find artists, put "Artists" in any search engine. You
will find hundreds of sites that showcase the famous and
not-so-famous. Yahoo has a particularly good artist area:
link page has over 700 artists exhibiting their work.
A probation officer, former teacher, and lifelong amateur
writer, David Kilpatrick has published two novels and has a
third forthcoming. David's book, "Undercover White Trash,"
a ForeWord magazine Book Of The Year Award Finalist (see
related story), can be seen at
http://www.1stbooks.com/bookview/7552 His own website is
1STBOOKS SUCCESS PROFILE: BARRY COHEN
"'Ten Ways To Screw Up an Ad Campaign' [was published] in
Sept, 2001. It is my first book. Since publication, I have
been invited to speak at a national sales conference (the
Radio Advertising Bureau), as well as a statewide trade
association (NJ Florists Association). Following the RAB
event, we did a signing. I even had people from Germany &
Finland buy the book! I have been interviewed on WBBR-
AM/Bloomberg Business Radio/NY, KCCO-AM/Minneapolis's
business talk radio station, News-12/NJ TV, as well as
profiled in magazines like Radio Business Report, Radio Ink
& Entrepreneur--with another article slated for Radio &
Records. My Amazon ranking has gone up from 1.5 million to
727,900 over the past five months! Know this--it's up to
you, what happens. I hope to have more to report soon."
Author of "Ten Ways To Screw Up an Ad Campaign"
Houston Book Festival -- Celebrating Texas Author Month
May 18 & 19 -- Festival Atmosphere in a Beautiful Mall Area
Houston, Texas -- Town & Country Mall
Authors Wanted -- $50 for a Half Table
Contact -- Rita Mills, mailto:books&ghg.net
THE ZEN METHOD OF CREATIVE WRITING
by Prof. Lou Nitti Jr., mailto:DctrLouis&aol.com
In a recent issue of 1stNews, Jim Donovan presented a
method of establishing a discipline for writing a book.
Yes! We need to do that one page a day, make up a schedule,
etc. But why do some of us find this so difficult?
"Writer's block" is a well-known phenomenon. Some days we
would rather break our legs than write. Other days it
flows. Why is this?
After 25 years of studying psychology, philosophy,
creativity and mysticism, I believe I discovered at least
one answer. It reflects my own experience.
Writing might be difficult, if the writer is in the wrong
state of consciousness. Not too many know that the Creative
Spark, so-called Inspiration, In the Flow, etc. comes about
only in a specific state of mind.
I discovered a way to enter that state of consciousness.
When you're in a Zen-like area of consciousness,
inspiration can flow, and ideas will come forth without
effort, and you can write an entire book without "writer's
After researching countless reports from best-selling
authors, I found this is exactly what they do, but they are
unaware of what they are doing. Best selling author
Danielle Steel reports seeing the book like a movie; she
just writes what she sees! Sydney Sheldon "just starts
writing" without even having a plot. Richard Bach said his
book Jonathan Livingston Seagull, "wrote itself."
I now teach a course, Discovering the Inner Writer, on how
to enter this state. My students write stories, the very
first time, with a depth, richness, and creativity that is
amazing! They are tapping into the Source of Creativity
Itself. What is this Zen Method of Creativity?
1. First, find an appropriate piece of music. I have found
that abstract, ethereal, or mystical New Age music works
best. The ideal length seems to be about eight minutes.
2. Have paper and pen, and the music tape ready.
3. In a quiet place, in subdued light, get comfortable, and
close your eyes. Think of something lovely or relaxing,
such as sitting under a shady tree in a lovely meadow.
Starting at the top of your head, relax your body muscle by
muscle. In a few minutes you should achieve the Alpha
(The Alpha state is in contrast to the Beta state of waking
consciousness. You are in "Alpha" just before awakening and
just before going to sleep.)
4. When you are fully relaxed, make a gentle suggestion
that you anticipate a fine story of some sort coming to you
5. However, once you turn on the tape, switch your mind to
a receptive only mode. Do not try to think of anything, and
allow the music itself to suggest a picture, an image, an
idea--whatever. Sure enough, an image or idea will come to
you. Write it down. Without judgment, continue to allow
images to come forth. Soon, each idea will follow the
others until the story is completed.
6. Let the story unfold, always being receptive and
"listening." If the story stalls a moment, just be patient,
and allow another event to come forth. Within the time each
piece of music lasts, you will have a story!
Once you have the story, you will use your intellect (Beta)
to polish it, and get it ready for publication, but never
mix the two states of mind! Good luck!
Prof. Lou Nitti has a BA in English and MA in Psychology
and a Dr. of Divinity. He teaches Psychology at community
colleges and founded an Alternative Education center in
Fontana, CA, where he teaches the writing course:
Six 1stBooks Authors Chosen as Book of the Year Award
The prestigious ForeWord Magazine Book of the Year Award
Finalists include six authors with 1stBooks (more than any
other print-on-demand publisher). Our hearty
congratulations to the finalists--you make us very proud!:
Barbara Crane: "The Oldest Things in the World" (Fiction-
Nicholas di Russo: "No Strings Attached" (Fiction Romance)
Lloyd J. Guillory " Rainey: The Story of a Woman " (Fiction-
Parke Sellard:"Twilight Journey" (Fiction-Romance)
Marcia Baltimore: "The Making of a Mistress" (Humor)
David L. Kilpatrick:"Undercover White Trash" (Humor)
Winners will be announced next month at BookExpo America in
New York City.
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