1stNews from 1stBooks, October 2, 2002
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TABLE OF CONTENTS
* Editor's Message
* Article: "Three Creative Ways to Promote Your Book on
* 1stBooks Success Profile: Tim Drake is Featured in
* Article: "How to Find Honest Feedback On Your Writing"
* About 1stBooks Library
* About This Newsletter
* Copyright and Reprint Information
Firstly, I'd like to clarify the new "seasonal and topical"
column we introduced last issue. We were deluged with
submissions, which is great, but we simply don't have the
room for all of them! So that we can sort through the
submissions quicker and so that we can feature the MOST
relevant books, here's some additional guidelines:
Email us only if:
* The connection to the event is directly related to your
* The event or anniversary has NOT already passed.
* The event or holiday gets a lot of attention in the
* Your book was published by 1stBooks.
If your book meets all these criteria, please include the
name of your book, your name, your 1stBooks ID number, the
name and date of the holiday or event--and (if it's not
obvious) a sentence or two about the connection and why you
think it's worth publicizing.
And what do we have for you in this issue? Amazon.com is a
major place to buy books, of course--but it also offers
incredible opportunities for authors to promote their own
wares. There are probably at least a dozen important
promotional techniques you can use with Amazon.com (and with
other online bookstores). Of course, 1stBooks titles are
automatically entered in Amazon.com's database, which helps
too. This issue's marketing article offers three promotional
tools you may not have thought about.
On the writing side, we have an article about generating
peer support. In future issues, we'll try to get into
specifics of editing, which is something a few of you have
asked for. But peer feedback is a vital first step; you want
to get as much of it as possible long before you get a
"Three Creative Ways to Promote Your Book on Amazon.com"
by Julia L. Wilkinson, mailto:JuliaWilk&aol.com
With recent figures at 30 million web surfers a month, and
$805 million in sales for the second quarter of 2002, the
store with "Earth's biggest selection" is a market that
authors trying to market their books should not ignore.
You probably already know about how reader book reviews
(preferably the good kind) can help sell your book on
Amazon.com. Those are indeed important to have, and if your
book does not yet have any reader reviews posted, encourage
people you know who have read your book to write one.
However, reader reviews aside, there are other ways to
promote your book on Amazon.com. And these are potentially
more powerful, since some folks in the industry consider
that reader reviews will often be written by an author's
One of these alternative methods is to flip the reader
review model. Rather than concentrating on your own reviews,
which will only come up for an Amazon shopper when they are
specifically searching on your own book, you post reviews
for books that are similar to yours, mentioning at the end
of your review that you are the author of X [insert your
brilliant book title here]. That way, someone who is
interested in a book in a topic or genre similar to yours
may discover your book from your review. [Note: I am not
talking about posting a link to your actual book, as this is
something on which most sites frown].
For example, I posted a review of a book about Ted Turner,
entitled "Ted Turner: It Ain't As Easy as It Looks," by
Porter Bibb, and signed it "Julia Wilkinson, author of My
Life at AOL." I figure that people who are interested in
reading about Ted Turner, who is on the board of AOL Time
Warner (and one of its most colorful and outspoken
characters), might also enjoy reading about life behind the
scenes at AOL.
Another strategy is to simply try to read and post lots of
reviews of bestselling books, on the theory that the more
people read those books, the more they read their reviews,
and the more people will see the name of your book. Make
your reviews thoughtful, concise and well-written, and they
will likely be rated highly by other readers (readers can
rate reviews as well, as you may know). This means your
reviews will float to the top of the review list.
(If you are one of Amazon's "top reviewers," your reviews
will have even more weight. How do you become one? "Just
write lots of helpful, informative product reviews!" per
Amazon's on-site notes. "Your peers will then decide your
place on the Top Reviewer list.")
This may entail writing reviews for everything you read or
watch… One top 500 reviewer wrote 198 reviews! Amazon lists
Top 1000, 500, 100, 50, and 10 reviewers…and one #1
The third method is where things get more creative…ever
heard of something on Amazon called "Listmania"? This is
where readers get to put together their own lists of books
under titles of their own devising, such as "Grooviest Books
Ever," "Top 15 Books to Take to the Beach," and "Best of
British Culture." Sort of like having a huge shelf of "staff
recommendations" in a bookstore.
"Listmania" pops up on the side of your screen when you do a
search (on the search results list). To make your own list,
just click on the "Add your list" link directly underneath
the word "Listmania!"
Now, I am not advocating putting your own book on your own
list...that may not come off as too genuine! But, you could
certainly request that your readers--whether by way of an
email newsletter, emailed greeting, or even personal
conversations--include your book in their own lists! Or even
that they create a list with the express purpose of
featuring your book.
So, now you have several things to go do on Amazon.com
(besides, of course, obsessively checking your sales
ranking). Click well and make lots of sales!
Julia L. Wilkinson is the author of "My Life at AOL,"
available (where else?) on amazon.com as well as at
http://www.1stbooks.com/5771, and "Best Bang for Your Book,"
1STBOOKS SUCCESS PROFILE:TIM DRAKE IS FEATURED IN "WRITER'S
Writer's Digest's "Writing Success" Magazine, November 2002
(on newsstands now) has an article on print-on-demand
success stories. The article was titled "If at First You Do
Succeed." It featured 17 different authors who had success
with a print-on-demand title, including 1stBooks author Tim
Drake and his book, "There We Stood, Here We Stand: 11
Lutherans Rediscover their Catholic Roots."
The article outlines Tim's entire promotion strategy,
including advertising in both traditional and online media,
and highlights his particular success buying search terms at
Overture.com. Tim writes, "between 1stBooks' sales and
personal sales, I've sold approximately 6,500 copies of the
Preview "There We Stood" at
http://www.1stbooks.com/bookview/5677 and Tim's newest book,
"Saints of the Jubilee," at
"How to Find Honest Feedback On Your Writing"
By Shel Horowitz, mailto:shorowitz&1stbooks.com
You've written a book, and you think it's wonderful. Your
mother, your next door neighbor, and your cat all agree. So
why do editors and agents send you back form rejections,
sometimes dipped in evil-smelling liquids?
Perhaps it's because your writing needs some *honest
You need to find people who will treat you as a colleague,
people who will tell you what's working in a piece of
writing, and what needs to shape up.
Feedback is a crucial part of the writing process, one that
should come earlier than an editor's touch, and one that
should be repeated as the piece evolves.
This is not just for newbies, either. My wife, a novelist,
has been part of a small peer support group for several
years now. Although there are only four people in her group,
they've had about a dozen books published or accepted, and
some of those were with such houses as Harper Collins and
Simon & Schuster.
If you're at a loss for where to get solid, constructive
feedback, fear not. No matter where you live, there are
resources for you, either nearby or online.
* Take a creative writing class at a local community college
or university continuing education department. Often, you'll
find your choice of day or evening classes, with faculty who
are experienced teachers and published writers.
* Organize a peer support group to read and critique each
other's writing. You can use books like Peter Elbow's
"Writing With Power" to find creativity exercises, formats,
and other useful goodies.
* Join a writing workshop with a teacher who has a good
* Buy and read some books on the writing process, and some
of the how-to articles in places like "Poets & Writers"
* Attend a writer's conference. These can range from half-
day seminars to week-long retreats. Some focus on craft,
some focus on marketing, some cover both. You'll find some
of the many choices listed at http://writing.shawguides.com,
others in the back pages of writing magazines or writing-
focused e-zines. Compare curriculum, location, quality of
instructors, and the experience of past attendees whose
needs are similar to yours (don't be afraid to ask the
organizers for references you can talk to).
Like everything else that's worth doing, writing requires
training and practice. A sympathetic but critical peer group
helps provide that training, and gives you a first audience
for your practice.
Shel Horowitz is the editor of 1stNews from 1stBooks and the
owner of FrugalMarketing.com. He has published five books
and more than 800 articles.
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publishing process. Sent the first and third Wednesday of
the month, we cover book marketing, POD production, writing,
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