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 
Amazon.com"
* 1stBooks Success Profile: Tim Drake is Featured in 
"Writer's Digest"
* Article: "How to Find Honest Feedback On Your Writing"
* About 1stBooks Library
* About This Newsletter
* Copyright and Reprint Information

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EDITOR'S MESSAGE

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 
book.

* The event or anniversary has NOT already passed.

* The event or holiday gets a lot of attention in the 
mainstream press.

* 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 
professional-level edit.

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"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 
friends.

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 
reviewer.

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," 
at http://www.aolmemorabilia.com/bestbang.html

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1STBOOKS SUCCESS PROFILE:TIM DRAKE IS FEATURED IN "WRITER'S 
DIGEST"

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 
book."

Preview "There We Stood" at 
http://www.1stbooks.com/bookview/5677 and Tim's newest book, 
"Saints of the Jubilee," at 
http://www.1stbooks.com/bookview/9831

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"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 
critical feedback.*

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.

Some ideas:

* 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 
reputation.

* Buy and read some books on the writing process, and some 
of the how-to articles in places like "Poets & Writers" 
magazine.

* 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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1stNews from 1stBooks is designed to provide useful 
information for authors, especially those new to the 
publishing process. Sent the first and third Wednesday of 
the month, we cover book marketing, POD production, writing, 
and related issues.

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