1stNews from 1stBooks, March 19, 2003

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Another Writing Resource

Writing for DOLLARS! the ezine for writers featuring tips,
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Table of Contents

* Editor's Message
* Article: "Back Covers That Sell"
* News From the Publishing World: Media Opportunity
* Article: "Writing to Learn"
* About 1stBooks
* About This Newsletter
* Copyright and Reprint Information

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Editor's Message

In this issue, we have another excellent article from Book
Marketing Update, this time on things to keep in mind when
you write your back cover.

And, at long last, the second half of Charles Hayes's
article on writing and learning. If you missed the first
installment, it's in our February 20, 2002 issue. At the
bottom of the article you'll find the link to the first
part, and at the bottom of this newsletter, you'll find the
link to all our back issues.

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Back Covers That Sell: John Kremer interviews award-winning
cover designer George Foster and publishing consultant Judy
Cullins
Reprinted with permission from "Book Marketing Update"
http://www.freepublicity.com/transcript/?10012

Back covers should help you close the sale.

Foster says you must realize first how back covers differ
from front covers. "The front cover is just a hook," he
says. "It throws an emotional desire on someone to want your
book." The back cover is about "justifying the emotional
decision that's already been made, satisfying the intellect
that the emotional decision was correct." So the back must
continue the positive feeling from your front cover:

* Don't assume readers care about your book. Foster says
most authors and publishers make this mistake, and it leads
to some really terrible back covers. "A lot of back-cover
copy is like the author showing a boring slideshow of their
vacation, with a long story that means absolutely nothing to
the prospect." Instead, your copy has to sell the book.

* In most cases, forget your author photo, say both Foster
and Cullins. The exceptions are if the author is a
celebrity, or if the photo sells the book--such as before
and after photos for a book about weight loss.

* Shorten and focus your bio. Reject author bios that do
nothing to help browsers make a buying decision. "Don't
start distracting people with things that aren't relevant to
closing the sale," says Foster. "Don't put the name of your
dog and how you belong to the YMCA unless it's relevant to
the topic of your book. Just because it's true doesn't mean
it's useful." But include what's relevant. Examples: a
personal story that proves your claims--how you took five
inches off your waist by following your diet plan or got a
high-paying job by following your book's job-search
strategy. Also include powerful credentials that add
credibility--if you're a syndicated newspaper columnist,
sought-after speaker or bestselling author, for example.

* Think and write in bullets. Foster suggests answering an
imaginary radio interviewer who asks, 'tell our audience in
a few short snippets why your book is special.' As you
answer this question, don't speak in full sentences. This
should help you come up with strong back-cover copy, instead
of the boring, "Well, my book is about..." opening.

* You MUST have testimonials. Cullins says this is the one
thing you can't ignore. A powerful testimonial from someone
readers already trust can be one of the very best ways to
convince a browser to buy.

Benefits count; features don't. Understand the difference
between a feature and a benefit. A feature is a
characteristic of a product. For example, a book contains a
worksheet to develop a budget. A benefit is how that feature
actually helps: 'instantly keep track of where your money
goes, saving hundreds of dollars every month in wasted
expenses.' Your back-cover copy must stress the benefits,
not the features. "People care about how your book is going
to change their lives, add money to their coffers, create a
special relationship, solve their problems," says Cullins.
She suggests using "visual words," such as "see," "hear,"
and "feel," as they create reader excitement. For example,
phrases like, "See yourself collecting checks and depositing
them in your bank account," force readers to actually
imagine that action, helping them see more clearly the value
of the benefits you're offering.

Please visit/contact award-winning cover designer George
Foster at http://www.fostercovers.com or
mailto:foster&lisco.com, and Judy Cullins, M.A., publishing
consultant and author of "Write Your eBook or Other Short
Book - Fast!" at http://www.bookcoaching.com

You can also sign up for Judy's free email newsletter, The
Book Coach Says..., and receive two free e-reports on
writing and promotion, by sending an email to
mailto:judy&bookcoaching.com?subject=SubscriberBookCoach-SendReports1stB

Note to Our Readers: Book Marketing Update is offering an
incredible value: transcript of an interview John Kremer did
with Chicken Soup co-author Mark Victor Hansen, access to
back issues of the BMU newsletter online, and a one-month
trial subscription to the newsletter--for a dollar! Visit
http://www.freepublicity.com/transcript/?10012 for all the
details.

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News From the Publishing World

Media Opportunity: Ezine Interviews Posted for One Month

AUTHORS BY THE MINUTE ezine is looking for 10-20 small press
authors for a full month of interviews. Please email
mailto:Novelwriter2002&aol.com with a short author bio, book
synopsis, and press-related info regarding your book.

There is no fee to participate, and the ezine reaches 8,000
subscribers.

Carol Porter, Editor
Authors by the Minute

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Writing to Learn
By Charles D. Hayes, mailto:autpress&alaska.net

When I first gave real thought to writing a book, I bought a
copy of "A Writer's Time" by Kenneth Atchity. Atchity
compared the activity of the mind to the "Continents of
Reason," which is where I came up with the image of tectonic
plates of gray matter. Had I not found Atchity's book or one
like it, I doubt I would ever have written "Self-
University."

Before I was serious enough to buy a book about writing, I
had been reading voraciously, following my interests without
a plan, and pursuing any subject that looked inviting. When
I became more earnest about writing, I had no idea exactly
what I wanted to write. It was like driving north from Texas
without any idea I might wind up in Oklahoma or Kansas. All
I knew was that I wanted to write.

Atichity suggests making notes on 5x7 cards on any subject
that you find interesting. When you have enough cards, sort
them into piles, and your chapters will STAND OUT. I
followed his advice and began filling cards. For several
years I had been making notations in the margins of books
and then writing page numbers on the first page in the book.
I could pick up a book I'd read five years ago and
immediately review its key points.

I pursued numerous subjects, jumping from one discipline to
the next, following nothing but my own interests. After a
couple of years, I had accumulated nearly 4,000 cards. So, I
sat down one day to sort them into piles, expecting my
chapters to materialize. But, frustratingly, the chapters
didn't stand out. Finally I selected only those I felt
strongly enough to write about--only 255 cards out of 4,000.

I was six months into writing before the title "Self-
University" flashed into my mind. Only then did I develop a
clear idea of what I was writing.

Take the time to figure out what you're really interested
in; don't worry about where you may wind up. Start reading
and thinking hard and let your tectonic plates of gray
matter do the rest. That's what "writing to learn" is all
about. Don't be fooled into thinking that you have to know
exactly what you are going to say before you begin.

Writing is a process of discovery. Sitting down to write is
like priming a pump. It may be very hard at first, but it
gets easier with time. Before long it becomes more like
throwing a switch or turning on a light instead of pumping a
pump handle. Read, read, read about what interests you most;
then write about it. The pressure of your experience and
prior learning will force the cerebral quakes of insight and
creativity.

Writing to learn and learning to write are part and parcel
of the same process. Clear writing is simply clear thinking,
and the two are not mutually exclusive. Don't spend a lot of
time worrying about writing until you've done the prep work.
When your conviction reaches critical pressure, it will make
itself known. But don't wait for a stream of inspiration
before you begin. Discipline yourself to sit at your
typewriter or computer and write on a regular schedule. The
stream will eventually come forth, and you will learn what
you knew all along but weren't sure of until you put it on
paper. Writing about a subject is the best way to learn
about it. The process can be rewarding beyond belief.

You can read the first part of this article at
http://www.1stbooks.com/backissues/2002-02-20.html

Charles D. Hayes, a self-educated high school dropout, has
gone on to write numerous books on self-education, including
the award-winning "Beyond the American Dream." His most
recent book, "Portals in a Northern Sky," is a novel.
Preview his books at http://www.autodidactic.com

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About 1stBooks

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About This Newsletter

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

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