1stNews from 1stBooks, April 16, 2003

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Table of Contents

* Editor's Message
* Article: "Start Your Own Holiday"
* Seasonal and Topical
* News From the Publishing World
* Article: "Great Nonfiction Creates a Treasure Map for
* Success Profile: Richard Battle Promotes His Book in All
the Right Places
* About 1stBooks
* About This Newsletter
* Copyright and Reprint Information


Editor's Message

Can you believe it? We now have over 70,000 subscribers to
this newsletter! That makes us one of the largest
newsletters--email OR print--in the publishing industry!
Thank you for finding value in this newsletter and helping
us to reach this milestone.

As for this issue: Fern Reiss's "The Publishing Game" series
has already established her as a fresh and important voice
in independent publishing--a very smart yet very accessible
one. Her books should be required reading, right up there
with Poynter, Ross, and Kremer. She has promised us several
articles in the coming months, and the first of those runs
this issue. I have done what she suggests, and it definitely
helps create media interest. Oh, and don't bother with your
letters (about the paragraph below that starts with "if
yesterday") asking "did it work"? The newsletter leaves my
desk five days before it reaches you, so at press time, we
don't know how Fern's promotion turned out.

On the craft side, Lenore Wright is back with another
helpful article. And, those of you who'd like a movie
credential, please pay special attention. While she targets
nonfiction authors, much of what she says applies just as
well to fiction.

Topping it off, the "Publishing World" section offers two of
the choicest plums in the whole world of writing contests,
and a note about how one of your fellow 1stBooks authors
participated in a national promotion. Plus, this issue's
Success Profile is an inspirational whirlwind of active


Make News By Creating Your Own Holiday
By Fern Reiss, mailto:FernReiss&PublishingGame.com

Journalists love news. Give a journalist anything that
sounds new, and you're guaranteed to get coverage.
Unfortunately, just announcing a new book doesn't count. You
need an angle--something that makes your book stand out from
the crowd--and here's one that's almost foolproof.

Create a national holiday connected to your book.

Chances are, you've heard of President's Day, Labor Day, and
Veteran's Day. But have you heard of Fish Amnesty Day? It's
September 22. What about National Lawnmower Tune Up Month?
(That's in March.)

No matter what your book, you can create a holiday that
connects to it. The sky's the limit. You can go serious or
funny, heartwarming or hysterical. With a little thought,
you'll be able to zero in on the idea that's sure to draw
media attention.

Then write your press release announcing the holiday to the
media. Don't forget the who, what, when, where, and why. And
make sure you include your contact info.

Then just list your holiday without charge at Chase's
Calendar of Events, http://www.chases.com and at Celebrate
Today, http://www.celebratetoday.com

The funnier and funkier your holiday, the better your
chances of being picked up by the media for attention. And
you can do this with just about any book or topic.

Take my Publishing Game books. Starting this year, April 15,
the day your taxes are due, is also PublishingGame.com's
National Write-Off Day. Here's how I began the press release
announcing this holiday:

"Tired of taxes? If you're hungering to write something
besides checks to the IRS, enter this year's
PublishingGame.com National Write-Off Day Contest. Sponsored
by Peanut Butter and Jelly Press and PublishingGame.com,
creators of books and workshops for writers, the contest
awards prizes for the best response (in 25 words or fewer)
to "Why I shouldn't have to pay any taxes."

"We're looking for quirky answers like, 'My wife's declared
me legally dead,' said Fern Reiss, author of The Publishing
Game book series and creator of the contest. "Tax day is
such a bummer. PublishingGame.com's National Write-Off Day
offers just a bit of fun to an otherwise depressing topic."
All entries will be posted on the PublishingGame.com
website, where people will be able to vote for their
favorite response."

If yesterday turned out to be a slow news day, you can be
sure that PublishingGame.com National Write-Off Day was
featured in the news from New York to California.

So create a holiday right away. And then sit back and wait
for the media to come knocking at your door!

Fern Reiss is the author of "The Publishing Game: Bestseller
in 30 Days" (book promotion) and several other books on
writing and publishing. More information on her books,
consulting, and all-day workshops can be found at


Seasonal and Topical

1) Baseball Season

"The Ninth Man" was released March 28, specifically to
coincide with the opening of baseball season. The story is
about a female baseball player who is striving to become the
first woman to make it to the Major Leagues. It capitalizes
on two major current events: the opening of the 2003
baseball season, and the rising incidence of women athletes
who are crossing over into men's sports (it has already
happened in baseball, golf, hockey, and football). Look over
"The Ninth Man" at http://www.1stbooks.com/bookview/15633

2) The Space Shuttle Disaster

"Made In Space" is about the future of our space program.
With the Columbia disaster still fresh in our minds, it's
timely. Learn more about "Made in Space" at


News From the Publishing World

Some very prestigious and lucrative contests in this issue.

1) Bard Fiction Prize, to an American citizen, aged 39 or
younger, who has published a first novel or collection of
short stories. Writers who have already published two or
more volumes are not eligible. $30,000 plus a spring-
semester residency at Bard, which has been home to Saul
Bellow, William Gaddis, Mary McCarthy, Ralph Ellison, John
Ashbery, Philip Roth, William Weaver, and Chinua Achebe,
among others.

Deadline July 15.

2) Univ. of Pittsburgh Press--Drue Heinz Literature Prize
($15,000 award). Open to writers who have published a book-
length collection of fiction or at least three short stories
or novellas. Manuscripts are judged anonymously by
nationally known writers. Past judges have included Robert
Penn Warren, Joyce Carol Oates, Raymond Carver, Margaret
Atwood, Russell Banks, and Rick Moody.

Deadline: Entries must be postmarked between May 1 and June

3) Direct From the Author Book Award
Open to authors of self-published books, eBooks, and print-
on-demand titles. Author must be 18 years of age or older.
Entry titles must be available for sale direct from the
author. $100 top prize; $100 entry fee.

Deadline: June 21

4) 1stBooks Author Participates in National Literacy Day
Kenneth Clarke, author of "Deadly Justice"
http://www.1stbooks.com/bookview/10504 participated in Wal-
Mart/Sam's Club's nationwide Literacy Day, April 12. He did
a reading of his work and spoke regarding the growing need
for literacy programs to aid school children.

Editor's Note: Authors around the country participated. This
may become an annual event, so talk to your nearest Wal-Mart
or Sam's about next year. Here's how another author, Debbie
Thurman of Cedar House Publishers and author of "From
Depression To Wholeness: The Anatomy of Healing"
http://www.cedarhousepublishers.com got extra mileage out of
her participation:

"For me, the main reason to do this was to garner some
publicity. I hounded (nicely) the local weekly newspaper
editor into coming, and he interviewed me for a story. The
larger daily is interviewing me this week. And, I got to
spend a very worthwhile 15-20 minutes with one of our state
delegates, who also put in an appearance, discussing mental
health consumer issues. I will follow up on this later in
the week."


Great Nonfiction Creates a Treasure Map for Readers
Copyright (c) 2003, Lenore Wright, mailto:LWright665&aol.com

Because I develop true stories into television movies, many
nonfiction authors send me their books as potential
television projects. But too often, a terrific story is so
deeply buried in facts and details that it is unavailable to
the reader.

It's easy for authors to become lost while researching. Each
resource leads the author to three new resources; each
interview suggests interview subjects. But successful
nonfiction authors organize their material into a book that
works for readers.

I know how challenging this is. When I adapt a true story
for television, I examine stacks of interview transcripts
and background materials to extricate the story elements
that work in the two-hour format. If I flounder in the flood
tide of facts, interviews and opinion, my story drowns in
the undertow of information.

Here's a checklist to organize source material so my true
stories stay focused. If you're mired in an avalanche of
details, use the checklist to dig your story out.

True Story Checklist:

1. The Who of Your Book

Make sure there is a WHO at the center of your book. It's
not enough that your story is true; it must be about someone
special whom readers can connect with and care about. This
special someone should face difficult obstacles in pursuit
of clear goals.

2. The What of Your Book

Like movies, nonfiction books are marketed by GENRE: memoir,
biography, history, family sagas, true crime, war stories,
female appeal, self-help and so on. Authors dream of writing
a crossover book, but successful authors make certain their
books fulfill the expectations of at least one of these
popular genres.

Imagine a poster for your book that emphasizes its genre. In
your mind, assemble a movie trailer or television commercial
that appeals to these readers. This exercise will help you
focus your story.

3. The Where of Your Book

Well-written books create a distinctive sense of place for
the reader through description, sounds, scene choices,
dialogue and specific locations. Put all those elements to
work for you.

4. The When of Your Book

Establish the TIME PERIOD of your book upfront. Your time
period should remain consistent throughout the book, and it
should enhance or illuminate your story.

Is the TIME FRAME of your story clear? If you've written a
family history that spans the Russian Revolution, clue the
reader in on the scope of your story. If your book depicts
24 hours at a pizza joint in Harlem, don't build an
expectation that we'll explore beyond those borders.

5. The How of Your Book

Movies create their story through camera techniques, music,
sound effects, dialogue and the juxtaposition of scenes.
Nonfiction authors create their story-telling rhythm through
tone, writing style, organization and the choice of the
elements in the book.

Does your book's structure support the theme of your story?
Do your dramatic incidents punctuate or illuminate the
decisions and actions of your central characters? Have you
exploited the important conflicts within your material and
resolved them effectively? Have you used all available tools
to bond us with your characters--action, dialogue,
description, sounds, images, humor, and gesture?

6. The Why of Your Book

Will a reader care enough to pay for your book? This
important consideration must be addressed.

Why will someone buy your book? Because they want the
specific, unique experience that your book offers them.
They're after that treasure that lies at the heart of your
book. Through your enthusiasm, talent and hard work, you've
discovered that treasure; bring it up to the surface so your
readers may share in your discovery.

Lenore Wright has developed true stories for film and
television companies including Hallmark, ABC, MGM-TV and
Columbia Pictures. For tips on selling stories to the movies
visit her website http://www.breakingin.net or subscribe to
her newsletter, "Script Market News," at no charge, by
email: mailto:newsletter&breakingin.net


Success Profile: Richard Battle Promotes His Book in All the
Right Places

Richard Battle, author of "Surviving Grief By God's Grace,"
is a great example of making his book work through constant

* He's appeared on 17 radio and TV shows around the US,
including general shows, shows targeted to the Christian
market, and shows specifically about books. This included
two widely syndicated shows broadcast to 99 and 110

* He went back to the show producers and hosts, and also
assorted prominent people in his niche, and got 15

* He speaks widely, promoting the book to community and
church audiences by discussing his topic (grief).

* He has sought out print media and electronic exposure,
including mention on the Baptist Church of Scotland's

* He enters contests and received an Honorable Mention in
the latest Writer's digest self-publishing competition (and
you can just bet that he'll use this honor to gain even more
traction for his book).

See what you can do with a little imagination and "virtual
shoeleather"? If you follow Richard's example, maybe you'll
get a profile in this space, down the road.

Preview "Surviving Grief By God's Grace" at


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