1stNews from 1stBooks, May 7, 2003
1stNews from 1stBooks, May 7, 2003

This newsletter is sent to you on the first and third Wednesdays of every month by 1stBooks the world's leading publishing services provider.

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Table of Contents

Editor's Message

First, you've undoubtedly noticed a new look and feel to 1stNews from 1stBooks. Beginning with this issue, we're formatting it in HTML so that it's aesthetically more pleasing to the eye and so that you can click on the links and find information much more easily than in our previous format.

We also have some things to crow about this issue, so be sure to read the "News from 1stBooks" section in the middle. Hint: Two things you've long wished for are now possible.

A lot of you have also been winning some very prestigious awards lately. Check out the "From the Publishing World" section. We left out the success profile to make room, since so many of you are mentioned this time.

That and the first of our case studies mean an extra-long issue, filled with ways to make you a better and more successful writer. The marketing article this time shows how a 1stBooks author almost made it to the top at Barnes & Noble's website, and the writing article helps you tackle writer's block.

Two house keeping issues...

We're moving! In response to phenomenal growth over the past six months, 1stBooks is moving to a larger and more state-of-the-art facility. While we'll still be located in Bloomington, IN, to accommodate this huge move, we'll be closed from Thursday, May 15 at 3:00 pm (CST) until Monday, May 19 at 9:00 am (CST). We will return all voice mail and email messages upon opening again at that time.

Please whitelist us. More and more ISPs are filtering email before you even see it, and that means at some point you may stop receiving this newsletter. If you're using any kind of filter to block spam, either at the ISP level or in your own mailbox, make sure you specifically identify the send addresses from all the newsletters you want to receive, including this one (newsletter@1stbooks.com).

How My 1stBooks Book Reached #16 at BarnesAndNoble.com

By Mark Andrew Ware

My campaign for high rank at BarnesAndNoble.com (also called BN.com) started when I sent a copy of my book to the buyer at Barnes & Noble's small press department asking them to consider stocking my book in their stores instead of just through their website. They returned the book with a letter that said that POD books are not meant to be stocked on shelves and that sales of these books are somewhat limited because of pricing, etc., etc., etc. Then I was in their store and saw a 5x8 sized Stephen King paperback. It was 256 pages (less than my book) and was priced at $14.00. My book at BN.com is only $14.95. So that is where it started, kind of out of revenge. My book's genre is horror, which I feel makes it even harder to market. But here's what I did...

First, I joined all the online book lovers groups in my genre. I also joined all the POD author groups at YahooGroups.com, Topica.com, MSN and AOL. Some have hundreds or even thousands of members. I also started an author syndication group. Anyone who joined must be an author and we would all correspond via email with ideas, etc. I let my fellow correspondents know that I decided to make BN.com my main target for now. I asked each of them to buy one copy of my book—and in turn we would hold another mass buy for another member of the group, and so on. I forwarded this request to all 120 members and asked them to forward to friends and family. I also found groups for people who wanted to be published authors and posted my story and pitfalls and scams (and the ordering info for my book, of course). But I didn't stop there.

I then created some bookmarks, with a cover and synopsis on the front, but on the back I put a custom website address where the only "buy" link goes directly to BN.com. I then went to all the major, independent and used bookstores, but instead of leaving the bookmarks at the counter, I got permission to put them inside all the bestsellers. (At Barnes & Noble, the manager particularly loved this idea since I used bookmarks with the store's dot com address for ordering on back.)

I also asked my friend, a teacher at a local college, if I could talk to her English class about becoming an author and the stumbling blocks. These students' orders started a chain of buyers all throughout the college—and I directed every one of them to BN.com.

Since then, I have been contacted by bestselling author Larry Brooks, who has published three books with Signet (Serpent's Dance, Pressure Points and Darkness Bounds). He has read Vacant Spaces, is sending me a favorable review and has agreed to write a forward in my next book. Also, Morbid Outlook and Goth magazines have requested review copies, as well as German writer Josh Fog, who has published over 100 books with traditional publishers in Germany.

Read more about Mark's book, Vacant Spaces, at the 1stBooks website.

News From 1stBooks

Two pieces of GREAT news for current and potential 1stBooks authors!

First, we can now print shorter books—as short as 48 pages. If you've been sitting on some poetry or have a few short stories that could work as a small collection, now's the time to turn your dream into a reality. The books will be available as either 6" x 9" or 8.25" x 11" paperbacks, with a continuous cover (which means there will be no text on the spine of these books). Prices start at $598.

Second, we just closed our first ad in USA Today. 34 authors signed up within just a matter of days of announcing this great program. Through a special partnership with USA Today, these 34 authors will appear in a full-page (full-page!) ad in the Summer Reading Preview on May 22, just in time for Memorial Day weekend and the official start of summer.

If you weren't able to take advantage of USA Today this time (either because you hadn't submitted your manuscript or you had, but it wasn't yet available for sale), don't worry! We plan to run another ad in their Holiday Reading Preview and will notify you when the deadline approaches.

Simple Mental Techniques to Overcome Writer's Block

By Dr. Bryan Knight

You stare helplessly at a blank sheet of paper, or at the blank eye of a computer. Writer's block is about fear. Fear of failure or fear of success. Either is paralyzing. Neither is necessarily conscious. But the brain tries to avoid dealing with either failure or success by "jamming" the writing process. (Subconsciously, you feel you've not really "failed" because the work is not finished; you've postponed success because there's nothing to judge.)

But you can "fool" the brain into freeing you to write. You can delve into your subconscious to uncover the underlying reason(s) for the block. These could include, to name a few examples, a fear of failing as the writer's father failed, or conversely, fear of succeeding because this accomplishment would outstrip the father. Another deep cause could be the fear of rejection. There might have been a long-forgotten traumatic incident of a teacher who scoffed at the writer when he or she was a child, who said something like, "You're hopeless, Jimmy, you'll never learn how to write properly." Yet another cause could be the fear of being judged.

Post-hypnotic suggestions are an excellent way to program yourself to write. These are simply positive suggestions you give to yourself. Conceiving of the block as an object or symbol of some kind, and then destroying it while relaxed is yet another way to overcome writer's block.

Here's one specific technique you can try; there are many others in my eBook Self-Hypnosis: Safe, Simple, Superb.

Simply relax in your favorite armchair. Then tune into your subconscious by imagining "The House of Ideas."

What's inside the House is up to you. For instance, you could begin with a series of doors bearing the names of characters in your novel, or you might imagine meeting up with a historian who will guide you into various epochs of the House, for that new history text you're writing.

Or perhaps there are key documents hidden in the House, which you uncover so as to make your mystery novel more complex. The possibilities are endless.

Give your subconscious instruction and permission to allow ideas to pop up into your conscious mind as needed in the future.

Visualize your goal. For one writer, this would be her finished book; she imagines the cover, complete with title and her byline. Another writer's goal may be fame. Thus he might visualize himself on a book tour, being interviewed on television. Yet another writer's goal might be to become rich, so she would imagine a stack of royalty checks.

Of course, you want to avoid becoming so caught up in your reverie that you continue the block, rather than ending it. That's why you pump your inner mind with positive suggestions about "doing it now," "writing immediately" and "enjoying the process of writing."

Bryan M. Knight, MSW, Ph.D., hypno-psychotherapist, is the author of several eBooks. For fascinating free eBooks, visit his websites: Hypnosis Headquarters and Therapy Insights.

Case Study: Anita Richwine

By Tim Bete

© 2002, University of Dayton

Anita Richwine is a journalist with nearly two decades as a newspaper reporter, editor, and columnist; she has received many national and regional awards for her writing. Her first book, Suddenly Alone: You're 50-Plus and Single Again, Now What? was published in 2002 by 1stBooks.

Bete: Why did you decide to use 1stBooks versus a more traditional publisher?

Richwine: Tucked in my box of treasures is a letter from Erma Bombeck who had kindly responded to my request for words of wisdom about getting my book published. Her final tip: Pray a lot.

As a trained journalist, I had held out for traditional publishing. After several years of praying while I strived to catch serious interest of literary agents, I could see prospects were dismal for an unknown writer. Along came the 2002 Bombeck Workshop, where I learned that alternative publishing had gained some credibility in recent years. Choosing to view that revelation in the UD environment as another tip from Erma coming through, I decided to take the plunge or put the manuscript in a drawer to gather dust.

Bete: Did you compare 1stBooks to other similar services? If so, what made you pick 1stBooks?

Richwine: Timing was everything. 1stBooks is very aggressive with initial mailings once they get your name, probably from the copyright process, in my case. I didn't compare similar services as much as I attempted to seek out the 1stBooks reputation. A clincher was seeing a successful 1stBooks author interviewed on the CBS morning television program. It was simply the time for me to bite the bullet, and 1stBooks was there.

Bete: What was the cost to you and what did you receive for it?

Richwine: 1stBooks offers a number of services from which to select. Fortunately I was in the position to spend some money. My first outlay was slightly more than $1,000; that included initial setup, paperback and hardcover distribution, a standard promotion option and a Library of Congress Control Number. Later I invested an additional $500 for an expanded promotion package, marketing kits and a Newswire Service.

Bete: Are you happy with the service you received?

Richwine: Overall, the answer is yes. I'm especially pleased that the book is available electronically, that 1stBooks' distributor network extends to more than 25,000 bookstores plus leading online book sellers, that the book is archived on a Newswire database available to more than 600 media outlets and commercial online sites, and that I can check books sold on the 1stBooks website at any time.

Bete: What have you done to promote your book? How is it selling?

Richwine: Despite the array of promotional options, there's still work to be done by the author, and it is ongoing work! I appreciate my public relations background. I have personally distributed dozens of bookmarks, business cards and postcards (all featuring the book's cover) produced as marketing tools by 1stBooks. I'm aware that this has produced sales. As the result of a news release professionally prepared by 1stBooks and sent out to more than 500 media outlets in five cities of my choice and my contacts to local media, about 10 reporters and editors have expressed interest in doing a story so far.

Dayton's Books & Co. sold a small supply on the shelves rather quickly and bought 12 more. Since promotion activities just started in early September, I missed a possibility for a book signing event at bookstores this fall. Schedules were filled until after the holidays. Each book sale is awesome!

Bete: Do you have any advice for humor writers who might be considering 1stBooks or a similar service?


  1. Before signing on to a service, ask for some of their book titles at bookstores so you can view a finished product completely and perhaps contact authors for a talk.
  2. Become familiar with POD (print on demand) process so that you may inform others. Not all bookstore employees are yet knowledgeable about this method.
  3. Recognize that some book buyers are reluctant to order a supply of books from on-demand publishers since they can't return them. 1stBooks uses a very well known distributor, Ingram, and that is an advantage to the author.
  4. Think carefully about each option offered. For example, in retrospect, I wouldn't have ordered the hardcover version for my book. 1stBooks constantly sends out special deals. You can easily pace some purchases for a later time after you see how book sales progress.
  5. Above all—never lose belief in your book!

Tim Bete is the director of the University of Dayton's Erma Bombeck Writers' Workshop, where this article first appeared.

News From the Publishing World

1) BookExpo America

Consider attending BookExpo America, May 30-June 1. It's the largest book industry trade show in this country—a chance to meet foreign and US publishers, editors, agents and distributors (notice that I didn't mention that it was a good place to sell books).

Also, there are wonderful educational conferences in the days just before—a two-day event sponsored by Publishers Marketing Association, and a remarkably inexpensive day with John Kremer, who has written for us. It's one of the best opportunities you'll have to learn, network, and perhaps sign a traditional publishing contract. (It's rare, but it happens. I found a publisher for one of my books at BEA and have come close on a couple of foreign rights possibilities.)

To learn more, visit:

BookExpo America
Publishers Marketing Association
John Kremer's Seminar

2) 1stBooks Authors Receive Many Recent Honors

1stBooks Author is IEEE Author of the Year

1stBooks Author Wins First Place for Genre Fiction Category in Writer's Digest's Self-Publishing Competition

1stBooks Authors Win Honorable Mentions in Writer's Digest's Self-Publishing Competition

1stBooks Authors Named Finalists for ForeWord magazine's Book of the Year Awards

Winners will be announced in June. 1stBooks garnered the most finalists of any POD company in the world!

1stBooks Author Featured in Newsday

  • Angelica Harris, author of the Arthurian time travel book, Excalibur and the Holy Grail (first of a planned trilogy), was profiled in Newsday, a major daily newspaper in the New York Metropolitan Area.

Congratulations to all of you!

3) Editing Contest with Prize of Publication by 1stBooks

A 1stBooks author, R.D. Peters, has set up an unusual contest—he will pay for publication of a novel with 1stBooks for the person who does the best edit job on his novel. You can find details by clicking HERE.

4) Corrected Entry Fee: Direct From the Author Book Award

Open to authors of self-published books, eBooks and POD titles. Author must be 18 years of age or older. Entry titles must be available for sale direct from the author. $100 top prize; $10 entry fee. (Sorry about that!) Deadline is June 21. Visit http://www.farmersmarketonline.com/bookaward.htm for more.


Small Publishers, Artists and Writers Network is opening networking Chapters nationwide. Check with them to see if there's a Chapter meeting near you or contact them if you'd like to start a Chapter in your area. Email patricia@spawn.org or visit http://www.spawn.org for more info.

About 1stBooks

Since 1997, 1stBooks has helped thousands of authors become published. We offer you complete control over every aspect of the publishing process while working with you to produce your manuscript in paperback and/or hardcover formats. Because we print books only as they are ordered using print-on-demand (POD) technology, neither you nor we have to invest lots of cash in unsold inventory. This, in turn, allows us to provide very affordable and prompt services. Visit http://www.1stbooks.com/getpublished/1stnews.html to request our free publishing guide.

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1stNews from 1stBooks was created 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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