1stNews from 1stBooks
August 6, 2003

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Table of Contents

Editor's Message

Hope you're having a wonderful summer, at least those of you in the northern hemisphere. I'm actually writing this in early July before my vacation.

Publishing sure has changed a lot, hasn't it? On the one hand, you have the 5th Harry Potter rushing out of the gate with the largest one-day sale of any retail item in history, a bazillion in print and more on the way.

And on the other hand, there's magical technology that allows you to write a memoir, a scholarly research book, a novel without any blockbuster characters or licensing deals—and print as many as you need, when you need them.

That's the 1stBooks model, and we are gratified to help so many people realize their ambitions and become published authors.

And yes—it IS possible to sell thousands of copies even of a book produced one at a time. There are 1stBooks authors who achieve this. It may not be easy (but then again, promoting any book isn't easy), but it certainly can be done. Watch a future issue for a profile of someone who has done this.

That's why we run a marketing article and a writing craft article in each issue; we want you to be the best writer you can be, but also to find your own market and actually sell the books too.

This issue, the marketing article explains how to get blurbs from better-known writers. From my own experience, I can tell you they are easy to get if your book is good. For my own new book, Principled Profit, I worked hard to get blurbs. There were only about six people I couldn't reach (including some I really wanted, like Jimmy Carter), but I was able to get 56 advance blurbs, including Chicken Soup co-author Jack Canfield, a former U.S. Secretary of Labor, and a number of prominent authors and business people. Oddly enough, just as Alice and Jaimie had a bad address for their Chicken Soup contact, I had to track down a second address for Jack Canfield.

And the writing article is another from the prolific pen of Dan Poynter. He reminds us that you can always create the time to write, even from a jail cell.

Even Unknown Authors Can Get Good Blurbs

© 2003 by Alice Zyetz, youshoulda@aol.com

There's an old saying, "If you don't ask, you won't get." That is true in publishing and marketing as well. Although relatively unknown in publishing circles, we were able to get Steve Zikman, co-author of a Chicken Soup book, to write a foreword for our anthology, RV Traveling Tales: Women's Journeys on the Open Road. We already had connections in the Recreational Vehicle world since Jaimie Hall, co-editor, had built a network of RV magazine and newsletter editors for her previous book, Support Your RV Lifestyle! An Insider's Guide to Working on the Road. But we wanted to build a more national presence among women in general and armchair travelers in particular since the stories in our book are universal and transcend the RV community.

I briefly considered contacting the author of Chicken Soup for the Traveler's Soul, but dismissed it. Too lofty. He didn't know us. Did we really think our little book was in the same class?

Then, out of the blue, a friend said, "Why don't you send it to the Chicken Soup guy?" Why not? I went on the Chicken Soup website, found the author, and located an email address for him. I wrote a brief query asking if I could send the manuscript and if he liked it, would he write a cover comment for us. The email was returned: no such address. Ah, it was not to be after all, and Charles Kuralt was dead. So much for a national presence. But Jaimie and I persevered and found another address.

This time I received a response: "Call me." We talked and he said there might be a problem (heart stops beating). He was thinking about doing a Chicken Soup for the RV Traveler's Soul. "Would that be a problem?" he asked.

"Not at all," I said (heart starts beating again), knowing how our books would complement each other.

"What did you have in mind?" he asked.

"Oh, a cover comment or even a foreword, if you'd be willing," I brazenly added. He said he would like his name on the cover. Not a problem, I thought, to have Chicken Soup on our cover.

You can do the same thing with your book. Consider your field. Who is famous in the same area? Do a search for their name and send an email. If you have any personal contact, of course, use that first. Or you may have a friend or relative with a personal contact. But if you don't, you can still achieve your goal. A friend's book was set in the same part of Texas that Larry McMurtry writes about. She contacted him and he wrote a blurb for her. Yet another acquaintance who writes suspense stories met Mary Higgins Clark (THE queen of suspense) at a conference. She asked if she could share her manuscript and received a lovely letter from Ms. Clark.

Our advice is clear: Go for it. The worst thing that can happen is they say no, which just puts you back to where you were before you asked.

Alice Zyetzis the co-editor and co-publisher (with Jaimie Hall) of RV Traveling Tales: Women's Journeys on the Open Road. Read more about it at http://www.rvtravelingtales.com.

Sucess Profile: Joyce Jackson Pfleger Gets a Huge Write-Up in a Specialty Publication

[Editor's Note: I'm including this specifically because it may broaden your horizons about where to seek reviews. Many times, publications servicing a trade or hobby, whether regional or national, will give extensive, extremely favorable coverage that you can then quote from, feature on your website, parlay into more "mainstream" coverage, etc.]

Joyce Jackson-Pfleger writes, "Recently this review (written by the copy editor) was in the San Diego Log, a popular sailing newspaper. I am pleased at how everyone who has read my first novel enjoyed it so much. I have recently completed the second book in the Escpae trilogy, The Journey Of Escape,

Here's a brief excerpt from the review (which totals over 500 words), written by Carol L. Allen:

"Pfleger weaves allegations of murder, illegal possession, robbery, a shark attack, romance, tenacity, conniving public officials, and more into her first novel "The Secret of Escape"... Pfleger flavors her adventure-romance narrative with colorful descriptions of real places and real cultures that Emerald [the protagonist]— and friends she meets during her travels—visits: Nuka Hiva in the Marquesas, the Tuamotus, Tahiti, Moorea, Bora Bora, tiny atolls such as Mauphihaa and Mopelia, and Rarotonga, the southernmost of the Cook Islands."

You can preview Joyce's books at:

News From the Publishing World

Authors for Charity
"Authors for Charity, a group of independent writers, has declared October 2003 'National Authors for Charity Month.' Throughout the month, they will sponsor book signing events in cities across the U.S. All participating authors will be donating a portion of their royalties to local charities.

"Join us for book signings during the year by teaming up with one or two other authors in different areas. It will be more fun, and hopefully you can sell more books by joining up with someone else of a different genre.

"Then each October, we plan to be having book signings and giving part of our earnings from that signing to a charity of our choice. This will give all of us more media coverage as well as helping out a charity. Join our group at booksignersauthors-subscribe@yahoogroups.com.

"If you are interested in participating as an author, or have any press inquiries, please contact Shirley Dicks at sdicks@blomand.net."

Cup of Comfort
Cup of Comfort stories (similar to the Chicken Soup books) is seeking contributions for a number of
Upcoming deadlines include "Spirituality," "Sisters," "Mothers and Sons," and "Devotional" (Christian).

For guidelines for all but the devotional, visit http://www.cupofcomfort.com. For guidelines for the devotional, visit http://www.stephenrclark.com/cup/.

No entry fee. Authors get paid and get a byline.

All That I Remember
All That I Remember, an anthology to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Rosa Parks' refusal to get up from her seat on a segregated bus, seeks pieces from African-American women about the experience of being domestic workers in the homes of white employers—or stories from younger women, if the pre-1955 stories were told to them by their mothers, aunts, or other family members. Please send your manuscript to: Anthology on Race, P.O. Box 1076, Amherst, MA 01004 or email pat@amherstwriters.com, or kate@amherstwriters.com. Deadline is September 1.

The Writers' Workshop Fiction Contest
Deadline: Postmarked by midnight, September 15, 2003
Entry fee: Entry fee: $18 ($15 Workshop members) per story, payable to The Writers' Workshop
First Prize: $350, Second Prize: $250, Third Prize: $100, 10 Honorable Mentions

Submit an unpublished short story or chapter of a novel, with 5,000 word limit (typed and double-spaced). Multiple entries are accepted. Attach a cover sheet with your name, address, story title and telephone number. Use 12 point font size; paper-clip your work; and enclose legal-size self-addressed stamped envelope with self-adhesive flap for judge's comments and winner's list. Fiction Contest, 387 Beaucatcher Road, Asheville, NC 28805.

ForeWord Magazine Book of the Year Awards
Deadline: January 15, 2004
Entry fee: $50
More details at https://www.forewordmagazine.com/photos/botya2003.pdf

Writer's Digest International Self-Published Book Awards
Deadline: December 15, 2003
Entry fee: $100/1st entry; $50/additional entries
More details at https://www.writersdigest.com/contests/self_published.asp

National Outdoor Book Awards (for titles published between June 1, 2002 and August 28, 2003)
Deadline: August 28, 2003
Entry fee: $65
More details at http://www.isu.edu/outdoor/books/policy.htm

How Much Time Does It Take to Write A Book?

By Dan Poynter, DanPoynter@Parapublishing.com

"You've lived 78 years and you expect me to ghostwrite your memoir in a week?" -Gail Kearns, writer and editor.

How long does it take to write a book? That's like asking, "How much is a car?" It depends on a great many things. According to Brenner Information Group, on the average, it takes 475 hours to write fiction books and 725 hours to write nonfiction. Subscribers to Writer's Digest magazine spend 12.64 hours writing each week. Beginners spend seven hours a week and advanced writers spend 30.5.

When Maryanne Raphael first read about the international Three-Day Writing Contest, she thought it was a joke. But the idea of writing a book in three days fascinated her. So several years later she signed up, got a sponsor, and arranged to spend Labor Day weekend at her keyboard day and night.

She began typing as fast as she could, writing her best at all times because there was no chance for rewriting. The subconscious was in control with the conscious mind in the dark much of the time. The same powerful curiosity that keeps readers turning pages kept her writing them.

She finished the manuscript, The Man Who Loved Funerals, by the deadline with short breaks for stretching and naps. It is in New York with her agent who thinks it is her best work. Ironically, she spent ten years writing her nonfiction book, How to Write a Novel in Three Days.

For many authors, the writing of the book is not grueling; it is a journey to be enjoyed. Many writers like to set aside a few hours for their writing each day; they establish a schedule and stick to it religiously. A few have the luxury of writing full-time or of getting away to concentrate on their writing. They find marathon writing is more fun and avoids the challenge of getting back to the manuscript each day. Still others have to fit in their writing whenever they can.

Nat Bodian decided to write his first book in 1979. Finding time was difficult because he worked full-time as a marketer at a New York publishing house and commuted from New Jersey. He did some writing on the bus to and from New York, some on a pad of paper walking across Manhattan and some during his lunch hours. Then, evenings after his kids were in bed, he continued in a basement typing room until the wee hours of the morning and on weekends. The Book Marketing Handbook was published by R.R. Bowker 20 months later and it is still selling. This and several more industry books led to his nomination to the Publishing Hall of Fame.

Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King wrote powerful articles and books about their activities or causes while behind bars. Make effective use of your most valuable asset: your time.

Dan Poynter does not want you to die with a book still inside you. You have the ingredients and he has your recipe. Dan has written more than 100 books since 1969 including Writing Nonfiction and The Self-Publishing Manual. For more help on book writing, see http://www.parapub.com.

© 2003

Seasonal and Topical

Rapidly Shifting Middle East Developments/Anniversary of 9/11
The Middle East - Life in Saudi Arabia: A Unique Inside Look at the Region and the Customs, Antics, Traditions, Habits, and Lifestyles of the People that Live, Work, and Play There- a 'Westerner's' Perspective by K. Andrew Pulsifer


I want to take the time & thank 1stBooks for providing useful information in their newsletters. I would love to write a book. But I can't seem to come across as I want to in my writing. So I've looked at a lot of different sites about writing & publishing. Searching for pointers & ideas I can use to help me along. You are the only company that's sent me useful tips. I think it's great, so keep up the good work!

Misty Brooks

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