1stNews from 1stBooks
September 17, 2003

This newsletter is sent to you on the first and third Wednesdays of every month by 1stBooks, http://www.1stbooks.com

You're receiving it because you have corresponded with 1stBooks about publishing your manuscript or because you specifically requested a subscription. If you don't want to receive this informative newsletter, just visit http://newsletter.1stbooks.com, enter the email address through which you received the newsletter into the first blank, and press "submit."

Table of Contents

Editor's Message

Oops! There was a technical glitch with my email for part of the last month. If you wrote to shorowitz@1stbooks.com with a message that required a response and didn't get an answer, please resend your message. I think we've managed to recover and respond to all of them, but if we missed you, please forgive us. If you did write, please accept my apology for the slow response. And, rest assured, this did not affect any other 1stBooks addresses; the problem was only in the forwarding of mail addressed to shorowitz@1stbooks.com.

Now, onto what's in this issue...

Fern Reiss is one of the most creative and aggressive book marketers I know—and I know quite a few. It's a pleasure to welcome her back with an article that's bound to inspire you to think differently about marketing your book. You can't do exactly what she did...but you can certainly find an angle for your own book!

Exciting news from 1stBooks this time. First of all, a chance to improve your writing skills with some of the best teachers in the business. Read all about it in this issue's writing craft article.

Second, I'm proud to announce that the circulation of this newsletter has grown to over 100,000 subscribers, making us the very largest publishing-industry newsletters in the world. Thank you for helping us grow!

And third...well, you'll just have to read the "News From the Publishing World" column (which has all sorts of goodies this time).

The Best and Cheapest Marketing Ploy
I've Used to Promote My Books

By Fern Reiss, FernReiss@PublishingGame.com

"To really get bookstore attention, you need to do a fancy PR campaign," someone advised me. "It can cost $10,000 a month!" But I got attention—and sales—from every bookstore in the country. My monthly expenditure? $50.

I announced the first national "I Love My Independent Bookstore" contest. The idea was to give a prize (that's the $50) every month for the best customer answer to the phrase, "I love my independent bookstore because..."

"Because it's warm and squishy." "Because the chains all look the same." "Because you can't get a feel for books on Amazon." "Because my local bookstore lets me curl up and read in peace and quiet."

Booksellers hung up simple posters announcing the contest. Each month they picked the best entry from their store and emailed it to me. And I picked the best response out of the national finalists. Each chosen writer got a $50 gift certificate from his or her local bookstore. Customers loved it. For 15 words or fewer, they had a whack at winning $50. Every month.

Independent bookstores really loved it. The promotion branded them in exactly the way they needed to be positioned. And it reminded their clientele why, exactly, the indies had to be supported—and why it was worth supporting them. (Also, the winning stores sold an extra $50 in books.)

And me?

It was the best promotional expenditure I've ever made. For $50 a month, my press (Peanut Butter and Jelly Press) and my series of publishing how-to books (The Publishing Game) achieved national visibility. We were mentioned in all the review journals, from Publishers' Weekly to the American Bookseller Association newsletter. We got press coverage in every single independent bookstore regional association newsletter.

Even today, when I go to a book trade show and booksellers hear my introduction, they say, "Peanut Butter and Jelly Press? Oh, you're the 'I Love My Independent Bookstore' contest!'"

That contest was four years ago, and it's still providing me with effective P.R. So much for fancy, expensive publicity.

So here's my suggestion. Let the rich hobby publishers go for the fancy P.R. firms. Instead, think guerrilla P.R. Think outside the box. Think small and wiry and cheap.

And me? I hate to retire a good idea, so I'm going to run this one again. Watch the PublishingGame.com website (it'll be in the section for booksellers). And then go visit your local neighborhood independent bookstore. You, too, might receive $50 this month.

Copyright 2003 Fern Reiss

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

Success Profile: Margaret Snyder's Book
is Adopted for Classroom Reading

"I just wanted to let you all know that my book, Memorable Escapes as told by a Marsh Hare, was chosen by a teacher in Fort Wayne, IN, as a reading book for her class. I knew it would be good for children, and the adults in Moore Haven also liked it for their grandchildren."

Margaret also had a very successful book signing at a local library, and is pursuing other library appearances.


1stBooks Teams with Gotham Online
to Offer Writers Workshop for You

On September 23, 1stBooks will launch its first online writing class! We've partnered with Gotham Writers Workshop (GWW), the preeminent writing school in the USA, to bring to our writers the finest online program available.

1stBooks recently sat down with Andre Becker, the President of GWW, to talk about this important new benefit to our current and future authors.

1stBooks: We're thrilled to partner with you in offering online writing classes to 1stBooks writers! Can you tell us a little bit about the acclaimed "Gotham Method" of teaching writing?

We've taught creative writing to more than 20,000 students over the past decade, using a teaching method characterized by three qualities:

  • We teach craft, focusing on such fundamentals as plot, structure, character, voice, dialogue, description, and point of view.
  • Our teachers are all professional writers and exceptional instructors.
  • Our workshops encourage extensive interaction between students and with the instructor.

1stBooks: What are the advantages to taking a writing course online?

Let's let some of our students answer:

"There was a depth of sharing and trust that seldom occurs in life. I think the online format helped in this—we were forced to relate purely through the written word. What could be better for writers?"

"Taking an online class was absolutely perfect for me. Fitting a student's life into family routine isn't always easy, but through the wonders of the Internet, I could log on whenever I had time. Contrary to my first belief, an online course can be a highly personal experience."

Of the many advantages to taking a writing class online, our students most frequently comment on the convenience of being able to participate from home, work, or anywhere they have access to the Internet. They don't have to waste time commuting and like the ability to participate in a class on their own schedule.

1stBooks: Gotham has trained so many writers; thousands, in fact. What's the key to this success?

Simple—it's due to our commitment to providing every student with the best creative writing class possible. To accomplish this, we keep class size small, we review each and every student evaluation, we hire experienced writers who are also great teachers, and we continually refine our approach and materials.

1stBooks: What do you hope will come of our partnership?

Over the past decade, we've seen how writers of every level of experience—from novice to published pro—can benefit from participating in a writing workshop and being a part of a community of writers. We hope our partnership will offer the many talented writers at 1stBooks the training they need and want to become the best writers possible!

To learn more about our online writing class, please visit http://1stbooks.writingclasses.com or call 888/519-5121.

Our inaugural class, Fiction Fundamentals, begins on September 23, 2003!

News From the Publishing World

Southern Festival of Books
1stBooks will participate in the Southern Festival of Books, October 10, 11, and 12, 2003. Held on the War Memorial Plaza, in Nashville, Tennessee, this three-day celebration of the written word brings together more than 200 authors, 100 exhibitors and a host of local entertainers. Some 30,000 visitors are expected at the Festival, which marks its 15th anniversary this year. This event is ranked as one of the top 20 book events in the country.

Three successful 1stBooks authors will join us in side-by-side booths, including Charles Castellaw, who penned "The Way It Was," an autobiographical account of rural farm life in the first decades of the 20th century. Jacqueline Tepper and Raye Ann Greenbaum will also be exhibitors; their book, "Stretch and Kvetch," takes a humorous approach to exercise and physical fitness. Carl Smith, author of the autobiographical military thriller, "Fringe Patriots," is also scheduled to participate.

Duarte Festival of Authors
The Duarte Festival of Authors seeks southern California authors to participate Saturday, Oct. 4, 10 am to 4 pm Duarte is about 10 miles east of Pasadena. "We are specifically interested in showcasing authors who live in the greater Los Angeles area and the San Gabriel Valley. Might any of your 1stBooks authors fit the bill?" If you'd like to be part of this event, please call Carole Smith at Mystic Sisters bookshop, 626/256-1212.

Authors For Charity, Inc.
Authors For Charity, Inc. is a new, non-profit organization to promote books. The group is organizing book signing events nationwide, in which authors donate a portion of their earnings to the charity of their choice. Members can link their own personal websites and events calendar to AFC's site, and also gain access to book events/media coverage in shopping malls—while keeping most of the proceeds. For more explanation of the benefits, please visit http://www.authorsforcharity.com, or write to Shirley at sdicks@blomand.net.


11th Annual Boston Review Short Story Contest. Grand Prize: $1,000. Winning story will be published in the February/March 2004 issue of The Boston Review. Limit 4,000 words. Work must be previously unpublished. For more information, contact Boston Review, E53-407 M.I.T., Cambridge, MA 02139, (617) 494-0708. Deadline October 1, 2003.

2004 Mississippi Review Writing Contest. Short stories 5,000 words or less, or poems 10 pages or less, are accepted in this, the 2004 contest. Grand prize $1,000. Deadline: October 1, 2003. Winners announced January 2004. Send entries to: MR Prize 2004, Box 5144, Hattiesburg, MS 39406-5144. For more information, please email rief@netdoor.com or call (601) 266-4321.

Pockets Magazine 14th Annual Fiction Writing Contest. $1,000 Grand Prize. 1,000-1,600 word limit (unpublished fiction). Submit entries to: "Fiction Contest", Upper Room, Pockets/Lynn W. Gilliam, 1908 Grand Avenue, PO Box 340004, Nashville, TN 37203-0004

Christian Book-Writing Contest. Theme: Hope. Grand Prize: $5,000. 1,000-2,000 word article or essay on "Hope." Deadline: December 31, 2003. For more information, contact: Obadiah Press, 2003 Writer's Contest - Hope! 607 N. Cleveland Street, Merrill, WI 54452.

2004 Independent Publishers Book Awards (a.k.a. the IPPYs)
Deadline: April 15, 2004
Entry fee: $60 before November 15; $65 November 16-January 15; $70 January 16-April 15, 2004
More details at http://www.independentpublisher.com/ipaward.lasso

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

Seasonal and Topical

9/11 Anniversary
The Middle East War Process: The Truth Behind America's Middle East Challenge: A Book of Answers, by former CIA officer Richard Robison
This timely book explores the key reasons behind America's powerful military move into the Middle East, factors not generally and effectively explored by most media outlets.

[Editor's Note: Richard sent this on time for the previous issue, but because of the email glitch, it didn't reach me. Normally, I only run book announcements ahead of the commemorative day.]

Rosh HaShanah (Jewish New Year)
Ellen Alexander's poetry collection, Life Songs, includes several poems with Jewish content, including some related to the High Holidays.

Letter to the Editor

A few months ago I submitted my humor book, "How to Piss Off and Alienate the World", to one of our local newspapers for a review. Much to my surprise, the next day the editor called to offer me a job! I 'm writing a weekly humor column for that paper. Yet another way a book with 1stBooks can pay for itself!

J. Kevin Curry

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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