1stNews from 1stBooks
October 1, 2003

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

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Table of Contents


Editor's Message

Hear it from the horse's mouth: TV news veteran Jeff Crilley tells you exactly how to make your stories appealing in that very visual medium—and please, no letters bemoaning the dumbing-down of our culture. Jeff and I both know that most of what he's talking about isn't real news, but it's how TV works. The focus is not on how we need real news stories, but how you can take advantage of what reporters want and craft a message that will get on the air. Unfortunately, the more important "head" stuff (for instance, the effect of homelessness on the economy) doesn't work very well in the medium.

It's always a pleasure to spotlight the talents of our own 1stBooks authors. This issue's writing article is written by someone who has just become a published author for the first time, through 1stBooks. John Clark gives some pointers for navigating the waters between book idea and finished book.

Oh, and if you read the success stories every issue and wonder how these people have achieved so much when you can't seem to get out of the starting gate, be sure to read this issue's News from 1stBooks. Considering that full-time book publicists charge as much as $10,000 per month, this new service provides quite a bit of value.

And, last but not least, 1stBooks author and 1stNews from 1stBooks contributor, Patrick Gilligan (author of Patrick Gilligan Says Be Your Own Boss!, just landed an interview with Ed McMahon. You can listen to the interview at http://www.lifestyleslive.com on October 11 at 6:05 pm or October 12 at 10:05 am EST. Click on the link "Click here to hear the latest show." Congrats, Patrick!


TV Reporter Shares the Secrets to Getting Covered On the News

By Jeff Crilley, Author of Free Publicity

Do you have a great idea for a story, but no clue how to get it into the news? Are you tired of pitching press releases the news media simply ignores?

After 20 years of beating the street as a TV reporter, I have a scoop for you: the media needs good stories. But most stories are pitched so poorly, they are lost in the blizzard of faxes that blanket every newsroom.

So here are five steps to increase your chances of getting covered, which even some PR pros don't know:

1) Be Unusual
The old adage about "Man bites dog" still holds true. The news doesn't cover what's normal. We cover the abnormal.

PR whiz Carolyn Alvey knew this. Instead of holding a charity garage sale, she sent out a press release announcing a "Celebrity Garage Sale." Everything from Bob Hope's old golf clubs to Roger Staubach's long-neglected neckties were for sale. By making an ordinary garage sale extraordinary, she instantly sold the media on the story.

2) Be Visual
TV Reporters tell stories with pictures. If the pictures aren't there, chances are the reporters won't be either.

Even the most non-visual story can be made visual if you're creative. A dog biscuit business? Boring. A dog birthday party complete with doggie guests and party hats? Now you're barking up the right tree.

That's what Michelle Lamont did to boost her dog biscuit bakery. She began baking huge dog biscuit birthday cakes and inviting the media to cover the parties. She's had reporters hounding her for stories ever since.

3) Choose the Right Reporter
Perhaps the most common mistake even some PR pros make is trying to sell a good story to the wrong person. Most reporters have a specialty, like "crime" or "business."

So, seek out the reporter who will have the most to benefit from your story. Start studying the news. Before you call a TV station or pitch a newspaper, become familiar with a reporter's work. Don't try and sell an investigative story to a reporter who covers entertainment.

4) Write Like a Reporter
If I were going to send a press release to a reporter, I'd write the kind of headline that a newspaper would run. And I'd make the rest of the release so conversational that a TV anchor could read it right on the air.

Why is this so important? A major-market newsroom gets hundreds of press releases every day. Often the decision on whether to cover your story is made in a matter of seconds. Many times that well-crafted sentence in the third paragraph of your press release is never read.

5) Wait For a Slow News Day
The holidays are the slowest "news times" of the year. When government offices are closed, so are most of our sources. Take advantage of it.

In fact, take out your calendar and begin circling government holidays. If the government isn't making news, we reporters are scrambling to find something to cover. Pitch even an average story on a day when the media is starving for news, and you're much more likely to get coverage.

There you go. Now you're armed with knowledge that even some well-paid public relations professions don't practice. If your idea is unique, visual, and pitched to the right person when the supply of news is running thin, you're in!

Jeff Crilley is an Emmy Award-Winning Reporter and author of Free Publicity: A TV Reporter Shares the Secrets for Getting Covered on the News. It's available at bookstores everywhere or online at http://www.jeffcrilley.com.


News from 1stBooks

Now available from 1stBooks—The Personal Media Valet

  • Personal follow-up calls to a minimum of 50 members of the media to promote your book
  • Personal inquiries to a minimum of 15 bookstores, retail centers, and other venues regarding book signings or personal appearances
  • Professionally-written sample letters that you can send to literary agents, booksellers, or members of the media
  • 100 pieces of custom-designed professionally-printed full color letterhead featuring your book cover and contact information
  • Immediate contact, in four hours or less, regarding media requests and weekly follow-up reports

The Personal Media Valet is priced at $3,000, far less than the cost of a traditional publicist and printing service.

Put your Personal Media Valet to work today! Visit http://www.1stbooks.com/misc/product_brochures.html and then call your Author Services Representative toll-free at 888/519-5121.


Success Profile: Edward Orzac Makes Newsday

Publisher's Lunch (a respected publishing-industry news sheet) reported on 1stBooks author Dr. Edward S. Orzac; Newsday (a major metropolitan New York paper) ran a big profile on the author of the autobiographically-based collection, The Fall Of The House of Ill-Repute and Other Short Stories in its September 18 issue.

At press time, the story was still live at http://www.newsday.com/entertainment/news/ny-p2page33457913sep18,0,4157599.story.

Preview Edward's book at http://www.1stbooks.com/bookview/13900


News from the Publishing World

Writing Success Essay Contest
FundsforWriters offers $100 and $50 first prizes, depending on whether you choose to pay the optional $5 entry fee. Send an essay on a creative or successful way you earned a living or sold a piece as a real-life writer. Editor Hope Clark writes, "We want you to motivate other writers with your piece." 750 words. Deadline Oct 31, 2003. http://www.fundsforwriters.com/FFWcontest.htm

Book Fair, Southwest Ohio
The first annual Mad River Book Fair will be held at the Champaign County Community Center at 1512 S U.S. Rt. 68 in Urbana, OH, on Saturday, October 25, 2003, from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm. Authors are invited to display and sell their books. There will be a $10 registration fee. Tables and chairs will be provided for this indoor event. Authors may register by sending their $10 fee with a cover letter to the Champaign County Chamber of Commerce, 113 Miami Street, Urbana, OH 43078. Questions about the event should be directed to Darrell L. Heckman (937-653-4478) or Jane Sandy (937-653-5764).

Paris Review Poetry Contest
From one of the premier small literary presses around. $5000 advance and publication. Entry fee: $25. Deadline: October 31st, 2003. http://www.zoopress.org/zoo_fallcontest.html

American Self-Publisher Association Day-Long Writing Conferences, "Writing, Publishing & Marketing Your 1st Book (or 7th)." Various locations around the US. http://bchrist.vwh.net/AmericanSelfPublisher/schedule.html, 916-422-8435, ASPublish@aol.com

2004 Independent Publishers Book Awards, (a.k.a. the IPPYs): 55 categories; deadline: April 15, 2004. Entry fee: $60 before November 15; $65 from November 16 to January 15; $70 from January 16 to April 15, 2004. Details at http://www.independentpublisher.com/ipaward.lasso

ForeWord Magazine Book of the Year Awards. Deadline: January 15, 2004. Entry fee: $50. 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. 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). Entry fee: $65. Details at http://www.isu.edu/outdoor/books/policy.htm


Don't Be Scared Off—Writing Your First Book Can Be Quite Manageable

By John Clark, johnclarkjcj@hotmail.com

My first book was published by 1stBooks on May 1, 2003. I would like to share some tips with you that I found helpful when writing my book.

* It is easier to write about something that you have done or experienced. Some good resources for ideas for a book are notes from work you have done or from a journal you may have kept.

* Writing a book can seem overwhelming when you look at the process as a whole. Breaking it down into segments or chapters helped me. Every time I finished a chapter it gave me a sense of accomplishment and motivated me to keep writing.

* Good work takes time and you want to make sure that everything is done the way you want it. It took me thirteen months to write the book and six months to get it ready for production. Take your time, and don't be in a hurry.

* Don't let lack of confidence stop you from starting that manuscript. Find ways to overcome any obstacles you may be facing. Remember that nothing is impossible if you don't give up. Keep trying until you succeed. The difference between failure and success is often trying just one more time.

* You may not be alone in this venture. Keep your ears open when talking with people you know and meet; you may find people that are willing to help. When they hear about what you are doing, they will often want to be a part of it. I found that when I started this project I met people who wanted to type and edit for me. I even have a friend who is a graphic designer who designed my book cover for a reasonable price. You can see his work at http://www.akron-graphics.com.

* Be open to new ideas. When I first started on my book cover I had an idea that I thought was really good. My friend had an idea he wanted me to see. As his idea was by far better than mine, it is now the cover of my book. As you will discover, the book cover is the hook that causes people to want to buy your book. I am glad that I listened to him.

* Look for a mentor who is already a published author. One day while working, I met Jim, a published author who became my mentor. He shared with me the things that he had learned and how to avoid mistakes he had made. We talked about book covers, how many lines per page, work spacing, marketing, setting up book signings, proper formatting, and even how to avoid using common words we use all the time.

* Work closely with Author Services and the person in production who oversees your book. Get their advice and take into consideration what they have to say. They're experts at what they do.

* Remember that we are all in this together and can learn from each other. If you want to contact me, my email address is at the top of this article. I will do my best to help you in any way I can.

John Clark, Ph.D., is the author of The Healing of Satanically Ritually Abused Multiple Personality Disorder, just published by 1stBooks. Preview his book at http://www.1stbooks.com/bookview/15347


Seasonal and Topical


Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year)
Sacred Quest, In Search of the Lost Ark of the Covenant by Howard H. Schack. Historical novel tracking the wanderings of the original Holy Ark. Note: This author took advantage of his seasonal connection not only to get publicity in this newsletter, but also in Hadassah Magazine (Literary Month), Jewish Book World, The Jewish Week Newspapers, his local paper, and various other places.


Letters

I look forward to receiving 1st Books' newsletter on the 1st and 3rd Wednesdays of each month. The newsletter is a refreshing change to the routine of a lawyer.

For the author who is unfamiliar with the realm of publishing, the newsletter opens a whole new world. The information you provide to your writers is informative and stimulating—and supports 1st Books' concept that nothing happens without the author. Your marketing ideas enhance, and confirm, some of my own.

The local market is waiting with anticipation for the arrival of my first 1stBooks book! —Louise Muir, a/k/a L. E. One Runner, author of "The Letter": http://www.1stbooks.com/bookview/18040

Stephen King. Jack London. Michael Crichton. All of these world-famous best-selling writers started out their writing careers in the gritty pulp fiction genre. They learned about the fiction writing world through pulp fiction writing, and so can you. I've started a pulp fiction webzine, and I'm looking for submissions. Please visit Lissner's Adventure Fiction Online at http://bestpulpfiction.com today or email queries to joe3919@hotmail.com. Our search ranking on Google for "pulp fiction online" is currently #1 out of 195,000 sites! —Jonah Lissner


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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About This Newsletter

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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