1stNews from 1stBooks
November 5, 2003

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Table of Contents

Editor's Message

We're continuing our three-part series on Small Steps to Big Book Success with the second part of Carol Kern's article; the final installment by Ellen Rubinstein will run the third week of Dec. (with two other articles in between). Both Carol and Ellen, I'm proud to note, are 1stBooks authors.

For the writing craft article, I'm very pleased to introduce Pat Holt, one of my favorite commentators in the book world. She's been covering the book beat for a long time, first for the San Francisco Chronicle and now for her own newsletter. When she recently ran an article on mistakes writers should avoid, I thought it would be perfect for 1stBooks readers—except that it was more than 3,000 words long and we usually run articles in chunks of 500 words or so. So I got her permission to carve it into pieces. It will run as (gasp!) a seven-part series. I haven't decided yet if I'll run them all in a row or intersperse them with other articles, and I'd like your input. If you want to see them one after another, please send a message to shorowitz@1stbooks.com?subject=holtallinarow. If you'd rather get other craft articles in between, please choose shorowitz@1stbooks.com?subject=holtinterspersed.

Oh, yes—and this is your last chance to enter the IPPYs before the price starts its gradual climb.

Finally, I'd like to acknowledge Rita Mills of American Book Cooperative, who supplied several of the items in the News from the Publishing World column for this and future issues.

Small Steps to Big Book Success, Part 2

By Carol Kern, cowgirlcarol@hotmail.com

A magazine I write for is doing a book review. The publisher puts out five magazines (I write for two of them), and carries a full page promoting books that will interest readers. There is no cost to authors and the publisher gets 10 percent. Can't find a better deal anywhere!

A friend sent my press release to another publication, along with a letter suggesting they do a feature story on me. They were in touch with me immediately for an interview. The magazine is a breed publication for breeders of purebred cattle (which is what I do in addition to writing). So, not only will the article promote my book, it will also promote my breeding stock. (A four-page color layout would have cost me around $5,000 ... but I am getting it for nothing!) Free publicity is the best kind of all!

My local newspaper is also running the press release along with a feature article. When I mentioned to the editor that I would like the release to be carried by some other papers as well, he told me that it would be carried in 12 small weekly papers in Nova Scotia... those are the papers everyone reads. And 1stBooks has notified me of two more requests for review copies. One is from the book reviewer for the Chronicle Herald, the largest newspaper in Nova Scotia (circulation 333,000), and the other is from Addington Press in Nova Scotia.

I sent a press release to a bi-weekly paper called Farm Focus (circulation about 22,000). Not only are they running the release, they also ordered three books as a giveaway. The paper will feature my book cover image all through the months of November and December. That's publicity for two months plus the sale of three books. Not bad for the price of a postage stamp!

The local bookstore owners told me they don't do book signings for, or carry, self-published books. I handed them a copy of my book to read, telling them I would greatly value their opinion. They read the book, called me, and offered to schedule a book signing for 40 percent. Since books in Canada are very pricey compared to the US (a $19.95 US price would be $29.95 in this country), and I wanted my book to be no more than $24.95, I had to let them know I would receive too little for the book if they got 40 percent, even though I understand that is pretty standard. Two days later they called again and offered to do the book signing for 20 percent. They like the book and feel it will be a big seller, at least locally.

This past Saturday, a man showed up at my door with a copy of my book in his hand. He picked up one of the advance flyers I distributed in a 50-mile radius and had his daughter in Maine order two copies of my book from the 1stBooks site and bring them to him when she came for a visit. He wanted me to sign the book. He said he doesn't usually keep paperback books but this one is an exception. He then told me about another Canadian author whose book had been highly touted, with a big spread in Chatelaine Magazine, and who had received $2.5 million for film rights. He said he had bought the book immediately and found it not worth reading. Then he told me that my book was ten times better and one he would want to read over and over again. I don't think my feet touched the floor the rest of the day!

All of you may have opportunities to promote your books, though they may be different from mine—if we start thinking small. And thinking small can result in more success than thinking big.

To learn more about Carol Kern's book, "All Kinds of Heroes," please visit http://www.1stbooks.com/bookview/16845

Success Profile #1: Lee Burkins' Book Becomes a History Channel Documentary

The History Channel will air "Operation Reunion," a documentary inspired by a story from Lee Burkins' book, "Soldier's Heart," on Nov. 12, 2003. Please consult your local TV listings for air time.

The film documents a reunion between Lee and another soldier 33 years after they were wounded together in Vietnam.

"Soldier's Heart" was also recently reviewed by Rob Schultheis, author of five books and correspondent for CBS, NBC, etc.

Read reviews from Schultheis and several other readers and members of the press at http://www.onetao.com/reader responses.htm. Learn more about the book at http://www.1stbooks.com/bookview/14302.

Success Profile #2: Carl Smith Signs Books at the Pentagon, Is Interviewed by Larry King, Meets the Governor of Tennessee

Carl Smith, author of Fringe Patriots, is a whirlwind of book promotion activity.

He will tape a segment with Larry King on Nov. 14. But that's only the beginning.

From Nov. 3-7, 10 am to 4 pm, the author will be signing his book, Fringe Patriots, at the Pentagon (not an easy place to set up a signing, especially one that lasts five days!). CBS will have a live feed to Knoxville, Tennessee during the event.

On Oct. 29, Carl was interviewed on regional Channel 8 Noon News, live, from another weeklong book-signing event at Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, a Smoky Mountain resort town. The Governor of Tennessee attended this event.

This summer, he signed books at more than a dozen military installations, as well as Walter Reed Army Hospital (where he signed books for soldiers returning from Iraq), and dedicated copies to the War College (at Fort Leslie J. McNair in Washington D. C.), Congressman John J. Duncan Jr. of Tennessee, and to the Library of Congress.

On July 15, 2003, Mr. Smith received the Medal of Excellence from Loree Sutton at DeWitt Army Medical Center at Fort Belvoir, Virginia.

Are you inspired to push your own book a little harder after reading this? I sure am! And for a future issue, we'll try to get Carl to tell us more about how he achieved so much in such a short time.

For more on Fringe Patriots, please visit http://www.1stbooks.com/bookview/14409

News from 1stBooks

1stBooks to Exhibit at Miami Book Fair International

1stBooks proudly announces that the company will exhibit at the 2003 Miami Book Fair International (Booth #200) from Nov. 7th through Nov. 9th in downtown Miami. Book signings will be hosted by 16 of their top authors. Robert McCormack, President of 1stBooks made the announcement.

The Fair, will take place Nov. 2-9, at the Wolfson Campus of Miami-Dade Community College, 300 N.E. Second Avenue, and its surrounding streets; it is an international publishing event that includes a week of educational programs, book readings and special events geared toward awareness of literacy in a multi-ethnic community.

To read more, visit: http://www.1stbooks.com/misc/MiamiBookFair.html

News From the Publishing World

Delacorte Press Contest for an Unpublished Young-Adult Novel
Random House is offering publication with a $7500 advance and a $1500 award (minimum 100 typewritten pages). Read about it at http://www.randomhouse.com/kids/games/delacorte.html. Deadline: Dec. 31, 2003.

Writers' Support Group starting in Orlando, Florida
1stBooks author Marian E. has organized BettMarr Literary Foundation, a support network for published and unpublished writers. The second meeting will be held Dec. 6, 2003 1-3 pm at the Herndon Library, 4324 E. Colonial Drive, Orlando Fl 32803, 407 228-1410. Potential members may bring their manuscripts. Contact Marian E., mizwrite@earthlink.net, or co-founder Shelley Parri, 407 699-6603, IppublishingGrp@aol.com.

Writers' Group Continues in Naperville, Illinois
1stBooks author James T. Durkin writes, "The next meeting for the Authors' Marketing Group will be on Thursday, Nov. 13 from 7:30-9:00 pm at Barnes & Noble at 47 East Chicago Ave. in downtown Naperville (corner of Chicago & Washington). 630-579-0200. Our featured speaker will be Brian O'Keefe, News and Public Affairs Coordinator for WDCB, the radio station at the College of DuPage. He will advise published authors on how to secure interviews on local radio stations to promote their books. In addition, local author James Durkin will share ideas on 'How to have a successful book signing.' For further information, please contact Liz at the store at (630) 579-0200."

Houston Children's Book Authors—Want to Do a Reading?
A school in Houston wants authors for a program on March 2nd in honor of Dr. Seuss Day:

"This HISD school is unique in that is has three distinct programs, Vanguard (HISD gifted and talented program), deaf, and those children with multiple physical and mental impairments. The one thing that brings all these programs together is reading and books. Our PTO has had a mission in recent years to really promote children's literacy. We have an idea to use Dr. Seuss's 100th birthday (Mar. 2, 2004) as a chance to promote books/reading in our school." They'll have a Dr. Seuss Day featuring local authors. If you're interested, email Rita Mills, ritamills5555@yahoo.com, and she will pass your information along to the school.

Arizona Hispanic seeks books for review.
If you're a Latino/Latina author, please contact Jo Ann Yolanda Hernandez, Book Editor, 480-358-1264

2004 Independent Publishers Book Awards (a.k.a. the IPPYs): 55 categories, deadline: Apr. 15, 2004; entry fee: $60 before Nov. 15; $65, Nov. 16-Jan. 15; $70, Jan. 16-Apr. 15, 2004. Details at http://www.independentpublisher.com/ipaward.lasso

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

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

10 Mistakes Writers Don't See (But Can Easily Fix When They Do), Part I

By Pat Holt

From email messages and front-page news in the New York Times to published books and magazine articles, these 10 "ouchies" crop up everywhere. They're so pernicious that even respected Internet columnists are not immune. Authors shouldn't have to pay editorial consultants for easy fixes; they should be able to find and fix a lot of the problems on their own. Look for these 10 mistakes in your own writing; learn to clean them up before you submit anything in writing to anybody (editor or consultant, agent, publisher, your mom, your boss). The list could also be called, "10 Common Problems That Dismiss You As A Beginner," because these mistakes are obvious to literary agents and editors, who may start wording their decline letter by page 5. What a tragedy that would be!

1. Flat Writing

"He wanted to know but couldn't understand what she had to say, so he waited until she was ready to tell him before asking what she meant."

Something is conveyed in this sentence, but who cares? The writing is so flat, it just dies on the page. You can't fix it with a few replacement words—you have to give it depth, texture, character. Here's another:

"Bob looked at the clock and wondered if he would have time to stop for gas before driving to school to pick up his son after band practice." True, this could be important—his spouse might have hired a private investigator to document Bob's inability to pick up his son on time—and it could be that making the sentence bland invests it with more tension. (This is the editorial consultant giving you the benefit of the doubt.) Most of the time, though, a sentence like this acts as filler. It gets us from A to B, all right, but not if we go to the kitchen to make a sandwich and find something else to read when we sit down.

Flat writing is a sign that you've lost interest or are intimidated by your own narrative. It shows that you're veering toward mediocrity, that your brain is fatigued, that you've lost your inspiration. So use it as a lesson. When you see flat writing on the page, it's time to rethink, refuel and rewrite.

Pat Holt, for 16 years the Book Review Editor and Critic for the San Francisco Chronicle, is a manuscript consultant. To learn more about her Manuscript Express critique service, please visit http://holtuncensored.com/manu_express.html. This article is serialized with permission and originally appeared in Holt Uncensored, Pat's newsletter covering the publishing world. To subscribe, please send a message to pat@holtuncensored.com?subject=SubscribeHoltUncensored

Seasonal and Topical

Anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin Wall (Nov. 9)
Bringing in Marky by Tammie Kretchman, a novel taking place in Berlin just after the Wall came down. http://www.1stbooks.com/bookview/8299

Veterans Day, Nov. 11
The Lucky Bastard Club: Letters to My Bride from the Left Seat By Roy R. Fisher, Jr. with Susan Fisher Anderson: a World War II pilot's letters home to his bride. http://www.1stbooks.com/bookview/17221

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