1stNews from 1stBooks
November 19, 2003

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Table of Contents


Editor's Message

The people have spoken. You voted overwhelmingly to read Pat Holt's articles one after the other. The second part is below.

It may seem a bit odd that I'm holding back on the third part of our Small Steps series, but this part is by a different author, and Fern Reiss's article on seasonality is applicable for this time of the year. If I hold it for January, you might miss some very big chances to piggyback your book on the events of the season.


Thinking Seasonally: How to Sell Your Book Creatively Every Month of the Year

By Fern Reiss, PublishingGame.com

If you're lucky, you have a book that easily ties in with the holidays. Many different kinds of books do—everything from those sentimental gift books to books on simplifying the holiday season. Then it's an easy sell. But what if you don't have an obvious tie-in? Doesn't matter. You can still make most books marketable for the holidays.

For example, almost any children's book can be easily marketed for the holidays, with some special holiday packaging. If your book features a loveable character, even better: Have it designed as a stuffed animal and sell it together with the book. Toy/book combos are tremendously popular for the holidays, and will sell everywhere from your local bookstore to holiday flea markets to school craft fairs.

Gag books lend themselves well to the holiday season too, because people are always looking for inexpensive items, stocking-stuffers and bring-alongs to holiday parties.

Or, let's say you've written a book on dogs. Instead of sitting out the holidays with Fido, think of how you can market Fido into the holidays. Think of opportunities to give other dog-lovers your book. Maybe you could offer your books at dog shows during December. (Don't forget to bring the holiday gift-wrap!) Or maybe you could couple your book with other products to make a doggie-lovers' ensemble. You could even pair your book with a package of gourmet dog biscuits and market it as a doggie Christmas gift in specially crafted doggie paw stockings. See what I mean?

And when you're thinking holidays, don't limit yourself to Christmas. Think Valentine's Day, think Passover and Easter, think July 4th. Think of all the under-commercialized holidays that nobody else bothers with, like Memorial Day and Labor Day. And figure out a way to leverage your product off them.

Even if you don't have any logical tie-in, create holiday excitement via your packaging or promotion. This year, for example, we're offering our Publishing Game books for the holidays—the same books on finding a literary agent, self-publishing, and doing successful book promotion that we offer all year long. But we're billing them as "Gifts for the Writer in Your Life"—and selling them with an assortment of elegant edibles as well as a novelty mug with the slogan, "Writers are Novel Lovers." We've got packages in three different sizes and price ranges, and they're already selling like hotcakes from our website—and it's still weeks before Christmas.

So whatever your book fits into, think about a way to adapt it or promote it for the holidays. And then keep thinking—because if Christmas is upon us, can Valentine's Day be far behind?

Fern Reiss is the author of The Publishing Game: Bestseller in 30 Days, The Publishing Game: Publish a Book in 30 Days, The Publishing Game: Find an Agent in 30 Days, and the forthcoming books, The Publishing Game: Syndicate a Column in 30 Days and Expertizing: Positioning Yourself as a Name Brand. More information on her books, consulting, holiday gifts for writers, and all-day Publishing Game and Expertizing workshops can be found at http://www.PublishingGame.com

Copyright 2003 Fern Reiss


Success Profile #1: Child Author William Bennett Wins 1-Day Spot on AOL Homepage

Sixth-grader and 1stBooks author William Bennett, age 11, author of "My Weird Life" http://www.1stbooks.com/bookview/16380 was featured last week on AOL's home page. His mother, Pat, writes, "AOL's 15 Hours of Fame is a contest that involved posting stories, notes, etc. to a journal and entering the postings for consideration on the theme, 'If you could talk to 25 million people, what would you say?' I entered the entry about Will and "My Weird Life" on Oct. 21. On Oct. 31, I heard from AOL that the entry had won and they wanted to do a story on Will."

AOL sent a crew to Auburn, Alabama on Nov. 4 and 5 to interview, photograph and videotape Will.

Will's 15 hours on AOL's welcome screen were on November 11; AOL estimates that at least 50,000 people will follow the link and learn about Will's book. AOL subscribers can view the entry through the rest of November by using the keyword "15 hours." Or, visit http://journals.aol.com/pbenet/ThisChildWroteaBook/entries/30.


News From the Publishing World

* A DC-Area Gathering of African Writers
Will be held at the Prince George's County New Carrollton Library, 7414 Riverdale Road, New Carrollton, MD, Nov. 29, starting at 10 am. At least five 1stBooks authors will participate:

A.K. Berko, "Hollering Back at the Wilderness" http://www.1stbooks.com/bookview/17032
Gbanabom Hallowell, "Raping Medusa" http://www.1stbooks.com/bookview/20424
Jane Kamau, "Kikuyu Stories"
Okey R. Mbadugha, "Coup D'Etat" http://www.1stbooks.com/bookview/16385
Macaulay Oluseyi Akinbami, "Flames and Fire from Africa" http://www.1stbooks.com/bookview/13923

Contact - Elvis Hallowell, Executive Director, (301) 794-6079, elvishallowell@hotmail.com

* Writers' Support Group starting in Orlando, Florida
1stBooks author Marian E. has organized the BettMarr Literary Foundation, a support network for published and unpublished writers. The second meeting will be held on 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.

* Another Website for Writers
Freelance Writing Organization - Int'l, one of the largest no-cost online writing resource links databases in the world! Sign up soon at http://www.fwointl.com/index.html (no charge to register) to receive full access to the site and no-charge copies of The Complete Works of Mark Twain and William Shakespeare

* 12th Annual Asheville Writers' Workshop Memoirs Competition
Prizes of $350, $250, and $100. Deadline: Postmarked by midnight, Dec. 15. Submit an unpublished memoir (typed and double-spaced). Word limit is 5,000 words. Multiple entries are accepted. Entry fee is $18 ($15 for Workshop members) per memoir. Attach a cover sheet with your name, address, story title and telephone number. Use 12-point font size; paper-clip your work (with a "regular" paper clip, not a heavy-duty fastener); and enclose legal-size self-addressed stamped envelope with self-adhesive flap for judge's comments and winner's list. Enclose payment made out to The Writers' Workshop, and send to: Memoirs Contest, 387 Beaucatcher Road, Asheville, NC 28805. (Please do not use folders; don't FedEx or use certified mail, etc.)

* Thomas Wolfe Writing Contest (for students 8-18 years old)
Awards of $100, $75, $50. Deadline: Postmarked by Dec. 15. Write a short fiction story of no more than 15 pages, double-spaced. Put your name, birth date, telephone number and title of work on the cover sheet. Enclose self-addressed, stamped envelope for return of your work, with comments, and the winner's list. You may send up to 5 stories. Please include $5 reading fee for each entry, made out to The Writers' Workshop. Mail entries to: Wolfe Contest, 387 Beaucatcher Road, Asheville, NC 28805.

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 2

By Pat Holt

Repeats

Just about every writer unconsciously leans on a "crutch" word. Hillary Clinton's repeated word is "eager" Cosmopolitan magazine editor Kate White uses "quickly" over a dozen times in "A Body To Die For." Jack Kerouac's crutch word in "On the Road" is "sad," sometimes doubly so—"sad, sad." Ann Packer's in "The Dive from Clausen's Pier" is "weird."

Crutch words are usually unremarkable. That's why they slip under editorial radar - they're not even worth repeating, but there you have it, pop, pop, pop, up they come. Readers, however, notice them, get irked by them and are eventually distracted by them, and down goes your book, never to be opened again.

But even if the word is unusual, and even if you use it differently when you repeat it, don't: Set a higher standard for yourself even if readers won't notice. In Jennifer Egan's "Look at Me," the core word—a good word, but because it's good, you get *one* per book -is "abraded." An example of the problem:

"Victoria's blue gaze abraded me with the texture of ground glass." page 202
"...(metal trucks abrading the concrete)..." page 217
"...he relished the abrasion of her skepticism..." page 256
"...since his abrasion with Z ..." page 272

The same goes for repeats of several words together—a phrase or sentence that may seem fresh at first, but, restated many times, draws attention from the author's strengths. Sheldon Siegel nearly bludgeons us in his otherwise witty and articulate courtroom thriller, "Final Verdict" with a sentence construction that's repeated throughout the book:

"His tone oozes self-righteousness when he says..." page 188
"His voice is barely audible when he says..." page 193
"His tone is unapologetic when he says..." page 199
"Rosie keeps her tone even when she says..." page 200
"His tone is even when he says..." page 205
"I switch to my lawyer voice when I say ..." page 211
"He sounds like Grace when he says..." page 211

What a tragedy. I'm not saying all forms of this sentence should be lopped off. Lawyers find their rhythm in the courtroom by phrasing questions in the same or similar way. It's just that you can't do it too often on the page. After the third or fourth or 16th time, readers exclaim silently, "Where was the editor who should have caught this?" or "What was the author thinking?"

So if you are the author, don't wait for the agent or house or even editorial consultant to catch this stuff *for* you. Attune your eye. Vow to yourself, NO REPEATS.

And by the way, even deliberate repeats should always be questioned: "Here are the documents." says one character. "If these are the documents, I'll oppose you," says another. A repeat like that just keeps us on the surface. Figure out a different word; or rewrite the exchange. Repeats rarely allow you to probe deeper.

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

Veteran's Day, November 11
* "90 Day Wonder - Darkness Remembered" by Leon Cooper
"During WWII, a US Naval Officer clashes with his sociopathic, murderous Commanding Officer. It is a true tale of the abuse of power, madness, murder, revenge, love and redemption." http://www.1stbooks.com/bookview/15155
(Apologies to Mr. Cooper, who submitted this in plenty of time for the last issue; I inadvertently omitted it.)

* "Country Joe and Me" by Ron Cabral
Country Joe McDonald, Navy veteran and author of such 60s anti-war anthems as the "I-Feel-Like-I'm-Fixin'-to-Die Rag," performed at a Veteran's Day celebration in Berkeley, CA. (Follow this link for a picture of the performance: http://www.1stbooks.com/misc/country_joe.jpg.)McDonald is the subject of and collaborator on Ron's book. Cabral and McDonald met in the Navy in 1960, remained friends, and briefly performed together. The book includes the lyrics to some of Country Joe's most important songs, memorabilia, rare photos, a discography and a lot more. There is a special Afterword by Country Joe on his role with the Vietnam Vets over the years. http://www.1stbooks.com/bookview/17930

Anniversary of John F. Kennedy Assassination, November 22
* "The Perfect Assassin" by Jerry Leonard
"Unifies the 'conspiracy' and 'establishment' views on the Kennedy assassination. The author reviews declassified evidence and proposes that Lee Harvey Oswald was both patsy and perpetrator in the JFK assassination." http://www.1stbooks.com/bookview/11442

* "Forward To Camelot" by Susan Sloate and Kevin Finn
"An actress is sent back in time to recover a priceless artifact from November 22, 1963 and stop a family tragedy. Instead, she becomes embroiled in a plot to save President Kennedy from assassination in Dallas, with the help of a courageous ex-Marine named Lee Harvey Oswald." http://www.1stbooks.com/bookview/16346

Thanksgiving and Winter Holidays
* "Home Is Where The Heart Is" by Valerie J. Steimle
Sixty articles all about the importance of the family, including an article on holidays and families. http://www.1stbooks.com/bookview/13556


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