1stNews from 1stBooks
December 3, 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

We're back with the third installment of the "Small Steps to Big Book Success" series. Please notice how the author used all her connections and affiliations to get coverage. These are easy steps you can take as well. This completes the Small Steps group, so I'll have a new and fascinating marketing article next issue.

Also, the third part of Pat Holt's "10 mistakes" runs this issue. Note, though, the rules are different in writing your book and in writing marketing copy for it. As a professional marketing copywriter, I know the right adverb can make quite a difference in a direct mail letter or newspaper ad—if chosen and used carefully (e.g., "for the first time, you can easily learn..."). We still have several more installments in Pat's series—enough to take us through the first issue in February.

Get Featured in the Seasonal and Topical Section

Recently, a number of people have asked how books are chosen for the Seasonal and Topical section. Here's the process:

1) 1stBooks authors should email mailto:shorowitz@1stbooks.com?subject=Seasonal. List the upcoming event, the book title, author(s) (if other than the person writing to me), and four- or five-digit Book ID number in the message. A two-sentence description is also a good idea.

2) Please send your email one week before the next issue comes out (preferably sooner). We publish on the first and third Wednesdays of each month. For instance, if you have a Christmas book, our final issue of 2003 will be published December 17—therefore I need your submission no later than this coming Wednesday, December 10.

3) If the connection is obvious, I'll run a blurb about your book. If the connection is not so obvious, I'll ask you to explain the connection. If it's convincing enough, I'll slot you for a blurb. Please note that we can only put one blurb per book per year into the column, so if your book could work for several different parts of the calendar, we'll pick the best one together.

Would Your Book Work Better in Color?

Here's some big news: You can now publish books through 1stBooks with full-color interiors! And, it'll be available to order through 25,000 retail booksellers! Please read the News From 1stBooks section for details.

Last Chance for the Writer's Digest and ForeWord Competitions

The deadline is fast approaching for the Writer's Digest Self-Published Book and ForeWord Book of the Year Awards. 1stBooks typically has several winners each year for both, and we'd love to see your name among them this year. Details in the News From the Publishing World section.


Small Steps to Big Book Success, Part 3

By Ellen Rubinstein

My book, A Journey, is about travels in Israel and Europe during my college years. It was published in November 2002. Due to holidays, illness, and family birthdays, I did little to promote it for the first few months. Then I began sending letters to bookstores and colleges (in addition to friends and relatives), enclosing the well-printed postcards, bookmarks, and business cards I'd ordered from 1stBooks.

I was invited to participate, along with two other local authors, in a book signing last July. The event was held outdoors on a beautiful day at a small, independent bookstore. In addition to the good experience, a local newspaper sent a reporter. My picture (and those of the other authors) appeared shortly afterward in the August 8th edition of The Two River Times, a Rumson, NJ, publication, along with my book title and a brief description.

I earned a B.A. in English Literature at Cornell, years ago. I sent information about A Journey to the editor of the Cornell Arts & Sciences Alumni newsletter and was pleased to see it printed in the spring edition. I have an M.S. from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and also contacted them about my book. The UMass Alumni News Magazine listed A Journey, along with a brief description, in the latest edition.

My town has a monthly newsletter, about 50 pages long. I gave information (including the well-printed promotional material) to one of their reporters. The September 2003 issue ran a very nice half-page article, quoting the opening paragraph of my book, and including further description and favorable comments.

My book discusses my experiences while working on a kibbutz in Israel, so I discussed them with the librarian at a local temple. As a result, I was invited to speak about my book to a very interested audience. I have another invitation to speak at a special program (just for me) to be held at another temple in January 2004. A third has invited me to speak in March 2004. I will have the chance to sell and sign books after both 2004 presentations.

This past winter, I informed the local library about my book and gave the librarians a descriptive postcard, along with ordering information. They ordered six copies—one for each branch in the Monmouth County, NJ, system. The head librarian of the local branch tells me it is constantly circulating.

I am still writing to teachers and professors, in the hope that some may use my book for a course. I also sold several copies to friends and acquaintances during the summer, who told me they enjoyed reading while sitting out in the sun.

I continue to distribute and send out bookmarks and have recently ordered more. I have asked a few local businesses if I may leave a small stack on a counter; they usually agree.

It is rewarding to find that people are not only interested in A Journey but appreciative too after they have read it. My promotional efforts continue.

Learn more about A Journey at http://www.1stbooks.com/bookview/11036.


Success Profiles: 1stBooks Authors on Amazon.com

Jack Reynolds briefly achieved #1 in his category at Amazon.com for his book, A People Armed and Free: The Truth About the Second Amendment. You can view his book at http://www.1stbooks.com/bookview/16780. Congrats, Jack.

Robert Wegner recently climbed to #4 in his category on Amazon for his book, My Three Years Working with Michael Jackson. You can view it at http://www.1stbooks.com/bookview/13412. There are currently 376 Michael Jackson books on Amazon. Way to go, Robert.


News From the Publishing World

Robert H. Winner Memorial Award from Poetry Society of America. Deadline: Postmarked between Oct. 1 and Dec. 22. Entry fee: $15. Details at http://www.poetrysociety.org/psa-awards_gdln.html. Open to poets over 40 who have published no more than one book. The website also lists several other poetry awards with varying deadlines and requirements.

Neuby Award. Deadline: Wednesday, Dec. 31, 2003: WordWright.biz, Inc. and the Writers' League of Texas announce the 2004 Neuby Award to provide authors, previously unpublished with royalty houses, an opportunity to create quality and marketable work. To apply, please visit http://www.wordwright.biz (click on Neuby Submission Guidelines). Entry fee: $35.

New Review Outlet for Nonfiction Authors (especially travel, politics, business, natural sciences, self-help). Please read review guidelines at http://www.bookpromotion.net. Based on watching some of his past book promotion activity, Eric Dondero will probably grow this to a very important website fairly quickly, so this would be a good time to get your book reviewed before it's discovered.

Romance Novel of the Year for POD Authors Only. 1st Prize: $600 plus an Exquisite Trophy. 1st Runner-up: $200 plus an Exquisite Trophy. 2nd Runner-up: Exquisite Trophy. 5 books will also receive an Honorable Mention Certificate, suitable for framing. Winners announced on Valentine's Day 2004. Deadline: Dec. 20, 2003. Only the first 150 entries accepted. To reserve your spot today and receive an entry form, please email JadaBookEntry@aol.com.

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 3

By Pat Holt

Empty Adverbs

Actually, totally, absolutely, completely, continually, constantly, continuously, literally, really, unfortunately, ironically, incredibly, hopefully, finally—these and others are words that promise emphasis, but too often they do the reverse. They suck the meaning out of every sentence.

I defer to People Magazine for larding its articles with empty adverbs. A recent issue refers to an "incredibly popular, ground-breakingly racy sitcom." That's tough to say even when your lips aren't moving.

In "Still Life with Crows," Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child describe a mysterious row of corn in the middle of a field: "It was, in fact, the only row that actually opened onto the creek." These two attempts at emphasis ("in fact", "actually") just junk up the sentence. Remove them both and the word "only" carries the burden of the sentence with efficiency and precision.

(When in doubt, try this mantra: Precise and spare; precise and spare; precise and spare.)

In dialogue, empty adverbs may sound appropriate, even authentic, but that's because they've crept into American conversation in a trendy way. If you're not watchful, they'll make your characters sound wordy, infantile and dated.

In Julia Glass's "Three Junes," a character named Stavros is a forthright and matter-of-fact guy who talks to his lover without pretense or affectation. But when he mentions an offbeat tourist souvenir, he says, "It's absolutely wild. I love it"—and sounds fey, spoiled, superficial. (Granted, "wild" nearly does him in; but "absolutely" is the killer.)

The word "actually" seems to emerge most frequently, I find. Ann Packer's narrator recalls running in the rain with her boyfriend, "his hand clasping mine as if he could actually make me go fast." Delete "actually" and the sentence is more powerful without it.

The same holds true when the protagonist named Miles hears some information in "Empire Falls" by Richard Russo. "Actually, Miles had no doubt of it," we're told. Well, if he had no doubt, remove "actually"—it's cleaner, clearer that way. "Actually" mushes up sentence after sentence; it gets in the way every time. I think it should never be used.

Another problem with empty adverbs: You can't just stick them at the beginning of a sentence to introduce a general idea or wishful thinking, as in "Hopefully, the clock will run out." Adverbs have to modify a verb or other adverb, and in this sentence, "run out" ain't it.

Look at this hilarious clunker from "The Da Vinci Code" by Dan Brown: "Almost inconceivably, the gun into which she was now staring was clutched in the pale hand of an enormous albino."

Ack, "almost inconceivably"—that's like being a little bit infertile! Hopefully, that "enormous albino" will ironically go back to actually flogging himself while incredibly saying his prayers continually.

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

International Day of Disabled Persons, December 3

"Alpine Achievement: A Chronicle of the United States Disabled Ski Team" by Lori J. Batcheller

"The first and only book to fully cover the sport of disabled alpine skiing...a sport which offers people with disabilities a chance to gain mastery over their bodies and enjoy the thrill and excitement of skiing alongside their able-bodied counterparts." http://www.1stbooks.com/bookview/9273


News from 1stBooks

Let Your Creation Soar!
Breathe life into your book with the power of color.

If you've been putting off publishing because your book demands the power of color, we've got some good news for you.

Whether you're an established author, an emerging writer, or just want to tell your story, now you can give your book the attention it deserves with color. 1stBooks, the world's leading publishing and author services provider, now offers comprehensive full-color book printing.

Full-color book printing is most appropriate for...

  • Travel Guides
  • Cookbooks
  • Art Portfolios
  • Children's Books
  • Illustrated Poetry
  • Science Texts
  • Family Stories
  • Corporate Histories

For more information, please contact your ASR at 888/519-5121 or download the brochure at http://www.1stbooks.com/misc/product_brochures.html

Erma Bombeck Winners Net 1stBooks Prizes

Two writers who attend the 2004 Erma Bombeck Writers' Workshop will be awarded the chance to publish their books through 1stBooks. In addition to publishing services, 1stBooks will provide expanded marketing support to the winners, including preparing and distributing press releases for media outlets and book editors. 1stBooks will also create bookmarks, postcards, and business cards for the winners as well as a book signing kit.

To enter, writers must be registered for the 2004 Erma Bombeck Writers' Workshop and provide a one-page summary of their book concept and writing sample. 100 spots are still open for the workshop. (More than 200 writers from 31 states and Canada have already registered.) The workshop registration fee is $249. Register or get more information at http://www.humorwriters.org/1stBooksContest.html.

Winners Announced in Southern, Midwest, and Arizona Contests

1stBooks has awarded publishing packages at several major book events lately. Three emerging authors will be published next year. Congrats!

Jamie Givens of Nashville took the honor at the Southern Festival of Books. Her poetry book, "Never Offer a Chair to a Dancing Girl," will include some of her contributions to the Fresh Produce project, where selected poets have to produce a poem on a particular theme, within seven days.

Mo Fogerty of Aurora, IL, won the giveaway at Midwest Literary Festival for a heavily illustrated art book using rare antique "cabinet card" pictures of dogs. The project is in its early stages.

The Arizona Authors Association juried competition went to novelist Marlene Baird for "Minnie and the Manatees."


About 1stBooks

Since 1997, 1stBooks has helped thousands of authors achieve success. Our author advocates guide you through every step of the publication process. Because we print books only as they are ordered using print-on-demand (POD) technology, you don't 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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