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Betsie's Literary Page Newsletter
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Betsie's Literary Page Newsletter
 Betsie's Literary Page Newsletter .  
October 24, 2003 
. . . . . . . . .

Greetings Everyone!

Well I hope your last week was as busy as mine was.

Interviews and scheduled readings prevented me from sending out the newsletter, but I'm back!

Not only that, but my heart was broken while watching the Marlins win over the Cubs! Yep I'm a cubs fan ^_^

in this issue

  • In The News and More!

  • Making the call
  • Author Spotlight
  • Marketing Novels
  • News From the Publishing & Screenwriting World

  • Making the call

    Prior to calling, I developed a short list of talking points that would help me make my pitch in a succunct manner. The strategy is very important, whether you're calling the national broadcast or print media. Once you reach the designated reporter or assignment editor, you cannot ramble on forever about merits.

    As with any good pitch letter, you need to capture the interest of the reporter or assignment editor within the first few seconds of your call. Remember, these are very busy people who don't have time to listen to a public relations person spout off about why this story is "too important" to be passed over. The assignment editor or reporters themselves will decide that once you've conveyed the essential elements and news hook of the proposed story.

    In addition to the host or assignment editor, you can try and reach an associate producer, segment producer or senior producer. In the case of smaller networks, the same person often wears all of these hats. Not so with major networks. And because so many production people are involved with a news show, it is very important to narrow down your contacts before making your pitch call.

    Initially try and reach the assignment editor. You may learn that a segment or associate producer actually books interviews. If so, keep track of that information so you'll be ready the next time you call that network.

    Knowing when to call is as important as knowing whom to call, and this is equally as important for the print media.

    A general rule of thumb is to call members, preferably first thing in the morning. Starting time should be around 7:30 a.m.

    You may very well end up talking to an answering machine, but that's OK. If your pitch is interesting enough, these reporters will call you back for additional information.

    And don't worry if your call isn't returned within the hour or even the same day. I pitched my story to one reporter over two weeks ago and he called back this past Saturday (10-18) and since then has called 6 more times requesting even more information. (I think he's writing a book!)

    They work according to their own schedule, not yours. But they will call back if they think you have a good story for them. That's why it's very important to write down some key points you want to make before calling.

    Of course there are exceptions to the early morning call. Assignment editors who work for national broadcast shows that air during the morning hours, such as the "Today Show," are too busy with the show to respond to your calls. Wait until early afternoon to call these editors.

    *** You may be nervous before your first call to a national reporter. That's only natural. After all, if this is your first attempt at attaining national publicity, the territory is foreign to you. Not only should you have prepared notes on what to say, but practice saying these things to yourself beforehand. You'll find this can relieve some of the anxiety of speaking with a national reporter for the first time. ***

    Author Spotlight

    Here are three extremely well written novels and authors from different worlds. But all three will leave you wanting more!

    Title: The Dead of Winter
    by Jay Squires
    Genre: Mystery/Suspense
    Paperback: 357 pages
    Publisher: PublishAmerica, Inc.; (June 2003)
    ISBN: 1592866808

    Rating: Highly Recommended


    "The Dead of Winter" is an intruiging tale of "who dunnit" with the actual dropping of the bodies at the end.

    The story unfolds with detailed description taking you through the mountains of California, as Noah Winter searches for Robbie, the nephew of a long time friend - Clayton. Noah who happens to be wrestling with personal demons of his own, concerning the loss of loved ones, finds himself engulfed knee-deep in mystery and deciet surrounding Robbie's disappearance.

    A common term: "the plot thickens," seems tailor made for his tale with its kaleidoscope of twists and turns. Not only does Noah discover the hidden past of his friend Clayton, during his search for Robbie, but also uncovers corruption and deciet within his own empire!

    To add insult to injury, somone, is out to get Noah.

    The Dead of Winter is a fine read that could stimulate detective tendencies in even the most nonchalant personality. The plot is well written, with more curve balls than a batter can swing at. And just when you think, "I know who is doing what, why and to whom," the author adds another piece to the puzzle. There is a fine Irony in the author's use of the word Winter and how it relates in the telling of the story.

    So if you happen to be one of those people who "thinks" he can solve the mystery within the first sixty minutes of the movie - this book is a must read for you.

    Bonus features: some historical culture and a controversial subject cap this book off as first rate. My only question is... does he resurface?

    Reviewed by Juanita Reynolds

    To learn more about Jay Squires read the interview


    A Servant's Heart: Finding Your Spiritual Father
    by Jason Powers
    ISBN: 1594670196
    Publisher: Xulon Press; (August 2003)
    Genre: Religion & Spirituality
    Paperback: 120 pages
    Price: $10.99

    An inspirational journey driven by faith. Jason Powers shares with us his journey down the path of righteousness.

    Jason Powers is a true man of GOD with the desire to share with us his true story of faith. Jason heard the call of the LORD and began a journey spanning hundreds of miles across the country to find and follow his spiritual father. Many of us may be a bit apprehensive and overcome by self-doubt as we hear the voice of GOD giving us direction. Jason heard the voice during dreams and waking hours and dedicated his life to becoming a faithful and humble servant of the LORD.

    As I turned the pages of his book, I could sense that I was also turning a page in the author's life. Mr. Powers is well verse in the bible and has a talent for translating the word into understandable terms and then applying those terms to his actions. Jason Powers has given his life to the LORD, he trusted that he would be given enough direction to move towards his destiny, and with each step, he moved closer to a higher understanding. The only reward he envisioned was a better understanding of his relationship with GOD and the ability to spread the word to others who desire the same peace in their lives.

    It was a true honor to read "A Servant's Heart: Finding Your Spiritual Father". Jason Powers has found peace in serving the LORD with a pure and untainted faith.

    If you seek to understand the LORD and increase your faith in GOD, I highly recommend that you purchase this book and read the work of a man who has witnessed and learned the path to salvation. Jason Powers has been anointed by GOD and is a faithful messenger that will truly inspire.

    Reviewed by Tyrone Banks

    To learn more about Jason Powers read the interview


    Author: Paul M. Taylor
    Publisher: PublishAmerica; (July 2003)
    Genre: Drama/Suspense
    ISBN: 1-59129-985-3
    Paperback; 344 pages

    Final Breath is a duplex novel, that captured and held my attention in the first five pages.

    This is a story about two high school students, Chad and Mark, who couldn't be more opposite in personalities. The two pull together to solve the murder of a fellow student. Mark and Chad dive into their project, deciding that the murderer would be a great subject for the thesis of a joint psychology paper.

    Meanwhile, at the nearby Crawford Center a yet, undiscovered murder has been witnessed by a young mentally challenged teen, Joey. Joey afraid and alone runs away from the Center and is secretly being hunted by two of the Center's security agents. The lead security agent, happens to be a "not so nice person."

    The author, Paul Taylor manages to take the reader on a hilarious cross-country chase from Utah through Arkansas. The comical antics of the chase, sort of cushion the unfortunate ending. While, Joey is busy trying to allude capture. At the same time, Chad and Mark come up with a number of ludicrous schemes to gain access to information that may help them in their investigation and accidentally stumble upon a cover-up.

    To reveal this cover-up and the murderer, they unwisely place themselves and their loved ones in grave danger.

    To say the least, my feelings about this tale are ambiguous. The phrase, "The ends justify the means," comes to mind. However, to grasp the true meaning of this tale, one must adopt a different phrase: "The truth is the light."

    This two-fold story could have easily been based on a true story. Regrettably, there are those in our society who abuse their position of authority for personal gain, be it power or money. These misguided individuals end up trampling on the rights of those they view as lesser or insignificant because of their differences.

    I highly recommend this entertaining, yet enlightening story with its multitude of diverse human characteristics.

    Reviewed by Juanita Reynolds

    To learn more about Paul Taylor read the interview

    Marketing Novels

    The very same people who know that target marketing works for non-fiction are often surprised when we report that it works for fiction too. How do you identify the people likely to be interested in a novel, they always ask, and then how do you reach them without spending huge sums of money?

    As the old joke goes --- carefully. You start by pinpointing markets in terms of professional, geographical, historical, avocational and gender interests, to name just a few possibilities. Then, with some imagination, diligent research and an intelligently active author, you tell the people in those markets how your book relates to things they care about and how they can easily get it.

    To decide what directions to go in, you need to ask 10 Leading Questions. The answers will help you launch your fiction, no matter what the subject.

    10 Leading Questions for Targeting Fiction Readers:

    1. What subjects are important in the book? Does the story feature families, addiction, angels, terrorism, tourism? By searching in the Encyclopedia of Associations, in Gale's and Bacon's directories of periodicals, and on the Web, you'll find groups of people already interested in whatever your book is about.

    Dale Smith's new novel for young readers -- What the Parrot Told Alice -- teaches kids about wildlife conservation, so it's is a natural for bird enthusiasts and environmental activists. With Deer Creek Publishing's marketing campaign still in its early stages, results so far include a laudatory two-page review in Bird Talk that generated orders for 80 books almost immediately; sales of 200 copies at an American Federation of Aviculture Convention , where pet shop owners who figure to become steady customers were among the buyers; a premium deal with the World Parrot Trust, and good leads for premium sales to two major conservation groups.

    2. What geographical areas does the book relate to and depict? Because people love to read about places they inhabit and visit, it's relatively easy to generate publicity and sales in the neighborhood, city, county, state or country where the action in a novel takes place. The more you can narrow the locale, the better. There's nothing like hometown pride.

    Geographic targeting also works if you focus on where your press is and where your author comes from. When Saybrook, a Dallas house, published The Dark Path to the River, a first novel by Joanne Leedom-Ackerman, who was raised in Dallas, the book made The Dallas Morning News bestseller list. As the author did readings at the local university and independent bookstores and got coverage in area papers, Dark Path not only stayed on the list; it got to #1.

    3. What do the protagonists do? The central character of James Halperin's speculative novel The Truth Machine is a computer whiz. What better place to look for like-minded readers than the Web?

    Even before pub date, Halperin put material from and about his story on his Ivy Press site, and after Ballantine bought rights and published its edition, the Random House site featured it too. Every month, several thousand visitors to the site are a source of praise, sales and word-of-mouth momentum. Typical comments are: "I will definitely buy the book"; I work at Waldenbooks and will be recommending it"; "I will definitely purchase it," and, from another bookseller, "Will recommend to my customers and managers."

    4. Whose comments will send powerful signals to people who will like this book and talk it up? For Flight Path, Jan Blais's novel about the post de- regulation struggle to balance airline safety with profitability, Highpoint Press used the author's professional connections to get blurbs from aviation experts and writers. Pre-pub praise included comments from the former director of the Smithsonian's Air and Space Museum, the author of The President's Plane Is Missing and a senior captain for a major airline who chairs a national airline accident investigation committee.

    5. Does the novel fit into a category that has well- developed sales and publicity networks? Is it, for instance, science fiction, romance, mystery, Jewish, Christian, gay, feminist or literary?

    Routes to feminists, to take just one example, include more than 175 bookstores; a publication, Feminist Bookstore News, in which you can advertise and which sells its mailing list on labels for a modest fee, and at least 60,000 academics involved with Women's Studies courses, who can be reached via lists available from the College Marketing Group. (For more on the education market, keep reading.)

    6. Are there courses that could use the novel as required or supplementary reading? From grad school to preschool, teachers often assign fiction in the classroom, which can mean sizeable bulk sales for years.

    The Tomato Enterprises editions of Patty Reed's Doll: The Story of the Donner Party and Sallie Fox: The Story of a Pioneer Girl sell to elementary-school teachers through educational catalogs (including home- schooling catalogs) and gatherings of teachers and school librarians, as well as through trade and special- interest channels.

    Publisher Dorothy Kupcha Leland, who also sells a Teacher's Guide, cheeerfully reports: "If the teachers know about the books, they want them." Two local teachers recently wanted 60 copies, as year-end gifts for their students.

    7. Is there a newspeg for the story? Rape Awareness Week gave Walking Bridge Press a handle for getting media interested in Cherry Love by Marcella Chester, a story about date rape.

    To date, results of the Press's target marketing campaign, which emphasizes the newsworthy and nonfiction aspects of Cherry Love, include a scheduled mention in JAMA, the Journal of the American Medical Association; an invitation to speak to volunteers at the Mayo Foundation; a feature story in the local newspaper, and appearances at the Chamber of Commerce and other organizations, all of which continue to build word-of-mouth enthusiasm.

    8. Whom can the author attract? When John Daniel & Company published Lightning in July -- Ann L. McLaughlin's poignant novel about two gifted young polio victims who fall in love -- her schedule included a reading at the National Rehabilitation Hospital. For The Balancing Pole, about a woman who suffers from manic- depressive pyschosis, McLaughlin read at a meeting of a manic- depressives' support group. And for all three of her novels (the latest, Sunset at Rosalie, is a story of the Deep South), she drew crowds to schools, libraries, universities, writers' groups, book clubs and bookstores, partly through personalized mailings to her own lengthy list.

    9. What channels, besides bookstores, reach people interested in this story? Consider non-book stores, non- book wholesalers, book clubs, other publishers in the United States and abroad that might buy rights, catalogs that focus on your story's subject, plus associations, institutions and corporations.

    And don't be afraid to go where no book has gone before. Diana Brown got a jewelry-store chain to showcase her novel The Emerald Necklace in May, emeralds being the birthstone for that month.

    10. How can publicity and sales in target markets lead to a novel's entire audience?

    While target markets are sometimes central to a story, they can also seem pretty peripheral. But because they can be activated by a publisher with less than a gazillion dollars to spend on any given title, and because the ripple effects from them are usually strong, they're great places to start.

    When things are humming in your target markets, be sure to tell media and booksellers about the good review, the successful public appearance, the local sales spurt -- whatever is happening that shows that your book's bandwagon is rolling. Those who are already involved will be energized by your successes; those who aren't yet involved will take notice. And you'll prove, once again, that target marketing for fiction works very well in fact.

    News From the Publishing & Screenwriting World

    16th Annual Minnesota Book Awards
    For a title published in 2003, "written or created by a Minnesota author, editor, or primary artistic creator, such as an illustrator or photographer whose work is central or integral to the book." Entry: $25.00. Deadline: Accepting submissions through January 9, 2004. m

    American Library Association's Coretta Scott King Author/Illustrator Award
    Recognizing "authors and illustrators of African descent whose distinguished books promote an understanding and appreciation of the 'American Dream.'" Deadline: December 1.

    There's also a related award for a first book of strong interest to the African-American community. ation/Round_Tables/SRRT/Coretta_Scott_King_Book_Aw ards/Submitting_Titles/Submitting_Titles.htm

    American Library Association's Schneider Family Book Awards
    Honoring "an author or illustrator for a book that embodies an artistic expression of the disability experience for child and adolescent audiences. Three annual awards, each consisting of $5000 and a framed plaque, will be given annually in each of the following categories: birth through grade school (age 0-10), middle school (age 11-13) and teens (age 13-18). (Age groupings are approximations)." Deadline: December 1. Section=Home&template=/ContentManagement/Content Display.cfm&ContentID=41216

    Paris Review Poetry Contest
    From one of the premier small literary presses around. $5000 advance and publication. Entry: $25. Deadline: October 31st, 2003.

    ForeWord Magazine Book of the Year Awards.
    Deadline: January 15, 2004. Entry fee: $50. Details at pdf

    The 4th Annual Television Writing Competition is accepting entries. Go to ...

    We accept pilots, sitcoms and 1 hour dramas for example: Scrubs, Law & Order, The Practice, ER, My Wife and Kids and Curb Your Enthusiasm.

    Deadline is November 17th.

    ***DO WHAT WORKS!***

    Showcase your scripts on, the only site on the Internet where producers are acquiring three scripts a week! has proven results: From the scripts that have been acquired through our network, one has aired and six are in post-production, not to mention the scripts that are in pre-production and development. For more details, see

    In The News and More!


    You'd think that a benefit of the saturation cable news coverage of big stories would be a decline in the number of "fact-based" TV movies that shamelessly try to dramatize them. It would have been comforting to know that 9/11 was so terrible and traumatic, so lodged in the nation's memory, that there wouldn't be any TV movies about it.

    Certainly the real footage was terrifying enough, not to mention the memories of millions in New York and New Jersey who saw it with their own eyes. Yet that hasn't been the case, as USA's "Guiliani" and Showtime's "DC 9/11: A Time of Crisis" have shown. And now there's "D.C. Sniper: 23 Days of Fear" appears on USA, a docudrama focusing on the hunt for two snipers who terrorized the Washington, D.C., region a year ago. While the filmmakers and star Charles Dutton have expressed sympathy for the victims and sensitivity toward their families, I've got to ask: What can be gained from a TV movie on the subject? Quick ratings.


    TV Networks Score Better on Racial Diversity

    A multiethnic coalition gave the major U.S. television networks high marks on Monday for boosting the presence of Latino talent in prime time, but said Asian Americans have made far less progress and native Americans remain almost invisible on the airwaves.

    Overall, however, it was the coalition's most upbeat annual report card yet since launching its campaign in 1999 pressing the television industry to raise the profile of minorities on the screen and behind the camera.

    A separate report on progress made by African Americans in television is expected to be released next week by the coalition's partner, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.


    Jupiter Study Looks at Inexpensive Ways to Influence Online Purchasing

    A new Jupiter Research report has revealed that only 14% of consumers have been prompted to buy more often from online stores in response to personalized offers or recommendations. The study, "Beyond the Personalization Myth: Cost Effective Alternatives to Influence Intent," also found that personalization only leads 8% of consumers to increase their visits to content, news or entertainment web sites. Consumers would, however, make more online purchases or visit sites more often if the sites themselves were improved: 54% would like to see faster-loading pages, while 52% would like to see better navigation.


    Branding a Cult

    What do Star Trek, Harley-Davidson, Oprah Winfrey, World Wrestling Entertainment (formerly WWF), Apple, the Volkswagen Beetle, Jimmy Buffett, Vans Shoes and Linux have all in common? These entities are among the handful of national and international brands that have reached cult status.

    At one time or another, we've all probably wondered why Star Trek appeals to so many people. I'm sure many of us don't quite understand the appeal of Jimmy Buffett's music or why accountants ride Harley- Davidson motorcycles.

    Some said it had happened because of accident. Some of the marketers were coming at the brand from a very deep level. But others understand the relationship is really between the brand and the customer.

    The following similarities are found in almost every cult brand:

    - All cult brands dare to be different.

    - Cult brands understand that they're not just selling a product or service.

    - While cult brands seem exclusive, they're actually inclusive.

    - The brands don't take themselves too seriously -- at least not publicly.

    The one thing all of these brands have in common is that they understand they're not just selling a product or service, they're selling other customers to each other.

    But Cult branding doesn't have to be a national or international phenomenon.

    Figuring out whether you've got a potential cult brand on your hands isn't going to happen overnight. It took years for carmaker Saturn to foster a loyal customer base and the company did it, in part, by sponsoring events and pitching the Saturn community. Star Trek's status as a cult brand was no thanks to Paramount, the company which owned the title's rights. Paramount helped NBC kill the show and was more of a hindrance than a help when it came to fostering fan conventions, magazines and new product lines.

    Not every product or service is cut out to be a cult brand. It's just not going to invoke that same level of passion and excitement. In the end though, using these cult brands as templates for marketing and PR initiatives can't hurt.

    Upcoming Movies & Reviews

    The Matrix Revolutions

    directed by the Wachowski Brothers. Starring: Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne, Carrie-Anne Moss, Hugo Weaving, Jada Pinkett-Smith.

    The last installment of the one of the most popular and influential trilogies of all time hits cinema screens on the 5th of this month. Look for battles between Zion and the machines, questions about "The One" being resolved and a 14-minute low-altitude helicopter chase. November 5

    Looney Tunes: Back in Action

    directed by Joe Dante. Starring: Brendan Fraser, Jenna Elfman, Timothy Dalton, Heather Locklear, Steve Martin.

    Warfare on the WB lot sends Bugs and the gang, along with Fraser and Elfman, on a worldwide hunt for a precious gem and Fraser's missing father (Dalton). November 14

    Master and Commander: the Far Side of the World

    directed by Peter Weir. Starring: Russell Crowe, Paul Bettany, Patrick Gallagher, John DeSantis.

    Based on the series of naval warfare novels by Patrick O'Brian, "Master and Commander" is about Captain Jack Aubrey (Crowe) and his crew during the Napoleonic Wars of the early 19th century. On their mission to intercept an American frigate, they must deal with brutal storms, mutiny, shipwrecks and murder. November 14


    The new version of "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" is a contemptible film: Vile, ugly and brutal. There is not a shred of a reason to see it. Those who defend it will have to dance through mental hoops of their own devising, defining its meanness and despair as "style" or "vision" or "a commentary on our world." It is not a commentary on anything, except the marriage of slick technology with the materials of a geek show.

    Certainly they will not be frightened by it. It recycles the same old tired thriller tools that have been worn out in countless better movies. There is the scary noise that is only a cat. The device of loud sudden noises to underline the movements of half-seen shadows. The van that won't start. The truck that won't start. The car that won't start. The character who turns around and sees the slasher standing right behind her.

    Save your money on this remake!


    Veronica Guerin may or may not have been a great journalist, but she was certainly a brave and foolish one.

    We know Veronica is going to die because that happens in the first five minutes of the movie. All the rest is flashback, showing how she arrived at the day of her death.

    The film develops an undertone of horror; it's like watching fate unfold.

    Primetime Television Show Addresses

    Know the actor you'd like to contact? Here's just a few shows.

    David Hackel Prod./Industry Ent./Paramount Television
    5555 Melrose Avenue
    Balaban, Suite A
    Los Angeles, CA 90038

    David E. Kelley/20th Century Fox TV
    1600 Rosecrans Ave.
    Building 4A, 3rd Floor
    Manhattan Beach, CA 90266

    CBS Productions/Warner Bros.
    1600 Rosecrans Avenue
    Building 7, 2nd Floor
    Manhattan Beach, CA 90266

    CBS Productions/Sony Pictures TV
    10202 W. Washington Blvd., Tracy West
    Culver City, CA 90232

    According to Jim
    CBS Studio Center
    4024 Radford Avenue
    Studio City, CA 91604


    1268 East 14th Street
    Brooklyn, NY 11230

    7800 Beverly Blvd.
    Los Angeles, CA 90036

    c/o CBS
    51 West 52nd Street
    New York, NY 10019


    About This Newsletter

    It was created to provide useful information for authors and aspiring writers, especially those new to the publishing process.

    This newsletter is sent every Friday, covering book marketing, writing, and related issues.

    Other topics are added for our non writers, but who are also interested in the in's & out of the publishing world, as well as news tidbits.

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    Again we thank you for subscribing and if you feel the information provided was useful and know someone who can benefit from it, please feel free to forward this newsletter or direct them to our homepage so they can sign up for their weekly issue.

    See you next week... happy writing!

    We'd also like to thank our readers who have written in with their comments in regards to our book & movie reviews.


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