The September Buzz...

by: Jay Johnson

Be sure to check out:
The Aton Project Newsletters at: This newsletter, by author Tony VanSluytman, has been receiving rave revues despite it not being directed to writers.
FREE Writing Course http://
We are quite proud of the contributions of these two dedicated authors and wish for you to learn more about them.

*** Moonspinners Writer's Page (, the website of Maureen McMahon, has been voted one of the 101 Best Websites by Writer's Digest 2006 - specifically her Ask The Experts section, created in collaboration with fellow author Fran Silverman (

The Experts Site is composed of 150 subscribers to Fran’s newsletter, Book Promotion Newsletter (, who answer book marketing questions at no charge.

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Screenwriting Advice Article!

You are the Box Office Smash: The Personal Screenplay
by Gordy Hoffman

Right this very second, in the heart of every struggling, undiscovered screenwriter, in the dark, hidden corner deep within, there is a voice, a clear whisper, saying one thing:

You're never gonna figure this out.

And this is not referring to the story with its gaping hole, the finale missing a payoff, the hit and miss humor, the flat title.

I'm talking about freedom. The freedom to work as a screenwriter. Compensation for a home for family and a life. The resources to wake up and ply your craft and pay the freight, without obstacle. The chance to see your writing made into pictures, to work with the industry's best, to fulfill this goal of professional screenwriter. Hollywood success.

Behind this voice is the idea that somehow, some way, you'll find the hero, or the hook, logline or pitch that will punch your golden ticket. If you could only figure out what the studio wants, if you can only get a solid bead to this game, you know you can write and execute. What is the script I should write to get an agent? What is the one that will sell? It's not that I don't know how to write, I know how to write screenplays, I just need to know what they want, even though I think I know what they want, but I don't think I have the idea that they want. Yeah.

I'm not gonna figure this out, whispers the voice.

Why this uneasiness? Does it originate within ourselves? I don't think so. But where does it come from? The daily obsession with box office grosses? The news of the seven figure deals to newbies? The endless procession of boneheadedly conceived franchises-in-waiting arriving in the theatres every Friday? People winning Academy Awards for movies you would not be caught dead writing? Recognizing an idea you came up with years ago on your couch, produced with a $130 million budget drowning in CGI?

All these things are but a few of the possible reasons why this seeds unhealthy doubt and confusion in the modern screenwriter. Tracking these forces outside us and beyond our control in an effort to trudge the path to a successful screenwriting career will prove to most to be unproductive and corrosive. Basically, trying to figure out what Hollywood wants will land us in a resentment that makes "giving up" a sane response to the very challenge which used to inspire us. In short, we cannot chase a perceived trend and remember our dreams.

You cannot look at the marketplace and find your voice. You can find ideas, trends, and inspiration there, perhaps, but you can find these things driving in traffic as well. But listening to your voice is the key to creating original, compelling stories.

Your life is your own story. You have a completely unique thread of experience. By allowing yourself to express these emotional experiences, your screenplay, your story, will be different from any other and powerful, as original as your fingerprint.

Why is it powerful? When we have the courage to be specific about what we know about living, we create an authentic world an audience recognizes as the life they are living on planet Earth. This connects your audience to your story. This connection is the foundation of the phenomena of story.

Why does story mean so much to us? We recognize the triumphs and tragedies of our lives, with all the hilarity and tears. By seeing it, we are validated and it underscores meaning and purpose to living.

If we don't use what we've collected in life in our hearts and spirits, then our story loses its authenticity and the connection the audience should make fails. They do not see themselves, and when they leave the theater, they do not call their friends. When people do not call their friends after seeing a movie, the movie bombs.

When a writer opens their person to their work, when they allow themselves to be vulnerable, to risk exposure of the secrets of their life story, they take a huge step towards creating a screenplay of substantial value, a screenplay with a greater potential of a large number of tickets sold.

This is precisely why art and commerce have remained bedfellows for thousands of years. To look at the relationship between art and commerce as adversarial or incompatible is just plain foolish. Art happens when people invest their spirits in their work without fear, and story is artful when the writing is truthful and the writer is authentic.

And what do we have to be honest about? We can only lie about what we know, and we can only tell the truth about what we know. And that is what has happened to us, our life story. This is what we share.

This is not a pitch to write "what you know." This is not about writing stories about where you work or where you live. This is about writing about what you felt. You can imagine characters and worlds and actions and speech you've never personally experienced, but if you remember to infuse your choices with your emotional and spiritual struggles and victories as a human being, your screenplay will be different in the very best sense of the word.

The question you have to answer is not what does Hollywood want today. The question is how honest of a writer do you want to be. I guarantee you can write a blockbuster, you can write a box office hit. This will happen when you find an audience. And the correct path to this crowd of people is listening to yourself. If you practice, you will develop an inner ear for who you are and what you know and you will become masterful in loading your work with your fingerprints. Writing is personal work. You are the guitar. You are the box of paint. Give of that and your audience will remember why life is good and they will talk of you.

About the Author
Winner of the Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award at the Sundance Film Festival for LOVE LIZA, Gordy Hoffman has written and directed three digital shorts for Fox Searchlight. He made his feature directorial debut with his script, A COAT OF SNOW, which world premiered at the 2005 Locarno Intl Film Festival. A COAT OF SNOW made its North American Premiere at the Arclight in Hollywood, going on to screen at the Milan Film Festival and the historic George Eastman House. Recently, the movie won the 2006 Domani Vision Award at VisionFest, held at the Tribeca Cinemas in NY. A professor at the USC School of Cinematic Arts, Gordy is the founder and judge of BlueCat Screenplay Competition. Dedicated to develop and celebrate the undiscovered screenwriter, BlueCat provides written script analysis on every script entered. In addition, Gordy acts as a script consultant for screenwriters, offering personalized feedback on their scripts through his consultation service, For more articles by Gordy on screenwriting, visit

A Radio Show for Writers and more...

A new radio show devoted to book marketing made its debut on Tuesday, March 21, 2006 on Achieve Radio, noon to 1 p.m., MST. Host Francine Silverman will talk with authors, publishers and publicists, providing listeners with a unique perspective on book promotion.

To access Book Marketing with Fran, go to and click “Click to Listen” at top of page. Should you miss the show, click “Shows & Hosts” on the left and scroll down to Fran’s show and click, “More-Click Here” for the archives.

Patricia Fry, president of SPAWN (Small Publishers, Artists, and Writers Network) and author of 24 books, will be Fran’s first guest. Patricia’s latest book is The Right Way to Write, Publish and Sell Your Book (Matilija Press 2006), a comprehensive guide for hopeful and struggling authors.

Fran is author of Book Marketing from A-Z and editor publisher of Book Promotion Newsletter,

Issue 144: Aug. 27, 2008

ISSN 1545-5599
Issue 144: Aug 27, 2008

Issued every other Wednesday since 2003


Rev. Dr Leigh Foster, a/ka/ DJ Ice, wrote a short jingle about my website: To hear it, go to and click "Download"

My publisher threw me a curve. He discovered that I had written Talk Radio for Authors (it was in my bio but I guess he never looked at it) and was upset. Claims that in my contract I stated that my work was original and that if he'd known about Talk Radio for Authors he would never have sent me a contract. My new book, Talk Radio Wants You, is going to cost $75 and the publisher doesn't want to be in direct competition with my $17.95 book since they are similar. He asked that I have the book removed from my website, from Infinity's website, and anywhere else it appears. Fortunately, Michelle Shane at Infinity is a doll and said she would put "out-of-print" next to my book, both on her site and on Amazon. The news was at first disturbing, especially that my new book would only be competing with my old book.

In This Issue:

(1) Feature Article
(2) Grist for Your Mill
(3) Progress Report
(4) Kudos
(5) Correction


Rick Frishman taught a Learning Annex class on publishing last week and it became very clear that people needed help with the publishing process.

These tips stem from his talk:

Ten Things that Agents and Editors Hate

They hate when:

#1: Writers claim no competition exists.
Competitive or comparable books usually exist. Rarely does a book have no competition.

#2: Writers claim their books will be the next blockbuster. Although it's essential for authors to be enthusiastic about their books, it's equally important that they be realistic.

#3: Writers say how much others liked their books.
Agents and editors simply don't care what others think about a book unless they are (a) book-publishing professionals or
(b) celebrities or published authors who are willing to endorse the book. Even then, their opinions don't carry much weight and will rarely influence the agent's or editor's decision.

#4: Submissions are made for books on subjects that the agent or editor doesn't handle. Sending submissions that recipients don't handle wastes everyone's time. So don't send your memoir to an agency when the guidebooks and agency's website clearly state that it doesn't represent memoirs.

#5: Correspondence is not addressed to a particular agent or editor.
Don't address any correspondence, especially submissions, generally or to "Dear Agent or Editor." It's impersonal and it makes your communiqué look like a form letter that you simply dashed off to a slew of agents or editors.

#6: Writers call constantly, are demanding and don't let up. It makes no sense to put undue pressure on agents and editors. Be reasonable, patient, and understanding. Agents and editors know how important your book is to you, but their hands may be tied.

#7: Writers try to be cute, instead of being direct and straightforward.
In children, cuteness can be adorable. In adults, it seldom works; in fact, it usually becomes irritating. Agents and editors don't have time for cuteness. They want to know, in a few words, what your book is about, and why you're the perfect person to write it.

#8: Writers send submissions in strange formats and colors. Attract interest in your writing by providing top-quality work. Great ideas expressed in clear, well-crafted sentences that are built with the most vivid words will speak more convincingly than outlandish colors and designs.

#9: Writers have a bad attitude or act superior. Acting as if you're entitled to an editor's attention will instantly turn him or her off.

#10: Writers reject professional advice. Some writers won't listen to constructive criticism from their agents and/or editors. Trust the people who are publishing your book and don't think that you know more than they do about the publishing process.



From Rick Frishman of Planned TV Arts:
Author 101 University will be held Oct 1 and 2, 2008.

For information, please visit:

Rick is co-author of Guerrilla Marketing for Writers (Writers Digest Books 2000) and Author 101 - Bestselling Book Proposals (Adams Media 2005).

The News Box,, is offering free space on its revamped site.

You can create a new account with a username and password.

Log on and click "Media Directory" located on the left menu. Chose the category or categories you are most suited for. Add your listing. Please write a brief description of what you do. Empty listings will not be accepted.

Your profile will be approved within 24 hours.

Joe Carroccio, publisher of The Good Life News, reports that the publication will officially be the "Boomer Guide to the Good Life" commencing with its next issue.

He is inviting you to advertise in the inaugural issue and/or submit inspirational and informational boomer articles for possible publication.



These are the spots I found for my clients:

Tina Howe was a guest of Lesa Trapp, host of The Odd Mind on Blog Talk Radio, on August 15, 2008. (Coincidentally, yours truly was Lesa's guest on August 14th).

Tina is author of Alysa of the Fields ( 2006) and its forthcoming sequel, The TrailFolk of Xunar-kun.

Several clients have been or will be guests of Paul R. Bruno, host of Career Czar, on All Talk Radio. The show is taped on Friday for airing the following Friday. Judith Sherven and Jim Sniechowski were aired the week of August 15, 2008; Heather Resnick is scheduled on 9/26/08 and Doris Helge on 10/3/08.

Judith and Jim are working on their sixth book, Selling Is Spiritual Service: Using the Power of Soft Sell Marketing to Succeed with Integrity, Authenticity, and Profit (Morgan James 2008).

Heather's latest book is Women Reworked (Creative Bound 2006).

Doris's latest book is Joy on the Job (Shimoda Publishing, Dec 2006)

Two clients will be guests of Jacqueline Foreman, host of Your Mental Health Radio Show on Blog Talk Radio: Ilene Dillon on Sept 15th at 7 p.m. (ET). and Bobbi de Cordova-Hanks on September 26, 2008 at 5 p.m. (ET).

Ilene is author of 16 published works focused on emotions, including 99 Tips for Mastering Fear, Exploring Anger with Your Child, Bouncing Back from Jealousy (Self-made Madness), and co-author of Happiness is a Decision of the Heart.

Bobbi and husband Jerry are authors of Tears of Joy (Infinity Publishing 2003).

Two clients will be the guest of Sheila Gale, host of The Sheila Show on KRXA, Sand City, CA: Gerri Helms on September 27 and Melissa Zollo on October 4, 2008.

Geri is author of Trust God and Buy Broccoli (Femme Osage 2007).

Melissa is author of two audio programs: Discover the Power of Imagination and How to Unleash the Power Within and Attract Money.



Aaron Lazar was a guest of Maggie Ball, host of The Compulsive Reader, on August 5, 2008 and of Lillian Brummet, host of Conscious Discussions, in her Author's Talk segment, on August 16, 2008.

"Got both of these gigs by my usual networking," he says, proudly.

The Vietnamese translation of Shirley Cheng's book, Dance with Your Heart, was recently featured on a Vietnamese TV show called Good Morning, one of their most popular programs. "From the description of it, it is similar to ABC Good Morning, America; NBC Today show; and CBS The Early Show, here in the US," she says. "It is aired on VTV1, which is the most important national TV channel in Vietnam, and has millions upon millions of viewers! Plus, neither the publisher nor the translator, Nguyen Bich Lan, pitched the show--the producers themselves had picked my book to feature. Previously, Dance with Your Heart was featured in a major Vietnamese newspaper. Since its release in Vietnam in February 2008, it has been receiving plenty of attention and great comments."

Autographed copies of the Vietnamese edition are available from Shirley's site -


Betty Jo Tucker's blog site, Memosaic - - was the 2008 Brilliante Weblog Premio winner. Betty Jo is thrilled, "especially because this honor comes from Lea Schizas, founder of the Muse Online Writers Conference and The Muse Marquee," she says. A published author, Lea is also the founder and editor of two Writer’s Digest 101 Top Writing Sites and the recipient of several Preditors and Editors Awards."



Aaron Lazar's book, Tremolo, was released Nov. 2007, not 2006.


Francine Silverman, P.O. Box 1333, Riverdale, New York 10471, is author of:

BOOK MARKETING FROM A-Z (Infinity Publishing 2005) written by 325 paid subscribers to Book Promotion Newsletter.

Subscribers are entitled to a 20% discount on the book. Contact Fran at for code. The publisher's toll free number does not work outside the continental US and orders cannot be processed from its website for shipping outside the US.

Subscribers in foreign countries who wish to purchase the books with the discount may email Michelle at or fax an order (610/941-9959). She will provide confirmation that your order has been received and will be processed promptly. When using these options subscribers should put everything to Michelle's attention and reference the Promotional Code (contact Fran for code).

If emailing Michelle, DO NOT put your credit card number in any email correspondence as this is not secure.

Issue 145: Sept. 10, 2008

ISSN 1545-5599
Issue 145: Sept. 10, 2008

Issued every other Wednesday since 2003

In This Issue:

(1) Feature Article
(2) Grist for Your Mill
(3) Subscriber Seminars
(4) From the Pen Of..........


Who Should Write Your Back Cover Copy?
By Patricia Fry

For some of us, writing the book is easier than writing the synopsis, a brief promo piece or - dread of all dreads - the back cover copy.

Who wrote (or will write) your back cover copy - the bit on the back of the book designed to influence browsers to buy it? Did you ask your editor to write it? Maybe you left it to your POD publishing service. Or did you write it yourself?

I'm often asked to write the back cover copy for my editorial clients' books. But I never do this on my own. I always get as much input from the client as I can. After all, the author is the one with the vision for this particular book. He created the story or wrote and organized the material. He is intimate with the content of his book, but he may not feel confident writing the all important back cover copy. So who should write it? It really doesn't matter, as long as the author is involved.

Even after editing the book and maybe even going through it a second time to tie up any loose ends, I don't feel qualified to write the cover copy on my own. It's not my book. It's not a result of my vision. It's not my story or a product of my passion. So when an author asks me to write the back cover copy, here's what I do, first:

I ask the author how he or she responds to someone who inquires about their book. I ask the author to describe his book to me using as many words as he or she wants. And I pose the following two questions:

1: Why did you write this book?
2: What is the purpose of this book?

As the editor or even a casual reader of the book, I will certainly have my impressions of the content. I might define the story as an action-packed saga staged in Alaska during the gold rush. But the author may consider it a love story. While I might describe a book as a spiritual memoir featuring intimate religious visions, the author may see his book as a self-help book for Christians.

Certainly, if I think the author is off in his description, I will say so and attempt to steer him in the direction of reality. Or I will help him to change the book to fit the desired category and depiction. But I will always listen to the author's translation before I do any of the above.

Your Reason and Purpose
Have you explored your reason and purpose? It's a good idea to do this even before you start writing your book. If you don't have a clear and rational reason for producing this book and if you haven't examined its purpose, I suggest that you do so NOW. You want to make sure that your reason and purpose are logical and pure. Otherwise, you may be on a path to sure disappointment.

Poor reasons for writing a book:
· To change people's thinking about something.
· You've always wanted to be an author.
· You had an interesting life and want to share it.
· You want to get rich so you can quit your job.
· “I might as well, I don't have anything else to do.”
· “People tell me I'm a good writer.”
· You have a very rare hobby and there are no books about it, so you want to write a book for the handful of others who share your interest.

Better reasons for writing a book:
· To add to your credibility in your field.
· Your extensive research shows there's a need for this book.
· Writing is your passion and you hope to break in as a serious author.
· “I've worked hard to get where I am and I believe I have something of value to share with others.”
· “I love writing stories. I've studied the publishing industry. I understand my options and my responsibilities as an author. I'm willing to do what it takes to break into publishing as a novelist.”
· “I'm a high-profile celeb, I have a close connection with one or I have experienced something highly unusual and exceptionally media-worthy and I want to write about it.”

I hope that, after reading this article, you will all sit down and re-examine your project - your reason for writing it and your book's purpose. Determine whether your reason and purpose are reasonable or if you needed to make some changes.

If you're writing a book or just thinking about doing so, please consider the content of this article, first. Follow these recommendations and you are more likely to write the right book for the right reasons.


Patricia Fry is the author of 28 books, including “The Right Way to Write, Publish and Sell Your Book” and the companion book, “The Author's Workbook.” She is the president of SPAWN (Small Publishers, Artists and Writers Network) Follow her informative blog at Visit her online bookstore at



Back Roads Radio is seeking submissions:

If you have a writing or story you'd like us to consider for Back Roads Radio just get in touch. The guidelines for submitting works are:

1) Send or e-mail an original story, writing or composition totaling 5 - 8 minutes. If you're telling a story, rather than performing a written piece, provide a general synopsis.

2) Write a few lines about yourself and how this particular work came into being.

3) If selected, you will need to sign a release form allowing Back Roads Radio to include your work, free of charge, in the program. You will retain all rights to your work. Generally, participants feel compensated by having both their work broadcast and by the free publicity they receive regarding their recordings, websites and/or publications at the end of the show.

If your work is selected we will set-up a recording time (at our studio or at your place). If you live too far away we can work-out how to get your piece recorded or, if you already have it recorded, just send us your well-produced recording on CD or DAT. (use of cassette recordings is discouraged.)

Do feel free to suggest a theme or just send in your work (email us) []

If you work with other writers/storytellers you may suggest and send submissions for a group show.

Let us know what back roads you're traveling on and what turns
in the road you're taking. Hope to HEAR from you soon.

Lorraine Cohen is getting ready to launch a new 5-week training program called Insider Tips to Shine as Radio Guest. "It's a knock-out program (in my opinion) that will provide authors, speaks, consultant...Anyone who has a message they want to communicate to a larger audience a step-by-step road map to prepare radio presentations and find the right venues," she says. "I can also include a link to your book on where to find shows! And I will be offering an affiliate commission to folks who help me spread the word and have people in their network sign up!

"I'm setting up a preview call for Sept. 29 and the registration and sales pages are expected to both be posted in the next several days. I'm very excited about this program."

To join as an affiliate, click here: Once everything is set up this week, affiliate will be sent an email invitation.

Lorraine is CEO and founder of Powerfull Living; an organization dedicated to enhancing business development, leadership proficiency, and personal enrichment. She is also host of Powerfull Living Radio at



Donna Cunningham is starting an online writing seminar on Tuesday, September 16, 2008, in chatroom format about how to write content for your website that both promotes your work and/or books and educates the visitor. The course will emphasize how writing styles for the web are different from print media.

"My focus will be on the special issues of creating a site for New Age, Alternative Health, and Self-help practitioners," she says.
The five sessions each focus on one common feature of websites:

The bio/about me page
Testimonials and other ways of showcasing your work
Informational articles about your field and approach
Blogs, newsletters, and freebies
General information on good design and promoting the site.

A second seminar, "Writing for Astrological and Metaphysical Markets" begins Saturday, October 4. For details and downloadable samples, go to

Donna has been a published author for the past 35 years and editor of several alternative journals. As a web designer for several years, one of her main tasks was coaching clients through the process of creating good content.

Jan Yager is holding the following author events for her new book, WORK LESS, DO MORE (Sterling Publishing Company). She'd love to meet any of you who happen to be in those places:

Thursday, September 11th, 8 PM, Barnes & Noble in Houston, 12850 Memorial Drive
Monday, September 15th, Barnes and Noble at the Mall in Stamford, Conn. 5:30 PM
Friday, September 19th, Barnes & Noble in Philadelphia, 1805 Walnut Street, 7:30 PM
Saturday, September 20th, 2 PM, Cherry Hill, NJ, 911 Hadonfield Road

The trailer for my her new book is at:


(4) FROM THE PEN OF.........

Pre-Publication Offer
Make up a flier about your book, including a picture. The flier doesn't have to be fancy; it can be in black-and-white (although you could dress it up by printing on colored paper).

At the bottom of your flier, print a tear-off order coupon which offers a free reading or review copy, and quantities at a discount. Mail it to your list of potential buyers, including:

* Special interest individuals, organizations, associations, corporations, museums, special stores, etc.
* Wholesalers
* Bookstores, especially those specializing in your subject
* The major chains
* Libraries (the second largest book buyers in the U.S., spending more than a billion dollars a year on books)
* Catalog companies (There are nearly 10,000. Choose the logical ones from a source such as Catalog of Catalogs at your public library).
* Premium buys (Books are given away with everything from cereals to automobiles. Wouldn't it be nice if someone bought a million copies of your book for use as a premium?

From Everything You Need to Know to Write Publish and Market Your Book by Patrika Vaughn (A Cappella Publishing 1997).


Francine Silverman, P.O. Box 1333, Riverdale, New York 10471, is author of:

BOOK MARKETING FROM A-Z (Infinity Publishing 2005) written by 325 paid subscribers to Book Promotion Newsletter.

Subscribers are entitled to a 20% discount on the book. Contact Fran at for code. The publisher's toll free number does not work outside the continental US and orders cannot be processed from its website for shipping outside the US.

Subscribers in foreign countries who wish to purchase the books with the discount may email Michelle at or fax an order (610/941-9959). She will provide confirmation that your order has been received and will be processed promptly. When using these options subscribers should put everything to Michelle's attention and reference the Promotional Code (contact Fran for code).

If emailing Michelle, DO NOT put your credit card number in any email correspondence as this is not secure.

Issue 146: Sept. 24, 2008

ISSN 1545-5599
Issue 146: Sept. 24, 2008

Issued every other Wednesday since 2003

In This Issue:

(1) Feature Article
(2) Grist for Your Mill
(3) Progress Report
(4) From the Pen Of..........


My newest subscriber, Randall Rutledge, actor, screenwriter, songwriter, recording artist, producer, and author of From Movie City to Music City USA - My Journey Through Showbiz and How It Works, sent me his own brand of positive thinking:

From Movie City to Music City USA (My Journey through Showbiz and how it Works) incorporates 25 years of my own personal experiences, as well as showing how the industry actually works from the legit to the not so legit. I have pursued all phases of the entertainment industry from acting to producing, and recording to writing. There aren't too many phases of this industry that I haven't tried to tap into and yet there are hundreds of areas of the entertainment industry that I haven't, which you will see, as you progress through this literary journey that I share with you.

Although to date I haven't made what everyone refers to as the "big time," I have yet to totally give up, nor will I until the day that I die. At the same time, I also encourage any and all to never give up their life's pursuit no matter what that may be. Many will travel by bus, train, plane, car, or simply walk and stick out their thumb to the world's most inexpensive and most inconvenient mode of travel "hitchhike" to get to Movie City or Music City USA just for a small piece, even smaller than a crumb, of the showbiz pie.

As long as one tries then one never fails. If you've seen the movie National Treasure starring Nicholas Cage, in one scene he explains that when Thomas Edison was trying to invent the light bulb someone stated he had failed 2,000 times, and Thomas Edison replied, "I didn't fail I just found 2000 ways how not to make a light bulb."
So find your 2000 ways of how not to make it, and then find your one way to succeed and I'll meet you there.



Pulling Back the Curtain on New York Times Book Reviews

By Scott Lorenz
Westwind Communications

At a recent Harvard University speech, New York Times Book Review Editor Barry Gewen revealed unknown details about The New York Times Book Review's “inner workings.” Authors wanting to get the scoop on the process will find insight into the minds of the reviewers at “The Gray Lady.” These inside secrets from that speech and gleaned from other sources may give authors a better idea if their book ever has a chance at making the cut.

As a book publicist, I talk to authors and clients every day and most have two ultimate goals: Get on Oprah and get reviewed by The New York Times Book Review. As one of the most influential and widely read book review publications in the industry, a write-up in the New York Times usually results in a strong sales surge and other media outlets writing about the book as well.

In the New York Times article, “Secret Workings of 'Times' Book Review Exposed!,” Gewen discussed who takes part in the review, how books are ultimately chosen, and how unglamorous the job really is in the Times building.

Gewen says The Book Review does not print the names of its editors except when they write articles. Furthermore, he stated that there are only about 17 people on the Review roster including support staff.

First named is Editor Sam Tanenhaus who came to the Times with intentions of creating “fireworks,” but found that with all of the “disgruntled authors, agents, editors and publishers who call to complain about coverage,” reality can be wearing. "There is no bitchier industry than publishing," Gewen said.

In addition, preview editors - Alida Becker, Rachel Donadio, Dwight Garner, Barry Gewen, Jennifer Schuessler, and one other editor - are responsible for “choosing books, finding reviewers, and editing.”

There is also Deputy Editor Robert Harris and Senior Editor Dwight Garner, as well as copy-editors, an art director, a children's editor and a clerk on the team.

The process of deciding what gets reviewed and what doesn't is quite demanding work. “It begins with the clerk who goes through the pile of 750 to 1000 advance manuscripts that the office receives each week,” says Gewen. However, don't expect your self-help book, reference guide or travel manual to get any attention in the initial review by the clerk. Those books are “tossed.”

Then, the rest of the manuscripts are taken to Tanenhaus's office where the senior editor and deputy editor divide them up and get rid of more.

This leaves the six preview editors with about 25 books to look through. Keep in mind this winnowing process has just cut upwards of 750 or more books! Gewen said he spends at least a half hour on each book and chooses four or five, then rejects the others. Reasons most often cited for exclusion, “too narrow for us" or “workmanlike."

In an interview with Tanenhaus by Michael Orbach of Knight News, ”If a writer is not bringing something new to the conversation or is not very well-established with a following, long-awaited book, or has really superb narrative or analytical skills, there's a good chance the book won't get reviewed.”

In another article that tries to depict the workings of The New York Times Book Review, “The Book Review: Who Critiques Whom- and Why?” by Times Editor Byron Calame, Tanenhaus continued to say that books often get rejected because they “lack originality” or are “packaged assemblages of smaller pieces.”

And for those of you authors who want your first novels to be reviewed, Tanenhaus said, “It has to be strikingly good.”

Competition amongst similar books plays a role too. Often authors and even publishers are unaware of another book on the same topic being published at the same time. So the New York Times may decide which one is plowing new ground and is the better of the bunch. It may only review that one book and ignore the others.

Of his job Gewen said, “One has to have a hard heart at the Book Review.”

Finally, after the preview editors choose their book selections, they meet again to discuss possible reviewers, all of whom have their own ideas of who to consider. Once they've made their picks from lists compiled from “scanning magazines and other publications” and talking to editors and friends, editors go to their own offices and start trying to reach people.

Overall, Calame said in his article, “Much of the judgment about the books falls into the realm of opinion - and beyond the public editor's mandate.” As for the process, he believes that the Times editors “genuinely care about general readers and the literary world, and want their choices to have credibility.”

Though choosing books to be featured in the Book Review is a time-consuming, important task, according to Gewen, the Review is isolated from the rest of the building and its influences.

Gewen said “The Sunday Magazine lives in an office down the hall” and “pays the salary of all the rest of us.” Furthermore, he said, “There is a real class division here.” The Review editors are not in the luxurious offices as the rest of the magazine staff, but they pride themselves in believing they are “smarter” than the rest.

The New York Times Sunday newspaper circulation is 1.5 million. A 1/5 page size ad in the Book Review (1 Column X 10.87 inches) will cost a whopping $8,830 for small presses. If you're a major publisher it'll cost even more! Check out the rate sheet at:

The Bottom Line: If you're an author with expectations of having your book reviewed by the New York Times Book Review there is hope. Just don't send them a self-help book, a travel manual or self published book. And if you're a first time novelist, save the postage and send a resume instead since it might first help to get a job at the Times. It's proven that Times staffers have a nice edge in the review process… not that I could blame them.

Or take the advice of Garner: When asked in another “Knight News” interview by Orbach, “What's the way to get your book reviewed?” Garner said, “Write a good one. Really.”

One More Thing: Book reviews in newspapers are dying. The Los Angeles Times published its last standalone Book Review July 27, 2008. Newspapers around the US are cutting in-house book reviewers and running syndicated reviews. Why? First they can save money and as for the pressure to save money, it's all about a shrinking news-hole caused by advertisers shifting dollars to the internet and TV. Furthermore, conglomerates who own media outlets try to squeak the last dollar out of everything. And, finally it's the same thing plaguing the book industry in general, sadly, a decline in the number of readers.


Scott is President of Westwind Communications, a public relations and marketing firm with a special knack for working with individuals and entrepreneurs to help them get all the publicity they deserve and more. Lorenz has handled public relations and marketing for numerous authors, doctors, lawyers, inventors and entrepreneurs. As a book marketing expert Lorenz is called upon by top execs and bestselling authors to promote their books. Learn more about Westwind Communications' book marketing approach at or contact Scott at or by phone at 734-667-2090.



From Cynthia Brian -

Be the Star You Are! is holding its 2008 FIFTH Annual NATIONAL Essay Contest to promote literacy and positive messages.

FEE $10 donation per entry

DATES: October 18, 2008-January 18, 2009

FIRST Prize - $100 plus guest appearance on the nationally syndicated radio program, Be the Star You Are! (Total value, $700) plus publication in our StarSearcher Express newsletter and at Choose from the three following topics:

1. Women from around the World: Understanding the similarities and differences of the role of women in various cultures.
2. Journaling Your Way to a Better Life: How writing fears, moments of gratitude, and aspirations can help a person achieve goals in life.
3. How has reading changed your life? What book was most influential in your life? Why?

All submissions must be received by Be the Star You Are! by midnight January 18, 2009. Essays accepted by mail or email.You may enter as many essays as you'd like, however each one must be in a separate email or envelope accompanied by a $10 tax deductible donation entry fee. Be the Star You Are! is a 501 C3 charity. All entry fee donations are tax deductible according to the law.Word Count: Please keep stories between 300-600 words . Email address: – (attachments in a WORD document are allowed). Payment accepted by check,VISA, MasterCard, or PAYPAL. Payment must be done at the same time of submission. All entries without donation are disqualified.

Include name,address, phone,email, website. PO Box 376, Moraga, Ca. USA 94556.

For more information, please visit:


I came across and urge you to visit the website if you're interested in having you work read on the air. There is too much information to put here, but, in part, here is what is desired:

"Submissions can be stories, essays, home recordings, sound portraits, interviews, found sound, non-fiction pieces, audio art, whatever, as long as it's good listening. Material may be submitted by anyone, anywhere -- by citizens with stories to tell, by radio producers trying new styles, by writers and artists wanting to experiment with radio. As long as it hasn't already aired nationally, we'll consider it."



Following are the spots I found for my clients:

Linda Wattley was interviewed by Evelyn Johnson, host of Empowered Christian Women on Blog Talk Radio, on September 13, 2008.

Linda is a contributing writer for the online magazines FaithWriters, The Wright Side of Me Productions, The Blessed Room and Cheers where she shares inspirational and thought provoking messages to readers. She is also a contributing author of two anthologies: The Triumph of My Soul edited by Elissa Gabrielle, and This Far by Faith with Vanessa Miller as editor.

Pat Montgomery was the guest of Debbie Cluff, host of Links for Learning, a radio show on education, on Friday, September 19, 2008.

Pat is author of Now You Know What I Know: Parenting Wisdom of a Grandmother (Authorhouse 2005), and host of a radio show called Parents Rule!, designed for parents of all ages, airing Thursday, 2-3 pm (ET) on Radio Sandy Springs, AM 1620.

Alycia Ripley was the guest of Sam Hasson, host of LA Talk Radio, on September 23, 2008.

Alycia is author of the novel, Traveling with an Eggplant (Trafford 2005).

Joy Turner will be the guest of Jeff Marginean, host of My Buddy Butch Radio Show for Pets on Blog Talk Radio, on October 2 at 7 pm (ET).

Joy hosts the radio show, “Joy Turner's Talk With Your Animals,” on KKNW 1150 AM every Wednesday 12-1 PM PT and on


(4) FROM THE PEN OF........

Key media contacts are those people who can help you move the greatest volume of books with the least expenditure of time and money. These contacts must be developed if you're going to promote your book properly. The only difference between you and a professional book publicist is that the professional already has media contacts. There are many wholesalers, TV people and subsidiary rights buyers who are just waiting to discover you and your book. Even though most are very busy, they want you; that is what their job is all about. You'll meet a great number of nice, helpful people, but only a few key contacts will do you a great amount of good. What you have to do is locate them and then carefully cultivate them. Some of the people will be listed in Literary Market Place and other directories available at your library...Keep in mind that often a smart promotional strategy is to start locally.

from Self-Publishing Manual by Dan Poynter (Para Publishing 2006).


Francine Silverman, P.O. Box 1333, Riverdale, New York 10471, is author of:

BOOK MARKETING FROM A-Z (Infinity Publishing 2005) written by 325 paid subscribers to Book Promotion Newsletter.

Subscribers are entitled to a 20% discount on the book. Contact Fran at for code. The publisher's toll free number does not work outside the continental US and orders cannot be processed from its website for shipping outside the US.

Subscribers in foreign countries who wish to purchase the books with the discount may email Michelle at or fax an order (610/941-9959). She will provide confirmation that your order has been received and will be processed promptly. When using these options subscribers should put everything to Michelle's attention and reference the Promotional Code (contact Fran for code).

If emailing Michelle, DO NOT put your credit card number in any email correspondence as this is not secure.

Banyon Publishing also offers...

Betty B's Arcana Connection by Betty Bradford Byers


Short Stories Corner

Poetry Corner

Write On Southwest...Book Reviews by Connie Gotsch


Book Reviewer's Corner

Public Service links

And so much more!

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