21 Following


How to write really great newsletters and prepare text time capsules for your family and friends


By: Anne Hart


Table of Contents


Creating Video Newsletters


Creating Video or Text Family & Corporate Newsletters on DVDs or CDs


Open a Business Writing, Publishing, Designing, or Producing Genealogy & Business Newsletters, Video Life Stories, or Success Histories 




1. What Problems You Can Solve & Results Obtain Using Family Newsletters

2   Designing Family History and Corporate Success Story Newsletters as

     Anniversary or Event and Celebration of Life Gift Books

3.  How to Bind Your Own Book by Hand

4.  Pop-Up Books for All Ages

5.  Full 5 – 6 Week Course in Writing and Publishing Gift Books

6.  50 Strategies on How to Write Memoirs and Life Story Gift Books

7.  Personal Histories & Autobiographies as Points of View within Social Histories:

     Write in the First Person

 8.  Personal History Time Capsules as Gift Books, Annual Newsletters and DNA

      Driven Genealogy Reports

 9.  Romantic Wedding and Anniversary Gift Books, DVDs or Newsletters

10. Family History Newsletters or DVDs with Slogans, Logos, and Branding                                       

11. Directories and DVDs as Gift Books: Entertainment, Walking Tour Guides, Historic Neighborhoods, Galleries, Museums, and Dining

12.  Gift Books, Discs, and Newsletters Documenting Media Tours for Authors

       Performers, and Speakers

13.  News Clipping Collection on a “Theme Newsletter,” Report, Disc, or Niche

       Market Gift Book

14.  Age-Related Hubs as Family History Newsletters, DVDs, Reports, and Gift


15.  Reunion Newsletters, Discs, and Gift Books for Families or Alumni


16.  Digital Scrap Booking, Newsletters, DVDs, and Gift Books from Slide Shows

17.  Dating History Newsletters, DVDs, and Gift Books

18. Celebrities’ “Lessons Learned from Life” as Newsletters, Discs, Reports, or       Books

19. Mind-Body-Spirit Gift Video Newsletters, Reports, and Gift Books

20. Inspirational Video and Print Newsletters, CDs, DVDs, or Gift Books


21. Self-Help Seminar and Convention Newsletters, Discs, Reports, or Year Books

22. How to Make Great Video Extended Family Newsletters

23. How to Write a Genealogy Course Syllabus and Teach Online to Market Your

      Book or Family and Corporate Video and/or Print Newsletter Design Business

24. International Family Reunions: Videoconferencing, Newsletters, DVDs, and Reports by Satellite or Camera Phones

25. Family and Corporate Success Story Newsletters, Annual Updates, or Reunions

      by DVD or CD (Personalized Video News Releases)


Newsletter Templates on the Web

Appendix A   Multi-Ethnic Genealogy Web Sites

Appendix B    General Genealogy Web sites

Appendix C     Bibliography

Appendix D     Use Haiku as Proverbs and Slogans for Inspiration

Appendix E      List of Published Paperback Books Written by Anne Hart

Appendix F      1,005 Action Verbs for Gift Book Writers and Publishers




Chapter 1


What Problems You Can Solve & Results Obtain Using Family Newsletters




Put warmth, kindness, and inspiration into photos, video, and text to cheer up viewers and readers. The annual family video newsletter delivers energy through celebration of life. Use a new, dramatic viewpoint, what’s called a fresh news angle. It’s something so new that viewers learn information that can be used in a different way.

It’s like discovering hidden markets or exploring new patterns and spaces. What are the unique qualities of your information? Contrast and balance the dynamic imagery.

What actions can you use? Emphasize what the family (or corporate) tradition represents. How do visionary events, change, the future, and reality contrast or compare with solidarity, energy, roots, genealogy, and tradition? How does it all work together as energy and character that provide the foundation of the family or corporation? These tips can be used both for video or print family newsletters and corporate case history success story newsletters.


  1. Children: Have each child write about what they have done or are doing on an annual basis. If the child is too young, summarize in a short paragraph any updates.
  2. Parents: Keep a separate business newsletter for updates on your business. Decide whether you want to talk about acts of kindness, promote yourself or your achievements, or ask about others. What’s left to discuss? Repairing the house? Choose a topic you want to emphasize that is universal, simple, and about values and commitment or teach a new subject to your readers with universal appeal with which they all can identify.
  3. Information: How efficient and effective is your news information? Be informative rather than directive. Present information instead of giving them directions as commands. What are you expert at? What are you beginning to study that eventually you will have acquired expertise? What do you have time to do and write about that is not overwhelming you with overwork?
  4. Shorten Text: Use large page margins on your newsletter text. Keep videos to 7 minutes before you break for another topic so viewers can pause. On videos, don’t read from a script. Talk into the camera.
  5. Charisma: Be passionate, enthusiastic, and charismatic in your writing. Use humor and jokes in good taste. Use the element of surprise for humor, not disdain. Instead of flat writing, emphasize acts of kindness you and your children have done.
  6. Kindness: What behavior helps your writing to be more animated rather than flat in tone and mood or texture? Each act of kindness measures a range of change in your growth. Emphasize the range of change as forward movement. Let your newsletter “pay it forward” as it has been said in support groups, by encouraging readers to keep passing forward the acts of kindness to others as a choice for growth, change, and vision.
  7. Balance: Each topic should be equal in length or at least balanced. Don’t write the entire newsletter about one topic and then squeeze in a paragraph on another issue.
  8. Relationships: Explain and define who each person is. Put a date on each event or photo along with the name and the relationship. Example: This is a photo of ABCD, my paternal niece taken on July 4, 2006, at the World’s Fair in EFGH, California.
  9. Scrapbooks on DVDs: Decide whether you want your newsletter in text and on a CD or DVD or in print/paper/text form with different information from an interview or life story highlights placed on DVDs or CDs that you enclose with the paper newsletter. Or would you send the newsletter as a PDF file by email? A document file? Mailed in an envelope as a paper? Or saved on DVD as text along with video, with the print edition mailed together? Provide formats such that anyone can read the dated information with or without a machine to play the disc.
  10.  Time Capsules of Humor: Use uplifting, tasteful jokes, poems, art, video, writing, life story highlights, and volunteer work experiences to connect your extended family to community service which extends your family of humankind’s accomplishments even further. Create an annual time capsule from your conception of an annual family newsletter or video newsletter. The time capsule then becomes an heirloom that can be conserved and preserved for future generations catalogued by year.


What to Include


Corporate Case Histories and Success Stories or Extended Families’ News:


      Your family newsletter can be a business that you do for other clients. Decide whether you’d like to do corporate case histories and success stories or family history and genealogy as newsletters either in print and text paper or on DVDs and CDs or all of these for all types of clients-family, corporate, or professional, educational/institutional.

A professional newsletter could focus on a medical or legal practice, for example, or other professional. A business newsletter can emphasize the work of a corporation, its history, or an individual business. One example would be the work of a contractor or developer, architect, or independent teacher, dentist, engineer, computer programmer, artist, musician, author, consultant, or life, job, and image coach.

Family newsletters could reach out to extended families or include alumni reunions, genealogy and DNA-driven family history and ancestry surname groups. You choose your emphasis or include all types of newsletters, whether DVD, CD, or text/print/paper.


Here are what to put into your video newsletter

  1. Significant events
  2. Life stories
  3. Travel photos
  4. Photos of events such as weddings, graduations, or grand openings
  5. News of births or childbirth video clips (leave out the gore)
  6. Summaries
  7. Jokes
  8. Memorabilia and trivia with useful facts, such as statistics
  9. Joy of life and fun events
  10. Wise sayings and original proverbs or quotes with source of origin
  11. Mourning and/or celebration of life events
  12. Hobbies, crafts, art, writings, poems
  13. Sports enjoyed
  14. Reading group: Start a family or corporate book club and discuss reading
  15. Old time radio clubs, public domain video, or exchanging gifts of  purchased videos from stores
  16. Make your own family videos and exchange them—such as graduations and birthdays
  17. Celebrations marking rites of passage, anniversaries, cruises, or other events marking dates
  18. Scrap booking or quilting tips for those interested
  19. Poems and skits
  20. Monologues
  21. Genealogy and DNA-driven genealogy reports
  22. Food preferences or allergies
  23. Reunions and suggesting video conference reunions for those not able to travel
  24. Free courses to family members in what you are expert at doing
  25. Instruction in putting video on DVDs and CDs for family newsletters or desktop publishing tips for those who want to make their own newsletters
  26. Military experiences or war stories
  27. Survival stories
  28. Computer skill tips
  29. Making natural, non-toxic cleaning or bug repellents from household kitchen baking ingredients such as cinnamon, baking soda, vinegar, or cream of tartar
  30. Finding hidden markets for bargains of quality at better prices and activities


How Much Time to Spend on Each Newsletter


If you want to email a newsletter, use a template and follow the template’s guide. It will take you about two hours per issue for a two-page newsletter. Allow yourself an hour per page if you’ve already written the news and just need to cut and paste it from your computer file onto a newsletter template that you can email.

Other choices include writing a newsletter as a personal letter. If you use a newsletter template and print out each copy on your laser printer, it takes about six hours just to write the features for a standard newsletter of multiple pages. If your pages increase to the business type of eight-page newsletter, allow yourself at least one full day’s work. This doesn’t include the time it takes to write the articles.

That’s why putting life stories and memoirs on DVDs or CDs and including them in a little paper or plastic envelope in the newsletter, mailed in a protected, rigid mailer could allow you to summarize the events in the paper newsletter. You’d be brief, and let the speaker on the video tell the story in a half hour or even up to an hour. Remember that talking heads are difficult to pay attention to for more than seven minutes without a break or pause between files to click on.


How Many Copies?


Is your annual newsletter for a small family, extended family, students and teachers, and the archives of a personal history/oral history university library or museum? If you’re sending your newsletter to dozens of people, upload it to the Web and let them download it. Also offer it on a DVD or CD as well as in print as a document that can be emailed as a document file or as a PDF file to be read in Adobe Acrobat software. Readers can download the Adobe Acrobat reader free on the Web at http://www.adobe.com. The software reads PDF files. The good point about PDF files is that you can typeset them like a book or newsletter using your template or saving any document as a PDF file. Otherwise, save your newsletter as a document file.

If you only have a few people to mail to, you can also use a Web site or you can make photo newsletters using an ink jet printer or color copier and mail them as paper newsletters. Include a DVD or CD anyway with talks, life story highlights, or other events that are recorded using video or even audio.

People like to look at other people. For relatives who have disabilities, use the appropriate format—video, audio, or print. For blind relatives, use the services of a Braille transcriber or save the document in a format that can be read on a computer using accessibility technology your relative already has. Ask the person what format he or she prefers in which to receive a document.

If you have too many relatives or clients for the expense of using a color copier for photos, print them out as black and white documents, or print black and white photos on flesh-colored paper. There are such conveniences as pre-printed paper, post card photos, and photos on tee shirts or mugs as gifts.

For short one-page newsletters, you can have newsletters with photos printed on tee shirts and offer them as gifts. Same can be said for framed plaques and other art objects. Poems may be framed.

Short skits and monologues may be put on newsletters ranging from one to eight pages in length. It’s all about your budget.




Email won’t cost you if you’re sending to many people, unless your email service provider charges for bulk email. Send the email one at a time to relatives or clients if you’re using the relatively ‘free’ email you normally use to send memos. Send the email from home, not from work, unless you work for yourself at home.

Post cards would only cost about $20 or less to design, but you’d have to print them out from a computer or send photos to a film developing or digital photography processing company to put on the postcards. It costs about $35 to write a black and white newsletter and print it out to send to a few relatives. Count on about $75 for pre-printed stationary with color print. Talk to printers who do discount or print-on-demand publishing of newsletters. Take a course in desktop publishing at a local adult education center.

Four-page newsletters, the standard in business for corporate case history success stories cost $100 to $200 to prepare. You also need to fold them for mailing with pre-printed stamps or places for stamps to be pasted, and envelopes. If you’re doing an eight-page newsletter, it will cost you more than double because first class postage is limited to one ounce.

Be sure to check with your post office for current newsletter mailing rates. It might be less expensive to put audio or video clips on a CD or DVD. Save the audio as MP3 files to get more talk on one disc. Photos, video, and text can go on any one DVD. Or, with less information, photos, video, and text can be placed on a CD. With DVDs costing only a dollar or so per disc, you might make frequent use of your camcorder by producing an annual newsletter on a DVD or CD in multimedia. Defined, multimedia means photos, video, audio, text, and sounds such as music or talking all can be saved and played on one DVD or CD. You can play the disc on any computer or save it to the type of file that may be played on usual DVD players that play video.

CDs with audio and photos also can be sent as a newsletter along with text saved on the CD or mailed as print or both. If the person doesn’t have a computer at the other end, use paper, but if they have a DVD player, video brings people to life along with text. And video can be played generations after the relatives are gone. That’s why multimedia is a great time capsule. You can capture video, art, photos, text, music, voices, textures, tones, and moods.


Family Newsletters Are Visual Anthropology: Scrap booking Photos to Video Newsletters


            When you crop, size, or edit photos, you trim them on your computer to fit your print or video newsletter template. Don’t waste space in your newsletter with tiny photos that can’t be seen when printed. Print fewer, but larger photos, and don’t make them so large that you can see the grains. It’s best to use your photo digital imaging software to correct red eye or cut off an object above a head.

 A photo also can be cut with a scissors and pasted on a sheet of paper, then scanned to get rid of plants growing out of a person’s head or other intrusive objects. Use two photos to tell a story. Edit out of a picture too much sky and crop the photo about a quarter inch over everyone’s head and below their feet. It saves space in your newsletter.

Choose your location before gathering the whole family reunion. Have the lighting in place before the people congregate. Don’t keep children waiting while you’re setting up. You can put a short newsletter on reunion tee shirts and photograph the entire group in the same uniform or dress color or historic costume. For effect, if you’re ancestor came in 1632, 1776, or 1893, you might photograph an entire reunion group in costumes of those eras if each can afford to make such an outfit.

Staging and photographing family or corporate reunions is a hobby or home-based business that may be done for a variety of clients. Photo scrapbooks may be turned into video, slide, and multimedia productions using templates you can buy from a store that sells software and craft or hobby items related to scrap booking or desktop publishing and digital video production.

Whatever you do for family newsletters, the same may be done for owners of pets who want to share in clubs or animal care. An example would be a club for a certain breed of dogs or cat fancier societies.

What’s important with print newsletters, is selecting the weight and feel of the paper. Talk to your local printer about types of paper used in newsletters. You want to communicate also using a type of paper—color, weight, and texture. Choose bright colors or delicate lace watermarks to convey the emotional tone of the newsletter.

Keep the paper light enough to have contrasting letters easy to see. Don’t let the color of the paper distract the reader from the photos and text. Postcards should be heavy enough to pass through the postal machines without tearing.

To send photos with a few paragraphs of news, use a fold over postcard sealed with a tape sticker. Never staple the card. It rips in the postal machinery. Keep the background paper light enough in color to show off the photos and text.

Collect templates. Some templates allow you to handwrite news and photocopy the handwritten messages in templates such as squares or circles placed decoratively on graphic art. Some look like cartoon bubbles for writing dialogue captions.

Some circles let you write one sentence by hand in each circle. You can write six sentences on a page. Or you can reduce the font size and type a sentence in the template then cut and paste the text within the confines of a square or circle.

The templates for handwritten news usually look like a greeting card with art in the center and circles or squares for you to write one sentence inside the dialogue boxes. It resembles a greeting card or coloring book.

Stationary supply, scrap booking stores, and craft shops sell these types of templates for handwritten news. For mailing newsletters, they also can be folded into origami shapes and mailed in round or unusual shaped mailers that conform to postal regulations for mailing. One example would be tube mailers for calendars and posters or round DVD and CD mailers for video newsletters.


Teachers and Students: Children and the Family Newsletter in the Schools


Illustrate your newsletters and DVDs with art made by children. If you don’t have children, you can ask to obtain written permission of a school or summer camp to let the class draw pictures of artwork on the theme of family and choose those to illustrate your newsletters or DVDs, including the covers for your DVD inserts.

You might want to visit classrooms or camps and talk to school assemblies on how to put together a family newsletter made by children ranging in grades from elementary through high school on the subject of intergenerational writing and illustration or family reunions and newsletter or DVD video design.

Children can make use of desktop publishing software, camcorders, or handwritten templates for family newsletters and greetings. Talk to local parent and teachers associations or the coordinator of authors in the schools projects in case you want to visit a school to give a talk. Have the children interview one another to create a family newsletter section for children.

Ask for the use of children’s art for illustrating and producing annual family newsletters. The outcome of this as a fresh news angle is that it promotes children’s participation in their own family or extended family traditions by helping them create a family newsletter.

These products can be as simple as using a template for handwritten newsletters to producing a newsletter on computers or using camcorders to create video DVDs of family newsletters for high school or community college students’ projects in digital imaging and desktop publishing. The same may be applied to classes for older adults in genealogy for adult education programs. Use home schooling projects for creating annual family newsletters or digital video time capsules as newsletters.

To help children answer questions for newsletters, hand them a list of questions or ask the questions verbally and give them time to think of answers. Then record the spontaneous answers on audio tape or digitally. Save the answers and then move to doing the same on video after the children have decided what to say and how to answer the questions. Give them time to think of answers they want to see on video. Work with teachers if you want to visit a classroom. Or write easy to understand questions with the help of your own children at home.

Record voices on video and audio. Keep them and save them to your computer and to discs. They can be played when the children are older, provided that you transfer the recordings to more evolved technology as the children grow and the old technology becomes obsolete. Example: phonograph players versus DVD and CD players.

Create newsletters to showcase graduation photos and other school pictures. Use themes and events such as presenting the seasons changes through the eyes of children and older adults. Also see chapter 4 on how to make extended family pop-up newsletters, reports, greeting cards, and books.





















Chapter 2




Designing Family History and Corporate Success Story Newsletters as Anniversary or Event and Celebration of Life Gift Books


Words, once they are printed, have a life of their own. Carol Burnett (1936 - )


The purpose of a hand-made, finely bound memoirs or success-story family newsletter or gift book to mark an event, anniversary, or celebration of life is to show how two or more people bring out the best in one another. Learn what questions to ask and how to interview people for the significant moments in their life stories, and then write, publish, and bind by hand exquisitely-crafted personal gift books, memoirs, or business success stories. Such gift items may commemorate a birthday, graduation, corporate success story, or other achievement, turning point, or significant event.

Once you’ve made a family history time capsule, newsletter, or gift book, also make a family history, life story highlights, or corporate success story DVD or CD and enclose the DVD (or CD) in a plastic envelope inserted on the inside back cover of your gift book or print/text newsletter.

To make the DVD or CD after you create a print book or newsletter, just interview the person(s) with your camcorder from a list of questions that you prepare. Edit the DVD to the preferred length—an hour or half hour—and use it to highlight the print information in the newsletter or gift book. Whether you’re making an annual family history newsletter or memoirs and life stories, the text/print arriving with a video disc brings to life real people and experiences in color. Stories have movement, behavior, action, and emotion.

It’s a multimedia family history, genealogy, or corporate case history success story presented as a DVD or CD and as a newsletter or gift book. This technique may be applied to memoirs, family news, or corporate success stories and events, such as experiencing a wedding, graduation, grand opening, birthday, anniversary, cruise, celebration of life, or rites of passage.

You’d be surprised how many people are satisfied to pay up to $10,000 (or more depending upon the publisher) to have only one copy of a hand-bound hardcover book published about their event or life story. What does it take to create and publish a memoirs gift book commemorating a Bar Mitzvah, confirmation, wedding, or true experience? What quality of personal book do you want to make from scratch—writing, printing, and binding? As far as printing and binding, you can make one finished book at a cost to you of only $1.50-$4.50. What you charge a client depends on what it costs you.

If you create and publish a custom gift book, you’d publish only one copy of a hand bound, hard-cover book. The tome would contain anywhere from 60 to 100 photos. Text material based on phone or live interviews running at least two hours for one person (or more if needed and about two hours spent per each interview) would be about 80 to 120 published pages—slightly more, but only if necessary. Look at yourself as a designer, writer, interviewer, and book binder.

You can even tailor a pop-up book creation (with the help of input from engineers on how to fold paper). Or learn how to make your own pop-up books. See the Joan Irvine Web site on making pop-up books at: http://www.makersgallery.com/joanirvine/books.html. Also check out the How We Make Pop-Up Books Web site at: http://www.hawcockbooks.co.uk/how.php.

What questions do you ask to help people respond calmly and openly at an interview? Start with “What do you enjoy the most about this particular time of life? What do you enjoy most about this event? What do you enjoy most about this holiday? What do you enjoy most about this experience? What thought, act, or feeling do you want to emphasize in the gift book?


Serious Life Experiences

If the person is going to emphasize a war-related or military service event, an ordeal, medical or survival details, or a factual report of behaviors related to any other serious segment of a life story, you could ask in addition to the details, what have you learned from this experience?

How have you transcended the past and moved on? What have you learned from other people’s mistakes or choices? What have you learned from your past choices, mistakes, decisions, or alternative solutions and paths? For business case histories, ask your client to relate the details step-by-step so readers can follow how your client arrived at solutions to problems or achieved measurable results. A memoirs book is like a public relations campaign. It’s about image built on solid detail and storytelling illustrated by visually-striking photography (photojournalism).

Answer the individual’s silence or long pauses (to gather thoughts) by using action verbs such as, “Bring me up to date on your life story, a special event, or your work. Tell me about your plans for this book. Also let your client describe experiences in detail and color. Ask interview questions such as the following: “What’s your favorite experience and why? Describe a special gift you have given. What have you received that transformed your life? What lessons have you learned from past mistakes? What holiday or event do you enjoy the most?”

For further information on using action verbs, see my book titled, 801 Action Verbs for Communicators: Position Yourself First with Action Verbs for Journalists, Speakers, Educators, Students, Resume-Writers, Editors  & Travelers. ISBN: 0-595-31911-4. Also check out my Web site links at http://www.newswriting.net.

The interview questions should be given well ahead of the time of the actual live or telephone interview. Meet with the person by phone and/or in person before you arrange any interviews so you can learn your client’s expectations.

If your client wants to exceed the maximum number of words allowed, that client would be charged usually a dollar for each extra word included in the book above the maximum words allowed. (It varies with different publishers, of course.)

Each reprint of the book you’re your client would pay your team $10,000 for also would cost the client $250 or more per additional copy. The gift book would be wonderfully hand crafted in full color—a lifetime experience. The book could feature only one person being interviewed, for anywhere from two to 70 hours. Or an entire family may be interviewed in any city.

There could be only a half-hour interview of each person when 100 or more people have to be interviewed. Or such a valuable, well-crafted book may be customized to fit an individual’s special requirements. Yes, people do very happily pay this much for having a gift book crafted on them or their theme, and businesses doing this are doing wonderfully well finding clients.

The books are spectacular—rightfully gorgeous, hand bound in full color. For $10,000 (or more) anyone with the money and the time can have a book written based on interviews from anywhere, published and beautifully hand-bound with a hard cover. Are you ready to become a publisher of customized gift books?

You can publish all by yourself at a price only you will determine as you research the markets for gift books. You have a lot of choices varying from print-on-demand software to hand-crafted bindings.

You can hire a team of interviewers, writers, and publishers or put to learning volunteer help from school projects and senior centers. The outcome is all the same: recording, organizing, and publishing peoples’ true life stories or other events. And you can pay for books that can be bound a whole variety of ways.

Act alone or work with a team of hired skilled people, volunteers active in retirement, or students learning the publishing business. However you manage your craft, every life story is worth a book. You can open a business or enjoy a hobby publishing gift books.


Gift Books for Everyone

            Gift books present memoirs, family history, events, business success stories, and commemorations. Gift books showcase celebrations and rites of passage rituals with ‘action’ photos or other graphics along with text in a coffee-table style book, pamphlet, and/or multimedia disc, usually inserted in an envelope pasted on the inside cover.

            Besides being more than a glorified scrap book or keepsake album, the memoirs gift book is portable and can be published in a size that easily can be mailed anywhere.

 The memoirs gift books also can be digitized and placed on discs such as DVDs or CDs, uploaded to Web sites as compressed MP4 files (video podcasts), narrated for a public access or family-only video if you interview the individual, or presented in a variety of formats from paperback or hard cover books and pamphlets to multimedia slide shows and short documentaries.

            The difference between a memoirs gift book and an autobiography has been explained by author Gore Vidal in his memoir titled Palimpsest. Vidal wrote, "A memoir is how one remembers one's own life, while an autobiography is history, requiring research, dates, facts double-checked."

When you write another person’s memoir, you’ll have to do the type of research that can be fact-checked. Verifiable facts in a memoir are based on the words—either oral or written—from the person you are interviewing to gather life experiences.

It is that individual’s words that are recorded, edited, and written. You may never find a way to prove the facts. An autobiography includes a lot of material that does not depend solely upon memory.

 For example, a person you interview might use poetic or colorful words, moods, rhythms, and textures to create an ‘ambiance’ such as this fictional line recalling the economic depression of 1931: “The sunlight shattered tongues of ice on the pond as the bread line wound around the men selling apples in woven baskets.” Or this possible line, “Before I left, a merchant said he’d heard rumors that the village shaman sacrificed a llama to the rain deity and burned its heart as an offering because I visited his village to measure rainfall in the parched the Chilean desert that year.”

How would you like to show how the basic, fundamental, and universal truths of human experience pull together in patterns, celebrations, commemorations, business success stories, memoirs, family histories, and rites of passage? If you want to start and operate a home-based business online, on phone, or face-to-face writing and publishing memoirs and gift books, here is your step-by-step guide to follow. Get results and solve problems. 

            Help people celebrate significant experiences. Interview, transcribe, organize, edit, write, and publish a personal memoirs or business history book, booklet, or pamphlet. Or include with the book a sleeve containing a CD or DVD disk on the inside back page. That disk would contain the same material as the text portion of the book, but as a narrated audio or video ‘book.’

When children grow, up they’d love to see great grandma on video, hear her voice narrate her own life story’s highlights, and discuss the times and scenes from her past. The paperback or hard cover book would contain the same material that easily can be read without technology.

 Here’s how to start. Your first step is to offer potential clients unique, individual, customized books or booklets. The type of books you would write and publish would be memoirs and gift books. To operate your business, you’d need to hire as independent contractors interviewers to interview clients in a variety of cities nationally or around the world.  

You’d not only write the book, but also arrange any photos or other graphics, publish the books, and send finished, bound copies of the book or booklet to your clients. Your client would pay for a fixed number of copies of this book, enough to be both affordable for the client and profitable for you. On the average, you’d write and publish about 25 books per year, with the help of freelance writers or a team of writers working as independent contracts on assignment.

The type of book you’d write mainly would emphasize personal stories. They would be personal books that come out of journals and celebrations, life stories, business histories, tributes, and appreciation material. To begin, divide your categories into these main topics:


Personal Celebration Books

Quincinera (Hispanic 15th birthday party)

Start of teenage years

End of teenage years

Reaching 21

Military Service

Life stories/memoirs
child’s memories
Pregnancy Diary
Travel tips and memorabilia/Travel Guides

Bar/Bat Mitzvah Celebrations

Ethnic Rites of Passage



War experiences

Immigration stories—the journey and life in the new country

Bilingual life stories in family’s original language with English translation section of same information

Moving stories—relocation, new house.

Surviving an illness and healing journal

Diet success story “How I lost weight and kept it off.”

Memoirs and photos at various stages of life—how a person changed every seven years

High school journal

Religious experiences

Inspirational journey

Motivational testimony




Childbirth experience/Bringing home baby

Adoption stories/open adoptions

Leisure life


Selling the large house and moving to smaller quarters

Transition to assisted living

Volunteer experiences: documenting acts of kindness

Relationship Books


Adoptive child meets birth parents after decades

Dating history gift books
Wedding stories
Wedding gifts and favors
Couple’s life stories together
Family histories


DNA reports linking families
Commemorative Occasions

Divorce journal of details

Battered spouse detail and dates of incidents journal

Events book

Religious conversion explanations to children

Partnership unions

Pet’s journey through Life

Dog weddings

New pets introduced to older pets in the household

Merging of families—man with three children marries woman with three children

Extended family histories

Friends for 50+ years

Several couples buying one vacation home together


Gift Books

Children’s letters

Lessons Learned from Life (celebrity interviews)

How to Make the Most of What You Have

Exercise or dance lessons

Scholarship(s) or Fellowships won

Haiku poems

Report cards from past generations

Original designs or writings preserved for future generations/keepsake albums

Jokes (original, not copyrighted by anyone else other than your client)

Personalized children’s books—a story book bearing the name and photos of each child. This can be a universal novelette, novel, or story featuring the child.

Travel stories and events with details

School year books with a twist—customization and details

Valentine’s Day, for each year for many years, or one specific event—first Valentine’s day before the wedding.

Bridal showers

Baby showers

Baby naming book or baby naming event

Building a house

Book of thank you notes for an event, gift, or celebration

Pet showers (new dog or cat shower)

Bar and Bat Mitzvah




Christmas gatherings over the decades

Recipes/cookbooks preserved from generation to generation (original)

Hanukah, Passover, Purim, Rosh Hashanah memories and other holiday gatherings


Holidays of feasting with family book with details gathered over many decades as memoirs of events.



Mother’s Day

Father’s Day

Children’s Day

Grandparent’s Day

Cousins’ Books

Special Anniversaries

New Home/housewarming

New Boat/Yacht

First Apartment

College Graduation

Age-related celebrations

21st Birthday

100th Birthday gift book

Cruise memories

Bon Voyage

Welcoming newcomer books

Life stories of uncles and aunts as gifts to nieces and nephews or cousins

Novel for children or other age groups and genres

Plays or skits and monologues based on real-life stories or memoirs


Songs with lyrics


Letters collected

Change of Name

Passing driver’s license exam and getting one’s first car

Born Again Spiritual Theme

Marking each stage of life transition

Timeshare stories

Room mates/Sharing a household


Business Books

Grand openings

Success stories/case histories media book

Switching brands—why customers switched to your product


Elections/Politicians in Office

News Clipping Collection on a Theme Gift Book

Authors’ Media Tours Gift Books

Case histories


Tour Guides/travel tips/restaurant guide


Dining and Restaurants for each city

Walking Tours/Guided Tours



Outdoor Theme parks

Local museums

Camp grounds

State Fairs

National Weeks Celebrating a Theme

Mothers Day

Children’s Day

Fathers Day

Grandparents Day

Clubs/national associations

Ethnic Themes

Historical neighborhoods/homes

Video/Virtual Reality theme parks

Volunteers’ work book of thanks and gratitude

Professionals such as dentists and doctors or hospitals—commemoration or thanks to staff.

Wedding chapel history/church history

Solving problems and getting results case histories


Retirement parties and retirement stories, tributes, or histories

Corporate roast with jokes and standup comedy routines
Appreciation book from clients, customers, employer, or employees

‘Why’ customers switched to your product book of step-by-step details that potential clients can follow to solve problems and get results.

Professional associations’ events


Public speaker’s experiences


Political views of family members


Public Relations

Video news releases with similar material in paperback print as text

Courses or other instruction, tips, and strategies or techniques (how-to)

Employee’s suggestions from suggestion box saved for many decades


New license to practice a profession

First job

Contest or competition winner

Sports achievement

Award/Hall of Fame/Historical sites/Museums/Galleries

Activities after retirement

Motivational speakers

Instructional/Educational Gift Books

Literacy Tools and Photos

Restaurant Guides with Price Ranges


Non-profit agencies work overseas documented

Computer camp or drama camp experiences remembered

Author’s creative salon with book reviews or poetry and photos


Target Market

            Look for turning points, unique significant events, and highlights. Examples could be rites of passage and grand openings, graduations, or the start or finish of major life events. Journals and diaries may be turned into customized books. The major events would pertain to individuals and businesses, schools and organizations. Any situation that has a measurable life span, rite of passage, celebration or ritual may be turned into a book of memoirs.

            Clients would ask for a variety of different-sized books or booklets and pamphlets. The length of the book as well as the number of words and pages would differ. The emphasis is on details to share or real-life stories. Each book would be sold as a gift. Customers could order a set number of books.

You keep the master copy on disk and backed up in a disk drive or put on a CD or DVD. You can offer the book in print, as a print-on-demand book saved also in your computer and if you want to add voice narration, also as an audio book and/or narrated video using photos, images, video clips, and memorabilia recorded. You could include DNA-driven genealogy reports, maps, graphics, and interpretations in plain language. Back up any files for storage as master copies. Relatives and friends may order additional copies.

If your client is of interest in the public arena, the book also could sell as a published work. Make sure the book is copyrighted in your name and that you have all the publishing rights to the work which is based on interviews with your clients or video and audio recording your clients.

The reason the book is copyrighted by you as a business and not by the client is that you’re doing the writing and publishing. The client is being interviewed by phone and recorded in audio and/or video. From this information, you are transcribing the life story or business history. Then you are editing it for grammar and spelling. You are organizing the book so that similar topics are grouped together. Then you are changing the files of what you typed as a document into a PDF file that will be transformed into a print-on-demand book.

You are designing the cover which would be given free to the client using either art work or photos supplied by the client or your own graphic designs. You can do this yourself or hire a graphic designer to design all your book covers. This artist as an independent contractor would work for a fee per book cover. Or you could ask for art work or photos saved at 300 dpi as a .tiff file, with CMYK color, for example using PhotoShop software. The books could vary in size or stay a basic 6 by 9 inches. Art work for the cover would be saved on a CD and mailed to you as a 6 by 9 inch file saved at 300 dpi as a .tiff file.

For all this work, you’d charge a fee that would cover writing, editing, and publishing. Production work includes designing the cover, shipping and handling, and printing on demand several authors’ copies. The client would pay for as many copies as the individual ordered. Finally, you’d display the book’s cover and marketing information on a Web site for the client or save it to a CD and send to the client so that the client has a copy of the book in paperback, on a CD, and saved as a Web site on a CD. It’s up to the client whether to upload information about the book to a personal Web site.

          You could host the Web site with the book information or catalogue, or the book can be entirely private and sent only to the client to distribute to family and friends or employees. Some books would be private, such as a child’s story. Parents wouldn’t want their child’s name and image outside of the family.

Businesses touting success stories and histories may want a book or pamphlet circulated among employees and prospective clients. How the book is presented depends upon the client’s needs and preferences.

            Sharing meaning defines ‘communication.’ What you are doing is bringing to life family histories, life stories, journals, or successful business experiences. Memoirs can be presented in print or as audio and video recordings or all together.

For example, present the book in text on acid-free paper, then include a pocket or flap envelope pasted to the inner cover of the book or pamphlet containing a CD or DVD that has a video and/or audio narration with graphics such as photos as memorabilia. This three-way enhancement of a life story or business case history/success story offers reading, viewing, and listening that can extend far into the future for generations. 



Your minimum interview time with a client should be at least two hours at a time. One person could be interviewed for just two hours, or more if necessary at different appointments. Each book should contain more than 65 photos and more than 85 pages. Identify each photo with the name, the relationship, the date, location, and story surrounding the photo.

Book size can be 6 by 9 inches or larger. A square book also is fine as long as it is at least nine inches in length. Trade book size usually is 6 by 9 inches, and personal books should look similar and professionally crafted, bound, and printed with a clear, colorful cover. You can interview several people for up to 70 or more hours to obtain all the details or as little as two hours to interview one person. If you’re charging a high-end fee, the client will want to spend a long time with your interviewers getting the details expressed so that the words and the people say what they mean and mean what they say. The most important piece of paper to have at an interview is the one with the list of questions, including questions built around the answers to prior questions.


What the Client Expects for the Fee

            Each client will pay you a flat fee. The fee is based on what every item will cost you to provide, plus a markup that’s enough to earn you a profit, but not so high as to make a book unaffordable by the average consumer. Most books will be unique memoir books marking a special birthday or anniversary or preserving the business history of a corporation or institution such as a school, library, hospital or non-profit agency.

            Cut the words down to bare bones. Use only what is necessary because each word is precious. Photographs should be clear and showcased as if they were in a digital scrap book published print on demand as text. The paperback book also can include a multimedia DVD or CD in a sleeve pasted on the inside cover. Make sure the label is colorful on the disk and the sleeve is transparent so the art work can be seen by the client.

            The reason people hire you to write and publish a memoirs book is to have a keepsake for years into the future and for new generations. The book also is a time capsule and an ageless memory that crystallizes love as a behavior.

            For business-related memoirs books, you might look for clients commemorating institutions such as medical offices, hospitals, dentists’ offices, and non-profit agencies with a cause. A business-related memoirs book of success stories, case histories, and employees work histories consists of interviews that emphasize ways to thank employees, board members, foundations, staff, and volunteers for services.

            Parents may want a book that showcases their child as a character in a novel or focuses on the child’s life story from birth to a certain age such as 13, for example. Genealogists and family historians look for memoirs books that contain life story details of ancestors. Older adults also may want to get important factual information on paper, including medical histories or explanations.  

Birth mothers may want to send a book to a child put up for adoption explaining why they put the child up for adoption. Parents who have adopted several children might develop a book explaining the adoption stories of each child they have adopted, from what country, city, and any other information as to why they chose that child.

Many of your clients will ask for wedding books that reflect the bride, groom, and relatives, ethnic backgrounds, beliefs, or just the bride and groom and each person’s interests. Your primary focus in a wedding book is to capture positive memories.

Pet owners want their dog or cat’s personality as part of the book. Your clients also could be a zoo featuring all types of animals, an equestrian ranch, a race track, or any other establishment or family featuring a pet. Good leads for pet owners often are in the media. Check out the various press and public relations clubs, animal food manufacturers, and wholesalers of pet supplies.

Couples looking for Valentine’s Day presents would enjoy a book that a couple can read together each year on their anniversary or Valentine’s Day. Sports enthusiasts also like “hall of fame” type treatment in a book on sports achievements or trophies won. A book showcasing the sports history of a person who plays a lot of sports could emphasize the details of each game along with dates, locations, and events as well as sports statistics.

One of the best times to approach a potential client is when a couple becomes betrothed. At the time of engagement, people are bubbly and receptive to interviews. Ask the person what makes that individual most comfortable in an interview, and keep the tape recorder or camcorder out of site. You might try serving decaffeinated tea or herb tea and encourage a relaxed atmosphere. Focus on how each person met and grew fond of one another. Ask each person how he or she fell in love. Include details the couple wants to include in a book that could be read by their future children. This is the type of book that will be shown to wedding guests. Emphasize how many copies should be displayed on various tables for the wedding guests to peruse and discuss.

For parents of a young child, that child’s memories saved in a book would include asking the child what makes him or her laugh. Include positive dreams and ideas. What does the child think about or do most of the time? Focus on a particular year in the child’s life that’s most meaningful at the moment. Copies of the book for the grandparents can provide happy memories as the child grows and details of childhood memories are soon forgotten.

For a baby or bridal shower, the memoirs book becomes a gift book to be kept on a coffee table. It’s a gift that friends give. Interview friends of the bride or pregnant co-worker and have each person say something memorable and positive about the person that can be shown to relatives and other friends.

Career history books can emphasize what one did in a long career such as military service. The career history book also can be combined with a retirement and leisure activities book or war stories.

Anniversary books are seen as gifts. They mark a special number such as a 10th, 25th, or 50th anniversary. Photos and interviews form the core of anniversary books. Business anniversaries also are part of corporate history books.

Collect copies of photos and interview several family members, friends, colleagues, co-workers, and employers. Gather positive comments focusing on details and memories. You could emphasize landmarks in the marriage, travels, or special times together. Also include any events or memories of the couple before their marriage when they first met, their engagement, and life together. Significant turning points that are upbeat would be the primary focus. Family, friends, and the couple would be re-reading the anniversary book at important times in their lives. Keep a video and audio CD or DVD inside the back cover of the book.

Have the husband and wife each write and/or read a letter to each other to be read far into the future, even when one member has passed on. The letter can be a love letter marking the most meaningful memories and saying any statement that each person wants to be remembered by.

Have each person create a motto that represents that person and/or his or her purpose or intent toward the partner. What would each person want to say to the other to be remembered? An anniversary book is moving. What can each person say to move the other to a new and wonderful state of mind?


What Do You Charge?

            Each person hiring you to write a memoirs book will be paying you to reflect, reminisce, and celebrate shared or personal experiences. Memoir books motivate and inspire captured audiences of relatives and friends to share life story experiences. In the business world, history of a company can also be a family business story. For married couples or life-long partners, a memoirs book emphasizes the positive events that form patterns. The book’s purpose is to celebrate a couple’s ‘love.’

            For individuals writing a memoir, personal reflection is emphasized. With a child’s story, the parents want to rekindle the same emotions felt as they watched their child mature. Memory books are gifts. They can showcase an employee’s work history and be given by an employer as a retirement present. The outcome is a coffee-table type book that’s also an ageless time capsule combining colorful photos and text.

With the addition of a DVD or CD in a transparent plastic sleeve pasted on the inside cover of the book, when the reader has finished the text and photos portion, a video and/or audio disk can be played on most DVD and/or CD players or computers that can present a slide show, narrated life story video or audio file. That multimedia portion can emphasize a special event or turning point of the person’s or couple’s life.

Before you set a price, produce one coffee-table memoirs book on yourself or on one of your relatives and keep tabs of the time it takes you. Each person works at a different rate. If you work on the book 8 hours per day, 5 days per week, it will take at least four or five work days or more to complete one book. What would you like to get paid for one forty-hour work week? How much do your materials cost? Is the book affordable to most of your potential clients? What type of client are you approaching?

Have you contacted wedding planners to let them know of your service and fees? What you charge depends on how many pages your client wants a book to be. Will it be a short booklet or pamphlet, or a novel-sized memoirs book?

To develop both a money budget and time budget, you need to list all the software and supplies you’ll have to buy. How many independent contractors will you retain? What will you pay each person? Can you do all the graphics, writing, and software manipulation to create the book by yourself? Would you limit yourself to one book and one client at a time?


Training Required

            If you’re a digital scrap booker, you have most of the skills. The skill you’ll need to learn from there is how to turn a PDF file into a print-on-demand paperback book. The companies making the software can guide you to the tutorials. There also are professional associations you can join and learn from the members. Some national associations offer seminars, courses, or conferences.

 Can you bind the book? If not, how much can you afford to pay a printer to bind your books? Until you’ve put a book together from scratch, don’t approach clients because you’ll need sample books to show.  Your work of art is actually a print-on-demand paperback book featuring many photos interlaced with text.

You’ll have to oversee each stage of the process while keeping in constant contact with your client. Each process will have to be approved by your client. It’s important to get half payment up front before you begin to interview any client. Setbacks could include the client going away for extended periods of time while you’re waiting for approval and permission to move onto the next stage or phase of the interviewing, recording, organizing, editing, revising, and re-writing process before coordination between text and photos is begun. Only then can you move onto the publishing process.

When the book is published, your client decides whether to make a video or audio DVD or CD to include in the back of the book to accent the text and photos. This recording process using video clips from the life of the client takes more time and editing.

You don’t have to offer a video or audio disk along with the book, but it does enhance the book and makes it possible to put the book and multimedia presentation on a disk to send to relatives. Since many people don’t like to read from a computer screen or watch a video, the book in text form is necessary for preserving the keepsake album feel of the memory book of text and photos.

Before you begin, you can have different budgets for a variety of clients. Some will want the book as a video and/or audio disk included in the paperback print on demand book. Others may only want to pay for a paperback or hard cover book or a smaller pamphlet.

Once you’ve set up a time and money budget, explore with potential clients what each person would most likely want in a coffee-table memoirs book that can be passed around the friends and family at gatherings. A book of this nature also appeals to houses of worship and to public speakers who share inspirational or motivational communication with a variety of audiences or clients.


What Items Do You Need to Compile Money and Time Budgets?

            Before you can determine what to charge your client for a personal memoirs book or business case history success story media kit, you’ll need the following basic items to start:      


1 computer

1 printer

1 book binding machine


Internet service

Web site

DVD discs

CD discs

DVD recording device or disk drive

DVD playing device

Interviewers in various states on call as independent contractors

Adobe PhotoShop software

Microsoft Word software or equivalent for book manuscript writing, organizing, and editing

PDF software that turns Microsoft Word files into PDF files in a book template

Printer or printing service that works with digital imaging if you don’t have the software yourself.

Print-on-demand publishing techniques

Scanner for photos

Tape recorder and player, digital audio recorder, or CD player…

Telephone pickup device for recorder interviews via phone

Camcorder for recording videos of life stories…Industrial quality preferred, although a digital high 8 camcorder can sometimes produce amateur-type personal history videos good enough in quality and resolution to be sent to numerous TV stations as freelance documentaries or news reporting.

FireWire 1394 cable to connect your camcorder to your computer

Software and hardware to capture video from your camcorder to your computer hard disk drive and then to save the file as a video on a DVD after editing…

Software that edits video and audio files on your computer…

Sound recording software such as Total Recorder.

Microphone for your camcorder and for your computer…


            Your personal memoirs or business history book service will operate similar to most print-on-demand book publishing companies, but on a smaller scale. A client will pay you to write and publish a memoirs or business history book containing photos and transcribed interviews. The client will send you the photos either saved as a 300 dpi .tiff file on a CD or DVD or the client will email the original photos to you. You’ll need 6 by 9 inch photos for the book cover and 3 by 4 inch photos for the author’s photo.

            With original photos, you’ll have to scan them into your computer and save them at 300 dpi as .tiff files using the CMYK color setting in PhotoShop. Promptly return original photos to the author. You can have a copy made for yourself to keep with your master file. Give the author a copy of your files pertaining to that author’s book. This master file will help the author make copies with other printers if you should move or close the business. Keep a copy for yourself as the author may lose or damage the copy and ask for another.

            Check out the InstaBook ™ Print on Demand Web site at: http://www.instabook-corporation.com/. There you can find out that it takes 23 steps the old fashioned way to publish a book. InstaBook ® Corporation is the premier supplier of the technology required to design, print and bind a book on demand anywhere on earth.  The InstaBook ™ allows you to utilize InstaBook ® Maker III equipment.

The problem you need to solve is to figure out your cost of publishing per book. When you have a client who only wants a few books, you need to solve the problem of mass-production versus price.

You’d use print on demand publishing. For example, using the InstaBook ® Maker you don't need to print thousands of books to get the benefits of high-volume pricing. Each book you produce using InstaBook® Maker systems will have a cost per unit similar to the costs per unit of a 10,000 run. If you had used the old fashioned method of publishing that you might see in a 1980-style print shop, you would need to print 10,000 copies of a book to get the same price per unit.

That’s why for clients paying you a flat fee to compile and publish memoirs gift books, print on demand publishing is the way to go. No book actually is printed until someone wants to buy the book. At that time the book is printed and sent within 7-10 days to your client.

You charge the client the cost per book that it takes you to print one copy and any charges for shipping and handling, such as the cost of the box the book is packed in. How many other charges do you have besides the labor of interviewing, recording, transcribing, organizing, writing, and editing the book? Make your time and money budgets by listing each step needed in the process to produce a book.

Distribution costs and sales of the book are up to your client. You’re paid only to produce a few authors’ copies for the person ordering a personal memoirs book. If employees of a company are made aware of a book on the business history of a corporation, each employee of that company on a voluntary basis can order the book from you, perhaps from a listing on your client’s company’s Web site. If you’re producing a family history book, each relative and friend can order the book from you directly. You publish the book print on demand and send each copy to whoever orders the book.


You don’t have to worry about getting into Books in Print, into the big chain bookstores, or about paying a large distributor such as Ingram. After all, you’re not publishing a book for distribution other than to your client and his or her family or to a corporation and its employees.


Success Stories--Corporate

Success story books are one branch of the occupation of book packager. You’d put together success stories of a company and create a book targeted to the media. This type of book is called a media book.


You’d interview satisfied clients of a company, ask them why they switched from one company’s product to another company’s product, and then collect success stories for the perusal of select media. Your interview questions would focus on what step-by-step procedure was taken to solve a problem or achieve results. Ask about benefits and advantages. An excellent example of a “media book” available to the press is titled, Media Guide on Food Safety and Nutrition 2004-2006. It is published by the International Food Information Council. See the Web site at: http://ific.org.


Why did they switch? Software is an excellent product to interview satisfied customers about, emphasizing why they changed software and what they liked about it. This success story approach can be done with interviews about many other types of products, from cars to pet food. Choose a product that’s individual enough. Some products have different labels or distributors, but all come from the same manufacturer.


As a case history manager, you’d collect the success stories from satisfied clients and record interviews by phone. Then you’d write a series of news releases about one and a half pages in length.


Each success story would be put into a book to be presented to the press as part of the company’s public relations and marketing communications department. The collection of success stories should be consistent in length and presented in book form and/or electronically to select media. It would be up to the public relations director of the particular corporation to select which media would get a copy of the “media book” that you’d publish for a corporation.


To drum up business, contact the director of media relations, the marketing communications manager and the public relations director of each corporation that interest you. Then pitch to each corporation that you would like to write a media book for select reporters based on you being allowed to interview satisfied customers on why they switched to a particular company’s product.


Emphasize details and benefits. Most likely to hire outside publishers and book packagers are new software firms that have public relations departments used to hiring independent contractors. Have some ‘mock’ sample media books published already to show them your work. You may focus on a particular niche such as mall grand openings.

You’ll need a portfolio of your work as an interviewer, writer, and publisher. Practice working with software that controls text and imaging. Then approach potential clients. Have good samples to show.

If you need to use hired printers and interviewers, have your team help you create some samples to show of your memoirs books, gift books, or business case history success story books. You can work entirely in text and photos or vary your output with video and audio multimedia productions or slide presentations for business meetings and conventions.

If you want to publish memoirs books, work with genealogists, family history researchers, wedding or event planners, oral historians, librarians, and publishers. Contact associations related to genealogy or DNA-driven genealogy. Memoirs books can be combined with the design of keepsake albums.

You also can branch into digital scrap booking using photo-imaging software and text with other graphics to produce gift books. Emphasize events, celebrations and commemorations for different stages of life, graduations, and rites of passage if you want to work with families or schools and hospitals instead of manufacturers.


E-Books (Electronic Gift Books)

            Electronic book (E-book) readers let you take your favorite books and magazines in digital form, usually saved as PDF files. These types of books are lighter to carry than the average paperback book. Most clients asking you to publish a memoirs book will not want an E-book or electronic book. However, in addition to a printed paperback or hard cover book, you might want to put an electronic book on a CD or DVD and send it along with the book for those who like to read electronic books (E-books) in handheld devices.

            To create an E-book, all you need to do with your written book that says it’s copyrighted in your name with the year, is save it in digital format such as a Microsoft Word document cut and pasted into Microsoft Front Page software (that creates files compatible with Web sites).


You then save the document as a Web page. When you’ve finished creating your Web page in Front Page software or used one of the free Web site services online, you just upload or send your book to the Web page. You can view it there or download it and save it on a disk or in your computer.

            Use your search engine to find which sites offer free Web space for your book. Also you can contact an e-publisher online that already provides a Web site to showcase the memoirs book. If you use a print on demand publisher, the charge can range from 300 to 700 dollars to set up your book.


Some publishers also charge you a monthly or annual fee per book just to host it on their Web site or keep it posted with major distributors online. To avoid these types of costs, buy your own print on demand equipment and publish one memoirs book at a time for each client. If you have only a few clients at one time, you’d only have to print a few copies for each client’s circle of family and friends.      


You control how many clients you want to take at one time, like a literary agent or event planner. If you are a wedding planner or genealogist you might want to add a sideline of publishing memoirs books. People who work with older adults also might have an interest in interviewing and presenting life stories in life long learning settings from senior centers to extended studies programs at universities for active people in retirement.



Adult continuing education classes and gerontologists as well as family historians may all have an interest in memoirs books. It’s not only for older adults, but for new parents documenting a child’s growth stages or teenagers marking the taking on of responsibility. All these life stages can be incorporated into such a gift book.


E books are read with E-book readers. These are usually free, downloadable software that enables a viewer to read an E-book. Examples of E-book readers that are free and available on the Web include Adobe Reader, which is free and downloadable at: http://www.adobe.com/products/acrobat/readstep2.html. Microsoft E-book reader is at the Web site: http://www.microsoft.com/reader/default.asp.



Many popular and/or best-selling books have been formatted to be read by E-book reader software. You can use the free E-book readers online by downloading them or buy professional-type E-book reading software such as eReader Pro for Palm Os. That Web site is at: http://www.ereader.com/products/ereader/pro.

Some people use hand-held devices such as Pocket PC to read electronic books. Other people prefer to listen to an audio book instead of reading text on a computer screen or on a hand-held device’s small screen.


Audio gift books may be narrated and saved as MP3 files so that people can buy the book to download on an iPod or other mobile listening or viewing device. Or the audio book may be saved on a CD or DVD or uploaded to the Web as an audio podcast which is an audio file under compression.


The MP3 audio file takes up less bandwidth space online than other types of audio files. There are numerous E-book publishers online, but you can obtain E-book publishing software and circulate your own gift books.


The most popular way to market a gift book is to have text and photos that can be handed down to future generations as keepsakes and heirlooms, as if they were scrap books combined with life stories you can read for hours as you thumb through the pictures and the details of the experiences in text as paperback or hardback books. Then slip out a CD or DVD in a book’s inside back cover and pop into your DVD player. Suddenly, the life story, wedding, historic site, or other event becomes a ‘movie.’



Advertisements... contain the only truths to be relied on in a newspaper. __ Thomas Jefferson (1743 - 1826), Letter to Nathaniel Macon, January 12, 1819





Chapter 3

How to Bind Your Own Book by Hand    


            You’ve already decided that your memoirs gift book will be a certain size. This could be a bookstore or supermarket rack standard trade paperback fiction size of 5 ½ inches by 8 inches, a square 9 by 9 inches, a non fiction trade paperback size of 6 by 9 inches, (used by most print-on-demand paperback publishers, a letter size of 8½ by 11 inches, or a large 9 by 12 size similar to a loose leaf notebook. The next step in learning book binding is to start with glue.


            What will it actually cost you to make one copy of a hand bound book? Actually, if you do it all yourself, it might cost only $1.50. You’d design the cover yourself using a photo scanned to your computer saved at 300 dpi as a .tiff file in PhotoShop software.


 You could sign up with a local adult education course or community college to spend time in their computer lab and save your photo on a CD, or use an evaluation copy of the software to try out for a brief time. Or buy the software before you begin. Also, you can use any other type of digital imaging software that’s affordable which lets you save your scanned photo at 300 dpi using CMYK color as a .tiff file. When you design your cover, it will be as good as the covers made by most book publishing firms.


To bind your own book, start with glue. When you make the book cover, your stationary store such as Office Depot, Office Max, Staples, or any similar store may have the texture of cover you’re looking for. Some come in an 8 ½ by 14 inch size. You’re going to print on your cover using your personal computer’s laser printer.


If you’re determined to make binding books a hobby or business using a hand-binding press, build your own or buy one. It’s cheaper to build your own hand-binding press. When you build your hand-binding press, build it so that it can handle 8 ½ by 14 inch cover stock. Before you actually start to look for a tutorial in how to build your own hand book binding press, read the excellent book titled, The Perfect Binding Handbook.


Also see the Gigabooks Web site at: http://www.gigabooks.net/. At this site you can find what you need to learn in order to build your own book binding press. The site tells you where to find items you’ll need. Use it as your source for materials. You’ll need a hand binding press, cover stock, and information on how to bind your own book from one source. Also some materials may be obtained from most hardware stores.


Before you look for clients, remember that anything that can be put on paper can be bound into a professionally crafted book. You can publish one copy for a client or print books on demand, selling a book only when someone orders a book. Also, you can customize a book to any size the client wants. If you’re looking to buy an inexpensive hand-binding press that will bind books from as small as 2" x 3" (51 mm x 77 mm) up to 8 1/2" x 12" (217 mm x 320 mm) in size, Gigabooks sells them. Contact the company at: Gigabooks, P.O. Box 653, Ft. Meade, FL 33841-0653. The firm’s Web site is at: http://www.gigabooks.net.       

Chet Novicki, owner of Gigabooks, reports the following information regarding products for hand binding paperback books. (Mr. Novicki sent for inclusion here the following how-to steps on making paperback books by hand.)


Making Paperback Books By Hand

Have you ever wanted to make your own book but were put off by the amount of work involved? It can take days to make just one copy of a hardcover book, and even if you’re up on all the shortcuts and secrets, it will still take several hours. Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to bind your own book(s) in just a few minutes, with a minimum amount of work?

There is a way to do it. It’s called paperback bookbinding. You can do it at home, setting up the pages and cover on your computer and then printing them on your home printer. And the best part is books made this way look just like paperback books made on machines costing hundreds of thousands of dollars. In fact, if you do a good job, no one will even know you made the book yourself until you tell them. And then they won‘t believe you.

            This is a method of making 5 1/2" x 8 1/2" (half the size of a sheet of regular bond paper, which is 8 ½” x 11”) paperback books at home, using cold glue and a hand binding press. The press doesn’t have to be very fancy. In fact, you can do this without using a press, but it’s slightly more difficult. All you need is a means of aligning the pages along the bottom and on one side, and a pressing bar to tighten the pages along the top. This same technique can be used to make books of just about any size you want, but for the purpose of this discussion, we’ll limit ourselves to the above-mentioned size. Here’s how to do it.



Pages - Pages are set up side-by-side on sheets of plain white bond paper (8 1/2" x 11"), so that by folding or cutting the sheets in half, they make pages half that size (5 1/2" x 8 1/2"). Setting up the pages may be done by hand, using scissors and rubber cement, or by using a printer utility program such as ClickBOOK.

 This wonderful program will take any Windows or Mac files and turn them into a professional-looking page layout, and it does it all automatically. It works like this: once installed on your computer, ClickBOOK intercepts pages going to any laser or inkjet printer and rotates, reduces and rearranges pages into the correct order for double-sided booklets and/or books (it also does brochures, greeting cards, business cards, and much more).

So all you have to do is prepare your pages in your favorite word processing, DTP, or graphics program and print. It's extremely easy to use, and I highly recommend it. In fact, I use ClickBOOK to print all my books. You may also be able to use your word processing program and/or desktop publishing programs to set up pages. In any case, the pages must be set up in the following sequence:

One side of the sheet of typing paper has pages D and A (D to the left) while the reverse side has pages B and C (B to the left). A, of course, is the first page of each four-page grouping, or signature. If you set up your pages on your computer, you can print them out on your printer. If you set them up by hand, you can get them copied at any nearby copy shop.


Check to see whether you can download a free trial version of the printer utility ClickBOOK, or just get more information about it, by going to the website of Blue Squirrel, the folks who make it, at http://www.bluesquirrel.com. This trial version will do everything the full version will do, except it prints TRIAL COPY on every page. Still, it’s a great way to try the program and see if you like it.



Covers may be of any material, but should be 8 1/2" x 14" (legal size). This will allow binding books of almost any thickness by setting up the cover at one end and trimming the excess after binding. Covers may be set up and printed from your word processing program or DTP.


They may also be printed using ClickBOOK, though you'll have to print the spine of the book from another program (any word processing program will do). Once printed, the cover must be scored twice, alongside each side of the spine, to allow for crisp, square bends where each cover (front and back) meets the spine. However, if your cover is not too thick, you'll probably be able to get by without scoring it at all.



Almost any contact cement that promises a "strong, flexible bond," or words to that effect, makes an excellent binding glue. Glue is applied to the edges of the pages and to the inside of the spine and allowed to set before the two are joined, so setting time is a consideration. Contact cement is available at any hardware store. An excellent glue for beginners, is DAP Weldwood, which takes about 15 minutes to set. This slow setting time is helpful to those with limited experience, as it removes the potential pressure that comes with a quick setting glue ("Oh, no! I've got to get this spread around before it starts to stiffen up."). 




Pages are arranged in the binding press with the cover behind them, the part to be trimmed (after binding) sticking up. The pages and cover are tapped, jiggled, or otherwise maneuvered into position (edges straight, etc.) and then are held in position with one hand while the other pushes and holds the pressing bar against them. The first hand then releases the pages and tightens the wing nuts on the pressing bar until it is tight enough to hold the pages without slipping.


With the pages and cover now secured in the press, glue is applied to the back edges of the pages and the inside spine of the cover (between the score marks). When the glue has set, the cover is pushed down firmly onto the backs of the pages. The wing nuts are loosened and the pages and the cover, now stuck firmly together, are removed from the press.


The remaining cover is pushed down, into position, and the book is placed beneath a weight to dry for 24 hours. Since all the pages are the same size and the cover is the same width, the book does not need to be trimmed. All that remains is to trim the extra length from one end of the cover, using a paper cutter, razor knife, or scissors.


For a more complete look at this method of binding paperback books by hand, including step-by-step photos of the entire binding process, plans to build your own inexpensive press, and a more thorough discussion of glues and how to use them, see The Perfect Binding Handbook: Making Trade Paperbacks by Hand, by Chet Novicki, available from Chet’s website at http://www.gigabooks.net. This 109 page book, filled with photos and diagrams, also includes complete information on invisible staple binding a companion method of binding that makes books so strong you won't be able to tear them apart no matter how hard you try. 


I've never known any trouble that an hour's reading didn't assuage.

__ Charles De Secondat (1689 - 1755)


Charles de Secondat, (January 18, 1689 February 10, 1755) also known as Baron de Montesquieu was a French political thinker who lived during the 18th century Age of Enlightenment and articulated the theory of separation of powers.




Chapter 4

Pop-Up Books for All Ages

Gift Books for or about Children

Illustrating the Pop-Up Family Newsletter, Report, or Hand-Crafted Gift Book




Make pop-up cards and newsletters. Templates are online. See the Pop-Ups by Plane Class Web site at: http://www.imacrs.com/sampcrds.htm and also at: http://www.imacrs.com/popups.htm. Also look at Pop Up Card Reports at that site.

Pop-up reports use digital cameras, word processing software, and card stock paper to create dimensional newsletters or reports. 

      You can visit a classroom and show students how to create pop-up cards using digital camera images to create a card. Print out the pop-up image on card stock or heavy bond paper. Create a family newsletter, a greeting card, or a report in a pop-up format. See the Pop-Up Card Reports - Digital Camera Project Web site at: http://drscavanaugh.org/digitalcamera/pop-up/popupcard.htm.

Download the basic pop-up card template at http://www.drscavanaugh.org/digitalcamera/pop-up/pop-uptemplate.doc.  According to the Web site, “The double cut line on the card is where the pop-up element will be added. If you want more than one element, you can add more double cut lines across the fold.”

The Web site also notes that you can, “Change the length/position to change the depth of the pop-up elements.” Enjoy. More pop-up templates may be found at BillyBear4Kids.com Pop Up 3D Greeting Cards Web site at: http://www.billybear4kids.com/PopUpCards/Greetings.shtml.


Also check to see whether you can purchase California Stampin’ Pop-Up Templates at their Web site at: http://www.castampin.com/ecommerce/category-browse-subcategory.tcl?category_id=341&subcategory_id=363.  If you use the Google Search Engine with the key words, pop-up templates, you’ll find numerous ones on the Web. Some are for sale and others are free.


Pop-up extended family newsletters, reports, or gift books can be made for grown-ups, using color copies produced on heavy paper of photographs or other art work. Pop-ups for children also can be made, including greeting card pop-ups to promote the book or rotating disks or leaves and pop-ups set in the center of the book. Three-dimensional folded paper glued into a book present the element of surprise. Ideas for pop-ups include baby and wedding photos or miniature awards and diplomas.


When you craft a book entirely by hand and bind it in fine materials also by hand, being careful to use acid-free paper, you might also wish to illustrate the book yourself. Let’s propose you’re writing a children’s pop-up book about a child who is a relative. You’re going to bind the book yourself, taking lessons from the many courses in hand book-binding already on the Internet. Here’s how to illustrate the book.


If you write a children's book about your child or grandchild, try illustrating your children's book yourself on silk, coarse linen, or percale. You can even use a linen handkerchief or scarf. Frequently your artwork is wrapped around a drum, that is always curved, and illustration board won't wrap around a drum without bending and cracking.


            If you decide to publish a non-fiction children's book, which will have less chance of losing in competition for entertainment against the best-selling fiction books, focus on a how-to book giving children of middle grades or their parents in picture books, information to read to children or instruction for children in how to build or do something they can't find quickly online or in a library, such as how to build or make something that children cherish.


            To illustrate on fabric, mount the fabric on illustration board when you put your final drawing on fabric. Silk is preferred for a final draft. The artwork gets scanned into a computer, but has to roll around on a curved surface, a drum in order to be scanned to make a children's book. That's how most publishers work. If you’re having the book privately printed, find out the size of the drum so you can adjust or reduce the fabric before it gets scanned and the size adjusted once more.


            The top layer of the art to be scanned sometimes is set up to be peeled off. Take a sheet of illustration board and mount silk on it, or coarse linen. Sometimes illustration board is too stiff when you cover it with fabric, and it won't peel right. So use this method. Get a sheet of Mylar or matte plastic. This is a type of film. Mount very fine white silk with water mixed with acrylic matte medium. I learned this method from the writings of the late Barbara Cooney, author and illustrator of more than 100 children's books and winner of the Caldecott medals and the American Book Award.


            Cooney loved to mount the fine white silk with water and acrylic matte medium and then let it dry. The next step is to take a roller and put on a layer of diluted acrylic gesso. Then let that dry.


            Sand the surface using very fine garnet paper. Cooney liked to repeat the second and third step until two to four layers of gesso were built up. What you want to get is a flexible fabric full of your illustration. Cooney described the result as an "egg-shell texture." She used titanium white in her acrylic paintings. Your color will be titanium white also.


            Not many children's book writers know this technique of painted on mounted silk when they illustrate children's books, and publishers will be impressed with the professional technique, but in case no publisher can be found, you have an illustration for your children's book that will wrap around that drum, curving without cracking. Keep on writing and illustrating.


            If color is too expensive for your budget, stick to black and white, and let the children color your book as they read or are read to from the text. Keep the text about one paragraph per page for a preschool book that will be read to children, and increase text for older children or illustrated gift books. When you make only one or two copies of a book that is entirely hand-made, you can do everything yourself or bring your materials to a printer.


To make more copies, scan into your personal computer each step of your book. Scan photos and art work at least at 300 dpi and large enough, at least 6 by 9 inches. Save text documents, for example as a Microsoft Word document. (Or use the equivalent in any other software word processing application.) Text size usually is letter size, which is 8 ½ by 11 inches. That way you can save your book to a CD or DVD with one file for photos and another for text.


Additionally, you can save a copy of your entire book in another file, organized with the text and photos interspersed the way you want to lay out the entire manuscript. The CD or DVD can be brought to most printers for additional copies of the book. Finally, you can bind the book in exquisite materials by hand using paper and covers that resist acid and oxidation when the book is handed to the next generation. Personal gift books also can be pop-up books for children or grown-ups using themes of significant events and experiences that are meant to me remembered and discussed.


Concrete Pop-Up Books

            There are two kinds of pop-up books, concrete paper and glue that you can fold with your hands and abstract pop-up shapes saved in a computer file or on a disc. Let’s begin with making a simple concrete pop-up that is glued into a book. When the book is opened to a particular page, the folded paper opens suddenly as if it is on springs. A pop-up inserted in a memoirs gift book can be made from a paper-cut illustration or drawing.


Supplies Needed for Simple Paper Pop-Ups

            You’ll need a template for scoring and cutting. You can make a template by scoring art work. Or have a printer make the template for you. If your printer isn’t able to make a template, ask your local university to recommend an engineering or art student who has studied three dimensional art, origami, or making pop-ups. A template may be made from a photograph that is reduced to the size you want and copied on a color copier. The following are the items to be assembled before beginning.


Water colors or colorful inks

White glue that dries transparent

Paper clips

Straight edge or ruler

            After you’ve made your illustration or had a photo color-copied to heavy paper, use the round edge of a paper clip to score little broken dots or lines so that the paper will fold along those lines you have scored. Don’t cut the scored lines. Only cut the solid lines.

Templates are labeled with letters of the alphabet such as A, B, C, and D. Usually templates follow a pattern such as beginning with A, which is scored and folded back. Then you fold along the dotted scored lines but not the solid lines. You’d follow through folding scored sides C and D forward. Then you’d glue the back side of the first panel to the back side of the second panel.

The panels would be numbered in linear order such as panel 1 and panel 2. You’d follow step-by-step in the order of the numbers or letters. Then you’d repeat for panels 3 and 4. So you’d begin logically with number 1 and end with number 4. You’d start with scored side A and end with scored side D. The folds would add up to a four-sided square. If you had a picture that folded into a pop-up with more or less sides, such as a triangle or an odd shape, you’d follow the numbers on your template.


Before you start to make a pop-up, the first step would be to create a template that you could score. The folds would be made on the scored lines and not on the solid lines. Your last step would be to glue your shape to the V fold so that your pop-up takes the shape you want before you glue it into your memoirs book as a centerfold pop-up or in some other spot. Before you begin, look at some instructional books on making pop-ups. They’re on the Web.

A pop-up photo of a couple dressed as bride and groom works well. The photo would be brought to a color copier and printed out on the type of paper that makes the best pop-ups. A history and virtual tour of pop-up books is at the University of North Texas Web site: http://www.library.unt.edu/rarebooks/exhibits/popup2/introduction.htm. Some pop-up books in the past contained revolving discs called ‘volvelles.’ You don’t have to use photos. You can use art work or memorabilia to pop up, if the type of paper is suitable.

Use “turn up” or “lift the flap” mechanisms as pop ups in your gift book.


The same pop-up copied can also be put in greeting cards to promote your book. Separate leaves of paper cut to different sizes. Each leaf would contain different information. The leaves can be hinged together and attached to a page. This works great with memorabilia.


The reader would be able to unfold multiple depths of a picture, such as a photo cut-out wearing different costumes or clothing styles. Examples would be the bridal gown, dressed for travel, at the beach, or in ethnic traditional clothing.


Until the early 19th century, movable books were created for adults, and not for children. One example would be learning anatomy at school from different leaves showing bones or muscles. For further information, see the following books:


Haining, Peter. Movable Books: An Illustrated History. London: New English Library, 1979.

Koskelin, Susan. "The Evolution of Movable Books from the Late Thirteenth Century to the Late Twentieth." Graduate school paper, U of North Texas, 1996.

Lindberg, Sten G. "Mobiles in Books: Volvelles, Inserts, Pyramids, Divinations, and Children's Games." Trans. Willian S. Mitchell. The Private Library 3rd series 2.2 (1979) : 49-82.

Montanaro, Ann R. Pop-up and Movable Books: A Bibliography. Metuchen, N.J.: Scarecrow Press, 1993.


What’s the Best Way to Learn How to Make Pop-Up Books and Greeting Cards?

Buy several pop-up books and make a list of how these books are placed together. Then take them apart. Use your camcorder to record yourself taking the book apart. It will be easier to put them back together when you have a visual recording of what the book looked like before and during each step of the way as the book is taken apart. Making simple pop-ups for books and greeting cards is easy to learn and helps develop the use of the right hemisphere of your brain through practice.


Make a template or buy templates to make pop-up books from craft, hobby, and book-binding supplies do-it-yourself stores. Several good book binding supplies stores are online. Search your Internet engine, for example Google at http://www.google.com with the key words “book binding supplies.”


A professor of bookbinding at the Escola d'Arts i Oficis in Barcelona wrote an excellent how-to book titled, The Complete Book of Bookbinding by Josep Cambras. The book provides precise, systematic techniques with plenty of excellent illustrations. Other books include the following:

·                Hand Bookbinding: A Manual of Instruction by Aldren A. Watson

·                The Craft of Bookbinding by Manly Banister

·                More Making Books by Hand: Exploring Miniature Books, Alternative  Structures, and Found Objects by Peter Thomas

·                The British Library Guide to Bookbinding: History and Techniques (British Library Guides) by P. J. M. Marks

·                Book Arts: Beautiful Bindings for Handmade Books by Mary Kaye Seckler


What’s complicated about crafting pop-up books is making gift books with moving parts. To learn how to do that, you need to talk to a paper engineer or paper folding specialist. Or take a course in making pop-up books with moving parts.

One excellent specialist in this field is paper engineer, Robert Sabuda. See his Web site at: http://www.robertsabuda.com/. Click on How to Make Pop-Ups at: http://www.robertsabuda.com/popupbib.html.


Pop-Up Tutorials Online and Books on Making Pop-Ups

Web-based step-by-step instruction, workshop information, and a bibliography on making pop-up books are at the pop-up books author, Joan Irving’s site at: http://www.dreamscape.com/pdverhey/. Also other excellent bibliographies on making pop-up books include the following: Johnson, Paul. Pop-up Paper Engineering. Cross-curricular Activities in Design Technology, English and Art. The Falmer Press, 1992.

              Beginners may enjoy the following books: Aotsu, Yoku. How to Make Pop-up Pictures! Dai-Nippon, 1993; Campbell, Jeanette R. Pop-up Animals and More! Evan-Moor, 1989; Valenta, Barbara. Pop-O-Mania. Dial Books. 1997.


Abstract Pop-Up Books

Play with Digital Pop-Up Cubes before You Fold Paper Pop-Ups

            For digital pop-ups, try a pop-up cube that will appear on your computer as you create stories that give the reader a choice to move in several directions. This interactive choice is called writing in branching narratives.

Picture a cube or a pop-up book that snaps into three dimensions by extending the lines along the corner. Three-dimensional writing is in circular time with branching narratives ending in leaf nodes like the curving tree of life. Think of your story as a stack of cards—a metaphor used by many authoring tools.


1.         Take a deck of blank cards and divide it into thirds—one for each part of your story. On each card, write a different beginning, middle, or ending for each part of the story.

2.         Shuffle the each pile of cards so the reader can choose multiple pathways to interact within the story. Instead of linear time, you now have a three-dimensional parallel structure that goes back and forth like a time-travel novel.

3.         Let the reader choose a different path, or return to the beginning to start a different story.

The most important rule to remember when designing an interactive story is that there are no rules. Start with a diagram and define the widest categories. Then, refine the story diagram, getting more specific as you go deeper into each story level.

Interactive writing uses metaphorical thinking to stimulate creative response. The interactive writer becomes a master of flexibility and a weaver of ideas, pictures, and sounds.


Practice Making Pop-Ups on Your Computer

Have a charming photo of a person in the book actually pop out in the middle of the book or at a spot where that person’s most important experience is mentioned. Before you design and cut out any folding pop-up art on paper, first make a verbal rather than a visual mock pop-up in your computer. A verbal pop-up is abstract. It’s all about writing one page in three dimensions. You have to think in three dimensions.

Your topic is “Writers wear many hats.” Write in of branching narratives. People who do this for a living are called non-linear editors.

            A single script may incorporate several frameworks, including streaming audio narration, animation with voice-over, and montage. Other often-used frameworks—including comedy and drama—can be applied to new media presentations, as well.

            The frameworks may vary from one category of facts or segment of the story to the next. In a documentary-style biography, you might include simple animation, backlit negatives, artwork, photos, or a narration to bridge the transitions.


The completed project should flow like one piece of cloth with no seams or hanging threads—like liquid, visual music. Using a varied selection of frameworks will help keep the attention of the audience and give the writer more options to set up a mighty conclusion. Be sure the frameworks don't overpower the information with too vivid an impact.


You want the readers to remember the life story highlights derived from listener.


Interactive gift books on computer discs (CDs or DVDs) can be true life stories (or fiction). They use a parallel story structure. This means readers can make several choices to change the events leading to different outcomes at different times. You can adapt an event to an interactive experience. This lets the audience enter feedback or gives a choice of how the story moves or ends.


Writing in Caricature

Writing in caricature is the essence of great dialogue writing. No one did it better than William Shakespeare, who was a master of writing dialogue in caricature. As your audience experiences the script during its performance, your writing will leap from two-dimensional text to the three-dimensional world of your audience's imagination.

As you write this way, fit your dialogue into imaginary dialogue bubbles above the heads of your characters. They begin to vibrate with charisma. The goal is to give each character the ability to influence, charm, inspire, motivate, and help the audience feel important.


Using Humor

The more important you make the audience feel, the better chance humor has of conveying a message of value. You may use carefully chosen humor with serious topics to hold the attention of the audience and to prevent the material from become too dry, abstract, or technical. Humor works well when it reveals pitfalls to be avoided. Your ability to make an audience laugh will increase the marketability of your work.


Using Drama

Drama is one of the best frameworks to use. To incorporate drama into a non-fiction memoirs gift book, include an experience with subplots framed like those in one of the fiction genres such as romantic comedy, adventure, mystery, or suspense.

Ask how the inner mechanisms work. Are facts readily available? 

Or does the book allow the leading character or narrator to share only one experience as an interlude of inserted drama? Show contrasts in a memoirs book between the frameworks of dramatization, re-enactments, and demonstration. Contrasts are what makes a personal gift book of memoirs ‘alive’ rather than ‘flat’ in tone, texture, and mood.


If you can give your son or daughter only one gift, let it be enthusiasm.” __ Bruce Barton 


Chapter 5


5 – 6 Week Course in Writing and Publishing Gift Books and Newsletters




How to Write, Publish, and Promote Memoirs, Events, Business Success Stories, or Documentary-Style Gift Books, Newsletters, Reports, and Keepsake Life Story Highlights



5 - 6 Week Course 


Creating Salable Gift Books Based on Celebrations and Commemorations



Start with Vignettes 

Put direct experience in a small package and launch it worldwide. Write your life story in short vignettes of 1,500 to 1,800 words. Write eulogies and anecdotes or vignettes of life stories and personal histories for mini-biographies and autobiographies. Then condense or contract the life stories or personal histories into PowerPoint presentations and similar slide shows on disks using lots of photos and one-page of life story.

Finally, collect lots of vignettes and flesh-out the vignettes, linking them together into first-person diary-style novels and books, plays, skits, or other larger works. Write memoirs or eulogies for people or ghostwrite biographies and autobiographies for others.

            If ghostwriting is too invisible, write biographies and vocational biographies, success stories and case histories, and customize for niche interest groups. Your main goal with personal history and life stories is to take the direct experience itself and package each story as a vignette.

            The vignette can be read in ten minutes. So fill magazine space with a direct experience vignette. Magazine space needs only 1,500 words. When you link many vignettes together, each forms a book chapter or can be adapted to a play or script.

            By turning vignettes into smaller packages, they are easier to launch to the media. When collected and linked together, they form a chain of vignettes offering nourishment, direction, purpose, and information used by people who need to make choices. Here's how to write those inspiration-driven, persistence-driven life stories and what to do with them. Use universal experience with which we all can identify.

            Included are a full-length diary-format first person novel and a three-act play, including a monologue for performances. There's a demand for direct life experiences written or produced as vignettes and presented in small packages.

            Save those vignettes electronically. Later, they can be placed together as chapters in a book or adapted as a play or script, turned into magazine feature, specialty, or news columns, or offered separately as easy-to-read packages.



Use General Statements, Proverbs, Slogans, or Mottos, and ‘Brand’ the Event


Here’s how to write, edit, dramatize, package, promote, present, publish & launch gift books as personal histories, autobiographies, biographies, vignettes, and eulogies: launching the inspiration-driven or design-driven life story and detailing your purpose.

Use personal or biographical experiences as examples when you write your essay. Begin by using specific examples taken from your personal experience, personal history, or biographical resources.


Start with a general statement, motto, slogan or proverb to connect the public to your client or the client’s attitude, purpose, achievements, or service. Then relate the general to your specific personal experience. You don't have to only write about your client or yourself. You can write about someone else as long as you have accurate historical facts about that person, and you state your credible resources. ‘Brand’ your client’s event as a stage of life celebration. With a business success story, ‘brand’ the type of event, such as a grand opening with the most important reason or purpose of the event—a good product.


Here's an example of two opening sentences that state the general and then give the specific personal experience. "Mom's a space garbage woman. She repairs satellites."    Let's analyze all the different parts of an informed argument essay. By analyzing the result in depth instead of only skimming for breadth, you will be able to write concretely from different points of view.


You'll learn how to construct a memoirs or commemoration gift book from bare bones--from its concept. You start with a concept. Then you add at least three specific examples to your concept until it develops into a mold. A mold is a form, skeleton or foundation. Think of concept as conception. Think of mold as form or skeleton. Think of awning as the outer skin that covers the whole essay and animates it into lively writing.

You don't want your memoirs or other gift book to be flat writing. You want writing that is animated, alive, and able to move, motivate, or inspire readers. Finally, you cover the mold with an awning.


The mold is your pit, skeleton or foundation. Your mold contains your insight, foresight, and hindsight. It has the pitfalls to avoid and the highlights. You need to put flesh on its bones.


Then you need to cover your mold with an awning. You need to include or protect that concept and mold or form by including it under this awning of a larger topic or category. The awning holds everything together. It's your category under which all your related topics fall. That's what the technique of organizing your essay or personal history is all about.


In other words, concept equals form plus details. Story equals form plus details. That's the math formula for writing an essay if you'd like to put it into a logical equation of critical thinking. C = Fo + De. (and S=Fo+De). That's what you need to remember about writing an essay: your concept is composed of your form (mold, foundation, or skeleton) and details. A concept isn't an idea. It's the application of your idea.

Concepts are fleshed out and expanded by details and patterns to form stories



A concept is what your story is about. Your concept is imbedded in your story. A story can mean your personal history or any other story or anecdote in your essay, or any highlight of your life or specific life experience. A concept also can be a turning point such as rites of passage or take place at any stage of life. A story can be put into a newsletter or expanded into a book.


When writing the informed argument, you will be able to give examples backed up with resources.  That's what makes an essay great--knowing what examples to put into the essay at which specific points in time.

Gone will be general, vague, or sweeping statements. Therefore, I'd like each of you on this learning team to start planning your essay by analyzing and discussing the parts that chronologically go into the essay. That's how you organize essays in a linear fashion.

Take an essay apart just as you would take a clock or computer apart, and put it back together. Now all the parts fit and work. Taking apart an essay helps you understand how to plan and write your own essay-writing assignments or personal history as a time capsule.


Here's how to take apart a memoir or life story or a business success case history. Some of your gift books will commemorate an event such as a party, graduation, wedding, baby shower, anniversary or retirement. Your business clients may want to commemorate a grand opening or narrate a business history.


To analyze a memoir in depth, you break the significant events into its six parts: statement-of-position, description, argumentation, exposition, supplementation and evaluation just as you would take apart a persuasive essay. Use the same format as if you’d write a persuasive essay destined to convince. This is your foundation or umbrella. On top of this framework, you’d add the creative elements that make the life story or business success narration able to hold the attention of the reader. Remember that this is a coffee-table type gift book.


If you need to find out what the parts of a persuasive life story are, they are similar to the six parts of a persuasive essay. You can organize the parts of a life story as you would organize the six parts of an essay as explained in the book titled, The Informed Argument. (ISBN: 0155414593). Use the same technique when writing life stories, skits, plays, persuasive essays, and gift books based on significant events of lives or business histories.


This technique works because readers look to be convinced by experiences backed up by facts. It works for persuasive essays, and it works as well for life story experiences. Action verbs also help you organize your gift book topics or chapters by achievements done and results obtained or problems solved. For more ideas, you also can look at some action verbs in another book titled, 801 Action Verbs for Communicators. (ISBN: 0-595-31911-4).


Argumentation is part of a memoirs gift book if handled with courtesy and details that can be fact-checked or verified, if at all possible. Include resources and photos or video clips or audio interviews on a disk placed in an envelope at the back of the book if at all possible. Or use interviews in text in print paperback books. Before you even get to the expressive part of argumentation, you have to state your position and describe it by using specific examples. Then you get to the informed argument in the middle of your essay.


After you've finished arguing logically using critical thinking and your resources, you use exposition. Then you use supplementation, and finally evaluation. To practice writing personal history essays in text or on video, define and analyze the words 'exposition' and 'supplementation.' Use exposition and supplementation in at least one sentence each as an example of how you would use it in your essay. Don't stick to only what is familiar.


My dictionary defines 'exposition' as "a careful setting out of the facts or ideas involved in something." The principal themes are presented first in a 'music' exposition. Apply it now to an essay. Present your principal themes first in your personal history. Supplementation means adding to your work to improve or complete it.


The goal of an essay is to analyze your informed argument in depth. That's why there are six parts to an essay. Knowing what those six parts are as well as showing examples gives you the experience you need to plan and organize your essay. The result is that once you have organized your plan in writing, the essay almost writes itself.  

Use proverbs, quotations, (with credits) and flesh out the proverbs or quotes with details of life stories and events. Keep an old proverb or quotation in front of you when you write. A memoirs book is about wanting others to know that your client cares.

One goal of a memoirs book is to let the reader know that the client cares more about the readers than the readers would care what the client knows. It's a great saying to remind others why the client is creating a book. Everyone has a life story of great value.


How do you present the outcome of significant events, family or business history, or commemorations as a gift book? How do you publish the book? You start with your time and money budget and only then begin to break your organizing, writing, editing, and publishing into weekly tasks. The first week is for interviewing and gathering significant facts, events, and turning points.


A gift book may be presented also as a skit, play, or monologue and/or as a narrative book of highlights. For business histories and success stories, the narrative also can be turned into a 28 ½ minute infomercial script with two or more people interviewing the client.


The business success story infomercial, like the life story interview, needs a list of questions to present in advance that would take a specific time to answer such as a half-hour to an hour. Business infomercials usually are limited to 28 ½ minutes. Attention span for viewing is short. So write in seven to 10-minute chunks of reading or viewing time that allows time out for breaks.



“The Mind that Alters, Alters All” __ William Blake

Course Overviews: Weeks 1 through 5 - 6

Week 1

1. Put Direct Experience In A Small Package And Launch It Worldwide. Make Time Capsules.


2. Write, Record, & Publish Purpose-Driven Personal History

Dramatize, Package, Promote, Present, & Launch Your Purpose.


3. Edit, Dramatize, Package, Promote, Present, Publish, Record, Produce, & Launch Time Capsules of Personal Histories, Autobiographies, Biographies, Vignettes, and Eulogies: Launching the Inspiration-Driven or Design-Driven Life Story and Detailing Your Purpose.




Week 2

       Use Simplicity and Commitment in Personal History Writing, Time Capsules, and Videos. Here's useful insight to those who may someday write fiction, or their life stories, true experiences, or other people's life stories as vignettes or books created by linking a dozen or more vignettes together into a publishable book. Your aim is to produce time capsules or keepsake albums and other family history-related books, videos, audio projects, memory and/or prayer boxes, or memorabilia as heirlooms.

       Look for insight, foresight, and hindsight. Mentoring is about pointing out what pitfalls to avoid. Instead of a formula, aim for simplicity, commitment, and persistence. Use simplicity in your writings.



Week 3

How to Motivate People to Interview One Another for Personal History Productions

        People are "less camera shy" when two from the same peer group or class pair up and interview each other on video camcorder or on audio tape from a list of questions rehearsed. People also can write the questions they want to be asked and also write out and familiarize themselves with the answers alone and/or with their interviewers from their own peer group.  

           Some people have their favorite proverbs, or a logo that represents their outlook on life. Others have their own 'crusade' or mission. And some have a slogan that says what they are about in a few words...example, "seeking the joy of life," or "service with a smile."  

A play can come from someone's slogan, for example. A slogan, logo, proverb, or motto can form the foundation for a questionnaire on what they want to say in an oral history or personal history video or audio tape on in a multimedia presentation of their life story highlights.  




Week 4

  1. How to Gather Personal Histories
  2. Use the following sequence when gathering oral histories:
  3. Develop one central issue and divide that issue into a few important questions that highlight or focus on that one central issue.
  4. Write out a plan just like a business plan for your oral history project. You may have to use that plan later to ask for a grant for funding, if required. Make a list of all your products that will result from the oral history when it’s done.
  5. Write out a plan for publicity or public relations and media relations. How are you going to get the message to the public or special audiences?
  6. Develop a budget. This is important if you want a grant or to see how much you’ll have to spend on creating an oral history project.
  7. List the cost of video taping and editing, packaging, publicity, and help with audio or special effects and stock shot photos of required.
  8. What kind of equipment will you need? List that and the time slots you give to each part of the project. How much time is available? What are your deadlines?
  9. What’s your plan for a research? How are you going to approach the people to get the interviews? What questions will you ask?
  10. Do the interviews. Arrive prepared with a list of questions. It’s okay to ask the people the kind of questions they would like to be asked. Know what dates the interviews will cover in terms of time. Are you covering the economic depression of the thirties? World Wars? Fifties? Sixties? Pick the time parameters.
  11. Edit the interviews so you get the highlights of experiences and events, the important parts. Make sure what’s important to you also is important to the person you interviewed.
  12. Have the person you’ve interviewed approve of the selected highlights, experiences, or turning points to make sure what you select is the same as what the person wants included and emphasized in the memoirs gift book. Make any adjustments.
  13. Process audio as well as video, and make sure you have written transcripts of anything on audio and/or video in case the technology changes or the tapes go bad.
  14. Save the tapes to compact disks, DVDs, a computer hard disk and several other ways to preserve your oral history time capsule. Donate any tapes or CDs to appropriate archives, museums, relatives of the interviewee, and one or more oral history libraries. They are usually found at universities that have an oral history department and library such as UC Berkeley and others.
  15. Check the Web for oral history libraries at universities in various states and abroad.
  16. Evaluate what you have edited. Make sure the central issue and central questions have been covered in the interview. Find out whether newspapers or magazines want summarized transcripts of the audio and/or video with photos.
  17. Contact libraries, archives, university oral history departments and relevant associations and various ethnic genealogy societies that focus on the subject matter of your central topic.
  18. Keep organizing what you have until you have long and short versions of your oral history for various archives and publications. Contact magazines and newspapers to see whether editors would assign reporters to do a story on the oral history project.
  19. Create a scrapbook with photos and summarized oral histories. Write a synopsis of each oral history on a central topic or issue. Have speakers give public presentations of what you have for each person interviewed and/or for the entire project using highlights of several interviews with the media for publicity. Be sure your project is archived properly and stored in a place devoted to oral history archives and available to researchers and authors.  
  20. Recorded and Transcribed Oral History Techniques (Video and/or Audio)
  21. Begin with easy to answer questions that don’t require you explore and probe deeply in your first question. Focus on one central issue when asking questions. Don't use abstract questions. A plain question would be "What's your purpose?"
  22. An abstract question with connotations would be "What's your crusade?" Use questions with denotations instead of connotations. Keep questions short and plain--easy to understand. Examples would be, "What did  you want to accomplish? How did you solve those problems? How did you find closure?" Ask the familiar "what, when, who, where, how, and why."
  23. First research written or visual resources before you begin to seek an oral history of a central issue, experience, or event.
  24. Who is your intended audience?
  25. What kind of population niche or sample will you target?
  26. What means will you select to choose who you will interview? What group of people will be central to your interview?
  27. Write down how you’ll explain your project. Have a script ready so you don’t digress or forget what to say on your feet.
  28. Consult oral history professionals if you need more information. Make sure what you write in your script will be clear to understand by your intended audience.
  29. Have all the equipment you need ready and keep a list of what you’ll use and the cost. Work up your budget.
  30. Choose what kind of recording device is best—video, audio, multimedia, photos, and text transcript. Make sure your video is broadcast quality. I use a Sony Digital eight (high eight) camera.
  31. Make sure from cable TV stations or news stations that what type of video and audio you choose ahead of time is broadcast quality.
  32. Make sure you have an external microphone and also a second microphone as a second person also tapes the interview in case the quality of your camera breaks down. You can also keep a tape recorder going to capture the audio in case your battery dies.
  33. Make sure your battery is fully charged right before the interview. Many batteries die down after a day or two of nonuse.
  34. Test all equipment before the interview and before you leave your office or home.  I’ve had batteries go down unexpectedly and happy there was another person ready with another video camera waiting and also an audio tape version going.
  35. Make sure the equipment works if it’s raining, hot, cold, or other weather variations. Test it before the interview. Practice interviewing someone on your equipment several times to get the hang of it before you show up at the interview.
  36. Make up your mind how long the interview will go before a break and use tape of that length, so you have one tape for each segment of the interview. Make several copies of your interview questions.
  37. Be sure the interviewee has a copy of the questions long before the interview so the person can practice answering the questions and think of what to say or even take notes. Keep checking your list of what you need to do.
  38. Let the interviewee make up his own questions if he wants. Perhaps your questions miss the point. Present your questions first. Then let him embellish the questions or change them as he wants to fit the central issue with his own experiences.
  39. Call the person two days and then one day before the interview to make sure the individual will be there on time and understands how to travel to the location. Or if you are going to the person’s home, make sure you understand how to get there.
  40. Allow yourself one extra hour in case of traffic jams.
  41. Choose a quiet place. Turn off cell phones and any ringing noises. Make sure you are away from barking dogs, street noise, and other distractions.
  42. Before you interview make sure the person knows he or she is going to be video and audio-taped.
  43. If you don’t want anyone swearing, make that clear it’s for public archives and perhaps broadcast to families.
  44. Your interview questions should follow the journalist’s information-seeking format of asking, who, what, where, where, how, and why. Oral history is a branch of journalistic research.
  45. Let the person talk and don’t interrupt. You be the listener and think of oral history as aural history from your perspective.
  46. Make sure only one person speaks without being interrupted before someone else takes his turn to speak.
  47. Understand silent pauses are for thinking of what to say.
  48. Ask one question and let the person gather his thoughts.
  49. Finish all your research on one question before jumping to the next question. Keep it organized by not jumping back to the first question after the second is done. Stay in a linear format.
  50. Follow up what you can about any one question, finish with it, and move on to the next question without circling back. Focus on listening instead of asking rapid fire questions as they would confuse the speaker.
  51. Ask questions that allow the speaker to begin to give a story, anecdote, life experience, or opinion along with facts. Don’t ask questions that can be answered only be yes or no. This is not a courtroom. Let the speaker elaborate with facts and feelings or thoughts.
  52. Late in the interview, start to ask questions that explore and probe for deeper answers.
  53. Wrap up with how the person solved the problem, achieved results, reached a conclusion, or developed an attitude, or found the answer. Keep the wrap-up on a light, uplifting note.
  54. Don’t leave the individual hanging in emotion after any intensity of. Respect the feelings and opinions of the person. He or she may see the situation from a different point of view than someone else.  So respect the person’s right to feel as he does. Respect his need to recollect his own experiences.
  55. Interview for only one hour at a time. If you have only one chance, interview for an hour. Take a few minutes break. Then interview for the second hour. Don’t interview more than two hours at any one meeting.
  56. Use prompts such as paintings, photos, music, video, diaries, vintage clothing, crafts, antiques, or memorabilia when appropriate. Carry the photos in labeled files or envelopes to show at appropriate times in order to prime the memory of the interviewee.
  57. For example, you may show a childhood photo and ask “What was it like in that orphanage where these pictures were taken?” Or travel photos might suggest a trip to America as a child, or whatever the photo suggests. For example, “Do you remember when this ice cream parlor inside the ABC movie house stood at the corner of X and Y Street? Did you go there as a teenager? What was your funniest memory of this movie theater or the ice cream store inside back in the fifties?”
  58. As soon as the interview is over, label all the tapes and put the numbers in order.
  59. A signed release form is required before you can broadcast anything. So have the interviewee sign a release form before the interview.
  60. Make sure the interviewee gets a copy of the tape and a transcript of what he or she said on tape. If the person insists on making corrections, send the paper transcript of the tape for correction to the interviewee. Edit the tape as best you can or have it edited professionally.
  61. Make sure you comply with all the corrections the interviewee wants changed. He or she may have given inaccurate facts that need to be corrected on the paper transcript.
  62. Have the tape edited with the corrections, even if you have to make a tape at the end of the interviewee putting in the corrections that couldn’t be edited out or changed.
  63. As a last resort, have the interviewee redo the part of the tape that needs correction and have it edited in the tape at the correct place marked on the tape. Keep the paper transcript accurate and up to date, signed with a release form by the interviewee.
  64. Oral historians write a journal of field notes about each interview. Make sure these get saved and archived so they can be read with the transcript.
  65. Have the field notes go into a computer where someone can read them along with the transcript of the oral history tape or CD.
  66. Thank the interviewee in writing for taking the time to do an interview for broadcast and transcript.
  67. Put a label on everything you do from the interview to the field notes. Make a file and sub file folders and have everything stored in a computer, in archived storage, and in paper transcript.
  68. Make copies and digital copies of all photos and put into the records in a computer. Return originals to owners.
  69. Make sure you keep your fingerprints off the photos by wearing white cotton gloves. Use cardboard when sending the photos back and pack securely. Also photocopy the photos and scan the photos into your computer. Treat photos as antique art history in preservation.
  70. Make copies for yourself of all photos, tapes, and transcripts. Use your duplicates, and store the original as the master tape in a place that won’t be used often, such as a time capsule or safe, or return to a library or museum where the original belongs.
  71. Return all original photos to the owners. An oral history archive library or museum also is suitable for original tapes. Use copies only to work from, copy, or distribute.
  72. Index your tapes and transcripts. To use oral history library and museum terminology, recordings and transcripts are given “accession numbers.”
  73. Phone a librarian in an oral history library of a university for directions on how to assign accession numbers to your tapes and transcripts if the materials are going to be stored at that particular library. Store copies in separate places in case of loss or damage.
  74. If you don’t know where the materials will be stored, use generic accession numbers to label your tapes and transcripts. Always keep copies available for yourself in case you have to duplicate the tapes to send to an institution, museum, or library, or to a broadcast company.
  75. Make synopses available to public broadcasting radio and TV stations.
  76. Check your facts.
  77. Are you missing anything you want to include?
  78. Is there some place you want to send these tapes and transcripts such as an ethnic museum, radio show, or TV satellite station specializing in the topics on the tapes, such as public TV stations? Would it be suitable for a world music station? A documentary station?
  79. If you need more interviews, arrange them if possible.
  80. Give the interviewee a copy of the finished product with the corrections. Make sure the interviewee signs a release form that he or she is satisfied with the corrections and is releasing the tape to you and your project.
  81. Store the tapes and transcripts in a library or museum or at a university or other public place where it will be maintained and preserved for many generations and restored when necessary.
  82. You can also send copies to a film repository or film library that takes video tapes, an archive for radio or audio tapes for radio broadcast or cable TV.
  83. Copies may be sent to various archives for storage that lasts for many generations. Always ask whether there are facilities for restoring the tape. A museum would most likely have these provisions as would a large library that has an oral history library project or section.
  84. Make sure the master copy is well protected and set up for long-term storage in a place where it will be protected and preserved.
  85. If the oral history is about events in history, various network news TV stations might be interested. Film stock companies may be interested in copies of old photos.
  86. Find out from the subject matter what type of archives, repository, or storage museums and libraries would be interested in receiving copies of the oral history tapes and transcripts.
  87. Print media libraries would be interested in the hard paper copy transcripts and photos as would various ethnic associations and historical preservation societies. Find out whether the materials will go to microfiche, film, or be digitized and put on CDs, flash drives, and DVDs, or on the Web. If you want to create a time capsule for the Web, you can ask the interviewee whether he or she wants the materials or selected materials to be put online or on CD as multimedia or other. Then you would get a signed release from the interviewee authorizing you to put the materials or excerpts online.
  88. Also find out in whose name the materials are copyrighted. Obtain at least one-time print and electronic rights to the material to publish as a gift book for your client. Get it all in writing, signed by those who have given you any interviews, and from those who own the latest publishing rights, even if you have to call upon a local intellectual property rights attorney.


Week 5 – 6 (Summary)

1. Document Recovery

2. How to Open a DNA-Driven Genealogy Reporting and Production Service

1. Overview: Document Recovery              

 How do you rescue and recover memories from mold using conservation techniques? You transport horizontally and store vertically. Store documents and photos in plastic holders, between sheets of waxed paper, or interleave with acid-free paper. Books are stored spine down. Archive DVDs and CDs in plastic holders and store in plastic crates. To conserve time capsules, according to the American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works (AIC), in Washington, DC, neutralize that acid-wracked paper.

2. Overview: DNA-Driven Genealogy Reporting Service

A memoirs gift book may include a report on DNA-driven genealogy test results. Include an interpretation on how to understand and ‘read’ the test, findings, or other information about genetic anthropology and its possibilities concerning genealogy. This information may be included in a memoirs gift book slanted to genealogy information when records of surnames can no longer be found.

If you decide to open an online, home-based DNA-driven genealogy reporting and production service, reports and time capsules could include the possible geographic location where the DNA sequences originated. Customers usually want to see the name of an actual town, even though towns didn’t exist 10,000 years ago when the sequences might have arisen.

The whole genome is not tested, only the few ancestral markers, usually 500 base pairs of genes. Testing DNA for ancestry does not have anything to do with testing genes for health risks because only certain genes are tested—genes related to ancestry. And all the testing is done at a laboratory, not at your online business.

If you're interested in a career in genetics counseling and wish to pursue a graduate degree in genetics counseling, that's another career route. For information, contact The American Board of Genetic Counseling. Sometimes social workers with some coursework in biology take a graduate degree in genetic counseling since it combines counseling skills with training in genetics and in interpreting genetics tests for your clients.


The best way to become acquainted with a subject is to write a book about it.” __ Benjamin Disraeli (1804 - 1881)


Benjamin Disraeli, novelist, debator, and prime minister in England (elected to parliament), wrote many novels, including a trilogy "Coningsby,” "Sybil," and "Tancred.” and The Life and Reign of Charles I (1828).  A nearly three-page listing of Disraeli’s quotations appear in The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations.


Chapter 6

Course Continued: How to Write, Publish, and Promote Memoirs, Events, Business Success Stories, or Documentary-Style Newsletters, Gift Books, Reports, and Keepsakes

50 Strategies on How to Write Memoirs and Life Story Gift Books or Vignettes for Newsletters and Family History Reports

Start with a Vignette….Link the Vignettes…Dramatize….and Novelize. 


  1. Contact anyone’s family members to gain permission to write their family member’s memorials.
  2. Write memoirs of various clerical or other religious or social leaders.
  3. Write two to four dozen memorials for houses of worship. Put these memorials in a larger book of memoirs for various organizations, religious groups, houses of worship, or professional associations.
  4. Find a model for your biographies.
  5. These could be based on a book of vocational biographies or centered on any other aspect of life such as religious or community service as well as vocations.
  6. Read the various awards biographies written and presented for well-known people.
  7. Focus on the accomplishments that stand out of these people or of you if you’re writing an autobiography.
  8. Use oral eulogies as your foundation. You’ll find many oral eulogies that were used in memorial services.
  9. Consult professionals who conduct memorial services to look at their eulogies written for a variety of people and presented at memorial services.
  10. Stick to the length of a eulogy. You’ll find the average eulogy runs about 1,500 to 1,800 words. That’ is what’s known as magazine article average length. Most magazines ask for feature articles of about 1,500 words. So your eulogies should run that same length.
  11. When read aloud, they make up the eulogy part of a memorial service. At 250 to 300 words double-spaced per page, it comes to about five-to-seven pages and is read aloud in about seven to 10 minutes.
  12. Take each 1,500-1,800 word eulogy and focus on the highlights, significant events, and turning points. Cut the eulogy down to one page of printed magazine-style format.
  13. Keep the eulogy typeset so that it all fits on one page of printed material in 12 point font.
  14. You can package one-page eulogies for memorial services or include a small photo on the page if space permits.
  15. Cut the eulogy down to 50-70 words, average 60 words for an oral presentation using PowerPoint software for a computer-based slide show complete with photos.
  16. Put the PowerPoint  or other online show on a CD, flash drive, or DVD. Use the shorter eulogy focusing on significant points in the person’s life. The purpose of a PowerPoint eulogy is to show the person lived a purposeful life—a design-driven, goal-driven life with purpose and concrete meaning in relation to others.
  17. Write biographies, memoirs, and autobiographies by focusing on the highlights of someone’s life or your own life story. Turn personal histories into life stories that you can launch in the media. You need to make a life story salable. It is already valuable.
  18. Read autobiographies in print. Compare the autobiographies written by ghostwriters to those written by the authors of autobiographies who write about their own experiences.
  19. Read biographies and compare them to autobiographies written by ghost writers and those written as diary novels in first person or as genre novels in first person. Biographies are written in third person.
  20. If you write a biography in third person keep objective. If you write an autobiography in first person you can be subjective or objective if you bring in other characters and present all sides of the story equally.
  21.  If you’re writing a biography, whose memories are you using? If you write an autobiography, you can rely on your own memory. Writing in the third person means research verifying facts and fact-checking your resources for credibility. How reliable is the information?
  22. Use oral history transcriptions, personal history, videos, audio tapes, and interviews for a biography. You can use the same for an autobiography by checking for all sides of the story with people involved in the life story—either biography or autobiography.
  23. With personal histories and oral histories, be sure to obtain letters of permission and to note what is authorized. Celebrities in the public eye are written about with unauthorized or authorized biographies. However, people in private life who are not celebrities may not want their name or photo in anyone’s book. Make sure everything you have is in writing in regard to permissions and what information is permitted to be put into your book or article, especially working with people who are not celebrities and those who are.
  24. When interviewing, get written approval of what was said on tape. Let the person see the questions beforehand to be able to have time to recall an answer with accuracy regarding facts and dates or times of various events. Give peoples’ memories a chance to recall memories before the interview.
  25. Write autobiographies in the first person in genre or diary format. You can also dramatize the autobiography in a play or skit first and then flesh it out into novel format. Another alternative is to focus only on the highlights, events, and turning points in various stages of life.
  26. Ghost-written autobiographies usually are written in the first person. A ghost-writer may have a byline such as “as told to” or “with____(name of ghostwriter).”
  27. Condense experience in small chunks or paragraphs. Use the time-capsule approach. Use vignettes. Focus on how people solved problems or obtained results or reached a goal. Find out whether the person wants you to mention a life purpose. Emphasize how the person overcame challenges or obstacles.
  28. In an autobiography, instead of dumping your pain on others because it may be therapeutic for you, try to be objective and focus on what you learned from your choices and decisions and how what you learned transformed your life. Be inspirational and nurturing to the reader. Tell how you learned, what you learned, how you rose above your problems, and how you transcended the trouble. Focus on commitment and your relationship to others and what your purpose is in writing the autobiography.
  29. Stay objective. Focus on turning points, highlights, and significant events and their relationship to how you learned from your mistakes or choices and rose above the trouble. Decide what your life purpose is and what points you want to emphasize. If you want to hide facts, decide why and what good it will do the reader. Stay away from angry writing and focus instead on depth and analysis.
  30. Don’t use humor if it puts someone down, including you. Don’t put someone down to pick yourself up.
  31. Make sure your writing doesn’t sound like self-worship or ego soothing. Don’t be modest, but don’t shock readers either.
  32. Before you write your salable autobiography, find out where the market is and who will buy it. If there is no market, use print-on-demand publishing and select a title most likely to be commercial or help market your book. At least you can give copies to friends and family members. Or self-publish with a printer. Another way to go is to self-publish using print-on-demand software yourself. Then distribute via advertising or the Internet and your Web site.
  33. You’d be surprised at how many people would be interested in your life story if it were packaged, designed, and promoted. So launch your life story in the media before you publish. Write your life story as a novel or play or both. Every life story has value. I believe all life stories are salable. The hard part is finding the correct niche market for your experiences. So focus on what you are and what you did so people with similar interests, hobbies, or occupations may learn from you. Market to people who are in the same situation as you are.
  34. Divide your biography into the 12 stages of life. Then pare down those 12 significant events or turning points and rites of passage into four quarters—age birth to 25 (young adult), age 26-50 (mature adult), age 51-75 (creative adult) and age  76-100 (golden years of self fulfillment).
  35. Start with a vignette focusing on each of the most important events and turning points of your life. Do the same in a biography, only writing in third person. For your own life story, write in first person.
  36. What’s important for the reader to know about your life in relation to social history and the dates in time? For example, what did you do during the various wars?
  37. Keep a journal or diary, and record events as they happen. Focus on how you relate to social history. Write in your diary each day. Use the Web and create a diary or Web blog.
  38. If you keep a daily journal, and make sure it is saved on a computer disk or similar electronic diary, you can put the whole journal together and create a book or play online or have a digital recording of your life. It’s your time capsule in virtual reality.
  39. A daily journal will keep memories fresh in your mind when you cut down to significant events for a book. You want to recall significant events in detail with resources.
  40. If you’re young, keep a daily journal on a computer disk and keep transferring it from one technology to the next as technology evolves. Keep a spare saved and up on the Web so you can download it anytime. Use some of the free Web site space available to people online.
  41. If you write a book when you’re older, at least you’ll have all the youthful memories in detail where you can transfer the notes from one computer to another or upload from your disk to a browser for publication with a print-on-demand publisher.
  42. Keep writing short vignettes. Include all the details as soon as possible after the event occurs. When you are ready to write a book, you’ll be able to look back rationally and from a much more objective and mature perspective on the details. Then you can decide what to put into a salable life story that’s about to be published.
  43. Don’t listen to people who tell you that if you are not famous, your life story is only fit for your own family because no one else will buy it. Fiddle-de-sticks!
  44. There are events that happened to you or experiences in your line of work, travel, parenting, research, or lifestyle that people want to read because you have experiences to share.
  45. Find a niche market of people with similar interests and market your life story to them.
  46. Try out the waters first with a short vignette in magazines. If the magazines buy your vignette, your slice of life story, then you can write a book. Can you imagine if all the travelers and archaeologists, parenting experts and teachers didn’t value their life story to the point that they thought it was fit only for relatives (who may be the only ones not interested in reading it because they already know your life story). In fact, your relatives may be angry at you for spilling the details to the public.
  47.  Instead, focus on that part of your life where you made a choice or decision with which everyone can identify. Inspire and motivate readers. If your experience is universal, we can all identify with it. We all go through the same stages of life.
  48. So let us know how you overcame your obstacles, solved problems, and rose above the keen competition.
  49. Or if you didn’t, let us know how you learned to live with and enjoy your life. Readers want nourishment. If your life isn’t about making a difference in the world, then write about how you handled what we all go through.
  50. We want to read about the joy of life, and your design-driven life full of purpose, meaning, and inspiration. We want to read about the universal in you with which we can identify. Most of all readers want information in a life story or personal history from which we can make our own choices. Keep your life story as a novel to 12 to 24 short chapters. Write in short, readable chunks.

Week Two:      

Use Simplicity and Commitment in Personal History Writing or Time Capsules         

Here's useful insight to those who may someday write fiction, or their life stories, true experiences, or other people's life stories as vignettes or books created by linking a dozen or more vignettes together into a publishable book. Look for insight, foresight, and hindsight. Mentoring is about pointing out what pitfalls to avoid. Instead of a formula, aim for simplicity, commitment, and persistence. Use simplicity in your writings.

Simplicity means whatever you write gives you all the answers you were looking for in exotic places, but found it close by. This is the formula for selling anything you write, should you desire to send your writing to publishers. You find simplicity in universal proverbs. Then you expand the proverbs to slice-of-life vignettes. Finally, you link those short vignettes.

 Suddenly you have a book-length work of writing that can be divided into short vignettes again to be serialized. With most people's attention span set on seven-minutes per vignette, each vignette can emphasize simplicity, commitment, and universal values. Your conclusion would be to focus on answers that can be found close by.

 If you're ever looking for 'formulas' in writing any type of literature, this is it: Simplicity shows how you found the answers you were looking for in exotic places but found close by. In your readings you can see the patterns and universals such as commitment that are valued in the story.

            You can choose what the writer emphasizes as important. In your own writing, look around for your favorite proverbs and see how you can expand them in your writing to work with your own stories. Enjoy and find wisdom in creative expression. How do you interpret family history as creative writing, and how to you interpret ancestry-related DNA tests?

 What Makes a Personal History or Life Story Highlight Salable as a Play or Skit?  

Q. What makes a life story saleable?

Buzz appeal…High velocity personal memoir… A life story is salable when it has universal appeal and identity. An example is a single parent making great sacrifices to put bread on the table and raise a decent family in hard times.

Many people identify with the universal theme of a life story. Buzz appeal draws in the deep interest of the press to publicize and lend credibility to a life story, to put a spin on it in the media, and to sell it to the public because all readers may be able to see themselves in your life story.


Q. To whom do you sell your life story to?

You sell your life story to publishers specializing in life stories. If you look under biographies in a book such as Writer's Guide to Book Editors, Publishers, and Literary Agents, 1999-2000, by Jeff Herman, Prima Publishing, you'll see several pages of publishers of life story, biography, and memoirs or autobiography.

            A few include The Anonymous Press, Andrews McMeel Publishing, Applause Theater Book Publishers, Barricade Books, Inc., Baskerville Publishers, and many more listed in that directory. Also take a look at Writers Market, Writers Digest Books, checkout Memoirs in the index. Publishers include Feminist Press, Hachai, Hollis, Narwhal, Northeastern University Press, Puppy House, Westminster, John Knox,and others.

            Check categories such as creative nonfiction, biography, ethnic, historical, multicultural and other categories for lists of publishers in your genre. Don't overlook writing your life story as a play, monologue, or script or for the audio book market.

Q. How do you present your life story in order to turn it into a saleable book, article, play, or other type of literature so that other people will want to read it?

You write a high-velocity powerful personal memoir or autonomedia which emphasizes cultural criticism and theory. Or you write a factual expose, keep a journal on the current cultural pulse, or write a diary about what it feels like to be single and dating in your age group--thirty something, sixty-something, or whatever you choose. You become an investigative biographer. You write a riveting love story, or how to use love to heal. Perhaps you write about breaking through old barriers to create new publishing frontiers.

Q. How do you write a commercial biography?

Make sure someone wants to buy it before you write the whole thing. The details will be forthcoming in the course as it begins. Then contact the press, reporters in the media with credibility who write for a national daily newspaper or reputable magazine. Also contact radio and cable TV stations to do interviews on a selected event in your life story or biography. Pick a niche market where the particular audience has a special interest in that experience.

Q. What’s the difference between authorized and unauthorized?

Authorized means you have permission and approval from the person about whom you're writing. Unauthorized means you gather information from relatives and friends or others who have researched verifiable facts about the person, but the person about whom you’re writing has not given you permission to write his or her biography.

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Q. Who gets assigned to write biographies of celebrities or other famous people?

Usually newspaper columnists who cover the beat or subject area, or you're a known writer who contacts an agent specializing in writing or ghostwriting celebrity biographies. You can enter this profession from a variety of doors and wear many hats.

Personal historians, librarians, teachers, reporters, documentarians, videographers, novelists, politicians, researchers, scientists, entertainment personnel, and biographers as well as experts in psychology, law enforcement, or military service can research and write biographies of famous people. Many well-known freelance writers are hired by the agents of celebrities to write or ghost-write biographies and autobiographies.

 Writing Your Ending First Gives You Closure And Clues How To Solve The Problems In Your Life Story.   Teaching Life Story Writing On The Internet 

When you write a salable life story, it's easier to write your ending first. Eventually, with experience working with a variety of life stories, you can start quality circles or classes in life story writing (writing your salable memoirs, autobiography, biography, corporate history, family history, your diary as a commercial novel or play or true confession, true story, or true crime book or story or script).

Also, you can teach life story writing, interviewing, or videobiography on the Internet for yourself or for an existing school or program. It's relaxing and comforting to sit at home in perfect quiet and type a lecture into a screen browser such as the courses that can be offered through www.blackboard.com and other programs. Or teach online using a live chat screen. Customize your course to the needs of your students. 

You may need certification or a graduate degree to teach for a university online, but there's also adult education classes given in nontraditional settings such as churches, libraries, and museums.

Online, you can offer independent classes and go into business for yourself as a personal historian. Another way is to offer time capsules, keepsake albums, gift baskets, greeting cards, life stories on video, DVD, or transcribed from oral history. Work with libraries, museums, or your own independent classes.

You can work at home or be mobile and travel to other people's homes or senior centers and assisted living recreation rooms, community centers, or schools and theaters to work with life stories. Some companies have put life-story recording kiosks in public places such as train stations or airports.

Check out the StoryCorpsWeb site at http://www.storycorps.net/. Find your own mission or purpose and create your own business recording the life stories of a variety of people in video, sound, text, or multimedia formats. It's all part of the time-capsule generation that emphasizes your life story has value and needs to be preserved as part of history.

The revelation is that your life story isn't only for your family and friends anymore. As part of history, the world can now experience the one universal that connects us--life, and within a life story--insight, foresight, and hindsight.

            Diaries of senior citizens are in demand. To sell them, you need buzz appeal, visibility in the press for writing simple stories of how you struggled to put bread on the table and raised a family alone, or what you've learned from your mistakes or experiences, how you solved problems, gave yourself more choices, grew, and came to understand why you were transformed. People are looking for universal experiences to help them make decisions.

           Start by finding a newspaper reporter from a publication that is well-respected by the public, and have that person write about your life story experience or what you do with other peoples' life stories as a personal historian. That's the first step to introducing a 'salable' life story.

The technique differs from writing a life story like a first-person diary novel for only your family and/or friends. With a 'salable' life story, you write about the universal experiences that connect all of us. If readers or viewers can identify with what you have to say, your words open doors for them to make decisions and choices by digesting your information. 

 The Proliferation of Playwriting Courses Online Targets Writing Your Life Story 

     The sheer number of classes on the Internet is like an explosion of education. You can now earn a masters degree in the techniques of teaching online from universities such as the California State University at Hayward in their continuing education department. What I see happening is that according to display ads in a variety of magazines of interest to writers, a proliferation of writing courses online has broken out.

How do you develop buzz appeal, pre-sell your book, create press coverage of their writing, all before you send it to a publisher or agent? A few years ago diaries were "in" just like several years before that the books about angels were "in style." What will be next?

            Back in the year 2000, what enthralled readers included simple stories on how single parents put bread on the table, reared a family, and learned from their mistakes. What will be big in the future in publishing will be simple tales of what you learned. Details would include how you (or your client) came to understand, and what you'll share with readers. The theme of a memoirs gift book is about what your client learned from past mistakes. The book would be about what significant events and facts helped your client to grow and become a better person making the world a gentler place.

Those life stories in demand by the public that go beyond coffee-table gift books for relatives and friends also include values, virtues, and ethics in simple stories that help people heal. Universal stories with which we all can identify and use to solve problems and make decisions are salable. Confirm with your client if you’re ghostwriting a book for sale to the public for a flat fee, or whether you’re doing work for hire for a flat fee with all publishing rights on a book that you can sell to the public. Or are you signing a contract to write, edit, and publish a few copies of a private book that you can’t sell publicly, but the client can buy copies from you and sell himself to relatives, friends, or business employees. Discern whether the book actually is an infomercial presented as a case history success story to promote a business or product.

           Gift books destined for the self help and inspirational markets or the “mind-body-spirit” markets that are based on people’s life stories, generally show readers how to have more choices. These gift books of information and photos show people how one person found alternative solutions, possibilities, and explored avenues of information with which to solve problems and make decisions. A lot of those books come from salable diaries and life stories as well as corporate and executive histories.

What sold widely by 2002 emphasized how people escaped domestic violence, by becoming financially self-sufficient. Methods of solving problems included looking creatively at more possibilities and alternatives. By 2003-2004 books focused on creativity enhancement and self-expression.

The year 2003 became a utopia for discussing decisions chosen in various self-help diaries or personal history novels, and journals on creativity enhancement through life stories. You only have to look at the book lists in the publisher’s magazines to see what the fad genre is for any one year and interview publishing professionals for the trends and directions for the following year.

Write about the human side of careers worked at for years. What did you retire to? How did you survive historic events, rear your family, or solve problems?

            The purpose of personal history writing can be, among other goals, to find closure. Those who can’t use a hand-operated mouse and need to use a foot pedal mouse, breath straw, or other devices can still operate computers. Others need assistance software to magnify the screen or audio software such as “Jaws,” to hear as they type on keyboards.

 The idea is to use personal history and life story writing as a healing instrument to make contact with others, find this closure,  relieve stress, to talk to parents long gone, to make decisions on how to grow, find understanding, learn from past mistakes, grow, and become a better person in one's own eyes.

Other students take a personal history, oral history, or life story writing classes to pass on to their grandchildren a script, a novel, a story, or a collage of their life experiences, and still others want corporate histories of how they founded their companies and became role models of success for business students to simulate, how they became successful giants for others to follow and benchmark.

Still other students are visionaries who want their life stories to be used to enhance the creativity of readers. Some of my students want to write their life story as a computer or board game on how they solved their own problems that are universal to all of us. And you have students who want careers as personal historians recording, transcribing, and preserving in a variety of formats the personal histories of individuals, families, corporations, art forms, and institutions.

Some are into conservation of videos, photographs, text material, tape recordings, CDs, DVDs, and other multimedia formats. All are involved in making time capsules for future researchers, historians, scholars, librarians, genealogists, and specialists who research personal and oral history or specialized history, such as music and art or rare books and manuscripts.

Others are collectors. Most want a time capsule of a relative, complete with not only a relative’s keepsake albums or video diary, but sometimes even a DNA printout for ancestry.

If you look in many publications of interest to writers, you might see online or correspondence courses offered to writers at American College of Journalism, Burlington College, Columbus University, specialists in distance education, or at Gotham Writers' Workshops at www.WritingClasses.com. There's Writers Digest School, and data bases where you can learn about agents at Agent Research & Evaluation, 334 E. 30, NYC, NY 10016 or on the Web at www.agentresearch.com. These are some of the online classes in writing advertised. You’ll also see ads for classes in personal story writing in some of these publications.
            You can get paid to teach what you love to do so much--share your writing techniques and write. Some writing schools online may put articles up on their trade journal online. And you can always sell articles to paying markets and use the clips with resumes. Thanks to the Internet--even a disabled teacher who isn't able to speak before a class for health reasons or drive to class, can teach and write online.

            Personal history writing courses could also aim to show research on how creative writing can heal or have therapeutic qualities in gentle self-expression and quality circles online, and now I've found students who learn how to write a life story as therapy to heal and to find closure, solve problems, and to explore more choices, alternatives, and growth towards a kinder and gentler world.

            You can focus strictly on recording, transcribing, and archiving people’s or corporation’s personal or oral histories and preserving them in a variety of formats as time capsules or target the more creative end of  teaching writing personal histories as books, plays, or skits.

    In other words, you can be both a personal historian and a writing coach or focus on either career or business—oral and personal historian, or teacher of courses or “quality circles” in writing autobiographies and biographies for commercial markets.

You can start private classes on a mailing list and chat board. A fair price to charge could be about $80 per student for advanced workshops in writing salable material for 4-week courses with a 10-page critique per student. Your aim would be to be an online job coach in a writing or personal history career. Help students find ways to get into print by referring you them to resources. Show how to make writing more commercial. Reveal the techniques of effective story writing in your true story, biography, memoirs, autobiography, diary, journal, novel, story, play, or article.

A lot of biography writing is focused on interviews, whereas writing a diary or monologue focuses on inner reflections and expressions in explaining how you came to understand, learn from your past mistakes or experiences and good choices, and share how you solved problems, grew, and changed or were transformed.

            Personal diaries start out with poetic-like descriptions of the senses, with lines such as "Cat shadow plump I arrive, carrying my Siamese kitten like a rifle through Spokane, while the only sensation I feel is my hair stretched like flaxen wires where my new kitten, Patches, hangs on.

           A gentle clock, the red beams of light reflected in his blue eyes remind me that my tattered self also must eat. His claws dig into my purse strap like golden flowers curling in unshaven armpits. I inhale his purrs like garlic, warm as the pap mom cat, Rada-Ring flowed into Patches nine weeks ago."

            Have an enriching writing experience. I truly believe writing heals in some ways. It's a transformative experience like meditation or having the comforting feeling of watching a waterfall in natural settings or sitting in a garden of hanging green plants. Writing recharges my energy must like petting my kitten, Kokowellen, a Siamese while sitting my orchid garden listening to soothing melodies.

            You might want to critique for pay, the pages of other people’s writing of personal histories if they want to write for the commercial markets. In that case, critiquing may be done by email and online.

           That way they don't send any hard copy to mail back or get lost. You always keep a copy. However, I recommend  teaching online a course with the critique, as you'll get far more for your $80 for each ten pages of critiquing as a fair price, plus the tuition of the course as perhaps another $80.

The course provides resources, techniques, and ways to revise your material that helps you gain visibility. It's important to pre-sell your book and gain publicity for your writing before you send it off to a publisher or agent. You'll want to know how not to give too much away, but how to attract positive attention so people will eagerly look forward to hearing more from you.

            Keep a separate mailing list for your online students. Make a mailing list. Plays or monologues written from memoirs and diaries or excerpts and highlights of life stories are in right now in the publishing world. It's not a passed fad, yet, like the angel books were a decade ago. If you're writing a diary, you want to write something in your first or second page after the opening that goes like this to be more commercial:

            "Eagerness to learn grows on me. I see it reflected in the interviewers who stare at me, their enthusiasm is an approval of my expansive mind. I read so much now, just to look at the pages is to feel nourished. A kind of poetry turns into children’s books on DVDs like a stalk that grows no where else is in season.

 Creativity, like color, runs off my keyboard into the cooking water of my screen, drenched in pungent brainstorming. Writing online puts me in every farmer's kitchen. My computer has a good scent, and the stories written on its screen are apples bursting on the trees of my fingers. On my Web site, photos hang like lanterns. Teaching online ripens my stories. I analyze what effective storytelling means. Picture the colorful pagodas of the mind in three dimensions with musical wind chimes and gentle palm-latitude breezes.

            If you come across writers block, try writing the lyrics to a song as a way to start writing your life story. You don't need to read notes, just fiddle with the words based upon an experience in time. Start by writing the ending first. Perhaps your title on salable diaries could be, "Pretty Little Secret," or "Ending the Silence," or "Results of Promises," or "Guided by a Child's Silence," or "Unraveling a Tale," or "Bravery and Unspeakable Links," or "Unveiled, Unbridled, Unbound." My title was "Insight, Hindsight, Foresight."


Week Three:

Opening Your Memoirs Gift Book Publishing Service

Celebration of Life Coffee-Table Books, Plays, Monologues, or Skits Based on Interviewing and Recording Significant Events and Turning Points:

How to Motivate People to Interview One Another for Personal History Productions

       Use slogans or mottos to help people describe what their life story is basically about in theme. Nearly everyone can think of a slogan or motto that describes their life purpose or what they stand for.  This slogan breaks the ice to begin answering questions that will form the basis of a life story or memoir.

People are "less camera shy" when two from the same peer group or class pair up and interview each other on video camcorder or on audio tape from a list of questions rehearsed. People also can write the questions they want to be asked and also write out and familiarize themselves with the answers alone and/or with their interviewers from their own peer group.  

      Some people have their favorite proverbs, or a logo that represents their outlook on life. Others have their own 'crusade' or mission. And some have a slogan that says what they are about in a few words...example, "seeking the joy of life," or "service with a smile."  

Gift books destined for coffee tables can be a life story narration with photos on the left side and text on the right side. The reason is that most people’s eyes immediately travel to the right side or page of a book for text and to the left side for photos. (The right hemisphere of the brain controls the left eye and is wired for visuals. The left hemisphere of the brain controls the right eye and right side of the body and is wired for verbal tasks such as reading or speaking in words. Left-handed people may work opposite.)

Memoir books or life story plays may come from someone's slogan, for example. A slogan, logo, proverb, or motto can form the foundation for a questionnaire on what they want to say in an oral history or personal history video or audio tape on in a multimedia presentation of their life story highlights.  

Here are some ways to interview people for personal history time capsules or how to inspire them to interview one another in a group setting or in front of a video camcorder in private with only interviewer and interviewee present.

    And then there are those who want to tape themselves alone in their room or office with a camcorder on a tripod and a remote control device or a tape recorder and photographs.  When records stop, there are always the DNA-driven genealogy and ancestry printouts.              

          Some people enjoy writing their life stories more than they like to speak about it. Or they prefer to read from a script as an audio tape. For those whose voices are impaired or for those who prefer to let a synthetic software voice tell their story, I recommend software such as TextAloud.

          This software allows anyone to cut and paste their writing from a disk such as a floppy disk, CD, DVD, or hard drive disk to the TextAloud software and select the type of voice to read their writing. With AT&T Natural Voices, you can select a male or female voice.

          There are also voices with accents, such as a British accent male voice, and voice software available in a variety of languages to read writing in other languages. TextAloud is made by Nextup.com at the Web site:  http://www.nextup.com/. According to their Web site, “TextAloud MP3 is Text-to-Speech software that uses voice synthesis to create spoken audio from text. You can listen on your PC or save text to MP3 or wave files for listening later.” I play the MP3 files on my MP3 player.

               I save the files to a CD as MP3 files. In this way I can turn my writing into audio books, pamphlets, or articles, poetry, plays, monologues, skits, or any form of writing read aloud by the synthetic software voice software. I save my audio files as MP3 files so I can play my personal history audio in my MP3 player on in my personal computer. MP3 files are condensed and take up a lot less room in your computer or on a Web site or CD and DVD disk than an audio .wav file.

               For people who are creating “celebration of life” oral or personal history audio tapes, it works well especially for those who prefer not to read their own writing aloud to a tape recorder. Although most people would like to hear their relatives’ voices on tape in audio and video, some people are not able to read their works aloud to a recorder or camcorder.

 The synthetic voices will turn any type of writing saved on a disk as a text file into recorded voice—from short poetry to long-length books. The voices are usually recorded with Total Recorder software and saved as an MP3 file so they can be played on MP3 players or on most computers with CD players.

               For those taping persons live in video to make time capsules or other keepsake albums in voice and/or video, it’s best to let people think what they are going to say by handing them a list of a few questions. If you’re working with a group of older adults, let one of the group members interview another group member by asking each question from a list of several questions.

If you give someone a week’s notice to come up with an answer to each question from a list of ten questions and give them two minutes to respond to each question by discussing how it relates to events in their lives or their experiences, you have a twenty minute video tape.

               If you allow only a minute for each question from a list of thirty questions, you have a thirty-minute tape. Times may not be exact as people tend to elaborate to flesh out a question. Let the interview and interviewee practice before recording. So it’s good to pair up two people. One will ask the interview questions, and the other will answer, talking about turning points and significant events in their lives.

               They can be asked whether they have a personal proverb or slogan they live by or a motto or personal logo. Tapes can be anywhere from a half hour to an hour for life stories that can be saved as an MP3 file to a CD. Other files such as a Wave file (.wav) take up too much space on a CD. So they could be condensed into an MP3 file and saved that way. TextAloud and Total Recorder are software programs that save audio files. You can also use Music Match to convert .wav files to MP3 files.

                I use TextAloud software and Total Recorder. Also I  save the files as MP3 files for an audio CD that will also go up on a Web site. I use Windows Media Player to play the video files and save them as a Windows Media file (WMV file) so they can be easily uploaded to a Web site and still play in Windows Media Player that comes with Windows XP software.

When making time capsules in multimedia, I save on a CD and/or a DVD, and upload the file from my hard disk to a Web site. Copies of the CDs can be given to relatives, the interviewee, museums, libraries, and various schools who may be interested in oral history with a theme.

               The themes can be celebrations of life, living time capsules, or fit into any group theme under an umbrella title that holds them together. This can be an era, such as living memories of a particular decade, life experiences in oral history of an area in geography, an ethnic group, or any other heading. Or the tapes can be of individuals or family groups.

             Not only life stories, but poetry, plays, novels, stories, and any other form of creative nonfiction or fiction writing can be recorded by synthetic voices as audio story or book collections. Some work well as children’s stories and other types of writings as life stories or poetry.

               Themes can vary from keepsake albums to time capsules to collections of turning points in history from the life stories of individuals. Also, themes can be recorded as “old time radio” programs or as oral military history from the experiences of veterans and notated to the Veterans History Project at the Library of Congress or other groups and museums. Make sure you have signed release forms that also release you from liability should any problems arise from putting someone’s life story and name on the Web and/or donating it to a library or other public archive.

                 A good example of a release form is the one posted at the Veteran’s History Project Web site where life stories of veterans are donated to the Library of Congress and accessible to the public for educational or scholarly research. Check out the .PDF release forms for both the interviewer and the interviewee at their Web site. The release form for veterans is at: http://www.loc.gov/folklife/vets/vetform-vetrelease.pdf.


 Before Video Recording Life Stories of Older Adults: Questions to Ask

 Interviewing for Writing Plays and Skits from Life Stories for Junior and Senior High-School Students and/or Mature Adults.

 STEP 1: Send someone enthusiastic about personal and oral history to senior community centers, lifelong learning programs at universities, nursing homes, or senior apartment complexes activity rooms. You can reach out to a wide variety of older adults in many settings, including at libraries, church groups, hobby and professional or trade associations, unions, retirement resorts, public transportation centers, malls, museums, art galleries, genealogy clubs, and intergenerational social centers.

 STEP 2: Have each personal historian or volunteer bring a tape recorder with tape and a note pad. Bring camcorders for recording video to turn into time capsules and CDs or DVDs with life stories, personal history experiences, memoirs, and events highlighting turning points or special times in people’s lives.

 STEP 3: Assign each personal historian one or two older persons to interview with the following questions.

1. What were the most significant turning points or events in your life?

2. How did you survive the Wars?

3. What were the highlights, turning points, or significant events that you experienced during the economic downturn of 1929-1939? How did you cope or solve your problems?  

4. What did you do to solve your problems during the significant stages of your life at age 10, 20, 30, 40, 50, 60 and 70-plus? Or pick a year that you want to talk about.  

5. What changes in your life do you want to remember and pass on to future generations?  

6. What was the highlight of your life?  

7. How is it best to live your life after 70?  

8. What years do you remember most?  

9. What was your favorite stage of life?  

10. What would you like people to remember about you and the times you lived through?

STEP 3:  

Have the student record the older person's answers. Select the most significant events, experiences, or turning points the person chooses to emphasize. Then write the story of that significant event in ten pages or less. 

STEP 4: Ask the older person to supply the younger student photos, art work, audio tapes, or video clips. Usually photos, pressed flowers, or art work will be supplied. Have the student or teacher scan the photos onto a disk and return the original photos or art work or music to the owner.

STEP 5:The personal historian, volunteer, student and/or teacher scans the photos and puts them onto a Web site on the Internet at one of the free communities that give away Web site to the public at no cost....some include http://www.tripod.com , http://www.fortunecity.com , http://www.angelfire.com , http://www.geocities.com , and others. Most search engines will give a list of communities at offering free Web sites to the public. Microsoft also offers free family Web sites for family photos and newsletters or information. Ask your Internet service provider whether it offers free Web site space to subscribers. The free Web sites are limited in space.

For larger Web site spaces with room for audio and video material and other keepsake memorabilia, purchase a personal Web site from a Web-hosting company. Shop around for affordable Web site space for a multimedia life story time capsule that would include text, video and/or audio clips, music, art, photos, and any other effects.

1. Create a Web site with text from the older person's significant life events

2. Add photos.

3. Add sound or .wav files with the voice of the older person speaking in small clips or sound bites.

4. Intersperse text and photos or art work with sound, if available.

Add video clips, if available and won't take too much bandwidth.

5. Put Web site on line as TIME CAPSULE of (insert name of person) interviewed and edited by, insert name of student who interviewed older person.  

STEP 6: Label each Web site Time Capsule and collect them in a history archives on the lives of older adults at the turn of the millennium. Make sure the older person and all relatives and friends are emailed the Web site link. You have now created a time capsule for future generations. 

This can be used as a classroom exercise in elementary and high schools to teach the following: 

  1. Making friends with older adults.
  2. Learning to write on intergenerational topics.
  3. Bringing community together of all generations.
  4. Learning about foster grandparents.
  5. History lessons from those who lived through history.
  6. Learning about diversity and how people of diverse origins lived through the 20th century.
  7. Preserving the significant events in the lives of people as time capsules for future generations to know what it was like to live between 1900 and 2000 at any age.
  8. Learning to write skits and plays from the life stories of older adults taken down by young students.
  9. Teaching older adults skills in creative writing at senior centers.
  10. Learning what grandma did during World War 2 or the stock market crash of 1929 followed by the economic downturn of 1930-1938.  

What to Ask People about Their Lives before You Write a Play or Skit

Step 1

When you interview, ask for facts and concrete details. Look for statistics, and research whether statistics are deceptive in your case.  

Step 2

To write a plan, write one sentence for each topic that moves the story or piece forward. Then summarize for each topic in a paragraph. Use dialogue at least in every third paragraph.  

Step 3  

Look for the following facts or headings to organize your plan for a biography or life story. 

1. PROVERB. Ask the people you interview what proverb represents their life stories. Look at a book of proverbs, but develop an original proverb not copyrighted or cliché. Proverbs can be found in libraries or even on tee shirts and bumper stickers. Create your own as you work with your client. 

 2. PURPOSE, MOTTO, OR SLOGAN. Ask the people you interview or a biography, for what purpose is or was their journey? Is or was it equality in the workplace or something personal and different such as dealing with change--downsizing, working after retirement, or anything else?  If your client had to create/invent a slogan or aspiration that fit that person, what would it be? One slogan might be something like the seventies ad for cigarettes, "We've come a long way, baby," to signify ambition achieved. Look for an original slogan, not a copyrighted slogan or a cliché.  

3. IMPRINT. Ask what makes an imprint or impact on people's lives and what impact the people you're interviewing want to make on others?  

4. STATISTICS: How deceptive are they? How can you use them to focus on reality?  

5. How have the people that you're interviewing influenced changes in the way people or corporations function?  How does your client share meaning (communicate) with others?

6. What is your client’s goal in life? To what is the person aspiring?  

7. What kind of communication skills does the person have and how are these skills received? Are the communication skills male or female, thinking or feeling, yin or yang, soft or steeled, and are people around these people negative or positive about those communication skills?  

8. What new styles is the person using? What kind of motivational methods, structure, or leadership? Is the person a follower or leader? How does the person match his or her personality to the character of a corporation or interest?  

9. How does the person handle change?  

10. How is the person reinforced?  

               Once you have titles and summarized paragraphs for each segment of your story, you can more easily flesh out the story by adding dialogue and description to your factual information. Look for differences in style between the people you interview? How does the person want to be remembered?

               Is the person a risk taker or cautious for survival? Does the person identify with her job or the people involved in the process of doing the work most creatively or originally?

Does creative expression take precedence over processes of getting work out to the right place at the right time? Does the person want his ashes to spell the words “re-invent yourself” where the sea meets the shore? This is a popular concept appearing in various media.  

Search the Records in the Family History Library of Salt Lake City, Utah                                                          

Make use of the database online at the Family History Library of Salt Lake City, Utah. Or visit the branches in many locations. The Family History Library (FHL) is known worldwide as the focal point of family history records preservation.

The FHL collection contains more than 2.2 million rolls of microfilmed genealogical records, 742,000 microfiche, 300,000 books, and 4,500 periodicals that represent data collected from over 105 countries. You don’t have to be a member of any particular church or faith to use the library or to go online and search the records.

 Family history records owe a lot to the invention of writing. And then there is oral history, but someone needs to transcribe oral history to record and archive them for the future.

Interestingly, isn't it a coincidence that writing is 6,000 years old and DNA that existed  6,000 years ago first reached such crowded conditions in the very cities that had first used writing extensively to measure accounting and trade had very little recourse but to move on to new areas where there were far less people and less use of writing?

A lot of major turning points occurred 6,000 years ago--the switch to a grain-based diet from a meat and root diet, the use of bread and fermented grain beverages, making of oil from plants, and the rise of religions based on building "god houses" in the centers of town in areas known as the "cereal belt" around the world.

Six thousand years ago in India we have the start of the Sanskrit writings, the cultivation of grain. In China, we have the recording of acupuncture points for medicine built on energy meridians that also show up in the blue tattoos of the Ice Man fossil "Otsi" in the Alps--along the same meridians as the Chinese acupuncture points.

At 6,000 years ago the Indo European languages spread out across Europe. Mass migrations expanded by the Danube leaving pottery along the trade routes that correspond to the clines and gradients of gene frequency coming out of the cereal belts.

               Then something happened. There was an agricultural frontier cutting off the agriculturists from the hunters. Isn't it a coincidence that the agricultural frontiers or barriers also are genetic barriers at least to some degree?  

Oral History

Here’s how to systematically collect, record, and preserve living peoples’ testimonies about their own experiences. After you record in audio and/or video the highlights of anyone’s experiences, try to verify your findings. See whether you can check any facts in order to find out whether the person being recorded is making up the story or whether it really did happen.

This is going to be difficult unless you have witnesses or other historical records. Once you have verified your findings to the best of your ability, note whether the findings have been verified. Then analyze what you found. Put the oral history recordings in an accurate historical context.

Mark the recordings with the dates and places. Watch where you store your findings so scholars in the future will be able to access the transcript or recording and convert the recording to another, newer technology. For instance, if you have a transcript on paper, have it saved digitally on a disk and somewhere else on tape and perhaps a written transcript on acid-free good paper in case technology moves ahead before the transcript or recording is converted to the new technology.

               For example, if you only put your recording on a phonograph record, within a generation or two, there may not be any phonographs around to play the record. The same goes for CDs, DVDs and audio or video tapes.

So make sure you have a readable paper copy to be transcribed or scanned into the new technology as well as the recordings on disk and tape. For example, if you record someone’s experiences in a live interview with your video camera, use a cable to save the video in the hard disk of a computer and then burn the file to a CD or DVD.

 Keep a copy of audio tape and a copy of regular video tape—all in a safe place such as a time capsule, and make a copy for various archives in libraries and university oral history preservation centers. Be sure scholars in the future can find a way to enjoy the experiences in your time capsule, scrapbook, or other storage device for oral histories.

Use your DNA testing results to add more information to a historical record. As an interviewer with a video camera and/or audio tape recorder, your task is to record as a historical record what the person who you are interviewing recollects.

The events move from the person being interviewed to you, the interviewer, and then into various historical records. In this way you can combine results of DNA testing with actual memories of events. If it’s possible, also take notes or have someone take notes in case the tape doesn’t pick up sounds clearly.

I had the experience of having a video camera battery go out in spite of all precautions when I was interviewing someone, and only the audio worked. So keep a backup battery on hand whether you use a tape recorder or a video camera. If at all possible, have a partner bring a spare camera and newly recharged battery. A fully charged battery left overnight has a good chance of going out when you need it. 

Writing Skits for Gift Books from Oral and Personal History Transcripts

 Emphasize the commitment to family and faith. To create readers’ and media attention to an oral history, it should have some redemptive value to a universal audience. That's the most important point. Make your oral history simple and earthy. Write about real people who have values, morals, and a faith in something greater than themselves that is equally valuable to readers or viewers.

Publishers who buy an oral history written as a book on its buzz value are buying simplicity. It is simplicity that sells and nothing else but simplicity. This is true for oral histories, instructional materials, and fiction. It's good storytelling to say it simply.

Simplicity means the oral history or memoirs book or story gives you all the answers you were looking for in your life in exotic places, but found it close by. What's the great proverb that your oral history is telling the world?

Is it to stand on your own two feet and put bread on your own table for your family? That's the moral point, to pull your own weight, and pulling your own weight is a buzz word that sells oral histories and fiction that won’t preach, but instead teach and reach through simplicity.

That's the backbone of the oral historian’s new media. Buzz means the story is simple to understand. You make the complex easier to grasp. And buzz means you can sell your story or book, script or narrative by focusing on the values of simplicity, morals, faith, and universal values that hold true for everyone.

Doing the best to take care of your family sells and is buzz appeal, hot stuff in the publishing market of today and in the oral history archives. This is true, regardless of genre. Publishers go through fads every two years--angel books, managing techniques books, computer home-based business books, novels about ancient historical characters or tribes, science fiction, children's programming, biography, and oral history transcribed into a book or play.

The genres shift emphasis, but values are consistent in the bestselling books.  Perhaps your oral history will be simple enough to become a bestselling book or script. In the new media, simplicity is buzz along with values.

Oral history, like best-selling novels and true stories is built on simplicity, values, morals, and commitment. Include how one person dealt with about trends. Focus your own oral history about life in the lane of your choice. Develop one central issue and divide that issue into a few important questions that highlight or focus on that one central issue.

When you write or speak a personal history either alone or in an interview, you focus on determining the order of your life story. Don’t use flashbacks. Focus on the highlights and turning points. Organize what you’ll say or write.  An autobiography deals in people's relationships. Your autobiography deals as much with what doesn't change--the essentials--as what life changes you and those around you go through.

Your personal history gift book should be more concrete than abstract. You want the majority of people to understand what you mean. Generally, people at first glance understand more concrete details than abstract ideas. 

Resources for Paper Conservation of Your Gift Book

American Institute for Conservation                                                                                         1717 K Street, NW, Suite 200                                                                                              Washington, DC 20006                                                                                                             http://aic.stanford.edu                                                                                                               info@aic-faic.org

Light Impressions (Archival Supplies)                                                                                       PO Box 22708                                                                                                                     Rochester, NY 14692-2708                                                     http://www.lightimpressionsdirect.com


WAAC Newsletter                                                                   http://palimpsest.stanford.edu/aic’disaster

WAAC Newsletter, Vol. 19, No 2 (May, 1997) articles and charts online by Betty Walsh, Conservator, BC Archives, Canada and the Walsh’s information at: http://palimpsest.stanford.edu/waac/wn/wn10/wn10-2/wn10-202.html. The site contains material from the WAAC Newsletter, Volume 10, Number 2, May 1988, pp.2-5.

Curatorial Care of Works of Art on Paper, New York: Intermuseum Conservation Association, 1987.

Library Materials Preservation Manual: Practical Methods for Preserving Books, Pamphlets, and Other Printed Materials, Heidi Kyle. 1984

Archives & Manuscripts: Conservation – A Manual on Physical Care and Management, Mary Lynn  Ritzenthaler, Society of American Archivists: Chicago, 1993. 


It's not enough to create magic. You have to create a price for magic, too. You have to create rules.” __Eric A. Burns, Gossamer Commons, 06-15-05






Chapter 7

Personal Histories & Autobiographies as Points of View within Social Histories

Write in the First Person for your Newsletter, Book, or DVD Family History Documentary or Report


Autobiographies, biographies, personal histories, plays, and monologues present a point of view. Are all sides given equal emphasis? Will the audience choose favorite characters? Gift books encompassing both photos and text are like narrated camera scenes that give fragments, points of view, and bits and pieces. Viewers will see what the videographer or photographer intends to be seen with photos fleshed out by expanded text narrations written in the first person. The interviewee will also be trying to put his point of view across and tell the story from his perspective.

Will the photographer or videographer be in agreement with the interviewee? Or if you are recording for print transcript, will your point of view agree with the interviewee’s perspective and experience if your basic ‘premise,’ where you two are coming from, are not in agreement? Think this over as you write your list of questions. Do both of you agree on your central issue on which you’ll focus for the interview?

How are you going to turn spoken words into text for your paper hard copy transcript? Will you transcribe verbatim, correct the grammar, or quote as you hear the spoken words? Oral historians really need to transcribe the exact spoken word. You can leave out the ‘ahs’ and ‘oms’ or loud pauses, as the interviewee thinks what to say next. You don’t want to sound like a court reporter, but you do want to have an accurate record transcribed of what was spoken.

You’re also not editing for a movie, unless you have permission to turn the oral history into a TV broadcast, where a lot gets cut out of the interview for time constraints. For that, you’d need written permission so words won’t be taken out of context and strung together in the editing room to say something different from what the interviewee intended to say.

Someone talking could put in wrong names, forget what they wanted to say, or repeat themselves. They could mumble, ramble, or do almost anything. So you would have to sit down and weed out redundancy when you can or decide on presenting exactly what you’ve heard as transcript.

When someone reads the transcript in text, they won’t have what you had in front of you, and they didn’t see and hear the live presentation or the videotape. It’s possible to misinterpret gestures or how something is spoken, the mood or tone, when reading a text transcript. Examine all your sources. Use an ice-breaker to get someone talking.

If a woman is talking about female-interest issues, she may feel more comfortable talking to another woman. Find out whether the interviewee is more comfortable speaking to someone of his or her own age. Some older persons feel they can relate better to someone close to their own age than someone in high school, but it varies. Sometimes older people can speak more freely to a teenager.

The interviewee must be able to feel comfortable with the interviewer and know he or she will not be judged. Sometimes it helps if the interviewer is the same ethnic group or there is someone present of the same group or if new to the language, a translator is present.

Read some books on oral history field techniques. Read the National Genealogical Society Quarterly (NGSQ). Also look at The American Genealogist (TAG), The Genealogist, and The New England Historical and Genealogical Register (The Register). If you don’t know the maiden name of say, your grandmother’s mother, and no relative knows either because it wasn’t on her death certificate, try to reconstruct the lives of the males who had ever met the woman whose maiden name is unknown.

Maybe she did business with someone before marriage or went to school or court. Someone may have recorded the person’s maiden name before her marriage. Try medical records if any were kept. There was no way to find my mother’s grandmother’s maiden name until I started searching to see whether she had any brothers in this country. She had to have come as a passenger on a ship around 1880 as she bought a farm. Did her husband come with her?

Was the farm in his name? How many brothers did she have in this country with her maiden surname? If the brothers were not in this country, what countries did they come from and what cities did they live in before they bought the farm in Albany? If I could find out what my great grandmother’s maiden name was through any brothers living at the time, I could contact their descendants perhaps and see whether any male or female lines are still in this country or where else on the globe.

Perhaps a list of midwives in the village at the time is recorded in a church or training school for midwives. Fix the person in time and place. Find out whom she might have done business with and whether any records of that business exist. What businesses did she patronize? Look for divorce or court records, change of name records, and other legal documents.

Look at local sources. Did anyone save records from bills of sale for weddings, purchases of homes, furniture, debutante parties, infant supplies, or even medical records? Look at nurses’ licenses, midwives’ registers, employment contracts, and teachers’ contracts, alumni associations for various schools, passports, passenger lists, alien registration cards, naturalization records, immigrant aid societies, city directories, and cross-references.

 Try religious and women’s clubs, lineage and village societies, girl scouts and similar groups, orphanages, sanatoriums, hospitals, police records. Years ago there was even a Eugenics Record Office. What about the women’s prisons? The first one opened in 1839—Mount Pleasant Female Prison, NY.

Try voters’ lists. If your relative is from another country, try records in those villages or cities abroad. Who kept the person’s diaries? Have you checked the Orphan Train records? Try ethnic and religious societies and genealogy associations for that country. Most ethnic genealogy societies have a special interest group for even the smallest villages in various countries.

You can start one and put up a Web site for people who also come from there in past centuries. Check alimony, divorce, and court records, widow’s pensions of veterans, adoptions, orphanages, foster homes, medical records, birth, marriage, and death certificates, social security, immigration, pet license owners’ files, prisons, alumni groups from schools, passenger lists, military, and other legal records.

 When all historical records are being tied together, you can add the DNA testing to link all those cousins. Check military pensions on microfilms in the National Archives. Research the public records bibliographies, directories, and censuses. 


Preparing Personal History Time Capsules for a Journey

Be personal in a personal history life story. The more personal you are, the more eternal is your life story. More people will view or read it again and again far into the future. You can emphasize your life's journey and look at the world through your own eyes. To make the structure salable, ‘meander’ your life as you would travel on a journey. Perhaps you’re a winding river meandering around obstacles and competitors. At each stop, you learn your own capabilities and your own place in the world.

The more you meander, the more you take away the urgency from your story that sets up tension in the audience and keeps them on the edge of their seat. Don't let the meandering overpower your sense of urgency. Don’t dwell on your reaction. Focus on your action to people and situations. Stay active in your own personal history. In other words, don’t repeat how you reacted, but show how you acted.

 Before you sit down to write your autobiography, think of yourself in terms of going on a journey inside the privacy of your purse or wallet. May your purse is the only place where you really do have any privacy. Come up for air when you have hit bottom. Bob up to the sunshine, completely changed or at least matured. 

 If you have really grown, you will not be blinded by the light, in the figurative sense, as the song goes. Instead, the light gives you insight. So now you have vision along with some hindsight. The next step is learning how to promote and market your salable personal history or life story.

A biography reports the selected events of another person's life--usually 12 major events in the six various significant events also known as “turning points” and also known as “transition points” of life that would include the highlights of significant events for each of the six stages of growth: 1) infanthood, 2) childhood, 3) teen years 4) young adulthood 5) middle life 6) maturity.  

Selling Life Stories                            

Launch your salable life story in the major national press and in various newspapers and magazines of niche markets related to the events in your life, such as weekly newspapers catering to a group: senior citizens, your ethnic group, your local area, or your occupation or area of interest. Your personal history time capsule may be saved to disk and also uploaded to the Web. What about looking for movie deals and book publishers?

If you don't have the money to produce your autobiography as a video biography, or even a film or commercial movie, or publish it for far less cost as a print-on-demand published book, you may wish to find a co-production partner to finance the production of your life story as a cinematic film or made-for-TV video.

At the same time you could contact literary agents and publishers, but one front-page article in a national newspaper or daily newspaper can do wonders to move your life story in front of the gaze of publishers and producers. While you’re waiting for a reporter to pay attention to the news angle you have selected for your life story,  I highly recommend Michael Wiese's book Film and Video Marketing because it lists some co-production partners as the following:

Private Investors/Consortiums

Foreign Governments (blocked funds)



Theatrical Distributors

International Theatrical Distributors

International Sales Agents

Home Video

International Home Video

Pay TV


Record Companies

Music Publishers

Book Publishers

Toy Companies           

Licensing and Merchandising Firms

Sponsors (products, services)

Public Relations Firms

Marketing Companies/Consultants

Film Bookers

You can also contact actors, directors, producers, feature distributors, home video distributors, entertainment lawyers, brokers, accountants, animation houses, production houses, video post production houses, labs, film facilities, and agents with your script and ask the owners whether they'd be interested in bartering budget items, deferring, or investing in your script.

Private investors could also be professional investors, venture capitalists, and even doctors and dentists who may wish to finance a movie if the potential interests them. You can sell points in your film to investors who finance it as a group of investors, each buying a small percentage of the film for an investment fee.

Or you can approach film investment corporations that specialize in investing in and producing films as partners. They are publicized or listed in the entertainment trade magazines going to producers and workers in the entertainment and film or video industry.

You market your script not only to agents and producers, but to feature distributors, film financiers and co-production partners. This is the first step in finding a way to take your autobiography from script to screen. Learn who distributes what before you approach anyone.

If you want to approach video instead of film, you might wish to know that children's video programming is the fastest-growing genre in original programming. Children's titles account for 10%-15% of the overall home video revenues. According to one of Michael Wiese's books written in the nineties, Home Video: Producing For The Home Market, "With retail prices falling and alternative retail outlets expanding, children's programming will soon become one of the most profitable segments of the video market." He was right.

What has happened in the new millennium is that children’s program is doing wonderfully. Why? Children's video is repeatable. Children watch the same tape 30 to 50 times. Children's video sells for comparatively lower prices than feature films.

Children's video also rents well. Children's tapes sell it toy stores, book stores, children's stores, and in stores like Woolworth's and Child World. Manufacturers sell tapes at Toy Fair and the American Booksellers Association conventions.

For these reasons, you may wish to write your autobiography as a script for children's video or as a children's book. Video is a burgeoning industry.

According to the market research firm, Fairfield Group, in 1985, the prerecorded video business earned $ 3.3 billion in sales and rentals. This nearly equaled the record and theatrical box office revenues for the same year. The world VCR population is about 100 million. Today we have the DVD and the Internet streaming video.

Back in 1985, the U.S. and Japan accounted for half of the VCRs, followed by the United Kingdom, (9 million) West Germany (nearly 7 million), and Canada, Australia, Turkey, and France (about 3 million each). Spain reported 2 million VCRs. By 1991, the number of VCR ownership increased as prices slowly came down.

Today, in the 21st century, the prerecorded video business has quickly moved to DVD disks, downloadable at a price Internet-based movies, and video tapes are on the way to being a memory of the eighties and early nineties. In the next decade, another media format will be in fashion to replace videos on DVDs and streaming Internet video. The idea is to keep transferring the story from one form of technology to another so that videos made today will be able to be viewed by people in the next century.

The European VCR markets grew faster than in the U.S. during the eighties and nineties just as the DVD markets grew in the early 21st century because there were fewer entertainment alternatives--fewer TV stations, restricted viewing hours, fewer pay TV services, and fewer movie theatres.

You should not overlook the foreign producers for your script. Include Canadian cable TV, foreign agents, and foreign feature film and video producers among your contacts. Most university libraries open to the public for research include directories listing foreign producers. Photocopy their addresses and send them a query letter and one-page synopsis of your script. Don't overlook the producers from non-English speaking countries. Your script can be translated or dubbed.

You might attend film market type conventions and conferences. They draw producers from a variety of countries. In 1989 at the former Cinetex Film Market in Las Vegas, producers from Canada, Italy, Israel, Spain, and other foreign countries sat next to script writers. All of them were receptive to receiving scripts. They handed one another their business cards. You can learn a lot at summer film markets and film festivals about what kind of scripts are in demand.

Keep a list of which film markets will meet. In the U.S. there are 3 to 5 film markets a year and many more film festivals. Seek out the foreign and local producers with track records and see whether they'd be interested in your script if you have a life story in the form of a script, treatment, or story. Perhaps your theme has some relation to a producer's country or ethnic group. Lots of films are made in Asia, in the Middle East (Israel, Egypt and Tunisia), in Latin America, and Europe or Canada.

Seek out the Australian producers also and New Zealand or India. If you have a low-budget film or home video script set in Korea, Philippines, Japan, or Taiwan, or a specialty film such as Karate or something that appeals to the Indian film market, contact those producers and script agents in those countries. Find out the budget limitations that producers have in the different countries.

Social issues documentaries based on your autobiography are another market for home video. Vestron and other home video distributors use hard-hitting documentaries. Collecting documentary video tapes is like collecting copies of National Geographic magazine. You never throw them out. Tapes are also sold by direct mail. Companies producing and distributing documentaries include MCA, MGM/UA, Vestron, Victory, CBS/Fox, Warner, Media, Karl, Monterey, Thorn/EMI, Embassy, and USA, to name a few.

If you write your autobiography or another's biography as a romance, you might wish to write a script for the video romance series market. Romance video has its roots in the paperback novel. However, the biggest publishers of romance novels have little recognition in retail video stores.

How do romance videos or life stories sell in bookstores? Among consumers that are voting, yes, wholesalers and retailers, voting no. Bookstores are voting, yes. The problem is with pricing. To sell romance videos in bookstores, the tapes would have to be sold at less than $29. In video stores, they can be positioned the same as $59 feature films on video.

Production costs to make high quality romance videos are high. Top stars, top writers, hit book titles, exotic locations, music and special effects are required. Huge volumes of tapes must be sold to break even. Then producers have to search for pay TV, broadcast, or foreign partners. The budget for a one-hour video tape of a thin romance story comes to $500,000.

It's far better to make a low-budget feature film. Romance as a genre has never previously appealed to the video retail buyer. In contrast, a romance paperback sells for a few dollars. Now the question remains: Would women buy a romance-genre video DVD priced at $9.95?

Romance novels successfully have been adapted to audio tape for listening at far less than the cost of video. There is a market for audio scripts of short romance novels and novellas. What is becoming popular today are videos and ‘movies’ downloadable from the Internet that you can watch on your computer screen or save to a DVD since DVD burners became affordable and popular. Try adapting highlights of your romance or life story novel to a play, skit, or monologue.

The only way romance videos would work is by putting together a multi-partnered structure that combines pay TV, home video, book publishing, and domestic and foreign TV. In the eighties, was anyone doing romance video tapes? Yes. Prism Video produced six feature-length romance films, acquired from Comworld. In 1985 the tapes sold for $11.95.

Comworld had limited TV syndication exposure and was one of the first to come out with romance videos. Karl/Lorimar came out with eight romance films from L/A House Productions on a budget of $400,000 each. They were also priced at $11.95 in 1985. To break even, a company has to sell about 60,000 units per title.

 Twenty years later, think about adapting to a play the romance DVD video and the downloadable Internet video. What’s available to adapt as educational material? Write for various age groups on niche subjects that would appeal to teachers. Follow their rules on what is appropriate for their classrooms. The market also is open for stage and radio/Internet broadcast skits and plays geared to older adults as performers and audiences.

Other media are like open doors to finding a way to put your life story on a disk. Any interview, script, or story can go from print-on-demand published novel or true story book to radio script or stage play. A video can move from a digital high 8 camcorder with a Firewire 1394 cable attached to a personal computer rapidly into the hard disk drive via Windows XP Movie Maker software. Or you can purchase the latest camcorders that record directly onto a mini-disk that looks similar to a small CD or DVD and which can be played directly on your CD or DVD player or saved and played in your computer.

From there it can be saved as a WMV file (a Windows Media file). Then the file can be recorded on a DVD, if long, or a CD if under one hour. Poems can be written, read, and ‘burned’ to a compact disk (CD) and then mailed out as greeting cards, love letters, or personal histories. Short videos can be emailed.

Romance or life story highlights novels and scripts on audio tape cost less to produce. This market occasionally advertises for romantic novel manuscripts, scripts, and stories in a variety of writer’s magazines.

Check out the needs of various magazines for journalists and writers online. If you read a lot of romance genre novels or write in this style, you may want to write your autobiography in this genre, but you’d have to market to publishers who use this genre or biographies in other genres such as factual biography.

If your autobiography is set on events which occurred in your childhood, you might prefer to concentrate on writing appropriate for children's video programming. It's a lot easier to sell to the producers who are basking in the current explosion of children's video programming. Perhaps it's your mission to use the video format to teach children.

Will the script, skit, play, or narrated gift book of a life story do the following?





or inform viewers who can be:




‘middle-lifers’ on their quests for self-identify or to use in their search for facts: ‘middle-lifers’ also use life stories or memoirs as guidelines in making their own decisions:

People read other individuals’ life's journeys and write introspective journals to gain information in order to make decisions and choices, to transcend past mistakes and learn lessons for the past. People read life stories to learn about foresight, insight, and hindsight in order to avoid pitfalls. Can your diary be dynamic, dramatic, and empowering to others who may be going through similar stages of life? Are your characters charismatic and memorable, likable and strong?

A life story or autobiography when videotaped or filed as a feature-length movie can spring out of a diary or an inner personal journal (which dialogues with the people who impact your life and observes selected, important events).  


The skill of writing is to create a context in which other people can think. __Edwin Schlossberg








Chapter 8

Personal History Time Capsules as Gift Books, Annual Newsletters and DNA-Driven Genealogy Reports: 

How to Open Your Own DNA Test Results or Molecular Genealogy Reporting Company--Add DNA-Driven Genealogy Reports to Your Time Capsules and Gift Books. 


            Did you ever wonder what the next money-making step for entrepreneurs in genealogy is—searching records for family history and ancestry? It’s about opening a genealogy-driven DNA testing service.  Take your pick: tracking ancestry by DNA for pets or people.

You don’t need any science courses or degrees to start or operate this small business. It can be done online, at home, or in an office.  What should you charge per test? About $200 is affordable. You’ll have to pay a laboratory to do the testing. Work out your budget with the laboratory.   

Laboratories that do the testing can take up to fifty percent of what you make on each test unless they have research grants to test a particular ethnic group and need donors to give DNA for testing.  Each lab is different. Shop around for an affordable, reputable laboratory. Your first step would be to ask the genetics and/or molecular anthropology departments of universities who’s applying for a grant to do DNA testing. Also check out the oral history libraries which usually are based at universities and ethnic museums. You’re bringing together two different groups—genealogists and geneticists.

 You’d work with the laboratories that do the testing. Customers want to see online message boards to discuss their DNA test results and find people whose DNA sequences match their own.

So you’d need a Web site with databases of the customers, message boards, and any type of interactive communication system that allows privacy and communication. DNA database material would not show real names or identify the people. So you’d use numbers. Those who want to contact others could use regular email addresses. People want ethnic privacy, but at the same time love to find DNA matches. At this point you might want to work only with dogs, horses, or other pets or farm animals providing a DNA testing service for ancestry or nutrition.

Take your choice as an entrepreneur: sending the DNA of people to laboratories to be tested for ancestry or having the DNA of dogs, horses or other pets and animals sent out to be tested for ancestry and supplying reports to owners regarding ancestry or for information on how to tailor food to the genetic signatures of people or animals. For animals, you’d contact breeders.

For people, your next step is to contact genealogists and genealogy online and print publications. You’d focus on specific ethnic groups as a niche market. The major groups interested in ancestry using DNA testing include Northern European, Ashkenazi, Italian, Greek, Armenian, Eastern European, African, Asian, Latin American, and Middle Eastern.

Many successful entrepreneurs in the DNA testing for ancestry businesses started with a hobby of looking up family history records—genealogy. So if you’re a history buff, or if your hobby is family history research, oral history, archaeology, or genealogy, you now can turn to DNA testing.

What you actually sell to customers are DNA test kits and DNA test reports. To promote your business, offer free access to your Web site database with all your clients listed by important DNA sequences. Keep names private and use only assigned numbers or letters to protect the privacy of your clients. Never give private and confidential genetic test information to insurance companies or employers. Clients who want to have their DNA tested for ancestry do not want their names and DNA stored to fall into the “wrong hands.” So honor privacy requests. Some people will actually ask you to store DNA for future generations.

If you want to include this service, offer a time capsule. For your clients, you would create a time capsule, which is like a secure scrap book on acid-free paper and on technology that can be transferred in the future when technology changes. Don’t store anything on materials that can’t be transferred from one technology to another. For example, have reports on acid-free paper.

You can include a CD or DVD also, but make sure that in the future when the CD players aren’t around any longer, the well-preserved report, perhaps laminated or on vellum or other acid-free materials that don’t crumble with age can be put into the time capsule. You can include a scrap book with family photos and video on a CD if you wish, or simply offer the DNA test report and comments explaining to the customer what the DNA shows.

Use plain language and no technical terms unless you define them on the same page. Your goal is to help people find other people who match DNA sequences and to use this knowledge to send your customers reports. If no matches can be found, then supply your clients with a thorough report.  Keep out any confusing jargon. Show with illustrations how your customer’s DNA was tested. In plain language tell them what was done.

Your report will show the results, and tell simply what the results mean. You can offer clients a list of how many people in what countries have their same DNA sequences. Include the present day city or town and the geographic location using longitude and latitude. These types of mtDNA reports tell you about three percent of your ancestry and are useful to look at the lineages in the distant past to get a picture of where they might have traveled or migrated to geographically after the end of the last ice age.

You’re going to ask, with no science background yourself, how will you know what to put in the report? That’s the second step. You contact a university laboratory that does DNA testing for outside companies. They will generate all the reports for you. What you do with the report is to promote it by making it look visually appealing. Define any words you think the customer won’t understand with simpler words that fully explain what the DNA sequences mean and what the various letters and numbers mean. Any dictionary of genetic terms will give you the meaning in one sentence using plain language. Use short sentences in your reports and plain language.

Your new service targets genealogists who help their own customers find lost relatives. Your secondary market is the general public. Most people taking a DNA test for ancestry want information on where their DNA roamed 20,000 years ago and in the last 10,000 years. DNA testing shows people only where their ancient ancestors camped. However, when sequences with other people match exactly, it could point the way to an ancient common ancestor whose descendants went in a straight line from someone with those sequences who lived 10,000 years ago to a common ancestor who lived only a few generations ago.

Those people may or may not actually be related, but they share the same sequences. The relationship could be back in a straight line 20,000 years or more or only a few centuries. Ancient DNA sequences are spread over a huge area, like mine—from Iceland to Bashkortostan in the Urals. DNA sequences that sprung up only a few generations ago generally are limited to a more narrow geographic area, except for those who lived in isolation in one area for thousands of years, such as the Basques.

You would purchase wholesale DNA kits from laboratory suppliers and send the kits to your customer. The customer takes a painless cheek scraping with a felt or cotton type swab or uses mouthwash put into a small container to obtain DNA that can help accurately determine a relationship with either a 99.9% probability of YES or a 100% certainly that no near term relationship existed.

The DNA sample is sealed and mailed to a laboratory address where it is tested. The laboratory then disposes of the DNA after a report is generated. Then you package the report like a gift card portfolio, a time capsule, or other fancy packaging to look like a gift. You add your promotional material and a thorough explanation of what to expect from the DNA test—the results.

The best way to learn this business is to check out on the Web all the businesses that are doing this successfully. Have your own DNA tested and look at the printout or report of the results. Is it thorough? Does it eliminate jargon? Include in the report materials the client would like to see.

Make it look like a press kit. For example, you take a folder such as a report folder. On the outside cover print the name of your company printed and a logo or photograph of something related to DNA that won’t frighten away the consumer. Simple graphic art such as a map or globe of the world, a prehistoric statue, for example the Willendorf Venus, or some other symbol is appropriate.

Inside, you’d have maps, charts, and locations for the client to look at. Keep the material visual. Include a CD with the DNA sequences if you can. The explanation would show the customer the steps taken to test the DNA.

Keep that visual with charts and graphs. Don’t use small print fonts or scientific terminology to any extent so your customer won’t feel your report is over his or her head. Instead use illustrations, geographic maps. Put colorful circles on the cities or geographic locations where that person’s DNA is found.

Put a bright color or arrow on the possible geographic area of origin for those DNA sequences. Nobody can pinpoint an exact town for certain, but scientists know where certain DNA sequences are found and where they might have sat out the last Ice Age 20,000 years ago, and survived to pass those same DNA sequences on to their direct descendants, that customer of yours who has those sequences.

In the last decade, businesses have opened offering personality profilers. This decade, since the human genome code was cracked and scientists know a lot more about DNA testing for the courtroom, DNA testing businesses have opened to test DNA for information other than who committed a crime or to prove who’s innocent. Applications of DNA testing now are used for finding ancient and not-so-ancient ancestry. DNA testing is not only used for paternity and maternity testing, but for tailoring what you eat to your genetic signature. The new field of pharmacogenetics also tests DNA for markers that allow a client to customize medicine to his or her genetic expression.

You may be an entrepreneur with no science background. That’s okay as long as your laboratory contacts are scientists.Your most important contact and contract would be with a DNA testing laboratory. Find out who your competitors contract with as far as testing laboratories. For example, Family Tree DNA at the Web site: http://www.familytreedna.com/faq.html#q1 sends its DNA samples to be tested by the DNA testing laboratories at the University of Arizona.

Bennett Greenspan, President and CEO of Family Tree DNA founded Family Tree in 1999. Greenspan is an entrepreneur and life-long genealogy enthusiast. He successfully turned his family history and ancestry hobby into a full-time vocation running a DNA testing-for-ancestry company. Together with Max Blankfeld, they founded in 1997 GoCollege.com a website for college-bound students which survived the .COM implosion. Max Blankfeld is Greenspan’s Vice President of Operations/Marketing.  Before entering the business world, Blankfeld was a journalist. After that, he started and managed several successful ventures in the area of public relations as well as consumer goods both in Brazil and the US. Today, the highly successful Family Tree DNA is America’s first genealogy-driven DNA testing service.

At the University of Arizona, top DNA research scientists such as geneticist, Mike Hammer, PhD, population geneticist Bruce Walsh, PhD, geneticist Max F. Rothschild, molecular anthropologist, Theodore G. Schurr, and lab manager, Matthew Kaplan along with the rest of the DNA testing team do the testing and analysis.

It’s important if you want to open your own DNA for ancestry testing company to contract with a reputable laboratory to do the testing. Find out whether the lab you’re going to be dealing with will answer a client’s questions in case of problems with a test that might require re-testing. Clients will come to you to answer questions rather than go to the busy laboratory. Most laboratories are either part of a university, a medical school, or are independent DNA testing laboratories run by scientists and their technicians and technologists.

Your business will have a very different focus if you’re only dealing with genealogy buffs testing their DNA for ancestry than would a business testing DNA for genetic risk markers in order to tailor a special diet or foods to someone’s genetic risk markers. For that more specialized business, you’d have to partner with a nutritionist, scientist, or physician trained in customizing diets to genetic signatures.

Many independent laboratories do test genes for the purpose of tailoring diets to genes. The new field is called nutrigenomics. Check out the various Web sites devoted to nutrigenomics if you’re interested in this type of DNA testing business. For example, there is Alpha-Genetics at http:// www.Alpha-Genics.com.

According to Dr. Fredric D. Abramson, PhD, S.M., President and CEO of AlphaGenics, Inc., “The key to using diet to manage genes and health lies in managing gene expression (which we call the Expressitype). Knowing your genotype merely tells you a starting point.

Genotype is like knowing where the entrance ramps to an interstate can be found. They are important to know, but tell you absolutely nothing about what direction to travel or how the journey will go. That is why Expressitype must be the focus.” You can contact AlphaGenics, Inc. at: http:// www.Alpha-Genics.com or write to: Maryland Technology Incubator, 9700 Great Seneca Highway, Rockville, MD 20850.

Why open any kind of a DNA testing business? It’s because the entrepreneur is at the forefront of a revolution in our concept of ancestry, diet, and medicines. Genes are tested to reveal how your body metabolizes medicine as well as food, and genes are tested for ancient ancestry or recent relationships such as paternity. Genes are tested for courtroom evidence.

So you have the choice of opening a DNA testing service focusing on diet, ancestry, skin care product matches, or medicine. You can have scientists contract with you to test genes for risk or relationships. Some companies claim to test DNA in order to determine whether the skin care products are right for your genetic signature. It goes beyond the old allergy tests of the eighties.

“Each of us is a unique organism, and for the first time in human history, genetic research is confirming that one diet is not optimum for everyone,” says Abramson. Because your genes differ from someone else’s, you process food and supplements in a unique way. Your ancestry is unique also.

Do you want to open a business that tunes nutrition to meet the optimum health needs of each person? If so, you need to contract with scientists to do the testing. If you have no science background, it would be an easier first step to open a business that tests DNA only for ancestry and contract with university laboratories who know about genes and ancestry.

Your client would receive a report on only the ancestry. This means the maternal and/or paternal sequences. For a woman it’s the mtDNA that’s tested. You’re testing the maternal lineages. It’s ancient and goes back thousands of years. For the man, you can have a lab test the Y-chromosome, the paternal lineages and the mtDNA, the maternal lineages.

What you supply your clients with is a printout report and explanation of the individual’s sequences and mtDNA group called the haplogroup and/or the Y-chromosome ancestral genetic markers. For a male, you can test the Y-chromosome and provide those markers, usually 25 markers and the mtDNA.  For a woman, you can only test the mtDNA, the maternal line for haplogroup letter and what is called the HVS-1 and HVS-2 sequences. These sequences show the maternal lineages back thousands of years. To get started, look at the Web sites and databases of all the companies that test for ancestry using DNA.

What most of the DNA testing entrepreneurs have in common is that they can do business online. People order the DNA testing kit online. The companies send out a DNA testing kit. The client sends back DNA to a lab to be tested. The process does not involve any blood drawing to test for ancestry. Then the company sends a report directly to the customer  about what the DNA test revealed solely in regard to ancient ancestry—maternal or paternal lines.

Reports include the possible geographic location where the DNA sequences originated. Customers usually want to see the name of an actual town, even though towns didn’t exist 10,000 years ago when the sequences might have arisen. The whole genome is not tested, only the few ancestral markers, usually 500 base pairs of genes. Testing DNA for ancestry does not have anything to do with testing genes for health risks because only certain genes are tested—genes related to ancestry. And all the testing is done at a laboratory, not at your online business.

If you're interested in a career in genetics counseling and wish to pursue a graduate degree in genetics counseling, that's another career route. For information, contact The American Board of Genetic Counseling. Sometimes social workers with some coursework in biology take a graduate degree in genetic counseling since it combines counseling skills with training in genetics and in interpreting genetics tests for your clients. 

The American Board of Genetic Counseling                                                                 9650 Rockville Pike                                                                                    Bethesda, MD 20814-3998                                                              http://www.abgc.net/  

Below is a list of several DNA-testing companies. Some of these companies test DNA only for ancestry. Other companies listed below test genes for personalized medicine and nutrigenomics, and some companies test for nutrigenomics, pharmacogenetics, and ancestry.

You'll also find several companies listed that only test the DNA of animals. So you have a choice of testing DNA for a variety of purposes, for testing human DNA only, or for testing animal DNA. And the applications for testing genetic signatures are growing, since this science is still in its infancy in regard to applications of genetic and genomic testing.

Roots for Real

PO Box 43708
London W14 8WG UK                                                                     http://www.rootsforreal.com

Family Tree DNA - Genealogy by Genetics, Ltd
World Headquarters
1919 North Loop West                                                                                                       Suite 110 Houston, Texas 77008, USA
http://www.familytreedna.com/                                                       info@FamilyTreeDNA.com                                                         

Oxford Ancestors                                                                                                              Oxford Ancestors, London,                                                           http://www.oxfordancestors.com/                    

AncestrybyDNA, DNAPrint genomics, Inc.
900 Cocoanut Ave, Sarasota, FL 34236. USA

GeneTree DNA Testing Center
2495 South West Temple
Salt Lake City, UT 84115                                                                      http://www.genetree.com/ 

Trace Genetics LLC
P.O. Box 2010
Davis, California 95617
http://www.tracegenetics.com/aboutus.html                                                 info@tracegenetics.com

Predictive Genomics for Personalized Medicine including Nutrigenomics

AlphaGenics Inc.
9700 Great Seneca Highway
Rockville, Maryland 20850                                                                                 http://www.alpha-genics.com/index.php 

Genovations TM                                                                                                                     Great Smokies Diagnostic Laboratory/Genovations™
63 Zillicoa Street
Asheville, NC 28801  USA                                                               http://www.genovations.com/                                                          

Centre for Human Nutrigenomics                                                 http://www.nutrigenomics.nl/

According to its Web site, "The Centre for Human NutriGenomics aims at establishing an international centre of expertise combining excellent pre-competitive research and high quality (post)graduate training on the interface of genomics, nutrition and human health."

 Nutrigenomics Links:                                                                    http://nutrigene.4t.com/nutrigen.htm

Pet or Plant Gift Books

If you want to write and publish gift books on pet or plant ancestry, genetics, or DNA-driven genealogy, you might wish to research veterinary genetics laboratories. Gift books on pets, livestock, or plants could include parentage verification or genetic diagnostics for animals or plant life. Breeders, growers, and farmers might be interested in pet or plant gift books for their customers. Gift books can be written and published about people, pets, or plants. Examples would be lineages of pets, livestock, wild animals, fruit trees, vegetables, or flowers.

Veterinary DNA Testing

Veterinary Genetics Laboratory

University of California, Davis
One Shields Avenue
Davis, CA 95616-8744                                                                      http://www.vgl.ucdavis.edu/

        According to their Web site, "The Veterinary Genetics Laboratory is internationally recognized for its expertise in parentage verification and genetic diagnostics for animals. VGL has provided services to breed registries, practitioners, individual owners and breeders since 1955." The Veterinary Genetics Laboratory performs contracted DNA testing.


DNA Testing of Dogs and Horses:
VetGen, 3728 Plaza Drive, Suite 1, Ann Arbor, Michigan, 48108 USA  http://www.vetgen.com/                                               



Directory of DNA-Testing Companies

Family Tree DNA - Genealogy by Genetics, Ltd.
World Headquarters
1919 North Loop West, Suite 110 Houston, Texas 77008, USA
http://www.familytreedna.com/                                                      info@FamilyTreeDNA.com                                                        

2. Trace Genetics LLC                                                                                                                PO Box 2010                                                                                                                            Davis, CA 95617                                                                                http://www.tracegenetics.com

Articles, Excerpts, & Video/Audio Links on Personal History & Memoirs Gift Book Writing

Web links                                                                                           http://www.newswriting.net

Instructional Videos and Audios                           http://www.newswriting.net/writingvideos.htm


It is not a bad idea to get in the habit of writing down one's thoughts. It saves one having to bother anyone else with them. __Isabel Colegate





Chapter 9

Romantic Wedding and Anniversary Gift Books, DVDs or Newsletters




Love Letters, Stories, or Poems and Romantic Themes for Gift Books


Romantic Couple Gift Books: Write and Publish Short & Sweet Romance Stories as Booklets Featuring a Real Life Couple. Then Produce Video Segments of Romantic Stories or Excerpts on How They Met for Anniversaries or Weddings and Valentine’s Day


           If you have a romance novel you’ve been trying to publish for quite some time, you might ask a romantic couple whether you may have permission to use their real names as characters in your romance novel and then publish the book for their eyes only.

         Or use the couple’s actual story of how they met. Incorporate love letters and other romantic themes and photos, such as sunsets, picnics, or sites.

Your clients may be a couple who would like their real names written into a pleasant romantic story suitable for family reading to pass onto future generations telling of how they met, their romance, marriage, and life together for many years.

First create a following with romantic fiction dramatized and/or promoted. Interview a panel of authors of published romance fiction and videos. Then publish your own romantic fiction collection as 72-page booklets consisting of romance stories or novelettes. You’d need samples of your published writing to show to romantic couples. If you want to write romance fiction as actual mini-books, not using anyone’s real name or story, you can write your own short-length romantic fiction and publish these books.

For your published fiction, ask food markets and gift shops or booksellers to set up a display rack near check-out counters. Research what publishers already have put their short fiction publications in racks near the checkout stands of supermarkets.

 Retailers call mini-sized booklet stands near the checkout counters the impulse racks. Turn your sweet or historical romance stories into a 4 inch by 6 inch small, 72-page booklets of either collected stories or one novelette, and sell your work in supermarkets and gift shops, candy gift stores, or packaged with other products.

Don't forget those wonderful romance novelettes and stories you have that are shorter than book length. Publish gift books for couples in love of their life story in the form of a short romance novelette. Publish in nontraditional formats, such as print-on-demand gift books. Or write the gift book content as narrated, dramatized story scripts. These can be dramatizations of the entire story of a couple’s life, a fictional novel using the couple’s names (with written permission and an approved plot) or a collection of excerpts from interviews.

Promote them on holidays such as St. Valentine’s Day. Take your booklets to romance writers’ conventions and club meetings. Write and publish pamphlets of holiday stories for Christmas, Easter, or any other religious holiday with appropriate stories or historical research articles. Promote them a month before the holidays. Animal stories are good such as cat or dog stories for Christmas or other holiday themes.

               If they are sweet romances, short stories in  three parts or "acts," of about 23 pages for each act, totaling around 72  pages or so, you can turn them into 72-page, 4 inch by 6 inch booklets,   promote, and sell the little pamphlets at supermarkets. They go in the impulse racks at the checkout counters. Most of these small size mini-racks hold booklets about four inches wide by six inches long. This is the ideal size for romance stories or novelettes.

            You'll get about a maximum of 300 words on a page: that's a maximum of 10 or 11 words across a line and about a maximum of 30 lines on a page.  For first pages of new sections, and you'll have three sections or "acts," you start about two inches down from the top of the page with the first letter of your beginning sentence capitalized and highlighted in a larger font than the rest of the letters. 

            Print or place a bar code on the back of each booklet. It’s a good idea to get an ISBN. It’s a number placed on the back cover of books used as a code to find the book or to locate it in The Library of Congress and in the catalogue of the original publisher.

Publishers, libraries, and book sellers locate books through that number. You don't necessarily need an ISBN unless you want to send your booklets to gift shops, libraries, schools, booksellers, or other publishers. 

You’ll need or put your own racks up to match your customized size in supermarkets if they have room, but the small size that holds the four by six inch booklet is fine.


How to Get an IBSN for Your Book, Pamphlet, or Booklet

If you plan to sell your gift book or booklet to the public and have the written permission of anyone mentioned in the book, you also can market the gift book by mail order to gift shops in hospitals or to libraries. You’ll want to obtain an ISBN. The International Standard Book Number or ISBN is a unique identifier for books. The ISBN is for books intended to be sold commercially. You’ll also want a bar code, which also is or can be the ISBN. The ISBN is a unique machine-readable identification number, which marks any book.

If you need instructions on how to send away for an ISBN number to print on the back cover of your booklet, contact the national or regional ISBN agency in your own country. Presently, more than 160 countries or territories are official ISBN members.

 Check out the Web site of ISBN information titled, How to Get an IBSN number at: http://www.isbn-international.org/en/howtoget.html. The site for the USA regional office is at: http://www.isbn-international.org/en/agencies/usa.html. It’s called The ISBN Agency for the United States. And it’s in operation since 1968. It is located at the R. R. Bowker Co., LLC. Write to them at the following address:

R.R. Bowker Co., LLC
Att. Ms. Doreen Gravesande
Senior Director ISBN/SAN/PAD
630 Central Ave.
New Providence, NJ 07974                                                                                                    URL: http://www.isbn.org                                                                                                     E-mail: isbn-san@bowker.com

Decide whether you’d like to put an ISBN on the back cover of your book or only a bar code and the price. A typical booklet that is four inches wide by six inches in length has no ISBN number on the back cover. Instead, it has the price and a bar code at the bottom. In the middle of the back cover would be a title and subtitle and three sentences or two paragraphs explaining the main message of your booklet or pamphlet. The typical number of pages would be about 66 for this type of booklet.

The size is suitable for supermarket racks. One excellent example is a booklet titled What Do Dogs Dream About? It is published by Mini Mags in Boca Raton, Florida, copyrighted in 2000. The back cover tells you what the booklet is about. And it has a bar code and price on the back cover. The last page contains a box with the sentence: “We Want Your Cute Dog Stories.”

When you publish your booklet, use the bottom of the last page, if space allows, to ask readers for feedback and to collect ideas and stories for your next pamphlet. And always obtain written permission from anyone who sends you anything before you use it in any way. A good way to collect ideas or stories is to run writing contests and publish the winning story. Decide what the prize will be and whether one-time publishing rights would be what the author and you agree on. Or work only with your own stories.


Writing and Publishing Your Own Sweet or Historical Romances or Biographies

Here's how to organize your little book of sweet romances or biographies of historical characters. The cover should be a glossy heavier weight paper that can fold easily enough to fit into a small pocket or purse so people can carry the book easily onto transportation. Your book also can contain an envelope inside the back cover with a DVD or CD of your dramatized romance novelette.

Market your video romances and books at racks in airports, train, and bus stations or at transit centers in vending machines if you buy the empty ones and place them where you can get permission. Hotel lobbies have racks that could fit your book, but usually you supply your own racks to hotels and convention centers. 

             Resorts and antique malls also are great places for your little book.  Tourist attraction shops in the "old town" sections of cities are great. Any establishment that sells tourist souvenirs makes a great place to sell your little romances. People staying in hotels and motels can read the little books, and you can offer the same size booklets with adventure stories or romances related to the particular town or resort history.

             On the cover have an illustration in color of the couple featured in the romance story, usually a cameo of the couple featured against a pristine   background of countryside, or local resort attractions. On the top you can put a ribbon-like title "Your (logo or name) Romance Library" or "Historical Romances of the resort city___" or whatever you want to feature as your own publishing and writing library. 

            This represents your collection of   booklets. You can publish your own writing or those from other romance or historical fiction writers. Travel booklets, auto travel games for kids, or travel romances also can be published in this format.

            Usually sweet romances sell better than other genres in this type and size of booklet. People want a sweet romance to escape to and to read at night, especially people traveling on business at hotels. The books will be bought by women and female students of all ages, with the highest demographic being in the 18 to 44 age range and the next highest, 44 to  54 age range. 



            Sell your pamphlets or booklets for one or two dollars. Keep the price low and similar to the commercial romances and how-to booklets on sale at the impulse counters or racks of supermarket shelves, right next to the check-out counters.

              To help sell your romance against the competition, put in a pet character, usually a cat or kitten or a pair of cats in the story that bring the couple together. Your story can feature a female who works at an animal shelter.  In this way you can bring in a real animal shelter and dedicate your booklet to animal rescue volunteers, which helps move the story. You can also donate a percentage of your income from the booklet to help animal rescue shelters of your choice.

             Make sure your story is universal and familiar enough to sell anywhere in the country or even overseas. Your booklet also can be translated into languages if you sell to various countries. Keep your pamphlet-sized library focused on sweet romance. These supermarket rack pamphlets appeal to a wider and older audience than the actual full-length romance novels found in bookstores.



            Read short romance novels found at supermarket check-out stands. Study the pages, how they are stapled and the quality of paper on the cover. Look at the printing. Take a pamphlet or small novel to a printer and get a price quote for these short novels. Ask the supermarket how to get your novel on their rack. Try small bookstores and gift shops first, including hotel gift shops and airport, bus, and train station impulse racks at the food counters. Ask people who buy these booklets what they are looking for in a story.



             You’ll need a computer and a printer. Also, the kind of printer you go to in order to have a booklet published. Decide what kind of art work or photo you want on the cover and what type and size of lettering. Check rates out of the country to see whether printing is cheaper abroad or locally. Make sure the printer staples the covers to the booklets. Proofread everything several times before giving to the printer as they don’t usually read the material or check for typos.

To follow a template, buy several of these little romantic stories at your local supermarket counters and study every detail—not only the story, but the way the book is put together. Look at the cover and the art work. Then make your own original template for the cover and layout. Never use the same template of an existing book because everything always is copyrighted. Just use the work to study for inspiration. Then design your own details.

 People want to believe that love, commitment, and faith in your ability to hold a family together while standing on your own two feet and pulling your weight conquers all. People buy these little stories to relax, to be nourished, to feel good and important and to escape the real world. Yet the story must be real enough so that it could believably happen to the reader.

             Your little booklet will be a tiny version of a magazine. In the romance story, keep it around 72 pages as the best-size and weight for handling, mailing, and reading in one sitting. Most people will buy these as they leave the supermarket to take with them during that long hour or two wait in doctors and dentists offices or while taking a two-hour train ride or while on vacation on the beach or in a hotel or during anytime when waiting is necessary.

The non-fiction informational booklet can be around 66 pages in length. It’s not going to make a difference whether your pages run to 66 or 72 as long as the last page isn’t a blank waste of space and the two staples on the spine that binds the glossy front and back covers will easily hold together the booklet.




How to Format Your Gift Book, Pamphlet, or Booklet Manuscript

            Start your story halfway down page 3 with the title of your little book. You'll find about six paragraphs can fit on one page. In a sweet romance story, don't have chapter headings or a table of contents. Instead of chapter headings, you only have the title page with author's name and dedication "to the____." Fill in to whomever you dedicate the story.

            Use three asterisks (***) at the end of each part or chapter of the story instead of chapter headings. The asterisks represent the breaks in the story when the action changes instead of having chapter headings. Your story can run about an average of 23 to 26 pages before the chapter ends with the three asterisks and new action begins, for example, on page 27. Then run the action on to about page 36 and have three asterisks there.

            On page 38 the first sentence starts about two inches down with the first letter of the first sentence in larger and highlighted capital letters than the rest of the text. Your middle chapter ends about on page 62 with page 63 started with new action about two inches in margin from the top of the page and the first letter of the first sentence in highlighted, larger capital letters. 

            You'll notice that the book or story has three acts or three parts. Each chapter can be of unequal or equal length. It doesn't matter as long as it adds up to a total of about 72 pages. So you see, the sweet romance story has, like a full-length stage play or short cinema film, 72 pages made up of three acts. Each act takes up a third of the booklet or story. You have a beginning, middle, and end. It follows the rules for a romance novel with romantic push- and- pull tension between the characters.

             In the story you bring together an unlikely couple that conquer the push and pull tension of first impressions that don't prove true as you flesh out the second and third act where sweet romance proves love conquers all.

Build up your own romance library of titles from your own writing or those of other authors. Some authors might want to start a cooperative where they share the cost of publication and distribution, but this is up to you. 

             You'd do well with only your own stories and publishing your own work. Distribute to supermarkets and gift stores. Then add other sources such as racks in hotels, waiting rooms, airports, hospitals, senior centers, community centers, bus or train stations, cruise ships’ libraries, schools, or doctors’ and dentists’ offices, lawyers’ offices, and any place people travel or wait, including tourist gift stores in resort areas and theme parks. 

            Book stores and libraries or vending machines in rest rooms or on the street near supermarkets are good bets for little books. Romance novelettes should run around 72 pages. Keep them even numbers. On the back cover place a two paragraph review of each character the starring male and female of the couple and tell something about the person in one sentence for each character. Use only two characters on the back cover. 

            Your third paragraph, a one-sentence statement tells what the story is   about in a 15-word sentence that is centered in the middle of the page.   Below this three sentence/three paragraph description, put a short statement about your romance library or book, such as "welcome to a  cornucopia of sweet romance, where love brings different people together"   or love conquers all (this one has been used on Mini-Mags). 

              So use your own original statement, "romance unites all." Pick your own logo. The bar code goes at the bottom of your back cover, usually in the lower left hand   corner. Your own logo image goes at the lower right hand corner. Put your  banner and initials centered beneath your "Welcome to the world of sweet   romance" or other statement. Use your own statement, not the one Mini-Mags uses. Use them for inspiration only or marketing research. 

            On your front cover have your banner and logo, an illustration in the center, and your price at the lower left hand corner. Pick your own prices, but don't go over $2.00 or you won't compete with the $1.59 of the current ones. Have your 72-page romance novelettes or stories bound.

            Don't use staples in a fiction booklet. That's only for how to booklets or tiny pamphlets on how to change something or improve one's behavior or booklets on food and nutrition or health. So be sure to have a bound booklet for romance that has no staples. Research the booklets in existence and show your printer.

             This is one way to find winning strategies or guerilla tactics to salvage your wonderful stories if they are rejected and you know they are really as good or better than similar stories in print and selling wonderfully.

If you have revised your stories and have logical reasons and concrete research and marketing tests showing the content appeals to all audiences and could sell well if published, then a 72-page romance story printed and promoted would cost you far less than publishing a romance novel with no way to distribute it. 

             Do your research first. Talk to distributors, and find out how to get your small racks into supermarkets or other sources where you can sell them. Try news stands and vending machines or packaging your romance stories. Other products can be packaged with your booklet and offered as promotions. These might include honeymoon packages, lingerie, and mail order products such as gift baskets for bridal showers or booklets sold at writer's conventions.

You can review audio books and send the 110-word reviews to magazines publishing audio book reviews. Concentrate on the audio presentation and narrator rather than on the literary print format for an audio book review. Pamphlets and booklets can be converted to audio format.

You can narrate your own stories or informational pamphlets on audio CDs and market them alone or as package deals with other products or books. Audio material should run an hour on each CD, MP3 CD, DVD, or other format. Most people need a break after listening for an hour. Some tapes and CDs run about an hour and a half. Keep yours in that parameter, an hour to an hour and a half of listening, similar to a feature film.


Formatting Book Manuscripts for an Editor

Here's how to format a book manuscript. The acquisitions editor will hand your book to a group of readers after spending about 20 seconds getting a first impression. Your book manuscript is read as if it were a resume. They expect white 20 pound 8.5" X 11x" paper without textures. The acquisitions editor will photocopy your outline, proposal, synopsis, cover letter, and sample chapters or if fiction, completed book when requested.

If the paper weighs more than 20 pounds, it will be hard to photocopy, and thin, onion-skin paper will tear in the automatic photocopying machine. If you're in another country, send a clear photocopy of your work on this type of paper, if possible. Your book, again, is your resume and application for a business partnership or employment and needs to reflect that business mood.

The cover page will contain your book title, the division of the publishing house for which your book is intended, and the number of words and pages. You put your name and address on the cover sheet and the date. After your cover page, insert a blank sheet and put another blank sheet after the last page to protect the last page of your book from creasing and tearing.

My favorite romance of this size is author, Kathleen Dreesen's sweet romance story, Loving Touch. It runs the standard 72 pages, and the novelette booklet is published by American Media Mini Mags Inc., MicroMags logo. Her booklet is dedicated to the staff and volunteers at We Care Animal Rescue, St. Helena, California. The characters are   fiction. Only their love is real, says the statement on the first page. I highly recommend reading this booklet to get an idea of the size and type of story that sells well.

             On the inside of your cover, put your name, business address, and email. Put the date of the copyright and where it was printed, in the USA or elsewhere. Your title page would have the title centered, the author's name beneath it, and any dedication. On the back of your title page, print any information regarding your decision to accept or not accept unsolicited manuscripts from other writers. 

            Otherwise, you may get everyone sending you their romance stories in hopes you'll publish them. You don't want your mail or email blocked, so print a statement that you'll only take one-page queries if you're interested, or whether you don't want anyone sending you their own stories to publish. 

            Editors want a standard of one inch margins all around each page, on everything. Leave room for the reader's and editor's notes on top of the page. Your header is standardized at one inch from the top page and a half inch higher than where your text starts. Make sure your header is the same width as the text line.

            On this page, you put the title of your book, your name, and the page number on the upper right corner. Use your full or last name (last name is preferred by most editors). Use the same font throughout, preferably Times New Roman 12 point.

Don't send books in any other font as editors are required to convert for typesetting departments to Times New Roman 12. So convert it if it's in Courier, Ariel or another font. Make sure the font is as black as you can get it and the paper is really white, not tan. It has to be photocopied without a shadow.

Most books accepted had more white space and paragraphs under ten lines. Rejected books almost always didn't have these appearances. When mailing your book, put it in a clear plastic bag, the kind you get from the supermarket or meat counter, with no printing on the bag. 

 The green or red printing comes off with moisture and ruins the book with stains. So no print is placed on the bag. After your book is in the clear plastic (transparent) bag, fold it over so it fits well around the book and put a small bit of transparent tape in the middle. Then put two rubber bands around your manuscript. One rubber band will be at the top and the other at the bottom to hold the plastic bag in place better and to keep pages together.

Don't send a manuscript in a loose leaf binder and don't put clips on it. Leave off any file folders. Put the manuscript along with a sturdy self-addressed stamped envelope inside a large envelope with book padding. Make sure the return envelope won't tear in shipping and handling when it's returned. Have the correct number of stamps on the envelope.

 Also add to this before sealing, a self-addressed stamped post card the editor can return to let you know your book is received. You'd be surprised at the long way this courtesy goes and the effect it has on readers or editors about your attitude to save them the postage of a receipt reply. Print up some business cards and put this into a small envelope with your return card, so you'll look more like a professional writer with a business card. 

 Have a query letter or cover letter on top of everything so the editor will know what you want done with the book and what it's about, and perhaps a guide to the synopsis. In one paragraph or preferably one sentence, state or pitch what your book is about: For example, it has been said that "Star Trek is Wagon Train in Space."

 Never embarrass an editor by sending a gift or artsy crafty item with a manuscript because everything will be returned after going in the slush pile. Manuscripts must never be faxed. They use up the editor's paper supply and make an awful impression on your attitude and boldness. You want to make an impact of courtesy and business-like manners, an aura of professionalism.

            Every time someone faxes a manuscript or synopsis, usually it's rejected and taken as an insult for tying up the fax machine and using up the paper at the other end. So treat your manuscript as if it were your best resume. Show your enthusiasm by a professional, business-like attitude and common courtesy.  When finished, produce a video podcast dramatizing what’s in your book—either the whole story, excerpts, or reviews. You can include the CD or DVD of your video podcast in a sleeve inside the book’s back cover. Keep the romance short so you don’t have to publish at an expense. Or use print-on-demand software technology to turn out books and videos that dramatize the romantic or historical story.




Place of Pines (The First Australian Novel to be Podcast)

Romance and Historical Fiction



Life Matters



National Public Radio Romance Novel Cover Stories






Harlequin to Offer Mobile Romances (Cell Phone-Based Entertainment)







Romance Writers of America




Write something to suit yourself and many people will like it; write something to suit everybody and scarcely anyone will care for it. __Jesse Stuart














Chapter 10


Family History Newsletters or DVDs with Slogans, Logos, and Branding

Branding with slogans is your client’s mark of creativity in any memoir or success case history story. Every life story needs a logo representing a slogan. And every slogan is a personal branding tool. Make a ‘name’ for your client or yourself. Use gift books featuring photos and text to create and promote brands, logos, mottos, and slogans for a variety of products and people—from public speakers to manufacturers, from brides to babies. Create a title for yourself or your client’s experiences of living uniquely. Read the advice of professionals.

What does your client do best? For example, Linda Cobb is known professionally as The Queen of Clean. She writes excellent, helpful books on how to organize, clean, and remove clutter. And she has her own TV show featuring tips on how to clean and make your own cleaning products from less costly materials such as vinegar, borax, ammonia, water, and unseasoned meat tenderizer for removing stains.

Her books and shows feature an enormous number of helpful tips that save money and work right on the materials they clean or organize. For example, there are tips such as when sitting at the dinner table, as soon as something spills on your clothing or carpet, putting salt on stains from gravy or food takes out the stains in an emergency.

 Club soda removes red wine, coffee, tea, and even red pop soda if you put it on the stain right away. What all these tips show is practical creativity. You can live on less and make a living at it by sharing creativity about your helpful, practical applications that show people how to improve and simplify their lives through step-by-step useful how-to information.

Become aware of a community need. Work with inspiration and motivation. Research niche areas not yet covered to create your own original gift book.

Find out through research what people want most in the way of a memoirs or success story gift book for the coffee table. Help people solve problems such as getting rid of clutter, organizing a home-based office, cleaning, repairing, or planning creative home schooling experiences. What else do people need answers or solutions to that fit under the umbrella of life experiences within a memoirs or success story gift book?



Charge a flat fee or by the hour to create branding logos and themes for other businesses. Use the current rate for other people who design logos and branding themes as well as publicity. About $100 an hour for creating a logo works in areas where other designers make that sum. Charging $25-$35 an hour works in other areas. It all depends on your reputation and how well you are known in the business community. Competition exists with graphic designers who design logos, book covers, brochures, and press kits.



Work in an area where there is a lot of industry or contact with wedding, meeting, and party planners as well as caterers and public relations directors. Also contact professional and trade associations. You need contacts with new businesses and stores and people who plan or offer numerous types of events. For example, a gift book, DVD, report, or newsletter commemorating the 50th anniversary of a city’s symphony orchestra, opera company, playhouse theater (stage play acting troupe) may use gift books featuring the history of the organization, establishment, or professional association.



Anywhere you can find creativity enhancement courses or practice in creating logos and branding themes. This would include courses in advertising, branding, graphic design, and logo design, desktop publishing, and typesetting.



You’ll need graphic design software and a computer with a color printer/photo printer as well as a text printer. You might want to add a machine that binds books if you are hired to create booklets or small books for corporations.



To express creativity about living on less and sharing the experiences, first create your own logo, title, and plan of how you will share useful information. Will you be the next ogre of organization, curmudgeon of clutter, duke of drains, prince of plumbing, or cloisonné of clean?

Will you be the next earl of examples, marques of mothering, sovereign of simplicity, viscount of ventilation, lady of less, sultan of sources, sheik of shopping, or baron of bargains? You get the picture.

Put creativity into the elbow work. Use a term that’s familiar to many or a proverb that you expand into branding.

If you’re going to show people how to use branding as a business that teaches people how to cut expenses, instead of showing them how do you live on less, show people how to get higher quality for less money. Show them how they can have more, and get what they pay for. Start with the hidden markets like the wholesalers, shelf-pulls, and overstocked items or the imports and exports.

Teaching branding is about emphasizing simplicity and commitment. That’s what you market in your buzz appeal campaign to the media and to the public as your customers and clients.

               Your first step would be to use branding to make a ‘brand’ or trade name or logo and slogan for yourself that represents your basic concept and message. That’s a proverb or quotation that in one sentence or less tells the public what you represent, to what you are committed. Keep it simple and short. After you have your branding complete with slogans and proverbs, launch your get what you pay for theme in the media.

To select a reporter from the media, find out by reading publications and newspapers who is writing a story similar to your concept or who has recently written a similar article. That reporter may not do another similar story, but can refer you to someone who might. Call the features editor and ask who has written similar articles or will be assigned a similar topic on bargain hunting for quality, getting what you pay for, simplifying your life, or living on less, saving, and enjoying the lifestyle more.

If you emphasize extreme telecommuting, travel, working outdoors, mobile lifestyle, working at home, or any other lifestyle, work style or attitude, focus on publications that emphasize publishing information or advertising those types of products.

If your writing is honest and dramatic, it will appeal to the newspaper reporter who is writing on a subject similar to yours. If that reporter from a national newspaper or other national publication with a very wide circulation writes about your story or interviews you and incorporates passages into the reporter's piece, quoting your story--fiction or biography--you have a great chance of publishers and agents contacting you. Usually, it will be an agent who is willing to bid your story to publishers.

Here's a famous example. Jessie Lee Foveaux, at the age of 98, sold her memoir for a million dollars, and she had never published before. She sold her book and movie rights. Was it luck or buzz appeal? The Life of Jessie Lee Brown from Birth up to 80 years had been written in longhand for an adult education class in writing for senior citizens writing their life stories.

In fact, she wrote the book manuscript 18 years before it found a market. How did she get it auctioned to competing book publishers and movie producers? How did she find her agent? Her life story is all about how she, as a battered wife married to an alcoholic husband, managed to raise eight children alone after leaving her husband and how hard she struggled to put food on the table. Is it because she is from Kansas and spent her time knitting cross-shaped bookmarks for her church members that the story had universal appeal to agents?

The message of the book emphasized commitment and simplicity. It's hard to find an agent who would take on a 98-year old great, great grandma and sell her life story for a million dollars. Foveaux wrote her memoir back in 1979 when friends encouraged her to enroll in an adult education writing class. Her writing teacher, who also is a farmer, gave out assignments to the senior citizens in the class to write the story of their lives.

Foveaux even protested to her writing teacher at adult school that she didn't have the time to write. He insisted that she make the time and encouraged her to write. She took his advice and brought in her assignments each week with up to four thousand words of her life story.

When you try to sell simplicity and commitment in any item, whether it’s your diary or a gift basket of hand-made products, write down what’s different about what you have to offer. Foveaux wrote the details of how she spent her childhood, the characters who inhabited towns in which she lived, and details of her relatives.

Then she started on a narrative and got to the deeper story of her life. That’s what you have to do—get to the deeper story of how to get what you pay for. Details and information are what sells—the facts and how to apply them in a practical, yet simple way to improve. Foveaux wrote about commitment using a simple plot with lots of details of her life story. She worked as a grocery clerk and other jobs to support all her children.
             What in this story differed from the thousands of memoirs that are written by seniors in adult education classes? It's this story that brought in a million dollars from publishers, plus movie rights. How did this story differ from the others? The visibility or "buzz" appeal began with Foveaux's writing teacher who put her writing in his newsletter that contained the writing of all the students in the senior citizen writing class.

When we analyze how the first step led to the next, we have to look at her writing teacher’s credibility adding to her credibility by publishing the writing of all the students in a newsletter. Normally, that would have been the end of the line. Except, by mailing the newsletter to a reporter from The Wall Street Journal, this reporter wrote about the author. That article published in the Wall Street Journal helped to give visibility and credibility to significant highlights of the book. The book soon sold to major publishers for a lot of money.

So you have to have a similar leap from adult education class newsletter of writing to actually being published in a national publication that has national credibility. The most important step of buzz appeal occurred when the Wall Street Journal reporter actually took a step forward to make Foveaux’s writings known to the wider world of Wall Street Journal readers.

You need to create an original, yet simple platform with universal appeal. Specifically, your approach and product or attitude needs to be the perfect forum for a particular newspaper or magazine or other media venture. There had to be a reason why the newsletter went to this particular reporter at The Wall Street Journal. After all, most people think of The Wall Street Journal as a financial newspaper full of articles on stocks, investments and mergers. The newspaper's focus is far removed from a senior citizen's memoirs of raising a large family in an unhappy marriage. Yet it made the perfect forum because it has universal appeal. The solution to the problem was simple, universal, and concrete (not theoretical). The solution got instant results.

The idea is to show people how you transcended your problem (and solved it), learned from your mistakes, and moved forward. You show the results and make them easy enough for readers to follow. There is no confusion in the writing. Details are not laundry lists or repetitive. They point to a path or direction through information. Writing is not flat, but alive with movement towards a goal or purpose that shows results, and you don’t keep repeating yourself.

Here’s the connection, familiar note, or link: The writing teacher had read a previous article in The Wall Street Journal by that reporter who wrote an in-depth article on senior citizens that attracted the interest of the writing teacher in the Midwest. He sent the article to the reporter because it emphasized the commitment to family and faith. To create buzz, your writing, product, or application of your idea must have some redemptive value to a universal audience. That's the most important point.

What you need for your idea is momentum. You need to have a practical application—details, facts, and step-by-step instruction people can follow in what you present to the public. The Wall Street Journal reporter drew close to the writings of the 98-year old woman. Those writings had such redemptive value to create buzz (universal appeal). The Wall Street Journal reporter developed more buzz (appeal) around the manuscript by writing an article about the author and the manuscript.

Momentum resulted. The momentum moved it along the pipeline so that all the right connections had access by reading the Wall Street Journal. The point is if you want to reach all the right connections for your applications of ideas, you need a pipeline, a publication or other media that is credible enough for the people in power to view.

Make sure the people you want to reach read or view the publication or media to which you send your promotional writings. Do these people you want to reach even read or watch the media that is publishing your work? Before you launch anything in the media, think about who you want to reach.

Do these powerful people actually see that publication daily? Would they be interested in your information on how to get what you pay for or how to live on less and enjoy it more? Would you be better off sharing information not on how to live on less, but on strategies that the wealthy and famous use to get richer and happier at the same time? Think about it. Two very simple values sell to the rich and poor alike. They emphasize commitment. Those two values are doing the best you can under the circumstances, and trusting in your faith. It’s like the old proverb, “You know that I care more than you care what I know.”

 A front-page story ran in the Wall Street Journal on March 7, 1997. Offers from publishers immediately flooded the writer. A lawyer hired by the writer's relative helped to find a literary agent to look at all the publisher's offers and select the best one. When 20 publishers called and 20 movie producers, offering six-figure movie contracts, the power of buzz--of credibility created through visibility in the major national press--spun into action. Soon newspapers in a variety of cities picked up the author’s experience, and articles appeared across the nation, which gave more credibility and publicity to the book and its author. The book gave examples of responsibility within a life story.

The point is that without "buzz" (as they say in the publishing world), would that book have gotten the attention it deserved before the author had an agent?  If you sent a book manuscript directly to a publisher, it most likely would come back with a note that unsolicited manuscripts are not read.

You’d most likely be told to find a literary agent willing to send your book to publishers. That manuscript might stay on the agent’s desk for a year before you finally received it back with a rejection form letter. Who wants to spend that many years trying to find an agent who thinks your book will earn a commission or sell widely?

No matter how great your idea or product is, unless you find someone to buzz you into the national press, you aren't going to be noticed that easily. That’s where creativity plays a role. Forget the cliché of thinking outside the box. Instead view the familiar box from a different angle.

To be more creative, find out what’s in vogue. What’s the current interest? Simplicity and commitment always is in vogue, but you need the next step—time. Look at trends. Research the trends to find out whether what you have to offer is coming at a time when people are trying to hold a family together and put bread on the table at the same time. Now get even more creative. You have buzz appeal. Publicity’s goal is responsibility, universality, and simplicity--not solely promotion.

In any memoirs, events, or success story gift book, offer simple solutions using step-by-step instructions people can follow. Solve problems. Emphasize results, benefits, and advantages. Use facts that can be checked for credibility. Make sure claims are scientifically substantiated, and show viewers where and how to check your facts. Focus more narrowly. Are you appealing to American women? Do the trends say that this is the time when American women are working to support families? What practical steps can you offer them to make life and work easier, less costly, and of better quality?

Foveaux's book was auctioned at more than a million dollars, and Warner cast the top bid. Think about how the author’s manuscript went through certain steps to get to the person at Warner with the power to make things happen for the author. Think of what happened in between, the lawyer who helped the auction to happen and the publishers who took an interest. What made all these people take an interest? 

Look at the value of your writing or information. Is what you have simple enough to sell for a million dollars? It has to be really simple to make so much money. Simple means understandable by the average viewer, and that's buzz (universal) appeal.

If you want to make a living by living on less, share what’s simple and earthy about what you have and what you do. Be yourself. Publishers can spot phoniness in a minute. Can your customers or clients do the same?

If you write, be a real person in your writing. Be true to yourself. What’s worth a million? The book emphasized morals, faith, and values. If you analyze what many powerful publishers buy for universal appeal, it’s a steady focus on values. Publishers look for faith in something greater than our lives. They seek stories of commitment and simplicity of universal values with which most people identify.

Publishers who buy a book or any other item on its buzz value are buying simplicity. It is simplicity that sells and nothing else but simplicity. This is true for computers, MP3 players, books, or items that have to be assembled by the buyer. Simplicity sells in instructional manuals and in how-to kits.  It's good storytelling to say it simply. People want user-friendly gadgets, stories, and information.

Simplicity means what you have to offer gives your customer all the answers that everyone looks for in exotic places, but finds close by. What's the great proverb that sells anything to anyone? It’s to stand on your own two feet and put bread on your own table for your family.

What’s your client’s life story slogan or main message? Is it about living on less and enjoying it more? Or is it about “you get what you pay for?” What is the most important moral point in a life story? Is it about telling each person to pull his own weight? Pulling your own weight is a buzz word that sells any product or practical, concrete application of an abstract idea that teaches and reaches through simplicity.

The backbone of the media emphasizes the values of simplicity, morals and faith (or trust). These are universal values. Doing the best to take care of your family sells. That’s the buzz appeal you need to emphasize.

Consumers and publishers go through fads every two years--angel books, managing techniques books, computer home-based business books, novels about ancient historical characters or tribes, science fiction, children's programming. The genres shift emphasis, but values are consistent in the bestselling books, toys, and any other product.

You need to offer simplicity, values, morals, and commitment in whatever you want to share to make a living. Look at trends. To live on less and have more, find the highways to simplicity. Target those values. Emphasize commitment.

Buzz is universal, but you need national press to get publishers bidding. National press gives you credibility in the eyes of major publishers. The world is impressed by front page coverage in The Wall Street Journal because of what it symbolizes--stability, dependability, security, centeredness.

               Find a newspaper article that relates to what information you want to share. Write to the reporter covering the feature. Query to see whether there is an interest in your story or feature. Make sure you have a new angle on your project. Does your item emphasize universal values, morals, simplicity, and commitment?

               Does it span real history in a way that reads and works well? Quality is the most important trait. Visibility and credibility give your product momentum. Buzz appeal gives momentum to the practical application of your idea. Universal values and simple lifestyles sell each time they solve problems, give results, and offer benefits with balance.

         Take drop-ship products from a company at no cost to you. Sell the products online, on eBay, for example. The products are stored in the company’s warehouse, not in your home. You could have the company mail the product directly to the customer after you collect the payment, take your share or commission, and notify the company of the sale and customer’s shipping address.




Resources: Simplicity, Balance, & Commitment
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Living the Simple Life    http://www.cottagesoft.com/~cynthia/nfbkrevw/simplife.htm


Books and Magazines about Balance




Chapter 11

Directories and DVDs as Gift Books: Entertainment, Walking Tour Guides, Historic Neighborhoods, Galleries, Museums, and Dining



Publish entertainment, dining, or tour guide gift book directories of museums, art galleries, cities, or institutions showing people how to find a variety of entertainment, dining, and/or learning experiences in any city of the world. Most university campuses offer free concerts where graduate or advanced music students present rehearsals or master’s thesis concerts and similar free performances, plays, or lectures open to the public.

Museums and galleries, “old towns” and theme parks also can use gift book directories and tour guide publications. Include the symphony orchestra and local theatrical playhouses including the various acting troupes. Pitch to the theme parks.

With a library card, you can view free educational, business, scientific and literary videos, attend the free days for museums and galleries, and enjoy free concerts given in places such as shopping malls, museums, or library galleries. On the Web, you’ll find The FreeBay.com site at: http://www.thefreebay.com/.

There is a Freebie site also at: http://www.eversave.com/eversave/consumers/CampaignReg.jsp?sourceid=7632&cid=163 . You can find free coupons and other free offers. Discover ideas about what people buy from sites such as Shop.com at: http://www.shop.com/



            Sell advertising for the directories and leave them at various stores and hotels, convention centers, and chambers of commerce meeting rooms. The directories of free entertainment also can be free which dramatically increases circulation, a positive selling point when trying to sell display or classified advertising in the directories from companies that provide free entertainment.

Use current rates for free newspapers and other publications to sell advertising. For example, you can charge $25 or $50 for a small display advertisement or as high as $100 depending on what type of businesses advertise.

Good targets are restaurants, theme parks, museums, zoos, and any other establishment that has a free day or offers free entertainment or walking tours on any particular day of the year, perhaps as a sideline to some other product being sold. Free lectures and seminars offered at convention centers or meeting rooms are an excellent source of advertising. Also try mall walking clubs, food courts, and shopping malls as well as park and recreation district offerings, free classes, adult education or continuing education, writers’ clubs, craft and hobby clubs, library lectures, concerts, and folk dancing classes.



Look for free entertainment by various music bands that come to malls on certain days of the week at certain times, such as a noon lunch hour. Some churches offer free concerts at noon or evenings for downtown works to spend their lunch hour.

Check out FreebieDot.com at the Web site: http://www.freebiedot.com/3p1.htm. Look at FreeMovieMayhem.com  at http://www.freemoviemayhem.com/index.cgi?src=WC-31275aaa:33320:

Look at sites such as Memolink.com or FreeDVDs.com at: http://www.freedvds.com/Default.aspx?N=1&P=168. In short, there are freebie sites on the Web. Check them out as to what the conditions are. Free entertainment is available without having to go online. Find out what free entertainment such as music exists at your local college campuses, high schools, churches, public libraries, art galleries, concert halls, museums, and community centers or shopping malls. Public places often have days of the year offering free entertainment or admission.



Publish a directory online and/or in print of free entertainment at parks, museums, church picnics, church concerts, brown-bag luncheon concerts downtown for workers, poetry readings, recreational presentations, street entertainment, art walks and art shows, student concerts, campus lectures open to the public, free film presentations at campuses and other public places, club meetings open to guests, community centers, galleries and libraries, targeting days with free admissions.

Explore the possibilities for gift books on various media players. Demonstrate your gift, directory, and guide books at exhibits, conventions and city information offices, local visitors’ bureaus, chambers of commerce, hotels and convention centers, tourist industries, museums. Publish a directory of historic neighborhoods including historic homes open to the public, galleries, and professional association meetings.

Gift books may be displayed at expos, public lectures, and national association meetings. Trade shows and events related to a wide variety of industries and educational programs are shown. Look at listings of free offerings from professional associations and their meetings announced in newsletters and trade journals.

 Sell advertising to make income from your directory. It’s logical and easier to sell the advertising and give the publication away free than by trying to persuade any consumer to pay for a directory of free entertainment.

 If the zoo or museum cost too much to bring your family to frequently, buy a year membership at a discount or volunteer to work there as a docent a few days a year in exchange for a free pass for you and a guest.

Zoos also have one day a year with free admission. To cut expenses, show up early. If there’s a particular museum, gallery, or exhibit you want to attend, offer to volunteer there a few days a year in exchange for a free admittance to the exhibit.

Conventions, conferences, meetings, and theatrical presentations also offer free attendance in exchange for volunteer work as an usher or registrar, people-greeter, ticket-taker or other helpful work.

When various theaters present plays and music concerts, they usually need volunteer ushers who get to attend the play or concert free. Call a few weeks in advance and offer to be a volunteer usher, people greeter, helper, or ticket-taker in exchange for getting to attend the particular function.

If you like to attend a lot of plays or, offer to volunteer for university or even high school plays. If you’re an older adult, contact various senior centers and theaters and volunteer to give information or help people when the plays or concerts open. You’ll get a free admittance in exchange. The same works for art galleries and museums.

If you enjoy hanging around radio or TV stations, call in advance and ask to be put on their volunteer list. Most duties involve answering questions for people who call. Galleries and museums use volunteers as docents.  You can do fund-raising work for public TV and radio stations in exchange for free tickets to various functions, such as theatrical or musical productions or live shows.

If you want to work in public relations roles, volunteer to help out at conferences, conventions, or concerts. If you want to become more involved as an event planner, join professional associations for event planners and offer to help find speakers for a panel.

By volunteering, you can learn more about how event planners put together an event or how artists or musicians are promoted.

Another field in the entertainment business is selling the music of professional musicians to the movie industry. You’d be the middle person or go-between finding the right musicians and placing their work with various movie producers and directors.

For those who only want free entertainment without much complexity or involvement in the industry, by volunteering a few days a year in any media, you can ask for free tickets to an event in exchange for being a helper when help is needed. Helpers in the entertainment industry answer phone calls at a radio station or greet and register people at a convention. It’s a form of bartering a few hours a year of volunteering in exchange for tickets for you and a guest to attend specific entertainment events.

Not everyone wants an actual career in the entertainment industry You may only want free tickets to see a show or look around in a museum, zoo, or at a convention. Another form of free entertainment is to become an independent tour guide.

You find a required number of persons to pay for a cruise or tour, and you go free on the tour or cruise. Check out the cruise lines and various tours and travel businesses that allow you to go free if you find a required number of paid guests.

Take advantage of free walking tours of various cities. For example at the Web site: http://www.newyorkmetro.com/urban/guides/nyonthecheap/pleasures/walkingtours.htm, you’ll find New York metro.com. The site explains that the free walking tours give specific details and history of a neighborhood.

Almost every city offers free walking tours. That’s another type of free entertainment. To find free walking tours for other cities, just use your Internet’s Web search engine and put in the key word “free walking tours.” What pops up, for example, at http://www.google.com  is a list of Web sites from various cities offering free walking tours.

Look for docent organizations, and consider giving a free walking tour yourself of your city to meet a lot of new people. Become a docent, a volunteer who offers a tour of a place, city, neighborhood, museum or gallery. Join docent groups and receive free training to be a docent. Or just take advantage of the free walking tours of any city. You’ll see online free walking tours of various European cities. It’s your choice of where you want to take your free walking tour or offer one in your neighborhood.

If you’re looking for free entertainment, the walking tour will give you some exercise and outdoors experience. You can choose where you’d like to walk.




Museum, Institution, or Gallery Docent Gift Books, Discs, and Newsletters

Talk to docents from various museums and outdoor events programs or groups to list free entertainment. An example of docent training and free walking tours would include Las Angelitas in California. If you attend their docent training when it’s offered, you can learn about early California and Los Angeles history and how to give small group tours.

After completion, requirements are to give tours 2 weekday mornings per month or 1 Saturday morning. Las Angelitas is a diverse group of people from all over Southern California who also go on historical tours and have social gatherings.

With free entertainment such as walking tours, they are useful if you’re interested in history. Most docent groups include social gatherings. It’s a good way to make new friends with similar interests and experience the free entertainment.

Historical walking tours can be started in almost any place where people are willing to take walks and discuss the historical events of that community.

Every spot in the world has its own history. And history is as much entertainment as walking. For persons with disabilities, for example, wheelchair historical tours or tours for the deaf community also are resources to help others learn the history of a neighborhood, institution or city. Also try campus walking tours. For example, the University of California, Berkeley has walking tours of the campus where there also are nearby museums. Cultural tours are forms of entertainment where you learn where your values direct you.

Join professional or trade associations and offer to find people to give presentations or speakers for their panels. Whenever an expo, trade show, conference, convention or meeting is scheduled, the professional association or society needs volunteers to help run the show. You get to attend the expo or show free, listen to speakers or enjoy the entertainment.

To find speakers for panels, you contact speakers’ bureaus and members of the association with expertise in an area and experience in public speaking. Bring the speaker to the convention and get rewarded with free entertainment. You work through either event planners or the trade association/professional group, or volunteer to work on the group’s newsletter.

Another way to work the conventions is to greet people and register newcomers. You can be a ticket-taker or help the event planner. If you’re looking for a career as a party-planner, working with event planners is one way to learn the ropes.

Entertainment is a broad area to define. Looking for free entertainment can be found at libraries or theme parks, hotels, casinos, and at performances of musicians or artists at college campuses.

A quick way to find out what’s free is to call talent agents and promotional companies in advance and ask what you can do to help in exchange for free tickets. Of course, the easiest way is to check with convention and visitor’s bureaus and information bureaus for any city and ask what the free admission days are for the local events such as zoos, museums, galleries, theaters, concert halls, and theme parks.

Free university lectures are given almost daily. Check the particular college’s newspaper for dates of free lectures. Also check each department’s list of events. My field of interest is listening to anthropology lectures. I’d call the department of anthropology at several universities nearby as well as the museums and ask what days free lectures are given that are open to the public.

 You’d be surprised at how many people are speaking at university ballrooms and auditoriums, for which most of these lectures are free and open to the public interested in that particular subject. Some people giving an oral presentation for a graduate thesis welcome strangers to quietly sit in the room or auditorium and listen to their presentation to their faculty advisers.

Entertainment that’s free can come in the form of seminars. For example, the Federal Technology Center presented a free seminar on negotiation. Business information is a form of entertainment. Contact your local small business and economic development center. Free seminars are frequently offered.

 Newspapers that emphasize niche markets such as job listings and information often present career fairs. Attend a free career fair. It usually offers free lectures, seminars, and sometimes entertainment. Attend the free franchise expo circuit. These franchise expos at hotels offer seminars, exhibits, or entertainment, and sometimes free giveaway items such as pens, note pads, samples of products, mugs, book marks, or paperweights.

Make the rounds of exhibits and trade shows. The vendors’ rooms are often free to attend. You can also ask a local weekly paper for an assignment to write up the highlights of the convention in exchange for a letter asking for a free press badge.

With a press pass or free press badge, you can attend the lectures and entertainment of the convention or trade show. When you’re done, turn in a one-page media release of any important facts you’ve learned from attending the conference.

Interview the vendors and emphasize what’s the upcoming trend and what’s most popular on the agenda. Then turn in to the publication your typed two-page story. Or email it.

Ask the editor of any professional association’s newsletter if you could review the convention in exchange for a free press pass to the convention. You wouldn’t get paid for the article, but you’d get a press pass to attend the convention free. Trade publications, professional associations’ newsletters, niche market magazines, such as local computer publications, popular Web sites, and weekly business publications are most likely to be interested.

Attend the job fairs at your local convention center. Usually, there’s some form of free entertainment. If you have young children, volunteer at various children’s theater projects. Most cities have a children’s theater or drama group. If you want to attend expensive business awards banquets, ask whether you can be a volunteer.

Besides the general chamber of commerce groups, there’s also the various ethnic chamber of commerce associations that present annual business awards at banquets. Although tickets to these affairs cost upwards of $100, there may be a spot for someone who volunteers to be of help where needed for the event, if you call well in advance.

Most ethnic chambers of commerce include the name of a city followed by the ethnic group such as “Hispanic chamber of commerce” or “African-American Women’s chamber of commerce” or “Asian chamber of commerce.” How many different ethnic chambers of commerce can you locate?

The smaller the niche, the more opportunity you have to get to work with people in exchange for a free ticket to entertainment offered or a chance to help promote projects, causes, or raise money for the group. You can work with church groups also that offer entertainment in connection with a project.

 Look in your area. Call your local college’s ethnic studies department. Find out how many different ethnic or other category chambers of commerce in your area are giving business awards and recognition banquets. You also can review a variety of authors’ books and bind the reviews as a gift book featuring the authors of a particular city or country. Approach your local recreational parks and camping grounds, including those that have historical themes. Theme parks could include not only the outdoor ones, but the video-related and virtual reality theme parks in hotels and resorts.



Other forms of guides to neighborhoods or entertainment and learning gift books can be published and then distributed to hotel gift shops or hotel convention offices and chambers of commerce. Include with the text paperback or hard cover book free CDs or DVDs. These may be obtained or designed by you if you volunteer or perform paid work part time as an audio book reviewer. Check out the various audio publishers’ associations. Then contact magazines that publish short reviews, usually about 100 to 110 words per review. Offer your reviewing services, and you’ll be placed on the publisher’s or the publication’s list to receive several audio books each month.

In exchange for reviewing the book for a publication, you’ll receive the books free which you can keep or sell on eBay or other online sales sites or sell at garage sales. Or you can just enjoy the free entertainment and eventually donate your audio CDs or cassettes to libraries, libraries for the blind, or schools where they are needed.

Some publications pay writers to review audio books. You can contact the publishers of the audio books directly or go through magazines that publish reviews. When you’ve made yourself known as an audio book reviewer, video or DVD reviewer, or print book reviewer, publishers and publications will contact you.

Also, your Web site can be used to practice writing reviews. Keep them one paragraph in length and about 110 words. Emphasize the audio presentation, not the literary review, unless you’re reviewing a print book.

Contact authors for “author interviews” in addition to reviews, and offer the interviews to magazines with the approval of the author for a taped interview. Ask the magazine in advance for a go-ahead before you contact the author.

Give the author the chance to change anything he or she said before you send out a transcribed and edited tape interview. Keep the number of words to what the publication wants as space is very limited.


If any man wish to write in a clear style, let him be first clear in his thoughts; and if any would write in a noble style, let him first possess a noble soul. __ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749 - 1832)





Chapter 12


Gift Books, Discs, and Newsletters Documenting Media Tours for Authors, Performers, and Speakers: Occupations as Extended Families of Humankind

            Develop and publish multimedia newsletters, CDs, DVDs, reports, or gift books using photos and text in paperback or hard cover books that document a variety of travel and media tours including speaking engagements and book signings or performances for writers, speakers, singers, performers, and musicians. Offer not only gift books commemorating the media or performance tour, but also offer video news releases and media kits.

            According to the American Marketing Association’s Dictionary of Marketing Terms, a video news release is defined as “a publicity device designed to look (and sound like) a television news story. The publicist prepares a 60- to 90-second news release on videotape, which can then be used by television stations as is or after further editing. It is more sophisticated than a news clip.”

You have a choice of monitoring video news releases or writing and producing them yourself with written permission of the original copyright holders as collections of news for gift books with news segments also included on CDs, and DVDs to give authors and speakers publicity before they begin their media tour of speaking engagements and/or book signings.

Combine your gift books, industrial-quality camcorder, DVD-player/recorder and video monitoring dubbing equipment with a network of other freelance video monitors and recorders to follow authors on national book tours, celebrities, public speakers (or spokespersons), and all types of media personalities on every step of a promotional media tour. 

            Track VNRs (video news releases), new product announcements, breaking news stories, and press releases in more than 100 markets for a specified period of the month. Transcribe the spoken portions and publish as a gift booklet. The most important job of a media tour monitor is to create gift book memorabilia and/or a video library.

You’d need to keep your files in a database in print and/or recorded to disc. Your gift book would keep track important details of what happens each time the person on a media tour appears on television or radio. Ask your client which details are important enough to include in a gift book.


            For media tour monitoring current rate charge is around $400 plus notification fees. For frequency reports (time, date, station, city), charge around $15 per notification. Charge about $25 per printed schedule notification. For a synopsis (time, date, station, city, summary), charge about $20 per telephone notification and about $30 per printed schedule notification. A frequency synopsis of broadcast appearances or product announcements on television contains the time, date, station, city, and a summary (your synopsis of what went on the air).

            Track television and radio coverage for major media events and client tours. For news monitoring services videocassettes charge about $100 for each videocassette up to five minutes.

            From 5-10 minutes charge about $110-$140 per videocassette. From 10-30 minutes, charge from about $145-175 per videocassette. From 30-60 minutes, charge about $175-$210 per videocassette. From 60-90 minutes, charge about $250-$285. And from 90-120 minutes, charge from $300-$335 for videocassettes in 1/2 inch or 3/4 inch formats.

            You charge ask for at least one hour advance notice to monitor and record anything. If the segment doesn't air, you should charge about $85 for your search, handling, and recording charge.

            For radio segments, charge about $35-$85 up to five minutes, $45-$95, up to ten minutes, $60-$110 for a ten to thirty minute radio segment recording. For 30 to 60 minutes, charge $85-$135 for radio or audio monitoring and recording.

            For TV and radio transcripts, charge about $40-$50 for the first 100 lines in a one-hundred line minute. For each additional line you can charge about 40 to 50 cents. Charge about $5 per fax per transcript for local transmission and about $8 for out-of-town transmission. Mail hard copy.

            For your monitoring reports that reveal how many times a client's product or presence appeared in a broadcast: Charge about $400 plus notification fees for frequency reports for each airing or broadcast that contains the time, date, station, and city. Charge $15 for each phone notification, and charge $25 for each print notification.


            You can open monitoring service offices anywhere in the nation, or work from your spare room. With television, satellite, and short wave radio, you can live almost anywhere or cater to local markets. For national markets taped from a local area that are not syndicated nationwide or on a network, one alternative is to have branch offices open in a variety of locations. Have people running your franchised monitoring business from their own homes or studios and take a commission.          


            Training can be learned by becoming involved with professional associations and their workshop offerings as well as through video monitoring equipment suppliers, advertising agencies, and doing informational interviews video monitoring services and occasionally, their clients.

            Practice monitoring and dubbing television and radio broadcasts at home with dubbing equipment. Practice editing dubbed tape. Look for irregularities and conflicts. Compare competitors advertising similar products. Tape any references to competitors mentioning one another's product names. Tape radio segments on audio cassette.

            Low-cost or free courses in television and video dubbing and editing are available from adult education or regional occupational programs in television monitoring. Call your local Regional Occupational Program or adult education department.

            Join business associations for video monitoring service proprietors and suppliers, and take their seminars and workshops. Attend television products conventions. Volunteer to monitor broadcasts at presentations, lectures, seminars, and conferences.     Ask your dubbing equipment supplier to refer you to local classes or how-to books on operating the equipment. The best training is to intern with a video monitoring service and learn hands-on, the ropes. Also do informational interviews and talk to clients who frequently use the services of video monitors.

            Volunteer to work in a radio or television news library. Or donate your services to public affairs libraries. Create logging reports, audio tapes, or transcripts from television and radio stations. You're dealing in preserving information broadcast on television or radio. You can also volunteer to cover media tours for local authors and keep a video record of their presentations or media appearances.

            Ask authors or performers for their permission to record them. Have them sign a release form giving you publishing rights.  You can specialize in only covering local media tours on video recordings with your industrial-quality camcorder.


            You'll need a good public relations sense and an eye for picking out conflict or irregularities in television and/or radio commercials. The best experience is to get some practice recording information from your television for local advertising agencies, authors on book tours, or news services.


            You'll need a variety of dubbing and editing equipment and a video camera. Study your competition wisely to make sure you are not undercapitalized. Start on a very small scale at home with a video camera, VCRs, half inch and three quarter formats, television sets, radios with tape recorders, and a computer to provide you with a database of videos and clients or potential markets. Make sure you can make laser printer color copies of visuals when your client asks for hard copy on paper.


            Monitor all types of media tours for spokespersons. Travel with authors, media personality figures, politicians, sports figures, scientists, business executives, and celebrities on a media tour. Videotape them as they speak before the public in libraries, schools, auditoriums, at conventions, or in bookstore signings and author's receptions. Or tape them while you stay at home and they appear on syndicated or network television or radio on national or global tours.

            Look for conflicts and irregularities or monitor competing products being advertised on television and radio. Let your video monitoring equipment and camera play receiver/recorder as you follow a schedule of cities, stations, dates, and times. Set up special monitoring for a variety of markets focusing on events that few others record.

            Keep a library of more than 100 markets. Retrieve air checks for your clients. You will be able to track down and retrieve air checks up to a month after they have been broadcast.

            Track video news releases, new product announcements, breaking news stories, talk shows, client phone-ins and appearances, interviews, and press releases. You'll be able to reach more than 100 markets for a period of one month after a broadcast segment. Keep your own video archives available for two months for retrieval for clients.

            To keep an organized file or record of what video or audio segments you have recorded for your clients, ask your client to provide as many identifying keywords as possible. These keywords go into your personal computer database. They are for your personal video library, archives, or database search.

            Right after you monitor/videotape a media tour or any other markets, phone your clients immediately (or the next morning) and let your clients know that you've monitored their markets. Charge a telephone notification fee or a fee for printed information within a few days after your airdate.

            You can add an all-market monitoring service to your media tour monitoring service. Include new product announcements, news stories, press releases and video news releases (VNRs).

            Keep a keyword database in your personal computer so you can tap into your computerized keyword system like an index of video segments that's organized. Your client wants you to find video segments as fast as possible.

            Do a computer search. Keep a monitor database. Ask the client to provide you with key words about their broadcast or video. Notify the client each time a story about the client appears in the news or on television, video, or radio.

            Keep everything about the client in confidence. To use keywords, let the client know they can be product names, people, events, topics, places, or subjects. Keywords can stand by themselves as one word--as in "Students." They can also be linked--as in "Teenage" (in conjunction with) "mothers." The more keywords your client gives you, the better you'll be able to search for a reference each time a story appears in the news or on the air about your client.

            Send your client a schedule of broadcast activity that lists the name of the program followed by date, station, city, and time on your monitoring report. Also send your client a transcript of what was announced or read on the particular network news station. The single spaced, usually half-page report as read on the news, should also contain the date, time, station, location, and name of the program.

            You'll be sending videocassettes to your client in any format asked for. The videocassettes should be made available to your client up to 31 days from the air date. Audiocassettes should be made available to your client for 14 days from air date.

            If you want to give away some free service, keep it a printout service, such as free local and network news notification. Your media tour tracking and recording service should also work well with a news monitoring service. So read the section in this book on running a news monitoring service.

            Monitor any news as soon as it is broadcast. Notify your client the same day if the broadcast is in the daytime. If the broadcast airs at night, notify your client the next morning. Your client will frequently insist that news segment tapes and transcripts be produced for same day delivery.


            You want to target anyone on a media tour to follow your spokesperson on every inch of a media tour around the country or around the world. You'll be recording all the stations in all the cities, being aware of all dates and times of broadcast or preliminary taping. You'll focus on special markets to monitor, those not normally recorded. Keep a video library of as many markets as you can locate--at least 135, so you'll be able to retrieve air checks up to a month after they've been broadcast.


            You can produce VNRs or video news releases with your video camera for clients. Your video camera can be used for recording from the air or from your VCR, or you can purchase dubbing and editing equipment if you are monitoring your television screen more frequently than you're recording with your camera.

            Offer services such as TV commercial retrieval, radio commercial retrieval, laser boards (produce space-age photo boards by computerized conversion methods). Capture images from videotape and print out visuals using your color laser computer printer. Customize your monitoring. Monitor competing commercials from network, cable, or local test markets.

            Report on diskette activities on products. Verify advertisement (commercial or infomercial) schedules for network, spot, cut-ins, black-outs, regional and syndication. ‘Flag’ or color-code specific problems and irregularities.

            Record product conflicts and technical difficulties in television or radio product commercials. Provide your clients with video and audio cassettes of commercials in local test markets as well as on any broadcast, network, syndication, or radio airing.

See the article on video news releases from the Source Watch, a project of the Center for Media and Democracy at: http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=Video_news_releases. Also see the article titled, How VNRs are Produced and Distributed at: http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=Video_news_releases#How_VNRs_are_produced_and_distributed. Also recommended is reading the article by Robert B. Charles, "Video News Releases: News or advertising? See the Web site at: http://www.worldandi.com/public/1994/september/ci11.cf, WorldandI.com, Volume 9, September 1994.

Also check out the article titled, Do's and don'ts of VNRs, Public Relations Tactics, Volume 5, Number 6, June 1998, page 19. A fascinating article to read is titled, Falling for Fake News, by Scott M. Libin. The article is posted at: http://www.poynter.org/column.asp?id=34&aid=79766,  PoynterOnline, March 15, 2005.


PR Newswire (United Business Media)                                      http://media.prnewswire.com/

The Video-Documentary Clearinghouse Archives                                                          Harbor Square, Suite 2201                                                                                                        700 Richards St.                                                                                                              Honolulu, HI 96813-4631

The Broadcast Advertising Bureau                                                                                   (Radio Advertising Bureau)                                                                                                          304 Park Ave South                                                                                                                            New York, NY 10010

Association of Independent Commercial Producers                                                          http://www.aicp.com/home.html

American Society of Media Photographers                                                                                        419 Park Ave. South                                                                                                              New York, NY 10016                                                                          http://www.chimwasmp.org/

Public Relations Society of America                                                                                               33 Irving Place                                                                                                                                New York, NY                                                                                           http://www.mnprsa.com/

Video Monitoring Services of America, Inc.                                      http://www.vmsinfo.com/


The way you define yourself as a writer is that you write every time you have a free minute. If you didn't behave that way you would never do anything.” __ John Irving (1942 - )




Chapter 13

News Clipping Collection on a “Theme Newsletter,” Report, Disc, or Niche Market Gift Book


 News Monitoring Clips May Be Turned Into Business Success Story Gift Book, Newsletter, or DVD

            Use your gift book ideas to collect newspaper and magazine clippings, including video and audio clippings on a CD or DVD to insert in a plastic sleeve pasted to the inside back cover of your gift book. News clippings are collected by public relations directors, advertising agents, and journalists as well as owners of businesses and individuals. When a lot of news about a person or business is generated across the country, locally, or around the globe, you’d collect these news clippings and include them in a gift book.

You’d also collect any hard copy and/or video news clippings from all types of other news releases given to the media to use with permission and with all credits given to the news release organization, writers and researchers. Similar to the media tour monitor is the entrepreneur who collects in a book similar to a directory, print news clippings. Also be aware of video news clippings from video news releases (VNRs) and other types of news, drama, and product advertising broadcasts. Obtain permission to collect these various media and put them in a personal gift book for the individuals featured in the news.

If the news is about a business, the public relations or marketing communications department is the right place to contact with your interest in collecting news clippings to put in a gift book. Many companies have already hired an independent news clipping agency. You’d approach some of the news clipping bureaus to ask whether they’d let you put the clippings together in a gift book for the business owner or individual celebrity, speaker, author, or anyone who is frequently in the news.

 Politicians, professionals, and public speakers often generate news releases as do institutions and research laboratories and corporations. Some news monitors will be asked to compare news broadcasts and look for discrepancies, conflicts, and other irregularities.

You might also contact the news monitors through the advertising and marketing agencies that hire them to monitor news in print, video, or radio. Some news may be online. Collect information with permission from Web sites to put into a book. Since all these avenues are made up of copyrighted information online, in print, or broadcast in the media, you’d need written permission from the “permissions department.” Some of the people who hire you could be vendors you meet at conventions, trade shows, and expos.

According to the American Marketing Association’s Dictionary of Marketing Terms, a video news release is defined as “a publicity device designed to look and sound similar to a television news story. The publicist prepares a 60- to 90-second news release on videotape, which can then be used by television stations as is or after further editing. It is more sophisticated than a news clip.” You might want to obtain the printed text transcript of video news releases. Then format them artistically to include in a media gift book.

Gift books might emphasize how competing businesses compare products broadcasted for test markets. You also might compare how the competition advertises a variety of similar products in your book or directory of news. You'll be asked to check to see whether ads are broadcasted at specific times and whether there are problems, conflicts or products, or other irregularities.

Review advertisements and infomercials for ad agencies in your gift book and do more than monitor broadcasts and send reports back to the sponsors as to the quality and consistency of the TV program or advertisement you’re asked to monitor. Media-related gift books are public relations materials also suitable for select media to peruse before writing articles about a company. They also can act like news clipping services for print and/or video segments rather than print articles clipped from newspapers or magazines. Audio news can be transcribed. So can oral history. Your gift book also can monitor and comment on or review radio shows and advertising.

            Specialize in news or in advertising or combine monitoring services across the board. Monitor and record television broadcast news. Pick up news from all over with use of a satellite dish. News monitors specialize mainly in taping and comparing a variety of news broadcasts, sometimes on the same subject. You're a video librarian, news clipping bureau, comparison checker, and researcher rolled into one monitoring service.

            Air-checking also is a specialization. It’s defined as monitoring and recording television commercials, infomercials, and other broadcasts. Your goal is to create a news, segment, and commercial advertisement clipping business using video and/or other electronic media. It's the electronic side of operating a newspaper, coupon, and magazine clipping service bureau. Anything broadcast with written permission can be transcribed and included in a gift book. (Obtain written permission from anyone mentioned if you’re making a gift book out of court or legal documents for various attorneys.)

            Publicists who send out press releases frequently want the news clipped to send back to their clients. Some public relations agents, book publicists, and advertising media buyers send electronic press releases and want to know if and when they moved their client into the media. Or publicists and their clients want videotapes of their clients that appear on television talk shows or broadcast news interviews.


            Charge about $175 an hour to sit at home or in your own studio with your satellite dish and pick up the news around the world, recording the news and any commercials or infomercials or special broadcasts. Then transcribe, with permission, any audio into text to print and publish as a gift book. If you work for other monitoring companies or air checkers, they will pay you a small hourly fee or a small fee per each broadcast you tape.

            It's better to work for yourself doing television news monitoring than to sit at home and wait for someone to hire you to record at home. However, if you can't afford video recording equipment yet, working for a video monitoring service is one way to learn hands-on and acquire experience and training.

            You'll find several classified or small display advertisements asking for people to record on videotape at home in entrepreneurial type magazines on your news or book store magazine display racks.

            For example, more than a decade ago, in the summer 1994 edition of Small Business Opportunities magazine, a small display advertisement appeared on page 74 entitled, "Record Videotapes At Home For Profit." The advertisement stated that there… are no copyright violation or pornography involved and stated some of the details of recording videotapes at home for profit, including how much profit is possible.

            Write to advertisers, advertising agencies, and marketing firms for information on how you can record commercials or other videotapes at home. Each of us has different business and income requirements. Learn as much as you can.

            Remember, that recording videotapes at home is different from monitoring live or taped news broadcasts, commercials, infomercials or talk show segments. Other opportunities exist such as recording cable channel and pay television feature film broadcasts. Check with your client and the broadcaster to make sure you are not recording copyrighted material without written permission to record it.          


            With a satellite dish, you can pick up hundreds of television stations around the world. You need to subscribe to the cable stations or purchase the type of satellite where you get everything out there, around the world or at least around the nation. The more stations you can receive, the better your chances are of finding clients who will pay you to monitor the news or commercials.


            It has been said that all you need to know to get started is how to sit at home in front of your television set, record, dub, and edit on your VCR and other television monitoring equipment what you are told to monitor on your television screen. However, you need to know how to tune in your satellite dish, dub a television program on your VCR or other monitoring equipment, and make video news clippings on a videotape.

            Ask at your local video supplies store what you'll need to get set up at industrial quality to compete with local news monitoring services. Your video camera capabilities need to be at industrial quality. Any news clippings on video are played so many times that anything less than industrial quality camera and tape will wear out fast.

            You could get training from a video supply store or take an adult education class in how to do news monitoring or "air checking" (recording television commercials). Sometimes seminars are offered in air checking or news monitoring by local chapters of national video associations, advertising organizations, and groups of media professionals. Inquire at your local community college or university's department of broadcasting and television, or join a business association for people in the video business.


            News monitoring and air checking are for people who really enjoy sitting home all day recording television news, commercials, infomercials, and other broadcasts for clients. If you rent a studio and fill it with equipment, you'll need room for your satellite dish so you can pick up all the stations. You also can record radio broadcasts on audio tape.

            You'll need patience with people. It helps to have an aptitude for getting along with a variety of clients, including advertising agency executives, demanding media/broadcast people in a hurry, and video news clipping bureau competitors who insist on perfection on tape. You don't have to stay up all night anymore to record commercials or news if you program your VCR and recording equipment in other formats to turn on and off at certain times.


            Eventually, you will be asked by different clients to record in all formats. A satellite dish is necessary to pick up all the television stations around the nation and/or around the world. You'll need to get all the cable or satellite stations. An industrial quality video camcorder, VCR and DVD equipment is required for recording at industrial quality, dubbing or editing equipment for clipping the tapes at the right moment, and video tape of the client-specified length.

            If you work at home, you'll need a backyard to put your satellite dish. Check to see whether your home is zoned for satellite dishes in case your neighbors complain. If you rent a recording studio, it should have enough space to put your satellite dish and recording equipment.

            Find out whether your clients want broadcast quality or industrial quality videocassettes. That determines whether your camera will be broadcast or industrial quality, what kind of tape and editing or dubbing equipment you'll use, or what kind of packaging is preferred.

            Industrial quality video can be copied many times without losing resolution. Broadcast quality video is more expensive and better, because it will stand up to more copying without losing quality. It's generally is used for network television broadcasting. It's what you see on the local TV news station.           

Industrial quality tape or DVDs are used for non-broadcast television training purposes and to make industrial videos that will appear on corporate training videos rather than be broadcast nationally or locally to the public on television stations. Choose your format according to where your client wants to broadcast. Communication channels could be industrial, on national network television, or cable TV, non-broadcast media, via phone lines, Internet, or by satellite videoconferencing.

            How many copies will be made from the tape or how much will it be played? Choose the best quality for your client, and bill accordingly.

            Check with your video supplies store and the competition to see what they are using. You'll have to record in all formats. Look in video and television newsletters coming from local chapters of the International Television Association to see what the most popular formats are, and what supplies you'll need.

            Talk to video equipment suppliers, especially at the booths during video and electronic trade conventions. Attend as many video-related industrial equipment conventions as you can because you learn the most by chatting with video outfitters who are not in competition with you.

            Check what equipment your more silent competition has by networking at local chapter meetings of trade associations. Read various trade journals and employee newsletters, including the newsletters published by professional and business national associations. Go on tours of the competition's businesses which are often sponsored by these professional broadcast industry associations, local chapters.

            Study your local markets. Check out businesses that will buy your services, not the average person in the street.


            What you'll be offering transcribed commentary or broadcasts of information, including news, as gift books to clients primarily in television news monitoring. You'll be recording from all formats. You'll record from film to tape. You'll edit videos, dub videos, and do video production. Anything oral can be transcribed. Various oral history groups may employ transcribers to turn audio or video into text.

Contact the oral history libraries at universities to look at a sample of transcribed oral history tapes. Note how they look in print and how they are formatted. This type of material is what you’d be turning into gift books and publishing with photos. Work with oral historians who use recorded speech and photos. Call or write to the national professional associations for personal and oral historians and genealogists. These are listed on the Web. If you’re not online, ask your librarian for the various Directories of Associations to find the addresses and/or phone numbers of the various oral history groups.

            Join the trade organizations for networking and mutual support. There are several national organizations with local chapters also who publish newsletters, such as the International Television Association or NATAS. Some of their ads are for television news monitoring companies. Call these businesses and chat with the owners.

            Clients will ask you to monitor news broadcasts and tape or record to DVD, the entire program or certain segments, such as the commercials. You may be asked to tape educational or cultural broadcasts, public television presentations, or special cable television cultural broadcasts. What you are running is a news clipping service, and instead of clipping articles from newspapers, you are monitoring and recording the news, special broadcasts, commercials, and infomercials.

            Sometimes you'll find clients appearing on television talk shows frequently, such as authors on book tours, speakers for special causes or associations, or celebrities, who want you to record all the shows on which your clients appear.

            You'll send the client the requested video news clippings and keep a copy for yourself for your ‘videobrary’ (video library). If the client's tape is destroyed, you can always copy from your original tape and send another to your client in the future.

            Monitoring the news on videotape also can be made into computer software. Using multimedia software, you can transfer the entire videotape or edited scenes to computer disk, or use it in a videophone conference (or televised videoconference) on non-broadcast television by satellite around the globe. Anything you make a record of in video or audio can be transcribed into text and published as a gift book. You’d need to include photos with text to keep the visual flavor of the publication.

            If you transfer your video taped news or commercial segment to computer disk, you can add text, music or other sounds, and illustrations, animation, or other graphic images along with the text, video, and music. You can even make the disk interactive. So you have a choice of monitoring the news in the following ways on:

            1. Video or audio tape.

            2. Computer disk as a multimedia presentation

            3. Text only in a computer database or, the old fashioned way, as a photocopied news clipping cut from a publication.

            4. Interactive multimedia, as on an interactive cable television shopping channel, or in a video computer game.

            5. Interactive laser disk to be played on a special laser-disk player, for example Philip's "Imagination Machine" for family entertainment and learning, making the living room the learning room and entertainment center of the house.

How Do You Package A Video News Clipping Or Air Check as a Gift Book?

            Transcribe infomercials, and turn them into business gift books. When you package an air check of a broadcast television commercial or infomercial (28-minute cable informational television commercial), or a video clipping of a monitored news broadcast-- the name of the show, the date, time, names of persons appearing, and any other pertinent information must be included on your labels. Send a sheet stating all information requested in addition to what appears on your labels, and keep your information in your database or files.

            Advertisements in a variety of entrepreneurial magazines include selling videos for profit or learning VCR repair. Some ads offer information about little known home businesses and include audio cassettes and booklets. Use these ads as inspiration for you to consider making videos on related themes.

            You can even make a video about how to earn money monitoring the news and commercials. Accompany the video by your own 50-page how-to booklet. Sell your video package to readers of home-based business and entrepreneurial magazines for a fee that includes all your expenses with enough of a margin left for at least a 15 percent profit.

            A lot of people watch the news and would love to become involved in some way with the media. Monitoring the news gives anyone the chance to expand their knowledge of current events and issues.                     


            Advertising agencies, television stations, publicists and public relations agencies, clients who advertise on television, cable television companies, persons in the news, celebrities, authors, researchers, talk show hosts, talk show guests, the government, corporations, hospitals, educational foundations, nonprofit agencies, schools, and broadcasters are all potential clients.

            Anyone who ever appears on television or in the broadcast news would probably like to be monitored on videotape and sent a copy of the tape. Clients and business owners who pay for advertising want to know whether their ads were aired at certain times of the night or day.

            Your target audience eventually may reach the point where you want national assignments from businesses. The chances of getting national assignments are based on your visibility, publicity, and advertising in a variety of broadcast industry trade journals. Include yourself in direct marketing mail inserts. Expose your qualifications to businesses that use video monitoring services by advertising in the newsletters of professional associations, trade journals, and business newspapers read by your potential clients.            

Advertise on video, including cable television, non-broadcast television, videophone, videoconference ads, on shopping channels, and on radio. Share the costs of television spot advertising and trade show/convention non-broadcast television demonstration screen ads with other advertisers. Your clients are broadcast viewers themselves. That's where you're likely to reach them.

            If you decide to publish a gift book and then a video about how to earn money at home recording video tapes, news broadcasts, or commercials, be aware that many broadcast news monitors enjoy working alone in home-based studios. Your market would include readers of entrepreneurial publications.


            Offer a news clipping bureau on video. Monitor news and commercials. You do production, film to tape, editing, dubbing, cable, and satellite recording. What else can you offer? Clip newspaper and magazine articles, stories, ads, announcements, coupons, notices, photos, and other material and offer them to clients as news clippings or put them on tape or on computer disk.

            Specialize in doing attorney's legal presentations for the courtroom, including forensic evidence recording, or medical video for attorneys, for the courtroom, or for hospital training or technical presentations. Or you can specialize in monitoring/recording those 28 1/2 minute infomercials broadcasted late at night on the cable television stations.

            You can even make money on the side videotaping weddings. If you're mechanical, you can learn by correspondence courses to repair VCRs at home.


Video Monitoring Services of America, Inc.                                       http://www.vmsinfo.com/

EIN News-World News Media Monitoring (a news service, not an association) http://www.einnews.com/?afid=73

Broadcast Education Association                                 http://www.beaweb.org/96news/itva.html

International Television Association   http://itvadc.org/itvadc/index.cfm/fuseaction/about

National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences                          http://www.natasdc.org/

Association of Independent Video and Film Makers                               http://www.aivf.org/

Public Relations Society of America                                                         http://www.prsa.org/

American Marketing Association’s “Dictionary of Marketing Terms.”  http://www.marketingpower.com/mg-dictionary.php?Searched=1&SearchFor=video%20news%20release


Better to write for yourself and have no public, than to write for the public and have no self. __Cyril Connolly (1903 - 1974)


I write entirely to find out what I'm thinking, what I'm looking at, what I see and what it means. What I want and what I fear. __Joan Didion (1934 - )


Chapter 14

Age-Related Hubs as Family History Newsletters, DVDs, Reports, and Gift Books


Your gift books may be age-targeted hubs to launch your client’s (or your own) creative works in the media before you have pre-sold your creative ideas to publishers. Pre-sell your creative work with a gift book helping teenagers or older adults succeed in school, leisure, or family life. Launch it in the media before you publish. To persuade the press, create an age-elated hub. This can be a mature adult, parenting, or teen hub. Look at any teen hub from the 1990s, such as Goosehead. There’s still room for other shows like Goosehead, and one could feature your unpublished writing, learning, parenting, or merchandising ideas. Look at hubs for various age groups in need of helpful, current information.

Create a similar venture yourself online by first developing the content. You could create content for shows similar to Goosehead or create your own concept. After call, a concept is actually made up of facts built around a foundation or basic message. Think of a concept as a sculpture built step-by-step over a wire frame skeleton.

The idea of a teen hub came about when a 14-year old girl named Ashley Power with her personal Web site caught the attention of Richard Dreyfuss. He made a deal to create content for Goosehead. How did such publicity come to a 14-year olds personal Web site?

Thousands of girls from 11 to 15 daily have personal Web sites and need content. One day actor Richard Dreyfuss’s niece appeared in a Goosehead video series. It’s quite a leap and rare that the niece of an actor appears in a video series that springs out of a 14-year old girl’s Web site. Such rarity is what makes for fame. What part did destiny play? According to media reports, Dreyfuss got in touch with Power and made a deal to create at least two interactive episodes to Goosehead.

      What can you do that’s interactive? If you’re a parent, start with what’s familiar to you in parenting. Look at similar sites yourself, and decide what about it made the teen hub or senior citizen life-long learning hubs ripe. How did the concept of a teenage hub move from a 14-year old girl’s personal Web site into a video series that caught the eye of a star who writes content for interactive Web?

 The episodes, by the way, were called Webisodes.  Actually, the technical term is multicasting content as opposed to multimedia that’s not always online. Before you test the waters, look at the following sites that use stars to plug products they like. Then think of ways how you can launch your unpublished writing in the credible media by plugging a product you like and that a star also likes. Look at www.gooshead.com , www.babystyle.com , www.voxxy.com, www.sightsound.com , www.shockwave.com , and www.generationa.com. What did you notice about teen hub sites?

             Is there anything similar (based on what you love to do most) that you can do with your sites to produce content or plug a product you like for the age group you want to emphasize? Use your unpublished writing to move your content, be your content, plug your content, or launch someone else’s product you use for a fee, and enjoy. That’s one other way to launch your unpublished books, booklets, scripts, plays, stories, poems, lyrics, content, or learning material.



            Charge a flat free and/or a retainer for publicity and promotion, such as getting authors on radio and TV programs. You might acquire space on a radio program and ask authors or other people with trendy occupations and interests to be interviewed by you on your own radio show.

Try promoting your published gift books using video or audio pod-casting on the Internet as a way to interview people with video clips and audio file-based ‘radio’ shows that people can download to their iPods or other audio devices. What’s the current fee? Charge anything from $25 up to have a four to ten-minute radio interview or whatever the market will bear. For half-hour radio interviews, charge double. Don’t overcharge authors.

It’s better to have a higher volume of clients paying less than be talked about on chat groups as overcharging. You can upload an MP3 audio file and ‘pod-cast’ the audio on the Internet for less than it costs to buy time on a radio station and charge people to interview them on the air to publicize their books or other items.

 In promotion of someone’s product, never make the language seem as if the author or inventor is talking down to the consumer. You want to make people feel important and positive about their choices. The selling point is to put value on people’s decisions and to emphasize commitment to what works well and is healthy in the long run. Help make people feel good about their choices.

            Scripts, books, and stories that are unpublished can still find a market on the Web if they are customized to the tastes of those who produce such works. If you have ambition and drive, you could aim to producing your own unpublished direct-to-Web material, called entertainment content.

Your creativity doesn’t have to be fiction. It could be learning materials or documentaries. If you don’t want to compete with the entertainment industry, there are audiences who want how-to films or videos that were never videos in the first place, but produced direct-to-Web with good multimedia authoring software such as Macromedia’s Director and other software.

            Let your unpublished writing plug, launch, or promote any product you like or a star likes and do it online and on TV. Or package your material with someone else’s product. If you’re into performing arts, start a Web site for teenagers or any other age group.




            You can hire or make yourself a spokesperson. The trick is to produce and star in 12-26 half-hour shows aimed at a specific audience, such as teenagers, where you can use your not yet published gift book to plug the products advertised on the teen magazine Web and/or cable TV show.

            You get visibility, publicity, and market your work all at once. If you go for the teen market, produce shows for a Web site, where you’ll get to talk honestly with teens about issues they’re interested in. Shows can focus in on niche audiences that need Web sites or cable TV teen magazine shows only for them, such as girls from 11-17. 

              There's one site www.voxxy.com  that did that in new ways. If you have a lot of unpublished writing, you want to sell your work in by these two methods: 1. Use a Web site to draw in the stars of TV looking for shows to produce or be spokesperson for. 2. Ask those starts to endorse your writing as they endorse products they enjoy.

Find out what they want. Then provide that niche of content, branding, or redemptive value. Keep your idea simple to understand and explain everything clearly in a short paragraph or in one sentence.



             Join public relations trade associations and attend seminars to learn the techniques of promotion. Read books on public relations strategies and buzz appeal.

             The idea of plugging products you like by using your unpublished books and scripts is a form of packaging your books or booklets with products going to be bought. Before the Internet, you’d approach a warehouse or manufacturer and ask that your book be packaged with the products being shipped as a way to give customers a free instructional manual on a product or a sideline, like a cookbook on how to cook with wines or sauces being shipped with packaged wines or sauces.

             Now, you do similarly on a Web site, called a Web venture. If you write about baby care, target a Web site for this subject and for your gift book and video podcast. Observe sites such as www.babystyle.com  if you’re writing books or booklets about baby wear and care, focus your Web site or content on everything about style and babies. Compare text and image-based Web sites to video segments on the Web.

 Start your own site focusing on baby style, elder style, teen style, or any other age or other group of interest to parents, women, men, teenage girls, or wherever there is a high demand for information, content, and products. Gift books and video podcasts appeal to young people and to life-long learning groups of all ages. Parents and adolescents alike use gift books.

Promote the printed text gift books or pamphlets using video and audio online podcasts. Primarily, though, high-school and university students download podcasts for lectures, language-learning, and entertainment. Expand the use of video podcasting for travel planning. Older readers prefer reading hard copy paperback books that are still easy to carry and read while traveling. Mature adults want books they can hold in one hand and read in bed or on vacation. Paperback is less costly to publish than hard cover books.

            Women and senior citizens are increasingly on the Web. So you might want to study new trends to get a handle on the latest women’s interests. Before you get too narrow, pick the audience for the widest possible number of visits to your site. You need to research your markets. Where do people in different targeted groups really want to spend their valuable time visiting?



              A spin-off of the 1990s-style ‘Docu-tech’ machine helps, but you really need access to a printing company. Your computer and laser printer can generate the gift books as well as brochures and press kits describing the benefits and advantages of your gift books. A four-color printer helps as well as a scanner that can produce photos scanned at 300 DPI in CMYK color. Check out the CMYK Color Space: The Colors of Printing Web site at: http://www.techcolor.com/help/cmyk.html. You need Adobe  Photoshop software or the equivalent to put photos or graphics in your publicity brochures or press kits.

             Find a way to endorse a product or keep asking powerful and popular people to endorse a product that will include your unpublished book along with a product being endorsed as a gift or giveaway. Your content and a manufacturer’s product must offer specific benefits and advantages to the buyer.



Use your writing or research to plug someone else’s products. If you have an unpublished romance novel, personalize it with the name of the happy couple and package it along with the wedding gifts ordered. Or leave a personalized novel you wrote in guest rooms of hotels with the name of the guests, if they order it. Honeymooners might, or it might be of interest to those planning bridal or baby showers, anniversary cruises, or office parties. Always ask the buyer first and show in advance what the product will contain before having anything printed with someone’s name.

             The quickest way to launch your book is to stage an around the world online launch and media party. Pick a time when most media people are available. Invite the specialty and general press, publishers, agents, entertainment attorneys, producers, directors, book talent managers, book packagers, famous writers, newspaper reporters and columnists. Also invite the members of various public relations and press clubs from your local area chapters.

            Include the print media, small press publishers, book sellers, event planners for booksellers events overseas and nationally, and those who come to book sales parties in people's homes. Invite software, book and video distributors to meet you for a conference online where you'll have a chat and put up a presentation with sound, text, and video clips or visuals all about your unpublished book or script. 

            Did you see the pre release publicity the Harry Potter books received, even coverage on the cover of Newsweek several years ago? What can you do for your unpublished book to create spin that will add to your credibility as well as visibility in the media all over the world?

It all starts with a story  board and a press kit that reveals your main character's measured change, transformation, or growth, or if your book's nonfiction, how much everyone needs to know the information you're about to tell. It's not whom you know, but whom you tell--and how you tell it that brings people together. If you want to earn income and cut expenses, you need to be a catalyst.


  How Do You Make A Storyboard?

    Storyboards can help launch your unpublished book if you use them as a kind of mind map   that uses the right hemisphere of the brain to express visually with thumbnail sketches and dialogue bubbles what goes into a novel or script. If you write your story as a play first and flesh out the dialogue into a novel, it will flow easier when based on a storyboard. 

                You can move to a springboard, where you can bounce the story off of the springboard's role as a summary or synopses of significant events and turning points in your book or script. A springboard runs up to 15 pages long.

A story board can go the length of the book summarizing the highlights in half that number of pages. A synopsis runs about one or two pages, and a high concept pitch is one sentence that tells your whole story such as Star Trek is Wagon Train in space.

             What's a storyboard? Storyboards are pages of panel cartoon-like visual images of how a chapter or scene looks visually before the dialogue is spoken. Draw in thumbnail sketches your storyboard for each scene of your novel, autobiography, or script as you write it or adapt it from a novel, news clipping, or story.

              To pre sell your unpublished book to the media or publishers, write the significant events, turning points, or highlights of your confrontation where the hero and the opponent come into   conflict for the last time. The battle scene is the major test that results in a major change both inside the hero morally and externally so he/she can reach the goal and end the story. This is what you hand to the press and to publishers, agents, or producers. You're highlighting and summarizing the significant events of your book.


    1. Hold a mid-night launch party for your life story or other book.

    2. Hold a noon launch party for readers who can't drive or go out at night, and have the location near a bus line.

    3. Hold a weekend launch party at a department or discount store such as Wal-Mart or any similar store. Or combine with any store's grand opening party.

    4. Hold a launch party in a school cafeteria, library, gym, yard, or auditorium for the appropriate age group. Combine launch party with a lecture to elementary or high school classes. Or if more appropriate, to special interest groups and clubs, professional associations, or women's clubs and organizations or related societies.

    5. Hold a launch party at a college campus or rent a room or auditorium or space on the lawn.

    6. Hold a launch party in a senior citizens apartment complex, recreational center, adult   education center, hospital gift shop, or nursing home.

    7. Hold a launch party in a place where you can set up an international or national day so that everyone, especially children, if your book is appropriate, can read your book on the same day, in case they do order it. Have all the children across the nation experience Your Life Story or Your Book on the same day.

    8. Hold a launch party in a church recreation hall, park, museum, library, art gallery, zoo, space theater, or social center. 

    9. Hold a launch party in a mall or on the lawn of a public park or skating rink on a Sunday or at a sports center or field.

    10. Hold a launch party on a cruise ship before it sails or in a bus or train station or airport.

             Put up a temporary kiosk for your launch party. Or get permission and a permit to launch your book near or in front of a supermarket or convention center or a hotel lobby. Use cruises and travel situations to launch your party. Or charter a flight and launch it in transit to help passengers pass the time. Cruise ships are you best bet.

            Ask newspaper reporters from national press associations and public relations associations to cover your book or life story in their articles on lifestyle or business subjects or whatever the subject of your book covers. Societies of professional journalists have monthly meetings. Ask to have your launch party at one of their meetings or invite the whole organization to your meeting.

            Gather other writers of similar books and life stories into a pool of vendors and sell booths or tables in a large hall, Masonic center, or other meeting place, like an association of Realtor's Hall, or building you can rent. Have all the writers self-publish their books or photocopy with cardstock cover and illustration or photo and comb binding. Print on demand. 

             Have numerous copies of books on tables. A group of 10 or 20 writers can have a group launch party and invite the press or sponsor a press club meeting, perhaps on board a docked yacht that's rented for the day or in a hotel or university rented room or meeting hall. Books can be printed on demand and given as press copies to reporters. 

            Invite entertainment and copyright attorneys, agents, publishers, editors, the media, and writers, also the potential readers of your book such as children and parents or business people. Have your launch party at a convention or conference on a related theme, such as a conference of small press publishers or a book buyer's convention or annual meeting in the US or abroad. Or take a group of writers on a cruise and present books to the press. 

            You can go free if you gather enough paying people to take the tour with you. Have stationery printed with a logo or slogan. Print the letterhead with enlarged slogan or logo onto a supply of two-pocket folders. Print a scriptwriting logo onto adhesive labels. Stick the labels onto the cover of the folders. The multi-colored two-pocket folders are available in any office supply outlet.

            Create a brochure, preferably in color. Include the brochure in the press kit. Make an electronic media kit as well as a print press kit. The brochure could list a writer's services and credentials or credits. If there are no past credits, print all the services provided such as the following:


1. Quality circles for writers

2. Individual instruction

3. Seminars, event planning for communications professionals

4. Freelance technical writing, manual writing, corporate scriptwriting, desktop publishing, word processing, editing, tutoring, instructional courseware design, children's writing instruction, corporate scriptwriting

5. English as a second language writing instruction

6. Fiction written for literacy instruction aimed at adults with primary grade level reading ability

7. Science journalism

8. Writers speakers’ bureaus

9. Art 

10. Publicity writing or any other type of writing services offered 


Nourishment is a Fountain

            What’s your most powerful resource you can call on when you need it? It is not only the source within, but the source without also. How do you write about this source? How can you use this source to both cut expenses and bring in income while expanding your creative abilities? Nourishment is all about offering the public and the media positive magnets. Decades ago these magnets or catalysts were called positive hooks because they hooked the readers or viewers. You had a captured audience.

            The idea behind nourishment or positive incentives is that people don’t want a steady diet of pain, fear, and horror—all the time. If they did, then books such as the Chicken Soup series would come in second place to gladiatorial blood sport movies. Nourishment sells. There is a market for joy. Don’t dump pain on readers all the way through your writing—not if you are writing for a large audience.

            People buy audio books, videos, learning materials, and information books to learn more about health, mind, spirit, investments, or contemporary culture issues. Which sells more books or videos—works about poverty or the habits of billionaires?

            The habits of billionaires and efficient people are of more interest than documentaries and books on poverty. Why don’t enough people buy books surveying the plight of those in poverty or pain? The media will help you launch your work if you provide solutions to problems and results. Offer easy and quick solutions backed up by detailed step-by-step information people can follow.

Large audiences want to hear about the secrets of healing, love, wealth, and happiness. Nourishment sells along with commitment and inspiration. People also want to improve their memory, enhance creativity, and be happy. Instruction is in high demand. People want instructions that they can easily understand. They want to know how to build, make, or repair an object. Most people have little time or money to spend on luxuries.

Look at the success of home improvement centers. Those with time to “build it at home” want to create a device better in quality, safer, and at lower cost than can be bought commercially. An example would be instructions on how to make your own shampoo from scratch.

With home-made shampoo, you could customize a non-toxic formula for your own hair’s needs using natural flower essences, oils, moisturizes, scents, or spices. People are looking for safer hair tints, depilatories, and other products that are absorbed by the pores. That’s why you need a professional-looking electronic and portfolio-type print media kit.

            Whatever your creative project entails, include a press kit when giving presentations, seminars, interviews, radio or T.V. appearances or querying editors, producers, publishers, agents, and entertainment attorneys. Send the press kit to newspaper and magazine editors, television producers, and radio talk show hosts seeking guests from the writing community. Even mystery and suspense novels or true crime accounts have to offer more than violence and justice.

            The purpose of a press kit is to inform people that scriptwriting is being done on a full-time basis and assignments are wanted either re-writing other writer's scripts or created fiction or non-fiction video and film scripts for production. Industrial video and the trade magazines are constant users of video scripts for training.

            Media kits, also called press kits are included in presentations, pitching, written proposals, sales packets, query letters, and in general correspondence. Marketing and sales for home-based scriptwriters are fields worth writing about in print and in training video script format.





 How Do You Create A Powerful Media Magnet?


            Writers need an online press kit to pre-sell a gift book made for public reading. Also, a gift book can be marketed as a media kit to promote another person, product or service. Most print press kits are discarded by the media without being opened, unless you’re well-known. Gift books may not be discarded as fast as paper press kits if they look enough like heirloom keepsakes. The only way the media will pay attention to a press kit is if it contains a powerful hook and is sent as a gift book, preferably with a CD or DVD inserted in a sleeve that’s pasted on the inside cover of the gift book. Have one sentence or question that will repeat at the beginning, middle, and end of the press kit. Bring the media to your Web site before you mail out expensive printed material to someone who doesn’t contact you and ask for a review copy or press kit of your work.

             Use a question hook that makes a busy editor stop and think. Make the question personal and universal. Put on the press kit's cover a hook question that makes the media do some introverted thinking. In large type letters have the question make an impact. You can ask the reader to name his or her strongest source. In the past, media kits used words like “powerful resource” or “strongest magnet.”

            Notice that that question that holds the reader’s attention is the same as the one you ask of your hero when creating a screenplay, novel, or short story. Another powerful hook question that has been used in media press kits and in presentations to the press in the past is, "How many times have you sold out on your plans and settled for something less?"  However, today, this type of question might get a response like, “None of your business.” So use something that makes your content more approachable such as “You don’t have to settle for reality anymore. Your dreams just woke up your imagination.”

You want the reader in the media to feel important and good about himself while reading your press kit. You want to nourish the press. You don’t want to frighten, shock, or remind the reader of human mortality or frailty. Media kits are there to make you likeable. 

            Use a statement instead of a question to draw the reader in. Questions often bring knee-jerk hostility responses. Soothe the reader. Put the statement on the cover of your press kit folder and also inside the press release.        

If you want to launch anything in the media, you need to show commitment and credibility. You’re a media strategist, an architect and designer of 'models' on paper that create visibility in the media for your unsold, pre-sold, or in-development content or product.

In the middle of the press release, exert power. Write about how the reader can do something to increase his or her power. You could show the reader what one act he or she could perform to become more powerful. Don’t ask a question in the middle of your press release.

A question wastes the limited time available, usually 20 seconds spent to read a one-page media release.  Instead, illustrate in words how to solve a problem, obtain a result, or get more powerful by performing one act. That one act would directly relate to your product, premise, or content. In one sentence, tell the reader exactly what he or she has to do to become more powerful. That’s the selling point of your item.

Professional-looking press kits publicize any item inexpensively. Paid advertising would cost hundreds of dollars for a two-inch display ad in daily newspaper or high-circulation trade journal.

             A press kit is an open invitation for the writer to be hired by colleges of extended studies at $50 an hour or 50% of the gross of student's fees to give a one-day seminar on writing.  Experience is more important than a degree at such adult education seminars in private schools. Exposure, such as giving seminars for producers and directors on script    analysis and consulting, leads to better chances to have personal screenplays seen by producers.

             Stop using fear as an advertisement to draw in people. There are enough ads on TV that start with a screeching ambulance or loud, fast heartbeats, screams, or a man shouting how he’s dying or crying. These ads often are broadcast after midnight or late at night, when most frail seniors are up watching TV and just dozing off. It shocks people out of sleep, particularly the frail elderly or people with disabilities who are not able to sleep easily.

So if you fell asleep in front of your TV set, these types of ads may shock you out of your sweet dream with fearful possible reality scenarios that remind you of your mortality, pain, or diseases. The shock ads are there to get you to buy safety products. Older people feel anxiety when such ads come on. It reminds them of what’s ahead. Instead of making them think about preparing for possible events or their final expenses, people sometimes are shocked awake into a panic attack or worse by the sudden noise of screaming sirens and shouting or loud rapidly beating sounds. Shock ads are unwelcome by those with panic disorder or sensitized nervous systems.

            What ads do seniors like? Serenity is one. You can sell serenity to the media. Instead of wondering how many people get sick watching other people getting sick, use the opposite to attract attention. Offer gently bubbling fountains, quiet rivers and sunsets, beaches, mountains, pine trees, gardens, and anything that brings joy and contentment in TV ads that appear in the wee hours of the night.

            To promote a product, use “two word” titles. Or use the word “Why” in your title if you’re giving information. For nonfiction, use an insightful, popular, and commercial short two-word title such as "Robot Cowboys" Or a trendy title that tells the whole story of the nonfiction book: "Why Writers Want More Monies and Publishers Want More Funnies." Or   "Why Women Want More_(drama)____and Men Want More_(sports)____" 


  What Do Media Professionals Expect To See in a Media Kit?

             Newspaper and magazine editors, radio and T.V. producers, agents, publicists, entertainment attorneys, directors, actors, film, and video creative directors are used to receiving professionally printed press kits. They only read material sent in an "acceptable format."

            An acceptable press kit consists of a double-pocketed file folder, the question hook printed on  the cover (not typed on a regular typewriter, but typeset with desktop publishing fonts).  Inside the flap pocket is another question hook on the inside cover. In the flap-pocket is a black and white glossy photo of the writer (matte for television producers).

            On top of the photo is a four-page press release about what the writer has to offer that needs visibility--and how the information will help the community or readers. A short, one-page press release goes on top of the four-page release. The short press release gives the writer's biography, credits, credentials, and anything else important the writer has done in relation to what the longer press release covers.

             News clippings about the writer or the script are put over the short press release. The clippings are cut out, dated, titled, and pasted on a sheet of paper and then photocopied onto a slick, camera-ready white sheet.  Include in the second flap pocket a copy of any article, booklet, book, sample, or tape for media review. This press kit goes to agents as well as media editors and producers. Make sure you have an electric press kit on a Web site and also sent to the media as well as print folders. Too many paper print media kit folders are thrown away or recycled without being read. No one is paying anyone to read media kits sent unsolicited, and there’s very little time to read them. The exception would be those on a newspaper staff paid to write book reviews or producers that book radio and TV authors as guests on programs.

         Start a reporting service. Create press kits as gift books or booklets containing DNA-driven ancestry reports. Create folder-type press kits as well as electronic media kits. Mail the paper press kits with reports to clients who have had their DNA tested for ancestry. Or make time capsules on genealogy, ancestry, family history, and DNA testing reports for ancestry.


Gift Books as Reporting Services


With very little capital, you can write a business plan to start a reporting service that brings business and client together. One of the easiest enterprises to start with only your computer, printer, and Internet connection is a DNA-driven genealogy reporting service.

You wouldn’t have to spend money on equipment such as gifts for gift baskets or fabric, cameras, or other investments. With only your computer, printer, paper, press kit folders, DVD/CD recorder, DVDs and CDs, and email, you can offer information packaged in unique ways. Instead only offering administrative assistant services, typing, or editing and proofreading, you can offer DNA reporting presented in a media kit or package-type folder.


Turn Media Kits into Gift Booklets


            What does a press kit pitch? Place a two-page pitch release on top of all the other information  in the kit tells the media why the script is so extraordinary, so unique and different and who can benefit by seeing it. Include a marketability study of who would be buying the script, book, or tape. The new age video market is on the rise.

            On top of every release, place the final cover letter as a courtesy, telling why you want the media to print selected press releases and the photo inside. The cover letter is one page or less in length. The first paragraph of the cover letter contains a premise--of the release. What's important is summarized in one sentence. Use concrete credentials that can be checked. If the press kit is going to a publisher to sell a book/script package deal, include a chapter breakdown. The titles of the chapters sell the book just as the title of a video script determines its commercial appeal.

            Book chapter summaries vary from three paragraphs to under a page for highlights. Tell the media exactly what viewers will be told when they view the script. For script/booklet combinations such as book and audio tape combinations, or video and instructional manual packages, write down the components of the book in a press kit, and send a sample. This technique holds true for self-published and self-produced video/book packages used for instruction or motivation.

             The first chapter of a book is like the first scene of a video script. It's the selling chapter. In a media kit designed to sell and outline a book and video package, tell the reader why she needs to read the book and view the video. Include photos or a mock-up copy of the video or book combination.

The fastest way to impress a reader about a video is to have an advertisement or poster with a black background and white print. The print is superimposed over a photo in the background. Viewers will remember that video above one on a white background with black lettering and design.  

             It's possible to create an infomercial to mail out to potential buyers who might be interested in purchasing a produced video or a published book, but it's expensive. A press kit creating visibility for a video, a script, or a book is more direct. Use one sentence to summarize your book, pamphlet, article, or script's premise. 

            Marketing researchers often report that readers will respond faster to an article written by a reporter about a person, business, or product than to a paid advertisement placed by the entrepreneur. Some articles written for high-circulation publications can bring in hundreds of requests for information if a post office box number is included.

Classified ads may get far less response than coverage in an article, especially in the tabloids. Visibility influences marketing. Contacts with video software distributors lead to contacts with producers. A commercial title can pre-sell a script. Free publicity and press coverage pulls more weight than small, paid display ads announcing "script for sale." Press coverage is free, and can be obtained by a phone call and a news angle or a press kit.


Pet-Related Gift Books


Don’t forget the pet gift-book market. Pet-related books, photos, and pet eulogies memorialize pets that belonged to relatives. Contact pet photographers, kennel clubs, associations, pet rescue and adoption services, breeders, and pet supplies wholesalers.         



International Cat Writers’ Association                                               http://www.catwriters.org

The Dog Writers Association of America Inc.                                    http://www.dwaa.org/

Press Kit (The Author’s Guide to Self Promotion)



American Library Association (Professional Tools)


Press Kits (American Library Association)



It's funny how dogs and cats know the inside of folks better than other folks do, isn't it? __ Eleanor H. Porter (1868 - 1920), Pollyanna, 1912



Chapter 15


Reunion Newsletters, Discs, and Gift Books for Families or Alumni



            Ask satellite and communications companies whether you can obtain written permission to compile and publish gift books for family reunions, alumni gatherings, or business video conferences. Bring long-separated family members, military service buddies, retired employees of a company or university, ethnic and religious groups or alumni of various schools together.

Each member may live in a different corner of the globe. Create and publish gift books from transcribed video reunions that include photos. You’d transcribe the oral history from the video reunion (or radio and telephone reunions).

Then you’d publish a book or booklet in print text with photos from video stills and offer the publication as a gift book. Similar gift books made from reunion videos can be created for retired military, high school and college alumni, and other long-separated friends and co-workers. Video conferences also can be transcribed as ‘minutes’ and put into a gift booklet.



            For a small fee--the cost of taping plus a margin of profit, a few dollars per minute, plus a little more than the cost of each copy of the videotape, you can unite families on the Internet, by video or videoconferencing, and give each family member a copy of the family reunion tape.

Back in 1994, the cost came out to about $4 a minute to reunite people on television through a hookup to a satellite. One company, Canal Uno, helped to unite families or hold business videoconferences.

            Today, you can charge sliding scale fees for family members, refugees, retired military, co-workers, school alumni, missing persons, or the physically ill, depending on the budget, your cost, and the ability to pay of the client. Your goal is to bring together people long separated for a reunion on tape because none of the members could come in person due to financial inability, distance, work obligations, age, or illness.






            Locate anywhere there are large populations of immigrants and refugees, or anywhere your target populations congregate. You will be linking together people at a distance by video and phone.

On the video will be relatives, friends, co-workers, immigrants, refugees, or former soldiers who now live anywhere in the world. These people may not have seen their relatives and friends for decades. What they all have in common is that they want a reunion on non-broadcast television.



            You'll need to know how to operate your camcorder and television videoconferencing equipment. Or work with Internet connections. If you can't afford to buy satellite time, then you can limit your service to putting family reunions on DVDs or on the Web or other Internet arrangement, or plan videoconferencing with the client footing the bill for any satellite hookup.

            Recommended are books or a course on how to produce with your video camera and how to produce videoconferences using satellite hookups. Contact the satellite companies for training offers or inquire in the telecommunications department of your local community college.



            You'll need to stand on your feet a lot and operate a camera. You should learn how to hook up television cables and devices. The best experience is hands-on volunteering with other small producers. Experience can be gained by joining professional associations related to video or satellites and volunteer to be on their teams or get available short and low-cost training offered by the business associations. Attend or volunteer to help out at conventions and conferences.



            You'll need a telephone line open to whatever countries you're hooking up to as well as a satellite connection. Your office can be in your home or in a small building. You’ll need a room or studio to operate in or space to put your television screen and camera. A home office or garage can be used for your equipment. Perhaps a spare bedroom can be outfitted with camcorders and computers.



            Expect the reunions to be emotional. You could create a high-tech video network in a small building that brings families together from a part of the world you choose.

            You are allowing families to be close for a short time on television. Seat relatives in a small room with a big television camera mounted in the back wall.

            Here’s one example from the mid-nineties. Canal Uno (Channel One) debuted on January 15, 1994. It provided the technology for families to talk to each member instantaneously on television, usually for 20 minutes. By satellite connection, each family member talked and viewed one another on a television screen.

            If you start your own reunion business at home to make spare cash or to cut your own expenses, your reunions can last for what ever time slot you make--20 minutes--for example, depending upon the time you're allowed to use. You can work with the Internet or where there is no Internet connection, a satellite connection.

             To look back at the Canal Uno example of 1994, El Salvadorans in Texas, California, Maryland, New Jersey, Washington, D.C., Virginia, and Florida could use this high-tech link to Central America. Canal Uno, in June 1994, handled about 100 links a week between the United States and El Salvador.

            The courier firm, Gigante Express’ opened back in 1983 when a young El Salvadoran entrepreneur, Jose Carlos Perez Saleh, had a plan to bring Canal Uno to Nicaragua, Honduras and Guatemala.

Before Canal Uno began operating, Gigante Express carried 30,000 letters a week as a major courier service from the firm's 52 offices in the United States and Canada to El Salvador, Nicaragua, Honduras and Guatemala.

            This is one example of how successful high technology can be when applied to bringing people together or acting as a courier service. Look at how successful giants became successful. For example, it has been reported in the media during the nineties that Gigante as the first Central American courier company soon became the largest of more than 100 courier companies in El Salvador. How does this success case history apply to you at home?

            You, too, as a family reunion video producer, also can make use of any type of technology that’s affordable—from broadband Internet connections to satellite hookups feeding into your camcorder, monitor, or TV set. Your goal would be to bring long-separated people together and give them discs of their family members or long-lost friends anywhere in the world.

            As a sideline, you can also do videoconferencing for corporation executives who need to attend interviews, seminars, and meetings around the globe without the bother and expense of jet lag.

            What do consumers want? Connectivity is at the top of the list. Particularly in demand are satellite hookups to the Pacific Rim nations such as Japan, China, Taiwan, the Philippines, and Australia with the rest of the Far East linked to the West Coast of the United States for executive merger and business talk.



            If you find out how many thousands of people from specific countries live in your area, you'll be able to estimate your target market. How many people from a given country live in the city you’re in today?

Work with population demographics. Your goal is to reach interested people to make the distance between their old country and their new homeland seem smaller through the use of the home camcorder, wireless Internet, phone lines, or a satellite hookup.

            Also contact realtors, vacation housing exchange firms, travel agents, and tour guides as well as executives at Fortune 500 companies to see whether they would like your videoconferencing services.

Reunions are not only for long-separated family members. They can be for business executives from around the world who need to connect via satellite and video.





            You can use your satellite time slot to broadcast election returns from foreign countries and tape them for distribution to community members or researchers. Team up with persons who speak foreign languages, Track how many people from the various countries live in your area and research what their needs are and what type of reunions would interest them. Cater to their videoconferencing needs by Internet, satellite hookup, camcorder, and DVDs or other compact discs.




            International Teleconferencing Association

            1150 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste. 1050

            Washington, DC 20036


            Satellite Video Exchange Society

            1102 Homer St.

            Vancouver, BC Canada V6B 2X6


            Satellite Broadcasting & Communications Association

            225 Reinekers Lane

            Station 600

            Alexandria, VA 22314


            International Association of Satellite Users

            PO Box DD

            6845 Elm St.

            McLean, VA 22101


Society for Private and Commercial Earth Stations

            c/o Richard L. Brown

            1920 N St. NW

            Washington, DC 20036


            Society of Telecommunications Consultants

            One Rockefeller Plaza, Suite 1912

            New York, NY 10020



            PO Box 629000

            El Dorado Hills, CA 95762


            El Salvador Media Project

            335 W. 38th St., 5th fl.

            New York, NY 10018



An education isn't how much you have committed to memory, or even how much you know. It's being able to differentiate between what you do know and what you don't. __ Anatole France (1844 - 1924)



Chapter 16


Digital Scrap Booking, Newsletters, DVDs, and Gift Books from Slide Shows


Plan, write, publish, and syndicate digital scrapbooking instructions as gift books. Scrapbooking is so big that news releases emphasize the customer’s needs and new products available for the craft of keepsake albums and memorabilia—from photos to time capsules. Additionally, turn oral or personal history significant events and life story highlights into gift books and then promote your gift books with video podcasts of  45-minute one-act plays for student audiences.

People interested in software, computers, and technology who may not have the time and money for crafts such as scrapbooking can still enjoy digital scrapbooking. The benefit is that the scrapbook may be saved to a CD or DVD and mailed world-wide. Also, the scrapbook may be uploaded to the Web as a photo album or slide show, video podcast, or E-book and viewed online by anyone with Internet access, including public and university libraries and many public or private schools.

Digital scrap books also are gift books. They may include skits and narrated stories. What’s in print may be adapted as a play. These include life story time capsules that can be included with family history and genealogy keepsakes. Record and transcribe the skits, monologues, life stories, oral histories, or plays. Include a text and photo version and an audio and video version of your digital scrapbook.


Step-by-Step Gathering of Life Story Highlights

First write on a list each step that you need to take in order to gather life story highlights to turn into skits, plays, monologues, vignettes, or other time capsules for high-school, college, or junior-high student audiences. Anything recorded needs to have a text transcription.

You never know when the technology advances and the recording medium disappears before the material can be transferred to a newer medium. Digital scrap booking of oral history and photos or videos can be put in a variety of multimedia formats, including a hard text printed version with photos of your original gift book.

Once you have a text version, you can make a video podcast or disc. Also video and audio interviews can be transcribed and formatted as text in print on acid-free paper for conservation. Keep various formats of a life story. What if technology advances so far that your video no longer can be played because there are no players available?  That’s why you keep a text version with photos in a gift-book format.

Examples of obsolete records could be those on old victrola and phonograph records made in the 1920s. Can you still play the recordings made for ‘Victrolas’ or old-time phonographs? They would not be able to be played on current DVD players without expensive processes of transfer.

If one generation forgets to transfer the time capsule from video tape or DVD to the next technology, at least photos and transcribed text would be viewable and could be narrated into a new slide show or video in the future. Keep a basic copy in print.



            Charge a flat fee such as $100 for putting an edited one-hour life story oral history on a CD or DVD. The life story can come from a memoirs gift book you publish. Or charge less for an unedited oral history on disc. Make sure the disc can be played on most CD and DVD players, not just on personal computers.

 You can charge $75 or more to put the life story on the Web at a Web site where space is bought, or make time capsules—containers of keepsake memorabilia and albums. Another alternative is to charge $100 to transcribe a one-hour oral history tape into a printed out transcription.  

The purpose of a transcription of what’s on a video or audio recording is to have the words on paper in case the technology evolves so that a disc or tape cannot be played in another generation or in a century or more in the future. Just in case someone forgets to transfer the recording to the newest technology, you have a library file of the printed out text that can be translated and emailed or put in a database.



        Scrap booking stores operate in any locality where there is family life. Houses of worship, libraries, online at home, and in suburban, family-type neighborhoods and community centers or schools are good places as are supplies in educational settings. Craft, art, and hobby supply stores also carry scrap booking supplies.



         Classes in scrap booking are given in continuing and adult education centers as well as in shops selling supplies for scrap booking, crafts, artists’ tools, and hobbies.



You’ll need scrap booking supplies you can get from suppliers of craft, hobby, art, and scrap booking stores. Some suppliers and vendors also sell kits where you can be trained to teach others how to scrap book.

Digital scrap booking uses software with clip art and photograph album-creating as well as genealogy and pedigree chart software. Contact the suppliers listed under scrap booking supplies. One excellent Web site for scrap booking supplies you also can sell to your students is at: Y

Set up classes of your own and train others. Contact your local church or house of worship and community center to see whether they already have scrap booking classes. You can teach at any adult education, park, or informal craft class and charge fees for a class ranging from $25 to $35 per person (or what your market will bear) for instruction in scrap booking, either paper hard copy with photos or digital with scanned and digital photos.



How Accurate Are Autobiographies, Biographies, Personal Histories, Plays and Monologues Based on Life Stories?

Autobiographies, biographies, personal histories, plays, and monologues present a point of view. Are all sides given equal emphasis? Will the audience choose favorite characters? Cameras give fragments, points of view, and bits and pieces. Viewers will see what the videographer or photographer intends to be seen. The interviewee will also be trying to put his point of view across and tell the story from his perspective. 

Will the photographer or videographer be in agreement with the interviewee? Or if you are recording for print transcript, will your point of view agree with the interviewee’s perspective and experience if your basic ‘premise,’ where you two are coming from, are not in agreement? Think this over as you write your list of questions. Do both of you agree on your central issue on which you’ll focus for the interview?

How are you going to turn spoken words into text for your paper hard copy transcript? Will you transcribe verbatim, correct the grammar, or quote as you hear the spoken words? Oral historians really need to transcribe the exact spoken word. You can leave out the ‘ahs’ and ‘oms’ or loud pauses, as the interviewee thinks what to say next. You don’t want to sound like a court reporter, but you do want to have an accurate record transcribed of what was spoken.  

You’re also not editing for a movie, unless you have permission to turn the oral history into a TV broadcast, where a lot gets cut out of the interview for time constraints. For that, you’d need written permission so words won’t be taken out of context and strung together in the editing room to say something different from what the interviewee intended to say.

Someone talking could put in wrong names, forget what they wanted to say, or repeat themselves. They could mumble, ramble, or do almost anything. So you would have to sit down and weed out redundancy when you can or decide on presenting exactly what you’ve heard as transcript.

When someone reads the transcript in text, they won’t have what you had in front of you, and they didn’t see and hear the live presentation or the videotape. It’s possible to misinterpret gestures or how something is spoken, the mood or tone, when reading a text transcript. Examine all your sources. Use an ice-breaker to get someone talking.

If a woman is talking about female-interest issues, she may feel more comfortable talking to another woman. Find out whether the interviewee is more comfortable speaking to someone of his or her own age. Some older persons feel they can relate better to someone close to their own age than someone in high school, but it varies. Sometimes older people can speak more freely to a teenager.

The interviewee must be able to feel comfortable with the interviewer and know he or she will not be judged. Sometimes it helps if the interviewer is the same ethnic group or there is someone present of the same group or if new to the language, a translator is present.

Read some books on oral history field techniques. Read the National Genealogical Society Quarterly (NGSQ). Also look at The American Genealogist (TAG), The Genealogist, and The New England Historical and Genealogical Register (The Register). If you don’t know the maiden name of say, your grandmother’s mother, and no relative knows either because it wasn’t on her death certificate, try to reconstruct the lives of the males who had ever met the woman whose maiden name is unknown.

Maybe she did business with someone before marriage or went to school or court. Someone may have recorded the person’s maiden name before her marriage. Try medical records if any were kept. There was no way to find my mother’s grandmother’s maiden name until I started searching to see whether she had any brothers in this country. She had to have come as a passenger on a ship around 1880 as her mother bought a farm around 1889. Did her husband come with her?

Was the farm in his name? How many brothers did she have in this country with her maiden surname? If the brothers were not in this country, what countries did they come from and what cities did they live in before they bought the farm in New England? If  I could find out what my great grandmother’s maiden name was through any brothers living at the time, I could contact their descendants perhaps and see whether any male or female lines are still in this country or where else on the globe.

Perhaps a list of midwives in the village at the time is recorded in a church or training school for midwives. Fix the person in time and place. Find out whom she might have done business with and whether any records of that business exist. What businesses did she patronize? Look for divorce or court records, change of name records, and other legal documents.

Look at local sources. Did anyone save records from bills of sale for weddings, purchases of homes, furniture, debutante parties, infant supplies, or even medical records? Look at nurses’ licenses, midwives’ registers, employment contracts, and teachers’ contracts, alumni associations for various schools, passports, passenger lists, alien registration cards, naturalization records, immigrant aid societies, city directories, and cross-references.

Try religious and women’s clubs, lineage and village societies, girl scouts and similar groups, orphanages, sanatoriums, hospitals, police records. Years ago there was even a Eugenics Record Office. What about the women’s prisons? The first one opened in 1839—Mount Pleasant Female Prison, NY.

Try voters’ lists. If your relative is from another country, try records in those villages or cities abroad. Who kept the person’s diaries? Have you checked the Orphan Train records? Try ethnic and religious societies and genealogy associations for that country. Most ethnic genealogy societies have a special interest group for even the smallest villages in various countries.

You can start one and put up a Web site for people who also come from there in past centuries. Check alimony, divorce, and court records, widow’s pensions of veterans, adoptions, orphanages, foster homes, medical records, birth, marriage, and death certificates, social security, immigration, pet license owners’ files, prisons, alumni groups from schools, passenger lists, military, and other legal records.

When all historical records are being tied together, you can add the DNA testing to link all those cousins. Check military pensions on microfilms in the National Archives. See the bibliography section of this book for further resources on highly recommended books and articles on oral history field techniques and similar historical subjects.         


The Digital Scrapbook Place                                                   http://www.digitalscrapbookplace.com/


Accents 2 (Scrapbooking Shopping Director)



Scrapbooking Press Releases                                                  http://www.topix.net/hobbies/scrapbooking/pr



Education is what survives when what has been learned has been forgotten. __B. F. Skinner (1904 - 1990), New Scientist, May 21, 1964


Education is the best provision for old age. __ Aristotle (384 BC - 322 BC), from Diogenes Laertius, Lives of Eminent Philosophers


“It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.” __ Aristotle (384 BC - 322 BC)


Better to write for yourself and have no public, than to write for the public and have no self. __Cyril Connolly (1903 - 1974)


A great marriage is not when the 'perfect couple' comes together. It is when an imperfect couple learns to enjoy their differences. __ Dave Meurer, "Daze of Our Wives"




Chapter 17

Dating History Newsletters, DVDs, and Gift Books


            For the theme, hidden, and niche relationship news markets, with permission, follow a couple’s dating history for a few years from the first meeting to the wedding. For example, a couple dates for two years and then becomes engaged. A year later the couple gets married.

The gift book would follow all the places they went to with photos and commentary or narration, and all the good times they want to remember before they were married. Always keep neat notes on real names, addresses, phone numbers, Web sites, and email mail. Never maintain sloppy notes. Your career as a journalist depends upon the credibility of your notes to verify you deal with real people. Get permission letters in writing and keep them in the same file.

 Make sure permission letters contact updated addresses and phone numbers. If you keep up to date, you maintain your reputation. Although you may not wish to reveal any real names unless you have written, even notarized permission, your tidy notes will help to verify your records for the fact checking teams. It’s necessary for your credibility.

The gift book would feature photos of the couple together at places that have special meaning for them. This could vary from religious services to parties and dining, dancing, family get-togethers and picnics, or travel.

            Another version of the gift book surrounding a variety of dating situations is the dating service gift book, perhaps used as a promotional tool for digital dating or personal introduction services. One more diverse branch of working with people’s lives could emphasize the work life—a gift book commemorating temporary work experiences during a lifetime.

The temporary “temp” worker keeps a gift book of work experiences from the first temporary job to retirement from temporary assignments. This gift would be for the contingency worker keeping a record in photos and commentary of a variety of short-term work for many different companies.

            The same theme can be applied to many types of human experiences. You’d do a market research survey to find out first if there’s more demand in your area for a dating history gift book or a temporary work history in pictures and commentary.

Most people would like to remember the first meeting of a long-term dating experience before the wedding more than they’d like to preserve for future generations their temporary work history. So let’s look at what it would take to publish a dating service gift book for those looking to meet Mr. or Ms. Right for that first date.


Digital Dating Service or Dating History for a Couple: Photos and Words Gift Book

            Busy people have difficulty finding a mate because it is so hard to make the right love connection. Let your video tape do the matching. You cannot guarantee marriage will result, but you can mail your clients a profile sheet of their prospective match if they are subscribing members of your digital, video or combination video/digital/audio and computer dating service.


            Single persons may subscribe to your video dating book and/or video combined with a digital or personal introduction-face-to-face dating service for $200 to $400 per year. This fee will guarantee that they receive at least one or more video tapes with names and telephone numbers per week to call for dates.

            If you plan to use your video camera to run a marriage brokerage service rather than a video dating service, there will be fewer matches and more in-depth video interviews of prospective marriage matches with the appropriate background check on video accompanied by a signed letter of permission from the client to approve the background check using the methods of a private detective for credibility on video.

            If you want to make big money, you can run an exclusive video matchmaking service and charge a $100,000 fee for romantically matching the superrich with marriage in mind. Your video clients may come from the ranks of foreign royalty, wealthy industrialists from around the world, American professionals and business owners, actors, politicians, TV and film producers, and anyone with little time and lots of money to find exactly the right mate by video screen test.


            Your best bet is to operate your business where there are an abundance of singles. Check the number of singles magazines, newspapers, and personal ads appearing in your local media. Find out what cities have the most singles, and where most of the matchmakers are operating successfully--and why.

            You can do informational interviews with satisfied clients as well as operators of introduction services to find out why they picked various locations. Visit the singles clubs and find out how many singles in which age groups are in specific cities.

            Network with other introduction services owners and study the competition. If you're running an ethnic or religious-based video introduction service, it's more important to find out which cities and neighborhoods attract the particular group you're helping.

Some of the singles, ethnic, religious, women’s, men’s, behavior-and relationship-oriented magazines have published surveys to find out which cities have the most singles, the cheapest places to live, find a job, (or retire to) and who is most likely to use a video dating or matrimonial introduction service.

            You might even get by opening a video dating service for such specialized populations as those people who have specific needs, earn high incomes, or those with certain time requirements, such as night shift workers. People in certain professions may want to date others in similar occupations. Or match by personality preferences and other similar traits.           


            You'll probably want to learn how to operate your video camera, editing equipment, and VCR, your computer for matching people and mailing letters, and books on how to run a small business from home or office.

            As far as matching people, read books on how to become a marriage broker or on how to run a dating service. Interview owners of video dating services and join their professional associations. Subscribe to publications of business associations for marriage brokers and dating service owners, and speak to a lot of singles about what they want in a video dating service.

            Study the personal ads in newspapers where singles advertise for dating and meeting a marriage-minded significant other for a deep and meaning relationship. Visit singles clubs, singles groups and seminars, and interview members.

            You can specialize in certain religious or ethnic groups, in young professionals, or senior citizens, or in any niche single market you choose--such as single pet lovers, vegetarians, orthodox Jews, college educated, travel-oriented, or book readers. Know your market and make it as niche-oriented or as wide and general as you wish.


            A video matchmaker must love to interview people and bring people together to form loving relationships. You must have the courage of a private detective to check on people's backgrounds, and understand how to bring out the best qualities in people on videotape. After all, you're selling people as potential dates or mates in an infomercial video through non-broadcast television. Most of the tapes will go to people's homes or be viewed by singles clubs. For anyone appearing on video tape, you need a signed letter of permission that the person on tape knows where the video will be mailed.


            You need a video camera and editing equipment, a personal computer and word processor, a printer, and a telephone. The estimated cost is $1,500 for the computer and $700 for the printer.

            You should have blank disks, report paper, mailing- list software, and a merge program, available for almost any computer or word processor. The estimated cost of software would be about $200 to $500 for mailing-list and merge programs. You will need a list of single people, and you need to know their ages. You can purchase this list from a list broker for less than $100, or you can create your own from research and advertisements in singles publications.


            A video dating or marital matching service utilizes a video camera, VCR, editing equipment, and a personal computer word processor by using mailing lists and video interviews to pair off clients. Your video subscribers will describe to you the kind of person they are looking for. The file in your word processor searches until it sorts out by age, status, income, and other information an appropriate date. Interview and check your candidates before you put their names into your file. Ask about the following characteristics.

1) Race, including Caucasian, Black, Oriental, Latin, or Other (specify).

2) Age.

3) Height.

4) Sex.

5) Dependents: none; one or more.

6) Marital status: divorced or separated; widowed; never married. 7) Religion (specify).

8) Smoking habits: None; if any, then describe.

9) Average cost of evening out: less than five dollars; five to ten dollars; ten to twenty dollars; more than twenty dollars.

10) Education: grade school; high school; some college; degree (specify).

11) Occupation and interests, including hobbies or volunteer work.

12) Personality: introvert; extrovert; dominant; submissive; moody; warm; temperamental; carefree; generous; shy; reserved; self-assured; serious.

13) Disposition: independent; cheerful; sociable; talkative; fearful; quiet; passive; nervous; energetic; easily discouraged; neat.

14) Politics; ultraconservative; conservative; middle-of-the-road; liberal; ultraliberal.

15) Income level: wealthy; over $40,000; over $25,000; over $12,000; under $12,000.

16) Where do you like to go on a date: movies; dances; lunch; dinner; driving; bars; concerts; plays; group activities; weekend trips; sports events; friends' homes; or outdoor activities.

17) Which activity do you enjoy most: reading; driving; card playing; housework; dancing; talking; camping; working; loafing; gardening; thinking; or watching television

18) Language spoken usually. (Specify foreign language or English.)

This profile data is put on video tape along with a five-minute video interview of your client. The same information is fed into your computer, and you then arrange a date. When the client agrees that you have made an acceptable match, your fee is paid.

Always agree in writing as to what an acceptable match means to your client. It may take you several introductions to satisfy your clients.


            Clients will be unmarried men and women in almost every age range. You may have clients from all occupations and from a wide variety of educational back grounds or focus on niche markets--the very rich, all income levels, certain ethnicities or religions, selected professions, or different age groups.


            Match business partners with a dating history gift book and also on recorded video. Why limit yourself to singles looking for mates? How about matching pen pals for general friendship or conversation, the incarcerated, home-based seniors, hobby groups, similar interests associations, or personality types, couples who merely want friends for conversation or travel, children or teenagers who want school chums as video friends? What do parents want for children to have social experiences? What’s appropriate? You can bring people together with similar interests from around the globe. Another venue is to match recruiters seeking job applicants with job seekers.

A gift book can be a dating history book that’s published in paperback or hard cover, but it’s expensive and difficult to update with additional details unless you’re using print-on-demand publishing software. You can put new information online or on disc. Published books can be updated annually, but online, a digital (electronic, computerized) database can be updated much more frequently online.


International Society of Introduction Services                                                                          PO Box 31408                                                                                                                                San Francisco, CA 94131

National Association of Single People                                                                            4256 N. Brown Ave., Suite H                                                                                               Scottsdale, AZ 85251

National Association of Christian Singles                                                                                      1933 W. Wisconsin Ave.                                                                                                    Milwaukee, WI 53233

Association for Couples in Marriage Enrichment                                                                        PO Box 10596                                                                                                                        Winston-Salem, NC 27108

Wives of Older Men                                                                                                                        1029 Sycamore Ave.                                                                                                                   Tinton Falls, NJ 07724



Chapter 18

Celebrities’ “Lessons Learned from Life” as Newsletters, Discs, Reports, or Books


            Did you ever think of writing letters to 2,000 famous people asking them, “What is the most important lesson you have learned from life?” What if enough celebrities, physicians, millionaires, scientists, or famous authors replied with common sense advice, such as, "Make the most of what you have?" You could compile, edit, and publish a gift book of golden lessons celebrities, scientists, or teachers sent you answering one or two questions about what was the most important lesson each learned from life emphasizing the notion of making the most of what you have.

This type of nourishing gift book could be not so much about your client, but about valuable lessons everyone can read to help people make the kind of choices most of us have to make at different stages of life based on our individual differences and similarities. Go ahead.

Publish a book that emphasizes one question about what the most important lesson of life famous people have learned. Find out who answers your questions. You can reach most celebrities through their agents or publishers. Don’t limit yourself to entertainment celebrities or wealthy business owners. Include those who work the hardest to help people—teachers, fire fighters, law enforcement, and also politicians, physicians, and scientists.

Perhaps you might want to focus on those who serve everyone else, such as military personnel, and those who serve in hospitals, social workers, food servers, retail clerks, and anyone else you want to include. Or you may only want to gather business advice from entrepreneurs, stock brokers, financial wizards, or real estate tycoons.

What if you produced a video, wrote a short book, formed a national association, sold a franchise, or gave a seminar on how to cut expenses and get higher quality for less money? You could compile all the lessons a lot of famous people learned from life on a videotape and sell it to the self-enhancement video distributors or distribute the tape yourself as a special interest self-enhancement tape.

            Although making money with a video camera is part of a $17 billion industry, special interest videos, according to a recent issue of Entrepreneur magazine, are ready to advance. It's the instructional video boom, the how-to video, that industry experts believe will dwarf the gross sales figures of feature film rentals.

            A special interest training video tells the viewer how to do something, how to do something better. Or it fills a special interest request for new and timely information by which the viewer can make more informed choices.

            The how-to gift book also can be narrated as a video. It trains you in skills. It’s easier to get an email or phone call response from a celebrity to put in a paperback book that you publish than to get video clips of that person answering your question: “What’s the most important lesson you learned from life?” The selling point of the video is that it will show you how to make money or have fun doing something you love to do or want to learn.

            The gift book offering the answers of a celebrity can be instructional. It fills a niche market interest to improve your life by doing something in a new way. Special interest videos supplement gift books. They don't replace them. They are for hands-on and visually-oriented people who find reading abstract, dry. They are for viewers who want to make learning entertaining and fun.

            The coffee table gift book can emphasize responses of famous inventors of the present. A book in the living room becomes the center of learning and entertainment. Sure, you can make a video if you gather a group of people and ask them the same question, but it’s more difficult and expensive to get a group together at one time. It only takes a few seconds for someone to call you or send you email with an interview question answered.

Ask for written permission to include a quote or comment from a celebrity in your published book. When celebrities, scientists, teachers, or inventors answer questions about lessons each learned from life, the book may in the future become the basis for a special interest video or interactive multimedia for schools. Or your gift book may end up in school librarians.

Contact the associations of school librarians and ask whether they can include your book in their catalogue list that is mailed to school librarians. If you interview educators, scientists, or inventors, you have a chance of your gift book ending up in libraries, especially at schools and literacy centers. After you have a comment or quote from the celebrity, teacher, or scientist, ask for the letter of permission to be sent with a photo that you can include in your book.


            You could market your gift books to the chains of how-to special interest book stores, gift shops, supermarkets, sports shops, or home repair stores springing up nationally in shopping malls. Or sell your nourishing self-help books through self-distribution. You may receive more income than if you accepted a small royalty of 15 to 20 percent of your distributor's gross. Some distributors will offer you a percentage of their net, which will cut your income greatly.

            The downside of self distribution is that you will spend a lot of money on advertising and promotional expenses as well as duplication and packaging. You'll also have freight expenses. With some distributors, you can expect to earn a percentage of net sales on each video. Distributors usually want to own home video rights.         

In the mid-eighties, the number of video stores began to fall, and video rental stores reached its plateau. This cutback gave video wholesalers more territory and power. There's only one secret of success, and that's know your market.

            Your income will depend on how well your video is produced, marketed, promoted, backed by experts such as medical colleges giving it credibility (or another credible organization), and how well the market is targeted. Income depends on how well your tape is cross-promoted. Amortize your costs.

            Use well-known people in your tape or to promote it. Know your packaging budget and legal fees, how much you'll pay for accounting and postage. Study your competition. Talk to successful self-distributors.

            Income is affected by the lack of strong product on small wholesalers. The result is that non-theatrical special interest videos are arousing attention. When wholesalers can't get feature films on video, they turn to special interest videos. However, the video stores still want "A" (first class) movie titles.

             What you earn will depend on the popularity of your gift book. If you also have a video narrating the material in your book or a video interview, it's a good idea to charge as little as you can for sales. A $19.95 tape will sell better than a $39.95 tape. A midline price is $29.95. Most people prefer to pay $20 for a one or two hour instructional tape rather than $40.

            Keep your prices below $29.95. If you're producing children's tapes, prices generally are under $29.95. Sometimes the really cheap children’s educational tapes sell poorly. When Lorimar priced children's specialty tapes around $10-$15, the tapes didn't sell well because there was too little margin for the seller.


            You can operate your gift book business anywhere. Your business is national, advertised through national television or in national trade and specialty magazines, through special interest associations, or through conventions, seminars, courses, and their related special interest publications.

            Where you distribute your tapes are more important than where you tape the instructional subject. Many instructional tapes are made indoors for demonstration of equipment. Sports videos often are made outdoors or in a gym. Sometimes the best place for a Yoga tape is in an instructor's studio, decorated with backlighting and a brilliant use of decoration to promote the mood and meditation in the environment.


            If you will be going beyond book publishing and booksellers to video recording, ask your video supplies store when they have classes to train you how to use your video equipment--camera, editing, special effects, sound equipment. However, your real training comes in picking how-to subjects to record. Without a video, your dealings will be with distributors and booksellers unless you publish a gift book only to individual clients who want personalized books as keepsakes.

            If you can teach people how to do something or offer a training gift book also as a video recording, you can make full use of the lighting and camera equipment. In addition, you'll need to read a book or take a short course in marketing and distribution of the specialty video market. Such marketing and distribution courses are always offered by video industry trade associations. Get on their mailing lists, or talk to your video supplies store instructor.


            You'll need the entrepreneur's autonomy and desire to be your own employer. Teaching skills are important. You want to make the complex simpler. It's important to make instructions concrete, clear, and easy to understand.

The reader of an instructional or educational gift book probably bought your book hoping the instruction on it is easier to understand than he found with another instructional manual. Don’t use complicated words or tiny print.  

            Show hands-on demonstrations. You're dealing with visual learners. Gift book readers looking for educational material and viewers of educational videos need to see and hear how to do something while using the equipment, making the point, or making the moves.

            The average attention span per scene is under seven minutes--before the mind drifts. Your most important attitude is patience with the learner with lots of praise to build the viewer's confidence.

            Use praise to make the viewer feel important and good. Develop confidence that practice makes better. Good teaching skills help make a great video.

            If you have the industrial skill, but are a lousy teacher, hire a narrator who comes across as friendly, outgoing, and easy to understand to work with your video script. If you have trouble expressing yourself in writing, or in trying to explain how you do something, hire a scriptwriter to communicate effectively and a narrator to speak the words in front of the camera while you perform the skill, hands-on.

            If you're the writer or narrator who wants to make a how-to video, hire the skilled expert to demonstrate on camera. Do the voice over or write the script after interviewing and taping the expert off-camera first to get the procedures in sequence.

Then you can make a voice-over with the narrator reading your script, the expert demonstrating hands-on in front of the camera, and you operating your video camera. Gift books combined with video recordings double your chances of being noticed and promoted by others. Research your intended audience. Find out the demographics such as the age groups and income levels of your potential customers and clients.


            Besides publishing a gift book, to make an additional video of the same material, you’ll need a video camera, editing and DVD or tape duplicating equipment, and a way of distributing your videos. Tape is being phased out, and DVDs are in right now, but technology changes rapidly. Keep your gift books in a variety of formats from print hard copy to recordings. You'll need a marketing program to advertise to consumers, business owners, schools, libraries, professional associations, and event planners.

            By offering to operate a video camera at conventions, you can network with potential consumers when you create your own tapes on related or specialty subjects of interest to event planners and convention attendees, or members of professional/business associations, and business owners. You'll need circulars, order forms, and newsletters to mail out to potential customers--and a plan to distribute your promotional material.

            You'll need enough video equipment to fill all areas of instruction and demonstration, which can be different for each tape. Your video supply store can give you a production equipment list individualized and customized to your needs with each different video.


            Business owners, schools, libraries, professional associations, home parties, event planners, specialty shops, and video clubs can help you sell your special interest tape. You can send out your own catalog from a purchased mailing list.

            Have other video producers share your mailing expenses by advertising their tapes in your mail order catalog. More retail outlets carry specialty videos. Try in-store posters, stand-ups, and special offers or display racks of specialty market videos in stores.

            Hardware stores, pharmacy chains, gardening outlets, maternity shops, gift stores, bookstores, and health food stores could carry your specialty video. Approach the specialty stores whose theme is similar to yours. Popular are exercise books with new types of exercises from different parts of the world. Examples are yoga, qi gong, tai chi, and eye exercises compiled by a variety of eye doctors.

            Video sales to stores on one title usually last only six weeks. You'll have to use alternative markets. Every six weeks video stores move to market a new, fresh product. Your specialty video should have a one-year life, unless it's a software instructional video, where new software keeps coming on the market. Keep your tape updated and timely.

            Try the video clubs, such as CBS, Time-Life, Reader's Digest, and National Geographic as well as the small specialty video clubs and distributors in specialty magazines. For example, alternative health, lifestyle, inspirational, paranormal, or new age-related videos are sold through niche magazine advertisements, specialized gift shops, catalogues, online, and through events and conventions globally.

            Belly-dancing videos are marketed to belly-dance teachers, costume designers, events, conventions, and through advertisements in belly-dance magazines and newsletters and local chapters of national belly-dance organizations.

The same rule applies to all other special interest groups and their videos. Try publishing a belly dancing, ballroom, or square dancing gift book with instructions and photos.

            To operate your business, you'll need a marketing program that includes mail order catalogs, promotional videos about your videos, circulars, ads, and television commercials.


            You can sell your video at home parties or by wholesaling to retailers. Use the theme and title of your video to locate retailers and home parties that cater to the kind of audience interest you're seeking.

            If you're making a tape on how to use a particular computer software program, you're not going to sell your video to the owner of a maternity garment store. However, if you're selling a videotape on infant massage and preschool exercise, that maternity store, toy store, children's clothing chain, and sports store would definitely be a target market for your tape.

            Specialty tapes are sold by video and rental stores, mass merchants, bookstores, toy stores, convenience stores, sports stores, through infomercials and direct response television, and through direct mail order catalogs sent to a targeted audience from a purchased mailing list. You could market your instructional tapes to the Peace Corps or VISTA, or to the government.

            Your audience mailing list should be designated as having an interest in your subject matter. Frequently these mailing lists are composed of specialty magazine subscribers or buyers of equipment related to the special interest.

            A feature film video tape usually ships 250,000 rental titles. Specialty tapes differ according to the niche market appeal of the tape. Retailers demand that video suppliers commit to television advertising. You'll have to advertise either on television or through direct mail order catalog.

            Television pulls people into rental and video stores. However, your tape may have such a small audience that only through direct mail order catalog or advertisements in trade journals and specialty magazines can you reach your niche audience. Target markets for educational tapes include schools, libraries, and book publishers as well as supply shops.

            If you don't want to produce video tapes yourself, hard-to-find specialty video tapes are sold below wholesale prices. You can buy up these low-priced video tapes that other producers have made and sell them yourself through mail order or at home parties and events, or even through door-to-door sales calling on stores.

            Or if you don't want to spend a lot of money to buy or handle other producer's instructional videos yourself, only find customers, you could work for a company that distributes and sells videos at wholesale or below wholesale prices. Such firms may stock the videos and make the choice for you whether the videos are in demand.

            Working as an independent contractor for a video sales and distribution company, you don't have to buy up video tape inventory yourself. The company will drop-ship to your customers, so you don't even have to handle the videos. Or you can ask them to drop ship to your home.

            What you do, is find the customers. It's really sales. You visit stores, events, ask friends, have sales parties, and approach vendors, suppliers, and leave flyers at trade show booths. You ask anyone you think will be a customer. You stamp your address on the franchiser's catalog, and people order from you.

You buy a membership kit from sales and distribution companies. The way you make money is by sales, finding your own customers for the companies that drop-ships videos, DVDs, audio books, or printed material either to your customers or to your home. You don't produce your own video.  


            Variety in specialty gift books or videos is what the market is about. With nine out of people in the United States owning a VCR, informative videos could be on any subject related to cashing in on some skill or information.

Be a gift book documentarian, and record how-to subjects, travel, or educational themes in books as well as on audio or video discs. Make documentaries on sports, travel, home, health, cooking, fitness, dance, music, hobbies, crafts, business, arts, creativity, writing, science, children's programming, animation, folklore, ethnomusicology, history, or relationships.

The point is that people buy specialty tapes to improve their lives or skills, or to learn something new. Information allows people to make choices and decisions based on current or historic facts and realities. Don't overlook the gift market and gift shops or online gift sellers or book sellers for self-enhancement discs or tapes and the corporate market to train employees. Include corporate success stories.

Information can vary from supplying people with information such as the least costly cities to live in, the best places for retirement, guides for owners of recreational vehicles or campers to statistics on neighborhoods of different cities for people relocating. You can help newcomers to a neighborhood or city by referring them to services or housing, shopping, and schools. Publish a guide for executives relocating or where to find rooms and inns available for business travelers who want to stay in private homes, apartments, or condominiums. A gift book on places to dine on a $40 a day budget is helpful.

Being a local travel agent in reverse, catering to visitors and newcomers or locating rooms in private homes for business travelers all focus on niche markets and consumer demand. Gift books with or without DVDs of similar material such as walking tours of neighborhoods and shopping may be published.

Distribute specialty, travel, recreation, fitness, dining, business, or personal shopping services gift books with personalized information relating to merchants. The distribution or syndication could go to hotels, national professional associations planning annual conventions, meeting planners, merchants, conference vendors, newcomers’ associations, real estate relocation firms, community centers, travel agents, executive clubs, convention centers, and chambers of commerce for a variety of cities. Gift books can be a newer take-off from travel guides or travel-related detailed memoirs—such as best restaurants locals use or a review of merchants’ offerings in an area.


Association for Independent Video & Filmmakers                                                                 625 Broadway, 9th fl.                                                                                                                       New York, NY 10012

Educational Broadcasting Corporation                                                                                        356 W. 58th St.                                                                                                                 New York, NY 10019

Media Network                                                                                                                              39 W. 14th St., Suite 403                                                                                                              New York, NY 10011

Forbes Media Guide                                                                                                                      1400 route 206 N                                                                                                                              PO Box 89                                                                                                                            Bedminster, NJ 07921

Video Direct Corporation (a company that distributes and sells videos)                                                                                                               Dept. D9                                                                                                                                           400 Morris Ave                                                                                                                             Long Branch, NJ 07740        

Right on the Money




Thus, in a real sense, I am constantly writing autobiography, but I have to turn it into fiction in order to give it credibility.” __ Katherine Paterson, The Spying Heart, 1989 








Chapter 19

Mind-Body-Spirit Gift Family History Video Newsletters, Reports, and Gift Books

Numerology, Noetics, and Cycles for Entertainment at Family Reunions


            Numerologists interpret the numbers that determine life cycles and believe success is attracted to certain combinations of numbers. When you produce a numerology instructional gift book, show clients how to offer readings. Customize the reading as a gift book only for each client. Readers such as astrologers, behavior specialists, psychics, mentalists, or those in the self-help field may publish a book for one individual giving a ‘reading’ or ‘forecast’ or perhaps a suggestion for behavioral or diet changes if one is a licensed professional in the self-help or nutrition field.

            One example here describes how a numerologist might offer a reading. Each person who offers a service in various fields that help others may offer a photo and text gift book showing each client an individually customized path to follow or strategies and steps used to give someone a reading.

As a numerologist, you give clients a reading based on how the client’s first, middle, and last names influence their chances of success in finance, employment, marriage, or overall happiness. For entertainment purposes only, readings by numerologists, astrologers, or practitioners of the noetic arts work well with personalized gift books using various media. Numerologists believe that you can change the way people react to you by changing your name, thereby influencing your chances for success.


            You’ll need the usual print-on-demand publishing software as well as printing and distributing channels even for one book customized for one individual. If you place your ‘reading’ on a video based on an interview (instead of publishing the material in a book) you’ll need a personal computer, video camcorder, DVD and CD recording drives, and disks.

The estimated costs are about $1,000 worth of computer equipment and about $1,000-$3,000 for an industrial quality camcorder. Of course, you can use your digital high 8 camcorder, but the broadcast quality for professional-quality DVDs would be better with an industrial broadcast quality camcorder. For non-broadcast home entertainment purposes, any digital video Web camera or camcorder will record a reading for your client. Ask your client whether he or she wants a gift book with the numerology or other reading transcribed in text along with photos of the person’s life at different stages.

Using the numerology small business or hobby example, you might find that numerology software will be helpful. There is plenty of free numerology software on the Web for you to download. Some Web sites include: Decoz®Numerology - Free Numerology Software - Free Numerology Readings at: http://www.decoz.com/ and Numerology Software to purchase called Professional Numerologist at: http://www.wideninghorizons.com/. There is a free evaluation copy of numerology software to test before you buy. It’s on the Web site at: http://www.wideninghorizons.com/download.shtml. A free Numerology Analysis Tool software is at: http://www.aboriginemundi.com/numerology.html.  Search under “Numerology Software” as key words in your search engine online and find all types of numerology software, either free ware, evaluation copies, or software to purchase.


            To give a numerological reading, begin by obtaining the first, middle, and last name of your client and your client’s birth date. In most interpretations of numerology each letter of the alphabet is assigned a number. These numbers are attributed with descriptions of personality. The numbers correspond to the following designations of the alphabet.

A   B   C   D  E   F  G   H   I   J   K  L  M  N  O   P  Q  R   S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z

1   2    3   4    5   6   7    8   9  1   2   3   4   5   6    7   8   9  1   2   3   4   5    6   7  8

Number          1) leadership

                        2) artistic ability

                        3) humor

                        4) logical thinking

                        5) communications ability

                        6) domesticity

                        7) analytical and intellectual skills

                        8) business ethicality

                        9) entertainment

            Some systems of numerology attribute personality quality to numbers. Number 9 in some systems is negative. By changing your name you avoid the repelling quality of your number.

In order to forecast with a numerological reading, you must add up the day, month, and year of a person’s birth date and then add that figure to the sum arrived at from adding the letters of the first, middle, and last name. Then you take that sum and add the figures until you arrive at a number of 9 or less. For example, if you arrive at the number 22, each figure must be added until you get 4. The number 10 is 1 plus 0 or 1.

            A person’s reading consists of reducing all the numbers to between 1 and 9. One example is your client with the name “Anne Joan.” These names are represented by the numbers 1555 and 1615. Add the numbers in the first name and the sum is 16. Add the two figures, and the sum is 7.

            The next name adds up to 13. Then, 1 plus 3 equals 4. Take the 7 and 4 and add them to get 11. Add the 1 plus 1, and get a 2. Now take the number 2 and add it to the sum of the person’s birth date. For example, if the person was born on November 18, 1941, it would be done this way: 1941 plus 11 plus 18. The sum total is 1970. Add each figure and get 17. Add these two figures to get one figure.

            You end up with 8. Now add the number 2 from the name to 8 and get 10. Since one plus 0 is 1, your client is a number 1. In numerology number 1 means strong leadership ability. You could then advise your client to study for careers in which the leadership qualities would be used.

            In addition to names, numerologists predict success is attracted to certain combinations of numbers in street addresses, telephone numbers, and other number sequences found in the life cycle that are believed to be predestined. Some numerologists predict stock market swings by observing recurring number cycles and ten-year patterns. Full instruction can be obtained by studying several good books on numerology and the instructions accompanying numerology software.

 When you have learned the techniques, it’s time to practice making private video podcasts of numerology readings for your clients. Your video podcasts also can be used to offer instruction and courses in numerology or related fields. In addition to numerology there are other noetic areas to explore such as astrology or other types of readings. Video podcasts work well when giving instruction in how to do numerology as most readings for clients are private and more suitable for saving on a CD or DVD. You wouldn’t post private readings for clients on public Web sites, but you might put up a video for a client to download from a private site or send the client a CD or DVD with the video reading. The video podcast also may be produced in interview format.


            Convention attendees, party entertainment planners, public access TV panels, creative salons, interviewers, radio talk show hosts, community centers, senior centers, astrology and numerology clubs, and subscribers to numerology and/or astrology publications, students of numerology courses or subscribers related new-age, intuitive, and mind-body-spirit publications are all potential audiences. You can also write for niche newspapers and magazines, or attend new age fairs.

            Other people in the mind-body-spirit arena include spiritualists, ministers of new age-related churches, mystic and noetic science course instructors, members of parapsychology clubs, and groups or publications interested in forecasting and insight may be interested. Even some nightclub acts may feature numerologists and mentalists.


            For entertainment purposes, most numerologists on radio talk show are not paid. To give individual readings, a top-notch numerologist who is asked to speak on numerous radio or TV shows can ask for approximately $200 to answer a question or give a reading. Your purpose would be to help people figuratively balance.

Lesser known numerologists can ask anywhere from $15 to $25 or even $50 for a numerology reading. The more time you spend analyzing a client’s numbers, the more you can ask. Readings also can be done online, by phone, or through video or audio readings. Save the files and convert them to MP3 audio files and/or MP4 video files. That way, the customer can download the file into a mobile device such as an iPod. In a gift book or using video, the client can actually see how the numbers are grouped and interpreted if you have charts, Power point slide shows, or excellent quality video close-ups can showcase how you work with numbers. You can publish a gift book with catchy titles such as “I Have Your Number” or anything similar that’s not copyrighted, registered, or trademarked. Make sure any title you use is not reserved exclusively for someone else doing similar work.

Gift books can be published presenting your or your client performing exercises, workouts or touch and healing arts such as tai chi, qi gong, Reiki, and Yoga instruction with discussion. Research what ‘Lightworkers’ actually do. Can they be featured  in gift books? Combine numerology with other venues.

Also check out Web sites for a variety of centers that specialize in helping people and learning experiences. You may wish to look at the Web site of the Awakening Center at: http://www.theawakeningcenter.com/. Their site states, “OFALFO.org - a project of The Awakening Center, reaching out on the web and in the community, in Audio/Video/Text chats, community portal site and distance learning with a group of volunteers who give of their time and heart to assist others to find their ‘center.’ Continuing to grow and CO-create the essences for communicating in more vibrant methods to assist in reaching as many as we can.”

Whatever path you choose for publishing gift books, use a variety of media to promote your books and pamphlets. These could be video news releases, audio files on the Internet, syndication, podcasts, or publicity in local weekly newspapers targeting a specific audience or niche. Attend professional and trade associations’ meetings. Volunteer to speak or set up speaker’s panels for conferences where you can mention your interest in publishing gift books.


When I do good, I feel good; when I do bad, I feel bad, and that is my religion. __ Abraham Lincoln (1809 - 1865), (attributed)


Science without religion is lame; religion without science is blind. __ Albert Einstein (1879 - 1955), "Science, Philosophy and Religion: a Symposium", 1941



Chapter 20


Inspirational Video and Print Newsletters, CDs, DVDs, or Gift Books




Inspirational and motivational gift books consisting of at least 65 photos on each left hand page and accompanying text on each right hand page may emphasize human experience with solutions to problems. Some fall under the mind-body-spirit or self-help classifications. Your inspirational gift book shows others how to solve problems, learn from and transcend prior mistakes, end bad habits by replacing them with healthier habits, or cut expenses and obtain higher quality products and services. Your book can explore your previous writing for the inspirational markets by producing inspirational materials.


Memoirs of significant events, turning points, or highlights of life stories can show that by sharing people can learn alternatives and possibilities for healthier and happier choices. Help people make more informed decisions. You can focus either on religious gift books or self-help and inspirational solutions and turning points that reveal positive results.


It makes no difference what religion or spirituality essence you select, but writing a life story for the religious or inspirational markets is in demand and expanding its need for sharing life story experience in the form of books, stories, or featured articles and columns.

What many religious, self-help, or inspirational markets are looking for are steps that others can follow showing the viewer how to arrive at a decision or choice by growth and transformation.

Your message of self-help could be about how you or someone gained wisdom that everyone can share. Inspirational true life story gift books are about how you searched for answers in exotic or complex places but found close to home, usually right in front of you. And the answer (growth) wasn’t complex at all, but simple as commitment to family, faith, and universal values.


By sharing your experiences and life story, readers will learn how you made decisions and why, what wisdom you gained from your growth or transformation, and what made it possible for you to grow and change and become a stronger and better person. The stories you'd write about would be those universal messages we all go through, such as rites of passage, dealing with the stages of life in new ways, finding alternatives, and how you handled the challenges.


 The book’s theme could be on how you found the answer close to home that helped you make a choice, what caused your transformation, how and why you changed or grew, and what you learned from your prior mistakes. Include step-by-step guidelines that achieved results.




               After you organize the facts of an inspirational life story experience, write a short article of about 1,500-1,800 words and submit a query letter and then the article to magazines interested in inspirational, religious, self-help, health, mind-body-spirit, or new age markets. Each magazine may offer a different payment based on the number of words published after editing. Some publications pay a nickel a word or ten cents a word and others pay a dollar a word or more. Income depends on whether you write articles for magazines, newspaper columns, books, or go on public speaking tours on a specific inspirational subject.


               Try the religious, new age, holistic health, and inspirational markets, and the book publishers under the title Mind-Body-Spirit or “inspirational books.” You can earn from making your own CDs or DVDs with inspirational messages, lectures, or humor. Or create audio books with inspirational and life story themes.

                Join various small publishers’ groups such as Publishers’ Marketing Association (PMA) at: http://www.pma-online.org/  or Small Publishers Association of North America at: http://www.spannet.org/  for instruction and information in operating an inspirational publishing business if you want to publish your own material.



     Working at home online is the cheapest way to get started in writing, editing, and publishing inspirational material. You can work from small offices in the libraries of churches or church offices, any office in a house of worship or inspirational organization.

               The Bible belt location also is helpful if you’re writing or publishing religious books. Being close to a center of inspirational, new age, trendy, or alternative healing conventions works best if you need foot traffic.

       If your business comes from selling at trade show or convention booths, locate to where most of the alternative health and healing conventions take place, where the foot traffic is high if you want to take a booth at conventions. Otherwise, work online or by catalogue. Otherwise, working at home and online can be done from most locations.



      Read inspirational books and articles and study what the publications want most, especially in new trends in publishing. Every two years there’s a new fashion in publishing such as angel books or published diaries. Familiarize yourself with what the inspirational market needs by talking to booksellers, publishers, and those who buy inspirational books. Ask them what sells more each year.  

The religious and spiritual or inspirational markets want stories that offer pictures and choices and show how you solved your problems. The reason people read your story is to find out how to solve their own problems and make decisions. Give them information they can use to make decisions, even if you write fiction. Have some authority and truth in the fiction, particularly about facts and historical information.

People buy your story to make choices, including choices in the later stages of life or choices in growing up and making transitions. As people move from one career to another or from one stage of life to the next, they want to read about how you made that passage in time and space, and what choices you made.

Life story writing should be more preventive than reactive. Biography writing is reactive because it responds only when people are in need, in transition, or in turmoil. What sells is preventive story writing.

 Give transformation, growth, and problem solving information so people will be able to prevent making your past mistakes. Show readers, viewers, or listeners how you've learned from your mistakes and pass on your wisdom, growth, and change. Readers want to share your understanding.



Put rewards and possibilities for personal growth into your life story. Don't merely dump your pain and prior abuse on readers or your history of how you were tortured. That's not going to solve their problems.


What will is writing about how you've worked at understanding challenges. Look at your readers as the trainers of future generations.

Approach life story writing as you would approach writing song lyrics. Pick an industry and focus on the industry as you develop a life story built around an industry or event. If you write about your own life story, do interviews. Gather many different views.

You'll discover blind spots you would never have noticed about yourself. Treat your life story not only as a diary with a one-sided view, but as a biography. Interview many people who have had contact with you as you grew up or during the experience you're targeting.

Writing the Forward

If you write a biography of another person as a book, story or article, or as fiction in a novel, you'll need a foreword. This is what you're doing as you first meet the person you're interviewing. Have two tape recorders going at the same time in case one isn't working properly. Get permission to record. Write what you're doing as you first meet the person you're interviewing. It should be about 16 double-spaced pages or 8 printed pages, or less.

Writing the Preface

What is the person most conscious of? What is the individual whose biography you're writing doing right now as you first interview that person? What's the biography going to zoom in on? Describe the body language.


In Andrew Morton's Monica's Story, Monica stifles a yawn and pulls on black leggings as the preface opens with the title "Betrayal at Pentagon City." The preface summarizes the most important event in the entire biography.


It should be about 10 double-spaced pages or 5 printed pages. Is your character going to be the right person at the right time in the wrong place? Or the wrong person at the wrong time in the right place?
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Writing your First Chapter

Begin with the person immediately becoming involved in the action if he is not well-known. If your person is in the news and a known celebrity or royalty, start with the date and season.

It's all right to begin with the birth of your biographical character if the childhood has some relationship to the biography. You can describe the parents of the character if their relationship has a bearing on the life of the main character you're portraying.

The less famous or news-worthy your character, the more you need to start with the character involved in the middle of the action or crisis, the most important event. Avoid any scenes where the book or story opens and the character is in transit flying to some destination. Start after the arrival, when the action pace is fast and eventful.


You can make a great career writing true story books about people in the news, celebrities, and the famous. If these are the type of books you want to write, focus on the character's difficult childhood if it's important to the story and the character is famous or in the news frequently. To create the tension, get into any betrayals by the third chapter.

Show how your character's trusting nature snared the individual in a treacherous web, if that's in your story. If not, highlight your main crisis here in the third chapter.

By the fourth chapter, show the gauntlet or inquiry your character is going through. How did it affect your character and the person's family? How will it haunt your character? Where will your character go from here? What are the person's plans?

Focus on an industry or career, whether it be the world of modern art or computers to get the inside story of the people and the industry and how they react and interact. What is your character's dream? How does your character realize his or her dream?

How does the person achieve goals in the wake of the event, scandal, or other true story happening? Take your reader beyond the headlines and sound bits. Discover your character in your story and show how readers also can understand the person whose life story you're writing.

It makes no difference if it's your own or another's. You may want to bring out your story's texture more by adding a pet character and focusing also on the pet's reactions to your characters. For further information, below is a list of several book publishers and magazines in the field of religious and inspirational markets. Contact the various inspirational or religious booksellers associations, publishers associations, and religious or ethnic publishers associations.


Some Religious and Spiritual Book Publishers
Abingdon Press
Augsburg Fortress Publishing
Baker Book House
Behrman House
Bethany House Publishers
ChariotVictor Publishing
Dharma Publishing
Discipleship Resources
Feldheim Books
Gefen Publishing House Ltd.
Gospel Advocate Company
Hachai Publishing
Hazelden Publishing Group
Herald Press
Hope Publishing House
InterVarsity Press
Jason Aronson Inc. Publishers
Jewish Lights Publishing
Jewish Publication Society
Jonathan David Co., Inc. Publishers Joy Publishing
Judson Press
Kar-Ben Copies
Ktav Publishing House
Liguori Publications
The Littman Library of Jewish Civilization
Llewellyn Publications
Moody Press
Numata Center
Paraclete Press
Paulist Press
Pilgrim Press
Pitspopany Press
Red Heifer Press
St. Anthony Messenger Press
Targum Press
Thomas Nelson
Tyndale House Publishers
United Methodist Publishing House
Urim Publications
Vendanta Press
Westminster John Knox
Zondervan Publishing House

Alive Now
Angels on Earth  
Bible Advocate
Campus Life Magazine
Catholic Digest
Christian Families Online
Christian Home & School
Christian Science Monitor

Catholic Peace Voice

Catholic Rural Life                                                                                                                   

Children's Ministry                                                                                                                          

Church Herald and Holiness Banner,                                                                                       

Companion Magazine                                                                                                                      

Expression Christian NewspaperGreen 

Cross Magazine

Guideposts for Kids                                                                                                               

Indian Life

Moody Magazine                                                                                                                          

New Writing Magazine

Our Little Friend (Weekly take-home paper for 1-6 yr olds)                                                           Presbyterian Record                                                                                                                Spiritual Life                                                                                                                                          Teens Mission Launch Pad                                                                                                                   The Upper Room                                                                                                                                     The Quiet Hour Echoes 

Alphabetical Listing of Periodical Publishers



Association of Jewish Book Publishers



Christian Book Publishers



Secular Newspapers with Religion Editors



Podcasting News: Religion and Spirituality Directory




Memory feeds imagination. __ Amy Tan (1952 - )


Imagination is the beginning of creation. You imagine what you desire; you will what you imagine, and at last you create what you will. __ George Bernard Shaw (1856 - 1950)


Everything you can imagine is real. __Pablo Picasso (1881 - 1973)




Chapter 21

Self-Help Seminar and Convention Newsletters, Discs, Reports, or Year Books


Your gift books may cover self-help seminars, lectures, and conventions. Show people at seminars and in other situations finding higher quality and/or alternative nutrition and health care. If you don’t have insurance or need to save money on your health, make sure you take advantage of free health screenings offered at health fairs. Senior centers, shopping malls, health departments, and other health agencies or businesses have frequent health fairs. Some items you can get for free include blood pressure and bone density screenings, cholesterol and blood glucose readings, weight, and other measures.

 Flu shots usually are given free or at very low cost to certain age groups such as older adults. Call each health fair and ask the requirements.

Many screenings don’t have age requirements. Ask that copies of the reports be sent to you as well as your doctor. Keep a record of your numbers and measurements. Different health fairs emphasize screening for different health issues such as bone density, blood sugar, blood pressure, or other research. Your health department and the sponsors of the health fair will have the schedules.

Study the health Web sites for factual material that you can research in magazines and journals. Health food stores have free booklets and pamphlets on various supplements and health food products.




There’s income in referring people to various health establishments ranging from clinical trials that pay people or give them free examinations to spas, rehabilitation centers, home health care services, senior services, assisted living apartments, anti-aging conventions, alternative medicine and health treatments, nutrition retreats, free plastic surgery from physicians who donate their time free and travel around the world on hospital ships, to reducing farms.

Usually, you would earn a commission much like a travel agent from the health care establishment you refer people to by educating them with facts about the establishment or the research as in clinical trials of various new treatments. Ask the establishment what percentage of a commission for referrals you’d be paid.

You can also publish material or reports about the health service or offer marketing communications services and information dissemination. You’re acting as “an observer” reporting information about the health care establishment, procedure, clinical trial, or other service. Or you’re making referrals by finding new clients for the establishment for a commission or flat fee.

 Use your public library to read about what foods and nutrients work best. Make use of any offers for paid-for DNA testing for ancestry. Some genealogy surname groups on the Web offer to pay for DNA tests for ancestry.

Find out whether your surname fits the projects being researched. These tests usually are for males, and the Y chromosome is tested for ancestry research connected to some surname groups. Ask the various DNA testing companies that emphasize testing for ancestry whether there is a surname group offering to pay for DNA Y chromosome ancestry tests for males with the same surname, if there’s a project researching the ancestry of that particular surname.

Besides attending conventions or expos and trade shows, referring people for clinical trials, or traveling to give lectures as a medical journalist or health referral agent, you could write and/or publish alternative health booklets. Here’s how  to publish these types of pamphlets.




Publish books of the highlights and significant points of your own or with permission, other authors’ 72-page or 98-page pamphlets and booklets on alternative health, clinical trials, nutrition, spas, procedures, or contemporary issues, pet training, animal behavior, parenting, or school-related subjects such as biographies of historical characters, ethnic studies, or any other subject of interest to a wide or niche audience. You can publish the books or pamphlets. Write them yourself or use with permission other writers’ pamphlets, and then produce video segments dramatizing, reviewing, or discussing the materials. Also, you could narrate the video MP4 files known as podcasts online. Or create multimedia presentations and slide shows to be saved on DVDs or CDs.

Before you produce compressed video MP4 files known as video podcasts based on self-help books, booklets or pamphlets on controversial issues in the news or controversies in health, nutrition, or other issues, you’d have to write and publish those pamphlets. Your gift book and/or video podcast to promote your paper and photo gift book can publicize what you write and publish yourself. Make sure nothing is copyrighted by someone else.

 All material must be original based on interviews with your client on how some event helped that person solve problems, achieve results, and find benefits through some steps taken—some action. It’s a behavior, an attitude, a change in lifestyle, or better nutrition that usually helps improve the health and outlook or attitude of your client.

Pamphlets as customized gift books can be of the general consumer type found at supermarket check-out counters or specialty pamphlets on how-to subjects. Or they can be genre fiction such as children’s stories, romances, or biography. Another form of pamphlet is the one-act 45 minute play suitable for high-school drama classes.

Here's how to write and sell a fast-selling paperback 98-page (when published) pamphlet or booklet, the kind you see on supermarket impulse racks at the check stand. They can sell quite a number of copies, or you can sell them by mail order or online from your Web site.

            Start by writing about twice the number of pages that will be published. For a 98-page booklet, about 196 double spaced typed pages produces, usually a single-spaced booklet with double spaces and headlines between the sections. You may come out with having to write less than 196 pages, it depends upon the font and size of the booklet. However, here are the dimensions you'll need.

            The size of the booklet may either be six inches wide by nine inches in length or five and a half inches wide by 8 inches or 8 1/2 inches in length. Take your choice. The difference is that trade paperbacks of 6 by 9 inches fit on supermarket impulse racks at checkout counters, whereas the mass market paperbacks you see in supermarkets and book stores in the back areas on special 5 by 8 book-size racks are standard for novels in the mass paperback market.

            Let's say you choose the 6 by 9 size, which is the best fit for the impulse check out stand supermarket size. It will also fit into gift shops and specialty store racks. You'll have a soft, glossy cover with your price, usually $2.99 printed on the upper right hand corner of the book cover. The title will be placed in the middle of the book cover toward the upper half. It will be centered and have a two-word to five-word title that speaks volumes about what's in your little paper book.

            In the middle of the cover, explain in one short sentence in smaller font, about 24 point what your book shows people how to do. It must be a how-to book such as how to find and keep a soul-mate, or some other how-to theme.

            Below the explanation is the author's name: By: Joe John, or whatever name you want on the cover. Inside the cover on the left hand side you print the name of your publishing company. Assuming you're publishing the booklet yourself, put an intelligent-sounding two-word name for your publishing company such as Behavioral Digests and trade mark your publishing firm, even if it's only you at home.

             Then under than you can put a longer publishing company name, just in case you want to publish other items besides these little paperback booklets. Put something light Published by International Palm-sized Books, Inc., and your address. You can incorporate your publishing company. Use an office address or a PO Box number, not your home address. You don't want people showing up on the front steps.

             Under your mailing address, write: “Copyright, the year, by, your publishing company, address and e-mail address.” Leave out your home phone.

You can add a disclaimer in small font at the bottom that "Reproduction in whole or part of any (your publishing company's name) without written authorization is prohibited. Then add at the bottom, "printed in the USA" or wherever you send the booklet to be printed. I understand printing prices in Singapore are great, so I hear from greeting card publishers nowadays.

             On your first page's right hand side, print the name of the book centered up close to the top of the page, leaving a 2 inch margin from the top. Put in a small clip art illustration or your own art, and then a line and a by (author's name) at the bottom, leaving another 2 inch margin from the bottom.

             The left hand side of the first page can have an illustration centered. On the right hand side put your table of contents. Label it Contents. Divide your booklet into six small chapters and list them. Let's say your book is on how to find a rich mate. Label it with a title, such as why am I single? Then have a second chapter on your cure-all for loneliness.

             A third chapter on raising your feeling of importance, a fourth chapter on how to appreciate being by yourself in various settings, a fifth chapter on how to find your soul mate and where to look, and a last or sixth chapter on how to keep your mate once you found him or her. Mostly women will buy this book on impulse, but if the book is labeled, how to pick up girls, of course it will attract guys or anyone who wants to meet girls.

             The left hand side of your table of contents page should have artwork on it centered. Then on page 7, a right-hand side page, your first chapter begins with the title, self-explanatory and short, usually asking a question which you will answer in your first chapter. Define your question and answer it. Keep each chapter four printed pages, which is eight double spaced type written pages. When made single-spaced, each chapter runs to about four printed pages each.

             Then start your second chapter on page eleven. Break your booklet up into segments or chunks. The printing will be singled spaced with double spaces between each section heading. Show the reader how to solve a problem or fill a need. The problem could be technical or personal, business-oriented or relationship-oriented, health-directed, or about healing and nutrition, parenting, or any subject likely to land on a supermarket check out counter's impulse rack.

             After every 14 or 14 chapters, usually 13 to 15 chapters, you'll need a segment or section break with a new title, perhaps outline your case histories, success stories, anecdotes, interviews, or using someone as an example. Don't use real names unless you have signed permission letters and can footnote that at the end of each chapter in a list of references that's numbered. For brevity, use a first name only and an initial, usually a fake false name approved by whomever you interview with an asterisk saying the name was changed to preserve privacy.

             Use more than one example, usually two or three case histories. You can also use celebrity examples if you can get permission for success stories that run about 13 paragraphs each.

             Have sections divided if you can around page 19, 21, 23, and start another chapter heading around page 28. Every two pages should have section breaks with new headings. You might write and publish a booklet on journaling and describe how it's related to a feeling of self-importance or of accepting oneself as "good," or write a technical or business how-to if you're not an expert on relationships.

             More women will buy these booklets if they're about relationships. You can focus on instructional booklets on any topic from needlepoint and crafts to how to paint furniture and offer it to do-it-yourself stores, such as the big chain stores that customers frequent to buy do-it yourself materials for home repair and building. Another fast-selling area is travel writing.

             This would focus on where to go and how to find specifics from antiques to restaurants and entertainment for various ages, education, visual anthropology, or special needs, such as traveling with multiple disabilities or traveling with one's dog or cat. One person trains his cat to use any toilet so he can take it into motel rooms without a litter box.

             Your main focus is on how to do something, build something, solve a problem, make choices, or fill various needs, from quilting to relationships. Most people buy booklets with general titles such as how to keep a mate from leaving or how to save a troubled marriage.

             Your six-chapter booklet should take up about 98 pages when printed, so don't make it longer or it won't fit into the small books rack in supermarkets and gift shops. It's easier to mail that way. Break your six chapters into three sections that run about two pages each per section with each chapter about four to six pages in length, but vary the length throughout the booklet.

             Distribute it yourself or find a distributor who handles the supermarket impulse checkout counter rack. Or you can use gift shops or mail order. Another way to go is to offer your booklet to the tabloids as they have publishing divisions for these types of little books. They'll take a lot of your profit, so my advice is do everything yourself from writing to selling.

             A print run of 1,500 copies would test your markets, but do your market research first to make sure someone would buy your book in large numbers. You might try a test run in a supermarket to see if the booklet moves and whether it competes with the tabloid-published booklets of similar size and length. 

              Will the tabloids let you compete with them in their supermarket client's racks? If not, you have the small gift shops and the malls. If you want to move the booklet, also offer it on tape or online for the e-publishing download market or on a CD ROM or DVD disk. Look at all the marketing alternatives and give your booklet visibility in place where people gather. Career booklets belong in community college and high school career counseling libraries.


Non-Fiction Booklets and Pamphlet on Controversial or Contemporary Issues

            Write and publish sixty-six-page pamphlets or booklets that are about 4 inches wide and about 6 inches in length. These booklets fill up quickly with your articles. Don't forget to reduce the number of pages you write that first start out as double-spaced typed pages.

            You can also provide marketing research for corporations or information for advertising and public relations agencies, employment agencies, or college career centers in this format or mystery shopper news if updates aren't required more frequently than annually.

If you're printing up an 8 1/2 by 11 inch page, usually it takes up to twice as much writing to reduce the size in half when you print up single spaced content with a double space between paragraphs and allow for a 16 point type size font for each heading or larger fonts for chapter headings.


Make Small Booklets with Fresh Information

             When you print up small booklets, you'll need much less writing to fill up a whole little booklet. These small booklets are bought by school libraries to fill research folders on a variety of topics that are current issues in the news. If you are marketing to the general public through supermarket racks on impulse shelves near the checkout counter, usually near the checkout person, you'll want to supply each supermarket with your own racks the size of your tiny booklets.

             The subjects that sell best are topics that tell the reader how something affects or changes something else. For example, how different foods affect your moods, and subtitle the booklet how people can change their behavior or their lives by adjusting the foods to their moods or any other topic telling readers how to improve themselves with the specific information.

             Price your booklets anywhere from $1 to $2. Usually $1.19 in the US and $1.49 in Canada is fine, keeping the price plus tax adding up to an even amount. Find out what the tax would be on your booklets to one person at a checkout counter for the booklet. Then adjust the price so the reader can pay the tax and your price and have it add up to an easy to come up with amount, like $1.20 or $1.50. Calculate your expenses so you can arrive at a price that looks inviting.

             Keep your pages around 66. Use an even number of pages. Your cover would have a title and a subtitle explaining what the title can do for the reader, how changing the behavior can change the person's life. Print your company or publishing name and address on the inside cover in the center. 

            On the first page, label it "Contents" and list you six or seven chapters and the page numbers. At the bottom of the contents page, about two inches up from the bottom of the page have the authors name in small, but easily readable font, such as 10 point Times New Roman or italics.

             The left hand side of the contents page should have a disclaimer saying that your book is intended as a reference volume, not a medical manual so you won't be sued for giving medical advice without a license or credentials. Put in there that your booklet doesn't presume to give medical advice.  

             You really need this in there. Add a "consult your physician before beginning any therapeutic program," to protect yourself from being sued or accused of giving medical advice. You need this disclaimer on any booklet that gives information based on material provided by actual researchers and experts, even if you are using medical articles with simplified English or anything where people are told what to eat to change their health or behavior. 

             Always put this disclaimer or a similar one into a booklet you write and publish. This is especially true when you interview doctors or read their articles and report what they wrote, even with their written permission, which you always need to have. You don't need this disclaimer of your booklet is about how to knit costumes for animals or how to fix a leaky faucet or repair and antique furniture, but you need it for special diet, food, and nutrition booklets.

             Each chapter can run four to 12 pages in this tiny booklet with the chapter divided every few paragraphs into new headings so you break up your booklet in chunks. Try to balance the size of your chapters. Usually four-page chapters work best in this size booklet totaling about 6 or 7 chapters, and total amount of pages being about 66. 

Keep your pages an even number. Don't leave blank pages in this size booklet. Place a one or two-sentence description of the booklet centered about one inch down from the top of your glossy back cover. 

             Put it in a box if you like, and place or print your bar code below with the price on the back. You'll also have the price on the front cover, your logo in the upper left hand corner of the front cover, the title, subtitle, and any illustration, usually a photo in color of a person working with the items in the book or doing some action that sums up what the book says.

             Have the book cover put on with two staples in the spine that are not readily noticeable to the reader. Only the backs of the staples should be seen on the spine, and flat into the crease of the spine of the book so as not to catch on any object. You don't need an ISBN number for this kind of booklet, only a bar code so the scanning machine in the supermarket can scan it. Provide your own racks if ones there belong to other merchants and distributors. Have the price on the front and back cover in addition to the bar code so readers can see the price immediately.

             If you write on health topics, keep the English simple, writing at 5th grade level. Keep sentences short and paragraphs short, about two sentences per paragraph. Use Times New Roman 12 point type, nothing smaller, or older people won't want to look unless they have their reading glasses. So keep the font large enough for most people to see at most ages. 

             You can find distributors who specialize in small pamphlets and booklets. Print your own catalogue listing all your pamphlet/booklet titles. Place a catalogue copy on the Internet’s Web to reach people around the world. Specialize in supplying college and high school career counseling offices with booklets on each type of career in a group of related careers. Or focus on foods and health or psychology and behavior for self-help. 

             Inspirational, religious, New Age, nutritional, and holistic health booklets each have individual, customized, expanding markets associated with conferences, conventions, suppliers, vendors, publications, and members of the various groups with similar interests.

If you want people to pay for your booklets, give readers information that's not easy to find and is not usually found among the free literature available in health food stores, community centers, self-help magazines, or religious organizations. Also try specialty gift stores, home building centers, discount stores, libraries, business, professional, and trade associations, corporations, schools, and employee organizations.

  Supermarkets have special display racks with informational booklets and short romances. Some of these publishers are parts of larger publishing companies, such as the tabloids. Try gift shops, museums, libraries, bookstores, schools, churches, hotel lobby shops, sports stores such as golf and tennis shops at hotels and resorts, golf courses, and sports clubs.

  Keep trying the supermarkets and smaller convenience stores until you find a store that lets you put in your own display rack for your catalogue of booklets or pamphlets. Sometimes used bookstores will allow you to put in a display case or rack of your short romances or historical fiction. School supply stores may be interested in your pamphlets with biographies of historical characters or vocational biographies. 

            Writing on contemporary and controversial issues in the news supplies school libraries with information for student research. Pamphlets need a bar code and a price more than they need an ISBN, but you can get one in case you want your booklet to go to libraries and schools or be sold by online booksellers and distributed by distributors.


ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: Gift Book Pamphlets into Podcast Feed Urls


Podcasting News: Health and Fitness Podcast Directory


Sanoviv Alternative Health Care Medical Institute

A Better Day (Helping to make everyday a better day)

Podcast Feed Url: http://feeds.feedburner.com/ABetterDaysMedia  

2Down (Weight Loss) Podcast News Feed: http://feeds.feedburner.com/TwoDown




Education is the best provision for old age. __ Aristotle (384 BC - 322 BC), from Diogenes Laertius, Lives of Eminent Philosophers


“It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.” __ Aristotle (384 BC - 322 BC)


Better to write for yourself and have no public, than to write for the public and have no self. __Cyril Connolly (1903 - 1974)



*Famous Quotations Resources and Credits: 1. Oxford Dictionary of Quotations. 2. The Quotations Page online at: http://www.quotationspage.com/. 3. Bartlett's Familiar Quotations: A Collection of Passages, Phrases, and Proverbs Traced to Their Sources in Ancient and Modern Literature (17th Edition) by John Bartlett
















Chapter 22

How to Make Great Video Extended Family Newsletters


Here’s how to design memorable video family newsletters. In addition to the usual desktop publishing print-paper-text format, include a DVD or CD of video and/or multimedia for your annual (or frequent) extended family newsletter. Let the viewers see and hear you as well as read your latest news, celebrations of life, events, updates, and announcements. The video extended family newsletter also is appropriate for holidays, turning points, and significant events as well as for family history and genealogy research or news.

What you need to organize to Write and Produce Great Video Family Newsletters

Learn from your research and teach others, including genealogists and family historians the following skills:

  1. How to design and write family history newsletters--or teach others to do the same.
  1. How much time to spend letting each student talk about the work they have done during the week--depending upon how many students you have in class.
  2. How to organize family history files.
  3. How to break topics into memoirs or biographies (family or clients).
  4. How to keep organized and accessible research files
  5. How to write inquiries and queries by email and letter.
  6. How to abstract and transcribe basics.
  7. How to write client or family research reports and summaries.
  8. How to write personal use research reports and summaries
  9. How to make time capsules.
  10. How to put historical context into essays, numbering formats and citation formats.
  11. How to compile and send family newsletters.
  12. How to prepare to write a family history or genealogy-related book.
  13. How to publish and promote a family history or genealogy book.


How to Research, Learn, and Organize the “How-to Skills”

Start by researching the newest trends within families or communities and use compressed video in small mobile players such as cell phones and iPod-like devices. A CD or DVD video or MP3 file of audio may be downloaded to a mobile device—iPod, cell phone, or similar listening or viewing gadget that students frequently use to record lectures.

Anyone with a digital video camcorder, microphone, computer and some technical savvy can launch an Internet video podcast show to inform, direct or enlighten. You can offer foresight, insight, or hindsight. Open a business or find a job delivering family history and genealogy digital video recordings - usually free – as podcasts.

If you want to make money with family history or newsletter video podcasting, offer to sell a sponsor’s publicity and advertising on your video, or an author’s creative works, interviews, or sermons. You can even show people how to fill out tax forms using a video podcast for instruction on most any subject people can learn independently.

          People who subscribe to video podcasts usually want to view for free. You can charge for a course to train or teach a class by video lecture and/or demonstration, but what if you want an actual paid job in video podcasting? And can you make more money in video than in the older, audio MP3 file ‘radio’ podcasting?

Check out the RSSJobs Web site at: http://www.rssjobs.com/index.jsp?cid=10. Careers in video podcasting are beginning to bloom as seen by a variety of podcasting associations, news publications, and career information. Even job listings unrelated to podcasting are ‘broadcast’ by RSS feeds. Create your own job in podcasting by showing others how to find new trends and applications in their careers. Make informational, how-to, and motivational video podcasts. What if you want to use video podcasting to actually get hired? Are

there jobs right now in video podcasting? Or is the field still primarily for trade publication publishers, syndicators, and video entrepreneurs on the Web?

Any job you’d get right now would be as a content producer for a large news corporation, as an online journalist, or in the technical end of setting up podcast tedhnology for larger corporations in information dissemination and news broadcasting or at colleges that offer courses online.

To get into the field, you might start with your own video podcasting Web site offering to help others find highly valued hard-to-find information or data so new the media hasn’t seen it yet. Video podcasting is a font-loading ancillary like a newsletter-type trade journal particular to a specific industry. An example would be a video podcast on the latest news in XYZ widget manufacture on what deals the competition are signing or what’s new in a specific industry. The difference between a slow, paper print industrial newsletter or trade journal and a video podcast is the speed the news is delivered, fresh from an RSS feed.

When you use RSS feeds to look for any type of job, you use an RSS Reader to make Web browsing less time consuming. An RSS feed researches every RSS capable site you want to read at one time. The feed gives you a list of everything on the site. The RSS feed also lets you know which items you’ve already read. Then it highlights the updated and new Web sites that you haven’t seen.

Not only can you search for a job, but you can find a job, make a career, or open your own business writing, producing, and syndicating video podcasts. What’s in it for you? And how can you compete with the huge news TV conglomerates already distributing free news video podcasts on the Web? Podcasting also is a global pulpit. Churches are using video podcasts.

Aren’t the news organizations merging, downsizing, and employing fewer newsgathering personnel in favor of expanding news syndication channels? Video podcasts are not only for news and opinion. Compressed video files on Web sites that can be downloaded to mobile players such as video iPods and comparable devices are wonderful tools for learning and creative innovation. Video content finally has been democratized.

Podcasting, a term originally based on the name for Apple's portable media player and similar devices from its competition, allows customers to download audio and/or video segments for free to their computers and portable devices. The popularity of home-grown broadcasters is revolutionizing movie making. In a parallel information dissemination industry, print-on-demand publishing revolutionized the ability of freelance journalists to become published book authors.

Here are the steps you can follow to learn how to open a business producing short video segments that can play on viewers' mobile players or personal computers. These video segments can be how-to information, interviews with authors, courses, tutorials, religious sermons, life stories, animation/cartoons, games, plays, narrated, dramatized novels, science, travel, parenting skills, children’s programming, music, dance, poetry, infomercials, reality TV, historical, news, opinions, health, nutrition, exotic, ancient, or traditional ethnic weddings, rites of passage celebrations, reviewing movies, books or other creative projects such as architecture, housing, or virtual reality, sports, competitions, job interviews, exercise, comedy, or financial advice.

Broadcast commentary or conduct interviews about business, politics, global trade, environmental science, organizational communications management, or anything that is popular culture, high-brow, ethnic traditions, folklore, comedy and humor. Research what topic is most in demand by niche audiences compared to what is requested by the general public.

Your video podcasts may be aimed at various age groups, children, adolescents, parents, honeymooners, young marrieds, middle-aged empty nesters, or mature adults and gerontologists. If you do your market research before you start, you’ll find an audience or special interest group for your expertise or field of concentration.

Offer an alternative from the usual cooking shows seen on satellite TV, such as special diets or vegan cooking, or ethnic and holiday cooking not seen on TV, such as cooking without added trans-fats, salt or sugar, or cooking for metabolic syndrome. Or offer after-school tutoring or home-schooling with videos of trips to local museums. Perhaps you want to show video segments of what’s it like to be old or how parents can solve problems with new babies or pet training. You’re the expert in the topic. Videos can serve hobbies such as scrap booking and quilting or hiking local trails. Or show what is it like at work in different careers aimed at young people deciding on what college major to choose.

The popularity of home-based entrepreneurial broadcasting revolutionized the creative expression industry. Home-grown radio shows, called podcasts are saved as audio MP3 files and uploaded to the Web. Bandwidth-saving video compression software  takes up far less space than the usual .mpeg or wmv. video files uploaded to the Web.

Following in the steps of the largest news conglomerates that feature online video news segments, home-grown audio broadcasting soon evolved into online, downloadable video. From school lectures, politics, and pet training to music, comedy, and life stories, video segments can be compressed and saved to small, mobile players such as video iPods. 

News programs are among the most popular podcasts, but amateurs have changed podcasting into a global phenomenon. Video podcasts can help you learn a foreign language, plan travel, or entertain kids with movies or games in an auto’s back seat while you drive.

What sells best to the general public in video podcasting is how-to information specific to very specialized niche areas. Examples would be how to knit a certain type of garment, how to home-school children in a specific subject, how to build a tool shed, dog house, or repair a broken toilet, sink, or other appliance.

            If you think video podcasting will follow the type of entertainment that’s on satellite TV stations, you’re correct. The music videos, the talking-head lectures from distance learning universities, and the general fare that you see on TV and pay TV will be what will also be offered on video podcast. However, you’ll see the niche, underground, and hidden markets as well.

What’ you’ll see on video podcasts are tutoring in high-school or middle-school subjects as well as university courses, weddings and funeral eulogies, pet training and house-sitting, numerology and astrology, psychic readers, the usual pornography videos, and religious programming. You’ll also see more distance learning and home schooling alternatives, more travel and extreme telecommuting to one’s job or business from anywhere on the globe with Internet access on the go.

Video content competes with the entire entertainment industry and schools. To sell your video content, you need to market your video clips as if they were self-published books competing with all the books on bookstore shelves. But even in the book industry, a little more than 55% of books are lined on the bookshelves.

The rest are sold in niche, hidden markets. Examples would be sports, gift, and specialty stores, book fairs, school librarians, and in specialty catalogues. School librarians buy contemporary controversies and issues in the news books and pamphlets that students use to research term papers.

Follow the market that school librarians buy from. Lead with video podcasts. Provide research and resources that help students organize their assignments, term papers, and debates. Follow the money and the markets used by self-published book authors that are successful in marketing their wares. Market your video podcasts—to niche audiences and markets by launching your content in the media.

 Educators, preachers, advertisers, counselors, consultants, lawyers, doctors, dancers, artists, musicians, politicians, historians, librarians, movie producers, documentarians, life story videographers, chefs, knitters, crafters, dog trainers, house remodelers, contractors, strippers, pornographers, social scientists, radio talk show hosts, demographers, novelists, scientists, lecturers, travel agents, professional travelers, resort owners, publicists, public speakers, activists, infomercial producers, journalists, playwrights, parents, students, sales representatives, song writers, rappers, and poets (and anyone else with video content) have equal access to video podcast production and content creation.

The common denominator of what might sell as video podcast content and become a viable business is whether the content offers the audience what the specific audience wants to see. Some of the best markets are how-to videos that show people how to solve a problem and get results step-by-step so the viewers can follow.

 Here’s how to start a career, get a job, or open a variety of businesses in video podcasting. It’s about putting up on the Internet’s Web video content that anyone with a device such as a video iPod can download video content. If you want a job in video podcasting, you can work for the companies that make the equipment—hardware or software, or those who produce the video content. Or you can start your own business by putting your own video on your Web site. All you need is a camcorder, a computer, and a software program that edits your video so you can create a video podcast online.

            Content is in demand now, that video podcasting is still in its infancy. So there’s room to jump in at any age and from any niche.  

            You can still go the relatively “old fashioned” route for your latest music television productions (MTV) if you’re a musician by looking at the content available through music stores online such as the iTunes Music Store. Or you can put your own content online for streaming video that’s downloadable to devices such as iPods and its competition.

            School lectures, foreign language learning, and anything that can be taught are ripe for video podcasting. You can open your own school and teach what you’re expert in, without having to show your degrees and licenses, as long as a license or degree is not required for the subject you’re teaching. An example would be on how to knit dog sweaters or how to publicize your book. You can interview authors and put up a speaker’s panel that people can download on life experiences.

            Examples of a video podcast movie would be Crookz, a video podcast (iTMS link) spoof of Cops, is offered at the iTunes Music Store. View what’s out there, and then make your own movies, documentaries, or other video offerings.

 What you need to start your own video podcasting production business is a Web camera called a ‘webcam’ and a digital video camera, called a “DV camera.” Creating a video podcast is the first step in becoming a video producer on a neighborhood budget.

Podcast listening is not for music fans any more. Students want to see lectures in video. Older adults want to see their life stories on an iPod or other small, lightweight, mobile device. Children want to see video while they sit in the back seat of cars when on long vacation rides. Adults want to see automobile travel videos showing them where they are going.

So by democratizing video content on the Web with video podcasting enterprises and services, the whole movement of video production for all is following in the path of print on demand published authors. And you need to market your video podcasts much in the same way as print-on-demand published authors market their books to specialized, niche audiences and markets.

It’s a revolution that you want to join, moving from print-on-demand text books whose content is not controlled by copyeditors from major publishing houses to public speakers whose content is not controlled by major news media conglomerates. Now we have video content producers whose visual imagery is not controlled.

This has all come about because there are far more book authors and video producers in the masses than there are room for the converging publishing houses and large video production corporations to allow every author or producer publication or dissemination. Now everyone potentially has a voice and video content that can be heard around the world.

Blogging isn’t enough because many video blogs lack credibility in the mainstream media. Video podcasting now has become simple for non-technical people to publish creative projects online. With less people reading books, and more books being published by print-on-demand authors, the door is open for businesses to step in and offer what people want: visual learning.

 Video offers those who want to learn by seeing, or see how hands-on learning is actually done. Text almost always moves to audio and then to video in a learning situation.

You’re still competing with the entertainment industry just as computerized interactive learning modules of the 1996 era competed with textbook publishing. According to the Apple Insider article titled, Apple Files For Podcasting Trademark, September 14, 2005 posted at the Web site: http://www.appleinsider.com/article.php?id=1271om, Apple has applied for trademarks relating to the word iPodcast.

If you’re starting a business or looking for a job or career in the world of video podcasting, you need to list as many forms of video entertainment, learning, and leisure that would make money as video podcasts. It helps if you can find celebrities to endorse your how-to, entertainment, or infomercial video podcast.

You can produce and upload video content for other entrepreneurs, including vendors at trade shows and expos. Let’s look at how to product a typical 28 ½ minute video podcast informercial for a Web site, DVD, or CD used to market a product.

If you’re going to make money working in the field of video podcasting, one of the most commercial ways related to schooling or training is the infomercial for a product. Although no audience would pay to watch an infomercial, your advertiser certainly will.

Your clients would be corporations, advertising agencies, publicists, book authors, doctors and other healthcare professionals in practice with advice to sell, and manufacturers as well as technical and business training schools. Here’s how you begin to develop your video podcast infomercial.

The Video Podcast Family Video Newsletter as an Infomercial Selling Family Communication

1.     Produce Video and MP3 Pod-casts and DVDs: Internet Family History and Events Video Infomercials Solving Problems, Revealing Results & Showing People Benefits and Profits

2.     Let the viewers follow your instructions step-by-step

3.     Show Advantages

Keep everything you show in a video grouped in threes. People remember three items grouped together. Information given in threes impacts the memory and stays within the average attention span for watching a video segment.

Infomercial pod casting is do-it-yourself online radio, which can also be put on disks such as DVDs or CDs. You create video podcasts as well as backup MP3 audio files that people can download from CDs, DVDs, or their computers through your Web site. Pod casting also is about listening to your infomercials on iPods and other audio players. Making videos for podcasts as well as MP3 audio files are easier and cheaper to produce than recording videos. If you want to go the video route, choose an industrial-quality camcorder, not an amateur quality.

According to the October 18, 2005 article, Creating a Video Podcast on Mac Os X, Apple has added a tutorial at http://www.apple.com/quicktime/tutorials/videopodcasts.html  to its site giving directions you easily can follow to create a video podcast using Mac OS X and QuickTime Pro. You’ll learn how to use QuickTime 7 Pro to make an .m4v file that has H.264 video and AAC audio, compatible with iTunes and the latest iPods.

            To produce professional-quality podcasts, you need an RSS feed. Check out the site at: http://www.masternewmedia.org/news/2005/03/22/where_to_find_the_right.htm. There are search engines and directories entirely devoted to the indexing of RSS feeds. Read eWeek at: http://www.eweek.com/. Build your own RSS feed for your Web site. Go to Feed for All RSS Feed Creation Tool at: http://www.feedforall.com/. Pay attention to the FeedForAll  Web site if you want to learn how to create, edit, manage, and publish RSS feeds.

According to the site, RSS is the standard for content distribution and syndication. The reason you create an RSS feed is to keep visitors to your Web site informed of current material. New RSS feeds can be quickly and easily created with FeedForAll. Advanced features enable you to easily and rapidly create professional looking RSS feeds. Also, read the informative book titled, Syndicating Web Sites with RSS Feeds for Dummies by Ellen Finkelstein, ISBN: 0764588486, published 2005.

Learn about podcasting because you can build your business around your own podcasts. This is one more way to show people how to cut expenses. Your audio books also can be podcasted as MP3 audio files and narrated as video podcasts saved as Windows Media files or mpeg, or any other file extension commonly accepted by the audience for video podcasts. Where you find this information is in the numerous video podcasts magazines and e-zines on the Web. In your search engine use the key words “video podcasting how-to publications” and take your pick of this burgeoning information industry.

Another way to publish audio books as narrated video podcasts is to promote business clients by having dramatizations and public speakers or panels and interviews as video podcasts. Author interviews are a good way to start interviewing people on video or dramatizing documentaries from real life or life story applications. Streaming video and DVD multimedia also are other possibilities.

You can use podcasting to create travel or neighborhood walking and touring guides, talk about any subject, or show people by example how to cut expenses. It’s about making your audio files mobile. People not only listen to current information at Web sites, but also can listen to advertising at trade shows. Podcast online or on disk infomercials and instruction on any subject, including how to start niche-market businesses.  

           Show others how to save money by shopping for shelf-pulls and overstocked items at hidden markets. Help your audience find little-known opportunities. Offer tips for making non-toxic cleaning products from basic household ingredients, spices, or natural scents.

Sure, you can record to CDs, DVDs, or your Web site, but podcasting is the current trend—broadcasting news from your Web site or downloading the audio MP3 file to an iPod or other audio device.

Downloading video via portable devices is here now. Podcasting in MP3 audio to Web sites is like 1940 radio compared to current high definition television. Video is as mobile as audio is mobile. People listen to talk or music podcasting and radio while driving, but view video podcasts when at school lectures, in libraries, while hiking, and when riding public in transportation. An example would be while taking a long overseas or cross-country flight.


Use podcasting for training sessions. Put travel guides in the podcasting formats so people can download the video MP4 and/or audio MP3 files as they walk through various neighborhoods. The podcast video promises mobility of viewing dramatizations and documentaries or listening to hundreds of songs or lectures, books, or training materials, even learning foreign languages saved in the MP3 file format and also podcasted from your Web site as news or easy listening. Anything that can be recorded in video can be viewed as a video podcast and used as instruction or entertainment. Combined, you get ‘edutainment.’

Your next step is to develop direct mail copywriting on podcasts or DVDs to show people how to cut expenses. Infomercial producers can write or hire a freelancer to write infomercials sharing information with people on how to cut expenses and get higher quality goods from hidden markets such as shelf pulls and overstocked items or wholesale items that may be ordered by anyone.

Video podcasting infomercials are similar in production techniques to the “cable TV” and trade show-style infomercial. These 28 1/8 minute-in-length ads broadcast direct mail marketing programs and track TV-shopping audiences. Direct mail copywriting and producing for video telemarketing is one of the highest paying freelance writing available. The manufacturers of the product pay you to podcast the infomercial or produce it on a DVD.

            Writers who specialize in writing direct mail copy for both print mail order

and video infomercials headed for cable, Internet, or Satellite television can create thriving writing and production businesses catering to telemarketing and mail order  corporate clients and copywriters. Another career track is to write in-house for firms who manage telemarketing.

            For those who enjoy the music business, contact musicians, and open a business that sells their music to the movie industry. Another venue is medical marketing. Write reviews of audio books and videos online or for magazines.

            You have a choice of either writing or producing an infomercial or doing both. An infomercial is a long commercial video, running to a half-hour in length, but usually precisely timed at 28 1/2 minutes. It's created to sell by telemarketing. The best infomercial producers use around 400 cuts with music. Many people are interviewed in the infomercial.

            Infomercials wait for audience response. The viewer orders the product or service by phoning a toll-free number or sending money to an address flashed on the screen to order the product.

            A demonstration video script that solicits audience response through telemarketing on cable stations, or a videobiography script for non-broadcast television personifies and proves a point. Read the book Response Television, by John Witek, Crain Books, Chicago, IL (1981), to get an idea of how response television works. Also read Television and Cable Contacts, Larimi Communications Associates, Ltd., 5 W. 37th St., New York, NY 10018 (212) 819-9310.


            Video family newsletters producers of infomercials can also approach corporations to do success story and success case history print or video newsletters. Although it’s more in demand to teach family history classes, producing video newsletters of success stories for corporations can bring in more money by focusing on a target market—the media and the corporation’s public relations budget.

Charge by the hour, and include production expenses. The current fees vary with location and complexity of job required. Some producers charge $35 and up an hour plus expenses of production. Check the current rate in your area charged by your competition. Check the current rate in your area charged by your competition. Others create a budget with all expenses first, including cost of tape and crew's requirements, then add an hourly fee, plus the post-production editing and distribution expenses.


            Infomercials can be produced on-site at any location of a business. Being near your clients helps. Big centers for production of infomercials include Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego, New York, Chicago, and Orlando, Florida. San Francisco is the hub for multimedia and interactive infomercials, including the San Jose/Silicon Valley area for the software infomercials.


            It's best to take courses in video production or read books on how to produce infomercials before you begin. Join professional associations and volunteer. Attend trade shows for infomercial producers and watch a variety of infomercials. Study the number of cuts in popular infomercials.


            Creativity, imagination, and experience with a variety of sales and marketing alternatives are beneficial. You're always offering the benefits and advantages of a product. Therefore, sales and marketing training combined with video production experience or coursework is best. It will save you money if you can write your own scripts as well.



            You'll need your Internet or digital video camera attached to your PC and hooked into your Internet Service Provider, narrator, host, editing equipment or access to video editing services, your video crew, and a good sound stage or work area to tape the commercial. There should be an audience, and special effects to show the phone number and address where television viewers can phone or send in the order for the product. You'll need to hire operators who take the call on a 24-hour basis. Charge the cost of phone expenses to your client's budget.

            You'll also need a computer to track your customers so you'll have a list of television viewers who shop after watching infomercials. Watch infomercials and note the special effects used.


            Escape doesn't work in a how-to infomercial. A viewer watching a tape on on how to buy real estate doesn't want to be swept away to a castle in a fantasy setting for long. It might work in an infomercial selling a general idea or theory that applies to many people in many jobs, such as how to get power and success in relationships or careers.

            Infomercial scriptwriters don't resort to gimmicks. They give information for decision-making by presenting the points in as straightforward a manner as possible for intelligent decision-making. The questions of who, what, how, why, where, and when are answered as in an in-depth straight news article.

            The viewers want to be well-informed before they spend their life-savings, their "blood money" on a cable television advertisement. They are wondering whether they can buy it cheaper in a store or at the swap meet as they dial the phone.

            Will they be hit with a handling and shipping charge that raises the cost another ten dollars? The customer wonders what happens when they give their credit card number to a total stranger on a toll-free number across the country. Who else will have access to that credit card number?

            Some beginning infomercial writers turn out scripts that use the techniques of a Hollywood filmmaker to make people watch. Instead, they should be writing to make people buy one brand over another. There's no correlation between a person liking an infomercial and being sold by it.

            Use direct, tough commercials because they work. Hard hitting, informative infomercials and commercials sell a product where the customer is watching solely to get information. Soft-sell imagery doesn't work in infomercials like they do in 30-second commercials selling the imagery of the pleasure of eating a bar of chocolate.

            Infomercials emphasize believability, clarity, and simplicity over creativity. Don't write confusion into a script by putting in too much dazzle, sensation, and entertainment that overpower the information and message. The emphasis is on helping the customer make a sensible purchase.

            Small budgets often do better than big ones in the infomercial for cable T.V. production. TV's longest-running commercial which offers a record set of "150 Music Masterpieces" through mail order by phoning a toll-free number, was made in 1968 for only $5,000. It sold millions of dollars worth of records through mail order because of this one television advertisement.

            There are a dozen types of infomercials. They include the following:

            1) Product demonstration.

            Scripts are used for trade show exhibition and continuous loop playing.

            2) Testimonials.

            Real people on tape add credibility for a product.

            3) The pitchman.

            A straight narrator delivers a sales pitch on the product to give vital information in the shortest period of time. This is a talking head short that should only be used for brief commercials or a scene in an infomercial of less than 10 seconds.

            4) Slice-of-life.

            This is a dramatization between two people and a product.

In an infomercial or training script, the dramatization is a container that can be used to portray true-life events to teach people how to make decisions or how and where to get information.

            5) Socio-economic lifestyle.

            The social class of the user is emphasized to show how the product fits into a certain economic class such as blue collar, yuppie, new parent, career woman climbing the ladder, or senior citizen retiree.

            Examples are Grey Poupon, the upper-caste mustard selling to social climbers and Miller Beer dedicated to blue collar workers celebrating the idea of the working man and woman being rewarded for hard labor with a cold beer.

            6) Animation.

            Cartoon infomercials sell to children in school and at home. Adults become impatient watching a cartoon demonstration. Animation is expensive to produce for cable television. Use it only to sell to children or to sell supplies to professional animators in non-broadcast demonstration video tapes used to sell products through mail order or at an animator's trade show or exhibit.

            7) Jingles.

            Lyrics work in short commercials because they are remembered. A best-selling board game called 'Adverteasements' makes players recall all the advertising jingles and trivia information from their past. Ask any person in the street to sing the jingle of an advertisement, and chances are he or she will remember the jingle.

            8) The mini-feature film with visual effects.

            (Case studies don't report that action set in fantasy ‘scapes’ sells more products.)

            9) Humor.

            In short commercials humor works well as in "Where's the beef?" In long infomercials, it distracts from the information. Some humor can be used to prove a point in a long commercial. Infomercials sell credibility. Humor distracts from believability.

            10)       Serial characters.

            A fictional character who appears in print ads and short commercials, such as Mr. Whipple or the Pillsbury Doughboy is very effective.

            In a longer commercial, viewers will soon tire of the fantasy character and change the channel. Infomercial viewers want to see real people's testimonials, people like themselves with whom they can identify. Keep the fictional character out of a true-story informational commercial. People want references. Give them references who testify why the product works so well.

            11. Tell-me-why infomercials.

            Give people reasons why the product works as it does and why they should buy it. Reason-why copy works better in print than in a short T.V. or radio commercial. However, in an infomercial for cable, obtaining "tell me why" information is the reason people watch in the first place. Viewers want the writer to go ahead. Make their day.

            12. Feelings, Intuition, and Sensation.

            Tug at my guilt-strings. Persuasive infomercials use feelings backed up by logical points that prove a point about a product. Move the viewer by writing genuine emotional copy. A dramatization showing a person shedding tears of joy that someone has telephoned long distance is persuasive. It makes viewers feel guilty they haven't called their mother in years. Infomercials emphasize demonstrations, testimonials, pitchpersons, and straight-sell formulas.

            A little emotion within a dramatization can be very persuasive. Either it will sell the product or evoke guilt and anger in the viewer for not having lived up to expectations. The viewer could have conflicting feelings.

            He may not want to call someone he dislikes because of having suffered emotional abuse in that person's presence. A whole slew of nasty or sentimental feelings totally unrelated to selling the product can be unleashed by one emotional scene in a commercial.

            The emotional, "tug at my guilt-strings" ‘approach’ works when selling nostalgia. Emotion persuades people to make more telephone calls, or send more candy and flowers by wire.

            Using the emotion strategy in infomercials works well for selling sentiment, communications products, craft and knitting machines, charm bracelets, products for the elderly, or greeting cards. Look at the success of the long-running AT&T commercial, "Reach Out and Touch Someone." Who doesn't remember that command to extravert?

            To write an infomercial that sells, first find out the producer's budget. Then deliver a selling message within the budget and time limits. Turn the sound off. Can you still understand what is being sold? Sight and sound works together. Use sound only to explain what the picture is demonstrating.

            Keep the pictures simple. Use words to make an impact, the fewer the words, the better. The more complex the graphics, the few the words are used to explain them. Computer graphics, special effects, and animation are expensive. The stand-up presenter and demonstrator cost much less.

            Ninety words can be spoken in 60 seconds. Forty-five words can be crammed into 30 seconds. Many 30 and 60-second commercials contain far less words so the viewer can really get the information. Compare this to the print ad which usually runs 1,500 words in a 30-60 second read.

            Sell every second the script is on the airwaves. The first four seconds of an infomercial are the same as the headlines of a print ad. The viewer takes four seconds to decide if he/she will sit through the rest of the infomercial or commercial.

            Open the infomercial with a real-life situation. It must hook the viewer in those first four seconds. The music and visuals can add the background. The opening is called the cow-catcher. It's supposed to grab the viewer. After seven minutes, the average attention span wanes quickly.

            Use motion to keep attention riveted. Show the syrup pouring, the machines working, the demonstrator moving. Let the viewer hear the whirr of the machine as it moves forward. The sound is more appetizing than the look.

            Use titles superimposed over the picture to reinforce a sales point not covered in the narration. The address and phone of the company are always superimposed in addition to the narrator's spoken words. What if the viewers are deaf or blind, can they still read or hear the infomercial? Have titles superimposed on the infomercial saying "Not available in stores," when applicable.

            The market for Spanish language infomercials is skyrocketing in the Southwest and in California and Mexico. Bilingual video scriptwriters are in demand. In some of the major cities such as Los Angeles and New York, infomercials in several foreign languages are broadcast on cable television's ethnic and foreign language programming stations or on radio.

            Some video magazines to sell products are made in two languages, especially to reach the huge Hispanic market in California and the Southwest. Every infomercial repeats the product name and selling point several times. Most viewers aren't paying attention when the infomercial comes on. A repetitive script is necessary in this case. The product name and selling point is repeated at the beginning, middle, and end of the infomercial.

            Viewers of infomercials get bored quickly if the presenter isn't somewhat different. Use a child who looks five years old, for example, to sell a product emotionally. Have an adult present the points and logic behind the demonstration for credibility.

            Show people using the product constantly throughout the infomercial. Product neglect is the primary reason why infomercials don't sell. Show people demonstrating, talking about, and applying the product to many different uses. Proven techniques in print ads also work in television infomercials, such as color reversals, black background with white letters superimposed over a photo, etc. In infomercials, viewers call or write to order the product.

            Announce this at the beginning with something like, "Get your pencil and paper ready to take advantage of this one-time offer." Few people sit down in front of a T.V. set with a notepad. It's entertainment time.

            The infomercial is an unwanted intrusion that angers a lot of people. Late night infomercials interrupt late night films. People may be grumpy at 3:00 a.m. or 5:00 a.m. when many infomercials are broadcast. Prime-time cable infomercials interrupt the entertainment. Give people a chance to get out of bed or away from the graveyard shift desk clerk slot and get paper and pencil.

            Use a celebrity to do a voice-over or on-camera narration. Identify the celebrity by name and superimposed title. In local retail infomercials, give the directions or address of the store.

            Short T.V. and radio commercial basic lengths run 10, 30,60, and 120 seconds. Infomercials run 5, and 30 minutes. The 30 minute length actually runs 28 1/2 minutes. Infomercial lengths stop short of 30 minutes or 5 minutes to allow for short commercials to be broadcast before and after the infomercial on cable T.V. stations.

            The 10-second commercials identify a product to support another longer commercial. Sometimes two different product companies share one commercial--offering two different products.

            Mail order advertisers use 2-minute infomercials on T.V. to be convincing, then follow up the campaign on cable T.V. with a longer infomercial to give more complete product demonstration. Cooking shows that demonstrate appliances such as food choppers are popular.

            A short T.V. commercial sticks to one main sales point. Only in five to thirty-minute infomercials and in print brochures is there the time to cover all the points. So the only reason a person watches an infomercial or reads a lengthy sales brochure is to consider the most important points you want to emphasize.

            The video script format for infomercials uses the two-column format. Video (visuals) is typed on the left. Audio (sound, music, speech, and special effects) is typed on the right.

            The video directors are given in upper and lower case letters. The audio or speaking part is typed in capital letters so the narrator or actor can see the speaking parts stand out for easy reading or memorization.

            The visuals show the product demonstration. The narration tells the viewers the unique features and benefits of the product. Don't tell how good it is, tell how it will benefit the viewer.

            The ending makes the most impact. A play on words can lend humor to the script if it also lends credibility to the product and emphasizes how the customer will save money and get superior merchandise.

            If something is more expensive on T.V. than it is when found in the store, sometimes the customer is persuaded by being told he's worth it. The emotional impact hits home by asking, "Don't you think I'm good enough to deserve this product?" It works particularly well on wives who know their husbands are very tight with money and affection.

            The customer's attitude toward infomercials is "When someone starts to make money, someone else will appear to take it away." To combat this psychological attitude, infomercial producers focus on "target marketing." It's the idea of having different promotional videos aimed at various segments of the market.     

Software sometimes labeled in artsy language, which simply said is “aiming.” In a direct campaign, you target a specific audience of consumers or niche market that includes short news releases explaining the purpose and main pointers in the infomercial. The summary may aim an infomercial campaign at doctors by sending video tapes to hospitals' training departments and another infomercial campaign aimed at lawyers--for the same computer product. You look at what lawyers and doctors have in common—the need for training on software that does specific tasks that both lawyers and hospitals’ training departments perform.

A writer of infomercial scripts uses numerous testimonials, endorsements, and product claims highlighted by music, hundreds of cuts to the product, to users of the product, to satisfied customers amidst a background of special lighting and entertainment to maintain the viewer's attention for the half-hour commercial.

The average adult's attention span for viewing a non-fiction video is only seven minutes. Cut this to five minutes for children’s attention spans. Commercials often are inserted in TV programs after each ten-minute segment.

The quality of an infomercial writer's script can be carefully measured by audience tracking to see how many orders for the product come in at any time. A video demonstration tape or video magazine acts as a company brochure to sell a product requiring non-impulse buying. The customer still has to come into a store or send away for the product, such as real estate.

            This is the age of product intelligence for video scriptwriters. Consumers demand real information. Information has turned the word 'sell' into a noun as in information becoming "real sell."   

Infomercials on television advertising became popular when the cost of buying time on cable television became low. Advertisers can afford to run five minute to half-hour commercials on cable.

            The video scriptwriter of infomercials needs to give complete information and a sales pitch at the same time. Interactive technologies allow viewers at home or corporate viewers at the office or plant to choose which segments of an infomercial they wish to see instead of flipping through a parts catalogue.

            Corporate viewers now use their computer keyboards to order products seen on a video tape linked to their computer through desktop video devices. Desktop video enables viewers to interact with a personal computer at home or in the office and with a video cassette tape played on a home or office VCR player and send out orders through a computer modem to anyone's telephone number, usually, with a toll-free 800 number.

            Consumers are hungry for information by which they make decisions. A video writer puts in information and leaves out the jingles and other frills seen on short T.V. broadcast commercials that imprint the brain and wring the emotions.

            In one survey, 68 percent of viewers said that short commercials don't give any points about a product. They only create an image. An infomercial is designed to give important points. It's similar to a product demonstration tape script or an instructional video.

            Information alone is not remembered. The viewer will always take images emotionally. A creative writer's tendency to achieve dramatic results by waiving the rules works in short commercials where style and form evoke more emotions than substance.

            For example, a black background with white lettering where the white lettering is printed over or with a photo background imprints the brain. People remember a reversed color advertisement better than white background with black letters.

             The success rates of infomercials that break the rules are unpredictable. Video copywriters use what works to obtain consistently high sales results. In any bookstore the how-to books dominate and appeal to the mass audience reader. People come in for straight information when they want to make decisions on what to buy or how to build it.



            Use symbolism and metaphor in your infomercial. A script can visualize the waves of the ocean, flow of a river, or waterfall, or ticking of a clock with the handles speeded up to show the passage of time or evolution of a species. A toy crane truck can recreate an accident to teach decision-making.

            Use symbolism and metaphor on camera to re-create the events of your life as they flow, perhaps, by showing the flowing river near a client's hometown.

            Symbolism creates new meanings in a script. The symbol must be recognizable by the audience and cross-cultural. What works in one culture may be taboo in another. Find out what the taboo colors are for the country the video will go to.

            For example, in Saudi Arabia, red is a taboo color. Writing is never shown in red ink. In China certain shades of blue signify death. Exporters who featured blue dishes in China found the products didn't sell because of the shade. Color symbols are important if the tape is headed for export.

            In video production, symbolism is used in corporate history videos to show the change of a company's product. It can also show someone age on camera or grow up from childhood. Metaphor compares a person to another object.

            In an infomercial (to publicize someone's color consulting franchise whose logo is a rose), show the main character or proprietor to symbolize her logo. She is like a rose and is selling a product that is supposed to remind the viewer of everything a rose symbolizes. The product is like a rose. It's colorful,-sweet-scented, and blooming.

            To symbolize this imagery in a video script, cut to the leading character's velvet, black hair and pouting, red lips. Then cut to a bouquet of dark, red rose. Go back to the character walking through her home dressed in the same shade of red to form a certain imagery of the soul of Spain or a wild, Irish rose.

            Then a quick cut to her business, a color consulting firm, where she's matching the red shades of a lipstick to a client's best colors. Then cut to your logo stationery, a red rose. A final cut to a bouquet of red roses is placed in her arms as she welcomes her new baby home, named Rose. (The client may want the baby to turn into the business logo on camera.)


            A video script's design is composed of all those containers, edited together, fitted side by side. The important points plus the container adds up to (or equals) the springboard.

            A creative springboard is the sum total of each container and each point combined, edited together, fitted so that the whole video or film flows like one piece of cloth with no seams or hanging threads. Is the script sound-oriented for radio, or audio-text? A visually-oriented script with fewer words is filled with symbolism and metaphor instead of straight points. Which creative springboard does the producer define?

            Time is budget. A sound-oriented or verbal script's purpose is to persuade, to inform, to warn, to close a sale, to obtain feedback, or to be remembered. A visually-oriented script is there to entertain, evoke emotions, and imprint the imagery on a viewer's brain which will be recalled later without thinking. It's subliminal.

            Verbal-oriented video scripts offer information that enable viewers to make intelligent decisions about a product or service. Subliminals imbedded in an infomercial are never revealed verbally. Infomercials and information videos work on the left-hemisphere of the brain, the logical, analytical, decision-making side that seeks verbal information.

            Visual-oriental scripts work on the right hemisphere of the brain that controls emotions and imagery. That's where subliminal works are imbedded, and art forms evoke feelings.

            One day a viewer daydreams about that candy bar shown on television next to the image of a beautiful woman in flowing chiffon making romantic gestures. Who can forget the decade-plus Nestle's chocolate bar lyric in the background that begins, "Dreams like this..."?


            Writers who specialize in writing direct mail copy for print mail order and video infomercials headed for cable, Internet, or Satellite television can create thriving writing and production businesses catering to telemarketing and mail order corporate clients and copywriters. Another career track is to write in-house for firms who manage telemarketing.

     For those who enjoy the music business, contact musicians, and open a business that sells their music to the movie industry. Another venue is medical marketing.

            Video and audio tapes are sent by mail order along with print advertising copy and information to customers. Video newsletters may also be included. Direct mail order copywriters for video or print write advertisements, sales letters, and demonstration video scripts to obtain orders for products such as magazine subscriptions and insurance.

            A company purchases computer-sorted mailing lists of people in certain geographical, income, professional, ethnic, or age groups. The demonstration tapes or video newsletters are sent to potential customers to motivate viewers to buy a product by direct mail order. An audience-tracking study is followed up to measure the effectiveness of the written copy or the video script. If many products sold through mail order, the writer is judged excellent. The writer's income goes up. The freelancer is now in demand by infomercial producers and direct mail order copy publishers.

            Anyone watching an infomercial is an information seeker. A sales video, like a feature film, informs as well as sells escape.  The reason to write a nonfiction video script is to create grounds for a decision from the viewer's end. A decision is made not only about a product or service, but about those who identify with the product or feel repelled by the tape.

            The infomercial producers set their own guidelines to battle poor public perception of the long-form commercials. The National Infomercial Marketing Association (NIMA) requires members to produce programs based on truthful information in compliance with laws and regulations.

            Guidelines cover crucial issues such as sponsorship identification, program production, product claim substantiation, testimonials and endorsements. See the former National Infomercial Marketing Association's guidelines for members. The former National Infomercial Marketing Association is now called the Electronic Retailing Association. The group’s Web site is at: http://www.retailing.org/new_site/default.asp

Writers need to work into the script the ways in which customers can order and pay for the product. What prices are fair? Can the customer buy it cheaper in a discount chain? Then why would he order from cable T.V. and pay more? Is it sold in the stores? Are similar and competing products sold in stores, but this product is sold only on T.V.?

            The writer must write copy to sell at the client's prices, sometimes knowing in advance that the customer can get it cheaper in the store than by ordering from T.V. Also, what warranties are on the product? What guarantees do the claims make on T.V.? What are the guidelines for refunds?

THE NATIONAL INFOMERCIAL MARKETING ASSOCIATION (Now called the Electronic Retailing Association)

            In the early 1990s, as a condition of the National Infomercial Marketing Association (NIMA) membership, guidelines on refunds, guarantees, warranties, and prices in their information publications for members stated that refunds, guarantees, warranties, and prices are required. Not all infomercial producers are or were members of NIMA. Not all clients of infomercial producers are or were members either.

            Today, as a potential video podcaster, you’d look for a client with a product if you do not produce your own product or service that you want to promote through your video podcast. It's the client who makes the product, then hires an infomercial producer as an independent contractor or freelancer. The infomercial producer either hires a freelance infomercial video scriptwriter for the project or has staff writers working in-house. Some video producers specialize only in making infomercials and nothing else in a local area. As a video podcaster, you can make your own product and promote it in your podcast. An example would be an inspirational or motivational speech or sermon, news, or a course offered online.

            Back in the early nineties, membership guidelines stated that among NIMA members, if a guideline is violated, a complaint is presented to a review board--two NIMA members and three consultants. If the board finds a violation, the program must be removed from the airwaves within 10 days.

            Members in good standing can certify TV station and cable networks that each infomercial complies with the guidelines. NIMA provides telecasters with a list of members in good standing every six months. By codifying the conduct of infomercial producers, the infomercial industry can be lead out of a difficult period when many viewers’ attitudes toward infomercials were low.

            Regulations set by NIMA state in part that each video will be preceded and followed with a clear announcement that it's a paid advertisement. There must be sufficient product to meet the demand within 30 days. There must be reliable evidence for all claims. Testimonials from consumers have to be voluntary and from bona fide users of the product. The stated price of the product must disclose all additional costs, postage, and handling.


            You can produce and/or write direct mail copy for advertising agencies, direct mail firms, and manufacturers. Also, sales videos or podcasting compressed video files, MP4, or audio MP3 files can be made ready on a Web site for downloading. You can produce video podcasts for realtors, marketing research firms, distributors, and any company wishing to create video or slide-show advertisements as video podcasts. Anything you produce as a podcast also can be recorded on DVDs to mail out to customers and saved in your hard disk drive for updating.


Associations of Interest


            American Medical Writers Association

            40 West Gude Drive, Suite 101
            Rockville, MD 20850-1192



            National Association of

            Science Writers, Inc.

            P.O. Box 890, Hedgesville, WV 25427



            American Society of Journalists and Authors

            1501 Broadway, Suite 302

             New York, NY 10036



            Society for Technical Communication



            Association of Professional Writing Consultants



            Council of the Advancement of Science Writing

            P.O. Box 910
Hedgesville, WV 25427


            Careers in Science Writing:



            World Association of Medical Editors




            Text and Academic Authors Association

P.O. Box 76477
St. Petersburg, FL


            Education Writers Association

            2122 P Street, NW Suite 201
            Washington, DC 20037



            Council of Biology Editors



            American Society of Indexers (for indexing careers)

            10200 West 44th Avenue, Suite 304, 

            Wheat Ridge, CO 80033 



            Society of Professional Journalists

            Eugene S. Pulliam National Journalism Center,

            3909 N. Meridian St., Indianapolis, IN 46208



Diversified Media Associations


American Business Press



American Society of Business Press Editors



Associated Business Writers of America



Associazioni ed Enti Professionali -America


Contains a list of South American, Canadian, and US writers’ organizations, including language translation firms.            


American Marketing Association



Association of Professional Communications Consultants



Writer’s Encyclopedia A-Z List




Editorial Freelancers Association



Editor’s Guild


The current online Yellow Pages, published annually since 1997 includes listings by skills as well as a specialties index. This association published the hardcopy, Yellow Pages, a listing of Association members who wished to advertise their skills and specialties, between 1989 and 1999.


International Women’s Writing Guild

http://www.iwwg.com/index.php, Or: http://www.iwwg.com

The International Women's Writing Guild, headquartered in New York and founded in 1976, is a network for the personal and professional empowerment of women through writing.

Video Software Dealers Association


 Public Relations Society of America


 Deep Dish TV


      Video History Project


Advertising Research Foundation


 The Mail Preference Service


Advertising Associations Directory


 Mailing Fulfillment Service Association


Television Bureau of Advertising


 Home Improvement Research Institute


Writers-Editors Network


 Professional and Technical Consultants Association


Association of Independent Commercial Producers


National Cable & Telecommunications Association


International Association of Women in Radio and Television


 National Communication Association


The Association for Women in Communications


Society of Telecommunications Consultants


European Training Media Association


Advertising Research Foundation

641 Lexington Avenue • New York, NY 10022


International Women’s Media Foundation


Independent Publishers Group


American Society of Media Photographers

150 North Second Street, Philadelphia, PA 19106

(Electronic imaging and digital technology)


      International Interactive Communications Society


 International Multimedia Association


National Cable Television Association


         Electronic Retailing Association (Formerly, the National Infomercial          Marketing Association)


       Association of Independent Commercial Producers


        Directory of PR Consultancies and Press Release Writers