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
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 soulmate, 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 that put: 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. The 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 or segment heading that tells 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 type 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 flash drive, mobile recording device, or disc. 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
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
Writing, Publishing, and Selling Your Own Small Booklets or Pamphlets
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. On your back, glossy cover have a one or two-sentence description
of the book centered about one inch down from the top. Put it in a
box if you like, and put 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,
or 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 booklets have their own market, but if you want people to
pay for your booklets, give them information that’s harder to find and is
not usually found among the free literature available at community or religious centers. Also try specialty gift stores, home building centers, discount stores, libraries, business, professional, and trade associations,
corporations, schools, and employee organizations. Writing on contemporary and controversial issues in the news supplies school libraries with information for student research. For more information on getting bar codes or ISBN numbers for your larger booklets, just click on my other article here on writing 98-page booklets and pamphlets.
Winning Strategies or Guerilla Tactics for Sweet Romance Stories or Novels:
Turn them into a 4 inch by 6 inch small, 72-page romance story booklets
and sell in supermarkets and gift shops or packaged with other products.
Don’t forget those wonderful romance novelettes and stories you have
that are shorter than book length. If they are sweet romances, short stories
in three parts or “acts,” of about 23 pages for each act, totalling 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 miniracks 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.
You’ll need a bar code. You don’t need an ISBN number unless you also
want to send your booklets to gift shops 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. If you plan to sell
your booklet by mail order to gift shops in hospitals or to libraries, get the
ISBN number as well as the bar code.
Here’s how to organize your little book of sweet romances
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. You can market your book 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. In
fact any place that sells tourist souvenirs make great places 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. 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 library focused on
sweet romance because people want to believe that love conquers all and
buy these little stories to relax them and to escape the real world, but 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
HOW TO FORMAT YOUR BOOK 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
You can 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, schools, or doctors and dentists offices, lawyer’s
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 could 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.
This is one way to find winning strategies or guerrilla 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 with other products as a promotion, even honeymoon packages,
lingeree, and mail order products such as gift baskets for bridal showers or
at writer’s conventions. Happy sales. Happy tales.
How to Format Your Book Manuscript
Here’s how to format a book manuscript, based on my 37
years as an editor. 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 out-
line, 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
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. Or follow a publisher's instructions on font type and size. For self-publishers, choose a font and type size that's readable to all ages, not just tiny print.
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
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. Some editors ask for an e-mailed manuscript. This will save you money on printer ink and paper as well as postage that includes envelopes and paid postage for the return of a manuscript.
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.
It has been said: How to Write About the Most Powerful Source You Have
Write About Positive Hooks because People Don’t Want to Read About Pain
The reason nourishment books like the “Chicken Soup” series sold so
well is because the books bring joy instead of dumping pain on the reader.
Dump the pain in therapeutic writing, but in writing you want to publish
for a large audience, offer nourishment for the soul, mind, health, and wallet.
People buy more books on the habits of millionaires and efficient people
than they buy books surveying the plight of those in poverty or pain,
especially when no quick solutions are offered. People want the secrets of
healing, love, wealth, and happiness—in short, nourishment from a book,
how to enhance creativity, or information on how to build or repair something and how to find inspiration, motivation, joy, and contentment.
Include the 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 specific type of press kit could be 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.
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 Hook or Angle?
Every scriptwriter needs an online press kit to pre-sell a script to the
video or film market. Most print press kits are discarded by the media
without being opened, unless you’re well-known. The only way the media
will pay attention to a press kit is if it contains a powerful hook. 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 hook read something like, “What’s the most
powerful resource you have?”
Notice that that hook question is the same as the one you ask of your
hero when creating a screenplay, novel, or short story. Another powerful
hook question is, “How many times have you sold out on your real dreams
and settled for something less?”
This question is also the same as the writer would ask of a hero in creating
a novel, story, or screenplay. The hero’s individual reactions form the
story structure. The editor’s reaction creates news coverage in the form of
free publicity. Use a personal hook question, not a statement, both on the
cover of the folder and inside in the press release. A scriptwriter has to be
a professional media strategist, an architect and designer of ‘models’ on
paper that create visibility in the media for the unsold, pre-sold, or in development script.
Use a hook question in the middle of the press release that reads something like, “If you could perform one act what would it be?” You’re exerting your power here, or writing about someone who needs to find power or come out of a powerless situation.
Again, that’s the same question the hero in a screenplay or novel would
be asked to elicit individual actions. The only reason to create a question
hook is to find the largest audience in the shortest time.
A professional-looking press kit publicizes a script, book, or freelance
writing business inexpensively. Paid advertising would cost hundreds of
dollars for a two-inch display ad in daily newspaper or high-circulation
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. This kind of
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 people in. There are
enough ads on TV that start with a screeching ambulance and a man
shouting how he’s dying. These ads are broadcast after midnight or late at
night so if you fell asleep in front of your TV set, they shock you out of
your sweet dream with fearful possible reality scenario to get you to buy
their safety products. It doesn’t work with older people who may be
shocked into a panic attack or worse by the sudden noise of screaming
sirens and shouting.
You sell serenity and joy, and stop using fear hooks as they don’t work
with older or frail people who get sick watching other people getting sick.
If you want to sell some product or piece of writing, use positive hooks to
bring people to places in life or countryside where a quiet joy offers serenity,
like a fountain gently babbling, a scene at the beach calm and joyous,
or a gentle garden.
A screenwriter or novelist sells service, not only a script. Describe how
the script or videowriting service is used—and end. These strategies also
work for nonfiction books or columns. For nonfiction, use an insightful,
popular, and commercial short two-word title such as “Robot Cowboys”
Or a slightly longer, but snappy, 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_____and Men
What Do Media Professionals Expect To See?
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.
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 press 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. An article I wrote for a
high-circulation paper brought in 600 requests for information when I
included my post office box number.
The tiny, classified ad I placed in the back of the paper (which was expensive for me) brought no responses. 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.
The market for video scripts is wide and covers fiction and nonfiction.
Networking with people in the industry and the press, including the trade
press, makes selling a script smoother.
A DIGITAL RENAISSANCE: WHERE CREATIVE WRITING
Writers, your new medium is here…You can be among the first
to branch out into interactive intuitive writing on the Web.
Now is the time to start writing for the newest media, whether it’s
news, education, entertainment, or a hybrid mixture of all of the
above. Today’s Web provides news and entertainment in cyberspace,
as well as education, job training, and college degrees.
Self Promotion of Your Writing Before and After Publication
Create Visibility by plugging products you like to be packaged with your books, pamphlets, tapes, or other writing. If your book is accepted, your expenses will soar. You have to promote your own books online. You’ll need to make public appearances also and chat online. Your Web site is your best marketing tool. Editors are never created equal. One person’s opinion will always be different from another person’s views about your work.
Keep mailing lists for self-promotion. Ask your publisher to sponsor
your mailing, but you supply the addresses. They don’t have time or
money to gather addresses beyond a few newspapers. Hang onto fan email
and save on disk. Print out, and send to editors in a collection when
asked to do so and only then, after you send a query letter asking when
they want the fan mail.
Keep all online reviews, pertaining to your book. Most fiction nowadays is bought when writers are discovered after having published in major magazines publishing short stories. Editors then ask them to write novels and expand their stories or come up with new material. Manuscripts are bought through contests, from the winners. Your personal contact with editors can do more for your book than an agent because the publisher is really looking at the published short stories in magazines to recruit a new crop of novelists.
You get in touch with an editor and find out what conferences the editor will attend so you can meet in person and discuss your writing. More books are sold face to face than most other ways. If you have a day job, don’t quit because writers earning twice their salary or more from books are still holding onto their own day jobs. If you’ve made the best-seller list many times, you still can’t quit because your book will be out of print in
two years, most likely. The more successful you are, the more publishers will insist that your sales are higher than they were with your first best-selling books.
Readers will write to your editor or publisher demanding that you write faster, and the publisher will write back to you to give the editors faster turn-around time. You will be expected to make each book better than the one before it. You won’t be allowed to only write. Instead, your time will be taken with editing books that need revising and sending proposals and outlines. Your deadlines will grow shorter the more books you write.
Do your research first. Contact the National Writers Union to find out what your rights are before you go with an agent. You can ask for more free copies if you need them and publicity, because unless you’re famous, you won’t get much publicity beyond a press release from the average publisher. Think about publishing your own book and creating your own publicity campaign.
Make sure your contract doesn’t keep you from writing for another publisher. If it does, find out whether you can write under pen names to increase your income by writing for more than one publisher, especially when books go out of print quickly. Ask how much time you will be given to write the book and do you have a choice. What’s your deadline? Then after the book is sent in, how long will it take, that’s the turn-around time, until publication?
Four months before publication you need to start your public relations
campaign with the editors and publishers magazines, and with the newspapers, when the book is available. Every need changes in the way of genre, each year. You need to be flexible about what you need to write. The technological world is unfolding in ways that are great for writers.