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

Books and photos by Anne Hart

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. You can find free coupons and other free offers. Discover ideas about what people buy from some shopping sites.




            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. 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. 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).