Sunday, December 9, 2007

Connecticut Author's Success

Getting My First Children’s Picture Book Published


Doreen Tango Hampton

I am officially a children’s book author. My children’s picture book titled I Like Gum was recently released by Shenanigan Books. I have been asked to share my publishing experience with fellow CAPA members. I hope my story will provide some helpful insights.

In September 2005, I had written a series of four children’s picture book manuscripts. I was an agent-less, first-time author with absolutely no knowledge of the publishing industry. What next? I went to my local library and asked for assistance. With the resourceful help of the Reference Librarian, I discovered an invaluable guide to the children’s publishing world titled The Children’s Writer’s & Illustrator’s Market.

The book contained lists of children’s book publishers and agents. There is also information regarding the manuscript submission package. Not only did I learn exactly what I should include with my submission, I also discovered what not to include.

To my relief, I learned publishers want text only manuscripts from authors who are not illustrators. It is the job of the publishing house to match the author’s text with an artist’s illustrations. If you decide to submit your friend’s illustrations with your manuscript, you run the risk of a visual rejection before your story gets reviewed.

I heard the term “query” letter for the first time. I learned the significance of composing a strong query letter and the ramifications of writing a weak one. An interesting, well-written piece might pique an editor’s interest. A trite, boring letter will not produce an editor’s request for the manuscript.

I reviewed each publisher’s manuscript submission policies and followed each set of guidelines to the letter. I did not want my masterpiece ending up in a recycling bin without ever having been read. Some publishers required only a query letter. Others wanted the entire manuscript. Some requested electronic submissions; while, others preferred a hard copy in the mail. The manuscript had to be ether single spaced or double spaced, depending on the guidelines. I created a database listing all the publishers to whom I had sent my manuscript (I didn’t want to send my story to the same house twice).

Be diligent, but remain objective. Do not waste a publisher’s time or yours. Many publishers clearly state they will NOT accept unsolicited manuscripts. Some houses reject multiple submissions. They want exclusive submissions sent only to them. Others accept manuscripts during a stated timeframe. Still others have an open-ended submissions policy. Following all the guidelines is meaningless if your story does not match the publisher’s needs. Do not submit your manuscript if your story is exactly what the publisher is not looking for at the present time.

As far as securing a literary agent, I found it to be a tougher proposition than finding a publisher. Agents are extremely selective. An unpublished, first time author is a big risk. Most agents are looking for established authors. I found myself identifying with the lament of the college graduate: “I can’t get a job without experience, but how do I get experience if no one will hire me?” (Needless to say, I secured my publishing contract for I Like Gum with no literary agent.)

Even more information regarding publishers, agents and manuscript submissions can be researched on the Internet. I googled “children’s book publishers,” “children’s literary agents” and “query letters.” The Internet became my most utilized resource. Be sure you are reviewing current websites. I discovered some websites had not been updated in years. An out-of-date website is of no benefit.

Spread the word. Talk about your book to everyone. I began scouring local newspapers for book events. I attended author singings, readings and book fairs. I asked questions constantly and found authors graciously shared helpful information.

Check out publishing house catalogs to learn what individual publishers are producing at the present time. Visit bookstores to see what books are “hot.” I sat in the Barnes & Noble in Canton one afternoon and just watched the reactions of children. They are my audience, so I listen and learn from them.

Join organizations. I heard about the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) and immediately signed up. The newsletter provides a wealth of knowledge. There are two SCBWI conventions each year that offer workshops, guest lecturers and manuscript critiquing. There is a Southern New England chapter that offers regional events.

Enter writing contests. Not only is the exposure beneficial, the financial rewards are a nice addition. The Internet lists numerous writing contests. Scholastic and Women’s Day Magazine jointly sponsor an annual writing contest specifically for children’s book manuscripts. The Tassy Walden Awards: New Voices in Children’s Literature sponsored by The Shoreline Arts Alliance is a competition open to writers and illustrators in the state of CT.

Despite all of the resources outlined above, getting a children’s book published is not for the faint of heart. It will take every ounce of tenacity, persistence and perseverance you can muster. From September 2005 until August 2006, I worked tirelessly to find a publisher and/or an agent. My manuscript was rejected by 82 publishers and 64 agents. Instead of feeling discouraged, I decided to submit another story.

After spending a weekend with my five-year old niece, I came up with the I Like Gum concept. I worked on the story for a weekend. I decided to submit my manuscript to the one publisher who had sent me the nicest and most constructive rejection letter. Five days later I received an email. Shenanigan Books wanted to publish I Like Gum. I signed the contract in September 2006. My book was released in September 2007. The entire process, from conception to publication, lasted one year.

Currently, my publisher and I are working out the details of my second book. It has been an exhilarating, joyful and at times frustrating process. But, I am loving every mile of this ride. I hope you, too, get to savor your first publishing experience, with the anticipation of many more in the future.

Connecticut Authors Do the Big E

CAPA at the Big E

by Peggy Gaffney

This was the first experience for CAPA member to market their books through a booth at the Big E and I thought I’d share my experience.

On Tuesday I was scheduled for the afternoon-evening session and when Debbie Kilday and I arrived, the booth was busy so we explored before it was our time to take over. Once we got going, there was a flow of people interested in the books, CAPA and the whole concept of authorship. People were very friendly and they for the most part were looking for fiction (primarily mysteries), history, travel, and children’s picture books. Though they were fascinated with my knitting books, they weren’t selling.

The six hour session went relatively quickly because people stopped to talk and check out the books. Everyone who showed any interest was given a contact list with the names and books of the authors involved and their websites or email.

The only real surprise for me is the people who when asked if they’d like to know more about the books, told me point blank that they didn’t read books or that they hated to read. This concept was new to me and I feel really sorry for them. Luckily there weren’t many of them.

Driving home from the Big E at the end of the session was a challenge in that they are repaving I91 and what should have been a 50 minute trip became a 90 minute stop and go session.

However, I was up again the next morning to do a double shift at the CAPA booth. I brought my knitting so I wouldn’t get bored, and shared the morning session with Elizabeth Faragher. Elizabeth was the “featured author” first and did a land office business with her beautifully illustrated children’s book “Off to the Fair.” It was the perfect sell for the day because people connected the fair experience. The crowds were constant and the booth was full of browsers all day.

This was Connecticut Day and there were many people from the state walking through. The interest in CAPA was very high. It seams that everyone has a book inside him just waiting for someone to show him how to get it published. I chatted with people from my old home town and my present one.

When it came my time to be “featured author” I was glad to sit down. I got out my knitting and my sweaters and books and began talking to everyone who stopped to look. There was a lot of interest in books coming in the future and the pattern they could order off the website. I even had a bunch of people interested in ordering custom knit sweaters. However, I discovered as the day progressed, that though there was a lot of interest in the topic of my books, there were very few knitters visiting the Big E that day. However, as the day continued, my pitch changed to having them pass on my card to friends and relatives who were much more my target market. I gave out well over a hundred cards that day.

The high points of the day came later. Elizabeth had finished her shift and Jan Mann had taken over. Miss Connecticut came through with her publicist and explored the booth checking out the children’s books. Then about four o’clock, Governor Rell and her group came through. She loved the booth and my books. One of her aids took a few photos of me with the Governor and Jan got a chance to talk with her as well.

Jan’s session as “featured author” ended the day and she sold a number of books to people interested in the concept of Cruising Connecticut with a Picnic Basket. I was able to get shots of people visiting the booth while I was sharing more information about the group.

All in all, I’d say it was a good experience. Lots of positive contacts were made. The word got out that there is a large group of authors available for talks in Connecticut, and as the manager of the building said, CAPA give’s the Connecticut Building “a touch of class. “

At the end of the day I was left feeling that it had been worthwhile. As for the booth as a place to make money, I’d say it depends on the type of book you sell. General fiction, non-fiction and children’s books are the best sell for this crowd.

The trip home took 2 hours and 10 minutes, so I hope if we do this next year, they won’t feel the need to repave in September.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Book marketing

To Market....... To Market

by Cynthia S. Bercowetz

When I was in sixth grade, I wrote the following in a car contest: "If a strong and sturdy car is your delight, come to Shapiro's and be treated right." I won! I must have had ideas about promoting at that young age.
I have had many ideas on promoting and marketing my books. They may not be the traditonal ways but they have proven successful.
My biggest promotion is a book party at my home. I usually have 75 to 100 friends, town officials and anyone interested in attending a party. I have had an orchestra for the past two books.
For my second book, "Unforgettable Recipes and Savvy Consumer Tips", I had local cooks bring samples of their recipes in the books to the book party. The introduction of the book is by a well-known chef and he attended too with his recipes that made a hit.
For my third book,"Grandpa Herman's Pettng Zoo", a true story about animals at a former petting zoo at COPACO in Bloomfield, I will have a local farm bring over some of the animals that were similar to the ones in the book. They will be outside on our lawn.
I tuck a book at my dentist's office and other medical offices I visit. It pays off. Patients have called to purchase books.
In Naples, Fl., I had a book party at the Elks Lodge. The chef at the Lodge has recipes in the book. It was most successful.
I had a book signing at a book store in Naples that did not have a high attendance. I went across the way to a pizza place for lunch. Customers asked why I was dressed up and the others were very casual. I told them about the book signing and many in line wanted to buy my books. So, there I was book signing at the pizza place.
I also like to help other authors to promote their books. I have a TV show on Channel Five and interview guests. For further information, contact me at
Cynthia Susan Bercowetz.

Unforgettable Recipes and Savvy Consumer Tips
ISBN: 0-9708430-7-0
Paperback $14.95 Contact me for an Autographed copy


Podcasts – Radio for the Internet?

By Peggy Gaffney

What is a podcast? Well they are in many ways similar to a radio program created by non-professionals to be shared with people of like interests. However, this isn’t Fibber McGee & Molly. These are usually talk broadcasts that could be interviews, discussions, lectures, readings or just someone chatting about something that interests him.

So what value do they have to writers? How many of us can afford to take classes and continue our education on a daily basis? How many can afford the time to attend workshops to hear ideas in your field? If the answer is that you don’t have time or the money, the podcast might provide an answer.

How do you get a podcast and what does it cost? There are many ways to receive podcasts and more growing every day with iPods, interactive cell phones and a fascinating collection of pricey gadgets. However, the cheapest and probably most practical way won’t cost a thing.

On your computer you access the internet and go to the site for iTunes. You can follow the directions to download the iTunes program into your computer. Once this is done, you click on the iTunes Store and find the word podcasts and click on that. When it shows you some of the thousands of podcasts on every subject, go to the upper right hand corner and you’ll find a search section. If you type in “writers, writing” up will come a long list of shows on these topics. Most of these are free and can be had by just clicking on the subscribe button and downloading them. Cost for most of them is nothing.

A sample of the shows available include: Grammar Girl’s Quick and Dirty tips for Better Writing, Writers on Writing, – Creative Writing Podcast, I Should Be Writing, The Writing Show, Holly Lisle On Writing, WrimoRadio: The Official National Novel Writing Month Podcast, Writers Talking, Write Away: Podcast of the Texas A&M University Writing Center, “The Kissy Bits” Romance Writing Without Cooties, Odyssey: SF/F Writing Workshop Podcast, Scottish Writers’ Podcast, Writers Voice, Behind the Black Mask: Mystery Writer Revealed, Tech Writers Voices: Podcasts on Technical Writing, Litopia Writers’ Podcast, Writers in the Sky, Arthur, Writing for Young Adults, Tips for Media Writers, Kelly Writers House Podcast, Mom Writers’ Talk Radio, Little Red’s Writing Hood, Confessions of a Struggling Writer,

Mark Moxon - Travel Writer, Novel Writing with Brian Jepesen, Lit Law for Writers on the Go!, Femslash Writer’s Corner, The Kwantien Writers’ Guild and Writer’s Voice.

Now these are only a sample of writing podcasts and each might have 20 to 50 episodes so the wealth of information is mind boggling. Also these are just ones on writing, there is also marketing, self publishing and speaking to say nothing of the podcasts on your specific genre. For example, I have been listening to a number of podcasts and one appealed to me to the point of my sending the moderator copies of my books along with the online information to point her to my website and a nice note about how much I enjoyed her weekly broadcasts. The next thing I know, she is reviewing (very favorably) my books on her show and telling everyone to go to her webpage where my contact information will be listed. She has a listening audience of a half-million. I was delighted.

The best part of the podcast world for me is that these podcasts can play on my computer any time I want and they don’t interfere with other programs. So as I work on sizing photos for my next book, I can at the same time listing to a half hour discussion of yarn and knitting or writing mysteries or marketing self published books.

So give podcasts a try. Listen and learn. Maybe some day you’ll want to do your own. If you think you might, there are even podcasts telling you how to do that as well. It may not be Fibber McGee but its “radio” for a new age and something we can all enjoy.

Peggy Gaffney is the author of the knitting book series The Crafty Dog Knits whose books cover the dog breeds Samoyed, Labrador Retriever & Golden Retriever. Shes is also the designer of a large collection of knitting patterns issued under the label Kanine Knits. Visit

Monday, July 2, 2007

CAPA is going to the Big E

Market To Thousands * Up Close and Personal

The CAPA Big E Bookstore

Top 3 reasons why every Connecticut author should be part of the CAPA Big E Bookstore
1. You will have your books on display for 17 days.
2. You will have a quality signing opportunity at the largest fair in the Northeast.
3. You will have a great time while being part of an exciting CAPA event.

CAPA members have a unique opportunity to meet the public and market their books. The CAPA Bookstore will be located in the Connecticut Building for the 17 days in September with hundreds of thousands of people walking through and getting a chance to meet the authors and buy their books. You can choose the day to meet your public, but your books will be on display and available for sale throughout the entire 17 day event.

Applications were mailed to members in their latest copy of The Authority. Applications MUST be returned to Jan Mann by July 14. Anyone needing more information may e-mail her at

This is a perfect opportunity to do a booksigning to record crowds and get your titles known by the thousands of potential buyers attending the fair. Don't let this chance pass you by!

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Writing & Marketing "offshoot" books

Riding Pop-Culture Whales
The Adventures of a Book Barnacle

By Robert Trexler

A reporter from the Wall Street Journal called about Unlocking Harry Potter: Five Keys for the Serious Reader (Zossima Press). When the article appeared on May 10, 2007 the title was “Last Hurrah for Harry Offshoots?” with the subtitle “As series draws to a close, market for related books may well spike, then fade.” He was fair and accurate, laying the background of the “off-shoot” books with a statistic from R.R. Bowker that over 190 Harry Potter related titles are in print. He captured the phenomenon of “offshoot” books in this picturesque sentence: “Much like George Lucas’s “Star Wars” films and Dan Brown’s “The Da Vinci Code,” the Harry Potter books are whales to which many barnacles have attached themselves.”

John Granger, a classicist asked Robert Trexler, editor of a bi-monthly literary publication CSL: The Bulletin of the New York C.S. Lewis to join the effort to produce and market his first book, The Hidden Key to Harry Potter, that eventually sold 5,000 copies in about one year. This led to a book deal with Tyndale Publishers with a book titled Looking for God in Harry Potter (2004). That book sold over 50,000 copies and is in its second updated edition. In April 2006 John was offered a book deal with Putnam-Penguin for another Harry Potter related book but John and Robert formed a business partnership and determined that they could do at least as well and wanted to retain creative control of the content and marketing .

It was Robert’s job to find the appropriate business/marketing plan and set the pieces in place to make everything happen. It was John’s job to write another book and edit a series of Harry Potter essays that became their first book, Who Killed Albus Dumbledore? (Nov. 2007). It was also John’s job to be the “personality” who could put his written ideas across to the media and to live audiences. Unlocking Harry Potter, took a while longer to be published (March 2007). But it was a fortunate delay, because just as we were going to press a Rowling quotation appeared from an interview with The Herald, a newspaper in England, where she stated: “To invent this wizarding world I’ve learned a ridiculous amount about alchemy . . . to set the parameters and establish the stories internal logic.” It was just the marketing “hook” we needed. Our book is the only book of the 190 spin-offs that explores the literary alchemy connection in the Potter books at length and in depth. Unlocking contains 70 pages covering this “key” to understanding her fantasy series.

As the saying goes, “Advertising is what you pay for, and publicity is what you pray for.” Well, our prayers were answered. A week after the WSJ article they were contacted by a Warner Brothers movie studio producer developing a TV program to be aired the week before the fifth Harry Potter movie is released (July 15, 2007). On May 18th John was flown to Burbank, California as one of three Harry Potter experts for the program. There is a possibility that the program will also be one of the “extra features” when the CD of movie version of Order of the Phoenix appears.

What distinguishes their attempt from the get-rich-quick approach to barnacle book writing is that they started with a conviction of the importance of our message – and knew that it offered a unique viewpoint. It took five years to get the “call from Hollywood,” but appealing to Hollywood was not foremost in our thinking with the first book in 2002. However being a barnacle on a whale is better than being a pebble on the beach.

Friday, June 8, 2007


Jan Mann Speaks at CAPA-SE

by John Benjamin Sciarra

GrotonConnecticut author Jan Mann encouraged fledgling writers to “pursue their passion,” at the Groton Library Monday evening, April 16th. Speaking to the satellite chapter of CAPA, the Southeast group enjoyed Mann’s presentation immensely as she detailed her 22 year journey to published author.

Mann’s book, “Cruising Connecticut in a Picnic Basket” is living proof that you can succeed as a self-published author. She sold over 2000 books last year and is determined to outdo herself this year. The crowd all wondered, how did she do it? What was her secret? The answer was simple: hard work. Jan views her passion as a full-time job. Rarely charging for author visits, Mann often works long days and relies on her ability to sell books to cover expenses. She broke even last year, but expects to see a profit starting this year.

One particularly encouraging comment was, “I don’t know what I would have done without CAPA!” Mann credits the networking afforded by CAPA in helping her to succeed in getting her book published. Even at that, it didn’t come easy. He first printer did a horrible job with the cover and then failed to correct the mistake. The second printer failed in this regard as well and took far too long to get the books printed. The third, however, was the charm. A company out of Michigan called “Edwards Brothers” delivered her books in one week and the results met Mann’s demanding standards of perfection and price.

Mann is unusual in her distribution process. She is the author, designer, publisher, marketing agent and distributor for her book. Traveling from bookstore to bookstore, Mann markets all of her books alone. There is no middle Mann—she’s it (misspelling intentional). One drawback is the waiting for reparations. Many of the stores are slow to reimburse her for books on their shelves. Others pay her up front.

Not content with status quo, Mann has a few tricks up her sleeve (or in her picnic basket) for marketing. “Large Connecticut based companies could offer the book as incentives,” she speculates A suggestion from the audience to look into some specific companies demonstrated the power of networking as the tables were turned and Jan started taking notes. It was proof of one of her strategies. “Seeds panted in the garden don’t sprout until much later. You just never know when a contact might pan out.” Monday evening, it might have sprouted at the Groton Library.

Jan had some final words of wisdom to would-be writers: 1) Find your passion. You will never write your book unless you have a passion for your subject; 2) Face your fears. It took Jan years to get over the fear of speaking, fear of being read, and the fear of publishing; 3) Ask for help! Jan advises not to hesitate because you think someone might be too busy. In fact, she admonishes, those are the ones that can help the most—they are obviously already successful and have the most to offer; 4) Get the right attitude. She describes it this way, “Whatever it takes.”

Whatever it takes, Jan Mann has it. Through dogged determination and unyielding hard work, Jan is going to put Connecticut on the map of places to visit and cut a path for herself in the world of publishing. We, too, can have that kind of success if we apply ourselves in the same Mann—er.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Selling to a Niche Market - Teachers

On Marketing Brand New Teacher

by Carol and Joe Keeney

In the latter part of 2006, the same year our book was published, we started receiving checks from our distributor. While the checks are not big, $300 or less, the feeling that we were doing something right was beneficial to us. Before listing our marketing adventures that brought us this far monetarily, it would be to your advantage to know something about us: Our book is of the academic variety and we had no experience in promoting it; and early efforts to advance our book failed, it was like pouring sweat into a black box that remained perpetually empty; and as a marketing compass, we used The Self Publishing Manual, a great book, however, it catered more toward the general-audience-type book.

We did not get it Brand New Teacher: How to Guide and Teach the Early Grades Using Scripts had to be sold differently than other books. The worm turned, so to speak, when we read Brian Jud’s “Beyond the Bookstore;” We learned the meaning of the word niche and it gave us a roadmap for reorienting our selling efforts. Below is a list of efforts that should have targeted academic education from the beginning:

  • Mailed pre-published copies to reviewers such as Publisher’s weekly.
  • Mailed post-publication books to reviewers and wholesalers.
  • Contracted with the distributor Atlas Books, who promised to move our books to booksellers and wholesalers.
  • Participated in PMA mailing programs to reviewers and schools.
  • Sent press releases with publicity kit to major newspapers across the country
  • Carol went into chat forums on the internet to help new teachers
  • We set up a web site for the book and use Link Metro for link exchanges;
  • Carol made contact with a school principal enabling her to sell books to Hartford schools and do a seminar for new teachers.
  • Carol got a review in a local newspaper.
  • We participated in the CT library association through CAPA
  • We sent a book to the First Lady Nancy Bush because of her interest in education.
  • We placed an ad in New York Teacher, the union newspaper for the New York City Schools at the start of the new school year
  • CAPA member Dennis Schleicher helped us with Amazon to increase our ranking and sales.
  • Carol did a book signing at Barnes and Noble in Norwalk
  • We visited bookstores and got some of them to stock our books.
  • We have approached a School Supply Company to include us in their catalog
  • We contacted wholesalers more geared toward academic education.

We got a handful of review requests from our mailings; the ad we had in New York Teacher sold about 50 books; orders through the distributor came as a direct result of our personal contact with wholesalers; Carol, through her Internet forums, drove some traffic to Amazon; ditto for Dennis and his Amazon positioning strategies; Carol’s seminar sold 15 books to the Hartford school system. As you can see, our cash producing activities were spotty; it did however inspire us to do more.

Doing-more will always be our biggest challenge. Carol likes to say, “We say to the universe give-me, give-me…and in return…the universe says give-me, give-me, back.” What this means is that the universe wants its share first. Our early non-rewarded efforts are how we paid our share to the universe. The other side of the coin is about the reward. From our experience the universe pays back synergistically. It gives us more than what we put in. We know it because the efforts we put forth are less than the size of our checks. The only answer we have for this is that when we do something it eventually attracts something else in the universe. The other moral of the story is to keep-doing.

How we get enthused to market our book is through reading. In addition to Brian Jud’s inspiring book, John Kremer’s One Thousand Ways to Market Your Book is filled with ideas that have a tendency to motivate us. Our CAPA membership, however, is our number one source for getting new ideas and inspiration; we hardly miss a meeting. Currently, we are exhibiting our book at the New England College Bookstore show, and Carol is planning a seminar in Ridgefield for new teachers, all of this because of our association with CAPA. Thank you CAPA.

Carol Keeney has thirty-years experience teaching early childhood grades. Many years were spent as a first grade teacher in the New York City school system. While tenured with the school system, Carol helped develop a science curriculum at the request of her school district. She spent many years as an adjunct professor at the College of New Rochelle in New York, and while tenured, has critiqued peer professors at the request of the college. She is currently working as an Adjunct Professor at Norwalk Community College in Norwalk, Connecticut. Carol holds an MS degree in Education from St. John's University. She was nominated and listed in the Who's Who of American Teachers.She has developed and taught many courses. Her favorites are Methods of Teaching Early childhood Education, Methods of Teaching Reading to Normal and Special Children and Methods of Teaching Creative Arts in the Classroom.

Marketing tip from Brian Jud

Give them what they want!

Buyers want to buy helpful information, not necessarily books. This gives you the flexibility to customize the form in which the information is delivered. It may be a comb-bound or spiral-bound manual that lies flat when used as a workbook during your seminars. Or, it may be a 3-ring binder allowing people to add or change pages easily. You may choose to serve the needs of you potential customers with a video program, DVD, CD or saddle-stitched booklet.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

CAPA University

4th Annual CAPA University a Success
by Peggy Gaffney

On May 12 authors and potential authors gathered at the Hartford Steam Boiler Conference Center for an exceptional professional development day. The sellout crowd had the rare opportunity to hear from keynote speaker Marcella A. Smith, Director of Small Press and Vendor Relations for Barnes & Noble. Her talk and the questions she answered in the follow-up session dealt with the specific nuts and bolts of getting your book onto the shelves of Barnes & Noble.

This was followed with a panel of 14 agents and marketing experts who took questions from the group with topics on how to get an agent and what will an agent do for them. They were informed that bribes and unannounced visits to their homes are not the way to get an agent to read your book. They were also told that in today’s market, before an agent even sees the work it had better be polished to perfection.

The face to face, one on one 15 minute meetings between agents and participants where writers could pitch their books followed. Those agents attending were: Lauren E. Abramo from Dystel & Goderich Literary Agency, Marilyn Allen from Allen O’Shea Literary Partners, Kathi Paton from Kathi J. Paton Literary Agency, Rebecca Strauss from McIntosh & Otis, Regina Brooks from Serendipity Literary Agency, Katharine Sands from Sarah Jane Freymann Literary Agency, Rita Rosenkranz from Rita Rosenkranz Literary Agency, Gina Panettieri, Exec. Editor (owner/founder) Talcott Notch Literary Services, Jack Scovil from Scovil Chichak Galen Literary Agency, Maya Rock from Writers House, Dr. Uwe Stender from TriadaUS Literary Agency, Mary Beth Chappel from Zachary Shuster Hrmsworth, Eric Kampmann from Midpoint Trade Books, and Brian Jud from Book Marketing Works.

Small group breakout sessions were held throughout the day. Each speaker covered a different genre or approach. They were: Building Worlds and Making Magic with Annie Kelleher, RX for a Healthy Plot with Kristi Petersen, Don’t Murder Your Mystery! With Roberta Isleib, How to Write an Irressistible non-Fiction Book Proposal with Rita Rosenkranz, Writing for the Op-Ed Page with James Smith, Writing on Spec for Hollywood: Screen Writing Dos and Don’ts with Peter Fox, Getting it onto the Library Shelf panel with David Garnes, Jim Benn & Mary Etter, A Little Help from Our Friends panel discussion, Publishing in More than one Genre with Lauren Baratz-Logsted, Working with a Book Printer with Tom Campbell, Working with an Agent with Gina Panettieri, To Market, To Market: Finding Freelance Markets with Patricia D’Ascoli, Create a Buzz and Make Money Using Amazon. Com with Dennis Schleicher, Positioning, Positioning, Positioning! with Deborah Werksman and a last minute addition Writing the Graphic Novel with Mark Ellis and Melissa Martin Ellis.

With all these sessions plus good food and good company, the day was declared a success by all.

Peggy Gaffney serves as co-editor of The Authority and is the author of several knitting books in The Crafty Dog - Knits series published by Kanine Knits. She has spent almost 40 years showing dogs and has had a knitting design studio specializing in dog portraits in knitting since 1995. She is a former columnist for both the AKC Gazette and the Samoyed Quarterly.

Marketing Articles

Marketing Your Food Articles, and More

By Richard Moriarty

After twelve years as a food columnist I still believe that marketing your articles often relies on a pinch of this and a dash of that, and a willingness to try different approaches.

For many years I toiled in noisy, hot, often cramped restaurant kitchens, selling the fruits of my labor to happy and satisfied customers. Hungry patrons paid me for doing what I loved to do most – cook. But, deep down inside my creative chef’s soul I longed for something more than culinary perfection.

I wanted to write about it. But I didn’t have a clue how to get started.

My good friend, Mike Covello, shared a similar goal. He wanted to write about cars, but couldn’t get the editor of the local daily newspaper to respond to his numerous queries. One night we brainstormed how he could market his idea.

Michael was selling insurance at the time, and one of his customers was a large automobile dealer that spent lots of advertising dollars. I suggested he ask the business owner to contact the newspaper and mention Michael as someone who might make a good car reviewer.

A letter from the editor arrived in Mike’s mailbox soon after, and he’s been writing about cars ever since. And, we had learned an important lesson about marketing; business connections can be very valuable.

I wanted to know more about the process of marketing my food writing, so I subscribed to two or three writer’s magazines. Their how-to articles about researching, writing and getting published were always interesting and would prove invaluable.

Shortly after my friend’s success an article in the Writer caught my attention. The author explained that newspaper editors were notoriously overworked. They often would not consider hiring new writers simply because the initial correspondence took too much time and effort. The author said that instead of sending a SASE (self addressed stamped envelope) with your sample articles and query letter, to send a self addressed stamped postcard. On the back of the card put two boxes, “I’m interested,” or, “I’m not interested,” and ask the editor to check one.

I took that advice, and the postcard arrived in my mailbox a week later. The first box was checked, and I’ve been writing a food column for that newspaper for over twelve years now.

When I moved from the kitchen to the classroom I was presented with even more opportunities to market my writing. My employer, the Center for Culinary Arts, in Cromwell CT, was a brand new post-secondary training facility. I was fortunate to be hired to develop the curriculum and head the educational department. Being the new school on the block, the owners felt they had to earn name recognition. I showed my boss some of my food columns and mentioned that I thought the school might benefit from sponsoring cooking articles in area newspapers.

Not long after I had planted that seed, the school’s public relations firm worked out a deal with a central Connecticut newspaper chain whereby the newspaper got free articles in exchange for advertising, and the school paid my writer’s fee. Best of all, my column would run in four to five newspapers on a weekly basis.

Business connections would eventually play another role in helping to market my writing.

Part of my school job was to choose the textbooks that would be used for each course. Over the years I met and communicated regularly with many publisher’s representatives and learned a lot about the textbook segment of the market. One day an editor at one of the largest textbook publishers, Pearson Prentice Hall, called with an offer I couldn’t refuse.

Would I be interested in proofreading, for content, a new culinary arts textbook that was in the process of being written? The fee was small, but I thought the possibilities seemed endless. I didn’t think twice before saying, “Yes.”

The book turned out to be over 1000 pages. Twelve months and countless rereads later, the project was done. I received my check and a polite thank you. And I thought that was the end of it. But I kept in touch with the publisher.

Two months later the editor at Prentice Hall called. Would I be interested in writing the Teacher’s Manual and Student Study Guide that would go with the textbook? The Teacher’s Manual paid a flat fee, but the Study Guide came with the promise of future royalties. Where do I sign?

When I received my first writing assignment from my hometown newspaper, I had no idea what doors it would eventually open for me. I’m not sure that the postcard did the trick or not, but it showed that I understood the editor’s situation, and cared about his valuable time. Likewise, when I began my teaching career I never dreamed that it would lead to my having a byline in four more newspapers and a book contract.

Marketing our articles is usually the last thing we want to do, and probably the first thing we should be thinking about. I’ve learned that the art of selling my writing is about keeping my eyes and my business contacts open. Also, a pinch of advice and a dash of luck don’t hurt.

About the author: Richard Moriarty is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America and teaches professional chef training classes at the Center for Culinary Arts in Cromwell, CT. He is a food columnist and a restaurant consultant specializing in kitchen design. Chef Moriarty also offers personalized cooking classes in the privacy of clients' homes. Chef Moriarty can be reached online at

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Marketing Articles

Maximizing Markets By Patricia D'Ascoli, CAPA Member

Freelance writing can be a rewarding way to make a living, but it will rarely make you rich. In order to generate a steady flow of income from this endeavor, a writer really needs to be creative in finding a variety of markets for his or her work. This entails making the most out of every story idea that comes to mind - looking for as many publications as possible that might be interested in publishing a particular story.

Sometimes all it takes is a quick rewrite and a story can be regenerated for use in a second or even a third market. Occasionally, you can simultaneously write several versions of the same story if you know in advance which publications will be purchasing the piece. And if you own the rights to a story, some publications will pay to reprint stories that have appeared elsewhere.

Getting Started: Choose a topic that will sustain your interest, because it’s a lot more fun to write about something you like, especially when you are not getting paid very much to do it! When I embarked on freelance writing, I decided I wanted to write about authors and the books they write, not only because I love reading, but also because I am fascinated by the book writing process. I chose Connecticut authors to give it a unique perspective, and since there are so many different Connecticut authors, I haven’t run out of material yet.

What’s the angle: Whether your nonfiction piece is a profile of a person or an entity, chances are it will entail doing research and interviews. My angle is this: when a local author publishes a new book that’s worthy of a story! Alternatively, I might write a review of the new book, but reviewing the book is usually part of the research process for writing about an author as well. These are the feature articles I generally write for newspapers in Connecticut.

Who cares: Who is interested in your story? Publications related to your story’s subject matter are, so think local as well as global. When an author publishes a new book, the first market to consider is the local newspaper that covers the town in which the author resides. If this is an author’s first published book, sometimes the newspaper from the author’s hometown might also be interested in a story. As far as subject matter goes, any publication that includes articles about books and authors is fair game, as are markets dealing with the specific type of book the author has published.

Here is an example of the myriad possibilities associated with one Connecticut author I recently profiled. The author is a woman who published an inspirational book for Catholic mothers. This is a sampling of possible markets for this one story:

1. Local newspaper in the town where the author currently lives

2. Local newspaper in the town where the author grew up

3. Alumni magazine for the college(s) the author attended

4. Religious (Catholic) newspapers, magazines and websites

5. Women’s magazines (print and online) and websites

6. Parents magazines (print and online) and websites

7. Writing magazines (print and online) and websites

How to find markets: Both Writers Market and are great sources for markets - both print and online. You don’t need both of these; choose the format that works best for you. Each contains a listing of publications with the associated writers’ guidelines. It is always a good idea to review the guidelines and read a sample of the publication before sending a query. If you have already written the story for a local newspaper, you might want to include a copy of that along with the query to give the editor an idea of your style and especially how you have successfully handled the specific topic already!

Make your own market: If you are passionate about a subject and there is enough material about that subject to last indefinitely, you might also want to consider writing and publishing your own newsletter in addition to freelancing for other publications. Sometimes the newsletter can give you credibility when you are trying to break into a new market. I started publishing Connecticut Muse at the same time I began querying newspapers and magazines on the subject of Connecticut authors and their books, and now I regularly write about Connecticut authors for a variety of newspapers in addition to publishing Connecticut Muse.

I would be happy to help you get started on finding markets for your own special topic. Feel free to email me at or call me at 860-354-6488.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Annual CAPA Writing Contest

Deadline – May 31st

Annual Writing Contest

The Annual Connecticut Authors & Publishers Association Writing Contest closes entries on May 31st. Entries are accepted in Poetry, Short Story, Personal Essay and Children Stories.

Four easy steps

  • Visit
  • Review the rules
  • Print the entry form
  • Mail in your entries.

"The Authority"
The Authority is the voice of the Connecticut Authors and Publishers Association which is a group of approximately 150 authors who meet on a monthly basis to share information about writing and the world of publishing and marketing books. They also work to support one another by helping new writers to succeed and established writers to find new marketing avenues.

Each month a speaker shares his expertise in an effort to help members improve their craft. CAPA is open to anyone who has a love for the world of writing and an interest in improving their skills.

This Blog will showcase
both some writings by members on various topics and stories about CAPA members. We hope that you will enjoy "The Authority."