Popular Blog Promotes Book Authors in Unique Way

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On October 4th, Jay Allen will launch the fourth installment of his popular Blogging for Books contest (http://www.thezeroboss.com/archives/000985.html), giving readers a chance to win free books from their favorite authors by showing off their own writing talent. Authors and readers couldnÂ?t be happier.

Jay Allen will launch the fourth installment of his popular Blogging for Books contest (http://www.thezeroboss.com/archives/000985.html), giving readers a chance to win free books from their favorite authors by showing off their own writing talent.

Authors and readers couldn’t be happier.

"Blogging is cutting edge, and Jay is right out there," says Jennifer Margulis, editor of the book Toddler: Real-life Stories of Those Fickle, Irrational, Urgent, Tiny People We Love, and the guest author for October’s competition. “This contest encourages ordinary people to show off their writing skills, and lets authors interact directly with their readers. I can't wait to read the entries."

"I originally entered Blogging for Books just to satisfy my greed for books," says Rachel Hartman, the August 2004 Blogging for Books grand prize winner. "What I found was a community of people who love to write just as much as I do, who will drop and give Jay 2,000 words, and then come back for more!"

The contest was born four months ago, when Allen was thinking of ways to promote The Zero Boss (http://www.TheZeroBoss.com), his own online web log (a.k.a. "blog").

"It started as a way to draw in a few more readers for myself, while also doing something nice for an author who had helped me with my own book proposal," says Allen, a 30-year-old writer from Washington State. "In the first month, we had 25 entries. By the third month, we had 54. I realized pretty quickly that I had stumbled upon a new, compelling way for authors to hawk their wares."

Starting on October 4th, Internet users will have the chance to visit http://www.TheZeroBoss.com and submit personal essays of 2,000 words or less on the current month’s theme. Allen and his wife will pick seven entries out of the dozens they receive to move on to the final round, where Margulis will pick the top three essays. The grand prize winner will receive a free copy of Toddler – not to mention a lot of attention from the thousands across the world who read the entries. The contest runs for eight days, which gives entrants "plenty of time to produce some fantastic writing," Allen says.

Allen reports that his site receives over 500 visitors a day when Blogging for Books is running; given the tremendous growth rate of the contest, he expects that number to jump over 1,000 within the next two months.

As of September, the contest’s guest author schedule is booked through May 2005. In November it will host noted parenting humorist Debbie Farmer, author of Don’t Put Lipstick on the Cat!, while December’s contest will be judged by W. Bruce Cameron, the comic talent behind 8 Simple Rules for Dating my Teenage Daughter.

Allen describes author recruitment as a grass-roots effort directed largely at individual authors. But recently, publishers have shown a willingness to jump into the game as well: Allen worked closely with the public relations department at Broadway Books in September to give new author Mark Falanga’s title The Suburban You to each of the top three winners.

"There is something very refreshing about reading The Zero Boss' Blogging for Books competition," says Falanga, who is currently on tour promoting his book. "The writing is fresh, the experiences are new and the subject matter is broad. Reading these entries is the best way I know of to get exposure to new thinking."

"Publishing is a rough business, and many first-time authors are struggling to eke out a living from their work," says Allen. "Blogging for Books gives them an opportunity to make a name for themselves and expose their work to thousands of new readers – all for the cost of a book. Good publicity doesn’t get much cheaper than that."

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