For contributions to the newsletter and Letters to the Editor, please email the editor of SPAWNews: email@example.com.
Those of you who are SPAWN members, be sure to visit the Members Only Area to read this month’s Market Update. Go to http://www.spawn.org and click Log In. You will be asked for your username and password. If you are not a member, join now online: http://www.spawn.org/join.htm
From the President
Welcome to all the new members and subscribers who have discovered SPAWN this month!
This month the SPAWN member teleseminar is early. Mark your calendars for this Thursday March 4 at 11:30 am (Pacific time). Milton Kahn will be on hand to talk about how you can set up focused book publicity campaigns. I’m sure it will be another interesting and informative session. Milton has years of publicity experience, particularly in the entertainment industry. He worked on campaigns for films such as Fried Green Tomatoes and Watership Down, in addition to working with New York Times best selling authors such as
Stanley Alpert, JA Jance and The World Almanac Book of Records. (You can read more about Milton at his Web site at http://www.miltonkahnpr.com.)
In other news, we’ll be posting the SPAWN Catalog sometime before March 15. Member Tamara Dever has done an amazing job laying out the catalog, and I can’t wait to see the final version!
I’d also like to give a special shout out to our fearless SPAWNews editor Sandy for her work every month. She’s celebrating her two-year anniversary, so I encourage you all to join me in saying, “thank you!”
Until next month, keep on creating!
March Teleseminar Announcement!
Milton Kahn to Present Teleseminar for SPAWN Members
Who: President of Milton Kahn Associates, Inc.
When: March 4, 11:30 a.m. Pacific Time
How: Members will receive email with call-in details
This marks my two-year anniversary of editing and writing for SPAWNews. Who would have thought? During these two years I’ve gotten better at queries and found more work. I’ve improved my interviewing skills—if not great now, a big improvement over the first one I did! And, I hope, I have put out a better newsletter each month. Comments on the newsletter are always welcome!
Many active discussions have been brewing lately on SPAWNDiscuss, our member e-mail group: a great resource for promoting your book through seasonal prompts, the sticky margin issue, the benefits of attending conferences, and what happens when you don’t read the fine print. If you haven’t visited SPAWNDiscuss lately, come on by, start a topic, or just welcome new members. We are sometimes chatty, sometimes we wrestle a topic to the ground, and sometimes we’re all just busy, so the conversation slows down.
Have you joined our Facebook group yet? SPAWN’s Facebook is not just for members. Feel free to post a message and start a discussion. Spread the word! And if you are the Twittering type, Tweet too! When you’re on Facebook or other networking sites, please spread the word about the benefits of our community of writers, publishers, and artists.
Read on to find out about the importance of knowing what results you want when you publish, how your brain works and a request to participate in an author survey. Also, member Mari Barnes tells us how she went from “What’s an e-book?” to having one.
Next month’s issue is already in the works, and the theme is creativity. If you’d like to add your ideas for sparking creativity, please e-mail me. Suggestions are always welcome.
— Sandy, Editor, SPAWNews, firstname.lastname@example.org
SPAWN Market Update
by Patricia Fry
The March edition of the SPAWN Market Update features opportunities galore for those seeking the best book festivals around, those wanting to join a regional face-to-face publishing organization and those who want to know more about working with a book publicist. We also provide news of magazine launches and re-launches, job opportunities for photographers and writers and some interesting and useful sites for authors and publishers.
Make the smartest business investment of the year. Join SPAWN today at http://www.spawn.org (It costs less than 20 cents a day!)
Ask the Book Doctor:
About Editing, Style, and Point of View
By Bobbie Christmas
Q: Can you tell me if reviewers ever judge based on editing/style? So many authors/editors do things differently that I guess they just look for consistency. What I was not sure about was use (or overuse) of commas. Can you tell me if commas should be in these sentences?
“That’s what I thought,” Mark said with a smile. (comma before “with”) and “Yeah, such a storm we had..” Mark said sarcastically.
Is it just preference? If so, would it look bad if the author put commas for some, and not for others?
A: Most reviewers consider everything about the book, including the cover, content, editing, writing style, plot, characterization, flow, resolution, and more.
The volume of commas is not important; what is important is that the commas must be used correctly. How can you know where the commas go, when we were taught one style in school, newspapers use another style, and book publishers use yet another style? Book authors (or their editors) should follow Chicago Style, which book publishers follow, because it dictates punctuation, capitalization, abbreviation, when to spell out a number and when to use a numeral, etc. Once that style is followed, commas will be in the right places and the volume of them won’t matter.
As for your specific examples, the first example is fine, but the second one has two periods and no comma before the attribution. It should be written this way:
“Yeah, such a storm we had,” Mark said sarcastically.
If the attribution were a stand-alone sentence, the example would be punctuated this way:
“Yeah, such a storm we had.” Mark spoke sarcastically.
Q: Can you tell me if editors (and even reviewers) specifically check or look out for consistency of viewpoint in a novel? I have been reading about being consistent with time and with how close you focus with one or many characters, and it seems a little confusing. Is this something I should take a class in? I was just wondering if many published authors keep these things in mind when writing a story.
A: Editors come in many forms. Some simply handle acquisitions for a publisher and do not edit at all, much less comment on viewpoint. Some editors edit for grammar, punctuation, and syntax and do not pay attention to viewpoint. Only an editor or book doctor who also analyzes the content will pay attention to, point out, or correct viewpoint flaws, which certainly should be addressed, because publishers want clear, consistent, and logical viewpoints in novels.
Viewpoint (also called point of view or POV) is a tricky matter. It refers to which character perceives that particular scene—in whose point of view the action takes place.
Consistency is important in that the point of view should be only one per scene (that is, never get into the head of more than one character per scene). You can get into another character’s point of view by starting a new scene.
Your best bet is to use only main characters as point-of-view characters, and the best novels have no more than three main characters. How the time per character is divvied up, though, does not matter. The choice is up to the author.
I think it’s easier to find a book on point of view than find a class that specifically addresses that issue, but no matter how you choose to educate yourself, if you want to write novels, you do need to know about point of view and how and when to use it to its best advantage.
Bobbie Christmas, book doctor, author of Write In Style (Union Square Publishing), and owner of Zebra Communications, will answer your questions, too. Send them to Bobbie@zebraeditor.com. Visit Bobbie’s blog at http://bobbiechristmas.blogspot.com/. Read more “Ask the Book Doctor” questions and answers at www.zebraeditor.com.
Want to be part of the Member News? Send us your items and we’ll be glad to include your good news in the next issue. Want to be a Member Interview? It will give you a chance to plug your book, your business, yourself. Just email me and let me know you’d like to be included. The email is email@example.com
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The line up of speakers for the 2010 Self-Publishers Online Conference is being finalized. SPAWN President Susan Daffron has been busily lining up speakers for the second annual Self-Publishers Online Conference (SPOC) which will be held May 12-14, 2010. There is NO cost to attend the virtual event live, and you can learn from the comfort of your home or office. Confirmed speakers include:
- Dan Poynter – author of the Self Publishing Manual
- Peter Bowerman – author of the Well-Fed Self-Publisher
- Penny Sansievieri author of Red Hot Internet Publicity
- John Kremer, author of 1001 Ways to Market Your Book
- Fern Reiss, author of the Publishing Game series of books
- Mark Levine, author of the Fine Print of Self-Publishing
- M.J. Rose, novelist and creator of Author Buzz
- Janet Goldstein, publishing consultant and creator of Publishing Reset
A total of fifteen publishing experts will share tips and advice for both aspiring and veteran self-publishers. The event also features an online exhibit hall with book industry vendors, Q&A roundtables, and online discussion tools so attendees can network with one another. For more information or to register, visit the SPOC Web site at http://www.SelfPublishersOnlineConference.com
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Book Number 30 for Patricia Fry! Patricia announces the publication of her thirtieth book, “The Successful Author’s Handbook.” This 145-page e-book is an updated collection of Patricia’s best articles for authors covering every aspect of successful authorship. Check it out at http://www.matilijapress.com/successful_author_handbook.html. Matilija Press, $9.99.
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1: How many books are you promoting? (What genre/topic?)
2: What is your primary book promotion activity?
3: What are some of your secondary book promotion activities?
4: How are they working for you? (Details, please.)
5: What has been your best book promotion resource—organization, book, mentor/individual, Web site, blog site…?
6: Are you open to new book promotion ideas/resources or not?
7: Are there ideas you’d like to try, but you don’t know how to get involved (article-writing, getting more book reviews, public speaking, having a book trailer made…)?
The first 5 authors who respond to this survey will receive a copy of Patricia’s Over 75 Good Ideas for Promoting Your Book OR A Writer’s Guide to Magazine Articles. (Please specify.) The author with the best responses will receive a copy of The Right Way to Write, Publish and Sell Your Book.
Deadline for responding is March 10, 2010.
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Sandra Jones Cropsey’s comedy “Who’s There” on stage! While three flighty, female farmers on a Georgia chicken ranch cavort on stage, they are surrounded by equally bizarre characters who engage them with mile-high aspirations. “Who’s There?” is a new southern comedy peppered with characters that are curious, bizarre, yet outrageously funny.
Main Street Players, 115 North Hill Street, Griffin, Georgia brings SPAWN member Sandra Jones Cropsey’s refreshing and original, madcap Southern/Gothic comedy to the stage this Thursday, February 25 through March 7, 2010; Thursdays-Saturdays @ 7:30PM, Sundays @ 3:00PM. For tickets and other information, please call 770-229-9916, 770-233-0578 or visit www.mainstreetplayers.org.
If Sande lives through the anxiety of the performances, she will write a bit about the process of turning a book into a play for our April issue of SPAWNews.
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New Facebook Group for Freelancers. SPAWN member Barbara Florio-Graham started the group called “Freelancers Working Together” and reports 96 members joined in the first week! Stop by and see what’s going on. The interactive forum is designed to allow freelance writers to share news, information, gripes and suggestions, to help each other in this difficult working environment. Members of Cassell Network of Writers (a.k.a Writers-Editors Network), a sponsor, are invited and encouraged to participate. If you are not yet a CNW member, you can join this Fans of Freelancers group and then receive a $5 discount on any new membership, including a year’s subscription to Freelance Writer’s Report).
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Note: To have your announcements included in Member News, you must be a paid member of SPAWN. Please email your news to firstname.lastname@example.org
Writing and Typing
by Bonnie Myhrum
Here are some things to remember when you are writing/typing:
- An em dash is connected to the words on either side of it—like so. Don’t leave a space between the em dash and the words.
- Internet should always be capitalized.
- World Wide Web, Web site, Web page, the Web, etc. should always be capitalized. Always.
- According to The Chicago Manual of Style (15th edition) and Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary (11th edition), a hyphen should be used between e and mail—therefore, it is e-mail.
- Our language is constantly changing/evolving, so if you don’t have a new dictionary, you should get one. The Funk & Wagnalls dictionary I got in 1969 doesn’t have e-mail, Web site or Internet. Probably doesn’t have a lot of other currently used words, either.
- It isn’t necessary to leave two spaces after the period at the end of a sentence. That practice is left over from when we used a typewriter. Word processing programs space words and sentences appropriately, eliminating the need for two spaces after the period.
- If you type a long line of underscores across the width of the page and hit enter, the underscores may become a heavy line. If you don’t want that to happen, just click the undo button. That will make the heavy line go back to the underscore you wanted.
- If you are creating a bulleted list and you don’t want the next item to be bulleted but the bullet feature is still on, hit enter again and the bullet will go away.
Writing has rules, we have (sometimes old or bad) habits and word processing programs have idiosyncrasies. We have to learn the rules, unlearn the habits if they’re not good, and learn to get around the idiosyncrasies. We’re never too old to learn and rapidly changing technology requires that we learn in order to keep up
For more articles on writing, grammar, punctuation and spelling, visit my blog “Read/reed Write/rite” at http://professionalsecretary.wordpress.com.
SPAWN member Bonnie Myhrum, editor/proofreader, proofreads SPAWNews and has edited and/or proofread numerous books, proposals, articles, flyers, Web sites, letters and other written (and sometimes spoken) words. See her Web site at www.professionalsecretaryllc.com e-mail her at email@example.com or call 734.455.0987.
by Patricia Fry
How to Make Real Money Selling Books
By Brian Jud
Square One Publishers
Paper—376 pages — $24.95
Many of you know Brian Jud of Beyond the Bookstore fame. Well this book, How to Make Real Money Selling Books, takes over where that book leaves off. Here, you’ll discover a whole new world of possibilities for selling those boxes and boxes of books stored in your garage.
Are you missing the mark when it comes to identifying your target audience? Have you run out of ideas for promoting your book? Jud has your back. This book is crammed with fascinating statistics and ideas related to a variety of non-bookstore outlets. If your book is appropriate for the gift shop, military, pet, health or library market, for example, why are you still chasing after those bookstore sales?
While Jud tells you how to get into airport stores, supermarkets and major stores such as Walmart, Costco, Target, Toys R Us, etc., he starts with the basics. You really do need to define your target audience first and you must have a bookselling mindset. Jud teaches authors the psychology of bookselling and the reality of it. This is an education in bookselling bound into one hefty book.
Jud also shows you how to use contests and awards to your benefit. He goes into promotional activities such as mail order, seasonal marketing and he provides tons of resources, including a list of library distribution partners, a list of military associations, a list of museums with gift shops and even a chart showing the projected number of visitors to various types of museums each year.
Jud’s premise is simple. He says, “First, you write information that consumers need and publish it in a form in which they want it. Then you make it available where they shop.” What’s so difficult about that? Yet, so many authors are stuck in bookstore mode. Let Jud help you start thinking about how to sell your book to non-trade markets. As he says, “This book provides information, strategies, examples, case studies, tips and more that will make non-trade marketing accessible and profitable for you.”
If your book isn’t selling as well as you would hope, get out of bookstore mode and start seeking more realistic opportunities for selling your book. How to Make Real Money Selling Books is your ticket to success.
Mari Barnes, author, Parting River Jordan
This self-publishing business is not for the faint-of-heart, especially when you’re learning as you go. As soon as you slay one fire-breathing dragon, you notice the flames rising from somewhere else. I wrote the book. I found a printer. I published the book. I’m done, right? Hardly—I needed an e-book!
Unsure about what an e-book is, I began to research in earnest. I read the Adobe PDF on creating e-books. I scoured every online entry Google offered. I read Dr. Lawrence’s article in the SPAWN Newsletter. There is an overabundance of information out there and it resulted in the dreaded “Research Paralysis.” You know—you’re so busy reading about it, that you don’t DO anything.
I decided to contact my liaison at Lightning Source to find out what services they offer authors who are doing e-books. Before I could call her, I read the SPAWN discussion thread about e-book piracy. I froze again.
Calming down, I found Smashwords and had an e-book in less than 24 hours. If an author/publisher is focused on getting people to READ a book, then digital rights management (DRM) doesn’t matter as much as accessibility. Smashwords doesn’t offer DRM, but it provides accessibility with formatting that’s appropriate for every existing e-book platform and distribution through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Sony and others.
Additionally, I wasn’t required to purchase another ISBN (Lightning Source required it, but I really couldn’t afford it) and the publication was FREE, painless and quick! Following the instructions in the Smashwords Style Guide, I was easily able to format the book for publication—primarily clearing formatting in the Word document, making sure the spacing was correct and deleting tabs—and then reapplying bolding and italics where I wanted them.
Authors set the prices for their books and readers may sample as much as 50% before purchasing, which is a good marketing point. Smashwords and the book distributors collect a fee from each e-book sold. As an example, my e-book sells for $4.00. After the fees, I receive $3.05. I like the profit margin.
There may be other e-book publishing services that offer as much or more, but if you want to produce an e-book, Smashwords is worth investigating.
Tapping Your Innate Creativity
by Barbara Florio Graham
(Next month watch for some exercises to get your brain in gear.)
The brain has 100 billion specialized cells. These neurons are connected to each other by tiny synapses that have the ability to grow, die, or change. The brain recalls a memory through visual images, organizing and locating the particular image and then associating or linking it with a name, word or idea.
Most people know that the left side of the brain controls the right side of the body (and the right side of the brain controls the left side of the body) and that each side of the brain specializes in certain things:
The LEFT side of the brain is responsible for most of our verbal ability as well as order, sequence, logic, and memory for words. Because 80% of the population is left-brain dominant (fewer than 20% of all people, throughout history, have been right-brain dominant) our educational system is based on developing left-brain skills: reading, writing and arithmetic. We are urged, from childhood, to use our right hand to perform most routine tasks, including writing, and western civilizations read from left to right because our writing is based on letters that form words rather than symbols that form sounds or concepts, as in many Eastern languages.
The RIGHT brain houses visual images, emotion, music, physical manipulation (one reason why left-handers are talented with their hands) and our perception of space and the world around us, our connection to nature, and higher mathematical concepts such as geometry. Notice the difference between arithmetic, a left-brain activity that is simply different ways of counting, and higher math, which involves visualizing complex mathematical structures. There is a close connection between ability in math and musical talent.
Since writers are usually very verbal, it’s no surprise that most of us are left-brain dominant. The left side of our brain gives us order, control, and precision, the CRAFT part of our writing.
But we also need the right side, which provides freedom, risk, and chaos, the ARTISTIC additions. A well-crafted article might be boring, a purely artistic creation can be confusing. Craft + Art is what we’re all looking for.
I think writer’s block and dull, boring writing are the result of starting on the wrong side of the brain. Instead of putting the piece we plan to write in order—taking control of the material in an attempt to be as precise as possible—we should start on the other side of the brain.
My online creativity course (now offered as a tutorial) helps participants explore right-brain skills, which I link to artistic disciplines such as music, dance, sculpture, etc.
My Web site contains a full description, along with testimonials from those who’ve taken the course over the years. See: www.SimonTeakettle.com/tapping.htm
This and That
Readers of Christian books and retailers selling Christian products are invited to vote for the Christian Small Publisher Book of the Year Award, which honors books produced by small publishers, for outstanding contribution to Christian life. The winners of this award are determined solely by Christian retailers’ and readers’ votes.
Retailers and readers can vote online at www.christianpublishers.net. Voting on the award is open from now until March 31, 2010.
Winners of the Christian Small Publisher Book of the Year Award will be announced on April 15, 2010.
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Thinking of publishing? Writer beware! Here’s where to find who’s good and who’s not, so you won’t end up with characters you don’t own, books you can’t sell, or manuscripts you have to buy back before republishing.
Preditors and Editors. www.anotherealm.com/prededitors
Warnings for Writers
www.todayswriting.com/poetry-scams.html (covers more than poetry.)
Whispers and Warnings www.writersweekly.com/whispers_and_warnings.php
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Google is going back to court to find out whether their ambitions to digitize millions of books would break antitrust and copyright laws. They filed a case defending their $125 million class action settlement last year. Google has already digitized 12 million books over the past five years but so far has been allowed to show only small excerpts. If they win their settlement they will be allowed to sell book titles with most of the income from the sales going to the publisher and authors. For more on this story visit: http://tinyurl.com/ygqfuyw
Contests, Events and Opportunities
We have moved the Contests, Awards, Events, and Opportunities listings to the blog. Please use these links to get the latest information
SPAWN is a non-profit 501(c)3 organization. SPAWNews advises “caveat emptor” when dealing with venues, contests or promotions unknown to you. SPAWNews was proofread by Bonnie Myhrum, Professional Secretary, LLC. 734-455-0987.