For contributions to the newsletter and Letters to the Editor, please email the editor of SPAWNews: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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!
Here’s a question I’ve been thinking about lately, “What does being a member of SPAWN mean to you?” If you are getting the newsletter, you may have considered becoming a member or you already ARE a member. If you are a member, why did you join (or renew)? If you aren’t, why not?
In my case, I joined SPAWN a number of years ago because I was getting into book publishing and wanted to learn. I joined SPAWN, IBPA (then PMA), SPAN, and a couple of other organizations. The reason I renewed was because unlike those other organizations, SPAWN was much more personal. Patricia Fry in particular made me feel welcome. (Obviously, that feeling hasn’t changed and I value our relationship more than ever!)
Anyway, I’d like to hear your thoughts on SPAWN. If you’d like to email me privately, you can reach me at email@example.com. Of course, members can talk about it in the SPAWNDiscuss group as well. I plan to update the home page of the SPAWN Web site with information about why people join this organization and I’d like your input.
On a different note, I have to say that I’m looking forward to this month’s member teleseminar with Jerry Waxler, which is about dealing with writer’s block. I don’t know if it’s just summer heat or having to run my dog to the vet this morning, but I’ve had some trouble getting my writing mojo on the go. Don’t forget that you can always see the upcoming member teleseminars on this page:
Until next month, keep on creating!
August Teleseminar Announcement!
Jerry Waxler to Present Teleseminar for SPAWN Members
Who: Jerry Waxler
When: August 12, 2:00 p.m. Pacific Time (5 pm Eastern)
How: Members will receive an email with call-in details
Title: “I Don’t Brake for Writer’s Block: Effective Techniques to Stay in High Gear”
Read more: http://www.spawn.org/blog/?p=1173
In the hot weather, no one has enough energy to do more than breathe and drink tall, cool glasses of a favorite beverage. It seems to me, during these times of excessive heat, writing is preferable to working—although most will say writing is harder work than any non-writer realizes. I think promoting and selling is harder than the actual writing—so be sure to check out the new section on member blogs and Websites and see how others promote themselves. We also have the beginning of a new column on organizational tips from members. Remembering who to query, when you sent it, how to organize your contacts (and whom to avoid!) can be a problem—have a good way to handle these things? Send your tip for the next newsletter—we’d love to hear from you.
For September, traditional back-to-school time, let’s have a project like students have—what did you do on your summer vacation? And do you have a funny story to share about how your family or friends view your writing job? Do they think you mostly watch soaps and play computer games but also bring in the big bucks? Share please.
Thinking about a watermelon lemonade,
— Sandy, Editor, SPAWNews, firstname.lastname@example.org
SPAWN Market Update
by Patricia Fry
This month’s SPAWN Market Update has something for everyone. We’ve included over 40 solid news items, leads, and resources for freelance writers and authors. Whether you are seeking publication or you have a book to promote, we’ve got you covered. Do you wonder what to do with that ebook that isn’t selling or are you thinking about producing an ebook? We have the information and sources you need. Are you out of book promotion ideas? Do you want to enter a competition? Do you need freelance writing leads? Would you like help with your screenplay? Be sure to study the August issue of the SPAWN Market Update to receive the help you seek. The Bonus Item this month features Irene Watson of Reader Views fame. This month, we’re talking about her new venture, First Chapter Plus—a catalog being distributed to librarians, booksellers, the media, journalists, and others. What’s different about this catalog? When you purchase space in this catalog, it features your first chapter so that potential customers can check out your book before buying it. Another difference is that Irene will post only those books that are well-written and edited.
Don’t forget that when you join SPAWN, you receive 12 issues of the valuable SPAWN Market Update. Check out the other benefits of joining here http://www.spawn.org
Ask the Book Doctor:
About Sits vs. Sets, Magazine Submission Format, and How to Become a Writer
By Bobbie Christmas
Q: Once in a while the word “sits” comes up in our (southern city) writers group, and another member (in her seventies) and I (at eighty-three years) always wonder what is right. When she and I were growing up, the word “sets” was used for an object, not “sits,” as it seems to be used these days. An example is this: A potted plant sits on the windowsill. In my day and age, it would have been this: A potted plant sets on the window sill. Could you please straighten us out once and for all?
A: I’ve found that Southerners more than others confuse the two words “sit” and “set.” I hope the following sets the record straight:
Set means the following:
1. place something: “Please set the flowers on the table.”
2. cause somebody to be something: “After a hearing, the judge set the prisoner free.”
3. cause something to begin doing something: “His smile set my heart at ease.”
4. apply fire: “The camper set fire to his refuse.”
5. concentrate mind: “He set his mind to finding an answer.”
6. arrange something for use: “Hunters set traps in the woods.”
The definitions go on, but to sum up, “set” usually shows action that is done to something (a direct object).
Sit means the following:
1. rest with weight on buttocks: “The children always sit in the same places.”
2. be placed: “The trash still sat where we left it.”
Again, the word has other definitions as well, but unlike “set,” “sit” does not, indeed cannot, take a direct object. We cannot sit something down; we must set something down.
In the example of “A potted plant sits on the windowsill,” the verb “sits” is correct. If you wanted to show the action being done TO something, the correct verb would be “set,” as in this example: “I set the potted plant on the windowsill.”
By the way, using “set” for “sit” in a character’s dialogue would be a great way to show that the character is from the South.
Q: I’ve heard magazine editors hate it if writers leave an extra space between paragraphs. Is this true? What about writing competitions? Any difference there?
A: What you have heard is true. Look at any magazine that has been professionally produced, and you’ll see that it has no extra space between paragraphs except to break for a subhead or a complete change in subject matter. In addition, magazine articles have only one space after periods, not two, so get into the one-space-after-a-period habit.
Why do magazine editors want you to follow their format? They don’t want to have to reformat all the files they receive. In the old days when writers submitted articles on paper, extra spacing was not an issue, because a typesetter took the typed copy and keyed the words into the typesetting equipment. Today editors want your file ready to flow into their design program with as few keystrokes as possible. For that reason, it is always best to send articles to a magazine in such a way that no one has to delete extra spaces between paragraphs or after periods. We’re talking about standard manuscript format, and using it shows that the writer is a professional. The same holds true for writing competitions.
Note that this guideline does not necessarily apply to whether the file should be single-spaced or double-spaced, because changing the line spacing is a simple process. To learn whether a magazine or competition wants to receive single-spaced or double-spaced files, find and follow the submission guidelines.
Q: The following question arrived by e-mail and is intentionally left unedited:
whats your opinion about someone analyze all things around him , usually searching for trunth , scientific facts , research any case confront , has high imagination , alawys contemplate , endure social & world problems as his was the responsible for solving it , has photographic memory , live his own live as serial episode , all his wishes & principles hope to be done , moreover usually try to prove his view for hisself & others , has the ability to write coversation between two persons for more than one hundred pages , daydreaming all the time, imagine seeing this by making stories in his mind
my question all people around me touch that suggest me that I may me a good writer , or story writer
but I need your opinion as you an experts , are the above behaviours can qualify me or intutive behaviours for a writer or artist ?
A: The analytical behaviors outlined in your note indicate an excellent start on the path to visual or literary arts, but it takes much more than intuition or inclinations to become a writer.
A person with good balance but no practice cannot hop on a bike and win a marathon. First that person must practice many hours, days, months, and years, to learn the skills and nuances of mounting the bike, pedaling, steering, cornering, braking, and dismounting. The person must also build stamina, muscle, and skills, before being able to perform at peak level.
The same principle holds true for the arts. People who want to become writers must hone their skills in grammar, punctuation, syntax, and spelling. They must learn about writing clear, compelling copy and believable dialogue; building characters; creating and sustaining a plot; maintaining tension and conflict; and much more.
I’m concerned about the low level of clarity, grammar, spelling, punctuation, and even typing in the note I received, so I have serious concerns that the person who wrote that note has not yet developed the basic skills necessary to become a good writer. If you want to become a writer to take advantage of your great analytical skills, the next step is to acquire and hone the skills you will need as a writer. Seek classes in grammar, punctuation, typing, and creative writing. Learn to develop an eagle eye for errors. Join writing groups, read books on writing, write, and get feedback on your writing. Practice, practice, practice, and you will see progress toward your goal.
What’s your question about writing or publishing? 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. Read more “Ask the Book Doctor” questions and answers at www.zebraeditor.com.
by Patricia Fry
Navigating the Rough Waters of Today’s Publishing World (Critical Advice for Writers from Industry Insiders)
by Marcia Meier
Quill Driver Books (2010)
Perfect-bound – 130-pages – $14.95
Some of you may recognize author Marcia Meier as the director of the Santa Barbara Writers Conference. While this appears to be Marcia’s first book, she didn’t master it alone. She called on some of the top players in the publishing world to assist her in presenting this guide for the working writer and serious author.
Among those contributing to this book are Elfrieda Abbe, publisher of The Writer Magazine; Jeff Herman, literary agent and author of Write the Perfect Book Proposal; David Ebershoff, editor at Random House; Dan Poynter, well-known publishing expert and SPAWN member and other agents, publishers, and successful authors.
One reason I recommend this book is because it is designed to help authors understand more about the publishing industry. I believe that this is one of the most important keys to publishing success. The shifts, transitions, and upheavals occurring within the last two years are the focus of Chapter One. It is followed by a chapter talking about the future of publishing. This chapter is also crucial to the success of your books, as it provides the maps you need in order to chart your course.
The news these experts share isn’t all good—especially for those authors who do not like change or challenges. But as agent Victoria Skurnick says, “There is no reason to quit just because everyone, myself included, is talking about how hard it is.”
Some of the experts are advising that you try new and different things. Author Catherine Ryan Hyde suggests to fiction writers who don’t seem to be getting anywhere with their novels, “Write short stories and market yourself.” That’s how she eventually attracted the attention of several agents for her novel.
Certainly, good writing is important, too. Random House editor David Ebershoff says, “Storytelling is the core of what drives us to read. Another way of putting it is this: Write the best damn book you can. It all starts with the book. There is no better way for a writer to position himself or herself than writing a book people can’t put down.”
You’ll find equally excellent advice about locating and approaching an agent, choosing a publishing option, and even freelance magazine-article writing.
Reading this book actually gives you the feeling that you are sitting over coffee with writing coaches, agents, publishers, marketing professionals, and other experts. It’s a must-read for anyone who is contemplating publishing or who has already started the process.
And, while the contributing experts do not sugar-coat the state of the publishing industry today, it is not all doom and gloom. There are a lot of encouraging words for hopeful authors. I suggest adding it to your library. Maybe you’ll believe the publishing truths you’ve been reading about when you get them from some of the key players in the industry.
Tapping Your Innate Creativity
by Barbara Florio Graham
John Kounios, a psychologist at Drexel University, defines creativity as the ability to restructure one’s understanding of a situation in a nonobvious way.
Rex Jung, a research scientist at the Mind Research Network in Albuquerque, writes,
“The brain appears to be an efficient superhighway that gets you from Point A to Point B” when it comes to intelligence. “But in the regions of the brain related to creativity, there appears to be lots of little side roads with interesting detours, and meandering little byways.”
A classic test for “divergent thinking” has the subject come up with “new and useful” functions for a familiar object, like a brick, a pencil, or a sheet of paper.
So this month, rescue something from the recycle bin that’s either glass, metal, or plastic. List 20 ways to use it. An example might be a lid from a yogurt container, which could become a swimming pool for a water insect, a water or food dish for a mouse or other tiny pet, a plant saucer, a drink coaster, a doll hat, a Frisbee. Expect the first 10 uses to come fairly quickly, but you probably will have trouble after you reach #15.
In the meantime, prepare for the next creativity exercise by collecting five objects from five different rooms in your home. If you live in a small space, find items from different walls. List these, and save the list for next month.
Read a description of the online course, “Tapping Your Innate Creativity,” at www.SimonTeakettle.com/tapping.htm.
Words to Live By
English seems to be a language with inconsistent rules; many words sound alike but are spelled differently (council/counsel, through/threw, too/to/two/tutu, rough/ruff). Some words look alike but have different meanings (read/read comes to mind immediately).
Why isn’t phonetic spelled the way it sounds?
Why is abbreviation such a long word?
Why do some folks insist irregardless is a useful word?
Why doesn’t ghoti spell fish? (gh as in rough; o as in women; ti as in potion)
I just finished reading Ben Zimmer’s On Language in the Sunday New York Times magazine; he wrote about this apparent lack of rules in English. His contention is that most of us would pronounce ghoti as goaty and be done with it, and ended with, ”You don’t have to be a spelling-bee champ to know that written English isn’t entirely a free-for-all.”
Read Bonnie’s blog at http://professionalsecretary.wordpress.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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From Patricia Fry: I attended the Ventura Book Festival with the brand-new SPAWN Catalog of Members’ Books and Services. It was quite well-received by all who visited the SPAWN booth. I’d like to thank Tamara Dever and her husband at TLC Graphics again for a wonderful job on the catalog and for helping us prepare it for printing under deadline.
If you haven’t done so, check it out at http://www.spawn.org/catalogofbooks.htm. If you would like a print copy, I would be willing to send one out to you. Just send me your mailing address with your request: Patricia@spawn.org.
Patricia Fry has created two new on-demand, online courses for authors—a Memoir-Writing Workshop and a Self-Editing Course. Learn more about these courses at http://www.matilijapress.com/courses.htm. SPAWN members get a discount.
Patricia will be working at the SPAWN booth at the Central Coast Book and Author Festival September 19, 2010 in San Luis Obispo, California. Stop by and say hi!
Patricia is speaking at the Los Angeles Book Festival and Conference at the Sportsman Lodge September 23-25. She’ll be talking about how to market your book, as well as how to build saleability into your book while you’re writing it. If you’re in the area, stop by at the SPAWN booth and pick up a copy of the new Catalog of Members’ Books and Services.
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SPAWN President Susan Daffron was heavily quoted in the current issue of Rally to Rescue, Purina’s magazine focusing on pet rescue. In addition to being the president of SPAWN, Susan is also the founder of the National Association of Pet Rescue Professionals (http://www.naprp.com). The article is about how people are using Internet radio to promote pet adoption. Susan talked about her radio show (podcast) “Take Me Home” which she does for PetLifeRadio.com. Each Take Me Home show features an animal that is available for adoption at an animal shelter or rescue. During each show, Susan interviews a rescue worker, foster “parent,” or shelter employee about the pet, so listeners can learn about the animal’s “back story” and personality.
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At www.buildbookbuzz.com, Sandra Beckwith offers a free report, Beyond the Press Release: 10 Exciting Book Buzz Ideas That Will Take You to the Top, when people subscribe to her free book publicity e-zine for authors, Build Book Buzz. She also offers publicity how-to information and tips for authors on her blog at http://buildbuzz.blogspot.com.
The next Book Publicity 101 e-class is September 6 – October 1, 2010. Learn more at http://tinyurl.com/ygxwx6c.
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Wendy Dager’s article “Sweater Girl” was in the June 2010 issue of Antiques & Collecting Magazine. The article is about vintage sweaters and features photos of sweaters from Wendy’s extensive personal collection. Her novel Thrift Me Deadly was a top three finalist in the 2009 Fabri Literary Prize competition. Thrift Me Deadly is available as an e-book on Smashwords, http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/4474. Warning: Graphic violence and language, but otherwise a swell book. For more about Wendy, visit http://www.wendydager.com/.
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Leslie Korenko has been busy putting together her second book about Kelleys Island (1862-1865—the Civil War Years). In the meantime, she has made presentations on Historic Kelleys Island (Ohio), appearing at the Independence Ohio Library on July 12, and as part of the Lakeside Speaker’s Series on July 15. Lakeside Ohio is a Chautauqua community providing public lectures, religious programs, and concerts during the summer months http://www.lakesideohio.com/. Leslie’s slideshow on winter on the island has received over 800 hits. To view, go to: http://www.kelleysislandstory.com/ and click on “slideshow.”
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From Tami Devers:
A logo created by TLC Graphics designer Monica Thomas was selected from thousands of entries to appear in a new book, published by Harper Collins, called Logoliscious (Aug. 2010). The logo is for the children’s book series, Austin and Charlie (Paw Print Publications), chronicling the adventures of two dogs through cities of the world and can be viewed at http://helpmepublish.wordpress.com.
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Barbara Florio Graham just posted a funny look at self-publishing (with a serious undertone) on her Website. The Top Ten Worst Publishing Mistakes was written by Joel Friedlander, The Book
Designer, who publishes an excellent newsletter. You’ll find a link to his site on the Top Ten page: www.SimonTeakettle.com/humorpublish.htm
Bobbi has also posted a mini-review of a new book, The Thrifty Author’s Guide to Launching Your Book without Losing Your Mind, by Gail Martin. It’s linked from the book publishing resources page: www.SimonTeakettle.com/respublish.htm
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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
Getting Organized Tips from Members # 1
From Bonnie Myhrum: I keep all of my contacts in Microsoft Outlook. There’s room for notes about each contact and they are easy to see/find. I don’t consider online to be an iffy location because we use a remote backup service for our two computers. Everything we don’t want to lose is backed up every night, including emails, contacts, etc. For two computers the cost is $37/month. We have a secret code to use if we have to restore. We used to backup to an external hard drive, but then realized that if our house burned down, we’d be out of luck. The people we communicate with are really, really nice—they’re in Maryland. The backup site is in Texas. www.drbackup.net
Member Blogs and Web Sites
In the SPAWNDiscuss group, members talked about separate blogs and Websites for new projects. Here are a few Web sites our members have created and their advice.
From Helen Gallagher:
Since a domain name is very inexpensive and a site can be hosted at little cost, why not have multiple sites? It increases your visibility online, lets you link from one to the other, and may even—pardon the pun—spawn new blogs from each site, so the blog can remain focused.
The best Web sites show the full menu of a person’s offering: talent, services, information, and yet we can’t expect visitors to struggle to find what they’re looking for. When we grow our business and travel different paths, we need to leave a better trail. Blogs are sometimes
the answer for those who don’t want multiple sites. Blogs are often appreciated because of their singular focus. It’s hard for us to have just one site with material that might be germane to two or three different audiences.
An editor looking at our site for clips wouldn’t want to wade through irrelevant clutter. I’m a generalist and can’t limit myself to anything singular, so I branched out like this:
- www.cclarity.com is my tech site, and has a blog at www.cclarity.blogspot.com
- www.gallagherink.com is where I moved my freelance writing, from cclarity.com, so people visiting there could focus just on the freelance area.
- www.releaseyourwriting.com is my author/publishing consultant site, and blog at www.releaseyourwriting.blogspot.com. Both are based on the name of my book, so readers know why they’re going there, and that they’ll find relevant material.
- www.pajamamarketing.wordpress.com is something I started about a year ago because I give a workshop called “Pajama Marketing” and didn’t have anything “branded” with that name. Each Saturday I post an item to get writers going with something they can do in their PJs for marketing their work.
So that’s three sites and three blogs. I can’t imagine trying to achieve all that with one site.
Our online visibility is an important resource and the cost is so low, there are no barriers to entry for even beginning writers and authors.
From Susan Jardine:
From Tami Devers:
From Bobbie Christmas:
I am the owner of Zebra Communications, a book-editing and book-doctoring service in Metro Atlanta, and the author of Write In Style, a triple-award-winning book on creative writing with tips on how to zip through the rewrite stage. My Web site is www.zebraeditor.com, and it has many pages of questions and answers and other information for writers. My “Write In Style with Bobbie Christmas” blog is at http://bobbiechristmas.blogspot.com/.
From Michael N. Marcus:
Independent Self-Publishers Alliance, http://www.independentselfpublishers.org
“Become a Real Self-Publisher: Don’t be a Victim of a Vanity Press,” http://www.amazon.com/dp/0981661742
“Stories I’d Tell My Children (but maybe not until they’re adults),” http://www.amazon.com/dp/0981661750
Roger Ellerton has seven sites
- www.renewal.ca – my main Website.
- www.live-your-dreams.biz – one of my books
- www.liveyourdeams.biz – points to the above site
- www.parents-handbook.com – another of my books
- www.healthy-parents.com – purchased because this was a tentative title for the above book
- www.healthy-parenting.com – ditto
- www.nlp-reiki.ca – an old site that use to serve as a directory, but became too much work to maintain. Has a lot of links to it, so I keep it active.
The last six sites are hosted at godaddy.com for a total of less than $5.00 a month (prices have gone up since. I have a three-year plan.) The plan that I have allows sub-domains. So the main domain is www.live-your-dreams.biz and the others are all hosted on a sub-domain, yet if I didn’t tell you, you would not know that.
I also use Google AdSense. The revenue from this more that pays for the hosting, domain name purchase and site maintenance.
Bill Benitez wins with 25 sites
It seems to me that placement on Google search is so important that I create Web sites for each of my books and services. I presently have over 25 Web sites but only three or four that I update regularly. I like to create a relevant domain name to help improve search. While the domain name incurs only an annual fee, hosting fees are monthly and add up. I overcame this by purchasing a reseller license with Hostgator for $24.95 per month. I host all my sites on that account and it works out to less than $1 each per month.
Since I also do Web design for small businesses, I sell hosting as part of a small business package using this reseller account, so it turns out that my sites cost me nothing to host.
To use the name of a new book or service on your existing Web site, you can use a sub-domain. In this case, the name of your book or service can replace the www in the Web site address. You can also use this to create a blog on an existing hosting arrangement. Here is an example of one that I created as an informational and Google ad site—http://selfemployment.awilliambenitez.com/
Most hosting services allow you to create sub-domains without any additional charge.
And a few tips for keeping it affordable:
From Leslie Korenko: Don’t overlook the easiest solution. Just reserve several domain names (like your name, your book title, your blog name, a catchy phrase) and then REDIRECT them to a page on your main Web site. For example, www.LeslieKorenko.com (my name) automatically takes you to the About the Author page on my Web site www.KelleysIslandStory.com. That way I don’t need a different Web site for each, just a different page. You don’t even need to show all those additional pages in your main Web site menu. This gives you one Web site to update and monitor but a dozen Web site links to attract people to you.
From SPAWN President and Webmaster Susan Daffron: My company Logical Expressions owns about 20-25 sites, many of which run custom software, so we have a dedicated server, which is a fixed cost. We can add more sites at no additional expense, except for the domain name. I have separate Web sites for our books, our writing software, article sites, blogs, a computer magazine site, two company sites (http://www.LogicalExpressions.com and http://www.naprp.com), my author site (http://www.SusanDaffron.com), and a site for our publishing conference (http://www.SelfPublishersOnlineConference.com).
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.