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!
Many SPAWN members enjoy participating in our discussion group SPAWNDiscuss. This month, for example, many people contributed their thoughts on their favorite email newsletters related to writing and publishing. The discussion also offered ideas for dealing with email newsletter overload. Some people print them, others file, flag, or simply delete them.
In my case, I created a GMail account specifically for discussion groups and newsletters to keep that information out of my business email. Using GMail’s labels and filtering mechanisms, everything is automatically filtered into its own section where I can review it when I have time.
For most writers and business owners, managing email can become a chore that takes away from productive writing time. Being able to learn and share time-saving tips like these is one of the great benefits of SPAWNDiscuss. If you haven’t already, I encourage you to join the conversation.
Until next month, keep on creating!
September Teleseminar Announcement!
Brian Jud to Present Teleseminar for SPAWN Members
Who: Brian Jud, Book Marketing Works
When: September 9, 1:00 p.m. Pacific Time (4 pm Eastern)
How: Members will receive an email with call-in details
Title: “Sell More Books in Large Quantities with No Returns”
Read more: http://www.spawn.org/blog/?p=1189
As Memorial Day kicks off summer, Labor Day sums it up. We’ll have Halloween and get to eat all the candy that’s not good for the kids, but from now until Thanksgiving, Labor Day is the last hurrah. So kick back, relax, and have a great weekend. And then kick your writing into gear. You’ve said all year (or at least I have), “I really have to get organized, come up with ideas, find markets, and start making more money.” Well, now’s the time! If you don’t do it now, you’ll dawdle until the holidays and you’ll be too busy, and then it will be the after-holiday letdown and you’ll be appalled at the amount of money you spent and how little you accomplished. The spring rains will come and who wants to do anything then? Now’s the time to make your move.
Most writers like to write but hate the marketing part. Sure, it’s a great piece, but where do you send it? What if they say no? You had a hard enough time thinking up the idea and writing the article—how will you cope with rejection and having to start all over again?
There’s help out there. We’ve introduced you to HARO (Help a Reporter Out) http://www.helpareporter.com, where you can find writing assignments or get help with one. The SPAWN Market Update often posts large job sites for writers. I find Darrell Laurent, of the Writer’s Bridge, particularly helpful. Every day he e-mails a list of those who are looking for writers and editors. Once a week he sends out an Idea Bank—some ideas are specific to your area but can be used as a general article, and some are general to start with. He also helps you write your query letter and then he’ll help you find a market for the piece. What more could you ask? And it’s an affordable service at just $10 a month. Find out more at www.thewritersbridge.com or e-mail Darrell at email@example.com. Tell him I sent you. (I need the karma and there will be a surprise for you.) We first mentioned The Writer’s Bridge here a few months ago. I got an assignment for two short articles there, and have one in the works.
Another bargain is the SPAWN teleseminar (free for members). Susan Daffron acts as moderator/hostess/MC and the topics change each time. Find the list of upcoming teleseminars at www.spawn.org . You’ll be given a phone number, date and time—call in and learn.
Members benefit from the Yahoo e-mail list, too—this month’s topics were favorite writing/publishing newsletters—how to put them where you can find them, when to read, how to make time for all of them, and when to weed out the ones that are no longer a help. Also discussed was how to title your book—after all, it’s a first impression from author to readers and you get only a few seconds to capture their attention as they walk down the book aisle.
SPAWN membership averages just about $5 a month; you know you can fritter away more than that, so why not join or renew your membership today to get all these benefits?
As the kids go back to school and fall becomes a routine, take time for yourself and your writing. I’ll be looking for your e-mail telling all about it for the Member News section.
— Sandy, Editor, SPAWNews, firstname.lastname@example.org
SPAWN Market Update
by Patricia Fry
The September SPAWN Market Update includes interviews featuring two topics that should be of great interest to many of our members. Publicist Kim Dower tells us what we really need in order to succeed as a published author. Would you like to know what the best promotional activities are now and what we can expect in the future of book promotion? Kim spells it out for us. If you’ve never been able to hire a publicist, here’s your opportunity to get some inside information, FREE.
Raindog (RD) Armstrong of Lummox Press is a poet. His poetry has been published in over 300 magazines, e-zines and anthologies. He also publishes poetry for other poets. Having been in the poetry business for so many years, RD is quite qualified to discuss the best ways to promote poetry, and he does. If you are struggling to make it with your poetry, you really need to read what RD has to say. Yes, we’ve interviewed him for the September SPAWN Market Update as well.
This issue also includes the usual volume of resources and opportunities for authors, freelance writers, screenwriters, and others who are interested in or involved in the publishing process. We include directories and listings adding up to nearly 1,000 paying markets, and we’ve located some publishers who are seeking good projects to publish. Go to www.spawn.org to join, or if you’re already a member, sign in to follow up on these topics.
Ask the Book Doctor:
About Signs, Ellipses, Dashes, and Contacts from Agencies and Publishers
By Bobbie Christmas
Q: In several places in my novel I have things that the character reads, such as the following:
I turn the page in my journal and write, “This is gonna be a breeze.”
I see a sign that says, “Crab Cakes and Cold Beer—1 mile.”
I sign it, “To my buddy, John, Samuel Two Guns.”
The sign says, “Please be seated.”
My critique group questioned whether or not these phrases should be in quotes.
What do you think?
A:The answer is not the same for all four examples. Specific wording of short signs or notices should be capitalized but not put into quotation marks: I see a sign that says Crab Cakes and Cold Beer—1 Mile. The sign says Please Be Seated.
If the message on the sign is long, such as “We reserve the right to refuse to serve minors, drunks, belligerent people, the shoeless, or the scantily clad,” it would be inside quotation marks.
In the two sentences that refer to what someone is writing, though, use quotation marks around what was written. The first line is correct: I turn the page in my journal and write, “This is gonna be a breeze.”
The third sentence, however, should have a period after John: “To my buddy, John. Samuel Two Guns.”
Q: I have been using ellipses to indicate hesitant speech in my dialogue. My critique-mate believes my use is incorrect and I should use double hyphens or a dash. I’ve found information to suggest that both uses are acceptable, but I prefer the ellipsis. What do you say?
A:It depends on what you write, but if you write books, follow the authority on the matter, which is the Chicago Manual of Style, and it looks as though you win.
Chicago Style says that ellipsis points suggest faltering or fragmented speech accompanied by confusion, insecurity, or distress. “I . . . I . . . can’t believe it; can it be . . . is it really you?”
The dash, or two hyphens, with no space before or after, indicates an interruption or an abrupt change in thought. The following example indicates that someone interrupted the speaker: “I’d like to say—” The following shows a change in thought: “I’ll take the flounder—no, make that salmon.”
Q: I answered an inquiry about sending my manuscript to a company that says it is looking for new authors. I answered, and they said it would take about two weeks to receive an answer. They answered me the next day. The e-mail address is [withheld]. Have you heard of them? Are they legit?
A: Legitimate agencies and publishers do not advertise or send out inquiries. An agency or publisher will never initiate contact except in a rare situation, such as if you happen to be famous or are close enough to someone famous to write a tell-all book about that person. Whenever an agency or company claiming to be a publisher contacts you first, the chances are it’s not legitimate and it hopes to extract money from you, rather than pay you money for your book.
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.
The 5 Ps of Authorship
by Patricia Fry
What does it take to become an author? Notice that I didn’t even insert the word “successful” in this sentence. Success is relative, anyway, isn’t it? I know authors who don’t believe they are successful until they sell 100,000 copies. And then there are authors who celebrate their success if they earn enough to pay their printing costs.
But what does it take to become an author? I’ve narrowed it down to Five Ps. Ask any author who has been around the block and he or she will tell you that it takes:
There are no shortcuts. One cannot deviate from this established path to authorship. If you want to become an author and experience whatever measure of success you desire, you must consider each of these Five Ps. (It wouldn’t hurt to throw in the word Patience, either.)
Before you start writing the novel or the nonfiction book of your dreams, put some thought into the potential for your project—a lot of thought. I suggest writing a book proposal. You wouldn’t open a business without a business plan. Consider the book proposal a business plan for your book. At the same time, look at your book as a product. If you view this project any other way, you are already starting down the wrong path.
Once you establish that your book is a viable product, begin outlining, organizing and writing it.
Also work on your platform. For example:
- Create a massive mailing and e-mailing list.
- Become known among leaders in your book’s genre/topic.
- Write and submit articles or stories to appropriate publications.
- Develop and present workshops and seminars on your book’s topic.
- Publish your own newsletter.
Once you’ve completed your manuscript, you’ll become involved in self-editing. Proof and edit as thoroughly as you possibly can.
- Check for inconsistencies and repeated material.
- Make sure your spacing and punctuation are correct.
- Examine your manuscript for muddy writing and run-on sentences.
- Eliminate those sneaky mistakes that aren’t picked up by spellcheck.
- Correct any misuse of apostrophes or words.
Once you have done your self-editing, hire an experienced book editor for your final edit. Yes, this is necessary and the expense must be factored in. Hiring a good editor is an investment in your publishing success. But I must repeat—this should be an experienced book editor.
You now have a choice to make—you have options. Will you try to land a traditional royalty publisher for your piece of fine work? Will you go with a pay-to-publish company? Or will you self-publish (establish your own publishing company)?
People ask me, “Which is the best publishing option?” My response is, “It depends on you and it depends on the project.” Your job is to study the publishing industry so that you understand all of your options and the possible consequences of your choice.
Do not even consider producing a book for publication if you do not have the money, time, experience, interest, enthusiasm for, and/or knowledge about book promotion.
One of the things you will learn from studying the publishing industry is that the competition for books is fierce. You may already have noticed that everyone is writing a book. Did you know that over 75 percent of all published books sell fewer than 100 copies? And lack of promotion is only one reason why so many books fail. What are the other reasons?
- Lack of appropriate planning
- Improper preparation
- Inadequate proofing/editing
- Ineffective publishing methods
- Lackadaisical promotion
Put your Ps in a row before you even put your pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard), and you will have a much greater chance for publishing success.
Patricia Fry is the Executive Director of SPAWN and the author of 31 books—most of them related to publishing and book promotion. Check out her array of services and products at http://www.matilijapress.com and http://www.patriciafry.com
Tapping Your Innate Creativity
by Barbara Florio Graham
Take out the list of five objects from five different rooms in your home that I asked you to find last month. Rewrite the list so the objects are in alphabetical order, and then imagine a location for each of these items that is not where it normally belongs. A teapot might be under a tree, for example.
Once you have this unusual list, your challenge is to create a fairytale that mentions each item in alphabetical order (!), contains a “complication” to give it drama, and a satisfying ending.
Read a description of the online course, “Tapping Your Innate Creativity,” at www.SimonTeakettle.com/tapping.htm.
Tips for Writing Non-Fiction Books That Sell
by A. William Benitez
If your goal is to sell non-fiction books, readers interested in your topic are of critical importance. Do you know people who would be interested in learning more about your topic? If you want to write a book that people will buy and read, you need lots of readers. Step one is finding out who your readers are and how you can reach them.
If you have an idea and plan to write about it, the next few items may be helpful.
- Choose a marketable topic and research it thoroughly. If you have expertise and experience on a specific topic, that’s a good place to start. This works well because you won’t need as much research.
- Create a complete list of everything you want to tell your readers. Don’t try to put things in order now. You just want to list items of information with as much backup detail as possible. More will come to mind as you progress.
- Use the list to create an outline to organize and prioritize all the subjects. Don’t edit now, just let the information flow. You can do all the editing later.
- Once the outline is finished, you will have a good feel for your book and it will be time to think of a title. This step is often not given the attention it deserves. Here are a few tips for choosing a title:
- Titles should tell readers what is in it for them and create a desire for the information. The title is the first thing a reader sees, so make it easy to understand. Unless your topic is humorous, don’t make the title cute or funny.
- The title should be short, but contain sufficient detail so the reader can figure out what the book is about. The short title also allows for a larger font, which will show up clearly on the small Web images on Amazon and other sales sites.
- The main title should be followed by a much longer subtitle that gives the reader even more detail about the book and increases the desire for the information. The title should tell the reader what the book is about and promise to give them every detail about the topic.
Once you have a strong title, or perhaps two or three strong possibilities, use the outline to write the entire book and deliver on the promise you made in the title.
Words to Live By
by Bonnie Myhrum
They’re going to their cottage up there in Wisconsin.
It is difficult for me to understand why these words (they’re, their and there) are confused. They’re is a contraction for they are, so that is what it means: they are. Their is possessive; if it is theirs, it belongs to them. There is a location: put it over there. It is not okay to use one in place of the other; just because they sound the same doesn’t mean they’re interchangeable.
Try it again: Their car sits out there in the driveway while they’re in the house looking for the dog.
There is a kennel down the road where their dog can stay while they’re on vacation.
Please put the groceries over there on the counter.
The husband and wife put their groceries in the car and drove out of the parking lot.
They’re going to drive ten miles to their home.
Be aware of your spelling, even if you are writing “just” an e-mail. E-mail may be the only correspondence you have with someone and may be the only way he or she knows you. Don’t make a bad impression by being a lazy speller.
Read Bonnie’s blog at http://professionalsecretary.wordpress.com
Three Tools to Overcome Speaking Fears
by C. Hope Clark
Eventually writers have to speak, present, and make a show in front of other people. The effort goes against the grain of most writers, since we prefer the seclusion of our own mind, wrapped in the worlds of our stories. I’m no different. I speak on behalf of FundsforWriters several times a year. Here are the three tools I use to weather the event and walk away feeling good about myself. Each of these tools puts me into a frame of mind that encapsulates me in confidence.
If I Weren’t Afraid
We dodge book signings, presentations and even submissions. If we don’t go there, fear can’t find us. But the fear hasn’t gone anywhere. Because you drive around the pothole in the road doesn’t mean the hole isn’t there.
But what if you weren’t afraid? For instance: What if you weren’t afraid of rejection? Imagine stepping over it like a pothole, standing on the other side and describing what it’s like over there. If you weren’t afraid of rejection, you’d submit a story every week to an editor of a publication. Try this with speaking.
What if you weren’t afraid of someone disliking you? You’d smile and remain calm.
What if you weren’t afraid of forgetting what to say? You’d refer to your notes, collect your thoughts, and continue speaking.
What if you weren’t afraid someone would walk out? You’d ignore the person leaving and keep presenting.
What if you weren’t afraid of talking too long? You’d have a final wrap-up sentence prepared and offer to speak to individuals once the session was over.
Make a list of five fears. Write “I’m afraid of” before each one. Create three answers for each using the words “If I weren’t afraid, I would…”
At a conference in Florida, I suddenly learned I would be the after-dinner speaker. Teaching small classes was one thing, but this was a room of two hundred writers and a few agents and editors from New York. I have night blindness, and as I stepped on the podium and laid out my notes, the lights went down, leaving only a spotlight on me. I’d practiced the speech well, but not being able to readily read my notes left me rattled. I completed the motivational topic and stepped down feeling completely deflated, recognizing the episode as one of my lesser glories.
I asked myself, “What was so bad about that moment?” I was still greeted warmly by the crowd. None of those folks disliked me for the speech. I was perfectly fine. I’d stumbled through a presentation and come out in one piece, the world still rotating as usual. Soon you learn your fears are conquerable—as easy as stepping over a pothole.
After This Is Over
My personal favorite tool in managing fear is forecasting. When I fret over something, I stop and think “What will it be like when it’s over?” My mind pictures the sense of release, satisfaction, and accomplishment. In a particularly challenging situation, I envision the calm after the storm, the iced tea after the heat, the soft bed after the hard drive, the making up after the argument.
You may be surprised at the empowerment you can infuse into your psyche by seeing yourself at the finish line. This tiny concept works for huge hurdles as well as for tiny obstacles. Mentally teleporting yourself to the end of your novel might be the daily momentum you need to reach “the end.”
I’m Really Okay
You now can envision how to behave before it happens and after it happens. What about while it happens?
Let’s say you’re at a conference, surrounded by two hundred people, a dozen agents, and ten editors. Your throat is so tight you can hardly speak. You literally feel your anti-perspirant giving its all to keep you cool and dry. You’ve spent all this money and traveled all this way to stand like a wallflower and regret the venture. Before you reach the panic stage, stop and ask yourself, “Am I okay right now?”
Of course you are. You’re alive. Your health hasn’t changed. War hasn’t ensued, and tornadoes haven’t befallen the region.
Every few moments, repeat the question. When your heart looms in your throat, ask the question and notice you are all right. Keep going. Soon the ordeal is over and you experience the satisfaction that comes with tackling a challenge.
The best part of these lessons is when you kick back and analyze your day. That’s when you identify what, in particular, actually entertained, educated, or intrigued you. Gracious—maybe you found some teeny little moment you genuinely enjoyed!
C. Hope Clark is founder of FundsforWriters,com, a Web presence involving newsletters, e-books, blog, Websites and more. She is also the author of The Shy Writer: An Introvert’s Guide to Writing Success. www.fundsforwriters.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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Patricia Fry’s book, Over 75 Good Ideas for Promoting Your Book (Matilija Press, 2001) has been picked up by Allworth Press. The contract is signed. The advance has been spent. And she is in the process of revising and updating the book per their request. This is Patricia’s third self-published book to capture the interest of a traditional royalty publisher.
Fry will speak at the West Valley Chapter of the California Writers Club on Saturday afternoon, September 4, on the campus of the Motion Pictures and Television Home in Woodland Hills, California. Contact Yolanda at firstname.lastname@example.org for more info.
Patricia Fry now offers six online (on-demand) courses for writers and authors. http://www.matilijapress.com/courses.htm
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New Media Directory Helps Authors Get More Publicity
An affordable new resource for authors from a SPAWN member will help you get more publicity for your books in regional business magazines.
The Build Book Buzz City Business Journal Directory, developed by Sandra Beckwith, offers contact information for top editors at more than 100 city and state business journals nationwide. Authors of business and other books can use the directory to help:
- Sell more books
- Become known as a business “guru”
- Get the kind of visibility that leads to high-paying speaking opportunities
- Connect with the business community
“Because most city business magazines are published every week, they need a steady stream of newsworthy, interesting, and relevant information. And yet, most authors overlook these regional business publications when planning their publicity campaigns,” says Beckwith, a former award-winning publicist who compiled the directory. “That means these popular local magazines reaching millions of business readers are a gold mine for authors who can provide relevant and appropriate news and information.”
The directory provides editor names, specific (not generic) e-mail addresses, and telephone numbers, along with the Web URL for each of the 93 city business journals and 20 state business publications listed. It also includes bonus insider tips for publicity success from Beckwith, the author of two publicity books and the instructor of a popular book-publicity e-course for authors.
The directory is an Excel file that can be downloaded immediately. The price for the media list, insider publicity success tips, and a bonus audio file on “how to build book buzz” is just $19. To learn more and purchase, please visit http://www.buildbookbuzz.com/bizdirectorycb/index.htm.
Contact: Sandra Beckwith, email@example.com or 585-377-2768
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As writers, we’re all marketers. Our business is to persuade the public to buy our books or read what we’ve published in newspapers, magazines, or online. We need to convince media to call us for interviews, companies to hire us, or strangers to purchase what we’re selling. Learning how to write compelling promotional materials is essential, and having access to proven techniques from a master marketer is pure gold. I’ve just reviewed a book all writers need to read. It’s called The Secrets of Emotional, Hot-Button Copywriting: How to Employ the 7 Key Copy Drivers that Make People Act. The review is posted at www.SimonTeakettle.com/hotbuttonreview.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
Featured Member – Marion Clayton
I’m a new member of SPAWN and I joined in order to learn more about how to promote my new book, a true crime. This book is also a memoir, as the story involves my family. In 1986, my son, Mark Henderson, was labeled a serial rapist. He was found guilty of kidnapping and raping two underage girls in the small town of Glenwood Springs, Colorado, and was sentenced to 96 years in prison. He had served only four years of his sentence when he was murdered in his cell by three white supremacists.
During the murder investigation, evidence emerged indicating that the murder was a conspiracy, possibly perpetrated by a man I had befriended while visiting Mark in prison.
It was not easy writing this story. In fact, it was a painful experience at times, but I felt the story had to be told. The response to my book, Murder with a Twist, has confirmed this.
I started collecting information for this book in 1992, after my son was murdered. I took extensive notes, saved transcripts, news articles, and various materials related to the crime and murder. In the late 1990s I compiled my notes and in 2004 I started putting the information into chapters. In 2008, the possible conspirator in my son’s murder passed away—I no longer lived in fear and finally had the courage and the inspiration to complete the book. The first copies were distributed in July of 2010.
How does one write a book of such a personal nature while working full-time and being the granny-mom to three young children, including one who was born addicted to drugs and alcohol? It’s not easy. Now the children are grown and I am an author. My job is to promote this book and I’m counting on my affiliation with SPAWN to help me with that.
– Marian Clayton, author, Murder with a Twist - http://www.MurderWithaTwist.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.