Sandra Murphy, Editor
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From the President
I’d like to thank all SPAWN members and SPAWNews subscribers for your patience during our newsletter (and Web site) transitions. This newsletter is the first one we will be sending out with the new service and I think now things will settle down for a while.
In between making endless tweaks to the Web site, I do have some news to share this month.
1. We have negotiated a discount with PubWest so that SPAWN members can attend the PubWest 2009 Conference at PubWest member prices. This year’s conference is being held in Tucson, Arizona on November 12-14, 2009, and the theme is “Pressing Forward” which “focuses on the increasing need for publishers to understand and embrace all opportunities for prospering in publishing.”
Note that the “Earlybird” rate ends on October 2, so visit the PubWest web site at: www.pubwest.org and check it out, particularly if you live in the area.
If you opt to attend, to use the discount, follow these steps: 1. Go to www.pubwest.org/conference to view the conference brochure and schedule. 2. Click Register for Conference 3. Register as an Attendee. 4. On the Events and Mails page, click Referral and enter and enter SPAWN in the Referral Code field. That’s it!
I hope to see some of you there. Given that November here in the Pacific Northwest is inevitably dreary, seeing a bit of desert sun will be a welcome change
2. As some of you know, we now have a page for SPAWN on Facebook. The Web address is really long, but I’ve placed a link on the home page of the SPAWN Web site you can click to join. Facebook does offer “vanity” URLs that are easier to remember, but we can’t change our long, ugly URL until we have 25 people in the group.
3. We’re still hoping that members will take a few minutes to fill out our 2009 SPAWN survey. It only takes a couple minutes and we would love to know what you think:
When is it time to put aside a project? One of our writer’s group people, here in St. Louis, is a prolific writer with three or four projects in the works at all times. She has projects that are completed, nearly completed, in progress and in mind. But one project stalled—and the question became, when do you stop the CPR and pronounce a project dead?
While you may be determined to fix a stalled story, think for a moment. What is the better use of your time? Is it to submit a story already done, query an article, finish another project or beat this one into submission?
Most often, it’s best to move on. As my friend decided, keep the uncooperative story but make it a low priority.
If the aggravating story is your only work in progress and it just won’t behave, take a break. Do something entirely different—go for ice cream, read a book, walk the dog, run through the sprinkler, make a new pair of earrings. An afternoon movie can work wonders. Put on the Bee Gees and dance (you might want to close the blinds first). Sit in the back yard and watch the grass grow or in the front and look at the flowers. Or just listen to yourself breathe.
Like our bodies, our minds get tired of being asked to work all the time. Give your brain a break. Come back refreshed and maybe with a new idea or two as a reward.
Playing hooky isn’t just for kids. Why should they have all the fun?
— Sandy, Editor, SPAWNews, email@example.com
A Little Help?
Did you fill out our survey? How else can we know what you want in the newsletter? Here’s the link—with only six questions, it will take just a minute!
Have you looked at the newly refurbished SPAWN site at www.spawn.org? If not, here’s what you’re missing—there are more than 500 pages on the site (not counting the blog pages). We have 92 book reviews. There are 107 articles on writing/editing, 86 on the Internet, 39 on marketing. We have posted 154 back issues of SPAWNews and there’s a great resource section. Can you believe it?
If you’re a member and if you haven’t joined SPAWNdiscuss, our email group, you’re missing some good information there, too. Just lately we’ve been weighing the pros and cons of using your own name for your company vs. a business name. Another topic has been “take SPAWN to a book festival—how this can be a win/win for both you and SPAWN.” Come join us by sending an email to:
Are you on Facebook? SPAWN is, thanks to member Dallas Woodburn (see interview below). The long address is http://www.facebook.com/pages/Small-Publishers-Artists-and-Writers-Network-SPAWN/144313759011. We’ll get a shorter address when we reach twenty-five members. At this writing, we are at fifteen, so head on over there and bring us up to speed.
What’s in Your Subject Line?
By Patricia Fry
Do you often feel rejected because your email messages are ignored? Do you envision a black hole where your outgoing email is swallowed up, never to be read by human eyes? Well, that’s exactly what happens to thousands of email messages each year. And it’s mainly because of what the sender put (or neglected to put) in the Subject Line.
What’s the big deal about the subject line? Right up there with the “to” and the “from,” the subject line is the most important aspect of any email. Why? This is what causes the recipient to open it or discard it. Think about how you determine which email messages to open and which to delete.
You will open email from someone you know, with information or words that are familiar to you or that relate to something you’re involved in. As the Executive Director of SPAWN, when I receive an email with “SPAWN” in the subject line, I will probably open it. If the subject line reads, “Help,” “I’m confused,” “Waiting to hear from you,” “Books,” “My Book,” or another generic phrase, and the return address is not familiar, I may delete that email message.
Folks, think before you click “send.” If you want your email to be read and, especially if you want a response, pay attention to what you type in the subject line. Maybe you are approaching a publisher with a query letter. Instead of typing the title of your book, “Question,” “Best Seller,” or “You must look at this,” type “Query for YA Fantasy Novel.” When emailing an editor for the first time, rather than saying, “Look at this, please” or “Question,” try “Requiring your editorial services.” If you want to receive submission guidelines from a publisher, state so in your subject line. If you are approaching someone for a book review, say this in the subject line. Don’t simply use the word “Review,” make it clear that you are seeking a review for your book. How about this? “4-book author seeks book review for new thriller.”
Avoid using terms that you see in your spam email, such as, “proposal,” “you must see this,” “Hi,” “Hello from a friend,” and so forth.
It is also important to keep your subject line message brief. The approximate number of characters visible in most email subject line displays is 61. If you try to say too much in the subject line, you could actually confuse or mislead the recipient. Here’s an example of a subject line message that could cause the recipient to delete the email before reading it:
“STANA: Tourism Association of North America Research and Marketing Conference May 22-25 in Philadelphia.”
The recipient, in many cases, will see only this much of the message:
“STANA: Tourism Association of North America Research & Marketing”
If you want to use an oversized message in the subject line, be sure that the “payload” of the subject (or the most important part) is within the first 61 characters. Here’s how this message should have been presented:
“STANA Conference May 22-25 in Philadelphia, Tourism Association of North America Research and Marketing.”
Likewise, I urge you to pay close attention to each email you receive before deleting. Do not delete an email simply because it lands in your bulk/spam email box or just because it has an unfamiliar email address. You can reach me at SPAWN via Patricia@spawn.org. However, I will respond to you using an email address that doesn’t look familiar to your email program. These messages will probably go into your bulk/spam email box.
Look at the name. Read the subject line. Is it familiar? Does it refer to a topic you wrote to the individual or company about? Check closely before deleting, because it may just be the response you are waiting for.
We’re all guilty of deleting legitimate email. But recipients will be much less likely to delete the email they receive from us if we use an appropriate message in the subject line. And if we take a little more time reviewing the messages in our email and spam mail boxes, we will receive the information we have requested and the messages we wish to receive.
Patricia Fry is the executive director of SPAWN (Small Publishers, Artists and Writers Network) www.spawn.org. She is also the author of 29 books, including “The Right Way to Write, Publish and Sell Your Book” www.matilijapress.com/rightway.html. Patricia works with clients as an editor and publishing consultant. Visit Patricia Fry’s blog often: www.matilijapress.com/publishingblog.
by Patricia Fry
The October SPAWN Market Update (for members only) features nearly 50 job and publishing opportunities as well as resources for freelance writers, authors, scriptwriters, artists and photographers. We list a long-time publisher who is seeking books for children, 9 new publishers looking for a variety of books, a publisher looking for someone to write a book on grammar, tips for finding hidden markets for your favorite article topics, and an interesting array of resources for authors and writers. Ever heard of FastPencil, ReporterSource, NovelTitles, LetsGetPublished, AwfulLibraryBooks and YackTrack?
For those of you who are not familiar with the SPAWN Market Update, it is our nine- to eleven-page newsletter posted in the member area of the SPAWN Website (http://www.spawn.org). Each month we report on which magazines, pertinent sites and publishers have closed up shop and what’s happening within the industry. We provide dozens (sometimes hundreds) of jobs, publishing opportunities, book promotion opportunities and resources for authors, scriptwriters, freelance writers, artists, poets and other creatives.
It has been said over and over that the SPAWN Market Update is worth way more than the cost of a SPAWN membership. Join SPAWN now for $45/year and watch your book sales increase, your chances for getting published improve and your freelance writing start really paying off. To access, SPAWN Market Update, click the Log In link on the SPAWN Web site and enter your username and password. If you are a member and you didn’t receive your login information, contact Susan at Susan@spawn.org.
If you received your login information from Susan, keep it in a safe place. This is your permanent key to the member area of the SPAWN Website.
Ask the Book Doctor:
About Works of Art, Blogs, and Repeating Information
Q: I have a question about quotation marks. I know the punctuation goes inside the quotation marks when writing dialogue, as in: Ray asked, “What about quotation marks?” What happens when they’re used in titles, though, as in this example: Three very different styles are represented by “Nude Descending a Staircase,” “The Scream,” and “The Mona Lisa.” The punctuation (including the serial comma) doesn’t look right inside the quotation marks. I tried it outside, though, and it looked even less right. Which way is right?
A: The answer is not going to be what you expect. If you are writing a book and correctly following the guidelines set forth in The Chicago Manual of Style, the titles of works of art will be in italics (underlined in manuscript form), rather than in quotation marks, so the punctuation point is moot.
Q: I have started a blog, which started out slowly, but I now get about fifteen hits a day. How can I increase that number?
A: First, for those not familiar with blogs (Web logs), they are online journals. One provider of Web log space is www.blogspot.com. Many authors have found that maintaining a blog builds a fan base for their books and keeps fans up to date when a new book is going to be released.
I’m not the expert on blogs or driving traffic to blogs, but I will give these tips:
What are you doing to make those people go to your blog and read it now? Do more of the same.
Register your blog wherever possible, and be sure your blog offers good content that people will want to read.
To drive traffic to your blog, write articles or a column regarding your subject matter and include a link to your blog. Send those articles to any site that may post them.
Embed key words in your blog—words that readers might use to search for the type of information you provide in your blog.
In addition to my very basic advice, buy and read a book on how to increase visibility and drive readers to a blog. I noted 164 books about blogs on Amazon.com.
Q: I’m starting on the next nonfiction book in my series. What’s your opinion on this issue: How should I repeat, or not repeat, foundational information for the second book? Here are some of the options others and I have come up with so far:
Don’t repeat anything; refer readers to the first book.
Use the same foundational pages as I did in the first book, but place them in an appendix at the back.
Repeat everything I need to, but repackage it in a different way with new layout and illustrations.
Reproduce it “as is” in the back in miniatures, four to a page.
A: Without seeing the actual manuscript, it’s hard to answer your questions about whether or how to repeat information, but my inclination is not to repeat information at all. If folks want the information, they should buy your other book. Think marketing. I’d refer to the previous book and even include an order form in the back.
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.
Tips for Struggling Writers
by Christine Pinheiro
On SPAWNdiscuss, SPAWN’s email discussion group, Patricia Fry asked, “Are things getting harder for authors and freelance writers? What do you do to cope?” Christine Pinheiro answered with the following.
I spend at least 20 hours a week promoting my books and other products (CDs and DVDs). I also have learned that the best way to be successful is to “fish in the same pond.” This year I tried to branch out into other subjects and I have recently decided that I am going to focus exclusively on tax and tax consulting books. They cross-promote one another and it makes my whole job easier.
Nick Russell, the co-author of my new book, is a huge proponent of this. He writes for a very small niche market—full-time RVers—and he is successful because he works that market to the hilt. He has a subscription newspaper, a blog (with adwords), a Website, multiple books, CDs and seminars, all targeted to the same market.
But here are some tips that I think will help struggling writers:
1. Don’t try to be everything to everyone. Target your market and grow from there. If you have a winner, use that as a springboard for other books on the same subject. Peter Bowerman (The Well-Fed Writer) is a big proponent of this, too.
2. Use Amazon Affiliate Links on your Website. I’ve already earned $1,900 this year from my affiliate links. When someone wants to buy my book on Amazon, they click the link on my Website and I get a nice commission. The checks are averaging about $200 per month, and I don’t do anything to earn that money. Even when I order something from Amazon for myself, I also click through MY links and earn a commission on anything I order. Why not? It’s free money.
3. Sign up for Google Adwords and AdSence. Just do it. You’ll be glad you did. Promote your books using Adwords and post ads on your blog and Website using Adsence.
4. Get an Amazon Profile and post reviews. Promote your books and your writer’s services (if you have any) on Amazon.
5. Sign up for Twitter, Facebook, and anything at all that might promote your books. And use every soft-sell technique you can. People (myself included) HATE hard-sell tactics—I do too—but most people don’t mind a little “by the way, I offer copyediting services” or “by the way, I wrote a book about champion ping-pong.” Whatever—drop hints everywhere you can.
6. And if you don’t have a NICE Website, GET one. Microsoft Small Business will let you have one for free, and a custom domain will only be $14.99. In fact, pony up the money and get a Website for all your books. It’s the cheapest advertising in the world. Every time I have a new release, the book gets a dedicated Website. For about $60 bucks a year, I can promote each book 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, for less than the cost of a classified ad.
USE the Internet. It’s a writer’s best friend.
by Patricia Fry
Write History Right, How to Research Organize and Document the Past for Your Hometown, Region, Family, Sports Team, School, Events, Organization, Church
By M.H. Collins
CHS Publishing (2009)
Paperback, 136 pages, $16.95
Here’s a how-to book for anyone who might consider writing a memoir or a book about aspects of their local history (as I have done several times). Author, M.H. Collins, is an award-winning historian and the author of three history books and numerous articles.
Collins’s book is quite thorough and appropriate for the beginner, but it is also geared toward the seasoned writer. She discusses issues that most might not even think about when taking on a history-writing project: choosing a slant for your story, establishing a timeline, creating an adequate work environment, getting the help you need, research sources and even aspects of publishing and marketing your work.
Something that many writers will find helpful are the many forms she provides, such as a release form, interview log, media contact form and a co-author agreement.
I’ve discovered over the years that not everyone can research and write about historical happenings and events. For this reason, I found her chapters on research and breathing life into characters most interesting and useful to someone who is starting out within this realm. Her advice to end every interview by asking if this person knows someone else you can talk to is most valuable, as is her complete list of research sources. Most people don’t think of using school yearbooks in their research, for example, or checking in with long-time local photographers for vintage photos.
I also appreciate that she recommends giving your characters personality through creative writing, rather than simply documenting data. In her Chapter 7, she tells you how to do that.
Collins presents useful information and ideas in an interesting and effective way, using lots of frames, bullets and shading. She also includes fascinating historical photos throughout.
If you plan to write your memoir, the story of your community’s oldest church or a profile piece on an interesting character, you might want to keep this book at your elbow. It is, indeed, a step-by-step guide.
Interview withSusan Daffron, SPAWN President
Q: How did you get involved with SPAWN?
I joined SPAWN and a number of other publishing-oriented organizations when I decided to self-publish my first book in 2006. (I’ve now self-published ten books.) I was selected to be president and Webmaster because of my somewhat unique background in both Web development and book publishing.
Q: As the new president, how will you help move SPAWN forward to keep up with technology that moves at warp speed?
My first major task was to update the SPAWN Web site, and it’s now finally complete. The goal with the SPAWN Web site redesign was to bring the site up to date to better reflect new best practices for small publishers in the age of Web 2.0 without sacrificing any of the educational material the site has offered for many years.
The Internet has changed a lot since SPAWN first went online. Although we’re still adjusting to the changes, we can now better serve members with updated tools like a secured ecommerce store, blog, and double opt-in newsletter. It’s been a huge amount of work, but with this major project behind us, we can now focus on looking for creative new ways to better serve our members.
Q: Tell me something about yourself besides your work
I live and operate my business Logical Expressions, Inc. from a log home in the middle of a forest in Idaho. The view outside my office window is of trees—many, many trees! (And every once in a great while, a moose or bear.) Every day, I take my four dogs out for their “walkie” on the trails my husband has cut through our 40 acres. It’s definitely a peaceful place to publish books.
Like Executive Director Patricia Fry, I’m also an animal person. (Patricia and I traded our cat books with one another!) I’m passionate about helping homeless pets and am the founder of the National Association of Pet Rescue Professionals (http://www.naprp.com)
Interview with Dallas Woodburn, Youth Membership Director and SPAWN Board Member
Q: Do you write full time?
Yes, I am a full-time writer—I graduated this past May with a degree in Creative Writing and Entrepreneurship from USC. I have published two collections of short stories and I’ve signed a contract with a literary agent to represent my first novel manuscript. I write articles for magazines, newspapers and Websites—everything from Family Circle to the Los Angeles Times to Writer’s Digest. I’m a monthly columnist for GradtoGreat.com and TweenParent.com.
I started “Write On! For Literacy” in 2001 to encourage kids to discover joy, confidence, a means of self-expression and connection to others through reading and writing. I built a Website—www.writeonbooks.org—that features writing contests, book reviews, fun writing prompts, and more. I also hold an annual holiday book drive to collect and distribute new books to disadvantaged kids—more than 10,000 books have been donated to date.
My latest endeavor is starting a publishing company, Write On! Books, that publishes anthologies of stories, poems and essays written by young writers for young audiences. The goal is to give young people a much-needed outlet for expression and connection, and, I am hopeful, inspiring a love of reading in youth. I am eager to read submissions from young writers—they can e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit my Website www.writeonbooks.org for more information.
Q: As SPAWN’s Youth Membership Director what can you do to increase membership with younger writers?
I think there are a lot of young writers who may love to write but who don’t have much knowledge of the business side of writing. My biggest job right now as Youth Director is reaching out and spreading the word about SPAWN. We now have a Facebook page—if you’re on Facebook, please add us and spread the word! http://www.facebook.com/pages/Small-Publishers-Artists-and-Writers-Network-SPAWN/144313759011
Q: How did you find out about SPAWN and how has joining helped you?
I found out about SPAWN through Patricia Fry. I always look forward to getting SPAWNews in my email inbox, and the Market Update is continually full-to-bursting with opportunities. I love the new Website and being a part of SPAWNdiscuss. For me it is crucial to feel part of a larger community; together you can share ideas, give advice, commiserate about rejections and celebrate successes. Being a part of SPAWN energizes me, encourages me, and has made me a better, more informed writer.
Q: What advice do you have for other career-beginning writers?
Don’t be afraid. Don’t give up. Looking back, I was fortunate to dive into this career at such an early age because I wasn’t afraid or self-conscious about my writing. I think as we get older, we tend to lose that child-like pride and confidence in ourselves and our work. I published my first book when I was in fifth grade. I wasn’t afraid of rejection, so I sent my book out to anyone and everyone I thought might read it. I didn’t hear back from a lot of them but I did score reviews in the Los Angeles Times, Girls’ Life magazine, Cosmo Girl magazine, and others. Many terrific doors were opened for me because I wasn’t afraid to hear the word “no.”
Q: What do you do when you are not writing?
I love being outdoors—hiking, running, taking my exuberant boxer puppy for walks. I’m learning to play the guitar, so I usually tinker with that a little bit every day. And I’ve caught the travel bug.
Member Interview with SPAWN member Barbara Florio-Graham and Simon Teakettle III
Barbara Florio Graham works for a cat. Simon Teakettle owns the company, the Website www.SimonTeakettle.com, the email, and has almost as many publication and broadcast credits as Bobbi. How he took over her life and career was documented on a segment of Animal Planet in 2002, where he boasted that the book he co-authored with her won an international award.
Bobbi does have a list of credits herself, including two other books, awards for fiction, nonfiction and poetry, and contributions to 36 anthologies in four countries, but she doesn’t engender the same attention at the cat.
There have been three Simon Teakettles, beginning with Simon I, who became a media sensation on CBC radio in 1981. Simon II carried on the tradition and starred in the Animal Planet video. Simon III (Terzo) has just celebrated his third birthday, but has already taken over the Website with his MEWSical Society, 33 cats and a parrot from five countries (including five Canadian provinces and five U.S. states and Patricia Fry’s cat, Max and her kitten, Lily).
Bobbi and Simon have been cited on Websites in 45 countries across 11 time zones. A popular speaker and writing judge, Barbara also teaches and mentors online via her Website. Posting on SPAWNdiscuss keeps Bobbi in touch with the publishing world
Her teaching skills have extended to training Simon to do a series of tricks. He’s keeping quiet about what he’s taught her!
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
Nurse Frosty Saves the Day is the second book by member Lee Juslin about a little Scottish Terrier nurse who cares for the doggy residents of the Four Paws Retirement Home. In the first book, Nurse Frosty and the Four Paws Retirement Home, the reader met all the residents of the home, including Miz Bullsy, a crotchety old bulldog; Lily Simone, a French Poodle; and of course, Rodney Rabbitski, the home’s administrator. The second book is a mystery and brings back all the original characters along with some new ones like Billy and Beaumont Beeve, landscapers extraordinaire; Dame Dane, president of the local garden club; and Omar Pennycook, the home’s Cairn chef.
Nurse Frosty is able to solve the mystery and prevent the elderly residents from overdoing, while educating readers about retirement home living, the benefits of friends, and enjoying life in spite of the limits age sometimes puts on us. Written with children in mind, adults enjoy the book as well, both for the story and the whimsical illustrations by Karen B. Donnelly. Inspired by the real Nurse Frosty, a Love on a Leash therapy dog, Nurse Frosty and the Four Paws Retirement Home and Nurse Frosty Saves the Day, as well as My Best Friend, a Rainbow Bridge book, are available at www.ibdoggone.com just in time for gift-giving season.
Be sure to read SPAWN Board Member Tamara Dever’s contribution to Brian Jud’s newsletter. Congratulations, Tami!
Tami says, “I’ve been given a regular, rotating column to share thoughts on book design with several other top-notch designers in the country. It’s a privilege to have the opportunity to share via this venue.”
See Marketing Matters News here: http://www.bookmarketingworks.com/mktgmattersnews/
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
Contests, Events and Opportunities
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. 734-455-098
Learn more about SPAWN at the Website