Sandra Murphy, Editor
For contributions to the newsletter and Letters to the Editor, please email the editor of SPAWNews: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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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!
If you didn’t attend our first teleseminar live, I hope you all take the opportunity to listen to the audio recording, which is now posted at the SPAWN Web site. Sandra Beckwith shared an amazing number of great ideas and the hour blazed by. (I was asking the questions and I took two pages of notes!) Download the Mp3 from the private member area of the SPAWN Web site.
Sandra’s great coverage of how to create a “tip sheet” press release inspired me to write one myself. In fact, it will be out on the newswires and on our Web site by the time you read this newsletter. I even finally figured out how to use my video editing software and put together a video to go with it. (You can check it out on my Funds to the Rescue book site, if you’re curious: “How a Book Cover Is (Really) Created.”
After the great success of our first member teleseminar, we’re doing it again in January. Some of you may be familiar with Mark Levine, who is the author of the Fine Print of Self Publishing, which analyzes and ranks the contracts and services of 45 self-publishing companies. (It’s one of the free books you can select when you join SPAWN or renew your membership.) I talked to him the other day and he has agreed to speak on January 21 at 1:00 p.m. Pacific Time. Even after just one chat, I can tell you that he has vast amounts of publishing information to share!
Members: don’t forget, the deadline for the SPAWN Member Catalog is fast approaching. Check out this page for more information: http://www.spawn.org/catalog.htm. The catalog is an affordable way to get more exposure for your books. I have a note on my calendar to submit mine.
And finally, a big thank you to those members who joined or renewed in December and took advantage of the last chance to join at 1996 rates. As we mentioned in the last newsletter, as of today, SPAWN membership is now $65/year. It’s still less than half of what most other publishing organizations charge. (It works out to about $5.42/month, which is less than one trip to Starbucks.)
Until next month, keep on creating!
January Teleseminar Announcement!
Mark Levine to Present Teleseminar for SPAWN Members
Who: Author of The Fine Print of Self-Publishing
When: January 21, 1 p.m. Pacific Time
How: Members will receive email with call-in details
Now that the holidays are past and the New Year has begun, what are your goals? Put them in writing. Experts say a goal with specific and measurable results is more likely to become a reality than a vague, “I’ll try to write more” type of goal. Tell your support group about your goals so they can help keep you on track. And remember, your friends and family are not necessarily your best support group! (Join the SPAWNDiscuss Yahoo group.)
Try a personal goal (reading a new genre), a work goal (sending out five queries a week) and a health goal (losing a specific number of pounds by eating more grilled foods than fried and walking four times a week for fifteen minutes at a time).
Wondering where to send those five queries a week? Read the Market Update for the latest news on who is looking for writers and artists. Where will the ideas come from for five queries? Read the newspaper, check the headlines online, eavesdrop on conversations to hear what people are talking about (be subtle!).
Just to be different, take an opposite viewpoint because there will be less competition involved. If there’s a marital scandal in the news, take the other side—find a stable, happy couple to interview on how they view a relationship. Juvenile vandals tore up a Christmas display? Write about the high schoolers who each year work with Toys for Tots to make sure younger children are not forgotten.
Post your list of goals where you see them every day. Write detailed steps you’ll take. Mark your calendar with reminders. Make one of the reminders the teleseminar with Mark Levine on January 21. Even if you do not write books, you will learn from this telephone call. Maybe you’re watching your budget and think a long-distance call will cost too much. Check to see if your carrier has a friends-and-family type of plan and add the conference call number so you can call for free.
Now is the time to commit your goals to paper. Get your good pen and that paper you’ve been saving for something special and write your goals now. Talk about them on SPAWNDiscuss—you know you’ll get support there!
Now where’s my good pen? Find the cat, find the pen …
— Sandy, Editor, SPAWNews, email@example.com
Don’t Forget About the Catalog!
It’s time to update the SPAWN Catalog of Members’ Books and Services. If you’re a member of SPAWN and if you want added exposure for your book(s) and/or writing/publishing-related services, sign up, today. Read more on this page:
The deadline is January 10, so do it now!
by Patricia Fry
The January edition of the SPAWN Market Update includes dozens of news bytes, opportunities, resources and warnings to keep you informed about the publishing world and to contribute to your writing/publishing success. Are you seeking agents that specialize? We’ve isolated some for you in the areas of fiction, nonfiction and children’s. Do you desperately need writing/photography work? We supply some leads. Are you in book promotion mode? We’ve got your back—all you have to do is study each and every issue of the SPAWN Market Update and act on those leads that make sense to your project.
This month, we feature an interview with Peter Shankman of HARO. We list sites where you can sell (or give away) your e-books, job directories, job listings for writers and photographers and tons more. Our job is to locate and report the opportunities and resources. Your job is to study the material and utilize that which relates to your situation. Open up to all that we offer and 2010 could be your best year in publishing ever.
If you’re not a SPAWN member, you cannot access the SPAWN Market Update. Join SPAWN today and give your publishing project a greater opportunity for success.
Join SPAWN now at http://www.spawn.org.
Ask the Book Doctor:
Legitimate operations, end marks, query letters, and the use of “which” versus “that”
By Bobbie Christmas
Q: With all the scam operations out there, is there anyone I can trust in the book business?
A: Yes. Legitimate competitions, publishers, and agents do exist; otherwise, I’d get out of the business, myself. Use sources such as Writersmarket.com, which supposedly checks out contests, agents, and publishers before listing them. Check with the Better Business Bureau wherever you can. Ask folks like me, too, who have been around and seen it all, and we’ll help guide you.
Editor’s Note: Join SPAWNDiscuss and participate in order to stay alert and informed as to the validity of various companies and individuals.
Q: What is the most appropriate way to end a piece of creative nonfiction? Should I use “The End” or #####?
A: The point is to show the piece is finished. “The End” is appropriate, as well as one crosshatch or number sign (#). The ends of journalism articles are often marked -30-, which is also appropriate for creative nonfiction.
Q: I read something?I don’t remember where?that gave examples of query letters. Can give me information on writing a query letter?
A: Entire books have been written on the subject of writing query letters because the content depends on the type of manuscript you want to sell.
To begin with, always check potential publishers’ or agents’ Web sites or other information to determine if and how they want to receive query letters. Some accept submissions online through their Web sites and don’t require a separate letter. Some want queries sent by e-mail. Some still require that queries be sent by regular mail.
Once you know how the publisher or agent wants to receive queries, be sure to keep the query short and businesslike. The first paragraph should give the title, word count, and one-sentence description. The second paragraph should go into a little more detail. The third paragraph should give your writing credits, expertise, or explain why you’re the right person to write the book. The last paragraph should request permission to send more. That’s it. Be sure to put all your contact information at the top of the page (not the bottom), plus, if sent by regular mail, always include a self-addressed, stamped envelope.
I also offer a free report on the dos and don’ts of query letters. Send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org, and you’ll be sent a link for all my free reports.
Q: In a former column, someone asked for the rule about when to use “which” and when to use “that.” You answered like this:
“I could give you an involved and boring rule, but one quick-and-easy way to remember when to use ‘which’ and when to use ‘that’ is this: If the word can be eliminated, but the following information cannot, you probably mean ‘that.’ If any word can be eliminated, eliminate it and write tight. (Example: I told Jan that I liked fish. Better: I told Jan I liked fish.) On the other hand, if you have the urge to put a comma in front of it, you probably mean ‘which’ (Example: The fish, which had been caught three days earlier, had a distinct odor.)”
This isn’t a rule on when to use “that,” it’s a rule that eliminates the use of “that” from all writing!
A: Thank you for your reply, but I am tempted to say: “That is simply not true!” Look at these examples:
The shoe found in that corner was the clue to the murder.
The fact that she was always late did not mean she did not care.
I stand by my original statement that (!) words that (!) are unnecessary should be deleted. Writers who keep their writing pithy eliminate unnecessary words and employ powerful ones.
Keep me on my toes, though. I like it.
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
Susan Daffron’s Publishize New Book Option for SPAWN Members
When people join or renew their SPAWN membership, they can choose one of several writing and publishing-related print or ebooks. SPAWN President Susan Daffron’s book Publishize: How to Quickly and Affordably Self-Publish a Book That Promotes Your Expertise is a new option. You can read Patricia Fry’s review of the book on the SPAWN Web site, or read more about the book at http://www.Publishize.com.
Patricia Fry To Teach Two Online Courses
Successful Book Proposal Course starts January 5. Write a complete book proposal with one-on-one guidance. $200 for 8 weeks. Learn more and sign up here: http://www.matilijapress.com/course_bookproposal.htm
Book Promotion Workshop begins January 12. This workshop costs $200 for 6 weeks. Learn more about what it involves at http://www.matilijapress.com/course_bookpromotion.htm
SPAWN members get $25 off each course.
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Sherry Giddens reports she’s recently become the St. Louis working moms examiner, for examiner.com. “It is a great way to get your name out there and have an audience for your
writing on a daily basis. Due to the ability to link to other sites within your articles, it can offer a greater public face for writers. Anyone who would like to become an examiner can follow the link below and use me as the referral, please. By using me as your referral I get credit and earn $50 as well. This opportunity is also open to anyone who becomes an examiner and would like to
refer other writers.”
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Bonnie Myhrum checked in to tell about her latest project.
“I just finished editing a neat book about growing up in rural Ireland seventy years ago. Now we’re going to do the page layout. The author has written about his own growing-up experiences. A small but very sweet book.”
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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
Holding Back the Tide: How To Make Money in an E-Book World
by Christy Pinheiro
According to the Christian Science Monitor, two more publishers are “holding back” e-books while they try to sell hardcover editions of the book. Simon & Schuster and Hachette Book Group are the two publishers delaying more titles. This is presumably to save themselves from hemorrhaging money like so many publishers are doing this year, but it seems like a strange decision. Amazon is pushing publishers to release e-books at the same time as the hardcover, presumably because it drives Kindle sales. Why buy a book for $29 when you can get it for $9.00 and take it with you everywhere? The folks at Amazon are not stupid. They know where this boat is going.
It’s true that cheaper e-books will hurt the sales of expensive hardcover books, but I sincerely believe publishers need to learn how to change their marketing and sales model to accommodate the new trend to e-books. I believe e-books will dominate the book market within ten years. It’s just like the way MP3 files took over the music market from compact disks, which are losing market share faster than you can spit.
Maybe publishers are holding back on releasing e-books in some vain attempt to staunch the tide of book piracy, but maybe these publishers don’t understand the concept of a scanner with OCR software. The newest Stephen King book, Under the Dome, is a case in point. The publishers held back on releasing the e-book because they wanted to maximize hardcover sales. But the book was pirated and showing up on file-sharing Web sites the next day. Stephen King said that his decision to delay the e-book was an attempt to help struggling bookstore owners. In the end, this decision backfired, because Wal-Mart, Amazon, and Sears all got into a discounting frenzy and priced the book at $9.99, which is even less than wholesale. Independent bookstores got shut out of the sales, anyway.
I think the solution to this issue is to try to adapt, as writers and publishers, to this new business model. For me, that might mean doing live seminars, which I am considering next year. I already contacted a colleague who owns a continuing education tax school, and he has agreed to add my books and seminar offering to his mass mailing, which occurs in May 2010. It’s an option for me to sell directly to other vendors, in catalogs, and directly to schools. As writers, this is how we can make more money in the future. You have to expand your offerings and find other ways to generate revenues.
Christy Pinheiro is the owner of a small publishing company, PassKey Publications. She writes books on taxation, management, bookkeeping and publishing.
Are You Blogging Yet?
by Helen Gallagher
A blog might be your best road to a book deal. The multi-million-dollar Julie & Julia would never have happened if Julie Powell hadn’t started a cooking blog. Her friends raved about it, a newspaper reporter interviewed her, an agent saw it and … you know the rest.
If you don’t have a blog yet, there are plenty of reasons to create one this year. It’s satisfying to have a place to post your work, essays and ideas. Over time, you’ll build a following, have a rich database of content and be seen as an expert. With a blog you can link with many of the powerful writing groups online like SPAWN, shewrites.com and redroom.com.
Besides the opportunity to be seen, you’ll need a blog to promote your book, which, like parenthood, is an unending task. And, you won’t likely get hired to write for a blog if you don’t have one. If Huffington Post comes calling, you won’t stand a chance without blogging skill.
To get started, just sign up and blog. Blogs are a breeze to set up and most are free. Two of the best are Blogger.com and WordPress.com. Create a blog name, like TinaWritesFiction, and choose a color and layout from terror-free templates. Blog entries, called “posts,” are just a subject line and brief text. Proofread and hit “publish.” That’s it. You’re a blogger.
Visit a range of blogs in your area of interest and you’ll see an expansive variety of work and play among those who share our lust for writing.
Blogging is an important part of your marketing platform. Agents and editors read blogs to spot trends, see writing samples, and sometimes approach writers for a coveted book deal. It worked for Julie Powell.
SPAWN member Helen Gallagher has been blogging since 2004. She is the author of “Release Your Writing: Book Publishing Your Way.” Visit sample blogs at: www.releaseyourwriting.blogspot.com and www.pajamamarketing.wordpress.com .
by Patricia Fry
Long-time journalist and author Michael Marcus began his self-publishing journey in 2008. This is his fourth project through his company, Silver Sands Books.
In his book, Become a Real Self-Publisher, he starts out by attempting to quell the confusion around the term “self-publishing.” He says that many people “use the services of a vanity press or a self-publishing company or a subsidy publisher with the thought that they will become self-published authors. They’re not.” He explains, “They’re really just customers of companies that make most of their money by selling services to writers.”
His goal with this book is to help authors take control of their projects and become “real” self-publishers—in other words, to establish their own publishing companies. And he goes into great detail about how to do this.
How do you start a publishing business? How long does it take and how much does it cost? How many books can you sell? Should you publish an e-book or a print book? How do you get an ISBN? How does a new publisher deal with the Library of Congress? Marcus responds in depth to each of these questions and hundreds more. He even provides a lot of guidance with regard to designing your book and is not shy about making his preferences known—even at the expense of some well-known books on publishing and marketing.
I’ve read a lot of books about publishing, but few as detailed as this one. I mean, Marcus covers book blurbs, online booksellers, copyright, book promotion and he provides tons of illustrations and statistics.
I especially like his comprehensive chapter on “How to Make a Better Book.” Herein he offers help related to designing the inside pages of your book, including font choices, editing tips and how to place and work with photographs.
Like Marcus, I would rather see authors get involved in true self-publishing than turn their manuscripts over to pay-to-publish companies. And his is certainly one book that you’ll want to reference before establishing your publishing company.
Julia Royston, BK Royston Publishing
According to Julia, “My business is three-fold. First I am a singer, songwriter and producer of original music. Second, I am a motivational speaker and teacher who provides speaking and singing services to organizations of all kinds—for-profit, non-profit, educational and religious—through my organization ‘For the Kingdom Ministries.’ Third, I publish my own books and a monthly e-newsletter, ‘A JAR in the Potter’s Hands’ through my publishing company, BK Royston Publishing, Inc.
“I feel that my business and its works are Christian-based, but also inspirational and motivational. I speak to organizations that may not be Christian and I deliver a message of hope, empowerment and encouragement. Members of any organization can benefit.
“I heard about SPAWN through another organization. It was time for my publishing company to benefit from an organization with the expertise and experience I needed. I believe that the greatest benefit is that I now have another network of people I can call on for advice and help to make sound and informed decisions.
“My newest book is due out in Spring 2010; it is called Everyday Miracles. I believe that in these troubling times people need hope and a positive message, but also to be grateful for what they have. We have so much in this country but we’re always striving for more. So the object of this book is to help people realize that miracles are happening all around them every day, but they have to look and stay alert. Don’t focus on what you don’t have or haven’t received yet. Focus on what you have. This book outline has an inspirational writing or devotional first, a prayer and then a workbook with a few questions for reflection. In the workbook portion, I am going to include some ideas for visual aids and additional reading or activities for a teacher or facilitator to use in a group setting. I am looking for suggestions and ideas for this portion of the book.”
Purpose by Design 2009
What Are We Talking About at SPAWNDiscuss?
E-books—Good or Bad? One of this month’s Yahoo group discussions was about e-books. If you write one, do you need to own a reader? How do you give an e-book as a gift? The main consensus was that e-books are great for travelers, but not a replacement for hold-in-your-hands paper versions. Those of us who are still seeing the VCR flash “12:00” need to test the waters and try out an e-book reader. Try one and let us know what you think—can you enjoy a book read from a screen or must you hold the book in your hands?
Christy Pinheiro writes, “I agree that e-books are the future. I don’t own an e-reader, but I will be purchasing the new Mac Tablet when it comes out in the fall. I’m picky about technology—I always want the best I can afford, even if that means I have to wait.
“I had E-Book Architects format the Kindle edition of my self-publishing book, and it is selling on Amazon for $3.99, compared to $18.95 for the print edition.
“I don’t think that e-books are going to take the place of paper books next year, but I think it will happen within the decade. I still remember people saying that CDs were a ‘fad’ and now even CDs have been replaced by Mp3 players. I don’t think that means that our industry is dead—but I think it’s going to change.”
This and That
Are you doing radio or television interviews or public speaking to promote your book? If you’re nervous and could use a few hints on how to prepare, read Barbara Florio-Graham’s “Five Fast Steps to Low Cost Publicity,” which includes exercises performers do before going onstage. The full description, table of contents, etc. is on her Web site at: www.SimonTeakettle.com/publbk.htm
Interested in having your book published as an audio book—in Spanish? Check www.ProduccionesMundoHablado.com Contact Maria Siccardi. The books are recorded in Buenos Aires. As seen on www.shewrites.com discussion board.
For those who missed the teleseminar, Sandra Beckwith’s tip sheet instructions can be found at http://www.buildbookbuzz.com/publicity-tips.htm.You can sign up for her free book publicity e-zine at http://www.buildbookbuzz.com/index.htm. Tips can be used as filler for newspapers and other publications, with credit given to the writer. It gives you the opportunity to mention your book as well, at no cost! You can hear the teleseminar by going to our Member Area.
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.