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SPAWNews Archives

SPAWNews, January, 2004

Wendy Dager, Editor

Table of Contents

- Editor’s Note

- Letters

- Market Update

- Catalog of Member Books

- Chapter Reports

- Q&A

- Feature Article: Seven Mistakes Self-Publishers Make – and How to Avoid Them

- Member Web Site of the Month

- SPAWN Events

- Tips from the F-Xpert

- Feature Article: Five Tips to Make Your Web Site a Welcome Sight

- Member News

- Contests and Awards

- Events and More

- Sign Up for Escrip

- Mission Statement

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Editor’s Note

I am inhaling paint fumes as I write this, so please forgive any Ken Kesey-like hallucinatory prose.

Seriously, it’s just a slight odor of "Marshmallow White" drifting down into my first-floor office from the newly added upstairs portion of Chateau Dager, as my husband dutifully paints while I type. Later, he will be brushing "Positive Red" in the 12-year-old’s bedroom and "Moroccan Brown" in the 15-year-old’s. The guest room will get a lovely coat of "Teaberry Pink" and, by tomorrow, our walls will be awash in the bright, the exotic, or the mellow colors of our individual choosing.

And, baby, have we come a long way to get here. There’s been the expense, and additional expense, as our budget rapidly flew out the new double-paned windows. There were the plans, revisions to plans, plan checking, outrageous permit fees, and the—mostly unanswered—phone calls to framers, drywallers, roofers, plumbers and various other subcontractors. Once we finally did get them to commit, there was the interminable waiting while each sub did his job, taking twice as long to complete it as he initially said he would.

Perhaps it’s just me breathing in those fumes, but I see how our remodel is analogous to a writing life. There’s the physical expense of a computer, paper and postage, and the additional emotional and mental expense of forcing our thoughts into words. We write, we edit, we edit again, and, finally, we select the editors or publishers who hold interminably—and silently—on to the delectable fruits of our labor, generally with no phone call or note to tell us what’s happening.

With a remodel, the kids eventually move upstairs. With an article or short story or novel submission, we eventually get that rejection or acceptance. But is it really over? No, the downstairs now looks shabby and needs a new coat of paint, maybe "Sumptuous Peach" or "Dancing Green" or "Rapture Blue." Similarly, as writers or artists or publishers, we haven’t stopped being productive just because one project has finally come to an end. We continue remodeling our creations, gladly expending time and money and energy to make them right. For, if we no longer worked at our craft, what a colorless world it would be.

Wendy Dager is editor of SPAWNews.

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In the December issue, Richard F. X. O'Connor rightly advises writers such as myself to overcome our fear of having our brilliant ideas stolen by publishers or agents. I would just add that this good advice does not hold true for freelancers proposing features to periodicals. I discovered my paranoia well founded when I proposed an article to the Washington Post, where I earlier had two publishedAfter calling around the area trying to identify the subject of the third proposed article, a frustrated reporter finally called and asked me.

A. M. Foley

Author: Elliott's Island: The Land That Time Forgot


Dorchester County

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I greatly appreciate my SPAWN membership and all that you and others do to keep SPAWN going. I learn from and am stimulated by SPAWN's newsletter and email messages and responses. I continue to work as an arts consultant, writer and publicist for arts organizations, foundations and galleries and artists, including for the Happy Valley Cultural Center and Zolle Theater in Ojai. Wishing you Happy Holidays and a fulfilling 2004.

All best,

Andora, Hodgin

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SPAWN Market Update

The Market Update is an additional benefit provided for SPAWN members. Each month we publish 8-15 pages of information and resources for writers and publishers.

Join SPAWN for access to this generous issue of SPAWN Market Update. All back issues of the Market Update are also available in the Member's Only area of the SPAWN Web site,

This month’s SPAWN Market Update is designed to help members start off the New Year with confidence, enthusiasm and knowledge. Here are excerpts from Patricia Fry’s interview with Robert Olmsted of Dan River Press and Christine Holbert of Lost Horse Press.

"Most authors think all they have to do is write a great piece and the world will beat a path to their door. It will. Only they forget that it costs about a jillion dollars to let the world know about it. Most authors waste time doing the wrong thing. They try to get better. Don't get me wrong. Getting better is always good, in any field. Getting better may make you a better writer, but it won't get you published. The average writer thinks because he/she writes brilliantly, that publishing should follow. Not real. Publishing is a commercial activity engaged in for profit. All rejections happen because the publisher has other options on which he believes he can make more money. Authors should stop worrying about ‘good enough’ and get to the business of finding readers. If they do that well enough, no need to worry about finding a publisher, a publisher will find them."

—Robert Olmsted, Dan River Press

"I foresee independent publishing becoming more and more essential during this era of conglomerate corporations taking over every aspect of our culture, including what we read. Independent publishers are now the only voice left for writers who aren't writing mass appeal books or books promoting war."

—Christine Holbert, Lost Horse Press

In this month’s Market Update, you will discover:

  • How many e-books sold in the first three quarters of this year.
  • The contact info for a screenwriting newsletter.
  • How to get published in Writer’s Digest.
  • Which publishing/book production company to avoid.
  • Whether you might do want to hire a Virtual Assistant.
  • The differences between small presses and the big boys.
  • Lots more…

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SPAWN Catalog of Member Books

SPAWN members are writing, editing, illustrating, and publishing an astounding array of high quality books. To read the latest full printed SPAWN catalog of Member Books, just go to and click on "Download the SPAWN Catalog of Member Books now" and you can download the catalog in Adobe Acrobat pdf format.

* * * * *

SPAWN Chapter Reports


December brought the Austin group a record attendance of 13! The increased attendance was due mostly to the recent book fair and advertising in the local arts newspaper. Our speaker was Keri Thomas, whose topic was "The Art of Self Book Promotion." Keri has her own freelance public relations and writing business in Austin and she gave a wonderful presentation. She reminded us that the most powerful person to market your book is you. We learned that while your publicist is the key to a successful book promotion campaign, much of the excitement and many of the sales generated will be a result of your involvement and enthusiasm in the promotional process. Thank you, Keri! Our January speaker isn't confirmed, but will probably be a representative from Morgan Printing. Happy New Year to everyone!

–Tamara Dever is the Austin Chapter Leader. Contact her at



The January meeting will be the 4th Wednesday at Michaels in White Marsh. We're going to incorporate art into our meeting about cover designs. We will discuss color and picture appeal in our books. Please e-mail Ramona Davis for more information.

—Ramona Davis is the Baltimore Chapter Leader. Contact her at

If you're interested in starting a SPAWN Chapter in your area, find out more at, then contact Patricia Fry at

Please remember that you must be a paid SPAWN member prior to becoming a SPAWN chapter leader.

* * * * *


Hello Patricia,

I seem to recall that you teamed up with a (travel?) company that offered your book as a promotional item. If so, how much, if any, did they influence the final version of your book? We're planning the black and white (interior) photography for our second "how-to" book, and a promotional opportunity fell in our laps. We contacted a large, specialty clothing manufacturer to request a few outfits for our models. In return, we would include the sponsor's name under the book credits. Not only will they provide clothing, they would like to discuss using the book as a promotional item. Great news!

Before we speak again, it's time to do some homework on this. I have pulled out my mini-library of self-publishing books to review the sections on promotional incentives. But it would be interesting to hear your war stories on the subject.

  1. Do they have a say in the book's design? Specifically, what role would they play in the photography?
  2. Are there any other surprises you've encountered with promotions or incentives?

As always, thank you very much for your interest and kind support.


I think what you're referring to is the opportunity I almost had for my luau book to be used as a promotional item. Two companies contacted me about the possibilities. Since I had already signed a contract with a publishing company, I turned the requests over to them and they were not able to negotiate a deal.

Your opportunity sounds great. You might reference Dan Poynter's book, "The Self-publishing Manual" for information and pointers (forgive the pun) on books used as premiums, incentives, etc.  Otherwise, I suggest that you find out how many the manufacturer is considering purchasing: 100, 1000 or 10,000? Figure out how much you could discount books purchased in bulk and still make money. I'd get something in writing from the clothing manufacturer before committing to print a large number of books.

To answer your questions:

  1. The manufacturer may, indeed, have some specific requirements for the books they order for promotional purposes. If you have to spend more on production because of it, charge the manufacturer accordingly. This is a business--you want to satisfy your customer while generating some exposure and some money. You might produce one run of books for the manufacturer and another for a different audience.
  2. I, personally, haven't had enough experience with this to have any surprises to report. Perhaps others reading this will have something to share.

Good luck,


* * * * *


I write pocket-sized mini health books. Do you know of a company that distributes magazines/literature convenience stores? Thank you.


I believe that you will find listings for periodical distributors in Literary Market Place (in the reference section of most libraries). There is another book, put out by R.R. Bowker. It’s pricey, but you may find it online or at the library: "Publishers, Distributors and Wholesalers of the U.S., 2002-2003."You might also check out the lists of magazine distributors at and

This would be a good question to pose to SPAWN members through SPAWN Discuss. Networking and learning from one another is what SPAWN is all about. Membership is just $45 per year. Find out more about what we offer at

Good luck,

Patricia Fry, President

SPAWN (Small Publishers, Artists and Writers Network)


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SPAWN Member Web Site of the Month

A new feature of SPAWNews is the Member Web Site of the Month, in which we profile members who promote their work via the Internet. Your site can be featured here for free where over 1500 people can view it!

This month’s URL is the Web site of SPAWN’s president, Patricia Fry, Patricia’s site showcases the variety of books she has written, and includes order instructions through her online bookstore, some of her how-to articles, and media coverage of her and her work. Her site is an excellent model for other writers. Patricia encourages SPAWN members to submit their sites for inclusion in SPAWNews.

"I especially like sites that demonstrate how to promote your own books," said Patricia. "My site, thanks to Kathy Schultz and Virginia Lawrence, is a pretty good example of that."

If you are a SPAWN member and you would like to be featured in this space, please send a brief description of your site to SPAWN president Patricia Fry, If you are a newsletter subscriber who would like to become a member, please go to

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SPAWN Events

Los Angeles Time Festival of Books and SPAWN

SPAWN will host a booth at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books in April of 2004. This festival is considered America's largest literary event as they generally draw around 150,000 readers. Check the February issue of SPAWNews for details on how you can participate. If you have a book to sell and you are not yet a member of SPAWN, why not start the year out by joining so you, too, can participate in events like this one. Click on "Join SPAWN Now."

Possible Online Courses from SPAWN University

We've been discussing the possibility of offering online classes through SPAWN.

Would any of you be interested in participating in classes and if so, what type of classes? I taught a class on history writing earlier this year quite successfully. And I'm happy to report that you don't need to have any sophisticated software or try to keep up with others in a chatroom. The instructor would simply email you a lecture and a lesson assignment once a week for 6 or 8 weeks. You do the homework at your leisure. The instructor comments and offers suggestions via return email. It's like private instruction--the other students are not privvy to your email conversations with the teacher.

We are thinking about offering classes on:

How to write a query letter

How to write a book proposal

How to design a writer's Web site

How to create a business around writing

Get started writing articles for magazines

Life story writing.

Getting syndicated


Do you have any other ideas? Your comments are most welcome.

Please contact me at

* * * *

Seven Mistakes Self-Publishers Make – and How to Avoid Them

by Joni Hamilton

The decision to self-publish a book is very exciting. It causes the creative juices to flow and the eyes to light up. But wait–before you begin the self-publishing process, know about the seven most common mistakes that self-publishers make, avoid them and fast-track yourself to success. Here they are:

Read the entire article at

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Tips From the F-Xpert

By Richard F.X. O’Connor

A Reminiscence

The recent passing of George Plimpton, a writer of considerable output, generated many articles, obituaries, and memorializing.

And rightly so, since the man contributed so much to this soil we writers till. In the ‘50s George inherited the mantle of editor of the Paris Review, the literary quarterly which is, to this day, a venue for presenting new writers.

One of the many contributors to the early Paris Review was Ernest Hemingway, who confided in an interview with George Plimpton that it took him 39 rewrites to get the correct ending to "For Whom The Bell Tolls." (And I’ll bet you thought ten rewrites would explode your head.) Little wonder it’s a classic.

If there were one word to describe George it would be self-effacing. His humor was always directed at himself and his personal exploits, many of which became articles or books such as "Paper Lion," his limited experience running a few plays quarterbacking the Detroit Lions. What writer today would dare get into the ring with the likes of Archie Moore and go three rounds, so that he could write about it with perfect pitch . . . and a broken nose? Then there was his humiliation playing the gong for the New York Philharmonic, not to the satisfaction of conductor Leonard Bernstein.

Not even the extensive obit in the New York Times recorded one of George’s private passions and areas of expertise: Fireworks. He had vast knowledge of the subject and for two years, under Mayor Koch, held the title of Unofficial (and unpaid) Commissioner of Fireworks for New York City. His childlike enjoyment of fireworks, to use the cliché, kept him young, boyish.

After ten years at Doubleday, I was privileged to work with George Plimpton during my second decade in publishing as the marketing guy at Waldenbooks, which at that time had but 203 stores—and the word "superstore" wasn’t in the lexicon.

For two years he agreed to be the spokesperson for Walden in its fall TV, radio and print campaigns. The match was perfect: George was urbane and we had stores in places like Urbana. He represented literature and we sold books. The fees we paid George went directly to support the always financially fragile Paris Review. Talk about win-win.

With George hawking publishers’ Christmas titles on camera, we shot 73 30-second TV spots in three days. In between takes, George played classical pieces on a grand piano in the studio to center himself.

Another memory is drinks with the author and his pal, actor Kevin McCarthy, at Elaine’s, which then was a year or two shy of being tony. Or the time I was invited to a small gathering of friends at George’s triplex on the East River to play a little pool—which actually was an exhibition between two billiard champions, one of them Willie Moscone. And the small gathering of friends, nearly 200 of them, included Roone Arledge, Howard Cosell, and… well that’s another story.

Our correspondence lasted up until his death, but my summation of George Plimpton is that he was a literary Lion, paper his medium.

–Richard F X. O'Connor is the published author of seven books including the best selling "How To Make Your Man More Sensitive" (E.P. Dutton/ Fawcett) and "Ident-A-Kid" (S&S). His self-published work is "How to Market You and Your Book." His writers’ Web site is

* * * *

Five Tips to Make Your Web Site a Welcome Sight

By Virginia Lawrence, Ph.D.

We’ve discussed before that everyone can create a Web site, and we all know that everyone can write a book. Just as authors must learn how to write a book properly, Web site designers must learn how to design a Web site properly. Designers must keep in mind that the initial goal for every Web site is to present information to the visitor. If the Web site design is annoying or difficult to read or impossible to navigate, the visitor will leave. 

The following tips will help you to design a better site or to evaluate a site designed for you. 

Read the entire article at:

* * * * *

SPAWN Member News

Note: Please send your Member News to

Patricia Fry’s children’s writing book is being used as a text by local homeschool groups. Young Writer’s Handbook is available at

Patricia Fry is offering consultations for freelance writers, authors and publishers. Learn more at

* * * * *


Note: SPAWNews advises "caveat emptor" when dealing with venues, contests or promotions unknown to you.

Check out a new online resource for authors and publishers,

Bookman Marketing will sell your book, even if it was published by another company. For more information: Brien Jones, Author Consultant, Phone (800) 342-6068, fax (765) 342-7217, e-mail, Web site:

Stephanie Marston, Co-author of Chicken Soup for the Empowered Woman’s Soul, is seeking stories for Living Stupid: Dumb Things Smart People Do. For more information and guidelines:

Volunteers are needed to assist in the documentation of artists working in Ventura County. If you possess general office skills and computer knowledge, and have a desire to be part of a growing organization dedicated to the arts, apply at the Focus on the Masters Web site:, or you may request an application from Focus on the Masters at 805/653-2501.

Please fax your completed application to: Mary Galbraith, Volunteer Coordinator 805/653-2347 or send it to Focus on the Masters, Attention: Mary Galbraith, 1147 E. Main St., Ventura, CA 93001. For more information, log onto

Members of the Sacramento Publishers and Authors are planning to reserve a booth at the ALA Convention in Seattle on February 24-28, 2004. They are seeking other authors who wish to have their books displayed to keep the costs down. They ask that any interested SPAWN members contact Ernie Spencer at

* * * * *

Contests and Awards

Glimmer Train's Very Short Fiction Award is open to all themes, all subjects, all writers, published and unpublished. Your original, unpublished story must not exceed 2,000 words. First-place winner receives $1,200, publication in Glimmer Train Stories, and 20 copies of the issue in which it is published. Second- and third-place winners receive $500 and $300, respectively, and acknowledgement in that issue. To submit your story, go to Reading fee is $10 per story. Entries will be accepted through January 31. Winners will be called by May 1. Top 25 list will be emailed to all participants by that date.

Winnow Press Open Book Award in Poetry offers a prize of $1,000, publication by Winnow Press, and 25 author copies. The prize is open to all poets, regardless of their publishing history. Entries must be original and written in English. Submit two copies of a manuscript of 50 to 80 pages with a $20 entry fee by April 26. Send an SASE, e-mail, or visit the Web site for complete guidelines. Winnow Press, Open Book Award in Poetry, 3505 El Dorado Trail, Suite D, Austin, TX 78739-5704. (512) 280-4483. Corinne Lee, Contact.,

The MonkeyHawk Playwrights’ Competition is now accepting submissions for 10-minute, One Act, and Full Length scripts. Top Entry wins over $1000 in cash and prizes, plus professional production during the Spring 2004 MonkeyHawk Playwrights’ Festival in Hollywood. For more details:

The Power of Purpose Awards: A Worldwide Essay Competition, is sponsored by the John Templeton Foundation, which will award a total of $500,000 to the nineteen essay winners. The grand prize winner will receive $100,000. The submission deadline is May 31, 2004. Formore information:

* * * * *

Events and More

Please note: Although SPAWNews does its best to filter announcements and press releases for various events, seminars, and classes, we cannot guarantee a successful experience for all who attend.

The next Basic Online Workshop, given by Larry Brody and featuring "Everything you need to know but were so clueless you couldn't ask about writing for TV and films" starts early in January of 2004. For more information:

The American Self-Publisher Association is the largest national organization devoted to self-published writers and is a not-for-profit association. Bobbie Christensen, Director of the ASPA, will present the day-long conference Writing, Publishing & Marketing Your 1st Book (or 7th) for all authors and potential authors, fiction or nonfiction on January 31 10:00am-5pm $29 Portland, OR, Portland Community College, 503-977-4933.For more information: 916-422-8435 or email,

The fourth annual DIY Convention: Do It Yourself in Film, Music & Books, will be held on February 5-7 at the Barnsdall Art Park and the Derby nightclub, both in Hollywood.

The three-day event, which includes the finals of the 2004 DIY Film Festival and 2004 DIY Music Festival, teaches musicians, authors, filmmakers and entrepreneurs how to create, promote, protect and distribute independent film, music and books. For more information:

L'il Picassos - Creative and Fun Ways to Create Art with Preschool Children, a course written and designed by preschool teacher with 16 years of experience in the field. Instructor: Heide AW Kaminski. Tuition: $30.00. Fee includes personalized training, 112 page printed activity book (Get Smart Through Art), shipping and handling, all printed assignments and course work, discount coupon for Web site products, and a Course Completion Certificate. March 1-April 5 (6 week session) Enrollment form and payment must be received by 2/23/04. Enroll at

The MWC Panama Canal Book Lovers and Writers Cruise sets sail on March 3, 2004 for a blockbuster experience at sea. The 5-star cruise aboard Holland America's flagship the MS Rotterdam will feature three programs for book lovers and writers who will get up close and personal with bestselling authors Tami Hoag (Dark Horse), Elizabeth George (A Place of Hiding), John Saul (Midnight Voices), Terry Brooks (Sword of Shannara), Susan Wiggs (The Horsemaster's Daughter), Dorothy Allison (Bastard Out of Carolina) sci-fi legend Ben Bova, and Gail Tsukiyama (Women of the Silk). For details and registration, visit the MWC website at or, or call toll free 1-888-974-8373.

To address the challenges and opportunities that eBooks pose for libraries, publishers and technologists, the Open eBook Forum, the electronic publishing industry’s trade association will conduct the "eBooks in the Public Library Conference", a day-long event scheduled for Tuesday, March 16, 2004 in New York City. Further details about the conference including agenda, registration and sponsorship and exhibitor opportunities can be found at

Simi Valley Friends of the Library and the Simi Valley Branch of the National League of American Pen Women present Sunday Series 2003-2004. Janury 25th at 2:00P.M. at the Simi Valley Library, Community Room, Simi Valley, CA Noted author Lisa See (On Gold Mountain, Dragon Bones Flower Net, and The Interior Half + Half) will discuss her writing and all aspects of how she was published. Lisa writes about China from her personal experiences and there will a question and answer period. Refreshments will be served. Free to Members of the Friends, $3.00 donation all others.

* * * * *

Electronic Scrip Incorporated (ESI) is a California-based corporation dedicated to establishing relationships between commerce and community. Since 1999, over $40 million has been distributed to schools and groups. eScrip is a fantastic resource for fundraising where participating business partners contribute a percentage of your grocery loyalty cards, credit card, and debit/ ATM card purchases to up to three schools, groups or organizations of your choice. You register any one or all of your existing grocery loyalty, debit and credit card for use in the program. Participating merchants will make contributions to your chosen group, based on purchases made by you, just by using the cards you have registered. You can go to, click on the orange Sign Up button, type in SPAWN, then register your grocery cards and/or credit cards. SPAWN, a 501(c)3 organization, gets a little over 2% in donations from all purchases from participating merchants. If you already have an eScrip account, please remember that you can list up to three groups. Thank you for supporting SPAWN.

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Join SPAWN now and receive one FREE book by Patricia Fry. See the selection from which you can choose your book at the Member Benefits page. As a member, you can enjoy the benefits of the Members Only Area. There you will find:
  • Member Forum. In the SPAWN Forum, you can discuss publishing with knowledgeable published writers and publishers.
  • Market Update. This valuable Market Update will appear every month, letting us know exactly what is going on with magazine and book publishers.
  • Event Calendar where you can submit your events. After approval, your events will be available for all members to see.
  • Member Webpages where you can upload your HTML pages to build your own Web site. Your Web pages will be viewable by everyone on the Internet.
  • Member Catalog where you can list your books and services
  • Member Discussion list where you can discuss your triumphs and questions with your publishing peers.

Join SPAWN now by clicking on the "Join SPAWN Now" button at the top of this page.

* * * * *


January, 2004 SPAWN is a nonprofit corporation. Donations are tax deductible.

Small Publishers, Artists & Writers Network

PMB 123

323 E. Matilija St., Suite 110

Ojai, CA 93023


Telephone: 805-646-3045

Fax: 805-640-8213

Wendy Dager

SPAWNews Editor, Membership and Database Coordinator


Virginia Lawrence, Ph.D.

SPAWN Webmaster


Virginia Lawrence, Ph.D.

SPAWN Executive Director


Patricia Fry

SPAWN President


Advisory Council

Carol Doering

Dallas Glenn

Rosalie Heacock

Literary Agent

Andora Hodgin

Writer, Editor, Publicist

Irwin Zucker

Book Publicist

Jim Lane


Marcia Grad-Powers


Melvin Powers


Dan Poynter

Author, Publisher

Jean Wade


Board of Directors (as of December 1, 2003)

Patricia Fry

Author, Publisher

President of SPAWN

Virginia Lawrence, Ph.D.

Writer, Editor, Webmaster

Executive Director of SPAWN

Ruth Hibbard

Treasurer of SPAWN

Richard F.X. O'Connor

Author, Publisher, Editor, Consultant

Tamara Dever

Book Designer

SPAWN Founder

Mary Embree

Author, Editor, Literary Consultant of SPAWN


To promote the literary arts and provide education, information, resources and a supportive networking environment for artists, writers, and other creative people interested in the publishing process.

Submission Guidelines

Members and Nonmembers: Please send your press releases, seminar information, and books for review to Wendy Dager, Editor, SPAWNews, P.O. Box 2653, Ventura, CA 93002-2653 or email

SPAWN membership dues are $45 per year; spouses, half-price. Make your check payable to SPAWN and mail to P.O. Box 2653, Ventura, CA 93002-2653. Or click on Member Application to fill out the secure online form and pay your dues by credit card.

SPAWNews, Member Directory and Web site listings, and discounts for SPAWN events are included in membership.

SPAWN is a nonprofit corporation. Donations are tax deductible.

Small Publishers, Artists & Writers Network

PMB 123

323 E. Matilija St., Suite 110

Ojai, CA 93023



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