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SPAWNews is packed with writing, editing, illustrating, and publishing information. Each month you receive market opportunities, events, and articles you can use now!
Not sure? Check out back issues of SPAWNews on our blog, or in the older SPAWNews archives)


SPAWNews, May, 2002

SPAWNews Archives available.

CONTENTS:

  • Editor’s Notes: Extension of Copyright Protection
  • SPAWN Forum: Calling All Members!
  • Market Update: Coming this month…
  • Article: Are You Ready for Self-Syndication?
  • Member News
  • Literary Quiz
  • Contests & Awards
  • Writers Retreats
  • Book Festivals
  • Conferences, Workshops, and Seminars
  • Free Publishing & Entertainment Law Newsletter
  • Article: Traffic Jam On the Road To Riches
  • Questions & Answers
  • Letters
  • SPAWN’s Mission Statement

* * * * *

EDITOR’S NOTES

Extension of Copyright Protection

In 1998 when Congress extended the term of copyright for individual creators to life plus 70 years, I thought it was a good thing. However, later this year the U.S. Supreme Court will consider whether that action by Congress violates the Constitution.

I read Jonathan Tasini’s article in the Opinion section of the Los Angeles Times a few weeks ago and I’ve been having second thoughts about whether copyright extension is such a good thing for creators. Jonathan Tasini is the president of the National Writer’s Union. So why was he opposed to the extension of copyright protection? It all has to do with the principle of copyright.

In his article, “Extending Copyright Helps Corporations, Not Artists,” Tasini writes, “Society should value the work of authors and inventors, and culture will only thrive when they receive a fair return from owning their work. But this exclusive right should be ‘limited’ in time because the flowering of the arts and sciences, as James Madison believed, could only occur when people have access to information in the public domain. Madison also believed the only way to ensure a free and democratic society is to ensure that no single entity controls information.”

For my book, “The Author’s Toolkit,” I did some research on copyrights and discovered that the copyright law has an interesting history. It didn’t even exist until the invention of the printing press in Europe in the 15th century. When books became cheaper and more widely available, the royal government of England granted a group of book publishers called the London Stationers’ Company a monopoly on the printing of books. However, the purpose of this early form of copyright wasn’t to protect author’s and publisher’s rights. It was to raise revenue and give the government control over the contents of the publications. And it was effective. The publishers, not wishing to risk the loss of their monopoly, only published materials that were approved by the royal authorities.

The first real copyright law, in the modern sense, was passed in England in 1710. It granted authors the exclusive right to have their books printed for a limited duration. After 28 years, the works could pass into public domain. Similar laws were enacted in the 18th century in Denmark and France.

In 1790, the United States Congress adopted the nation’s first copyright law. Congress made a major revision to it in the Copyright Act of 1909, reacting to new inventions such as photography and motion pictures. It was replaced by the Copyright Act of 1976 and, although the act has been amended often since then, this statute remains the legal basis for copyright protection in the United States.

Corporations have been “vacuuming up” copyrights, according to Tasini. They have stolen hundreds of thousands of articles, photographs, and illustrations from their original creators. They’ve also forced creators to sign over their copyrights. “Within a few years, media companies will own virtually all copyright,” says Tasini. They would then be able to control information and content. Without a reasonable time limit on copyright, libraries, schools, and individuals will have to pay more for access to information. Tasini believes that “creators should embrace the principle that human knowledge advances when information is shared, that cultural expression belongs to the public and that the intellectual wealth of a nation, in the form of ideas and information cannot - and should not - be locked up as the property of a few.”

Copyright protection should not be extended beyond a reasonable period of time. And “life plus 70 years” is not reasonable. It will not benefit creators. It can only benefit corporations.

M.E.

* * * * *

SPAWN Forum

Calling all members! Have you seen the latest questions and responses in the SPAWN Forum? To encourage more participation, we've developed the SPAWN Forum Question of the Month. Here's your chance to communicate with other writers, publishers and artists. You can:

- Share your thoughts

- Ask a question

- Participate in a discussion

- Answer the question of the month

Not familiar with an online forum? No problem. It's as easy as sending e-mail.

Simply go to the Member's Only area of the SPAWN Web site (http://www.spawn.org). Click on Forum and there you'll see a list of the posted topics and the number of responses. Either click on the topic that interests you and respond or start your own subject by clicking on "new topic" at the top of the screen. When you post your Forum message, be sure to click on "E-mail replies to this thread to the address above." If you do that, you will receive all responses by e-mail, so you won't miss what's going on.

Here is our question of the month: "What is the best writing advice you have ever received?" We'll read you at the forum!

* * * * *

MARKET UPDATE: Coming this month…

Each month we publish a new Market Update in the Members Only area of the SPAWN Web site at www.spawn.org. The May issue includes:

* Changes and trends affecting 7 more companies.

* Research and reference site

* Grammar site

* Site for Fiction Addicts

* A database featuring writers’ workshops

* An interview with Alice Wisler, a writer and mother of four

* An interview with two publishers

Excerpt from an interview with Alice Wisler who writes to heal herself and others. “Read, read and read some more. Study the markets. Learn all you can about writing—everything from style to voice to grammar. There are rules to follow in this business and learning them will only help you. Think why you want to write. Which genre do you like to use? Create a mission statement. Will you write to entertain? To help? Enlighten? Bring humor?”

(Read the entire interview in the May Market Update at the Member’s Only area of the SPAWN Web site, http://www.spawn.org.)

Excerpt from an interview with Melvin Powers, President of Wilshire Book Company in North Hollywood, California. “We are vitally interested in all new material we receive. Writing and publishing must be a team effort. We need you to write what we can sell. We suggest that you read the successful books that are similar to the manuscript you want to write. Analyze them to discover what elements make them winners. Duplicate those elements in your own style, using a creative new approach and fresh material and you will have written a book we can catapult onto the bestseller list.”

(Read the entire interview in the May Market Update at the Member’s Only area of the SPAWN Web site, http://www.spawn.org )

* * * * *

Are You Ready for Self-Syndication?

We all understand the advantages to a writer or cartoonist when he goes into syndication and his work appears in newspapers all over the U.S., but most of us have not yet been picked up by the big media syndicators. We are producing, and we’d like to get our articles, art, or cartoons before the public. What to do?

Read the rest of this article by Virginia Lawrence, Ph.D. at http://www.spawn.org/internet/syndication.htm.

* * * * *

MEMBER NEWS

Mary Embree has an article in the June issue of “The Writer” magazine. The article is titled, “Don’t get fooled by sound-alike words.” It is an excerpt from her book “The Author’s Toolkit.”

* * * * *

LITERARY QUIZ

Here are the pseudonyms or pen names of some famous authors. Do you know their real names? The answers are at the end of the newsletter.

  1. Robert Markham
  2. Nathanael West
  3. Paul French
  4. Guy Fawkes
  5. Dod Grile
  6. George Orwell
  7. Mary Westmacott
  8. Mark Twain
  9. Dr. Seuss
  10. Joseph Conrad
  11. Nancy Boyd
  12. O. Henry

* * * * *

CONTESTS & AWARDS

New Letters Literary Awards:

The Alexander Patterson Cappon Fiction Award; The Dorothy Churchill Cappon Creative Nonfiction Award: The New Letters Poetry Award

Deadline May 17. Prizes: $1,000 and publication in the Spring 2003 “New Letters” in each category. Submit unpublished short stories (up to 5,000 words), creative nonfiction (up to 5,000 words) and poetry (up to six poems). Entry fee: $10. University House, 5101 Rockhill Rd., Kansas City, MO 64110. 816/235-1168.

E-mail: newletters@umkc.edu

Web site: www.umkc.edu/newletters

Boston Review Poetry Contest

Deadline: June 1. Prize: $1,000 and publication in the Oct/Nov 2002 Boston Review. Entry fee: $15. Submit up to five poems, no more than 10 pages total.

E-mail: bostonreview@mit.edu

Web site: http://bostonreview.mit.edu

Chelsea Awards for Poetry and Short Fiction

Deadline: June 15. Prize: $1,000 and publication. Entry fee: $10. Submit one work up to 30 typed pages or about 7,500 words. Chelsea Award Competition, P.O. Box 773, Cooper Sta., New York, NY 10276.

Howard Nemerov Sonnet Award

Deadline: June 15. Prize: $1,000 and publication in the Fall/Winter 2002 “Formalist.” Entry fee: $3. Submit original, unpublished sonnets. The Formalist, 320 Hunter Drive, Evansville, IN 47711.

* * * * *

WRITERS RETREATS

Do you yearn to get away and write in peace? How about going on a writers’ retreat? Reserve space in an English cottage on the Quebec-Vermont border, stay in a Victorian farmhouse in Florence, Colorado or book a studio in an authentic Mexican villa in Zihautanejo, Mexico. Periodic workshops are presented at all three locations. To find out more, visit The Writers’ Retreat at http://www.writersretreat.com.

RopeWalk Writers Retreat

June 9-15. New Harmony, Ind. Faculty includes Tim Cahill and Karen Shepard. Contact RopeWalk Scholarship, University of Southern Indiana, 8600 University Blvd., Evansville, IN 47712.

Web site: http://www.ropewalk.org.

* * * * *

BOOK FESTIVALS

Central Coast Book & Author Festival - San Luis Obispo, California

Saturday, June 8. This event celebrating books and readers takes place in Mission Plaza in downtown San Luis Obispo. FMI: CCBookfest, P.O. Box 12942, San Luis Obispo, CA 93406-2942.

Web site: www.ccbookfest.org;

e-mail: info@ccbookfest.org.

* * * * *

CONFERENCES, WORKSHOPS & SEMINARS

2002 Writers Recharge

May 24-25. Workshops, panels and editorial appointments. Contact Linda Wagner, Center for Learning, Seattle Pacific University, 3307 Third Ave. W. Seattle, WA 98119. Phone 206/281-2492.

E-mail: lwagner@spu.edu

May the Myth Be Your Muse

May 31-June 2. Hydra, Greece. Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. Contact Carolyn Moschopoulos, 27 Sprollstrasse, 70597 Hoffeld, Stuttgart, Germany.

E-mail: Carolyn_jmm@hotmail.com

Web site: www.scbwi.com

The Tuscany Workshops

June 2-15. Buonconvento, Italy. Group and private writing sessions. Contact Joel Meyerowitz, The Tuscany Workshops, 817 W. End Ave., New York, NY 10025.

E-mail: jmworks@angel.net

Web site: www.tuscanyworkshops.com

Duluth Writers Workshop

June 12-18. Duluth, Minn. Faculty includes Robert Olen Butler. Contact Continuing Education, 1049 University Drive, Duluth, MN 55812. 212/726-8996.

Web site: www.d.umn.edu/goto/writers

Marymount Manhattan College Writers Conference

June 13. New York. Contact Lewis Burke Frumkes, Marymount Manhattan College, 221 E. 71st Street, New York, NY 10021. 212/774-0780.

E-mail: l.frumkes@mmm.edu

Web site: www.mmce.edu

Philadelphia Writers Conference

June 14-16. Workshops, book fair and manuscript critiques. Contact Millie Murden, 107 Newington Drive, Hatboro, PA 19040. 215/674-1639.

E-mail: pwc@pwcgold.com

Web site: www.pwcgold.com

TV Writer.Com Summer Intensive Seminar (aka Brodystock II)

June 22-23. To be held at TV Writer.Com HQ, Cloud Creek Ranch, Westlake Village, CA. FMI contact Brody Productions, Cloud Creek Ranch, 422 West Carlisle Road, Westlake Village, CA 91361.

Web site: www.tvwriter.com

* * * * *

Free Publishing & Entertainment Law Newsletter

The Law Offices of Lloyd J.Jassin announces publication of COPYLAW NEWS, an e-newsletter, providing practical, jargon-free solutions to questions about publishing and entertainment law. COPYLAW NEWS is a supplement to COPYLAW ONLINE, the firm's informational Web site (www.copylaw.com) that was launched in 1996. Jassin says the newsletter is designed to give authors, publishers and those in the entertainment industries a better understanding of contract and intellectual property issues, so they can think strategically and operate more profitably. It is distributed free by e-mail. New issues are published as significant activity occurs in the areas of publishing and entertainment law. To request a copy of the e-newsletter, please e-mail Craig Quackenbush at Jassin@copylaw.com.

* * * * *

ARTICLE: Traffic Jam On the Road To Riches

By Raven West

In the early days of publishing the road to riches was a small highway littered with rejected manuscripts and abandoned dreams. Few who started out on the journey actually made it to the finish line. Many more either crashed and burned, or simply abandoned the trip altogether.

For the financially independent, there was the alternate toll-road. Self-publishing and subsidized publishing (also, unfortunately called "vanity" publishing) was a path less traveled by, but one which many authors hoped would lead to riches, or at least lead to enough wealth to cover the cost of the toll.

Until the latter part of the twentieth century, those were the only two courses for an author to embark on if they wanted to be published. No longer. Computer technology, high speed printers and the Internet has changed the entire highway system. The rocky road of agent to publisher to bookstore to reader has been replaced by the manuscript to hard drive to reader highway of the Cyberspace Transit System. In today's high tech market, ebooks are downloaded in a fraction of the time it would take to print a book. Print-On-Demand publishers produce a hard print copy in a few days, with no huge stacks of inventory piling up in warehouses, or author's garages. Seemingly overnight, anyone with a computer and a modem became a "published" author and the "road to riches" has become twenty-four hour traffic jam.

With thousands of authors worldwide driving their new-found published work on the same road at the same time, it's getting harder to see the finish line, let alone reach it. With hundreds of new titles going on-line daily, and hundreds of new authors adding to the massive list on Amazon.com, the problem is no longer getting your book in print. The problem now is getting your book noticed, purchased and read.

Those who have already made it need not worry. Established authors will continue to attract an audience, whether they publish in paper or in cyberspace. The rest of us are only hoping we won't run out of gas while we're stuck in traffic. The goal may still be the same, but the length of time it takes to reach that goal just became a whole lot longer. The influx of POD and Ebook publishers has more than doubled since 1999 when Writers Club first announced their new print on demand program. iUniverse entered the scene in October of that same year, followed by Xlibris, 1stBooks, and a number of others. Ebook publishers began paving their own roads early on, and now there are more than fifty, with more than a hundred titles each!

At a meeting of the National Writers Union, Literary Agent Sandra Dykstra commented that iUniverse's goal to publish 30,000 titles was admirable, but how were they going to find 30,000 readers? Wouldn't it be better to stay on the well paved road, built by traditional publishing houses that have a more select list and sell 30,000 copies of one title? She had a point. To a point. With so many authors publishing so many titles, how does one avoid the traffic jam on the road to riches? The solution is not to u-turn to the old ways. The solution is to get off at the next exit, find an alternate route, or build your own road!

The old ways worked in the old days, but the 21st Century put an end to the "old" ways and there's no turning back. While technology has made it easier than ever to publish a book, it has also made it that much harder for newly published authors to break away from the pack and find an audience. The Internet has given authors the golden opportunity to reach an international readership. It's up to the authors to use this technology to construct their very own road to riches.

Web sites devoted to the promotion of new books are created almost daily. The key is in knowing where these sites are and the best way to use them. Any search engine will help you begin the search, but don't stop there. There are many Egroups listed in Yahoo specifically designed for new authors. These are an excellent source for promotion ideas, plus you can attend any of these ‘round the clock in all kinds of weather without ever having to leave your desk. Members exchange information, support and motivation for each other in cyberspace. Some sites run weekly or monthly live "chats" with a variety of industry guests. DO NOT BE SHY about self-promotion. Lean on that horn long and loud. Post your reviews on all on-line bookstores. If someone gives your book a decent review, copy it and post it everywhere you can. Build your own resource list for your specific genre and promote yourself at least once a day someplace on your list. If you write romance, don't try to be the "next" Danielle Steele. If you write horror, don't try to be the "next" Stephen King. Whatever you write, be the very first YOU.

It takes time, hard work and effort, but if you keep your eye on the road ahead and hold tight to that wheel as you speed down your own highway, your own road to riches will leave everyone else far behind eating your dust.

Good luck and good writing!

Raven West is a SPAWN member and the author of two novels, "Red Wine for Breakfast" and "First Class Male" (Lighthouse Press). www.westmiller.com/robin

* * * * *

Q & A

Q: I have written a one-hundred fifty-page story that I feel has potential to be marketed if it was rewritten. I am looking for someone who would be interested in taking the story and rewriting it. I would give it to the person completely. I am not interested in money; I am interested in seeing the story grow into something. I would completely give up all rights to the story and if money was made off it, so be it. My concern is that something becomes of the story. Do you know of or could you refer me to anyone who might be interested in the story?

Steve

A: Dear Steve,

Thanks for your note to SPAWN. Yours is an unusual question. Most people want the fame and fortune they feel goes along with becoming a published author.

While you might find a college journalism student or someone who is passionate about your subject to take on the project, I urge you to complete it yourself. I suggest this because it sounds like you are passionate about your project and that’s what it takes in today’s market to get our books circulated and read.

Find a good editor—again, maybe a qualified college student—to help you get the manuscript in shape and then start showing it around to publishers. Or consider self-publishing. The ins and outs and how-tos of the publishing industry can be found in “Writer’s Market,” “Literary Market Place,” and Dan Poynter’s “The Self-publishing Manual.”

Another option, if you’re bent on finding someone else to do this for you, is to get involved in writing groups in person and online. For example, SPAWN (Small Publishers, Artists and Writers Network) has an online forum where members can exchange ideas and information. This would be an excellent place to post your “Writer Wanted” notice. You could also take an ad or maybe post a free announcement in some of the many writers/publishers newsletters.

Good luck,

Patricia

* * *

Q. Dear Mary,

I’ve just read your interesting article on writing book proposals, as preparation for writing my own. Thanks for the excellent information.

I do have a question re the book editor. I’ve already connected with an experienced nonfiction book editor to work with me at various stages of the process. Would it be appropriate to mention this – her name, for instance, and how I plan to use her services – in my book proposal? Or would this be premature?

Many thanks!

Kathleen

A. Hi, Kathleen,

My suggestion is not to send your book proposal to a publisher (or agent) until you feel that you have written your sample chapters to the best of your ability and think that they are ready. Whether you are currently working with an editor or planning to is not important to a publisher. The product is everything. If the writing is not up to professional standards when you send it, you are unlikely to have a second chance with that particular publisher no matter what you promise. I would advise you not to mention your editor at this point. When your book is ready to be published you may want to put your editor’s name in the acknowledgments. And that is not only appropriate but a very nice thing to do.

Good luck.

Mary Embree

* * *

Q. Do you know the going hourly rate for writing and researching a book?

Nancy

A. Hi, Nancy,

That is a tough question to answer. According to "Writer's Market," writing for individual clients ranges from $25 to $100 an hour. Then there is a rate for ghostwriting with credit and for ghostwriting without credit. Co-writing might fall into that category. You can charge by the page, by the hour, or charge a flat fee. Researching is time-consuming and you should charge extra for that. There are many variables and it comes down to what you want to do. When I first started out I charged a great deal less than I do now but I still charged enough to make it worth my while. So it depends on how interested you are in taking on the project and whether the person is willing to pay what you need to charge. If you decide to accept less money to do the writing and researching in exchange for some percentage of the sales of the book, you had best draw up an agreement so you both know exactly where you stand. Unless your prospective client has a

tangible outlet for his self-published book, the likelihood is that the income from sales won't be very high--if there is any income at all. You should take that into consideration. Sorry I couldn't give you a firm answer but there just isn't any. Best wishes, Mary Embree

* * * * *

LETTERS

A GREAT newsletter! It is like reading a condensed Writer’s Digest jammed full of good and useful information.

Paula Spellman

Let me tell you that I thoroughly enjoyed your site. It is well thought out and constructed. The information is “spot-on” for me. I will hold the site as a favourite and depend on it as a reference site. Thank you. Continued success.

John Flood

editMasters document services

Rosslare, Ireland

RE: where to get ideas to write about. I recently started a side job as a reporter. I have noticed that suddenly I see a story in almost everything! The key is, if I “smell” a story I immediately contact people who might have something to say and then I quickly find out if there is an interesting story behind it. I am beginning to totally love this reporter job and I am hoping to be able to quit my other job before this year is over to focus on writing for the newspapers in my area..

Greetings from Michigan

Heide

* * * * *

Answers to Literary Quiz:

  1. Kingsley Amis
  2. Nathan Wallenstein Weinstein
  3. Isaac Asimov
  4. Robert Benchley
  5. Ambrose Bierce
  6. Eric Arthur Blair
  7. Agatha Christie
  8. Samuel Langhorne Clemens
  9. Theodor Seuss Geisel
  10. Teodor Jozef Konrad Korzeniowski
  11. Edna St. Vincent Millay
  12. William Sydney Porter

(Source: The New York Public Library Desk Reference)

Score: 1-4, you need to read more of the classics; 5-8, very good; 9-12, excellent! You must be a literary scholar.

-M.E.

* * * * *

SPAWN’S MISSION STATEMENT

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.

SPAWN is a 501(c)3 nonprofit educational organization. Donations to SPAWN are tax deductible to the extent of the law.

Small Publishers, Artists & Writers Network

P.O. Box 2653

Ventura, CA 93002-2653

Website: http://www.spawn.org

Telephone & Fax: 805-646-3045

Mary Embree

Executive Director

Mary@spawn.org.

Wendy Dager

Senior Editor, SPAWNews

e-mail: Wendy@spawn.org

Hal Ranzenhofer

Managing Editor, SPAWNews

Telephone: 805/984-3216

e-mail: hal@spawn.org

Virginia Lawrence

SPAWN Webmaster

e-mail: virginia@spawn.org

Patricia Fry

Acting President

e-mail: pat@spawn.org

Ruth Hibbard

Treasurer

e-mail: ruth@spawn.org

Advisory Council

Carol Doering

Dallas Glenn

Rosalie Heacock

Literary Agent

Andora Hodgin

Writer, Editor, Publicist

Irwin Zucker

Book Publicist

Jim Lane

Author

Marcia Grad-Powers

Publisher

Melvin Powers

Publisher

Dan Poynter

Author, Publisher

Jean Wade

Author

Board of Directors

Mary Embree

Author, Editor, Literary Consultant

Founder and President of SPAWN

Patricia Fry

Vice President

Virginia Lawrence, PhD

Writer, Editor, Webmaster

Secretary of SPAWN

Ruth Hibbard

Treasurer

Frances Halpern

Author, Columnist, Talk-show Host

Marsha Karpeles

Executive Director, Manuscript Libraries

Richard F.X. O'Connor

Author, Publisher, Editor, Consultant

MISSION STATEMENT

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, Senior Editor, SPAWNews, 3039 Country Lane, Simi Valley, CA 93063 or email Wendy@spawn.org.

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.

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

P. O. Box 2653

Ventura, CA 93002-2653

 

 

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