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SPAWNews, July, 2007

Wendy Dager, Editor

For contributions to the newsletter and Letters to the Editor, please email the editor of SPAWNews:

Those of you who are SPAWN members, be sure to go to the first page of the site, and click on the "Visit Member Area" button. You will be asked to log in.

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Table of Contents

- Editor’s Note

- Special Note from SPAWN President

- Market Update

- Santa Barbara Book & Author Festival with SPAWN

- Book Review

- SPAWNdiscuss – Drawing Traffic to Your Web Site

- How to Write a Promotional Article

- Ask the Book Doctor

- Member News

- Opportunities

- Contests

- Events and More

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Editor’s Note

By Wendy Dager

I know it’s summer because when I get up in the morning and go into our game room to hit the treadmill and listen to my favorite satellite radio show, there are two sleeping teenagers and a big, goofy dog keeping me from my exercise.

We call it the ”game room“ because it has a TV, video games, pool table, computer, stereo and exercise equipment. My daughters don’t have such luxuries in their rooms upstairs, so they hang out in the downstairs game room all summer, crashing overnight on the couches, surrounded by books, magazines, sewing projects, candy wrappers, beauty products, miscellaneous clothing and empty soda cans. It’s a comfortable, debris-strewn haven. It’s also cooler downstairs than upstairs during our Southern California heat waves, so I understand why they’ve taken over the game room.

But I don’t like it much.

Call me selfish, but I thrive on routine. I like when school is in session. I like when the kids aren’t here. I like when I can do my thirty minutes on the treadmill, lift a few weights, make a pot of coffee and get to work on my freelance writing jobs, with no one—except the big, goofy dog—to interrupt my groove.

When I was seven years old, I knew I would be a writer. At the time, of course, I didn’t know I’d end up as a freelancer, working in my home office, surrounded by reference materials and scribbled to-do lists and yellow sticky notes and black medium-point pens. My office, like my teenagers’ game room, is a haven. More so when I can sit at my desk, uninterrupted, and concentrate on that next sentence, article or book proposal. It’s a sort of cyclical feng shui—a daily balance that is disturbed if there are too many family members in proximity to my thought processes.

I have been told that I will miss my children when they grow up and move out. I believe I will. But, for the summer at least, I will miss my routine.

–Wendy Dager is editor of SPAWNews. Her Web site is

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Special Note from SPAWN President, Patricia Fry

Jan Nathan of PMA

We were saddened to learn that Jan Nathan, Executive Director of PMA, the Independent Book Publishers Association, passed away in June after a year-long battle with cancer. She was 68.

Jan was involved in co-founding PMA (formerly Publisher's Marketing Association) in 1983 and she served as Executive Director from the beginning. While she accomplished many things, both personally and career-wise, I will remember her most for her infectious personality and her tireless work on behalf of independent publishers.

Because Jan was a strong leader, PMA, the Independent Publishers Association will continue even in her absence.

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Market Update

By Patricia Fry

The July SPAWN Market Update includes over two dozen opportunities for authors, freelance writers, artists and scriptwriters. We list eleven publishers of fiction works and eight for nonfiction. Have you heard about the new book that reveals the secrets to having your book reviewed in "O, The Oprah Magazine?" We can tell you how to obtain a copy. We've discovered some new book review sites, including several for your chick lit book. We list four warning sites where you can check up on the reputation of publishing services and companies. Are you using Google Alerts? Learn how this free service can benefit your promotional efforts. As a bonus, read Patricia Fry's interview with book publicist Marsha Friedman.

And more…

  • A FREE Internet service that informs you whenever your name, book, etc. appear in Google.
  • Where to check on the reputation of an individual or company before using them.
  • How positioning yourself as an expert can help book promotion.
  • Discover the point at which an author should contact a publicity firm.
  • Why writing your book is just the first step of many to being a successful author.
  • Great key preparation recommendations BEFORE embarking on a publicity campaign.
  • Ready to protest against high postal rates? We’ll tell you where.
  • A new technique for including CD/DVDs inside your book.
  • The difference between a publicist’s less expensive “performance based” charges and an industry-standard monthly retainer.
  • Where to find a list of publishers searching for romance manuscripts.
  • 8 places to get your book reviewed.
  • How a book publicist operates.

If you are not yet a member of SPAWN and would like to access Market Update and enjoy other benefits of membership, please join now online at

Note: If you are a free newsletter subscriber only, you will be unable to log onto SPAWN’s "Members Only" page.

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Santa Barbara Book & Author Festival with SPAWN

Reserve space in the SPAWN booth in beautiful Santa Barbara, CA, Saturday, September 29, 2007 from 10:00 to 5:00 at the Santa Barbara Book & Author Festival. The festival will be held outside the Santa Barbara Central Public Library.

You’ll have ½ booth for only $90. The Santa Barbara Book & Author Festival is particularly fun because the attendees really love books!

To sign up now, go to the secure signup form at:

We’re looking forward to seeing you there!

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Book Review

Screenplay Story Analysis: The Art and Business

by Asher Garfinkel

Allworth Press, 2007

208 pages, Paperback: $16.95

Here’s a book for those who want to make money reading screenplays. Asher Garfinkel, founder of Readers Unlimited, a Los Angeles-based screenplay analysis service, offers a practical and comprehensive look at the basic skills and techniques needed to write coverage for screenplays.

If you want to build a career in Hollywood, this book may be just your ticket.

To read the full review of Screenplay Story Analysis: The Art and Business , go to

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SPAWNdiscuss – Drawing Traffic to Your Web Site

Getting more Web traffic was a recent topic of SPAWNdiscuss, our online discussion group. SPAWNdiscuss is a feature available to paid SPAWN members only. If you are not yet a member, sign up as a member now at, and you will receive an invitation to SPAWNdiscuss. There you can share member news, information and insights. Check out Webmaster and SPAWN Executive Director Virginia Lawrence’s recent SPAWNdiscuss post, a detailed answer to one member who wanted to know how to increase the number of visitors to her Web site.

Dear Member,

How to get more Web traffic is a huge topic. Here are a few quick guidelines:

  1. Put real information on the site. Just trying to sell a book is not enough. The site must make a case for why the author is worth reading. Also, the search engines need text to index so that the search engines can "decide" how important the site is for possible keywords.

  2. Every page needs Meta tags, especially the Title Meta tag which tells the search engines what that page is all about. So the Title Meta tag is specific to the page. It's also good to add a Description Meta tag, also specific to each page.

  3. Every page needs to be tested with the main browsers. Your pages look horrendous in Firefox and many of the links don't work in Firefox. Firefox is used by 15-20% of web users, so it's important. Microsoft Office is absolutely NOT the Web development tool to be used for pages that work well. That software creates pages with a huge amount of code, and the code is aimed only at the Microsoft browser, Internet Explorer. Try Web Plus10 from Serif. It's not expensive, it makes pages with much cleaner code, and that code can actually be read by browsers other than Internet Explorer. Cleaner and more compact code will let your pages come up faster. That's vital, because people take a quick look and leave. If your page hasn't come up, it hasn't had a chance to grab the visitor.

  4. Submit the site to the search engines and the main directories.

  5. Think about the keywords for which you want to be found and create a page for each of those keywords. For example, you may want to be found when someone searches Google on "character education." If so, link from the words "character education" on the first page to the character education page. Put Character Education as part of the heading on that new page. Then talk about character education, what it is, why it's important, etc. Only when a site has enough information about a topic will the search engines start to consider the site as important on that topic.

  6. After you've done all that, you'll have to wait at least two months to see any improvement in Google ranking. There's so much garbage online and so many fly-by-night sites, that Google is very slow to consider a site good for any particular set of keywords.

  7. Yes, you could add a blog, but you would do better to start with the basics outlined here. A blog is worthwhile only if you write consistently and about the topics for which you want to attract visitors.

  8. Never use all caps. In the online world, writing in all caps is considered shouting. An occasional all caps headline is OK, but never an entire paragraph.

That's only the beginning, but it will take a while to implement.



—Virginia Lawrence, Ph.D. is Executive Director of SPAWN and a Professional Web Developer and Marketer. Her Web site is

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How to Write a Promotional Article

By Patricia Fry

Are you seeking publicity for your book, your business or a favorite cause? Advertise your project or company for free through magazine articles. Yes, FREE. In fact, you may even earn a little money. Most magazines pay anywhere from $50 to $1000 for a feature article.

An article offers greater exposure than an ad because people will actually read an article that relates to a topic of interest to them.

For great tips and techniques for producing successful promotional articles, go to

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Ask the Book Doctor: About Freelance Issues

By Bobbie Christmas

Q: My office has asked me to write some PR pieces, and I have no idea what to charge. So far, the first piece is about 400 words, and I've spent about three hours on it. While my credits are limited to short story publications and a few things in the local newspaper, those items gave me no remuneration. What would you recommend I charge? I have given the first article to them today, and in case they ask my fee, I don't want to appear ridiculous.

A: Whoops! You have already broken the very first rule in freelance writing. Before you begin work—not after you turn it in—you must negotiate and set a price, a deadline, terms of payment, and guidelines, such as how many times the client can ask you to make changes without the price increasing. Without all this information set out before you begin, you and your client may have completely different expectations of the outcome. For example, you already work in that office, so your superiors may expect that your normal salary covers anything they ask you to do, and they may not plan to pay you anything above your normal salary.

Do not grieve, though. Every first-time freelancer who did not have a good mentor has made the same mistake, and most of us have learned at one time or another that we unintentionally worked for free or for peanuts. I did it myself, when I first started freelancing.

A friend asked me to edit his book of poetry back in the 1970s. After writing and editing business communications and company newsletters for years, it was my first foray into book editing, and I jumped at the chance. After I spent hours upon hours working on the manuscript, I told my friend it was ready, and he asked me to meet him for lunch. Visions of dollars danced in my head. I decided I would ask for $500, a low figure, because he was a friend and I was just learning to edit books, but I had already decided exactly how I would spend that money.

Over lunch my friend thanked me profusely for the work, but bemoaned the fact that he had almost no money. After he paid for lunch, he pulled out two $5 bills and asked if I would accept lunch and $5 as payment for my work, so he could keep the other $5 to pay for his dinner. The work was done; I had no recourse; and he was my friend. I said yes. The lesson was more valuable than payment would have been. From that day forward, I set out my fees, payment schedule, and desired results before I begin any job.

Basic Freelance Rule #1 aside, you still want to know how much to charge should someone ask, and that answer varies by region, experience, amount of work, type of work, and many other variables. For your first freelance job, ask slightly more than you get an hour at your current or past job, because you are also learning, and your client should not pay for your training. After you have established yourself and rely on freelance work as your only source of income, your fees have no cap; that is, the fee may depend upon the client's ability to pay.

For regional information on a range of prices charged by others, see, but remember those rates are reported by the people themselves, and if asked by fellow writers, many startup freelancers claim higher fees than they actually receive. In the end, find a price that seems fair to both you and your client, and that's the bottom line in all freelance jobs.

For these and other interesting topics, go to

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Member News

Note: To have your announcements included in this section, you must be a paid member of SPAWN. Please email your news to

The popular course based on the 20th anniversary edition of Five Fast Steps to BETTER Writing is now available online. This course, which has already been franchised in five locations across Canada, was developed by Barbara Florio Graham, who delivered it for more than a decade to many federal government departments and other clients. The exclusive online franchise has been given to Donna D'Amour, an award-winning writer, teacher and popular workshop leader. Winner of the 2004 Atlantic Journalism Gold Award, Donna is also the author of Colouring the Road (Lancelot Press), and co-author of Runaway, edited by Antonio D'Amour (Zenobi Publishing). Visit for details, including fees and registration.

Brigitte Aflalo-Calderon announces that her article on women’s issues related to France’s recent elections appeared on

Patricia Hamilton’s book California Healthy, Southern California Edition: The adventurer's guide to local delicacies, fine wine, great walks and the good life is an Award-Winner in the Travel category of the National Indie Excellence 2007 Book Awards, To order the book or for more information: or

Lewis Goldstein of Revolving Door Books announces Luigi Enrico Pietra D’Oro’s new novel The Second Coming, The Last Parable of Jesus. To order or for more information: or, or call toll free 1-888-816-0732.

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FOR A LIMITED TIME ONLY: Any SPAWN member who purchases Barbara Florio Graham's Five Fast Steps to Low-Cost Publicity will receive the Canadian Libraries List (90+ libraries with purchasing power) for just $10 (regularly $25). Descriptions and contact info at:

You are invited to be a vendor at the Literary Pavilion of the 2007 African Marketplace & Cultural Faire at Rancho Cienga Park, August 18-19, 25-26, September 1-3, 2007. The event features book signings and celebrity readings, poetry salons, spoken word performances, storytelling and activities for children, teens, seniors and families, and workshops for young aspiring writers. For more information: or call (323) 392-1612.

SPAWN Founder Mary Embree announces The Second Annual Ventura Book Festival on Saturday, August 25, 2007 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Ventura, 5654 Ralston Street, Ventura, CA 93003. See details under Events.

Vendors are needed for the Bakersfield Californians Third Annual Festival of Books. The event is organized by the Kern Adult Literacy Council and will be held Saturday, November 3 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the California State University Bakersfield Icardo Center in Bakersfield, CA. For more information, email or call (661) 324-3213.

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Read about the latest contests at:

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Events and More

Read about the coming events at:

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

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SPAWN is a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization.

Donations are tax deductible. * * * * *

Join SPAWN now and receive one FREE book! 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.

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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



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

PMB 123

323 E. Matilija St., Suite 110

Ojai, CA 93023

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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