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SPAWNews, October, 1999

Archives Available

Workshop: Query Letters and Book Proposals

Thursday, October 28, 7 p.m.

Book Mall in Downtown Ventura

This is for nonfiction writers who seek representation or a publisher for their book. It is free to SPAWN and Ventura County Writers Club members. Others may attend for a fee of $5 per meeting.

The workshop demystifies the process of preparing this important sales package.

Please call Mary Embree at 643-2403 if you plan to attend.


Don’t forget to enter your poems in SPAWN’s Poetry Contest II. The deadline is December 31.

Win cash prizes! There are two categories: rhyming and non-rhyming poetry. First place prize in each category is $100; 2nd place $50 and 3rd place $25.

Get published! Even non-winning poems will be considered for our book of poetry to be published in mid-2000.

For contest rules, see the Events page or send an SASE to SPAWN Poetry Contest II, P.O. Box 2653, Ventura, CA 93002-2653.

Editing Tips

Presenting Your Work

© 1999 by Mary Embree

The first impression should be first class. Often the over-all appearance of your written presentation will determine whether or not your work will even be read. The more professional-looking your work is, the more seriously it will be considered. Here are some pointers:

  1. Always send fresh copies of your work. Do not send copies that have been returned to you if they have been damaged or look shopworn. No one wants to think that he/she was not important enough to warrant a good copy.
  2. Margins should be at least one-inch on all sides. Narrow margins make it look like you tried to cram a lot of information into a small space. Framed with wider margins, the page itself is more aesthethically appealing.
  3. Format your presentation appropriately. Use the style prevailing in the field for which you are presenting it. For instance, query letters and synopses of a book should be single-spaced. A treatment (which is like a synopsis only longer) for television or film should be double-spaced. Manuscripts should be double-spaced. Research script styles, as they vary widely depending upon whether they are for a theatrical film, a TV movie-of-the-week, a TV series, a stage play or some other genre.
  4. The print should be sharp and dark enough to read easily. If you can, avoid using a typewriter or dot matrix printer. Use an inkjet or laser printer. The font or typeface should be easy to read. Times New Roman or some variation of it is usually best. And it should be in 12 point; nothing smaller.
  5. Edit mercilessly. There should be no typos, misspellings, grammatical errors, misplaced punctuation or overly long sentences or paragraphs.
  6. Once you’ve prepared your presentation, set it aside. Don’t send it out the day you write it. Look it over carefully again a day or two later to make sure that it is as professional-looking as you can make it.

~ Mary Embree, SPAWN's Executive Director, is a writer, editor, and publishing consultant. Mary can be reached at

Did you know that...

writing about your feelings can reduce stress, lower your heart rate and blood pressure, and improve your immune function? Writing has also been shown to improve the health of people with asthma or rheumatoid arthritis. According to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, people with chronic illness showed significant improvement after writing how they felt about stressful events over a period of several days.

Dr. David Spiegal of Stanford University School of Medicine, who reviewed the research for the Journal said, “In this and a growing number of studies, it is not simply mind over matter, but it is clear that mind matters.”

This is just another reason to keep writing!

Organizations of Interest

The Simi Valley Branch of the National League of American Pen Women, will be holding their Membership Tea on October 16th, from 2 to 4 p.m. at the Simi Valley Library, Community Room, 2969 Tapo Canyon Road, Simi Valley, California.

Refreshments will be served and we will be discussing the advantage of establishing yourself as a member of Pen Women and many other aspects of the art community. Our group consists of writers, artists and composers.

For more information please contact Carol E. Doering at 805/493-1081 or Frances Riley at 805/581-7154.

The National Writers Union is the only labor union committed to improving the economic and working conditions of all freelance writers. Members have access to experienced Contract Advisers who help with contract negotiations, Grievance Officers for assistance in reaching a resolution in disputes with publishers or employers, and an Agent Database with information on over 400 agents including detailed evaluations by NWU members.

For writers looking for work, there is also a Job Hotline that lists contract and freelance writing jobs of all types nationwide, including technical, journalism and book writing.

For more information, contact the West Coast Office at 337 17th Street, Suite 101, Oakland, CA 94612-3351; phone 510/839-0110; fax 510/839-6097. The NWU East Coast Office is at 113 University Place, 6th Floor, New York, NY 10003-4527; phone 212/254-0279; fax 212/254-0673.

The e-mail address is and their website is

Merchant Accounts

© 1999 Virginia Lawrence, Ph.D.

Are you ready for e-commerce? You have a good product, an interactive order form, and a fulfillment process. But you also need a merchant account so that you can accept crefit card orders.

If you approach your local bank and mention selling products on the Internet, you are apt to find that your bank has no interest in helping you to get a merchant account. In fact, a poll of five banks displaying at a recent small business exposition found that none of those banks aiming at small business were willing to discuss merchant accounts for small online businesses.

Where to go? There are many online merchant account offers. Most are offered by resellers, people who receive a commission for every new merchant account they refer. Of course, those accounts cost you, the merchant, more than an account you establish directly with the bank.

As a Web Designer and Information Architect, I often deal with clients who are new to online retail. To help clients understand their merchant acount options, I have been gathering merchant account offers during the last three years. The least expensive merchant account I have found is with Nova Bank through Costco. Yes, Costco!

First you become a Costco Executive Member for $100 per year. As an Executive Member, you are entitled to apply for the low cost merchant acount from Nova. Nova is open to e-commerce. In fact, Nova makes it relatively easy to set up a CyberCash connection.

What are the costs for an e-commerce-ready merchant account from Nova?

$25 application fee.

$20 monthly minumum fee.

Additional charges depend on the method you use to process the credit card numbers that come to you when people order your products.

Manual Processing

Manual processing is the lowest cost option for e-commerce and it's a good choice for a new business. When you manually process the transactions, Nova receives 2.04% plus $.28 per transaction. To manually process an order, you need a $225 credit card machine or $180 PC software to be used in processing the orders online.

Automatic Processing

Automatic processing is the only sensible solution for high-volume businesses. When you use the CyberCash automatic credit card processing service, the credit card numbers are validated online while the purchaser waits. When an individual makes an online purchase, the credit card number is processed automatically, the purchase is validated for that card, the purchaser receives notice of the purchase approval, and the seller receives the order. This procedure involves CyberCash fees of $109 for setup and $14 per month. The Nova fees are 2.22% and $.33 per transaction.

There are many merchant card processing banks offering varying services. Before you sign up with any bank, just take a minute to compare their services and fees to the services and fees charged by the Costco Executive Member Merchant Services from Nova. Be sure that you aren't paying higher than necessary fees.

~ Virginia Lawrence, Ph.D., SPAWN's Webmaster, is an Information Architect who publishes both in print and online. Contact her at or visit her Web site at

A good book is the precious life-blood of a master spirit, embalmed and treasured up on purpose to a life beyond life.

~ John Milton

Santa Barbara Book & Author Festival

Twenty-five books written and/or published by our members were displayed in the SPAWN booth at the Book Festival in Santa Barbara on September 18th. They represented the works of 20 different authors.

Ken Wilkins’s book Marvin’s Mansion was a big hit with the festival-goers and his sales pitch was irresistible. By early afternoon, Ken had sold 19 of the 20 books he had brought. And he would have sold that too but he left it on the table for display. With nothing left to sell, he packed up and went home early.

The event was more than a chance to promote our books, it was an opportunity for members to get together, get to know each other better and just have a good time. We plan to participate again next year.


Andora Hodgin, who is a member of SPAWN’s Santa Barbara County Chapter and on our Advisory Council, has a feature article in the Fall “Art and Architecture” issue of Santa Barbara Magazine.

SPAWNews is published by

Small Publishers, Artists & Writers Network

P.O. Box 2653

Ventura, CA 93002


Telephone & Fax: 805-646-3045

Mary Embree

Senior Editor


Hal Ranzenhofer

Managing Editor

Telephone: 805/984-3216


Virginia Lawrence

SPAWN Webmaster


Dallas Glenn

President, Santa Barbara County Chapter. e-mail:

Carol Doering

President, Ventura County Chapter. e-mail:

Patricia Fry

President, West Ventura County Chapter



Ruth Hibbard

Treasurer and Membership Chair


Advisory Council

Patricia Fry

Author, Publisher

Rosalie Heacock

Literary Agent

Andora Hodgin

Writer, Editor, Publicist

Irwin Zucker

Book Publicist

Jim Lane


Marcia Grad-Powers


Melvin Powers


Dan Poynter

Author, Publisher

Mary Embree

Author, Publishing Consultant

Board of Directors

Mary Embree

Author, Editor, Literary Consultant

Founder and President of SPAWN

Virginia Lawrence, PhD

Writer, Editor, Webmaster

Secretary of SPAWN

Frances Halpern

Author, Columnist, Talk-show Host

Marsha Karpeles

Executive Director, Manuscript Libraries

Richard F.X. O'Connor

Author, Publisher, Editor, Consultant


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




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