spawn spawn logo






Sign Up for the
SPAWNews Newsletter and
Get a FREE Report Too!



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)

Editing articles

Internet articles

SPAWNews, February, 1999- Archives Available


New West Ventura County Chapter of SPAWN Opens

Next meeting: Monday, February 22, 7:00 pm. Debbie Puente, billed throughout the United States as the Creme Brulee Queen, will be the first speaker for the new West Ventura Chapter of SPAWN, which meets at the Ventura Bookstore (upstairs in the eeting hall) in downtown Ventura at 7:00 p.m.

Puente, a long-time SPAWN member, has sold over 20,000 copies of her book in less than a year. She will talk about her success and how she has achieved it. Along with tips for those attempting to market a book, Puente will share samples of her now famous creme brulee. She'll also show a very entertaining clip of her appearance on the Howie Mandel Show and talk about how to get media publicity.

Please come out and meet Debbie Puente and the new Chapter President Patricia Fry. Take advantage of the opportunity to network with others who are interested in the publishing process. The meeting is free to SPAWN members and their guests. $5 donation is suggested for other non-members.

Ventura Bookstore (upstairs), 522 E. Main Street, Ventura

Directions: From south of Ventura, take 101 Freeway to California, right to Main Street. From north, 101 to Ventura Ave. exit, right on Thompson, left on California.

Questions: Call Patricia Fry, 646-3045 Email:

East Ventura County Chapter

Next meeting: Wednesday, February 24, 7:00 p.m.

Mary Embree will be speaking on "Synopses, Treatments and Outlines: What's the Difference? It depends on the Media." Mary, with a background in film, television and book production, has first-hand knowledge of the requirements of these media. A synopsis is usually less than 2 pages; a treatment is from 4 to 20 pages; an outline can be up to 60 pages long. Mary will explain what, when, how and why each is used. She is currently a free-lance literary consultant and editor for authors of fiction and nonfiction books.

The meeting will be held at 7 p.m. at the Newbury Park Branch Library. Directions: 101 Freeway to Borchard Road, right if going south, left if going north, to the 1st right, which is Michael. Right to first driveway on left. For more information contact Ventura County Chapter President Carol Doering at 805/493-1081.

Santa Barbara County Chapter

Next meeting: Saturday, February 13, 1:30 p.m.

Karin de la Pena, Artistic Director of Santa Barbara's award-winning Readers Theater, and other actors will present "Speaking of Stories," a program in which professional actors recite short stories by famous authors. Karin is a seasoned actress, singer, writer, and dancer with a passion to bring great literature to the widest audiences through dramatic readings.

Chapter President Dallas Glenn has arranged with the group to give a special performance for SPAWN at no charge. Tickets to "Speaking of Stories" are valued at $20. This is a wonderful opportunity for SPAWN members and guests to experience their outstanding work.

The Chapter meets at the Karpeles Manuscript Library & Museum. Karpeles Manuscript Library, 21 W. Anapamu St., Santa Barbara

Directions: 101 Freeway to Carrillo, right on Carrillo, left on Chapala, right on Anapamu. (Parking in back, off Chapala, just before Anapamu.) Guest donation: $5

For more information, please contact Dallas Glenn at 805/899-1174.

Leadership Committee Meeting

by Patricia Fry

The Leadership Committee, consisting of our SPAWN founder, treasurer, an advisor, the newsletter editor, Chapter presidents and member's-at-large was held this month at Mary Embree's home. The Committee voted to waive the $5 guest fee for guests who come to a meeting with a SPAWN member. Members are encouraged to bring guests to meetings and now their guests can attend for free.

The SPAWN Poetry Contest was such a success that the Committee is now discussing the possibility of sponsoring or co-sponsoring a book festival with bookseller booths as well as those representing illustrators, photographers, graphic designers and others involved in the publishing process. Anyone with ideas are invited to attend the next Leadership Committee meeting at Mary Embree's home February 20 at 2:00. (Call 643-2403 for directions)


There is a story in The New Yorker for January 11, 1999, by Malcolm Gladwell about Lois Weisberg, a "woman who knows everybody." She is the Commissioner of Cultural Affairs for the City of Chicago and is seventy-three years old.

Since SPAWN's mission is to provide a networking environment for creative people, Ms. Weisberg's method of networking is of special interest. It is simply this: she makes friends. Lots of them. Everybody.

For example, in the mid-fifties she went to the World Science Fiction Convention in New York. There she met Arthur C. Clarke, then a young writer of science fiction. He asked her if there was anyone in Chicago he should meet. She phoned one of her friends and was told that both Isaac Asimov and Robert Heinlein were in town. "So they all came over and sat in my study."

What Lois does is cultivate friendships with everyone she meets. Then, if a question arises to which she doesn't know the answer, she calls one of these friends, who invariably knows someone, who knows someone, who knows someone who knows the answer.

Lois is far from being the most important person in Chicago, but she knows everyone and she is an important "connector."

Stanley Milgram, a Harvard social psychologist, has made a study of how human beings are interconnected. In the example above, there are four degrees of separation. One would imagine that there might be 100 degrees of separation between people who live in New York and, say, Omaha. Is it surprising to learn that, on average, there are only five? This means that "a very small number of people are linked to everyone else in a few steps, and the rest of us are linked to the world through those few."

Can you see how this applies to the publishing and selling of your literary work? You could make a list of all of your friends with as much appropriate information that you already know—who they work for, their friends, etc. Record as many connections between these people as you can. Chances are you'll find the same names coming up repeatedly.

Gladwell suggests another way to look at this process—a parlor game called "Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon." You try to "link in fewer than six steps any actor or actress, through the movies they've been in, to the actor Kevin Bacon." I won't describe all of the steps necessary to link some actor to Bacon; suffice it to say that the connections often amount to only three or four. The reason is that he has "already been in so many movies with so many people that there is almost no one to whom he can't be easily connected." A computer scientist has calculated the "degree of connectedness" for 250,000 or more actors and actresses in the movies to be a little less than three.

Where is all this leading? It means that without a huge effort you can get to the people who can help you get your work edited, published, and sold. In fact, that's the goal of SPAWN's basic mission—networking.

As some of you know, I've been writing a novel for several years now, publishing being so far in the future that it could be considered irrelevant. Recently I met a lady who had once been an actress. She has read the first 20% of my novel and likes it. She told me just the other day that she knows an agent.



Editing Tips

by Mary Embree

Whether you are getting your manuscript and/or book proposal ready to send to an agent, a publisher, or a book doctor/editor, the principles of self-editing are very much the same. Only the reasons are different. You are going to have a much better chance of finding a good agent and a publisher for your work if your presentation is professional-looking. And you are going to spend a lot less money on a professional editor if you do as much editing as you can first. Here are some important things to look for:


Present your work in the standard format for that genre. For example: query letters and synopses for a proposed book are single-spaced; the other parts of the book proposal, the sample chapters and the pages of your manuscript are double-spaced. There is a special format for television scripts for a half-hour taped series, a different format for a TV script for a "movie of the week" or a miniseries, and still a different format for theatrical film scripts. Do your research, get samples of these formats if you can, and pattern your presentation according to the standards of the industry, genre and entity to which you are making your presentation.


Always check spelling and word usage. Your computer's spell-check is helpful but has its limitations. Beware of the words it will not pick up, such as using their when it should be there, it's in place of its, affect instead of effect, emigrate when you mean immigrate.

As much as possible, check for grammar and punctuation. There are some simple guidelines in most dictionaries. If you are serious about doing most of your own proofing and copy-editing, though, you should use The Chicago Manual of Style.


Check for tense. If you are writing in present tense, be sure that you don't slip into past-tense from time to time. Once you decide on a style, stick with it. Style is defined as the rules of uniformity in punctuation,

capitalization, spelling, word division and other details of expression. They often vary according to custom. Textbook publishers require a different style from publishers of romance novels, for example. Knowing the styles they use and abiding by them will make you appear more experienced in that field of writing.


Once you have stated a character's title, described how she looks or what he does, don't do it again unless you have a very good reason. If you feel that it's important to remind the reader who this person is, say it differently. Repetitions of all kinds can be annoying. If you wish to repeat something for emphasis, put a new twist on it.

Flow, Continuity and Transitions:

In writing, flow means to proceed continuously, smoothly or easily. Continuity is defined as a continuous or connected whole. A transition is a passage that links one scene or topic to another. After you have done all the editing you can, read your entire manuscript through from start to finish at one sitting, if possible, keeping these guidelines in mind. Does it flow or are there words, phrases or ideas that cause glitches or create snags along the way? Do you keep going back and forth in time and, if so, is it really necessary? Maintaining a logical continuity helps the writing flow and makes it easier for the reader to follow. When you begin a new sentence or paragraph, is it jarring, does it seem to skip a beat or to make too big a jump in the storyline? Is it too abrupt a change of subject? Good transitions can cure that problem.

Being aware of the above principles and making the necessary adjustments along the way can help you make your writing more readable, interesting, and certainly more professional-looking.



by Virginia Lawrence, Ph.D.

Yes, we all know that and are selling books online. But some small publishers are also selling an impressive number of books online.

How do they do it? They follow five important steps:

1. Build a clean, clear Web site offering information on a topic of interest to the target market. The Web site offers more than one way to order.

2. Build a foundation of low-cost marketing.

  1. Optimize the Web site pages for indexing by search engines.
  2. Register the Web site with search engines and directories.
  3. Research and request strategic incoming links from sites appealing to the target market,
  4. Register with new site lists.
  5. Write and e-mail a catchy publicity release to 1,200 media editors who are interested in hearing the news.

3. Evaluate the traffic to the Web site.

  1. Watch the Web log report to track the number of visitors and confirm that the traffic is increasing.
  2. Watch the Web log report's listing of sites referring visitors to the site. The top referring sites are potential places to advertise. The missing sites, those important sites which don't appear on the list, are the sites where the Web site should be registered again.

4. Start advertising.

  1. Try an inexpensive online ad campaign with banner ads placed on the most popular referring site.
  2. Try an inexpensive offline ad campaign with classified ads displaying a teaser line and the Web address (URL) of the site.

5. Consider setting up an Affiliate program. Take on some sales affiliates the way does. That is, find a site currently attracting your target customer, and offer the site owner a percentage of every sale originating from visitors he sends your way. Your site receives more visitors and makes more sales, because the affiliate highlights the link as an important one.

Follow these five steps, and you can make your Web site an important facet of your publicity program while selling your books directly to the public.

SPAWN Webmaster

~ Virginia Lawrence, SPAWN's Webmaster, is a technical writer, editor, and professional webmaster who publishes both in print and online. She can be reached at or at SPAWN's Website,



The new SPAWN membership directories will be printed and sent out sometime in March 1999. Send in any new information on your name, address and telephone, fax and e-mail numbers. You may also advertise your books, products or services in the directory. Ad rates are: Quarter page (4½" wide

x 2" long): $30

Half page (4½" wide x 3¾" long): $50

Full page (4½" wide x 7½" long): $90

Back cover of directory (4½" x 7½"): $125

Please send this material to:

Ruth A. Hibbard, 1191 Sunnycrest Avenue, Ventura, CA 93003

(805) 654-1294 ¨ Fax: (805) 642-6168 ¨ e-mail:

Member News

Tana Sommer has launched the first issue of her quarterly poetry journal "Voices Found." To obtain the Winter 1999 edition and/or subscription information, call Tana at (805) 962-4581. If you are interested in submitting poems for future issues, please send an SASE for guidelines.


Poetry Contest

We're happy to announce that we had 71 entries in SPAWN's Poetry Contest. About two-thirds of the entries were in the non-rhyming category. The poems are now in the hands of the judges and we will announce the winners in the April newsletter.


Membership in the Small Publishers Association of North America (SPAN) is $95 per year. As SPAWN is a partner of SPAN, our members can join for only $60. SPAN's phone number is (719) 395-4790; fax is (719) 395-8374. E-mail:




Popular Articles
on Writing, Editing
Publishing &


spawn spawn