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SPAWNews, July, 2004

Wendy Dager, Editor

For contributions to the newsletter and Letters to the Editor, please e-mail 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

- Letters

- Free E-book

- Santa Barbara Book & Author Festival

- Q & A

- Market Update

- Chapter Reports

- Book Review

- Article: The Clear Guide to Online Business  Step 3 in Developing a Web Site

- Member News

- On Book Reviews

- Opportunities

- Contests and Awards

- Events and More

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Editor’s Note

It was unbelievably difficult to drop off my kid at college. Probably harder for me than for most parents, because my kid is only 12. No, she’s not a genius—even though I’d like to think so. She’s taking a summer course at the University of California at Irvine. She’ll live in the dorms for a week, and will attend classes in law, ethics and mock trial, just like a "real" college student. The kid thinks she might be a lawyer some day, and wanted to have a mini-experience to help her decide if that’s the career for her.

When I was her age, I wanted to be a writer. Back then, there were no writing camps or programs or academies for young people. So, I read a few books on writing and just kept at it, selling my first piece in my early twenties. When I got older, I began attending classes and seminars and lectures. Not all of them were satisfying, but there were some that sparked an idea that led to another sale. Yet, even the programs that didn’t lead to a paycheck helped me to continue on my chosen path.

Every issue of SPAWNews lists many conferences, events, and opportunities in which you may choose to participate. I encourage you to take advantage of these programs, because you never know which will be the one generating the sparks that start your creative machinery. And, in about fifteen years, if you need a lawyer to look over that big publishing contract, give my daughter a call. –Wendy Dager is editor of SPAWNews. Her Web site is

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Note: This letter is a response to the editor’s column about her experience with literary agents.

I am almost exactly in the same boat as you—only I don't mind being negative as much. I call it being a REALIST. Letting beginners go through the paces with either rose-colored glasses or blinders on is doing them a disservice. They rely on us more experienced writers to tell them what to expect. Bursting overly optimistic bubbles is a necessary evil.

Diana C.

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Free e-Book

"Creative Self-Publishing in the World Marketplace" is an e-book being offered at no cost to SPAWN members by SPAWN member, Marshall Chamberlain of Grace Publishing Group. In the foreword of this book, Dan Poynter says, "It's an indispensable companion to the Self-Publishing Manual." To read more about it and download this book, go to the SPAWN Member Area at

This is an added benefit of SPAWN membership. The printed version of this book costs $19.95 in bookstores. This is a great deal for all of us, thanks to Grace Publishing Group. This is a limited time offer. You have until September 1, 2004 to download the e-book.

Site visitors and subscribers, you must become a SPAWN member to get into the SPAWN Member Area. To join, go to and click on the "Join SPAWN Now" button in the upper left corner of the page.

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Santa Barbara Book & Author Festival

SPAWN members can reserve a space in the SPAWN booth at the Santa Barbara Book & Author Festival. This festival will take place on September 18, 2004.

Read the full details at

If you are interested in personally participating in the Santa Barbara Festival of Books, please contact before July 15, 2004. Subscribers, you must become a SPAWN member in order to participate. Go to and click on "Join SPAWN Now." Dues are $45 per year. You get:

  • a free $15.95 printed book ("The Successful Writer's Handbook")
  • the e-book "Creative Self-Publishing in the World Marketplace"
  • numerous other benefits with your membership, including the chance to participate in the SPAWN booth at the Santa Barbara Book Festival.

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Q & A

I am currently working with an illustrator (who is also a member) to prepare my manuscript for a children's illustrated storybook. I would love to have any feedback from authors who have published with Authorhouse, formerly 1stBooks. Self-publishing is new to me and I need to know how best to proceed and what the pitfalls might be. Any information out there would be much appreciated.

Thank you,


Hi Carol,

Are you a part of the SPAWNDiscuss? If so, be sure to post this question there so that members will see it. If you are connected to SPAWNDiscuss (this is an option for members), you just go to I know that we have several members who have used Authorhouse (1st Books)

Also, you might want to read the July SPAWN Market Update. It will be posted right around July 1. I give my opinion and some startling facts about POD Publishers.

I would MUCH rather see an author self-publish than use a POD Publisher. Too many authors I know who published through a POD Publisher have no sense of intimacy with their book, thus they are not motivated to do the necessary promotion. Some of them complain to me that it is too difficult and costly to get copies of their books, so they just sit back and let their POD Publisher take care of promotion. News Flash! A POD Publisher does not care about selling your book nearly as much as you do.

POD Publishers and, it seems, Authorhouse, in particular, set the prices of their authors' books so high that their books are not an easy sell. And several POD Pub authors that I know are not happy with the packaging for their book. I believe that you can pay more to use your own cover design. But unless you've had a professional design your cover, most times even that doesn't work in your favor. I would be particularly careful using a POD Publisher for a children's book when the cover is so important in attracting readers.

Many POD authors do not bother to have their book edited and the finished product does not get good reviews and does not impress the buying public.

Have you tried to land a publisher? There are many good publishers, other than the big few that everyone thinks of first, who are looking for good projects. Have you approached Barefoot Books, Front Street, Peachtree Publishers or Stillwater Publishing, for example? Stillwater claims that they like helping authors who have been rejected by the mainstream publishers.

Or why not take control of your project and self-publish? Then you are in the driver's seat. You make all of the decisions and you reap all of the profits. It is my experience that it is cheaper, in most cases, to self-publish than to go with a POD Publisher. Use a POD printer (not the same as a POD Publisher) and have as few or as many as you want printed.

You'll find an easy-to-follow guide to self-publishing in my "Successful Writer's Handbook." Basically, self-publishing means establishing a publishing company--obtaining a fictitious business name through your county seat, copyrighting your book (of course), getting a barcode (easily done and very inexpensive if you choose the right company), arranging for the library cataloguing information (useful to libraries), getting your book listed in Books in Print (vital--particularly for bookstores sales) and ordering a block of International Standard Book Numbers so you can assign one to this book. Of course, then, you locate a printer to work with--we recommend some here at SPAWN.

Becoming an author is easy these days. But there's more to success as an author than simply writing a book. It takes a commitment of time, but also of heart.

I know some very unhappy authors and most of them have used a POD Publisher. They're unhappy because the reality of publishing didn't live up to their expectations. They thought that once they threw some money at their project, it would become a success. Most have gone back to work their day jobs or they are writing new books. Few continue to promote their books. They are discouraged. Their books are not selling well because the POD Publisher has priced them too high.

In my article for the July issue of the SPAWN Market Update, I reveal the ugly truth. According to a recent survey, Xlibris (another POD Publisher) has published nearly 10,300 titles and the average sale per title is only 130 copies. Not impressive, is it?

Publishing is a business. A traditional publisher is in the business to make money. POD Publishers have created a business around publishing books for independent authors. When you write a book and expect to sell it to the public no matter what avenue you choose, you have entered into a business. And this is the fact that most authors forget.

I advise you to look at yourself as a businesswoman and your book as a product. Make your decisions from this perspective and I think you'll do just fine.

Wishing you success,


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SPAWN Market Update

By Patricia Fry

Each month since December 2001 we’ve posted an 8- to 14-page update reflecting industry trends and information for writers and publishers. We include interviews with editors, publishers, agents and other writers and a tip for authors and/or writers.

If you are a SPAWNews subscriber only, this would be an excellent time for you to make that simple transition to SPAWN member. Not only do we have another book festival opportunity coming up, but this month’s Market Update (for members only) is filled with goodies for the author and the freelance writer.

I have 9 new magazines to tell you about. You won’t find these listed in the 2004 Writer’s Market. How would you like to have Oprah’s and Dr. Phil’s address? I can tell you how to get it. I also report a fantastic free promotional opportunity for authors with books coming out between September and December of this year. Are POD Publishers Doing Authors Any Favors? Read the July issue of the Market Update in the Member’s Only area of the SPAWN Web site and find out.

This issue also features an interview with Marcia Schutte, founder of Nonetheless Press. Here’s an excerpt to entice you. Find the rest of the story in the July issue of the SPAWN Market Update. I asked Marcia what type of author she likes working with. She said:

"A good manuscript is not enough. Writers must convince me that they will play a long-term active role in marketing their books. My acquisition assessments are heavily weighted toward writers’ abilities and enthusiasm for promoting and marketing their books. Many writers are dismayed by this approach, and feel that sales are the responsibility of the publisher. No one is as passionate about your book as you, the author. No one knows your book like you do. Ignoring the fact that authors sell books generally results in lackluster sales."

Here are her comments about the difference between landing a large publisher and going with a smaller publishing house.

"I’ve listened to numerous authors complain about their experiences with large publishing houses. Essentially, a book has six to twelve weeks to prove itself. If it doesn’t sell through the projected volume (generally 25,000 copies or more), the book is removed from the shelves and many times the entire print run is pulped. It’s an enlightening experience to visit Ingram in Nashville or Baker & Taylor in New Jersey and see the army of dumpsters filled to overflowing with books to be destroyed."

And she offers this advice to authors:

"The most important item on my acquisitions questionnaire is "Why would people buy your book?"

In this month’s JULY Market Update, you’ll discover:

  • Where you can earn up to $2000 for an article
  • Common mistakes made when writing a novel
  • How you can get the Top 50 list of media contacts, including Oprah
  • Where authors can sign up for an interview to be printed in the Ingram catalog
  • How rising postal rates affect new magazine launches
  • Reasons why to avoid publishing with a POD Publisher (not a POD Printer)
  • Two fascinating SPAWN members sharing their expertise
  • That entering contests could move your writing career forward in many ways
  • Important steps to take if you are interested in starting a publishing company

In order to have access to the incredibly informative SPAWN Market Update, you must be a member of SPAWN. Go to and then click on "Join SPAWN Now." Many members say that they received a return on their membership dues threefold or more within a short time of joining SPAWN and taking advantage of the opportunities available to them.

All back issues of the Market Update are also available in the Member's Only area of the SPAWN Web site,

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SPAWN Chapter Reports

Many of you have expressed an interest in joining a SPAWN chapter. If there is no chapter near you, join with other members or nonmembers and start one. If you would like to meet with other SPAWN members, contact Patricia Fry at


There was no June meeting for the Austin chapter due to several members’ attendance at the BookExpo America in Chicago. We will resume our regular schedule at the July 7 meeting. Tamara Dever is the Austin Chapter Leader and a SPAWN board member. Contact her at

Note: The Austin chapter is seeking a temporary leader or two co-leaders to take over the group for a few months during the fall as Tami will be busy with her new baby. Congratulations, Tami!


If you are interested in attending SPAWN chapter meetings in the Baltimore, MD area, or wish to be a guest speaker at a meeting, please contact Ramona Davis, Baltimore Chapter Leader,

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Book Review By Patricia Fry

Writing With Cats

By Gerald J. Schiffhorst, Ph.D

Butler House Publications, 2003


If you are a writer who loves cats, this book is for you. Gerald Schiffhorst has taught writing and literature for 40 years, but he has just recently begun to appreciate the value that his cat, Lizzie brings to his work. In fact, he considers her his "muse that mews."

To read the full review of Writing with Cats, go to

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The Clear Guide to a Publisher's Web Site

Step 3 in Developing a Web Site

By Virginia Lawrence

Before you consider the design for your Web site, the graphics, the navigation, or the colors, you must decide on your goal.

Read about how determine your specific Web site goal at

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SPAWN Member News

Note: Please send your Member News to It must be received by the 15th of the month for inclusion in the following month’s SPAWNews.

Carol Doering attended The 18th World Congress of Poets, Plainview, Texas the week of June 21, where she was on a panel featuring Dr. Peggy Z. Lynch, Poet Laureate of the Paris American Academy. Carol discussed self-publishing poetry and also read her poetry to the Congress. The 18th Congress of World Poets is affiliated with and sponsored by The United Poets Laureate International. Carol was also honored by the California South State Association of National League of American Pen Women, Inc. and received their State Women of Achievement Award. She is currently president of the NLAPW Simi Valley, CA branch.

James Barrett will sign his true crime book, "Ma Duncan," at Local Hero Bookstore in Ojai, CA Saturday, July 3 at 4:00. Ma Duncan was the last woman to be executed in California. In the 1950s, this Santa Barbara mother openly auditioned locals to kill her pregnant daughter-in-law because of a twisted obsession with her son. Barrett, a retired law enforcement officer, constructed this fascinating book from scores of trial documents and newspaper accounts. The book is illustrated with chilling photos of Ma Duncan and some of the other players in this incredibly shocking story. For order information,

Sandra Cropsey’s play, "Playmate," has been named an Honorable Mention in the Jane Chambers Playwriting Award for 2004. "Playmate" will be included in the list of winners with their synopses distributed at the annual Women and Theatre Pre-conference and ATHE conference, held this year in Toronto. This list of winners is also distributed to media and theatres that produce original work and work by women.

Jeanette Fisher, Design Psychology, 20-year designer, author, teacher helps real estate investors manifest their dreams in her book "Doghouse to Dollhouse for Dollars" Fisher is also writing another book on real estate and is offering free coaching in exchange for your success story. "Sell Your Home for Top Dollar FAST! Interior Design Secrets for Optimum Selling in Any Market" is coming out this summer. For your tips and advice, e-mail or see the Web site for more information,

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On Book Reviews

By Richard F.X. O’Connor

I don’t know about you, but my reason for reading book reviews is to get the gist of the content to see whether I might one day read it. I say "one day" because I certainly am not rushing out to buy hardcover books whose prices run between $25-35 before discounts, nor trade paperbacks that average $14.95. If the review sufficiently intrigues me, then one day, I might borrow a friend’s copy. Or I might get it at the library. Perhaps it will pop up at a flea market. Truth be told, I can’t remember the last time I bought a hardcover book. Then again, I haven’t been to the movies since the admission price hit $6.

It’s not that I’m cheap, but there are niceties and necessities. The latter include food and shelter… and cat litter.

Don’t get me wrong: I read all the time. For example I’m still trying to get through all those book club premiums we all got years ago, still adorning my bookshelf. Winston Churchill must have been paid by the word. I managed to wade through three-and-a-half books of one of his several five-book series—this one on the history of WWII—only to realize that my diligence was more slavishness than learning about history. Recall that it was Churchill who said: "History will be kind to me for I intend to write it."

But that’s not the point of this column—book reviews are.

While the average reader is simply trying to encapsulate information, it appears that book reviewers (AKA critics) forever have been more interested in criticism as an art form. That is self-serving. The longest running recent example is that the New York Times Book Review—and its detractors—have spent well over six months and tons of ink on the criteria for selecting a new editor of the TBR. Well, that person has been named, though I can’t for the life of me recall who she/he is or her/his credentials. (If those pronouns look stilted, they are, and a hard example of the ridiculousness of being PC.)

If the average book reader religiously read the TBR, the New York Review of Books, New Yorker book reviews, the LA Times Book Review, New Republic, Atlantic et al – not to mention the Guardian and other foreign Pooh-Bahs of taste – then when would that consumer find time to read the books being reviewed?

Worse yet, it has been my experience that critics are more interested in displaying their own dazzling erudition or slicing up a fellow author, than serving their audience, us. It makes one weep for the good old days when reviewers created blurbs for an author’s dust jacket.

As for me, I hardly read book reviews, either. Rereading Shakespeare, Mark Twain and Joe Heller keep me too busy.

–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

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

Family Trust Publishers is gathering computer addiction research and stories. They are also compiling a book about surviving devastating illnesses and overcoming serious disabilities. If you have a story to share send it to See for more information.

Stephanie Marston, Co-author of "Chicken Soup for the Empowered Woman’s Soul" is seeking stories for "Girls Gone Stupid: Dumb Things Smart Women Do." For guidelines contact Maximum word count is 1200 words. Stories must be received no later than October 15, 2004.

The critically acclaimed and bestselling "Cup of Comfort" book series provides a welcome home—and an ongoing paid and bylined publishing opportunity—for compelling creative nonfiction stories. Written by people from all walks of life, Cup of Comfort stories are carefully selected for publication based on originality, creativity, emotional impact, and substance. For guidelines:; SASE to P.O. Box 863, Eugene, Oregon 97440, USA; or

To receive a free issue of Working Writer by e-mail, send your request to, or go to

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Contests and Awards

Read about the latest contests at:

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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.

Read about the coming events at

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SPAWN is a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization.

Donations are tax deductible.

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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.

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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


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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