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SPAWNews, August, 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 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

- A Note About1stBooks/Authorhouse

- Reader Request

- Santa Barbara Book Festival Booth Space

- Free e-Book

- Market Update

- Chapter Reports

- Article: How to Evaluate Writing Contests

- Article: The Clear Guide to a Publisher's Web Site  Step 4 in Developing a Web Site

- Article: Viral Enthusiasm

- Opportunities

- Contests and Awards

- Events and More

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Editor’s Note

I hadn’t taught a class in a while, which is why I balked when the director of community education at a local college called to see if I were interested in leading a 3-hour Saturday course. I felt a little rusty, and I didn’t want to let down students who’d paid forty-five bucks to hear me talk about writing greeting cards.

But I went, and it was fun. The students seemed to enjoy it as much as I did. I’d forgotten what an exciting business it is to write greeting card copy, so it was a great feeling to share that excitement with people who weren’t familiar with it. It helped to script my talk so I didn’t fall too far off track—since my mind goes a mile a minute, usually in multiple directions. I injected the lecture with my trademark offbeat humor, including—please don’t tell my oft-embarrassed kids—my Valley Girl impression. I also had the class try a writing exercise, which was especially interesting for me, because I learned something about each of my students.

It also made me realize that there are talented SPAWN members in many fields of writing, art, and publishing who could do the same thing—teach others about their respective crafts, and help them find the motivation to start on a path that may become a career. If you don’t mind public speaking, I encourage you to call your local college, parks & recreation department, or extension program to see if there’s a place for you as a teacher or lecturer. The best part is that you’ll be energized by your own words. –Wendy Dager is editor of SPAWNews. Her Web site is

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Dear Patricia,

I haven't belonged to SPAWN for about 2 years–have been immersed in a doctoral program. I've missed the SPAWN newsletters and materials very much. As I emailed to Virginia, it's like coming home to be a part of SPAWN again. Thanks again, Patricia.



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I just read your excellent response to Carol in the newsletter, and I agree with much of what you've said. My one caveat would be that not every writer is cut out to be the kind of marketer who can succeed with self-publishing, particularly in a highly competitive area like fiction.

I do have one favor to ask, though. Could you please not refer to the POD printers as "POD publishers?"

Zumaya uses POD for any number of reasons, not the least being that it's so much less wasteful than doing print runs. We are fighting an uphill battle for recognition of the quality of our books and our integrity as a publisher because everyone equates the printing method with subsidy publishing per iUniverse, AuthorHouse et al. Don't even get me started on PublishAmerica. You'd be amazed how much of my time I spend explaining to submitting writers the difference between us and them because of this.

These companies are, at best, book packagers NOT publishers—and I know the book packagers like Booklocker take exception to THAT designation. However, the fact is they all do pretty much the same thing—arrange to get a client's book printed and on the market for a fee. That is a far cry from the traditional definition of non-subsidy publishing.

I realize this may sound like nitpicking, but I assure you it isn't. POD is a legitimate alternative to offset runs and can be a viable one as long as one is willing to work around the problem of higher per-copy cost. Those high prices at the subsidy houses result from their listing with Ingram—the cover prices have to be inflated to compensate for the

60-65% discount in order for the author to make any money. Ditto Amazon and Baker & Taylor. If you check our titles on Amazon, which we submit via Advantage, they are all $7 or more over cover--because Amazon sets that price to acquire their 55%. Which is why they are also all offered via Marketplace at the regular price.

I'm afraid this is one of my major hot buttons, mainly because it makes my job so hard when I put on my marketing hat.

Elizabeth K. Burton, Executive Editor

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Dear Ms. Lawrence,

I am considering working for Authorhouse. I have gathered the following concerns from my research of the company: Frequent employee turnover frustrates customers; more so because the length of time to produce a finished product, even with the advantages of a skilled POD publisher such as AH. The pricing of their books appears high to authors (whether that is accurate or not, I've not determined). Their agreements are more "legalistic" than others, and are strictly adhered to once agreement is reached (fair to be certain, but troubling to first time authors). The cover art production, or the production itself (I'm unclear) is sub-par. My questions to you are: What have I missed or misunderstood (regarding the above), and; what are the three most important things AH could do today, that it does not, to DELIGHT authors?

I am most interested in your insights, both to determine if I have correctly identified challenges and to determine if AH is an employer worthy of my services.


A Potential Employee

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Dear Potential Employee:

Thank you for your inquiry to SPAWN. I forwarded your email to Virginia Lawrence. Since I have been on a personal rant related to AuthorHouse and other POD publishers of late, I wanted to reply, as well.

My concern revolves around author expectations. I believe that authors working with companies such as AuthorHouse are often disappointed with the end results (usually number of books sold, difficulty selling books, etc), because they were not appropriately informed. The authors who use AuthorHouse are generally beginners. They have written a book. They do a little research and find you. They figure it is an easy way to gain fame and fortune through authorship and they plunk down the money.

These authors don't understand their responsibilities in the process. In fact, when a SPAWN member or newsletter subscriber asks me if I would recommend AuthorHouse or any of the other POD self-publishers, I say, "NO." And I tell them the reason. An author who goes this easy route often loses that important sense of intimacy with his/her book. They don't understand the need to put in hundreds of hours over sometimes several years to promote that book. And, yes, most of them don't know how difficult it is to sell their book at the prices AuthorHouse slaps on them. I sit with members at book festivals and see how difficult it is to sell a $15.95 book for $24.95. When I convince the author to lower his/her price, they lose valuable earnings.

The book pricing situation may be remedied by raising the price of production to authors or lowering the profit margin for the company. It has been my experience that a less expensive book sells better, anyway—the overall profit is often more.

Now, I have a suggestion for you and AuthorHouse. My beef is that too many authors who sign up with AuthorHouse have too little information, thus unreasonable expectations. Ideally, AuthorHouse would provide a pamphlet or booklet with each inquiry outlining not only the obligations and responsibilities of AuthorHouse once a contract is signed, but also the obligations and responsibilities of the author who wants to sell numbers of books. The author should be informed as to the current industry trends and the publishing process. For example, no matter how you get your book published—whether you go with a traditional publisher, co-publisher, POD self-publisher or self-publish your book—it is up to the author to promote that book!

An author needs information about how to promote his/her book. And they need to be told that writing the book is the easiest part of the process. Promoting it is the hardest part and it takes time, effort, creativity, persistence and usually some measure of money. There is no way to sugarcoat this fact and it is wrong to attempt to. If you want to have a good relationship with your authors, they must know the truth about book promotion and their responsibilities and they must commit to that responsibility.

Some publishers are handing their authors my book, "Over 75 Good Ideas For Promoting Your Book" (

AuthorHouse should also provide information to potential authors about organizations such as SPAWN (Small Publishers, Artists and Writers Network). Suggest that they join and expend time and energy learning from the vast materials on our site and vast knowledge of our members. You might do your homework and discover other organizations useful to the author. PMA could be one, SPAN is another.

Since the one thing I see lacking in most relationships between an author and AuthorHouse relates to the author's naivety or ignorance, the kind thing for AuthorHouse to do is to guide the author in becoming informed. AuthorHouse will have many more satisfied clients if the client is aware and informed about the publishing process and beyond.

I hope this has helped and good luck.

Patricia Fry, President

SPAWN (Small Publishers, Artists and Writers Network) (for more about me)

Dear Patricia,

Thank you so much for your very detailed reply and generosity of time to compose it. You have convinced me there are strategies I can bring to the table to make AH the publisher of choice for first-time authors.


A Potential Employee

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A Note About1stBooks/Authorhouse

A Note About 1stBooks/AuthorHouse: As of July 2004, The law firm of Robert L. Lewis in Gary, Indiana is seeking participants for a class action law suit against 1st Books Library, which recently changed its name to AuthorHouse. The law firm believes that lstBooks/AuthorHouse may have failed to provide services or products for which writers had paid. The potential suit would seek damages for deception, misrepresentation, and fraud.

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Reader Request

Has anyone used Dragon Naturally Speaking software to write a book? If so, which edition and your comments. Please respond to

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Santa Barbara Book Festival Booth Space

We still have booth space for members who want to sell their books from a SPAWN booth at the Santa Barbara Book Festival. We have one space open to someone who can spend just 1/2 day at the festival (cost $30) and two full day spaces ($60 each). You will get 1/4 of a table on which to display your books and promo material (approximately 2 feet x 21/2 feet).

The Santa Barbara Book Festival is Saturday, September 18 at De La Guerra Plaza in Santa Barbara. If interested, contact Patricia Fry at

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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.

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SPAWN Market Update

By Patricia Fry

The SPAWN Market Update, published in the member area of the SPAWN Web site, is a little short on pages this month, but is tightly packed with value. While a broken foot on the last day of my Caribbean vacation has limited my hours at the computer, my enthusiasm for bringing you useful information is undaunted.

This month’s edition boasts over 20 opportunities for authors, freelance writers, screenwriters, artists and photographers. Zondervan is offering a publishing contract to the winner of their upcoming faith-based manuscript contest. I’ve found jobs for those of you who like to write on the sexy side. Do you need a good cliché? Visit I’ve even included bits and pieces of reviews for Bill Clinton’s book. My featured guest, book publicist, Jennifer Heinly, has a few tips for authors. And you won’t want to miss my article—"Don’t Write That Book." Here’s an excerpt:

"While most of us write from the heart, we must also engage the head. A book is more than something we birthed from a passionate place. If we want to share our message—inspire, educate and/or entertain others through our writing—our book then becomes a product. When you get a book idea—step out of passion mode at least long enough to evaluate your project from an intellectual perspective. Once you have done your homework, then proceed with your heart and your head in perfect harmony."

In this month’s Market Update, you’ll find out about:

  • The new magazine looking for articles on poker, theology, gardening, and more.
  • A publisher interested in fantasy and comic books.
  • Sites where you can pitch your screenplays.
  • Which publications are looking for columnists.
  • Publishers who need illustrators right now.
  • How much money the average writer makes.
  • A book publicist’s tips for authors.
  • Why so many publications fail.
  • How to start off right before you write.
  • How to develop a good "news angle" for the media.

To gain 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

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


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 Tamara Dever will be busy with her new baby. Congratulations, Tami! For meeting information, contact her at


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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Article: How To Evaluate Writing Contests: Six Starter Questions

By Erika Dreifus

At some point in your writing career you will probably encounter the possibility of entering writing contests. As you peruse writing newsletters and magazines, you’ll almost inevitably find listings of competitions. You may very well begin to wonder how to decide whether a given contest is "right" for you and your poetry or prose. There are six "starter" questions you can ask yourself to initiate that process of evaluation.

Read about how to evaluate writing contests at

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Article: The Clear Guide to a Publisher's Web Site

Step 4 in Developing a Web Site

By Virginia Lawrence

As a marketing vehicle, a well-done Web site must focus on a well-defined target market.

Read about how to determine your Web site's target market at

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Article: Viral Enthusiasm

By Richard F.X. O’Connor

By now, every writer should know what sells books. Oprah, you say? Well you are right, but your chances of getting on that show are slim to none. But that didn’t deter one writer I know who equated attending the Santa Barbara Writers Conference with getting an audience with Oprah, because she resides near Saint Babs. How she was going to execute this juxtaposition of neighbors is beyond me. And, she didn’t.

Read about how word of mouth's "Infectious Enthusiasm" is a powerful selling tool for your book at

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

Live author interviews are available Mondays and Thursdays noon to 1 p.m. Eastern Standard Time and Live on Thursday night, from 7 to 8 p.m. Eastern Standard Time. Artist First records the program so that you can have your own version of the interview for credentials, recycling publicity, play it on your site with a tuner that Artist First provides, and learn from it. Plus your interview is rebroadcast at another time. Suggested donation of $25 to be sent to Artist First World Radio Network, 1062 Parkside Dr., Alliance, OH 44601, Attention: Scott. For more information: or call 734-332-4940.

Author's Life is a new online e-Magazine looking for published authors to profile and interview. They will also be doing book reviews. This is a free service to all authors. Interested authors should email their bio and a brief summary of their book to Cindy Butler at

Promote your books at, a "2004 Writer's Digest selected Best site on the Internet." Editor’s note: There is a fee to have an "Author’s Page" on this site. For more information,

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

San Luis Obispo Nightwriters 15th Annual Short Story Contest. Stories must begin with the words "All the warning signs were there." For more information,

The DIY Film Festival has issued the official call for entries to its annual event honoring independent films from the cutting-edge of do-it-yourself storytelling. Dramatic, documentary, animation, student and comedy feature and short films made after Jan. 1, 2001 and shot in DV, Beta, HDTV, 16mm or 35mm will be considered. All entries must be created using commonly available tools of independent filmmaking without financing from a major film studio or corporate backer. A registration form is available online at Upcoming DIY events: Aug. 12 DIY Convention in San Francisco, Aug. 17 CLUB DIY in Los Angeles, Oct. 2-3 DIY Book Festival in Los Angeles.

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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.

Focus on the Masters in Ventura, California has ongoing classes in visual, performing and literary arts and crafts for people of all ages and abilities. Private instruction in youth strings, vocal, and piano are available by appointment. Customized classes are also available. From now through 9/30/04 receive a 25% discount when you and a friend register for the same class. Go to the FOTM Web site at for a complete list of classes and to register.

The 8th Annual Hollywood Pitch Festival™ takes place August 7-8 at Le Meridien Hotel in Beverly Hills, CA. For more information,

7th annual Ojai Playwrights Conference. August 8-15. It will be held at the Zalk Theatre at Happy Valley School, 8585 Ojai Santa Paula Road in Ojai. For more information or 805-640-0400.

Write and Shine! workshop explores the power of the spoken word, the differences between the written word and the spoken word, and how to deliver the words in a way that encourages readers and listeners to simultaneously hear and feel the words. Accomplished poets, storytellers, and attendees share and critique your work. Facilitators include noted spoken word artists and educators Tonya Marie Evans, Stephanie Renee McNeal, L.I.F.E. and Zenzele. August 14th, 2004,10 AM to Noon, Phebe Commons, 6703 Germantown Avenue, Suite 200, Philadelphia, PA 19119, $50.00 ($75 on-site, space permitting). For more information: or

Next FYOS seminar: Literary Law Boot Camp: Classroom Series – October. Based on the Literary Law Boot Camp™, this is a 3- part classroom series held on three consecutive Saturdays. This series explores in greater depth the information about copyright, trademark, and publishing industry contracts covered in the LLBC workshop and gives the participants more individual attention and more substantive materials. For information:

The 5th Annual Central Coast Book & Author Festival is set for Sunday September 12 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. This free family event will take place in San Luis Obispo's beautiful and historic Mission Plaza. For more information,

2004 Austin Film Festival & Screenwriters Conference takes place October 14-21. To register:

The Mid-Western Christian Book Fair (MCBF) takes place Iowa City, Iowa on October 1-2, 2004 and will confer awards to Christian authors, publishers, bookshops, media houses, and Christian book patrons. For more information:

A one-day summit retreat takes place in Walnut Creek Ohio On October 2, 2004 so Christian Writers can have the opportunity to meet other leaders, learn, and share your experiences. Please visit for more information.

The Small Publishers Marketing Conference promises to teach authors and publishers how to increase book sales, generate greater profitability, and boost their professional standing. SPAN's (Small Publishers Association of North America) Ninth Annual Conference is designed to provide attendees a year's worth of marketing, promotional, and operational concepts in three days. Held at the Marriott Philadelphia Renaissance Hotel Airport, October 22-24, the conference will be filled with intensive sessions to get publishers' promotional activities focused, well planned, and aimed for success. The Small Publishers Association of North America is the second largest nonprofit trade association for small publishers in the world. For details about the conference visit For more information, call Jennifer at 719-395-4790, or e-mail

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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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SPAWNews 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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