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SPAWNews Archives

SPAWNews, September, 2004

Wendy Dager, Editor

For contributions to the newsletter and Letters to the Editor, please e-mail the editor of SPAWNews: Editor@spawn.org.

Those of you who are SPAWN members, be sure to go to the first page of the site, http://www.spawn.org 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

- Join Us in Santa Barbara

- Market Update

- Chapter Reports

- Book Review

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

- Member Web Site of the Month

- Member News

- Reflections on Dust Jacket Copy

- Opportunities

- Contests and Awards

- Events and More

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Editor’s Note

Agents: A True Story

By Wendy Dager

The following appeared as a posting in the SPAWN Members Only forum. The difficulty getting a reliable agent is an issue I’ve addressed before, but I believe some of my recent experiences with agents are worth sharing. The posting has been edited for space. My response appears below.

"Why has no one mentioned the literary agent? Surely, we can aspire to get deals the old-fashioned way. I recently finished a novel. A friend had a connection. It may come to naught, but it seemed a good way to go. I (also) attended a seminar through one of the writing schools here in NYC on getting published, which was run by an agent. Cost under $200, and he told us we were welcome to send him a query and synopsis. These things seem worthwhile, though two months from now I may be singing a different, more dirge-like tune. Has anyone had success going with an agent—or abysmal failure? Tell all!"

Although primarily a nonfiction writer, I did manage to churn out a humorous mystery novel three years ago. It didn’t take me long. I wrote it for fun, and when it came out OK, I decided to shop it to literary agents and the few remaining small publishers who take unagented submissions. Self-publishing never occurred to me. Generally, people that self-publish nonfiction have a built-in niche, along with a marketing plan. Fiction, however, is a whole ‘nother ballgame. I wouldn’t even attempt to publish and market my own fiction. So, the hunt began for an agent.

Like the woman who wrote the posting, I first sent my synopsis to an agent I’d met at a writers’ conference, which took place a year earlier, in a hotel. She’d apparently forgotten the brief and—uh—urgent meeting we had while waiting in line in the ladies’ restroom. She didn’t respond to my query, which I sent twice. Next, I pulled names of agents from the Writer’s Market. As most of us are aware, one of the biggest mistakes writers make is not following guidelines, so I chose agents who were open to my style of writing. I received a stack of form rejection letters, some right away, some months later. A few of the letters were crafted to look personalized, which I imagine is a psychological ploy to lessen the blow to our fragile-but-large writer/artiste egos. One agent liked the synopsis enough to ask me to send the entire manuscript, which cost $8 to ship. She kept it for review for three months. I waited. Then I finally telephoned—usually a no-no—and she told me that she was sorry; she liked it all right, but didn’t "love" it enough to represent it. I’d hear that very line several more times, but none of the agents shared the secret of how I could change my novel so it would become loveable.

Then, miraculously, an agent I’d never heard of contacted me. I believe she was a SPAWNews subscriber who read that I was looking for a publisher. She worked for a well-known literary agency, but was striking out on her own. She seemed legitimate and, at that point, I was—well—desperate. The one thing I’d learned from shopping my book was that, no matter how many seminars you attend where agents are lively guest speakers, they are not clamoring to read every writers’ first novel—just the ones that appeal to them, and that number is very low. The agent sent me a contract. Again, I had no reason not to have confidence in her. Then she started e-mailing me articles about the bad state of the publishing industry. She’d also send e-mails now and then that listed which publisher had rejected my novel. That’s when I became suspicious. According to our contract, she was entitled to ask me for "reasonable expenses," including photocopying and postage, but she never did. Then I got the e-mail informing me that she was moving out of state and could no longer represent me. She said she’d refer me to an agent friend, but—no surprises here—didn’t send the contact information.

I was discouraged, but, a few months later, I unfolded myself from the fetal position and started querying a new round of agents. Two were interested in seeing the manuscript. One has held it for four months with nary a peep; the other is now my agent. She sent me prompt e-mails, a contract, editorial comments, and I’ve already been billed for one of those pesky reasonable expenses. I’m confident again, but I remain cautious. She could be the most fabulous agent in the entire world, but there has to be a publisher who loves my novel enough to go to the expense of printing and marketing it. What’s amazing is that, with all the time-consuming, gut-wrenching, ego-bashing obstacles facing a first-time novelist, getting an agent isn’t even the hard part.

–Wendy Dager is editor of SPAWNews. She welcomes comments from SPAWNews subscribers. E-mail her at wendy@spawn.org.

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Letters

Dear Executive Director:

I hope SPAWN’s mission statement applies to writers who live abroad. I am a Canadian journalist/writer with American roots and am currently living in Europe. I have written several unpublished works (Note: the stories were described here) and I am now seriously searching to have my works read and then, hopefully, published. I am willing to sign a release form or pay SPAWN’s membership fees in order to have my unsolicited material read. Any advice you would have to further enhance my possibilities would deeply be appreciated.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Best Wishes,

A Potential member in Italy

Hi Potential Member:

Your stories sound riveting. I can imagine that you enjoyed the writing—the most fun part. Now, you are entering into the second phase—finding a way to publish your books. But the third phase is the most difficult and time-consuming—promoting/marketing your books.

SPAWN is not a publishing company. We are a networking organization through which authors like you can receive information and resources to help you through the publishing maze. Of course, I recommend joining SPAWN and partaking of our online SPAWN discussion group and member forum, the Market Update posted in the member area each month (this 10-plus page update is loaded with industry trends and information), and, of course, a free monthly newsletter that is jam-packed with news you can use.

In the meantime, I would suggest that you read a good book on how to prepare your books for publication and how to find a publisher for them. SPAWN founder, Mary Embree's book, "The Author's Toolkit" (Allworth Press, 2004) is excellent. There is also a great deal to be gleaned from my book, "The Successful Writer's Handbook" (http://www.matilijapress.com). You will receive this book as a free gift when you join SPAWN.

Once you have read about the world of publishing, how to land a publisher, etc., I suggest you go to a large bookstore near you and locate books similar to yours. Find out who published them and contact those publishers. You will also find publishers listed in "Writer's Market" and "Literary Market Place." Both books are in the reference section at your local library. You can purchase "Writer's Market" for around $30. The 2005 edition will be out in September.

Read the publisher's listing in these reference books to learn what kind of books they publish. Then request a copy of the publisher's guidelines for writers or submission guidelines before submitting your work. While there are certain similarities among publishers' guidelines, most want to see a query letter first. Others want something just a little different. You'll want to fine-tune your submissions to each publisher. Be aware that publishers may have size requirements as well. For example, you won't want to try to sell your 100,000-word book to a publisher that publishes only books in the 40,000 to 60,000-word range.

If this doesn't confuse the heck out of you, it should give you a good start toward the process of finding a publisher for your books. And be forewarned that, whether you land a traditional publisher or self-publish your book, you will be expected to participate in promoting your book. So it would be wise to start studying up on how to promote a book. There's lots of information on the SPAWN Web site on this subject as well as in the books I have recommended.

I hope this has helped.

Good luck,

Patricia Fry, President

SPAWN (Small Publishers, Artists and Writers Network)

http://www.spawn.org

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Join Us in Santa Barbara

We still have booth space for one member who wants to sell books or promote a writing/publishing-related business at the Santa Barbara Book Festival. For just $60, you can spend the day with other SPAWN members, get tons of exposure for your books or business and even make some sales. For $60, you get 1/4 of a table on which to display your books and promo material (approximately 2 feet x 2 1/2 feet). Or maybe you are already signed up for the book festival and would like to have 1/2 booth rather than 1/4. $60 will buy you more space.

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

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SPAWN Market Update

By Patricia Fry

The September Market Update, appearing in the Member’s Only area of the SPAWN Web site reports on changes involving 18 magazines and publishing houses. We've posted several opportunities for authors, freelance writers and artists in this edition. We also feature excerpts from an article by Tom and Marilyn Ross called, "How to Choose a Marketable Subject." As if that isn't enough, be sure to read Patricia Fry's interview with successful greeting card writer, Sandra Miller Louden.

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

  • A creative writing genre has been almost completely overlooked.
  • Where to submit manuscripts with a very good chance of publication.
  • Why on earth you would urge writers to become "lurkers".
  • Where to get your free downloadable self-publishing strategies.
  • What makes a marketable writing subject.
  • Powerful tips on succeeding as a greeting card writer.
  • Which publisher is looking for politically-incorrect manuscripts.
  • Name of the magazine looking for a health and fitness editor.
  • The newspaper syndicate looking for nonfiction ideas.
  • How to contact the literary agency specializing in nonfiction and open to submissions.
  • Where to submit your science fiction and humor books.
  • How self-promoting can raise your royalty percentage with a publisher.
  • Where to submit your game ideas.

Whew! What a lot of information.

To gain access to the incredibly informative SPAWN Market Update, you must be a member of SPAWN. Go to http://www.spawn.org/members.htm 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, http://www.spawn.org/private.

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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 Patricia@spawn.org.

Austin

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 Tami@spawn.org.

Baltimore

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, Ramona@spawn.org.

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Book Review

Make a Real Living as a Freelance Writer: How to Win Top Writing Assignments

By Jenna Glatzer

0-9722026-5-x

Nomad Press (2004)

The allure of the writer’s life has never been as apparent as it is today. More and more people are walking away from traditional jobs in order to live their dream as a writer. Folks retire so they can finally write that book that’s been rolling around in them for years. People of all ages are figuring out how to earn a living as a writer. And authors such as Jenna Glatzer are making it all possible.

To read the full review of Make a Real Living as a Freelance Writer: How to Win Top Writing Assignments, go to http://www.spawn.org/books/books_write_freelance_writer.htm.

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Article

The Clear Guide to Online Business: Fifth Step in Developing a Web Site

By Virginia Lawrence

A well-done Web site is a marketing vehicle. The site must communicate properly to the target market.

Read about how to determine your specific Web page's target market at http://www.spawn.org/internet/clearguide5.htm.

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Member Web Site of the Month

For SPAWN member Alyce Wilson, her Web site, the online literary quarterly Wild Violet, http://www.wildviolet.net, fulfilled a long-term dream. For years, she imagined a literary magazine that would bridge the gap between academia and pop culture, bringing the arts to the mainstream, to "democratize the arts."

"As a poet and a writer," she said, "I felt it was important to make a place for poetry in the world." When the World Wide Web came into being in the early '90s, she began to see the possibilities of a highly accessible, low-overhead medium. When she met a Web designer with similar goals, the dream materialized, with the first issue coming out the end of October 2001, featuring poetry, fiction, artwork, humor, essays, reviews, and interviews. Almost immediately, interest grew, and the magazine now regularly publishes work by writers with impressive pedigrees. Wilson is now teaming with her new Web designer to plan a redesign for the fourth volume, due out in October. She is also exploring the possibility of publishing poetry chapbooks. For more information, contact Wilson at wildvioletmagazine@yahoo.com.

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Member News

Torrance CitiCable (channel 3) aired a half-hour program on Katherine Poehlmann, Ph.D. as a result of her winning the Excellence in Literary Arts Award in April 2004. The program was telecast three times daily from July 28 through August 10th. The show is also found on http://www.torrnet.com (streaming audio and video). It is an in-depth biography that shows how her education and writing background led to the award. Dr. Poehlmann was a featured speaker at the annual Common Cause Medical Research Foundation conference in Sudbury, Ontario on August 28th. The keynote speaker was Dr. Harold Clark, who wrote the foreword to Katherine's book, "Rheumatoid Arthritis: The Infection Connection."

Dr. Erika Dreifus announces the debut of The Practicing Writer (http://www.practicing-writer.com), launched on August 1. For more information, see "Opportunities" (below).

Patricia Fry has been invited to speak at the Meet Me In St. Louis Book Festival and Arts and Crafts Fair in St. Louis, MO October 29-31, 2004. She'll talk about book promotion while introducing folks to SPAWN. This event is sponsored by the St. Louis Publishers Association. For more information about SLPA, visit their Web site, http://www.stlouispublishers.org. For information about the Book Festival, http://www.stlouisbookfestival.org.

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Reflections on Dust Jacket Copy

By Richard F.X. O’Connor

I thoroughly enjoyed my first real job in publishing, flap copy writing. I say real because, prior to that, I was a trainee at Doubleday & Company. Back then, the publisher had its executive offices on the corner of Madison Avenue and 57th Street. But those who wrote dust jacket copy were relegated to the low rent district of Garden City, Long Island, in a huge old building (Teddy Roosevelt laid the cornerstone) that once housed the printing presses of Country Life Press.

I was given the galleys for a political thriller entitled "In High Places" by a Canadian author, which I recall thoroughly enjoying. The writer worked for a Toronto newspaper and had previously written one other novel, "Runway 001". In my copy, I called "In High Places" the Canadian "Advise and Consent"—referencing the current smash bestseller of the day by Allen Drury—also a Doubleday author.

A month later, I actually got a thank you note from the author, attached to a memo from his editor, LeBaron Barker, Jr. While I was pleased to have the rare thanks of an author, I was equally impressed that I got a memo from the Executive Editor of Doubleday, the feared and revered Lee Barker.

"In High Places" did as well as one would expect of a book on Canadian politics from an American audience, selling 12,000-plus copies in the U.S. But this was "the good old days" when editors developed authors, betting on the come that the writer would hit it big sooner or later.

Even though the author had another manuscript in Lee Barker’s hands, his career seemed stalled. So he and his wife called a family meeting to review expenses. That Friday evening they agreed to sell a tiny vacation cabin property they owned. And the two daughters agreed to go to public school, dropping out of the private system they were attending. The family tightened its belt.

The following Monday, Lee Barker called the author with news that the third novel had been picked up by Literary Guild as a Main Selection and also bought by a major magazine for first serial. Its title was "Hotel" and the author, Arthur Hailey, would next pen "Airport".

I can honestly say I knew him then. Arthur and his researcher wife Sheila and I remained friends for years to come. In the early ‘70s they invited me to a party celebrating the release of a movie, "Airport ’76," I think. I asked Sheila, saying it was none of my business, if Arthur received money for each Airport movie. She responded, " No, it is none of your business, but he gets $100,000 for each one and I hope they make ten of them."

The author’s tip in all this? Don’t forget to send a handwritten thank you note to anyone you deal with in the publishing process.

–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 http://www.richardfxoconnor.com.

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Opportunities

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

There's a new Internet presence to support your craft and business, especially if you're writing novels, short stories, poetry, essays, or book-length nonfiction. You can now count on The Practicing Writer (http://www.practicing-writer.com), launched on August 1 by Dr. Erika Dreifus. The Web site's goal, Dreifus says, is to provide both inspiration and practical assistance. Visitors may subscribe to a free monthly electronic newsletter that includes up-to-date announcements about literary competitions, grants, fellowships, and residencies. The newsletter also features a "Submission Alerts!!!" section for literary journal theme issues and similar opportunities. A sample copy is available on the Web site.

Addison, Texas-based eWomenNetwork.com, is experiencing dynamic growth, and is interviewing for the following positions:

Full-charge Accountant

Marketing/Sales Coordinator

Manager, Events Services

Local Dallas, Managing Director

Member Services Specialist

Administration Resource Generalist

eWomenNetwork is a powerful community of women-owned businesses and professionals who are committed to supporting and transacting business with women. For more information, http://www.ewomennetwork.com/.

For information on the graduate program in English at National University: http://www.nu.edu/emailcamp/inquiryformmae.html.

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: thru-the-cracks@writeme.com or call 734-332-4940.

Writing-World.com's themed market guides offer 1700 markets in 14 categories, $2.50 per guide, or $25 for the entire set. Women's, health, pets, crafts, travel, trade, literary and more. Details at http://www.writing-world.com/guides/index.shtml.

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 AuthorsLife@aol.com.

Promote your books at http://www.Booksandauthors.net, 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, Booksandauthors@aol.com.

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 TedBlake@family-trust.us. See http://www.family-trust.us 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 stephanie@stephaniemarston.com. 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: wordsinger@aol.com; SASE to P.O. Box 863, Eugene, Oregon 97440, USA; or http://www.cupofcomfort.com.

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Contests and Awards

Read about the latest contests at: http://www.spawn.org/contests.htm.

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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 all about the coming events at: http://www.spawn.org/events.htm.

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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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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

Website: http://www.spawn.org

Telephone: 805-646-3045

Fax: 805-640-8213

Wendy Dager

SPAWNews Editor, Membership and Database Coordinator

e-mail: editor@spawn.org

Virginia Lawrence, Ph.D.

SPAWN Webmaster

e-mail: virginia@spawn.org

Virginia Lawrence, Ph.D.

SPAWN Executive Director

e-mail: execdir@spawn.org

Patricia Fry

SPAWN President

e-mail: patty@spawn.org

Advisory Council

Carol Doering

Dallas Glenn

Rosalie Heacock

Literary Agent

Andora Hodgin

Writer, Editor, Publicist

Irwin Zucker

Book Publicist

Jim Lane

Author

Marcia Grad-Powers

Publisher

Melvin Powers

Publisher

Dan Poynter

Author, Publisher

Jean Wade

Author

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

MISSION STATEMENT

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 Editor@spawn.org.

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

execdir@spawn.org

 

 

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