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SPAWNews, September, 1997 - Archives Available


September 27, 1997

9 a.m.-noon at Ventura TowneHouse

Melvin Powers, Publisher/owner of the Wilshire Book Company, will present a seminar on "How To Sell Your Books Using Mail Order Techniques." Powers has sold millions of copies of Psychocybernetics, Think and Grow Rich, and a multitude of other titles he has published over the past three decades. His secret is Mail order! Powers was earning $1000 a month in sales by the age of 16. Although the majority of his books are now sold in bookstores, he still has many titles that sell primarily through mail order and the Internet. If you want to learn his secrets to successful book-selling, this seminar is a must! Registration and continental breakfast beginning at 9 a.m. Program starts at 9:30 sharp! The fee is $30 for members and $38 for nonmembers. Advance, prepaid registrants get a $5 discount. Call 805-643-2403 for reservations.

November 15, 1997

9 a.m.-noon at Ventura TowneHouse

Joan L. Jones, award-winning fiction and nonfiction author and columnist, teaches writing at UCLA, Cal State Northridge, and Pierce College. She will present a seminar on "The Cost of Writing Effectively: Making the Right Decisions." Topics covered will include: Do you listen to friends or take good classes? Attend informal critique groups or serious workshops with credentialed leaders? Write what you feel or what you know? How do you KNOW that you're ABLE to write what you feel? What has this COST you so far in your writing? Rejection and criticism: how do you deal with this significant part of the writing process? The fee is $30 for members, $38 for nonmembers, with $5 discounts on advance paid reservations.


Ivan Hoffman Speaks at SPAWN

When copyrighted material is viewed on the Internet, does its author get a royalty payment every time someone reads it? How would such a payment be collected? At the recent American Bar Association convention in San Francisco, there was general agreement that lawyers need to be ready to deal with rapidly advancing technology, even though traditional wheels of justice tend to move slowly.

A number of computer experts and scientists (including one of the Scots who cloned Dolly the sheep) attended; their presence at a legal convention was itself telling. Sun Microsystems' John Gage told the lawyers the Internet age of today is like the auto age in the 1920's, when there were no traffic laws. "We've got to build the same legal environment for the Internet in the next few years that we did for cars over the past 70 years," Gage said.

Los Angeles attorney Ivan Hoffman, internationally respected in the field of Internet law, has been working at the forefront of this issue for some time. His website at explores an informative and intriguing list of facts about every aspect of copyright law, foreign publishing arrangements, musicians' and artists' rights, distribution deals, Website design problems and intellectual property rights both on and off the Internet. It suits the needs of anyone interested in writing, music, art, publishing, distribution, contractual rights, and particularly the ways emerging technology has changed and continues to change world of creative people.

Mr. Hoffman will be SPAWN's guest speaker at the Ventura Chapter meeting on Sunday, October 19, so SPAWNers can come prepared with ALL those questions.


What do you call a magazine on the Internet? A Webzine, of course. Graphic artist and SPAWN member Janice Penney is premiering Visions, her literary webzine. Submissions of short stories and poetry can be sent by email to or on diskettes mailed to Visions, 3530 Isle Way, Oxnard, CA 93035. File formats should be: .doc or .txt. There is no monetary exchange for publication, but material receives WORLD WIDE exposure. If you have questions, please call Janice at 805/984-8130.


Santa Barbara's venerable bookstore, The Earthling, is in real danger of having to close its doors due to competition from the big chains. Earthling owner Penny Davies is seeking SPAWN's support. So many independent bookstores have gone out of business recently due to publishing industry economics.

Small publishers need the independents, and we need them too, as it is more difficult for small publishers to get their books noticed at big chains. That special Earthling ambiance, which has warmed the hearts and souls of book lovers for 18 years, stands perilously close to eclipse. When you need to make bookstore purchases, please remember your local independent bookstore owners. Please do what you can to support The Earthling.

SPAWN S. B. Writers Group

Santa Barbara Chapter member Dallas Glenn will be facilitating a Writers' Group for SPAWN members of any level—beginner or published—who seek a safe place to read and give feedback. Contact her at 805/899-1174



Mark your calendars for September 21, October 19, and November 16, as the Ventura Chapter autumn meetings will be honored with three not-to-be-missed presentations.

Sunday, September 21 at 7 p.m. at the Ventura TowneHouse at 4900 Telegraph Rd., well-known book publicist and founder/past president of the Book Publicists Association of Southern California Irwin Zucker will talk about "Greats and Ingrates" in the publishing industry.

Mr. Zucker's "Promotion in Motion" Agency in Hollywood specializes in the promotion of books and authors. His first client was Norman Vincent Peale, and since then he has represented a stream of well known authors, including Robert Ringer, Jacqueline Susann, and many other bestsellers.

On Sunday, October 19, attorney Ivan Hoffman will be our guest speaker. Mr. Hoffman has handled all aspects of intellectual property rights, including licensing, copyrights, contracts for musicians, artists, and authors, and is the author of Internet Law Simplified. Don't miss this rare opportunity to hear an internationally recognized authority on publishing and copyright law.

On Sunday November 16, Jari Chevalier, former winner of the Academy of American Poets Prize, writing professor, editor, author and creator of the Tapping the Innermost VoiceSM Creative Writing Program, will share some of her productivity-increasing techniques. Her students' comments include: "During more than ten years working as a novelist I have never encountered a course that made such a profound difference in my writing." "I use the process every day to help me start my how-to articles and books," and "It would be impossible for anyone not to write if they use the Tapping exercises."

The Ventura Chapter meets the third Sunday of each month at 7 p.m. on the 7th Floor of the Ventura TowneHouse. The guest fee for nonmembers is $5. Call Chapter President Kathy Schultz at 805-644-9843 for further information.

Santa Barbara

The Santa Barbara Chapter, which meets the second Saturday of each month at 1:30 p.m., is presenting seminars and special events from September to December. The September and December meetings will be in the Second Floor Conference Room of the Karpeles Manuscript Library & Museum at 21 W. Anapamu Street. The October and November meetings will be co-hosted by The Contemporary Arts Forum in the upstairs level of Paseo Nuevo. Admission is free.

The special seminar on Saturday, September 13 features Marianne Partridge, highly esteemed Editor-in-Chief of the lively, stimulating, and entertaining newspaper, The Santa Barbara Independent. Partridge was a founding editor of the trail-blazing, provocative New York City paper The Village Voice. She will talk and answer questions about every aspect of newspaper work, including writing, editing, illustration, photography, advertising and promotion.

The Contemporary Arts Forum and SPAWN co-host "Publishing Fine Art Books" at CAF on Saturday, October 11 with Harry and Sandra Reese, artists/publishers of Turkey Press, and renowned artist/writer Mary Heebner. Opportunities for artists, illustrators and art book publishing will be discussed, art books will be displayed, and Heebner will give a tour of her CAF exhibition "Paragaea: The Island Paintings."

The November 8 meeting, also at CAF, features a lecture/performance "Breaking Age Barriers and Uniting Literary, Visual and Performing Arts" by Helena Hale, whose one-woman Theatre is acclaimed internationally. As actress, writer, and producer, Hale has created and presented original shows about artists Georgia O'Keefe, Louise Nevelson, Mary Cassatt, and Artemisia Gentileschi.

The December meeting at the Karpeles Library will be a "Holiday Exhibition of Books, Arts and Services." SPAWN members are invited to talk about and display their publications, art works and services. Items will be available for purchase. To participate in the "Holiday Exhibition" and for additional information, call Santa Barbara Chapter President Andora Hodgin at 805/962-4680.

Conejo Valley

The Conejo Valley Chapter meets the third Monday of each month at 7 p.m. at 29376 Mulholland Hwy. in Agoura. The guest fee is $5.

The September 22 meeting will feature Dan Poynter, founder/owner of Para Publishing Company. Poynter has sold thousands of self-published books and gives frequent seminars on distribution, promotion, marketing, printing, book cover design, selling on the Internet, and every other aspect of self-publishing. He has helped hundreds of authors find their audience successfully. Poynter discusses how to produce better books for less money, how to design covers that SELL, how to work with wholesalers, distributors, and printers, where to send news releases, and how to get your book reviewed (CRUCIAL to successful selling).

Contact Chapter President Louise Cabral for further information at 818-707-0589.


Feeling stumped, stuck, stymied and stopped? The Internet now features a Writer's Block Bulletin Board, on view at ink/poll1results.html.


by Virginia Lawrence, Ph.D.

We know that we should back up our precious work, and we use various methods. Now we can use space on the Internet for true offsite backups. No, the backup files will not be readable by Internet browsers, because your files will be text format, Microsoft Word, WordPerfect, etc. You will simply upload the files. As long as the files have no Web coding or linking, Web browsers won't see the files.

Complicated? Well, it requires FTP software and Web site space. After setting up the system, you'll find that backing up to the Internet is as easy as using a floppy.

You probably have 5 megabytes of Web page storage with your Internet access account. Your access provider probably also gave you all the necessary software: the dialup, e-mail, browser, and FTP software.

You can use your 5 megabytes to store your text backups. Start by following your provider's instructions and installing the dialup, e-mail, and browser software. At that point, you can send and receive e-mail, and you can browse the Internet. You are almost ready to use the Internet for backup.

To start the offsite backup, fire up your FTP software. Enter use ID and password for your access account. The FTP software will link you to your reserved space. Use the software to choose files on your hard drive and send them to your site.

Virginia Lawrence, SPAWN's Webmaster, is a technical writer, editor and professional webmaster who specializes in the presentation of information both in print and online.


The Ojai Film Society is offering $1500 scholarship open to any Ventura County resident currently enrolled in an accredited college film school or video production degree program. Application deadline is September 8. For information contact 805/646-8946 or Fax 646-2973., the Internet bookstore, is sponsoring a 'Write Like Updike' contest. Add sentences to a story started by John Updike to compete for a daily prize of $1000, and a grand prize of $100,000 awarded at the end of September. Visit on the Web for details.

The National Library of Poetry will be awarding a total of $48,000 to 250 winners during its 1997-98 North American Open Amateur Poetry Contest. Winners will also be considered for inclusion in the Library's anthology. Contact The National Library of Poetry, 1 Poetry Plaza, Ste. 14825, Owings Mills, MD 21117-6282, or enter online at u

Call For Free Articles

Do you find yourself in need of some "samples of your published work" for a résumé package? Texoma Twister Entertainment Magazine has issued a Call For Articles; college students and aspiring writers of all levels are encouraged to submit. There is no pay except for copies; the bi-monthly's circulation is 17,000. The main 'guideline' is that topics be kept on a positive, uplifting note. Articles of national interest about entertainment, celebrities, history, humor, life's truisms, poetry, as well as local events, rodeos, music and concerts or festivals in the Texas/Oklahoma border, Red River area are sought. Twister is distributed in about 45 regional towns and cities. Contact Publisher LoriAnn Bussey at Texoma Twister Entertainment Magazine, P.O. Box 334, Henrietta, TX 76365, phone 1-800-687-9052 or 1-940-397-0300, Fax 940-397-0345, or email her at: u


SPAWNer Kittie Templeton will be signing her just published historical novel The Righteous Rebel, at the Ventura Barnes & Noble store at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday, September 6, and at the Westlake Barnes & Noble at 2:30 on Saturday, September 13. Everyone's invited to come and help Kittie celebrate her publication!



Melvin Powers, publisher/owner of the Wilshire Book Company in North Hollywood, California, has sold millions of books during his long career, and he will be presenting a SPAWN seminar on September 27, 1997 at the Ventura TowneHouse.

SPAWN: You started selling other people's books through mail order when you were still in your teens, and then eventually started writing your own books. How did that happen?

POWERS: My publishing career began with my writing a series of books on hypnosis. I sold them using the same techniques I had been using successfully to sell other publishers' books. I also was the ghost writer of some books which sold extremely well. Soon I began publishing other people's books, and negotiating with publishers for the trade paperback rights to some of their hardcover books.

Like painters and musicians, authors generally aren't marketing people. Many try for a month or two, and when nothing happens, they lose their enthusiasm and give up. Then they are stuck with a couple thousand copies of their book. That's why a well-thought out marketing plan is important.

One such book was Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill. What a thrill it was to publish a book that had helped shape my own personal and business philosophy! I have sold millions of copies. Another was Psycho-Cybernetics by Dr. Maxwell Maltz. Although I was selling my books through bookstores by then, my mail order techniques helped put Psycho-Cybernetics on the New York Times Bestseller List.

SPAWN: At this time, do you sell more through mail order or bookstores?

POWERS: Through the bookstores, but according to Publishers Weekly Magazine, there are more books sold through the mail and non-traditional bookstores than through traditional bookstores.

SPAWN: That is interesting. Do you have any percentages on that?

POWERS: About 52% of books are sold through means other than traditional bookstores.

SPAWN: Most self-publishers think that to be successful, they have to get their books into bookstores. But you are saying that books can be sold successfully even when they are not in the bookstores. Is that right?

POWERS: Absolutely. Mail order is a powerful sales tool. As a matter of fact, I sell hundreds of thousands of books to multi-level companies, using mail order techniques. I've been doing it for years.

SPAWN: How did you get the companies to begin ordering from you?

POWERS: I sent complimentary copies of books I thought they would be interested in, accompanied by a sales letter. Once these companies start ordering from you, they usually continue.

In fact, last month we got an order from one company for 15,000 copies of Think and Grow Rich. Another company ordered 15,000 copies of Psycho-Cybernetics. Someone else ordered 5,000 copies of Think Like a Winner. To this day, many of my positive thinking books go to multi-level companies.

SPAWN: What types of companies buy books in large numbers?

POWERS: Years ago, I did mailings to real estate and insurance agents and other sales organizations because I knew that people in these fields burn out. I started getting orders by the thousands from them. Once I knew the system worked, I bought mailing lists of opportunity seekers and did mailing to them. Some lists were good, others weren't. I sent out mailings my the millions. Overall, I made a lot of money with those lists.

SPAWN: What advice can you give to those who want to promote their books but don't have big budgets or traditional bookstore exposure?

POWERS: The nuts and bolts of successful mail order techniques are outlined in my three books, How to Get Rich in Mail Order, Making Money with Classified Ads, and How to Self-Publish Your Book and Have the Fun and Excitement of Being A Bestselling Author. Included are copies of the sales letters, ads, and other materials that built my business. There are copies of mailing pieces that worked and some that didn't work, and I explore the differences.

Basically, a person needs a plan and some innovative thinking. Most artists aren't into selling their work. Like painters and musicians, authors generally aren't marketing people. Many try for a month or two, and when nothing happens, they lose their enthusiasm and give up. Then they are stuck with a couple thousand copies of their book. That's why a well-thought out marketing plan is important.

The reality is that most authors make more money from activities made possible by the credibility the book provides than from its sales. A book should be regarded as a calling card leading to consultations, seminars, or teaching in local community college extension programs. Schools circulate millions of catalogs every quarter. It's great exposure for authors and self-publishers to have their name and the title of their book therein.

SPAWN: What do you think of the Internet as a place to market books?

POWERS: I have a Website at I do thousands of dollars of business off that site, and it costs me only $25 a month. I think it's good.


Another way to sell your books

by Linda Perret

Selling your book can be one of the toughest parts of being a small publisher. I found that out the hard way as I'm sure a lot of you are. The most successful method I have found for selling our books has been through direct mail. After 10 years we've managed to build up a list of about 10,000 possible clients.

In the past many authors and publishers have asked us for our list. After a few fiascoes with trading lists, we discontinued that practice. Instead what we have offered to do is to include them on our book service list for a small fee. We were in the process of redoing our lists when it dawned on me that some of my fellow SPAWN members might be interested in this exchange. The charge is a $5.00 (per title) set-up fee and then 25% of what the book sells for (when it sells). Once the flyer is made up, it will be distributed through our mailing systems, enclosed with orders processed by us, and distributed with other company hand-outs.

As a publisher, I have been approached with offers like these, but the set-up fees ranged from $55 to $395, with the commission usually being 50%. For beginners, those prices can be a little steep.

If you are interested, all you need to do is send a SASE to: Jester Press, P.O. Box 786, Agoura Hills, CA 91376-0786.

We will send you all the details. If you need more information, please feel free to contact me at 818/865-7833.


SPAWN's Novice Computer Users Group focuses on those over age 55 but welcomes anyone who is just starting out. For information call Ruth Hibbard at 805/654-1294, or email her at


James Redfield's The Celestine Prophecy has sold millions of copies, generated a sequel, workbooks and newsletter, and has been translated into dozens of foreign languages. But on page 31 on the 1997 Time Warner edition, a dark-skinned, black-haired character is described as obviously being "of Peruvian decent." Any English 101 grad knows that should be Peruvian "descent."

Eric Hobsbawm's The Age of Extremes (Pantheon) speaks of "industralization" when he means industrialization, and "Westerm" where he surely meant Western. Tom Dardis' Firebrand (Random House) writes of "distain" instead of disdain.

While big publishers might 'get away with it' because of their industry status or colossal promotional budgets (hype trumps typos), self- and small publishers who overlook such errors might seriously compromise their book's ability to attract buyers.

Why spend money on an editor? They can catch errors of grammar, syntax, and organizational flow about which writers may not be objective or informed. Even the best writer cannot do everything, and because language is always evolving, grammar learned in elementary school is often not sufficient to meet the demands of modern writing and current usage.

Self-publishers who spend thousands of dollars on cover art, paper, printing, binding, distribution, and advertising can rest assured their product is professionally presented and that their money is not wasted on slipshod goofs.

Editors can be particularly worthwhile with respect to rephrasing and reorganizing lengthy, awkward sentences without altering meaning and intent. Clarity, cohesion, conciseness, and good proofreading never hurts sales.

Research Inquiry

Seeking writers who have researched dinosaurs, particularly as they compare to other species. Please contact Deborah

Torbert at 805/985-1470, Fax 985-8965, email

Word carpentry is like any other kind of carpentry: you must join your sentences together smoothly.

~Anatole France




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