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SPAWNews is packed with writing, editing, illustrating, and publishing information. Each month you receive market opportunities, events, and articles you can use now!
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SPAWNews, February 1998 -

Archives Available

REACH OUT AND CALL SOMEONE

And make sure it's the right someone

Public libraries carry a book which is indispensable to self-publishers and authors who want to promote their books effectively and on a national scale. Burrelle's Media Directory lists the names and phone numbers of publicity managers to contact at hundreds of radio stations, television networks, cable television companies, daily newspapers, non-daily newspapers, magazines and newsletters.

Check it out, literally.

NEW SPAWN MEMBERSHIP DIRECTORIES

The new SPAWN Membership Directories are being prepared, complete with brief descriptions of members' work, services, editing and graphics experience, artistic accomplishments and publications. If there are any changes you would like to be made in your entry, contact Mary Embree before

February 10. If you would like to take advantage of a great networking opportunity by advertising in the pages of the new Directory, please call Mary Embree at the SPAWN office before February 10.

Rates are as follows:

  • Quarter page (business card size), 2x5 inches: $30
  • Half page, 4x5 inches: $50
  • Full page, 5x5 inches: $80

LITERAL LATTE:YUM YUM!

Websites of interest to writers and artists now include the deliciously named "Literal Latte," found at http://www.literal-latte.com.

Just as appetizing is the Boston Review, found at http://www.polisci.mit.edu. BostonReview/BostonReview.html, and the Kenyon Review at kenyonreview@kenyon.edu (yes, it's underlined.)

SECURITY PROBLEMS AND NON-PROBLEMS ON THE WEB

by Virginia Lawrence, Ph.D.

Occasionally the bad guys on the Web can pose some danger to the security of the files on your computer. More often, concern is unnecessary. Read on for two examples.

Internet Explorer Bug

Lack of security arises through loopholes in your browser software. According to PC Week, there is a bug in Internet Explorer 4.0. This bug allows hackers to access a user's hard drive files. Worse, the bug allows hackers to run code on a user's computer.

This is a potentially disastrous bug. All IE 4.0 users should use IE 3.0 or Netscape 4.0 until Microsoft releases the software patch. If you prefer to live dangerously, use IE 4.0 and be sure to avoid any URL line address which includes "mk:".

Cookies From Strangers?

Cookies on the World Wide Web aren't chocolate chip. You get a cookie when a Web page sends a small data file to your computer. The Web site software later reads its cookie to identify you in some way.

Amazon.com uses cookies to keep track of customers and shopping carts. The New York Times site uses a cookie to store your password, but only after requesting permission. Ad banners use cookies to track the number of viewers for each banner at a site, along with the number of people who click on that banner.

So cookies are useful to Web marketers and harmless to you. A cookie contains only the information placed in it by the Web page software. And that information can be read only by the placing page.

~ Virginia Lawrence, SPAWN's Webmaster, is a technical writer both in print and online, editor and professional webmaster. She is at virginia@cognitext.com, or SPAWN's Website, http://www.spawn.org.

SPAWN SANTA BARBARA WRITERS CIRCLE

Meetings of the SPAWN Santa Barbara Writers Circle will be held twice monthly on Sunday evenings. The Circle is for SPAWN members of any level—beginner or published—who seek a safe place to read and give feedback. Nonmembers may attend one free introductory meeting.

The next meeting will be at the home of Bernice Deen, 1 El Verado, Santa Barbara, and thereafter on the 1st and 3rd Sundays, 4 - 6 p.m., at Closets, Etc., 619 E. Guiterrez, #E (in the back), Santa Barbara.

Please bring something to read. Time allotted for each member is 20 minutes. This includes the reading and the time for members to critique. Bring 5 copies of your work.

For further information about directions, times and locations, contact The Circle's facilitator Dallas Glenn at 805-899-1174, or at dallas@silcom.com.

TAKING STOCK

An electronic shutdown hit Amazon.com, the online bookstore, for 12 hours on January 7. Amazon dubbed it a "simple technical problem" but they had to contact everyone who tried to buy books during the shutdown and offer a 10% discount. Amazon's stock fell 10% as a result, sending shivers down Wall St.

Amazon's last quarterly sales were $38 million and the loss of one day's revenues amounts to about $400,000. With such lofty numbers, any sign of technical glitches is worrisome to analysts and brokers.

THE SPAWN INTERVIEW

DR. TOM SNYDER, AUTHOR OF ROUTE 66 TRAVELER'S GUIDE AND ROADSIDE COMPANION

Psychologist Tom Snyder's study of human behavior may have served his analysis of book-buyers' behavior and subsequent successful marketing plan, wherein he created interest in his book before ever writing a word of it. Snyder found the legendary highway, which John Steinbeck had dubbed "the mother road," eerily deserted in 1983. He mailed press releases about this sad situation to every small-town newspaper along its borders. Soon a multi-state 'Route 66 Revitalization Effort' was underway. With this kind of interest already in place, he penned his ode to the road. By the time it left the printing factory, it had an interested audience waiting.

SPAWN: Your book Route 66 Traveler's Guide and Roadside Companion (St. Martin's Press, 1995) is now in its second edition and has sold 50,000 copies, which was ten times its original projection. The book has also been translated into German and is featured on an award-winning CD-ROM in Europe. How did you become involved in a project like this?

SNYDER: Back in junior high, I went along on a family vacation to California. Seeing the West—from red-rock mesas and last-chance gas stations to Hollywood stars—made a huge impression. Even my face cleared up on that trip.

SPAWN: Decades later, you found yourself on Route 66 again.

SNYDER: Yes. All those childhood memories came flooding back on a cross-country tour in 1983 when I stumbled across long, unspoiled stretches of the old road. It was still exciting to drive and I wondered who might want to share that two-lane experience.

SPAWN: Was there a defining moment or sight that moved you to take action?

SNYDER: Yes. It was seeing all those small towns deprived of their livelihood. In some there were no adults under age forty, others had no high school graduating classes. Many were simply blowing sway. I felt I had to do something.

SPAWN: When did the idea of sending out press releases occur to you?

SNYDER: Obviously, it was hard for people whose businesses were failing to believe that travelers would come back to the old road. I needed voices other than my own, and local newspapers have a major economic stake in their communities. It was a natural partnership.

SPAWN: Was there anything special about how you wrote the releases?

SNYDER: Absolutely. I had always been producing and editing technical material, but writing about Route 66 released my passion for discovering what's around the next bend. I started writing press releases that were really stories of the road, not just information items. It was the first time I truly enjoyed writing.

SPAWN: What reaction did you get from newspaper editors?

SNYDER: Local newspapers have very little staff time to generate new copy. If you write well, editors welcome the material. With rare exceptions, they ran what I submitted verbatim, sometimes with supporting editorials. Regional papers often called for phone interviews, then wove my press releases into extended pieces. Several of those were picked up by wire services.

SPAWN: At what point did you realize you wanted to write a book about Route 66?

SNYDER: From the beginning. But I also knew that only an established author would be able to sell a "big" book on Route 66 to New York editors. I hold a doctorate and am well published professionally. I have also ghosted a textbook and a novel, but none of that means diddley in the trade market.

SPAWN: So how were you able to publish?

SNYDER: Quite literally by creating the market. I didn't fully realize that at the time, but I was doing just what a marketing person would do to sell a 2500-mile product. What the road needed was travelers and what travelers needed was a guidebook—a highway menu.

SPAWN: Did you have an agent?

SNYDER: Fortunately, I connected with someone who knew that market first-hand. Suzanne Wallis did a fine job of shepherding the book into print.

SPAWN: What about the basic research and development on the project?

SNYDER: I was also lucky enough to hook up with a terrific researcher and promoter—an ex-tomboy who intuitively understood everything from fuel injection to the sweetness of being on the road at dawn. I learned a great deal working with her and am now on the lookout for new partners on other road projects I'm developing.

SPAWN: Did Route 66 sell in bookstores? How about other outlets?

SNYDER: The book initially did quite well through bookstores and made the best-seller lists in St. Louis and a few other urban markets. But the market is always shifting. The Traveler's Guide is now doing better in specialty shops. The AAA carries it and we are in several direct-mail catalogs.

SPAWN: What advice can you offer about writing from the heart vs. writing what sells? Or is this a gray area with no clear answer?

SNYDER: I'm not much on advice-giving, but experience tells me that success is a matter of synergy. Writing to the market is crucial, yet passion is what fuels good writing. Maybe the trick is to find—or create—a market to fall in love with.

SPAWN: Were you aware of the famous song "Get Your Kicks on Route 66?"

SNYDER: "Route 66" is Bobby Troup's jazz classic, written while on his way west, and first recorded by the great Nat "King" Cole. Bobby and I have often talked about synergy—how the road and his song influenced one another. Music can be a marvelous hook for marketing the written word. I wish all my projects could be associated with hits.

Report on January Roundtable Discussions

In January all three chapters of SPAWN held roundtable discussions on the needs and goals of our members. A number of excellent suggestions were made. Several members volunteered to work together to better facilitate and enhance networking opportunities. Among them are preparing information sheets on members to be handed out during chapter meetings and putting together a database of members that includes categories such as areas of expertise. In the coming months, we will carry articles in SPAWNews addressing the challenges our members face. Submit your ideas either at meetings or to Kathy Schultz, our newsletter editor. And please consider volunteering your time and expertise. Together we can accomplish amazing things.

Marketing Committee

A major concern of self-publishers has always been how to promote, market and distribute their books. For many it has been a very lonely and disappointing process. Self-publishers generally do not have the expertise nor the budget to get the word out about their books to the book-buying public. Even authors who have been published by experienced, established publishers need assistance in promotion and marketing.

These issues were raised at all of the meetings. As they have been voiced again and again by members as well as nearly all authors who have published their own books, we are establishing a Marketing Committee to address them and to find solutions.

If you are interested in becoming a part of this committee, please mark your calendar for Sunday, February 22, from 2 to 5 p.m. On that date, our first meeting, open to SPAWN members only, will be held in a private residence in Ventura. Please call 805/643-2403 for more information and location.

VALENTINES FOR YOU

"Writers try to bring out the truth among all the lies that are told."

~ Nadine Gordimer

"When I write a play...I start from a character or a predicament or a situation. NEVER from an idea."

~ Sam Shepard

"Always grab the reader by the throat in the first paragraph, sink your thumbs into his windpipe in the second, and hold him against the wall until the tag line."

~ Paul O'Neill

"Don't waste neurons on what doesn't work."

~ Carl Sagan

       

 

 

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