Here’s What’s New
Church Business is now Church Solutions.
Doll Crafters has been incorporated into Dolls Magazine. http://www.dollsmagazine.com.
Bass Angler’s Guide is now Bass Angler. They also have a new website at http://www.bassanglermag.com.
Green Living Enterprises has become part of Green Living Magazine. http://www.greenlivingonline.com
The LA Book Festival and Conference to be held at the Sportsman Lodge September 23-25 has been cancelled due to low enrollment.
Opportunities for Freelance Writers
Romance Stories is a new magazine featuring short stories, novel excerpts, book reviews and interviews. While they do not pay at this time, this might be a good opportunity for you to start building your platform as a freelance writer or a romance novelist. They do give authors a byline and a bio page. http://www.romancestoriesmagazine.com. Click on “Submission Guidelines” to learn more about their submission requirements. They do not want to receive attachments, for example. Send your submissions in the body of an email.
Bask Magazine is a new lifestyle publication for sophisticated Southern California readers. Based in Newport Beach, this quarterly magazine focuses on luxury living. It looks as though this magazine is staff-written, but if you have an idea they might like, it wouldn’t hurt to contact the editor and ask about their submission policies. http://www.baskmagazine.com. Or call—949-478-7878.
Bunker Hill Magazine also hails from Southern California. If you want submission information, try using the contact form at http://www.bunkerhillmagazine.com.
Single and Smart is a new magazine for singles in the Westchester, New York area. You can learn more about the magazine here: http://www.singleandsmart.com.
Star Lee Magazine is designed for women entrepreneurs. If you can write about successful women in business, workplace issues, how to balance home and work, etc. you might get an assignment with this magazine. http://www.starleemagazine.com. Communicate with the editors using the contact form.
Amelia’s Magazine editors would like help writing their daily blog. If you enjoy writing within the realm of music, art, fashion and environmental concerns, you might want to check into this opportunity. http://www.ameliasmagazine.com/news/seeking-blog-contributions.
The New Professional Magazine seeks short stories as well as essays on art, music, pop-culture, politics and most any other subject. They pay $50 per piece. Contact the editor at email@example.com
Pivot Point is a new magazine focusing on the “pivot points” in people’s lives. If you have an enlightening story of overcoming serious challenges, for example, the editors at Pivot Point might be interested. http://www.pivotpointpublishing.com.
Tobias Magazine is about and for Catholic singles. Get your free copy here: http://www.tobiasmag.com.
Whenever we can, we love bringing you directories where you can find paying markets that resonate with you. Here is one that boasts 675 paying markets for freelance writers. Enjoy! http://www.writerswrite.net/paylist.cfm.
For directories listing nonfiction magazines, check out: http://www.bellaonline.net/articles/art1489.asp
There’s a list of directories representing paying markets here: http://allfreelancewriting.com/writers-markets. They seem to pay anywhere from $20 per article to $1.00/word and everything in between.
Opportunities for Authors
Penguin Books is supposedly putting out a call for submissions for their UK group and you don’t have to live abroad in order to submit your work. Get details at http://www.penguin.co.uk/static/cs/uk/0/aboutus/index.html#question11.
Blue Mountain Press is accepting submissions for manuscripts on self-help. They also produce books of poetry, gift books and young adult books. BMPbooks@sps.com for submission guidelines.
Catch-it Publications has launched a new publishing company for unknown writers. They run contests every four months or so and the winners of those contests are invited to post their manuscripts and bios at the Catch-it Publications website. Their intentions are a little vague. This appears to be a pay-to-publish company, however. Learn more at http://www.robertcrudup.com
TIP from the editor:
Do you ever launch a Google search to find a publisher? I notice that if I do a search using keywords, “publisher seeking manuscripts,” or “find a publisher,” or “publisher seeks manuscripts,” quite a few options come up. You might also try, “publisher seeks novel,” or “young adult mystery publisher.” But beware, just because a publisher has a listing related to your search doesn’t mean he is legitimate or that the listing is current. The search is just the beginning. It is your responsibility to find out more about the publisher via his/her website. Be thorough. Do further searches using this publisher’s name and the word “warning” or “scam” to see what comes up.
Book Promotion Opportunities
Check out the listing for Romance Stories Magazine under Opportunities for Freelance Writers. As you can see, there are also opportunities in this magazine for romance novelists who want to promote their books. http://www.romancesstoriesmagazine.com.
SPAWNews offers members the opportunity to announce their books and services to our readership of around 800 people. Announce new books, signings, speaking engagements and more. Contact Sandy at firstname.lastname@example.org with your brief announcement.
Likewise, use your other affiliations to promote your book—your membership in other writers/publishing organizations, professional associations related to the theme of your book, discussion groups and so forth. In most cases, you join these organizations for two reasons—to keep up with what’s going on in your industry and to get more exposure for your book. So don’t drop the ball now. Make news, get publicity and be sure to reach out for the exposure you desire and your book deserves.
Use Google Alerts and internet searches to keep abreast of active blogs on your topic/in your genre. Learn from them. Leave comments. Ask to be interviewed and/or to be a guest blogger. http://www.google.com/alerts
Invite some of the most popular bloggers in your topic/genre to be a guest blogger at your blog site. This will surely bring more visitors to your site.
Do one or all of the above this month and you will get much more exposure than you will if you just sit around and wait for someone to notice your website and purchase your book.
Opportunities for Script Writers
October first is the deadline for Scriptalooza’s latest competition. They’re accepting pilots, sitcoms and one-hour dramas and reality show ideas. If you have something you think they might be interested in, check out the particulars at http://www.scriptapaloozaTV.com or contact the directors at 323-654-5809. Scriptapalooza also offers professional script analysis. Learn more about this at http://www.scriptcoverage.com or http://www.scriptcoverage.com/servicesavailable.htm.
Going, Going, Gone
We’ve lost more regional and industry publications this month.
Southern Breeze has gone out of business
Florida Real Estate Journal is online only
Skirt! North Carolina will go online only
Canadian Printer has folded/will continue online
Edmontonians has quit
ATV Industry Magazine has folded
Motorcycle Industry has closed
Printing News has folded
Hispanic Magazine has gone out of business
Resources for SPAWN Members
Have you ever felt the need for a style guide to help you write effectively for the web? Yahoo has published what they call the “Ultimate Sourcebook for Writing, Editing and Creating Content for the Digital World.” Check it out at http://styleguide.yahoo.com. It’s priced at around $15.00—depending on where you purchase it.
Check out the Association of Independent Authors http://www.independent-authors.org. It’s an organization for self-published authors.
An interview with Kim Dower—(Kim of L.A.)—Book Publicist and Media Trainer.
Editor’s Note: I met Kim when we were on a marketing panel together at the Ventura Book Festival in July and she agreed to respond to my questions for the benefit of SPAWN members.
Q: You’ve been offering literary and media services for quite a long time. Please tell us how you became involved in this line of work.
A: I began as a poet, teaching creative writing at Emerson College. Other than waitressing, that was my first job! I grew up in New York, went to school in Boston and always wanted to live in Los Angeles, so that’s where I moved almost 30 years ago!
When I got to L.A., I had a series of jobs “around” writing: assistant to a literary agent, personal assistant to a writer, etc. And then I discovered this wonderful small publishing company in Hollywood that was looking for an assistant to the publisher. That was Jeremy Tarcher, and his publishing company was exploding at the time—going from 10 employees to 30, and publishing such classics as Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain and Women Who Love Too Much. I learned everything there, and most importantly I learned that if I loved a book and believed in it, I could convince anyone else of its merits, virtues, and promotability! What a great job—you get to talk on the phone all day (pre-e-mail!) and tell people about fascinating books and authors. It just happened that the people I was talking with were from the Today Show and the New York Times! I became the Publicity Director at Jeremy P. Tarcher, Inc., and had the pleasure of working with many wonderful authors. After doing publicity on a book called, I’d Rather Be Working from Home! I was convinced—so I began my own literary publicity company at my home called Kim-from-L.A. The rest is history!
Q: Who are your clients and what do you typically provide for them?
A: Our clients range from first-time novelists and first-time non-fiction writers just starting out, to bestselling superstars. We work with commercial fiction and literary gems; self-help (when it’s fresh) and business. We do it all. We provide different services for different people according to their needs and we create a well-thought out plan that fits our clients’ budgets and wishes. The goal is always to create a specific campaign for each client and tailor it accordingly. We provide everything from local Los Angeles publicity, to national publicity. We work with every city, every market; radio, television and print interviews as well as the new and ever-changing world of viral and social media. We create events. We are hands on!
I also provide media training and coaching for my clients which is something they all need. Everybody—no matter how experienced and at ease in front of a crowd—can learn from media training prior to a book tour. I also do media training separately from doing publicity; that is to say that someone can hire me for only media training. I have clients for whom I only do media training and they have other people doing their publicity.
Q: What do you feel is the most important skill an author can develop when it comes to promoting his/her book? And how do you go about helping them cultivate this skill?
A: Presentation skills are the most important. How to present the book (and oneself) in front of a crowd at a book signing, in front of the camera, or next to a reporter at lunch… I have many techniques for helping my clients cultivate great presentation skills. The most important is to ask yourself, “Why am I doing this?” “What do I want to get outof it?” “What matters to me the most?” I work from the inside out. I never give answers or sound bites. I help my clients draw out and develop their own answers, from their hearts. Passion, energy, and authenticity are key to any great presentation.
Q: I see from your website, that you will tailor your campaigns to fit the individual author. Would you expand on this concept?
A: We tailor our campaigns depending on a client’s budget, the print run of the book, the geographical location they want to hit, and what they hope to achieve. It’s all about getting the most value and reaching the most people. Some authors want to make a splash where they live—a local splash—and spread out from there. Sometimes we start “small” with the idea of reaching out later if we see results, and sometimes we hit the ground running, reach big and try for national everything. It all depends on budget, time, and promotability of the book (is this a genre book or do we see it as having widespread interest). It also depends on whether or not the author is a great presenter . . . someone who can handle all kinds of radio shows, interviews and can really deliver in an interview. As I always say, there’s a big difference between a great book and a great “guest.” I also have many clients who want to promote themselves or their businesses in conjunction with their books, i.e. therapists.
Q: I’m especially interested in public speaking skills—what is the best advice you can give someone who is new to this arena? Do you have any tips?
A: The book I co-authored called, LIFE IS A SERIES OF PRESENTATIONS, lists the 8 most important presentation skills and goes into each one in detail. If you practice each one, understand what they are and how to use them, you will have a great presentation each time. One of the most important is to “involve your audience.” We’ve all seen how great speakers do this. Bring them in—connect with your audience. Show them how what you’re talking about is also about them. Again—emotion, passion combined with information and “take-aways” is the formula. Some of this information is found on my website: www.kimfromla.com.
Q: In your experience, what is currently the best method of promoting your book today? How has that changed over the last 10 – 20 years?
A: This may not be the answer you’re looking for, but the best method of promoting your book that has never changed and will never change is to write a book people are interested in reading and make it great so people will talk about it, share it, recommend it, fall in love with it. Word of mouth has always been and always will be the best method of promoting your book. And, if you’re lucky enough to be interviewed about that book, be a great interviewee! Connect with your audience, make your topic fascinating. Drive it home.
Q: What does the future hold for the process of book promotion? What changes can you predict?
A: We will go through many changes and try many things. We will lose many of the print, radio, and television opportunities we’ve had in the past. Newspapers are folding, shows are going off the air. We will think that Facebook, blogging and viral media will take the place of these things we’re losing. Maybe they will, but maybe they won’t. Everything is in flux and I predict everything we know now will change again—soon. And we’ll think other things are working until we realize they are not working. We’re all learning from the beginning all over again. There are no guarantees for successful book promotion except, maybe, a great review in the New York Times. But still, getting the word out is key. The GOOD word.
Q: I understand that you have a book of poetry coming out soon. Would you tell us about this project? Keeping in mind that poetry is probably the most difficult genre to promote, we’d love to know about some of your plans for promoting your book of poetry.
A: I started out as a poet many years ago and taught creative writing at Emerson College as I mentioned above. I stopped writing poetry for years and concentrated on Kim-from-L.A., my family and other writing projects. But like magic, poetry returned. It’s like finding my first love all over again and I am obsessed!
Yes! Red Hen Press is publishing my book, Air Kissing on Mars, in October. You are right that poetry is probably the most difficult to promote, but I’m doing everything I can to get the word out. I have some wonderful endorsements from well-known poets and writers which will be in the press information and on the book. I will send out postcards and notices about my signings. We are hoping for reviews. I will be reading and signing all over the country. I’ll be going to writers conferences including the wonderful Wordstock up in Portland and the Palm Beach Poetry Festival in Delray, Florida.
I believe that people can love poetry as much as any other kind of writing if they can connect and relate to it. That will be my goal—to try and get an audience through connecting with my words, emotions, and passion. My poems are funny, edgy, and quirky and they deal with topics of motherhood, love, family and simple moments we all experience each day. People will identify with them. I will set up a website just for the book. I will break down and get a Facebook page because the world insists that I do and I’ll take everyone’s advice and try it. I will connect with other poets. I believe you can read one poem each day and feel refreshed, renewed, alert and alive!
Q: How can we contact you?
An interview with RD Armstrong of The Lummox Press.
I met this publisher recently and found his story interesting. Here is my interview with him.
Q: Tell us a little about your writing path and how you came to establish Lummox Press.
A: My nom de plume is RD Armstrong, though I started out as Raindog (RD…get it?). My press is called The Lummox Press. Writing has always been a part of my creative expression. As far back as high school, I wrote poetry (of course, back then, it was all very putrid). I never wrote poetry seriously until the early 90s. Before that I had written it sporadically; concentrating my efforts on journal writing (I have kept a journal throughout most of my adult life) which has always been more therapeutic than historical. Prior to the 90s, I had been on a ten year hiatus from writing. When I started anew, I was “primed” to get down to business.
Not having been to college has not been as much of an obstacle as one might assume. In fact, in some ways it has been a plus for many of my “skills”–since I never learned I couldn’t do things a certain way. Of course, there are also some serious gaps in my knowledge of literature, but so far that hasn’t been too much of an impediment.
I cut my teeth on Sandberg, Frost, the greater SF Beats, and Bukowski. And from there I expanded outwards. I don’t know who I have been most profoundly influenced by, at this stage of the game. Bukowski certainly figures largely, but I am too sentimental to be a true student of the Buk (I’m often told that I write too poignantly for a Buk follower, but I don’t mind).
I’ve gotten to know a lot of contemporary, small press poets in the past 15 years or so, mostly through my various publishing endeavors. I’ve made some friends and some enemies over the years, but I would like to think that I am known as a fair-minded, albeit tough, editor/publisher.
I didn’t start out to garner that reputation. I didn’t even know about the small press back in ’93. I’d been to maybe five readings in the previous 25 years and set foot inside a coffeehouse maybe two or three times in the same number of years (one of the drawbacks of not going to college in the late 60s). But in ’93 I discovered poetry readings in San Pedro and Long Beach and soon stumbled across the small press scene in Los Angeles. I had begun to write poetry again and was encouraged by a friend to self-publish a couple of chapbooks. I enjoyed the process and in ’94 I got the bug. Then, in late ’95, after a bad experience, I started The Lummox Journal as a monthly Lit-Arts mag. It was interview-driven and, during its 100 + issues, contained over 90 interviews with poets, musicians, artists and even a dancer. Someday I hope to publish several Best O’ the Lummox Journal volumes.
In ’98, I began to publish a chapbook series called the Little Red Books. Most volumes featured the work of one poet, some unknown, some with a limited rep and some quite well-known; all part of the vibrant small press scene. I also published several LRB Anthologies: a jazz poetry one, a blues poetry, a sampler and a fundraiser for Habitat For Humanity called Maytag Heights. The books had very distinctive red covers and were usually around 48 pages long, but always the size of a quarter sheet of paper – 4.25 by 5.5 inches.
In 2009, I published a best of the Little Red Books collection which featured poems from nearly every one of the 59 titles. It was called The Long Way Home.
Then in 2004, I published Last Call: the Legacy of Charles Bukowski which featured 41 contributors, most of whom I felt showed the influence of L.A.’s underground Poet Laureate. It was an homage to one of my early influences.
In 2008, I published four volumes of my own writing, 3 books of poetry and one book of short stories. I did this primarily because I have never had much luck getting my own work published (to my satisfaction). And when I found that Walt Whitman had self-published Leaves of Grass, I felt that I was following in the footsteps of an honorable man, and had no qualms about it (granted, I’d still like to be published by another press, but so far, nobody has made me an offer that worked for me). I’ll be publishing another book of mine towards the end of this year.
I also began publishing other poets in 2008 and, thanks to POD, have been able to bring out another 8 titles since. I’m publishing about 8 titles a year now and it is my hope to eventually be able to make a small, albeit modest income from this to supplement the years ahead—the ones that I would have retired in, had I played my cards better.
Q: Everyone knows that poetry is hard to sell. To make it even more challenging, most poets are not marketers. How do you counsel your authors when it comes to promoting their own books?
A: The biggest stumbling block, because there is very little expectation for profit in the small press, to getting a book published, is the fact that most beginning writers expect to make money like successful writers without having “paid their dues.” They either don’t understand what is possible, how hard they have to work at promoting their book or how much of a favor the press is doing them. Many small presses charge writers to publish their books, sometimes as much as 90% of production costs. Most print on demand services charge at least several hundred dollars (and some can go as high as tens of thousands of dollars) to publish one’s book.
Very few small presses operate like their bigger counterparts. In fact, most bigger presses can’t afford to operate this way anymore and must stick with tired, formulaic formats that can’t adapt to our changing times. Lummox Press doesn’t charge the writer for being published under the Lummox banner…maybe if I did, the writer would have a greater stake in making the enterprise work. Each book I publish is a gamble, but thanks to print on demand technology, the “overhead” for each title can be recouped with a minimum amount of book sales…usually within fifteen units.
Basically, I try to impress upon them the idea that because poetry is a “niche” market (and a small niche at that), they have to either inform me (perhaps via a mailing list) about their fan base or they have to contact that fan base themselves. Ideally, we will work together as a team to reach as many of their readers as possible. I also stress the importance of direct sales between the press and their fans. If I can make more money (and they can make a better percentage from net profits), then I’m more inclined to invest more time and energy into marketing their book. If the book doesn’t sell well, then I’m less inclined to waste my time, even if I feel the book is a good one (you learn early on when to cut your losses and move on).
Many small presses have a contract that explains what they expect of the writer and what the writer can expect them to do, as well. I don’t use contracts. In my experience, contracts are only beneficial to lawyers, unless one is talking serious money, and it’s a universal axiom in poetry that there is no serious money involved. I do lay out very specifically what services I will provide, what the costs are, how much the royalty is and how much writer’s copies cost. I also explain what I expect the writer to do to hold up their end of the bargain (and, conversely, what I will do).
Q: What are some of the more successful methods of promoting a book of poetry?
A: Nothing beats good, old-fashioned hard work. Readings and book signings are tried and true methods for book promotion. One on one interaction. Of course, this requires a writer who can connect with his or her audience (not every one who writes poetry has good social skills). Also, getting the word out is extremely important. If one has the money, ads can be very helpful, though not a guarantee of sales. Some put a lot of stock in reviews, but in my experience, reviews aren’t helpful unless they are placed in a widely read market, and for poetry, there aren’t a lot of widely read markets to begin with. Reviews provide reviewers with free books. Still, it’s kind of a tradition, so what can one do?
Another way to promote a book is by using the internet. Videos of readings or video ads (promotional videos) can be posted on sites like You Tube or Vimeo and can receive hundreds if not thousands of hits for almost no cash outlay. Virtual book tours can be placed on various blogs and websites to promote your book. Some services like this can be purchased for very reasonable prices. The sky is the limit for so-called guerilla marketing techniques, all of which can be researched easily on line.
Q: Do you have any advice for writers who are thinking about producing a book of poetry?
A: Do your research; be flexible and practical; and keep an open mind.
I started using my current print on demand publishing company quite by accident: I was doing research for an article for Writer’s Write on the pitfalls of POD companies. I had already decided to use Lulu dot com when I was approached by an agent for another company, who hounded me until I told him flat out that I already knew how to set up my own book, so why should I pay his company to do it for me? That’s when he alerted my to the company I now use.
It also helps to have an artist working with you who understands graphic design; but it’s not necessary. If you know what you want your book to look like, you can do it yourself. Just remember, you want the book to be a vehicle that will draw people to it, so you want a cover design that gets people’s attention. You are competing with hundreds of other books, so you want to get the message across.
One last thought, pick a price that you can live with. If you overvalue your book, no one will buy it; but if you undervalue it, no one will take you seriously.
Q: Is it a good idea to start by submitting poetry to print and online publications?
A: Yes. If you are a newcomer to this, you might want to ask other poets for their recommendations…or your teachers. Or, you might start with the New Yorker and work your way down. This will help you get used to being rejected. Rejection is part of what being a writer is all about. If you can’t take it, it’s best to learn it early and get out of the game. There’s a fair amount of rejection in life as it is, but being an artist (writer, musician, painter, etc) is to experience a quantum leap forward in rejection. Not everyone can take it.
Poets and Writers dot com has a sizeable database of magazines listed, as do magazines like Small Press Review. If you search on Google or Yahoo, you can find any number of lists, as well.
In the past 15 years or so, I have been published in over 300 mags, zines and Ezines, anthologies and on other websites…and I’m not even that diligent about it.
Q: Are there any good books out on promoting poetry? I often recommend, “How to Make a Living as a Poet,” by Glazner and “Poet Power” by Williams (which is more about getting your poetry published, actually). Are you familiar with these books? Are there others we can recommend?
A: I know Gary Glazner. His book is very helpful. I’m not familiar with the other title. I haven’t seen too many books on this. Apparently no one wants to give away their secrets. Perhaps I should write a book, too.
Q: Tell us a little about your submission guidelines.
A: Regrettably, I don’t publish nearly as much unsolicited poetry as I used to, back when I was publishing my little print mag, The Lummox Journal. Back then, I was publishing about 5% of submissions, maybe 50 out of 1000 poems sent to me a year. I did this for about 11 years before I burnt out.
My guidelines are pretty simple…if I like your poems, I will want to talk to you about them. I like poetry that gives me that “aha” moment; it might be a feeling of poignancy or it might be a different way of looking at an idea or theme. I used to call it the “goose-bump or aha” moment. It’s very intuitive and subjective. I don’t think I’m a very traditional editor…I’m certainly not a very traditional writer.
I’m sorry if this seems vague.
Q: Please add anything you feel is important. (Including your contact info)
A: Please visit my website to learn more about myself, RD Armstrong aka Raindog, and the Lummox Press. You can purchase books at the website—I know I would appreciate it if you bought one or more of mine, and I’m certain the other writers I have published feel the same about their books, as well. www.lummoxpress.com
Mail: Lummox c/o PO BOX 5301 San Pedro, CA 90733