SPAWN Market Update – April 2003


SPAWN Market Update – April, 2003

By Patricia L. Fry


Going, Going, Gone

The following magazines are no longer publishing.
Forbes ASAP
Red Herring
Freelance Writer’s Report
reports that the following magazines have ceased publication:
Chic Simple
Hamilton County Business Views
Healthcare Products Today

Note: These 5 magazines bring the total of defunct magazines and publishers reported in the SPAWN Market Update during the last 15 months to 150.

Here’s What’s New

Note: This brings the number of new magazines and editorial changes we’ve reported to well above the 100 mark.

Word of Warning

The IRS expects to hear from you April 15th. If you’re making your living as an artist or a writer, be sure to take all of the appropriate deductions and KEEP YOUR RECEIPTS. Two sites that might offer some tax help are and is a site designed specifically for artists.

Research/Reference Site of the Month

SPAWNews this month carries a book review for Literary Law Guide for Authors. To learn more about Intellectual Property Law visit the Intellectual Property Owners Association Web site at Here you’ll find discussions and articles on issues and policies related to Intellectual Property Law. Read about legislation rulings, pending lawsuits, recent inventions and more.

A good place to go for statistical information is
Speaking of statistics, self-publishing guru and SPAWN member, Dan Poynter has a helpful new Web page featuring publishing facts and figures. For example:
– In 1980 there were 12,000 publishers. Today there are approximately 56,000.
– 78% of titles published today come from small, independent publishers.
– 40% of new publishers will be out of business in 14 months.
See more at:

Sites for Artists Here’s where folks come when they’re looking for an artist. Get listed and get jobs in Web design, art, broadcasting and advertising.

Following are two great sites for freelance photographers:

Grammar Site The English Zone

The English Zone. Here you’ll find help with grammar, spelling and writing. Tap into language lessons. Find helpful links. Lots more.

Opportunities for Artists

There are numerous magazines that solicit freelance artwork submissions. Here are a few:

  • Adam Van Loon, editor of March Magazine invites artists and photographers to submit their work for possible use in upcoming issues. He says, “We are still looking for a cover
    illustration/photo/graphic for our summer issue.” Contact Van Loon at See my interview with Van Loon under “Editor/Publisher Interview” in this issue of SPAWN Market Update.
  • Dog Eared Magazine, A Journal of Book Arts also solicits artwork. Find out more at
  • Xela Schenk at DNA Press ( says they are always interested in seeing good artwork for possible use in their business. They are in the market for biology art at this time.

If you are a freelance artist, graphic designer or photographer, here are some ideas to help you find work:

  • Network with authors or publishers who might need an illustrator or cover designer.
  • Contact magazine art directors and offer to show them your portfolio.
  • Collaborate with writers on articles related to your photos.
  • Study the 2003 edition of Artist’s and Graphic Designer’s Market, Photographer’s Market or Children’s Writer’s and Illustrator’s Market to locate possible markets for your work. These books may be available in the reference section of your library. Or order them through
  • Design a Web site where you can showcase your work.
  • StudioNotes. George and Brent Armitage are behind this Web site. It looks like another showcase site for screenplays. The Armitages claim that some of the most influential agents and producers in the entertainment industry come to this site looking for good projects. Readers hail from such impressive backgrounds as ABC Entertainment, Buena Vista Pictures, Castle Rock Entertainment, DreamWorks, MGM, Miramax Films, Warner Brothers and The Walt Disney Company.
  • Nell Gavin at Book and Quill Collectibles offers a unique opportunity for authors. Read my interview with Nell under Bonus Item in this issue.
  • GQ Magazine is offering $10,000 and a chance to be published in the magazine to the college student who can come up with the best humor piece by May 1, 2003. Students are asked to submit humor pieces of 3,000 words or less to GQ Humor Writing Contest, GQ, 4 Times Square, New York, NY  10036.

Featured Artists

For this special issue, I’ve interviewed three artists. Member artists might glean some tips from these professionals and authors might learn something about the world of those folks who do their illustrations and cover design work.

First, meet Tamara Dever, a graphic designer and co-owner of TLC Graphics in Austin, TX.

Q:  Please describe your business and how it came to be.
A: TLC Graphics is an award-winning book design firm located in Austin, TX. We’re a two-person, two-office company that designs books and promotions for small and self-publishers. How did we get here? That’s a long story, but I’ll try to make it short! TLC Graphics began as my free-lance business while I was still in college. I designed logos, brochures, signage – pretty much anything at that time. After graduation I spent five years as art director for Magna Publications in Madison, WI. While there, I was given the opportunity to design book covers on a freelance basis and found it to be one of my design strengths. That’s where I also met my great friend and future business partner, Erin Stark. Several years later, in 1997, I got married and moved to Sacramento, CA where I worked for several magazine publishers. After one of the companies went bankrupt, I found myself freelancing on a full-time basis. I’d always been adamant about not owning my own company. Suddenly I had one and I loved it! As business picked up, I hired Erin to help with design work. She eventually became my business partner and now runs our Midwest office in Waukesha, Wisconsin.

Q:  What special talents/skills did you come into this work with?
A:  Both of us have four-year degrees in graphic design. We’re very computer-literate and had great on-the-job training while working for other publishing companies. We love working with type, layout, and people. I think that’s a great combination for working in publishing. We also love to teach and spend a lot of time educating our clients about many aspects of publishing their books.

Q: Who are your clients/customers? What is your main service, product?
A:  We design book covers, interiors, and promotional materials for small and independent publishers across the country.

Q: What has been your biggest challenge in building your business and how did
you overcome it?
A: The biggest challenge is actually running the business. Doing the paperwork and keeping financial records are definitely the worst tasks. Fortunately, Erin’s husband is a great accountant and taught me how to use QuickBooks properly. He makes sure we stay up-to-date on our accounts.

Q: What was your proudest moment related to your work?
A: I’d have to say winning our first national award. My parents were there, it was Father’s Day weekend, and we were the underdog finalists. My parents cried when they announced that our book cover was the winner.

Q:  Would you share some of your marketing techniques? What is your best promotional ploy?
A: Marketing techniques?! Ha! You’d think we’d have a sophisticated system, but we rarely have time to do work for ourselves. Fortunately, the best method of marketing for us is our happy clients. They love to tell other publishers about our services. We do have a large web site and are working on a new promo piece that includes a set of full-color cards showcasing our work and a small CD that contains our latest portfolio in PDF format.

Q:  Most readers want to know the possibilities in operating a business like yours.
What can someone expect to earn?
A:  Satisfaction! This isn’t a real high-paying job, although some do make a decent living as book designers. Erin and I are fortunate to have husbands with good jobs so we don’t have the pressure of supporting our families with what we make. Serving our clients well is our number-one priority

Q:  What is the best advice you can offer to someone wanting to start a similar business or enter this field?
A: Soak up every bit of publishing and design knowledge you can. We’re constantly learning about the publishing business to better understand our clients. Erin and I have degrees in graphic design as well as working experience with various publishing and design firms. It’s very difficult to start freelancing straight out of school. Also, find a mentor to show you the ropes. There’s nothing like having a colleague to turn to for advice, critique, and support!

Q:  Please add anything you would like to add.
A:  Working with publishers every day has inspired us to write our own book. This spring, we’ll be offering a small guide written for new authors and publishers to understand the book design and printing processes. It will include tips on finding the right professionals to work with, some basic printing terminology, a production timeline, and a list of publishing and marketing resources. It’s not yet titled, as we’ve discovered that’s one of the most difficult parts of writing a book!

Tamara Dever
TLC Graphics
Sandra SanTara is a fine artist living and working in Minnetonka, Minnesota.

Q: Please introduce yourself and your art style/type.
A: Sandra SanTara —  Shamanic, Visionary, Wildlife, and Fantasy art created via paintings and drawings on board, paper, feathers and drum heads.

Q: Are you a working artist? In other words, this is how you make your living?  Or you do this work full time? Please explain.
A:  Yes, full time professional for 13 years now.  Before that I was part time and worked for the Pittsburgh Symphony Society doing sales and marketing.

Q: What led up to your becoming an artist? Was this a childhood endeavor or a later in life calling?
A: I was an artistic and multi-talented child and my mom was a big motivator in that department.  I wanted to be a Zoologist in Junior high but then I saw Star Wars (1977)  and started to go to Science Fiction Conventions thanks to my sister.  I did my first art show at the World Science Fiction Convention in Denver, CO 1981 and sold all but one piece and got second place for amateurs.  Before that I was peddling soft sculpture Dragons and Unicorns at the cons in the hallways of the hotel and in high school.  I have always had a marketing and sales attitude.

Q: Sometimes we’re reluctant to call ourselves a writer or an artist until we feel we’ve “made” it. At what point were you able to use the term artist in the same sentence as your name?
A: About 1986 when I was still working part time and my attitude changed about what I wanted to be when I ‘grew up’.

Q:  What are some of the challenges you have overcome on your way to becoming an artist?
A: Not afraid of being successful and being my own boss.

Q: What was your proudest/happiest moment as an artist?
A: Creating art for the pure joy and spiritual oneness of it without it being work.  When a piece I created touches someone so deeply that they are moved emotionally.

Q: How do you market your work (through shops, Web site, shows?) Who are your customers/clients?
A: I am very fortunate that my work crosses over well in many different areas.  I also have a talent for marketing.  I pay attention to what sells and what doesn’t.  Doing shows is a valuable tool to knowing what your customers want by hearing their comments and suggestions.  The Internet has proven to be a great tool as well and having a web site is a big help. I sell at all kinds of retail shows from Science fiction conventions, Renaissance Faires,  New Age Expos, Holiday shows, Wildlife and Native American shows, and Trade shows.   

Q: What is the best thing about pursuing the work you pursue?
A: That I get a chance to do what I dreamed of doing with my life and work.  This I am eternally grateful to Spirit.   Also, I get to be my own boss… which is great on one end but I am also my own worst ‘slave driver’

Q: What are the earning possibilities in your line of work?
A: If you have a good sellable style and are able to keep up with the demands in this biz there is allot to offer.  I feel in these rough times, people want things to help them imagine and detach from their day to day.  So if one can create to appeal to the masses then the earning potential is great.

Q: What would you advise to others who are contemplating art as a career?
A: Patience and never give up being creative and innovative.  A niche always does open eventually if you are following your true hearts desire.  It is a big world with plenty of room to be creative.

To view Sandra’s work, visit her Web site at
Contact Sandra at
Windwolf Studio
POB 1177
Minnetonka, MN  55345
Valentina Laurence Pfeil is a graphic designer in San Francisco, California. Her expertise is book cover design.

Q: Tell me a little about your business and how you got started.
A:  I graduated from Art Center College in Pasadena, CA majoring in graphic design. I had been in the design field for years doing corporate ID and collateral (brochures, catalogs, invitation pkgs, etc.) when my mother  (Frances Laurence) wrote a terrific book called Maverick Women; she and her publisher, Virginia Cornell/Manifest Publications asked me to design the cover.

Q: You work a day job as editor and coordinator for a book packager? Is that where you get your leads?
A: That was one of my motivations for taking this job which is part time. My family and I relocated to the SF Bay area a couple years ago from Southern CA.  I wanted to get well networked so that I could get my work seen and considered with less effort! As a mother of a 10 year-old, I don’t have as much time as I once did for schmoozing and marketing. I’ve had to put time and effort into learning book production, but I now feel I can start tapping into the contacts I’ve made thus far.

I’ve also been a design instructor over a ten-year period through UC Extension … “shepherding” a book through production feels very similar to “mentoring” students. I’ve enjoyed a great sense of accomplishment doing both.

Q: Is your primary design business around books or do you do other types of design work?
A: I decided to focus on books so I haven’t been soliciting other kinds of work since I moved, and have turned down several projects that have been offered me.

Q:  What is the most difficult part about pursuing this kind of work?
A:  I believe it’s about the same as seeking other kinds of design work. When you’re just getting started, your potential clients already have vendors who they’ve built up a working relationship with. Sometimes that equates to having zero motivation to risk trying out a new talent. You have to have high caliber work and a venue/program for getting it noticed — and/or you have to develop great contacts. If you’re covering both those bases and are pleasantly persistent, you will be in position to get that first book design assignment when a design director is looking for something different, or their tried-and-true designer is going trekking in Nepal or retiring to raise triplets.

Q:  What are the greatest rewards?
A: First, if you’re an avid reader like me, you get a good excuse to read all kinds of material you might not encounter otherwise. I’ve had the privilege and pleasure of working with/for some terrific people in publishing, many of whom I know only via phone, fax and email! The image of the solitary artist toiling away doesn’t apply to me at all. Of course, it is also fun to see your work in a bookstore window or on

Q: What would you advise others who are interested in starting a business in this field?
A:  If you have no design training whatsoever — get some — via classes and books. Learn all you can about the use of typography and color! If you can already claim proficiency in design, offer to design a book/cover for expenses only, for a self-publishing friend or family member. Join a publishing industry group such as Bookbuilders West and attend their events. Put up a website and start putting book work on it, even if it’s labeled “concept for …”. The website is KEY. It lends its owner “legitimacy” and makes them instantly accessible to busy potential clients. Many companies and publishers now won’t even consider a Creative whose work they can’t check out online first. (Note to self: I’m overdue to take my own advice and get my own site up) Check online bulletin boards for Creative want ads. Lastly, I can recommend supplementing design training with working in production to see the big picture and pick your direction.

Q:  Most of our readers are self-publishers, do you have any suggestions for those who are looking for someone to design the cover for their book?
A:  Ask for referrals from other self-publishers, or publishing groups. Look for ads in publishing publications. Do a search on the Internet to find and browse book designers’ websites. Get informed about design fees, and think about your objectives/target audience before you meet with a designer (whether by phone, email or face to face) so you can communicate clearly about your needs.

Valentina Laurence Pfeil

Featured Editor/Publisher Interview

This month I asked Adam Van Loon of March Magazine about their requirements and opportunities for artists. Here’s what he had to say:

Q: What sort of illustrations are you seeking for use in March Magazine?
A: Everything in March must look “smart” so to speak.  At the same time it must look “jazzy,” “classy,” and have a strong design sense.  A difficult tightrope to walk, I know!

 Q:  How do you want those illustrations presented to your staff? Who should the artist contact?
A:  Illustrators should send one or two sample thumbs and a link to their Web site to

Q:  Do you have any advice to someone seeking an outlet for their artwork?
A:  Read the magazine first, of course, which is available at  

Adam Van Loon
March Magazine
1720 NW Lovejoy Street, Suite 208
Portland, Oregon  97209-2338
tel: 503-226-2795

Bonus Item

Author, Nell Gavin has come up with a new idea. She has opened a consignment bookstore in her hometown of Waxahachie, Texas. What’s so unique about this business? Gavin will carry only autographed books. In fact, she is looking for books right now to fill Book and Quill Collectibles. Here’s my interview with Nell Gavin:

Q:  Please describe your new venture: Book and Quill Collectibles.
 A: B&QC is a shop that will sell autographed books on consignment, sent to us directly from the authors. It is starting out in a very small shop (it once was a barbershop!), sharing space with an artist, who is graciously renting to me until I can find a larger shop (this location is a very tight market). It is located off the Square in the town of Waxahachie, Texas, which served as the location for a number of movies in the 1980s, and which is still a popular tourist destination.

Q:  How did you come up with the idea for a bookshop featuring autographed books?
A: Frustration and noticing the frustration of other authors was the impetus. We were all sitting in a row signing books at a book festival, watching customers walk past us in the very CENTER of the aisle (so as not to edge too close to any of us on either side of the aisle), avoiding eye contact with all of us, not buying our books. At the same time, these customers clearly wanted to be there and purchase autographed books.
Booths that were impersonal-bookshop or publicist booths-seemed to draw a lot of traffic and ring up a lot of sales. One very obscure author in a publicist’s booth went through two cases of books-a small group of us kind of chewed on that one for a while, trying to dissect the specific psychology behind it. It was as if individual authors were outside the comfort zone of the typical person; customers found us threatening when they faced us one-to-one. In my opinion, they were afraid to pick up a book and have the author watch them put it back down if they decided not to buy it. Or maybe they were afraid they’d end up having to buy books they didn’t want, just to be polite. So they skirted on past us and kept walking toward the impersonal bookshop and publicist booths, and most never even looked at us.
The problem was, how do we get autographed books to people who obviously want them, without intimidating them?
So I went from one author to the next and polled them. Would they give me signed books to sell for them on consignment, and make it an impersonal “group” effort? Every single author I approached said, “Yes.” In fact, some of them were ready to hand me their books right then – I had to tell them “no”.
Then I started emailing authors and proposing it to them, and virtually everyone was ready to sign on with me. Only a few (less than 10 out of hundreds) didn’t respond. So I knew I had a business if I simply coordinated it.
It started out as a small venture-I was going to “test” it on a Renaissance festival, where I would only have to commit to an eight-week stint, before opening an actual shop somewhere. But we didn’t get accepted to the festival, so I skipped that step and went straight to opening a brick and mortar shop.

Q:  Would you give us a little of your background as it relates to writing/operating a bookstore?
A:  My professional background is in software product management. I designed, did all of the content development and some of the programming development, and for a number of years did most of the marketing for the product. I had to write the press releases and give all the presentations to upper management and the corporate customers. And I managed a team of programmers, documentation designers, translators, technical project leads and quality control analysts. So in addition to doing my own work, I was responsible for orchestrating everyone else’s work, and taking the heat for it if we slipped behind schedule.
What this taught me was how to approach, organize and manage a new venture-getting the bookstore operational is amazingly like releasing a software product, except I’m finding it to be considerably easier! Everything has fallen into place-which is something that never happens in the software world. So even though I’m theoretically in the “crunch” phase of the project, it almost feels as though I’ve retired to the tropics by comparison to what I’m used to doing.

Q:  Does the fact that you’re an author help in the implementation of this project? I guess it helps to love books and authors generally do. What’s your philosophy on this?
A:  Because I’m an author, I know what authors need, and what venues are available to them, what challenges they face, and what they are willing to do to sell their books. I know what kind of contract they’re willing to sign-or SHOULD and should NOT sign-and what kind of services they can use, or can offer. For instance, a non-author wouldn’t realize that a large number of authors also ghost write, lecture or give workshops as a sideline. My shop will have a display where contracted authors can leave their business cards to solicit clients for their writing services. I’ll pass out their bookmarks to customers, and display their promotional posters in the shop to help them sell their books. I’ll take them with me to book festivals so they can sell their books in a more impersonal, non-threatening environment-and save them the entry fees.
At the same time, these authors are providing me with the support I need to sell MY book, which is really the fundamental reason I’m doing this. (I now unequivocally know there is at least one book store that will always carry my book!) Without them I wouldn’t have a shop-which is turning out to be very fun-and without them I’d be sitting in a row at a book festival, watching customers avoid my eyes, not selling much.
Authors tend to be very chummy and supportive, I’ve found. I enjoy networking with them and I’m making lots of friends, so I’m thoroughly enjoying this whole effort. I don’t think they would respond as well to someone who is strictly a business person approaching them with a proposal that focuses more on the business than on the authors. It wouldn’t be a good fit: there would be a barrier to understanding, and less trust between us, I think. The authors would get the short end of it, paying fees for everything, and getting substandard promotion in exchange for it (that’s already happening at one online bookstore I found that sells autographed books). The fact that I’m an author gives me credibility: I am one of them, and we are all motivated to sell books.
Q:  Why do you think this is a good opportunity for authors? What are the benefits?
A:  Getting your books into book stores is EXTREMELY challenging. Those of us who are not John Grisham or Anne Rice find self-promotion to be daunting. Publishers, especially small ones, face the same challenges in placing their titles in bookstores. B&QC is simply another bookstore, which will one day be another bookstore chain, so it provides authors with another opportunity to find an audience.
The benefit is that, signed books have greater value to the customer. In fact, I suspect that customers will hesitate to leave the shop without buying something, either for themselves or as gifts. And I think the state of the economy might spur sales rather than limit them. People don’t know what to invest in anymore. With the purchase of a signed book, there is always the promise and possibility of hitting the jackpot someday, as those people who took a chance on John Grisham’s first book (which he sold out of the trunk of his car!) learned. At the very least, they’ll have something to read which, in fact, is ALL they get from typical bookstores.
In addition, I’m giving authors the option of personalizing signatures for customers. The customer will purchase the book from B&QC, stipulate how it should be signed and to whom, and pay us a small “hassle” fee we’ll share with the author. We’ll notify the author of the sale, how to sign the book and where to send it. The authors will ship these books directly to the customers, much as they would if they were selling their own books on Marketplace.

Primarily, a bookshop that sells only autographed books has just enough of a “gimmick” to draw a crowd, I think. I expect to have no problem finding takers for my press release-which I won’t be able to send out until I find a bigger shop that can handle the traffic-and no problem finding people who are willing to travel a little bit out of their way to shop there.

Q:  You said you would be screening books before accepting them once you get more established. Do you have a sense about what sort of books you’ll be specializing in?
A: The book shop will ALWAYS sell every kind of book. When I find out which genres sell best to this particular market (the “rural tourist town in Texas” market), I’ll order more of them and less of the others, but I will always carry everything. I can’t really predict how it will go, in terms of screening. One of the things I’ve learned over the years is to gather up all the information and study it, then test it “live” before I make my decisions. In the software world, it’s called “Usability testing”. You think your design is flawless, until you watch a customer struggle with it on the other side of a two-way mirror. The best approach is to wait and see, gather the facts, be flexible, and address situations as they arise. What I suspect, though, is that I will always be rotating books, trying to give everyone a chance eventually, only screening out books that have a history of not selling in that particular shop, but keeping them on file to try at another shop, should one ever open up.
Q:  Tell us about the opportunities for authors to participate in your book festival booths.
A:  Book festivals sometimes charge authors pretty hefty fees to participate-one charges $350 for a table if you book early, $550 if you don’t! By taking authors along with me, I’m saving them the fees, accepting credit cards on their behalf, giving them a supportive signing environment, and eliminating the “scary eye-contact” factor that keeps them from selling books. There won’t be many slots for them. A 10′ by 10′ booth doesn’t have a lot of room, and some of the shows don’t have enough traffic to warrant more than a few authors to a booth. But I’ll invite authors to apply for the slots and assign those slots using a lottery, if more authors apply than I can take with me.
As a guest of Book and Quill, these authors will have us sell their books for them, using the same reimbursement methods that we would use if we were selling the books in the store. They would be reimbursed later on for the amount indicated on their consignment contracts, and we would keep our markup. We’ll hit every festival we can, expanding further out as we go.
B&QC will not only promote itself and its authors at festivals, but it will solicit authors there as well. And we will take other books along as well, not only books by the guest authors.

Q:  What plans do you have for the future of Book and Quill Collectibles?
A: I plan to franchise the shop. I see no reason why other authors (I would prefer that other shops also be owned by authors) can’t rent space in other storefronts, selling books from the main author list I’m creating now. It would simply increase the market for all of us, and enable authors who don’t sell well in one location to try their books out in another. As I envision it, B&QC can manage the operation, study the sales figures in the various shops, and instruct authors where to send their books based on inventory needs, and on what sells best where. Meanwhile, the shop owner would simply pay the rent and utilities, and manage the physical inventory.
But all that is down the road. We have to see how it goes first.
In the more immediate future, I’m working with a programmer to design and develop an E-store (slipping back into my Product Manager hat), where authors can post their own autographed books for sale, and handle their own shipments to the customers. It will be much like Marketplace with the same sales fees they charge, but limited ONLY to the authors, who will have password protected access to their own titles so no one else can re-sell their books on the site. Once again, design during the planning stages and design at implementation are usually very different things. I’ve done this for too many years to make firm promises on how it will end up!

Q:  Don’t forget contact information: Web site address, storefront address, etc.
My legal name is Maureen Gilliland (I’m writing as “Nell Gavin”), and I will be the one signing all B&QC contracts.
Mailing address (contracts and so forth)
Book and Quill Collectibles
PO Box 3051
Waxahachie Tx. 75165
 Physical address:
Book and Quill Collectibles
108 Franklin Street
Waxahachie, Tx.  75165
(No phone yet, no fax yet)
 Web site:

Coming Up

The May issue of the SPAWN Market Update will cover information for independent (small) publishers. I’ll interview self-publishing guru Dan Poynter.