SPAWN Market Update – December 2011

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This issue brings hundreds of gifts for authors and freelance writers in the form of new publisher listings, links to online critique groups and paying article/story markets, including links to 7 religious magazine directories. Learn what’s new in the world of publishing and discover the best books on book promotion. We also offer interviews with a new ebook publisher and the founder of a new do-it-yourself PR program for authors.

  • Here’s What’s New—Marketplace Fairness Act explained, 41 new bookstores opening, Kindle lending library at Amazon, PW Best Books for 2011 and more
  • Opportunities for Freelance Writers – 11 paying mags, including within the lucrative religious market; plus 7 directories of religious/Christian/spiritual magazines seeking submissions.
  • Opportunities for Authors – 6 potential publishers and online manuscript critique groups for authors.
  • Book Promotion Opportunities – 5 must-have books for authors who are promoting books.
  • Going, Going, Gone – 9 magazines and a publisher have closed down.
  • Bonus Items – An interview with Conda Douglas a partner in a new ebook publishing house, Barbarian Books AND an interview with Dan Smith, founder of YouDoPR, a do-it-yourself PR program.

Here’s What’s New

On November 9, 2011 ABA announced that a bipartisan group of legislators introduced the Marketplace Fairness Act, legislation that would provide states with authorization to require remote sellers to collect and remit state sales tax. This means that when we (authors) sell books from our websites to someone from out of state, if it is a state that embraces the Marketplace Fairness Act, we must collect sales tax from the customer and pay it to their state. The supporters of this piece of legislation says it “will level the playing field by authorizing states to require out-of-state retailers to collect and remit sales tax to the state for purchases made by their residents.” Well, it would be important to the coffers of the various states, of course, but it sounds like a pain for those of us who sell books and art to people all over the U.S. However, just like every other change we’ve been forced into or have accepted, if it comes into being, we will learn to live with it.

Did you hear that Books-a-Million have been setting up shop (opening bookstores) in some of the buildings Borders vacated? They have opened 41 stores so far—mostly in the east: PA, VA, MD, ME, NY…

This is too juicy to put in our Going, Going, Gone section. Lee Goldberg wrote in his blog 10/11/11 that Jones Harvest Publishers had gone out of business. And he seems awfully happy that they did. Evidently, there were so many complaints about this company that there were blogs devoted to them. Read what Goldberg has to say. And be sure to scroll down and catch the comments left in response by the publishers at Jones Harvest. http://leegoldberg.typepad.com/a_writers_life. (10/11/11).

Amazon has announced that they will launch the Kindle Owners Lending Library for Amazon Prime members who pay $79 per year for free shipping, etc. These members can borrow one book a month for free. However, word is that none of the major publishers are participating in the program. Some publishers are concerned that lending will replace selling. Evidently, Amazon is offering publishers something in return for their participation in this program. Keep your ears open for updates on this program.

Check out Publishers Weekly’s best book picks of 2011. The link is sooooo long, that I decided to make it easy for you. Just do an Internet search using this as a prompt: “Publishers Weekly Best Books 2011.” They also list their Best Children’s Books. I hope some of your books are listed.

Opportunities for Freelance Writers

Integrity is a new Christian business magazine coming out of Nova Scotia. They plan to feature inspirational business people and post articles on ethics and values in the workplace. So far, I cannot find out if they are a paying market. http://integritymagazine.ca. Editorial@integritymagazine.ca.

Hola South Jersey launched a few months ago. The magazine will profile successful Latino professionals in the area of south Jersey and feature businesses run by Latinos. If you live in Salem, Cumberland, Gloucester or Cape May, and know someone you could interview for this magazine, contact the editors with your idea. http://www.nj.com/sunbeam-news

Regional and religious magazines are fairly abundant. Yet, few freelance writers think to tap into them. I’m fairly certain that some of you are submitting to regional publications after reading some of my posts about how to break in and after seeing my list of opportunities for freelance writers with regard to regional magazines. It’s a huge field and a great opportunity for writers. This month, I’d like to focus on the “religious” market. When I was writing articles for a living (yes, I made my living writing articles for magazines), I wrote for a number of magazines that would fit in the “religious” or “spiritual” category. And some of them pay quite well.

In most cases, you do not have to be of a particular faith in order to write for the magazine. There is one publication, however, that insists that, before they publish your work, you must sign something saying you are a believer in what they believe in. I am not including them here.

There are over 70 publications under “religious” in the 2012 Writer’s Market. You can also do a search for specific denomination magazines, ezines, etc. Here are 6 directories of religious magazines:

http://christiandirectory.info/html/Christian_Publications/Magazines http://findchristianmagazines.com

http://jaysnell.org/links/christianmagazines.html

http://www.hwy777.com/christian-directory/media/magazines.html

http://www.magazinetraining.com/MagazineDirectory

http://www.world-newspapers.com/christian.html

Here are a few magazines you might not have thought to approach:

Catholic Digest uses book excerpts as well as how-to, personal experience, travel and inspirational articles and more. I found it quite easy to do business with the editors at Catholic Digest. And their pay is decent—somewhere around $200 to $300 for an original 350 to 1,500-word article. They pay $100 for reprints. http://www.catholicdigest.com. You’ll find their submission guidelines at their website.

I also wrote for Catholic Forester and collected 50 cents/word for 500-1,500-word articles. This magazine also publishes fiction and poetry. http://www.catholicoforester.org. My articles were typically related to family interaction and parenting issues.

I loved writing for Columbia—another Catholic publication (no, I am not Catholic). They paid around $500-$600 per piece when I wrote for them. They use nonfiction, poetry, cartoons and even some fiction. http://www.kofc.org/columbia.

Highway News sounds like an interesting magazine to write for. It has a small circulation, so probably doesn’t pay much. Request submission guidelines by email: editor@transportforchrist.org. Contact: Inge Koenig. This magazine covers trucking and Christianity and they publish nonfiction (essays, personal experience, photo features, humor, etc. as well as fiction, poetry and fillers). http://www.transportforchrist.org.

Here’s another interesting concept—Image: Art, Faith, Mystery. This magazine comes out of Seattle and it focuses on the relationship between faith and art through fiction, poetry and art.  Guidelines are at the website: http://www.imagejournal.org.

Then there’s the Lutheran Digest, http://www.lutherandigest.com and Presbyterians Today, http://www.pcusa.org/today

Message Magazine is fairly easy to break into with relevant articles. They want to see complete manuscripts on issues such as overcoming depression, getting closer to God, learning from failure, dealing with economic issues and so forth. http://www.messagemagazine.org

If you can write for parents of school-age children, consider submitting an article to Christian Home and School. They, too, were easy to work with. http://www.csionline.org.

 Opportunities for Authors

Demontreville Press, a publisher of fiction, is now accepting nonfiction on environmental issues, energy, transportation, etc. Here’s what they post at their website: “Demontreville Press, Inc. is an independent publishing house that produces high-quality books that interest readers by telling compelling stories. Initially, the company published only automotive fiction and adventure tales, but has recently branched out to include well-researched books dealing with current affairs and environmental, energy, and infrastructure concerns.” If you have something they might be interested in, email them at publisher@demontrevillepress.com. Tell them a little about your project and they will respond. Their website is at: http://www.demontrevillepress.com

Here’s a new ebook publisher. Meghan Kilduff contacted me a few weeks ago to tell me about her company, Paperless Publishing. Not only do they publish ebooks, but they offer a conversion service—you can have your print books converted into ebooks. Meghan says they also help authors to get their books on the top retail sites. Contact Meghan at mk@paperlesspub.com. Visit their site at http://www.paperlesspub.com. For an ebook conversion quote, go to http://www.paperlesspub.com/equote.html

BookieJar is an ebook publishing and distribution company for independent authors and it’s FREE. They make their money on sales, offering a 70/30 split. The author gets the larger amount. I found their list of services to be interesting and quite complete. Check them out here: http://www.bookiejar.com. View their submission guidelines here: http://www.bookiejar.com/Help/SubmissionGuidelines

Seventh Street Books is a new imprint of Prometheus Books. They plan to publish mysteries and thrillers, with their first titles debuting in fall/winter 2012-2013. Their goal is eventually 32 to 35 titles per year. You’ll find Seventh Street Books mentioned at Prometheus Books website: http://prometheusbooks.com. The Editorial Director for Seventh Street Books is Dan Mayer. Contact him at dmayer@prometheusbooks.com

Betty Dobson of InkSpotter Publishing has recently announced that the company is up and running again. In fact, they are looking for manuscripts on health and lifestyle topics, as well as poetry collections and children’s books. Dobson says that biographies, memoirs and family/local histories are always welcome. http://www.inkspotter.com

Carina Press has put out a call for submissions. They are looking for everything from atypical fantasy, stories with a mythological element and historical to steampunk and cross-genre urban fantasy. This company works with a group of freelance editors and they all want to see something different. Rhonda Helms is open to pretty much every genre, including stories set in unusual locales, thrillers and funny books. She particularly likes Gladiators. Gina Bernal is looking for romance with military heroes and heroines, historical romance, and paranormal stories. Melissa Johnson is especially excited to see manuscripts with series potential. Alison Janssen appreciates medieval stories, redemption stores and small town contemporary romance, among others. Get the whole scoop here: http://carinapress.com/blog/tag/submissions/

Online Writers’ Critique Sites

I often suggest to hopeful authors, who are in the beginning stages of writing a book, that they join a writers’ critique group and participate for a while. This is a good way for new writers to learn more about the process of writing—creating story—and for budding novelists or nonfiction book writers to find out if they have a viable project or not. While I wouldn’t necessarily suggest this as a final step before publishing, this is an excellent initial strategy for many authors.

Some of you live in areas where there are not established critique groups available. Some of you don’t drive long distances at night and can’t easily attend groups that meet in the next county. You will be happy to know that there are online critique groups. Here are a few to check out:

http://www.critiquecircle.com

http://www.scribophile.com

http://www.reviewfuse.com

http://www.webook.com

Locate others by doing your own Internet search. And good luck.

Book Promotion Opportunities

This month I’d like to provide you a list of excellent books on book promotion. This gift is farther reaching than almost any other I could offer. While I love listing specific book promotion opportunities and I delight in finding resources to potentially help you in your book promotion efforts, this list of books can potentially send your book sales soaring if only you will apply some of the tips and techniques.

1: Promote Your Book, Over 250 Proven, Low-Cost Tips and Techniques for the Enterprising Author (Allworth Press, 2011) by Patricia Fry. (Of course, I’m going to list my book first.) Order it from the publisher’s website: http://www.allworth.com/Promote_Your_Book_p/1-58115-857-1.htm, my website: http://www.matilijapress.com/PromoteYourBook.html, at BarnesandNoble.com, IndieBound.com or at Amazon: http://amzn.to/oe56Ia

2: Carolyn Howard-Johnson’s The Frugal Book Promoterhttp://howtodoitfrugally.com

3: Penny Sansevieri’s Red Hot Internet Publicity (2nd edition). Available at http://www.amarketingexpert.com and http://www.amazon.com.

4: Brian Jud’s How to Make Real Money Selling Books. http://www.bookmarketingworks.com

5: 1001 Ways to Market Your Books by John Kremer. http://www.bookmarket.com

Going, Going, Gone

Ebooks Rising, a new independent publishing house, seems to have quit before really getting started. I planned to feature this company under “Opportunities for Authors,” but kept coming up against dead ends when attempting to verify their existence. When I found that their domain name was for sale and when my email to them promptly bounced, I figured they must have gone under. Too bad. Sounded like a decent company.

Gaze Magazine has folded.

Homemakers will quit publishing after their holiday issue.

Holmes will also cease publication with their December 2011 issue.

Bridal Local Magazine has closed

Columbia Gorge Magazine has ceased publication

Dogs in Canada, a 100-year-old magazine, will close after the December issue.

The Scientist will no longer be published

Catholic World Report will go online only

Homelitic & Pastoral Review will be online only after this year.

Bonus Item Number One

Here’s my interview with Conda Douglas, co-partner with Bruce Demaree in Barbarian Books, a new ebook publisher on the block.

Q: Please tell us a little about Barbarian Books—your vision and your plan for the company.

A: By focusing on digital formats only, no print, Barbarian Books can be faster and more flexible than traditional publishers. We accept stories on their merit alone, not on how marketable they may be. Barbarian Books specializes in genre fiction, all lengths. We see Barbarian Books becoming the “go to” site for fresh, unusual, sometimes even unclassifiable stories. We want readers to know that every ebook we offer will be a well written, engaging story.

Q: What is your background in publishing—what inspired you to launch this ebook
company?

A: All of us have worked as authors and editors. Both Conda Douglas (Co-Owner and eTalent Scout) and Kathy MacIntosh (eTalent Scout) have been published many times. We are all aware that the publishing industry is in flux. The old ways don’t work as well as they once did. It seemed like the advent of ebooks was making the entire process more difficult when it should be getting easier. Digital is faster, cheaper to publish and easier to distribute. Authors are creating a nearly endless supply of well written stories. E-Reader owners are demonstrating an insatiable appetite for the same. Publishers no longer have to limit their new releases to accommodate the constraints of print. Barbarian Books was created to quickly identify, then publish “great reads.” Our offerings will be aggressively priced ($3.99 for novels). Our costs will be low, so we can pay the author 70 percent royalties.

Q: One thing that interests me (and probably your authors) is your promise to aggressively promote the ebooks you publish. Please outline for us some of the promotional tactics you plan.

A: Marketing ebooks requires some new approaches and out-of-the-box thinking. At Barbarian Books, we’ve asked the question, “In the incredibly crowded ebook world, who do the readers trust to find great reads?” Traditionally, publishers have stayed in the background, almost anonymous. Readers have had to remember author’s names, titles or characters to find their books. This makes it difficult for new and even established authors to succeed. With Barbarian Books, readers will have a site they can trust. We are heavily branding Barbarian Books as the place to go, to easily find affordable stories in any genre, length or style a reader desires.

To earn the reader’s trust our site must offer quality, variety and novelty. Our streamlined process will allow us to quickly identify and publish well written manuscripts. We are seeking publication-ready works. By necessity, print publishers must choose fewer titles and edit those stories to appeal to broad marketing demographics in order to justify the cost of print runs. At Barbarian Books our only concern is how well written the story is and how engaging the characters are. After that we will accept as many or as few manuscripts each month as meet our standards. No quotas and no limits.

We will, of course, use the new media to promote our company and our authors. Social media such as Facebook, Twitter and Google+ as well as blogs, networking and Internet advertising. We will also use advanced tactics like Search Engine Optimization. Even old media like print, radio and video may be used when needed. Every time we promote our website or any individual author or title, all of our authors benefit from the increased traffic and awareness.

Our friendly and fun website will be easy to navigate. We will have a “Readers Side” where readers can participate as much or as little as they like. Readers will gain price advantages by visiting the site often, by providing reviews on our titles onsite and by participating in our various special offers. Shoppers will be motivated to keep coming back.

Q: Is there an additional fee for the various promotional activities?

A: No fees ever. This is not vanity publishing, we intend to stay in business solely on our 30 percent of profit. We won’t succeed unless we make sure that you succeed. You cannot buy your way into being published by us with cash. Your cost is the time and effort it takes to create that “Great Read” we promise in our motto, “Great Reads for Great Readers.”

Q: Authors of ebooks are often stymied by the concept of book promotion. What are some of the differences you’ve found between promoting a print book and promoting an ebook? 

A: In many ways, promoting an ebook is both easier and harder than print. It’s easier because once an ebook is released, it’s easily available and it stays available. This is huge. New works benefit from past promotion of previous releases. Older works are easily available and benefit from the promotion of your new release. All promotion is cross marketing.

What’s hard for an individual author is what Barbarian Books addresses in our branding and promotion. Self-publish and you are one of many thousands of titles self-published. Some self-published ebooks are great and some are terrible. How do you stand out in such a crowd?  Readers are looking for someone they can trust. If Barbarian Books accepts your manuscript readers will know it’s a great story.

Q: What would you advise first and foremost to your authors when it comes to promoting an ebook?

A: One of the many benefits of the virtual world is, ironically, its permanence. Last week’s New York Times is already in the recycle bin. Last year’s review of that short story you wrote for an ezine still comes up in the search results. This means that everything you do to build awareness of your name (your brand!) keeps working for you forever. It’s all cross marketing. So establish a professional online presence. Facebook, Twitter, a blog or your own website, whatever fits your skills and personality. Keep it active and keep it relevant to your genre or subject.

And: the writing always comes first. Never spend too much time marketing. Leave that up to the people publishing your book, it’s our job.

Q: What message would you like to give authors out there who are seeking a  publisher?

A: Write more. No matter what, continue to believe in yourself and your writing. If you’ve worked to learn how to write and then worked to write the best story you can, then it’s time to send in that manuscript and write another one. Writing is meant to be read. Any publisher will tell you that all judgment of your work is subjective. Yes, it’s difficult and frustrating sometimes, but trust that you are a writer and keep writing, and submitting. Do those two things and you will succeed, perhaps with Barbarian Books!

Q: Please add anything you would like. And be sure to give us your contact information.

A: We’d like all authors and readers to be as excited about this new ebook world as we are. Imagine tons of fantastic reading at your fingertips. That’s our new reality.

At Barbarian Books, we’ll let readers decide what they want and like to read. Learn more at: http://www.barbarianbooks.com/submissions/default.html

Bonus Item Number 2

We spoke with Dan Smith, acclaimed PR professional who recently established a new do-it-yourself PR firm, YouDoPR. Here’s my interview with Dan.

Q: Please describe your company—in a nutshell, what do you offer?

A: YouDoPR provides authors with do-it-yourself book marketing services ranging from genre-specific media lists, samples press releases and pitches, automated social media postings, publishing industry resources and press release distribution. Authors get access to all of the materials professional publicists utilize, and, unlike any other DIY book publicity service, can seamlessly distribute pitches and press releases to media exactly as publicists do.

Q: Tell us a little about yourself (and your partners in YouDoPr.com) and what inspired you to create this company.

A: I founded Smith Publicity in 1997, and it has since become one of the leading book marketing agencies in the industry. As self-publishing has boomed, more books than ever are being published. Because agencies like mine charge several thousand of dollars a month for comprehensive publicity services, the vast majority of authors simply cannot afford professional publicists. Although Smith Publicity has grown every year and we have so many authors contact us that we have to turn some away, there are still many new authors who just can’t afford to hire us or another agency.

YouDoPR was created to fill this void and offer authors a very low cost service with true value. Aside from being able to actively promote their book through our website automatic press release distribution, for example, authors can take advantage of pre-arranged publishing vendor discounts such as Combined Book Exhibit (in which books are displayed at publishing industry trade shows) and almost instantly recoup the cost of their YouDoPR membership.

Q: Who are your clients/members? What are they hoping to get when they sign up for your program?

A: Our members are both self-published and traditional authors who cannot afford to hire a professional book marketing agency. When they utilize all of the YouDoPR services, they can actually promote their books just like a professional publicist, and join a community of authors with whom they can connect through online forums and both on-site and automated social media.

Q: I notice you have a couple of options for members—even free membership. Would you describe the options for our readers?

A: Free membership enables authors to join YouDoPR and connect with other authors on the site through forums and messaging. They also get their own member profile page on which they can showcase their books and discuss interests and seek advice and tips from other authors.

  • Basic membership provides members examples of professional press releases and media pitches for various book genres so they can create their own. They also get access to book publicity “how to” articles and tip-sheets as well as monthly, updated genre specific media lists which provide contact information for editors, producers, freelance writers, etc. Basic Members can also take advantage of discounted pricing which we’ve arranged with key publishing industry vendors, from printers and editors to website developers and social media specialists. They also get their own member profile page and automated social media postings

Premium membership includes all of the other member benefits with the addition of a very valuable service: press release distribution. One time a month, authors can let YouDoPR do the work and distribute their press release to up to 500 media contacts. Members choose a list such as talk radio, national TV, or specific media beat contacts such as lifestyle editors at newspapers, book reviewers, etc. They write a press release and introductory pitch, upload it to us, and we distribute it. Media responses come directly back to the author.

Q: Have you been doing this long enough to have received feedback from members, yet? What are members saying?

A: The concept has been very well received by authors, publishers and groups to whom we’ve reached out. We are adding additional services and launch is set for November, or December at the latest.

Q: On your website, you state that you provide the expertise, tools and direct media outreach…how are these things dispensed? Do you work with each member personally? Do you do this through a newsletter or do you have a list of ideas and mailing lists, etc. for members to choose from?

A: The website and service is essentially completely do-it-yourself, however, we have phone help available as well as a very informative guided tour. We will also be issuing a monthly newsletter with various YouDoPR service tips. The site is designed to be extremely user-friendly to the point that within an hour of signing up, an author can be actively reaching out to media.

Q: What does the member have to do in order to promote his or her book? Do you advise which activities are best for which authors and which books or do you provide the same program for every author?

A: Members should first educate themselves by reviewing the how-to information and articles and our professional sample press releases and pitches, which we have for almost every genre. After that, the most important activity is to begin reaching out to media. Because we offer lists for each genre and topic, each author can have an individualized campaign, specific to their book.

Q: What is the fee for your offerings?

A: -Free Memberships

-$49 per month for basic membership

-$99 per month for premium membership

Q: Please add anything you would like to add. And be sure to include your contact information.

A: YouDoPR and all of its offerings are made possible by the experience I have promoting over 1,000 books over fifteen years. My goal is to offer a service with true, tangible value at a very low cost. So many authors can’t see their literary dreams come true simply because of money. We want to change that. Please contact us as admin@youdopr.com

Editor’s Note: YouDoPr.com is offering ten SPAWN author members each one month free membership. Five authors can get a free basic membership (regularly $49 per month), and five members can get the premium membership (regularly $99/month). Free memberships are on a first-come, first served basis.

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