SPAWN Market Update – February 2010

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Contents

  • Announcement – 100th issue of the SPAWN Market Update
  • Here’s What’s New – 5 tidbits of interest and controversy
  • Opportunities for Freelance Writers – 7 promising leads, 2 job databases and a “bookkeeping” site for freelance writers
  • Opportunities for Authors – a new publisher in Canada and two large online publishers’ directories.
  • Book Promotion Opportunities – hundreds of speaking engagement leads, get on BookTV, book trailers, new book festival directory
  • Opportunities for Screenwriters and Playwrights – Ojai Playwrights Conference
  • Going, Going, Gone – 15 to report
  • Resources for Writers and Authors – 299 book promotion tools and advice
  • Bonus Item – article: How to Become a Magazine or Newspaper Columnist
  • Interviews with Experts – Louise May of Lee and Low Books
  • Janet Kobobel Grant of Books and Such Literary Agency

The 100th SPAWN Market Update

That’s right, this is the 100th issue of the SPAWN Market Update. We’ve been presenting this unique and valuable newsletter for members every month for over eight years—all of them archived here at the SPAWN website. How many opportunities, ideas and resources do 100 Market Updates contain? It could be as many as tens of thousands.

It is an interesting process putting the eight to eleven-page Market Update together each month. It takes ten to twenty hours and that’s just the writing/compilation process. I’m in research mode all the time—frequently printing out possible leads; jotting down website addresses; noting new sites, publications, publishers, agents, book promotion ideas, directories and news, for example. So I sincerely appreciate it when you bring warnings, recommendations, information, announcements, new sites, etc. to my attention.

I rolled back the calendar and checked one of the first issues of the SPAWN Market Update—produced in December of 2001. That month, we reported that 27 magazines and publishers had gone out of business. We did an extensive interview with a publisher as well as one with the originator of Fiction Addiction.

We established the ever-popular Opportunities sections in 2003. Looking toward the future, I’d like to do more expert and professional interviews, to give you an idea of what publishers, agents and others are thinking—what they want and don’t want from you. In fact, we’ve included interviews with a publisher and an agent in this issue. We hope to continue providing strong leads and valuable resources as well as the amazing Opportunities sections for freelance writers, authors seeking publishers or agents, authors with books to promote, screen writers, artists and photographers. I’d like to lean even more heavily on opportunities for authors and publishers with books to promote

Here’s to the next 100 issues of the SPAWN Market Update.

Thanks for reading,

Patricia Fry

Here’s What’s New

The Canadian Booksellers’ Conference will be held May 28 in Toronto. Watch for more on this.

Steve Rosato is the new Event Director for Book Expo America.

Lerner Publishers has bought Darby Creek, a publishing company that specializes in books for reluctant readers.

According to an editorial in the Freelance Writer’s Report, there has been quite an uproar with regard to Harlequin launching a self-publishing arm. It was originally to be known as Harlequin Horizons and, as we reported last month, it is now going to be called DellArte Press. It seems that the Romance Writers of America and the Mystery Writers of America are objecting by banning Harlequin from their lists of approved publishers. The organizers of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America are pushing Harlequin to provide their authors with a clear disclaimer, noting that their titles will not be sold through bookstores. They have also announced that those authors with Harlequin titles will no longer qualify for membership in SFWA.

You’ve probably heard—the new word of the year for 2009 is “Unfriend.”

Opportunities for Freelance Writers

Dream of Things is a new publisher seeking contributions to anthologies on a variety of topics, such as awe-inspiring travel stories, humorous travel stories, stories of forgiveness, lessons learned from sports experiences, stories about good teachers, coffee shop stories and more. If your story is accepted, you will get a percentage of the royalties from books sold. Learn more about Dream of Things and their policies and submission guidelines at, http://www.dreamofthings.com. (Note: Mike O’Mary, founder of Dream of Things, just became a SPAWN member this month. Welcome Mike.)

The Write Market at http://www.writemarket.com, lists markets for freelance writers in the area of business, writing, poetry, romance, sports, travel and more. While I don’t see a huge number of leads in each category, I certainly see some I have not heard of before—that are not listed in Writer’s Market, for example.

Workforce Management seeks freelance material. In their guidelines they say, “We are always looking for journalists who can craft stories for our very specific audience.” While their guidelines say that they negotiate payment with each writer, I understand that they will pay as much as $1.50 per word for pieces that pass their rigid guidelines. Locate guidelines here:

http://www.workforce.com/section/07/article/23/16/02.html

Are you familiar with the Writer’s Database? It’s a site where you can keep track of the articles you have sent out, whether it arrived at the editorial offices or not, the status of your manuscript and so forth. Here, you will also learn about new markets. Although they will accept donations, they advertise services for free. All you have to do is sign up. The web designer created this system for his own use and decided to share it with others. Check it out at http://wwwritersdb.com.

Be sure to read the Bonus Item in this issue. I write about how to land an assignment as a columnist. One key is to come up with a great column idea for a brand new magazine. The magazines below might just afford an eager and talented writer some possible opportunities. Be sure to follow my instructions under Bonus Item.

The Nevada Review is interested in essays dealing with history, cultural themes and more. They also publish short stories concerning Nevada and its people. http://www.thenevadareview.com. Contact Caleb S. Cage or Joe McCoy at thenevadareview@gmail.com. While they accept submissions, they probably do not pay at this time.

Richmond Family Magazine is a new magazine for all parents and expectant parents in the greater Richmond, VA area. They want essays and profile pieces as well as stories on family life, travel and more. Their pay is based on the contributor’s experience and the quality of his/her work. They pay on acceptance. Contact Karen Schwartzkopf Karen@richmondfamilymagazine.com. Website: http://www.richmondfamilymagazine.com.

Scottsdale Lifestyle Magazine pay on publication—fee to be determined when the piece is accepted. They want to see articles on local history, city issues, personalities, events, lifestyle and so forth related to Scottsdale, Arizona. Contact the editor here:  editor@scottsdalelifestylemagazine.com. Website:  http://www.scottsdalelifestylemagazine.com

Suffolk Living is a regional magazine of Suffolk, Virginia seeking nonfiction pieces on the people, places, homes, history and culture of the area. Contact Tim Reeves at, tim.reeves@suffolknewsherald.com. I don’t see guidelines at the website, so you might ask Tim to send them to you. Visit their website at: http://www.suffolklivingmag.com.

AllVoices.com pays as much as $250 for stories that generate enough traffic to warrant payment. Learn more at http://www.allvoices.com. If you want to be considered for the Provoices program, send your resume to journalist@allvoices.com.

FreelanceConnect is a new job bidding site for freelance writers and editors. Post writing projects or bid on them. The site takes a percentage of your fee. http://www.freelanceconnect.com.

Opportunities for Authors

The Write Market at http://www.writemarket.com lists publishers in a variety of topics and genres including poetry, mystery, history, humor, pets and animals, business, writing and more.

Publishers’ Catalog at http://www.lights.ca/publisher/alphabetic.html provides an enormous list of publishing houses of all kinds.

Carina Press, based in Canada, will begin publishing during the summer of 2010. They are seeking a variety of fiction titles in various word counts—from 50,000 to 100,000 in the area of romance, erotic romance and women’s fiction, as well as science fiction, horror and so forth. Contact Angela James submissions@carinapress.com. http://www.carinapress.com.

Book Promotion Opportunities

Are you ready to start planning your 2010/2011 speaking tour on behalf of your fiction or nonfiction book? Here are a few ideas and links to help you find appropriate venues:

Do a Google search in order to locate appropriate opportunities in specific areas. Use keywords, “health conference Nashville,” “spring pet events New York,” “mystery writers’ conference Midwest,” for example.

Here are a few sites for you to study.

To locate conferences on topics such as cooking, arts/crafts, writing and photography and more, go to: http://www.shawguides.com

Check out the following events and trade show sites for possible connections.

http://www.tsnn.com. They list events world-wide on over 100 topics.

http://www.eventseye.com lists over 15,000 trade shows, events, conferences, fairs throughout the world between Oct. 2009 and Sept 2011.

http://www.eventsinamerica.com. Here, you’ll find events related to photography, catering, advertising, education, architecture, business, health/foods, travel and others.

Book TV (C-SPAN) features nonfiction books all weekend from 8 a.m. Saturday through 8 a.m. Monday. For the schedule, go to http://www.booktv.org/schedule.aspx. If you think your book would fit into their program, contact them at booktv@c-span.org. Or call and leave a message here: 202-737-3220. Be sure to hone your one-sentence description of your book and also be prepared to give your 30-second spiel (elevator speech).

If you have a book related to history, you might find readers at History on the Web. They are hungry for articles on aspects of history throughout the world. Post your fascinating article and, perhaps, attract customers for your historical book. http://www.history-on-the-web.com. Contact them at contact@history-on-the-web.com

Do you need a book trailer and you don’t know where to turn? You might check with Idea Werks Studios as they are currently producing movie-style book trailers to help you sell your books. As always, while we think that having a book trailer for some authors and some book projects is a good idea, we are not necessarily recommending this company. It’s just one that we ran across and want to share for you to check out. http://www.ideawerksstudios.com.

Their least expensive package is $500. I read where one author made himself a nice book trailer for $16.50. My advice is to spend some time looking at book trailers for other books. Find out who made those you like most. Contact those companies/individuals. Good luck. If you decide to pursue this lead or you have a book trailer, I would love a report from you—maybe you could be a Market Update interviewee.

This month, I discovered a new (to me) listing of book festivals here: http://www.lights.ca/publisher/bookfairs.html

Opportunities for Screenwriters and Playwrights

Plan now to attend the 13th annual Ojai Playwrights Conference in Ojai, California the week of August 10th through 15th. Unfortunately, the deadline for submitting your play has passed. But there are still workshops and networking opportunities available. Learn more here: http://www.ojaiplays.org. This is their contact information: info@ojaiplays.org.

Going, Going, Gone

Instyle Weddings has quit publishing.

Bay Cities is going out of business.

Atlanta Life has folded.

Bloomberg Press is closing.

Bloomberg is also closing Small Biz.

Free Lunch will close due to the publisher’s illness.

Giant Magazine is ceasing publication, but they are launching a website.

Window Media has stopped publishing all of its Gay newspaper titles.

The winter issue of Legacy will be the last.

Metropolitan Home is no longer publishing.

Oro Valley Magazine has quit.

American Lawyer Media’s Real Estate Media Group is folding four regional magazines: Real Estate Florida, Real Estate New York, Real Estate Southern California and Real Estate New Jersey.

Resources for Writers and Authors

Do you visit the Absolute Write Water Cooler? I stumbled across their index of 299 book promotion tools and advice from the Water Cooler here. http://absolutewrite.com/forums/archive/index.php/f-48.html

Bonus Item – How to Become a Columnist

Would you like to become a newspaper or magazine columnist? That was my dream, too and I lived it for a while. I believe that this experience was an important step in my writing career. I learned about meeting deadlines, quelling writer’s block, the interview process, developing articles from column ideas and so much more.

You might want to become a columnist on a topic related to your book as a way of building credibility in your field and, perhaps, selling more books.

Here are some ideas to help you get started.

First, let me say that pay for writing a regular column might not be all that impressive. It depends on the publication/website. The pay for a newspaper columnist is notoriously low, unless your column is syndicated and published in large newspapers nationwide. That’s where the bucks are. Most likely, you’ll land a job as a columnist in your small or medium-size community newspaper. As for magazines, if the particular magazine pays $1,000 per 1,500-word article, the pay for monthly columns will be similar. If the magazine pays only pennies per word for contributions, you can expect to get the same for your column pieces.

There are a variety of types of column types:

  • Essay (you share your thoughts and perspective on world events, education, politics, etc.).
  • How-to (you teach aspects of some activity—cooking, gardening, parenting, crafts, healthy living, for example).
  • Reporting (you write about what’s happening in sports, world events, local schools, politics, etc.).
  • Theme (seniors, pets, book reviews, ghosts/spirits, art…).
  • Informative (medical, hiking, real estate, automotive).
  • Advice (relationships, health and fitness, spirituality, religion, psychic…).

How do you land a column? Here are some ideas:

  • Look for a need. What is missing from your local newspaper or your favorite magazine, ezine or website that you could provide? When I decided I wanted to write a column for our local newspaper, I noticed that our community (a tourist town) had quite a turnover in businesses. Interesting people would come to town and start new businesses, but they didn’t last long. I was curious about some of the proprietors and I thought others might be, too. So I developed my business column, “Profiles in Business.” Of course, this was a win-win situation for everyone. I was getting exposure, experience, a little wage, ideas for magazine articles and I was having fun. The business owner was getting free advertisement and some of them were starting to pay for newspaper ads, so the newspaper was making out, too.
  • List column ideas. Can you come up with enough ideas to fill your column for the next several months? If you can’t list a year’s worth of column ideas (for a monthly column) or three months worth (for a weekly column), you might want to consider another theme.
  • Create some sample columns. Go out and interview a few people or write a few essays and then present your idea and the examples to the editor.

Tips:

  • A new publication might be more open to column ideas. They are also more apt to close. I landed a humor column in a new women’s sports magazine years ago. What fun that was! And it was fairly easy to get the gig. Unfortunately, however, the magazine didn’t last and neither did my great opportunity.
  • Consider the audience before pitching your idea. If you’re writing for a regional publication, make sure that your column always has a local flavor. If it is a regional magazine on parenting, then your audience is interested in parenting issues and activities, events, services occurring/rendered locally. If it is a national health magazine, your focus should be aspects of health for all Americans.
  • Mix it up. It’s your column and sometimes you’re given quite a bit of leeway. If so, you might write about your experiences in this theme, conduct an occasional interview (with experts and with regular citizens), review related products, report on extreme happenings and occurrences within the realm of your theme/topic, express your thoughts on the topic and so forth.

Syndicate your column. What is syndication? It means that your column is published in more than one newspaper or magazine. There are a couple of ways to get syndicated.

1: In some cases, other newspapers will pick up your column.

2: If you own the copyright, you can pitch your column to various syndications in hopes that they will arrange to have your column appear in newspapers throughout the U.S.

3: Or you can self-syndicate, which means that you hand-sell your column to individual newspapers or magazines of your choice.

Not all column topics are conducive to syndication. If you want syndication, you’ll need to come up with a topic/theme that is universal, such as pet care, health/fitness, world events, seniors or travel, for example. You’ll also have a better chance of getting syndicated if you are an expert in your field. Do you have one or more books on this subject? Is this topic related to your profession? Have you been writing, practicing or teaching in this field for many years? In other words, do you have a platform?

You’ll find syndicates to contact here: http://www.writing-world.com/links/syndication.shtml or http://www.syndicatedirectory.com.

Interviews With Experts

Interview with Louise May, Editor in Chief of Lee and Low Books, a publisher of multicultural books for children and young adults.

Q:  Please tell us a little about Lee and Low Books—what prompted you to enter into the publishing business in 1991?

A: Lee & Low Books was founded in 1991 by Philip Lee and Tom Low, both Chinese Americans. After exploring the children’s book market and the types of books published by most houses, they realized there were very few fiction and nonfiction books that featured people of color. Correcting this lack of diversity among children’s books became the cornerstone of the company’s mission: to publish stories about people of color that all children can enjoy.

Q: I see that you also have young adult titles. Can you tell us why that is and how your company is participating in or contributing to this genre.

A: YA has been a hot genre for several years now. Picture books were traditionally the mainstay of children’s publishing, but there was always a gap between what was published for children and what was published for adults. When writers and publishers realized that the reading tastes and interests of teens could be addressed successfully they began publishing aggressively for that age group. At LEE & LOW, our lists are very small and our strength has always been in the illustrated/picture book market. We are publishing for the YA market very cautiously, but when a great “multicultural” YA project comes our way, we are eager to acquire it.

Q: Please share with us your current needs.

A: We are always interested in unique stories, both fiction and nonfiction, that feature children/people of color. Original contemporary stories are of special interest, as are those that may incorporate nontraditional family groups and those about people with special challenges or abilities/disabilities.

Q: With the stringent competition in today’s publishing arena, what does a hopeful author have to do in order to capture your attention with their project?

A: For Lee & Low specifically, a manuscript first has to fit with our focus on diversity. Second, it needs to address a topic, an event, or a situation that will appeal to young readers and that has several marketing/sales angles. Third, the story should be fairly well plotted, and the writing engaging, as appropriate to the topic and genre.

Q: Do you have any general advice for authors who are seeking publishers for their children’s and young adult manuscripts?

A: Do your homework and send your manuscript to editors or publishing houses that are likely to publish the kind of story you have written. Check publishers’ guidelines, which are available online, and follow the submission directions outlined. Also look for contests held by many publishers and writing organizations. Contests are a great way to get noticed at houses that may not otherwise accept unsolicited manuscripts or manuscripts from unpublished writers.

Q: Please add anything you would like. And give us your contact info, if you like.

A:Write about what you know and/or love. If your story is compelling and well written, it will find an editor who responds to it and a publisher that knows how to sell it.

Louise May

Editor in Chief
LEE & LOW BOOKS
95 Madison Avenue, suite 1205
New York, NY 10016
phone: (212) 779-4400, ext. 24
fax: (212) 532-6035
email: lmay@leeandlow.com

Interview with Janet Kobobel Grant, agent at Books & Such Literary Agency

Q: Tell us a little about your agency—when/why it was formed, your goal as an agent and so forth.

A: Books & Such Literary Agency was formed in 1996 when the publisher I was working for relocated, leaving me without a job (I was managing editor). Such an unsought change in plans set me to thinking about what I liked best in book publishing. I realized it was shining the light of success on authors. Since I had developed a network within publishing among editors, had regularly negotiated contracts, and had a sense of what would be successful and what wouldn’t, agenting seemed a natural way to express my abilities.

I soon discovered that agenting was so much more fun than editing or overseeing the production of books. Having the opportunity to hand-pick which authors to work with and to develop their careers, regardless how many publishing houses they wrote for, is deeply satisfying to me.

A hallmark of our agency is that we always make decisions for our clients based on ways to benefit their careers long-term. That means sometimes we make short-term decisions that agencies whose commitment is to make as much money as soon as possible would never make. (A smaller advance that the author will earn out as opposed to a hefty advance that might not earn out, is one example.)

We now have four agents in our agency and sell about 150 projects each year.

Q: I see that you attend several writers’ conferences. Would you tell our readers (mostly authors) what they can expect when they attend a writers’ conference in order to meet agents to talk about their book manuscripts?

A: First, keep in mind that the faculty at a writers’ conference came to talk to attendees about their projects. That’s about as good as it can get. But that means, second, you need to practice how to talk about your project in a way that is succinct yet compelling. Faculty members hear book ideas every day. What can you say about your project that will perk up the ears of an editor or agent? The third item to keep in mind is that being overly aggressive isn’t the best way to present yourself. Book pitches in the bathroom won’t get you anywhere. Self-confidence is different from aggression.

Q: How would you recommend that an author prepare for such an event?

A: Hopefully the conference has written (or online) material that the faculty members have prepared, telling what they’re looking for. Take them seriously. Be on the lookout for the faculty members most likely to be interested in your type of project. Be sure to meet them and to tell them briefly about your project. Even if you can’t set up an appointment with each one, at least introduce yourself. And, as I said before, prepare a short paragraph (write it out!) that succinctly describes what makes your project unique among all the projects out there. Be sure to mention the genre of your project at the outset.

Q: What is the biggest turn off for you with regard to an author meeting? What impresses you the most?

A: The biggest turn off is a writer who can’t talk about his/her project except in great detail. I really don’t need to hear every twist and turn in a plot; just give me the essence of the story. I can ask follow-up questions based on that.

What impresses me most is a writer who can talk about his/her project in a polished manner and in a way that hones in on the project’s uniqueness.

Q: Do you really find good projects at conferences? How about sharing one of your success stories.

A: Sure! I wouldn’t attend writers’ conference if I didn’t know I could find some real gems. I met Kent Whitaker at a writers’ conference. He had a personal crime story about how one of his sons plotted to murder all the other family members but failed to kill Kent (who was wounded). When the son was arrested, Kent chose to forgive him for killing the rest of the family and pleaded with the jury not to sentence his son to be executed. Kent’s story had pathos, intrigue, was fascinating and was well-written. I sold his story for a significant advance, he was interviewed for a full hour on The Oprah Show, and his book hit the New York Times best-seller list. And Kent and I connected at a writers’ conference.

Please add anything you would like and, if you wish, your contact information.

Our agency looks at email submissions only. They can be sent to representation@booksandsuch.biz.

Next month, in SPAWN Market Update number 101, we’ll interview a long-time book publicist.

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