SPAWN Market Update – January, 2003
By Patricia L. Fry
While Rosie isn’t the only magazine that has folded recently, it’s the only one I’m going to mention this month. January implies new beginnings and this month, I decided to focus more on opportunities than on failures.
Coastal Woman Magazine hit the stands with full force this fall. Experienced writer/editor, Barbara Lanz-Mateo is the publisher of this local South Coast magazine. Visit the Web site at http://www.coastalwoman.com and stay tuned to our February issue of the SPAWN Market Update for an interview with Barbara Lanz-Mateo.
Female Entrepreneur is about to launch. It looks like Kelly Swenson will be the editor. According to a recent press release, there are an estimated 6.2 million women-owned businesses in the U.S., employing 9.2 million people and generating $1.15 trillion in sales. This looks like a good market for those of you who can write for the business woman. I’ll provide more information about this new magazine as it is available.
The Liguorian has a new staff member. Cheryl Plass has taken the place of longtime editor, Fr. Allan Weinert.
Oregon Coast and Northwest Travel have a new contact person. If you want to pitch an idea to either of these magazines, contact: Theresa Baer at Theresa@ohwy.com
Blackgirl Magazine is unique in that the founder/publisher is only 12-years old. Kenya Jordana James, with the help of her mother, Karen Mason, started Blackgirl Magazine for the African American teen. http://www.blackgirlmagazine.com
Seventeen Magazine has a new editor. Tamara Glenny is now at the helm. She tells me that everything else is pretty much the same at the editorial offices. If you are interested in writing for this magazine, address issues of interest to girls and young women ages 13 – 21. There are writing opportunities for fiction and nonfiction writers of all ages. Submit story ideas to the appropriate editors at:
Ghostly Encounters. Author, Ginnie Seina Bivona is soliciting true ghostly stories. I’m not clear as to whether this is for a new magazine or another book she is writing. If you have a personal experience that involves a ghost sighting, you can earn $50. For more information contact:
Amy Phillips at Bookzone.com recently reported that the National Book Award contest may have some questionable components. One judge admits to not reading all of the books in the competition. Read Phillips’s article at http://www.bookzonepro.com/prospectives.cfm.
Meg Weaver’s Wooden Horse Publishing News Alert, December 6, 2002 reports a negative ruling for the Boston Globe Freelancers Association. This group formed in order to force The Globe to give writers a more reasonable contract. Unfortunately, the judge sided with The Globe. Read about this disturbing loss for writers’ rights at http://www.bgfa.net or http://www.woodenhorsepublcom
Do Author Showcase sites really work? We have reported on a few online author showcase sites and some of you have even given them a try. According to one SPAWN member, he has been unsuccessful in his quest to find a publisher through a showcase site. I’d like to invite you to share your experiences (positive or negative).
www.Bartleby.com/61. Here you will find word definitions at the touch of a mouse. Another useful feature of the Bartleby site is the book search. If you’re looking for a book on a particular topic, use the database to locate just the right one.
SharpWriter offers numerous and varied resources for writers from lists of booksellers to help with punctuation and almost everything in between. I clicked on “writer jobs” and came up with links to over 100 job sites and a list of books for working writers. http://www.sharpwriter.com
Suite 101 has a neat site featuring articles and links related to grammar. Check it out at http://www.suite101.com/welcome.cfm/words.
What is your favorite fiction Web site? Do you rely on one that we haven’t featured, yet? If so let us know. To refresh your memory, we have already highlighted Fiction Addiction, Fiction Fix, Fiction Factor, Fictionwriters, Fiction Connection, Thought Café, Pure Fiction, Science Fiction Resource, Zeotrope: All Story, Flash Fiction Workshop and FlashQuake.
Jeanne Yocum operates a business called Tuscarora Communications. She introduces herself as Your Ghost Writer: http://www.yourghostwriter.com. I got this busy writer to sit down long enough to talk to us about her work. I think you’ll find this an inspiring and informative interview.
Q: Please tell us when you first realized you wanted to be a writer and how you made it happen.
A: My mother was a high school English teacher, so I inherited the “bookaholic” gene from her. But although I have always been a voracious reader, I didn’t seriously set my sights on being a professional writer until my late 20s, when I got my Master’s in Journalism at Boston University in 1978. I then moved into public relations, where I toiled from roughly 1981 until just a few years ago.
It was only about five years ago that I decided I wanted to try my hand at something longer and hopefully less ephemeral than marketing brochures and press kits. I made it happen by finding someone who has great ideas and convincing him that we should write a book together. He was a non-believer until we got fantastic-and quick–responses from several agents to our book proposal. We soon had a publishing contract and I was on my way out of the PR business and into the book-writing business.
Q: Would you describe your business? Why did you choose to do ghost writing?
A: I write non-fiction book proposals and co-author and ghostwrite business books and articles. I chose ghostwriting because during my PR work I constantly had clients who had great ideas that should be shared with the world, but they didn’t have the time or sometimes the writing talent to make that happen. I enjoy the collaborative process more than I enjoy writing alone, so ghostwriting and co-authoring are good choices for me.
Q: How much time do you spend each day writing? Do you have tips for disciplining yourself to work?
A: The short answer to that is not as much as I should! I don’t have a set schedule, although I tend to get more done in the morning than in the afternoon. Having a deadline helps with motivation, of course, but my only tip for disciplining yourself to write is to look at the stack of bills that need to be paid. That always motivates me.
Q: Tell us about some of your favorite (most successful or fun) writing projects.
A: My first book, Ban the Humorous Bazooka [and Avoid the Roadblocks and Speed Bumps on the Innovation Highway], has been my favorite writing project so far because I had a dream partner on that book, innovation guru Mark Sebell. We constantly fed off each other in terms of making things better and more creative. It was an extremely rewarding partnership where my contribution was greatly appreciated and generously acknowledged.
Q: It can be rather challenging to work with clients. Do you have any advice for our readers?
A: Above all else, listen to what your intuition tells you about someone you’re considering writing for. If you walk out of the first meeting feeling the least bit uneasy, don’t go back for the second meeting. This is a hard lesson to learn because we all hate to turn down projects. But I’ve found over the years that my intuition is always right; someone who strikes me at first as a bad fit for me almost invariably turns out to be just that.
Q: Speaking of challenges, what was your most challenging job since you’ve been ghost writing?
A: My most challenging project was working with two co-authors who didn’t trust each other and disagreed on major parts of their subject matter. One individual was great, but the other one was the worst control freak I’ve ever come across; on top of that, she never met a single deadline during the whole six-month project. Fortunately, I was being well paid and her delays and constant rewrites only ended up adding to my earnings. So every time I wanted to strangle her, I just envisioned the check I would receive at the end of the month.
Q: How much can someone in your profession expect to earn each year? Please give us at least a range of figures if you can.
A: I find that since I switched from public relations to only working on books that my income fluctuates significantly from year to year. Last year, I made over $100,000; this year is completely different and I’ll be lucky if I end up with half of that.
Q: What would you advise other writers who would like to start a business like yours?
A: I keep running into people who think they would like to be ghostwriters, but the biggest thing I notice about them is that they don’t have much of a writing background. I’ve been writing about business topics in one way or another for over 20 years. I think it takes at least a decade of experience before you can reach a level where you can take other people’s ideas and create a book out of them, no matter what the field you’re concentrating on. Go get plenty of experience is my biggest advice.
Q: Do you belong to writers organizations or groups (either online or not)? Please talk about the benefits you receive from such associations.
A: I joined the Authors Guild last year thinking it would be good for networking. Imagine my surprise when I learned that they don’t print a member directory and would not share the names of other members living in my area when I inquired! Their point of view was that they needed to protect the privacy of their members. Gheesh!
I have just recently been invited to attend a Writers Union meeting and I’ve been told that they actually believe in networking so I plan to join. Wow…what a concept…people getting together and sharing ideas and helping each other. I hope the Authors Guild is listening!
Q: Please add anything you think is important to other writers.
A: I often meet people who want to be writers or who, heaven forbid, actually are writers who never read anything much beyond the daily paper, if that. You can’t get good that way. It’s impossible to be a great writer and not be an insatiable reader. So my advice is simple: Read. Read some more. Keep reading.
This month I interviewed the editors of two interesting publications: Diana Rupp, editor of the soon-to-be newly launched Sports Afield Magazine and Will Pearson, President and Neely Harris, Editor-in-Chief of mental_floss. Here’s what they had to say. First, Diana Rupp:
A: Sports Afield (SA) ceased publication after the June 2002 issue. In September, it was purchased by Field Sports Publishing, sister company of Safari Press, a highly successful publisher of hunting books. We will be re-launching the magazine with the April 2003 issue, due to hit newsstands in mid-March. The magazine will be devoted to people who share a passion for high-end sporting pursuits, especially big-game hunting in North America and Africa. It will have a more upscale look, be perfect bound and be printed on high-gloss paper. Our new circulation will be 50,000.
Q: Do you solicit freelance submissions? What is your submission policy? How does one land an assignment with you?
A: Freelance writers are welcome to query us. Although our regular columns are written by staffers, we purchase many feature articles from freelancers. A well-written query that catches the editor’s interest and provides details of what the article is about is the best tool for landing an assignment. Good quality color slides must accompany any manuscript. An excellent place to break in is our Almanac section, which contains short tips and
Q: Is there anything in particular that you’re looking for at this time?
A: We’re always looking for stories about exciting hunting adventures in North America and Africa, and where-to-go pieces of interest to hunters.
Q: What is your pay scale for stories?
A: We generally pay $500 for feature articles.
Q: What does it take to write for Sports Afield?
A: SA writers have both a passion for the outdoors and hunting and an appreciation for its deeper context. They are able to convey the smell and feel of being in a particular place while still providing solid, useful information about the hunt.
Be sure to include your contact information. See writer’s guidelines.
Q: Is there anything you would like to say to freelance writers?
A: We welcome queries and unsolicited manuscripts. Please study our guidelines and/or a recent issue before submitting anything, as our editorial direction has changed in the past year.
The following is the result of my interview with Will Pearson, President and Neely Harris, Editor-in-Chief of mental_floss.
Q: Please describe your magazine and how you came up with the idea for it.
A: mental_floss is the first magazine to truly blur the lines between a great education and great entertainment. The idea for the magazine was born in a dorm room at Duke University. Mangesh Hattikudur, the co-founder of mental_floss, and I were part of a conversation with 4 others in our first year at Duke in the spring of 1998. We were talking about the fact that everyone wants to feel smart. Everyone likes to feel well educated. But few of us have the time or the energy to learn everything we missed in school. We came up with an idea for a magazine that would deliver our education in monthly installments, but would do so in a way that was quick, simple and entertaining. We wanted a magazine that covered everything from black holes to the Dead Sea Scrolls. The magazine discussed wasn’t on the stands so we decided to create it ourselves. We chose the name mental_floss because it conveyed the spirit of the magazine. It sounded both smart and fun.
Q: I understand that it is a new bimonthly on the market – when was the first issue launched and who is your audience?
A: The first issue was released late in the summer of 2001. The first two issues were simply pilot issues to see how the magazine would sell on the newsstand. After seeing 60% sell through, we knew mental_floss belonged in the market. Our target is the busy professional. Most of our readers work at least 40-hour weeks and may only have 5 to 10 minutes of down time each day. They’re looking for something entertaining but informative to read and that is exactly what mental_floss provides. The majority of our readers are between 30 and 50.
Q: Will you be accepting submissions? Please share your guidelines and contact information.
A: We are always accepting submissions at mental-floss. We want writers to pitch us their ideas for articles that would fit well into the magazine. And knowing what articles will fit into the magazine comes from knowing our editorial mission: mental_floss strives to publish articles that cover:
Q: What are some of the articles you have lined up for mental_floss?
A: We’ve got tons of great articles lined up for our upcoming issues. For example, in our left_brain section in 2003 we’re going to cover, “The Biology of Science Fiction” which looks at how SciFi films often depicted scientific procedures well before they were invented in actual labs. We’re also scheduled to run “10 Not So Bright Ideas in Science,” which covers the 2002 Ig Noble Prizes; “The Underground Story of the Goldilocks Tale,” “10 Books with Cult Followings,” and “Chess Pains: A Look at the History of Chess.”
Q: Is there anything in particularly you’re currently looking for?
A: We’re always looking for a fun twist on a subject that might have been covered before. For example, we’ve got an article in our first anniversary issue that discusses the importance of the bicycle in the women’s rights movement. The range of topics in the mag is broader than most mags so we’re not really looking for one thing in particular. The Washington Post describes the magazine pretty well by stating, “It’s dedicated to teaching us everything we should have learned in school but didn’t” So we’re looking for articles on any of the 100 million topics that fit within that description.
The tone and approach to the articles are just as important as the topics themselves. All of our articles are quick, quirky and informative.
Q: What should writers know before contacting you about a submission?
A: When writers contact us, they should have a specific topic in mind. They should be familiar with the magazine and understand the tone of our articles so that they can pitch an idea. We have so many people contact us with vague ideas that we simply can’t do much with those. Writers that contact us with quirky new ideas are much more likely to find themselves published in the magazine.
Q: Please add anything you would like to say to the freelance writer.
A: We love to hear new ideas from freelance writers. It’s important that our writers cover topics that they’re passionate about. So writers that contact us should propose covering an idea that they enjoy presenting.
Note: According to Neely Harris, many of the stories they’re publishing right now are being given to them. They do offer some writers a “stipend” of 10 cents/word. According to Harris, “The logic, of course, is that we will increase our pay scale as we develop closer relationships with certain writers. We are very loyal to the writers we like, and several of them are already beginning to see the benefits of that.”
Contact editor, Neely Harris at firstname.lastname@example.org
I know how you love information about how to best work with an agent. So here is another interview with an agent. This month, we have the opportunity to get to know Elizabeth Frost -Knappman of the New England Publishing Associates.
Q: Please give us a little of your professional background.
A: I am the founder and president (of New England Publishing Associates). I’ve been a Senior Editor at William Morrow and Doubleday, and an Editor at the Natural History Press and William Collins & Sons (London). I’m a member of the American Society of Journalists and Authors, the Authors Guild, the Association of Authors Representatives, Connecticut and National Press Clubs, and Connecticut Authors’ Association. I’m a frequent lecturer on publishing topics for libraries, colleges and universities in New England and have been a featured speaker at the Northeastern Regional Conference for the Social Studies, The Connecticut Press Club, Wesleyan University, Rochester University Writers Conference and the Connecticut Authors’ Association.
I am also the author of the Clio Companion to Women’s Progress in America (ABC-Clio,
Under the pen-name Elizabeth Frost, I and Ms. DuPont have also co-authored Women’s Suffrage in AmericA: An Eyewitness History (Facts On File, 1992), described by The
Q: Would you describe your agency? What is your specialty?
A: New England Publishing Associates (NEPA) was founded in 1983 as a full-service literary agency specializing in non-fiction books for the adult market. Since then we have placed more than 500 of our clients’ titles with some 100 U.S. and overseas publishers. Our mission is to provide personalized service to all of our authors. We work closely with our clients to shape and perfect each proposal so that it can be sold to the right editor at the right publisher, giving personal and expert attention to placing each project entrusted to us. Once a sale has been made, we take the time to work with both the author
In addition to placing an author’s book with a U.S. publisher, NEPA works closely with associated agents in London, Tokyo, and other overseas publishing centers to sell foreign rights to the books we represent. Our dramatic rights are handled by the Joel Gotler Associates in Los Angeles.
Q: Please tell us about some of your proudest professional moments as a literary agent — successful books published, etc?
A: One of my favorite successes was the sale of ONE PARTICULAR HARBOR by the late Janet James, a victim of MS. After trying to sell it for five years, it became a bestseller in the Philadelphia area and was read in the White House. Another was an over-the-transome query letter that resulted in the book TURNAROUND (HarperCollins ’03), about the Nissan company under Carlos Ghosn. David Magee’s first book, it sold for a solid six figure advance. And my partner, Ed Knappman, decided to represent ROBERT’S RULES IN PLAIN ENGLISH (HarperCollins) even though it had been turned down by dozens of publishers. It has sold over 150,000 copies.
Q: How many books do you represent each year?
A: We sell 70 titles a year and take on about 100.
Q: In your opinion, what is the advantage to belonging to AAR?
A: The AAR is the only agents’ organization in the U.S. and, as such, has a code of ethics members try to adhere to. It is also important in terms of keeping us up-to-date on topics important to writers and publishers. And it is an invaluable source for help with business problems and procedures.
Q: Our readers are most interested in how to find/approach a literary agent. Can you provide a roadmap to finding/approaching an agent?
A: I think the best way to find an agent is to learn what each agency does best, and write to the one that matches your interests. We get many queries to handle novels, yet we do not represent new fiction at all. We only sell the fiction that our nonfiction authors write. So it’s an automatic “no” when novelists write to us about their work. For a good
Q: What should authors know about working with an agent?
A: Be sure to find out “what works” with the particular agency you are approaching. Some like recommendations by their clients. Others like fiction or nonfiction. In the case of New England Publishing Associates, we ask that prospective authors send us a one or two-page summary of their proposed book, a clear description of the intended audience and any competition, an annotated chapter outline, at least one polished sample
Q: Please include your contact information if you wish and add anything else you would like to share.
A: Please see our address, email, and phone below.
VISIT US ON THE WEB http://www.nepa.com
Coming Up- Interviews with Barbara Lanz-Mateo, editor of Coastal Woman and Jeff Csatari, editor of a new men’s magazine, Best Life.