SPAWN Market Update – January 2012

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Do you know how many books your publisher is selling? How is your Kindle book doing? We tell you how to find out. We also provide links to a book publicists database and a database of over 22,000 mags and newspapers. We tell you how to get on the cover of a new writers’ magazine. And we provide dozens of additional tips and resources that could ensure your success in 2012.

Editorial – How to increase your level of professional success in 2012.

Here’s What’s New – new writers’ magazine, publishing trends site, positive mag industry statistics, retail book sales up and more

Opportunities for Freelance Writers –7 great opportunities plus a huge mag database and a unique writers’ retreat concept

Opportunities for Authors – 4 publishers, another author showcase and a book on producing ebooks

Book Promotion Opportunities – a publicist database, reviewers for your book and book trailer companies

Going, Going, Gone – 9 to report this month

Opportunities for Screen Writers – FREE teleconference

Bonus Item – How many books is your publisher actually selling? Here’s how to find out.

Editorial

As we begin a new year, we must acknowledge that we have choices—the same choices we had in 2011. We can choose to seek out opportunities or we can close our eyes to them. We can open ourselves up to the opportunities before us or we can disregard them. Among the opportunities that come with your SPAWN membership is this monthly collection of news, trends and opportunities specific to freelance writers, authors and artists. Give your career a boost in 2012 by setting aside the time to read each issue of the SPAWN Market Update as well as other publications (both print and digital) that provide you with the information and resources you need in order to succeed. What do you hope to accomplish this year? What are your goals? Do you dream of getting your book published? Read “What’s New” to keep your pulse on the trends in the industry and “Opportunities for Authors” to discover new publishers and other new opportunities for authors with manuscripts to pitch.

Do you want to sell more copies of your book? Study the “Book Promotion Opportunities” section of this newsletter, the “Resources” section and “Bonus Items” for ideas, leads and resources for authors. For example, this issue includes a publicist database. We also publish book reviewer databases, information about locating book festivals and conferences in your field and so forth.

Freelance writers will find new opportunities in each issue of this newsletter, be they new magazine listings, publication databases or resources to help you break into or maintain your freelance business.

We also frequently bring information and resources to the artist, photographer and screenplay writer.

Make a commitment to your success this year. Read each issue of the SPAWN Market Update. And take a few steps beyond this pledge by visiting the archives. We have years of back issues of this newsletter in the archives for your convenience.

If you have suggestions with regard to this newsletter, contact me here: Patricia@spawn.org. We’re especially interested in opportunities and resources for our members. Send your articles and announcements to Sandy@spawn.org for SPAWNews.

Patricia Fry, Executive Director

SPAWN

Here’s What’s New

Ned Burke, formerly of the now defunct Perspiring Writer, is producing a new newsletter for writers. It’s called The Writer’s Magazette. He charges $7/year for the print version and the digital edition is free. http://www.writersmagazette.com  Check below under “Opportunities for Writers” to learn how you can be featured in this publication. Ned advertises his magazette as having articles from some well-known writers like Robert Bly, Rob Parnell and Patricia Fry (yes, me). Contact Ned at writersmagazette@gmail.com

I discovered a site this month listing many of the changes currently taking place within the publishing industry—editorial changes and promotions, new addresses, etc. Visit Publishing Trends for updates such as these: http://www.publishingtrends.com. For this particular December 2011 post on their People Roundup, go to: http://www.publishingtrends.com/2011/12/people-roundup-december-2011

Now here’s a bit of disturbing news. The US government will no longer purchase magazines and newspapers for many of their overseas commissaries because of high shipping costs and dwindling sales. When magazine sales are affected like this, the incentive for businesses to advertise in those magazines is diminished and the magazine may begin to struggle. What happens when a magazine struggles? They start cutting back on submissions and payment to freelance writers. Some stop paying their writers altogether and many of those magazines eventually fail. However, Mr. Magazine, Samir Husni reports that there were 798 new magazines launched in 2010 and things looked even brighter for the magazine market during the first half of 2011 with a whopping 438 new launches. Mediafinder.com and foliomag.com report only 239 new magazines so far this year. Despite the fact that magazines fail every month—as is evidenced by our listings in the “Going, Going, Gone” section of this newsletter—most experts report that the magazine industry is still alive and kicking.

Here’s additional good news: book sales are up for independent bookstores this season, according to the American Booksellers Association. They also report that there are the numbers of new independent bookstores opening throughout the U.S.

You may recall that we, here at SPAWN, used to preach and teach the importance of frequenting your local independent bookstores. We told you that indie booksellers are your friends. They are more apt to carry your suitable book than the mega-bookstore managers who have to answer to their superiors in another state (or country) before accepting a book to stock. We told you that independent booksellers are less likely to judge your book simply based on who published it. We suggested that you, then, promote like crazy in order to bring in customers. And we urged you to purchase your books from your local booksellers to help them stay in business. Those of you who are authors may now see the wisdom in this message. Maybe it’s not too late to establish a rapport with your local booksellers and help them stay in business.

Iowa Architect is now iaarchitect.

HarperCollins is in negotiations to purchase Thomas Nelson, Inc.

UPS and FedEx rates will increase this year, in particular the cost of shipping smaller packages. I think the post office still offers a more economical way to ship small packages of books. Do any of you have information to counter this?

Opportunities for Writers

Answer ten questions about your writing life for Ned Burke at the new Writer’s Magazette and you might win a chance to get some publicity and to be featured on the cover of an upcoming issue. http://www.writersmagazette.com/submissions.html

Do you write who-done-it stories? Suspense Magazine is open to stories of up to 5,000 words each. Send your story in the body of an email. For more detailed submission guidelines and a peek at the magazine go to http://www.suspensemagazine.com. Contact the editor here: editor@suspensemagazine.com.

For a list of over 22,800 magazines and newspapers worldwide, visit http://www.allyoucanread.com. Locate lists of magazines by category or by locale. This might be a good place to find new writing opportunities.

Do you write for Catholic Digest? I’ve had several articles published with them over the years. Well, they are making some changes. You’ll notice the March issue will be larger and have a more updated look.

The editors at Up! Magazine, a Canadian-based inflight magazine for Westjet, has just posted their contributors guidelines at: http://www.upmagazine.com/write-us. Everything is there except their payment scale. I contacted editor, Diana and she said that, like so many other magazines, they don’t post their payment information because it is going to be different for each submission accepted. She said, “This will be discussed after we receive the pitch and if we decide to proceed.” The opportunities for freelance article writers seem pretty plentiful with this magazine. Of course, they cover travel-related topics including health, business, food, drink, trends, family matters, outdoor adventures, celebrity profiles, etc. Here’s a quote from the more detailed submission guidelines (which, by the way, encompass over four pages, single-spaced), “We are seeking stories that are off-the-beaten path, that examine social trends impacting travel, that are about unusual or quirky little gems not found anywhere else. Feature stories about urban and adventure tourism are complemented by timely news, events and gear to make travel as enjoyable and exciting as it should be for both our leisure and business readers.” Keep in mind that Up! Magazine works on a 6-month lead time. And they strongly recommend that potential contributors study back issues of the magazine before submitting a query.

Now here’s a unique idea. Lisa Logan at Trusted House Sitters contacted me this month to suggest house sitting as a sort of writer’s retreat opportunity. As she points out, “House sitting is a great way to experience an inspirational writing retreat without the cost of accommodations, as homeowners globally are recognizing the benefit and peace of mind of having someone look after their homes and pets while away.” And many of these homes are in unique settings. Join TrustedHousesitters.com for $60/year or $30 for three months and you’ll receive information about house sitting opportunities from all over the world. Certainly there are security checks involved. If you are already cleared to be a house/pet sitter or if you’d like to be considered for some of the interesting assignments across the globe, learn more at: http://www.trustedhousesitters.com

There are other such companies or individuals who match up house sitters (some of them writers) with those who need house sitters. http://www.housecarers.com and http://www.mindmyhouse.com

Note: Keep in mind that our mention of companies or other resources does not necessarily indicate an endorsement. We always urge you to thoroughly research any company or individual before getting involved.

Writer, John Soares recommends house sitting as a way to enjoy the writing process from a variety of places. He wrote about it in his blog on May 2, 2011. http://productivewriters.com

I found the longest set of writers’ guidelines ever this week while I was doing the research for this issue of the SPAWN Market Update. Experience Life Magazine is a “progressive health/fitness/quality-of-life magazine” written for a general audience made up of people who are interested in good health and self-improvement. They cover trends, news and publish hard-hitting articles on fitness, healthy eating and what they call, “life wisdom.” It appears that they are a paying market, but their guidelines indicate that you have to wait to receive a contract to find out what their pay scale is. Or contact Craig Cox and ccox1@experiencelifemag.com.

They post 3 ½ single-spaced pages of guidelines at their site and do not mention payment. To learn more about this magazine go to http://www.experiencelife.com. For submission guidelines, click on “about us.” Scroll down to where you see a link to “writer’s guidelines.”

Have you ever thought of writing for health and fitness magazines? Here are a few that use freelance material.

American Fitness claims to be seventy-five percent freelance written. They use 800 to 1,200-word articles on historical aspects of athletic events, interviews with sports figures, personal experience stories, photo features, activity adventures and more. They pay around $200. The editors also invite writers to submit to their regular columns. They have several, so study them to see which ones you would like to tackle. Pay for 800 to 1,000 words is $100 to $200. Submission guidelines here: http://www.americanfitness.com/104.amf

Shape Magazine pays $1.50/word for 1,000 to 2,500 words on health, fitness and nutrition. They also use book excerpts. This might be a good place to submit something from your book if it is related to fitness, health and beauty. If you have an idea for this magazine, fill out the contact form at the website. http://www.shapemag.com

Spirituality and Health Magazine uses articles related to spirituality and health. The editors prefer research-based articles from credentialed writers. They use book excerpts, as well. Once you have read the guidelines and you’ve fine-tuned your pitch, send a query letter to editors@spirutalityhealth.com

I want to share something I found in one of these submission guidelines. It is something I suggest often. And now many editors are pointing out the importance of this in their submission guidelines. Here’s a quote from the submission guidelines for Spirituality and Health Magazine. “Please familiarize yourself with the magazine before querying. This is the best way to get a sense of what we’re looking for in terms of content, voice and style. Past articles and issues are available here at our website. Search key words to see if we have already done an article similar to your pitch.”

Study the magazines that you want to write for. Look at the type of articles they use. Pay attention to their advertisers (magazine publishers do not want to offend their advertisers). Gear your article pitch to the needs of each particular magazine. They know their audience—they’ve made a science of understanding their audience and what they want. Follow their lead and you might be able to break into the publication.

Opportunities for Authors

The Habit of Rainy Nights Press is a new publisher who plans to produce two or three new print books per year and up to half-dozen ebooks. For print books, their submission window is January 1 through May 31. Duane Poncy and Patty McLean are the co-founders of this publishing company. They clearly state in their submission guidelines that they are not a subsidy or vanity press and that they market their books mainly through the Internet. They say, “Our authors are expected to sell their own books with our encouragement and support.” And their emphasis, according to their submission guidelines, is the unknown or under-appreciated author “whose work has depth and social importance.” They will look at both nonfiction and fiction manuscripts. Here are their priorities: literary quality fiction, including science fiction, fantasy, young adult, historical and mystery; high quality poetry; narrative and other important nonfiction and native American works. They ask that your manuscript be highly polished before you submit it. This means, hire a good book editor. This company does not pay an advance, but their royalties are generous—20 to 25 percent on the wholesale price for print books. Learn more here, http://rainynightspress.org/submissions

Here’s a publisher who considers his company a “hybrid.” They are seeking manuscripts written out of a passion regarding a Biblical area where the author has learned spiritual lessons. It appears that this California-based publisher, Assurance Books, charges for publishing, but they’re interested primarily in doctrinally sound Christian books. Learn more here: http://www.assurancebooks.com Submission guidelines are here: http://www.assurancebooks.com/writers.html

Many of you are interested in or involved in publishing ebooks. Gary McLaren at WorldwideFreelance.com has come out with a new book on the subject. Check out The Indie Author’s Guide to Publishing Ebooks here: http://www.ebookselfpublishingguide.com

Have you heard of Inkubate? It’s a new site designed for writers and authors to showcase their work before acquisitions editors, agents and publishers. Yes, the premise is that those in need of good manuscripts will look for them at this site. Evidently, the general consensus is that it won’t work any better than similar programs have in the past. In fact, one critic predicts that the only people who will be visiting the site seeking manuscripts are representatives of the many pay-to-publish companies. If you’re curious or even interested, visit Inkubate at http://www.inkubate.com.

Do you have a young adult or middle grade book in the works? Algonquin Books plans to start publishing books in these categories later this year. http://www.workman.com/algonquin

Amazon.com has launched 47North to publish science fiction, horror and fantasy manuscripts. http://www.amazon.com/47north

Book Promotion Opportunities

Have you seen John Kremer’s list of book publicists? If you need assistance with book promotion, you might want to visit this site and check out some of the publicists listed: http://www.bookmarket.com/101pr.htm I often recommend that authors consider hiring a publicist at some point in their book marketing experience.

Are you promoting a foods/cookbook? Here’s a reviewer of cookbooks: http://thebestcookbookslist.typepad.com.

Get your suspense book reviewed in Suspense Magazine. http://www.suspensemagazine.com. Contact the book review editor at reviews@suspensemagazine.com. Suspense Magazine, 26500 Agoura Rd #102, Calabasas, CA 91302. They also have a radio show. So ask about being interviewed. And they run contests.

Are you thinking about having a book trailer made—a video promoting your book in a creative, entertaining way? Here are a few companies that produce trailers:

Circle of Seven Productions: http://www.cosproductions.com. They charge from $350.

Bemis Promotions: http://www.bemispromotions.com/videos. You must fill out a form to receive an estimate.

Authors Broadcast: http://authorsbroadcast.com/info.htm. Contact them now and get special prices—in the $149 to $499 range.

Spirituality and Health Magazine editors review books. Send your book to be considered to Media Editor, 425 Boardman Ave., Suite C, Traverse City, MI 49684. Note, they receive hundreds of review copies each year. So make sure that your book is right for their magazine before going to the expense of sending it.

Opportunities for Screen Writers

FREE teleconference: “21 Steps to a Powerful Rewrite.” To be presented January 7, 2012. http://www.screenwritingu.com/rewrite_conference4.html

Going, Going, Gone

Gamepro (a 22-year-old publication) has closed.

Pregnancy Magazine has gone online only. (Also available on various readers.)

To Your Health has quit publishing.

Faith and Family will soon go out of business.

Get Married Magazine will close.

Fresh Home to quit publishing.

Wild Blue Yonder closed in November.

Homemakers Magazine has published its last issue.

Sandra Lee Semi-Homemade is closing

Bonus Item

How to Get a Peek Into Your Book Sales Through Nielsen’s BookScan Program

We talked about Amazon book sales recently and how to decipher the ranking system. How many books are you selling per week when your ranking is in the 100,000 range versus the 300,000 or 1,000,000 range? Well, I discovered that there is a way to get at least a little bit more information. Join AuthorCentral at Amazon.com. If you have your books listed at Amazon.com, there is no additional fee to join AuthorCentral.

You’ve heard of the Nielsen ratings for TV. Well, Nielsen also rates books. The Nielsen BookScan program includes book sales through Amazon, Barnes and Noble and other outlets. They include approximately 75 percent of all retail print book sales. But this does not include library sales and those to wholesalers. In fact, they claim that sales information at AuthorCentral may underestimate your total sales.

It’s interesting to see the reports related to your book sales. They give numbers of books sold during a certain time period. And they provide a map of the US with a color code showing where your books are selling.

Amazon also provides a graph showing your Kindle book activity. Find out here where your book is ranked among their collection of Kindle books.

We’ve talked about what the rankings mean. I learned that the Nielsen report comes in on Fridays. So if there’s a big change in your Amazon book ranking on Friday, that could be the reason. However, they stress that if your ranking goes up, it doesn’t necessarily mean that your book sales were phenomenal that week. The ranking is, of course, affected by the sales of other books, as well. The same is true if your ranking figures go down—it might not mean that you sold fewer books, but that others sold more books.

It’s still not an exact science. You are warned at the AuthorCentral site that the statement from your publisher may differ from what you discover at AuthorCentral. But it certainly offers a bit more information than you had before visiting this site.

And if you want more information than is shown on your AuthorCentral pages, you can request additional sales data from Nielsen for a fee.

There used to be a number you could call to check on the sales of books distributed through Ingram. This was handy information to obtain when you were putting together the competition portion of your book proposal or determining the potential for a book you were planning. But that service is no longer available. I was hoping that you could use AuthorCentral to check sales on books other than your own. But it doesn’t appear that you can.

For now, I suggest that when you research your competition, you check the media pages at the author’s website to see if they have distributed press releases giving sales information or, at least, an indication of their book’s popularity.

In the meantime, if you have a book with a publisher and you are eager to find out how that book is doing in between receiving your royalty statements, you might want to sign up for AuthorCentral at Amazon and satisfy your curiosity—at least to a degree. http://authorcentral.amazon.com

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