SPAWN Market Update – July, 2004
By Patricia L. Fry
Going, Going, Gone — A magazine and two presses down
Here’s What’s New — 9 magazines launches
Opportunities for Writers — Earn $2000 for an article; get free publicity through Ingram; and contact information for Oprah/Dr. Phil.
Research/Reference Site — Dan Poynter’s Industry Statistics Page
Warning for Writers — Is the post office hurting our business?
Tip for Authors — Are POD Pubs Doing Authors Any Favors?
Writer Interview — Erika Dreifus talks about contests for writers
Northeastern University Press
University of Idaho Press
Inkwell Management is the name of the new company currently forming as three literary agencies merge. Arthur Pine Associates, Witherspoon Associates and Carlisle and Company will form a partnership. For more info, contact Richard Pine, president of Arthur Pine Associates, 250 W. 57th St., Ste. 417, New York, NY 10019.
Healthy Family Magazine
You may recall when I reported that YM was quitting. They plan to relaunch in August. I’ll watch for possible new contact information.
Life & Style Weekly
Even football players are trying to tackle the publishing industry. Ryan McNeil plans to start OverTime Magazine (OT). This is a business and lifestyle magazine for professional athletes and the sports industry. The first issue came out in last month. Contact: Stacy Small at email@example.com.
Soap Opera Digest
Common Writing Mistakes. Here’s an article that some of you might find interesting. Editor, Michael LaRocca tells us about some of the most common mistakes he sees made in the novels he edits. Here’s the link: http://www.absolutewrite.com/novels/common_writing_mistakes.htm.
Did you all get member Marcia Schutte’s invitation to purchase her useful e-guide? For $50 you can download her top 50 list of media contacts which include Oprah, Dr. Phil, Dr. Laura, AARP Magazine, Inside Borders Magazine, Slate and others. She includes contact names, addresses, phone/fax/email and tips for making contact. This could be a goldmine for authors with books that could make the cut. http://www.nonethelesspress.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
Ingram Book Group is soliciting authors for an interview opportunity. If you have a book coming out this year between September and December, let Ingram know. They may decide to feature your book in their fall catalog. Send an advance reading copy to Amy Williams, Ingram Book Group, 14 Ingram Blvd., Mail Stop 698, La Vergne, TN 37086. Good Luck!
Book Industry Statistics is just one of the interesting pages Dan Poynter offers on his informative site. Check this page out at http://www.parapub.com/statistics. And be sure to take time to tour the rest of his site. You will not be disappointed.
What’s happening with the post office? Meg Weaver has written an interesting editorial in her Wooden Horse Publishing News Alert, March 18, 2004 (http://www.woodenhorsepub.com). It deals with the high cost of mailing. And if you’re a freelance writer for magazines, this could affect you more than may know. Weaver reports that some big shots in the magazine industry have actually testified before the U.S. Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs in support of congressional legislation that would reform the US Postal Service. With the event of the Internet, the volume of first class mail has decreased by over 3.5 billion pieces annually. A spokesperson for Time Magazine says that, in light of the rising and unpredictable postal costs, the risk of launching a new magazine is too great. A plan for postal reform is in the works.
: Are POD Publishers Doing Authors Any Favors?The ballots are starting to come in with regard to POD Publishers. This new wave of publishing is rather impressive as far as their production numbers. Unfortunately for their authors, these companies aren’t scoring very high when it comes to sales. Word is out that Xlibris, for example, has published a total of nearly 10,300 titles. But 85 percent of those titles have sold fewer than 200 copies. The average sale per title is a mere 130 copies.
Most POD Publishers offer book promotion services—some for an additional fee. Mainly, this consists of getting the book set up with Amazon.com and Barnes and Noble.com. They also make the book available to anyone who wants it via their Web site. But are they doing anything to lead people to their Web site? I understand that some POD Pubs subscribe to a press release service on behalf of their authors. But even that isn’t generating many sales.
While I’ve used POD printers, I started Matilija Press, my own publishing company, years ago. I don’t need a POD publisher.
I’ve never hired a POD Publisher such as Xlibris, AuthorHouse (formerly 1st Books) or iUniverse. And I don’t recommend them. I have my own set of reasons, and I’ve added this report to my list. Here’s my list of reasons why to avoid publishing with a POD Publisher:
This seems to be a rather expensive way to get a book in print. Some POD Publishing contracts are much too vague. There are few standards. They produce the poorly written books along with the good. The author generally has little or no control of the book/cover design. Some POD Publishers set the book price higher than the market will bear. POD Publishing authors tend to lose a sense of intimacy with their book, thus they are not motivated to help market it themselves.
The POD Publishing industry definitely answers a need—your need to say something to the world without having to spend months/years trying to land a traditional publisher or without having to get involved in the details of self-publishing. When you go with a POD Publisher, you can also avoid having to hire an editor.
I would rather see an author spend his/her money with a good editor and then take the time to give his/her book a proper launch than to take the easy path toward authorship.
Why not produce the best book possible, maintain the control and take responsibility for the gigantic job of marketing? You wouldn’t hand your kids off to be raised by someone else, would you? Hmmmmm, now that I think about it, there are millions of children spending their days with babysitters. Maybe the POD Publisher is the new wave of publishing in America for a reason.
Erika Dreifus. New SPAWN member and author of “Free Expression: 101 Fee-Free Contests, Competitions, and Other Opportunities for Resourceful Writers.” She also produces a free newsletter called, “The Practicing Writer.” Here’s my interview with Erika:
Q: What sort of writing do you do?
A: My own writing falls in three general areas. I write fiction (primarily short stories). My critical writing takes multiple forms: journal articles, manuscript critiques and evaluations, book reviews. Then there are the magazine, newspaper, and newsletter pieces: on the craft and business of writing including the material for my free monthly newsletter, “The Practicing Writer,” on genealogical research, on education, on family life, on travel. I love this diversity and the intellectual variety that it brings to every working day.
Q: Please tell us when, how and why you became a writer? What inspired you?
A: I think I’m one of those people who has been writing as long as she can remember. Even as a young child I received a lot of encouragement from my family and teachers for my reports and stories. That certainly helped inspire me.
Q: You have quite an impressive list of credentials. Would you give us a rundown?
A: That’s very kind of you to say. I’ve been quite fortunate. My parents are both children of immigrants and were the first college graduates in their families, and I have enjoyed remarkable educational opportunities. As an undergraduate I studied History and Literature at Harvard. Later I earned a master’s degree at Harvard’s Graduate School of Education, then a master’s and Ph.D. in History, also at Harvard.
When I realized that I was going to pursue the M.F.A. in Creative Writing, I sought the low-residency option. I was a member of the inaugural class in the program at Queens University of Charlotte and graduated last May (2003).
Q: You have a new book out called, “Free Expression: 101 Fee-Free Contests, Competitions, and Other Opportunities for Resourceful Writers.” What inspired you to produce this book?
A: The more immersed I became in the world of writing and publishing, the more I learned about contests and competitions (including those leading to fellowships and residencies), and the more I began to pursue these opportunities myself. But with all the “entry fees,” “processing fees,” and “reading fees” this soon developed into an expensive endeavor.
I noticed that a number of opportunities were available without those fees attached. Since I had collected a considerable amount of information about them, I began writing a few articles to spread the word, then realized the material might be better organized and concentrated in a book.
As a teacher, I also wanted to provide a resource for other teachers. The book includes a chapter that focuses on “student opportunities” (including scholarships) for undergraduate and graduate writers in multiple disciplines, so it’s been my hope to reach instructors beyond creative writing classrooms, too.
Q: Have you been entering contests for a long time? Why? What are the benefits of entering contests? What is the largest prize you have won to date?
A: I have been entering contests for years (since elementary school, in fact!). And I see a number of benefits. Beyond the monetary prizes, publication, and prestige (as if those weren’t enough!) they offer writers structure. They have deadlines you generally cannot miss. Sometimes they have a theme or suggested topic that can help prompt you when you’re blocked, too. At times the contest fee will include a subscription to the journal sponsoring the contest. There’s one contest I’ve entered for three years in part because I’d love to win the contest and in part because entering the contest is the way I maintain my subscription to a journal I simply admire very much!
By “largest” prize I imagine you’re asking about the financial rewards? My top prizes so far have ranged from $750-$1500. But I’d also point to awards such as my residency at the Kimmel Harding Nelson Center for the Arts in Nebraska City last year. The stipend was just $200 for two weeks (to cover food) but those two weeks were priceless. If I tried to place a dollar value on such things as being met at the airport, the housing I enjoyed in Nebraska, the free internet access, the professional development opportunities (I had my first radio and newspaper interviews while I was at KHN) and other benefits I’m not sure what the total would come to!
Q: Would you recommend that other writers enter contests? Why?
A: I think every writer must do what seems right for him/her. At the same time, I think writers need to take risks in many aspects of their professional lives—risks with subject matter, style, and submissions, whether to a particular publication, agent, publisher, or program. That includes contests and related competitions.
Q: Do you feel that contests can move one’s writing career forward? How?
A: Having one’s first book published by an established press (and perhaps even having had an eminent writer judge the contest and blurb the published book) is one career boon some contests offer. But sometimes the advancements may be less obvious. There are times, too, when a contest can move one’s writing career ahead even if one doesn’t win. In one case, I was asked to participate in a reading of contest finalists at a local bookstore; in another instance my contest participation led to additional freelance work.
Q: What is your favorite kind of contest? Why?
A: I tend to look more carefully at—consider more closely—the “fee-free” contests. I like the idea of entering a contest (or applying for a fellowship or similar opportunity) without having to pay for anything beyond postage and photocopies.
Q: Have you ever been ripped off by a contest? If not, why do you think that is? If so, tell us what happened.
A: I’m not certain I know exactly what you mean by “ripped off.” There’s only one case that’s truly disappointed me; a reputable poetry publisher began two fiction contests (charging fees) but both contests apparently disintegrated before winners were named. That wasn’t a good situation.
Q: What would you suggest to someone who wants to get involved entering writing contests?
A: This is a topic I address in some detail in my book, “Free Expression: 101 Fee-Free Contests, Competitions, and Other Opportunities for Resourceful Writers.” Early in the book I offer tips for getting started in the writing contest world. A concluding chapter provides a number of resources, online and in print, for those who wish to locate additional information about contests and competitions.
I also include information about contests and competitions each month in “The Practicing Writer” newsletter. The website offers links on the topic to subscribers, too. (Free subscription at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/practicing-writer/ ).
Q: What plans do you have for the future as far as your writing goes?
A: My immediate future includes spending part of the summer at the Prague Summer Program; I competed for and won a scholarship to help pay for writing workshop attendance there and I’m very much looking forward to having that time to focus on fiction writing.
Q: You’re a new SPAWN member. How do you hope to benefit from your membership?
A: I’ve already learned quite a lot from the online resources available to the public, and I’m currently enjoying the opportunity to read through the materials available to members, especially the Market Update and the online discussion group. I hope to improve my own skills in the work that’s so important to me and to contribute something to others in the process.
Erika Dreifus’s book, “Free Expression: 101 Fee-Free Contests, Competitions, and Opportunities for Resourceful Writers,” is available as a paperback and as an e-book from Booklocker.com (http://www.booklocker.com/books/1453.html). Learn more about her newsletter, “The Practicing Writer” at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/practicing-writer/.
Erika can be reached at email@example.com.
Marcia Schutte is also a SPAWN member and the founder of Nonetheless Press. Here is my interview with this fascinating woman. I’ll start by sharing her comment to me with regard to SPAWN. She says,
“Patricia, it’s truly an honor to be interviewed for SPAWN. I “found” your organization nearly three years ago while researching the publishing industry. You and Virginia—and many SPAWN members—provide a wealth of valuable information and services to the small press community.”
Q: Tell me about Nonetheless Press—when it was established, why and what about that name??? What’s the thought behind it?
A: Since I was still researching the industry in 2001, it’s easy to see that Nonetheless Press is very young! I’ve been a writer, editor, researcher, and PR/marketing consultant for most of my life. Growing up on a farm in Kansas, I dreamed of becoming a famous writer.
Fortunately, I realized I’m never going to write The Great American Novel (no one should be forced to read my fiction!). It was not pleasant facing that fact, and took quite a long time to come to grips with it. I did a stint with a major art museum and helped produce an “important” book related to a famous exhibition in our galleries. I did marketing and research for a jewelry manufacturing firm. I did a lot of freelance editing and writing, including ghostwriting a lovely little book. And I freelanced for a vanity publishing house.
I’ve been very lucky to be able to choose what it is I want to do with the rest of my life…and I chose to become a book publisher.
About that name… For reasons that shall hopefully never be revealed, the name of my publishing company HAD to begin with the letter “N”. A lot of the good ones were already taken, so I sat down with the dictionary one day and made a list of suitable “N” words, then checked them against existing trade names. Nonetheless Press was the clear winner.
I think every book I’ve published has the word “nonetheless” somewhere in the text, purely by coincidence.
Q: What type of books do you publish? Are there any topics you are currently in the market for?
A: Our first book was actually a self-publishing hybrid. COMING HERE: LEARNING TO LIVE IN AMERICA by Rezzan Erten was launched in September 2002. Rezzan paid production costs and I’ve marketed the book extensively for nearly two years. I think we may have our first foreign rights sale very soon!
The more I learned about the business, however, the more I wanted to be a traditional royalty publisher. I purposely did not choose a niche. I want to see good manuscripts that could become good books of value—informing, educating, entertaining.
In rapid succession came DOMO 17 by Donald Neal McKay, XENOPHILIA by Robin Sathoff, THE REINCARNATION OF BENNETT McKINNEY by Steve From, THE ECUMENICAL CRUISE by Walter Benesch, STRANGE BIRDS FROM ZOROASTER’S NEST by Laina Farhat-Holzman, and THE NEW WIFE by Susan Shapiro Barash.
Along the way, I also began taking on self-published books, enabling authors to gain access to national, first-tier distribution via Ingram, Baker & Taylor, and many other wholesalers and distributors. I also provide book marketing/promotion/publicity services to self-publishing authors. This is one of the most gratifying segments of the business.
Q: Would you consider your publishing company small? Large? How does your publishing company compare with and differ from others?
A: Nonetheless Press is a very small house. We only publish 3-5 books per year. One thing that makes us stand out from the crowd is our intense dedication to marketing, publicity, and promotion. Often overlooked, but a fact nonetheless: book lovers cannot buy your book if they don’t know it exists.
Q: What are some of the qualifications you expect (desire) in your authors?
A: Because of the vital importance of active author participation on the promotion and marketing side, I am quite selective. A good manuscript is not enough. Writers must convince me that they will play a long-term active role in marketing their books. My acquisition assessments are heavily weighted toward writers’ abilities and enthusiasm for promoting and marketing their books.
Many writers are dismayed by this approach, and feel that sales are the responsibility of the publisher. No one is as passionate about your book as you, the author. No one knows your book like you do. Ignoring the fact that authors sell books generally results in lackluster sales.
On the other hand, I’ve listened to numerous authors complain about their experiences with large publishing houses. Essentially, a book has six to twelve weeks to prove itself. If it doesn’t sell through the projected volume (generally 25,000 copies or more), the book is removed from the shelves and many times the entire print run is pulped. It’s an enlightening experience to visit Ingram in Nashville or Baker & Taylor in New Jersey and see the army of dumpsters filled to overflowing with books to be destroyed.
It’s unfortunate that many writers dream of big advances and royalties, but haven’t quite thought through the process. Producing, promoting, marketing, and selling a book is a most expensive undertaking. Each manuscript accepted is a risk—a gamble. Will it sell?
The most important item on my acquisitions questionnaire is “Why would people buy your book?”
Q: Give us an idea about your submission guidelines. By the way, who is your acquisitions person? There is one name in Writer’s Market and another on your Web site.
A: My submission guidelines are fairly simple, email or snail mail (no faxes, please). They’re available on the web site at http://www.nonethelesspress.com or in Writers Digest. Please query first, with a synopsis and SASE. If I want to see your complete manuscript, be assured I will ask for it. Submissions should be directed to Marie-Christine Ebershoff.
Please allow up to three months for a response. It’s not uncommon for us to receive over 100 queries/submissions per week. We really do read and discuss and consider each and every one of them.
Please do not phone to check on the status of your manuscript unless it’s been more than three months since you submitted. Generally, I will pass on the manuscript if the writer continually calls or emails.
Q: Is there anything you offer authors that’s unique?
A: At least in the realm of small publishers, Nonetheless Press stands out because we pay an advance! Our royalty rate, at 20% of net, is one of the highest in the industry.
Like all publishers, we truly care about our authors. We also want our authors to make money on their books—another reason we are so focused on marketing and author participation.
I suppose we’re a little unique because of all the work we do with self-publishing authors via our Looking Glass Press imprint.
Q: Most authors know little about the actual operation of a publishing company such as yours. How about giving us a little insight? Can you describe a day (week) in the life of a publisher?
A: Ahhhh…a day in the life of a publisher. Every day brings its share of new and exciting opportunities and situations. A “typical” day (whatever that might be!) goes something like this:
6:00 am: Go through the night’s emails and respond to anything urgent. Check last night’s phone messages and respond immediately to the urgent ones. Same with faxes. Read the local paper, The New York Times, USA Today, and various industry publications.
7:30 am: Eat breakfast; walk the dog (Madison is a cute little white dustmop of a dog—she’s half Bichon, half King Cav spaniel); personal writing/journaling time.
9:00 am: Correspondence/conversations with Nonetheless Press and Looking Glass Press authors. Work on marketing plans and activities for authors. Set up appearances and interviews for authors. Emails/phone calls. Correspondence/conversations with editors, proofers, indexers, cover designers, illustrators, interior designers, typesetters, printers. More phone calls/emails. Communicate with potential Nonetheless/Looking Glass authors. Research marketing/publicity/promotion ideas. Pay bills—yuck!
1:00 pm: Lunch and more industry reading.
1:30 pm: Pick, sort, package, and ship book orders. Pick, sort, package, write appropriate letters, include appropriate media kit materials, and ship review copies. More phone calls/emails. Go through the mail. Create and send invoices/statements. Do postcard mailings/email blasts/fax blasts/telephone calls to bookstores, libraries, targeted prospects. More phone calls/emails. Read and discuss submissions and queries. Respond to submissions/queries. Go to bank, Post Office, Fed Ex, UPS. Get office supplies. More phone calls/emails. Read and respond to listserv postings (I belong to about 30 groups in the publishing industry). More emails/phone calls/faxes.
6:00 pm: Dinner break
8:00 pm: Last email/phone/fax check.
Q: What is your favorite part of your business?
A: My favorite part of the publishing business is discovering an outstanding manuscript which has been written by a savvy, well-rounded writer who’s as eager to market and promote her book as she is to get it published.
Q: We are noticing more and more publishers cropping up–why is that?
A: You’re right—it seems like new publishers crop up every day! The advent of POD and eBooks has made it easier financially to get into publishing. According to the most recent statistics I’ve seen, the number of books published per year is increasing dramatically, although the big houses like Random House, Simon & Schuster, etc., are actually putting out fewer titles per year. University presses are cutting back as well.
We’re seeing an explosion of self-publishers, sort of a return to the early days of US book publishing.
I have mixed feelings about the sheer number of books coming out each year; I fear some excellent books are getting lost in the crowd.
Q: What does it take to start a publishing company like yours? What are some of the first/most important steps a person should take if they’re interested in starting a publishing company?
A: It’s an old joke in the publishing business that if you want to make a million dollars in publishing, just start with two million dollars. There’s more truth than humor to the statement. It’s expensive to produce a quality book and even more expensive to effectively market it. And both those items need to be done very well if you intend to sell books in any quantity.
The most important thing an aspiring publisher can do is read. There are so many excellent books on the subject! Check out Dan Poynter, John Kremer, Fern Reiss, Tom & Marilyn Ross, Shel Horowitz for starters. Read biographies and autobiographies of famous publishers.
Do your research. Join industry organizations and read their newsletters and attend their workshops and talk to their members. Become well-acquainted with industry resources like Literary Marketplace, Publishers Weekly, Library Journal, Booklist, ForeWord Magazine, and others.
Learn the nuts and bolts of production.
Get to know professional editors, proofers, indexers, designers, artists, and other providers—including agents, publicists, and marketing/advertising people.
Develop a thick skin.
Spend a lot of time in bookstores and find out why booksellers choose “Book A” to display on their shelves over “Book B”.
You’ll meet wonderful people and you’ll learn every single day—and once you’re hooked you’ll never want to stop!
Q: What are some of your proudest moments as a publisher?
A: Every time I hold the first finished copy of one of our books.
Every time one of my authors achieves a personal milestone.
Every time I hang up the phone after talking with an Oprah producer or The New York Times or a TV network executive. I pinch myself and wonder, “Is this really me?!”
Q: Please add anything you would like–and don’t forget to include your contact information, if you’d like to.
Marcia Schutte, Publisher
isn’t new—in fact, it has been around for a long time, but it’s a magazine that I have never noticed. That could be because I don’t consider myself a political writer. If you can handle yourself amidst the political arena—writing political analysis, interviews/profiles of state and local government officials and offer your opinions on governmental issues, you might want to submit something to California Journal. They purchase 10 unsolicited manuscripts per year of 800 – 2000 words and they will pay as much as $2000 per story. Learn more about this magazine at http://www.statenet.com. Contact new current managing editor, Claudia Buck at firstname.lastname@example.org or 2101 K St., Sacramento, CA 95816. has moved to 260 Madison, Floor 8, New York, NY 10016-2406. for teens is new. Learn more at http://www.justinemagazine.com. Or contact editor, Jana Pettey at email@example.com. is a new celebrity magazine scheduled to launch this fall. I think we reported that the celebrity lifestyle magazine, Gala, would come forth. But I hear this one has been stalled. Do we really need another celebrity slick? I don’t have contact information, yet, but I can tell you that Sheryl Berk is gearing up to take over as editor-in-chief.is a Canadian magazine. I couldn’t get much from their Web site to indicate what type of magazine this is, but they seem to publish poetry. Contact managing editor Jill Hartman at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. is coming out of Portland, ME for the first time this month. I found their web site, but no guidelines for writers. Visit them at http://www.healthyfamilymag.com. Write to publisher, Richard Bulman at POB 569 Portland, ME 04112. They plan to fill their new publication with a wide range of family-oriented features and health issues., a new monthly magazine for women, will be distributed this fall through Wal-Mart and Target. The publisher is Diane Oshin; editor Isabel Price. They don’t seem to have a Web site yet but I’ll watch for it. In the meantime, contact them at 1271 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020 and ask for their Guidelines for Writers. is making a comeback. If you want to write for this magazine, you’ll have to fill out a form on their Web site, http://www.elegantbride.com. I don’t find their guidelines posted there, so you might email them and ask for a copy. I do know that they pay .30- 60 cents per word. email@example.com is a brand new print magazine with opportunities for fiction writers, essayists and poets. They want material that has not been previously published and the sky is the limit as far as length or content. I saw some of their content and can tell you that they are open to even the provocative. They generally pay $25 for poetry and $100 for fiction and non-fiction. No email submissions, please. Mail fiction and essays to Swink, 244 Fifth Ave. #2722, New York, NY 10001. Send poetry to 5042 Wilshire Blvd, #628, Los Angeles, CA 90036. http://www.swinkmag.com Press Publisher, Marcia Schutte offers this update. She says that Marie-Christine Ebershoff is the acquisitions person. Make this correction in your 2004 edition of Writer’s Market. Also be sure to read my fascinating interview with Marcia in this Market Update.