SPAWN Market Update – July, 2006
By Patricia L. Fry
Going, Going, Gone – 6 more mags and pubs have closed down
Here’s What’s New – 4 new magazines and changes at Soho Press
Things You Really Need to Know – How to get permission to use song lyrics. SPAWN provides scads of research material.
Opportunities for Freelance Writers – A call for writers.
Opportunities for Authors – How to meet publishers face-to-face
Book Promotion Opportunities – 5 of them, including how to get newsletter publicity for your book.
Opportunities for Artists – Get statistics and salary projections.
Reference Site of the Month – Big Bad Book Blog
Notes of Interest – 5 things you really should pay attention to.
Bonus Item – How to Write a Book Review
Publishers Survey – Your Platform: what is it, do you need one and how do you get one?
Hope for Women
The Canadian Medical Association is planning the launch of Canadian Health sometime in September. Watch for the announcement at their Web site: http://www.cma.ca.
Juris Jurjevics recently retired as editor-in-chief for Soho Press. The new editor-in-chief is Laura Hruska. If you want to submit something to Soho Press, send it by mail in care of Laura at 853 Broadway, NY 10003. Soho Press publishes literary fiction and an occasional autobiography. They want manuscripts of 60,000 words or more. And there’s no need to work through an agent. Send a query letter and the first three chapters of your book along with a brief outline of the plot. For those of you who are not used to submitting manuscripts and query letters through the mail, don’t forget to include a self-addressed-stamped envelope for the response.
Do you quote song lyrics in your manuscript? If so, be sure to get permission to do so. Here’s a site that might help: http://www.ascap.com/ace. Use the database to get contact information for the individual or company who holds the rights.
SPAWN has an enormous array of articles and resources for the freelance writer, author and independent publisher. Do you have a question that you can’t find answered in my book, “The Right Way to Write, Publish and Sell Your Book?” Then do a search at http://www.spawn.org. Also use the search feature here on the first page of the Market Update section to locate information on publishers, magazine editors, book promotion ideas, publishing/writing resources, shipping, distribution, writers’ newsletters—and hundreds of other subjects.
Colleen Sell, editor for Cup of Comfort has put out another plea for stories. She is seeking inspiring true stories for three new volumes of her Cup of Comfort series. She needs 1,000 to 2,000-word stories for Cup of Comfort for Writers (Deadline, July 31, 2006), Cup of Comfort for Dog Lovers (Deadline August 31, 2006) and Cup of Comfort for Single Mothers (Deadline, December 31, 2006). http://www.cupofcomfort.com for submission guidelines. Or contact Colleen at email@example.com.
If you are interested in meeting publishers face-to-face, be sure to read my article, “How to Work a Book Festival” in the June 2006 edition of Freelance Writer’s Report. http://www.writers-editors.com. If you don’t subscribe to this print newsletter, I recommend that you do. Of the dozens of writing/publishing-related newsletters I receive each month, this is one of my favorites. I always find something I can use.
The June edition of Freelance Writer’s Report (see above) also has an article by Fern Reiss, CEO of PublishingGame.com. on “How to Publicize Your Novel.” I hope that all of you authors of fiction will read it and try out some new methods of promoting your great book.
Emma Ward contacted us here at SPAWN this month to tell us about her new site, BookHitch.com. Emma says it’s a new concept and it sounds like a pretty good one to me. It’s not the be all and end all of promotion, by any means, but it does provide an opportunity for additional exposure for your book. And it’s FREE. Post your book at this site and visitors who see your book there are directed to your Web site where they can purchase it. For $19.95 (which is a temporary discounted price) you can have your book placed in a more conspicuous spot on the site. But hurry. This service is usually $49.95. Check BookHitch.com out at http://www.bookhitch.com.
Are you taking advantage of newsletter publicity? Newsletter editors have quite a job keeping up with trends and changes in their industry or within their hobby, craft or interest. They generally welcome help from contributors. Why not submit your announcements, tidbits of interest, news bites and resources to the newsletters related to your book topic. Of course, you all know that I’m promoting books on writing and publishing. This month alone, I sent about a dozen submissions to various magazines and newsletters. I sent one of my promotional ideas to Fran Silverman for publication in her Book Promotion Newsletter. Angela Hoy accepted one of my latest articles for publication in an upcoming issue of Writer’s Weekly. I sent a brief idea for Freelance Writers’ Report about how to keep track of the various usernames and passwords you use at the message boards and Web sites related to your topic. And I sent copies of my book to be reviewed. I also posted notices at message boards related to writing and publishing—starting with SPAWN and including a few others. Sometimes I just share something new that I learned about the industry or I’ll respond to an author or freelance writer who posted a question on a message board.
You, too, should have a relationship with Web sites and newsletter editors and be familiar with message boards in your book subject. If yours is a historical novel, seek out history sites, if it is a military saga, submit to military newsletters and sites. If you have a dog care book or a book of cat/horse/wild animal stories, seek out sites, newsletters and message boards related to animals. Other topics might include environmental issues, trains, travel, parenting, cooking, needlework, gardening, weight loss, selling a home, architecture—the list goes on and on. In fact, I defy anyone to come up with a topic that isn’t represented on the Internet.
Now remember, your contribution doesn’t have to be about your book—in fact, if you send a newsletter editor something extolling the virtues of your book, he will surely reject it. Share something useful, educational, informational and/or entertaining and then include your “signature” (or bio). For example: Patricia Fry is the author of 24 books, including “The Right Way to Write, Publish and Sell Your Book” http://www.matilijapress.com.
I’d like to hear from those of you who have found sites, newsletters and message boards and discovered ways to get exposure for your book through these channels. Send me your stories and I’ll write a report for the August edition of the SPAWN Market Update.
“How to Sell More Books Through Gift Stores.” That’s the name of an interesting article published in the June 13 issue of the National Association of Women Writers (NAWW) newsletter. The author was Brian Jud. Here’s some of he information he shares: Hardcover books under $10 are most apt to be picked up by gift stores. Seasonal titles are also popular—but keep in mind that buyers shop six months before the holiday or season. In order to understand the gift market, Jud recommends reading trade magazines such as Giftware News and Giftbeat. In his article, he also gives 6 ways to reach the gift market. Check it out at http://www.naww.org.
Patricia Fry’s article, “Promote Your Book Through Alternative Speaking Venues” is posted at Writing-World. http://www.writing-world.com/promotion/venues.shtml. You’ll find her article, “One Dozen Unique Ways to Make More Money Writing” at http://www.writing-world.com/freelance/money.shtml. Patricia’s own site also carries dozens of her articles: http://www.matilijapress.com.
If you are going to be in New York August 19, you might consider reserving a booth at the Queens Book Fair. It will be held at the Rufus King Park in Jamaica, NY. Learn more at http://www.cbbooksdistribution.com.
I’m going to call it “information” and “perspective” for artists. The site I found for you this month gives statistics related to artists. It’s an interesting site. You’ll find a section about the nature of the work—the various types of artists out there, training and employment opportunities and they even provide information about potential earnings for artists. For example, an art director earns an average of $63,000/year. A salaried craft artist makes $23,520 on average. Add about $15,000 to that for a salaried fine artist. And a multimedia artists can earn an average of $50,000/annually. Visit this government Web site, I think you’ll find it interesting. http://www.bls.gov/oco/ocos092.htm
If you haven’t visited the Big Bad Book Blog, yet, be sure to spend some time there. You won’t be disappointed. The posts are tremendously helpful, important stuff. They are well-written and humorous. To give you an idea, here are a few of the article titles, “Tips to Turn Rock Star Publicity Into Rock Star Income.” “Price Yourself INTO the Market.” “Y’all Don’t Come Back Now, Ya Hear? 3 Tips to Help You manage Returns.” “Think You’re Oprah Worthy?” “Holy Ship, That’s Expensive: 3 Easy Ways to Save Money on Shipping.” “Top 3 Ways to Turn on Any Agent, Publisher or Distributor.” And don’t you know that they mention platform? (See more about platform below in my Publisher Survey.) http://www.bigbadbookblog.com
Have you heard about the trouble Jenna Glatzer’s Absolute Write site experienced recently? Jenna is one of our foremost watchdogs for writers. You may recall my book review for her latest book, “The Street-Smart Writer: Self-Defense Against the Sharks and Scams in the Writing World.” One feature of her Web site is her Absolute Write Water Cooler message boards where writers are warned about scams, deadbeat publishers, bad agents and so forth. Well, evidently, a visitor posted the email address of an agent who didn’t want her email address posted anywhere and the woman managed to get the site hosting company to shut down the Web site. It was a real mess. Not only did Jenna lose sleep over this and maybe some weight, but she lost hard cash, in the process. The good thing is how the writing community came forward with their support. Read more about this fiasco at http://kiraconnally.com/blog/?page_id=218.
Jenna has been blogging about it, too. http://jennaglatzer.blogspot.com
R.R. Bowker states that number of new books published declined in 2005. This was the first decline since 1999. In fact it follows a record increase in 2004 of 19,000 new books. England is publishing more books in English in 2005 than the US.
I received a notice from Jan Nathan, executive director of at Publishers Marketing Association (PMA) recently stating that at the BEA, she met many authors who chose to print their titles with fee-based publishing services (also known as POD Publishers) and who believe that they self-published their books. Folks, this is something I’ve repeatedly warned you about, as well. You have self-published your book if you are the registered owner of the ISBN. In order to self-publish, you must establish your own publishing company. If you want to find out if you are, indeed, the publisher of your book, contact R.R. Bowker at 877-310-7333. Give them the ISBN that was assigned to your book and ask who is the registered owner. As Jan points out, if you are not considered the publisher (the ISBN is not in your name), among other things, you cannot contract with distributors and wholesalers.
Here are the steps that I suggest a hopeful author take:
There are changes at UPS. Overnight service is now known as UPS Next Day Air Freight. Learn more at http://www.upsfreight.com.
How to Write a Book Review
Every author wants to have his/her book reviewed. Well, authors actually want book sales—lots of them. And that means they need exposure for their book. Book reviews are a good way to get that exposure.
If you are a freelance writer, you might consider writing book reviews. There’s money to be made and a measure of notoriety in writing book reviews. Join a stable of book reviewers at a book review Web site or magazine. Maybe you could get a job writing book reviews for a general magazine or a magazine dedicated to a specific interest. If the magazine doesn’t already publish reviews, suggest a book review column. This is particularly feasible with a newer magazine. Or offer to write and submit reviews for authors for a fee.
I am paying a couple of writers to write reviews and submit them to magazines, newsletters and Web sites. Some Web site managers and magazine/newsletter editors post or publish reviews, but they don’t do the reviews in house.
Here are the basics of writing a book review:
Choose books carefully. You might be a better reviewer for book types that you are accustomed to and enjoy reading: mysteries and true crimes, young adult novels or nonfiction books in a particular subject, for example. Read the book first. I always make notes while reading the book. I frequently review books related to writing for SPAWNews. While reading a book, I’ll note passages that I particularly like, areas where the material is weak, chapters where I find unique bits of information and so forth. I note the way the book is organized, whether it is well-written or not, what makes it appealing or useful, why this book is different, whether there is a resources list or an index.
The purpose of a book review is to help other people decide whether or not they want to read this book. A book review is a summary of the book. It provides potential readers with both the positive and the negative aspects of the book.
Book review differs from a book report. While a book report tells about a book, a book review also critiques it. I often complain, in my book reviews, when a good reference book for writers doesn’t have an index, for example. But I also point out who the book is for. I won’t recommend a cutesy book of cat-inspired writing to a beginning writer who is seeking information. Likewise, I won’t suggest that an experienced author should read a basic book written for new writers.
Point out the appropriate audience for the book. Who would benefit most from this book or enjoy this book most. Reviewers for my book, “The Right Way to Write, Publish and Sell Your Book,” typically say that this book is for anyone who is interested in writing a book. It’s not for freelance writers who have no desire to produce a book. It’s not necessarily for seasoned authors. But it is for the hopeful or the struggling author and this is how it most reviewers describe it.
Write something fresh about the book in your review. I’ve had people write reviews for my books simply by copying the back cover matter. That’s being downright lazy. Be creative. Have fun. Come up with material that is unique and interesting, yet appropriate.
The style of your review can vary depending on your audience and whether the book is fiction or nonfiction. For fiction, you will probably want to evaluate characters and the plot. For nonfiction, analyze how complete the book is, how useful and how well-presented. If you review books in a category that you are familiar with, you’ll be more qualified to define the book’s strengths and weaknesses—what works and what doesn’t. But also think about the audience. I review books that I can use and learn from and I review books that are pretty elementary. For solid reference books, I am part of the audience. I can write from my own perspective. For beginning books or inspirational books, I really must consider another audience.
I produced a book a few years ago in which one paragraph was repeated. Hours before the book was to go to the printer, I made a change. I asked my typesetter to move a paragraph. He did, but neither of us noticed, during our last “too” quick look, that he neglected to remove the paragraph from the original spot. One reviewer really bashed that book. She saw the repeated paragraph and that was all she focused on throughout her entire review. It was like she had gotten up on the wrong side of the bed or that she had a vendetta against someone—me? Or what I or my writing represents?
She practically told readers that they should not read this book because of the numerous repeats throughout the book. If you see something you don’t like or that is blatantly wrong with a book you are reviewing, mention it if you must—especially if you feel that readers would be affected in some way by the message, information or presentation. But, if you see value in the book, talk about that, as well.
Include the author’s qualifications for writing this book. Is he the author of 25 other mysteries? Is she an attorney? Are they practicing psychologists? In the case of my own books, reviewers always refer to my background in writing and publishing.
Write a book review in essay form. It should have a beginning, middle and end. It should be written clearly and concisely.
A book review generally encompasses 150 to 300 words. Some magazine editors or Webmasters might request one that is longer.
Before you finalize the review, always make sure that you list (either at the beginning or the end of the review), the full title, subtitle, author’s name, publishing company, ISBN, page number, price and ordering information.
Writing book reviews isn’t for everyone. I believe you must have a love of books—at least the type of books you are reviewing. You really should have a fairly optimistic, positive, but realistic outlook. It’s important that you can project from an appropriate audience’s point of view. And good writing skills don’t hurt, either.
This month I conducted a survey of publishers and authors’ agents with regard to the term and the concept of “platform.” Platform is the current buzzword for an author having established himself as an expert in the field of his book—an author who has a presence or connections that will help him successfully promote his nonfiction or fiction book. Here’s what publishers and agents told me:
I asked the publishers and agents to define platform.
One agent said that a platform is the position from which you write—will readers want to read what you have to say? Platform is different from expertise in that you can be an expert on something, but have no known visibility—no following. If the audience knows you and will be interested in what you have to say, that’s your platform.
Another publisher said, “A platform is a way of describing how an author/artist is getting their work out to the masses and their experience—it’s their reach.”
The publishers and agents gave the following examples of platform.
Another publisher suggested that examples of a platform might be writing in major publications, a high traffic website, a good track record of sales. Another publisher said, “We suggest that an author build a mailing list, be creative with speaking engagements, create newsworthy happenings and get on the road.”
I asked, “How important is it that an author submit a book proposal outlining his platform?”
I asked if publishers will work with an author who doesn’t have a platform or who has a weak one. Here’s what I was told
. “If a platform is necessary, I won’t work with the author if he doesn’t have a platform.” An agent said, “We will try to work with someone to develop something that will sound impressive to publishers—magazines or radio, usually. The agent also said that platform is very, very important today, but it’s not the be all and end all. It’s just one more important piece of the puzzle.” She suggested, “Do what you can to develop it, but don’t give up if you’re not there, yet.”One publisher said that for nonfiction, business and political books, it’s essential. For fiction, memoirs and some other types of books, not important. An agent warns that platform is important, but it’s more important that you do not exaggerate what is not real. One publisher said it is extremely important. She said, “No platform, no contract.” Wow!One publisher gave these examples: A platform is having a schedule of public speeches or a portfolio of press appearances. A platform might be a column or a website. Someone who regularly speaks at conferences or companies, has established a platform. Platform means audience—a following. If an author were to speak at conferences or give presentations in public settings, would anyone show up to hear him or her? If the answer is, yes, the author has established a following. is a new magazine designed to reach out to women of Roanoke Valley, Virginia. So far, I have not been able to locate a Web site or any contact information. Stay tuned—maybe it will become available in time for the August edition of the SPAWN Market Update. is a new literature and culture magazine. Their Web site is still under construction, but they recommend checking back regularly for information about the focus, scope and opportunities with this magazine. http://www.apublicspace.org is a brand new magazine about hope. Publisher and Editor-in-Chief, Angelia White, planned this lifestyle magazine as an inspirational Christian magazine full of stories about real women experiencing real life issues and having real hope. If you have an article idea, contact Angelia at firstname.lastname@example.org. Learn more about the magazine at http://www.hopeforwomenmag.org. has stopped publishing the print edition of their magazine.