SPAWN Market Update – June, 2006
By Patricia L. Fry
Going, Going, Gone – 3 magazines have closed
Here’s What’s New – 8 new mags, re-launches and changes to report
Opportunities for Freelancers – 3 ideas for getting work
Opportunities for Authors – 2 publishers and an agent
Opportunities for Screenwriters – 2 opportunities to sell your scripts
Book Promotion Opportunities – 3 ideas that WILL sell your book
Publisher Survey – How important is a Book Proposal?
Bonus Item – Tips for Getting Book Reviews
Publisher Interviews with Rising Star Press and Sterling Publishing
Absolute Write Newsletter
Make a note, James Bennett is now the editor of Atlantic Monthly. http://www.theatlantic.com
Alanna Fincke is the new editor of Body and Soul. http://www.bodyandsoulmag.com
Martha Stewart’s Good Things for Kids has taken the place of Kids: Fun Stuff to Do Together. Jodi Levine is the editor. http://www.marthastewart.com
Jim Baen’s Universe
Seattle Metropolitan Magazine
Women’s Review of Books
Tri-County Woman Online
It’s almost summer. What are you doing to drum up writing business for the season? If your bread and butter comes from writing magazine articles or if you are promoting a book through articles, maybe this is a good time to sign up for an online magazine database. I like WoodenHorsePub.com and WritersMarket.com.
Wooden Horse will allow you to sample the database at a bargain price of $1.99 per day. Or you can save by signing up for a year at $149.00. WritersMarket.com charges $3.99/month or $29.99 annually. Learn more at: http://www.woodenhorsepub.com or http://www.writersmarket.com.
Would you like to get involved doing corporate writing work from home? Go out and collect brochures and other materials from local businesses and see how you could improve them. Visit Web sites. When you see misspelled words and grammatical errors, contact the owner of the site and offer to edit their Web pages for a fee.
Are you looking for an agent? The Knight Agency is seeking inspirational fiction, mainstream women’s, young adult, romantic, suspense and fantasy as well as paranormal romance manuscripts. Contact Elaine Spencer firstname.lastname@example.org
Orca Book Publishers is seeking quality books for children and young adults. Contact the editor, Maggie de Vries at email@example.com. Learn more about their guidelines at http://www.orcabook.com/AuthorsGuideFrame.htm.
Nomad Press is soliciting nonfiction manuscripts at this time. If you have a how-to, a sports related book, a memoir or one on parenting, Nomad might be interested. Learn more about their submission process at http://www.nomadpress.net.
The Screenwriting Expo is coming up. October 19-22 are the dates and the cost is just $74.95 for a four day pass. This event will be held in Los Angeles, California. Learn more at: http://www.screenwritingexpo.com.
Are you aware of InkTip’s sister magazine called Players Marketplace? It’s a print publication that contains loglines of writers’ scripts and is snail-mailed to 4,500 agents, managers and producers every two months. Check it out at http://www.inktip.com/scriptlog.php.
Sell your books at the Hollywood 2006 Book Festival on Saturday July 8. The deadline for entries is June 25. For more information, http://www.hollywoodbookfestival.com.
Learn how to speak on behalf of your book. Attend Susan Levin’s Speakers’ Bootcamp July 14 – 18 in Los Angeles. http://www.speakerservices.com
The American Journalism Review lists over 2,000 newspapers as well as radio, TV and magazine listings. Why is this important? These are resources you can use to get publicity for your published book. Don’t miss out on this opportunity. http://www.ajr.org
Even in today’s competitive publishing climate and even with experts and professionals hammering away about the importance of the book proposal—some authors still refuse to take the book proposal seriously. Many hopeful authors just want to find a publisher through some miraculous shortcut even if they have to pay someone to publish their books. They care little, in the beginning, about their target audience or the market for their book. Many of them believe that if they write it, readers will come. Eventually, they learn that this is not a very smart way to approach publishing.
Some authors will reluctantly agree to write an abbreviated version of a book proposal and they’ll ask me, “What is the most important part of a book proposal?” They want to know, “Should I send the publisher a sample chapter or a synopsis? How about my table of contents?”
These questions started me wondering: Do publishers consider one aspect of the book proposal more essential than others? And I decided to launch a survey. Here are the results of my informal survey.
About a dozen publishers of various types and sizes responded to my question: “What is the most important part of a book proposal?”
Roughly one-quarter of the publishers said they want to know, “Who is the target audience and where will you find them?” One publisher said, “I need to know, what is the market for this book? Who will buy it and how can these people be reached?” Another one advised, “Get down to reality and think, who will buy your book?” Yet, another publisher said, “Who is going to buy this book, and why from this author?”
Several publishers responded that the author’s platform was most important. Here are their comments: “I want to know, how is the author qualified to be invited on radio and TV shows to discuss his or her book?” Another one stated, “The author’s understanding about the future life of the book is paramount for acceptance of the proposal.” And I was told, “I want to see a marketing plan that demonstrates viability.” Yet, another publisher stated, “We need to know if an author is marketable, especially as we publish how-to books in business and real estate.”
Is the Proposal Well-Written?
Two publishers said that they want to see well-written proposals. “It must have as much voice as the actual manuscript,” states one publisher. He explains, “Too often proposals are sloppily done. There are grammar and usage mistakes.” Another publisher pointed out that, “a concept can be tweaked, but a great idea in the hands of an incompetent or mediocre writer won’t fly.”
What’s the Competition?
A few of the publishers surveyed want to know, first, how this book is different. One said, “I want to see a well-structured, short, solid book proposal that consists of how is the proposed work different than anything else?”
The Cover Letter
Surprisingly, one publisher said that the cover letter is the most important part of a book proposal. She explains, “I can often tell if the book is unique and compelling, if the author has a solid marketing platform, what the book is about, who the book is for and how it stands out from the competition from a simple one-page cover letter. I often accept or reject proposals based on the information I can gather from this cover letter.”
The Sample Chapter
And one lone publisher said that the sample chapter is the most important part of a book proposal as far as he’s concerned.
Isn’t it odd that not one publisher even mentioned the Synopsis?
Well, what did we learn from this little survey? For me, it just drives home the point I keep trying to make through my consultations, my workshops and my writing, that all parts of a book proposal are equally essential and that every hopeful author needs to write one. Here’s one more piece of advice from a publisher. He says that he does not want to see testimonials. Here are his comments: “Endorsements in a proposal are tacky. I do not want to know that a professional from Osh Kosh University read the manuscript and thinks its brilliant.” He also says, “Criticizing a form letter rejection gets the author no where. And writing back to the publisher after rejection shows poor judgment.”
Surprise, it’s not one of my books. Here’s an article that gives two perspectives on the book proposal—that of an author turned publisher. The Art of the Book Proposal by Robert E. Gelinas, publisher, ArcheBooks Publishing. http://www.archebooks.com. Click on “authors” and then “Authors Corner” and you will see a link to this article.
If you’ve been reading SPAWNews faithfully like we suggest, you’ve noticed that we have a new column starting where we will post member’s book reviews. Our policy is to review only books related to writing and publishing. But we also want to honor our members who have received great reviews for their books. Now SPAWN will publish reviews of member’s books for our 200 members and 2,000 subscribers to read. If your book is listed in our Catalog of Member’s Books and Services, we will direct readers to your entry so they can learn even more about your book.
But what if your book hasn’t been reviewed? Here are a few suggestions for getting one or dozens of reviews:
Here are a few tips for locating book review opportunities. Study magazines related to your topic. Do they publish book reviews? What is their submission process?
Locate appropriate magazines in Writer’s Market (available in your library or at the bookstore for around $30.) Research magazines in your library and local newsstands. Of course, use the Internet to research magazines and back issues of your SPAWN Market Update.
For books of poetry, self-help and feel good books, consider reviews in literary magazines, women’s, health, regional (where appropriate) and general magazines.
War memoirs might be reviewed in regional, military or history magazines, newsletters or Web sites.
For works of fiction, check out Web sites, newsletters and magazines related to the genre: horror, science fiction, romance, etc.
Tri-County Woman Online reviews books by women living in the Orange, Ulster and Dutchess Counties, NY. Go to, http://www.tricountywoman.com and click on Book Nook.
If you are at a loss as to how to do the necessary research necessary in order to locate these resources, let me know and I’ll provide an article that will help.
Also read, “The Right Way to Write, Publish and Sell Your Book” to learn how to conduct research, for lists of book review sites and publications, to learn how to define the genre of your book and so much more.
This month we’re bringing you two publisher interviews. First, let’s hear from Donna Jacobsen, Publisher of Rising Star Press.
Q: Please give us a little background about you and Rising Star Press.
A: Rising Star Press was formed in 1989 by a husband and wife team who were ready to take an early retirement from their high technology jobs. Carl Goldman wrote and published, Help There’s a Computer in the Office! And then went on to compile stories of those searching for meaning in their hectic Silicon Valley lives in Soul & Silicon—Spirits in a High Tech World. Subsequently, they began publishing quality work by other authors whose topics interested them. Of these, Recovering a Life After Brain Injury, by Kara Swanson (Rising Star Press, 1999) and Open Christianity—Home by Another Road, by Jim Burklo (Rising Star Press, 2000). I purchased the press in 2002 following my own “retirement” from Silicon Valley (my retirement was really a choice to have a more flexible schedule in order to be home when my young son came home from school.)
Q: What type of manuscripts are you currently seeking? Is there something that you are particularly hoping to see come through the mail?
A: Initially, I fell into a trap I knew well to avoid—that of being too scattered in focus. The books already in the catalog were quite varied and I only added to that problem. I am incredibly proud of each one, yet the mix has provided an extreme challenge in marketing. Take note small publishers! FOCUS!! You have to market these books and trying to reach too many specific audiences is costly and time consuming.
That said, I am currently looking to focus the press on liberal and progressive Christian authors—those that study, practice and apply an open, inclusive, informed and innovative approach to Christianity. This will build on existing catalog items, The Dishonest Church, by Jack Good (RSP, 2003), Open Christianity by Jim Burklo and the newly released From Literal to Literary—The Essential Reference Book for Biblical Metaphors, by James R. Adams (RSP, 2005), as well as further a working relationship with The Center for Progressive Christianity (http://www.tcpc.org).
Q: Do you prefer to see a query letter first? And then what happens?
A: I do prefer to see a query letter first. Especially now that the focus is changing, it is likely that I will still receive submissions on topics I will no longer consider. Since my staff is limited (in other words, I’m it!), it can take quite a while for me to respond. If approached via e-mail, I will respond with a form e-mail. If submissions are received in the mail, I respond with a form letter and return materials if a return envelope is provided. If the rejection is particularly agonizing for me due to the extremely good quality of the work and/or the lack of available production capital, I will write a personal note.
Q: Are you receiving fewer submissions now that so many authors are turning to fee-based publishing services (author mills) with their projects?
A: I seem to be receiving the same amount of submissions—just more over e-mail these days.
Q: Has the quality of the projects you’re receiving improved over the years or declined?
A: There has always been a wide variation in quality. I don’t see a difference with the exception of a bit more savvy on the part of some authors with regard to market information, which is nice.
Q: What are some of the mistakes hopeful authors are making today on behalf of their book projects?
A: Not checking for spelling and grammatical errors in their submissions. Not looking at current offerings of a publisher before submitting their book idea (if it doesn’t fit with the direction of the publishing house, there won’t be much follow-through support on the part of the publisher), believing their mother and best friend who say, “You ought to write a book” – they really may just be being nice.
Q: Describe the author that is your worst nightmare. (Here’s your chance to vent and to educate my readers.)
A: Editor’s note: Here are Ms. Jacobsen’s pet peeves:
Editor’s note: This may be true of the small publishing house, but I suggest, in the case of a medium or large publishing house, that you call to ask the receptionist the name of the current contact person. I have actually had my query letter and book proposal returned with notes stating, “This editor no longer works for this company.” Rather than passing my package along to the appropriate editor, they returned it to me. How moronic is that?
Editor’s Note: Here! Here! If you are not comfortable speaking publicly, join a local Toastmasters Club. Read more about how to succeed at public speaking in Patricia Fry’s book, “The Right Way to Write, Publish and Sell Your Book.”
Q: What attracts you to a proposal package and what is an immediate turn off?
is another recent re-launch. This magazine focuses on the issues of women in three New York Counties: Orange, Ulster and Dutchess. Editor Felicia Hodges is interested in original articles and reprints of interest to women in this tri-county area related to health and wellness, parenting, relationships and careers. They also review books by local writers. Contact Ms. Hodges at firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit the Web site at: http://www.tricountywoman.com. has re-launched after a two year hiatus. This magazine is now published bimonthly and Amy Hoffman continues as editor. Women’s Review of Books publishes in-depth reviews of nonfiction, fiction and poetry by and about women. They also publish essays, poems and author interviews. Contact Amy Hoffman at email@example.com. Web site: http://www.wcwonline.org. is new. The managing editor, Ariana Donalds welcomes articles about the arts, food, fashion, gardening, humor politics and anything newsworthy. There seems to be numerous opportunities for freelance writers, but I can’t determine from the Web site if they pay or not. I suggest that you email Donalds at firstname.lastname@example.org and ask for clarity on that. You’ll find basic guidelines on the Web site. http://www.seattlemetmag.com. Click on “About Us” and then on “Contact.” You’ll see “Writers’ Guidelines” listed to the right. is a science fiction/fantasy online magazine and they will pay as much as 25 cents word for your first 5,000 words plus royalties. Check them out at http://www.baensuniverse.com. Contact: Eric Flint, email@example.com. is the relaunch of Zenith Woman. This magazine will publish profiles of successful women in the Denver area. They also welcome articles on local lifestyle, health and other things of interest to women in Denver. Contact Judy Taylor at firstname.lastname@example.org for Submission Guidelines. Visit their Web site at: http://www.denverwoman.com. no longer reviews self-published or subsidy published books. It’s a shame that editors don’t have the courage to review a book based on merit, quality and value rather than by how the book was produced.