SPAWN Market Update – March 2003

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SPAWN Market Update – March, 2003

By Patricia L. Fry

Contents:

Going, Going, Gone

The following two magazines are reportedly out of business.
Bloomberg Personal Finance
New Architect
There have been rumors that Becoming Family is coming back to life. I contacted editor, Peg Short, however, and she told me that this announcement is premature. They’re engaged in some fund-raising that may result in a re-launch by the end of the year. We’ll keep you posted on this one.
Here’s What’s New

Claws In Creation is a new ezine that focuses on our creative pursuits. Publisher, Stacia D. Kelly, is always on the look out for creative ideas and articles. Visit Claws In Creation at http://www.clawsincreativity.com. Contact Stacia at submissions@catklaw.com or stacia@catklaw.com.

Conversely has announced some changes. They no longer accept email submissions. And as of April 1, 2003, they will not accept submissions by land mail, either. They’ve recently switched to a system through which you can send submissions directly to Conversely’s Web server from their own Web site. To find out more about this system, go to http://www.conversely.com/Masth/onhlp.shtml. If, after studying the instructions, you have additional questions, please send an email to writers@conversely.com  

San Francisco Chronicle Magazine has returned. Contact Garrison Keillor for their writer’s guidelines at magazine@sfchronicle.com

Lifetime is a new women’s magazine recently launched by the Hearst Corporation and Lifetime Entertainment. The magazine will be bimonthly until September, when it is scheduled to become monthly. Their tagline is “Real Life. Real Women.” If you’re familiar with Lifetime Television programming, the magazine promises to be similar. They feature fashion, beauty, food, decorating, health, news and portraits of real women. Watch for the first issue-originally scheduled to debut in March-to appear on newsstands April 22, 2003. Contact editor in chief, Sally Koslow for their writers’ guidelines. Lifetime, 1790 Broadway, 11th Floor, New York, NY 10019

March Magazine will have a little bit of everything-fiction, poetry, nonfiction, book reviews and they are also soliciting illustrations. Contact editor, Adam Van Loon at 1720 NW Lovejoy St., Ste. 208, Portland, OR 98209-2338 or visit their Web site at
http://www.marchmagazine.com. For writers guidelines, http://www.marchmagazine.com/pages/wg.htm

Michael Derr, long time editor for America West Magazine, has stepped down. Now at the helm is Ellen Alperstein. And with this personnel shift comes additional changes. She told me last week, “The magazine has been wholly reformatted, both in editorial concept and design.” And she invites SPAWN members to view the editorial guidelines at
http://www.skyword.com.  It looks like a lot of fun coming up for America West Magazine as they’re looking for newsy essays, short stories, personal experience bits and eloquent/amusing/passionate/quirky articles about cities that America West Airlines serves. And they pay from $.60 to $1.00 word.

Cruise and Resort is scheduled to debut in April. The focus is on providing information on nearby locations rather than those in far away lands. They are committed to covering attainable destinations. And they’re interested in family travel and travel trends. Their tagline reads:  “Making travel fun again.” If you’re interested in writing about places such as, Las Vegas, Hawaii, Mexico, Orlando or the Caribbean, visit http://www.cruiseandresort.com for their editorial calendar. Or contact editor, Ralph Grizzle at rgrizzle@cruiseandresort.com

There’s a new merger in the world of business magazines. Catalyst Magazine is being circulated all over Atlanta, Georgia back to back with Business to Business. To find out more about these magazines, visit http://www.catalystmagazine.com or http://btobmagazine.com.
Word of Warning

Don’t get lazy when it comes to marketing your book. According to RR Bowker, even though it’s easier to become a published author these days, it’s even harder to get noticed. In 2002, 10,653 new publishing companies applied for ISBN blocks. That number is up from last year. Yes, the competition gets stiffer every year. So if we want to make it in this business, we need to come up with good book projects and commit to them. Let’s get creative!
Research/Reference Site of the Month

Industry Central hosts a Web site for the motion picture and TV industry professional. Click on http://www.industrycentral.net for related links, writer’s exchange, industry news, a chat room, a marketplace and more.  
Sites for Writers

Since the theme for this issue of the SPAWN Market Update is scriptwriting, I’ve devoted space to this topic in almost every section this month.

Screenwriters Cyberia has links galore. Go see what I mean at http://www.screenwriterscyberia.com

Screenwriters Forum offers articles on a variety of script-related topics, contests and more. http://www.screenwritersforum.com

Scriptdoctor911.com is a helpful site for scriptwriters. And most of the information is free. http://www.scriptdoctor911.com

Writers’ Script Network is a showcase site for your scripts. In a recent newsletter, editor, Jerrol LeBaron, states that 27 scripts have been purchased through their site and 89 writers have found representation. According to LeBaron, more than 130 production companies regularly search for scripts on their network. Visit http://www.writerscriptnetwork.com to see if they can help you market your hottest script.

Absolute Write has some excellent links for screenwriters and TV writers at http://www.absolutewrite.com/screenwriting/general.htm      

StudioNotes is another showcase site for scripts. For a fee, they promise to get your material to filmmakers who want to read it. Check them out at http://www.studionotes.com.

Additional Resources for Scriptwriters

Print Magazines:
Screenwriter Monthly http://www.screenwriterutopia.com
Hollywood Scriptwriter Magazine. http://www.hollywoodscriptwriter.com
ScriptWriter Magazine http://www.scriptwritermagazine.com  

Associations:

American Screenwriters Association http://www.asascreenwriters.com

Articles for screenwriters:

Don’t miss Lenore Wright’s article, “Don’t Get Burned: Evaluating Script Writing Contests.” This appears in the Working Writer Newsletter February 4, 2003 at  http://www.freelancewriting.com

Writer’s Digest (March 2003) has a great article by Jonathan Treisman on how to pitch your script. He also includes 3 script markets.
Grammar Site

The English Chick. Here’s a fun and informative site featuring proper word usage, common mistakes in grammar, spelling, punctuation and more. And this grammar site is not stuffy. Much of it is delightfully tongue-in-cheek. http://www.englishchick.com/grammar.
For Fiction Addicts

Fictionwise.com is committed to providing the Internet’s most comprehensive collection of fiction in ebook form. They don’t want original works, but will accept reprints of short stories and novels from established professional writers in many genres, including fiction, science fiction, mystery, romance and adventure. http://www.fictionwise.com.
Markets for Scripts –

Scriptwriters will be happy to know that there are 14 new screenwriting markets listed in the 2003 edition of Writers Market and 20 new opportunities for playwrights. Here are a couple:

Bilingual Foundation of the Arts produces 4 plays plus 6-9 stage readings per year. Contact the associate producer and production manager: Estela Scarlata at bfa2001@earthlink.net
California Theater Center produces 15 plays each year for young audiences. Find out more at http://www.ctcing.org.

Perseverance Theatre in Alaska produces 6 plays per year. Contact Peter DuBois at 907-364-2421

Ginty Films purchases 12 – 15 scripts each year. They cater to a commercial audience. For more information go to: http://www.robertginty.com or contact Layla Bennett at rwginty@aol.com

A Happy Place Christopher Tipton, creative executive buys 10 scripts per year. Talk to Christopher at chris@happyplaceonline.com.
Featured Writer

I’m pleased to bring you my interview with Lynne Pembroke, an analyst of scripts and screenplays.

Q:  Please describe your business. What do you offer? What can a client expect from your service?  

A:  My business is a Reader/Analyst company and is a “one-woman show”.  When an individual sends a screenplay to an agent, producer, studio or contest the first hurdle they must overcome is a Reader, who decides whether or not to pass it along to those who have the power to give it a “green light”.  As a Screenplay Analyst, I go through an individual’s screenplay offering suggestions on how to improve the plot, structure, formatting, characters, dialogue, etc., with the purpose being to help the writer increase his/her chances of getting a Reader to give it a “Consider” or “Recommend” rating.  While there is never any guarantee that a screenplay will “make it,” writing one to the best of one’s ability and which meets industry standards is a must, as the competition is fierce.  

With that objective in mind, the analysis consists of anywhere from 6 to 14 pages, depending on what is good about the screenplay and what needs work. The analysis is not a blanket “format” that treats every screenplay in the same manner.  Each analysis is done on an individual basis and addresses the specific problems contained in that specific screenplay, notating page numbers and scenes that need work, as well as validating the good, well-written portions of the screenplay.  After the screenwriter receives his/her written analysis and he/she wishes help with the rewrites or to go over new ideas for the screenplay, I also offer phone consultations.  As part of my service, and at no cost to the writer, should an individual writer’s screenplay merit it and with the writer’s permission, I will get them in touch with a production company with whom I have a working relationship.  This, by no means, guarantees a sale but it does help get ones “foot in the door”.  

Q:  What is your background? (From what I read online, it is quite impressive. Please give us an outline.)

A:  From the time I could read, I’ve always had my nose in a book or pressed up against a screen.  As the years passed, I graduated from See Spot Run and “Road Runner” cartoons to The Grapes of Wrath and “Citizen Kane”.  I spent my educational time majoring in English and languages and writing for pleasure, eventually becoming a published author and poet.  I got my start in the reader/analyst field when I worked as an assistant to the Director of Creative Affairs at Stephen Cannell Productions in 1986.  So many scripts came in the door, in order to keep up with the demand, I was trained as a reader/analyst — so I’ve had “on the job training”.  I graduated from there to working for an Emmy Award winning Producer of Children’s Animated TV shows and also wrote game show material for a game show Producer.  From there I branched out on my own.  I started by freelancing for agents and producers, added judging for screenplay contests and eventually expanded my service to include analyzing screenplays for individual writers.  I’ve been doing this now for sixteen years and love every minute of it.         

Q:  Who are your clients? Are most of them beginning writers or experienced? What are their most common needs?

A:  Some of my clients include several Internet script consulting companies, The Walt Disney Studio and ABC Entertainment Fellowship Program, various independent producers, and many screenplay contests, the current one being Final Draft’s 2003 Big Break Contest.  Most of the individual writers I work with are inexperienced.  The problems I run across are many and varied, from lack of solid plot development to creating good, believable characters.  However, the most common problem for those just starting is the lack of a solid grasp of the basics — industry standard screenplay format and structure.  There are also many problems that arise in writing good narrative description.      

Q:  How would someone go about setting up a business such as yours? Any suggestions?

A:  Most readers/analysts get their start as did I, by working in an agent’s office or a studio to get experience.  There are also books on the market that can help.  READING FOR A LIVING by T. L. Katahn is one of them.  There are also the occasional “readers workshops” offered at some community colleges.  As I’ve never attended one I cannot vouch for their effectiveness. It also helps a great deal to read a lot of novels and already produced screenplays, as well as books on the craft and art of screenwriting.  And to garner even more understanding, it helps for oneself to be a writer. Of course, it’s a must to watch a lot of movies of all genres not only for their entertainment value but also from an “analytical” viewpoint, noting the act structure, the character development, the plot twists, etc.  From there it is a matter of reading a lot of screenplays and writing sample coverage so a prospective client can judge your work.  Next one has to get into promoting oneself and one’s work to agents/producers/studios and those who hold screenplay competitions, as well as individual writers.    

Q:  Is this a lucrative endeavor? How much can someone expect to earn as a script reader?

A:   If one decides to be a reader/analyst in order to make his/her fortune, then he/she will be disappointed.  While one can earn a respectable living it’s not going to pay for that coveted yacht or diamond and ruby tiara.  On the other hand earning a comfortable living being able to work out of one’s home wearing nothing more glamorous than one’s fuzzy bunny slippers and a cozy sweat suit definitely has its advantages.  What one earns depends upon what one charges for the service and how many writers are willing to pay that amount for the service offered.  It also helps to have a continual promotional program in effect.  I enjoy a very nice lifestyle while I keep my rates very affordable since my motivation is not money but to help the writer.   

Q:  Is this full time work for you? How many hours do you spend per day?

A:  Yes, I do this work full time.  I have no set work schedule as far as what hours of the day or what days of the week I must work, but the total hours usually amount to 40 to 60 hours per week.  

Q:  What is the next step for most of your clients after you have worked with them? Are they ready to submit their script? Do you also help them with that process?

A:  The purpose of this process is to get the screenplay in shape and ready for submittal to either agents, screenplay contests or producers.  Sometimes, depending on the writer’s skill, this happens after one rewrite, but can take many rewrites to get it “up to snuff”.  I do not get involved in the marketing of the screenplay other than to refer the writer of an exceptionally good screenplay (and if the screenplay is of the genre requested) to a production company with whom I have a working relationship.  This is done with the permission of and at no cost to the writer and once they and the company are in contact with each other, I drop out of the picture.

Q:  Would you describe the process of submitting a script? (The theme for this issue of the Market Update is scriptwriting — so anything you can offer to our readers would be much appreciated).  

A:  If this question refers to submitting a screenplay for analysis, a screenplay can be submitted to me either electronically (depending on the program used; a minimal print out fee is charged) as an attachment to an email or in hardcopy sent to me through the regular postal service.  The payment for the analysis, at the moment, is by check sent through the mail.  Arrangements are being made to accept payment electronically but are not finalized.  The details of my background along with testimonials and my rates for the services I offer are listed on my website: http://www.converscript.com. To get further details of submittal and the address of where to send your screenplay for analysis I can be reached at my email: LynnePem@aol.com.

If this question refers to submitting a screenplay to an agent/producer/studio, this is an entirely different animal.  Agents have their own criteria for submittal.  Studios do not normally accept screenplays unless submitted to them through an agent representing the writer.  By doing searches over the Internet or by purchasing books a writer can find lists of agents/producers with addresses and the details of their submittal criteria.  Usually the first step is for the writer to write a short query letter to the agent/producer stating what his/her screenplay is about, the writer’s writing credentials and contact information.
    
Since the growth in popularity of the Internet there has arisen a whole new way to get one’s screenplay on the market.  These Internet companies, for a fee, post an individual writer’s screenplays over the web.  These companies have working relationships with many producers, studios and agents who visit the site to look at the available screenplays.  A writer would have to research on his own the viability, statistics of sales/options and honesty factor of each of these Internet companies to choose the ones with whom he/she feels comfortable.      

Q:  Please share anything else you feel is important for our readers to know.

A:  The most important thing for any aspiring screenwriter to do is to first learn the basic techniques of screenwriting before sitting down to write one.  I come across many hopeful writers who think that all it takes to write a script is a good story idea and a lot of explosive special effects.  While a good story is important, with or without the special effects, writing that story to industry standards is equally important.  There are specific techniques to writing a screenplay involving everything from act structure to proper screenplay format which must be followed.  It’s difficult to write engaging characters, focused plots and entertaining screenplays without having a solid framework in which to bring them to life.  Before any money is spent on having one’s screenplay analyzed, or before submitting it to the marketplace, it would behoove the writer to first educate himself in the “tools of the trade.”  There are many, many screenwriting books available as well as workshops and seminars, both online and live classroom situations.  My advice is to take advantage of them and then, armed with the basics, write, write and then write some more.  Then when the writer feels ready to submit his/her screenplay for analysis or into the marketplace, do so after it’s been copyrighted or WGA registered.

My comment to an aspiring reader/analyst is that there is a learning curve and it does take time to become proficient at the craft.  My advice, once the basics are grasped, is that the reader/analyst put his/her personal likes or dislikes “on the back burner” and not allow them to come into play when analyzing a screenplay.  While there is always some element of subjectivity, a screenplay is best analyzed when an objective viewpoint can be maintained.  Every writer has his/her own style, favorite genre and/or “quirks” which may or may not agree with a reader/analyst’s preferences.  It is helpful to the writer as well as to the analyst for the reader/analyst to remain objective and judge the screenplay within its own “reality”.

Contact Lynne Pembroke through her Web site http://www.coverscript.com or
Email her at lynnepem@aol.com
Opportunities for Writers

Hot Java Productions, Inc is a new publisher looking for manuscripts from first time as well as previously published authors. They’re interested in at least 60,000 word manuscripts in the following genres: romance, mysteries, crime, paranormal, science fiction, suspense, historical, westerns, horror and thrillers. Here are their submission guidelines: Send the first two chapters plus a synopsis, SASE and bio to Nancy Radke, executive editor, Hot Java Productions, Inc., POB 354 Kirkland, WA  98083-0354. While they offer their email address for correspondence, they ask that writers do not send their submissions via email.  rom.author@juno.com

Alejandro Gutierrez, editor of Conversely, has announced their annual essay contest. It’s actually an Antidote Essay contest. Deadline is June 20, 2003. http://www.conversely.com/Masth/conte.shtml for more information.

Bonus Item

Here’s an idea for those of you who love to share your good books with others. Become a member of the free Web site, http://www.bookcrossing.com  There are 45,000-plus members who habitually “forget” books in places where others can find them. As a member, you would register the books that you intend “forgetting” at the mall, coffee house, bus bench, resort, gym, theater or airplane, for example. You’re given an ID number, which you note inside the book along with a message encouraging the finder to register their discovery at http://www.bookcrossing.com. It’s a sort of read, release and capture idea-the goal being to make the whole world a library.

Featured Editor/Publisher Interview

We’re featuring interviews with two editors this month. Tina Miller, founder/editor for the new Writer’s Apprentice Magazine and John Pollard, editor of Virginia Living.

Here’s my interview with Tina Miller:

Q:  Please describe your magazine. Who is your audience?

A:  Writer’s Apprentice Magazine is geared toward aspiring, new, and intermediate writers, but it will have content that even more advanced writers can appreciate and utilize.  Reading Writer’s Apprentice will be like having your own personal writing mentor by your side to answer all the questions that you have as you explore the world of writing–for profit or for pleasure.  We’ll profile some writing careers so readers can find out what it’s really like to be a writer “on the job”–freelance writers, corporate writers, greeting card writers, writers on staff at a newspaper, etc.  We’ll cover the basics of writing–from rights to copyright and punctuation to point of view.  We’ll provide resources our readers can really use–like information on book printers for those who want to self publish and much more!  We’ll include articles that discuss–frankly and honestly–the pros and cons of any given topic.  And we’ll tell what real, everyday people are doing out there that works for them so our readers can emulate their success.  In addition, we’ll provide some motivation to help our readers get out there and follow their dream to write!  Information, resources, and encouragement–no fluff.  That’s what Writer’s Apprentice is all about.

 Q:  Will you be encouraging submissions from freelance writers? Please share your submission guidelines.

A:  Our submission guidelines are readily available on our site at:  http://www.writersapprentice.com/guidelines.htm
http://writersapprentice.com/guidelines2.htm

However, if I can offer a tip for writers who want to break into our magazine, it would be this:  The biggest need I have right now is for articles that explore the pros and cons of a particular topic that pertains to writers–articles that include quotes and feedback on both sides of the issue from real working writers who have “been there, done that” and can share the benefit of their experiences with other writers.  These articles should not be biased but should fully explore both sides of the issue so the reader can decide for him/herself the best course of action.  They should include quotes and input from AT LEAST two people on each side of the issue for a well-rounded story.

Q:  What is your pay scale?

A:  Initially, we’ll be paying $10-$50 per submission accepted depending on the type of story it is.  During 2003 we will release three issues of the magazine.  Then in 2004 we’ll be going to a monthly publication schedule.  We hope to increase our budget after our first year.  Note:  We buy only first rights.  We will very rarely, if ever, use reprints.  

Q:  Please add anything you think we need to know.

A:  Writer’s Apprentice will be supported by advertising geared specifically toward writers and the needs of writers.  Anyone interested in reserving advertising space can contact me directly.  Our premier issue will go to 10,000+ writers.

Tina L. Miller, Owner & Editor
Writer’s Apprentice Magazine
607 N. Cleveland Street
Merrill, WI  54452
(715) 536-3167
tina@writersapprentice.com
http://www.writersapprentice.com
 

Here’s what John Pollard of Virginia Living had to say:

Q:  Please describe your magazine–the focus and your audience.

A:  Virginia Living magazine is a bimonthly lifestyle magazine about Virginia, her houses, food, culture, history, business and identity. Our core reader cares deeply about the state, and wants to know about all Virginia has to offer. Launched in the fall of 2002, we have a 50,000 circulation. In just a few months of operation, we have sold almost 3,000 paid subscriptions. Our audience is educated and involved.

Q:  Do you encourage freelance submissions? What is your submission process?

A:  Yes, we do encourage freelance writers. Information of that process is on our website, http://www.virginialiving.com in a pdf format. We encourage new writers. We just ask that you send in hard copies of clips and story submissions, and not send in by email.

Q:  What type of articles are you currently seeking?

A:  We are mostly searching for short articles for our Upfront section, which is a collection of stories, anecdotes and facts. These stories run about 350 words. These stories need to have a Virginia angle–already I have gotten many story suggestions that have absolutely nothing to do with the state.

Q:  What advice would you give to someone who is interested in writing for you?

A:  To be patient, as we have been inundated with potential writers. In addition, to PLEASE send in written queries, as I am unable to print out resumes and stories for the many writers out there.

Q:  Please include any additional information.

A:  I urge potential writers to get a copy of the magazine from the newsstand and take a look at the format. The freelance writers that have been successful at placing stories have looked at the magazine, and gotten an idea about what stories work for the magazine.

 Send articles to the following address.

John Garland Pollard
Editor
Virginia Living
109 East Cary Street
Richmond, VA 23219
GPollard@CapeFear.com
Tel 804-343-7539
Fax 804-649-0306
http://www.virginialiving.com

Coming Up

The April issue will focus on the A in SPAWN-artists, including graphic designers and illustrators.

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