SPAWN Market Update – March, 2008
By Patricia L. Fry
Going, Going, Gone – 10 magazines are gone, plus a publisher, a writers’ site and a book dealer.
Here’s What’s New – Writers’ Break ezine returns, Glimmer Train accepts simultaneous submissions, Raincoast Books closes its publishing arm—will distribute books, only.
Opportunities for Authors – Blog your way to the bestseller list. Avon Books seeking NEW authors!
Opportunities for Freelance Writers – 2 GREAT opportunities & 5 magazine directories.
Book Promotion Opportunities – A book festival directory, links to over 200 book review sites, an invitation to participate in a large mailing and more. Links to the Best Blogs for Artists.
Opportunities for Screenwriters – FOUR specific opportunities.
Publishing Resources – 2 Blog Search sites and how to use them.
Bonus Item – Interview with Book Publicist, Kate Bandos of KSB Promotions
Going, Going, Gone , formerly Bookman, has been forced to close its doors due to many complaints, according to several news sources. If you are a “victim” of Airleaf Publishing, learn more about your rights and your power at http://www.airleafvictims.com. One victim, Bonnie Kaye, is organizing other Airleaf authors in an attempt to get their money or their books or both returned. Contact Kaye at BonKaye@aol.com.
Kudzu Book Traders, one of the South’s largest remainder and bargain book dealers, is closing its doors.
Beginnings, a site for novice writers, has evidently quit. The message at this site says that its domain name has expired.
Magazines that have closed in recent months:
The Land Report
Antiques and Collectibles Journal
The Perfect Vision
Boston Sports Review
Jennifer Minar contacted me last month to tell me that, after a long break, she has started up her newsletter again. Writer’s Break has a little something for every writer. Visit the Writer’s Break website at http://www.writersbreak.com. Subscribe to the newsletter from the site or by sending an email to email@example.com.
Glimmer Train Press, a literary journal, now allows simultaneous submissions. They want original unpublished fiction of various word lengths for contests as well as for publication. They are a paying market, too. Take a look at their writer’s guidelines at http://glimmertrain.stores.yahoo.net/writguid1.html
Raincoast Books, a Canadian co-publisher and distributor of the Harry Potter books is shutting down its publishing program. I’m not surprised. I would think that a company who’s distributing the Harry Potter books wouldn’t need to be doing much of anything else.
Have you heard? Avon Books is making this the year of the debut author. Yes, they’re looking for new authors of romance and women’s fiction. How do you break in? Don’t go crazy and start submitting all of your old manuscripts. Don’t dig your rejects out from under the bed and send them in. Calm down. Take a deep breath and write a query letter. Yes, Avon wants to see a query letter from you—the unpublished author of a romance or a women’s fiction. Here are the steps:
The Economic Times reports that publishing houses are scouting for the next bestselling authors through blogs. In fact Penguin India has signed blogger Meenakshi Reddy Madhavan because they were so taken with her blog, Compulsive Confessor. Her blog will now become a blook—a book emerging from a blog. It could happen to you, too. Do you have a blog? Are you strutting your writing stuff? Keep it up and you might find yourself on the bestseller list.
Are you planning to attend the 2008 PMA Publishing University in Los Angeles May 27-29 just prior to the BEA. If you haven’t signed up yet, do so now and get a DISCOUNT. Use this discount code on the registration form—AFF08—and you’ll get $50 off. The Publishing University offers more than 80 classes throughout the 3 day event. For more information and to register, visit http://www.pma-online.org. Click on “2008 Publishing University.” Or contact Educational Chair, Robin Bartlett at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I did a survey recently to determine the percentage of magazines that want a query first for fiction. I learned that one-quarter of those I contacted want to see a query first for fiction. Here are some that do: Harpers, Bibliophilos, Woman’s International, Times of the Islands, Ignite Your Faith and Red Scream.
Rosanne Tolin’s Imagination Café pays for stories for kids ages 7 – 12. Check out their guidelines at http://www.imagination-cafe.com/info/guidelines.asp.
Plaintiff Magazine is a new paying market for attorneys who can present informative articles of use and of interest to other attorneys practicing in Northern and Central California and they pay. Contact editor, Donna Bader at email@example.com. For more information about the magazine, http://www.plaintiffmagazine.com/editorialpage.html. While Freelance Writer Report reports that they are a paying market, I could find nothing in their explicit guidelines indicating so. Dana, at Freelance Writers’ Report says they pay anywhere from $250 to $500 for 1,000 to 4,000 words. Send your article with artwork as an email attachment to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Are you looking for online and print publications where you can post and even sell your work? Here are 5 FREE online directories with hundreds and hundreds of magazines and ezines seeking your great fiction or nonfiction works.
Use this book festival directory to locate events near you, where you’ll be traveling this year or where you’d like to go. http://dir.yahoo.com/arts/humanities/literature/events/festivals. If you want to know how to work a book festival so it works for you, read Patricia Fry’s article on this topic at http://www.matilijapress.com/articles/promo_bookFestival.htm.
Atlantic Publishing Company is inviting authors to include their publicity brochures or postcards in their library, college and bookstore mailings in May. Contact Angela Adams at email@example.com or call 1-352-622-1825 for more information.
Joe Sabah sent me a list of telephone tips the other day for making your radio interview better. They include have a glass of water handy, stand while speaking, and get listeners involved. Show that you know something about the area where the station is located. For more great tips and information to http://www.sabahradioshows.com.
Get your book reviewed over and over and over again. Here is a valuable site. It is a directory of 229 book review sites: http://www.complete-review.com/links/links.html. Here, you’ll find major review sites and mags as well as minor ones. Scroll all the way down to make sure you’ve checked them all out. Toward the bottom, you’ll find links to sites where you can get your mystery reviewed, your romance, book of poetry, science fiction, fantasy, nonfiction book, reference guide and many other genres/topics.
Book Review Sites
Get your book reviewed by Roxanne Young in the Smart Writer Journal. Send your book to Roxanne Young at Smart Writer Journal, 10823 Worthing Ave., San Diego, CA 92126. It’s always a good idea to introduce yourself and your book through an email before sending your book off. http://www.smartwriters.com. Use the form at the website.
Curled Up With a Good Book. http://www.curledup.com
John’s Book Page http://books.regehr.org.
Jacket Magazine Book Reviews—mostly poetry. http://jacketmagazine.com.
Danny at the Lazy Readers’ Book Club loves to read good books and then report on them at his website. Check it out and see if your book might fit his interest. He also sends out a newsletter every month letting subscribers know what books he’s reviewed lately. http://www.lazyreaders.com.
Do you want to visit the best blogs related to art and artists? Go to http://www.blogrankings.com and click on “art and culture.”
InkTip announces that a writer has been hired and a feature has been optioned through their network. If you are a screenwriter and you are not familiar with Jerrol LeBaron’s InkTip Newsletter, you really should check it out. http://www.inktip.com. Contact LeBaron at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here are three situations they are currently seeking: completed feature-length action screenplays that take place in the future. Canadian writers are especially welcome. Completed television scripts with stories based on family legal dramas. Completed feature length comedies about Hispanic day laborers. For more information: http://www.inktip.com/pnews.php.
Search for blogs in your topic or genre. Or search blogs to see if your name shows up in any of them. I did this a few weeks ago and was quite surprised to see how many times I was quoted in blogs, how many of my articles were posted and how often my books were mentioned. Here’s how you can do a similar search: go to http://www.blogsrater.com or http://www.techorati.com. If you are not mentioned in any blogs and if you do not see your book listed anywhere, you may want to start doing more promotion.
This month I had the pleasure of interviewing book publicist, Kate Bandos of KSB Promotions. Have you ever wondered what a book publicist does or what he or she could do for you? Here’s what Kate Bandos says:
Q: Tell us a little about your business and how you got started in it.
A: I started KSB Promotions in 1988 after moving back to Grand Rapids, Michigan (where I am originally from) after my husband, Doug, retired from the military. I had already been doing book publicity for more than 15 years.
The military moved us often between 1974 and 1988. Each time we moved I looked for a local publisher, thinking if I didn’t find anything I would try freelancing. However, each time I happily found work as in-house publicity director and worked with an interesting group of publishers and authors over the years.
Since I had a wide range of contacts by that time, I finally took the opportunity to freelance. With a few calls and letters, I had my first clients. Technology was just expanding the number of independently published books, and I found that niche rewarding. Twenty years later, the majority of our clients are those who are self-publishing and/or small companies who don’t do enough books to warrant a full time staff person to handle publicity.
Q: Please tell us about yourself and your background.
A: I have been an avid reader since age 6, working in the school libraries from 5th grade on—during study halls and sometimes after school. I even drove the bookmobile for the city library two summers in high school and college. However, I thought becoming a librarian was the only career with books, and that did not interest me. So during college I pursued my other love, theatre (producing, back stage work, etc.).
After graduating from the University of Michigan with a degree in English, I headed to New York City. After a year and a half working in theatre (behind the scenes), I realized that it wasn’t a career I would be happy with in the long haul. So, I turned back to books.
I was lucky enough to find a starter job with a small but very successful (with regular NYT bestsellers) publisher (M. Evans & Company) where I learned all aspects of the business. I soon saw that publicity was what interested me most, and moved into that job at Evans. Four years in the NYC publishing world gave me a good base that has helped me ever since. It was in NYC where I met Doug, and we left when he was transferred to California.
Q: I see that you have quite a list of publisher clients. Do you also work with individuals who may have published with a fee-based POD publishing service?
A: A few of our clients have published with a fee-based POD publishing service. However, while most of our clients are individuals with one or two books, especially to begin with, the majority does small (3,000) print runs with regular book printers here or overseas. Most are also working with master distributors to get the books into the stores.
Q: Do you consider yourself a publicist? What’s the difference between someone who operates a promotions company and a publicist?
A: Yes, I consider myself a publicist. I am not sure what the semantics might be between what I do and a “promotions company.” Usually the question is between publicity and marketing. I call myself a “visibility specialist,” which means we help clients make the world aware their book exists via work with the media. We help authors get interviewed on radio and TV and get exposure in newspapers, magazines, newsletters, and now on the Web.
I guess promotions companies might also help with special events, book signings, speaking engagements, etc. We don’t handle these elements.
Q: When do authors/publishers generally come to you for help–once their book has been published or after they’ve exhausted their own promotional ideas?
A: Ideally publishers should come to us 6 – 8 months BEFORE they plan to have their books in the stores. This allows us to help them approach the major magazines, the trade magazines, and sometimes we help our clients get blurbs for their back cover and/or PR materials. On occasion, we have even offered editorial or design suggestions.
There is a great deal to do early on, and, unfortunately, too many authors/publishers wait until they have their book in their hands to start thinking about publicity. That severely limits who can be approached and what can be done.
We do, however, work with publishers and authors who have made early efforts and now need assistance. We even work with authors whose books have been published by major publishers, who generally don’t do any PR for a book or author beyond 3- 6 months after publication.
Q: I like the idea that you make yourselves available to brainstorm with clients. Tell us a little about this process and the results one can expect from this activity.
A: The brainstorming can be separate or part of a larger PR plan. What we do is spend time looking at the book, looking at any materials that have been prepared, and an outline of what has been done and what is planned. We then can make suggestions for improving materials, changing the approach, identifying other markets, etc.
For example, we have been working with Sandra Phillips Posner and Stan Posner on their award-winning book, Drive I-95, since before it was first published. Obviously the key push the first few years was to the travel media. By the time the 3rd edition came out, many of the major media had covered it and didn’t feel it necessary to write about again. I suggested they send a release to the food media about all the great restaurants along the route, and other food related tips they share in the book. They did and it generated another solid round of media coverage from the key media, but in a different section of newspapers and in new media.
Q: Obviously, you must use different marketing tactics for different types of books. Do you have a variety of promotional plans at a variety of costs? Or do you sometimes customize a plan to fit a client?
A: Every contract is tailor-made for that client. We have a list of the 16 or so things that people typically need help with and a price list that goes with this. So what we offer is an ala carte approach, allowing an author/publisher to have us do as much or as little as fits their needs, their book, and their budget. We can also start with just a few elements and then do another contract if we are both pleased with the response and like working together.
We also limit our work to non-fiction books in only a handful of categories, including travel guides, cookbooks, parenting titles, and other books that fit in the lifestyle area such as consumer health, gardening, etc. We also work with quite a few children’s books, but not much beyond age 8.
And, since the company is just myself and my husband, Doug, and one full-time assistant and periodically a college intern, we have to limit the number of clients we take on to insure they get timely, thorough attention.
Q: Can you give us a couple of anecdotes reflecting the successes of authors after working with you?
A: If you want me to “name-drop,” People magazine, the Oprah show, and Inside Edition with Deborah Norville all gave coverage to Front of the Class: How Tourette Syndrome Made Me the Teacher I Never Had by Brad Cohen, with Lisa Wysocky (VanderWyk & Burnham, 2005). It also won ForeWord Magazine‘s GOLD Award in Education (tradebooks) for 2005 and Independent Publisher’s IPPY award for Best Education Book of 2005. More info on coverage for this book can be seen at http://www.frontoftheclass-pr.com.
Of course, not all books can expect this kind of coverage.
We have been working with Susan Foster, author of Smart Packing for Today’s Travel for several years. In fact, the book wasn’t even new when we took it on. (The book was originally published in 2000, with a revised and expanded second edition published in January 2004. The third edition will be coming out 4/08 and we will be ramping PR efforts.) But recent media coverage (on this old book!) includes National Geographic Traveler (Jan/Feb 2008), Los Angeles Times (11/13/07), numerous travel radio shows that regularly have her on, Associated Press syndicated travel column (regularly quotes SF), Chicago Tribune (11/18/07)…. I could go on and on. All of this coverage also got Susan a gig as spokesperson for Dodge’s VANtastic Holiday Voyage challenges in a multi-city event in November.
For some books and authors, success might be a handful of media placements, where for others, they want the moon. Somewhere in between is where we aim.
Q: What are some of the most common mistakes that you see authors make?
A: The two most common mistakes we see are publishers not starting the publicity process early enough, and trying to publicize the book itself instead of the information in the book.
Q: In your opinion, when should an author begin thinking about promotion?
A: Before they finish writing the book! Because they may then realize that they really need a Foreword by an expert to add credibility, or they need a parent guide in a serious children’s book, or they might need to add a chapter so that they open another PR option (e.g., a book meant for families could perhaps appeal to grandparents as well with just some added information).
A publisher/author can also be collecting media names—of both media outlets and specific journalists who regularly write on their topic—while finishing their research instead of going back to try and find the same sources later.
Q: What would you advise to anyone who contemplates writing a book?
A: Know what is out there and how your book will be better, different, etc. With Amazon and the Web in general, this is easier than ever. Next, clearly identify your primary and secondary markets—and be realistic. EVERYONE does not need your book!
Do your homework by reading books about the publishing and promotion process. Attend workshops like the PMA University where there are experts all in one place who are freely offering advice and tips and where you can mingle with others who are—or have been—in your shoes and can offer good advice.
Campbell doesn’t bring out a new soup without a lot of market research, and while most publishers and authors can’t and needn’t go to the extent a major manufacturer might, they still need to know what they are getting into or they can spend a lot of money, time and effort just to have a garage full of books that age rapidly.
Q: You present workshops related to book promotion. Can you tell us where you’ll be in 2008?
A: We will be at the PMA University in Los Angeles May 27, 28 & 29, and we will be talking with members of the Northwest Association of Book Publishers on July 24 in Portland, OR.
Q: Please add anything you feel is important and give us your contact information.
A: To do publicity right takes lots of time and an open mind, but anyone can do it.
You can learn more about us at http://www.ksbpromotions.com. There are also handouts we have used at previous workshops available to download for free. See some of the books and authors we are currently working with by going to http://www.ksblinks.com.
Thank you for this opportunity to share information with others involved in the wonderful world of publishing.