Here’s What’s New
Jerry D. Simmons of Phoenix, AZ has announced that his company, INDI Publishing Group, began a partnership with OverDrive.com in April for the digital distribution of ebooks and audiobooks. Simmons is currently accepting adult fiction and nonfiction manuscripts. Learn more at http://www.writersreaders.com. Contact Simmons at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Martha Stewart’s Body and Soul will become Whole Living.
Fine Books and Collections Compendium has been revived as a quarterly. http://www.finebooksmagazine.com.
Pittsburgh Magazine has a new address: 600 Waterfront Drive, Ste. 110, Pittsburgh, PA 15222. http://www.pittsburghmagazine.com.
Hope for Women is back. I’ll add to this report as more information becomes available. In the meantime, keep an eye on their website here: http://www.hopeforwomenmag.com
Opportunities for Freelance Writers
Art Times uses fiction. Contact Raymond J. Steiner at email@example.com with your short fiction “that aspires to be literary.” They are seeking adventure, ethnic, fantasy, humorous, sci fi, historical and more. Send complete manuscript of no more than 1,500 words. But I recommend checking submission guidelines first. http://www.arttimesjournal.com.
Open Spaces publishes fiction of practically any kind, as long as it is in the 2,000 to 6,000-word range. Contact Ellen Teicher at firstname.lastname@example.org. http://www.open-spaces.com, for more information.
More good news for fiction writers: The Atlantic Monthly will start publishing fiction again. They accept queries (nonfiction) and manuscripts (fiction) via mail only: The Atlantic Monthly, 600 New Hampshire Ave., NW, Washington, DC 20037. Contact editor, James Bennett.
The Writer’s Haven Magazine is new and they’ve put out a call for submissions. However, they do not seem to have a website, yet. Contact Marcie at email@example.com.
Opportunities for Authors
Have you considered submitting your amazing manuscript to a small press—one that will invest in your project based on its merit? Here are a few you might want to contact.
Affluent Publishing Corporation publishes 3 fiction titles per year—why not yours? Do you have a manuscript in the young adult category or that focuses on mystery, romance, suspense, adventure? Check out their submission guidelines at http://www.affluent-publishing.com to see if your story fits their requirements.
I know several authors of picture books for young children. Flashlight Press publishes picture books. Check them out at http://www.flashlightpress.com.
Here’s another publisher of fiction—Komenar Publishing in Walnut Creek, CA. The editors at this 5-year-old publishing house are seeking adventure, ethnic, historical, mainstream, mystery, and other types of fiction. http://komenarpublishing.com.
XYZZY Press in Tennessee is interested in nonfiction titles focusing on cooking, foods, nutrition, lifestyle, health, personal growth religion and many others. http://www.xyzzypress.com.
Tristan Publishing produces up to 10 titles per year in both fiction and nonfiction. All submissions must be inspirational. http://www.tristanpublishing.com.
If you are trying to pitch a memoir, check out this publisher—Tupelo Press. http://www.tupelopress.org.
Book Promotion Opportunities
Here’s a book review directory you may not know about. Here, you will find over 130 book review opportunities—some of which might relate to your book. http://acqweb.org/bookrev.html.
You might also check out BookSpot for their list of publications that run book reviews. http://www.bookspot.com/reviews. Here, you can also search review opportunities by genre.
Look up book review opportunities by the topic of your book. http://www.world-newspapers.com/review.html
Have you taken a look at January Magazine’s site, lately? To remind you, it’s all about books. And, yes, they run book reviews. Check it out at http://www.januarymagazine.com. Contact editor, Linda L. Richards at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I’ve mentioned this before—but want to make sure you know about it… Fran Silverman is offering a series of ebooks for authors who want to be radio guests on specific topics—business, entertainment, New Age, politics, self-help, health, sports, men/women and paranormal. If your book falls into the self-help category, for example, you can get a list of 59 radio shows where you might arrange to promote your book for $12. The list of shows related to business includes 78 shows for $20. Check these ebooks out by contacting Fran Silverman at email@example.com.
Do you want to pay to have the first chapter of your book sent around to libraries, reviewers, bookstores, readers, the media? The folks at FirstChapterPlus.com will arrange this for as little as $15 for a multi-page listing for one month and as much as $900 for a full page for a year, with lots of options in between. Check it out at http://www.firstchapterplus.com.
Opportunities for Screenwriters
Are you familiar with Creative World Awards (CWA)? They offer competition for screenwriters in many categories. See if you can find your niche here: http://www.creativeworldawards.com.
Going, Going, Gone
East West Magazine is quitting.
Travelwriter Marketletter will no longer publish.
Training Magazine has gone out of business.
Resources for Authors and Writers
Here are a few free e-newsletters for writers that you might not know about:
The Perspiring Writer, editor Ned Burke. This free ezine features writing tips and writing help articles for the hard-working writer. Published quarterly. Runs up to 15 pages. Subscribe here: http://www.theperspiringwriter.com
Book Marketing Matters by Brian Jud. http://www.bookmarketing.com. Brian publishes small newsbytes by experts for authors who are promoting a books.
Publishing Basics is Ron Pramshufer’s newsletter. He publishes more substantial articles by professionals. http://www.publishingbasics.com.
Writing for Dollars features opportunities for freelance article and fiction writers. Dan Case is the editor. Sign up here, http://www.writingfordollars.com.
Bonus Item—Author Survey Results
In February, I ran a survey related to book promotion. Fourteen of you participated. The survey questions involved, number and genre/theme of your published books, primary and secondary promotion activities, success rate (how’s it working?) and favorite book promotion resources.
I wasn’t too surprised by the results of the survey and you may not be, either. It suggests what we all know—we’re very busy people, book promotion is time-consuming and none of us are doing the amount of promotion really necessary.
Here’s a breakdown of the results of this survey.
1: The majority of participating authors have just one book to promote. One author has 10 ebooks.
2: The authors listed 16 different primary book promotion activities they were involved in. These were most popular:
- Sending press releases
- Direct mailings
- Internet promotion
- Hand-selling books personally at conferences, speaking engagements, shows, etc.
Also listed as primary promotional activities were writing articles, participating in online forums and blogging.
3: The most popular secondary promotion activities include:
- Getting book reviews
- Doing book signings
- Social media
Also listed were Contests, sending postcards to bookstores, talking the book up, Haro, joining publishing organizations and sending email reminders.
4: I asked, “Is this mode of promotion working for you?” Here are the responses:
- “I’m just starting out.”
- “Everything helps a little.”
- “Sending press releases work best when linked to current event or season/holiday.”
Author Jessica James links the promotion of her historical novel, Shades of Gray, to events. She says, “I’d say the most successful news release I sent was during the 2008 presidential election.” She launched a poll at her website asking readers to choose the literary character they thought had the qualities to make a great president. Atticus Finch from To Kill a Mockingbird won and she wrote a press release featuring this concept. She reports that it ran in numerous newspapers and many news organizations linked to her website. She says, “A few days after the election, my novel was in the top 10 on Amazon in the romance/historical category.”
5: I asked, “What new ideas would you like to try?” Responses included:
- Getting more book reviews.
- Getting more involved in writing articles.
- Get more national newspaper exposure.
- Do more speaking
- Get a book trailer.
- Do more radio/TV.
- Do more with my website and Amazon.com.
6: I asked what are the best resources these authors have discovered for learning about book promotion. Among the responses were:
- Joining SPAWN and other organizations.
- Patricia Fry’s books
- Dan Poynter’s book
- Books by Kremer, Sansevieri and Levinson.
- Writers’ conferences
Fran Silverman, who has 10 ebooks, says that her best resource is her Book Promotion Newsletter as she gleans ideas from authors who contribute to this publication.
Leslie Korenko relied on lots and lots of books to help her create her promotional plan. She says, “I must have read 30 books. I had to keep a list to make sure I didn’t’ re-request one that I had already read.” She says that she didn’t read a single book that failed to generate at least ONE tip she hadn’t heard before.
So how would I sum up the results of this survey? I think it proves out what most of us have found out the hard way—being a successful author is darn hard work. Book promotion is hard work. It takes tons of creativity and imagination and is all-consuming. It is not a one-shot activity. It is ongoing for as long as you want your book to sell. And it is a good idea for authors to keep abreast of resources and activities and events that might help in this effort. I hope that you will allow the SPAWN Market Update, the networking opportunities through SPAWNDiscuss and other offerings through SPAWN help you in your book promotion efforts.
Expert Interview with Ghostwriter, Mary Anne Hahn
Q: Tell us a little about yourself and your background in writing.
A: As with many writers, my passion for writing began during childhood. I wrote my first short story when I was 10, won writing awards in both high school and college (where I majored in Communications), and have had a host of writing and editing jobs ever since, from stringing for a local newspaper to publishing a number of articles, many on career, business and management topics. In 2000 I launched an online newsletter for writers called WriteSuccess, followed by a Web site of the same name that carried the tagline “Ideas, Information and Inspiration for Writers.” I’ve since folded the newsletter, but still maintain the site as a blog at http://writesuccess.com .
By day I currently hold a full-time position as a communications manager for a well-known insurance company, where I maintain a blog, perform a wide range of corporate writing duties and ghostwrite articles for various executives. On nights, weekends and whenever else I might have a spare moment, I continue to freelance, both as a ghost writer and under my own byline.
Q: When/how did you fall into the classification of “ghostwriter?”
A: My first “ghostwriting” assignment, if you will, was writing the graduation speech for the valedictorian of my high school class. In college, to make ends meet, I edited essays for students in such diverse majors as engineering and pre-law. That’s when I discovered that I actually enjoyed helping others look better in writing—I used to tell the students I edited for that, if their research was solid, I could guarantee them an A or no less than a B-plus. J Thus, my ghostwriting career was born.
Today, my freelance ghosting consists of mostly article and ebook writing and editing, although I have recently been contacted by someone interested in getting her autobiography written. I’ve also done a fair share of Web copy. My own ghostwriting site is at http://thewordgenie.com, but that needs to be totally redesigned, something I hope to get to sometime very soon.
Q: I see that, in January, you started a new organization for ghostwriters—the International Association of Professional Ghost Writers. Please describe this organization and what motivated you to start it.
A: A couple of years ago, I decided that I wanted to devote more time and energy towards the ghostwriting aspect of my writing career, and set out to learn more about it. I was able to find a few books and an ebook on the subject, then did a Google search for an association that represents ghostwriters, thinking it would be awesome to interact with and learn from other ghosts. I was flabbergasted to find that no such organization existed. That’s when I first had the idea of creating one myself.
At the time I belonged to the National Association of Women Writers whose founder, Sheri McConnell, had started a coaching business on how to create an association. When I spoke with her about my idea, she said that she often received inquiries at the NAWW from writers interested in learning about how to get started in ghostwriting, as well as from people seeking them. I saw that this truly was a niche that needed to be served. So I joined one of Sheri’s coaching programs last year, and learned everything I could about creating, launching and promoting an association from her. The result is the IAPGW.
Q: For those who don’t know, what is a ghostwriter? Is this a paid writer who doesn’t get a byline?
A: For the most part, yes. A ghostwriter is someone who puts another person’s expertise, beliefs, or life experiences in writing; in other words, we write for those who either can’t write well or don’t enjoy writing. Mostly we do this for the money, of course, but also for the satisfaction of helping others get their ideas, knowledge and stories out into the world. Except in rare instances where a ghostwriter gets an “As Told to” byline, we rarely get public recognition for the work we do. I jokingly call “famous ghostwriter” an oxymoron!
Q: What type of work does a ghostwriter do for others? And who most typically hires a ghostwriter?
A: The types of work we do and the kinds of people we write for pretty much run the gamut. The vast majority of celebrities, athletes, politicians and so forth who put out autobiographies or other works of nonfiction employ ghostwriters, as do much less famous people with compelling stories, expertise or philosophies to share, or people who know that publishing a book will bring them greater opportunities, credibility or exposure. But, as my own experience indicates, ghostwriters aren’t only hired to do memoirs or other types of books; we might get hired to write a trade magazine article on behalf of a corporate executive, or keyword-rich articles for Internet marketers, or blog and Twitter posts for both individuals and organizations—you name it, and a ghostwriter has probably done it. One ghostwriter I know is writing reviews of restaurants and attractions in her area under someone else’s name. Plus there’s the ever expanding e-book market.
Q: What are some of the hazards or drawbacks of ghosting a book? Can you share one of your horror stories with us?
A: The old saying “you can’t please everyone” immediately comes to mind, based on something that just happened to me a few weeks ago. I had landed a wonderful opportunity to ghost edit articles for a professional association’s newsletter, with the promise of ongoing work. The articles dealt with subject matter that I have expertise in, and I felt over-confident in my ability to deliver exactly what she wanted—so much so, I failed to perform due diligence. To my dismay, the client totally disliked the first two articles I did for her. I’d neglected to ask for back copies of the newsletter, or examples of articles she herself had edited before hiring me. Fortunately, in this instance, the client is giving me a second chance, thank goodness. But as in any business, ghostwriters always need to keep their customers’ satisfaction in mind.
Another potential hazard or drawback is finding legitimate and well-paying ghostwriting work. A lot of people out there are looking for ghostwriters to write for free or very cheaply, thinking that the ghostwriter will be satisfied with nickels and dimes, or a share of the royalties once the story or book is sold. I personally tend to stay away from those kinds of projects. Instead, I prefer to negotiate payment before starting anything, and look for at least a percentage up front, because my time and effort are worth that. I also strongly encourage ghostwriters to have some sort of contract or written agreement in place with clients before devoting too much time and energy on a project.
Q: What type of person is most successful in this profession?
A: I think ghostwriters need to have a passion for people, and for learning. They need to be extremely customer-focused. They should be versatile writers, excellent listeners, and committed to meeting promised deadlines. Also, understandably, they need to love writing for writing’s sake, and be satisfied with satisfying the people they are writing for, rather than looking for the fame and recognition other kinds of writers receive.
Q: How do ghostwriters generally find work? Is it difficult in this economy? Is that one reason why you have started this organization, to help ghostwriters find work and to help those seeking a ghostwriter to find an appropriate writer?
A: There are about as many ways to find ghostwriting work as there are finding any type of work. Online, a lot of writers rely on job bidding sites such as elance.com and Guru.com, while others mine jobs posted on Craigslist, odesk.com, aboutfreelancewriting.com and a host of other sites. In doing my own search, I set up Google alerts for the terms “ghostwriting job” and “ghostwriter needed,” so I receive daily e-mails whenever these terms show up on the search engine. And there is a post-a-job form at the ghostwriters’ association Web site, although those jobs will be made available to members only.
I think, like any other freelance career, finding ghostwriting work simply takes networking consistently, both on and offline. Let everyone know you’re a ghostwriter, and you’re bound to find work or be referred to someone who needs your services.
As far as the economy goes, I think ghostwriting is relatively recession-proof, as many of the people who are interested in hiring ghostwriters aren’t as affected by downturns in the economy as the rest of us. In fact, organizations that have downsized their own communications departments might have an even greater need for freelancers in a tight economy. That said, I think there are many more people and organizations that could use our services if they knew we existed. So yes, I started the association as both a place for ghostwriters to find work, as well as raise the overall awareness of what services ghostwriters can and do offer.
Q: What are some of the particulars of the organization—fee, benefits, how to join…
A: The IAPGW has two levels: a professional level membership at $125 per year and an associate level membership at $75. Professional members are listed in the membership directory—they must already have an online presence and a track record to qualify. Both professional and associate level benefits include the members-only job board, members-only teleclasses on a wide range of topics of interest to ghostwriters, a tips booklet on how to build credibility as a freelancer, and discounts on things like Web hosting and office supplies. I plan to add more benefits down the road, but lately have been consumed with just letting people know that the association exists. I have been tirelessly promoting the IAPGW not just to ghostwriters, but to those who can use them. My ultimate goal is to make the association “the” go-to place on the Internet for finding ghostwriters.
Anyone who currently has an active ghostwriting business, as well as anyone interested in ghostwriting, can find out more about the International Association of Professional Ghost Writers at http://iapgw.org . I also welcome questions via e-mail at MaryAnne@iapgw.org , as well as provide association updates (among other things) on Twitter under the Twitter name WriteSuccess (http://twitter.com/writesuccess ).
Mary Anne Hahn
International Association of Professional Ghost Writers