SPAWN Market Update – November, 2007
By Patricia L. Fry
Going, Going, Gone – Another major distributor, a cool website, a publisher and 5 mags.
Here’s What’s New – A merger of giants, a writers strike ends, bestseller status becomes easier to attain, publishing houses for sale and MORE.
Opportunities for Freelance Writers – Get paid to blog, find an agent for your stories/articles, become a columnist and 6 mags seeking material.
Opportunities for Authors – Short story publisher.
Book Promotion Opportunities – Here are several sites for Reading Group Directories & Mailing List Catalogs plus 3 additional book promotion resources.
Opportunities for Artists – 4 of ‘em.
Opportunities for Screenwriters – A list of scripts wanted and an inexpensive course offered by James Lamberg.
Resources for Authors – 4 useful sites/publications and a lot of freebies.
Newsletter Review – A review of 5 newsletters for writers/authors and how to use this information.
Publishing Industry News & Tips – When is your book considered successful? What is the best day to send press releases?
Writer Interview – Susan Florence, successful author/artist of gift books.
It’s hard to believe that this is the next to last issue of the SPAWN Market Update for 2007. We, here at SPAWN, hope that all 72 issues of this newsletter have served to help you achieve the measure of writing/publishing success you desire. Once every month for 6 years, we have compiled information, opportunities and resources designed to help you meet your publishing goals. We’ve made it our business to keep our finger on the pulse of the publishing industry.
Some of you have been SPAWN members long enough to remember the first edition of the SPAWN Market Update which appeared at the SPAWN Web site in December of 2001. Have you gone back to read some of those old newsletters in our archives? If you do, you’ll notice that we started out presenting the information and resources you need in order to succeed as an author, freelance writer, independent publisher, artist or screenwriter. And this is still our primary purpose. We continue in our mission to help you find an agent and/or a publisher for your project, get your book reviewed many times over, land freelance writing/art work, successfully promote your book and so forth.
If you are an author, artist, screenwriter or freelance writer and you read every issue of the SPAWN Market Update, you have a definite advantage over those who don’t. If you apply the information, ideas, tips and techniques you can use toward your professional goals, you are most assuredly more well-informed, more well-known and/or are earning more money as a result.
In this issue of the SPAWN Market Update, along with our usual industry news, opportunities and resources, we evaluate other writing/publishing/marketing newsletters and offer recommendations. And those of you who are interested in selling your art or maybe getting into the greeting card business, don’t miss my interview with Susan Florence, successful gift book artists and author.
BookWorld Distributors has closed its doors leaving over 100 publishers without distribution. Evidently AtlasBooks, part of BookMasters is taking up the slack. If you have books with BookWorld and you have not been notified about their demise yet, contact AtlasBooks at firstname.lastname@example.org. Their website address is: http://www.atlasbooks.com. You may recall that in February of this year, we reported the demise of another big fish in the publishing sea: Publishers Group West.
Blackstone Family, a regional Rhode Island publication, is closing—at least for the time being.
Splurge, local to Wichita residents, has also failed.
Cahoots, a Canadian publication for women will discontinue their print magazine and go online only. http://www.cahootsmagazine.com.
Guideposts Sweet 16, the magazine and website are closing down.
Fantasy Magazine will stop publishing in print and will go online, only. http://www.fantasy-magazine.com.
Mardi Gras Publishing, an online publisher of erotica, has closed its doors.
The free mailing list site, CoolList (www.coollist.com) seems to be down. For over a week, I’ve attempted to look at their lists and none of them seem to be available. Hopefully, this is a temporary problem and it will be resolved.
Scribes World is closed to new submissions.
Have you heard the news? If you’ve wondered how all 90+ fee-based POD “self-publishing” companies can thrive, maybe the answer is, “They cannot.” Or maybe some of them have found a new way to survive—by merging. Yup, AuthorHouse and iUniverse will become one. Actually, the mega-self-publisher, Authorhouse is purchasing their huge competitor, iUniverse. They believe that this will afford them the ability to offer a broader array of services to more authors. Between them, these companies produce around a thousand books per month and they don’t plan to change that. If you want more information about AuthorHouse (which is owned by Bertram Capital), go to http://www.authorhouse.com. If you are seeking publication with a fee-based POD “self-publishing” company such as AuthorHouse, PLEASE do your homework, first. Read Mark Levine’s book, The Fine Print of Self-Publishing: The Contracts and Services of 48 Self-Publishing Companies—Analyzed, Ranked and Exposed. And always, always, before you sign any contract, make sure you understand it even if it means hiring the services of a literary or intellectual properties attorney.
Your chances of having a New York Times bestseller have just increased! The powers-that-be at the Times announced recently that, instead of listing 70 bestselling titles, they will announce 110 of them in their newspaper, including more literary works and mass market paperbacks. A variety of experts have weighed in on this idea and many of them predict that the paper is doing this simply to attract more advertising. But most say that their selfish reasons do not matter because it’s still an opportunity for more people to receive more recognition. Literary agent Sandra Djikstra says, “Creating a new weekly list for paperback fiction is a plus for everybody who cares about the future of good writing.” This article, written by Josh Getlin, appeared in the Los Angeles Times, http://www.latimes.com, September 26, 2007.
Can you imagine being out of work and your city being without a library for 9 weeks because of a strike? This actually happened in August and September of this year in Vancouver, Canada. The strike was called in late July in order to get more benefits for writers. Libraries closed down because of it and the strike also thwarted the city’s largest fall literary event. Writers and the union seem to be ready for the strike to be over and are negotiating to that end. For more information, go to: http://www.writersunion.ca.
Southern California Life After 50 keeps coming out with more editions of their magazine. To date, there are 8 editions for various areas of Southern CA. If you have a book of interest to Baby Boomers and can come up with a meaningful article for this publication, contact editor Darcy Alvey at email@example.com. But first, check out their website at: http://www.lifeafter50.com.
Want to buy a publishing house? Noel Griese might be able to help. Listings include a Christian publisher with several hundred titles in print and four sales reps in the field for $2 million, rights to a manuscript with explosive content and a west coast publishing house with new age titles. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org. http://www.anvilpub.net/publisher_brokerage.htm.
Some magazines require that you have an agent before you approach them—Good Housekeeping and Ladies Home Journal, for example. Here’s a site that lists 39 short story and fiction agents: http://www.writers.net/agents/topic/31/0.
St. Anthony Messenger will pay up to $450 for fiction pieces of 2,000 to 2,500/words featuring retirement and other topics of interest to Catholic readers (mostly women between the ages of 40-70). Read their writer’s guidelines at: http://www.americancatholic.org/ContactUS/writers_fiction.asp. Contact editor, Pat McCloskey at email@example.com.
Cat Tales is seeking fantasy and suspense stories of 500 to 5,000 words as long as they involve cats. Writing for this magazine would have to be labor of love, however, as they only pay .03 cents word. http://www.wildsidepress.com.
Editors at The Lonely Seagull are seeking nonfiction, fiction and poetry on the following topics: writing, music, art and thinking. This is a literary magazine. Check it out at: http://www.lonelyseagull.com. Contact info: firstname.lastname@example.org.
As We Are Magazine publishes articles in a variety of categories. Editor, Trudi Evans, is interested in fiction and poetry as well as nonfiction articles. But don’t submit a “how to improve yourself” article. Trudi says that her readers like themselves just the way they are. Submit your ideas here: email@example.com. Take a look at the magazine here: http://www.aswearemagazine.com. This does not appear to be a paying market.
Do you have a backpacking story? A brand new online magazine, Roaming Hordes, is seeking global backpacking stories of 800 words. Guidelines and a submission form can be found at their website: http://www.myroho.com. Contact Iain Hoare.
Jay Fink at http://3steps.com is looking for columnists who are passionate about something. They give the following examples: music videos, movies, books, wine, poker, education, football, pro basketball, but say that they are interested in almost anything that you are passionate about. They give another website to check: http://www.enterto.com.
Are you a member of the clergy? The editors of The Senior News at http://www.theseniornews.com, are seeking a columnist for their “Pastor’s Parcels” column. Contact Mark Ludwick at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Pedestal Magazine publishes (and pays for) poetry and fiction pieces. Check them out at http://www.thepedestalmagazine.com
Would you like to get paid to write blogs? Tune into Freelancing For Blogs, a new blog featuring daily updates for blogging jobs that pay: http://www.freelancingforblogs.com.
Aisling Eye Books is accepting short story submissions for inclusion in a collection tentatively titled, Through an Aisling Eye: Collected Tales. They will accept material up to 10,000 words. Cartoons and comic strips are also welcome. They do not accept poetry or porn.
Are you familiar with BookConnector? Paul Petrucci started this site in 2005 to help small press authors locate book review sites, newsletters and other venues and resources where they can promote their books. It’s not free, but it’s pretty reasonable. Their advance service is only $14.95/year. Check them out at http://www.bookconnector.com.
Have you approached Reading Groups (also known as Book Clubs) with your novel or memoir? There’s money to be made within this realm and it’s a great way to get your book noticed. According to people who keep track of such things, there are thousands of Reading Groups throughout the world. The way it works is that everyone in the group reads the same book over a period of a week or a month and then they get together to discuss it. Locate Reading Groups in your area through a Google search. Try contacting the leaders in person and offer to send your book for consideration. You might even give a discount to their members. It may take some fancy footwork to infiltrate a few Reading Groups. But once your book has been chosen, read and discussed a few times, it will be easier to sell other groups on the idea. Here are a few sites offering Reading Group Directories: http://www.published.com/home/Promote-Your-Book-To-US-Book-Clubs.aspx. http://www.readinggroupsonline.com/directory.htm. http://www.dmoz.org/arts/literature/reading_groups
When is the last time you purchased a mailing list? Are you familiar with using mailing lists? Of course, there are numerous directories on the Internet—directories of newspapers, directories of libraries, directories of book clubs, directories of publishers. But did you know that you can purchase mailing lists and emailing lists for practically any demographic—Asian homeowners earning over $100,000/year, independent booksellers, residents in a specific geographic area or area of interest, business owners, and so forth. Dan Poynter at Para Publishing has quite an array of lists to choose from and he charges anywhere from $1.00 to $99.00, depending on the scope of the list. http://www.parapublishing.com/sites/para/resources/maillist.cfm. SalesGenie.com offers mailing lists and they give you 100 FREE sales leads when you place an order. Their lists include businesses, homeowners, homes with children, etc. http://www.salesgenie.com. InfoUSA.com also sells mailing lists for a variety of demographics including, affluent households, aircraft owners and pilots, investors, boat owners, RV owners, teachers, motorcycle owners, military veterans, college students. http://www.infousa.com.
How do you use a mailing or emailing list? Determine the type of reader you want to reach. Purchase a mailing list reflecting that demographic. Try to order a list that comes with the names and addresses printed on mailing labels. Send your brochure, an invitation to read a chapter of your book free at your website, a bookmark or postcard picturing your book cover and ordering information on it and/or a sample recipe, chapter, poem or resource list from your book as a teaser. Offer a discount if the customer purchases the book within a certain time. Invite them to visit your website and your blog.
The Pedestal Magazine will pay a small amount for your poetry and fiction as well as give you generous space to promote your books and your websites. See if this is the right venue for your work: http://www.thepedestalmagazine.com.
Absolute Write website at http://www.absolutewrite.com, offers last-minute discounts on ad rates. Send an email to email@example.com with “Subscribe” in the subject line. If their advertising schedule is not filled for the next Absolute Write Newsletter, they will offer you a last minute opportunity to fill that ad space at a reduced rate.
FREE radio advertising for your book November 5, 2007 only. Phil Harris of BlogTalk Radio is offering authors 3 minutes of air time free. Prepare a 3-minute talk and then be ready to make the call at 718-508-9893 (toll free) beginning 8:00 p.m. EST.
Angela, at Wow! Women on Writing is looking for a graphic artist for their site. No resume needed. They will do the training. They would like to see some samples of your work, however. Check out their site at http://www.wow-womenonwriting.com and see if it looks like a match for your talent. And then contact Angela at firstname.lastname@example.org to apply. She asks that you put in the subject line, “Graphic Artist for Wow.”
As We Are Magazine is seeking visual art for their publication. For an idea of their style, go to: http://www.aswearemagazine.
Do you have art for sale? The Pedestal Magazine might display it for you. Learn more at: http://www.thepedestalmagazine.com.
Learn to write a screenplay in 28 days or less through the Movie In a Month course by James Lamberg. He charges around $100. Do you know who Lamberg is? He is evidently the author of over 50 screen plays including Blue Lake, If I Only Had the Courage and Lewin’s Basket. http://www.movieinamonth.com
In case you haven’t yet subscribed to the free InkTip newsletter or you haven’t read your early October issue, let me report that they are seeking some interesting projects: a feature length thriller taking place in cities in the Middle East such as Dubai, for example. There’s a need for a feature-length script involving flying and there’s a market for action/adventure/thriller scripts. Learn more at: http://www.inktip.com.
AuthorNation.com is a new site created by Infinity Publishing for authors, writers, poets and their readers. And everything is free. They offer a free newsletter, a free web page where you can show off your work and networking opportunities through a forum. Check it out at http://www.authornation.com.
Writer Online has a new face and a new focus. Now they provide many things for writers, including 250 different courses at $10.99 month for unlimited courses or $69/year. Course subjects are in areas of editing and grammar as well as writing poetry, fiction and nonfiction. Go to the home page and take some of the many tests they offer there for character development. It’s pretty interesting. http://www.writeronline.com.
Are you interested in your sales ranks at Amazon? http://www.salesrankexpress.com ranks book sales by the hour. You can check on your own book sales or the sales rank of your competition.
PIF Magazine offers the posting of FREE online classified ads for writers and publishers. Are you running a contest for writers, are you doing a reading or workshop, maybe you want to pitch your book. PIF Magazine provides the forum. Check it out at http://www.pifmagazine.com/writers_only.
SPAWNews and the SPAWN Market Update
Some of you may recall that, in June of 2004, we reviewed 16 writers’ newsletters for you in the SPAWN Market Update. I subscribe to most of them. It helps me to keep a finger on the pulse of the industry. But I can truthfully say that only a few of them are worth the time it takes to read them. With some, you must wade through columns and columns of advertising. Others contain commentary and news bites that do not relate to the topic of writing/publishing.
I’d like to review and compare a few newsletters this month. Let me begin with SPAWN’s newsletters. You’ll notice that we do not publish advertising in SPAWNews (which comes to your email box every first of the month), the SPAWN Market Update or the website. Maybe if we accepted advertising, those of us who run SPAWN could shut down our private businesses and rely on SPAWN revenues to support us. But we choose to continue working full-time within our respective businesses—all of them in the field of publishing—in order to keep apprised and aware of industry news. Not only can we bring you information we glean from our research, but benefit of our experiences, as well. They say that if you want something done, ask a busy person. And the key people behind your SPAWN experience meet that criterion.
Because our membership and our newsletter subscribers are diverse, we strive to address the needs of each of you. Whether you are a freelance writer, graphic artist, independent publisher, author of many or just one book, editor, illustrator, screenwriter, poet or novelist and whether you are a beginner or a veteran. If you are published or interested in being published, we have you in mind when we produce our newsletters. I believe that our efforts to this end show in both newsletters. But the only way you are going to get something out of them is to read them from top to bottom and then act on those ideas and resources that relate to your field or project.
WOW! Women on Writing
Some newsletters stand out and one that stands out for me lately is the fairly new kid on the block, WOW! Women on Writing newsletter and website.
This is colorful, substantial newsletter (the October edition covers 16 pages). They offer contests and other ways for subscribers to participate. They feature excellent articles by professionals and offer markets for freelance writers.
WOW! Women on Writing newsletter has ads, but they are non-intrusive and actually quite attractive. They run alongside the newsletter text, not among it. So you can look at it if you want to, but it doesn’t interrupt your flow of reading. http://www.wow-womenonwriting.com
The Book Marketing Expert Newsletter
Another newsletter I have recommended before and I still highly recommend for anyone with a book to market is The Book Marketing Expert Newsletter by Penny Sansevieri. It isn’t a huge newsletter, but each issue is packed with cutting edge marketing techniques. The most recent issue of Penny’s newsletter features how to get more traffic to your blog. Learn more about Penny’s work and subscribe to her newsletter at http://www.amarketingexpert.com.
Book Marketing Matters
Brian Jud’s Book Marketing Matters runs only about 7 pages. While he promotes his own products and services, he also adds a lot of value to his newsletter with short notes from various experts and professionals such as Dan Poynter, author of The Self-Publishing Manual; Marcella Smith, small press business manager for Barnes and Noble; Penny Sansevieri, A Marketing Expert; Rita Thompson, producer for CNBC and CBS News; John Kremer, author of 1001 Ways to Market Your Book; Rick Frishman, author of Author 101: Bestselling Book Publicity and several others including yours truly, SPAWN President, Patricia Fry as a guest columnist from time to time.
Special Note: Here’s how to use the information in this column.
For example, you might notice a writers’ conference or contest in SPAWNews that you’d like to check out. A magazine listing related to the topic of your book or new book review website posted in the Writer’s Market might resonate with you. You might get a great idea for book promotion from one of the articles in Wow! Women on Writing. And several of the expert comments in Sansevieri’s and Jud’s newsletters might pique your interest. Note them and place them in your “book promotion hot file” (or your “freelance writing ideas” file).
I located a couple of interesting blog sites this month with all sorts of industry statistics. Did you know, for example, that the average self-published novelist sells around 200 copies of his/her book in a lifetime. This is according to Susan Driscoll, CEO of iUniverse. I also read someplace recently that the average novel sells only 40 copies. Of course, we all know how to be the exception. It’s called stepping outside your comfort zone, using some of the tools, ideas and resources we, here at SPAWN, and other experts provide for you and really going out and promoting your book.
According to an article in the New York Times, fee-based POD published books sell an average of 150 to 175 copies.
A successful nonfiction book sells 7,500 copies. (Author Guild)
The best time to promote your fiction books is summer and nonfiction books sell better around the December holidays.
According to Business Week, 96 percent of authors surveyed claimed they realized a significant positive impact on their businesses after writing a related book.
Penny Sansevieri, of A Marketing Expert http://amarketingexpert.com, says in a recent newsletter that you should avoid sending out press releases to arrive on a Monday. Other experts agree that Thursday is the best day for a press release to arrive. Tuesday and Wednesday are okay—but stay away from Mondays and Fridays
Q: You are a rare artist who has found a way to make her passion pay. Please tell us about your paying work as an artist.
A: I work with publishers and have contracts to receive royalties. This is the way I have always worked since 1985 when my husband and I sold our greeting card company to a large east coast company. This way I retain the rights and am paid a percentage of the sales of the product. There have been a few exceptions. For instance, for the last few years I have sold the “one time rights” for a company to use a few of my Christmas card designs. This is nice because I am not designing cards now and am focusing on writing and illustrating gift books.
Q: Can you give us an idea about how widespread your work is currently being sold?
A: I have a line of 8 gift books with a U.K. publisher and they have been translated into 5 other languages. They are selling the best in England and France. I also have a line of gift books that I wrote and illustrated in the late 1980s with an American company who sold the subsidiary rights to an Argentinean company. The American company was sold and I got the English rights back, but these books are still selling well in South America and Mexico (in Spanish and Portuguese). My work is sold in the US and I’d say Amazon is the best place to buy it at the moment.
Q: How did you get involved in this line of work?
A: I graduated from college with a B.A. in Art with the intention of going back for my 5th year to become a teacher. But I never went back. I got married and moved to L.A. and decided to start a greeting card company with my husband. What gave me this confidence was the encouragement of women store owners who had sold my “little designs and verses” while I was in college. So I found a printer, representatives in the L.A. Mart and we just started a business in our small Marina Del Rey house. My husband worked in the city and we were surprised that our little enterprise grew and grew. After 15 years, we realized it was time to sell.
Q: How did you find the companies that have represented your work over the years and currently?
A: I started by publishing my own work; greeting cards for every occasion, at first and then notes, stationery, gift cards, cards to hold photos—all were paper products. When it was time to sell, we approached a couple of companies that we thought our product would have nice fit with. And this worked. I have done lots of licensing and it is usually that I make a presentation and, if I am lucky, I can go visit and meet the licenser. But that is rare nowadays….most companies now have submissions guidelines for you to follow. It is important to know how your work will help, add to, be great for the company that you are presenting to. Look at companies who are publishing products that your work would fit in with. Check out their product list online or send for their catalog of products. Decide what company would be the best “home” for your work.
Q: Do you feel that your success has come as a result of luck or hard work, strategy or ?
A: It’s all of the above—mostly about not giving up. At first I think luck played a big part in my success because there were almost no alternative greeting cards in the early 70s. I had created a line of cards that could be sold at any store, not just a card store. So it “took.” Little boutiques sprouted and they all could carry my cards, and did! (Well, many of them.) Now it is a different market with the Targets and Walmarts taking over the small stores. So it is time for more strategy. There are still card companies and opportunities to print and sell your own cards.
If you really want a burst of inspiration go to the New York Stationery Show held every May. Just walking the show and checking out publishers will give you many ideas and contacts. There is a new world of opportunity to print and sell your own cards. Talk to artists who are doing this. Keep doing what you love. See what’s out there. Talk to store owners. They are full of knowledge. Don’t give up.
Q: What kind of artists could conceivably create the kind of career you’ve established? What medium, style, is conducive to greeting cards and inspirational books?
A: I don’t think there is a certain style or look conducive to cards or inspirational gift books. There is a lot of photography in cards now and collage and mixed media. Stay with your own creativity. It’s important to create your own look. Think about your work (if it is for greeting cards) in terms of occasion. What would be perfect for Birthday, Anniversary, Sympathy, Baby, Get Well etc. Your presentation should show your look for at least 12 occasions. Every company will have guidelines.
It’s not how “good” your art is….the important thing is “what feeling does the piece relate?” Don’t worry about having text or a message because most companies do their own or there is a quote or they’re blank. (I always wrote my own verses but I was not the norm.)
Q: Have you licensed your art for other types of merchandise/items? Tell us about that.
A: I have had my work on ceramic magnets, pillows, calendars, photo collections, mugs, matted prints, Lucite musical frames. I have created product collections for the kitchen with recipe cards albums and aprons; baby collections with paper tableware, and Christmas collections with family memory books, wrapping paper and gift bags. One textile company produced a Christmas line of dish towels, pot holders, table runners wine bags and more.
Q: What aspect of your work do you most enjoy?
A: I think it is all fun. The writing and designing and putting the 2 together is what I do best. It is also exciting to work with another company and then actually see your work become product and then in a store. I saw my gift books in Mexico last spring…and of course had to buy one! There are also very difficult times when your proposals get rejected and you get “down.” One of my college professors gave us this advice: He said to resend a manuscript without changing it when it is rejected. He suggested actually having the envelope ready to send out again. This is because you can spend all your time changing your work for the last publisher when, in fact, the next one may love what you have done. I have found through the years that the right relationship will come around. The rejection is actually good because you WANT a company who wants to work with you….who values what you can create. I always find times when I am going in a new direction the most difficult. As an artist or writer or creative soul it is also hard to focus on one thing. I find this the most challenging of all. Creativity is like a fountain….it generates more and more ideas. So the thing I am always learning is to try to stay on one idea, one project. (But I almost always fail to do this!)
Q: What kind of money can be made in your line of work? What would it take to earn that amount?
A: It all depends on your relationship with your publisher, the longevity of your work, and if you can keep your product out there through marketing efforts. It seems that the author needs to also be her or his own marketing agent and publicist. It is not easy and takes persistence….but it’s all a part of getting your work out there in today’s market. There are no guarantees for what you will make. But you can be smart and talk to other authors or an attorney before signing a contact. I don’t think there is much job security in any line of work now. Create your “platform” of what is your focus and build on this. I guess I’d say to do what you love. As a monk at the Vedanta Temple in Santa Barbara once said in a sermon about doing what is your passion. “The money may not follow, but you will be doing what you love.”
Q: What would you suggest to other artists who want to design inspirational books and cards? What are the logical steps? Can you give us a few resources?
A: It is good to use all kinds of resources. There are gift shows you can attend in all the big cities (Google “Gift and Stationery Shows”). Here you can walk around and see what is happening in card or gift books or your gift products. There is the BookExpo America that is held every year in different cities. Your local bookstore will have a writers’ resource section with books like Writer’s Market. You can research everything right there, with a cup of coffee. Check out Patricia Fry’s site for lots of books on writing—from book proposals to promoting your work. http://www.matilijapress.com. The best resources are sometimes right there in your town. I think the women who run gift and bookstore are so wonderfully knowledgeable and happy to help you. Other artists, who have published are good resources, too. Now get going. The work that is in your top drawer wants to go out and touch someone or make someone smile.
To see my books and what I am up to go to: http://www.susanflorence.com.