SPAWN Market Update – November, 2008
By Patricia L. Fry
Going, Going, Gone – 7 failed mags and pubs to report this month. has gone out of the business of publishing coffee table travel books after only 4 years.
Here’s What’s New – 2 new publishers, 2 new magazines and more.
Opportunities for Freelance Writers – 2 literary magazines seeking your work.
Opportunities for Authors – 10 agents, a publisher, a mag for authors and more.
Opportunities for Poets – Sage Trail Magazine wants your poetry.
Book Promotion Opportunities – Opp. for book on sleep/relaxation AND a list of speakers’ organizations for authors.
Opportunities for Screenplay Writers – 14th Annual Film Festival in Hollywood.
Opportunities for Artists – Magazine wants photography.
Resources for Authors and Freelance Writers – CompletelyNovel.com
Warning – Rejection slips sent out in error—Bad joke by publisher’s bookkeeper.
Editor’s Note – Don’t pay for “returns policy”; examining Oprah’s recent pick—a first-time author!; how many self-published books must you sell to land a publisher?
Bonus Item – Interview with a flexible, author-friendly publisher.
Morgan and Chase
We reported that some of the Olsson’s Books and Records stores had closed. Well, the rest of them are now gone after 36 years in business.
Barbara Lanz-Mateo, publisher of Coastal Woman in Santa Barbara, wrote to tell me that she is closing the magazine after 6 good years in business.
Everywhere has quit, but may relaunch.
Playgirl (the print version) is going under.
Smartphone & Pocket PC has gone out of business.
Home Magazine is going on hiatus. They may be back when the economy improves.
Here’s What’s New is new. It was recently launched by Parade Magazine and will feature advice from celebs. Gosh, I’m not sure that I’d like to get advice about health issues from some of today’s celebrities. Nonetheless, this magazine is expected to have a circulation of around 8 million. Janice Kaplan, editorial director of Parade, will manage the editorial direction of this magazine, as well. Contact Janice at Healthstyle, 711 Third Ave., New York, NY 10017. Sorry, there seems to be no website or email address just yet. But I do have a phone number: 212-450-7000, just in case you feel you have a great article idea in the area of health, beauty, fitness or nutrition.
Anvil Pubs published an interesting chart recently. In an attempt to determine the total number of titles produced by some of this nation’s fee-based POD “self-publishing” companies, they have used Amazon’s database. Here’s what they came up with: AuthorHouse/iUniverse have had over 61,500 titles listed for all time on Amazon. PublishAmerica has over 25,000; Xlibris, 19,700, and Dorrance boasts 6,800. They came up with a total of 179,307 books listed on Amazon.com USA for all time when tallying just 13 POD publishing companies. That’s just a small indication of your book’s competition.
There’s a new publisher in town. Well, Kele Publishing was founded in 2004 by a group of writers and journalists in northern California, Virginia and Kansas. Learn more about this innovative, author-friendly publishing company in the “Bonus Item” section in this issue of the SPAWN Market Update. I’ve conducted an interview with publisher, Michael Bowker. I think you’ll find it very interesting and a bit encouraging. http://www.kelepublishing.com
The Story Plant is another new publishing house established by publishing veteran, Lou Aronica. His focus is fiction. He wants to see great storytelling. And he may be opening up submissions to narrative nonfiction, at some point, as long as it has a storytelling quality. To demonstrate his wide range of fiction interests, he lists his first two books: a contemporary fantasy and a medical thriller, at http://www.thestoryplant.com.
Did you know that November 15th is “I love to write day?” Learn more about how you can celebrate “I love to write day” at http://www.ilovetowriteday.org.
If you like to write for the senior set, you might want to check out this new magazine. Go-55 Plus is for seniors 55-70. Cheryl Saper is the editor for this magazine, which is distributed in Winnipeg. So far, no contact information seems to be available. Stay tuned—or, if you discover it, let us know.
Opportunities for Freelance Writers is a literary magazine featuring poetry as well as flash fiction, short plays, graphic narratives and more. Submissions are currently closed until sometime in 2009. Check back at the website to discover how to submit. http://bateaupress.org/index.php?page=submit. While submissions are closed, their 3rd annual BOOM chapbook contest is open to all writers. Manuscripts will be accepted electronically soon. And there is a $12 entry fee per entry. The winner will receive $500 and copies of the winning chapbook. Evidently, the website is not yet set up to receive entries, but, since the deadline is December 15, 2008, it will be soon. For additional information check out, http://bateaupress.org/index.php?page=boom or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here’s another literary magazine. Fifth Wednesday Journal is a biannual magazine featuring poetry, short stories, nonfiction compositions and photo essays. Freelance submissions are welcome. Submission details are posted at http://www.fifthwednesdayjournal.com/submit.php. Submissions for the fall 2008 issue have closed, but you can prepare for the spring 2009 edition, deadline January 1, 2009. Submit using the electronic form at the site or send your submission on a CD to Fifth Wednesday Journal, POB 4033, Lisle, IL 60532-9033.
I met Patricia Brooks of PL Brooks Seminars in Phoenix last month. She attended my workshop and, afterward, told me about her business—Brooks and Goldmann. They’re based in Scottsdale, AZ. They help you to publish your book and sell it. They also do ghost writing and they can provide illustrations, proofreading, graphic design, photography, etc. for your book. Patricia has a PR background and she is a nice person, too. Check this company out at http://www.brooksgoldmannpublishing.com or http://www.plbrooks.com. Contact Patricia at email@example.com. I have not done business with Patricia or her partner. I have not spoken with anyone who has. This is not a recommendation, but another resource for you to check out. Always, always get references and know what you’re signing.
Recently, Writer’s Digest Magazine listed 28 “Agents Who Want Your Work.” I’m sure this caught the eye of many hopeful authors. I advise my clients, students and audiences to pursue only those agents who represent projects within the realm of their genre and/or subject. “Most agents specialize,” I tell them. And this advice was somewhat proved out in this article. But I was surprised to see how many agents represent nonfiction, fiction and children’s books. I was also surprised by the wide array of genres and topics some agents will represent and I wonder how they can do so successfully. I suspect that, while they may list that they represent dozens of genres and topics, they are probably fairly discriminating.
Here’s what I learned about some of the 28 agents on the list.
Sorche Fairbank over at Fairbank Literary Representation in Cambridge, MA will represent almost anything except romance, poetry, science fiction, young adult or children’s works. http://www.fairbankliterary.com
Jenni Ferrari-Adler at Brickhouse Lit in NY, specializes in literary fiction, narrative nonfiction and commercial fiction. http://www.brickhouselit.com
Winifred Golden at Castiglia Literary Agency in CA wants literary fiction, ethnic fiction, suspense, thrillers and science fiction. She also represents nonfiction. Her main interest is in health/medicine titles. If you have the platform and credentials to promote your nonfiction book—no matter the subject—contact Sally van Haitsma at the Castiglia Agency in Del. Mar, CA. http://www.castigliaagency.com
Ellen Pepus at Ellen Pepus Literary Agency wants to see just about anything except children’s, young adult, poetry, short stories, screenplays, science fiction and horror. http://www.epliterary.com. This is a new agency. So if you have something outside of the genres mentioned here, you might want to check this agency out.
Rachelle Gardner at Wordserve Literary in CO, specializes in faith-based and religious books. http://www.wordserveliterary.com.
Do you have a young adult or middle grade novel to pitch? Contact Jenoyne Adams at Bliss Literary in Manhattan Beach, CA. http://www.blissliterary.com.
Jackie Meyer at Whimsy Literary specializes in business and tech books. firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can access the Writer’s Digest Magazine article mentioned above at http://www.writersdigest.com/article/28-agents-who-want-your-work/.
For more on literary agents, read Bobbi Linkemer’s article, “What Every Author Should Know About Literary Agents.” http://searchwarp.com/swa371016.htm. She talks about why you should use an agent, how to find an agent, what agents want from you and how to deal with agents once you have one. One thing she says loud and clear is, “Don’t expect your agent to teach you to write, advance you money, or act as your attorney, therapist or publicist.” She also cautions authors not to be pushy about money or contracts. She said, “Pressure doesn’t speed up the process.” If you’re new to publishing and are considering approaching agents, I suggest reading this article.
The folks over at Nothing Binding (http://www.nothingbinding.com) are offering a FREE ebook version of their book, “What Writers Need to Know About Publishing.” All you have to do is fill out a questionnaire.
Do you have a children’s picture book either in the works or recently published? ForeWord Magazine would like to see what you have. Please send the book or galley/manuscript, press kit, catalog pages and other related materials to Whitney Hallberg, ForeWord Magazine at 129 ½ E. Front St., Traverse City, MI 49684. email@example.com. Check out their guidelines at http://www.forewordmagazine.com. As I understand it, they plan to do a story on children’s picture books and want some examples to use in their story. Here’s a good opportunity for those of you with published children’s books to get some free publicity and for those of you with manuscripts, to get noticed by a publisher. Let us know if you submit yours and how it goes.
Wild Child Publishing publishes nonfiction books on most topics and most genres of fiction. They pay royalties of 40% on ebooks and 10% of wholesale price on print books. They are also looking for short story collections. They like to publish new writers. Check out the guidelines at http://www.wildchildpublishing.com/index.php?main_page=page&id=16.
The Odd Mind Magazine is new. It’s about and for authors. The first issue features 127 pages of interviews, book reviews and other information pertinent to authors. In fact, they’re calling it the “Rolling Stone Magazine for authors.” If you are one of the majority of authors who are not yet famous, who may not even be very well-known, you might want to see about having your book featured in The Odd Mind Magazine. Publisher Angel Lesa wants the magazine to specialize in featuring those authors who are not published by some of the major traditional publishers. If this describes you, contact Angel Lesa (also known as Lesa Trap) at firstname.lastname@example.org. Order a copy of the quarterly magazine at http://www.lulu.com/content/4156361.
Suzanne Frost, editor and publisher of Sage Trail is actively seeking poetry submissions for the magazine. Subscribe to the magazine (which looks more like a little book) online at http://www.sagetrail.net. Or write to Sage Trail, POB 4012, Santa Barbara, CA 93140. Send contributions to email@example.com or send to the mailing address above.
Do you want to go on the speaking circuit with your book? There are professional speaking organizations that place speakers who qualify. Here are a few:
Professional Education Systems, Inc. (PESI) sends speakers out on engagements related to topics such as accounting, law, business, mental and physical health, real property and education. If you have a book related to any of these topics, you might want to check out this organization. http://www.pesi.com.
National Speakers Association (NSA) offers numerous benefits for their members, including training, exposure and speaking opportunities. http://www.nsaspeaker.org.
Professional Speakers Guild is an international organization of speakers, trainers, authors and other communications and meeting professionals who have come together to pursue common goals, share their experience and raise industry standards. This is also a good place to locate speaking opportunities. http://www.professionalspeakersguild.com
If you are working on a book or you have already produced a book and you plan to do some public speaking as a major or secondary book promotion activity, please consider joining a local Toastmasters Club. I’d like to hear from those of you who have been or are active in a Toastmasters Club. I’d like to know, would you recommend this to others and why? http://www.toastmasters.org.
Brian Jud, at firstname.lastname@example.org, has a client who is looking to purchase books on relaxation, sleep, sleep disorders and related topics in bulk. If your book fits this description, contact Brian.
The 14th annual International Family Film Festival is scheduled for February 26-March 1, 2009 at the Raleigh Studios, Hollywood, CA. If you have a film you want to submit, the categories for films are drama, comedy, computer animation, classic animation, documentary, musical, educational. Film deadline is January 10, 2009. Screenplay submission deadline is December 15, 2008. Entry information and forms are at http://www.iffilmfest.org or http://www.wab.com. Or call 661-257-3131. If you have questions, email email@example.com.
Opportunities for Artists is seeking photography for their Spring 2009 issue. Deadline, January 1, 2009. They use b&w photo on the cover and inside each issue. Learn more about the submission guidelines at http://www.fifthwednesdayjournal.com/submit.php.
Fifth Wednesday Journal
Resources for Authors and Freelance Writers is a new website offering free products and services. They advertise that you can share, promote and sell your work through this site. It looks as if there is a community aspect to the site—where you can discuss your projects with other authors, for example. And, at this point, it is by invitation only. So sign up and you’ll go on a waiting list. http://www.completelynovel.com.
SPAWN member Sandra Cropsey shared this with me: It seems that a bookkeeper with some sort of twisted sense of humor went on an “unauthorized book-rejecting spree.” If you recently received a form rejection letter from the Academy Chicago Publishers, they’re asking that you contact their publisher, Jordan Miller, to find out if it was an authorized rejection or not. Contact Miller at 363 West Erie Street, 7E, Chicago, IL 60610. http://www.academychicago.com. Anyone reading this, who received a rejection in error and whose book was actually slated to be published, aren’t you GLAD you took the time to read this newsletter?
I was glad to see Penny Sansevieri, in her great newsletter, The Book Marketing Expert Newsletter, reiterate what I have said in my books, articles, blog and probably in this newsletter: don’t pay for a returns policy from your POD “self-publishing” company. As she says, “Avoid, at all costs, the ‘returns program’ POD publishers offer. Bookstores don’t care if you’ve paid to have your book returnable. Don’t believe me? Sign up for it, pay your $500 (SPAWN Market Update editor’s note: I know one company that charges $800) and then do some calling around to find out.” Subscribe to Sansevieri’s newsletter at http://www.amarketingexpert.com or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Highly recommended.
Did you notice that a recent Oprah pick was by a first-time novelist named David Wroblewski? His book, The Story of Edgar Sawtelle, is the tale of a deaf boy growing up in a dog-rearing family in rural Wisconsin. The author supposedly spent 10 years writing this book, which sounds as if it’s based on his own life, although there is no indication that he is deaf. Winfrey’s extreme praise for this book has resulted in the publisher going back to press and having an additional 750,000 copies produced on top of the 300,000 they originally printed. Here’s an author who will, most likely, be able to retire on Easy Street.
Recently, the question came up—how many self-published books must you sell in order to impress a traditional royalty publisher? You hear pros and cons about the potential for success after self-publishing. Can you turn around and sell that book to a “real” publisher? What’s it going to take to get a contract? Some professionals say, 5,000—you must sell 5,000 books before a publisher will issue a contract on your self-published book. Others say, “That’s absurd. If you’ve already sold that many books, the market for your book may be tapped out.” This may be true of a narrow niche book, of course. But what about a novel or another book of wide interest? I read an article this week about how Suzanne Hansen landed a publisher for her self-published memoir, You’ll Never Nanny in This Town Again—The Adventures and Misadventures of a Hollywood Nanny. She sold 4,000 copies within a 12 month period when she decided to solicit major publishers. And, Bingo! Crown Books/Random House gave her a six-figure advance and the book became a New York Times and Los Angeles Times bestseller.
What’s the message here? Keep promoting your book. Except for a definite small niche book, the more you sell yourself, the more apt you are to entice a traditional publisher, if that’s what you ultimately want to do.
Interview with Michael Bowker Founder of Kele Publishing in Placerville, CA—an innovative new publishing concept.
Q: You’ve started a new kind of publishing company. Please tell us about yourself and your company.
A: I founded Kele Publishing a few years ago with the idea of producing books that interested me. I wanted to do this in an author-friendly way. I have written books for Simon & Schuster, Random House, Rodale and many other publishers. I’ve also written more than 1,000 magazine and newspaper articles, taught writing for several years and I’ve served as editor-in-chief for a national magazine.
Q: Why did you decide to establish a publishing company?
A: That is a very good question because the answer is complex. First, I wanted to create a business model that would achieve two things. It had to allow for the production of products that could be easily duplicated and sold to a wide customer base. That sounds pretty cold in an artistic business doesn’t it? I think everybody reading this is sophisticated to a point they know that to succeed, a business has to be run like a business regardless of the product or industry. It’s the second part of the model where the ‘art’ comes in to play. I wanted to establish the most writer-friendly publishing house in the nation and I wanted to produce and publish quality work. Given that we are a start-up, I think we’re doing that. We just sold out of the first printing (5,000 hardcover) of a zen-like golf instructional book called Winning the Battle Within and expect to double those sales this spring. We’re just getting started!
Q: What makes your company different from other traditional and fee-based publishers with regard to your author contract? As I understand it, your authors can choose what kind of contract they want to sign with you.
A: There is a large gap between the huge publishers such as Simon & Schuster and the “vanity presses” whereby you pay a company to produce your book. It is in this open space between these two established entities that Kele is positioned. As most of your readers know, traditional publishers typically offer writers a small advance (average is around $10,000 although most books receive no advances) and then 7% royalties on each book sold. Of course, the author must pay back any advance via royalties. The most I’ve ever seen a traditional publication pay in royalties is 15% of the retail cost of the book. I wanted my business model to reflect the most writer-friendly company possible, so Kele Publishing royalties start at 20% of the retail cost of the book, from the first book sold.
When I first graduated from college, I was hired to write a book for a large publishing conglomerate. I was paid $25,000, which to me was a fortune. I was happy to have the work. The price of the book was $17 and the company sold nearly 1.3 million copies. It grossed more than $22 million while I received $25,000. I never forgot that lesson. That’s why I offer to most writers the option to invest up to 50% in their own project. They put up 50% of the cost and reap 50% of the profit. Had I been able to do that, I would have made $11 million on that first book. It is critical to understand that this is an OPTION. Authors do not have to do this. If I am interested in the project, Kele will publish the book whether or not the author chooses to become an investor.
Q: How many manuscripts do you receive each month? How do you decide which ones to publish? Tell us about your criteria.
A: I only receive about 10 manuscripts a month right now because I haven’t publicized the company. In November of this year, I plan to open it up and begin to actively seek submissions. We will be publishing at least 10 new books in 09 and hopefully triple that in 2010. Our mission statement is “We Publish What We Like” so quality and sales potential are the only two criteria. We haven’t yet published fiction and we are only now beginning to consider children’s books.
Q: Is there anything in particular that you’re looking for at this time?
A: Yes! I am keenly interested in how-to books that are geared toward a specific audience—such as lawyers, doctors, pilots, dentists, schools, etc. I’m not looking for ‘how to try a case’ but rather books on how to run an office more efficiently, or how to invest wisely, or anything specific to problems or challenges these professionals might face in their professional or private lives. I am also looking for relationship books for women, and books by those who have a “platform,” meaning they can help sell multiple copies of the book—inspirational speakers, well-known personalities etc. Well-written books of any type will receive serious consideration.
Q: I understand that you help your authors promote their books. Please give us your perspective on the subject of publishers getting involved in promotion.
A: The terrible truth is that most traditional publishers do a mediocre to poor job publicizing books, and most do little or no marketing. Most don’t even have marketing departments.
Q: What sort of promotion do you engage in on behalf of your authors? Is there any one promotional activity that is more successful than others?
A: We have a cutting edge Internet marketing plan that we will be implementing at the first of the year. This will include a total remake of our Website, email blasts, video, SEO and other elements. We also help set up the traditional publicity.
Q: Most authors know about publishers only from their own point of view. What can you tell us about your publishing company and your attitude toward the manuscripts you receive and the authors you work with?
A: Being an author, I know what treatment I appreciated, and what I didn’t, from the traditional publishers. We try to eliminate the latter part. Authors who are serious and have talent are extremely rare… I try to treat them as professionals and friends.
Q: What would you advise authors with manuscripts to pitch?
A: Send me a single letter via email describing your project first.
Q: Please add whatever you want. And be sure to include your contact information.