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From the President
Welcome to all the new members and subscribers who have discovered SPAWN this month!
If there’s one thing I’ve learned about writing, it’s that creativity ebbs and flows. I wish that writing were always as easy for me as it has been over the last few days. I’m making huge progress on my novel and it’s actually fun. I’m starting to love my characters. I can’t wait to open up the file and see what happens to them next.
It reminds me of something Patricia Fry said when I saw her last month at the Tucson Festival of Books. We were talking about our respective fiction projects and she exclaimed, "All I want to do is write my novel!" At the time, I was stuck on my book trying to figure out where to go with it. I nodded, but couldn’t imagine actually feeling that way myself. But now I get it!
So if you’re in a stuck spot right now like I was, I encourage you to keep working. It will pass. May you fall in love with writing again and again. It’s a wonderful feeling 😉
Anthologies? Are they really worth the trouble? Is there money in it for writers, or are there other benefits? How do you get in one? Well, for one thing, you can respond to a request for submissions like the one Untreed Reads sent—it’s posted in the Opportunities section of this newsletter.
Many anthologies are by invitation only. Once the editors see your work in magazines or ezines or on genre sites, you may be invited to join the fun. This method saves a lot of time for editors—they’ll already know your style and know you can meet a deadline. Read Mary Reed’s story below and see how that first invitation grew and grew for her.
Gail Farrelly, Teel James Glenn, and Miles Archer aka Richard Posner also share their experiences with anthologies.
Patricia Fry reviews Sell Your Book, 100 Tips and Tactics by Karen Hodges Miller.
With all the information on how to promote your work, get more work, and enjoy your work, this issue should inspire!
— Sandy, Editor, SPAWNews, firstname.lastname@example.org
Meet SPAWN Members! Live and In Person!
SPAWN will be at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books April 20-21. Members will be selling their books and members’ books will be on display—come and meet the leaders of SPAWN. We’re in Booth 201 this year.
SPAWN Market Update
by Patricia Fry
The April SPAWN Market Update covers news and opportunities for freelance writers, authors seeking publishers, and authors currently promoting their books. Herein, you’ll discover nearly 50 ideas, resources, news items, and leads. Are you looking for an author-friendly publisher? We’ve got ‘em. Are you running out of book-promotion ideas? We can replenish your supply. Study this edition and come away with the job of your dreams, a publishing contract, or a great technique for selling books.
If you have yet to join SPAWN and receive all of the benefits, join this month by going to www.spawn.org and click on Join/Renew.
Ask the Book Doctor:
About Awkward Sentences that Need Restructuring
By Bobbie Christmas
Q: I’m writing a short story, and I need help with a sentence. Are any of the following versions I wrote okay?
1. That resulted in a fall in which she fractured her pelvis.
2. That resulted in a fall in which her pelvis was fractured.
3. That resulted in a fall that fractured her pelvis.
Here is the sentence that comes before the other sentence, in case you need to see that one, too: She hesitantly took the pills, but they made her very dizzy.
A: I’m glad you sent the prior sentence, because my answer will not be as straightforward as you may have hoped. The word “that,” when used as a pronoun, should refer to a noun, rather than a concept, so all the examples are incorrect. The full statement would be more understandable if the preceding sentence were linked with one of the example sentences, but the result would be awkward, such as this compound sentence: She hesitantly took the pills, but they made her very dizzy, which resulted in a fall in which she fractured her pelvis. Okay, obviously that sentence is not only cumbersome, but it also contains two uses of “which,” and repetition is not recommended in creative writing. Obviously it’s time to look for a more creative approach, but before we do so, let me point out that example number two, “her pelvis was fractured,” is passive, and strong writers avoid using passive voice.
Instead of trying to find the right words for the same sentence structure, recast the entire statement in a clearer, more creative way. Consider, for example, the following rewrite:
She hesitantly took the pills, but she grew dizzy, fell, and fractured her pelvis.
The rewrite uses active voice and is clear, direct, and tight. You may think of an even better way to recast the two sentences, but they definitely need restructuring.
Q: Understanding that a pronoun refers to the noun before the pronoun, I want the pronoun “their” to refer to “doctor,” not “specialist,” in the following sentence:
Has your doctor suggested you see the specialist who comes into their office?
I tried rewording the sentence, but I run into the same issue. Any suggestions?
A: One problem is that “their” is a plural pronoun, whereas “doctor” and “specialist” are both singular nouns, so my response will not have “their” in it. I would also break it into two sentences. Here’s how I would reword the passage for clarity:
Sometimes specialists come into a second doctor’s office to see the second doctor’s patients. Has your doctor suggested you see such a specialist?
Q: Is there a question mark after the following sentence? “If you did, will you let me know, because I will be waiting to hear from you.”
A: Because the sentence is both a statement and a question, it is a good sentence to recast, rather than attempt to fix with punctuation. Recast it to something like this, and there’s no problem: “If you did, please let me know, because I will be waiting to hear from you.” Here’s another alternative: “If you did, will you let me know? I’ll be waiting to hear from you.”
Q: If I wanted to use the plural of “yes” in a book title, how should it look? “Yeses” looks like a foreign word. HELP!
A: Your question about the plural of “yes” is a prime example of a time when it’s better to rewrite the sentence than to use odd words. Instead of this sentence: “All the yeses added up to one hundred,” consider this one: “The yes votes added up to one hundred.” Recast the book title and see if “yes” can stand alone without making it plural.
Q: Where do you stand on split infinitives or ending sentences with prepositions?
A: Editors have relaxed their stand on those issues, because the “rules” were leftovers from Latin and do not always apply to English. As a source, I point to Winston Churchill. Supposedly an editor had clumsily rearranged one of Churchill’s sentences to avoid ending it with a preposition, and the prime minister scribbled the following note in reply: “That is the sort of editing up with which I will not put.”
I would be remiss, however, if I did not point out that strong writers recast awkward sentences to avoid splitting infinitives or ending sentences with a preposition. Doing so almost always improves the writing style.
To read more questions and answers, order the book Ask the Book Doctor: How to Beat the Competition and Sell Your Writing at http://zebraeditor.com/book_ask_the_book_doctor.shtml.
Bobbie Christmas, book editor, author of Write In Style (Union Square Publishing), and owner of Zebra Communications, will answer your questions, too. Send them to Bobbie@zebraeditor.com. Read more "Ask the Book Doctor" questions and answers at www.zebraeditor.com.
by Patricia Fry
Sell Your Book, 100 Tips and Tactics by Karen Hodges Miller
Open Door Publications (2012) www.opendoorpublications.com
ISBN: 978-0-9838750-3-1 Paperback, 130 pages, $19.95
Karen Hodges Miller is the founder of Open Door Publications. Since 2006, they have published more than twenty books. Even though Miller has been working in the industry as a writer, editor, and publisher for twenty-five years, she wrote her first book for authors in 2010 and this effort has led to a series of books, including this one.
While she offers 100 tips and tactics such as creating your own book tour, building your brand, selling your book on Amazon, using reviews to promote your book, and so forth, she also publishes interviews with some well-known book marketers—Dan Poynter, Rick Frishman and Dan Smith are a few.
I especially like her chapter on working with the media. In this section alone, she fleshes out ten tips for successfully working with the media to get publicity for your book. And you’ve all heard/read me preach and nag about doing pre-publication publicity. Miller has a full chapter on this theme with ten specific tips.
In my opinion, you can never have too many books on book promotion and marketing. I recommend that you add this one to your library.
The Truth about Anthologies
by Barbara Florio Graham
I’m using the term anthology to cover all kinds of books you may contribute to, but not as the primary writer or co-writer.
These books fall into a couple of main categories:
1. Contributions are solicited from the general public. The publisher pays a small amount—often just 20 cents a word—buys all rights, and then uses your contribution any way he likes, often in other books, magazines, and websites. You lose all control over where your work appears, and have no recourse if you’re not happy with the way your piece was edited or where it ends up years later. I call this the Chicken-Soup model.
2. A variation of this is the contest that awards significant prizes to one or more winners, then pays a minimum to the entrants who are selected to be included in the book. Stories can run from 1,000-2,500 words and payment is often just $100, but the possibility of being judged a winner of $1,000 or more is a great lure. Some of these contests accept reprints, which makes them a good bet. Still, profit goes to the publisher. See Summit Studios for an example: http://www.summitstudios.biz/
A big problem with both of these categories is that they usually offer only a simple byline, with no additional credit—not even your website or a mention of your book.
Another problem is that you often have to submit your work before you see their contract. It’s hard to refuse to sign a contract after your work has been accepted! It can take up to a year to hear whether your story has been accepted, and several years before the book is published, so your work is in limbo all that time.
3. Contributing to someone else’s book: a writer obtains a contract from a major publisher to produce a book sharing his or her expertise. The writer then requests friends, colleagues, and strangers to contribute advice and anecdotes to fill out the book. This gives the book a wider reach and more solid credibility. Contributing to a book like this doesn’t pay anything, but can be a great way to establish or increase your credibility in a specific area, and drive traffic to your website. If you can do this with little effort, drawing on your own expertise and experience, it’s certainly worthwhile. About two-thirds of the 38 books I’ve contributed to fall into this category. Several of these books contain a bio section where I’m listed with my expertise and website, and there’s an index where my name appears. Because of these things, the book is going to show up in a Google search.
4. An organization decides to put out a collection of its members’ work. This may be prose, poetry, fiction, or non-fiction. Writers’ groups often do this, paying contributors nothing. This is great promotion for the organization, and a good way for a writer to accumulate some credits and/or help out a group he or she supports. By the time the group pays for editing, layout, and printing, there’s often little profit, but any money made goes to the organization. If the book is in support of a cause you want to help, or if you can contribute items you’ve already had published elsewhere, this can be a reasonable choice.
5. A group of writers joins forces to collaborate on a book. If they live in the same general area and write about a subject of local interest, this can work out very well. If one member of the group is able to design the cover and another handle production, they can self-publish and do quite well. But they have to be careful to do it right, obtain an ISBN and bar code, and be committed to handling local and regional marketing.
6. Prose to Go: Tales from a Private List broke all the rules when it comes to anthologies. Eighteen contributors lived in 14 different locations, from the NWT to PEI. Since this Private List was created by me, I was one of three editors, but we lived in different parts of the country, so all communication had to be via e-mail. We were smart enough not to try to self-publish. We obtained a standard contract from a mid-size publisher with a good track record, which ensured that the book got on Amazon, was distributed by Ingram, and is available in Kindle, Kobo, Nook, and other formats. Fourteen locations gave us the opportunity to promote widely. Publisher’s website: http://www.Bridgeross.com. Description and reviews of the book at http://www.SimonTeakettle.com/prosetogo.htm.
If you have kept the rights to work you have previously published, some of these anthology ideas may work for you. The best way to decide is to ask yourself some key questions.
How much effort is it for you to contribute to this anthology? If you can spend less than an hour sharing your expertise or ideas with someone and get a nice credit in the book, it’s well worth doing. If you can give a second life to a piece you’ve already published and get a credit line as well, it makes sense to take advantage of that opportunity. In these cases, however, read the contract carefully to make sure you’re giving only one-time rights.
Barbara Florio Graham is an author and publishing consultant. Her website www.SimonTeakettle.com contains a great deal of free information, as well as Simon Teakettle’s popular blog
Anthologies? We Love ‘Em
by Mary Reed
The birth of our first anthologized story was extremely fast.
One afternoon we heard from British editor Mike Ashley, who asked if we’d provide a short story for The Mammoth Book of Historical Whodunnits, his next anthology. An enticing offer, but with a snag: the story had to be written in less than a month because another writer had had to withdraw at the last moment. Although virtually unknown, we’d already had three stories published in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine by then.
Well, we do love a challenge. So we accepted, co-wrote A Byzantine Mystery, and it duly appeared in Mike’s collection. Would we accept Mike’s invitation again? But of course, and not just because advances fatten the piggy bank.
After that first short story for Mike, we’ve been invited to contribute to over a dozen anthologies, including a number devoted to historical mysteries set in various eras or based on specific themes—royalty, Roman and Egyptian times, stories inspired by works by Shakespeare or Dickens, locked-room puzzlers.
Print anthologies serve better than short stories in magazines, given that books sit on shelves longer than magazines, while e-anthologies provide more short-story opportunities than were available not so very long ago.
Other than advances and royalties, a number of other benefits ride on anthology coattails. The publicity value of contributing to a collection is enormous, introducing readers to new writers and series characters, if a story feature them. Nomination for or winning a short-story award provides the writer with an excellent promotional tool, publicity, and invitations to submit to other anthologies. Author bios shine spotlights on other work, making readers interested in pursuing it. For beginning writers, an anthology story helps plump out the resume.
One of the most important benefits for a writer contributing to any anthology is that the story gives interested parties—agents, publishers, other editors—the wherewithal to view the writer’s work, while the very presence of a story in a collection demonstrates that the writer can work with an editor and meet deadlines.
In our case, meeting Mike’s deadline had an unexpected and far-reaching consequence. After publication of the first three stories about our protagonist John, Lord Chamberlain to Emperor Justinian in sixth century Byzantium, we decided to write a novel about him. Nine books concerning John’s adventures have been published by Poisoned Pen Press, and we are currently writing the tenth.
And what about A Byzantine Mystery? Well, The Mammoth Book of Historical Whodunnits remains in print and we still occasionally receive a royalty cheque for that first anthologized, extremely short, short story, even though it leapt forth into the world twenty years ago this very year.
Anthologies? We love ‘em!
Mary Reed and Eric Mayer are the authors of the John the Lord Chamberlain mysteries. One For Sorrow, the first book about John’s adventures, has appeared in a revised edition in the United States and United Kingdom, and the as-yet untitled tenth novel in the series is slated to appear in 2014. http://home.earthlink.net/~maywrite
Anthologies: Where the Editors Work Hard and the Writers Enjoy Themselves
by Miles Archer
I’ve been involved in four or five anthologies over the past ten years. I love anthologies because the editor does most of the hard work of editing, coming up with a theme, pulling all the stories together, finding a publisher, etc. All I have to do is come up with an acceptable story, and so far I’ve been able to meet the editors’ needs.
In a couple of cases the stories were previously published, either by the editor of the anthology or somewhere else. As a result, I get more mileage out of my creative juices; it’s nice to be able to sell a story more than once, and readers get a chance to see stories they might have missed when they were published the first time.
I like anthologies because I usually have some previous relationship with the editor(s) and I like to work with people I’ve worked with before. I’ve answered a couple of general calls for submission and I’ve had a couple of invitations. If an idea catches my imagination, I’ll go for it.
Finally, I like anthologies when the editor has come up with an interesting theme or idea. I submitted a story for a project of new super-hero stories. The story, which the editor liked very much, wound up turning into a novel.
For writers, anthologies can be fun, exercising creative muscles, while allowing someone else to do the hard work.
Miles Archer aka Richard Posner, For the Good of the Clan published by Untreed Readshttp://www.untreedreads.com/?p=3424
Life among Other People’s Words
by Teel James Glenn
Writing for an anthology as opposed to a single-author collection, is akin to being asked to do a solo act in the middle of a themed variety show. You have to trust the show’s director (the editor) that your particular talents will be used in the right spot. A weak lead-in tale can dilute your story, while a strong story on either side can overshadow your own efforts.
On the other hand, being among established authors can bring an entire new audience to a writer’s work.
Sometimes you are lucky enough to have a story lying around that fits the specific criteria of an anthology, but usually you have put your thinking cap on. Presumably the subject of the anthology is what drew you to it, so inspiration may quickly follow your decision to jump into the mix.
If the anthology is of a series character, like the pulp characters of Lynn Lash or The Eagle, you have to conform to the restrictions, conventions, and histories of those characters. While those literary brackets can be confining, they can also be comforting. A template to work against when conceptualizing the story can jumpstart the process of creating a tale.
If the anthology is an open-themed one with a loose frame, such as Modern Gods or High-Adventure History, you might be presented with such a wide set of parameters that your brain can lock. Or it can open to new horizons of storytelling.
In either case, the two things about agreeing to be in an anthology is that (1) you have the challenge of writing to spec and (2) your work is potentially exposed to a much larger fan base than your work in a solo collection would be. Both factors make the challenge of creating material for a collection like this an exercise well worth the effort!
Teel James Glenn is the author of single-author collections like Deadline Zombies; Headline Ghouls, the Adventures of Maxi and Moxie; Shadows of New York; and Gaslight Occurrences: the steampulp adventures of Augustus Argent. His work has appeared in numerous anthologies.
Everything You Always Wanted to Know about Anthologies, But Were Afraid to Ask
by Gail Farrelly
I have a simple message about being in anthologies: it’s all good.
Having stories in mystery/crime anthologies is fun and rewarding. I highly recommend it.
If I am slaving away on a very long project—a novel, for example—it is nice to take a break and write something short and get it out the door. It helps me remember that I am able to bring a project to fruition! It’s a good feeling and one that sustains me when I head back to the longer project
Writing can be a lonely endeavor, so the association with other authors working in an anthology is terrific. I participated in two charity holiday anthologies published by Tony Burton at Wolfmont Press for the benefit of Toys for Tots. Both are published in print and e-book format. (For more info, see the book page of my website: http://is.gd/AfiZyA.)
It felt good to contribute to a worthy cause and I’ve made good use of both of my stories. The Kindle Did It was read on the radio in Massachusetts and Texas; Santa and the Poor Box was read on the radio in Texas. Both stories were later published online. It’s important when you sign up for an anthology to make sure you know which rights you are giving away and for how long. In this way, after a certain period of time, you may be able to do something else with your work—e.g., publish it in a different venue or whatever.
I love working on projects with other authors and making contacts in the writing community. When I was a part of the Toys-for-Tots anthologies, for example, I did book signings with fellow authors Thomas H. Cook, Chris Grabenstein, and Liz Zelvin. The events definitely enhanced my reputation as an author.
I like to observe how authors take the same material (an anthology) and publicize it in all different ways: blog posts, conference appearances and other book events, social media, blogging. It certainly gives me a boot in the bum to do my share of promoting.
When we were promoting one of the Toys-for-Tots anthologies, a group of us were guests on an Internet radio show and shared insights about our stories as well as what it was like to be part of the project. The main thing I’ve learned is that you have to push yourself and your colleagues forward, and at the same time, provide some information that the audience can use.
Being in an anthology can sometimes directly lead to other good things. I enjoyed having a story in the Deadly Ink 2006 Short Story Collection http://is.gd/y81NJs. The book was the result of a short-story competition, and I had received an Honorable Mention Award. A revised version of my story in that anthology has just been published by Untreed Reads (The Jurors Who Knew Too Much).
I continued my anthology education by being part of the 2012 digital anthology The Killer Wore Cranberry: A Second Helping published by Untreed Reads http://bit.ly/RwyLY8. (My story: They eDone Him Wrong). There’s something special about a holiday anthology, and we were fortunate to receive a number of excellent reviews. In fact, when I see the submission call for the next Killer anthology, I’ll definitely submit a story.
Building reputation as a writer, learning new tips about publicity, making some new cyber buddies, having a good time. What’s not to like about being in an anthology? Nothing.
Yep, it’s all good.
Gail Farrelly writes mystery novels and short stories. She also publishes satire pieces at http://www.thespoof.com/. Her next book, LOL: 100 Comic Cameos on Current Events, will be published later this year. Gail’s short stories are available for sale at Untreed Reads, on the Kindle, and at eBook retailers throughout the world. Gail is working on her fourth mystery novel, The Virtual Heiress.
Patricia Fry is taking SPAWN to the Ojai Book Fair on April 13 in Libbey Park (in the center of town) from 10 to 4:30. The new SPAWN Catalog of Members’ Books and Services will be there—stop by to say hello and pick up a copy
Sandra Murphy’s four short stories were featured in a blog by SPAWN member Joanna Celeste. The article was also published in Seattle Pi and How to Tell a Great Story. http://blogcritics.org/books/article/the-value-of-99-cents/ The article was tweeted by three people to approximately 1,300 people. Joanna also shared the article on the following writers and marketing forums: Authors, Writers, Publishers, Editors, & Writing Professionals… (18,681), Book Marketing (6,703), Books & Writers (38,291), Children’s Publishing (18,447), Helium (5,841), SPAWN (42), Sticky Branding (24,587), Writer’s Cafe (14,135), Writers (12,554), Writers & Bloggers: Passion Creative (5,845), Writer’s World International (1,479). Total: 147,905 people heard about Joanna’s article and Sandy’s short stories.
Barbara Florio Graham has an article in the May issue of Funds for Writers. Her articles regularly appear in Freelance Writer’s Report, but Funds for Writers is a new market (www.fundsforwriters.com). Bobbi’s latest mentoring client is a woman who is writing a YA novel about hockey. This author is mad about hockey and knows a great deal about the sport. Bobbi is learning more about hockey than she ever thought she wanted to know!
Joanna Celeste teamed up with Sandra Murphy to edit and self-publish her short stories; her poetry collections and stories are now available internationally through Amazon and her Notes at Midnight poetry collection is available in large print and 5 x 8 paperbacks. Her website has her store and list of upcoming Free Days: http://joannaceleste.com.
Wendy Dager’s book trailers for I Murdered the PTA (a Court TV Search for the Next Great Crime Writer finalist), its sequel, I Murdered the Spelling Bee, and her dark novella Thrift Me Deadly (a Fabri Literary Prize finalist) can be seen on YouTube. The link is on the home page at www.wendydager.com She created the trailers using iMovie and downloaded royalty-free music for the soundtracks.
Susan Daffron and Patricia Fry have known each other for four years, but had never met. Susan is both the president and the webmaster of SPAWN, and she and Executive Director Patricia have always worked by email and phone. Finally, they met at the Tucson Festival of Books. With just an hour to chat, there was never a lull in the conversation.
Contests, Events and Opportunities
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