SPAWNews Newsletter – December 2011


Sandra Murphy, Editor

For contributions to the newsletter and Letters to the Editor, please email the editor of SPAWNews:

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From the President

Welcome to all the new members and subscribers who have discovered SPAWN this month!

Yesterday was Mark Twain’s 176th birthday. He’s easily one of the most quoted authors of all time. Here’s a great quote from Mr. Clemens that also relates to the theme of this issue:

Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great.” 

Any creative endeavor requires a bit of courage. Putting your creative works out into the world for public scrutiny can be daunting.

A mentor is someone who has been where you want to go, offering support, advice, and encouragement. As you’ll discover in this issue, a true mentor is someone who helps you believe you can be great.

And who doesn’t want that?

Susan Daffron (
President & Webmaster, Small Publishers Artists and Writers Network (SPAWN)
President, Logical Expressions, Inc.

Editor’s Note

This month we’re talking about mentors. Patricia Fry gave me the final kickstart to write. I met her in St Louis seven years ago, a chance meeting that changed everything.

A friend and I had coffee; as we left, she said, “Somebody told me about a book fair, want to go?” And we did. There were artists, vendors, food, and books everywhere. My friend shopped paintings and I shopped books. Most vendors smile and nod as you sail by, trying not to be trapped into a sales pitch. Patricia just smiled and said, “Are you a writer too?” I was so astonished that someone would mistake me for a writer that I stayed to talk and ended up buying two books.

After the fair, Patricia and I e-mailed, and with encouragement (and threats), I wrote. I submitted. I got published. At first, I wrote about my dog Izzie. Those pieces came from the heart and, I think, went a long way to getting me published. It also encouraged me to do more. Now I’m branching out into other areas—after writing the first article that didn’t have even one dog in it, they came easier.

It took a while for me to work out in my mind, just what a writer is and does. A writer writes instead of waiting for a Muse to whisper a story into the ear. A writer asks for more work instead of starving in an attic. A writer isn’t insulted by the change of words or phrases, but learns from every edit. A writer eavesdrops on conversations, reads the paper for ideas, and says, “What if?”

Writing is said to be a solitary job, but with the help of a mentor and a group like SPAWN, writing becomes a community.

Writing is an art. Writing is a craft. Writing is a job. It’s just the best job you could have.

Thanks to the mentors who get us to write.

 — Sandy, Editor, SPAWNews,

SPAWN Market Update

by Patricia Fry

This issue of the SPAWN Market Update provides hundreds of opportunities for authors and freelance writers, in the form of new publisher listings, links to online critique groups, and paying article/story markets, including links to seven religious magazine directories. Learn what’s new in the world of publishing—what’s going on with the Marketplace Fairness Act, for example; what’s creating a buzz at Amazon; and what’s the big news among booksellers? Discover some of the best books on book promotion—a good way to start 2012. We’re also running interviews with a new e-book publisher and the founder of a new do-it-yourself PR program for authors. The founder of this program is offering discounts for SPAWN members. So, if you’re promoting a book, don’t miss this issue of the SPAWN Market Update.

Bookselling Opportunity for SPAWN Authors

SPAWN plans to go to the prestigious Los Angeles Times Festival of Books again this year. The dates are April 21-22, 2012. Mark your calendar now if you have a book to promote, live in Southern California, or will be visiting during that time. Watch for additional information in the January SPAWNews. We’ll bring more information about the opportunities we are offering, how to sign up, how to renew or secure a new listing in the SPAWN Catalog of Member’s Books and Services (to be handed out at the book festival), and how to send your books for display in the SPAWN booths, if you can’t join us in the booth. Contact

Ask the Book Doctor:

About Copyrights, Mentors, and Simultaneous Submissions

By Bobbie Christmas

Q: After a book is written, how do I go about protecting my work with a copywrite [sic] before sending it off to prospects? Is the standard initialing acceptable? Would I need to initial each page? Would I need to get it notarized, so the idea cannot be taken by someone else?

A: According to current law, you own the rights to your copy—hence copyright, rather than copywrite—the moment you complete a body of work. If you find that someone has used your material without permission, you have the right to sue, whether or not you registered the copyright or published the book. You don’t have to initial the manuscript, register it, get it notarized, or do anything, because you automatically own the rights to your intellectual property, based on the fact that you created it. The law protects you, should anyone use your material without your permission.

Professional editors, publishers, and agents also know the law and will not steal your material. On the flip side, when editors, agents, or publishers see that an author has copyrighted a manuscript, they perceive they are dealing with a paranoid person or an amateur, so don’t prematurely register the copyright on a manuscript and give others the opportunity to make an incorrect assumption.

Manuscripts are always open to change, whereas copyrights are not, so a copyright should not be registered until the material is edited, proofed, and laid out, right before the book goes to press.

If you sell your book to a publisher, ask your publisher if it handles the copyright registration. Most publishers register the copyright in your name for you, prior to going to press. If you plan to self-publish, register the copyright right before you send the final file to a printer. Follow the procedures outlined at the government Web site

Q: Where can I find a mentor to tell me where to send my poetry to get it published?

A: Mentors are a rare find indeed, and they don’t hang out shingles announcing their availability. I was blessed with a mentor early in my career, because we had been friends in college before he became an accomplished poet. He read my poetry, picked out two specific poems, and told me a magazine that might be interested in them. He was right, and the magazine accepted both poems, for which I received two contributor’s copies. I was on my way though, and after that I found my own markets.

Instead of waiting for a mentor to appear, patronize literary magazines. Buy single copies of many literary publications or subscribe to several and support the market, because publications need supporters, too. Subscribe to, which lists poetry markets and gives their guidelines. Once you become familiar with the poetry market, you will know when, what, and how to submit to each potential publisher.

Q: What does "simultaneous submission" mean?

A: When an author sends the same book proposal or novel query to more than one agent or publisher at a time, it is called a simultaneous submission. For several reasons, the method favors those who are doing the submissions. It speeds up the process by allowing writers to send out many submissions at one time, an important ability when responses sometimes take months, if they come at all. In addition, if more than one agent or publisher shows an interest, the author has negotiating power. For that reason, some agents and publishers don’t care for simultaneous submissions and prefer exclusive submissions.

Those that do not accept simultaneous submissions will say so in their guidelines. When you see such a note in the guidelines, submit to those agents or publishers last, after hearing back from most or all others. If, however, you have only one particular publisher in mind, submit your query or proposal to that publisher first, with a note that it is an exclusive submission. If you receive a rejection from that one publisher, you can then send simultaneous submissions to others.

At the end of the cover letter of all simultaneous submissions, add a line that states, "This is a simultaneous submission."

Bobbie Christmas, book doctor, author of Write In Style (Union Square Publishing), and owner of Zebra Communications, will answer your questions, too. Send them to Read more "Ask the Book Doctor" questions and answers at

Book Review

by Patricia Fry

The Frugal Book Promoter, How To Get Nearly Free Publicity on Your Own or by Partnering with Your Publisher (2nd edition) by Carolyn Howard-Johnson

(HowToDoItFrugally Publishing 2011)  

ISBN: 978-146374291      

Print and Kindle

416 pages — $17.95 (US)

Most of us enter into publishing not understanding that book promotion is up to the author. I still meet hopeful authors who expect someone else to do the marketing of their books and handle sales. As you will quickly learn from this book—The Frugal Book Promoter—the author is responsible for promoting his or her book. An author who comes to this realization may be stunned and confused about where to begin and wonder, “How much is this going to cost me, anyway?”

Howard-Johnson is an ideal expert to answer the many questions you have about book promotion, as she is a former publicist for a New York firm and a marketing instructor for the UCLA Extension’s Writer’s Program. Not only that, she loves marketing—“almost as much as writing,” she says.

I love Howard-Johnson’s method to quell authors’ insecurities about the task of book promotion. For example, she tells readers to “just get over it.” She writes, “This first section of The Frugal Book Promoter helps assuage your fears. Trust me. Great marketing is merely sharing your passion with others. And it’s lots of fun.” Now that’s comforting, isn’t it?

The thing we soon find out about book promotion, once we get involved, is that there are as many ideas and activities to pursue as there are authors and books—and one size does not fit all. As Howard-Johnson says, “Publicity is not a quantifiable or predictable science.” And she tells authors, “You can’t possibly learn all you need to know about publicizing your book in one evening. Publicity is like practicing piano. The more you do it…”

While I’m impressed that she provides plenty of information about many and various book promotion ideas—most of them no- and low-cost—I especially appreciate that she offers so much guidance to go along with them. For example, she gives lessons on honing your radio and TV skills, explains how to get signing opportunities at tradeshows without having to rent an expensive booth, and how and why to get awards for your book.

I especially like her “Eighteen Publicity Commandments.” They range from “Thou shalt educate thyself, thou shalt listen to thy readers” to “Thou shalt practice publicity goals.” And the Appendices contain a goldmine of tools for authors: sample query letters, media releases, blog entries, invitation for tradeshows, phone pitches, and tip sheets.

Do you need this book in your home library? If you are an author or you plan to be one within a year or two, this is one of several books on book promotion that you should have at your elbow. Read it through once or twice and then keep it handy as a reference guide for the duration of your promotional activity with your book. How long should you continue to promote your book? For as long as you want it to sell. And that’s how long you will need this book within easy reach.

Member News

From SPAWN President Susan Daffron: I just launched my new book Publicity to the Rescue—how rescue groups can get more attention and save more homeless animals. You can read about the book here: (And yes, that’s my dog Fiona on the cover.) The press release for the book is also online:


Patricia Fry will teach a course at Ventura College (California) on “Writing Magazine Articles for Fun and Profit,” December 3, 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. Sign up at or 805-654-6459. For additional info, contact


The popular blog Author! Author! interviewed Barbara Florio Graham about Prose to Go: Tales From a Private List. Blogger Sandra Phinney asked about how the book was conceived and produced, calling it a dynamite book and a delicious read.  Read her blog and add your comments or questions at:


Stop by the Untreed Reads store and get the latest Chris Bauer story, Fresh, Never Frozen. It’s funny and just a little bit spooky. You will never look at a holiday meal in the same way.

(Please Note that, as a member of SPAWN, you can post your news, announcements, achievements, etc. here. Just send it to Sandy at

Before You Hire a Mentor

by Barbara Florio Graham

I’ve been paid to mentor authors since 1995. That year, I helped the Professional Writers Association of Canada set up their first mentoring program, which was funded by the federal government.

Under that program, I was hired by Ann Douglas, a successful writer who published a parenting newsletter, wrote magazine articles, and taught a class at the local college. She was already working five days a week while managing a household with three young children.

She hired me because she wanted to find time to write her first book, so our mentoring began with some time-management tips, and then went on to work on her first book proposal.

If you go to you’ll see that she’s now the author of twenty-nine books—several of them worldwide bestsellers—and is in demand as a speaker in person and on TV.

She and I agree that mentoring worked for her because she was highly motivated, already knew me, and respected me enough to trust my advice, even when I suggested she stop her newsletter and hire someone to take over the mundane tasks so she could carve out time to work on her first book.

Here are a few guidelines if you’re considering hiring a mentor:

  1. The best mentors don’t work for free, unless there’s a close friendship. At the very least, work out an exchange of services, but don’t expect someone to take a lot of time to help you, unless you’re paying.
  2. Check out any potential mentor thoroughly. Does he/she have a Web site? Are there testimonials there with clickable links so you can contact these references? If you check my testimonials page, you’ll find Web sites you can click on to see how those I mentored have fared.
  3. Does the mentor have the level of education necessary to provide you with solid information? If you’re looking for help with your writing, it would be wise to look for a mentor with an English or journalism degree.
  4. What kind of work experience has he/she had? If all a mentor has to offer is his/her own experience publishing a book, you’ll be receiving a very narrow perspective, without the breadth of options you need in order to make good choices.
  5. Establish clear parameters. I charge a set-up fee to allow me to get to know the person I’m going to be mentoring, including checking the person’s Web site and reading a few samples. I then charge by the hour, with a three-hour minimum to start. This financial commitment ensures that the person I’m mentoring is serious about this project and will follow through. I also have a couple of other rules, such as no phone calls (too time-consuming, and without any written record of what each of us said), and complete flexibility. That means anyone who hires me can take time off, for whatever reason (illness, vacation, family visits) and resume later, “banking” any unused time.

If mentoring is successful, you’ll both feel as if you’ve made a new friend, someone you can call on in the future when you have a quick question or a success to report.

Barbara Florio Graham is an author and publishing consultant who has mentored more than fifty people since 1995. She’s the author of three books, Five Fast Steps to Better Writing, Five Fast Steps to Low-Cost Publicity, and Mewsings/Musings, and is the managing editor and one of eighteen contributors to Prose to Go: Tales from a Private List. Her information-rich Web site is, where you’ll also find Simon Teakettle’s popular blog.

Mentors I’ve Known

by Helen Gallagher

There are mentors I’ve known and loved throughout school and my writing career, but none of them know they helped me.

First are the famous mentors, such as Julia Cameron (The Artist’s Way), Natalie Goldberg (Writing Down the Bones), and Joan Anderson (A Year By The Sea).

Then, there are those who motivated me through roles great or small. Susan Tiberghein (One Year To A Writing Life: Twelve Lessons to Deepen Every Writer’s Art and Craft) spoke at an International Women’s Writing Guild event in Chicago a few years ago and I’ve been following her work ever since. She commanded a class in personal essay/memoir, and used her life stories to help us recognize the magic within our own life. Her entire class is a self-care holiday, teaching through love, helping writers reach deeper until they respect that inner voice that expresses their truth. She is truly an amazing mentor.

Last, inspiration often comes from quiet encounters: the colleague who takes a city bus for thirty miles to attend a workshop, hoping to begin publishing her poetry. She gives more to the participants than she gets, and sees such hope and promise in the potential of every speaker, and every sentence. She quietly inspires me to write more, and to appreciate the privilege of time and resources I have available to me.

Mentors give me the ability to write—a gift not unlike the compassionate example these lovely people shared with me.

Helen Gallagher is the Membership Director

Suggestions from a Writing Mentor

by Darryl Laurant

As a longtime journalist, former magazine editor and the founder and director of The Writers’ Bridge (, I’ve learned a few things about freelancing. That doesn’t make me an authority by any means, but probably qualifies me as a mentor. Having a gray beard doesn’t hurt.

My specialty is freelance article writing, although the suggestions below could be applied to any genre. Some involve attitude, some involve action. Selling anything to anybody usually requires a stroke of luck, but there are ways you can position yourself to lure good luck in your direction.

  1. Realize that your window on the world is unique. No human being who has ever lived or ever will live will have your precise combination of genetics, ethnicity, geographic location, interests, philosophy and life experience. You look at things in a way no one else can, and don’t ever forget that.
  2. Establish credibility in a subject or two. That’s different from being an expert. If you own a Doberman, that gives you the credibility to write about Dobermans. If you’re a twin, that qualifies you (at least in the mind of most editors) to write about twins. Start there, and expert status can follow.
  3. Writing is not a magical gift. It’s a skill like any other, and you get better by repetition. Just as you wouldn’t expect to break par the first time you pick up a golf club, writing may be more of a struggle than fun at first. Trust me: you’ll get it, eventually.
  4. Having said that, remember that whether you’re writing an article, a press release, or a novel, how you present the story is more important than your ability to dance with words. A good story will sell itself; a bad story, no matter how incandescent the prose, probably will not.
  5. Create a body of work. In the bad old days, that meant cranking out sweat-shop prose for non-paying publications or content mills to collect “clips.” Now, you can simply start a blog. Editors want to see something.
  6. Understand that you have something to offer. Magazines and Web sites need “content” (however vague that term may be) to survive, so don’t be apologetic in your query letters. The more you appear to respect yourself, the better chance an editor will respect you and consider your offering to be of possible worth. p.s. They don’t care that you’ve always wanted to write for them.
  7. Don’t send completed articles to editors. The people who put out magazines and Web sites like to dictate the length, tone, and sometimes even point of view of an article. If you dump a completed piece of work on them, chances are it won’t mesh with what the editor has in mind (hence: “This is not what we need at this particular time.”). Give them enough of the idea to hook them, then say why you’re a good person to write that article and how you plan to go about it. It’s not nuclear physics.
  8. Excise the word “rejection” from your vocabulary. If someone doesn’t want what you’re offering, they’re simply making a choice among numerous alternatives. You do that yourself every day when you shop or turn on your TV. Don’t take it personally.
  9. Don’t give up. My proudest moment as a freelancer has not been my biggest check or my largest exposure; it was an article I sold on the seventh try. Keep working it.
  10. Don’t try to work in a vacuum. Communicate with other writers. Find a partner for reciprocal editing and comments.  The great thing about freelance writing is the personal space. The hardest thing about freelance writing is the personal space.

Darryl Laurant is the founder of the Writer’s Bridge, a connection between editors and writers. Members receive ideas, where to market them, help with queries, and more.

How to Use Best-selling Authors as Mentors

by Victory Crayne

As a fiction writer I have often wished I could get a best-selling author to be a mentor for me. Then one day it dawned upon me that I had dozens of best-selling authors almost within arm’s reach—on my bookcase.

Oh, I didn’t have moment-by-moment instructions from those mentors, but I had their finished products as living examples.

Now, you have to know that I’ve been a professional editor of fiction novels for about six years, and during that time I have acquired a lot of knowledge on the craft of writing fiction. I know the vocabulary of the industry—tension, show versus tell, emotion, pace, characterization, description of setting, description of body language, surprise, etc.

So I began a deliberate study of best-selling authors in my chosen genres. I asked myself: “What did the author do very well that I have not done as well yet?” When I finished a novel, I tried to identify a skill that writer had exhibited that was better than my own.

Many times as I read a novel I felt I was peering over the shoulder of the author as he or she was writing it. I could tell why the author was doing a certain thing. For example, I could see why a writer ended a chapter with a so-called end of chapter book, and when it was overdone.

I noticed that I kept coming back to the same authors, even if I didn’t know the stories in advance. Why? Because the author had been consistent in delivering on the promise of a good read, and very importantly, the author had a writing style or voice that was very comfortable and entertaining for me.

Many of my clients were beginning writers and very few had an author’s voice yet. Best-selling novelists, on the other hand, almost always have a distinctive voice. As I settled into reading one of my favorite novelists, I quickly got into that author’s voice as if I were putting on comfortable clothing.

My main writing goal is to become a best-selling novelist myself, and I have many bookshelves of mentors to guide me.

Victory has gained a reputation as an expert for her articles on writing fiction, including How to Critique Fiction. She is a ghostwriter and editor. Writing classes use her articles as teaching aids. She founded and is the current president of the critique group  Web:   E-mail: 

SPAWN as a Mentor?

From Helen Gallagher: SPAWN membership? It feels more like a partnership to me. I’m kept informed, challenged to compete, and inspired by the work of my colleagues. The teleseminars and the monthly newsletter Market Update are real assets for every writer.

From Mari Barnes: SPAWN is an invaluable resource. Knowledgeable members know SOMETHING about EVERYTHING and are always willing to share! Author of Parting River Jordan, Flying Turtle Publishing

Looking for Gifts for Writers?

Here are suggestions for your favorite writer: access to the archives and Market Update with the latest news on writing and art the bridge between editors and writers classes to get you moving by membership only e-publisher for fiction and non-fiction. The best writers are also readers.


Renegade Writer by Linda Formichelli and Diana Burrell—how to break the rules and still get published

The Renegade Writer’s Query Letters that Rock by Diana Burrell and Linda Formichelli—sample queries that worked

The Well-Fed Writer by Peter Bowman—there are all kinds of writing

The Fine Print of Self-Publishing, Fourth Edition – Everything You Need to Know About the Costs, Contracts, and Process of Self-Publishing by Mark Levine—which publishers to trust and who to avoid

The Right Way to Write, Publish and Sell Your Book by Patricia L. Fry—your book, beginning to end.

Promote Your Book, Over 250 Proven, Low-Cost Tips and Techniques for the Enterprising Author, by Patricia Fry

Publishize: How to Quickly and Affordably Self-Publish a Book That Promotes Your Expertise, by Susan C. Daffron

On Writing: 10th Anniversary Edition, A Memoir of the Craft by Steven King

Books: A Memoir by Larry McMurtry

Five Fast Steps to Better Writing: 

Five Fast Steps to Low-Cost Publicity: 

A delightful calendar for cat-loving writers: 

Prose to Go: Tales from a Private List: thirty-four first-person stories from eighteen professional writers, providing examples of the wide variety in the personal essay format, as well as inspiration for other writers. 

Writer’s Market for 2012

The Writer magazine

A gift card for Barnes and Noble will allow a writer to download reference books to a Kindle—much easier to carry around than books.

Catalog of gifts: 

Chicken Soup for the Writer’s Soul

Bird on Bird – Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Ann Lamott

How I Write: Secrets of a Best-Selling Author by Janet Evanovich

Blog Power & Social Media Handbook:

LiveScribe Pen:

TOTAL FundsforWriters: A year’s worth of bi-weekly newsletters, each containing seventy-five contests, grants, markets, publishers, agents and employers seeking writers. $15 for a one-year subscription.


Small notebook, digital camera, flash drive, gift certificate for a coffee shop or office supplies, a good pen, inspiring page-a-day calendar

Journal; books on writing, publishing or editing; small tape recorder for interviewing; list of willing book reviewers; pocket-size business-card holder; pens/highlighters; small box of writing prompts.

A cool pen that adds to the three “see no” monkeys… it’s called Write No Evil—fun and lively design and a good pen, too.

A book holder called Easy-Read from a British company.


The number-one request was the promise of time—“give me time to write with no distractions and no guilt.”

Personal gift certificate for yard work or housework.

A spouse can take the kids on an outing. The gift of a weekend retreat or even one day at a local hotel works, too.

Sponsor or chip in on a writer’s conference like the Self Publishers Online Conference, Bouchercon, Left Coast Crime or the Cat Writer’s conference.

Contests, Events and Opportunities

The Contests, Awards, Events, and Opportunities listings are located on the SPAWN blog. Please use these links to get the latest information
Contests and Awards
Events and Opportunities


SPAWN is a non-profit 501(c)3 organization. SPAWNews advises “caveat emptor” when dealing with venues, contests or promotions unknown to you.
Learn more about SPAWN at the Website

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