SPAWNews Newsletter – December 2012


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From the President

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

In November, big things were happening in my corner of the writing world. My husband finished the first draft of his second novel and I heard a hearty "woo hoo!" from his office. I’d also like to give a BIG congratulations to those of you who participated in NaNaWriMo. Member Raven West, for example, posted in SPAWNDiscuss that she hit her 50,000 words a day early and is now 2/3 of the way through her next novel. Wow!

Although Executive Director Patricia Fry said she didn’t participate "officially" in NaNaWriMo, she is working on her second novel, which is already at 40,000 words. If you’ve been furiously writing or creating, please share your successes in the discussion group. Your efforts inspire all of us!

As we approach the end of the year, I encourage you to look back at all your creative accomplishments. It’s easy to get wrapped up in day-to-day work, but instead of focusing on deadlines and bills for moment, think about what you’ve accomplished this year. Whether it was one painting or 300 blog posts, give yourself a mental pat on the back for sharing your creative vision with the world in 2012. Here’s to more in 2013!

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

Editor’s Note

What happens when you try to promote your work to someone or in front of a group? Do you get all red in the face and tongue-tied? Forget what you were going to say or call the person by the wrong name? We can all think of times when we had more foot-in-mouth than finesse, but promotion is now a large part of every author’s, artist’s, or publisher’s job. This month we’re talking about The Shyness Factor—how to overcome it, work around it, and just deal with it in general.

Writing is often done at home, on a corner of the table, before the family is awake, or after they’re gone for the day. But promotion generally requires contact with others. Your version of small talk might be more geared to small people than small topics. So what do you say to strangers who might be willing to appreciate and even buy your work?

In this month’s SPAWNews, Barbara Florio-Graham lays out a list for the shy to follow—how to dress, practice your talk, walk, sit, and emphasize words or phrases when you are doing the most dreaded of all promotional tasks: public speaking.

Joanna Celeste, an admitted "shy person," gives her report on how she managed to get tips and make contacts at the recent Ventura book fair in spite of her fear.

Sandra Beckwith gives five easy tips on how not to become that person who never stops asking you to buy his/her book (or other product). We’ve all been victims of the obnoxious, constant over- sellers and don’t want to become one of them. Follow her tips to promote safely and sensibly.

And for your holiday over-indulgence, there are three heaping helpings of book reviews. All three books are by SPAWN members (Bobbie Christmas, Patricia Fry, and Bill Benitez) and the books are available just in time for holiday shopping. This holiday season, skip the big-box stores and shop the small merchant, the one who is there to answer questions, to help with a rush order, or to make suggestions. After all, as a writer, small publisher, or artist, you’re a self-employed small business person yourself. We need to support and promote each other so we can all succeed.

 — Sandy, Editor, SPAWNews,

SPAWN Market Update

by Patricia Fry

The holiday issue of the SPAWN Market Update provides many gifts for every member, from writing and blogging jobs galore, to ten new publishers seeking manuscripts, to directories of e-book conversion services and booksellers. Whether you write scripts, poetry, fiction, or nonfiction, articles/stories or books, the opportunities are plentiful. Do you have a manuscript you’d like to publish as an e-book or a print book, a collection of poetry or stories you want published, or a book you are promoting? This issue of the SPAWN Market Update has the information and resources you need. Are you looking for paying writing work? Are you an immigrant with a story to tell? Do you have a screenplay to pitch? This issue just might help you make the right connection.

You have yet to join SPAWN and receive all of the benefits. Join this month by going to and click on Join/Renew.

Ask the Book Doctor:

About Commas, Copyrights, E-books, E-zines, and Release Forms

By Bobbie Christmas

Q: I have been perusing your Purge Your Prose of Problems editors’ desk reference book, and I see in the “To/too” section that you did not place a comma before “too” in the example: “He’s coming along too.” Are writers no longer required to place a comma before “too” when it implies inclusion? It is hard to keep up with all these changes, so I am extremely grateful to have your manual.

A: The Chicago Manual of Style, preferred by book publishers, recommends reducing the level of punctuation but using it to avoid confusion. Leaving out the comma in the example (He’s coming along too.) does not change or confuse the meaning, so the commas is not required.

Q: I have a couple of questions about e-books, as I’ve had two responses to queries from e-book publishers.

1. Should my manuscript be copyrighted before I send the whole thing to anyone?

2. If I e-publish a book, is it okay to continue sending out queries to other publishers and agents to get the book published traditionally?

A: First let me address your statement that you’ve had responses to queries to e-book publishers. Many e-book publishers will take on almost any book at all, because it costs them next to nothing to put an ad on their websites and allow people to download an electronic version you supply. It’s still self-publishing, so be careful and know what you want, before you go into any agreement with an e-book publisher. I made sure my e-book publisher would allow me to use more than its website to sell my e-book, for example. May I add that I sold many, many more copies of my e-book through my own website than the alleged publisher did, so I learned a lesson in the process; I didn’t need the publisher.

As to the issue of copyrights, you own the rights to the work simply for having written it, according to copyright law. You may choose to register the copyright officially, but you don’t have to, and you shouldn’t register a manuscript that is subject to change. You can simply put a statement on the e-book that says, “Contents copyright 2012, (your name),” or you can use the copyright symbol, the date, and your name. If you send a manuscript to an agent or publisher, do not put a copyright statement or mark on it, because it shows a lack of professionalism. A traditional publisher will register the copyright in your name right before the book goes to press, after all changes are made.

Before you self-publish, however, and after the manuscript is in its final form, you can register the copyright at that time. For all the information you need to register your copyright—which should not be done until the book is about to go to press—go to the following website:

As for continuing to send a manuscript to agents and publishers after a book has been published as an e-book, you can do so, but be forewarned. You must state in your query or cover letter that the book has been published as an e-book. Many publishers prefer to buy first rights, which are no longer available if a book has been published in any form, including electronically. For that reason, I advise against publishing a book as an e-book, if you have any hopes of selling it to a traditional publisher.

Q: What’s the difference between an e-zine and a newsletter?

A: As I see it, all e-zines could also be called newsletters, but not all newsletters can be called e-zines. An e-zine is always electronic, whereas a newsletter can be printed and mailed traditionally or it can be electronic. The content does not make the difference, only the method of distribution.

I use the two terms interchangeably for my e-zine, The Writers Network News, because it is a newsletter sent electronically. I call The Writers Network News an e-zine at times and a newsletter at other times, to avoid word repetition.

Q: I am collecting stories from a number of people. Where can I find a legal liability release form so that I eliminate any future lawsuits?

A: You might try this website. It says it offers hundreds of free legal forms:

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 Read more "Ask the Book Doctor" questions and answers at

Two Book Reviews

by Patricia Fry

Purge Your Prose of Problems, A Book Doctor’s Desk Reference by Bobbie Christmas
Zebra Communications (Fifth Edition 2011) Spiral bound paperback—8.5 x 11, 153 pages—$29.95  Also available in PDF

You all know Bobbie Christmas as the Book Doctor for SPAWNews. About this nifty book, she says, “With this book you can edit your own book and save thousands of dollars or edit other books and make thousands of dollars.” And she attempts to help you do just that. This book features creative writing tips, as well as tips on grammar, punctuation, and formatting of books, and it’s all based on what most book publishers and editors use—the Chicago Manual of Style.

Christmas presents the material in over 600 short bits and bites in A-to-Z order. You can look in the table of contents for Adverbs (-ly words), Voice (creative writing tips), or Your/You’re, for example, and find one or more paragraphs explaining what these are and how to (and how not to) use them in your writing.

Have you ever wondered which is correct—acknowledgement or acknowledgment? What about toward or towards? Should you use alternative or alternate, although or though, alright or all right and the biggie—affect or effect? Christmas spells it all out for you in clear, concise language. Not only does this author help you with your grammar and punctuation, she offers tips and techniques for better writing. What do you know about using dialogue in your story, for example? Christmas breaks up this topic into 17 sections, with plenty of examples. I’m writing my first novel and I’m going to be referring to this book often. It’s kind of a shortcut to using the massive (and expensive) Chicago Manual of Style.

As Christmas says, if you want to edit your own manuscript as precisely as possible before turning it over to an editor, or if you are an editor, this desk reference is an incredible resource.


Self-Publishing: Writing a Book and Publishing Books and e-Books for Yourself and Others by A. William Benitez, Positive Imaging, LLC (2012)  ISBN: 0984248099, Paperback 8.5 x 11, 195 pages $19.95

Here’s a nice, hefty workbook by SPAWN member Bill Benitez, based entirely on his first-hand experiences with the process of self-publishing. He has covered the topic from top to bottom, side to side and, seemingly, every angle.

He starts out by urging authors to consider why they are writing this book. He takes the new author through the various publishing options and then he gets down to business helping the author to choose the best title for his book, consider how he will promote this particular book, and he even goes into how to discipline yourself to write. While most authors hand their projects over to someone trained in doing page layout and design, Benitez provides lessons in how to do this yourself. He also has a great chapter on editing software.

In fact, information about software and computer technology are a strong aspect of this book. Not only does the author tell you how to achieve certain tasks, but he shows you how to use computer images from such programs as PaperRater, Page Plus X4, and WritePlus.

Chapter 12 covers free options for authors who want to prepare their own manuscript for the printer. He then leads the writer who wants to publish his or her own book down the necessary path to obtain an ISBN, publish with CreateSpace (which many authors do quite successfully) and publish an e-book. He includes many graphics to guide you through these chapters.

I was surprised to see that he has a large chapter on how to create your own book cover. The visuals throughout this section look as though they would be helpful. Speaking of visuals, most professionals advise self-publishing authors to set up their own website and Benitez has a chapter to help you do that.

Another surprise in this book is the chapter on how to set up your own publishing services company. Now that is truly covering the gamut.

If you are considering self-publishing—that is, publishing your book through your own publishing company—definitely consider adding this book to your library. Because I write books for authors, I read books for authors, and I have never seen one that takes this particular tack. It’s a must have for anyone who wants to do it all him or herself.

A Third Book Review!

by Joanna Celeste

Talk Up Your Book: How to Sell Your Book through Public Speaking, Interviews, Signings, Festivals, Conferences and More by Patricia Fry, Allworth Press (2012), ISBN: 9781581159226, Paperback—6 x 9, 320 pages $14.81 

We tend to think of public speaking as that thing Toastmasters do, limited to events involving crowds and microphones.

It turns out speaking is a dynamic activity that can be embraced by everyone. Patricia Fry writes: “I suggest to authors that they look at every experience as an opportunity and at every opportunity as exposure for their books.” She shares a panoply of author engagements that anyone, even the shyest, can use to foster meaningful experiences and successful exposure for projects.

Talk Up Your Book runs the gamut, from how to build a platform as a speaker to launching a multi-faceted campaign involving speaking, presentations, book-signings, holding workshops, attending book festivals, utilizing traditional and social media, and even getting paid to speak about your own work.

The remarkable thing is how Fry manages to break down this overwhelming sea of options into bite-size pieces that can be done by the average person. The chapters are short and mostly self-contained.

Fry reminds authors to write for and speak to our people—fellow gardeners, romance enthusiasts, cat-lovers. Our audience is our friend because the members share our interest. How could we be afraid to talk to our friends?

If the prospect of speaking is still scary, Fry offers a comprehensive chapter on Viable Virtual Speaking Opps and Communication Counts: Talk About Your Book Everywhere You Go, which includes a section on utilizing small talk. Fry also gives advice on doing radio interviews, where the host is the only person actually seen. She then shows the way to success through public speaking: how to speak, how to set up, and how to talk up a project. There’s also a comprehensive resource section on public speaking.

Fry is refreshingly realistic when she gives examples about contacts made during book signings, book festivals and such. And she shares tales of book-launch parties. While much of the information, resources, guidance and anecdotes in this book come from Patricia, she also interviewed two dozen authors, publicists, social media experts and others for this book. So readers receive benefit of several professionals and experts.

This is a must have book for anyone who is involved in or thinking about adding public speaking, conferences, signings and so forth to their book marketing repertoire.

The Shy Author’s Guide to Book Promotion

by Sandra Beckwith

Do you wish book promotion would just go away? After all, you’re a writer, not a marketer, right?

Getting “out there” and talking about your book can be downright painful for shy people or those who prefer to write, not talk. Then there are those who aren’t shy, but aren’t comfortable in situations where they’re the center of attention. Still others are afraid they will be labeled as “shameless self-promoters.” Can you blame them? We’ve all seen shameless promoters…and they’re not attractive.

How do you overcome your reluctance to promote your book, regardless of your reason? Here are the five “I can’t do this” excuses that I hear most often and a few strategies for overcoming them:

1. Promoting my book makes me feel self-conscious. I don’t like calling attention to myself.

Flip your perspective. You’re not talking about or calling attention to yourself; you’re calling attention to your book. You wrote that book to educate, entertain, or inform a certain audience. You won’t be able to do that if they don’t know about it. You’re doing them a favor by helping them to see the value in your book. Shift your focus from yourself to your book and the people who will benefit from reading your book; you’ll relax and maybe even enjoy that media interview.

2. I don’t like talking. I’d rather be writing.

Focus on the many promotional opportunities that don’t require voice-to-voice interviews or conversations:

  • Do a “Twitter chat.” (
  • Go on a virtual book tour. (
  • Post information and updates on your Facebook page.
  • Write and share articles on article-syndication sites.
  • Blog regularly—and be a guest blogger, too.
  • Send out tip sheets. (
  • Ask to do media interviews by e-mail.

3. I see what others do and it makes me uncomfortable.

Do the opposite. For example, did you receive a book announcement e-mail ( that you thought was too self-serving, overly-aggressive, or even pointless? Write yours in a way that’s classy, helpful, and informative. Maybe you don’t like how your author friend shares a purchase link to his book on the Facebook timeline of new friends as soon as they accept his friend requests. Create a fan page for your book and use it to share helpful information instead of posting promotional messages.

4. I don’t know where to start.

Start by making time to learn. I’m big on starting with a plan, but before you can write one, you need to know more about your options. Write down your goals for your book, then educate yourself about book marketing, publicity, and promotion:

With your research done, decide which tactics will help you reach your goals. Select one tactic or tool that seems like the best fit for your skills and personality, and research it to learn how to do it. When you’ve mastered and implemented it, select another.

5. I don’t have time.

  • Take the time you used to spend writing the book and reassign it to book promotion.
  • Get up an hour early two days a week.
  • Work on it after the kids have gone to bed.
  • Skip lunch to make things happen.

It’s hard to promote a book when the related activities don’t come easily or intuitively, but doing something in your own way is much, much better than doing nothing. Give it a try—I’m cheering you on!

Sandra Beckwith was a national award-winning publicist and now teaches authors how to promote and publicize their books. Get free tips and subscribe to her complimentary Build Book Buzz e-zine at

Are You Too Shy to Succeed?

by Barbara Florio Graham

Writers are, by nature, independent and solitary. Some are sociable and meet friends frequently to exchange ideas and banter. However, speaking in front of an audience is not usually something we relish.

Speaking in public is at the top of most human fears, and many writers dread an invitation to give a reading or presentation.

Others are eager to accept, but they probably shouldn’t! How many of us have squirmed in embarrassment as we watched a respected author mumble, stumble, shift, and sway in front of a microphone?

Even celebrities often appear uncomfortable in these situations, and are poorly prepared. Actor Matthew Broderick, for example, an award-winner for both stage and screen appearances, and the husband of Sarah Jessica Parker, appeared recently on a TV talk show wearing white socks with a dark suit. Did nobody tell him the lower half of his body would be visible during the interview? I don’t know about other viewers, but I was so distracted by the white socks that I didn’t hear a thing he said.

Yes, how you dress is crucial. If you want to be taken seriously, you have to look like the professional you are.

That means no t-shirts or jeans. Women have to be careful about skirts that are too short to sit comfortably, men need to check the bottoms of their shoes (which are much more visible when they’re sitting above the audience) and wear dark socks that stay up.

The ridiculous height of women’s heels is a new hazard to avoid. You need to wear shoes that are comfortable so you can mount stairs or walk across the platform without stumbling, and stand without shifting from one aching foot to the other.

Posture is important because it affects not only your appearance, but your voice. Practice standing and sitting up straight. When you lift your chest away from your waist and square your shoulders, it gives your lungs room to take deep breaths and produce a strong voice.

When your chin sinks into your chest, your throat collapses. For this reason, you need to keep anything you’re reading up high enough so that you can look up, not down to your lap.

Here are four tips I give to anyone who comes to me for coaching before a speech or other presentation:

1. PREPARE. Try on the clothing you plan to wear, walk around the house and up stairs in those shoes, check your appearance in a three-way mirror, both standing and sitting. Select what you plan to read or say, then print everything in a large font and paste onto 4×6 cards.

2. REVISE. Writing for print and writing for the ear are different. You may have to amend your printed material to shorten sentences and eliminate extra words or even entire paragraphs so that you end up with an engaging excerpt that is clear and pleasing to the listener. Revise speeches or other presentations the same way.

3. FORMAT. Broadcasters print their scripts with one short phrase per line. Remove all the commas, then use the end of the line to show you where to pause, inserting parentheses instead of commas when you want to lower your voice to indicate an “aside.” Keep paragraphs together, even if it means one card contains just a few sentences. Break other paragraphs logically on two cards.

Before you tape your script onto cards, read it aloud so you can discover any problems. These may include overly long sentences or difficult words. Don’t hesitate to change these words to simpler ones. It’s a wise idea to rewrite anything that is hard to pronounce. Don’t give yourself tongue-twisters!

Mark up your script to remind you how to pronounce key words or names you don’t want to change. Underline phrases you want to emphasize with your voice. Use an old actor’s trick and flag important words or phrases by inserting a dash on either side. This will remind you to pause slightly before saying that word or phrase, a sure way to draw audience attention.

4. REHEARSE. Your first rehearsal needs to be with a tape recorder. Listen to the tape not for content, but for voice level and diction. Two mistakes non-professionals make are to drop their voice at the end of a sentence and to drop final consonants. These can be corrected with practice.

Be careful about poor diction. Make sure you don’t pronounce “picture” as “pitcher,” or “probably” as “probally.” Dropping final consonants is very common. Listen for how frequently you hear someone say “ply” for “plight,” “blah” for “blob,” “ray” for “rake.” Practice over-emphasizing consonants at first, to get in the habit of putting your tongue in the proper position.

If you can enlist a friend to videotape a rehearsal, that will show you exactly what needs to be corrected. Watch the tape once with the sound off, paying attention just to body language and any distracting habits. One advantage of having cards in your hands is that you’re less likely to fiddle with your hair or your clothing. If you’ll be speaking without a podium, you need to tape yourself sitting or standing in front of the camera.

Ask your friend to give you an honest critique, so you can correct any problems. You can’t rehearse too much. Go over those cards so many times that you have pretty much memorized every phrase.

This is your big chance to make a great impression. Don’t blow it.

Barbara Florio Graham is the author of Five Fast Steps to Better Writing, Five Fast Steps to Low-Cost Publicity, and Mewsings/Musings, co-authored with her celebrity cat, Simon Teakettle. Their popular website is

Overcoming Shyness to Get What You Want (Need)

by by Joanna Celeste

At the Ventura Writers Weekend, I made eight major contacts. Everything I’d wanted, I achieved and then some—sometimes unexpected gifts are revealed afterward. The week after the conference, three of my pieces were accepted for publication.

I am a painfully shy person. Rather than fight it, I found another instinct that is stronger and also woven into the fiber of my being—to act as a team member and assist others. 

I was raised by a single mother who home-schooled me through middle and high school. She never failed to keep her promises, even when coming through was difficult. She instilled in me the strength to make things work. The women in my family have a tradition of being strong. Whenever I doubt myself, I feel them close, encouraging me forward. 

Writing allows me to connect with and help people, so taking my writing to a professional level became important.

When I discovered the need for a platform, the prospect seemed impossible. I’m claustrophobic in crowds, so how could I build a platform? I looked for answers at the Ventura Writers Weekend. In summary, before the event,

  • I completed both a poetry and a short story collection and had them professionally bound, ready to market. I built confidence in myself as a writer.
  • I researched the event and the speakers. I knew who they were and how I wanted to engage them. This gave me a hook when I met them. The genuine interest I had in the individuals superseded my apprehension.
  • I wrote down my goals. I built confidence that I could achieve them by wearing business outfits and being well-prepared for everything in advance.
  • During the event, I helped others. When all else failed and the anxiety came on, I found someone to connect with. My instinct to serve kicked in and I sought what people lacked. I promoted how I could be a potential team member to support them.

If someone is trapped under a car, we can find the strength to remove that impossible weight. I think by finding passion in our work, we can find the way to lift the shyness from ourselves and succeed in sharing our work with others.

Joanna Celeste is an author, editor, and illustrator. Her monthly newsletter covers tips on building frugal platforms in social media and in real life.

Member News

Joanna Celeste launched her website and will publish her poetry collection Notes at Midnight in early December.


Sandra Murphy’s short story, an age 60+ romance, The Obituary Rule, is now available through Untreed Reads and Also look for Sweet Tea and Deviled Eggs, Bananas Foster and Superstition, short stories with a twist.


Bobbi Christmas’s new project: Wisdom of Woodstock Anthology—Call for entries. Were you living at the time the world came together in peace, love, and harmony for the infamous Woodstock concert? If so, you have spent enough years on earth to have learned some valuable lessons and experienced unique, pleasant, or even unpleasant events that resulted in wisdom. It is time to share that wisdom in the Wisdom of Woodstock anthology. We are looking for original personal-experience essays that reveal an incident that resulted in wisdom, revelation, or comfort. For details, see Sponsor and publisher: Zebra Communications  230 Deerchase Drive, Woodstock, GA 30188


Charlotte Ostermann  Check out her book and blog, inspired by a writers conference with the Catholic Writers Guild.

Dan Poynter’s Global E-book Awards is open for submissions. Being accepted into nomination for the Global E-book Awards is a stepping-stone to more publicity. Publicity projects multiply your investment and maximize publicity for your e-book. E-books will benefit from this fabulous publicity system for just $79 per e-book, per category.
Accepting Entries: Now, from e-book authors and publishers. Eligibility: E-book released to the public anytime in 2011, 2012, or 2013. Entry Deadline: April 30, 2013 (midnight Pacific Time). Winners Announcement: August 19, 2013

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. SPAWNews was proofread by Bonnie Myhrum, Professional Secretary, LLC. 734-455-098
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