SPAWNews Newsletter – July 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!

In my neck of the woods, the sun has finally come out. After April, May, and June showers, we may yet have some flowers. We’ll see. I have a vegetable garden and I’m starting to wonder if my long-suffering plants have any chance of producing this year. Gardening requires faith that if you plant seeds and tend your veggie plants well, eventually, you’ll end up with food.

Like gardening, networking can be frustrating sometimes. It feels like you’re doing the “right” things, yet nothing happens. Until it does. Networking is the theme of this issue of SPAWNews and even though it can take a while, armed with the many ideas in this issue, you’re sure to see results. And probably long before I see ripe tomatoes on my plants!

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

July Teleseminar Announcement!

Teleseminar for SPAWN Members

Who: Gene Perret
When: July 12, 2011, 1 pm (Pacific)
How: Members will receive an email with call-in details
Title: Write Your Book Now

Editor’s Note

The theme of this month’s newsletter is networking—working together to achieve more as a whole than we can alone. As Susan RoAne, Supreme Networker of the Known Universe, (a title I bestowed on her) says, building relationships leads to the “I know a guy who knows a guy” connection you’re looking for. It’s not a numbers game; it’s looking beyond what is on the surface. Take her schmooze quiz to find out if you’re a world-class schmoozer at, and then read her article below to improve your score.

Here’s how my month went, due to networking. Connect the dots!

  • I wrote an article on first-aid classes for pets,
  • mentioned it to a woman who has a cat Web site,
  • ended up writing thirteen articles for her,
  • and made a connection with Carole Nelson Douglas, who writes the Midnight Louie mystery series.

A woman who responded to a request for information about blind cats (one of the thirteen articles mentioned above) has a site that lists where to go for high tea (—and I sell tea online. Another connection and another idea for an article.

Member Judith Johnson participated in the SPAWN booth at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books. Judith sold a dozen of her children’s book about a dog who encourages kids to eat vegetables. In my parallel universe:

  • An editor for a magazine I’d not heard of contacted my pet editor to ask about reprinting an article I’d written about animal-friendly landscaping.
  • I wrote an original article for her—fewer words, more money.
  • I got to reconnect with a PR woman as a source. She mentioned her newest client—a vegan-restaurant owner (Veggie Grill in Los Angeles). I had to mention Judith’s book! (

That mention led to a possible book signing for Judith at the six vegan restaurants. She will also make an appearance at an art gallery the PR woman represents. They donate the proceeds of all sales to environmental groups. (

I offered to write a book review on for Judith, so she sent me a copy of the book.

  • I took the book with me to writers’ group and showed it to Cindy, the acquisitions person for audio/visual at the St. Louis County Library system.
  • She knows the woman who buys books for all the branches. Judith just sold twenty more books.

A word here, a word there—it all adds up to networking.

Be sure to read Helen Gallagher’s article on networking worldwide. Bonnie Myhrum takes a break from her usual word usage column this month to talk about BNI, the networking group she belongs to. Sandra Beckwith networks via Twitter. Hope Clark gives us a wealth of information about how to find new markets and experts, and how to receive press releases—a great source for ideas. Our dedicated Book Doctor, Bobbie Christmas, also explains how to network in order to land a writing job. This is networking at its best, folks!

What will you do this month to network, find markets, and write/publish/create?

— Sandy, Editor, SPAWNews,

SPAWN Market Update

by Patricia Fry

This month’s SPAWN Market Update focuses on the essay market. If you love to write opinion pieces, personal experience articles and essays, you’ll want to study the July issue. We’ve included over forty markets for authors and freelance writers.

We also introduce new concepts, Web sites, and publishers for authors and provide some serious resources and information for self-publishers and pay-to-publish authors. Authors with books to promote will discover several leads that could pay off in book sales. If you’re an artist or photographer, you won’t want to miss the great opportunities we list in this issue, including some major job boards. We have also posted some amazing resources for those who need help with social media (including blogging), working with your book designer, and more. This issue of the Market Update is brief compared to most, but it is fully packed with the information and resources you need. This is one of those times when, if you read it and follow some of the leads, you could earn back (or save) several times the amount of your SPAWN membership. Read the SPAWN Market Update every month, act on those opportunities that are right for your project, and you could be hundreds or thousands of dollars ahead by your membership-renewal date.

We provide the opportunities. All you have to do is act on them. Join SPAWN today, get involved and watch your freelance writing or publishing business soar.

Conversation is the KEY to the Kingdom

by Susan RoAne

When people tell me that they are not “good at schmoozing” either in their professional or personal life, it can be an explanation or an excuse and sometimes both. First off, to schmooze is to engage in easygoing conversation that is engaging and without an objective. It’s easygoing because there is no goal, and that allows for the “getting-to-know-you” exchanges that establish common bonds (we enjoy the same sports, movies, authors, restaurants, or find out we went to the same school, camp, training seminar…you get the drift). Whether it’s business or social, engaged conversation is the vehicle that connects us to others and provides an opportunity to get to know them. Whether we are attending a networking event so that we can garner (and give) referrals, make contacts as part of a job-search strategy, or build visibility in a segment of our various communities, it won’t work if we are not talking to others. Beyond “Hello, my name is Chris,” we should be prepared to schmooze and carry on interesting and interested conversations. But many people still don’t get it. That’s why I wrote What Do I Say Next?

It’s easier to schmooze if you are well read and well informed, and there are numerous opportunities to do so both online and off.

  • Read a newspaper and an industry magazine. Check blogs in your area of interest. Visit relevant Web sites.
  • Prepare a seven- to nine-second self introduction.
  • LISTEN, listen, listen.

When we are conversing with people, they will usually tell us what they want to talk about. All we have to do is pay attention to what they’re saying instead of planning our next comment as they speak.

The key to the kingdom is conversation that opens doors to infinite possibilities!

Susan RoAne is an in-demand keynote speaker and best-selling author of How to Work a Room®, The Secrets of Savvy Networking, What Do I Say Next, and How to Create Your Own Luck et al. Read more at

Ask the Book Doctor:

About Networking—Getting a Job in the Publishing Industry and Selling Freelance Articles

By Bobbie Christmas

Q: I’ve been looking for a more creative job for two years without any breakthroughs. I don’t have any real work experience in the way of working for magazines, newspapers, or ad agencies, plus I am not a college graduate. Nonetheless, my desire remains strong. I hope to find a company willing to hire me for on-the-job training. I want to move into a communications department (creating collateral materials, like brochures), creative department (print or Web), a publications company, a magazine, or any job that will position me to learn more about writing and the publishing business.

If you have any appropriate contacts in my area, I would deeply appreciate an introduction or icebreaker.

A: How wise of you to ask for introductions! Networking is the number-one way to get a good job, because you won’t be competing against hundreds of applicants for an advertised job.

Besides networking and asking for introductions, here are a few other tips for landing a position as a writer, even without much experience. Whenever I was in the position to hire writers, I always required a portfolio that contained at the very least two or three samples of the applicant’s writing. Writers had to prove to me that they had basic skills before I hired them, after which I was willing to add on-the-job training to refine their skills.

If it seems unfair that people can’t get jobs as writers until they have already written something, please understand my point of view. Many people want to become writers, but I needed people who had at least a little innate ability. Until those folks actually wrote something, I could not evaluate their potential. Read on, and I’ll tell you more about how to create a portfolio, even if you have never been published.

Being able to write is one thing; being willing to follow through is another, so when I was a news editor, I used a trick to get rid of wannabes. I kept a list of potential articles that were not time sensitive. When visitors without portfolios claimed they wanted to be writers, I assigned the article at the top of the list. I often assigned the same article fifteen times before one of the wannabes actually followed through and brought me a written article. As a result, everyone left my office happy to have an assignment, but few people ever darkened my door again. Most folks could not follow through. If I had hired them, they would have continued to disappoint me. The few people who returned with an article got paid assignments, and I later hired a few for full-time positions.

How can you get a portfolio if you’ve never been hired as a writer? Volunteer as a writer for your church or temple bulletin, newsletter, or Web site. Volunteer to write articles or materials for nonprofit organizations. Even if you aren’t working for an organization, write articles, fundraising letters, information pieces, brochures, and ad copy for an imaginary company. In other words, write! Don’t wait for a job or an assignment. Put those polished pieces in a notebook to give potential employers something they can see and evaluate.

After you have three or four items you have written—especially if they have been published—you have enough to show your capacity and dedication. It’s time to employ your networking skills to get your foot in the door. How do you network? Call every company that has a corporate communications department or other publishing or advertising department. Don’t say you are looking for work. Ask to speak to the head of the department, because you could use a little guidance. When you get the person on the phone, explain that you appreciate his or her knowledge and expertise and would like to come in for five minutes to ask a few quick questions. When you get in for the appointment, again, don’t ask for a job. Instead, explain that you are new in the field and could use that person’s expertise to learn about other companies that hire writers. Ask if the person knows of any jobs available in the area. Have your notepad and pen ready. If that company is hiring, you’re in the right place, but if not, you might very well get a referral that gets your foot in the door for the next company. Networking works!

Q: Do you know of any freelance writing agents? I would like to do more writing but would also like to make some money doing it.

A: I worked with an agency in Charlotte, North Carolina, more than thirty years ago that took commissions for placing projects with freelancers. After about a year, the owner cried on my shoulder, saying she had not realized how hard it would be to make enough money from commissions on freelance projects. She wised up and changed her business into an advertising agency.

Literary agents can make a living from the commissions on book sales, because books can sell for $10,000 and up, and the royalties keep coming in. Magazine articles sell for about $1,000 and down, with no royalties, so agents can’t make a living from the commissions on article sales. To make matters worse, most magazines prefer to work directly with writers, rather than communicating through agents.

As a result, writers must wear many hats. Besides being writers, we must also be business owners, bookkeepers, secretaries, and errand runners. Most of all, we must be marketers who search for and acquire writing assignments through networking, job banks, self-promotion, and many other methods.

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 Fine Print of Self-Publishing (Fourth Edition) by Mark Levine
Bascom Hill Publishing Group (2011)
ISBN: 978-1-935098-55-3
Paperback, 274 pages, $16.95

Many of you know that I’ve been recommending this book to authors since the first edition came out in 2004. It is a must-read for anyone who contemplates signing with a pay-to-publish company.

The new subtitle for the fourth edition says it all: “Everything You Need to Know About the Costs, Contracts and Process of Self-Publishing.” Look for SPAWN president Susan Daffron’s endorsement on the back cover of this edition!

How does this book differ from the first three editions? There are just twenty-four pay-to-publish companies rated and ranked this time. There are five categories of publishers instead of four, ranging from “Outstanding” to the “Worst of the Worst.” As he did in previous editions, Levine explains in detail the positives and negatives of each company.

It’s been my observation that few authors can read a publishing contract and understand it. Levine gives you a leg up when it comes to deciphering the contracts of these twenty-four “self-publishing” companies.

Do you know what the nine qualities of a good pay-to-publish company are? Levine reveals this information in Chapter Five. I’ll give you a hint: a good reputation is high on the list, as is a contract that is fair and straightforward.

It’s difficult for an author who is emotionally attached to his project to always make publishing decisions with a clear head. Levine wrote this book and continues to update it so you’re more apt to make the best choices with regard to your publishing project.

Are you wondering if you have signed with one of the good guys? Are you thinking of going with a particular pay-to-publish company? Here are a few that Levine considers outstanding: BookLocker, Dog Ear Publishing, Infinity Publishing and Xulon Press. I noticed some new kids on the block—some of these are posted in the Outstanding category and some are NOT. Have you heard of CrossBooks, WinePress Publishing or Westbow Press? You’d better read this book before you do business with these or any other pay-to-publish company.

Receive a free e-book copy of the fourth edition of The Fine Print of Self-Publishing when you join SPAWN or renew your membership. Or order your print copy at or any online or downtown bookstore.

How to Network with Twitter

by Sandra Beckwith

Can Twitter networking really have any impact on your writing and publishing activities?

It can if you learn how to use the service effectively. We’ll focus here on some basics that will help make sure Twitter becomes a valuable networking tool for you rather than just another way to procrastinate.

Tip 1: Set goals.

What do you want to accomplish with Twitter? Because I teach authors how to be their own book publicist, my goals are to establish credibility and generate subscribers for my complimentary newsletter, Build Book Buzz ( You might want to build a platform for your next book, generate paying assignments, or connect with people who are influential with your target audience.

Tip 2: Complete that profile.

People won’t consider networking with you if you don’t tell them something about yourself first. Share information that’s relevant to your Twitter goals and include a link to more information—your Web site, blog, or Facebook fan page URL.

Tip 3: Copy what others are doing.

Use the search function to find people you know on Twitter and study how they’re using it. Find a few who have a style that resonates with you, and use them as models. Find a few whose style you don’t like, too, and use them as your “don’t-do-this” models.

Tip 4: Think before you tweet.

Sounds simple, doesn’t it? And yet, so many people don’t do this. There should be a direct connection between your goals and most of your tweets. Get personal, though, as well—it helps people get to know you better. Here’s one of my recent tweets: “Authors: Most ppl prefer smartphones over computer for Web access. What does your site look like on a phone?

Tip 5: Tweet before you follow.

When you follow somebody, they get an e-mail notice, and they probably click on your Twitter name in that message to see what you’re all about. If there are no tweets on your page, they won’t know if you’re worth following back. Get at least twelve representative tweets up there before you start following.

Tip 6: Don’t be narcissistic.

Virtual networking is just like real-life networking: You won’t achieve your goals if all you do is talk about yourself. There’s no place for the hard sell on Twitter. Work to share information, learn, and connect instead.

Tip 7: Show a little link love!

Network strategically. Figure out who you want to connect with, then get their attention by re-tweeting (sharing) their messages and links. Slowly start a conversation by using the “reply” function to comment in a meaningful way on one of their messages. It’s the virtual equivalent of complimenting the keynote speaker at a conference by telling her what you liked most about her speech.

Tip 8: Use keywords.

When tweeting, use words that will help your target audience find and follow you. If you write about coin collecting, for example, use that phrase regularly. It will attract coin collectors who search Twitter (or the Internet) for that phrase, they will follow you, you will network with them, they will bring you more followers, and so on.

Are you on Twitter? Please connect with me! I’m @SandraBeckwith.

MediaBistro’s GalleyCat column recently named SPAWN member Sandra Beckwith’s Twitter feed one of the best for book publicity and marketing ( Discover why at  Learn more and subscribe to her newsletter at

Travel Writing and Networking

by A.T. Allan

One definition of a network is a system of lines or channels that interlace and cross like the fabric of a net. I like that image because it’s so down-to-earth. Travelers and writers are alike in that they seek out ways to expand their nets.

WORD-OF-MOUTH: This approach may seem old-fashioned to some, but it still lies at the core of all effective networking. Savvy travel writers make use of it all the time. For example, when I was backpacking through Asia, the hub for news and gossip was always the local hostel; what better way to find out what places to visit, where to stay, and what to eat (and not eat) than from fellow travelers who had just been there? Hostels also serve as a natural meeting place where international travelers have the opportunity to share experiences, stories, jokes, and friendships—invaluable for any travel writer.

PRINT MEDIA: Books, magazines, and newspapers have traditionally provided a somewhat more formal way for travel writers to share their experiences with the public and with each other. And they provide a way, at least in the past, for travel writers to pay their bills. Networking, here, is all about writers getting to know editors (and vice-versa). Then, if they like your work—which will depend on whether their readership likes their choices—you might land repeat assignments. These are difficult times, with many print media biting the dust. Travel writers have survived by adapting to the realities of digital media.

THE INTERNET: Access to computers has revolutionized how travel writers work. Two great advantages are the speed and convenience of networking with editors, and the ease and comfort of researching a variety of destinations as well as a variety of markets.

For example, one of the oldest and best-known Web sites,, has a free forum that offers interesting tips and pointers from a diverse group of travel writers. Some years ago, while browsing there, I came across a tip from a writer in Greece about a new magazine in Britain looking for submissions. A local newspaper had just rejected my local fishing story (no space, they claimed), so, still upset, I fired the piece off to England, where it was immediately accepted—thus becoming my first international sale!

This series of events could not have happened prior to computers, e-mail, and Web sites.

CONFERENCES AND ORGANIZATIONS: Networking opportunities abound here and are self-explanatory. Google Travel Writing Conference and/or Travel Writing Organization to look over the possibilities. Take an online course. Study a book that offers a good overview and a strong section on resources—such as, for example, Lonely Planet’s Guide to Travel Writing. Join supportive groups such as SPAWN.

SOCIAL NETWORKING: Entire books are available to teach you about these latest developments in networking. But the more I think about it, the more I become convinced that these are just sophisticated forms of Word-of-Mouth. So, now we’ve come full circle.

Happy traveling!

A.T. Allan is a poet, novelist, and travel writer based in East Wenatchee, Washington. He has published his travel stories in a variety of print magazines and e-zines, including,, and

Executive Director’s Note: The June issue of the SPAWN Market Update features travel-writing markets. Check it out in the Market Update archives in the member area of the SPAWN Web site.

Member News

From SPAWN President Susan Daffron: My next book Publicity to the Rescue will be coming out at the end of August (I created the web site, which shows the cover: Also, a few weeks ago, I wrote an article for my Book Consultant web site about Kindle spam.  A reporter from Reuters contacted me after he found the article in a Google search. I ended up quoted in his article. That article was syndicated, so the quote also was in Yahoo News, UK Register, International Business Register and even the Los Angeles Times. A Forbes blogger also picked up the quote from me in a separate article.


From Sandra Beckwith: I’m really happy to share that’s GalleyCat included me in its new list of “Best Book Publicity & Marketing Twitter Feeds” ( Yay! Check it out to see who else is recommended—maybe you’d like to follow some of the people on the list (as I do already).


From Wendy Dager: After eleven long years, three literary agents, two major contests and a lot of four-letter words, my comic mystery I Murdered the PTA is now on in paperback and for Kindle. It was published by Zumaya Publications under its Enigma imprint. Warning: Violence, language, explosions, pleather pants, queasy stomachs, punk band, Goth girl, bad tattoos, and a snarky waitress—other than that, a swell book. To read more about it and to get the links, go to my Web site, I’m eagerly awaiting the arrival of Patricia Fry’s Promote Your Book, which I pre-ordered on Amazon, so I can get some great ideas on how to promote I Murdered the PTA.


From SPAWN Executive Director Patricia Fry: The publication date for Promote Your Book is July 26, according to the publisher, Allworth Press/(Skyhorse). This is a much-expanded, revised edition of my original little Matilija Press bestseller Over 75 Good Ideas for Promoting Your Book. The subtitle for the new book, Promote Your Book, is Over 250 Proven, Low-Cost Tips and Techniques for the Enterprising Author.  And you will, no doubt, recognize the names of some of the experts I quoted in the book—some of them are SPAWN members. This book went from 72 pages to 226. You can pre-order the print or Kindle edition from Amazon at any time.


Note: To have your announcements included in Member News, you must be a paid member of SPAWN. Please email your news to

Social Media Networking – Link Your Publishing Dream to the World

by Carol M. Upton

You are an expert in your field and you have just published or are about to publish your book. Whether you are self-published or trade-published, the networking and marketing are going to be up to you.

But, you have a day job and maybe another book to write. What is networking anyhow, why should you do it, and where will you find the time?

What Is Networking?

Networking means, “to cultivate people who can be helpful to one professionally.” I want to expand this short definition to include “maintaining both personal/professional relationships through supportive communication and the sharing of resources.”

In other words, it’s a lot like the friendships we develop over the course of our life. We lend a neighbor a hand building a fence. We remember birthdays and invite friends for tea. We can easily do the equivalent in the social-media world.

Benefits of Networking

Expanding your contacts simply means that more people are aware of and can recommend your book or you as a speaker in your area of expertise. Your book is your business; the more people who know about you, the more people are likely to use your product or service.

Share your knowledge with others and they share theirs with you. Networking increases your awareness of publishers, agents, editors, groups, and opportunities that you may not know about. I would often rather just be at home writing, but new ideas shared with others lend me fresh energy. Your writing, when you get back to it, will reflect that.

How to Network

There are many places online where networking can take place. They include forums, discussion groups, social networking sites and chat rooms. Examples on LinkedIn include: Books and Writers and Authors, Writers, Editors, Publishers, and Writing Professionals. Both of these groups provide a treasure trove of author information and contacts every single day.

From the comfort of your home you can decide with whom you wish to interact. Locate people whose interests you share. Get to know them and respond to their comments where appropriate. When a topic is raised that you know something about, contribute your expertise, however briefly. You are building relationships and selling without really selling.

Do all of these things before shouting out your book or inviting folks to your fan page.

Two networking articles I found particularly helpful are “How to be More Likeable Online” ( and “How to Build Deeper Relationships with Your Customers Online” (

Most of these strategies, once in place, take only twenty minutes a day to maintain. You may end up having so much fun that you’ll want to spend more time than that!

Definition of “networking” according to

Carol M. Upton markets animal-related authors, workshop facilitators, and healing artists through Dreams Aloud Promotions: Visit her there or on FB at Dreams Aloud Animal Book Buzz:

Explore the Worldwide Nature of Web Marketing

by Helen Gallagher

Too often, we revisit our favorite writing sites and keep seeing the same resources. Remember: the Web is worldwide. For greater exposure, whether you’re seeking freelance work or readers hungry for your books, branch out to international markets.

In addition to the SPAWN Market Update, top ways to find resource for freelance or author marketing worldwide include:

  • Read pertinent global blogs and write guest posts with a link back to your blog.
  • Comment on writer sites/blogs to get noticed. Ask questions; you might strike up a new friendship.
  • Ask to be interviewed. For an incentive, you can offer a free e-book download to one person who answers a question about you after your interview.
  • On international blogs, make note of their “blog roll”—the sites they follow.
  • Market yourself as a speaker on Program hosts seek speakers on every topic you can imagine. Audiences are small but your press materials, bio, and book stay on the site. When your appearance goes live, you’ll also have a permanent audio clip to your site or blog.
  • Get your book reviewed on an international book-review site. Use AcqNet, the international site for librarians. It has a huge list of book review sites here:

Specific markets to expand your visibility might include:


Start by exploring Canadian writing groups and markets open to freelance submissions. Some of our SPAWN members are well-versed in the Canadian writing scene and can probably offer suggestions. Be bold. When I was heading to Vancouver for a visit a few years ago, I emailed a few local writing groups and asked if they had anything going on the week I would be in town. The result was that I was asked to do two wonderful (paid) presentations to large groups and a chance to exchange ideas about publishing. Copies of Release Your Writing that I didn’t sell at the events were sold for cash to a local bookseller before I departed for the trip home. A win-win-win all the way around.


Among my book-publishing clients this year, I’ve steered a few back to their roots. One Chicago man was sent to the Web to scour author blogs in Austria in order to market his memoir, which is filled with photos that recall his surviving World War II as a youth there. For another client, a book about researching a famous painting led to her contact small museum gift shops throughout Europe and ask them to carry her beautiful and well-researched art book. That’s international publicity for quiet self-published Americans.

Keep up with overseas writing/author markets through their strong literary-site presence. I’m most familiar with those in the UK. Some of you may know of great writing treasures in Switzerland, Thailand, and more. If you’re not, start by reading The Guardian book section, and the fabulous London Review of Books,

Especially with e-books we should be selling worldwide, so reach beyond your local visibility and shine your light on the world. Use your social media connections to link to new acquaintances from far away, and stretch your visibility to greater markets.

Helen Gallagher, Computer Clarity, Membership Director,

You Don’t Have to Know the Trade to Write for a Trade Magazine

by C. Hope Clark

Trades are magazines, but for some reason they hold a mystique for many writers who think they don’t have the professional know-how to write for them. True, trades are published with tightly targeted marketing in mind, so the readership consists of like-minded hobbyists or professionals. The ads, articles, news, and profiles are delivered in a private world that can belong to nurses, teachers, real estate agents, landscapers, bead-jewelry makers, law enforcement and even writers.

You won’t find many trades in Barnes & Noble. You find them on desks of subscribers or in waiting rooms. Amazingly enough, you find most of them online at sites that have a scammy texture to them, but face it—trades tend to be a bit commercial in nature. Find them at sites like,,, or simply run a search for “trade magazine” and you’ll find all you need. Subscribe to those that interest you. Many are free.

So how the heck do you write for Snow Business Magazine? Or Commercial Building Products? While it helps to know the business or know someone who knows the business, don’t despair. There are several ways to pitch trades, and the techniques apply to almost any subject matter.

Interview Experts

Regardless the trade, there are experts in the field. Each city has one in any profession. For instance, I interviewed the owner of an irrigation supplier, whose father had started the business designing customized irrigation systems for small farmers. Today he travels the world designing fountains and irrigation systems for commercial entities of all shapes and sizes. I couldn’t design an irrigation system if my life depended on it, but I sat down with him and asked him to explain his history, his successes, and his projections. Ask an expert to elaborate, and your interview practically writes itself. All trades entertain profiles of those who excel in the profession.

Evergreen Subjects

Most trades and hobbies have expos and conventions. Cover the events. Most professionals carry business cards. Do a piece on the best way to use business cards. Organizations in these trades employ people. Talk about how to retain the best employees, or let the difficult go. Cover contingency planning for events like tornadoes and hurricanes, which is a hot subject these days. Think umbrella-like and consider topics that apply to almost anyone. You might be able to take the same topic and alter it slightly for several trades that have nothing in common, so you don’t pitch to competing publications.

Press Release Goldmine

Sign up for daily press releases from or Watch for breaking news about successes, discoveries, inventions, technical advances, designs, business ideas, or changes in the law. For each piece of news, you can take the source, idea, and/or location and find several trades to pitch. The press release provides the contact information, and you can Google anything else. Pitch it fast. If it doesn’t make the publication, it might make their blog.

The great thing about trades is that you can pitch using your connection to the profession, your experience as a writer, or the simple fact you have a great idea. A freelancing friend of mine makes a living writing primarily for trades, using the very habits I mentioned. The competition isn’t nearly as fierce as the glossies, or even the online sites. Add trades to your repertoire and watch your clip file grow.

C. Hope Clark is editor of, chosen by Writer’s Digest for 101 Best Websites for Writers, for eleven years running. She’s published for The Writer, Writer’s Digest, TURF Magazine, American Careers, Next Step Teen, several Chicken Soup books, and more. She also writes suspense fiction, and the first of her Carolina Slade Series will be released in February 2012 from Bell Bridge Books.

Book Design and Networking

by Teri Rider

I am a book designer and heard about SPAWN through another publishing group I belong to here in the San Diego area. It sounded like a good fit for me because I am also an illustrator. Recently, I’ve had some very nice jobs designing and illustrating books, which led me to attend the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books this past March to launch my latest creation, Angus MacDream and the Roktopus Rogue. As I entered the festival, I saw the SPAWN booth and determined that it would be one of the booths to visit on my “must-see” list. It was, in fact, my last stop before I got back on the bus. I spoke to a wonderful representative, gave her my promotional bookmark, and talked about the group and my particular love of books and the design process. I already knew I was going to join, and I did.

Much to my delight, I received a call and e-mail within a few days, one from an author and one from Patricia Fry, who had connected me to the author. The author’s name is Karen Lee Stevens, and through the course of several conversations about her project, we really connected. Once she decided to hire me, we set about planning her book. Because she is in Santa Barbara and I am in San Diego, we decided to meet half-way between us, in Burbank. We had a wonderful meeting and the book is progressing very nicely. It is a perfect fit for me, as it is about animals and their feelings, and I am a animal-lover and care for many pets in my household. We discovered that we have many things in common and are happily developing a lasting relationship based on our common love for animals.

My thanks to SPAWN and Patricia for assisting in making this connection. I look forward to participating in the organization and making many contributions. Look for our book, Animals Have Feelings Too! this summer 2011.

Teri Rider’s love of art began at an early age and evolved into a business she is passionate about. She discovered her love of publishing when she authored, illustrated, and collaborated on more than 100 books during her employment for a special-education publisher. Her graphic design studio offers services to authors as they self-publish their works. Her primary interests are illustrating children’s and young-adults’ books, and book design for all genre. She lives in Vista, California with her husband and menagerie of dogs, cats and exotic birds. Teri Rider and Associates Graphic Design, Branding, Marketing and Book Design, 760-940-1300 Studio  760-458-9393 Cell

Executive Director’s Note: As I recall, I posted Karen Stevens’s request for an illustrator for her children’s book at SPAWNDiscuss and Teri was the only member who responded.


by Bonnie Myhrum

I belong to Business Network International (BNI), the world’s largest business networking, referrals, and word-of-mouth marketing organization ( ). I’ve been a member for over eleven years; I joined a year after I started Professional Secretary, LLC, and it was the best thing I could have done to build my business. For the first few years I got nearly all of my business from BNI. Because I’ve focused more on editing and proofreading in recent years, I don’t get as many referrals as I used to, mostly because there is no publisher or writer in the group; however, I love being part of such a dynamic group of people.

Only one person per profession is allowed, so there is no competition; each of us is a salesperson for everyone else. The meeting agenda is structured; we have forty-five seconds to introduce ourselves and tell the group what sort of referral we’re looking for, then one person each week does a ten-minute presentation about his/her business, then we each have the opportunity to pass referrals and give testimonials for others in the group. My BNI chapter meets every Thursday morning from 7:00 to 8:30 a.m. Because we meet every week of the year, we get to know and develop trust among members. We even have social events occasionally.

I am not an extrovert. I have always disliked mixers and networking events because they require me to make small talk with people I don’t know and may never see again, so I mostly stand still and sweat. As a member of BNI I’ve learned what networking is all about. It is not about making a sale; it is about building relationships. It is not about hunting; it is about farming.

Running around passing out business cards is not networking; when you are networking, you are establishing a relationship with another person, not making a sale. When you meet someone, you should be interested in that person and what s/he does. You may discover that the person knows someone you’d like to know, too—someone who may be a great contact for your business. S/he might live across the street from just the person you’ve wanted to meet.

Networking is not a hub with lines spreading out from the hub; networking is a net, with many lines interconnecting—hence the word NETworking. Networking is WORKING; networking is not net-sitting or net-waitingforsomeonetocometoyou. You are the person responsible for creating your network.

The most important tenet of BNI is that givers gain. Meet a person for coffee or take someone to lunch and get to know him or her by listening rather than talking about or selling yourself. Look for a referral for that person, or do something to help him or her get where s/he wants to go. You may not reap the benefit immediately, but as you continue to network, what you are looking for will come to you.

Member Networking Ideas

From Patricia Fry: Get out of your home office. Mingle with others and talk about what you’re doing. It’s amazing how many times this will result in new article book-promotion ideas or leads on magazines/newsletters and publishers. I am not a technical writer, yet when I attended a business women’s meeting and learned about a local technology magazine that paid fairly well, I began coming up with story ideas. I sold them articles featuring individuals using technology in a variety of interesting ways and ended up selling them an article every month for a couple of years.

Join writers’ and publishing groups and participate. It does you no good to pay the dues and ignore the opportunities.

Talk to other writers at writers’ groups, book festivals, and writers’ conferences.

Read the SPAWN Market Update and SPAWNews every month, because we always include information and leads for freelance writers, authors, artists, and others interested in publishing.

Give and you shall receive. It pays to share your good fortune (good leads) with others.


From Leslie Koreko: Since my book is about local history (Kelleys Island, Ohio) it is difficult to network with potential customers outside the island area. But because the second book in the series was centered around the Civil War years, I thought I’d attend the big Civil War show in Mansfield, Ohio, which is held every year. It was a 150-mile round trip, and I sold only eight books, but it resulted in three speaking gigs and an invitation to write for Heart of Ohio magazine. Not bad for a local book.

Kelleys Island 1810-1861 – The courageous, poignant, and often quirky lives of island pioneers

Kelleys Island 1862-1865 – The Civil War, the Island Soldiers & the Island Queen


Lewis Agrell is a returning SPAWN member. We asked him why he joined and why he came back after a few years’ absence. Here’s what he told us:

“When I first signed up a number of years ago, there was a posting in the Market Update stating that a start-up publisher was looking for freelance graphic designers to create book-cover designs. I applied for the position and was immediately hired. I’ve been working with them for years now.

“I was involved with SPAWN for the full year of my subscription. Membership was for my wife and I—she is a freelance writer/editor. The job that I got was as a contract book-cover designer, which is not a job per se, but they did send me work (and still do) on a regular basis. SPAWN was really instrumental in getting me to narrow my focus more toward book-cover design. Prior to that connection with the publisher, I was all over the place. For the ten years that I worked at a daily newspaper, I considered myself more of an illustrator than a designer. However, when I started my own business, I quickly found out that illustration work was very hit-and-miss. Graphic designers tend to get work on a more regular basis.

The economic crunch has hit the publishing industry pretty hard, so I’m looking for some new opportunities for cover design, and perhaps some illustration work. I was the chief artist for the New York Times’s largest regional newspaper for ten years before I started my own design business. It has been an interesting ride, and I have really loved meeting new people from around the world. I have designed book covers for authors in Australia, South Africa, Spain, England, Mexico, Qatar, Canada, Germany, Sweden, New Zealand, as well as all over the United States. What fun! Now, I spend the vast majority of my time creating book covers. I create an occasional illustration, logo, or brochure design as well.

I enjoy designing book covers because the design process requires a lot of thinking—analysis, symbology, and synthesis. Everything must work together seamlessly—making the author happy, making me happy, and still creating a strong enough “billboard” that will help to sell the book. There is nothing else quite like it. I love it!

I thought it would be prudent to do some more networking. SPAWN is the perfect place to let other people know I exist. If there are authors subscribed to SPAWN who are looking for an experienced book-cover designer, I want to let them know that I am ready, willing, and able to work with them to create their perfect cover.

Lewis Agrell, owner of The Agrell Group,

Executive Director’s Note: I’ve found, as many of our columnists have pointed out, that networking is a two-way street. I tell prospective members that if they come into SPAWN prepared to share and lend a helping hand to others, they’ll discover that their generosity will come back to them many fold. For example, I would urge Lewis to give us an article featuring the most effective techniques in book-cover design, how to choose a cover designer, how to work with a graphic artist, perhaps a piece on choosing a title…

Let’s make this our mantra: Be Generous. This is what makes the process of networking work. Share your helpful ideas and thoughts through articles in SPAWNews and through SPAWNDiscuss. A useful resource shared through SPAWNDiscuss or a helpful article full of tips in SPAWNews will go a long way toward endearing others to you and bringing you the work and the sales you desire. And don’t forget to say “Thank you” when you receive such a gift. Demonstrations of appreciation will most certainly generate even more such gifts.

Those of you who are natural networkers know this to be true.

While I’m at it, I want to thank all of the members and other contributors who gave so generously in this issue of SPAWNews. That’s what networking is all about.

Contests, Events and Opportunities

We have moved the Contests, Awards, Events, and Opportunities listings to the 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. 734-455-0987.

Learn more about SPAWN at the Website

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