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From the President
Welcome to all the new members and subscribers who have discovered SPAWN this month!
This morning, I read a great post on Executive Director Patricia Fry’s Writing and Publishing blog. The post is titled "You Are In Control of Your Publishing Success (or Failure)." In it she says, "…you should consider yourself the CEO of that book."
No matter what your creative pursuit, if you ever want anyone to see or purchase your creations, you must treat your endeavor like a business, not a hobby. If you want to be a professional (read: get paid), you need to act like one.
In fact, I would argue that your behavior is more important than your talent. No matter how perfect your prose or gorgeous your artwork, if you don’t meet deadlines and treat people well, you are unlikely to be successful. Never forget that other people are vying for those dollars too.
Be the writer or artist who answers emails promptly and meets deadlines. Because if you don’t, rest assured, there are plenty of other aspiring writers or artists who will.
This month’s topic is book shepherds. What is that, you say? Well, publishing is changing at warp speed and can get more complicated than the new tax laws. Having your own Sherpa to guide you through the process from idea to finished on-the-shelf product makes a lot of sense. Just what does a book shepherd do? Further into the newsletter you’ll find articles by Nancy Barnes and Barbara Florio Graham to explain what their jobs entail.
The Book Doctor can help too, with a Q&A about binding, formatting, and word count. As she explains, the old 250 words per page originated from the ancient time of typewriters. Computers have changed all that, so layout, font, and word count, estimated by number of pages, can be very different.
Marketing—how do you get people to buy the book? Check out Patricia Fry’s book review of Target Marketing for Authors, How to Find and Captivate Your Book’s Target Audience. A Book Marketing Guide by Jan Bear, who gives a great explanation of who your target audience is and how to find them.
The Market Update is loaded with opportunities this month. It’s in the Members Only area, so if you’re signed up for the free newsletter only, you’re missing out on a lot of information. At $65 a year, SPAWN membership is a bargain—that’s $5.42 a month, $1.25 a week or 18 cents a day. What else can give you so much help with your work for so little money?
— Sandy, Editor, SPAWNews, email@example.com
SPAWN Market Update
by Patricia Fry
This month’s SPAWN Market Update—for members only—features bookselling opportunities through book festivals and conferences. We provide links to a dozen of them, plus seven directories for writing conferences as well as conferences related to the topic of your book. We know how important it is to check submission guidelines before submitting a magazine article, artwork, or a book manuscript, and how difficult it can be to locate those guidelines. We provide links to submission guidelines for 25 magazines, publishers, and literary agents. You’ll also find links to five news sites for your research purposes. Miss one issue of the SPAWN Market Update and you could be missing out on some important links, leads, ideas, and information.
It takes Patricia Fry anywhere from four to twelve hours to compile the SPAWN Market Update for you. You’re doing yourself and your book project a huge disservice if you don’t take eight or ten minutes out of your day once a month to review the contents of the update. You just might discover a link, information, or an idea that seriously impacts your success as an artist, writer or author.
Join this month by going to www.spawn.org and click on Join/Renew.
Los Angeles Times Festival of Books
The deadline to have your book showcased in the print version of the SPAWN Catalog of Members’ Books and Services has passed for this year. Not only that, we have already filled the two SPAWN booths with members who are eager to sell their books. There is a chance that we will have one more space open up for Saturday and Sunday, but so far we haven’t received that memo from the festival organizers. If you live in or will be traveling through the Los Angeles, California, area April 20 and 21 and you’d like the opportunity to sell your book from the SPAWN booth, contact me right away. You must be a member of SPAWN (join for $65/year) and the fee for booth space is $203 per day. Patricia@spawn.org
Ask the Book Doctor:
About Staying Organized with Manuscript Submissions
By Bobbie Christmas
Q: The children’s book I wrote was composed in MS PowerPoint. The text font is Arial and the font size is twenty-four. I drew the illustrations myself, scanned them as separate documents, and copy/pasted them into the PowerPoint page containing the text. I may have violated a style/format rule by doing what I did, so I need to know if I have to reformat the document to meet the criteria for editing. Must I submit my electronic document as a Microsoft Word document? Is Word the same prerequisite for other editors?
A: First, do not panic! Yes, Microsoft Word is the software program I prefer to accept when I edit electronically, and I will not edit in PowerPoint; however, you still have several alternatives. While I cannot speak for other editors and their requirements, I will accept files several ways. First, you can print out the pages and mail them to me. I will edit the hard copy with red ink and mail them back to you. There is a small fee to cover shipping and handling.
Your next alternative is to turn the file into a PDF document, e-mail it, and I will print it out, edit the printed copy with red ink, and return it to you by mail. In this case, there will be a small fee to cover the printout as well as the shipping and handling fee.
You can also copy the text and paste it into a Word file and e-mail it, to have me electronically edit it and return it with no extra charge for shipping and handling, and you can then copy and paste the edited text into the PowerPoint document to replace the unedited text.
In short, it’s always better and easier to write and have an editor edit in Microsoft Word before putting the story into a design program, but all is not lost if you reverse the order. Folks like me are here to teach you the best way to handle each step of the process, and all of us had to learn as we went along.
Q: I just got my edited manuscript back, and on the electronic file, you changed the way some of my apostrophes were turned. Why?
A: Because apostrophes turn only one way. The bottom of an apostrophe always—repeat, always—should point to the left. The apostrophe key, however, is also the same key for an opening single quotation mark. When an apostrophe is typed at the beginning of a word, Microsoft Word mistakes the apostrophe for a single opening quotation mark, which has its tail pointing to the right. Most apostrophes at the beginning of a word indicate that the author is writing dialect, so if the issue occurs, consider avoiding dialect, which is not recommended anyway. (Use “Because” instead of ’Cause.) If I must have an apostrophe at the beginning of a word, I trick the computer by hitting the key for apostrophes two times. The first mark will be an open quote, with the bottom pointing to the right. The second will be a close quote or apostrophe. I then delete the first mark and leave the second one.
You can also set your default in Microsoft Word so that it will not use curly quotes, which will avoid the issue in some cases.
Q: I know that most manuscripts submitted should not be bound in any way other than a paperclip, but when submitting a novel (approx. 85,000 words), how should I bind my manuscript?
A: You said it yourself; authors should not bind their manuscripts in any way other than a paperclip. If a paperclip will not fit on the manuscript, you can use a bulldog clip or put a rubber band around the manuscript. Why bother, though? Put the manuscript in a box that is the right size, and the manuscript will be contained by the box. Remember the reason for unbound manuscripts: binding gets in the way of reading, so agents and editors must remove the binding, which can be a hassle. If the pages are formatted correctly, each page will have the name of the manuscript, the author’s name, and the page number, so no binding is required.
Q: When I do a word count, I was told to multiply 250 by the number of pages. Does that mean even the dedication page?
A: First, understand the reason for a word count. Manuscript editors use the word count for purposes of estimating the cost of editing the manuscript. If you want your dedication page edited (and you should), include the word count of the dedication page. Publishers use the word count to estimate the number of pages in the published book. They want to be sure the manuscript is the right length for the intended market and that their cost of printing will be reasonable.
The old formula of 250 times the page count comes from the typewriter era, though, and it is often grossly inaccurate, especially with computers that can print manuscripts in almost any size or style of font. Forget the math. Almost any word processing program will give you a quick accounting of the word count. In the end, for most purposes, the word count should cover every word in the manuscript, including the dedication.
To read more questions and answers, order the book Ask the Book Doctor: How to Beat the Competition and Sell Your Writing at http://zebraeditor.com/book_ask_the_book_doctor.shtml.
Bobbie Christmas, book editor, author of Write In Style (Union Square Publishing), and owner of Zebra Communications, will answer your questions, too. Send them to Bobbie@zebraeditor.com. Read more "Ask the Book Doctor" questions and answers at www.zebraeditor.com.
by Patricia Fry
Target Marketing for Authors, How to Find and Captivate Your Book’s Target Audience. A Book Marketing Guide by Jan Bear, E-book – 71 pages, $20
I’ve seen a lot of books for authors on promotion and marketing. I’ve written some of them myself. I’ve never read one that focuses so heavily on targeting your audience as this one does. Generally, this is the number-one suggestion in any book-marketing book, but still too many authors don’t get it. The information and suggestions are lost to them. This book will drive home the importance of targeting your audience and marketing to that target.
In her book, Bear includes information and ideas for both fiction and nonfiction authors. I love how she simplifies the meaning of a target audience. She says, “Your target market is simply the group of people who are most likely to buy your book. Target marketing is the process of understanding those people, knowing who they are, what they think, feel and believe. If you write nonfiction, you become their trusted advisor. If you write fiction or narrative nonfiction, you are the shaman who leads them into a different world.”
As she says, target marketing takes work. It isn’t just a matter of sitting down and writing whatever comes to mind. Contrary to what many new authors believe, “everyone” is not your market. In fact, she explains it this way: “Everybody is an abstraction and there is no such person.” Further, she points out that when you target your audience, you are not excluding readers outside of that market segment. “You’ve simply picked a place to stand so readers know how to categorize what you offer.”
The first part of Bear’s book has to do with identifying your target market and understanding why this is important, and then she goes into how to market to that audience. What does she recommend? Target marketing, of course, and she tells you how to speak to your target audience.
I have done a lot of writing and speaking on book promotion and identifying your target audience. I found this book interesting, refreshing, and certainly highly useful to authors who want to understand more about book marketing and want to sell more books.
If you are still a little confused about what a target audience is or how to discover yours, please take the time to read this informative e-book. You’ll be glad you did.
by Nancy Barnes
It’s hard to describe what I do. I help authors. As you know, it’s easier to understand a process when you break it down into manageable steps. Like a recipe, you just gather the ingredients, prepare, cook, and serve, right? Yes, but it’s not really that simple. Experienced cooks know that there are lots of choices, methods, and tools at each step, and these will determine how the dish tastes.
My guide for authors outlines “six easy steps” to imagine, plan, create, edit, design, and publish. At each step, some authors will need help. It’s my specialty to know all of the choices, methods, and tools to prepare the book right along with the author, and to ensure the final product is excellent.
I’ve never identified with the term “book shepherd.” That implies that authors are sheep who need to be driven with a stick. I am a mentor, a skilled craftsman, and a seasoned veteran. I don’t push or carry anyone. My job is to carry the ball into the end zone. The team scores.
I call my business “author services,” which isn’t clever imagery like “book shepherd,” but is accurate. Here’s how it works: in the early stages of a book’s development, authors will need very little from me—some encouragement and perhaps a realistic assessment of whether their project has appeal to readers. They may want to discuss their book plan and get suggestions for better organization. Our shared goal is generating a better draft to work on later.
At steps 3 and 4, I wear my editor’s hat. People hire me to read and evaluate their draft, or to edit content, or to correct it, or all of the above. I’ve found that more experienced authors know and expect to revise again and again, while beginners imagine this step is going to be quick and easy. I coach authors through revision, showing them the areas they need to improve, and teach them those writing skills that will benefit the book.
At step 5, the author has finished the manuscript and hands over the book to me. I design the book’s interior, which is easy if it’s text-only and more complicated if it is illustrated. (I specialize in family histories and memoirs, which often include photos, charts, footnotes, an index, etc. —these are the most complex book designs.) The author gets to collaborate on how it will look, while I handle all the technical software stuff. I then design the cover. Check out some of my cover designs here: http://www.storiestotellbooks.com/sample-books/. I also make e-books.
The last step, publishing, is where authors can really benefit by using an author services company. Why? We’re not a publisher, so we don’t want a piece of your profits. We set you up so that your book is ready to go: to submit to an agent, to submit to a publisher, or most likely to self-publish. We can do it for you by uploading the book to Amazon.com or LSI, or you can do it yourself with our guidance. Some of our authors just want a good, affordable printer, and we know lots of them.
Publishing is often the most unfamiliar territory for authors. Many people really enjoy writing, but they don’t have a background in the writing business. Our experience will prevent big mistakes with copyrights, ISBNs, book pricing decisions, etc.
That’s it—just six easy steps and you’re done! Not exactly. It’s not altogether easy, but our authors say the experience, and all that they learn along the way, is fascinating and infinitely rewarding. I have yet to meet an author who stopped writing after publishing. It may be a year, or three, but then that author will be back with another book. Now he or she is a better writer with a better draft, older and wiser, and eager to go through those not-so-easy steps again.
Why a Book Shepherd?
by Barbara Florio Graham
I’ve been listed as one of Dan Poynter’s Book Shepherds for many years. I turn down far more clients than I accept, because I try not to take on projects outside my area of expertise. That means if someone is writing science-fiction, fantasy, romance, or some combination of those, I suggest they look for someone who specializes in those areas.
I’m amazed at how often I’m approached by someone who feels his or her personal story is vitally important and “will help others,” but has no previous writing experience, nothing published, and hasn’t contacted experts to lend weight to claims of a “miraculous recovery.”
As soon as someone contacts me, I make sure he or she has read the mentoring page on my website to find out what I’m actually offering. I do not edit manuscripts (except in the very broad sense of suggesting changes in structure, organization, or adding/subtracting detail). I also do not offer design or publishing services.
I want those I mentor to either have a website already or be willing to create one. A woman I mentored last year came to me with several ideas, a partial manuscript about how she endured abuse and “turned her life around,” and two young adult novels she had started to work on. I persuaded her to abandon the adult ms, helped her create a successful website, and write and self-publish the first YA novel. The second one will be out soon.
I offer a wide variety of services, including encouragement. Two recent people I mentored wanted me to serve primarily as a conscience-prodding motivator, as well as someone they could ask about specific terms and situations they encountered. Because I have extensive resources to draw upon, I seldom encounter a question I can’t answer, even if I have to take a day or two to do some research.
Many of those I’ve mentored want to know if their book should be self-published or go to a trade publisher. If I feel it merits wide distribution, I will help them write a proposal and then find an agent or a publisher. I suggested a co-op publisher with an excellent reputation for a local book that has just come out. It looks wonderful and will likely sell well to her target audience.
For those who want to self-publish, I will guide them through the process, warn them about the myriad of POD scams, and help create an effective cover and the front-of-book matter that lends credibility.
In other words, I’m a bit of a Jack-of-All-Trades. I expect other Book Shepherds are as well, because we can’t all be good at everything!
I charge by the hour, with an initial set-up fee that allows me to familiarize myself with the client’s background, previous publication (if any), a description and/or outline of the book, and open a file for them. I ask for this money up front, along with the first three hours of mentoring, which they can use as they see fit (there is no time limit). My fees are posted on my website, so no one hires me without knowing what it’s going to cost.
The past four people I’ve mentored have signed on for further hours, so I take that as a sign that I’m fulfilling their needs.
I become invested in my clients, most of whom end up becoming friends I stay in contact with. I think my enthusiasm, plus an objective assessment of their work, is what causes the positive testimonials I’ve received.
It’s important to select a Book Shepherd with care. Examine his or her website, look at what the person has published, use a search engine to see what turns up, check his or her Facebook and LinkedIn profiles, and don’t hesitate to ask pointed questions before you send off a check. This can be the relationship that sets you on a path to success, or ends up in wasted money and wasted effort.
Barbara Florio Graham is an author and publishing consultant who also reviews publishing contracts as a separate service. She has a great deal of free information on her website, along with testimonials from a wide variety of clients. Go to: http://www.SimonTeakettle.com
by Val Stasik
Beware of online pirates who hijack your e-book and then offer it as a free PDF or EPUB download to lure people to their site so they will click through on the ads. There probably will be no contact information on the site. Search your name and book title regularly to see who’s offering it.
If you find a site that should not be offering your e-book, go to WHOIS to find the owner and contact info. Val alerted three companies, the Amazon legal department, Google, and the FCC when she found her book offered for free. She later went to a scam alert site and found a little more information—a telephone number and address. She called the number and got an answering machine. No one returned the call.
That site started a short time ago, and the scam-alert site indicated that it was hosted in Kansas City, Missouri, but could also have connections to Poland. http://rising.blackstar.com/how-to-send-a-dmca-takedown-notice.html
Mari Barnes of Flying Turtle Publishing is excited to announce the March release of three new books from its Sparrow Early Learning Academy Books imprint. The books round out Flying Turtle’s offerings in math for early learners. All of the counting books support Common Core State Standards in math. In Kenny and the Cupcake Box, Kenny is working with his grandmother in the bakery. Readers are encouraged to help Kenny count to fill a special order. There is also Kaylah and the Cupcake Box, a version for girls. The books include practice activities and a scrumptious strawberry cupcake recipe. In a Straw Hat So Big, a doting grandmother lavishes gifts on her visiting granddaughter. Readers can practice counting and early math skills and play with the paper doll on the back of the book. http://flyingturtlepublishing.com/
Two of Patricia Fry’s books, Promote Your Book, and Talk Up Your Book, are now not only in print and Kindle, but also audio at Amazon.com. Fry has been invited to take part in four panel discussions at the Tucson Festival of Books March 9 and 10 at the University of Arizona in Tucson. www.tucsonfestivalofbooks.org
Sandra Beckwith’s Build Book Buzz website at http://buildbookbuzz.com has been named a “top website for self-publishers” by the international Alliance of Independent Authors. The site was one of 12 information and retail sites named by members of the organization. Beckwith is also doing a teleseminar for the National Association of Memoir Writers this month on book promotion. For more information, please visit www.namw.org
Roger Ellerton recently published the second edition of his book, Live Your Dreams Let Reality Catch Up: NLP and Common Sense for Coaches, Managers and You. E-book (in various formats) available from http://www.smashwords.com. Kindle and paperback versions available from http://tinyurl.com/aec6y97. For more information, see http://www.live-your-dreams.biz. Ellerton’s book Parents’ Handbook: NLP and Common Sense Guide for Family Well-Being was recently the best-selling book on Amazon.co.uk for the topic Parent Participation in Education. For more information, see http://www.parents-handbook.com.
Stephan Morsk announces the publication this month of his novella HE (A Sexual Odyssey) by Infinity. HE will be available at website www.morsklitmonthly.com and www.buybooksontheweb.com and Amazon, B&N.
Val Stasik’s Incidental Daughter is now available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and also on Kindle. Readers who would enjoy a family drama interwoven with romance, suspense, and a touch of the paranormal will find it hard to put down Val Stasik’s break-out novel, Incidental Daughter.
Contests, Events and Opportunities
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