SPAWNews Newsletter – May 2011


Sandra Murphy, Editor

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

Those of you who are SPAWN members, be sure to visit the Members Only Area to read this month’s Market Update. Go to and click Log In. You will be asked for your username and password.
If you are not a member, join now online:

From the President

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

It’s been a busy month for me, since I’ve been working on the third annual Self-Publishers Online Conference (SPOC). SPAWN is a sponsor again this year and the event is May 10-12, so it’s coming up soon!

If you’re reading this newsletter (or blog post), you can get a discount. Go to the site and when you register, be sure to put SPAWN11 in the coupon field and you’ll receive 10% off the registration fee.

As you will see, we’ve assembled an amazing line-up of speakers, including a few SPAWN members. Check it out here:

As a prelude to the event, we’re doing a free call with three book publishing experts about the state of book publishing today. You can sign up here:

At SPOC, everyone is encouraged to live long and publish! I hope you’ll join us.

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

May Teleseminar Announcement!

Teleseminar for SPAWN Members

Who: Jack E. Appleman
When: May 24, 2011 1 pm (Pacific)
How: Members will receive an email with call-in details
Title: “10 Steps to Successful Business Writing ”

Editor’s Note

I was trolling through the archives and read SPAWN President Susan Daffron’s article Five Quick and Easy Ways to Promote Your Creative Business. Here’s an excerpt:

“2. Adopt a marketing mindset and make time for marketing. Self-promotion is a necessary part of being an artist or creative person. It doesn’t devalue what you do. It makes it possible for you to do what you do! Always be on the lookout for new markets you can serve and new opportunities. Set aside time and a budget for marketing.”

This represents the number-one complaint I hear from writers and artists—they love to create but they hate to market. I have a sales background so I don’t mind, but I do get tired of always being in selling mode. For me, an easy way around this is to have several marketing buddies. This week I can tell my Facebook contacts about Pat’s new article on how to make a fresh asparagus quiche, including the problem she had and how she fixed it (

In turn, Pat told all of her contacts about the cat article I wrote. Lee also mentioned the cat article on an e-mail list we both belong to. When I responded I said, “Next I’m writing about dogs and special occasions.” Suzanne, another member, came back with her own story—and now I have a new source. When that article comes out, you can bet Suzanne will tell everyone she knows about the article that includes her story. She’ll be marketing for me.

Two Big Reasons Creative People Struggle with Marketing is another of Susan’s articles I found in the archives. In it, she says, “Writers think differently.” People accuse us of having a short attention span. Motivational speaker Barbara Sher calls this a Scanner personality and she considers it an asset, not a flaw. I’m all for putting a positive spin on what others see as an undesirable trait.

For those who plunge into a new project but are easily distracted by a fresh idea, Susan says you can make this work for you by marketing in short bursts, in-between interviews, and in a variety of ways. Take a few minutes to post on Facebook about your new project. Organize your notes. Send an e-mail asking for sources. Update your Web page. Gather the photos you need for the article. Sketch out the cover of your new book.

If it all seems to be too much, take a break, make a quiche, take a walk with the dog, see what he sees and come back refreshed. And if your dog gives you an idea for an article, pitch it to your editor and think of friends who can help you market it when it’s done.

— Sandy, Editor, SPAWNews,

P.S. The Los Angeles Times Festival of Books ends today. Look for a complete report in next month’s newsletter!


At the third annual Self-Publishers Online Conference, you can learn from 16 Expert speakers from the comfort of your own computer, wherever you happen to be located.

All you need is an Internet connection. With our unique online conference software, you can attend seminars live or via recording, learn about useful publishing resources in the Exhibit Hall, and interact with speakers and other attendees through the live discussion areas. Visit for more info. Use the code SPAWN11 when you register and get 10% off.

SPAWN Market Update

by Patricia Fry

The May edition of the SPAWN Market Update is rich with hundreds of resources, news items and opportunities for authors, artists, photographers, scriptwriters and freelance writers. As a special bonus, we’ve included links to massive directories to help you find a publisher, distributor, work/job, and contests. Fiction writers and poets will benefit from this issue, as we include a link to a database featuring over 2,300 poetry and fiction markets. We list several high- paying markets for freelance writers and magazines that use book excerpts for book promotion. Have you downloaded any of our professional teleseminars? Each month, we record a teleseminar with a writing, publishing, or book-marketing expert and offer the downloadable recording FREE for your perusal and benefit. We list the available programs and give links in this edition of the SPAWN Market Update. Want Market Update, but you’re not a member? Join now! The benefits are all yours –

Ask the Book Doctor:

Ask the Book Doctor: About Capitalizing Seasons and Attributing Dialogue

By Bobbie Christmas

Q: I read an article in the newspaper that referred to the season of autumn, which we also refer to as fall. In the article, the word “fall” was not capitalized. I have always wondered about this issue, usually capitalizing it, but never feeling sure of what’s right.

A: To answer your question, I’ll quote from my own book doctor’s desk reference book, Purge Your Prose of Problems. It is available through my Web site,

Autumn, Fall, Spring, Summer, and Winter

Seasons of the year are not capitalized unless they appear at the beginning of a sentence or in a headline. Examples: I’ll see you in the spring. Fall weather dries my skin. The headline said Save Now on Winter Coats. Aren’t the autumn leaves beautiful?

By the way, you’re not alone in your confusion. Many writers incorrectly assume that seasons should be capitalized, and when no editor is on the staff to correct the error, the mistake makes its way into print. Others see it in print and assume it’s correct, because it’s in print. No wonder people get confused!

Q: I have noticed that in a lot of books, whenever you see a conversation, not every response ends with something like John said, John asked, John replied, etc. Sometimes the characters just talk and that part is omitted. Many times there is a mixture. Could you please explain to me how this works?

A: Creative writers avoid any type of repetition, including patterns. When every piece of dialogue begins or ends with words that attribute the dialogue to that person (these words are called attributions or tags), the writing grows repetitious and boring. Some writers avoid repeating the words “said” or “asked” by using other attributions, such as replied, responded, requested, retorted, denied, agreed, and such, but those words stick out even worse than “said” does.

Attributions ensure that readers know who spoke. Because correct dialogue format calls for a new paragraph for each new person who speaks, when only two people are in a scene, writers need to attribute only the first couple of pieces of dialogue. After that, the format (each new paragraph) indicates that the other person is responding, so no attributions are necessary. Below is an example of a two-way conversation. Notice how the first two pieces of dialogue are attributed to the speakers, but after those first two attributions, readers clearly know who is speaking. Notice, too, that I put one attribution after the dialogue and one attribution before the dialogue, to avoid placing the attribution in the same place in both sentences.

“John, would you please take out the trash?” Mary asked.

John said, “I took it out yesterday. It’s your turn.”

“I just cleaned the whole house, while you read the newspaper. The least you can do is take out the trash.”

“Can I please finish reading this article? Why do I have to jump up instantly and perform every command you make?”

Another great way to reduce the volume of attributions is to use action that shows who is speaking, and again, correct format puts each person’s actions in a separate paragraph. Below is the same conversation using action for the attribution. Notice how the use of “asked” and “said” is no longer necessary, because we clearly see who did and said what, by the format.

“John, please take out the trash.” Mary pointed to an overflowing trashcan.

John dropped his newspaper into his lap. “I took it out yesterday. It’s your turn.”

“I just cleaned the whole house, while you read the newspaper. The least you can do is take out the trash.”

“Can I please finish reading this article?” John threw his hands into the air. “Why do I have to jump up instantly and perform every command you make?”

When three or more people are speaking in a scene, each piece of dialogue must be attributed to a specific speaker, so some form of attribution is required. In that case, interspersing tags with action keeps the repetition down. Below is an example.

“John, please take out the trash.” Mary pointed to an overflowing trashcan.

John dropped his newspaper into his lap. “I took it out yesterday. It’s your turn.”

Five-year-old Sammy walked into the living room with tears in his eyes. “Please don’t fight, Mommy and Daddy. I’ll take the trash out.”

Mary turned to her son. “You’re a dear, but I just cleaned the whole house, while your father read the newspaper. The least he can do is take out the trash.”

“Can I please finish reading this article?” John threw his hands into the air. “Why do I have to jump up instantly and perform every command you make?”

What’s your question about writing or publishing? 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: The Complete Guide to Self-Publishing

by Patricia Fry

The Complete Guide to Self-Publishing (5th edition) by Marilyn Ross and Sue Collier
Writer’s Digest Books, 2010
ISBN: 978-1-58297-718-8
555 pages, perfectbound, $24.95
Contact Ross and Collier at

The Complete Guide to Self-Publishing has grown to 555 pages over the years. I have the 3rd edition (Marilyn and Tom Ross, 1994) and it was just over 400 pages.

What do you want/need to know about self-publishing? If it isn’t in this book, it probably hasn’t been invented yet. The index covers nearly eleven pages and the table of contents takes up eight pages. This is a fully packed book and one that I would recommend to anyone with a book in the works. What do I like best about this book? I am pleased that Ross and Collier have devoted space to helping the author determine if publishing is for him/her. I appreciate that the authors take time to explain something about the publishing industry and publishing options. They include a full chapter on e-books, as they should, with the obvious rise in interest. And my hat is off to them because they attempt to help readers view publishing as the business that it is.

This is an excellent book for beginners who are not yet familiar with the whole publishing arena. More experienced authors will learn more about the legalities of operating a publishing business, including setting up a business, bookkeeping, and issues around rights. Of course, distribution and book marketing is thoroughly discussed.

Have you ever thought of growing your independent publishing business into small-press status? They even offer guidelines for authors who want to publish books by other authors.

What is it that confuses you about publishing or marketing your book? Most likely that subject is covered in this book. No kidding—these authors include everything from choosing a book cover design,  creating invoices, and tips sheets, to promoting through catalogs, organizing your time, and editing.

Something new in this edition is a chapter on social media marketing. I especially like their list of mistakes in your social media marketing plan. The chapter on creative thinking is excellent—Originating Extraordinary Out of the Box Opportunities. They suggest, for example, considering socialized wholesale suppliers. Have you ever thought of that—selling books through a wholesaler who doesn’t typically work with books but who handles items within the category of your book? Getting your book into catalogs is another idea worth checking into.

If you typically keep a handful of reference books on your desk related to publishing and book marketing, push them aside. The Complete Guide to Self-Publishing is the only reference book you’ll need at your fingertips from now on.

Don’t Apologize for Your Creativity!

by Susan Daffron, SPAWN President

Many authors and book publishers are told they must stick to “just one thing” to be successful. In various articles I’ve written I have also said that it’s easier to market a line of books on a single topic or become a niched freelance writer than it is to try to appeal to everyone.

Although that may be true, the problem for a lot of creative people is that the advice just feels stifling. As business owners, we may end up half apologizing for our creative nature. But being inquisitive and imaginative can be a huge advantage in business.

In my case, I struggled for a long time to find work that didn’t put me to sleep. I’m interested in a wide range of topics and had trouble settling on just one “niche” because I get bored easily.

But as an independent book publisher, I finally found work I love. I don’t have to stick to doing just one thing! In fact, my books are on vastly different topics. Each book is almost like its own little business.
I have published 10 nonfiction books that fall into several main areas:

  • Adopted pets/Humane sheltering and rescue
  • Vegetarian cooking
  • Publishing and online business
  • Computer tips

Yes, technically, having books in multiple areas does make cross-promotion more difficult, but it also means what I do every day can vary quite a bit. My marketing remains fresh because I’m not utterly sick of talking about a particular subject. Plus, my books do fall into four main product “funnels,” so I can do some cross promotion. It all seems to work out fine.

Of course, books are only the beginning, Anyone in publishing will tell you that it’s a lot easier to be successful if you go “beyond the book” and release other products. That’s one reason I put on the Self-Publishers Online Conference and why I created the National Association of Pet Rescue Professionals, templates, and dozens of other spin-off products.

Recently, I did some calculations and discovered that I have made more than six figures from passive income related to my writing, much of it during a recession! The best part is: I didn’t get bored in the process. If you embrace your creative nature as an indie publisher and entrepreneur, you’ll never be lacking in new product ideas.

Susan Daffron, aka The Book Consultant is the President of SPAWN and the designer and Webmaster of the Web site. She owns a book and software publishing company called Logical Expressions, Inc. that is based in Sandpoint, Idaho. She spends most of her time writing, laying out books in InDesign, or taking her dogs out for romps in the forest. Susan also teaches people how to write and publish profitable client-attracting books and puts on the Self-Publishers Online conference, which will be held May 10-12 this year.  (Use the code SPAWN11 and get a 10% discount on your registration!)

How to Start an Indie Publishing Company in 30 Minutes

by Cheryl Patrice Derricotte

Writers are opting to self-publish more often. Marketing genius Seth Godin issued a rallying cry in his March 21, 2011, blog post entitled “Reject the Tyranny of Being Picked: Pick Yourself.” With easy-to-access print-on-demand and electronic publishing services like Createspace, Lulu and Lightening Source, more writers are bypassing traditional publishing and picking themselves. For those of you who want to go beyond writing and self-publishing, an indie press might be just the vehicle for you to maintain freshness in your own work and reach a broader audience. This column outlines the steps to make your own publishing company a reality in only thirty minutes. That’s about how long it took me to create my own indie publishing house this past winter.

I did not start out as an independent writer or publisher. I have always written documents for my day jobs—grants, reports, testimony for elected officials, etc., but never anything for a broader audience. In the spring of 2010, my mom was diagnosed with Stage IV pancreatic cancer. She died four months later. Friends encouraged me to write a book—not a memoir, but one featuring the nuts and bolts of managing terminal illness and death. In December 2010, as the fog of grief began to lift a little, I turned on the computer.

As soon as I started writing the book I realized the last thing I wanted was to be known as “the death-and-dying woman” for the rest of my life. In the moment of that realization, my indie publishing company was born. I followed this checklist in order to get my business started, and you can, too. Study the six topics below, and in thirty minutes, your indie publishing company will be a viable start-up!

1) Determine your motivation. One of my main reasons for starting an indie publishing company was to avoid being pegged as a one-topic expert on managing terminal illness/death. You may want to start your own company in order to publish topics you feel are under-represented in the contemporary marketplace. Whatever your reasons, write them down.

2) Make a list of the first ten to twelve book topics you will publish. This is a great way to immediately test your motivation and set the stage for the mission of your new company.

3) Decide on a name for your company. I settled on 30 Minute Manager because I realize that most people want answers to life’s most pressing problems quickly.

4) Develop a logo idea. The name of your company may lend itself to a logo idea right away. If not, contact some of the graphic designers you know and brainstorm ideas. Contact a graphic design professor at a local college and ask if he/she will take on the logo for your new business as a class project.

5) Pick a business structure. Consult with an accountant who can help you decide if your business will be run as a sole proprietor or LLC (I used, as the site walks you through a questionnaire to create an LLC in about fifteen minutes. In most states, this LLC process costs less than $200).

6) Decide what to call yourself. There are many titles to choose from. Are you the Director, Publisher, Senior Editor, Manager, Chief Executive Officer (CEO), or someone else? This is your company, so give yourself a title you really like.

That’s it! In thirty minutes you will have successfully created your own indie publishing company. From this point forward, devote at last thirty minutes each week to building your company and making it successful. Here are six steps you can take right away to begin building your business once you have laid the groundwork as is outlined above.

1) Determine if you need to trademark your business name and/or logo. If you plan to develop other informational products—such as those mentioned in SPAWN President Susan Daffron’s article Need more Money? Transform Your Book into Other Products—trademark may be right for you. Trademark research and registration can cost anywhere from $750-$2,500. Use a good intellectual properties attorney or one of the online services like or

2) Draw up a list of possible writers. Match up these writers with the list of ten or twelve topics you plan to publish. There might be one or two topics you will write yourself. Generate additional book titles from other writers or professionals in the subjects you want to cover.

3) Develop a business plan for your company. Study the resources at your local small business association, chamber of commerce or online at SCORE ( Work with a business and branding coach in your area. I use Help the environment by using tools such as Green for All’s business guides (

4) Do market research. Set up a survey tool and test your ten or twelve book ideas. Ask people to rate the topics on a scale of one to ten. Ask them if they currently do their reading electronically or on paper. Find out what kind of electronic format they are using—Kindle, Nook, iPhone app, or other (

5) Network, network, network. Using, I was able to find a great local group to join in my community: Write2Publish. ( A Google search of resources for publishers led me to SPAWN. Online research of nonfiction indie publishers helped me find Upper Access, a twenty-year-old grownup version of the high-quality press I envision evolving into. (

6) Stay fresh with professional development. Pick one writing or publishing conference annually to attend. Make it a working vacation and write it off on your taxes.

I hope this column has shown you how easy it is to create your own indie publishing company. I believe it will take your creativity to the next level by giving you a vehicle through which to publish your own works, nurture other writers, earn some extra income, and contribute to the brave new world of publishing in the 21st century.

Cheryl Patrice Derricotte is the Chief Information Officer for 30 Minute Manager, LLC, an indie publishing company she founded in January 2011. Her 30 Minute Manager on Terminal Illness/Death as well as G. Bernard Wandel’s 30 Minute Manager on Developing a Relaxing Home Yoga Practice will be published in 2012. For more information become a Fan at and follow her on Twitter

Follow Your Yellow Brick Road

by Rex A. Owens

On December 4, 2009, my employer reorganized and my position was reorganized right out the door. Merry Christmas to me. I was asked for my keys to the building and told to leave immediately. I wasn’t even allowed to return to my office to get my hat and coat (the vice president of operations got them for me—the highest paid gofer ever). My personal items were boxed up by the human resources staff. I was given a letter for any potential future employer explaining that I was a fine employee and should be hired; at fifty-eight years of age, I thought that unlikely. I was also told that if I didn’t sue the company for age discrimination they would give me a wad of cash within thirty days. I went for the cash.

The first weekend of unemployment was grueling. My wife is a saint; she left work to be with me. She reviewed our budget and we developed a financial plan together. I resolved to never be someone else’s employee again–ever.

I’d spent nine long years working on a novel and had gone to more writing conferences, classes, and critique groups than mentally healthy for anyone. I had a dream of one day devoting myself full time to writing—my Yellow Brick Road. So after I was terminated, I dragged my novel out of its virtual closet to be polished and began the journey to find a literary agent or publisher.

By March 2010, I was on the road to selling my novel, my soul, or both. I attended a writer’s conference in April and paid $25 apiece to make a pitch to several literary agents. It’s a little like paying a company to interview you for a job. Nonetheless, I beamed when they each asked me to send them fifty pages of my manuscript. One of the agents lost my submission even though I submitted it electronically. I re-submitted and waited six months for the reply, which read: “This isn’t for me.” The second agent replied within two weeks of my submission: “I don’t understand your timeline–I’m not interested.”

I decided to try my hand at freelancing to bring in some cash. I wrote a profile of a friend’s sustainable, grass-fed-grass-finished-beef cattle ranch. A local special-interest newspaper published the story. They didn’t pay a dime–but I had my first clip. The second newspaper editor asked if the rancher wanted to buy advertising. He didn’t. Then I was asked to buy advertising. I didn’t. I wanted to be paid. The local weekly newspaper printed my story without informing me they had accepted it. I contacted the editor and asked for payment. He told me he thought it was a public-service piece. I referred him to my original e-mail explaining I was a freelance writer and requested payment. He relented and asked me to submit an invoice. It took about eight weeks to get paid. I then sold the story to a national publication. Having a clip in a national magazine led to a request for publication rights from another national magazine, so it was all worth the effort.

I am now an independent contractor with and Suite 101. I have over seventy articles published and publish three or four articles a week. I also landed a monthly column for an e-zine called Extra Innings, that is specifically for writers.

In February 2011, I was contacted by Mischievous Muse Press with an offer to publish my debut historical novel, Murphy’s Troubles. Mischievous Muse Press is a micro-press in California that specializes in working with debut authors and has a unique business model partnering with writers. My novel is scheduled to be published in the spring of 2012. The publisher created a Web presence for me at:

Last Friday I turned sixty and I am now happily following my own Yellow Brick Road to a literary life. I’ve started work on a second novel and continue to write for, Extra-Innings, and Suite 101 weekly.

Member News

There are only 10 days left before the Self-Publishers Online Conference! (SPOC is the brainchild of SPAWN President Susan Daffron and her husband James Byrd.) During the event 16 publishing experts (including a few SPAWN members) will present information on writing, publishing, and promoting books. Check out the line up of amazing speakers at


Under the submission guidelines for The Indie Spotlight ( ), is an opportunity for authors to be featured on the home page.

My book was featured there on March 29 and a complete interview at ), which I did via questionnaire, is getting some good buzz.

You can do the same; there are hundreds of opportunities for exposure. This is just one, but I bet a few of you could share a dozen more with us.

~ Helen Gallagher-


I write mostly nonfiction, so I was thrilled to have three short fiction stories accepted for publication by Untreed Reads. They will be available for e-readers on or at

~ Sandy Murphy


New SPAWN member Chris Bauer had another short fiction story accepted by Untreed Reads, his fourth overall. Look for The Winter of Her Discontent on Amazon or at Untreed Reads in the coming weeks.


TLC Graphics is pleased to be presenting two classes for IBPA’s upcoming Publishing University in NYC, May 22-23. Book Design that Gets Buzz is about the power of book design. How’d  They Do It? is a panel of successful small and indie authors. Visit for a full and constantly updating schedule.

Tamara Dever – / Blog:


Dear Austin ~ A Letter to My Son was chosen a National Parenting Publications Awards (NAPPA) Honors Winner.

While the official announcement won’t come until June, Dear Austin ~ A Letter to My Son has been named a 2011 National Parenting Publications Awards (NAPPA) Honors Winner. NAPPA tests and evaluates thousands of books, CDs, toys, and other children’s and parent’s products every year, and publishes a list of their top recommendations.

The NAPPA awards are sponsored by Dominion Parenting Media and promoted in association with parenting publishers across the United States. We are honored to be featured in their publications, to be in their catalog of recommended reading for parents, and to be allowed to display the NAPPA seal in connection with Dear Austin.

David M. Perkins,,


Prose to Go: Tales from a Private List, is a collection of thirty-four first-person stories from eighteen professional writers in fourteen locations across Canada. This “private list” is the one I started four years ago, and I served as the managing editor for this book.

Bridgeross, a mid-size publishing company based in Hamilton, Ontario, has published about two-dozen books in several categories over the past few years. This is a standard, royalty-paying publisher, so none of us have contributed anything to the cost. That’s quite an accomplishment, given the state of publishing today.

We received an advance review from the prestigious NY Journal of Books (described by Publishers’ Weekly as filling “the gap left by the newspaper book review sections that have folded”). The review was astounding, with unqualified praise for every aspect of the book.

“The tone is personal and intimate in a way that effectively bonds author and reader together, so that reading this book becomes a life-enhancing experience” and “This eclectic mix of memories of shared love, laughter, and hope should appeal to a wide readership, and deserves to find a place in every public library collection.”

We also had a great article in the Saint John Telegraph Journal, the lead daily in New Brunswick. They did a feature with a lovely photo of our contributor there, and interviewed me by phone about the book. It was in their Saturday supplement, which goes not only to all subscribers, but is distributed widely in the free ad bags delivered in the region.

Here it is: Hampton woman gets a little satisfaction.

My Web site now has links to the front and back covers, the Table of Contents, Contributor Bios, and my Foreword, which explains the Private List. They’re linked from my home page.

Barbara Florio Graham –


Special Offer to SPAWN members by Barbara Florio Graham

Sell to Canadian libraries. Mailing addresses for 90-100 libraries with purchasing power (number varies as the list is continuously updated) in Word format, ready to print on labels. The list is ninety-percent accurate. Full database and instructions for doing a co-op mailing are included. Regular price $35. SPAWN members pay only $30 if the code word is used when ordering. E-mail to This offer begins May 1 and ends August 31. The code word can be found in the SPAWN Market Update section, available only to SPAWN members.

Barbara Florio Graham –


A Peek into Wendy Dager’s Diary

I’m a professional freelancer with over twenty years of experience writing and selling everything from greeting-card copy to feature articles to flash animation scripts. As an experiment, I spent nearly every day of 2009 sending out queries, articles and short stories. I also blogged, entered writing contests, and did my regular freelance work for a newspaper.

I kept a journal. Below is the entry from April 9, 2009, about four months into the experiment.

Just for fun, here’s a little tally I came up with today, based on the journal I’m keeping on my progress, or lack thereof. I queried two publications—one on January 2 and one on February 20—for an article about what you need to know before you go to cooking school. Neither answered. I snail-mailed an article query with TIFF photos to a magazine on February 14. They sent me an e-mail acknowledgement that they received my materials February 24. I sent them a follow-up e-mail April 6 and was told that it’ll take up to six months to review my package. (NOTE: They returned my package in March 2010—a YEAR later.)

On March 13, 2009, I called a publisher to find out what happened to an art book (collaboration with my photojournalist friend Tina) proposal package I had sent the previous November. I also sent a follow up e-mail. The nice receptionist told me she’d check into it, but there was no way of knowing if they even received my materials.

I sent an article query to a magazine February 1. They e-mailed me right away, wanting to see the article. I wrote it up and sent it to them February 4. I sent a follow-up March 20 and found that it’s still in the review process. (NOTE: It was still in the review process as of July. I got tired of waiting for them, so I sold it to another magazine.)

I sent a flash fiction story to an online magazine February 12. I sent a query about safe city living to a trade publication on February 13 (never answered). I sent greeting card ideas to a company February 16. I sent an essay to a humor mag February 19. No answer yet.

I tried to sell the whole diary as a book called I Used Spellcheck for This? but I couldn’t get any publishers or agents to bite.

Essentially, it’s a year full of a lot of disappointments—not just due to rejections, but the fact that editors and publishers didn’t bother to respond, or responded long—way long—after my query.

I did sell some articles and win a few contests. My favorite prize was a lime green hoodie from a beer company, which I got after writing a humorous haiku. My most valuable prize was a $500 fountain pen—which I’ll never use—after entering a Twitter love letter contest, a promo for the movie “Bright Star.” It took me about thirty seconds to write the love letter, so that was a pretty good haul.

And, of course, I asked Elizabeth Burton of Zumaya Publications to read my novel I Murdered the PTA, which will be published by Zumaya under its Enigma imprint this year.

So I guess 2009 wasn’t that bad, but man, I worked hard for everything I got!

Wendy Dager, author of the comic mystery I Murdered the PTA, is a professional freelance writer. For more information, visit her Web site,


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

But Don’t Be Discouraged

by Patricia Fry

Throughout my article-writing career, people have asked, “What magazines do you write for?” and I’ve not been able to list one they’ve heard of. But does it matter when you are receiving a regular paycheck from Executive Update, Communications Briefings, Sam’s Club Source, Minority Engineering, The World and I, The Walking Magazine, St. Anthony’s Messenger, Animal Watch, The Toastmaster, Technology and Learning, HOW, and others that, in those days, paid pretty well?

A lot of trade magazines still pay well. I try to list trade and regional magazines in the SPAWN Market Update often. I listed thirteen high-paying trade markets in the December 2010 edition.

As freelance article writers, we’ve had to make some unexpected changes over time, with so many magazines closing and new editors coming on board. So often, the new editor does NOT honor the good relationship you had with the former editor. Magazine publishers do what they feel is necessary in order to survive, such as not taking the time to acknowledge even loyal and professional freelance writers’ submissions.

I include quite a bit in each SPAWN Market Update for the freelance article/story writer, so don’t miss the opportunity to read these meaty newsletters. And when you learn of something you think other freelancers should know, either share it at the Yahoo group or let me know about it so I can alert members who read the Market Update.

Are You Doing Your Dream Job?

by Victory

I watched a video recently about an entrepreneur. In the video, the entrepreneur was asked why he selected that particular type of business, and he replied that he had listened to a guy talk about selecting what line of work you should be doing. It’s unclear to me what the following list has to do with this paragraph. I think this paragraph could just be eliminated.


  • Take out a sheet of paper and draw a line down the middle.
  • On one side, you put down what you love to do.
  • On the right side, put what you’re good at.
  • Stare at it until you come up with your dream job.

Are you doing that job?

When I went through that simple exercise, I realized that I was heading in the right direction. I’ve known that it is very important to focus on your goal so you know when you are being distracted. It’s the old Urgent versus Important battle. Sometimes Urgent grabs all your time and you don’t spend enough time on Important.

Once I realized what my main goal should be, I asked myself, “What am I doing that is preventing me from getting what I want in life?”

And whammo! I saw that the distractions I allowed each day gobbled up all my time to the point that I was spending only a few weekend hours on my dream job. When I realized it would take me decades to make enough progress, it dawned on me that I was not only wasting valuable time, but I could see what was distracting me.

I would have to spend time each day on my dream job.

Now I spend at least the first two hours on activities that directly move me forward to my dream job, with the added benefit that I keep the goal in mind all day. After that, I get to my daily to-do list.

So let me ask, “Are you doing your dream job?” Or are you allowing yourself to be distracted?

Members: Are You Listening to the Audios?

As noted above, if you’re a SPAWN member, mark your calendar for our next teleseminar on May 24, 2011, 1:00 p.m. (Pacific) with Jack E. Appleman, titled, 10 Steps to Successful Business Writing.

Sixteen teleseminars are available in audio files for members only. At the SPAWN site, sign in, go to categories on the right side and click on teleseminars to choose which one you’d like to hear. See the entire list of teleseminars past and future in the May edition of the SPAWN Market Update and at the SPAWN Web site. If you’re a member who is not taking advantage of these programs, you’re definitely not receiving the full benefit from SPAWN’s offerings.

Who are some of the experts who have presented programs for SPAWN? Brian Jud, Penny Sansevieri, Mark Levine, Hope Clark, Hobie Hobart, Peter Bowerman, Sandra Beckwith and more!!

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


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