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From the President
Welcome to all the new members and subscribers who have discovered SPAWN this month!
Today, I have been thinking a lot about stories. Not only because I’m trying to figure out the plot of my third novel, but because of many things I’ve been reading about publishing. People are hard-wired to remember stories, including the stories they tell themselves.
I just read an article by a person who says he has written more than a million words in 8 novels, but released none of them. Why? Mostly he’s afraid of criticism and one-star reviews. These fears are just stories he’s telling himself; there’s no reason to think they would actually happen. And even if he did get a one-star review, it is just someone’s opinion. A review of your book change your worth as a human being.
I know that I used to tell myself stories that I "could never speak in front of an audience" and I "could never write a novel." Now I have done both. (More than once!) Some people like my speaking and some people like my novels. But not everyone likes everything I do. And that’s okay.
What stories are you telling yourself? What would happen if you let go of the story or just changed the ending?
Susan Daffron (firstname.lastname@example.org)
President & Webmaster, Small Publishers Artists and Writers Network (SPAWN)
President, Logical Expressions, Inc.
http://www.LogicalExpressions.com / http://www.SusanDaffron.com
This month, find out how to get more of what you want in your life and less of what you don’t. There’s no magic pill to take, class to sign up for, or stress involved. According to Liisa Kyle, author of Making the Most of 2014, it’s just a matter of exercising your brain.
Kate Sexton, president of the Ventura Country Writers Club, was kind enough to let us reprint her article about how to promote yourself. Again not stressful, but it should bring more of what you want into your life.
May is perfect for a mid-year checkup on how things are going, where adjustments need to be made, and which things are working out as you planned. The kids aren’t out of school and boorrreed yet, the weather has improved (something we were all starting to doubt would ever happen), and spring is always the optimal time to refresh. Where do you imagine yourself next December 31? Now’s the time to set plans in motion so where you are then, is where you planned to be.
— Sandy, Editor, SPAWNews, email@example.com
By Patricia Fry
The May issue of the SPAWN Market Update is rich with hundreds of useful links, resources, and opportunities for freelance writers, authors, and screenwriters. Find out where to showcase your books and how to locate thousands of markets for your poetry and literary work. Learn valuable techniques and resources for locating the right publisher. Discover tips for selling your screenplay. If you’re seeking publication or markets for your writing, you don’t want to miss one issue of the SPAWN Market Update. We spend all month gathering and compiling the information, industry news, resources, links, and opportunities you can use. Go to http://www.spawn.org and use your permanent username (first and last name with caps, no spaces) and password to access the member area. Click on “Market Update.” Read the current issue and then peruse those in our archives. Here, you can also access 22 audio recordings on a variety of topics of interest to writers and authors. Join SPAWN by going to www.spawn.org and click on Join/Renew.
Report on SPAWN’s participation at the 2014 Los Angeles Times Festival of Books
By Patricia Fry
Executive Director Patricia Fry and former Executive Director/webmaster Virginia Lawrence took SPAWN to the LATFB last month. Both have participated in this event with SPAWN for most of the last 18 years. This year, they welcomed eight SPAWN members into the double booth to sell books and gain exposure at one of the largest book festivals in the United States. Also on display were approximately a dozen members’ books. We handed out copies of the SPAWN Catalog of Members’ Books and Services to hundreds of booth visitors.
While fun was had by all and we received excellent exposure for our books, sales were down and we’re not sure why. It was noticeable that people weren’t carrying large totes loaded with books this year. They were picking up any books offered for free but they weren’t plunking down money to buy new books. Most of the visitors I spoke with, however, did ask, “Is this book online?” “Can I get it for my Kindle?” I observed two women ordering one of my books for their Kindles on the spot.
We’re all aware that reading styles and book-buying habits are changing. As authors, we accommodate this shift by offering our books for e-readers, in audio format as well as print, large print, paper, hard cover, etc. It was still a little shocking to see, firsthand, such a serious indication of a shift taking place. I typically sell 30 or 40 copies of my books for authors at this event. This year, I sold three. I had a lot of interest in these books, but the sales just weren’t there. This was true for our members, as well—fiction and nonfiction included. Let’s hope that visitors went home and ordered our books from their favorite online bookstore. When I checked sales for my fiction Kindle books over the weekend, it appeared this was the case.
Many of the visitors to our booth were published authors, struggling authors, and wanna-be/soon-to-be authors. Virginia, Tammy Ditmore (a long-time SPAWN member), and I responded to the wide array of author questions posed all weekend. I’m proud to be a part of an organization that can provide the information and resources so desperately needed by so many.
Overall, it was a treat to be in this bookie environment with some amazingly interesting and talented authors in and outside the booth.
Ask the Book Doctor:
About Openings, Add-ons, Pitching an Idea, and Appendixes in Novels
By Bobbie Christmas, Book Doctor
Q: In my story of an animal, the prologue describes the setting and gives background and history of the sanctuary park. The first chapter begins with a sunrise. The “star” animal is not mentioned until about six pages into the first chapter of the manuscript and is not referred to by name until about eleven pages into the first chapter. Sol Stein states that the reader’s interest has to be grabbed in the first sentence of the story and the engine of the plot should start within three pages.
When rewriting, should the animal be mentioned in the first sentence of the prologue and also the first chapter, when she could only be referred to by the pronoun “she”?
A: I am a great believer in Sol Stein. His book, Stein on Writing, is one of the best for learning how to write strong plots and tight chapters that move stories forward.
Without seeing your particular manuscript, I will say this: some writers think they build intrigue by not naming the main character for a long time. Instead, it frustrates readers and makes them not connect with the character. The only time I suggest withholding a name would be when a main character is the person performing a crime that later must be uncovered by some other character.
In my opinion, a good novel keeps readers informed, rather than frustrating them, so yes—if you want to grab contemporary readers, follow the style they inherently expect. Let them know the names of main characters right off the bat, the sooner the better.
Q: I have added one additional element to my how-to book, a [deleted—proprietary information] pouch. Does the pouch put my book in a different category?
A: Indeed, adding products to a book may put it in the gift book category, rather than how-to, or it could be included in the gift book category as well as how-to. I don’t know what the pouch contains, but most pouches are not made of paper, so if an addition to a book is not something printed, a traditional publisher will not be able to produce it on the equipment it already has. Some printers now include CDs or DVDs with books, but always consider whether it is wise to add anything that a traditional printer cannot produce.
Q: I recently started writing a book that involves the rapper [name deleted]. It is an idea I know for a fact would sell. How would I go about being able to pitch the idea to him?
A: First you have to have excellent credentials to pitch a book idea to someone as well established as an artist like [name deleted]. If you have already sold one or more books to traditional publishers and have a good sales record, you are on your way.
The next step is to write an excellent book proposal, something persuasive that you can hand over to an intermediary who will get it to [name deleted] to read.
To reach an intermediary of any living star, look for the person’s agent. With a few keystrokes and the Internet, I found the booking agency for [name deleted]. You could start there and ask if someone from the agency will give [name deleted] your well-written (and edited) proposal.
Q: I am writing a novel about recovery from alcoholism and feel the need to include a few parts from Alcoholics Anonymous. Other than an occasional reference to AA or to Alcoholics Anonymous as a twelve-step program, I want to make approximately six specific quotes from Alcoholics Anonymous.
Can I list these six quotes in an appendix at the end of the book rather than use them in the body of the novel? Quoting these parts in the body of the novel slows the flow down too much.
A: Without seeing the manuscript itself, I can say that adding an appendix is nonfiction style, rarely used in fiction. Many of the quotations, sayings, and methods of AA are quoted often by members, though, so consider various scenes scattered in the novel that show one or more recovering alcoholics quoting some of that information to the practicing alcoholic. By the end of the book, the quotes will all have come out in dialogue, instead of an appendix. As an alternative, the protagonist could pick up a brochure or see a sign and read the information for himself or herself. In other words, look for ways for the information to come out a little at a time and somewhere that does not impede the flow of the story—anything other than in an appendix in a novel.
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.
Author Promote Thyself Workshops
by Kate Sexton, President of the Ventura County Writer’s Club
I started teaching Author Promote Thyself workshops almost three years ago to help authors learn what book promotion is, what it requires of them, what services can be farmed out, and most important, to explain how much of the work lies in their laps, even with a legacy publisher for their book.
Things are changing as the world spins into digital madness. Book promotion is right there utilizing cutting-edge technologies—and some older ones, like websites—to develop audiences and sell books. Author Dan Brown just released his latest thriller, Inferno, with a live, video-streamed event from Lincoln Center to libraries and bookstores around the country. It’s his only “live” U.S. appearance to promote the book. He’s appearing on television shows, but there will be no book tour.
That would not have been possible five years ago. Brown knows his market—his readers are faithful. They visit his website, they host chat rooms. They pre-order his books. He knows to release his book worldwide on the same day.
You aren’t a best-selling author like Brown. So, what can you do?
First, you must understand who your audience is. That audience lives on the web now, not in bookstores. I hear so many authors lament because their book isn’t in stores. From this point on, most books will never see a shelf in a bookstore. They will be sold online or digitally downloaded.
So, how do you attract an audience online? The first and most important question is: who is your prospective audience? Remember, 60% of books sold are purchased by women for themselves, and they buy an additional 20% of books sold to give to men. If you are targeting male readers, you have a small universe to find. So how do you find your target?
Start by describing five different target buyers for your book. What keywords would they use on Amazon to find you? What genre are you? What words would attract people to your book—quirky, dark, paranormal, European thriller, jewel heist, transgender exploitation? You must be specific. Test the words yourself on Google. See what comes up. If it’s a book, click through and review the website. Why? Because if it’s even vaguely similar, its readers are potentially your readers. Keep a list of successful words and websites. Make it a mind game when out walking—what other terms could I use to describe my book?
Then go home, Google, see what you find.
Once you have the keywords that lead to a potential audience, you can begin to create the website, blog, Facebook page, and the tools that will promote your book.
This article first appeared in Write Stuff, the newsletter for the Ventura County Writers Club, June 2013.
How to Get the Most Out of 2014
Liisa Kyle’s favorite holiday is New Year’s Day. She feels it’s a clean slate, a chance to look back at what you did last year and what you want to do for the next year. New Year’s Day, she says, can be a pivot point to do more of what you love and less of what you don’t.
This isn’t January, of course, but May—and a chance to take an almost-mid-year look at what’s been going on in 2014. Her book, How to Get the Most Out of 2014, is set up workbook style. The exercises aren’t just for the work areas, but for your whole life—if one part isn’t working, it will affect the other parts as well. So—what worked for you and what didn’t? She’ll ask you to make a short list for each in ten different areas.
Kyle’s workbook will help you focus on what was most successful, what brought you happiness or stress throughout the year. She’ll show you how to zero in on the steps you need to take to make the rest of this year a fabulous one. No step is too time-consuming, none require special equipment or even that you need to be out of your pjs. Mostly, what is required is for you to think about what you really want and to map out the tiny steps that will put you on the path to achieve it—no giant goals, just doable tasks.
You’ll want to write all your answers down so there’s a written record of your findings and a way to check in throughout the year to make sure you’re still headed in the right direction. There’s still plenty of time to rearrange your year; this is the book that will help you do it.
Liisa’s other books are available on Amazon and include:
- Goal Setting and Planning for Multi-Talented People: How to Figure Out What You Really Want — and How to Actually Get It
- Seven Step Procrastination-Busting System Get Over It—Overcome Regret, Disappointment and Past Mistakes and Move Forward with Your Life.
- Happiness Awaits You
- Overcoming Perfectionism—Solutions for Perfectionists
- Acceptance—A Workshop for Perfectionists
- Forty Ways to Enjoy Turning Forty
- Fifty Ways to Enjoy Turning Fifty
- Making the Most of Your Milestone Birthday—52 Ways to Have the Best Year Ever
SPAWN president Susan Daffron will be co-presenting with Penny Sansevieri and James Byrd at the BlogPaws conference, which is being held in Henderson Nevada May 8-10. The title of the session is "How to Get Published (Writing and Marketing Fiction versus Nonfiction)" and it will be held Friday May 9 at 10:45 am. You can read more about the speaker line up and the conference at the BlogPaws web site. Use the code BlogPaws2014-Speaker-Daffron-10 to get a 10% discount off your registration fee. If you’re really lucky, you might even get to meet Susan’s dogs Fiona and Kaylee who will also be attending the pet-friendly event.
Here are introductions from a few members from the Yahoo SPAWNdiscuss list along with information about what they do.
My name is Tammy Ditmore, and I am primarily an editor. I do write occasionally on my blog (www.editmore.com/blog ), and I have written essays and articles that have been published, most recently in the SPAWN and Editorial Freelancers Association newsletters. I love editing because it gives me the freedom to work directly with the words in front of me; I don’t have to do any research, and I don’t have to listen to a lot of voices in my head wondering if I’ve left out the most important bits. I just get to focus on shaping the words I have been given to make sure what is in an author’s head gets delivered efficiently and elegantly. The words that make me most happy are “the book is better because of you.” Tammy Ditmore eDitmore Editorial Services firstname.lastname@example.org, www.editmore.com 501-I South Reino Road #194 Newbury Park, CA 91320
My name is Doug Snelson. I’m the author of two children’s picture books, Who’s Got the Face? and The Fable of the Snake Named Slim. Face is an enthusiastic and gentle dog who gets into mischief during the day and then falls asleep. Slim is a wobbler who wants to be a wiggler. He finds his special gift through an unforeseen event. My daughter, Renee, is the illustrator. Slim has won two awards. Both books are written in rhyme and illustrated for children Pre-K through Second Grade. My greatest joy is when I read to different grade levels at elementary schools. If I could just bottle the reaction I receive from students, parents, and educators in those settings, I know I would sell millions of copies. I recently converted Face to an e-book format and hope to convert Slim soon. My strength and passion is to deliver “positive messages to young minds.” My books are available via Amazon, Barnes & Noble, etc. (NOOK, KOBO, Kindle for Face). I hope to have a third book published before the end of the year. I live in New Jersey and would love to connect with any elementary school educators, teachers, principals, or parents who would be interested in one of my reading programs. I have excellent references and I travel the four-state metro areas of New York/New York City, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Connecticut. http://www.petalous.com www.petalous.com http://www.facebook.com/PetalousPublishing www.facebook.com/PetalousPublishing .
Jennifer Givner, Acapella Book Cover Design – I’m a book cover designer and web designer for authors. I’ve always been a lover of books, and being surrounded by so many great authors and stories is amazing. Some of the books I’ve designed covers for are coming out this month and in the next few weeks. Portfolio: http://www.acapellawebdesign.com LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/acapellabookcoverdesign
Lucinda Sue Crosby, Lucky Cinda Publishing – I currently have five books on Amazon: Francesca of Lost Nation (a novel that takes place in the summer of 1947, adventures of an unconventional grandmother and a precocious granddaughter; five literary awards, Kindle bestseller), The Adventures of Baylard Bear (a bear raised as a human orphan struggles to discover his true self and find a loving family even though he is different), Water in the West—the scary truth about our most precious resource (why the price of water is going up; what water agencies know but don’t tell their customers; the real length of droughts determined from ancient climate studies; and much more). Written with my biz partner Laura Dobbins: Sell More E-books (Kindle bestseller and international e-book award winner—version two coming later this year), Why Is Pookie Stinky? (a rhyming children’s book). I have another novel to be released soon: The Cancer Club: an Irreverent Tale of Survival. Magazine stringer in Palm Desert area: Desert Entertainer (dining) and Prime Time—for active over-50s. (Super Senior Series, profiles of remarkable folks age 80 and over). Web site: www.luckycinda.com, We also host a blog/ book marketing site called Kindle Book Promos—15,000 to 18,000 hits each month. www.kindlebookpromos.luckycinda.com
Denise Fleck (who also got to hang out at the SPAWN booth at the LA Book Festival!) – I was a film studio publicist who went to the dogs (and cats) 15 years ago and am having the time of my life! I started off teaching Pet First-Aid & CPR Classes as well as pet disaster and senior care, then earned my California Teaching Certificate and started teaching high school animal care as a joint project between my school district and the animal shelter. During this time I was fortunate to be able to share my skills on various TV programs on national networks and wrote for animal magazines and developed the curriculum for all my classes writing an animal care series by Quickfind Books: Dog First Aid & CPR, Cat First Aid & CPR, How to Care for Your Dog or Puppy, How to Care for your Cat of Kitten. Last year I ventured into writing books for children, and my first illustrated storybook about animals, Don’t Judge a Book by its Cover, just received the Dog Writers Association of America’s Children’s Book of the Year. The book deals with not judging shelter animals, black-coated pets, older pets, specific breeds, or anyone else. Last week my second children’s book came out—Pet First Aid for Kids—and I will have a large pet parenting and safety bible coming out late summer (title TBD) as well as another book on Senior Pet Care. Both will stand on their own, but also serve as the texts for my various classes and talks. Finally, the sequel to Don’t Judge a Book will be out before year’s end! My website is www.sunnydogink.com http://www.youtube.com/thesunnydog
Contests, Events and Opportunities
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