For contributions to the newsletter and Letters to the Editor, please email the editor of SPAWNews: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Those of you who are SPAWN members, be sure to visit the Members Only Area to read this month’s Market Update. Go to http://www.spawn.org and click Log In. You will be asked for your username and password.
If you are not a member, join now online: http://www.spawn.org/join.htm
From the President
Welcome to all the new members and subscribers who have discovered SPAWN this month!
Yesterday, there finally was a break in the rain and I was able to “put my garden to bed” for the season. At last, the garden of 2010 is done and gone. This gardening season certainly wasn’t without it’s problems! The “spring rains” didn’t stop until July and it seemed like there was no summer in our summer. But yesterday I optimistically planted my garlic for next year and am looking forward to a better gardening season in 2011.
For many people, the business of writing and publishing has been almost as frustrating as my garden this year. As we near the end of 2010 and before the holiday crush begins, it’s good to stop and reflect upon what has worked and what didn’t this year. Did you meet your financial and personal goals this year? If not, what could you do differently next year?
This issue of SPAWNews is filled with inspiration and ideas to help jump-start your thinking. Be sure to read all the way to the end. You’ll be rewarded with a round up of a few of our members’ blogs. I encourage you to click the links and check out the clever, creative, and fascinating blogs SPAWN members have created!
November Teleseminar Announcement!
Kate Siegel Bandos to Present Teleseminar for SPAWN Members
Who: Kate Siegel Bandos, KSB Promotions
When: November 16 at 1 pm Pacific (4 pm Eastern)
How: Members will receive an email with call-in details
Title: Are Book Awards Worth It?
Read more: http://www.spawn.org/blog/?p=1385
November 1 means there are sixty-one days left in 2010. What can you do in sixty-one days? I can write more articles, send more queries, find ways to add convenience to my life and figure out how to disable the touch pad on my laptop.
In the last month, I’ve pitched ideas to editors and had several accepted. I have three articles going at once—and that’s a huge improvement for me. I’m getting a bit more organized. With much huffing and puffing on my part, the new scanner has finally made its way upstairs and the high speed has been activated without as much cursing as I expected. Next month’s Featured Member is already writing her article and I have a couple of new items to add to the newsletter, too. If you would like to be a Featured Member or write an article, send me an e-mail. Suggestions are always welcome.
We had a lot of discussion about blogs at our SPAWN Yahoo group this month—who blogs, what about, how does it help you make money or sell books, and should you have more than one? If you’re thinking about starting a blog of your own, be sure to read Andrea Hazard’s article below about how to find your target audience and research your place in the blog world. It’s a two-part article, so make time to read the December newsletter for the follow-up.
For those who celebrate Thanksgiving, have a great holiday and drive safely. Remember these things for a successful holiday: 1. No gravy, turkey or chicken skin, or meat drippings for pets (too much fat). 2. Slivers of pie don’t count as a serving. 3. Jellied cranberries (with the ridges from the can still showing) count as a serving of vegetables. 4. Don’t burn the marshmallows on the sweet potatoes. 5. Watching football counts as exercise.
— Sandy, Editor, SPAWNews, email@example.com
SPAWN Market Update
by Patricia Fry
The November SPAWN Market Update is brimming with hundreds of leads, resources, and opportunities for authors, freelance writers, and photographers. Among more than 50 specific leads, resources, and opportunities, we provide links to writing job directories, writers’ conference directories, and message board directories to help you get work and sell more books.
Freelance writers, you’ll discover twenty paying fiction and nonfiction markets in this issue. Authors, we’ve listed seven rather obscure publishers who pay advances and we offer resources and guidance for more successfully promoting your book. Neglect to read the SPAWN Market Update and you will miss out on some important opportunities for sales and/or exposure.
Editors Are People Too
One of my favorite cartoons shows a small, balding man slinking away from the Pearly Gates, shoulders slumped, clutching a piece of paper on which is written: “Thank you for your presentation, but unfortunately you are not what we need at this particular time.” The cartoon is headlined “Hell for Editors.”
And then there’s the joke about the editor and the writer dying of thirst in the desert. They crawl over a sand dune with their last bit of strength and see a beautiful oasis spread out below them, palm trees grouped around a sparkling pool of clear water. The writer falls down beside the pool and begins to drink greedily. When she looks up, she sees the editor urinating into the water.
“What are you doing?” the writer cries out.
“I’m making it better,” the editor says.
If you’re a writer, you get both jokes. Editors bedevil us on two levels—as obstinate gatekeepers, and as equally obstinate assassins of our work once that gate is breached.
The thing is, we can’t get along without them. Moreover, as any editor will admit after a social drink or two, they can’t get along without us. We are like prisoners, shackled together with no escape from our differences.
But here’s a news flash: Editors are people, too. I know, because I’ve been one, having spent fourteen months editing a regional sports magazine in South Carolina before it died an early death (not my fault).
It turns out that for every editor horror story you’ll hear from writers, editors can match it. Like writers who turn in work that has to be completely re-written. Or even worse, simply fail to produce an article at the agreed-upon time (“Oh, that? Sorry, I’ve been really slammed lately.”)
Submitted clips can turn out to be a sham, promised access to some high-profile interview subject, wishful thinking. It’s enough to make an editor mistrust every writer he or she doesn’t know—and some editors operate on that basis.
On the other hand, they do have the right to make choices. That’s why I try to avoid the word rejection. When you go to the grocery store and select a loaf of bread, you are not rejecting the other breads. Maybe the one you picked is the cheapest, or has oats in it. It’s a subjective decision, and nothing personal.
When you write a query, try to imagine yourself in the editor’s chair. That person doesn’t care that you’ve always wanted to be published, or that you won seventeen writing awards in college. He or she wants to know just three things—is your article a good fit for that particular publication, are you a good person to write it, and can you be trusted?
On the Website for The Writers’ Bridge, a freelance writers’ group I started a few years back, I have posted a “Bill of Rights” for editors and writers. This is what it says:
1. Editors have the right to receive article pitches that reflect at least some knowledge of their magazine or Website. It is unrealistic to expect writers—who are, in most cases, equally busy people—to plow through years of back issues. It is, however, reasonable to presume that they have some sense of the subject, scope, and tone of a publication, as well as what has been printed in recent issues. They should also have thoroughly read whatever writers’ guidelines might be available.
2. Editors have the right to enough information in queries for them to make a decision. How is this a story that will fit this particular market? Who is this writer, and what are his or her credentials?
3. Editors have the right to establish their own rules for queries. If a market requires that queries be snail-mailed, then that’s how you should do it. The only exception might be a story with an extremely short shelf life—if, for instance, a writer wants to know if an editor would like him or her to cover a breaking event.
4. Editors have the right to receive the article for which they contracted. Any significant change in subject or tone should be worked out during the writing process.
5. Editors have the right to receive material that is free of grammatical or spelling errors. If you can’t spell, find someone who can to go over your manuscript.
6. Editors have the right to set deadlines, and to have those deadlines met. (But see No. 3 below). In the case of magazine editors, they also have the right to have their request for story length met, since they are often trying to fill a specific hole in their layout.
7. Editors have the right to receive communication from their writers. If you’re having trouble meeting a deadline or finding a source, by all means contact the editor with whom you’re working and let him or her know in advance. On the other hand, they also have the right not to be pestered as to whether a particular idea has been accepted or is being considered. If possible, respect their stated window of response time.
8. Editors have the right to check your facts. They’ll be the ones left holding the bag if you get something wrong.
1. Freelancers have the right to shop their ideas around, just as they would to sell a car or a house. Markets that say, “No simultaneous submissions” are simply being unrealistic—in the time it takes a writer to hear from one editor, a story may have grown stale and unsellable. For their part, writers should be honest about this—trying to sell the same story to two similar markets who each think they’re getting an exclusive is highly unethical.
2. Freelancers have the right to a reasonably quick response to queries. Magazines and Websites are often understaffed these days, it’s true. But if a query is obviously off the mark, it shouldn’t take long to hit the return button on an e-mail and say: “Thanks. Not for us.” Or to write the same comment on a snail-mail query and drop it back into the SASE. If an editor is considering a pitch, it would also be nice to let the writer know, and how long that decision might take.
3. Freelancers have the right to reasonable deadlines. Editors should be organized enough to plan ahead and not have to ask that stories be done on rush order, which benefits neither party.
4. Just like editors, freelancers have the right to receive communication. The editor should be clear about what he or she wants in a story before the fact.
5. Freelancers have the right to be paid as advertised. It’s a lot to ask a writer to wait until publication, rather than upon acceptance, to receive a check, but if that’s what’s been agreed on, payment should be prompt. A house or car payment might depend upon it.
6. Freelancers have the right to be informed in advance if their work is going to be used in any other manner than what has been agreed upon.
7. Freelancers have the right to request a signed contract—even a contingency contract for stories on spec.
from Linda Formicelli, co-author of the Renegade Writer books
I have created a free packet of ten query letters written by professional writers who landed assignments from magazines ranging from Chicago Parent to Runner’s World to Woman’s Day.
To get your packet, sign up at http://writeformagazines.com/free-query-letter-packet/ and you’ll get the queries as soon as you respond to the confirmation e-mail. Those who request the queries will also be sent e-mail announcements about new tele-classes, very occasional special offers for my Write for Magazines e-course, phone mentoring for writers, and query critiquing.
Ask the Book Doctor:
About Word Counts, Capitalizing Song Titles and Album Titles, Plurals, and Accepting Credit Cards for Book Sales
By Bobbie Christmas
Q: What formula do agents and editors use to come up with the word count?
A: The word count is estimation, not exact science, so almost any formula will work, especially once your manuscript is in standard manuscript format. I can’t speak for each agent and editor, for they differ in opinions, but usually any one of the following methods will work well enough to give agents and editors an idea of the length of your manuscript:
The easiest method is to use your word-processing program. Go to Tools and select Word Count.
The next most common method is to rely on standard manuscript format to give you an estimate. Your manuscript should be in standard manuscript format already, which is 12-point Courier type, double-spaced, with margins of about an inch on all sides. In this format, each page averages about 250 words. If your manuscript is 200 standard manuscript pages long, you multiply 200 pages by 250 words to get the estimated word count.
Other methods rely on character count, dividing by an average length, and so forth. You don’t have to go to that much trouble, I assure you. The people you deal with only want to know if your manuscript is too short or too long. A close estimate is good enough. An exact count won’t change that vital piece of information by much.
Q: When mentioning an album name in my book, like song titles, do you lowercase conjunctions (and), prepositions (of, for), and articles (a, the), even when they appear capitalized on the album covers?
Actual cover: Wheels Of A Dream
In my book: Wheels of a Dream
A: You have hit on a style issue. Advertising, labels, and such often capitalize things at will. Advertising style is not the same as Chicago Style.
Chicago Style, the standard for the book publishing industry, has specific rules for when things should be capitalized, written out, abbreviated, or punctuated. It says, in part, the following: “In title capitalization, the first and last words and all nouns, pronouns, adjectives, verbs, adverbs, and subordinating conjunctions (if, because, as, that) are capitalized. Articles (a, an, the) and coordinating conjunctions (and, but, or, for, nor) are lowercased unless they are the first or last word.
What you have in your manuscript, Wheels of a Dream, is correct as far as capitalization goes, but I’m not sure if it is an album or a song title. Chicago Style calls for putting quotation marks around the title of a song, but it calls for italicizing the title of a long musical composition, such as an opera or an album.
Q: When it comes to plurals for last names, which is correct? Hueys or Huey’s or Hueys’? The Robersons or Roberson’s or Robersons’? Microsoft Word always flags these as misspelled. I can never tell the difference.
A: Microsoft Word probably flags them because the words themselves, Hueys and Robersons, are not in the dictionary, plus the computer program cannot decipher whether the name is plural or possessive.
If it is strictly plural, it takes no apostrophe. Examples:
We ate dinner with Joe Huey and the rest of the Hueys.
Mike Roberson said all the Robersons are visiting next week.
If it is plural possessive, it needs an apostrophe. Examples:
We ate dinner at the Hueys’ house.
The Robersons’ dog is visiting, too.
Note that if the name ends in an s, the plural possessive for book style is to add an apostrophe and an s. Examples:
The Jones’s house is painted white.
I agree with all of the Samuels’s suggestions.
Q: When I bought your book at a recent seminar, you used a credit card company that notified me via e-mail of my charge going through. Can you tell me about the company? Who are they, and how do I contact them? I need to have the ability to accept credit card payments when I sell my books, so I am shopping around.
A: The company I use is ProPay, and it can be found at www.propay.com. A colleague highly recommended ProPay, and I have been completely satisfied with the service I get. Through ProPay I can take almost any credit card by e-mail, phone, or in person and later transfer those funds to my own bank.
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 Bobbie@zebraeditor.com. Read more “Ask the Book Doctor” questions and answers at www.zebraeditor.com.
Tapping Your Innate Creativity
by Barbara Florio Graham
Open a book or magazine and, with eyes closed, put a finger on a page. Open your eyes and note the verb closest to your finger. Do it again, and find a noun. Create a short poem using both of these words in key positions.
Read a description of the online course, “Tapping Your Innate Creativity,” at www.SimonTeakettle.com/tapping.htm.
Give Up Your Dream? Not an Option
by June Shaw
“Authors are old dead men from Europe, and everyone has to struggle to figure out what they meant.” That’s what I believed teachers told us about writers. I certainly couldn’t relate.
My beliefs changed in ninth grade when my English teacher was sending me to a literary rally. He said I’d have to take a test in English and should practice writing a paragraph. He told me to write about a splinter. How dull. I sat at my desk and wrote a grammatically correct description of a sliver of wood and carried it to his desk.
“This is boring,” he said.
I stood my ground. “Yes, but you told me to write it.”
And he wrote “Ouch!” He told me to write from the splinter’s point of view. Someone had just sat on it.
Wow! I was so excited to realize a writer could do that. Writers could create people and things and make them say or do anything they wanted? That splinter inspired me. “Ouch!” was the only creative writing instruction I ever had. But that word introduced me to modern humor and convinced me that one day I would be an author. I placed first in that contest, although I have no idea what we wrote about.
I remained active throughout high school, married young, had five children in six years, and became widowed when the oldest was eleven. After my mind finally began to function again, I knew I needed to work. Family members asked what I’d like to do. That splinter came to mind. I wanted to write but didn’t know how to start. I needed an income soon, and my silly children wanted to eat and wear shoes and did not want to wait around for me to read a bunch of novels and then try to write and sell them.
I completed my college courses at a local university, taught junior high students, and eventually found bits of time to write. I wrote short pieces because that was all I had time for, and sold a few essays and poems. That was exciting and gave me a little more income. Over time, while trying to keep up with my growing children’s activities and the paperwork for 150 or more students each day, I learned to write plays. My one-act play won a contest in Boston. A screenplay I wrote was aired on a channel for the arts in New Orleans. Producers suggested that since I would not move away from my family in the South, I should try writing novels.
Novels like those old dead men wrote? No way.
With my extra-busy life, I had read few novels but finally started to read more to try to discover a genre I liked best. One author I loved was Janet Evanovich. I worked to create books, trying to emulate her style.
By the time I finally sold a novel, Relative Danger, I had taken my aging mother in to live with me. My children had given me grandchildren. And then I sold Killer Cousins, the second book in the series. It has been published, and now I’ve sold the third. Deadly Reunion comes out next summer.
Relative Danger is also on Kindle and at Smashwords and Books in Motion now.
My mother passed away last year. She was an amazing woman, whom everyone said I needed to write a book about. A producer for “The Tonight Show” with Jay Leno invited her and me to be on the show when they learned she was 102 and still coming to line dance classes with me. Mom said, “Call and ask Jay to come here instead,” but the timing didn’t work out. I’m currently writing Nora 102 ½: A Lesson on Aging Well.
So for anyone who believes you give up after one or many more rejections, I suggest that you hang onto your dream. It may take much longer than you’d hoped, but reaching for the moon and grabbing a star isn’t so bad. Toss a hook up and hang on.
June Shaw’s humorous mystery series features feisty widowed Cealie Gunther and her Cajun restaurateur hunk Gil Thurman whom she thinks she wants to avoid so she can rediscover herself. But he opens restaurants wherever she travels, and she is so bad at avoiding tempting dishes and men. www.juneshaw.com
Featured Member – Jenevieve Fisher
I joined SPAWN as a new publisher simply because I had no idea what I was doing, other than wanting to have control over the content of my books. I’d submitted to several traditional publishers over the course of a year, and when two publishers, both of whom were interested in the series, asked me to “tone down” or remove the information covering vomiting and hair loss, I had to re-evaluate exactly why I wanted to get this information out to kids with cancer. Was it for me to be a published author, or was it to educate children living with cancer? Obviously, I made the right choice for these children, because they want honest answers to their questions, and they want to know what to expect. Logically, joining SPAWN was the next step for me to take as a very new, but eager-to-learn self-publisher. The information, resources, and connections I have gained through SPAWN are immeasurable! Thank you!
The publishing company is set up only for the series I have written. There are fifteen books total, with one book being released every six months, in March and September. I named the publishing company Isaiah 11:6, because of the verse, “The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together, and a little child shall lead them.” I publish high-quality, multicultural children’s books that educate, inspire, and encourage children living with cancer, as well as their families, worldwide.
This first book, I’m a Kid Living with Cancer provides a solid understanding of childhood cancer, equipping young readers with answers to tough questions, while inspiring them to better cope with the challenges and changes that are part of living with cancer. Illustrations show a young boy facing cancer with logic and determination. He explains how an out-of-control cell forms a tumor, how a blood test is done, what X-rays, CT scans, and MRIs are for, how chemotherapy is administered through a Hickman Line, and how radiation works to destroy the cancer cells. Opportunities to wear silly hats, do schoolwork at home, and make new friends while in the hospital are an uplifting part of the book.
I have written this series because I am a cancer survivor myself. I am also a Radiation Oncology Therapist specializing in pediatrics and a mom of five homeschooled boys. I devoted my life to educating children a long time ago, and this series of books is the best way for me to make a difference in the lives of children, bringing health education, encouragement, and hope. I celebrate my life by educating these children through the books.
I recently went on a ten-city, five-state book tour, to donate books to twenty-nine children’s oncology hospitals. I left Washington thinking I would be blessing many children through my books. I came home humbled; I was the one who was blessed! I met children and families who have joy in their lives, children who were playing tennis with a prosthetic leg or arm, young cancer survivors who were mentoring younger, newly diagnosed kids, and parents who had hope when treatment was no longer an option. I am so blessed to play a small part in these lives. I look forward to continuing for a long, long time.
Thank you again for the opportunity to share a bit about the books, the kids, and what I’ve been doing. Thank you also for the wealth of information from SPAWN!
Jenevieve Fisher, educating children living with cancer worldwide.
Author of I’m a Kid Living with Cancer series.
Isaiah 11:6 Publishing Company Phone: 1.888.isaiah.5
The Quickest Path to Successful Self-Publishing
As a small publisher, I started out publishing my own e-books and progressed to paperbacks using Amazon’s Createspace. I’d lost interest in e-books because of the difficulty in marketing them, but Smashwords has improved e-book marketing significantly. Smashwords already has over 20,000 titles published.
The success of the Kindle rekindled (no pun intended) my interest in e-books. When I heard that Amazon was selling 1.8 Kindle books to every paper book, it was time to reconsider. I’d already begun reformatting my wife Barbara’s children’s chapter book for the Kindle when I heard about Smashwords. I changed over and now have published it as an e-book with Smashwords.
Smashwords requires you to properly format books for acceptance. Smashword’s helpful owner, Mark Coker, is someone who knows how to create comprehensive how-to information. You can download an invaluable Style Guide and, by following it carefully, I got both of my recent submissions accepted on the first try.
If you’ve created e-books, even for the Kindle, you’ll find Smashwords unique. You submit only one properly formatted manuscript and Smashwords, using a computer affectionately called the meatgrinder, turns it into a multi-format e-book that can be purchased and read on many platforms. This multi-format availability is based on a two-step process.
There is nothing else you have to do other than get the word out about your e-book. Smashwords handles all the sales for you, creates a sampler version of your e-book, and you choose whether to provide from twenty percent to fifty percent of your e-book to potential customers before they buy. You can also create coupons for special deals to encourage sales. I plan to use the coupons to give free copies to anyone who promises to review my book. Smashwords also does a great deal of marketing for you by showing your other books, if you have more than one. They also show your book when someone is searching for related topics, similar to what Amazon does.
If you are a writer with several books, then your standard profile is fine. A publisher of other writers, as I am, has to join as a publisher. Either way, there is no fee to join and no cost to publish. Being a publisher is slightly more complex, but it allows you control of all your books. Depending on the arrangement, you will get between seventy percent and eighty-five percent of the income from the sale of your e-book. Smashwords makes their money from the balance.
Premium Level is the ultimate step in Smashwords. There are significant advantages and it’s a little more difficult to get your manuscripts accepted to this level, but there is still no cost involved. Attaining Premium Level is definitely worth the extra work. The advantage of the Premium Level is that your e-books become available on many more markets, including Apple (iPad and iPhone) Barnes and Noble within their e-book format, and Droid. You don’t have to attain Premium Level to be a Smashwords author, but it could make a significant difference in sales.
For those considering self-publishing, Smashwords is the perfect way to start. It’s easy to create an acceptable manuscript using Word and you can make revisions and upload a revised copy at any time. This facilitates making sales of your book and learning a lot before you get to the paperback stage. It also helps you determine if your book is salable before making a larger investment. With the present trend towards e-books, Smashwords is definitely the place for self-publishers.
Check out my two e-books on Smashwords at:
Lottie’s Adventure: A Kidnapping Unraveled https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/25753 Relationship Basics: Keeping It Happy and Healthy https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/26219
Want to be part of the Member News? Send us your items and we’ll be glad to include your good news in the next issue. Want to be a Member Interview? It will give you a chance to plug your book, your business, yourself. Just email me and let me know you’d like to be included. The email is firstname.lastname@example.org
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Barbara Florio Graham explains what publishing consultants do in a podcast just posted at: http://www.shareddreamspodcast.com/. Host Gail Martin interviewed Bobbi by phone last summer, after finding her on a list of Book Shepherds recommended by self-publishing guru Dan Poynter.
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Susan Daffron found out from the producers at Pet Life Radio that her show “Take Me Home” is now #1 in downloads and listens from the widget with more than 200,000. The show features animals that are available for adoption from animal shelters and rescue groups. The widget is available here:
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Lin Holdeman says, “This year, I took the plunge and set up my own company. The idea of the business is to use it as a vehicle for publishing my own work, and eventually that of others.
I have produced my first book, Easy Peasy Crossword Puzzles, a novelty item that is meant for Christmas Crackers, stocking fillers, and party bags and I now need to find the right marketing arena. The book has a high-quality cover and is full of easy miniature crosswords. I’ve had some good feedback so far.
They are £2.10 each or eleven for the price of twelve, plus postage and packing, through Kerilin Ltd, at email@example.com”
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Patricia Fry spoke at the Redwood Writers Conference in Santa Rosa, California, October 30. Her topic was “Two Keys to Publishing Success.” She is also a featured speaker at the Cat Writers Association Conference in White Plains, New York November 19/20. There she will speak on “Building Promotion into Your Book.”
Patricia received word from Workman Publishing in October that her photo of her cat Lily got a special mention in their annual photo contest and appears in their 2011 cat-a-day calendar. Check out March 15, 2011. The photo is even featured on the back of the box. Lily is also the cover girl for Patricia’s book, Catscapades, True Cat Tales. To order calendars, go to http://www.pageaday.com. To learn more about the cat story book, go to http://www.matilijapress.com/catscapades.html.
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A. William Benitez of Positive Imaging, LLC says, “I’m trying something on Saturday, December 4, that I did back in 2007 for the book I published for my wife Barbara. I am holding a book signing in a popular shopping area in Austin called SOCO. I found an artisan market area right on the main street for an inexpensive rental. I’m setting up a ten-by-ten-foot canopy and tables so my wife and I, along with two other authors I publish, can sign books. We will be there for four or five hours. When I did this for Barbara in 2007 for her children’s chapter book, we sold almost $400 worth of books in a little over two hours. If it works well, I plan to make a monthly event. I am inviting authors from Austin and the surrounding area who want to participate. I handle everything including credit card sales and they only pay a commission on what they sell. I will definitely report on how well it works. Anyone interested can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org”
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Note: To have your announcements included in Member News, you must be a paid member of SPAWN. Please email your news to email@example.com
Blogging to Promote Books, Part 1
With a well-crafted blog you can establish yourself as an expert, publicize your writing, develop a fan base, promote your published books, and gather material for future books. Best of all, blogging doesn’t have to cost a lot, and you can do it in your pajamas. A well-crafted blog provides readers with useful information, is well written, and is easy to navigate. Here are a few simple steps for creating one.
Step 1: Think about your target audience. These are the folks who read your writing and buy your books. Now, think about what kind of expertise you can share with this audience: this will be the theme of your blog. I write children’s books, so my target audience is parents and educators. I know that my target audience is on the lookout for fun children’s activities and, as a parent and educator, I have file drawers filled with such activities. When I was brainstorming blog ideas, I thought it might be a good idea to start a children’s activity blog; however, I didn’t know what type of children’s activity blogs were out there, until I proceeded to Step 2.
Step 2: Do your research. Read every blog you can find that is similar to the one you plan to create, and find your niche. While doing my own research I found there are many children’s activity blogs, but I was also able to find my niche: I create StoryArt (pictures that tell stories), and couldn’t find another blog that shared this kind of activity. Since it takes me quite a bit of time to create StoryArt, I decided that I would share StoryArt about once a month, and other activities the rest of the time.
Step 3: Write a list of topics for your blog. Once you start your blog you should post to it at least once a week; this is easier to do if you have a list of topics before you begin. Once you have your list of topics, write a few posts. Be consistent in style and voice, and be sure not to stray from the theme you chose in Step 1. Personal anecdotes should be shared only if they relate to your blog’s theme. You may mention one of your books if it is pertinent to the post, but never turn a post into a hard sell. The purpose of your blog is to make people respect you and your writing. If you accomplish this, they are much more likely to want to buy your books.
Step 4: Create your blog. Before you publish your first post you’ll need to choose a layout for your blog. Layout is a matter of personal choice, but keep in mind that (1) Your name, contact information, book titles, and links to your Web site or other blogs should be prominently displayed. (2) You need to have a subject index. A surprising number of bloggers provide very useful information but don’t index it, so it’s virtually impossible to go back and find a relevant old post. Your blog will stand out if it’s well written and easy to navigate.
Step 5: Publish your first post. I was nervous about publishing until I realized I could edit or delete a post at any time. Of course, you edit each post before you publish it to avoid mistakes, but if you do miss one, by all means go back and fix it.
Congratulations! If you’ve completed steps one through five, you now have a well-crafted blog. But no matter how well-crafted your blog is, unless you promote it, your only readers will be you and possibly your best friend. Look for tips on promoting your well-crafted blog in next month’s newsletter.
From Susan Daffron
I have a blog for our business at http://blog.LogicalExpressions.com and one for the National Association of Pet Rescue Professionals. I’ve also started up two new blogs: http://www.CreativeVegan.com and http://www.TechnoHomesteaders.com, although they don’t have much on them yet!
From Joel Friedlander
Blogging has a lot of similarities to self-publishing. It’s amazing to see how popular it’s become. I started my blog (www.TheBookDesigner.com) last fall, just about to have my one year anniversary, and it’s been quite a ride. I blog every day about book design, self-publishing, writing, e-books, and the indie publishing life.
Find great hints for word use (or mis-use) at Bonnie Myhrum’s blog at http://professionalsecretary.wordpress.com/
From Michael N. Marcus who has ten blogs—not all are active at the same time.
Create Better Books, with the Silver Sands Publishing Series: www.silversandsbooks.com/booksaboutpublishing.html
“Stories I’d Tell My Children (but maybe not until they’re adults)” http://www.amazon.com/dp/0981661750
From Sandra Beckwith
My blog at http://buildbuzz.blogspot.com helps authors, nonprofits, and small business owners learn how to generate publicity for their books, products, issues, or services. My biggest challenge is finding the time to share something meaningful. There just aren’t enough hours in the day!
From Carol Sanford
I blog on my book Web site www.carolsanford.com/blog. I manage to post three times a week most weeks. It auto-posts to Twitter and gives me a way to put out ideas and book reviews on subjects related to my ideas. I do Q & A with the authors of the book reports. My field is business, so that is the area of book reviews. Once in a while I do case examples when I hear about people who are doing what I advocate. www.carolsanford.com.
From Tami Dever
I don’t post nearly as often as I’d like to, but the TLC Graphics blog is mostly concerning the importance of book design with author interviews thrown in. You’ll find it at http://helpmepublish.wordpress.com. I’m always open to topics that interest you, so feel free to suggest one or ask questions!
From Dallas Woodburn
I keep one blog at http://dallaswoodburn.blogspot.com/. I’d love it if you’d visit!
I was doing three to four posts a week, but now that I started graduate school I’ve been posting less. I’m trying to get back into the routine!
From Patricia Fry
I have two blog sites. I post daily at my publishing blog—I will log my 1,000th (yes, one-thousandth) post in December. I post only occasionally at my cat-related blog.
http://www.matilijapress.com/publishingblog about writing/publishing
http://www.matilijapress.com/catscapades about cats
http://www.patriciafry.com (new Web site)
http://www.matilijapress.com (book showcase and author resources.)
From Cliff Ball
I’m blasting my blog and my author Web site all over the ’Net, trying to get my name and novels out there, including being on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, and other social networks.
From Bill Benitez who is very busy!
I’m glad to have the opportunity to list my blogs. I have been busy lately creating blogs for my books and publishing.
This doesn’t include the blog I manage for my wife’s new novel, fifteen Web sites for books and other services, and nine Web sites I manage for other authors and small businesses.
From former newsletter editor, Wendy Dager
I have two blogs. http://www.wendydager.blogspot.com is my writing blog. I recently changed its name to “Double You D (Squared), aka Wendy Dager’s Writer’s Daily,” from “Wendy Dager Is Not Famous,” its original—and somewhat cynical—title. I decided it needed a new look and a new attitude. For those of you who don’t yet have a blog, Blogger has some nice templates.
My other blog is “Vintage Purse a Day,” http://www.vintagepurse.blogspot.com where I showcase my huge collection of vintage purses. That one started out just for fun, although I am now looking at ways to earn money from the site, which currently gets about 1,200 hits a month. I’ve added Amazon ads and a Zazzle store, and have been talking to folks at a local museum about exhibiting some of my purses. For more information, visit my Web site at www.wendydager.com
And from Sandy Murphy
My own beginner blog, http://www.classicalbean.typepad.com, where I blog about coffee, tea, and cocoa and hand out free recipes for fancy drinks. There’s a coffee dictionary there too, in case you wonder what coffee words mean but are too embarrassed to ask!
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