SPAWNews Newsletter – October 2011


Sandra Murphy, Editor

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

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From the President

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

I’ve noticed that writers worry a lot. Maybe it’s all the deadlines and potential rejection, but writers seem to spend a lot of time fretting and making themselves miserable, which is a big waste of time and creative energy. There are two types of worries:

1. Things you can do something about. For example, “What if my book isn’t any good?” Countless experts exist who can evaluate the book and help you improve it before you release it to the world.

2. Things you can’t do anything about. For example, “What if the Big Publishing Company rejects my book proposal.” Many times decisions about book proposals have nothing to do with the quality of the book proposal itself. You can write the best proposal in the world and it may still be rejected for business reasons completely out of your control.

This newsletter is full of ideas and actions you can take to move forward. Instead of spinning your wheels worrying about things you can’t control, focus on those things you can. If you want to be published, write the best proposal or book you can. Then let go and move on to the next project. You’ll be a much happier and more productive writer (and person) in the long run.

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

September Teleseminar Announcement!

Teleseminar for SPAWN Members

Who: Lynda McDaniel & Virginia McCullough
When: October 6, 2011, 1 pm (Pacific)
How: Members will receive an email with call-in details
Title: Crank Up Your Creativity: 16 Creative Techniques to Wake Up Your Writing and Power Up Your Promotions

Editor’s Note

Want to own your own magazine? WRITERS’ Journal is seeking a buyer. Any interested party should contact or call 218-346-7921. If you have any questions, please call.

Bouchercon 2011/St. Louis is over. In all, it was 1,600 writers and fans, 92 panel discussions, an indoor firing range simulator, 3 ½ days of non-stop talk and activities, a bowling tournament, auction, silent auction, awards and dinners, and books, books, and more books.

A lot of the writers know each other, so there was teasing and telling of tall tales and much laughter in the panel discussions. When they talked business, they meant the business of writing and they got serious. Even though this was a mystery conference, the talk was more about the craft of writing than the way to dispose of a body.

As fans, we like to think authors get an idea from their muse and then sit down to write. Typing away like crazy, the story unfolds and virtually writes itself. A couple of re-reads, a good spellcheck, and bam! It’s a shelf-ready book. Oddly, out of all the writers I met, only two said the book is fully in mind when they get ready to write. Most of the others outline—some just notes, and some in detail. They check back often to see that they’re following the map that will get them from the first-sentence-hook to the last-page-ending.

The writers at Bouchercon made it clear that in writing, you succeed by planting yourself in the chair and putting your hands on the keyboard. When a publisher asks, “Do you have any more ideas?” you should say “Yes!” Can you write a murder mystery about cheese? The answer is always, “Yes, I can do that!” Don’t know anything about cheese? That’s what research is about.

A fan asked a panel of writers, “Do you have a muse?” They all looked at each other and answered with a definite “no.” Don’t follow a trend, write your own ideas and wait for the world to catch up. They all said that ideas come to them in overheard conversations, from the newspaper, or from a “what if?” question, and then roll around in their head, sometimes for years, before the story becomes evident. That gives the appearance of the story writing itself—no one sees the imagination at work.

So how do you get to be a successful writer?

  • Never say no
  • Be a great researcher and an even better storyteller
  • Learn from your mistakes; learn more from other people’s mistakes
  • Read, read, and read
  • Eavesdrop

My friend Dale Dauten, the Corporate Curmudgeon, reminded me of his favorite quote: “Inspiration is very important. That’s why I make certain that I’m inspired every morning at 9:00 a.m.” -Charles Schulz, creator of Peanuts.

 — Sandy, Editor, SPAWNews,

SPAWN Market Update

by Patricia Fry

The October SPAWN Market Update is bulging with leads and tips for freelance writers and authors. Whether you are seeking a publisher, searching out writing gigs or promoting a book, you will find information and ideas to spark your creative instinct and move you off dead center with your projects. This month we’re offering links to a map of bookstores throughout the United States, heads-up for two interesting contests—both of which could lead to a publishing contract, listings for new publishers, tips and resources for appropriate conferences, an interview with the head of an innovative company, and more. While you’re at it, be sure to spend some time reading back issues of the SPAWN Market Update. There are thousands of resources, links, and leads represented in our archives—from job sites for writers to massive publisher/magazine directories, for example.

Eight Steps to Writing

by Joanna Celeste

I started writing at age six, and my first publication was when I was fourteen. I would like to share what I learned from Joe Satriani. He has experienced terrific success with his art and summarizes a formula for the success and growth of any artist.

  • Practice your art every day, without fail.
  • Always feed the artist in your head, your heart, and your hands. Nurture and seek to foster the artist that you are.
  • Create the art you want to create. Do not seek to imitate, or meet someone else’s expectations, because your art is part of who you are, so you can’t be like anyone else and still be true to what is you. (This does not mean you should be a prima donna and refuse to participate in the creation of group art, or insist on playing only your kind of music in a band, but that you create what is yours, whatever form you do it in.)
  • Learn everything you can about your business. Seek the inspiration of those who inspire you, and learn from them.
  • Prepare for success. Then you can seize the opportunities that present themselves. (His motto seems to be “I’ve been preparing my whole life for this” when faced with opportunities.)
  • Be unafraid to fail. Sometimes you can learn more from a spectacular failure than you would have from a string of minor successes.
  • Learn to say “YES” when you ask yourself, “Can I do this?” Even if you don’t think you can, say YES anyway. You’ll find it within you to make it happen.

Becoming successful takes a lot of hard work, but it’s good work. It’s work that you do to create the art that you want to create.

Joanna Celeste grew up in a multi-cultural environment, visiting her grandmother in Africa, her aunt in Switzerland, and her mother’s homeland of Colombia, all of which shaped her perspective. She has always had a love of words and was published at the age of fourteen as a Teen Reporter for the Friday Flyer. At twenty-six, she now has twenty-three publishing credits and thirty-seven editing credits. She lives in Glendale with her family and two dogs.

Ask the Book Doctor:

About Book Covers as Promotional Tools, What Constitutes Being Published, Mic or Mike, and Agents Outside the Country

By Bobbie Christmas

Q: I’ve sent my manuscript for editing, and I’m planning to self-publish. Should I be thinking about front and back covers now?

A: Yes. If you plan to hire a professional designer (which you should), don’t worry so much about the front cover; let a pro do the job, but do think of the promotional copy (and probably a picture of yourself) for the back. Keep the wording strong, persuasive, and short, maybe with bullet points.

Before you get a designer, though, you need to choose a printer, and before you choose a printer, you must decide between traditional printing or print on demand. Learn all the ins and outs, advantages and disadvantages of POD versus traditional printing before you decide, and then pick a printer with plenty of experience in the type of printing you want. Get samples of books the printer has produced; be sure the covers don’t curl and that the cover colors are vibrant. Find a printer with a customer service representative, so that you get personal service, and ask what types of files the printer prefers to receive from your designer. Next you can choose a designer who uses methods and produces files that are compatible with your choice of printers.

Again, while your manuscript is being edited, you can spend time thinking about your back cover, writing copy for the back cover, choosing a printer for your book, and choosing a designer for the cover. Perhaps your cover designer can handle the layout of your book as well.

Many details go into self-publishing, so while handling all those details, never overlook the importance of the back-cover design and wording. That back cover might be your book’s most vital promotional tool.

Q: Do you have to get paid to be considered published?

A: No, you do not have to be paid. Many nonprofit organizations, newspapers, and startup magazines don’t pay contributors, but if they like your writing well enough to print it in their publications or use it on their Web site, you are published. Some publishers don’t pay an advance before they publish your book, yet you are still considered published, once the book is printed and distributed.

Self-publishing, however, is a gray area. Most authorities say you are not legitimately published until someone else chooses to publish your work. That view is old thinking, in my opinion, however, because times have changed. As I see it, if you self-publish and sell several hundred copies of your book, you’re as published as anyone else. The difference—and remember, this is still only my opinion—would be those who self-publish and never sell their work. I would not consider those folks published, even though their works may be in print. Why is that? Because the term “publish” does not necessarily mean “in print.” It means “to announce something publicly.” If no one reads the “announcement,” the work isn’t published. It would be like making an announcement to an empty room. If hundreds of people buy and read your self-published book, however, it seems to me you’ve been published.

Yes, some authorities disagree with me. I don’t care. I stand my ground. The growth of small, independent, and self-publishers and the failure of large publishers to recognize up-and-coming writers has turned the publishing business upside down. “Authorities” need to get with the program.

Q: How should I spell the abbreviation for microphone in my novel? Is it “mic” or “mike?” I’ve seen it both ways.

A: In searching a couple of dictionaries, I see “mike” listed as the same as microphone, but not “mic,” so if you want to use the term in dialogue, you can’t go wrong using “mike.” More important than which term you choose is that the manuscript be consistent. Don’t use “mike” in one place and “mic” in another.

I use the nickname “mike” for microphone in dialogue only, because the narrative should adhere to Chicago style, which spurns the use of slang, jargon, or abbreviations in narrative.

Q: I live in the U.S.A. An agent from the U.K. has asked to see my manuscript. Do you think an agent from a foreign country is a good choice for a U.S. writer?

A: It’s hard to say. The answer depends on your plans, your market, and your manuscript. Many books are sold in the U.K. before being sold in the United States, but I would question whether a U.K. agent would have many contacts in the U.S.A. On the other hand, garnering any agent is tough, so I’d at least give the agent a chance. If you sign a contract, be sure it’s one you can easily cancel if the agent doesn’t perform the job you expect.

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

Member News

From SPAWN President Susan Daffron: I’m seeking reviews of my new book, Publicity to the Rescue: How to Get More Attention for Your Animal Shelter, Humane Society or Rescue Group to Raise Awareness, Increase Donations, Recruit Volunteers, and Boost Adoptions ( If you’re interested in a review copy, let me know.


The G2 Gallery (Venice, California) is a nature and wildlife photography gallery that donates all proceeds from sales of art to environmental charities. The gallery is owned by Dan and Susan Gottlieb. Susan is on the board of Audubon California, and on the President’s Advisory Council of National Wildlife Federation. In September, G2 hosted an event to support CSA—Commercial Sustainable Agriculture—with the help of SPAWN member Judith Johnson and her chocolate Poodle, Jasper State. Jasper teaches children to eat their green things every day, especially string beans, his favorite! CSA featured string beans (of course), cauliflower, apples, and asparagus. Judith reports that Jasper State wore his blue jean jacket and sunglasses while handing out paw-tographs. Jasper’s newest idea involves a temporary paw print tattoo for kids who eat their string beans. Jasper says he’s ready to do another personal appearance! Find out more at,, and


From Sigrid McDonald: My editing blog has been nominated as one of the best grammar blogs of 2011. It would be great if you would visit the site and vote for it, if you feel that it merits the honor. The blog is chock full of advice for writers, with numerous free grammar tips: If you like the blog, you can vote for “Be Your Own Editor” on


Simon Teakettle is celebrating the tenth anniversary of his award-winning humor book, Mewsings/Musings, with the release of his second annual photo calendar. The 2012 calendar contains thirteen photos of Simon Teakettle III (Terzo) taken by his co-author, Barbara Florio Graham. It’s available from

Terzo’s popular blog and Fan Club pages are at


New Horizon Publishers’ new release, Identity Theft: Discovering the Real You, by best-selling author and attorney, DeMonica D. Gladney, was ranked #2 on the BCNN1/BCBC National Independent Publishers’ Top 50 Bestsellers List.  The book is a powerful tool for evaluating and reinforcing one’s stolen identity.  The author provides an inspiring and real-life, first-hand account of her personal encounter with identity theft and shares the keys to reclaiming one’s “real” identity.  For more information on the book, visit


From Joel Friedlander: I’ve been thinking a lot about what an exciting time it is in the world of book publishing, and the opportunities that are opening up for authors. I just posted a video in which I take a look at eight reasons why you could call it a Golden Age for self-publishing. It’s an introduction to the training I’ve been working on for a while, and I’m really excited to bring it to you. I don’t think there’s anything like it anywhere. Take a few minutes and have a look. Here’s the link:


Patricia Fry’s latest book, Promote Your Book, Over 250 Proven, Low-Cost Tips and Techniques for the Enterprising Author  (Allworth Press 2011) is now on Kindle as well as in print. Check it out at Amazon.


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

Book Promotion: What’s Ethical and What Isn’t

by Barbara Florio Graham

Promoting books has become complicated, with some tactics that border on unethical. Large publishers purchase tables at the front of bookstores, along with spots at the ends of rows where their latest offerings are shelved, face-out, to attract attention. They also often ship books by the skid, ahead of the release date, to big-box stores (even grocery stores) so these discounted copies can be scooped up before the independent bookstores receive their copies.

These situations mean it can be harder for small and self-publishers to attract buyers to a book launch or obtain any media attention for local titles when the blockbusters command so much space and publicity.

It’s now common, also, to pay for reviews, and to solicit “exchanges” on Amazon: “I’ll give your books five stars if you’ll do the same for mine.”

So what is the small or self-publisher to do?

Aside from the usual efforts, including a presence on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and other social media, it’s important to cultivate smaller media and independent bookstores that still care about local writers.

I just handled the media campaign for Prose to Go: Tales from a Private List. The “private list” is one I created, bringing together twenty-three professional journalists from across Canada. Of those, eighteen contributed thirty-four first-person pieces to this anthology, which was published in the spring by a mid-size Canadian publisher, Bridgeross (

We took full advantage of our fourteen locations, from the Northwest Territories to Prince Edward Island. Our members also used a variety of talents to further promote. Several of us who manage our own Web sites added pages for the book, including comments from reviews and readers. Others are frequent Twitter users, some write popular blogs, and one works at a radio station.

Each of us had a variety of media contacts. As a result, there have been many articles in local papers, interviews on local radio stations (mine is at, and podcasts of several of the stories (listen at

We agreed on a standard description for the book (important for consistency), and I compiled and sent everyone a fact sheet about the book and the contributors. Many authors don’t realize how helpful this can be. It provides a quick reference when you do a broadcast interview, and is an important part of the media kit you give to contacts. See a sample at

I also prepared flyers featuring the book cover, a brief description of the book, and full ordering information. These were set up to print three-across, and I take them everywhere. Every time I gave or sold a book, I included several flyers so purchasers could give them to their friends and family. That’s an old-fashioned form of viral marketing that really works.

These flyers could just as easily have been bookmarks, which are extremely useful. I’ve used them successfully for my other books, and found that the extra cost of laminating the bookmarks for Mewsings/Musings was really worth it. They don’t fray, are seldom thrown away, and don’t blow off bookstore counters every time someone opens the front door.

These are just a few ideas anyone can use, while still staying true to his or her moral and ethical values.

Barbara Florio Graham is the author of Five Fast Steps to Better Writing, Five Fast Steps to Low-Cost Publicity, and Mewsings/Musings, as well as the Managing Editor and one of eighteen contributors to Prose to Go: Tales from a Private List. Her information-rich Web site is, where you’ll also find Simon Teakettle’s popular blog.

The Best Way to Get a Freelance Writing Assignment

by Linda Formichelli

A month or so ago, I wrote some Web copy for a hospital in Chicago. My client was pleased with the work, I received a (big) check, and everyone was happy.

Today, I sent her a quick e-mail letting her know that my assignment schedule is wide open after May 15, and telling her that besides Web copy, I write articles, brochures, books, press releases, and more. Not ten minutes later, I received a reply: “We need a brochure for our oncology division. What do you charge for a tri-fold?”

If I hadn’t asked for more work, chances are I would never have heard from this client again. But because I did, I have a new potential assignment.

Many writers hem and haw and never ask for what they want. They write query letters that don’t ask for the assignment. They finish one assignment and never ask for another one. They send out letters of introduction to markets and never tell the editor why they’re bothering to introduce themselves.

If you want something, you need to ask for it. Here’s how:

End your queries with a request.

I typically end my queries by telling the editor why my idea is perfect for her readers and why I’m the perfect person to write it, and then I ask: “May I write Fusilli vs. Tagliatelle: Pasta Showdown for Noodle Manufacturer Fortnightly?” Of course, there are many ways to phrase the question—and technically, it doesn’t even have to be a question—but the important thing is that you ask the editor for the assignment.

This makes things crystal clear for the editor: you’re not a PR person pitching a product or a source. You’re not a reader sharing an idea—out of the kindness of her heart—that the editor can give to a staffer. You’re proposing that you write the article.

Be non-threatening.

When I send out a letter of introduction to a trade or consumer pub, I usually ask, “May I send you some clips?” I’m not asking this editor, who has never seen my work—and who I’m not even sending a fleshed-out idea to—to throw assignments at me. That would be too much. Instead, I make a request that’s easy to say yes to: May I send you a few clips? I get a pretty good response rate with this.

Follow up.

I aim to stay in touch with my editors and copywriting clients and let them know I’m available for more work. Whenever I see that my schedule is about to start looking thin, I write to them and let them know that I’m finishing up a bunch of deadlines and will soon be available for more work. This has another benefit: when I tell the client that my schedule will be free after May 15, it implies that I’m a sought-after freelancer who usually has a full schedule. (And this is true; I DO have a lot of deadlines until May 15!)

Even if you have no work at all, don’t let the editor know you’re facing the prospect of eating ramen noodles for dinner for the next month. Desperation is a turn-off. Don’t lie and tell the editor you have deadlines if you really don’t, but also don’t let on that you’re dying for an assignment. Be cool.

You may be surprised that getting assignments is as simple as asking for them.

Linda Formichelli has written for more than 120 magazines since 1997, from Pizza Today to Redbook. She’s the co-author of The Renegade Writer: A Totally Unconventional Guide to Freelance Writing Success and blogs at Linda teaches an eight-week course on how to break into magazines. The next one starts on October 3.

Promote Move Forward Raise Further Launch

by Bonnie Myhrum

Promote: (verb) from the Latin promotus (pro– forward + movere to move), meaning to move forward  1. To advance in station, rank, or honor (raise)  2. To contribute to the growth or prosperity of (further)   3. To help bring (as an enterprise) into being (launch)  4. To present (merchandise) for buyer acceptance through advertising, publicity, or discounting

Social media, including Facebook, appear to be the latest venue for promoting just about anything. If you want to use social media for promotional purposes, I suggest you pay an expert in social media marketing to help you set up your page(s). We “friend” people on Facebook, but we “like” a business or product, and getting someone to “like” your product or business page takes some finesse and expertise, so you should know what you’re doing if you intend to set up a page for promotion…or hire the expert. It shouldn’t cost much, but it will be worth it.

While you’re at it, have your Facebook posts, blogs, and Web site proofread by a professional. For some reason, many of us overlook proofreading information that is to be posted on the Internet and assume everything is “good to go,” but you won’t impress anyone with your writing if it has typos or other errors. The number of those who will read your book is small compared to your potential Internet audience. Impress that huge Internet audience with your superior writing skills. Hire a proofreader.

Bonnie Myhrum is owner of Professional Secretary, LLC. She types anything from letters to books, creates Excel databases (often uploaded to Constant Contact or used for mailing labels and other personalized documents), and edits and/or proofreads everything from postcards, flyers, and the SPAWN newsletter to fiction and non-fiction books. Web site:; E-mail:; Facebook:; Twitter:!/ProfSecy; LinkedIn:

Passive Promotion Via Blog

by C. Hope Clark

We write ourselves silly, edit ourselves to the point of insanity, and then face the wall of self-promotion. Agents think we should have a platform before the book, yet we need a book to build a platform. Magazine editors Google us before accepting our article pitch, when all we want to do is build a small clip portfolio. So how do we promote ourselves from square one—from “nobody” status?

Step one. Start a blog.

Not a diary. Not a journal. Most writers make the mistake of thinking that their life is of interest to the public, so their blogs turn into a day-to-day list of events and thoughts. You’re a nobody, remember? Your life isn’t intriguing. At least not yet. You have to provide something of interest to others. Remember, all writing has to appear simple and easy, with takeaway value for the reader. It isn’t about the writer.

Pick a niche and stick to it. Post about current events in that niche, experts in that niche, new concepts in that niche, your experience in that niche. Post funny stories, case studies, success angles, failures, and profiles of others who have gone before you. Doesn’t matter what that niche is, how small it is, how unusual it is. Pick a strange angle of a niche. It doesn’t have to be a writing blog, either. I know one fiction author who writes about tea, tying it to writing lessons. Another writes about animals. I write about grants, markets, and contests. The key is to be different. If you can’t pick a unique niche, then you darn well better have a fantastic voice, wrought with wit, snark, beauty, savvy, or an extreme grasp of the profound.

Don’t think you have to hire an expert to start a blog, either. Pick a free product like Blogger or WordPress, then go. Include lots of ways to follow the blog on the site. Blogger and WordPress have buttons in their toolbox for you to use, but also add Share This: and Feedburner: Put your blog address in every e-mail you send, every comment, every forum reply, and every business card.

Step two. Follow other blogs.

Reading blogs can be addictive, and for a while, let it be so. Learn who the movers and shakers are in your niche. Follow them. How will this work for you?

You’ll learn from their success. Study their voice. Note how they draw comments. What makes you look for their post each day?

Study the comments. Not only will you learn about other bloggers and experts in your world, but you’ll see the magic of a great comment. There’s a trick to responding. Note that blogs have regular commenters who note something to almost every post.

Leave alluring, perplexing, designing remarks. Through your comments, make people want to find out more about you, see you as a force to be followed.

Respect the poster. In your remarks, demonstrate that you read the post and have drawn a conclusion. Capture the interest of the blog owner. If you do this repeatedly, you may find yourself in Google Alerts as well as mentioned on other posts. Ultimately you want to be invited to guest post, or at least open the door for you to pitch a guest post. The blogger will already know who you are and welcome your proven expertise.

Post your blog address. Most blogs require you to post an online address before they will accept your remarks, but that’s not enough. When you write your comment, sign it again with your name and blog location so that everybody can clearly see who and where you are.

Blogs are underestimated as powerful promotional tools. They may not be explosive, overnight flashes of marketing, but their long-term, slow-growing, far-reaching effect is proven as one of the most efficient means of self-promotion on the Internet. Take them seriously, and give them the intense attention they are due, and they’ll return the love a hundred-fold over time . . . without costing you a cent.

C. Hope Clark is editor of, chosen by Writer’s Digest Magazine for its 101 Best Web sites for Writers recognition for 2001 through 2011. Web site –; Blog –; Twitter –; Facebook –

Book Review

by Sandy Murphy

Promote Your Book—Over 250 Proven, Low-Cost Tips and Techniques for the Enterprising Author by Patricia Fry Allworth Press 2011, ISBN:978-1-58115-857-1   paper, 200 pages, $19.95

This book is so much more than promotion. If you follow Fry’s suggestions, you’ll be thinking about building promotion into your book before it’s even written.

More than a list of places to go, things to do, people to see, this book maps out a successful marketing plan that won’t cost all of your profits. Everywhere you go, everyone you talk to, is an opportunity to tell about your book, without being annoying about it.

From mailing list to publicity photo, cover art to back cover blurbs, getting reviews and getting into libraries and book stores, this book has a chapter to help you do it. Join e-mail groups to increase word-of-mouth, the best and least-expensive promotional method. Run contests at your blog or Web site so the winner gets a free copy of your book—and tells friends about it. Look for specialty stores so you’ll have a targeted audience but not a lot of competition. Guest blog and be sure to put your book’s title in your signature line.

This book delivers no-cost and low-cost ways for you to promote your book and increase sales. Who else better to do it? Writing a book and sitting back to collect the profits is no longer a viable plan, if it ever was. Now you’re responsible for getting your book noticed—it will be harder than writing the book, but just as rewarding when you see your book in the hands of your reader.

Fry draws on her own thirty-five-year career as a writer and includes tips from other authors as well. She’s the author of over thirty books, self- and traditionally published. Her article writing skill from magazine days translates well into daily blogging at A member of Toastmasters, she’s a sought-after speaker for all manner of groups.

Follow the tips, suggestions, and step-by-step instructions in Promote Your Book and without spending all your profits, sell more books. And wasn’t that your goal?

Emily Tweets?

by Darrell Laurant, The Writers’ Bridge

One wonders what Emily Dickinson, who produced a steady stream of profound verse while rarely leaving her room, would have thought of the Internet?

Would she have resisted Facebook and chat rooms in favor of her beloved isolation? Or would she have allowed herself to be drawn into the media maelstrom?

I tend to side with the latter possibility, based on Dickinson’s quote: “A word is dead when it is said, some say. I say it just begins to live that day.”

It’s almost as if she envisioned search engines.

At any rate, the solitary Dickinsonian approach to creativity is out. Tweeting is in—for now, at least.

The beauty of today’s information highway is that the toll booths have been taken down. Emily Dickinson had no easy way to promote her poetry, even had she wanted to. Well into the latter part of the 20th century, spreading the word could be accomplished only by paying a third party or convincing one of the ubiquitous gatekeepers in New York (literature and art), Los Angeles (pop music), or Nashville (country music) that what you had to offer was worthwhile.

Now, it’s up to you. Andy Warhol’s fifteen minutes of fame has been revised. Were he alive today, Warhol might say: “Someday, everyone will have a blog.”

And why not? They’re free, they’re fun, and they’re perhaps the best way to get you and your work “out there.”

Sure, a gazillion other people blog. But you’re automatically part of the competition for the world’s attention, and that’s the most anyone can ask.

Therefore, it’s important to separate yourself from the rest of the blogging, Tweeting herd. Is there something unusual about you as a person? Do you write about a “niche” subject on which you’ve become an expert? Do you have a unique style?

First decide who you are as a writer, then envision your audience. And finally, figure out ways to gain the attention of that group.

More than anything else, you have to be willing to devote ample time to promoting yourself and your work. Learn the ins and outs of social media. Keep your blog vibrant and current. Establish yourself on Facebook.

I advise members of the Writers’ Bridge to flood the market with queries. The more you have in circulation, the better your chances of making a connection. Remove the word “rejection” from your vocabulary. The worst that can happen is that an editor will make the choice not to include your idea in his or her publication. That still leaves other markets to try, and you have planted your name in the memory bank of the person who turned you down. Try him or her again down the road.

Perhaps because of the lack of tools she had to work with, Emily Dickinson was never much for self-promotion. As a result, most of her work wasn’t discovered until after her death.

You don’t need to wait that long.

Darrell Laurant, Writers Bridge,

Virtual Book Promotion: Use Technology to Sell Books without Leaving Home

by Carol M. Upton, Dreams Aloud Promotions

In a time of budget cuts, it’s more difficult for authors to book event space. Add to that the cost of traveling around the countryside with a box of books in your car, and you can see a rather dismal picture—or not!

Technology has created better ways to market our books, many of them more effective than the traditional ones.

Blog/Virtual Book Tours

You’ve heard these terms or seen your colleagues posting about them. There are many reasons why virtual touring beats standing around the library hoping for a crowd:

  • Reach many more potential readers than you can in person
  • Reach your exact target market
  • Have your author interview or book review remain online indefinitely
  • Save the high expense of setting up and traveling to book signings

Setting Up a Virtual Book Tour

Identify the blogs/Web sites in your target market that are willing to review your book and/or interview authors. You can do this by searching Google or blog directories.

Pitch the blog owner, explaining that you are setting up a Blog Tour and inviting their participation. Perhaps he or she will review your book, run a pre-written review, interview you, or run your guest post.

Your goal is to have a different blog/Web site post about you or your book each day over a specific time period. Commonly this is about ten days. Once it’s set up, publish a tour calendar on your own Web site, share the links on your social media, and see what happens!

Visiting Organizations Via Skype

More frequently, libraries, schools, organizations, and book clubs are using technology to host author visits. Skype allows you to present your talk and hold a Q&A just as if you were in the room. One author who has been extremely successful in this work is Barbara Techel (, and her book Class Act: Sell More Books through School and Library Author Appearances is an excellent resource. You begin by going to, opening a free account, and getting a Web cam.

The pitch is the same one you would send to these venues if you were going to visit in person. You can charge a fee and arrange for book sales. Some excellent checklists are available online to help you plan and deliver your Skype presentations.

Enjoy these new ways of selling your book virtually, leaving you more time to write!

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

Why Beginning Writers Have So Much Difficulty Gaining Success

by Victory Crayne

Beginning writers cannot see the weaknesses of their own writing and are blinded by the glow of having created something new. A novel is a major time-consuming project and a writer becomes a little bit drunk on it during the time it takes to finish.

Ninety-nine percent of all manuscripts from beginning writers are simply not ready to be published, yet all beginning writers try. Then they bang their head against the “wall of rejection” and complain that it is so hard to get published and hard to sell well.

What they fail to understand is the lesson here.

If your story is poorly designed and written, its chance of success is poor. If your story is well designed and written, its chance of success is much better. Even then, it may not be easy to get a publisher or book reader to recognize it.

Why do I mention “design”? Beginning writers get an idea for a story and immediately start running with it, without paying any attention to design. The rush they get from creating something new blinds them to the need. Design is hard work. Why bother with design when you can have so much fun just writing?

The lesson is plain. It is not your fun that counts here. It is the fun that readers experience that counts.

Because of the glow writers obtain from creating, most beginning writers cannot see whether others will enjoy reading what they write. That’s one major reason critique groups are so important. “Feedback is the breakfast of champions.” – Ken Blanchard and Spencer Johnson, co-authors of The One Minute Manager.

I suggest that instead of complaining about the slush pile, rejection letters, and how hard it is to get people to read your new writing—let alone buy it—you participate in critique groups. Get feedback. Listen to the feedback. A beginning writer will be amazed at what others point out. The critics are your first line of readers. They tell you what effect your words really have.

Learn all the lessons that await you as you travel on your journey to success. Participate in critique groups. Read books on the craft of writing fiction. Go to a class on creative writing.

As Daniel J. Boorstin said, “Education is learning what you didn’t even know you didn’t know.”

Victory has gained a reputation as an expert for her articles on writing fiction, including How to Critique Fiction. She is a ghostwriter and editor. Writing classes use her articles as teaching aids. She founded and is the current president of the critique group Web:  Email:

Promoting Your Writing with Social Media in Only Thirty Minutes a Week

by Cheryl Patrice Derricotte

Authors spend the majority of their time crafting well-written texts, yet we need to also spend focused time on branding and marketing our work so it does not sit idly on our computer. Social media offers numerous tools to not only brand us and market our work, but to build community between readers and writers. Where to find the time? This column will outline the steps you can take to develop social media tools for your writing projects in only thirty minutes a week.

Social media is a great way to both advance your brand and control your online persona. When someone Googles your name, you want current, relevant information about you to come up near the top of the search. Social media can take your brand to the next level, as it can establish you as an expert not only on your own articles and books, but on other topics in which you have an active interest.

It is estimated that 2,095,006,005 people are online—approximately 31 percent of the world’s population. ( Facebook has over 800 million active users worldwide, speaking seventy languages; 50 percent of the users log on every day and approximately 350 million connect through their mobile devices. (See Twitter does not share its statistics as readily as Facebook. A recent Business Insider article estimates that 56 million Twitter accounts follow eight or more other accounts. (See As of March 2011, 100 million professionals use LinkedIn. ( Last but not least, YouTube has 490 million unique users worldwide per month, which racks up an estimated ninety-two billion page views each month (

With those online population numbers you can easily see the benefits of building your online community using social media. Let’s get started using these four powerful tools.

1.   Facebook. You are going to set up two Facebook accounts. One account is for your personal use with friends and family, and one account is for your writing and publishing business. Go to and enter your name, e-mail, and birth date for your personal page. Go back to the home page Below the green “sign up” link you will see “create a page for a celebrity, brand, or business.” Click that link and choose to set up a page for a “company, organization, or institution” (i.e. 30-Minute Manager, LLC) or choose “artist, band, or public figure” to get a drop-down menu that includes “writer” (i.e. your pen name here). I built my personal Facebook network first, and then invited those friends to “Like” my business page if they were interested in following my indie publishing company. As part of my thirty minutes a week branding strategy, I use Facebook with my business identity when I interact with other writing and publishing Facebook pages to garner new friends that are exclusively interested in those topics.

2.   Twitter. Choose your Twitter name to coincide with your Facebook name—i.e your writer/pen name or company name. And, if you have a day job that requires you to “tweet” on behalf of the company, you will have a second Twitter account. On Twitter, your username is called your “handle.” My handle is @30MinuteManager. The Twitter bio is one of the shortest bios you will ever write.  Here is mine: “Chief Information Officer for 30-Minute Manager, a small indie press she created in 2011. Artist, activist, writer, and vegan.” By comparison, the bio for my day job reads “Artist/Writer/Vegan. Lover of vampire stories and other tales of immortality. (These are my opinions not my employer!)”

3.   LinkedIn. LinkedIn has a decidedly business/professional focus. On personal Facebook pages and Twitter accounts you see commentary on life, love, politics, and pets. Not so on LinkedIn, where you simply post a short bio and resume. You can also have colleagues provide references for your work. Again, if you still have a day job—set up two LinkedIn accounts: one account for your work history and a business page for your writing and publishing. (

4.   YouTube. The form for creating a YouTube channel is a bit longer than any of the other tools. However, given the new trend in developing movie-style trailers for books, it is worth the time to include this strategy in your book promotions. Master lifestyle design guru Tim Ferris did an outrageously good one-minute trailer for his book “4-Hour Body.” (See it here for ideas:

Now that you have set up your accounts, make sure you spend thirty minutes a week using them.  Make sure that your Facebook and Twitter bios reflect your personality so you can connect with like-minded people. Set a goal to do one tweet a day. Record a ten-minute video on a topic you care about, a book, or movie review, and upload it to YouTube. Refer your Facebook friends to a great article you read. Check out who your colleagues on LinkedIn are connected to and send out three new network invitations.

If you want to dive deeper into using social media, take a training course. I did a great four-week social-media training online through Vegan Mainstream that was cost-effective—I never left my house! ( Building your brand with social media will become fun and easy when you consistently engage online for thirty minutes each week. I hope this column inspires you to get started or reinvigorates your social media use.

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 the Business of 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 Like her at and follow her on Twitter

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