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SPAWNews, March, 2004

Wendy Dager, Editor

This is your electronic version of SPAWNews. As a SPAWN member, you will be receiving this newsletter every month.

For contributions to the newsletter and Letters to the Editor, please e-mail the editor of SPAWNews:

Those of you who are members, be sure to go to the first page of the site at and click on the "Visit Member Area" button. You will be asked to log in.

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Table of Contents

- Editor’s Note

- SPAWN Kids Writing Project

- From the Trenches

- Letters to SPAWN

- Join SPAWN At the L.A. Times Festival of Books

- Be Part of SPAWN’s Book Catalog

- Market Update

- Chapter Reports

- Q&A

- The F-Xpert: For the Contrarian Grammarian

- Member News

- Contests and Awards

- Events and More

- Sign Up for Escrip

- Mission Statement

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Editor’s Note

I laughed when I saw the headline "Authors Giving Themselves Good Reviews." The article appeared in my local newspaper, but it originated from the New York Times News (wire) Service. This means folks all over the country now know there are quite a few writers "pseudonymously" touting their own books in the reader reviews section of Internet bookseller Amazon. Some people do not like this practice, believing that it is, as one writer said, "a rhetorical war," where authors—and, in some cases, their friends and family—write good reviews to rebut the bad ones, which may or may not come from the writers’ enemies. While people who legitimately read the book ostensibly write reviews both positive and negative, the idea that a writer would pen his own praise is somewhat distasteful—mostly to those who don’t know how tough the business is.

Which is what struck me funny about the article’s headline. My first thought upon reading it was, "It’s finally come to this."

It’s no surprise that writers have to use such seemingly sneaky tactics to get their names and products out there. It’s part of the evolution of the modern publishing world. Those who do win the veritable lottery of acquiring an agent, then a publisher, then a couple dozen hardback copies are also required to be marketing geniuses when publishers don’t have adequate funds to publicize the work. So, while authors reluctantly take on self-promotion as a necessary marketing technique, others think they’re blowing their own horns for the sake of sales. Yet, we in the biz know that these Amazon infiltrators really aren’t any different from job hunters that puff up their résumés.

Years ago, an article I wrote about greeting card writing for The Writer magazine became a chapter in the annual writing resource "The Writer’s Handbook." I plugged it on Amazon, leaving my name and a comment that said something like, "Check out my chapter on greeting card writing!" This didn’t do a darn thing for me, since I’d already been paid and certainly didn’t get any royalties from book sales. I just thought my piece was a good how-to and that the book was an excellent guide for writers.

And now, having written a mystery novel for which I am seeking a publisher, I wonder if I will eventually be that "reader in California" who anonymously submits a good review to Amazon. I doubt it. I’ll probably just get my mom to do it. –Wendy Dager is editor of SPAWNews. Visit her Web site,

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SPAWN Kids Writing Project

The SPAWN Kids Writing Project is in its 4th week and are we having fun! We have 13 talented boys and girls in Oak View, California, eager to polish their writing skills. Before the month is over, we hope to have at least a few of the students on their way to becoming published. Watch SPAWNews for book reviews written by some of these pre-teens. Almost everyone in the class has read and enjoyed member, Gail Thornhill's books, "The Secret Life of Truly Jones" and "The Magic Eyes of Tizzy Dean." And they all look forward to seeing their poetry, stories, letters, etc. published in their very own book. The book will be our grand finale and we have member Eva Rosenberg at to thank for that.

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From the Trenches:

Mary and Patricia and Much Ado About Books

In late February, SPAWN founder Mary Embree and SPAWN president Patricia Fry attended Much Ado About Books, a major library-fundraising event in Jacksonville, Florida. They served on two panels discussing writing and publishing.

Patricia and Mary teamed up and spoke to a packed room of budding writers in the morning. In the afternoon session, Patricia was paired with Carolyn See, and Mary with Larry Kane. See and Kane are both best-selling authors. Between sessions, they did book signings and attended a luncheon where notable authors Elaine Konigsburg and Rick Bragg were speakers. While in Jacksonville, they visited local schools and talked to hundreds of kids about writing. Patricia had the privilege of meeting 6th grader, Evany Sneed, author of the winning entry in the Florida Black History Essay contest this year. Evany’s inspirational essay was chosen from 3,500 others submitted by junior high students throughout the state. It was a thoroughly enjoyable weekend in which Mary and Patricia were wined and dined in traditionally gracious Southern style. Patricia and Mary were tired after 3 days in Jacksonville, but they are basking in wonderful memories and the joy in having had the opportunity to promote our organization.

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Letters to SPAWN

Editor’s Note: The following is in response to last month’s Tips From the FX-pert column about e-books.

Dear Wendy,

I've been associated with ebook publishing in one way or another since I first learned about them back in '98. My first novel was published as an ebook by Pulsar Books, which later became RFI, Inc., which later went down the tubes. There's been a lot of that going around in ebook publishing.

I'm now a publisher. The parent company, Zumaya, publishes POD paperbacks but offers ebooks as well. Our erotica imprint, just a year old, publishes as ebooks first then converts to paperback when sales reach a designated level.

I have sold many more ebooks than I have paperbacks--I currently have three of the former and two of the latter. If you're one of those prolific souls who can turn out a book every other month, ebooks can make for a nice little revenue stream. The curse of ebooks, unfortunately, is that they have almost as short a "shelf life" as print books from the traditional publishers. If your book is still earning a decent amount after three months, you must be a heck of a promoter.

That's not meant as a complaint. It's simply the fact of life where ebooks are concerned. Those who read them are constantly looking for new ones. The indie ebook publishers sell at prices low enough to be attractive to those avid readers. This, however, requires that they constantly produce a stream of new ones to keep the readers coming back.

As a result--and I speak now as a reviewer of ebooks--is that many manuscripts that probably shouldn't see the light of day do. This makes the overall quality of what is being published electronically uneven. Now, as the news that ebook sales are increasing, I see an alarming number of self-publishers jumping on the train, which means more and more unedited, unproofed "books" are going to be available for the naysayers to hold up as examples of the whole.

The solutions, with ebooks as with print-on-demand, are education of the public and careful commitment to ensuring one's own work is as professionally prepared and presented as possible (sorry for the alliteration). Meantime, it's possible for an author to make a little money they might otherwise not.


Elizabeth K. Burton, Executive Editor

Zumaya Publications

1105 Nueces Street #3

Austin TX 78701-2129

Phone: 512-477-6259

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Good day, Wendy!

I recently had the opportunity to work with Patricia Fry on marketing my children's Christmas book, "Tinker's Christmas." Patricia is so very good at what she does, is such a good consultant and has given me a wealth of information to assist me in my endeavors. Marketing and promoting my book had become a tremendous burden to me because I was lost as to what I should be doing. I was doing a little bit of everything and not concentrating or following through on any of anything. Patricia helped direct and define a focus for my future efforts. Between Patricia's consultation and Dan Poynter's seminars, the two of them may make a successful writer out of me in spite of my efforts. I just wanted to share my experience with the group in case there are others are there who may need the same type of help. I unequivocally recommend it.

Thank you!

Sande Cropsey

Editor’s Note: Anyone interested in a consultation with Patricia should visit For more about Dan Poynter see "Member News" below.

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Join SPAWN at The Los Angeles Times Festival of Books

Imagine promoting your book(s) to an audience of 150,000 people! SPAWN has purchased a booth at America’s largest literary event, the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books. We’ll be promoting SPAWN and selling members’ books. This is a great opportunity for authors to get the word out about your potential best seller. If you’re a member, just send us 15 copies of your each book along with a check for $35 for each title. Also include 100 promo pieces (no larger than 5 x 7, please—the smaller, the better). We will give your book(s) a front row seat, offer a sales pitch when appropriate and collect money from your customers. Remember, this is for MEMBERS ONLY. So if you have a book or books to sell and you haven’t joined SPAWN, this is a good time to do it. Please contact Patricia Fry for additional information,

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Is Your Book or Business Featured in the SPAWN Catalog of Members’ Books and Services?

The SPAWN Catalog will also go to the Times Festival of Books, where we plan to distribute at least 300 copies during the two-day event. The 34 books and services already featured in the Catalog will remain in the Catalog through August. If you wish to have your book or service added for the coming year, please contact Virginia Lawrence at There is a $35 fee for inclusion in the Catalog, and this offer is for members only. To view the Catalog, go to

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SPAWN Market Update

The Market Update is an additional benefit provided for SPAWN members. Each month we publish 8-15 pages of information and resources for writers and publishers.

The March issue of the SPAWN Market Update contains 12 pages of markets and information for writers and photographers. As a bonus, 3 agents reveal what it takes to land an agent and discuss trends in the publishing industry. Here are excerpts from Patricia Fry’s agent interviews:

David Duperre and Ginger Norton of Sedgeband Literary Associates said, "We want to get as many new unknown authors published as we can. The old popular writers won't be around forever and we like to remind editors of this fact as often as possible. Besides, there is some untapped great writing talent out there and we strive to find it anywhere we can."

Roger Jellinek at Jellinek and Murray Literary Agency told us what type of material they want. "In nonfiction we look for strong subjects that have not been published before, by writers with excellent credentials and at least the makings of a platform. We look for constituencies and niches that have been relatively unexploited or poorly serviced. We look for an awareness by the writer of the context in which they are writing—competitive and comparable trade books. And yes, the writing has to be solid and clear, the author has to sense the difference between a magazine idea and a book idea, and the writer has to be able to take notes and edits productively. The book has to feel indispensable. In fiction the premise of the novel has to be striking, and the writing itself has to be remarkable. There has to be a memorable voice. It has to be a great story."

Ed Schiavone at the Schiavone Literary Agency says to hopeful authors, "As in all viable endeavors, you will have to do a considerable amount of homework. This means making use of reference books, source books and other aids. Fortunately there are many resources available to you. Joining writer's groups, taking courses, and meeting with fellow authors, all contribute to your eventual success in seeking out an agent who will get your book published. My advice to new authors is to write about what you know best, rather than to restrict yourself to the trendsetters. The changes in publishing emphasize competition, but the opportunities abound, so go for it!"

In this month's Market Update, you'll discover:

  • A goldmine of information on ways to promote your book
  • Interviews with 3 agents discussing publishing trends and their submission guidelines
  • References to sites answering a writer's "How much should I charge?" question
  • How the number of new magazines launched in 2003 compares to 1998
  • Find out how to make money writing book reviews
  • A list of publishers looking for fiction books
  • Magazines soliciting articles
  • Where to find a list of book publicity services

Join SPAWN for access to this generous issue of SPAWN Market Update. All back issues of the Market Update are also available in the Member's Only area of the SPAWN Web site,

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SPAWN Chapter Reports


I want to first send a public message of gratitude to Stephanie Carlson for not only doing a great job speaking last month, but also for leading the meeting. I was quite under the weather and am very thankful that she was willing to take over at the last minute.

The February topic was "Learning How to Launch your Internet Marketing Campaign the Right Way." Stephanie explained how to best utilize a web site for increased sales and exposure for your book. She shared the benefits of utilizing e-mail newsletters and the mechanics of Web marketing, including automation, linking, and traffic building. Attendance was high and those who were there sent rave reviews.

Our March meeting will be on the 3rd and we'll discussing June's big event in Chicago, BookExpo America (BEA) and the other classes, seminars and events that lead up to the expo. The contributors are former attendees and/or exhibitors from different aspects of publishing. Best wishes to all! –Tamara Dever is the Austin Chapter Leader and a SPAWN board member. Contact her at


Based on the strength and success of the California and Texas SPAWN alliances, we’d hoped that Baltimore would bring in a strong, supportive circle of publishers, artists and writers. While I have received numerous e-mails from members in and around Maryland regarding meetings, it seems that it has been difficult for some to attend.

Therefore, I am hoping that those of you who wish to offer your expertise as guest speakers on topics of interest to SPAWN members would contact me. I would also like to hear from SPAWN members and future members with suggestions on how we can run our meetings smoothly and successfully, while gaining increased attendance. —Ramona Davis is the Baltimore Chapter Leader. Contact her at

If you're interested in starting a SPAWN Chapter in your area, find out more at, then contact Patricia Fry at

Please remember that you must be a paid SPAWN member prior to becoming a SPAWN chapter leader.

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Q&A on Submitting Web Sites to Search Engines

Q: Dear Virginia,

I wanted to increase traffic to my book site, so I recently signed up with a search engine submission company to submit the pages of my site every month to the search engines. I wanted my site to appear in the listings when someone searches for "book" in any search engine.

Now I notice that my site has been dropped by some search engines. Not only is my site not doing better in the search engine site rankings, it's doing worse. What happened?

Read the full answer from Dr. Virginia Lawrence at

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SPAWN Member Web Site of the Month

This month’s featured site is the URL of Diana R. Thompson of This New World Publishing, LLC.

"My first Web site is In addition to the books we are publishing as part of This New World Publishing, LLC, we offer book packaging and graphics services to other publishers, specializing in book design and layout, and getting the best printing prices for color interior book printing," said Diana. "We also offer a two-for-one deal on our children's books right now. Buy one title new from any bookstore (even from Amazon for 30% off), and we'll send you ‘The Big Ocean: An Underwater Naptime Adventure’ free, as soon as it arrives (April 13 or sooner). Free shipping, too.

"My second Web site is -- a site for kids and parents, offering book reviews, online advice, and more!"

If you are a SPAWN member and you would like to be featured in this space, please send a brief description of your site to SPAWN president Patricia Fry, If you are a newsletter subscriber who would like to become a member, please go to

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The F-Xpert

By Richard F.X. O’Connor

For The Contrariarian Grammarian

I get some of my information on the comings and goings of books from a free Web site that you may already be using, From its Weekly Lunch, a roundup of current titles bought by houses, I glean trends, if once can call them that. It would seem that contrarian views sell.

For example, two books in the works are "Unplugged Family Activities" and "Confessions of a Slacker Mom." The two run against the child rearing and teenage parental advice books that have occupied every second of our kids’ time from sun-up to lights out. They seem to be talking about teaching children to think. What a concept.

Another emerging contrarian trend (that ought to fizzle in about two weeks) is the counter to Chic Lit identified as Lad Lit, anything with Adam Sandler and booty appeal.

So the writer tip would be to look at society from a contrarian POV.

In February I taught two sessions of the 21st Annual Writer’s Workshop put on by Santa Barbara City College’s Continuing Education Division. Malachy McCourt was the keynoter and his current book is "Harold Be They Name." He is presently completing "I Never Drink When I’m Sober." (Tip: The right title can be important.)

If ever you bump into him, beware of a pet peeve: Folks who meet him for the first time and gush about how beautiful Ireland was on their vacation/ visit, and what a gem the Emerald Isle is. If you’ve read "Angela’s Ashes," brother Frank’s book, you’ll realize that is not the Ireland in which he and Malachy grew up. Theirs was hardscrabble dirt poor, with an absentee father and a harsh Church that led Malachy into espoused atheism.

That notwithstanding, he is a charming storyteller – something for us writers to aspire to, thus ending this column on a preposition. –Richard F X. O'Connor is the published author of seven books including the best selling "How To Make Your Man More Sensitive" (E.P. Dutton/ Fawcett) and "Ident-A-Kid" (S&S). His self-published work is "How to Market You and Your Book." His writers’ Web site is

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SPAWN Member News

Note: Please send your Member News to It must be received by the 15th of the month for inclusion in the following month’s SPAWNews.

Attention Alternate History Lovers: Fast paced mesmerizing alternate history with a twist, "Sacred Honor" will be reviewed live with author Lillian Cauldwell on the Authors-First Show on ArtistFirst World Radio Network, Wednesday March 3rd at 8:00 PM (EST). Tune in from anywhere on your PC click to listen: or visit

Friday, March 12, 6:30 PM - Rochelle Brener reads her poetry at Sweet Jill's Café, Cottonwood (AZ). Make a right turn off Main St. (89A) - Right after Larry Green's New & Used. (Editor’s Note: For more from Rochelle and Write Here®, please see "Events and More" below.)

Fran Halpern hosts the lively, often funny Beyond Words, a show for literary toilers, word lovers and political junkies which airs Saturday at 12 noon, PST on KCLU, an NPR affiliate, 88.3 in Ventura County, 102.3 in Santa Barbara County, on the Web at Calls are welcome during the show 805-493-9200.

Patricia Fry received copies of her latest book from her publisher this week. "Youth Mentoring: Sharing Your Gifts With the Future" is number 16 for Patricia. This one was written for parents, educators and others who are mentoring a child, who would like to get involved as a formal or informal mentor or who interact with children in their family or neighborhood and would like some guidelines, ideas or resources for greater success. (Liguori Publications, 2004) 800-325-9521.

Dan Poynter's multimedia show demonstrates electronic picture books with color, motion (video and animations), sound (audio) and the best part is the reproduction cost of 30 cents per copy. Your children's book can be interactive; the child can click on icons for more information, a different story line, animations and sound. The book can even be personalized, making the child the main character. Children love computers and they find reading on a screen irresistible. Discover how to write your children's book faster, promote it for less and get it distributed more effectively. Imagine your book being featured at and sold in CD format as well as a download. At last, you can get your book into print. Para Publishing, Dan Poynter: Author, Publisher, Speaker.

Information Products on Book Writing/Publishing/Promoting, Parachutes/Skydiving, Expert Witness & Aging Cats. PO Box 8206, Santa Barbara, CA 93118-8206 USA; Phone: 805-968-7277; Fax: 805-968-1379

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Note: SPAWNews advises "caveat emptor" when dealing with venues, contests or promotions unknown to you.

ABA is relaunching the "Booksellers' Resource Directory."

For the re-launch, ABA is asking all nonbook vendors of products and services that would be of interest to independent booksellers to submit data for a free listing in the new Booksellers' Resource Directory. You may submit data through an online form at, which outlines the more than 70 categories of products and services to be included. You may also print out the form and fax it to (914) 591-2717, Attn.: Dave Grogan, or mail it to ABA, Booksellers' Resource Directory, Attn: David Grogan, 828 South Broadway, Tarrytown, NY 10591. It is expected that the Booksellers' Resource Directory will be online at this spring.

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Contests and Awards

The 2004 Independent Publisher Book Awards, conducted annually to honor the year's best independently published titles, are now accepting entries. All independent, university, small press, and self-publishers who produce books intended for the North American market are eligible to enter books copyrighted or released in 2003.

Winnow Press Open Book Award in Poetry offers a prize of $1,000, publication by Winnow Press, and 25 author copies. The prize is open to all poets, regardless of their publishing history. Entries must be original and written in English. Submit two copies of a manuscript of 50 to 80 pages with a $20 entry fee by April 26. Send an SASE, e-mail, or visit the Web site for complete guidelines. Winnow Press, Open Book Award in Poetry, 3505 El Dorado Trail, Suite D, Austin, TX 78739-5704. (512) 280-4483. Corinne Lee, Contact.,

The Power of Purpose Awards: A Worldwide Essay Competition, is sponsored by the John Templeton Foundation, which will award a total of $500,000 to the nineteen essay winners. The grand prize winner will receive $100,000. The submission deadline is May 31, 2004. For more information:

To celebrate dog stories and the human-dog bond, is holding its First Annual Dog Story Contest. The contest is for nonfiction stories of dog heroes, favorite dogs, and interesting or funny dog stories. The winner will receive $100 and a Canine Courage T-Shirt, second place will receive $50 and a Canine Courage T-Shirt, and third place will receive $25 and a flying disk. Fourth and fifth places will receive a flying disk. Winning stories will be posted on and all stories will also be considered for publication in an anthology of dog stories.Entry deadline is June 1, 2004. Visit for contest details.

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Events and More

Read about all of the publishing-related events at

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Electronic Scrip Incorporated (ESI) is a California-based corporation dedicated to establishing relationships between commerce and community. Since 1999, over $40 million has been distributed to schools and groups. eScrip is a fantastic resource for fundraising where participating business partners contribute a percentage of your grocery loyalty cards, credit card, and debit/ ATM card purchases to up to three schools, groups or organizations of your choice. You register any one or all of your existing grocery loyalty, debit and credit card for use in the program. Participating merchants will make contributions to your chosen group, based on purchases made by you, just by using the cards you have registered. You can go to, click on the orange Sign Up button, type in SPAWN, then register your grocery cards and/or credit cards. SPAWN, a 501(c)3 organization, gets a little over 2% in donations from all purchases f! rom participating merchants. If you already have an eScrip account, please remember that you can list up to three groups. Thank you for supporting SPAWN.

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To promote the literary arts and provide education, information, resources and a supportive networking environment for artists, writers, and other creative people interested in the publishing process.

SPAWN membership dues are $45 per year; spouses, half-price. Please make your check payable to SPAWN and send it to:

Small Publishers, Artists & Writers Network

PMB 123

323 E. Matilija St., Suite 110

Ojai, CA 93023

Or apply for membership online.

Go to and click on JOIN SPAWN NOW.

Please do forward this newsletter to your friends and associates. Forwarding is encouraged as long as the entire newsletter is forwarded.

SPAWN is a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization.

Donations are tax deductible.

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Join SPAWN now and receive one FREE book by Patricia Fry. See the selection from which you can choose your book at the Member Benefits page. As a member, you can enjoy the benefits of the Members Only Area. There you will find:

  • Member Forum. In the SPAWN Forum, you can discuss publishing with knowledgeable published writers and publishers.
  • Market Update. This valuable Market Update will appear every month, letting us know exactly what is going on with magazine and book publishers.
  • Event Calendar where you can submit your events. After approval, your events will be available for all members to see.
  • Member Webpages where you can upload your HTML pages to build your own Web site. Your Web pages will be viewable by everyone on the Internet.
  • Member Catalog where you can list your books and services
  • Member Discussion list where you can discuss your triumphs and questions with your publishing peers.
Join SPAWN now by clicking on the "Join SPAWN Now" button at the top of this page.

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December, 2003

SPAWN is a nonprofit corporation. Donations are tax deductible.

Small Publishers, Artists & Writers Network

PMB 123

323 E. Matilija St., Suite 110

Ojai, CA 93023


Telephone: 805-646-3045

Fax: 805-640-8213

Wendy Dager

SPAWNews Editor, Membership and Database Coordinator


Virginia Lawrence, Ph.D.

SPAWN Webmaster


Virginia Lawrence, Ph.D.

SPAWN Executive Director


Patricia Fry

SPAWN President


Advisory Council

Carol Doering

Dallas Glenn

Rosalie Heacock

Literary Agent

Andora Hodgin

Writer, Editor, Publicist

Irwin Zucker

Book Publicist

Jim Lane


Marcia Grad-Powers


Melvin Powers


Dan Poynter

Author, Publisher

Jean Wade


Board of Directors (as of December 1, 2003)

Patricia Fry

Author, Publisher

President of SPAWN

Virginia Lawrence, Ph.D.

Writer, Editor, Webmaster

Executive Director of SPAWN

Ruth Hibbard

Treasurer of SPAWN

Richard F.X. O'Connor

Author, Publisher, Editor, Consultant

Tamara Dever

Book Designer

SPAWN Founder

Mary Embree

Author, Editor, Literary Consultant of SPAWN


To promote the literary arts and provide education, information, resources and a supportive networking environment for artists, writers, and other creative people interested in the publishing process.

Submission Guidelines

Members and Nonmembers: Please send your press releases, seminar information, and books for review to Wendy Dager, Editor, SPAWNews

PMB 123

323 E. Matilija St., Suite 110

Ojai, CA 93023

or email

SPAWN membership dues are $45 per year; spouses, half-price. Make your check payable to SPAWN and mail to P.O. Box 2653, Ventura, CA 93002-2653. Or click on Member Application to fill out the secure online form and pay your dues by credit card.

SPAWNews, Member Directory and Web site listings, and discounts for SPAWN events are included in membership.

SPAWN is a nonprofit corporation. Donations are tax deductible.

Small Publishers, Artists & Writers Network

PMB 123

323 E. Matilija St., Suite 110

Ojai, CA 93023



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