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SPAWNews, March, 2005

Wendy Dager, Editor

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

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

Table of Contents

- Editor’s Note

- Free Book Offer

- SPAWNews Celebrates its 105th

- Homeschool Kids’ Latest Project

- Letter to SPAWN

- Los Angeles Times Festival of Books

- Save Money on Shipping

- SPAWN Catalog of Member Books & Services

- Market Update

- Chapter Reports

- Q&A

- Book Reviews

- Are We Blogging Yet?

- Ask the Book Doctor

- Member News

- Opportunities

- Contests and Awards

- Events and More

* * * * *

Editor’s Note

Married to Your Work

By Wendy Dager

In addition to my SPAWN duties, I write a column for a newspaper. Being that where I live—Ventura County (California)—is mostly suburbia, I often write about family issues. For example, I sometimes mention what a great guy my husband is. I know this should be a given, but I’m acquainted with a large number of married people who aren’t fond of their significant—or insignificant—others. So, I try to reinforce the fact that there are a few good marriages that haven’t yet been ruined by fading beauty or lack of money or some other common complaint.

Which is why I was pretty upset to learn that the latest journalism dirt is about a couple of writers who were paid to tout the benefits of wedlock. Syndicated columnists Maggie Gallagher and Michael McManus received $21,500 and $10,000 respectively from the Department of Health and Human Services to "develop policy about strengthening marriage." They then blathered about it in their columns without letting readers in on the fact that they were getting payola.

I’m not sure what irritates me more—that I’ve been blathering for free, or that Gallagher and McManus did something some consider morally wrong, yet socially acceptable.

For decades, celebrities and athletes have been paid to plug products they may not even use, but no one’s vilifying them in the press. And, who knows, maybe Gallagher and McManus really do believe marriage is a fabulous institution and would have been willing to say so, even without the Christmas bonuses.

The problem is that we in the writing profession are held to a higher standard than celebrities whose tabloid-worthy antics are often thought of as disgustingly amusing. While actors are paid to become characters—lie, in essence—what we columnists do is write the truth. Even opinion writers, while expressing our own views, must be honest about them.

Despite the post-scandal success of well-known names like Jayson Blair, Janet Cooke, Mike Barnicle, et al, we writers are not supposed to fall into temptation and plagiarize or make up stuff or take money to fulfill an agenda. The power of the pen is revered to the point that our mightier-than-a-sword reputation can be damaged by mercenary intentions.

This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be compensated for our aboveboard work. It just means that the United States government doesn’t have to surreptitiously pay me for saying I like being married. However, in the spirit of undeserved remuneration, my darling husband should know I’ve got my eye on a certain diamond anniversary band.

–Wendy Dager is editor of SPAWNews. E-mail her at Dager is also a Ventura County Star columnist. This is an edited version of Dager’s February 17 column, reprinted with permission of the Ventura County Star.

* * * * *

Special SPAWN Offer: Free Book With SPAWN Renewal or Membership!

If you would like to become a SPAWN member or if you haven’t yet renewed your membership, do so now and receive a FREE book. For details:

* * * *

SPAWNews Celebrates its 105th

We’re proud to report that this edition of SPAWNews is its 105th! And, since we’re talking numbers, SPAWN itself is coming up on its 9th birthday, having had its first meeting on May 19, 1996. In addition, Writer's Digest magazine once again lists SPAWN’s site as one of the top 101 Best Writer's Web Sites for 2004. We're one of only 13 organizations to make the list!

* * * * *

Homeschool Kids’ Latest Project

Last year, SPAWN members worked with a group of Ojai (CA) homeschooled children and produced a book of their works for our first SPAWN Kids’ Writing Project. The students so enjoyed the process that they formed a writing group and plan to publish another book. They call on SPAWN occasionally for input and advice, and have asked for our help with another project. The students have volunteered to participate in a fundraiser for the local library. The first fundraiser for this library was an ice cream social held in 1893 at a newly built rock house. 112 years later, the library committee plans to replicate the ice cream social at the same place in April. The students will don costumes and encourage guests to participate in games of bygone days. We will help them do the necessary research. The kids also plan to recite poetry, as well as use their writing talents to produce an old time newspaper to hand out at the ice cream social.

* * * * *


Note: The following is excerpted from an e-mail sent to us. It is reprinted with permission of the author.

I'm currently a member of the Small Publishers, Artists and Writers Network (SPAWN) and have found the benefits worth the membership fees. When I think about SPAWN, I have a very clear mental image of the organization's identity, the services it offers, and the circumstances under which I would correspond with SPAWN. Also, I frequently correspond with the various SPAWN directors. They've monitored my progress on writing magazine articles (related to my book) and helped with structuring and formatting the celebrity interviews in my current book. In essence, they welcome my

correspondence. On many occasions, they have used my questions for general articles and lessons in their member newsletter. Now that my latest book is at the printer, I'll be returning the favor by writing some articles for the member newsletter.


* * * * *

Los Angeles Times Festival of Books

SPAWN Member Offer

The very popular 25th Los Angeles Times Festival of Books is scheduled for April 23-24, 2005.

This year, SPAWN has purchased 3 booths so that we can offer members the opportunity to join us in the booths to sell their own books. Most author places have been taken, but you can still reserve one space on Saturday and/or one space on Sunday.

We have reached our maximum capacity of member books to be sold in the SPAWN booth. This means that we cannot accept any more books. There is now only one remaining way to participate:

Option - You sell your book in a SPAWN booth

1 day: ¼ booth for $170


2 days: ¼ booth for $290

The Los Angeles Times Book Festival is an exciting event and a great way to get your book before the reading public. Be sure to take advantage of this economical way to participate in the festival. Contact Patricia Fry at right away and tell her which option you choose or go directly to the secure signup form:

* * * * *

Save Money on Shipping

By Patricia Fry

Use the flat rate priority mail envelopes to ship as many books as you can squeeze in there for just $3.85. You’ll be surprised by how many books you can stuff inside one envelope. I protect my shipment of books by first putting them in USPS priority mail video mailer (size 9.25 X 6.25 X 2.25). I can fit five 180-page books in that box or nine 80-page books. Then, that box will fit inside the Flat Rate Priority Mail envelope. Instead of using media mail (and slowing down your shipment) or paying $6 or $7 to ship, you can ship books without damaging them for just $3.85. The media rate for one book weighing one pound or less is $1.42. You should only use the flat rate envelope when you have several books to ship.

* * * *

SPAWN Catalog of Member Books and Services to be Distributed at LA Times Festival

As a service to our members, we plan to distribute at least 400 copies of the SPAWN Catalog at the two-day Los Angeles Times Festival of Books. Most of the books and services already featured in the Catalog must be renewed to be included in this newest edition. There is a $35 fee for inclusion in the Catalog, and this offer is for members only. ($20 if you are participating in the SPAWN booth at LA Times Festival of Books.)

To sign up now for the SPAWN Catalog of Member Books and Services, go to If you have questions, please contact Virginia Lawrence at

* * * * *

Market Update

The March Market Update springs forth with new ideas, new opportunities and new challenges for freelance writers, authors, scriptwriters, photographers and artists. Read it from cover to cover and you’ll learn more in 15 minutes than you could possibly glean in 15 hours of research. I know—I did the 15 hours of research in order to bring you these 15 minutes of opportunities, ideas and information.

Here’s a sampling of what’s inside:

  • Find out how to get emergency assistance funds for writers.
  • Do you usually speak for free? Now you can speak for miles.
  • Shipping tips and regulations for the author/book distributor.
  • 15 interest/genre-based writers’ organizations you can join.
  • Pitch your script to 100 companies in L.A. this spring.
  • Publish your science fiction or kids’ book.
  • Are you a muddy writer? Here are tips for cleaning up your act.
  • A challenge for artists and photographers.
  • SIX new magazines are seeking submissions.

Read all about it in the latest edition of the SPAWN Market Update at Go to the member area using your user name and NEW password (if you’re a member, the new password appears in each monthly edition of SPAWNews) and click on Market Update.

Not a member, yet? Want to see what you’re missing out on? Contact and she’ll give you a sneak peek.

* * * * *

SPAWN Chapter Reports

If there is no chapter near you, join with other members or nonmembers to start one. For more information, contact Patricia Fry at

Knoxville, TN

The first meeting of the new SPAWN chapter in Knoxville, TN will convene March 16, 7:00 PM, at the Golden Roast Coffee Shop, 825 Melrose Place, phone (865) 544-1004. The meeting’s theme will be "Building a Peer Support Group for Small Publishers, Writers and Artists in East Tennessee." Please contact Deborah Patterson at or (865) 256-0794 with any questions or comments. Current SPAWN members and all others interested in the publishing process are welcome!


For information about the Colorado chapter, e-mail Tom and Karen Sterner-Howe at or


For meeting information, contact Tami Dever,


If you are interested in attending SPAWN chapter meetings in the Baltimore, MD area, or wish to be a guest speaker at a meeting, please contact Ramona Davis, Baltimore Chapter Leader,

* * * * *


Hi Virginia,

My agent only seems to want perfectly edited books. How do I find a publisher who will look at my whole, unedited book and be willing to work with it? Do you know an agent who will find one for me?

A SPAWN Member

Dear SPAWN Member,

Yes, the publishing industry has cut way back on editors, and now accepts only books that are pretty much ready to print. That's because the big publishers are getting even bigger and cutting costs to placate shareholders. Even Time Warner is a publisher these days.

I can't introduce you to an agent, but I would suggest that you write a great book proposal. Give publishers and agents what they want—something to quickly read so that you can overwhelm them with facts. Make your case so that the right publisher can't say no. The right book proposal demonstrates your writing ability while making it clear that there is a market for the book and that you can sell to that market.

The Writer's Market has a chapter on how to write a book proposal. Also, SPAWN president Patricia Fry has an e-book called "How to Write a Successful Book Proposal in 8 Days or Less." It's for sale in our SPAWN e-bookstore,

I mention that e-book because it's in our store and it's great. But that's not why I'm recommending that you write a book proposal. A book proposal is what agents and publishers want. It's best to give them what they want so that you can increase your likelihood of getting the book published. After you write the book proposal, send it out to every appropriate agent and publisher you've researched. That is, send only to the agents and publishers who work with your type of book.

I understand it's a tough requirement, but a great book proposal really works.



* * * * *

Book Review

By Patricia Fry

Title: The ABC's of POD: A Beginner's Guide to Fee-Based Print-on-Demand Publishing

Author: Dehanna Bailee

Publisher: Blue Leaf Publications, 2005

ISBN 0975509527

This is just what the hopeful author considering POD Publishing needs. What do you get for the $8.95 price of this little book? Eighty-plus pages of straight talk designed to educate and inform authors BEFORE they decide to hire a fee-based, print-on-demand publisher. This valuable volume explains in simple terms what a POD publisher is and how they came about. Bailee takes authors by the hand through the process of POD. She explains authors' rights, the concept of royalties, fees and contracts, and tackles the reality of book promotion and sales.

To read the full review of The ABC's of POD: A Beginner's Guide to Fee-Based Print-on-Demand Publishing, go to

* * * * *

Book Review

By Patricia Fry

"Knock Their Socks Off! A Freelance Writer’s Guide to Query Letters That Sell"

E-book by Mridu Khullar, editor-in-chief,, New Delhi, India

130 pages, $12.95,

This could be the best book I’ve ever read on the subject of freelance writing and query letters. For a relative newcomer in this field, Mridu Khullar has incredible insight into the world of freelance writing. Not only has she developed unusual savvy and wisdom, she has a delightful way of sharing and teaching.

To read the full review of "Knock Their Socks Off! A Freelance Writer’s Guide to Query Letters That Sell", go to

* * * * *

Are We Blogging Yet?

By Virginia Lawrence

We’re all hearing about blogs, and wondering. In fact, the last time I asked a group to tell me which Internet topic I should discuss at my next talk, the consensus was "blogs." So read on for a quick overview.

Blog sounds odd, but it’s just a contraction of Web log, a type of online diary. We build a blog by using specialized software, which makes it very easy to just enter the day’s musings without becoming a programmer or Web designer.

Read more about blogging at

* * * * *

Ask the Book Doctor

By Bobbie Christmas

About copyrights, plurals, grammar checkers, style, title pages and more

To find out more about these and other topics go to

* * * * *

Member News

Sean Brijbasi of PretendGeniusPress announces an upcoming compilation of poetry and fiction, "Fish Drink Like Us." For more information or to submit your work:

Richard F.X. O'Connor will be conducting a workshop "Make the Leap from Writer to Published Author," Saturday, March 19 at Santa Barbara City College at Schott Center, Room 28, 10:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m. For more information:

SPAWN member Erika Dreifus tells us her article mentions SPAWN in the February issue of Writer's Digest on page 18, in the Inkwell section. "Not For Members Only" lists a number of Web sites that offer great resources to non-members as well as members. She recommends that people check out SPAWN articles on writing, illustrating, publishing, and marketing. For more about Erika,

While Patricia Fry has been teaching for years through her articles and books, at the local college and at various writers’ conferences across the states, she taught her first online class just last year. She helped students write a book proposal. At least one student landed a publishing contract with her successful book proposal. Patricia has three online classes scheduled for 2005: Write a Successful Book Proposal, How to Write and Sell Magazine Articles and Self-publishing Workshop. SPAWN members get a 10% discount on classes. Learn more at

* * * * *


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

"A Cup of Comfort" is a bestselling book series, published by Adams Media, featuring powerful true stories about the experiences and relationships that inspire and enrich our lives. These engaging personal essays—written by people from all walks of life—are carefully selected for inclusion in "A Cup of Comfort" based on originality, creativity, and substance. Colleen Sell, editor of 12 volumes in this bestselling series, is seeking submissions for "A Cup of Comfort for Grandparents" (submission Deadline: April 1, 2005). Stories must be original, true, positive, in English, and 1,000-2,000 words. Payment: One $500 grand prize per book; $100 each, all other published stories plus copy of book. Guidelines: (click on "Share Your Story") or email request to

Speak4Miles is the barter speakers’ bureau where meeting planners can find speakers who will speak for barter. For more information:

* * * * *

Contests and Awards

Read about the latest contests at:

* * * * *

Events and More

Read about the coming events at:

* * * * *

SPAWN is a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization.

Donations are tax deductible.

* * * * *

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.

* * * * *

SPAWNews 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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