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Editing articles

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SPAWNews, April, 2001

Archives Available

When Publishers

Aren’t the Enemy

By Wendy Dager

It happened again. I got another rejection letter. This time, it accompanied the book proposal I’d painstakingly put together to promote a compilation of my previously published opinion columns.

It’s not the rejection itself that troubled me—I’ve accepted them; come to terms with their existence. I understand that rejection letters aren’t necessarily a commentary of my work, but a way of letting me know that my writing doesn’t fit the bill for a publisher.

OK. No problem.

What annoyed me about this particular rejection letter was that my last name was misspelled—changed entirely, actually. Twice.

It was more than a mild blow to my inflated ego. To me, it implied a lack of respect. And it happens all the time.

Why is it we writers have to make sure our submissions are in good order, but editors and publishers can misspell our names or scrawl illegible notes or, worse, return our work without even a form letter rejection?

John Daniel of Santa Barbara-based Daniel and Daniel Publishing was glad to give me his take on the subject.

“I’m a writer as well as a publisher, so I see both sides of this,” he said. “I find it varies—some publishers are very courteous and neat, and their responses are intelligent and make sense. Others sometimes just scribble a note on the bottom of your cover letter. I think it has a lot to do with their workload. There are so many people knocking on their door, they sometimes feel as long as they’re getting back to you, they don’t need to take the time to be meticulous.”

But it isn’t just publishers who are in a rush. Often, it’s the writers who aren’t taking enough time to present themselves at their best.

“Being neat and tidy and having your spelling and grammar correct—that’s just good insurance,” said Daniel. “You don’t know who’s on the other side of the desk. You might be dealing with a schoolmarm or you might be dealing with a stoned beatnik.”

No matter who sits in the editor’s chair, writers should always try to make a good impression.

According to Daniel, his publishing house receives thousands of submissions a year. Queries come from new authors, prison inmates, teenage poets, and seasoned writers. There are those in every one of these groups—including the professionals—who make glaring submission errors.

“At least 30 to 40 percent put an ‘s’ on the end of my name,” he said. “They’ll send it to ‘John Daniel and Company, Daniel and Daniel Publishers,’ then my address, and then say: ‘Dear Mr. Daniels.’”

Still, he’s quick to point out that we all makes mistakes, including the editor who inadvertently gave me a new last name. The best thing writers can do, says Daniel, is develop a thick skin.

Don’t worry so much about rejection, but find a way to better your work, or find a publisher more suited to your writing.

Of equal importance is that writers should understand it’s not a matter of us versus them.

“Don’t perpetuate the notion that it’s the writers against the publishers or the publishers against the writers,” said Daniel. “Really, we’re all on the same team, trying to put literature into the world.”

—For submission information, visit Daniel and Daniel Publishing on the Web at www.danielpublishing.com.

—Wendy Dager is a freelance writer and senior editor of SPAWNews. Her email address is Wendy@Spawn.org.

Fighting For Our Rights

When this edition of SPAWNews went to press, Jonathan Tasini of the National Writers’ Union and five other freelancers were headed to the Supreme Court to battle for ownership of their work.

Tasini has sued publishing giants The New York Times Company and Time Inc., because they and others are re-selling articles online—and not sharing the income with writers.

The publishing companies contend that after they pay a freelance writer for first-time rights, the work remains part of their archives, including the articles publishers might sell to electronic database owners.

The case goes to the Supreme Court on March 28. In Tasini’s corner are the U.S. Register of Copyrights, the American Library Association, the Association of Research Libraries—and a lot of freelance writers.

We’ll let you know the outcome in a future issue of SPAWNews.

START MARKETING YOUR BOOK

BEFORE IT’S A BOOK

By Patricia L. Fry

Word Usage

Compare to or compare with?

By Mary Embree

Online Marketing for Book and Publishing Web Sites:

Step 4, Tracking Traffic

by Virginia Lawrence, Ph.D.

Contests and Events

Writer’s Digest announces its 70th annual Writing Competition, where writers can compete and win in ten categories, including ins

Inspirational, article, short story, poetry and more. There are more than $25,000 in prizes, with a grand prize of $1,500 in cash, plus a trip to New York to meet with editors and agents OR a trip to the 2002 Maui Writers Conference. Entry deadline is May 15. For more information, pick up a copy of Writer’s Digest magazine, or check out www.writersdigest.com.

Want to sell your book? The Central Coast Book & Author Festival takes place on Saturday, June 9, from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. at the Mission Plaza in San Luis Obispo. If there is enough interest, SPAWN will reserve a booth at the event for members who wish to display their books. Please contact Mary Embree at Mary@Spawn.org for details.

SPAWN is a nonprofit corporation. Donations are tax deductible.

Small Publishers, Artists & Writers Network

P.O. Box 2653

Ventura, CA 93002-2653

Website: http://www.spawn.org

Telephone & Fax: 805-646-3045

Wendy Dager

Senior Editor, SPAWNews

e-mail: Wendy@spawn.org

Hal Ranzenhofer

Managing Editor, SPAWNews

Telephone: 805/984-3216

e-mail: hal@spawn.org

Virginia Lawrence

SPAWN Webmaster

e-mail: virginia@spawn.org

Patricia Fry

Acting President

e-mail: pat@spawn.org

Ruth Hibbard

Treasurer

e-mail: ruth@spawn.org

Advisory Council

Patricia Fry

Author, Publisher

Carol Doering

Dallas Glenn

Rosalie Heacock

Literary Agent

Andora Hodgin

Writer, Editor, Publicist

Irwin Zucker

Book Publicist

Jim Lane

Author

Marcia Grad-Powers

Publisher

Melvin Powers

Publisher

Dan Poynter

Author, Publisher

Jean Wade

Author

Board of Directors

Mary Embree

Author, Editor, Literary Consultant

Founder and President of SPAWN

Patricia Fry

Vice President

Virginia Lawrence, PhD

Writer, Editor, Webmaster

Secretary of SPAWN

Ruth Hibbard

Treasurer

Frances Halpern

Author, Columnist, Talk-show Host

Marsha Karpeles

Executive Director, Manuscript Libraries

Richard F.X. O'Connor

Author, Publisher, Editor, Consultant

MISSION STATEMENT

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, Senior Editor, SPAWNews, 3039 Country Lane, Simi Valley, CA 93063 or email Wendy@spawn.org.

SPAWN membership dues are $45 per year; spouses, half-price.

Subscriptions to SPAWNews are $15 per year for nonmembers. Make your check payable to SPAWN and mail to P.O. Box 2653, Ventura, CA 93002-2653.

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

P. O. Box 2653

Ventura, CA 93002-2653

       

 

 

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