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SPAWNews, November, 2006

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.

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Table of Contents

- Editor’s Note

- Book Festival Report

- Market Update

- Book Review

- Book Marketing Idea

- Can We Choose Web Hosting Only by Price?

- Ask the Book Doctor

- Member News

- Opportunities

- Contests

- Events and More

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Editor’s Note

By Wendy Dager

I recently read a magazine article about what happens when writers read negative reviews of their work.

We all get a boost when someone says something nice, but how do we react when the commentary isn’t so great?

I can tell you that, after nearly two decades of writing newspaper opinion columns, I’m still a little wimpy. I don’t mind when someone sends an intelligent, well-written e-mail disagreeing with my opinion, but it hurts when the attacks get personal. I often wonder if the e-mailer who sent that unkind note would say the same thing to my face if she saw five-foot-one little me at the supermarket, going through my box of coupons, trying to save twenty-five cents on a package of dog treats for my precious border collie, Sirius.

Feeling sorry for me yet?

I hope not.

Because criticism is one of the things we choose to take on the minute we put our words to paper. While any job in any field is judged—by bosses, co-workers or clients—a writer or artist is also vulnerable to the public at large. When the reviews are bad, we can’t help but feel rotten about it. But, instead of tearing us down, we need to take the criticism and either discard it or learn from it, depending on how it’s delivered. That is, if it’s just plain mean, do what our moms always told us and "consider the source." If it’s constructive, we need to be thoughtful and logical and use it to help us better our work.

As I was writing this editor’s note, I stopped to check my e-mail and found a news story on my home page. It was about rap singer and music producer Diddy, who, according to the Associated Press, said he "listened to past digs at his rap talent, but the criticism helped him make his best album to date."

No matter how much of a wimp I am at times, I know that, ultimately, I can handle anything. Mostly because I accept criticism as part of the job. And also because, with or without treats, my dog Sirius thinks everything I do is fabulous.

–Wendy Dager is editor of SPAWNews. Her Web site is

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Book Festival Report

By Patricia Fry

The Santa Barbara Book Festival was a success in varying degrees and in varying ways for every SPAWN participant this year. On September 30, eleven SPAWN members, including SPAWN Executive Director Virginia Lawrence and me, your SPAWN president, filled five tables with books and CDs as well as SPAWN Catalogs of Member Books and other SPAWN materials. We all went to work promoting to the residents of and visitors to Santa Barbara. The tangible results were nearly sixty book and CD sales, but we also enjoyed the camaraderie and had an enormous amount of fun.

Several members made very important, but unexpected contacts throughout the day. One member set up a live radio show interview and a book signing with a major local bookstore. She also managed to get some of her books into the local library system. Other members said they made several contacts that could result in sales or opportunities that may lead to some excellent exposure for their books.

The next book festival in which SPAWN participates is the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books. Unlike the Santa Barbara Book Festival, which draws approximately 3,000 attendees, the LATFB is a huge event, with an estimated 130,000 visitors. This festival is held on the last weekend of April. Watch for our December invitation to members to sign up for the SPAWN booth.

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Market Update

By Patricia Fry

The November Market Update is designed for anyone who wants to make money as an author or freelance writer. Have you run out of book review opportunities for your book? Are you concerned that you're involved with a scam operation? Do you need new ideas for increasing your bottom line? Are you feeling disorganized and stressed? You must read this month's SPAWN Market Update.

In this month’s November 2006 Market Update:

  • ‘Tis the season! Tips and ideas for meeting your year-end goals.
  • Which 2007 Edition includes tons of NEW listings/agents?
  • 7 Book review opportunities.
  • 5 terrific Web sites designed to protect you from scammers.
  • 12 leads for freelance writers.
  • Why a balanced life fosters productivity.
  • Interested in reaching women outside of the U.S.? This publication lists international magazines.
  • How notifying Webmasters of grammatical errors might help you earn extra money!
  • Great book promotion through obscure events and observances.
  • Are you posting reviews at Amazon properly?
  • Get organized! We’ll tell you how.

If you are not yet a member of SPAWN and would like to access Market Update and enjoy other benefits of membership, please join now online at

Note: If you are a free newsletter subscriber only, you will be unable to log onto SPAWN’s "Members Only" page.

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The Well-Fed Self-Publisher

By Peter Bowerman

Fanove Publishing (2007)

ISBN: 10:0-9670598-6-0

Review by Patricia Fry

Peter Bowerman of The Well-Fed Writer fame is back with a 294-page book professing to teach authors "How to turn one book into a full-time living." If you study this book from cover to cover, you will get exactly the encouragement, information, tools and resources you need in order to do just that.

To read the full review of the The Well-Fed Self Publisher, go to:

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Book Marketing Idea of the Month

We’d like to introduce a new monthly column written by Patricia Fry and occasional guest columnists. We’ve chosen a theme that is of vital interest to the majority of our members and subscribers: book marketing.

Each month, when you open SPAWNews and read it online, or print it out to enjoy with a cup of tea, study this column for new marketing ideas. If you haven’t tried this promotional idea before, do so now. If it is something you have done briefly in the past, do it again. Report back to us here at SPAWNews to let us know how it went. If you do the promotional activity we suggest, it’s likely that not only will you sell books, but you will get that needed exposure. And we all know that repeated exposure leads to sales.

Sing For Your Supper

By Patricia Fry

You can’t sell a book no one knows about. One way to spread the word is to go out and talk about it. If you aren’t entirely comfortable with the idea of speaking before a group, you might want to take steps to overcome your fears.

In 1983, when I published the first edition of The Ojai Valley, An Illustrated History, I called everyone I knew who belonged to local clubs or organizations and offered to speak to their groups. I contacted the Chamber of Commerce and requested a list of local clubs and organizations. I called some of these club organizers and set up speaking engagements. I learned that clubs and organizations that meet weekly or even monthly are always looking for interesting, educational, entertaining programs.

I enjoyed going out and talking about my book and the audiences seemed to enjoy my talks. After a while, however, I felt the need for improvement and in 1992, I joined a Toastmasters club. The supportive Toastmaster environment helped me to develop more self-confidence, gain better stage presence and improve my speaking skills.

With three more local history books to my credit, eight books on writing/publishing and books on a variety of other topics, I’m doing even more public speaking. I’ve presented programs around my book themes for many different clubs and organizations and for special events such as Ojai Day and Much Ado About Books in Jacksonville, Florida. I’ve participated in lecture series for the local museum and I’ve given presentations in public and private schools. I travel around the U.S. and speak at writers/publishers’ conferences. This year, I was invited to speak in Wisconsin, Honolulu, three California cities—San Francisco, San Luis Obispo and Ventura—and Dubai—yes, that amazing city in the Middle East.

When you speak on the topic of your book, you will sell copies of that book. Nonetheless, I’ve found that you don’t have to speak on the topic of your book in order to sell them. I sell my book, The Right Way to Write, Publish and Sell Your Book, even when I am speaking about my experiences in Dubai. While in Dubai, I sold out of my supply of The Right Way to Write, Publish and Sell Your Book, yet the topic of my speech wasn’t related to writing or publishing.

People ask me how I get invited to speak at conferences and other events. Occasionally, invitations seem to come from out of the blue. In reality, however, they come from people who know about me because I am continually putting myself out there. Most of the time, I seek out conferences, contact the organizers and present my bio for consideration.

In order to land speaking gigs outside of your geographic area, search for opportunities on the Web. For example, if your book is on gardening, use the Google search engine to locate garden shows or gardening workshops. Google can help you find conferences, shows, workshops and expos related to any fiction or nonfiction book topic. If you have a book of poetry, seek out poetry slams, literary events and writer’s conferences. Arrange to speak at colleges, libraries and art shows. For a novel, consider applying to speak or conduct a workshop at writers’ conferences, events in the city where your story takes place or at events related to a key aspect of your story.

Whether you’re speaking for a local club or at a well-attended conference, get creative. If your book is a mystery, present a mystery for the audience to solve and make sure there is a real surprise ending. Have audience members take on the various character roles. You could do something similar with a humorous book or an adventure story. I once had a group of seniors taking turns reading a children’s story to imaginary grandchildren while practicing vocal variety and drama to make the story more exciting for a child. This was a workshop I presented to an elder hostel group to promote my long-distance grandparenting book.

Accepting public speaking engagements offers many benefits. This is an opportunity to promote your book to ten or 1,000 people. You get free press for your book. The club or organization will usually submit news releases announcing the meeting or event. Sometimes there’s a follow-up news article recapping the presentation. Be sure to send your photo and bio to the publicity chairperson. If they haven’t developed a promotional strategy, you should do it. I often send a press release about an upcoming presentation in case the publicity chairman drops the ball or his news release is lost or tossed aside.

Once you’ve drummed up the courage to do some public speaking and you’ve located appropriate venues, start developing a dynamite presentation. Remember, a speech is not a sales pitch—at least not the sort of pitch we are accustomed to when walking onto a used car lot, for example. Your presentation should be enjoyable, entertaining, interesting and/or informative. Use this opportunity to teach and/or to share. For a nonfiction book, you’ll want to demonstrate your expertise in your topic. Let’s say your book focuses on how to achieve curb appeal when selling your home. Explain to your audience why curb appeal is important. Provide a few statistics and anecdotes. Then offer a few easy-to-do ideas either from your book or ones that you have come across since writing your book. A slide show or power point presentation would greatly enhance this program. Have the master of ceremonies announce that you have books for sale. In fact, you’ll want to give the person who introduces you a pre-written intro. Include the fact that you are the author of Curb Appeal Made Simple and Profitable. At the end of your talk, invite audience members to join you in the back of the room to purchase signed copies of your book.

For a novel, dress to reflect a major aspect of your story, such as in period clothing, in racing attire, in ethnic dress or as a homeless person. Either talk about the process of writing your book—what made you choose this story, anecdotes about things that occurred during the writing process, etc.—or tell a story from the book. Make it so intriguing that everyone is compelled to buy a copy.

If the idea of public speaking scares you to death, but you really want to promote your book through this means, here are some ideas for getting rid of your noodle knees.

  • Join a Toastmasters club near you and participate regularly.
  • Get involved in a storytelling group.
  • Hire a voice coach.
  • Take on a leadership role at work or through your other affiliations.
  • Observe other speakers and follow their good examples.
  • Practice speaking in front of people every chance you get.

Public speaking is just one way to promote your book, but it is definitely a major promotional activity that can open doors to amazing, unexpected opportunities. And the part in the title about singing for your supper—it’s valid. When a meal is served at an event, the speaker is almost always invited to eat for free.

How many books can you sell through speaking engagements? You’d like me to say hundreds, but it might only be a dozen or five or three. Your choice of venues, the number of people in attendance and the level of the audience’s interest will determine the number of books you will sell at any given event. Sometimes it costs you money to attend, especially if there is a plane ticket and a hotel room involved. Sometimes you spend nothing and earn hundreds of dollars. At the end of the year, when I figure my expenses and earnings related to the conferences I attend, I always come out ahead. I’ve attended conferences that have cost me a bundle, only to recoup that amount and more at the next one or from a new client generated through that conference.

I am never disappointed in the number of books sold at any of these events. This is not because I always sell a lot of books. It’s because I try not to have any expectations. I’ve learned that expectations breed disappointment.

Here’s my recipe for a successful speaking gig: preparation, product and professionalism. Be well prepared, have a viable product that’s appropriate for this audience and in this setting and behave in a professional manner. If these things are in place, yet all you get from a speaking engagement is exposure, consider yourself blessed, because with the right follow-up, exposure computes into future sales.

–Patricia Fry is the president of SPAWN and the author of 24 books, including The Right Way to Write, Publish and Sell Your Book. Visit her blog at

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Can We Choose Web Hosting Only by Price?

By Virginia Lawrence

There are so many great "deals" in Web hosting it appears that it would be stupid to pay more than $90 per year for Web hosting. This is a topic that comes up all the time with my new Web site clients.

My answer is that the choice of host depends on the complexity of the site and its importance to your business.

Read about the main differences between Web hosts and what they mean to the site owner at:

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Ask the Book Doctor: About the newest guidelines, "direct" quotes, setting states off by commas, and attributions

By Bobbie Christmas

Q: I am writing a nonfiction book and should follow Chicago Style, I know, but I just looked up when to use numbers and when to spell out the word, and I discovered numbers one to one hundred should be spelled out. Is this something new? In the past we always spelled out numbers one through ninety-nine.

A: Good catch! Yes, the 15th Edition of the Chicago Manual of Style changes the guideline, and now book publishers want numbers one through one hundred spelled out, and numerals used for 101 and above.

Large amounts that are an approximation, such as one million, three hundred, two thousand, etc., are spelled out, but exact numbers, such as 1,300, should be in numbers. Dates are the exception. Here are some examples:

In the 1960s, we learned eleven new dances.

On April 15, John will meet one hundred of his 230 new Italian relatives at his wedding.

More than one thousand people wrote to protest the treatment of the thirty-two prisoners held in Comstat Prison in 1925.

-- Read more from the Book Doctor about whether you should correct testimonial quotes, set off a state with commas, and use names in attributions at:

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Member News

Note: To have your announcements included in this section, you must be a paid member of SPAWN. Please e-mail your news to

If you're thinking about self-publishing your book, Barbara Florio Graham's free checklist will help you decide. Go to, and look for Self-Publishing Checklist at the bottom of the Mentoring page.

Erika Dreifus has recently updated two e-book guides that will interest fellow SPAWN members-who-write. The first is titled, Writers' Markets: Where To Sell What You Write When You Write About Writing, and it profiles 85 paying print and online markets. The second is Erika's ever-popular primer on low-residency MFA programs. Find out more (and download complimentary previews): OR

Wendy Dager is a voice over artist! After years of working as the friendly voice of answering machines all over Southern California, she’s expanding her career to include radio commercials, audiobooks, Internet ads and more. She can not only voice your copy, she can write it, too! To check out her demos, go to

Wendy Dager’s novel, I Murdered the PTA, received an Honorable Mention in the 13th Annual Writer's Network Screenplay & Fiction Competition. I Murdered the PTA is represented by PMA Literary & Film Management, Inc.

For humorous T-shirts and other cool stuff for writers, visit Wendy Dager’s Cafepress store,

Patricia Fry's blog is 50 entries strong. Visit now and read blogs with titles such as "Writers are the New Storytellers" (10/1), "The Ebb and Flow of Your Writing Career" (8/23), "Why Do You Write?" (9/10), "What Can Fee-Based Publishing Services Do For You?" (6/2), "Solicit Feedback for Your Writing" (5/5) and "Novel Ways to Promote Your Novel" (8/12).

Johanna's Journey, A True Story of Love, Loss and Faith is the newest book to be produced through Patricia Fry's publishing company, Matilija Press. It is the first book she has produced for another author. Rick McGrath is the author of Johanna's Journey. This book has been out for just weeks and it's already causing smiles and tears. One reader said, "It really touched me." Another says, "I give it five stars because I could not put it down." Author Rick McGrath demonstrates his artistic talents in this moving story of his fiancée, Johanna. But McGrath tells only part of the story. The rest of the story is told through Johanna's detailed, emotionally-driven journals. Read this memoir and then go hug your loved ones. Matilija Press, 212 pages, $11.95. Order at As a bonus, Patricia contributes a story to this fine book. Read about the strange turn of events when Patricia inherits four adult cats and then watches as divine intervention orchestrates their perfect destiny.

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Note: SPAWNews advises "caveat emptor" when dealing with venues, contests or promotions unknown to you. has launched a community book writing project, where any author can write the next chapter of a book. The book will be brought to market, with the names of each contributing author included. 100% of all profits will go to educational organizations. For more information, go to and click on "bookhitch community book project."

International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY) announces a new fund to ensure that children everywhere have access to books of high quality written and produced in their own countries, as well as access to the best books from the world. The workshops assist in training authors, illustrators, publishers, librarians, bibliotherapists and teachers. For more information, visit the IBBY Web site at

PMA awards a PMA-U scholarship to one member of each Affiliate group. The scholarship should be awarded to a publisher who needs assistance in growing his/her publishing company. The scholarship includes free registration to attend the Publishing University, plus a $500 stipend to help pay for travel expenses. PMA encourages the Affiliate organization to assist with the rest of the travel costs. Applicants must be a member of an Affiliate group as well as PMA, must be a publisher, preferably in the early stages of developing his/her company and has not received the scholarship in the past. For more information and an application, go to the PMA Web site: All final applications must be sent to PMA by December 31.

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Read about the latest contests at:

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Events and More

Read about the coming events at:

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SPAWN is a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization.

Donations are tax deductible.

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Join SPAWN now and receive one FREE book! 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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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



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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