MAKING A LIVING, WAITING FOR FAME
By Jim Lane
There are alternatives to putting ourselves in the cold hands of agents and publishers, to joining the faceless competition of tens of thousands of other good writers. With so few opportunities to get into print, publishers can be picky about which of us will be given a chance at success.
While many of us may eventually find our names on book covers, we need to meet the financial demands of life today. Here are some ways to make money and legitimately put "writer" in the occupation box on your tax return.
Companies producing products or providing services always need explanatory materials. If you have technical experience, analytical skills, and are willing to put your art aside momentarily, this may be an area for you to explore.
Less regular than tech writing, it probably won't pay the rent right away. Pursued on a part-time basis though, freelance writing and editing can produce income that you wouldn't otherwise have. Make up business cards and distribute them everywhere colleges, print shops, community bulletin boards.
This category is wide, encompassing a range of items limited only by imagination, skill, and equipment. New businesses all need promotional materials, even if only business cards. Produce their brochures, flyers, stationery, ad copy, price lists, menus and sales forms. If you can, offer not only writing but design services. Take on the whole projectteam with a graphic artist. Shop around for a printer you feel comfortable with, one who can help you make paper and ink selections, and who will deliver the finished items when promised. Punctual help at the right price can be attractive to new businesses.
Many, Many Thanks!
By Mary Embree
On behalf of SPAWN, I'd like to thank all of the people who help to make it work. Associate Director Patricia Fry has been actively involved in SPAWN from its inception. Andora Hodgin helped form the Santa Barbara Chapter and serves as its President. Steven Heller and Debbie Trice organized the Thousand Oaks Chapter. It became the Conejo Valley Chapter under the leadership of Paul Doebler when it moved its meetings to the lovely home of Louise Cabral in Agoura. Louise is the new Chapter President. Kathy Schultz, is the Ventura Chapter President and Editor of SPAWNews. Greg Armgardt and his wife/partner, Lorraine, designed our logo and brochure. Virginia Lawrence designed and maintains our website.
We also want to thank our Advisors whose assistance, support and advice have been invaluable. They are: Frances Halpern, Rosalie Heacock, Marsha Karpeles, Jim Lane, Richard F.X. O'Connor, Melvin and Marsha Powers and John C. Woodward. Members who have served in a multitude of ways include Paula Spellman, Carol Doering, Hal Ranzenhofer, Nanci Masulis, Linda McGinnis, Gerald Schiller, Mary and Neal Steffen, Roni Tagliaferri, Mara Lysova-Newman, Lynette Shiffman, Harriet Ackert, Ken Armstrong, Gail Hiebert, Dayna Dorsey and many, many others who have volunteered their time and expertise. If we have missed anyone, please accept our apologies and our heartfelt appreciation.
The Alternative Copy Shop at 4435 McGrath Street, Suite 310 in Ventura has printed all of our newsletters free of charge from the beginning. They do a great job and we highly recommend them.
Unless you renewed or joined SPAWN within the past two months, your membership has expired!
Here is a little reminder of the benefits:
- Monthly networking meetings.
- Participation in any chapter's meetings.
- Educational presentations at meetings.
- A chance to display, promote and sell your works or services at each meeting.
- One free SPAWN seminar per year.
- A free web page on SPAWN's website.
- Discounts on SPAWN seminars.
- Free announcements of book signings or other events in SPAWNews.
- Discounts on ads in SPAWNews.
- A free subscription to the newsletter.
- A directory of members.
- The opportunity to participate in bookfestivals.
- A special reduced rate to join PMA, Publishers Marketing Association.
- A special reduced rate to join SPAN, Small Publishers of North America.
- Up-to-date information on all facets of publishing.
- A supportive networking environment.
Memberships are $60 per year or $45 for full-time students and those 65 and over. Spouses, partners and employees of members may join for half of the fee. Go to the application form now. Please send in your dues soon if you want to be included in the new directory.
September 27, 1997
Melvin Powers, Publisher/owner of the the Wilshire Book Company, has authored many nonfiction books, published many more (fiction and nonfiction), and sold millions via mail order. He will present a seminar on "How To Sell Your Books Using Mail Order Techniques."
Is anyone interested in joining a small users' groups for computer novices? We would focus on those over age 55, but welcome anyone who is just starting out. Interested parties please contact Ruth Hibbard at her email address, firstname.lastname@example.org, or call her at 805/654-1294.
BookExpo '97 in Chicago
By Virginia Lawrence
Publishers exhibiting at the ABA shows were outdoing each other, fielding ever-larger booths, growing staffs, and expensive parties, all in search of increased sales. At the same time, their shareholders have been demanding profits of at least 12%.
Last year the large publishers noted that the sales they garnered from the yearly ABA were not in direct proportion to the expenses of the show. In response, some of the largest publishers decided to forgo the annual show altogether.
One wonders whether scaled-down booths might have brought in as many orders as the large expensive displays at a greatly reduced cost.
Some of the big publishers took hotel suites and invited the largest booksellers. Those publishers still missed their chance to get people excited about their books and writers; they missed the reviewers; they missed the easy interaction between publishers.
Well, the biggies boycotted an exciting and intense show. BookExpo attracted 25,732 people: publishers, booksellers, reviewers, ordinary readers, and the press. Those people were ready to get jazzed over a book or a writer.
Distributors Baker & Taylor and Ingram were talking individually to small publishers about distribution. Both had new Internet programs. The Baker & Taylor procedure is simply an online catalog for booksellers.
Ingram offers a new system to bookstores who want to establish an Internet bookstore. For a large fee, Ingram will actually set up the book-selling section of the site and provide fulfillment. Their procedure may work well for large bookstores who want an Internet sales site while keeping their fingers out of the technical issues. However, the income to participating bookstores is low. Bookstores would do better to investigate alternative methods for establishing online stores with higher potential revenues.
What about individual books? Richard Simmons was in action, sitting in workout clothes on a booth table, signing his newest book, and happily yelling his comments to everyone in the vicinity. The Guerrilla Marketing Group was working the show and signing their latest, Guerrilla Marketing for Trade Shows. Among the people who were interested in hearing about SPAWN were the publishers of the Gram Calorie Diet Book. They consider their company a small publisher, even though their book is #15 on the list of top 20 books, and they have sold 500,000 copies!
The Storyteller Company from Simi Valley was writing up orders for their line of children's books starring Samuel J. Hare. They were particularly pleased to be receiving a lot of media attention, including a story on local television.
Another success story comes from Pfeiffer-Hamilton Publishers. Their flagship book, Old Turtle, continues to sell five years after publication. This year they had plenty of booksellers accepting their special offer: for every book ordered at BookExpo, Pfeiffer-Hamilton gives the bookseller one free book to donate to the local community.
Next month this column will discuss the various online bookstores represented at BookExpo. You'll see how their approaches to publishers and buyers vary.
Virginia Lawrence, SPAWN's Webmaster, is a technical writer, editor, and professional webmaster who specializes in the presentation of information both in print and online.
SPAWN Goes to PMA/ABA Publishing University & BookExpo
Executive Director Mary Embree was the guest of Publishers Marketing Association at PMA's Publishing University and the BookExpo in Chicago in May. The intensive two days full of seminars covered subjects ranging from publishing law, publicity, distribution and marketing to working with wholesalers and selling to libraries. She returned with up-to-date information and new tips for success.
Thank you, PMA!
CHAPTER NEWS Ventura
The Ventura Chapter meets the third Sunday of each month. The guest fee for non-members is $5. At the July 20 meeting, Creative Designer Ruth Hibbard, will speak about "Creating Art On Computers." Paul Doebler, writer, publishing consultant, and former editor at R.R. Bowker, will discuss mistakes self-publishers can avoid. Poet Roni Tagliaferri will address "Is There Life After Self-publishing a Poetry Book?" The meeting begins at 7 p.m. at the Ventura Townehouse, 4900 Telegraph Road. Call Chapter President Kathy Schultz at 805/644-9843 for information.
The Santa Barbara Chapter meets the second Saturday of each month at 1:30 p.m. at the Karpeles Manuscript Library, 21 W. Anapamu Street. The July 12 meeting focuses on "Agents and Legal Concerns for Writers, Artists, and Publishers" with speakers Mary Embree and Victoria Carver.
SPAWN's Founder Mary Embree, is a literary consultant, freelance writer/ editor, and the author of books, television scripts, and educational materials. She will discuss "Do You Need an Agent, and How Do You Find the Right One for You?"
Victoria Carver will hold an "Open Forum on Legal Concerns." She is head attorney with Carver Law of Santa Barbara, handling intellecutal property matters including copyrights, trademarks, patents, contracts and related issues. She will answer questions regarding these matters.
Following the meeting, light refreshments will be served in the Karpeles outdoor patio. Contact Chapter President Andora Hodgin at 805/962-4680 for further information.
The Conejo Valley Chapter meets the third Monday of each month at 7 p.m. at 29376 Mulholland Hwy. in Agoura. Guest fee is $5. Graphic artist Judy Amov will speak at the July 21 meeting about computer art innovation as it relates to self-publishing. For further information, call Chapter President Louise Cabral at 818/707-0589.
ART ON THE CUTTING EDGE
Searching for something completely new and different for the cover of your self-published book? How about a compelling or favorite family photograph transformed to look like an Impressionist paintingwith identical promotional materials printed on book-signing flyers, glossy posters, and announcement stationery?
Recent computer technology can make it happen. Writers and self-publishers are often too busy writing and marketing to keep current on the fast-changing field of computer graphics. As a result, writers in need of cover designs and illustrations are often not even aware of the ever-evolving innovations graphic artists can produce. New techniques bloom at a steady pace.
Websites where artists post their workand prospective customers can see itare crafted daily. This is true for traditional paintings, as well as for freshly-minted laser techniques. Everything from home-based, family-owned graphic design companies, to ArtNet (http://www.artnet.com)which features 600,000 full-color images from galleries around the world, and has been nicknamed 'The Mother of All Art Websites'can now be viewed on computer screens. Browsers can view art by category, artist, or price.
SPAWN artists' skills are currently listed on this SPAWN Website online Member Directory. Several self-publishing SPAWNers have met their illustrators at meetings. A SPAWN artist just might be the one who can paintor generatethe perfect picture.