Literary Spotlight: 491 Magazine
Running both online and in print, 491 Magazine is always look for talented new poets and artists. Those looking to submit their work can do so here. We got a chance to speak with Caitlyn, editor at 491, about what she sees in the industry.
How long has your journal been running?
Since May 2009.
What is the focus of your journal?
We publish poetry and art.
What attracted you to working on this journal?
I’ve been in love with print for as long as I can remember, and I’ve watched quite a few print magazines cease publication. I wanted more poets and artists to have a chance to hold their work in their hands.
What is one mistake you see many fledgling writers making?
Fledgling writers often focus too much on publishing instead of honing their talents. There’s no race to get published. I’ve heard many experienced writers talk about regretting pieces they placed early in their careers. My advice is to read more than you write. Write a poem and put it away for a while. Give your work space and time.
What resources do you recommend to writers looking to improve?
I’m a big proponent of classes of any kind. That could be anything from an MFA program to a local workshop. It’s important to build a community of writers who help each other grow. Classes are a great way to meet like-minded writers.
What’s the best way to purchase your journal?
SPAWN (Small Publishers, Artists and Writers Network)
Contact: Patricia Fry firstname.lastname@example.org
SPAWN was formed as a face-to-face networking organization in 1996. For a few years, they had chapters in three Southern California counties which would each meet monthly. Now, they are currently online only. When they formed, there were writers groups, clubs and organizations, but few organizations for those who wanted to publish. They formed in order to educate and assist authors and freelance writers with the business of publishing.
Are your resources offered strictly online, or do you hold seminars and/or workshops?
Yes, we are strictly online now and do not, at this point, hold seminars or workshops. However, we have a collection of two dozen teleseminars recorded with some of the experts in the publishing field at our website for download by members of SPAWN. These interviews were recorded over the course of two years by Susan Daffron and include book marketing experts, freelance writing professionals and other industry authorities.
What resources and/or programs do you offer writers?
For all writers/authors, we produce a free monthly newsletter (SPAWNews) for any subscriber. We have around 2,000 subscribers. Our website is also open to anyone and is rich with resources, articles on pertinent topics, as well as current and back issues of SPAWNews.
For members, we produce an additional newsletter which I write: SPAWN Market Update. In the member area of the website, members will find the Market Update archives, the tele-seminars for download and they have access to SPAWNDiscuss, our online member forum where they can network with other members—some of them quite experienced within the industry. Members are listed in the Member Directory. They have the option of having their book or service included in the SPAWN Catalog of Members’ Books and Services (which we hand out from our booth at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books and other events throughout the year).
Membership is $65/year. For those who belong to a SPAWN affiliate, such as IBPA (Independent Book Publishers Association), and others, pay $55/year. Members can choose from an array of free ebooks when they join or renew their membership.
Members can also place announcements about awards, new books, activities (speaking engagements, etc.) in SPAWNews as a way of promoting themselves and their work.
What do you think is the biggest struggle writers face when trying to get published?
They get overwhelmed and confused because they enter into the world of publishing without enough knowledge and information. So many hopeful authors neglect to take time to educate themselves about the publishing industry, so they don’t truly understand what their options are, how to choose the best option for their projects and how to make the best decisions throughout the process. Sadly, many new authors don’t understand that book promotion is up to them.
What is your website’s focus?
To help educate and inform authors and others who are seeking publication. This might include artists, photographers, screenplay writers, freelance writers…
What is your website’s greatest strength?
For nonmembers—the resources we offer, including SPAWNews and the SPAWNews archives. For members, add to that the SPAWN Market Update and archives. This is a hard-hitting newsletter for members only and it is heavy with opportunities for authors seeking publication as well as authors needing resources and information about book promotion. The resources for members include the opportunity to network with other members and to learn from the teleseminars with experts that are available for member download.
Who is your target demographic?
Authors at any stage of publishing. We can all learn from each other.
What purpose do you think workshops serve for authors trying to get published?
While SPAWN doesn’t, at this point, offer workshops as an organization, we do have a presence throughout the country as SPAWN leaders travel and speak. We also talk to many hopeful authors from our booths at book festivals. While we don’t have formal workshops through SPAWN, we are constantly offering education, information and awareness about the publishing industry wherever we go. Two of us, in particular, travel and speak a total of around a dozen times per year. And what do I think of workshops and other methods of educating authors? I think these things are key to publishing success. The failure rate for authors is climbing. I believe it is at nearly 78 percent now. When I talk to those who are struggling or who have failed, the reason is generally obvious—lack of information and an understanding of the publishing industry and the author’s role within it.
Any advice you have for aspiring authors or others in the industry?
Don’t go it alone. Early on, when you decide that you want to write a book, sign up for those seminars, attend workshops, read books by the publishing professionals, join organizations and participate in their offerings, subscribe to industry newsletters and read them. In other words, educate yourself so that you understand how to navigate the industry, make informed decisions and so that you know what your responsibilities as a published author are.
“To those who don’t understand the passion behind the arts, we all mine as well be a barrel full of crazies. But in reality, you won’t ever make it very far blending in. So be bold. Be unique. Be crazy.”—Pubslush Blog