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Tuesday, August 20, 2019

The Surprising Role Of Book Reviews Today

Image result for book review images

“Shall we frankly declare that, after the most deliberate consideration of Mr. Darwin’s argument, we remain unconvinced.”

That’s the review of Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species in 1860, some 159 years ago.  It was a review that appeared in The New York Times.

The newspaper of record also called Lolita, by Vladimir Nabokov, in 1958, “dull” and “repulsive.”

Both are important classics of our modern-day world.  The book critics get it wrong often – and many times they elect to not even review a book that goes on to be a best-seller or culturally significant book.

So should we even bother with book reviews when it comes to plotting a book marketing strategy?

Well, there are different types of reviews out there.

First, you have big review publications focused on books, such as Publishers Weekly, Kirkus Reviews, Booklist, The Foreword, and Library Journal. They can be hard to come by-same with major newspapers that review books, such as The New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal.  But I say try them.  The potential pay-off is worth it.

Second, you have online book reviewers, from those who post on consumer sites like Amazon, bn-com, or other retailers, to those who post on social media.  These reviews are weighed by the pound, so the focus is on quantity more than quality.

Third, you have paid reviews, some online, and some with known publications such as Kirkus Reviews.  Until the buying public knows these are paid for, many are worth pursuing.

But book reviews are just one part of an author’s tool box to market a book.  Getting other media is very important, from radio and podcast interviews to byline articles at a magazine, to features in major newspapers to television interviews.

Beyond the news media, you have social media – that of others and your own.  Go tweet, post on Instagram and Facebook, send videos on You Tube, or blog like crazy.  Then get others to interview or feature you on their sites.

Speaking, direct marketing, advertising, and other means of marketing a book are just as important as getting lots of good book reviews.  So, bottom line, pursue book reviews at all levels, but make sure you diversify your book marketing portfolio because your book deserves to go beyond book reviews.

“Do not wait for art idea.  Start writing something and the ideas will come.  You have to turn the faucet on before the water starts to flow.”
--Louis L’Amour

“Do you realize that all great literature is all about what a bummer it is to be a human being?”
--Kurt Vonnegut

“Take five ice cubes, place in clean glass, add vodka.”
--Phil Mushnick

“Ideas are like rabbits.  You get a couple and learn how to handle them, and pretty soon you have a dozen.”
--John Steinbeck

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The Book Marketing Strategies Of Best-Sellers
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No. 1 Book Publicity Resource: 2019 Toolkit For Authors -- FREE
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Brian Feinblum’s insightful views, provocative opinions, and interesting ideas expressed in this terrific blog are his alone and not that of his employer or anyone else. You can – and should -- follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at brianfeinblum@gmail.com. He feels much more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog ©2019. Born and raised in Brooklyn, he now resides in Westchester. His writings are often featured in The Writer and IBPA’s Independent.  This was named one of the best book marketing blogs by Book Baby http://blog.bookbaby.com/2013/09/the-best-book-marketing-blogs and recognized by Feedspot in 2018 as one of the top book marketing blogs. Also named by WinningWriters.com as a "best resource.” He recently hosted a panel on book publicity for Book Expo America.

Saturday, August 17, 2019

Do Writers Need To Curse More?

Image result for cursing images

“As English speakers, it’s worth thinking about the ways we use bad words and how to make our own use more vital and effective,” writes Katherine Dunn in On Cussing.

Too often we substitute words for the genuine thing.  We say darn for damn or gosh for God. Then again, all too often, we don’t hold back and toss around shit, fuck, and bitch like we’re handing out bottles of water to marathoners.

“As writers,” she writes, “we now face a loss of power in the classic obscenities - the draining of shock value, the depletion of such terms’ ability to offend.  Our challenge is to revive the language with vivid reinvention.”

Interestingly, her book includes a chart showing the usage of common expletives over time.  Since the 1960’s, once forbidden words have exploded.  Shit, by far, tops them all.  Fuck ranks highly too.  Cunt and motherfucker are used far less often, but growing in frequency.

The United States, up until the 1930s, dictated that a single dirty word could cause a book to be banned. hen came the obscenity trials in 1959.  Several books were challenged, but in 1964 a ground-breaking Supreme Court decision established a standard in use today, that obscenities in print are acceptable if the work "has redeeming social or literary value.”

In 1973 another Supreme Court case, Miller v. California, helped establish a three-tiered test to decide what was obscene and unprotected vs. what was erotic and therefore covered by the First Amendment.

So why do we use naughty words?

·         Because we can.
·         To shock and grab attention.
·         Provide a sense of identity and character.
·         Give a feeling of urgency or severity.
·         To display anger, ecstasy, and emotions.

But Dunn says that: “Overuse of any word decimates its power,” and this can be true with cuss words, too.

Dunn’s book made me realize just how often we curse:

Emotional:  “So scared, he shit himself.”
Complain: “This is a shitty sandwich.”
Threaten:  “I'll kick your ass so hard.”
Humor:  “Who do you have to fuck to get a valet sticker validated by Christmas?”
A Curse:  “I hope your ears turn into assholes and shit all over your shoulders.”
Display Ignorance:  “He had no fucking clue.”
Insult:  “You fucking moron!”
Politics:  “Trump’s a stupid bitch.”
Anger:  “Screw you, asshole!”
Sex:  “Her pussy begged for more.”

The list could go on.  Language – our vocabulary and sentence structure is a crucial part of our writings and our identities.  Cursing keeps things real.  Today’s world curses – often – and our writings, if they are to stay true to reality, will need to insert some cussing.  Then again, plenty of people don’t cuss publicly.  Not religious clergy, not Jerry Seinfeld, and not some people that we hold in high esteem.  So maybe we can co-exist without resorting to using x-rated language.

Nothing’s worse than lazy cursing, where people overly depend on such words to make a point when such usage reflects poorly on the user.  To give cuss words power, use them wisely and rarely.  Do not go to the well too often when you want to drink words that offend, incite, and suggest some harsh judgments.  Save and savor the words that Mom and Dad don’t want you to utter as they speak them.

Comedians make use of cuss words.  So does every show on HBO, Showtime, and Netflix.  It’s how pop culture operates.  Along with gratuitous violence, displays of nudity, and references to drugs, our entertainment also feels the need to curse. Social media, comedy clubs, and R-rated films push our language towards a heavy reliance of cuss words.

I grew up understanding cursing is part of our culture, heritage, and language.  It’s what gets people excited and moves them to act violently, be mean, have sex, make others laugh, and inspire any number of feats.  Not all cursing is bad, negative, or dangerous.  In fact, most cursing provides context and impact to a situation, and it certainly helps people express the raw energy they feel inside themselves.

There certainly is a role for cursing in our daily interactions and our writings.  One must balance their delivery and setting for the use of such colorful language.  If said in the proper time and place, curse words can be romantic, erotic, and loving.  They can inspire people to survive, thrive, or be on the offensive – as well as be used to rally others to commit unspeakable acts upon others.

Dunn’s book explores the physical impact on the reader or listener of curse words, making the argument for how and when to cuss with maximum effect.  Though she died three years ago, the author made her mark in literary circles.  Her book, Greek Love, was a finalist for the National Book Award.

I leave you with her book’s closing words:  “I trust you will give serious consideration to our cussing, both live and written bring zest and sting to the language.  Avoid cliché and tedium.”


“What is written without effort is in general read without pleasure.”
--Samuel Johnson

“You can always edit a bad page.  You can’t edit a blank page.”
--Jodi Picoult

“If a word in the dictionary were misspelled.  How would we know?”
--Steve Wright

“The first chapter sells the book; the last chapter sells the next book.”
--Mickey Spillane

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Brian Feinblum’s insightful views, provocative opinions, and interesting ideas expressed in this terrific blog are his alone and not that of his employer or anyone else. You can – and should -- follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at brianfeinblum@gmail.com. He feels much more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog ©2019. Born and raised in Brooklyn, he now resides in Westchester. His writings are often featured in The Writer and IBPA’s Independent.  This was named one of the best book marketing blogs by Book Baby http://blog.bookbaby.com/2013/09/the-best-book-marketing-blogs and recognized by Feedspot in 2018 as one of the top book marketing blogs. Also named by WinningWriters.com as a "best resource.” He recently hosted a panel on book publicity for Book Expo America.

Friday, August 16, 2019

Three Women: My Book of the Year


Three Women

I never give book reviews.  You may see me write about a book and share thoughts about its contents, usually a non-fiction book.  But I can’t recall in over 3,300 posts, over eight years, of ever reviewing a book that wasn't about publishing, writing, language, or free speech, but I would do a disservice if I didn’t endorse my favorite book of the year, Three Women, by Lisa Taddeo.

It reads like a novel, filled with stories about three women, each sexually dysfunctional and representative of millions of women.  It’s the kind of book women read but men like me would enjoy.

Why did I love – not just like – this book?

It is so well written and filled with a vibrancy rarely seen.  It is not quite Gone Girl, Girl on a Train or the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.  Those were thrillers, fueled by violence and complex lives.  Those were great in their own way.  Three Women finds a way to reveal a person’s soul while allowing you to either relate with pity or be entertained the way one likes to gawk at a terrible car accident and say from a distance, ‘What a shame.’

The string of stories certainly have things in common, with commentary about how women define themselves by their relationships, how men mistreat women on so many levels, and how sometimes one simply can’t start fresh after a bad past.  But the stories are distinctive – a woman who desperately desires love, mistaking sex from an affair with someone who took advantage of her when in school years earlier as that of love; another who needs affirmation that her high school teacher really cares for her while an inappropriate sexual relationship ensues; and a woman who readily agrees to sleep with any man or woman her husband chooses for her, sometimes with him in the room watching or other times on her own with a promise to immediately share the details with him.  What appears to be a liberated woman is really a slave to his controlling fantasies.

They may not represent every woman, but they certainly seem to depict what a certain percentage of women put themselves through – psychologically and physically.  The book does not depict men in a favorable light but that doesn’t mean the author is anti-male.  She just didn’t focus on relationships that are healthy or thriving, which are probably in the minority, but she did explore how bad relationships damage women as well as how damaged women put undue pressure on themselves to make a relationship work.

The book is extremely well written, combining dialogue, thoughts, and astute observations to provide a feeling of being any of these three women thrust into their drama, from their perspectives.  Are they victims?  Are they really the strong ones?  Can they be both?

The author fascinates me.  I wonder, after joining her for 306 intense pages, if she was an amalgamation of these women, defined by the men in her life.  She’s definitely someone I’d like to have a drink with. The jacket copy for this $27 hardcover book says it all:

“Based on years of immense reporting, and told with astonishing frankness and immediacy, Three Women, is a groundbreaking portrait of erotic longing in today’s America, exposing the fragility, complexity and inequality of female desire with unprecedented depth and emotional power.  It is both a feat of journalism and a triumph of storytelling, brimming with nuance and empathy, that introduces us to three unforgettable women – and one remarkable writer – whose experiences remind us that we are not alone.”

I can’t quite describe Taddeo’s writing style except that it speaks with blunt statements for the reader, ones that are seemingly familiar or truthful to them.  She truncates time and finds a way to consolidate many thoughts and emotions into a singular moment or experience.

I found myself underlining various lines that resonated with me…

“She gives the impression of not knowing she’s being looked at.”

“It was typical of Sloane to see the promise of something before everyone else did.”

“It’s more like sexuality without boundaries.”

“Don’t men like him wish they could tell their wives what sort of pornography they like?  Wouldn’t he feel so wonderful to be completely known?”

“A husband who desires to enter another body, to hold another breast.  A wife who wants to see her husband want someone else, so that she may want him as much as she’d like to.”

“Sloane always found it alluring to mess around with a girl.  Even more that it was alluring, it was easy.”

“Sloane was confused; it had been a fantasy of hers to watch her husband fuck another woman, one she’d never quite expressed out loud, but something she often went to in her head...”

“Like any young girl who has a crush on someone older, she doesn’t know what she wants to happen.  She doesn’t know if she wants sex or no sex or to undress in her room while he watches from the sidewalk.”

“Her desire to talk about the man she loves is stronger than her understanding that talking about it can hurt the relationship.  She realizes in some part of herself that talking about it will make her more receptive to its potency.”

“There is always something you take for granted, Sloane knew, that somebody else is starving for.”

“Lina understands that some women , like her mother and her sisters, truly care for another woman only when that woman is in pain, especially in a kind of pain that they have already felt, and then overcome.”

“We don’t remember what we want to remember.  We remember what we can’t forget.”


“Good fiction’s job is to comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable.”
--David Foster Wallace

“Action is the thing. We are what we do and do not do.”
--Ralph Ellison

“…EASY.  All you have to do is cross out the wrong words.”
--Mark Twain

“Always write as if you are talking to someone.  It works.”
--Maeve Binchy


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Brian Feinblum’s insightful views, provocative opinions, and interesting ideas expressed in this terrific blog are his alone and not that of his employer or anyone else. You can – and should -- follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at brianfeinblum@gmail.com. He feels much more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog ©2019. Born and raised in Brooklyn, he now resides in Westchester. His writings are often featured in The Writer and IBPA’s Independent.  This was named one of the best book marketing blogs by Book Baby http://blog.bookbaby.com/2013/09/the-best-book-marketing-blogs and recognized by Feedspot in 2018 as one of the top book marketing blogs. Also named by WinningWriters.com as a "best resource.” He recently hosted a panel on book publicity for Book Expo America.

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

12 Steps To Being A Successful Author


Image result for staircase images


How can you become a great writer with a successful career?

You may believe you have the answer within you and that would be the first step:  believe in yourself.  But what might it take to unlock your true creativity, the imaginative writer, and the extraordinary promoter?

Here are skills, attributes, and characteristics of creative, successful people.  Embrace them if you want to rise further:

1.      Be persistent.  You must relentlessly improve yourself, your craft, your mind.  Stagnate or get lazy and you will underachieve.

2.      Forget always being sensible.  Pursue a pleasure or passion.  Don’t always be logical or rational – be different.

3.      Writing is not a hobby or something you do after you work to pay the bills. Don’t fall back on a safety net or be passive in your pursuits.  Take a risk and throw yourself into your writing.

4.      Don’t let technology dominate, intimidate, or overwhelm you.  Deal with it, use it, and be aware of it.  Don’t fear or avoid it.

5.      Embrace chance, accident, randomness, and opportunity.  Don’t just fixate on what is predictable or controllable.  Be open to what is uncertain, different, unfamiliar, risky.

6.      Question everything and everyone.  Assume nothing.  Ask and learn.  Be inquisitive and probing.  See everything as a potential path of inquiry and as a fertile source of inspiration.

7.      Don’t impose barriers upon yourself that don’t really exist.

8.      Be courageous and do what others won’t, can’t, don’t or fear.

9.      Create a good environment for you to create under.  Set the mood, the look, the sounds.  Shape your surroundings to inspire.

10.  Don’t delay or put off what’s most needed to be done by you.  The very thing you avoid is what you must confront.  Step out of your comfort zone and take a leap of faith.

11.  Call upon self-discipline and a stick-to-it attitude.  Set your own standards and keep pushing yourself.  If you want good things to unfold you need to push them along to make stuff happen.

12.  Lastly, keep learning and discovering.  As you bring new facts, people, and ideas into your circle, your writing will grow.


“If art doesn’t make us better, then what on earth is it for?”
--Alice Walker

“A PERSON who cares what words mean, what they say, how they say it.”
--Ursula K. Le Guin

“…A WRITER because, even when there is no hope, even when nothing you do shows any sign of promise, you keep writing anyway.”
--Junot Díaz


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Brian Feinblum’s insightful views, provocative opinions, and interesting ideas expressed in this terrific blog are his alone and not that of his employer or anyone else. You can – and should -- follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at brianfeinblum@gmail.com. He feels much more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog ©2019. Born and raised in Brooklyn, he now resides in Westchester. His writings are often featured in The Writer and IBPA’s Independent.  This was named one of the best book marketing blogs by Book Baby http://blog.bookbaby.com/2013/09/the-best-book-marketing-blogs and recognized by Feedspot in 2018 as one of the top book marketing blogs. Also named by WinningWriters.com as a "best resource.” He recently hosted a panel on book publicity for Book Expo America.