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Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Why Must You Promote Your Book?


Imagine you write a great book.  It gets published.  Book reviewers find the book on their own and rave about it.  Bookstores sell copies faster than they can reorder them.  Book clubs voluntarily adopt your book.  Foreign publishers inquire about rights to publish in their languages and movie studios want to option your story.

Does it sound like a fantasy?

Well, yes, it is!

This scenario may play out once or twice a year.  The rest of the publishing world has to make its own breaks. Little happens organically or accidentally in book publishing.  Often there’s a force behind a book that propels it forward.  Marketing and publicity drive sales and today’s author has to push his or her brand or they are left to the mercy of the marketplace, one that’s deluged with some 2,000+ new titles released every single day of the year – including weekends, holidays, blizzards, birthdays, and election days.

Authors will say:  “Why can’t I just write and let sales take care of themselves?”

Well, if you are self-published you know that no one else is pushing your book if you don’t.  It simply will not sell on its own.  There’s no guarantee it will sell even with a big marketing campaign, but there’s a virtual guarantee it’ll die if you don’t promote it.

If you have a publisher, don’t expect them to do a lot for you, no matter what they say.  They may have good intentions – they want the book to sell – but they have different motives and models for success that often do not position them to promote your book as much as you need it to be promoted. Let me explain.

A publisher may publish books that it believes can earn a profit or at least break even.  When it publishes a book it believes that several will break through and make a lot of money.  It will put its limited resources into promoting the handful of books it is banking on.  The rest get few or no resources at all.

Even when the publisher shows support for a title, it can only go on for so long for so much.  But the author can always -- and should – supplement their efforts.

The publisher and author have different goals, though they both want more sales.  A publisher has to first make sure it recovers its investment.  An author is looking to sell books to earn a royalty beyond his advance.  A publisher only cares about book sales, whereas an author cares about branding, being in a position to earn a new book deal, and possibly improving one’s speaking career, consulting business, or professional track.  Both would love for other rights deals – foreign, audio, movie, digitally, theater – to come of it, too.

The beauty about book marketing is there’s always something that could be done and you can rest assured even if you have a very active publisher they are not doing everything, nor doing anything for too long.  You must fill in the gaps.  Look at what could be done to promote a book and divide and conquer the tasks:

·         Contacting the news media’s book reviewers prior to publication.
·         Blogging, You Tubing, Podcasting, Webinars.
·         Social media:  FB, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Linked In.
·         Bookstore signings.
·         Library appearances.
·         Paid or free speaking gigs.
·         Best-seller campaigns.
·         Contacting organizations, schools, non-profits, companies, or gov’t agencies for bulk sales.
·         Networking.
·         Securing local and national radio interviews.
·         Soliciting online media:  Amazon reviews, blogs, podcasts, guest-posts, interviews, feature stories.
·         Contacting print media:  daily and weekly newspapers, magazines, newswires, newsletters, book trade publications and industry publications, for reviews, athletes, and by-line pieces.
·         Direct mail or targeted e-mail blasts.
·         Paid advertising online, TV/radio commercials, printed ads.
·         SEO advertising.

If you can’t afford the time or resources to support your book, rethink publishing it. If you find your writing speed far outpaces your ability to promote your books, slow down.  You need to rally your efforts around a single book or series, establish yourself, and then look to build on that brand.

We all wish to get lucky and win the book publishing lottery but the odds are so stacked against you.  There are plenty of great books that go unread and lack public discussion.  Don’t let you hard work go to waste by failing to give it the support it deserves.


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Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at brianfeinblum@gmail.com. He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog © 2016

An Exercise In Persuasion


by Darlene Jones

Darlene has been an avid fan of my blog for years. She wrote this original piece for your eyes only. For more information, please consult:  www.darlenejonesauthor.com


“Whenever I debate with friends and family over differing political views, I always feel amazed at how difficult it is for me to persuade them over something that seems deeply obvious to me.  I grow incredulous over their stupidity, ignorance, or nerve to take the opposing position, one that seems riddled with errors and prejudice.  But if their argument seems so blatantly weak or wrong, why can’t I convince them to see the light?”

What should it take to sway another?
*Passion and emotion
*Facts and statistics
*Slogans and catchy phrases
*Good intentions and strong ideas

The problem is, the opposing side will come back at you with the same thing.

Then you end up just shouting at each other, restating, if not repeating, your best statements, and growing frustrated with every passing moment.”

Brian’s comments brought to mind a class I took many years ago. The professor, Dr. Chevrolet, from France, facilitated international negotiations in Europe on numerous issues. This was high level stuff.

One day, he asked us to think of something we felt passionate about and plan a speech to convince a skeptical audience that our way was the only way.

This will be easy, I thought smugly, as I began writing. I’d convince everyone of the importance of sex education in secondary schools. I believed wholeheartedly then (and still do) that the Sex Education course I taught was one of the most important things I did with my grade nine classes.

Why? I wrote furiously.

·         Kids need to be armed with information to protect themselves.
·         Kids have too much information from unreliable sources.
·         Hormones are raging and kids won’t leave the topic alone just because you don’t talk about it.
·         Some of the kids are already having sex.
·         You teach your kids street safety. Sex education is no different
·         Parents and kids don’t see each other as sexual beings so it’s easier for a neutral third party to be the sex educator.
·         It’s virtually impossible to talk to your own kids about sex.
·         Etc. etc. etc.

Armed with my list, I waited for Dr. Chevrolet to ask us to present.

That was when he threw an unfair curve ball. “Now, I want you to take each of your arguments and use them to convince your audience the exact opposite of your original point of view.”
I shook my head. What he was asking of us just wasn’t possible. We argued, but he insisted. I cringed as I took my notes and tried valiantly to reverse them. When he asked for a volunteer to start, I offered to go first. Might as well get the misery over with.

As I began speaking, I found myself becoming passionate about what I was saying. “Imagine your child sitting listening to a teacher talk about something as private and intimate as sex. Imagine your baby exposed to ideas you don’t agree with and what if the person isn’t well informed, and….

As I spoke, I felt the heat rise in my chest along with the pitch of my voice. I was hot and bothered and became more and more strident as I argued against something I held dear.

If I could reverse my position with that much passion and emotion, why is it that others can’t see possibilities beyond their own point of view? As Brian says, “Why can’t they see what seems obvious to me?”

Short of putting everyone through Dr. Chevrolet’s exercise—multiple times, I don’t think there is an answer to Brian’s question. We all come in to our discussions with our long-held beliefs, our subconscious determinations of how life should be, and our selfishness that tells us we have to be “right.”

And, dismal thought, if that is the case, our lives and our world will always be filled with conflict.

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Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at brianfeinblum@gmail.com. He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog © 2016

Monday, May 2, 2016

How Do You Pick Out of 20M Books?



Google Books has scanned more than 20 million books.  Yes, that is 20,000,000.  It’s hard to wrap our heads around that number.  By the end of the 1980s, fewer than 45,000 new books were being released annually.  Over a decade ago it surpassed 500,000 new titles per year, and then a million.  Self-publishing, foreign translations of overseas books, and an explosion in ebooks has made the book market a very crowded place.  But the books scanned by Google include a lot of old, rare out-of-print books, some of which are historically important.  The question is this: How do we prioritize or rank these books so that they are meaningful to readers, scholars, the media, and writers?

The old card catalogue at your musty, neighborhood library used to list books in alphabetical order, by an author’s last name.  They may have also had a version that did the same with the titles.  Eventually this went digital.  Vast computer banks in the clouds store the names of all the books known to have existed, give or take a few.  Now you search in a number of ways, though no system is perfect.

You can search by an author’s name, book title, genre, publisher, year published, and to a degree, by specific words or phrases in these books.  Google Books, on the positive side (even if it violated copyright law in my view), makes the content of all books searchable.  Historians, researchers, writers, media, companies, and the government have access to a great amount of information.

But how does one find a book to read?  There are so many ways to go:

·         Pick a bestseller.
·         Go off a book review.
·         Get a recommendation from a friend.
·         See what makes a Top 10 list by a blogger.
·         Find one that won a significant award.

Or you can pick out one with a provocative title, cool cover, or interesting artwork.  Actually, a good chunk of books are read because a teacher assigned them, a boss required it, or because you received it as a gift.  But there are times where we want to just discover a book, not knowing what we want, not particularly in need of anything.  How do we do that?  Where do we start the search?

I like going to used bookstores, even though I love new books and their pristine, uncracked pages.  But used bookstores act like a grandparent handing down books they enjoyed 20, 30, 50 or 80 years ago. If you want to see what’s stood the test of at least one generation, visit your antiquarian shop in the area.

Books are typically arranged in a store by format, genre, sometimes price, and, if a best-seller.  At a used bookstore there’s more of a mixed-bag approach to how things are displayed.

As an author you can see why book marketing and publicity is so, so important.  You not only are competing for attention with other products, content providers, and the distractions or demands of life, but with all books that have ever been published and now have become available.  Books want a home, to be adopted by someone who will enjoy them.  How will you help your book find a good home?

There are over one billion people who speak English on the planet.  Find them and tell them about your book.  Show them why they need it or should desire it.  Making them aware it exists is the real battle.  Once discovered, the book must sell itself.  And if it’s good or useful, word-of-mouth shall spread.  If not, into obscurity you go.

There may be 20 million books out there but the truth is there are only maybe a thousand different types of book out there.  Yes, the archetypes.  Look at the plot lines that come up over and over --  good vs. evil, human perfection, moral conflicts, wandering lovers, superhero powers, searching for God, the pursuit of riches, the value of family, the underdog who prevails, etc.  So many millions of books are just different takes on the same story.  The same is true with non-fiction.  There are only so many ways to make money, save a relationship, raise a child, improve government, cook a healthy meal, or learn how to lose weight. So how do we find the best, most relevant, most accurate books?

Readers will find that it’s rare that a book becomes a one-stop, sole-resource point of action.  No matter how good a novel is, you move on to another one.  And no matter how informative a book is, you benefit by consulting more than one book on a given subject.  Perhaps the way to finding the right book is to keep looking, and to never end the search.

Every book, no matter how old, has something to offer you.  By consulting thousands or even tens of thousands of books, you will grow in knowledge, creativity, and ability.  Some books are must-reads and are superior to others but the vast majority have something worthwhile to offer the hungry reader who seeks them out or stumbles upon them.

If you read 1% of all books – 200,000 -- you would be incredible.  If you read 1% of 1% -- 2,000 books – you would still be quite exceptional.  Whichever ones you consume, appreciate them for what they are, and never feel satiated or act as if your library of knowledge is complete. There’s a new truth awaiting your discovery on the other side of the page.

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Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at brianfeinblum@gmail.com. He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog © 2016

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Is The School Library Closing?



I was at my daughter’s second-grade classroom the other day.  She was participating in an event that showcased poetry.  It was wonderful to see the kids read their works aloud and hold up signs for “alliteration” and “couplet.”  

April is National Poetry Month, a celebration that was introduced two decades ago by the Academy of American Poets as a means to increase awareness and enhance a deeper appreciation of poetry in America and Canada.  Poets.org is a good resource to learn about local poetry events.  

My wife and I gave our eight-year-old daughter a copy of Shel Silverstein’s Where the Sidewalk Ends:  40-year Edition.  She loves it.  Seeing her gap-toothed grin made me smile as wide as the halls are long at her elementary school.

We should always encourage our youth to experiment with writing in all forms and genres.  Let them try everything on so they can determine what fits them.

While I attended her event, I heard a disturbing rumor that the school’s library may disappear and be replaced with a tech and robotics center. The news was shocking.

I paused to reflect and thought, “Well, the kids can get books at their local library, but they can’t easily get a decked-out technology lab."  But that quickly got replaced with:  “How could a school not have a library?”  I came to my senses quickly, even though the shiny, new toy sounded promising.  It’s a shame we have to choose between the two.

After the principal quelled the rumors and reassured me personally that this was not going to happen, I felt relieved but unsettled. I realized that it could’ve happened and still might down the road.  It can certainly happen at any of the other thousands of elementary schools across the country.

Libraries serve many functions in a school.  They not only are a repository of wisdom and inspiration, but they serve as a strong model for the printed word.  Students enter a library and feel the power of choice, ideas, and information wall to wall. They can come across hundreds or thousands of titles, touching, seeing, and reading centuries of history and imagination.

Sure kids can get books for cheap on Amazon.com.  Sure they have a community library where they can get books for free.  Sure they can find tons of digital content online.  But when they attend a school they need to be exposed to a library.  It doesn’t just provide a book they may need to do a report.  It provides an opportunity for young minds to discover the reader inside themselves.  It provides a safe, encouraging, and sharing environment.  It gives shelter to books and to readers.  Its very existence makes a strong statement that books matter, that they don’t just get boxed up into a device or remain shored away in an attic.  

Books matter and a school library must always be seen as the foundation for a school and for one’s learning experience.


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Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at brianfeinblum@gmail.com. He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog © 2016

Is Reclusive Singer Enya A Model For Writers?



The other day I read an article about Enya, a 54-year-old songwriter and singer who had some success in the U.S. in the 1990s (I was a fan), and how she has surprisingly done what all creative artists long for:  become a wildly popular seller, been able to avoid touring and promoting her work, and is able to seclude herself so she can privately – and without disruption – work 24/7 on her craft.  A part of me was jealous and a part was sad.

Enya apparently is UK’s biggest success story for a female singer.  She has sold 75 million albums and is worth a reported 167 million bucks.  However, it sounds like she doesn’t get to spend her fortune because she’s too busy hiding in her castle.  Yes, a castle!

The report says she long ago swore off having a long-term relationship with men because she didn’t believe she could dedicate enough time to him or deal with his needs.  She is extremely focused on her work.

Though it’s admirable that she wants to pour herself into producing a quantity of quality work, doesn’t she want a life of her own?  What’s the point of wealth and success if you don’t share it and join the living?

You have to wonder how informed her music is if it’s based on living a monk-like existence.  She’s writing and singing for the masses.  How far removed is she from those she seeks to touch?

On the other hand, with no spouse or kids, no financial worries, and no other obligations, burdens or distractions, she is able to zone in on her passion.  She’s able to plunge the depths of her creativity unobstructed.  She can tune in to her inner-self and actually hear just her voice.  But as much as writers crave such an opportunity, I think most would need a balance.  Yes to occasional solitude and spontaneous writing without having to reschedule a day, but also yes to family, friends, love, and fresh air.  Yes to life and all of its wonder and foibles, to its beauty and hatred, to sex and violence, to nature and pollution.  Bring it all on!

Is Enya happy or some kind of social misfit or mentally disturbed individual?  Who knows?  For those who just love her music, they may ask, “Who cares?”

It is hard to feel bad for someone who chooses to live life on her terms, especially for a successful person who has the resources to choose many different paths.  But maybe she is making a sacrifice for us.  Is she giving up parts of her life so that she can produce music that millions can live by? Is she a victim of her talent?

It takes self-discipline to be a productive writer, artist, or musician.  It requires thousands of hours of research, practice, experimentation, and execution.  Enya has found the way to do what most dream of. Hopefully it’s not her nightmare.

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Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at brianfeinblum@gmail.com. He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog © 2016


Friday, April 29, 2016

How Old Is Too Young For Blue Language In Books?



“What the fuck?”

That is how I felt when I saw those three words in my 11-year-old son’s reading choice, an award-winning, critically-acclaimed book, I’ll Give You the Sun, by Jandy Nelson.

School Library Journal, Publishers Weekly, Booklist, Boston Globe, Time, New York Times and others rated it as one of the best YA books of the year. The New York Public Library and Chicago Public Library put it on their best-of-the-year list.  The author’s site describes the book as “radiant,” that will “leave you breathless and teary and laughing – often all at once."

It sounds like a great book.  The best-selling novel could be in the hands of our youth for generations to come.

But have we crossed a line somewhere?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m no prude.  I long ago decided to let my kids – by age six – say “shit” and a few other funny-sounding words.  But I draw the line with the F-word.  I do my best not to say it in front of them.  But now my son, in fifth grade, is reading a book with this line in it.

I don’t oppose the use of the word. All great books cover controversial topics and sometimes blue language goes along with them.  But I didn’t realize the day has come where the F-word is so normal and mainstream that we let kids in elementary school read books with such words.

Age-appropriate concepts, terms, or actions are hard to define.  My eight-year-old is not reading a book with that word in it.  No fucking way!  But my son is.  Is it too soon? Is it really necessary?  On the other hand, so what?

He’s old enough to grasp the use of the word.  Soon he’ll be exposed to such language more regularly as he enters middle school.  But I thought we could keep him innocent for a little longer.  He doesn’t even turn his head to look at beautiful young women. He hasn’t entered the world of sex-obsessed, drug-taking, language-offending teens.

But he will.  With the reading of this book it’s begun.  I think what bugs me is his school is endorsing this.  It could’ve chosen any number of great books, but it took the one with the F-word.  The mass media endorses it, too.  Maybe parents need to follow suit, I don't know. 

I’m all for pushing the envelope and challenging people on their ethics, passions and behaviors – but when it comes to kids, my kids, I thought some things were still off limits.  I guess not.  

What a fucking shame.


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Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at brianfeinblum@gmail.com. He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog © 2016

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Trade, Pay, Act & Network: 4 Ways to Market Your Book


I am always telling authors, whether they are first-time novices or veterans of multiple best-selling books, the key to success is to go all-out on book marketing and publicity.  That is actually more important than making a book great.  A mediocre book with great PR often does better than a superior book with little or no marketing behind it.

It doesn’t matter what genre you write in.  It doesn’t matter if your publisher is big, small, a university press or an independent.  It doesn’t matter what your book is about, how it’s written or designed, or how catchy your title and cover appears to be.  You have to promote and market the heck out of it.

But some authors lack the key elements to promote:
·         Knowledge:  They don’t know what to do, when, or how.
·         Ability;:  They lack certain skills needed to sell themselves.
·         Time:  Everyone is short on this.
·         Money:  You need it if you want a professional helper.
·         Personality: You don’t want to talk about yourself or book.
·         Mental Make-up:  You fear public speaking or desire anonymity.
·         Attitude:  You think you shouldn’t have to blow your own horn, that the book sells itself.

So how do you get some marketing success when you lack one or more of the above?

You either do what you can and supplement the rest, or you outsource everything, or you do nothing and pray that you get discovered.

If you recognize that you need help, you have a few options:

·         Pay for professional services.
·         Pay less for amateur services.
·         Trade your services/resources with others.
·         Barter with your network for help.
·         Borrow funds and resources.
·         Seek an investor or sponsor to fund your efforts.
·         Use Kickstarter and other crowdfunding sites.

So what can authors do to make sure they have exhausted all possible avenues for success?  They must act with a sense of urgency and assume a mindset of desperation.  They can’t have a wait-and-see attitude.  They can’t be laid back in their approach.  They can’t just hope to win the lottery or be dependent on the kindness of strangers.  Nor can they risk debt or bankruptcy to take a dream and turn it into reality.

First, you do what you are capable of and what you enjoy doing.  I don’t mean writing.  I’m talking about the specter of book marketing and PR that you do well.  Let’s say you are good at research and emailing people, but not so good in networking.  Let’s say you are good at getting speaking gigs but not at securing media coverage.  Perhaps – you know how to get radio interviews but social media baffles or even frustrates you.  Know what you do well and identify what needs to be outsourced.  Accept the things that you will ignore, that neither will you do yourself nor get others to do for you.

Second, identify who can help you do the things you plan to outsource.  Query them on capabilities, fees and past performance.  Find people you can work with.  You likely will need multiple experts to help you if you have numerous areas that you require help in.  There are no one-stop-shopping pros in the book world.

Third, figure out how to work your network, as well as build it up.  What will you ask of them – and give in return?  How will you reach the networks of your network?

Fourth, think of how to trade with people who can help you.  I don’t mean paying your web guy with books or compensating someone with sexual favors, but what you can and should do is think of what it is that you have digitally that is perceived to be of value of others.  Incentivize others to buy your book not only because it’s a great book at a great discount – or because they are your friend or colleague – but because by doing so they will be rewarded with a free item.  It can be a prior ebook.  It can be a webinar.  It could be copies of presentations, missing chapters, or a resource guide.  It can be something that belongs to someone else.  Share the digital resources of fellow authors – not only does it help you sell your book but the authors that you help promote will be willing to share your stuff with their list of connections.  It’s a win-win.

Lastly, you need to simply take the extra step or do the thing you didn’t think you were capable of doing.  To break through you need to do more than you think possible and to try things you never did.  That’s how you get moving from point A to point C: pay others, trade with others, exploit your networks, and do work on your own.

Good luck!

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Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at brianfeinblum@gmail.com. He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog © 2016