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Thursday, May 28, 2015

STEM vs. Language Arts?


Last weekend I took my 10-year-old son to an all-day STEM fair, where children were given hands-on access to 3D printing, rocketry, and car building.  We even got to learn about drones.  It was a great idea to have hundreds of families gather and get inspired by Science Technology Engineering and Math.  I loved seeing his enthusiasm to sponge up loads of useful and practical information.  I enjoyed listening to a woman astronaut speak as well.  But it made me wonder what will happen to interest in English and the cultural arts if all this attention is showered on numbers and equations.

Before children can tackle big problems or figure out how to fly to Mars and back, they’ll need to learn how to read, write, and communicate well, and how to think, analyze, and dream.  It would appear STEM and the liberal arts go hand in hand.  It’s not either or, but both.  Of course, when it comes to choosing a career path, one must determine if they are going to be innovators and entrepreneurs or workers, and they’ll need to decide if they are going to be deep into computer code, calculating measurements, and constructing skyscrapers or if they’ll craft the art, books, and shows that will inspire, entertain, and educate the masses.

When I took the SATs more than three decades ago I was mediocre on my English grade but exceptional in math.  In fact, I was in the nation’s top 8-10% in math.  But I chose a career in book publishing and marketing.  I wrote a book and pen this blog daily.  In my heart, I’m a writer, always wondering how to make things better, how to unearth the secrets that evade us, and how to find a way for words to direct us toward peace, love, and democracy for all.

You know what I mean or you wouldn’t be reading this.  You enjoy how words combine in such a way – out of the trillions of potential formations – to insightfully, succinctly and accurately capture the truths of life, of a moment, of a person’s existence.  Maybe there’s a STEM approach to the writing life.  Words, like numbers, can, if in the proper formation, reveal answers to us.

The world needs language arts and it needs STEM.  It needs people to pursue careers that fill society’s needs.  It also needs everyone to possess a little bit of each, so that we are balanced and fully formed.  

The best way to enjoy life and to contribute to this world is to specialize in an area but to also make sure we don’t fully ignore what they didn’t specialize in.  We should have an appreciation and an understanding for all of the things we have not fully pursued or embraced.

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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 © 2015

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

PR & Media Landscape Changes But Authors Still Promote Books



If everyone is promoting a book or something, who is left to report on the book?

According to a Washington Post report, based on a Labor Department statistic, outside of LA, DC, and NYC, the number of reporting jobs has decreased severely in recent times.  In fact, one in four reporting positions in 2004 no longer exists now.

That’s a net drop of 12,000 jobs.

Los Angeles reporting jobs increased by 20%, NYC remained flat, and Washington, DC, doubled, adding 1,300 jobs.  But the rest of the nation saw a huge plummet.

Meanwhile, outside the three cities just mentioned, 20,000 new jobs in public relations sprang up over the past decade – a 13% increase.  In fact, many reporters shift to the PR side once they can’t find work or a decent paycheck with the news media.

The numbers are getting lopsided.  Publicists outnumber reporters something like 5 to 1.  Further, the media is becoming more concentrated.  LA, DC, and NYC account for 20% of all reporting jobs today.  A decade ago it was 12%.

So there are many more people seeking to influence public opinion through the media and the media is shrinking and consolidating.  Who will be left to be the gatekeepers of truth, justice – and book reviews?

What’s also happening is social media is causing traditional media to be one of several voices out there and no longer the only voice.  TV, print and radio used to put each other in check, and build off the other’s reporting.  Now it’s Twitter feeds, Facebook posts, blog interviews, and YouTube videos that are shaping public opinion, knowledge, and actions.  Social media not only dictates how traditional media approaches its job but it speaks directly to citizens and consumers – unfiltered and raw.

It’s what it is.  This will only continue to grow – the gap between promoters and journalists, between social media and traditional media, and between DC-LA-NYC media vs. the rest of the country.  So how does a book promoter or author navigate such a landscape?

Authors and publicists don’t need to do anything but think of how to find potential readers and consumers for their books.  They simply must use every tool at their disposal and to increase efforts in the areas that seem to work for them.  But even as the balance of power and information-sharing shifts, one truth holds true.  It all matters – we still want and need traditional media and we need social media.  You don’t have to choose between them.  In fact, they complement one another.  Keep at it and experiment until you find a combination that works best for you.


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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 © 2015



Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Writing A New Course For Life



At a recent high school reunion of sorts, I came directly into contact with my past, a past that at one time seemed like a planned future.  But like most things in life, things don’t always turn out exactly as we’d hoped or expected.

Edward R. Murrow High School at one time was one of the top three high schools in the nation’s biggest city.  It was an experimental magnet school at a time few like it existed.  It was opened in 1974 and when I attended in 1981, it had only graduated a few thousand students.  I graduated in 1984 and I can’t recall visiting in the past 15 years – if not more.  It recently turned 40 and celebrated by inviting all of its 20,000+ ex-students to come by the school for an all-day open house.

Due to sports obligations for my youngest child, I couldn’t get to Brooklyn and visit my old high school until 4:20 pm.  The event wrapped at 5:00 pm.  

I ran into one person I knew from my class and another that I barely recalled. But walking through the long corridors of the school’s four floors was a great experience.

I was with my two kids, my sister (who also went to the school), and my teenage niece.  Memories would flow naturally as I stepped into a classroom or looked at the cafeteria. A lot of things remained the same, from the walls and lockers to the views one would see when looking out the windows.

For the reunion, some of the tables featured random copies of the school newspaper, The Murrow Network.  As I flipped through several copies from the years I had attended I came across the very first article I’d written.  I proudly showed my kids and they thought it was cool.  Btu seeing that article reminded me I’d not fulfilled my aspiration to be a journalist.

I used to tell people I wanted to be a sports journalist, combining my two loves – writing and sports, particularly baseball.  But it never came to be. After initially looking for a job with the news media after college in the nation’s top media market and coming up empty, I went to work for a small book publisher.

I never left the industry, save for an experimental detour with law as a paralegal.

For the past 25 years I’ve helped so many writers with their books, editing, promoting, and marketing them.  I did write one book and it was published by a small press.   My real goal has been to get a book published about ethics and values.  

Life doesn’t always go as planned, but sometimes it turns out even better!

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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 © 2015

Interview with Yale Publishing Course Director Tina Weiner


1.      In what direction are you taking the Yale Publishing Course?  How is it evolving to meet the changing needs and challenges of writers? I am making it more and more interactive – expanding the time allotted for Q and A during the sessions and allowing more time for small group discussions and conversation with the speakers.  The curriculum is still focused on deep dives into crucial issues facing publishers today, finding new sources of revenues, using social media and analytics more effectively, improving the e book experience, understanding how to compete with disruptions caused by self-publishers and other new start-ups, and becoming a global publisher.  The underpinning of the program is centered on becoming a better manager and enabling the participants to lead their companies into a future in which print and digital co-exist more productively. A great deal of attention is paid to how publishers can adapt to the changing needs of their authors and work together draw attention to their books.  The competition for eyeballs in more acute than ever . Because of this and the fact that there are fewer bookstores, we spend time exploring non-traditional ways of selling books and finding new ways to promote discoverability.

2.      Who is the ideal candidate for the Yale Publishing Course? I have found over the past 5 years, that the people who attend the Course all share a passion for publishing and a desire to learn more about what goes on beyond their own particular silo and within their own organization.  Very often they have either just taken on, or are about to take on new responsibilities, or want to grow their company and/or their role within it.  The ideal candidate is looking to expand his/her knowledge of the industry as a whole and be exposed to points of view that they have experienced elsewhere. Participants from the U.S. are eager to hear how what is trending abroad and the many international attendees want to learn what they can from the American experience. Again and again, participants tell me they come to Yale to be sponges and absorb as much information as they can from both the speakers and from each other.

3.      How does your program differ from the offerings of other institute, workshops, conference, or courses? YPC is a highly interactive classroom  geared to a experience professionals who are looking to delve deeper into issues than they would at other industry events. Our speakers are distinguished members of the Yale School of Management and industry experts with proven innovative achievements and a commitment to sharing their knowledge more candidly than they might in a more public forum.   We limit the number of attendees to foster a close relationship between the students and the faculty as well as peer to peer. The curriculum is not made up of panels but is rather of a combination of overviews and deep dives into specific topics.  There is ample time set outside for one-on-one counseling sessions and small group discussions at meals, breaks, and receptions. By the end of the five days, the students have bonded,  having shared a unique educational experience and having formed enduring friendships with peers from all over the world.

4.      You recently announced the first recipients of the Innovative Leader Scholarship to the Yale Publishing Course.  What is important about this?  Every year we receive many, many requests for financial aid from people from all over the world who are really eager to come to YPC but cannot afford the tuition.  The scholarships fund one person from the U.S. and one from abroad to attend the week devoted to book publishing or the week from magazine media professionals. The applications make me aware of how many truly talented, innovative, and intelligent individuals there are in our industry. Their reasons for wanting to attend help shape and focus the curriculum.  I wish there were a way to fund more of them.

5.      Where do you see book publishing heading?  I think the industry will continue to be disrupted and the competition for readers will continue to be a factor as potential readers spend more and more time distracted by social media, gaming, and all variety of content on their smartphones.  As more books are published, both traditionally and through self-publishing,  there will be a greater need to find ways to help readers discover quality content.  I believe the industry will rise to that occasion.  Although readers will continue to read digitally, I think print is far from dead and, at least in the immediate future, print and digital will co-exist.  It is up to publishers to help readers find the format they want for particular content.  We talk a lot about the future at YPC, but rather than making predictions,  we stress being prepared – i.e. being flexible, nimble, and open to change. Publishers can best deal with the next disruption by staying on top of the advances in technology, being more effective leaders, using social media and analytics to understand what their readers want, and concentrating more on strategic planning. There is plenty of room for innovation in the industry, and it increasingly important to step back and look at the industry and its possibilities in a broader perspective.  This is what we aim to do at YPC.

6.      What do you see as the greatest challenges and rewards for writers today?  Although because of the Internet and the rise in self-publishing, it is easier to “publish” today, it is harder than ever to compete with the plethora of books available. Individual writers need to consider what is the best way for them to find their niche and comfort zone either by self-publishing or through a legacy or start-up publisher . On the flip side, publishers need to recognize and understand the challenges facing writers and to find ways to serve their authors more effectively and/or to offer specific services to those who choose to self-publish. The greatest reward for both writers and publishers is finding readers and keeping them for subsequent works.   

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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 © 2015

Monday, May 25, 2015

Drink Up At The Book Crawl



I’m always thinking of ways books can be sold everywhere.  Books, though a part of our culture, need to remain an institution and need to grow beyond their current reach.  Here are a few suggestions:

1. Book Crawl
Like a pub crawl, where people pay one price and go from bar to bar for a designated period of time and have a drink at each place, let’s do a book crawl, where at a set number of locations there’s an author at each spot.  People go and meet with each author.

2. Speed Book
Like speed dating, where singles gather to grill one another in intervals of five intense minutes at a time, gather up book lovers who are single and have them discuss themselves and the books they enjoy.

3. Book Draft House
Why not have a restaurant with books in it?  Call it Books & Bites.  You buy a book to read with your meal if you dine solo, and if you are with others you can eat and discuss a book like a book club.  There are movie theaters that serve dinner or lunch, so why not a bookstore that does the same – and not just sells coffee to people who want to camp out and do work?

4. Themed Night Outs
A business that wants to get more attention for itself can hold an event that involves a book.  Let’s say you run a gym.  Why not have an author come to discuss diet, health and fitness?  If you are a bank, have an author talk about personal finance.  If you are a big clothing store, have an author speak about fashion trends or the history of shoes.  Their events can be done during store hours to get more shoppers in, or, if space is an issue, hold the event after hours and introduce people to your store with a tour.

5. Forget Apple Pie.  How About A Book With That?
Stores always look to upsell you.  Would you like an accessory to go with that item?  Shall you get the extended warranty?  Would you like dessert with that meal?  Let’s add a book to the equation.  No matter what product you sell or service you provide, you can always offer a book to go with it.

6. Put the Book Into Facebook!
What’s the most famous book aside from The Bible?  Facebook!  Every profile should list a favorite book and everyday, people should post at least one comment that relates to books.

There are many ways to increase exposure for books.  Every additional sales point or conversation that highlights books is not only helpful to the book industry, but it’s great for society.  

Where else would you put books?

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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 © 2015

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Interview With Author David Bruce Smith


1.      What is the Grateful American Book Prize and why did you create it?  This is the inaugural year of The Grateful American Prize. The purpose is to recognize the single best children's book in the genres of historical fiction/non-fiction that is written for the 7th-9th grade levels. Interestingly this is the only prize of its kind at the moment. Usually, prizes such as this weigh only the quality of the prose, and ignore the illustrations. This prize will consider both--if possible. That ideal "marriage" will depend on the submissions, because I have discovered older fiction has less or no illustrations. There will only be one winner.

2.      What books need to be published about history that haven't already been written?  I can't really think of something in history that hasn't been written. The important thing for kids is to make it INTERESTING. History is really about telling stories, but too often the way in which it is presented is boring.

3.      What are some books you would recommend for 14-year-olds so that they come to appreciate history?  Recommendations: Esther Forbes's, Johnny Tremain; Margaret Mitchell's Gone With The Wind, The Diary of Anne Frank; Stephen Crane's, The Red Badge of Courage. I would also put in Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn; most people don't recognize it as "historical fiction", but it is.

4.      I Are you surprised at how little adults know about history?  I am not surprised how little adults know about history. This problem we have is multi-generational. Unfortunately, financial resources for education have been on the decline; teachers are often unqualified or uninterested in history--but told they must teach it--and big business has not absorbed the deficiencies--nor recognized that today's students are their future employees. Better to have informed workplace than not. The American Revolution Center which is building a museum in Philadelphia, totally dedicated to the Revolution did a 2011 survey about historical "literacy." The results were, for example: 89% of the respondents said the Civil War occurred before the Revolutionary War. That in part prompted me to start the Grateful American Series (videos, newsletter) and the Grateful American Prize.

5.      What challenges do you find yourself overcoming in order to get applicants for the prize?  We have not had any problems in getting applicants. So far, the response has been enthusiastic, which tells me lots of people are interested, but getting people informed historically will take time, and a lot of people. I love books because they allow you to "escape" into another time and place. When I was a little boy, my grandfather used to encourage me to read books about great people. He felt learning about the Franklin's, Lincoln's, Jefferson's and Washington's of the world would provide me with wisdom that--maybe--I could "call up". It was good advice.


6.      What do you love about books?  What advice do you have for writers of history books?  History writers must create--or recreate stories that are fun, readable, and imaginative. And...if there illustrations, sloppy pen and ink renderings or clip art is unacceptable. Illustrations tell the story--if they're for very young kids, and they guide the narrative if they're for older one. The prose and the art should be of the highest quality, and they should have a symbiotic relationship

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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 © 2015

How Did Language Begin?


I came across an essay by Ray Jackendoff from the  Linguistic Society of America. Here are some interesting excerpts from it:

“Every human language has a vocabulary of tens of thousands of words, built up from several dozen speech sounds.

“What happened to humans in the 6 million years or so since the hominid and chimpanzee lines diverged, and when and how did hominid communication begin to have the properties of modern language?

“The basic difficulty with studying the evolution of language is that the evidence is so sparse.  Spoken languages don’t leave fossils, and fossil skulls only tell us the overall shape and size of hominid brains, not what the brains could do.  About the only definitive evidence we have is the shape of the vocal tract (the mouth, tongue, and throat): Until anatomically modern humans, about 100,000 years ago, the shape of hominid vocal tracts didn’t permit the modern range of speech sounds.  But that doesn’t mean that language necessarily began then.  Earlier hominids could have had a sort of language that used a more restricted range of consonants and vowels, and the changes in the vocal tract may only have had the effect of making speech faster and more expressive.  Some researchers even propose that language began as sign language, then (gradually or suddenly) switched to the vocal modality, leaving modern gesture as a residue.

“We do know that something important happened in the human line between 100,000 and 50,000 years ago: This is when we start to find cultural artifacts such as art and ritual objects, evidence of what we would call civilization. What changed in the species at that point?  Did they just get smarter (Even if their brains didn’t suddenly get larger)?  Did they become smarter because of the intellectual advantages that language affords (such as the ability to maintain an oral history over generations)?”

About The Linguistic Society of America
The Linguistic Society of America was founded in 1924 for the advancement of the scientific study of language.  The Society serves its nearly 6,000 personal and institutional members through scholarly meetings, publications, and special activities designed to advance the discipline.

The Society holds its Annual Meeting in early January each year and publishes a quarterly journal, LANGUAGE, and the LSA Bulletin. Among its special education activities are the Linguistic Institutes held every other summer in odd-numbered years and co-sponsored by a host university.

The website for the Society (http://www.lsadc.org) includes The Field of Linguistics (brief, nontechnical essays describing the discipline and its subfields) and statements and resolutions issued by the Society on matters such as language rights, the English-only/English-plus debate, bilingual education and Ebonics. To learn more about them, please contact them at:

Linguistic Society of America
1325 18th St, NW, Suite 211
Washington, DC 20036-6501
(202) 835-1714
lsa@lsadc.org



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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 © 2015