A unique blog dedicated to covering the worlds of book publishing and the news media, revealing creative ideas, practical strategies, interesting stories, and provocative opinions. Along the way, discover savvy but entertaining insights on book marketing, public relations, branding, and advertising from a veteran of two decades in the industry of book publishing publicity and marketing.
Connor once convinced a police officer when he was 16 that he had to drive on
the front lawn of his elementary school for his own safety. And has been making
up stories ever since. Brian was born and raised in Chicago and graduated from
Indiana University in 2013. This is his first published story. For more info,
1. What really inspired you to write your
book, to force you from taking an idea or experience and conveying it into a
Traveling for my day job. That was my
inspiration. In all honesty. I was so extremely bored sitting in a hotel room
in San Antonio for 8 months straight every Monday through Friday, knowing I was
about to start going to Columbus for a couple months. So on a plane ride from
San Antonio to Chicago, I wrote the last two chapters of this book in the Notes
app on my phone. With the ending in place, I would go back to my hotel room
after work and just write. Hours and hours would pass of just writing, but I
realized I started looking forward to coming back to my hotel room to write instead
of dreading the boredom. Flash-forward 8-months in San Antonio, Columbus, and
New York hotel rooms, and it was finished.
2. What is it about and whom do you
believe is your targeted reader? It’s a story about how an innocent
college freshman can get lost in the peer pressures of college life. The book
follows the main character, Cory Carter, through the freshman year parties, to
joining the wrong fraternity just to make some friends, to hazing, and finally
to excessive binge drinking and party drugs. Instead of buying the weekly weed he
smokes, he decides to sell it himself. Instead of lying to his girlfriend, he
decides to break up with her. These decisions begin to add up until Cory finds
himself as the number one drug dealer in the state. This story is told from the
eyes of an 18-21 year old, written by a 25 year old who was in that same
fraternity, at that same school, just four years prior. So the #1 target reader
is college kids, incoming college students, and recently college graduates.
However, the more feedback I receive from readers, the more I realize the big
state school university experience has not changed much since the 80’s. So my
target reader has expanded to include former college graduates and even parents
with either college children or soon to be. Because while this book is very
heavily focused on college life, the effects of peer pressure are universal to
everyone, and this story can help teach people, through examples, on the
seriousness of it.
3. What do you hope will be the everlasting
thoughts for readers who finish your book? What should remain with them long
after putting it down? Well first I hope they enjoyed it. So that would be
the primary everlasting thought. But I hope people look back on this book and
really think how crazy college life actually is. We put 30,000 18-22 year olds
in a small town and expect their behavior to mirror that of typical society.
Cory’s life illuminates the true behavior that is born from this atypical
society. Because again, the concept of college is 18-22 year olds making up the
majority of a town. Just read that sentence. The sheer thought of it is crazy!
Most Hollywood versions of college is, “Fraternity guy sets up huge party but
it gets out of control, but he falls in love with the shy girl during the
process”. But that is just BS and everyone knows it. The real story of college
is hazing, skipping classes, the drunken hook-ups, the black-outs, the drugs,
etc. And I hope this story hits home for a lot of readers.
4. What advice or words of wisdom do you
have for fellow writers? Well if they are “fellow” writers, then they are
probably more experienced then me already! But, I want to tell every writer to
keep writing about what you know. Because true and honest stories need to be
heard. My story is about peer pressures of college life. And I know this,
because it was my life too. It was easy being a yes-man. Booze, weed, cocaine,
molly, gambling. I’d do anything for a good time and remove any aspect of my
life that deterred from it. Convincing myself things were ok by pointing to
others that weren’t, without recognizing we were all escalating our negative
influences simultaneously. So if more
writers can write based off their experiences, then the world can have
authentic stories told from all walks of life instead of getting the Hollywood
versions of them.
5. What trends in the book world do you
see and where do you think the book publishing industry is heading? I am new to this
world, so you could either say I’m naïve or have a fresh perspective. But my
concern about the book publishing industry, is that it seems like money can buy
you a “better book”. Publicists, marketing campaigns, book reviewers, all of
these things can be bought. Which is no one’s fault, and is probably not even a
trend. It’s just something I noticed stepping into this world, and something
that seems to be off. Places like Goodreads/Amazon can help act as the IMDB of
books, but in order to get the book into readers hands, well, that takes money
6. What great challenges did you have in
writing your book?
The 25%-50% mark in the story. The beginning was easy, the ending was already written
on my phone, but filling in some of the character development parts was tough.
Not necessarily because of writers block or anything, but because at page 50 or
page 100, I had absolutely no clue how long this book was going to be! Should I
move faster, do I need to slow down, is this book going to be 150 pages or 500
pages?! That was for sure the greatest challenge.
7. If people can only buy one book this
month, why should it be yours? Because it’s the summer time, people will
be on the beach, on planes, at a pool, doing whatever they want to do to enjoy
the weather. This book is a quick read and doesn’t take a lot of intelligence
to read! It’s fast paced and there is a lot of rapid dialogue that keeps the
pages turning. So if you had to buy one book this month, breeze through From
Bud to Blow in one or two days in the sun sounds like a lovely time!
love lists, statistics, and factoids that reveal some metric that they can
compare themselves by. If the numbers
affirm their views, experiences, and circumstances they are happy. If it appears they are better than average,
they’re even happier. Out of ego, curiosity, or opportunity, we crave to know
how we stack up against others. I recently came across stats on geography-based
tendencies of Americans and wondered what this could mean for the book world.
instance, in a recent New York Times
piece that highlighted findings from Facebook data that showed where users “check
in when they are traveling abroad" the last four summers, a map can be
constructed for each state. Looks like
Californians, Texans and a few other states each find Mexico to be the most popular
overseas country. Oregon, Washington, and a few other states up north chose
Canada. But some states chose Liberia,
Somalia, Ireland, Bolivia, Tonga and Marshall Islands. Do these demographics help the book industry
figure out how to market books regionally?
very recent Entertainment Weekly
article picked one film per each state that best captures the spirit and story
of each state. New York had Do The Right
Thing while South Carolina had The
Big Chill and Pennsylvania had Rocky. My favorite book-themed movie? Vermontand Dead Poets Society. Actually, a lot of these films were based on
books, including Missouri’s Gone Girl,
Kansas’ The Wizard of Oz, Colorado’s Misery, and Montana’s A River Runs Through It.
year, Business Insider put together
its list, “The Most Famous Book That Takes Place in Every State” that should’ve
been correctly titled as “Each State’s Most Famous Book.” Alabama had To Kill a Mockingbird, Alaska Into
the Wild, Arizona The Bean Trees,
Arkansas A Painted House, and so on.
live in a nation where one in four American adults say they have not read a book in
the past year. One in five haven’t visited
a library or book mobile in that time either. Three in five people in U.S.
prisons are illiterate. These are
stunning stats that show our nation needs to give reading a boost.
books change to meet the needs, abilities, and preferences of a new America,
one that sees other languages besides English growing and one in which free
online content is starting to replace a domain that used to be filled by
books? Should book publishers market to
those who read more books (women average 14 books annually to men, 9) or should
it make an emphasis to reach out to the under-served – ethnic minorities, high
school drop outs, and those who speak English as a second language?
at least half of all new books released in 2017 are self-published and thus,
turning authors into publishers, such writers need to confront the same
marketing questions that big publishers struggle to address. One cannot simply write whatever he or she
desires and then demand the marketplace embrace the book without making a
smart, strategic, and invested effort to reach targeted consumers.
the United States, according to World Culture Score Index, doesn’t even rank in
the top 20 nations when the amount of time spent reading books is taken into
account. For instance, India doubles the
US output, with the average Indian reading more than 10.5 hours per week and
the typical American languishes at 5.5 hours.
Russia, China, France, Indonesia, and Hungary are way ahead of us. Maybe selling books overseas or foreign
rights needs more attention.
publishers and authors need to market most heavily to young readers and those
who buy books for them. If we don’t
nurture a new generation of book readers, the industry will die out. The
Guardian reported a Scholastic study from a few years ago showed only 51%
of children claim they love or like reading books for fun -- down from 58% three
years prior to the 2015 study. It was
60% in 2010.
the new school year is about to heat up, the book industry will need to not
just sell books to its base of readers.
It will have to grow by reaching beyond its repeat customer and reliable
demographics. Get kids, illiterates, and
people who say that don’t read books often to start buying books. Create new consumers and in turn, not only
will society benefit, but book publishers and authors will be able to reassure
themselves that there is a marketplace for them.
2016, according to sales estimates released by the Association of American
Publishers, the total number of book units sold was 40,000,000 more than in
2015 - up to 1.2% - but revenue declined by 5.1% - to 26.24 billion
dollars. To me, the only conclusion one
can draw from this, is that publishers aren’t charging enough for books.
sells 40 million more units but sees revenue decline by 420 million dollars?
are some positives, however, in the data:
sales were up 1.5% but other areas declined.
fiction was the only segment within trade books to decline.
sales rose, e-books fell, and downloadable audio doubled its 2012 total.
market paperbacks only fell .4%.
non-fiction, is the largest revenue provider at $5.87 billion, up over 5% from a
presses soared nearly 7% in revenue in one year.
books and YA jumped by 6.7%.
publishers must raise their prices.
Stores and vendors like Amazon or B&N can choose to pass along discounts
to consumers if it wishes, but publishers need to be financially healthy.
is great that more books sold last year than in 2015, because that could
indicate an expansion in the number of book buyers or it means voracious
readers are expanding their reading. Or
maybe more people chose to buy discounted books as presents.
Publishers Weekly, in analyzing the
data, suggested that adult fiction declined steeply because there was a lack of
a big book “as was the inability of novelists to get media attention while the
broadcast and cable networks covered the presidential election.”
I find to be remarkable is that non-fiction adult trade books is doing so
well. This is the exact category of content
the Internet, with all of its free blogs, resources, and data was supposed to
make outdated and obsolete for book buyers.
Instead it’s seeing a resurgence.
expect to see book sales rise for 2017.
Why? I’m an optimist who bets on books every day. I think with more
indie stories and even Amazon brick and mortar coming out, we’ll see higher
sales. I also believe in a non-election, non-Olympics, war-free year, and an
improving economy, we’ll see more media covering books and more people looking
to enjoy the escape books provide us.
didn’t realize how much I love dogs until I first got one at age 26. I had just moved into my first house and I
received a basset hound as a gift. Brandy was a wonderful treat with her big,
floppy ears and disproportionately long body and stump legs.
had a deep bark with so much sound coming out of her odd-shaped body. She would be the first of many dogs to leave
latest one, Daisy, an English Bulldog, was put down on August 11th, which
coincided with my 15th wedding anniversary.
She represented love, so perhaps it was fitting.
ending of life is ever good and it can get messy. This one was complicated by the fact my wife
and I were hoping she could last to say goodbye to our nine-year-old
daughter. We had Daisy for 7 of her 8
years and my daughter has loved her since she was only two. They had a very close relationship. My daughter went to sleep-away camp for the
first time and her seven weeks ended the day after we put Daisy to sleep.
just couldn’t let Daisy suffer any longer.
She hadn’t eaten in four days nor urinated in two days. Her body was breaking down, ravaged by
lymphoma. She only made it 16 days after
she was diagnosed.
story – and ours – is perhaps no different than what tens of millions of dog owners
will go through. We loved her with all
of our hearts and enjoyed every moment with her snorty, farty, playful self. Her imperfections – a face that looked like
it was hit by a truck -- provided appeal.
Have you ever seen a bulldog run?
She did move, in her younger days, and would animatedly bump into other
dogs at the dog run. Then she would plop
down like a bear rug, pant, and watch the other dogs flag balls down.
was in decent shape for her breed. She got up to 50 pounds but was athletic
enough to roll over for a belly rub or engage in tug of war. Daisy loved to nudge us with her toys at ten or eleven at night, just as I was settling into TV time. She also used to sharpen her teeth on our shoes
but it took her longer to outgrow grabbing for my daughter’s many stuffed animals.
had health issues over the years – cherry eye, allergies, and a case of
mercer. Even with pet insurance, she
cost thousands of dollars to care for, but she was worth it just as she was
worth the stress and sadness that comes with putting her down and suffering
for the first time since we had children, we are dogless.
We lost Buzzy, a 15-year-old pug that we
adopted at age 7, five years ago. He
overlapped with Daisy for almost two years.
We also lost Lulu, another pug that we adopted, when she was hit by a
school bus while on a leash.
a kid growing up in a Brooklyn apartment, a dog wasn’t on the menu. But we had turtles, fish, parakeets, and a
rabbit over the years. It’s amazing how
much animal life one can experience and how it can still hurt when you lose one
of these critters.
couldn’t help script the ending for my daughter to say so long, but we did the
right thing by Daisy and we’ll miss her.
She’s given us great memories and photos and soon her passing will even
lead us to a new dog to love and hold and eventually lose as well.
learn about life through death. A little
over a year ago. I experienced human
loss when my dad died. Look, the most
precious beings and the best things in life are fragile and vulnerable. That’s the rules to living on this
planet. But even knowing this – and
accepting the terms – I can’t help but feel a little lonelier and empty for
having lost Daisy.
wife, 12-year-old son, and I were with Daisy in her final moments as the vet
administered not medicine but a toxic dose of anastesia to put her to rest. We
all caressed her meaty body and hit-and-run face. The process was familiar to
us from when we did this with Buzzy a little over five years ago.
went from struggling to breath to silence, and peace settled into the room.
Mixed feelings of relief and sadness bathed us.
Olivia has taken it well. She asked us if the fish was alive as soon as she
came off the camp bus. When she asked why didn't we bring Daisy at pickup we
told her what happened. She thought it was a joke at first, in total shock.
asked to see her and we called the vet and luckily she had not yet been carted
for cremation... so we went. They took her out of the freezer and I think it
helped my daughter heal.
was a cool dog who made the last seven years with us a wonderful time. We
fondly look back at people she took a piece out of: friends Bruce and Keith, a
back-up mail lady, two dry cleaners, and a handyman. Plus she was a TV star a
few years ago when the local CBS TV news filmed her after coming out post-blizzard
to chew the snow and take a romp in it. I can feel her around me. She is
farting snd snoring in dog heaven.
we knew going into this that having a great pet means a hard ending. They
ingratiate themselves into our lives and become a part of the very fabric that
we wear. If it hurts so much it is because we loved her so much and that is a
her ending will bring a new beginning for us.
For Daisy, I hope she’s playing in dog heaven, perhaps with Brandy,
Lulu, Buzz or others. We’ll miss you,
let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do.”
words were stated by the legendary college basketball coach, John Wooden. He could have been talking directly to you.
often do you complain, whine, criticize, or lament that something isn’t going
your way, that you fall short in an area, or that others disappoint you? It’s only natural to participate in such
behavior or negative thinking, but it’s useless. Actually, it’s detrimental to your success as
mustn’t list all of your weaknesses or victimizations, or denote what you lost,
don’t have, or can’t get. No, you have
to think about what you do have, what’s obtainable, what’s a strength. Build on what you have and who you are, not
on what isn’t or can never be.
upon your confidence, character, passion, energy, vision, creativity,
connections, and sense of purpose to drive you to success. If you merely bitch about this person or stew
over some missed opportunity or merely dream of what you want without having a
plan to actually realize it you waste your time.
all comes down to your attitude and how you approach things. Your core personality may be a result of your
genes, environment, upbringing and circumstances, but if you can take control
of it, you should. You must!
hard to convince a pessimist to be an optimist, but one needs to correct their
vision if they are to see straight. Overlook your deficiencies and ignore what
failures you’ve experienced. Dig in and
go for what you want and utilize the people and things that you have going for
it starts with a belief, one where you are convinced you have a goal, a
purpose, and a unique ability to succeed.
Where there’s a will, there’s a way. Project a mindset of confidence, be
open to opportunities, and be willing to take a chance. Remaining stuck in denial, anger, or excuses
will get you nowhere.
you need a few words of inspiration to get you going. Try these:
people have thousands of reasons why they cannot do what they want to, when all
they need is one reasons why they can.”
your mind can conceive and believe it can achieve.”
you don’t like something, change it; if you can’t change it, change the way you
think about it.”
see it when you believe it.”
your only available transportation is a leap of faith.”
“Don’t get so busy making a living
that you forget to make a life.”
“I’d rather regret things I’ve done
than regret the things I haven’t done.”
“Act the way you’d like to be and
soon you’ll be the way you act.”
“Make your choices reflect your
hopes, not your fears.”
“It is our choices that show us
what we truly are, far more than our abilities.”
“The world needs dreamers and the
world needs doers. But above all, the world needs dreamers who do.”
“Your imagination is your preview
of life’s coming attractions.”