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Saturday, November 5, 2011

Interview With Literary Agent Robert Gottlieb, Trident Media Group

1.      Robert, as a leader in the book publishing industry, where do you see the book world heading? There are so many new and wonderful vistas ahead for authors.

2.      What do you love most about being a part of it? Working with authors. How have you responded to the challenges and rewards of the new publishing landscape? - By being ahead of the curb and providing excellent management for our authors in all areas of trade publishing.

3.      What advice do you have for struggling writers? Keep writing. It is a craft that requires hard work and dedication.

4.      What do you look for in an author or book in order to agree to represent them?  That is hard to say in a nut shell. Here are some factors: Talent. Storytelling. The ability to create a complex web of characters and story combined.

For more information, please consult: www.tridentmediagroup.com


Promoting Your Book Through Op-Eds

Many people think of getting publicity for their book as visiting a bunch of cities and doing book signings -- or seeking an interview on television and radio shows -- or getting reviewed in a publication. Other authors may seek to advertise their book in the local newspaper. Many think having a Web site, writing an e-zine, or creating a blog is the way to go. But the savvy authors know that there's another way to generate publicity and support all of these strategies. They submit material for publication.

Op-Eds, by-lined pieces, and letters-to-the-editor are great ways to gain exposure for you and your book.-- and they don't cost you anything!  Start locally and build up regionally or nationally. Begin with local daily newspapers or even the free weekly papers in your community. Select out publications that are related to your industry or genre as well -- newsletters, magazines, trade publications. It helps to know what the publication covers before you contact them.

Before you write a story, send them a few ideas about what you'd like to comment on. Give them a brief bio, explaining why you are qualified to write on this subject. Mention your book. You might even suggest they can excerpt a section from your book. All that you ask for is that they mention your book in the credits of the by-line piece.

Interview With Karla Olson, President, Publishers and Writers of San Diego
1.       You have worked as an editor and book packager. What do you find challenging about the process of improving the creative work of another? The toughest part of my job is also the most important and impactful. That is making authors understand that to be successful in this business you have to accept that it is not about what you, the author, want to say, it is about what readers want to hear. Authors often have a hard time accepting that and then making the changes that that demands.

The other thing, especially at this time in publishing, is that you must be strategic in order to be successful. Even though right now it feels like you, the author, can write it today and publish it tomorrow – and without a big investment -- doing it right still takes time and effort and resources. And it involves a number of experienced players – book editors, book designers, printers, distributors, wholesalers, publicists, reviewers, etc. 

Despite what some forms of media might indicate (reality TV, for instance, and some pop music – and even some books), readers and consumers of information are very discriminating. If your book is not  professionally put together – edited, carefully positioned, with a great title and cover that make a promise to the reader that is fulfilled by the book – it is not likely to be successful. And books that are published but are not of the quality that consumers expect hurt us all. The next time that person thinks about buying a book, they may question their decision, and turn instead to another form of media. Ouch!

2.      What do you enjoy about being part of the book publishing industry? I have always loved helping someone fulfill his or her dream of writing and publishing a book. I think this is the greatest time in publishing because so many authors are empowered. People all over have interesting stories to tell, and which stories are worthy of being told is no longer the decision of the Big Six Publishers. Through the internet, we can market books to very specific niche audiences. No longer is a story considered too “narrow” to be publishable. If you can locate your potential readers and make them aware of your book, you can publish it. That’s awesome!

3.      Where is the industry heading? Who knows! Actually, I think the next decade in book publishing is going to be very exciting. I’ve been telling my clients for years not to think of their books as books, but to think of them as collections of information. A collection of information can be broken into pieces in all kinds of different ways, to appeal to different audiences and interest groups. And now we are seeing that books can be enhanced with multi-media to appeal to different people according to their unique intelligences. That is definitely going to challenge the definition of a book, but I think it a great way.

I think the e-book revolution is going to mean authors and publishers can respond to the marketplace in very immediate ways. I love the idea of “social reading,” where people can share their favorite passages and even comments on parts of a book. That will be a very empowering tool for authors and publishers, who can get hard data on what information in their books is really sticking with their readers. I don’t think we even fully understand how powerful that can be.
I also hope and foresee that this evolution in book publishing will engage more people to read. The biggest challenge this industry has is not finding the next blockbuster best seller but enticing more people to try reading as a satisfying form of entertainment and information. Reader creation is the key, in my opinion, to helping this industry thrive. How to do that? I’m not totally sure, but I think that the changes happening now are moving us in the right direction. I believe I read that one of the fastest growing audiences for ebooks is tweens and teens. That’s exactly what I mean!

4.      You are the president of San Diego Publishers and Writers. Tell us about that. Publishers and Writers of San Diego is a trade organization that discusses the business of publishing. Although we include writers and authors in our membership, they come to our meetings to learn what to do with their manuscripts after they are completed and how to publish strategically. We present a monthly program on some aspect of the business of publishing – marketing, ebook publishing, audio publishing, book design, etc. We also offer an opportunity for authors and publishers to network and share strategies and successes. The great thing about a publishing organization is that no member’s product is directly competitive with another’s, so we can share trade secrets.

5.      You are also the founder of ReadLocal. What's that? Read Local is marketing coalition that introduces authors who live in a particular community to readers in that community. The core of Read Local is a database that is searchable by community, metropolitan area, and zip code. That allows people interested in books – readers, but also booksellers, librarians, producers, event coordinators – to find authors who live in their communities and could be featured in some way. You don’t know how many librarians I’ve talked to who’ve told me that they would love to put on more author programs, but it takes so much time to find the authors! Well, the Read Local Directory (www.readlocal.org) is the place to do that.

For authors, the Read Local Directory is a place to list their books so people in the community can find them. We’re still in beta testing, so there are some kinks in the system, but we are getting members from all across the country. A basic listing is free, and your book is listed in four categories: Author name, book title, genre, and location. An expanded listing is $25 per year, and includes: book description, author bio, cover photo, keywords, and more. It is a really great way to get word out about your book to people who might help you market it.

Read Local will also have local chapters, with the flagship program here in San Diego. For the last couple of years we have presented a number of marketing opportunities for authors: coop booths at street fairs, book presentations at other cultural events, programs at libraries, book baskets at charitable auctions. All these events have put authors and their books in front of audiences who may not otherwise have been exposed to books.

That’s the idea of Read Local – to expand the circle of potential readers. Reader creation and development!

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.

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