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Sunday, July 31, 2011

Book Publishing Lessons Found On The Highline

Having grown up in Brooklyn and living most of my life around or in New York City, I can say that it always amazes me to see something seemingly left for dead to come back to life. Two decades ago I was surprised to see Times Square get Disneyfied. They cleaned up the red light district. Gone are the street-walking hookers (you can find the escorts in the phone book or online), the crack dealers by the bus depot (Port Authority), and virtually all of the peep shows. It actually feels safe and friendly to tourists. Big business and local government teamed together to reclaim what had been a decaying part of the city.

And now the city has reclaimed abandoned train tracks and with them, an entire stretch of neighborhood. The Highline is a mile-plus long example of how new things can grow from what was no longer alive. Until last year the elevated tracks running near 11th Avenue on the West Side of Midtown (from around W. 4th - 30th streets) were just an ugly reminder that the city was not using its space well. They'd become a cemetery, with weeds growing on top of the abandoned, rusting eyesore. For three decades the rails had stopped being of use, though for the half-century prior to that, factories and ships made use of the short rail line to shuttle goods. All of the local factories closed down and airplanes replaced some of what the boats shipped in. Times changed and the property took 30 years to transition into something else.

Now it's wonderful. The old tracks are covered with plantings and benches and it's become a destination spot, for tourists and locals. Restaurants, hi-rise condos and other businesses are coming in to support the reinvigoration of a once dying neighborhood. It is so nice to see something come from nothing, and to see what once was something useful and vibrant to once again be as such, albeit, in a new form.

Book publishing should learn from this. Perhaps the Highlline, as a reclamation project, should give hope and serve notice to the book industry. It's time for book publishers and retailers to retool and re-launch themselves, before the weeds grow and the sense of abandonment takes over. The book industry has a clear choice: it can stay on its current course and likely become like the abandoned train tracks, or it can skips the part of the process where the industry is abandoned and left closed for many years. It can just become something new and fresh right now. Yes, part of it is the move towards e-books and authors publishing themselves; but now we have to strengthen the printed book and the brick and mortar store before it's too late.

I can't wait years to find out what replaces all of the Borders stores. I wish it would be a new bookstore chain or a bunch of independents sprouting up to fill the needs of consumers. But I don't see that happening. We need to market to society the need for books to exist, for the need to have them read, for the need to have physical gathering places for readers and for the need for a publishing community to exist off line.

As I walked the Highline this weekend I marveled at how I was witnessing the rejuvenation of an entire area, and how it can be set on the right course for the next 30-50 years -- if not more. I now have living proof that promising things can grow from the ashes of what was. I just hope the book publishing industry can somehow skip the phase of being dead and dormant and just start the comeback as if there already was a death. It is a funeral I couldn't bring myself to attend.

Some of the people walking the Highline today may simply enjoy it on its own merits -- a public space that is clean, safe and providing a view of the water surrounding the great city. But for those who realize that the real marvel here is the fact that something --anything -- good can come out of what was lost and down and out, it is a celebration of hope and redemption.

Is the book industry watching and listening?


Interview With Publishing Perspectives Editor-in-Chief Ed Nawotka
Book Marketing Buzz Blog recently had the pleasure of interviewing a publishing visionary,
Ed Nawotka, editor-in-chief of Publishing Perspectives. He founded
Publishing Perspectives in the Spring of 2009 with two colleagues from the German Book Office, which is affiliated with the Frankfurt Book Fair. For the past dozen years he has been involved in book publishing. Prior to PP, he was a book columnist for Bloomberg News and the daily news editor at Publishers Weekly, responsible for putting out PW Daily along with John Mutter, who went on to start Shelf Awareness. He started in the book business in college, working at Doubleday Book Shops in Boston (they were subsumed by Barnes & Noble around 1990. He went overseas for graduate school and spent several years working in Europe, Asia and Africa as a business reporter.

1. Who should be reading Publishing Perspectives and why? Writers, editors, agents -- anyone interested in the book business, and today, that is a lot of people. Publishing Perspectives focuses on the developments in the international book business. We try to take a global perspective, which has led people to refer to us as the "BBC of the Book World." We have correspondents in most major markets and some of the most original and interesting publishing reporting from across the globe. The world is flat, as they say, so US writers and publishers should be aware of trends overseas. You know the old cliche "Big in Japan" -- well, that is turning into "Big in China," "Big in Brazil," "Big in India." There's a lot of opportunity for Americans who know how to work with these markets. We're rolling out a series of market-specific publications in the next year to help people learn more. The first of these is PublishNews Brazil, which focuses on the Brazilian book market and which we've been publishing since the spring. I encourage everyone to take a look at both, you'll be delighted by what you find. And look in the archives -- we have more than 1,300 feature articles on all aspects of publishing.

2. Where do you see book publishing heading as an industry? It is becoming far more democratic and inclusive than it was in the past, which I see as a good trend. There was a time when publishers saw the digital revolution as a sinkhole, but now it’s viewed as a portal. People are emerging from that portal and finding a new world, one populated with far more books and, as a consequence, far more readers. In the near term, publishers are going to need to remind authors what value they add to the publishing experience: professional editing, marketing, and sales, all of which are key to a book's success.

3. Why do you love being a part of the publishing industry? The fact that if you don't like what one book says, there's always the opportunity to choose another that says just the opposite. You have a myriad of perspectives. Also, no one threatens to kill you, which happened to me several times as a business reporter covering some shady stories. The worst that has happened is I've had some awkward cocktail party moments with writers I've reviewed poorly. Then again, the comment threads on Publishing Perspectives can get vitriolic and personal. We called our publication Publishing Perspectives for a reason: it's all about points-of-view and if you don't like what someone has said there's always the opportunity to put your own opinion forward.

4. Where do you see self-publishing going? It has gained an enormous amount of credibility in the past year, which is good to see. I suspect it is going to become increasingly professionalized. It's not quite as maverick an occupation as it once was and as new publishing models emerge, the best self-published writers are going to be working in a way that more closely resembles the traditional publishing house. The genesis of this new credibility isn't a surprise. We have millions upon millions of college graduates in this country, all of whom should be able to write well. That they might want to publish a book is natural, but they should ask themselves whether or not they have a story to tell that will be meaningful to others. I also work as a critic and I find there are an awful lot of well-written books out there that don't say anything. They seem to have no real point. That said, I am delighted to see self-publishers gain more and more credibility and self-respect. That means they are having a better publishing experience. Self- and traditional publishing are becoming symbiotic -- and if managed properly, it should become a virtuous circle.

5. What impact is technology having on book publishing now? The greatest impact technology has had on publishing is that it has democratized distribution. You can now publish a book instantaneously online, send it around the world, price it the way you want and market it. For a long time traditional publishers had a monopoly on distribution, but that is gone. Technology is also making it easier for people around the world to sample and experience other people's cultures in a way never done before. That is tremendously exciting and something we cater to at Publishing Perspectives.

6. Do you think we’ll see a consolidation of major book publishers? It's impossible to say. Those are enormous, publicly owned corporations, so consolidation is up to the boards of those companies. If that happens it will be based entirely on financial conditions -- and if I was any good at predicting those, I would have gone with my college roommate to work at Goldman Sachs. I do think you'll see the Big Six streamline their lists, but I'm not convinced that that -- in the near term at least -- will be any less influential. I don't like the combative attitude that positions Indies as being against the Big Six who are fighting off self-publishers -- that's silly and destructive. It's all complementary and part of the publishing ecosystem.

7. What will replace Borders? Nothing, unfortunately. I think you may see a smattering of new Indies, but the role Borders played in the 90s when it was booming was taken over when big box retailers like Costco, Wal-Mart and Target began selling bestsellers in huge quantities as virtual loss leaders. Borders tried to compete with huge discounts on those books as well, but it didn't work, and they could never lure those customers back.  B&N scaled back discounting years ago and moved aggressively into digital, which has helped them survive. Borders was always perceived as the more "literary" of the two stores -- largely because after failing with discounting on bestsellers, they put more focus on paperbacks. It's a damn shame what happened. Losing 10,000 bookselling jobs is a tremendous blow to the profession, but let’s hope some of those booksellers move on to open their own stores.

Brian Feinblum is the chief marketing officer of Planned Television Arts (www.plannedtvarts.com) but the views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and are personal and do not reflect the official viewpoints of PTA. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at brianfeinblum@gmail.com

Friday, July 29, 2011

Popular Brands: When Will Book Publishing Do Some Branding?

In the current issue of Direct Marketing News a list of the Top 10 brands was featured.  The list was compiled by Ignite Social Media in June 2011, based on brands that had the most “likes” on Facebook.

Of course this list, like all lists, just give us one snapshot in time (must brands be judged by how many “likes” they got?), but it’s worth noting that only one company involving books made the top 10, though that company, Disney, is really known for its movie business, cartoon empire, theme parks, and Mickey Mouse dolls. The rest of the list lacked a single author, book publisher, or bookseller.  Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Random House, Harper Collins, Harry Potter’s JK Rowling or anything connected to books was nowhere to be found.

Then again I didn’t see Apple, Google, McDonald’s and hundreds of other popular companies in the Top 10.  Still it makes me wonder why book publishing doesn’t have good branding.  Most consumers don’t notice who published a book they had read, yet many publishers feel they have a distinct imprint as to why, what and how they publish.  How come consumers can’t distinguish a title from Wiley vs. McGraw-Hill or Simon & Schuster vs. St. Martin’s Press?

I believe (drum roll for a bold prediction) that book publishers will be forced to brand themselves, that they will form their own sales channel to consumers, and that they will open their own stores.  I also think that book publishers will co-brand with their corporate sisters if they are owned by a bigger company.  Why wouldn’t Harper Collins go market Fox TV, The New York Post, and its other cousins owned by the parent company of Rupert Murdoch? I also think you’ll see more media companies merging together – in any given city, newspaper and magazine publishers will be under one company along with a book publisher, a web-based company, a music label, a radio station, a TV station,  a movie house, etc.  It just makes sense to do so.

In case you are wondering, the Top 10 Facebook brands, by “likes” are:

1.      Facebook
2.      YouTube
3.      Coca-Cola
4.      Disney
5.      Starbucks
6.      MTV
7.      Ones
8.      Red Bull
9.      Converse All Stars
10.  Skittles

The lists skews to favor the young with food and entertainment.  We need more book industry-related companies to make this list if we are to make sure we don’t all go the way of Borders.


Does Book Publishing Need A Bailout?

The United States bailed out the banks and they are back to making billions of dollars.  The auto industry was bailed out and car sales are back up.  Is it time for a book publishing bailout?

Maybe it’s because I earn a living in a fast-changing industry or maybe it’s because I cherish printed books and brick-and-mortar stores that create a sense of intellectual community, but I have a professional and personal stake in wanting to see the book industry not only survive, but thrive.  Our society, our culture and our nation’s future depends greatly on raising literate citizens.  When our book world suffers, so does the country.

What could government do if it had the will and the means to get involved?

·         Give more grants to writers, so they can afford to craft quality books and not have to worry about rent payments.
·         Give tax incentives to open more bookstores in communities that lack them.
·         Fund libraries so they can serve our young readers better.
·         Create a Reading Czar who encourages the reading of books and makes reading fun and accessible.
·         Teach English to immigrants at a greater level so they get to the point of reading English books and not just learning functional English to get by.
·         Keep the printed book alive – don’t just invest in e-readers, computers, and electronic reading.
·         Increase awareness to promote literacy at home.

Books are a wonderful gift and they keep on giving in immeasurable ways.  Books can change how we think and act.  Information, in the context of a book, is invaluable.  Don’t wait for a government bailout: Buy a book today.

Interview With PGW Sales Director Keith Arsenault

Book Marketing Buzz Blog recently conducted an interview, via email, with a 19-year book publishing veteran.  Keith Arsenault, a native of Providence, Rhode Island and now a San Leandro, California transplant, is currently the sales director for airports and wholesale clubs at
PGW, Perseus Books Group, Perseus Distribution and Consortium. He has over eight years of indie bookstore retail experience, nearly five years in marketing/sales/PR for book publishers, and six years as a book sales rep.

1.      Keith, as the director of sales to wholesale clubs and airports for a major book distributor and publisher, what do you find is most challenging about the marketplace today? Honestly, right now I don’t see challenges, only opportunities: that’s the advantage to having 300+ imprints and clients in the bag – there literally is something for every one of my accounts, so I suppose the only challenge I have is finding the time to sift through all of the books to match them up with the appropriate retailer, but that also makes the job never dull.

2.      Where do you see book publishing heading? It is certainly not a boring time to be in publishing! Obviously, print books are being challenged with the ascension of digital and the other diversions of our media-saturated lives, yet there are plenty of our publisher’s titles that are still selling just fine (or outselling) their digital companion, so it’s a different situation for every publisher. The larger houses, with big advances to earn out and by publishing more traditional “blockbuster” titles or in genre/commercial fiction, are being most adversely affected. Thankfully we’re not very heavily in that business with our publishers. The opening up of the publishing culture has been interesting to watch unfold—it’s always been insular, at times elitist (You’re reading THAT? You haven’t read THIS?), so seeing publishers and readers have dialogue on social media sites has, from my perspective, been welcome, long overdue, and in need of perpetuating and expanding. Finding more opportunities to engage with (and NOT JUST pitch/sell/market to) readers should be on every publisher’s mind these days.

3.      You used to do marketing and event planning for several college bookstores. What is it like being on that side vs. the publisher side trying to sell into stores? The thing they both have in common is there are always lots of moving pieces to keep together! Planning events for a university bookstore was a great learning experience, and many of the skills I learned there have transferred to my current job. Planning events makes you a pitch person for your store: why a publisher should send an author, what you’ll do to help sales, etc, and the same skills are used when you’re selling books to a retailer. The other thing they both have in common is co-op—yes, it’s a useful tool but very time-consuming and at times frustrating!

4.      What do you make of what happened to Borders? As has been discussed elsewhere, it’s very sad to see a bookseller of that size fall. I made many literary discoveries in Borders stores as a teen, and have known good people who have worked at the chain and reps who sold to them who are now trying to figure out what to do next. It’s been great to see the outpouring of concern for their well-being, and to find them continued work in some capacity within the industry.

5.      What can authors do to make your job easier? Many of them are doing it already by having a platform and alerting people to their book—they’re on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, etc, or they are working with outside PR or marketing firms to drive sales. These help, as do the efforts of in-house marketing & PR at publishers, but on my accounts, sometimes those efforts don’t do much to drive the sales. It can be a case of it’s just the right book for the right audience, the jacket treatment is right (and that’s ALWAYS subjective and constantly debated in-house), there’s some regional resonance that helps drive the sales--basically, there are many variables and intangibles that can help a book succeed, and authors should know that there isn’t one sure-fire way to make every book a success. They should focus on writing the best book they can, doing the best marketing that they can for it within whatever their comfort level is (some authors are just not good at promoting themselves), and let the reader decide.

6.      What types of genres do you see as selling better than others? Again, with a very diverse bag of imprints and clients, different titles are selling with different accounts—what works in the airports won’t necessarily translate to strong sales in the clubs (and vice versa), and what one club can sell doesn’t always mean it will sell in the other two; that certainly makes the job continuously interesting! We are very strong in regional publishing, literary fiction (HC has taken a hit, but trade is holding its own), strong narrative non-fiction and a great deal of niche/specialty non-fiction, which is very search-engine friendly for discoverability. We also have great kids book lines, which are seeing increases in sales, as well as cookbooks.

7.      What do you love most about being in sales—and in being in the book publishing industry? It always comes down to the people—the ones with whom I work across our several distribution/publisher office locations that are owned by Perseus, as well as the hundreds of publisher clients spread across the globe; the great buyers I sell to; the authors I’ve met and continue to meet; and the other publishing industry people I’ve known for years or might have only just recently met—we all (generally) seem to get along and navigate this rather small, incestuous world called publishing because we share a love for words, story, and language in all of their various shapes, forms, and modes of delivery. Nearly 20 years later it’s still a great industry to be in, and I can’t picture being anywhere else.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

All The News That’s Fit To Steal

Rupert Murdoch has long been under a spotlight for publishing tabloid papers of questionable news value (but I do love reading the New York Post), “controversial” for the way he launched the Fox television network, and “crafty” for the way he has built a very successful media and entertainment empire.  But the scandal surrounding the hacking of phones and police bribes for dirt by his now-defunct-168-year-old British tabloid, News of the World, he’s being called a lot worse.  His ethics are being questioned.  Criminal charges are being filed against editors and reporters.  The chance the probe could spread to America is quite real.  What interests me is two things:

1.       Should consumers be concerned how the news media gets its information?
2.       What if books were published using information the author acquired in some unethical or illegal manner? Should it matter to consumers?

We’d like to say we believe laws should be followed by all and that the news media is certainly not exempt from the law, and yet, truth be told, the running of the world depends on a free media that reports the news as accurately and completely as possible.  So if the media need to break the law to do so, I wouldn’t necessarily fault them.

Now, the ethical camp would say:  How could you allow the media to act as if they are above the law?  I’d say the same reason we allow others to break the law – out of necessity, for the greater good. It’s a case by case basis but if in order for us to really know what’s going on in government, we have to hack a phone or pay off a cop in the know, so be it.  But of course two issues arise.  First, does it make the media lazy in its reporting and instead of seeking honest ways to the truth the media just writes a check or steals information?  Second, what if the media pays for bad information or doesn’t hack into the right account?  What if it gets out of control, where the media breaks other laws, more severely, more frequently? Could we justify the media using violence, blackmail or Mafia tactics to get the information it needs?

I’m not of the belief the media should lie, cheat, hack, and steal its way to a scoop but on occasion, if that’s what is necessary in order to shed light on an important issue or event of the day, so be it.  But to ask the media to police themselves is unrealistic.

On the issue of whether books should be published by authors who use stolen information or materials that they paid someone off to acquire, I lean towards a higher threshold.  It depends on the book’s subject matter.  To feed the curiosity of the masses (to get dirt on the sex life of a celebrity, for instance), would not justify using illegal or unethical methods to acquire and publish such a book. But if the book reveals what really happens in the White House (provided the secrets or data don’t endanger national security more than if the info were never released) I would say let the printing presses roll. Look at wiki Leaks or the publishing of the Pentagon Papers – did the ends justify the means? I guess it will always be debated.

Our ethics are not perfect, not only because our society is imperfect, but because the very nature of creating a perfect world is not possible.  Set your standards high, but be prepared for exceptions, short falls, and downright collapses of judgment. The media and publishing aren’t immune to our unethical world.  Too much is at stake for them to follow the law 100%, but there’d better be a good reason for breaking it.

It will always come down to a judgment call.  Editors and writers, at newspapers, magazines, and book publishers must weigh the value and legitimacy of the information they have obtained and determine if there’s any other way to obtain the facts that would remove questions of illegality or unethical behavior. 

In the end, the truth must be told, even if a lie is used to obtain it.
Interview With Publishing Consultant Mike Rohrig

Mike Rohrig is currently doing consulting work for several authors and small publishers, and is looking for something full time in publishing sales and/or marketing. He has been in publisher sales and marketing for 30 years. He offered the following insights in an online Q & A with Book Marketing Buzz Blog today:

1.      You work with many independent authors and entrepreneurial-minded ones. Do you feel you are on the cutting edge of publishing? Yes, publishing has evolved over the years. The pace of publishing has moved light years ahead in 30 years.  In the past, it seemed to take years to get into print, now it's a matter of days once the manuscript is finished.  Is this good or bad for publishing? Hard to answer, but I will try.  Today there are more and more titles being published every day. Iin my previous job with Author Solutions  I saw an average of 3,000 titles a month being released, many without a marketing plan other than "If I get it printed, people will buy it".  It is hard for the consumer to separate the good from the bad.  Now we enter into the eBook world, which for the most part makes it cheaper and easier for the consumer to try different titles, but still authors need to have a plan of where and why their title will be purchased.

2.      What do you love best about working in sales?  I enjoy the process of getting the right product into the right hands.  It takes time for the process to evolve and you get to become an expert on an item and then pass the knowledge along.

3.      Why do you choose to work in book publishing?  The ever-evolving product. All books are physically the same; it's the filling that changes on a constant basis. 

4.      What do you see as the future for the book industry?  More titles being available, getting to market quicker.  The down side is limited selection at retail, we have evolved into a Top 10 industry. Everyone wants their share of the bestsellers, but it's category publishing that is suffering.

5.      Which publishers and authors do you most admire?  Scholastic. I like their approach to publishing. They create categories.  Through their club and fair business, they still drive for new readers.

6.      What is the biggest threat to publishing and the biggest asset it has?  The consumer spending more time away from reading.  People are spending more time away from reading, due to other entertainment avenues.  Biggest asset for publishing is still the content: no matter what format you read, you still need the content.  Which also becomes the biggest threat, as it is easier to publish today. Too many below-average titles are flooding the online marketplace.

Brian Feinblum is the chief marketing officer of Planned Television Arts (www.plannedtvarts.com) but the views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and are personal and do not reflect the official viewpoints of PTA. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at brianfeinblum@gmail.com

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Attitude Adjustment: How To Get Book Publicists Out Of A Booking Dry Spell

We are all unique individuals and our lives follow different paths, but one thing we can agree on is that we all experience the high of a day of great media bookings and the low of a day of rejection and turn-downs. It’s all part of the job. The key is to have more of the highs than lows, and to temper most days with an even-keel approach to our jobs and lives. But when there are days that you find your spirits low, adjust your attitude. Get out of that self-created mental funk and position yourself to break out of the slump and into a hot streak. Easier said than done, right?

Well, everything starts with one’s attitude. Now some people like to complain and look for sympathy instead of results, whine instead of correct a situation, or talk and not take action. In PR especially, above all else, you have to bring your A game in attitude to work or you might as well not get out of bed.

Different things motivate us. For some it’s the money or a chance for advancement—or résumé-building. For others it is an ethics matter, wanting to succeed to serve the client. Others might be moved by pride: “That booking is mine!” Others like a challenge and turn the work of PR into a board game. Some just like the art and craft of PR, enthralled by the whole process, from devising a pitch to the creation of a media list or developing a strategy to get a booking. Many of us have a love and respect for books—otherwise we’d be pitching widgets for Corporation X, right?

Whatever it is that gets you going, there will come a day where things just don’t go your way.

You might have out-of-work issues going on. You might feel under the weather or exhausted from a party-filled weekend, or you might just feel like if you pitch one more diet book you’ll go out and puke 10 pounds in 30 days. Perhaps you just have an overload of converging deadlines and projects that call for your attention beyond your comprehension. Or maybe you love life and your client is great and the book is fantastic, but the timing just isn’t right and for whatever reason you have a day—or several days—from Hell. So what do you do, short of hiding under the covers—curled up with a good book of course?

Adjust your attitude!

What’s that you say, change my freaking attitude?!

Attitude is all. Come on, say it with me. Stand up, take a deep breath, close your eyes and think only positive thoughts. Ok, so that doesn’t work. Go binge on some junk food, watch a movie, hit the bed early and come back the next day feeling refreshed and with a new attitude.

It’s not easy to go at it alone, that’s why I’m writing this missive to all of you. It’s not easy to always be your best. Ballplayers get into slumps. Creative artists produce duds. Even the weather man gets it wrong—often. But many bounce back and deliver better than ever. So how can you break through your brain block?

First, find a mentor, someone you can go to and ask for sage advice and guidance, bounce ideas off, and use for inspiration when times get rough.

Second, consult a book of quotes and savor the ones that can continually lead you to new levels. Others have failed before you—as well as soared to unbelievable and seemingly unachievable heights. Learn from them and embrace their words and experiences as your own.

Third, set a reasonable set of goals for the day. Just strive to be better than yesterday. If yesterday really sucked, well, hey, it shouldn’t be too hard to beat expectations of improvement. Don’t look to go from basement bum to star player in 24 hours, but take moments and strides to be more than you were a day ago.

Fourth, read something inspiring each day, whatever the source—news media, books, religious materials, Dixie cups, Bazooka gum jokes, cutesy Web sites—whatever. Go literate and see if that learns ya something.

Fifth, take a break and cleanse your mind, soul and body of whatever happened up until this point. Reflect, acknowledge and move on. Never dwell in the past. Previous success or failure can’t make the present any better or worse than you choose to make it now.

Sixth, take a look at the people in your life—at home and at work. What kind of attitudes do they have? Look for them to support you, build you up—not bring you down and burden you with their crap. Sure, no one can constantly be your cheerleader and not expect you to be a friend in turn, but avoid the perpetual losers who always nag and complain and bring your spirits down or drain you of energy in trying to cheer them up. There needs to be a balance in your favor.

Seventh, when you are rotting away and feeling bad for yourself and wondering when the sun will come out, think of all the others who have screwed up, went through times of adversity or did something that forever set them back. Realize the world won’t come to an end for whatever mistake, shortcoming or lack of productivity you incurred. Again, just learn from what happened and be inspired to know others experienced down times and they were stronger for it.

Eighth, simply change your focus. Get off the negativity. Remove the cancer. If you really have a problem on your hands that you can’t seem to get past or resolve on your own, tell your boss or the manager and see if he or she can help. Maybe even ask to stop working on a book if it’s a major problem. That’s ok—it’s better to speak out than to be miserable. It’s going to show in your work and you’re going to sour on coming to work, so why continue to struggle in a crappy situation? That doesn’t mean you throw in the towel and beg off of an account just because of one bad day, but it does mean you can use your get out of jail card if this is the only way for you to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

I hope this helps and perhaps one day when I complain about something or someone you’ll just remind me to change my attitude.

Have a nice day.

Interview With Editorial Consultant Marcela Landres

Marcela Landres is an independent, editorial consultant. She has been in publishing since 1996. Her previous job was at Simon & Schuster as an editor. She has been in publishing for 15 years. I met her on LinkedIn and interviewed her by email recently. Here is what she told Book Marketing Buzz Blog:

  1. Just how do acquisitions editors at publishing houses think? Acquisitions editors at publishing houses, particularly the larger companies, are pressured to acquire books that will produce a profit for the publisher. If a well-written book is perceived to be profitable, they’ll publish it. If a poorly-written book is perceived to be profitable, they’ll publish that, too. This partially explains why Snooki is a published author.

  1. Why did you write “How Editors Think: The Real Reason They Rejected You”? Back when I worked at Simon & Schuster, I would travel to writing conferences to present workshops to writers on how to get published. Invariably, I’d get emails from folks who couldn’t attend, and who requested copies of my handouts and/or audio or video recordings of the workshops. After years of such requests, I hunkered down and wrote the e-book, which is based on one of my most popular workshops. 

  1. How should an author work with an editor? Writers should approach the editing process as a professional interaction. Think of the editor as the equivalent of your doctor or lawyer -- while you don’t have to obey your doctor or lawyer, you’d have to have a compelling reason to disregard their counsel.  

  1. What advice do you have for authors struggling to get published? Spend no more than 50% of your time honing your craft and no less than 50% of your time building your platform.

  1. What do you love most about being in publishing? I’m privileged to work with intelligent, educated, accomplished people who still retain a healthy sense of curiosity about the world around them.

  1. What do you see is the fate of book publishing in five years? More writers will self-publish only in e-book form. A few -- a very few -- of these authors will enjoy striking sales and as a result get an agent and a book deal at a traditional publisher. New publishing companies that only publish in e-book form will be established. Children’s books in particular will benefit from the iPad. Print books will still be the dominant format, but e-books will continue to close the gap.

Brian Feinblum is the chief marketing officer of Planned Television Arts (www.plannedtvarts.com) but the views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and are personal and do not reflect the official viewpoints of PTA. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at brianfeinblum@gmail.com

Interview With Glitterati Publisher Marta Hallet

Marta Hallett, the founder and publisher of Glitterati, Inc., a New York book publishing company, has been in book publishing for over 35 years. She was an illustrated book editor and publisher, having worked for Harper & Row, Ziff-Davis, and Grosset & Dunlap, among others. She has had two book producing companies (in the 80s to mid-90s) and then left them to move back to publishing as the publisher of illustrated books for HarperCollins; then as publisher of Smithmark, an imprint at Stewart Tabori & Chang; and then finally as the publisher of Rizzoli International Publications.  When her division was closed (the Rizzoli division),she decided to start her own company.

I got to know Marta when I began working with Bentley Meeker, the author of Light X Design, a wonderful coffee table book featuring photographs of the lighting designer’s celebrated work from Glitterati.

Marta conducted an interview via email with Book Marketing Buzz Blog this week. here is what she had to say:

1.      Marta, as a book publisher, please tell us what is driving sales these days?  A combined effort to promote and market books on the part of the authors, alongside heavily targeted efforts to trade and special sales venues, including booksellers of all sorts, museums, institutions and others.

2.      What types of books do you publish and what kinds of authors are you looking for?  Our books are all gift books with heavy content, usually illustrated…in the categories of art, photography, cookery, design, architecture and general lifestyle.  Our authors are almost always incredibly creative and connected and have a platform:  that platform may not be as an author, but they are usually successful at the highest levels in their fields, so we can marry their successes in various categories to our marketing efforts for their books in the book world.

3.      What do you love most about book publishing?  The talented and creative people with whom I work on a daily basis, which keeps my life interesting as there are always new intellectual horizons for me.

4.      You do a lot of coffee table photography books. Is this a genre that will always be in printed form?  I believe it is the genre the least likely to fall prey to the ebook takeover because although our books are chock full of information they are also “objects” and the context of the subject within a special “package” of presentation make them only half a book in e-book format. The physical nature of the books is part of the appeal.

5.      Which publishing trends of today will stick around tomorrow? That is a hard question!  I believe that people will always read books; but books are in a similar state to that of radio, when television was invented:  they will never disappear, but they will fill a different part of the information landscape than they have in the past.

6.      Is today’s author still expecting to be famous and rich as a result of publishing a book?  Sadly, yes…the expectation is always there and I think because authors are creative and positive people and always presume the happiest outcome for their work.  But that is nothing new.  Authors have always had high expectations and I think that although in many cases they don’t come to fruition, those high expectations also fuel the excitement of the publisher to hope for the best, because miracles do happen in book publishing.  Witness Harry Potter.

7.      If you could change one thing about book publishing, what would it be?  That the availability of books would be greater to the general public through actual presentation of books in stores and so forth, and through review and examination in the mainstream press.


 Do We Really Need More Blogs?

Are we lacking certain voices in the blogosphere?  Is there anything original left to be said?

Unequivocally, yes to all of the above.  I am compelled to recruit myself to write this blog though I have put off its launch for years.  Like all good writers I have a world of ideas and conversations competing in my head, each seeking to get published.  Until recently, procrastination won out.  So did fear, time management, and a million other reasons, uh, excuses.

But I cannot remain silent, on the sidelines any more.  And neither can you if you hope to influence people, make money through writing, or advance your career.  Blogging, at least for now, seems like a good idea, though I always was concerned it would take over my time, where I am constantly thinking about what I’ll write.  Likely that will happen.  Some people fear they will run out of things to say or feel judged by negative feedback or that the blog will become a chore.  Or worse, it won’t get read or used in a way to make money.  My problem is I have too much to say and I want to unleash it all – ideas, resources, opinions, facts and stories.  I will only write about one central theme – book marketing and media exposure, for the purpose of selling books and advancing one’s writing career. Kill me the minute I veer off that mission.  My goal is simple – to inform, enlighten, educate, and inspire authors to embrace their talent and to seek to use it not only for fame or fortune but to promote their writings so they too can inform, inspire, enlighten, and educate others.

I want to be original, unique, first, the best – but I may not always be any of these things.  Billions of words have already been blogged about authors, book marketing book publicity, the news media and the writer’s life.  Too many of us are key-word focused and blinded by social media.  Some are disillusioned and many are anxious to have their breakthrough moment.  I understand where you’re coming from and want to let you know help is on the way.  I will add my voice to the massive chorus that now produces more “stuff” that can be consumed.

So many blogs, so many Web sites.  The truth is out there, if only we can cut through the clutter.  Recent studies show that 53% of American adults did not read a single book last year.  Yet, a record one million new title were published in 2010.

What you will get from this blog is the following:  the unique perspective of someone who was a book editor, acquisition editor, and senior publicist at several book publishing companies, as well as someone who has been in publicity and marketing for the nation’s most respected book promotions firm.  I have over 20 years of experience in helping authors shepherd their prized words to the news media and marketplace.  I also had a book published on a topic I never thought I’d be an expert on – homeowner and condo associations.

I will share what I know, and also hypothesize, ponder, question, protest, rally for, and laugh at the things that are most relevant for promoting and marketing books today.

The blog will publish nearly daily, or on some to-be-determined schedule.  Everyone loves a routine and I plan to give you a reason to keep reading.  I have you, author, in mind when I publish this blog.  I am you.  I have worked with and for you all these years. We need to stick together and make sure we write quality books that people need and want – and will pay for.  We want to contribute to society and to what will be our legacy. We find comfort in the way our letters connect and words flow.  Whether our ink is from a pen, printing press, or digitized delivery system we will always use words to inspire, educate, enlighten, and inform. And empower and inquire.  And, in some cases, to reform, revolutionize, and recreate.

And so we need at least one more blog, BookMarketingBuzzBlog!

Brian Feinblum is the chief marketing officer of Planned Television Arts (www.plannedtvarts.com) but the views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and are personal and do not reflect the official viewpoints of PTA. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at brianfeinblum@gmail.com

Monday, July 25, 2011

MTV Turns 30: What’s Next?

Back on August 1, 1981 a cable-TV station launched that would quickly change both how music was marketed and how television was viewed.  Interestingly, both have changed dramatically again.

Music Television, at the time of its debut, was quite new in many ways.  Cable television would be the hot new media in the 1980’s the way the Internet exploded on the scene in the 1990’s, radio in the 1920’s and television in the 1950’s.  What’s next?

I remember as a teenager watching videos, but not on MTV.  Growing up in Brooklyn we didn’t even have access to cable TV early on.  And when it was made available, my parents were slow to get it.  But I recall watching a local show called Friday Night Videos. It was great and so new.  But once MTV came on the scene, the unusual was normalized.  It got to the point that a record couldn’t be made unless the accompanying video was good enough to sell it.  Records became like the movie industry.  Just as a movie wouldn’t be released without a trailer, music couldn’t be sold without a great video.

Book trailers never caught on the same way.

The nation’s habits changed and competition  for video-playing grew.  The networks began losing viewership to specialized cable stations like MTV.  Imagine having dozens and then hundreds of viewing options open up after living your life only knowing from three networks and a few local stations that showed re-runs? Now we take the massive menu for TV fare for granted, along with on-demand, streaming options – not to mention a billion Web sites to choose from. We are in information overload – so much is available, so little is of quality.

Today, MTV does not play music videos often, nor are they the only station to play them. Music is no longer the domain of music stores. There are no music stores. Music is sold mostly online, typically as digital downloads, or at some generic warehouse store like Target.

What will be the next revolution in mass media?  It took hundreds of years from the time books were printed before weekly or daily newspapers were widely available.  Then came radio, network TV, Cable TV, and the Internet.  But in a short period of time, we’ve seen the Internet incorporate other media.  It went from e-mail and message boards to social networks, e-books, video channels, webinars, blogs, etc. fairly quickly.  I would expect a parallel Internet to come on the scene before the decade is out.  It will somehow be different, better and more engaging.  Or maybe it will be some type of cloned robot version of ourselves.  We’ll each get a computer program that we can personalize, like a DNA computer chip, and have some alternate version of ourselves living online.

Maybe the computer will just write and market our books, too.


Interview With Book Expo Events Director Steven Rosato


Book Marketing Buzz Blog conducted an email Q and A wit h the event director of BookExpo America, Steven Rosato. He has been in publishing for 14 years and shared the following insight:

1.       Steven, what will Book Expo look like five years from now?  In some ways BEA will remain very familiar.  In particular, authors will continue to be the focal point of attention at BEA.  BEA will also continue to be the gathering place for publishing, which is a substantive means of connecting while offering a sense of familiarity.  However, the way people connect pre-show and post show will be enhanced.  That interaction will be integrated into what happens at BEA and drive what people get out of it.  There will be more forms of media present and active in what they do at BEA.  I especially think the events that transpire at BEA will impact the reading world ‘outside’ simultaneously while BEA is taking place.  It is happening already through social media and it is only going in one direction. 

2.       How are you managing to keep up with the changes in book publishing and the needs of its participants so that you can deliver a quality service for them?  Experimenting and listening.  BEA’s primary focus is delivering a valuable experience for our attendees and exhibitors.  Staying close to both attendees and exhibitors lets us know what they value and what they need from BEA.  Being especially close to participants keeps us ahead of the curve because what is important in October is going to evolve and change by the time you get to May. Maintaining our communication allows us to make sure we are doing the right things for everyone.

3.       Blog World and New Media Expo is taking off. What is driving its success?  It is the future of marketing and communications.  Social Media is really still in its infancy but it is taking off because it delivers explosive results for the people that can master the needed skills and tools that are available.  It can be very broad in its application or very niche.   

4.       What do you love about being in the publishing industry?  I love relationships that I have forged over the years with so many wonderful and brilliant people.   It had made me a very active reader and something that I have been able to instill into my two boys.

5.       You are also in the convention business. What do you say to people who think they can rely on online communications rather than interacting in person at an industry event?  That is short- term thinking and delivers short-term results.  Trade shows continue to be an extremely valuable marketing tool in relation to all marketing mediums – which includes on-line.  Trade shows are incredibly efficient if you are engaged in a specific industry or segment.  Even for shows where I go and might not do a lot of business - I can meet with 40-50 exhibitors in one place – that is a huge value for what I spend and far more efficient than trying to see those people individually in their offices.  Also – there is a huge part of the trade show business that takes place on-line that drives success.  The core of the on-line experience is a forum to interact to specific communities and that is exactly what trade shows are – specific communities with like interests and needs.  

6.       More of book publishing is heading into self-publishing, selling books online, and publishing e-books. How do these factors weigh on BookExpo?  That has created a need for education and information.  It has certainly brought in a new transactional aspect to BEA with all the digital players using BEA as their launching pad.  BEA will continue to evolve with these changes.  For BEA to remain relevant it has to be a means of discovery for titles and authors that booksellers and influencers can consume that are useful to them and their businesses.  BEA will play the role of being the filter where gems can be discovered along side of the splashy big titles.

Brian Feinblum is the chief marketing officer of Planned Television Arts (www.plannedtvarts.com) but the views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and are personal and do not reflect the official viewpoints of PTA. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at brianfeinblum@gmail.com