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Monday, October 31, 2011

Are You A Marketing Guru Or A Marketing Moron?

     
1.      Marketing gurus dig their wells before they are thirsty, always thinking ahead and planning
            accordingly.  Marketing morons make no plans, thus, a plan to fail.

2.      Marketing gurus communicate well, often, and in a variety of ways.  Marketing morons give up after an e-mail blast yields a few results.

3.      Marketing gurus get others involved in their efforts, tapping into their network of contacts, trading favors, or paying others to help them. Marketing morons try to do everything on their own, either out of misguided pride, misinformation, or thriftiness.

4.      Marketing gurus change strategies early and often and readily admit there’s more than one road to get to where they want to be. Marketing morons stick too long with a failed strategy merely because they think it should work or because they feel too invested to walk away.

5.      Marketing gurus constantly learn, observe, ask questions, and experiment.  Marketing morons think they know it all.

6.      Marketing gurus will copy what works for others.  Marketing morons want to be original in their efforts, even if the payoff is low.

7.      Marketing gurus are opportunistic, seizing upon opportunities that arise – or that they can seek out.  Marketing morons are so focused on their singular way of doing something that they aren’t even aware of the environment of opportunity surrounding them.

8.      Marketing gurus ask what if and tinker with a variety of possible scenarios. Marketing morons stick to their rigid ways and don’t contemplate other possibilities.

9.      Marketing gurus don’t wait for the right marketplace to appear and they don’t ask anyone for permission to succeed.  Marketing morons hold out for perfect conditions or believe they need someone else to validate their efforts.

10.  Marketing gurus try a little harder, work a little longer, solicit a few more people than most others.  Marketing morons complain more than take action and give up just before making a sale.

11.  Marketing gurus are confident, optimistic and always smiling – even when they have little reason to do so.  Marketing morons lack a game face and are depressed in a costume of defeat.

12.  Marketing gurus take chances and embrace risk.  Marketing morons are conservative and uncomfortable with possibly losing even a peanut for a potential gold rush.

13.  Marketing gurus will exploit today’s trends, fashions and favorites.  Marketing morons will be married to their own ideas even if they are counter to what’s popular.

14.  Marketing gurus have big egos but they work smart to feed the big ego by being successful.  Marketing morons think they deserve to be successful but don’t invest in the time or resources to validate their beliefs.

15.  Marketing gurus never, ever lie but do a great job in painting a positive truth, or raising hopes, of playing to people’s wants and desires, and of making others feel like winners.  Marketing morons focus on themselves and not on those they need to win over and service.

6 Points With  Editor Anita Diggs


Anita Diggs founded her own editorial service company, Diggs Editorial Services. She participated in an online interview several months ago – please see below. For more information, please consult: www.DiggsEditorialServices.com

1.      Many editors and  coaches are focused on what they would like the work to be instead of  focusing on the writer's goals.  Writers trust me because my advice and suggestions are always based on their objectives. 

2.      When I was a book publicist, I managed a lot of multi-city tours.  For each city, I had to land a bookstore reading/signing, local TV talk show, a radio show and a print interview. There are not many local TV shows anymore and publishers  don't spend a lot of money on tours unless they are dealing with a celebrity or a bestselling author.  I think that unless a writer falls into one of those categories, he must really hustle and  also hire outside marketing assistance. 

3.      I think that the publishing industry is going to change drastically in the next 5-10 years.  The low price point of digital books means less money coming into a publishing house, which will lead to less people on staff. The major publishing houses will take very few chances on writers who don't have a track record. In addition, departments, like editing and publicity will disappear and that work will be outsourced. 

4.      I love reading books. I love talking about books and it is great to be in an industry where everyone else understands my passion.

5.      I spent 10 years as a book publicist (Ballantine, Dutton/Plume, Warner) and seven years as a book editor (Warner, Ballantine/One World, Thunder's Mouth Press).  Publicity is definitely more challenging because you have to convince producers and reporters to pay attention to the book you're working on. Meanwhile, they are getting dozens of calls from other publicists who are also pitching story ideas to them.  As an editor, you only have to convince one person (the author) that your ideas are terrific.

6.      I left the book publishing industry for a time and worked as a magazine feature editor.  I found myself fielding calls and reading pitches from dozens of publicists every day.  I was kind and gracious to all of them because I had spent a decade as a publicist and understood the pressures of the job.  I definitely preferred being on the media side of the fence.

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.

Book Publishing: Trick Or Treat?

In honor of Halloween, here are six “tricks” for better book marketing:

Be Creative
I was walking down Lexington Avenue the other day, rushing from my office towards Grand Central Station.  I noticed a large electronic bulletin board with the words Shish Kabob brightly lit across it.  I couldn’t believe my eyes.  A street vendor with a push cart who sells pretzels, hot dogs and shish kabobs was promoting his street corner enterprise with this bulletin board that was about 1 1/2 feet high and stretched around the cart’s eight-foot perimeter.  It certainly does what it is intended to do:  Get your attention amidst a crowded marketplace.  Book publishers and authors should think like this guy and explore how they can get their message out front and center.

Be Hot
A young, attractive woman with a great smile and body to match was handing out toothpaste samples on another corner.  For her she used her tight clothes, draped around a curvaceous body, as her billboard.  Men were drawn to her and women wanted to be like her.  She wasn’t slutty, just naturally beautiful. She possessed a seductive innocence. Book publishing knows a little bit about using sex to push books when it publishes books that are provocative or when it poses attractive authors to grace its covers.  Still, the industry can benefit from a makeover.  Newspaper trade groups are running a campaign that reading newspapers is sexy. Maybe book publishers should adopt that approach too.

Break The Rules
In the past week, have you jaywalked, exceeded the speed limit while driving, told a non-truth to a colleague, or avoided paying taxes by paying cash for something? Perhaps all of the above?  That’s okay. Sometimes you need to break the rules out of convenience, boredom or need. Think of other “rules” that you follow when promoting or marketing a book. Break some of them. I don’t want to encourage you to break the law or act unethically, but it’s fine to find ways around the things you find to be too limiting. Liberate yourself!

Be Bold
Doing and saying what everyone else does or says will get you nowhere. You need to be different, better, unique and bold.  Take some chances and promote your book like you have nothing to lose.

Be Smart
Don’t put all of your brainpower into words. As a writer, marketer, or publicist it’s natural that you love words and use them to communicate what you want done. But you need to go beyond words to convince people they should buy your book, so apply your intellect, wit, and savvy style in a way that wins people over.

Wear A New Mask
For Halloween you can pretend to be anyone you want to be. With the right mask, clothes, makeup and props you can be a superhero, a devil, a vampire, a witch or whatever you like. Want to be a whore, a maniacal killer, a hero?  You can be anyone you want, without reprisal.  Why not put on a new mask after Halloween, one that only you can see.  The mask can liberate you.  You can now assume the image of a great author, top-notch book marketer, or elite editor.  Become your dream.

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.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Unstoppable Book Marketing Success

Can a high school wrestling coach and clinic director of a chiropractic center supply us with wisdom and inspiration?  After reading Unstoppable Success, by Dr. Mike Mason, I believe the answer is a yes.

The firm I work for is promoting his new book to the news media.  Though I am not involved with the campaign, his book caught my eye.  I can always use a good pep talk to get me going.  Perhaps you can to.  Below are a dozen quotes of his.  I then relate them to marketing and promoting a book. I hope they inspire you!

1.      “There is no copyright on success.” So true.  You can develop your own blueprint to market and promote your book or you can copy and borrow the strategies of others.

2.      “What someone else can do, you can do also.” Have the confidence in yourself that you can promote and market just as well as the professionals.

3.      “Successful people outlast everyone else.” Persistence and perseverance in sales, publicity or marketing is what will turn your almost or maybe into a yes.

4.      “In order to succeed, you must know what you want.” Set book marketing goals and measure your progress-daily-towards reaching them.

5.      “When your life is balanced, stumbling blocks will appear much smaller and more temporary.  In a balance life, catastrophes become opportunities.” It’s okay to fail or have setbacks – it means you’re reaching higher and you’re learning and growing.  Push yourself to achieve marketing excellence.

6.      “Stop focusing on your inabilities and start concentrating on your abilities.” Don’t dwell on shortcomings or what you lack; grow your strengths and exploit them.  Accept the things you don’t do well or don’t enjoy doing. Either avoid these things or hire someone to help you market your book.

7.      “All competition is essentially you against you.  Focus on being your best rather than the best.” Seek out ways to make today better than yesterday, to always improve.  Don’t worry about what others have or are doing – just take care of yourself.

8.      “A strong purpose behind our actions will push you through any challenge.” Having goals and knowing why you want to reach them will drive you to do more and to succeed in book marketing.

9.      “Every failure should be viewed as temporary.” No setback is permanent.  Keep looking for success.  As long as you’re looking to achieve something you won’t need to dwell on missteps or losses.

10.  “Are you doing what you know you should be doing?” Don’t avoid what needs to be done.  Set your priorities and take the steps necessary to move closer to your marketing objectives.

11.  “To increase your success, find more ways to help more people.” When you give to others the favors get repaid.

12.  “Are you following your priorities each day and keeping first things first?” Don’t get distracted or make excuses for going off-course.  Make your to-do list, check it daily, and then start attacking it.

Dr. Mason’s book also offers these takeaways that are worth your consideration:

  • “You can learn from everyone since everyone is better than you at something.  Remain coachable.”

  • “Are you working as smart and as hard as you can?”

  • “Look inward for solutions and learn to bet on your own abilities.”

  • “You are the only person whom you can control.”

  • “You alone have the ability to change your current circumstances.”

  • “Within yourself lies every answer to every problem that you will ever face.”

  • “Action creates energy and reaction creates fatigue.”

Interview With Glenn Yeffeth, Publisher, BenBella Books

1.      Where do you feel the industry is heading? The dominant issue right now is ebooks, which soon be the dominant format for books. And even putting ebooks aside, the online stores (i.e. Amazon, bn.com) are growing faster than the physical stores.  This has huge implications across publishing. The physical stores will continue to be a smaller percentage of the business. This means that publishers – especially publishers that have deemphasized marketing and editorial – will be under continual pressure to justify their value by the most important authors. Ebooks will be under continual price pressure from Amazon and other vendors, and so the price point is likely to be moving down over time. And Amazon will continue to move into a the publishing world, snatching up some of the more valuable authors.  I don’t think apps will be a major factor for book publishers, but enhanced ebooks will become the norm for books where video adds value to the reading experience.

We’re moving away from the big bang book launch (which was driven by retail presales and fear of returns) to long-term marketing of books. Much more marketing is online, and this will continue to grow, especially for the overwhelming majority of books that are niche products. Online, books have to compete with all other books from all times. So now the new biography of Lincoln has to compete with the best biography of Lincoln, and best will beat new in most categories. So quality is increasingly important.

2.      Glenn, as a book publisher, how are you handling the changing book publishing marketplace? We’ve always thought of ourselves as a marketing-driven boutique publisher, and we so we have traditionally put a big emphasis on editorial and marketing. These elements are more important than ever, and today marketing means understanding how to market online and how to reach niche communities. It also means effectively partnering with authors who bring a lot to marketing. And of course we are distributing ebooks through virtually all venues, and experimenting with enhanced ebooks for certain books.

3.      What do you love most about being a part of the book world? The books we are publishing are always changing and the publishing environment is continually evolving. So as someone who gets bored easily, I’m never bored in this business.

4.      What do you look for in the authors/books that you decide to publish? We look for one of three things, or even better a combination of a few of these things. One, a book associated with powerful and/or popular brand. Two, a book that is unique and brilliant in its niche. Three, a “big agenda” book that the author is using as a marketing tool to support his business or career. I like these elements because they each give us fun marketing opportunities.

5.      What added value does a publisher provide to authors contemplating self-publishing? Every new book published is a new business, and it has all the needs of a business. It needs great product development (writing and editing), great marketing and great packaging. It needs a strategy for long-term success. Self-publishing is the equivalent of starting your own business on your own, and it’s a good decision for some people. Traditional publishing – at least ideally - is finding a partner for your business who brings expertise and money to the table, and who is good at the things you aren’t good at. The right publisher is very committed to your book, not because you paid them and they want to make you happy, but because they have real skin in the game. The right publisher treats you like a real partner and brings considerable expertise in marketing, editing, packaging, and strategic positioning. It’s not always easy to find the right publisher, but when you do the outcome is better, for most authors, than self-publishing.

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.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Book Industry Has A New Savior

Thank you, Books-A-Million!

It was announced today that the nation’s second largest bookstore chain will open up 41 new stars within the next month. It will also close 21, leaving it with a net gain of 20.

This means a lot to the industry that sorely needed a boost.

First, it begins to reverse the tide of store closings, most recently by Borders.

Second, if these stores are successful, there is every reason to believe they will continue to expand, and if they do, this may mean that Barnes and Nobel will start to grow again, in order to compete.

Third, since BAM doesn’t have its own e-reader the way BN has the Nook and Amazon has the Kindle, this means BAM’s store sales will push printed books and create more places for the book-loving community to gather.

The new store locations will be in underserved areas, including the following:

Ames, IA                                Auburn, ME
Bangor, ME                            Barboursville, WV
Butler, PA                               Charleston, WV
Columbia, MD                        Concord, NH
Cumberland, MD                    Cuyahoga Falls, OH
Davenport, IA                         Dubuque, IA
Dulles, VA                              Eau Claire, WI
Edwardsville, IL                     Exton, PA
Hanover, PA                           Harrisburg, PA
Merrillville, IN                        Monaca, PA
Monroe, MI                             N. Canton, OH
N. Conway, NH                      Niles, OH
Pennsdale, PA                         Rapid City, SD
Salina, KS                               Sandusky, OH
Scranton, PA                           Selinsgrove, PA
South Portland, ME                Southern Pines, NC
St. Clairsville, OH                   Traverse City, MI
Valley Stream, NY                 Vineland, NJ
Waldorf, MD                          Waterford, CT
West Lebanon, NH                 Westminster, MD
York, PA

In a nation of 310 million people, we can always use more book stores.

Is Amazon Killing Itself?

Those in the book publishing industry generally do not favor Amazon, for a variety of reasons, but perhaps Amazon would not seem like a threat if it behaved less like a greedy bully.  Case in point. It will sell Kindles $10 below cost in order to capture tablet market share and to gain e-book orders. But in the process, it forces competitors to lower prices unnecessarily.  If Amazon sells books, print or e-books, for spit, then bookstores need to compete with that.  This cut-throat competition could kill the market for everyone.  Consider that Amazon just announced its third-quarter net income fell 73% despite significant growth in sales revenue.  They took in nearly 11 billion dollars in three months but managed to spend all but 63 million.  There are companies that take in a billion and easily net 63 million.  Amazon has a profit margin of less than 1%.  How is that successful? 

Which business takes in a hundred dollars but spends $99.40?  Only Amazon. Even those who run the 99 cent stores make more than a penny from every dollar they take in. Ford, by contrast, made a net profit of 5% this past quarter. Also not very big, percentagewise, but far better than Amazon. Keep in mind, other than a few warehouses and corporate offices, it has very little overhead  It is an online company, so really it’s profit margin should higher than other retailers.

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.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Celebrating 10 Unique Book Publishing Voices

Over the past six weeks BookMarketingBuzzBlog has collected online interviews with a variety of individuals who make up our book publishing world, including a publisher, , authors, a literary agent, editors, marketers, and an online book reviewer. I do hope you enjoy their unedited, uncensored words of insight, advice and information.

Interview With President Kirsty Melville Andrews McMeel Publishing

1. As the publisher and president of Andrews McMeel Publishing, what do you do all day?One of the things I enjoy most about this position is the opportunity it provides to be involved in so many areas within publishing and to cultivate relationships with such a great variety of people.  And every day is different.  I am immersed in projects involving authors, agents, editors, designers, production, printing, acquisitions, sales, marketing, publicity, budgeting, and more – for e-books, print books, apps – almost anything that has to do with books and the enjoyment they provide. 

2. How is your company adjusting to the landscape of the new marketplace?This is a fascinating and extremely creative time to be involved in publishing.  Perhaps most important for us is our approach to the landscape – we embrace it.  We continue to advance our integrated publishing initiatives – our recent addition of Andrea Colvin as vice president, content/executive producer to spearhead this effort illustrates our commitment and vision for the future.  AMP has an established reputation as a cutting-edge, nimble publisher – we will continue to anticipate changes and navigate the landscape by remaining true to that foundation. 

3. Where do you see the industry heading?I think the industry has absolutely unlimited potential in the digital area – just one of the reasons it is such an exciting time.  However, I don’t know that we will abandon printed books altogether – one thing that interests me is the intersection between the digital, ephemeral world and the tactile, three-dimensional experience books provide.  Developments in design, technology, applications, as well as the evolving habits of consumers make publishing opportunities boundless.    

4. Do you believe publishers brand themselves enough with the consumer? A primary concern for AMP is content – exceptional, high quality content.  That is a crucial element of our brand.  We focus on key niche areas:  comics and humor, cookbooks, puzzles and games, gift, home and crafts, trade, and children’s books to develop AMP as a brand consumers will turn to in these content areas.  We build our brand through the strength of our content.  

5. How can publishers work more closely with their authors to maximize sales? We work very closely with our authors, not only in the editorial, design and production of books, but increasingly in the marketing and publicity of them, particularly through increased use of social media.  Publishers can work with authors to help them engage their audience with social media and other online tools to strengthen the marketplace for their books and as a result, increase sales.  By listening closely to authors, we can capitalize on their relationship with their audience to increase sales as well.

Interview With Author Chris  Travers

1.      What do you do?  I am an author, and have been looking at opening a small publishing house.  I also do my own typesetting/book design.

2.      Where do you think it is heading? The overall trend is likely to be one of increasing diversity as new  technologies arise, and the publishing industry learns how best to use  that technology to reach customers more effectively.  There are a number of important technologies but they aren't all really there yet.  Print on demand, for example, is very good for some kinds of books but don't work well where one may wish to add color plates or the like.  E-books are another area, but current generations of e-book readers,  combined with DRM issues makes this area of the market questionable, in my opinion, though it may work well for some areas of publishing. Direct to consumer marketing of course is getting better with both the rise of e-books, services like Google Books and Amazon Search Inside,  and so this is obviously putting additional pressures (besides those  normally associated with Amazon) on small independent bookshops, who now must do more than sell books to survive.

3.      Why do you love books?  I get to see other viewpoints and new perspectives, and perpetual
 study is always a good thing.

4.       Are e-books going to save or destroy the industry? Neither.  They will remain a niche market I think.  E-books pose a few challenges in many areas. The formats are rarely  good for handling large tables or graphics.  Additionally the economic models are complex and individuals end up purchasing less since the e-book typically cannot be resold the way a paper book can. For these reasons, I think that we are going to see e-books remain very much a niche product, not the primary way to read a book.



Interview with Business Author Don Maruska

Don Maruska is the author of Author of How Great Decisions Get Made and Wellsprings of Talent. I worked with don a number f years agoto promote his first book to the news media. for more info, please consult: http://www.DonMaruska.com

1.       Don, I enjoyed working with you to promote your last book, How Great Decisions Get Made. Please share what you learned from the experience of becoming a published author and of what is needed to sell your book. I found selling books to be a job that required plans, organization, and consistent follow through just like many jobs.  So, when the book first came out, I had a double work load.  Since I felt so passionately about the book, I was pleased to do it.  Key lesson: Be sure that you have a burning passion about your book to sustain the extraordinary efforts needed to market it.

2.       What do you love most about being an author? It’s wonderful having a concrete product.  I share the book with clients and in public workshops and enjoy guiding people in how they can use the resources in the book successfully.  I also enjoy how a good book establishes me as an expert and yields much higher speaking and workshop fees.

3.       Where do you see the book publishing industry heading? Are you working on another book?
I’m working on a new book about outstanding ways to develop talent within ourselves and our organizations.  I waver about whether to go with a mainstream publisher as I did with my first book or to go direct with print on demand and e-books.  I had a great experience with my publisher, but I see the publishing landscape changing.

4.       What advice would you give to newly published authors? Enjoy sharing your book.  Tap family, friends, and networks to help you access audiences for your book.  Remember, people need 7 to 10 impressions before they buy something new.  So, plan your marketing as a campaign to give your ideal customers multiple exposures to your book.

5.       In dealing with the news media, how can authors position themselves to get more media coverage? You need two things:  a strong (preferably novel) point of view plus a clear linkage with what people are talking about.  Look for how your book connects with key issues or concerns.  Show people how your book offers something valuable to that audience.  And, be a tactful, but tireless, point of contact with the media.  Unless you have a well-established public expertise or great endorsements, the media will need to get to know you before they will quote you.

Interview With Michael Rockliff , Director, Library Sales and Marketing , Workman Publishing Company


1.      What does your job entail  and how do navigate through the ever-changing publishing and media landscapes?  Fundamentally, my job entails acting as Workman’s liaison with schools and libraries, as well as the wholesalers and media that service that sector of the book marketplace. As to navigating the changing landscape, my use of social media has been limited by time and resources. Being a one-person department, time does not allow me to do all that I would like to do. That said, all those new venues have opened up more opportunities, but have not changed the fact that it all comes down to what it has always come down to... people talking to people about books. The variety of means has increased exponentially, but it’s still analogous to sitting around the cracker barrel. Ultimately, it’s not about the venue. It’s about the conversations that happen within that venue.

2.      What do you like most about being a part of the book publishing industry?  My wife and I were discussing that, quite recently. As I approach 50 years in the business, it’s been much on my mind. I never made a great deal of money in the book business, but have been more than compensated by the wealth of fascinating people who have entered our lives, because of being in it. I can remember Dr. Seuss drawing a Cat In The Hat for our younger daughter, over breakfast, one morning. She, by the way, has grown up to become a published children’s book author, herself. We can look back on being served a fabulous Steak Diane, made by Julia Child’s own hand. A remarkable couple of days spent with Truman Capote looms large, as well. At heart, what I love about this business is the opportunity to be an advocate for, and have hand in launching, work I admire for authors I admire. I still remember driving down the San Diego Freeway, heading to one of my first sales calls for Random House in 1968, thinking “I’m sitting in my new company car, listening to Cannonball Adderley on the radio, and going to a store where I’ll spend a hunk of the day talking about books... and they’re actually paying me for this!

3.      Where do you feel the industry is heading?  That’s the $64,000 question! Anyone who claims to know is probably deluded. The ground is shifting under our feet, way too fast for that. Despite that, however, one thing remains constant. It’s what’s between the covers (literal or figurative covers) that matters. The packaging may change, but it boils down to the words. There will always be a value brought to the table by the publishing process. No one who has seen the transformation of a raw manuscript into a vastly better work by skilled editing can doubt it. Also, in all the rush of hysteria about e-books, people tend to overlook the fact that, historically, new technologies tend to live with the old for a very long time. Scrolls were still created for hundreds of years after the advent of codices. The hardcopy book is a technology which has changed relatively little over its lifespan, not due to laziness or lack of imagination, but because (for most reading purposes) it is a technology that is perfect for its function. It is unlikely to be superseded overnight.
        
 For more information, please consult: www.workman.com


Interview With Author David Nabhan

David Nabhan is the author of:  Predicting the Next Great Quake (1996), Forecasting the Catastrophe (2010), and Pilots of Borealis (2011). For more info, check out his site:   www.earthquakepredictors.com 

1.      As a science writer, what do you like to write about?  I always make an attempt to weave a varied number of threads from diverse branches of science and mathematics—along with the history behind each concept—so as to give the reader a better view of the matter under discussion.  The world is so complicated now that a single concept hardly exists that isn’t the result of an incredible profusion of inextricably interwoven and highly eclectic origins.  So although I’m stuck mostly writing about seismology, I’ve managed to enliven what could be a fairly dry subject with snippets from ancient wonders, Greek mythology, and Mayan stelae and codices, to the diffuse Hawking Radiation emanating from the environs of black holes.  If one digs deeply enough into anything, science and math will be found at the heart of everything.  How could such a subject be anything but…interesting?

2.      What are the challenges and rewards of being a published author?  Without a doubt I have been immensely privileged, due to the fact that my books are certainly controversial, by being invited to offer my opinion in the public forum on over a hundred occasions (TV, radio, magazines, newspapers).   The challenge though is the ever-present worry and concern in avoiding a misstep in the media, or in phrasing something in such a way as to create a problem rather than solve one.  It can be difficult speaking on the air, off the cuff, live, with no way to call one’s words back the minute they leave the tongue!

3.      Where do you see the book publishing industry heading?  The industry will be unrecognizable in the very near future.  Borders’ recent bankruptcy is a sign of things to come.  The era of a small coterie of New York publishing houses holding sway over the cultural and intellectual reins of the nation—as they have for many decades now—is quickly nearing its end.  The internet has opened up a worldwide audience (free of middlemen, handlers, agents, et al) to anyone with the talent and determination to showcase their lyrics, poetry, music, or philosophy for the billions.  What that will mean will translate into nothing less than a great renaissance in literature, music, and ideas.

4.      What do you enjoy most about the process of writing?   I write science fiction too, and the most rewarding and enjoyable feeling is the flush of pride and accomplishment that comes from escaping from dead ends into which the writer has unfortunately stumbled.  At one point while writing Pilots of Borealis I spent one solid week doing nothing but thinking nonstop about a quite formidable impasse that blocked my way.  The thing is, though, there is nothing capable of standing up to the power of human acumen, and certainly not “impossible” literary traps.  Hannibal said, when faced with the daunting task of taking on the incredible power that was Rome, that he “would either find a way, or make one.”  Writers don’t need to cross the Alps with a train of war elephants, but they do need to have the same sort of √©lan—to some degree, at least.

5.      How do you promote your books?     Thank God for the media!  This year alone I was invited as a guest on at least two dozen talk radio shows from Seattle to Pensacola and many places in between.  Also, I write articles and guest columns having to do with issues I treat in my books for science journals and magazines.  I attend two or three book fairs a year.  Social media is a good tool, too.  But, without a doubt, my website, www.earthquakepredictors.com , is a powerful piston churning out interest in my books, along with marshalling public opinion to convince the governor of California to act on the seismic safety plan I have proposed and outlined in my books. 

Interview With Michaela Hamilton, Editor in Chief, Citadel Press

1.      As the editor in chief of Citadel Press and executive editor at Kensington Publishing, how do you collaborate with authors to make their books better? I try to give my authors the kind of perspective they would have if they had the luxury of setting the manuscript aside for about six months and coming back to it.  Since that kind of spare time never happens in the real world, writers need someone else to help them see their book with fresh eyes.  I try to provide the kind of ideas that they themselves would have, if they could. Or as one of my mentors said:  an editor’s job is to bridge the gap between the author’s intention and his actual writing.

2.      What do you love most about being a part of the book publishing industry? I learn something new every day.  Book publishing puts us at the creative center of popular culture.  We are constantly exposed to new people, fresh ideas, breaking news, emerging trends, and hot happenings.  I can’t imagine a more stimulating profession.

3.      Where do you see it heading? The increasing popularity of e-books is driving print numbers down and causing us to rethink our traditional publishing models.  Self-publishing offers opportunities to writers and forces publishers to be more creative in marketing and positioning key authors.  Sometimes I feel I am living in the Wild West—the old “rules” no longer work, and there are countless new frontiers to explore.  As long as people want to read, the publishing industry will find a way to satisfy them.

4.      Will e-books be the industry’s savior or its apocalyptic pill? Personally, I love my e-reader.  I’ve always been a big reader, but since I started using an e-reader, I read even more than I ever did (something I never thought possible!).  The convenience and affordability of e-books are irresistible.  In the short term, I think e-books will transform the publishing landscape in ways that are challenging to publishers.  In the long run, I think they will win more readers, and that’s a good thing.

5.      Which genres do you see having the most growth potential in the next year or two? Why? In nonfiction, celebrities rule, and I think that trend will continue to grow.  Nonfiction books draw on the media presence of popular public figures for their success.  In fiction, I think books offering escape and entertainment will continue to grow in popularity.  Romance, thrillers, mysteries, paranormal novels, fantasy and science fiction give readers a lot of entertainment for relatively little money. 


Interview With Venessa Williams, Marketing Associate, Education and Library, Simon & Schuster


1.      What do you love about being a part of the book publishing industry? I've been a reader and writer all my life so to be able to contribute to that world is such a blessing. I feel like people who say they don't like to read just haven't found the right book yet. I love that my job is all about me getting the perfect book into the right hands.

2.      What challenges/rewards do you see coming up for the industry? I am worried about the printed book, like a lot of others out there. I do not own a Kindle or any other electronic reading device, simply because the feel and smell that comes with reading an old book. It is all part of the experience for me. I'm worried about teachers and libraries. I travel about six times a year and get to speak with educators face to face and all I hear is that their districts are cutting funding, their colleagues are losing their jobs, their libraries don't have the means to stock up. It's very upsetting. There are very few things, in my opinion, that are more important than reading.

3.      As a marketing associate for Simon & Schuster, how do you help market books? I attend conferences around the country for librarians and teachers, and this is the perfect way for us to introduce new books and authors. I feel like there's something to be said about talking with someone in person (rather than over email) and handing them the book I'm talking about, conveying my passion for an author or a story in a way I cannot over the internet. I also submit books for state and national awards, spread the word over Facebook & Twitter, send out e-newsletters calling out new reviews we have available for books or any assets available for educators to use in the classrooms or libraries. Like everything else in the world today, we rely heavily on online marketing. It's just the fastest way to reach the most amount of people. And I love that I'm not trying to sell you something that isn't good for you. I just want the consumer to fall in love with a good book.

4.      What can authors do to help market or promote their books, especially to the education or library sector? I think an author needs to interact with their readers as much as possible over social networking sites, speaking engagements at school, bookstores, and libraries. I know that I am way more invested in an author after meeting them in person, holding a signed book in hand. It makes the experience of reading more personal and I think our society craves as much social interaction as possible.

5.      As a blogger, how do you relate to your author’s struggles to be heard through social media? I am a blogger at Everything-Pretty.com. This site has nothing to do with my job or books. It's simply a creative outlet, something I have developed as more of a hobby. I can relate to author's struggles to be heard through social media because you are talking in a crowded room to maybe one person who is listening. It's really a full-time job to stay active, but if you can balance it with writing, you will reap the benefits. Start small. Get on Facebook and Twitter, and respond to your fans. It's essential in this day in age.


Interview With Author Stephanie Campbell

Stephanie Campbell had her first book, Until We Meet Again, published at the age of 17. Now, at 20, she is still whacking away at her computer, one day at a time. When she isn't reading or writing, she likes to dance, take karate lessons, and run. After all, you never know when you're about to be sucked into another world. 
1.       Stephanie, you made your debut as an author last month. What was that like? It was fantastic, but the fun is just beginning. November is going to be a pretty hot month for me with some new releases coming out. Also, I am more than aware that releasing a book is just a little of what being a real novelist is all about. You have to promote, even if you have been released by a traditional publishing company. That's the stage where I am at.

2.       What is the book about?  Poachers is about a boy who sees things that other people can’t. They’re shadowy, dark, scary things that hang over him and frighten him to no end. One day, his mother gets sick. He wants desperately to save her, and one of these shadows disguised as a human promises him that she will. She gives him a shriveled fruit that kills his mother. He becomes overcome with guilt and rage and becomes a "poacher." He must learn to forgive himself, and he must learn to forgive the creatures of the shadow world.

3.       What are you doing to market and promote it? I am blogging and blogging and blogging. It is a writer’s most important resource. I write articles, send out papers, and do whatever I can to get the word out. One of the great things about having books in hard copy is that I’m able to do book signings and visit schools. I have a school presentation planned in November to talk about dreams and my book. I’m terrified but excited.

4.       What advice do you have for struggling writers? Don’t you ever, ever give up! Every little step gets you closer to your goal. If you love something, then you won’t ever stop doing it. I’ve had enough rejection letters to paper my walls, but I kept on going because writing was the one thing that got me excited and made me happy. At first, people laughed at me, but remember that success always comes when you keep pushing.  Secondly, build your network. I know it’s silly, but I met my first traditional publisher at blog. Don’t be afraid to stick your nose out there, either. Ask people for help. Yeah, some people may burn you, but some people won’t. Stick through the "No!" to get to the "Yes!"

5.       Where do you see the book industry heading? I see many more e-books and independent publishers. (I am thinking about starting my own independent book company, which is why I am making this comment. :)) Actually, along my "travels" I have noticed that a lot more writers are turning toward e-book publishing. I am hoping that the print book, even if it isn't as enviromentally friendly, won't completely disapear. There is something about the smell of the book, no matter how much I love my dear Kindle.

Interview With Online Book Reviewer Amanda Richards
1. How are you involved in the book publishing industry? I'm at the part of the chain that buys, reads and reviews books, primarily on Amazon.com
2. Where do you think it is heading? More and more people are switching to e-books for convenience and instant delivery, so the industry will have to do some adjusting to the iY generation. There will always be people who like reading (I hope), and authors with a story to be told, but I guess the future is with e-books.  I personally love the feel and smell of a new book, which can't be duplicated electronically, but especially with textbooks and self-help books, it's easier to lug them around on a Kindle or iPad. There's also the privacy factor, as nobody can tell what you're reading. There are no major book chains where I live, so I do most of my purchasing on-line.  This gives e-books the edge, as I can be reading in seconds, instead of having to wait 2 weeks and paying shipping and handling costs to South America.  However, when I'm abroad, I always find time to check out the nearest book store to enjoy the smells and feel the crisp new pages, and yes, I buy a lot of books during these visits.

3. Why do you love books? As I mentioned above, I love the smell of a new book - it's right up there with the smell of a new car on my olfactory top 10 list. Books in general, I love because they provide simple entertainment, really come in handy during long waiting times at doctors, airports or in-flight, and are a necessity just before bed to take away the stress of the day. 

4.      Are e-books going to save or destroy the industry? A toss-up.  Unfortunately, printed books may become a part of history sooner than later, but there will always be authors, and people who want to read what they write, so there must be an acceptable format to facilitate both.  e-books may cause the death of the printed page, but open up a whole new e-page for future generations.


Interview With Literary Agent Mike Nappa

Mike Nappa is with the Nappaland Literary Agency (www.NappalandLiterary.com). He shares his insights below:

1.      What challenges or advantages does the new media landscape pose to authors? Obviously, when it comes to new media (e-books and POD publishing specifically) the best advantage for authors is in the accessibility of a platform for mass distribution. A few clicks of the computer mouse and your book is found in Amazon’s Kindle store, Apple’s iBooks store, and more. Write a check and your words are slapped prettily between the covers of a printed book, ready for the world to applaud. The real challenge for authors, however, is that most of us who write are abysmal judges of whether or not our work is actually deserving of publication. I mean, it’s a pretty egotistical person (myself included) who insists that someone must pay cash up front simply for the privilege of glancing at his or her words. That kind of person can sometimes (OK, often) overlook his or her manuscript shortcomings, especially as they relate to all the emotional baggage associated with writing and publishing a book. And besides, if anybody can publish, then everybody publishes, and because so many of us are blinded egoists, the result is a mountain of published crap. Sure, there may be a few gems buried in that mountain, but how many of readers are actually going to dig through the excrement in order to find the jewels? Since your book is one of the jewels (of course), the lower barrier to entry for all the crap writers else makes it enormously harder for your superb writing to stand out. As the system for culling bad books is dismantled (i.e., traditional book publishing), your chances for publication increase, but your chances for success as a professional author decrease under a mountain of over-published, under-deserving competition.

2.      What do you love most about being a part of the book publishing industry? It’s gratifying when I can uncover a truly exception work of art and then be the guy who gets that book published and into the hands of readers who also recognize its art.

3.      Where do you feel it is headed? Publishing is still about words. There’s a lot of noise about the digital revolution, the demise of brick-and-mortar bookstores, the squeeze on traditional publishing house and so on. And yes, those things are important. And yes, we’re going to have to figure out what the right balance is between e-books and print books, between traditional publishing and self-publishing. Those are market forces that will largely determine themselves (with nudges from a few good innovators in the industry). But when you boil everything down, we’re still just talking about what form ideas take, not about whether ideas have inherent worth. So I always tell authors to stop worrying about the new directions and changes in publishing and start focusing on what’s most important: the words you write that express your valuable ideas. Seriously, people will read a napkin if the content is compelling. So make sure that whatever you write will be compelling, regardless of where those words are printed.

4.      How do you go about making an author’s work better? I used to spend a lot of time teaching newer writers how to write, basics of story structure or idea management or paragraph pacing and so on. I don’t do that much anymore, because some writers just aren’t good enough to grow enough, no matter how much time you spend to help them. What I do now is look for writers who are already artists with words, people who come to me already knowing how to write instead of hoping for me to teach them how to write. Then I show them how to target their writing to fit into the competitive marketplace of publishing. It’s not enough to be a good writer; you must be a writer that people also want to read. So I spend a lot of time helping my authors learn how to get into the mind of a reader (whether that be an editor, a publisher, a marketer, or a rank-and-file reader), to adapt their talent into works that people want to read.

5.      What can publishers do to work more closely with their authors at the editing stage? My experience may be unique, but the publishers I’ve worked with have all been very proactive about working with authors at the editing stage. Sometimes it’s actually annoying how involved a publisher wants to be at that stage! But, in almost every case, the collaboration between author and editor results in a better book. And realistically, by the time an author’s manuscript goes through my agency, through the book approval process, and through to the line editing phase, it really should be near-publish ready anyway. If it’s not, it’s usually because the author is merely a celebrity (or a self-publisher looking for a shortcut to success), and in those cases the editors deserve the crap they find in the manuscript. So generally speaking, I’d say publishers are already doing a good job of working with authors during the editing stage of a book—at least in my experience.

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.