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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Celebrating 50 Years By Changing Our Name

The PR firm I have worked at for 13 years just changed its name from Planned Television Arts to MEDIA CONNECT.  We are celebrating 50 years as leaders in the book industry. Read about it here:  http://clients.plannedtvarts.com/PTA50.pdf

My parents just celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary and my beloved New York Mets were formed a half-centruy ago. 1962 may be remembered historically for a number of things.  There was no such thing as cable TV, the Internet, or tablets or Facebook.  1962 was the era of Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra and Marilyn Monroe, of Mickey Mantle and Willie Mays and of Bonanza, Lassie, and Perry Mason.  A new home cost $12,500 on average, annual salaries were $5,600, a new car cost $3,125 and a gallon of gas was just 28 cents.  It was the era of JFK and the Bay of Pigs.  The Civil Rights Movement of Martin Luther King was raging and the Vietnam War was escalating.  Space travel was in its infancy as John Glenn became the first American to orbit the earth.  The nation’s population was less than half of today’s.  TV, often watched in black and white, was rising in popularity and becoming a greater influence in politics and culture.  Walter Cronkite was just named the anchor of CBS News.  And the year gave rise to Planned Television Arts….and now MEDIA CONNECT (http://www.media-connect.com/)

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Are You Anybody?

Your online resume or online credit score is being tabulated and ranked by a number of services. Klout, Peer Index, Twitalyzer, Post Rank, Talentag and others are looking to quantify your online presence.  Are you a somebody? What formula should be used to determine such a thing?  Does it merely come down to numbers and quantity without a look at quality?  I am Linked In with 1,800 people but what does that really mean?  I blog almost daily, but so what?  I think the metrics used to determine a site’s value or a blogger’s weight or an individual’s social media worthiness can be inexact and incomplete.  Before you judge a book by its cover or a person by their Klout score, step back and try to take more factors into consideration.  Otherwise we’ll all be drawn to false prophets and online personalities that may appear to be popular but really lack substance.

Who are you? Says whom?

Some online database is tabulating your score right now.

Interview With Novelist William Butler

1.      What are your latest novels about? I have three novels out currently. They are BANG, The House of Balestrom and Time of The Season and I'm currently working on my next novel which is the sequel to BANG. That will be out in April. 

2.      What inspired you to write them? Oh wow. Many different things. Film noir, pulp novels...People...music... I can't exactly narrow it down to one thing. 

3.      What do you feel your readers want or expect when they read your books? I think my readers like the crazy twists and turns, drama, the characters...I write crazy self-destructive characters. I try to make them as real as possible. I want you to be able to read my books and say to yourself--I can see that.  

4.      What do you love most about being a published author? I love connecting with my readers. I like talking about my books or other books. I'm not limited to any one topic. And just love writing. I have always enjoyed it. So I'm happy that I can write and share my stories with others. 

5.      Do you have any advice to a struggling writer? Keep writing. Don't stop just because it doesn't sound right. Write the book and then go back and read what you wrote. You will find that you can amaze yourself. 

6.      Where do you see the book publishing industry heading? I see it heading to a digital media. And maybe POD markets. They are cheaper and produce less waste. You don't kill as many trees that way. Ha ha. 

For more information, please see www.williambutlerblog.blogspot.com

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.




Monday, February 27, 2012

Book Launch Party

Many authors ask me whether they should have a book launch party.  I always answer with a question: What’s your reason for having a party?

Most look at me with a curious face and then rattle off a few reasons.  A party is nice if you want one to feel good, to feel celebrated and honored. But it’ll cost you.  Feeding the ego can be expensive.

Most author parties don’t draw the media – unless they are big-name authors holding court at some cool venue. Even then, it’s not like everyone shows up to the party.  The media is just too busy for that and is generally unimpressed with these types of parties.

If you want the event held so family and friends can support you and make you feel recognized, go for it. If you want a party hoping to sell lots of books, don’t expect it to happen (nor is it always appropriate to sell books at such an affair).  If you hold the party hoping to lure celebrities or influential types, it’s a Catch-22.  For them to show, you’d have to already be the success you are striving to be.

Save your money and time and skip a big launch party. The only time it makes sense is if:

·         Someone wants to gift it to you and throw you a party.
·         The organization or employer that you work for and is connected to the book wants to use the event to push their product or service or to raise funds.
·         The book is truly unusual or significant and could command media attention.
·         Your book can act as a lead-in to bring you clients (i.e. – you’re a real estate broker, a cosmetic surgeon, or a coach).

The cost of a party can easily cost 5-10 thousand for a low-key place that holds 100-150 people – and more if the venue is bigger or fancier. You’re better off giving out thousands of copies of your book to spread word-of-mouth buzz.

But, if you do have the party, I’ll gladly accept an invite!  

Interview With Essayist Laverne H. Bardy

1.      What was the self-publishing process like for you? I thought long and hard for months before deciding to self-publish, because I had heard so many horrendous stories about it. A number of my friends are authors and many of them had related their self publishing nightmare experiences to me. I did extensive research, and decided to go with Createspace. The journey, from start to finish, was joyful...often tedious, but always exciting. I was presented with a laundry list of options, each of which was explained to me, with great patience. I was never pressured into anything – ever. When I was given the option of whether or not to have my manuscript edited, I opted to not have it done, for two reasons: My book is a collection of my syndicated columns, that had already been published, so I didn’t think editing was necessary. And, I’m a humor writer and I did not want an editor to alter the rhythm of my phrases and sentences, because rhythm is vital in humor writing. But, the offered price, of $50, was so incredibly reasonable, and since my weakness is punctuation, I opted to bite the bullet and go for line editing. It was the wisest decision I’ve made about anything in years. The editing was superb. Suggestions were brilliant and comments were appreciated. In addition I received a three page critique, a description of my book for Amazon.com, and a press release that yielded innumerable responses from all over the United States and Australia.

2.      Tell us why you wrote: HOW THE (BLEEP) DID I GET THIS OLD?" I wrote HOW THE (BLEEP) DID I GET THIS OLD?” first and foremost, because I wanted to leave my family a legacy; something they could pass down to future generations that gave insight into who I am. I also wrote the book to prove something to myself. Around six years ago an editor told me I shouldn’t attempt to put a collection of my syndicated columns into a book because I wasn’t an Erma Bombeck, Dave Barry or David Sedaris, and no one would buy it.  I was disheartened, but I listened to her. As my readership grew, each week brought more and more e-mails and letters from people expressing how much they loved, related to and laughed at what I wrote. As a result, I began to recognize that there was an audience out there for my writing.

3.      Any advice for struggling authors? I would advise struggling authors to not be shy about asking established writers for guidance. Most writers are happy to offer assistance. I have helped quite a few new writers by taking a look at their work and making suggestions, pointing out e-zines that might be interested in their kind of writing, and directing them to various writing contests. I’ve led them to the Writer’s Market and explained the importance of knowing the editor’s name, and asking for guidelines. I’ve told them to not be discouraged by rejections because rejections are not always a reflection of the quality of their writing. There can be countless other reasons their work wasn’t accepted. And, finally, I’ve stressed the value of belonging to a writing critique group. If they can’t find one, they should form one.

4.      Where do you see the book industry is heading? I see the book industry as shifting rapidly toward more and more self-publishing. There are a number of reputable self publishers out there who will hold your hand throughout the entire publishing process and offer a quality product. Self-publishing generally pulls in a higher profit. Traditional publishing houses do not offer the perks they used to. Digital books have changed the way we read forever. I am still partial to holding a book in my hand, dog earing the corners and underscoring passages; things we can’t do with a digital book. But, the digital book allows us to store numerous books into one hand-held device. Large retail stores are dying out as ebooks become more popular.

5.      How are you getting the word out about your book? I’ve gotten word of my book out by way of the fabulous press release created by Createspace, that went out to newspapers, magazines, radio, television, ezines and most online social networks (Facebook, Twitter and others). I sent out that same press release myself, to She Writes and LinkedIn. Responses from that press release came from all over the United States and Australia. I know a number of ezine editors who generously and graciously offered me space to promote my book on their sites. I write a humor column, “Laverne’s View” for Senior Wire News Service. The editor, Allison St. Claire, sent my press release to every one of her newspaper contacts. I have lined up book signings, and talks, locally and throughout my state, in independent book stores and libraries. I plan to do the same in several other states. I have also left books at local places I frequent: hair dresser, gym, nail salon. I offer the proprietors two dollars for every book they sell. I place posters in markets and diners that I patronize.

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

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, February 24, 2012

Why Will Your Book Get Reviewed?

There can be a bit of mystery behind the book review process but the truth is it’s really fairly straight forward.  When it comes to getting your book reviewed in a newspaper or magazine, you need to observe basic rules, including:

Sending an advance review copy (not a finished book) 14-16 weeks prior to publication data. If you don’t observe that time frame you might as well throw your galley in the garbage.

Send it to the right person at the publication, namely the book reviewer.  If there’s more than one reviewer at the publication, find the one who reviews books in the genre you write in.

Send the galley (not loose manuscript pages) with a short cover letter and any relevant background material so they can quickly assess interest in reviewing your book.

Send the galley to the right publications, including major daily newspapers, trade magazines that do reviews, such as Publishers Weekly and Library Journal, consumer magazines whose readership could match that of your book (i.e. diet or beauty books goes to women’s and health magazines but a business book should go to business magazines), and special journals or niche publications. Don’t just take a general list of publications or reviewers and send to all of them without using discretion.

As an added touch you can include a catchy giveaway if it’s relevant to your book. For instance, how about sending a candy bar or cookies with a dessert cookbook or toy car for a book about car buying.

Don’t expect a publication to review your book just because you’re paying to advertise with them.  On the other hand, it can’t hurt to use some leverage when talking to the advertising department.

Just because a book gets reviewed, doesn’t mean it’ll be a favorable review.

Understand that review-page space has declined in recent years so a publication may only review books based on newsworthiness, celebrity of the author, best-seller anticipation, localness or genre specifity or something unique about your book. Otherwise realize the reviewers literally get hundreds if not thousands of galleys every single day and the competition is fierce.

Just because a book is well-written, timely, interesting, and written by a respected author means nothing. Other factors include:  who published it, competitive titles on the subject, and the preferences and proclivities of the reviewer.

Sometimes things get lost in the shuffle and overwhelmed reviewers may simply ignore the pile of submissions and just rely on an intern or assistant to recommend a book for them to review.

Most books get few or no reviews in major print publications. More review opportunities have moved online where space is unlimited and there are many more outlets.  Having a pretty good book is a starting point to pursue reviews but no guarantee.  But the really good or interesting or newsy books eventually find their readership even if it means taking a slower, grassroots approach to build up buzz.

Interview With Award-winning Novelist Darlene Hartman

1. Darlene, what is life like as an award-winning novelist and screenwriter? Actually, Brian, my work is what has won the awards.  My life is very ordinary.  I'm a mother, grandmother and great-grand.  Married to the world's best kisser for going on 57 years, come April.  Not the sort of thing people want to hear, but factual, nevertheless.  I spend much of my time, if not most of it, at my computer.  I’ve got two novels, a synopsis for a third, a non-fiction book, two films and three blogs I’m working on.  I have a morbid fear of being bored to death. 

2. How did you get started as a writer? I was always a voracious reader.  My parents read to me even as a baby.  I learned all the nursery rhymes my mother could find—well, all the American and British ones—and loved committing them to memory.  I even committed whole conversations to memory, to my parent's consternation.

By the age of six, I was reading and writing well and memorizing long poems (my favorite two were “The Day is Done” and “The Wreck of the Hesperus,” both by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.)

I wanted to call him Henry W. Longfellow, but my mother insisted on the whole name.  When I protested that Daddy wasn’t called “Joseph PAUL Artell,” she retorted calmly that Daddy wasn’t a poet, and how about that next line, honey?  So there you are.

I think when your parents are avid readers of everything that comes down the pike, and your childhood is one of much travel, lots of sickbeds, and almost solely adult company—I was an only child until the age of eight—you turn to books and films for entertainment. 

My mother was a film buff, and we went to the movies five nights a week.  The programs were changed twice a week, so we saw the same films over and over, and then came home and “dissected” them to see how the story came together.  Nice basis for my screenwriting, believe me!

My parents gave me a set of Children’s Classics for my sixth birthday, which was straight-from-the-shoulder, not the watered-down stuff kids often get today, and I gobbled them up. One particular story, "My Fight with a Catamount," was one of my favorite stories.  I used always to beg my Mother to read it when I was ill, which was pretty often.

In it, the hunter tracks the big cat through the bitter winter of a Canadian forest, and it attacks just as the snow bank beneath hunter and cat collapses and they plunge into a rocky ravine.  The hunter’s gun hand lies frozen against the rock that shattered it, and the cat’s back is broken.  They stare at each other for a while; then the cat—savage and pain-crazed--starts pulling itself toward the helpless hunter with its forefeet.  Great, great story.

3. What is your latest or newest book about? It’s the story of three people: a dirt-poor migrant farm worker married to a swine who thinks he’s Elvis; her handicapped and unwanted unborn son, a baby who’s the last thing she needs, just now; and the doctor who saves the baby from a hysterotomy abortion and thereby blows everything he thought his life was about—his marriage, his job on staff at a major hospital, everything.  He comes up empty.  It’s his low moment.

Of course, there’s lots more.

It’s really the story of the choices people make, why they make them, and how they have to live with it all.

As I tell my children and grandchildren: do the action and the result is inevitable.

4. Why did you write it? I think writing is like any other art.  It’s organic, if it’s any good at all.  It grows out of what’s inside the writer. 

Writing has to “follow the golden thread” like Theseu's escaping the labyrinth by following Ariadne’s golden thread.  We are surrounded, these days, by labyrinths.  Sometimes it’s hard to see the way out.  Writers can offer solutions, and not everyone is going to like the solutions any particular writer offers.  Some will, some won’t, so what?

I am frankly and unabashedly pro-Life.  I put my own life on the line for my eight pregnancies, got six beautiful, mentally-gifted great children out of it all, and then we adopted fourteen more children from various places in the world (Mother Teresa gave us four of them!)  Most of them wouldn’t have lived to be born in the US.  But they have all grown up to be fine people, productive and interesting, living their own lives and contributing to their communities.  Our son who was born without arms supported himself for years doing data entry—with his feet.  Our double-amputee son set a long-jump record at his high school, and on and on.  The human spirit is unconquerable, if we don’t stomp it flat before the poor child gets out of the crib! 

So my stuff, my
 golden thread is about the unconquerability of the human spirit--and about honor.  It’s always what I'm writing about, even if it’s inside a green-skinned alien medical officer.  After all, what does “human” truly mean?  Earthling?---or ensouled?

Fun stuff to ponder!!
  
5. Where is the book publishing industry heading? Gosh,  I haven’t got the faintest idea.  I’m happy about POD and Kindle, but I’m not knowledgeable enough to answer intelligently about that.  I’m not a book publisher, after all.  I’m a storyteller.   I tell stories. I once spoke at the Orange County (California) Science-Fiction Club, and there were all these brilliant young people, throwing quick, PhD-level questions at me, who am only a storyteller.  I wanted to say, “I tell stories, guys.  Don’t you understand?  I’ve never been an alien, never piloted a spacecraft, never done surgery on anyoneI tell stories.”  But instead, I just kept saying, “I don’t know.  I don’t know.”  They were very disappointed, and so was I.  It was the one and only time I’ve shot an appearance like that, and I never want to mess up so badly again.  Next time, I’ll explain first who I really am.

6. You’re a member of the Fiction writers Guild. Why is it important to be a part of such a group? Well, we you know, Brian, writing is a lonely business.  You aren’t effectually here, you’re in your own inScape, drawing from all your bits of memories and shreds of dialogue, idioms from various eras of Time Past and imaginations from Time to Come, and it can be a bit singular, to say the least.

Belonging to a writing group, or groups, is important to me because I can understand other writers’ frustrations and problems, and they can understand where I’m coming from.  It’s in the nature of a fraternity of sorts (and oh, please, let us not have a hassle about “sorority as well”; the name of our race is “Man,” like it or not, and so, “fraternity.”)

I try to help new young writers as much as I can, online in the groups I belong to, through my telephone seminars, and with my Simon Lang Basic Writers’ Course, “Think Like a Writer.”  And they help me.  I have a friend in Australia who provides me no end of support in getting my information out there in proper order.  It’s the kind give-and-take that most of us need.

I am against personally-present writing groups (for me); I belonged to a screenwriting group within the last few years, and the offering from one of the members were so horrific it was unbearable.  Subject matter, not talent, or lack thereof.  Lack of craft can be fixed; a sick mind takes expertise I lack.  So I stick to online groups.  They’ve worked very well for me.  I’ve only had two nasty retorts from one person in all the time I’ve belonged to any group.  Pretty good average, I’d say.

1.     Any advice for a struggling writer? Funny you should ask, as they say:

1.)        Ideas don’t belong to anyone.
It’s true.  No one can copyright an idea, they belong to everyone.  But because they do, you can take one and make your own story of it, and believe me, that you can copyright!  But ideas are a dime a dozen.

2.)        Get yourself a good dictionary and a Roget’s Thesaurus. 
Use them.  Compare the synonyms and write them down.  Actually write them.  Define each and see the slight differences in the definitions.  Make your writing more precise, more lucid by using them properly.  Look smart.

3.)        Read poetry.
Not the new stuff, which is fine, but the older poets, the classics.  You’ll learn more, faster.  Yeats and Keats and, yes, lighter stuff like Frost and Longfellow and Lord Thomas B. Macaulay and any other good, at-least-a-century-old poet.  Because they have lasted, they endured.  They will teach you something you cannot get elsewhere.  Apply the use of motifs, themes, and recurring lines in your stories.  It works.

4.)        Read novels. 
Orson Scott Card’s Ender Wiggin Series; the “Mossflower” books by Brian Jacques; Agatha Christie; C.S. Lewis, everything you can get your hands on; G. K. Chesterton, J.R.R. Tolkien if you can wade through his convolutions (it’s worth it), Ray Bradbury, Isaac Asimov, even the novels of Lloyd C. Douglas, which get laughed at because of their dated and overtly-religious bent, but his use of the language is masterful, graceful and instructive; Edna Ferber, Dorothy Canfield, Shirley Jackson, Zenna Henderson.  Read children’s books, selected Young Adult novels.  They’re enormously informative, and they teach simplicity.  The list is endless.  You cannot write well unless you read well, and much!

5.)        Choose a Character
It doesn’t matter who it is, just as long as it’s not a living person, or someone who has lived.  It’s best to start with your protagonist, or hero. 

Write a backstory about him.  That’s everything that ever happened to him before the story starts.  It’s the “set-up,” even though only you know about it all.  It will make your character rounded and realistic, much more believable.  Don’t—and I mean DON’T—use everything you’ve written.  The back-story is the nine-tenths of the iceberg that holds up the visible one-tenth in your story.  But without that support, your story will sink majestically beneath the cold and unforgiving sea.  Trust me on that one.

Write, in his back-story, everything you can think of: who were his ancestors, his parents, what is his ethnicity, his planet of origin, his appearance; whom does he look like?  From which ancestor comes his build, his skin and eye color, his stance?  Where did he go to school, who were his teachers and how well or badly did he do, and why?  What is his profession?  Is he good at it?  How good?  What does he think of women?  Meat, objects, minions, respected equals, “goddesses?”  Why?  Always, always ask “why?”  Then answer the question. 

Build your character on those questions and any/all others you can come up with.

Give him quirks or little unconscious habits, like the way she swings a foot when she’s bored, or tosses her head; or the way he keeps glancing out of the window into the alley, or wiping his chin with a handkerchief when he’s stressed.  Study body language.  Learn.  Apply it to your writing.  Everything decent is fair game.

6.)  Be Willing to Do the Work.
So many young writers seem to want to just slap it down, punctuation and grammar mistakes and all, boring conversations between talking heads, stories that never end…

Don’t do that.

It looks really bad, and no one will take you seriously, especially the people who pay writers to write.  Even your readers will be tossing your stuff overboard.

Do the work.  Read magazines you’re not interested in and absorb the way the sentences are structured.  The way longer and shorter sentences are used.  Take a really good look at a good film in the genre you want to write for.  Watch how the scenes are longer in the laid-back parts of the film and grow shorter with tighter and tighter “cuts” as the action builds.  Use that in your short story or novel.  Try writing a couple of pages, building toward an imaginary crisis.  Ramp it up with the adjectives you use.  Be careful that you do not change the basic meaning of the piece.  Now rewrite

Remember, everything is related.  Everything counts.  Write it all. 

As the old saw goes, “Put the seat of your pants to the seat of the chair!” and start writing, and don’t stop until you’ve created a living, breathing human being.  It’s that simple, and that difficult.

And there’s no joy like it! 

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, February 23, 2012

Does Your Book Have Thong Appeal?

The cover of the New York Daily News recently featured a photo of a slender woman wearing a thong.  The revealing visual did its job.  It drew a potential reader to open the paper to see what the story was that would connect the faceless woman’s two perfectly separated butt cheeks.

We all know sex sells. Sports Illustrated gets crazy sales for its annual swimsuit issue.  Commercials for beer, cars, clothes, and other products use youth, beauty, and sex to push sales.  The question for authors, when promoting your books, is: “Do you have thong appeal?”

But in this case it doesn’t have to be sex itself that is sold. The thong can be anything that is revealing or attention-grabbing for your book.  So, what can you say about your book that will turn heads the way the thronged beauty shakes her money-maker?  Of course if your book is about a serious topic, like disease, death or disability, your thong is going to be found in significant emotions. Tap into the fear one has of death or the feeling of euphoria one has when triumphing over a challenge.  If your book is about dieting, or home shopping or financial planning, appeal to vanity, desires for wealth, and control of one’s destiny. Look for the good and evil in things.  Find the hero or the villain.  Set up the story so that your thong captures something people really care about.

It might be your book just doesn’t have a thong.  That’s okay.  If you lack the singular knockout punch, try to win on points.  Share several interesting stories that cumulatively give depth, meaning and context to your book. Lead with the assets you possess and you’ll soon find a faithful readership.

Interview With Romantic Comedy Author Beth Muscat 

1.      What is your latest book about? Everyone has bad days once in awhile. My characters have the worst day, a bad day. It's a romantic comedy aptly called, "Bad Day", and it takes place over one day. It features four main characters, and showcases the fears, triumphs, bad and good memories and everything in between that can happen over one day.

2.      What inspired you to write it? I'm a multi-genre writer, and I like humor. I thought I would try something new with a romantic comedy. As to what inspired me to write it, as I said, everyone has bad days.

3.      What do you feel your readers want or expect when they read your books? I think what any reader of a book wants: A story that is interesting and flows well, with interesting characters, edited for spelling/grammar mistakes and easy to read and understand. I write in multiple first person POV, so my readers need my writing to be easily understood as to who is thinking/feeling/speaking at that time.

4.      What do you love most about being a published author? I think what I love best about being a published author is that I was able to share with the world my thoughts and feelings through some awesome characters. I met some terrific people online who showed me a way to get my works out there for others to read through self-publishing. If I can entertain or take a person to another world and introduce them to some wonderful characters, then I think I've done my job. And, I like to see my name on the book. That might be kind of vain, but it's also kind of neat.

5.      Do you have any advice to a struggling writer? Read, read, read. Find a genre that you enjoy and lose yourself in it. I read a novel by L. J. Smith called "Dark Visions", and it inspired me to write a paranormal romance. Draw inspiration from watching people and even from your own experiences. Take writing courses and read some "how-to" books--although, they can be contradictory, so limit how many you read to just one or two. Most of all, write how you want to write. Write about what makes you feel good.  When I first started out, I was afraid to show my works to family and friends for fear that they would laugh at what I'd written. But, let them read it and critique it for you. What might sound right to you, might be interpreted differently by someone else. They might be able to suggest a different way of writing it to make it flow better. Just write. Write about anything--I recently entered a short story contest using some writing prompts I found online. But, most importantly, just write.

6.      Where do you see the book publishing industry heading? I think the book publishing industry is headed almost completely in the self-publishing direction. So many people have such excellent writing out there, and yet, can't find an agent or publisher to take them on. This is a tough industry to get into that way. However, with self-publishing, it has taken me to places I never thought I would go to (online), and I've met some incredible people along the way (online). They've shown me a world where I can get my works to a great amount of people, instead of my novels being stuck on my computer for no one to see. Self-publishing means I have creative control over my works, and I can earn more. But, self-publishing doesn't mean you can skimp on editing, the use of beta-readers and great writing. Those things are probably even more important in self-publishing than in traditional 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.





Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Interview With New York Observer Columnist & Author George Gurley


1.      What inspired you to write your newest book, George & Hilly: Anatomy of a Relationship (Gallery Books)? Actually there was a column that came first – it ran in the New York Observer from 2005 through 2009.  The idea came from my NYO editor Peter Stevenson, who coincidentally was also Candace Bushnell’s editor for the Sex & The City Column.  The column began after I confessed to Peter that Hilly and I were about to begin seeing a couples therapist, and he thought it would make great material for a regular column.  I would tape record each of our sessions and then transcribe them for the paper.  It became a big hit with a regular following – NBC caught wind of it and nearly made it into a pilot for a sit com.  That’s when my agent Ed Victor told me that Simon & Schuster wanted to offer me a book deal.  For the record, the book consists of entirely new material that did not already appear in the columns.

2.      Any good sex scenes in the book? Absolutely – tons of sex. However I try to delve delicately into these matters out of respect to Hilly’s preferences for privacy.  As the man on the brink of matrimony, what is going through your mind right now?

3.      How can you successfully promote the book so that one can make enough money to pay for a wedding? As a longtime New York Observer nightlife reporter and humor columnist, what did you learn about the Manhattan dating scene that we need to know? It’s vital to always carry hand sanitizer in this town.

4.      What advice do you have a struggling writer? Like my father advised me back in 1992:  “Start a Laundromat; go to business school, join the army, the ministry, become a pastry chef—do anything but write for a living. Unless of course you have to. Unless you have no choice. Then work really hard." I didn't take any of his advice.

5.      Where do you see the book publishing industry heading? I feel very strongly that the industry is going to be completely driven by paperbacks with turquoise and pink cover images.  I wonder if ebooks might change the publishing landscape.

Books Rank High With Babies
A recent study by the American Association for the Advancement of Science indicates the 25 words that every child should be saying by the time they turn two years old include: dog, hello, cookie, Mommy, Daddy…and book.  Maybe there is hope for society when the next generation knows about books at such a young age.  We need to do everything possible to encourage children to value reading, writing, storytelling, and listening comprehension.  Not only is this good for our country and the individual but it’s great for the book publishing industry.

My four-year old daughter, Olivia, loves to make up stories based on the pictures in her books. Then my wife or I read the book to her.  Maybe one day she’ll write stories for other children.

My seven-year-old, Ben, likes to read but also enjoys it when we read to him.  He likes it when I make up a Curious George story with the theme revolving around our day’s activities.  If he thinks he can enhance my story, he’ll shout out stage directions to change the course of the story.

I’ve always enjoyed reading though I enjoy writing more. When I experience the imagination and curiosity of my children.  I feel like a plant getting sunlight. Some type of chemical reaction is taking place. It’s a symbiotic relationship.  My kids give me back just as much as I give them.

Even my English bulldog likes to read.  She’s bitten into a few books, one of which was about a dog.  She likes to leap her 56-pound frame onto the bed when we read to our kids. I wonder if she imagines her own story as she looks at the illustrations.

The books my children read are not showcased on an e-reader or computer or a tablet. They live on good old paper and cardboard.  Big books, small books – of all sizes and shapes. They each have a bookcase overflowing with colorful adventures.  One day such a scene may be worthy of a museum but for now they love to read books the way others have for centuries.

That doesn’t mean they aren’t exposed to gadgets. My son loves to play Angry Birds on his mom’s phone. We’re not Amish, but I want to hold onto the love of books, newspapers, and magazines in a non-digital way. They’ll have plenty of years to click buttons and touch screens.

Interview With Author Sherri Carpenter


1.       What is your latest book?  The title of my book is: Thank You Mom, Thank You Dad, For All The Wonderful Things I Have.  It's a story/picture book of a young boy on a wonderful journey learning about the five senses.

2.      What inspired you to write it?  For this book I had an adorable little muse - my grandson Dublin.  I was waiting to be picked up and I had about forty minutes of spare time.  I went into my office and sat at the computer.  In thirty minutes of non-stop writing the first draft was complete. My fingers just hit the keyboard and I could not stop typing, which is not typical for me.

3.      What do you feel your readers want or expect when they read your books? My readers want something to hold their interest and take them on a wonderful little journey they will enjoy and which they can relate to from their lives.

4.      What do you love most about being a published author? The excitement the stories bring to the children's faces. Knowing that I have encouraged a child to want to be read to and to learn to read is inspiring.   Kids love the journey I take them on and by their faces I can see they want more.

5.      As a children's book author do you feel you write for kids or for the parents reading the books to their kids?  I feel I write for both.  It is the parent who will first see the book and if they don't get taken in by it they are not going to offer it to their child.  When the child sees it and wants it to be read over and over, the parent knows they made a good choice and will look for more stories by that author.

6.      Do you have any advice to a struggling writer? Yes.  Write everyday and read every day, especially in the genre for which you want to write.  Give yourself permission to write poorly, as great writing comes from just sitting down and letting your mind open up and flow.  You can make corrections later.  Write about anything and everything, whatever pops into your head. Lastly, it is very important to describe the details, don't just tell the story.

7.      Where do you see the book publishing industry heading?  There has been a lot of discussion about this topic lately.  Self publishing is becoming very big, however, there is a lot of work in that route, especially to market yourself.  Big publishers will not talk to you unless you have an agent. Self publishing becomes a print on demand process and bookstores will not carry these books on the shelves.  Like many aspects of modern life, times are changing and so is 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.



Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Interview With Business Author Michael Rosenbaum

Your upcoming book (March 1), Six Tires, No Plan, tells the amazing story of how one man – Bruce Halle -- came from nothing to owning and running the nation’s largest tire dealership, Discount Tires. How did he do it? Simply stated, he’s the anti-Trump. As described in the book, Halle has never been quite comfortable shouting “look at me” to anyone who will pay attention. He likes one-on-one relationships with people, but he has never had an interest in a bigger stage. So he focused on his business, his employees and his family instead of self-promotion. His disciplined humility leads him to avoid preaching or promoting himself, which has been a source of business success and anonymity at the same time.

2.      What inspired you to share his story in Six Tires, No Plan? There’s something intriguing about a guy who builds a billion-dollar empire, engenders intense loyalty among his workers, and yet remains absolutely unknown outside his small sphere. As I dug into his history and the evolution of his philosophy, I was similarly intrigued by the simplicity of his approach. The fundamental truths that generated his success are no secret. We all know them, but we often pay only lip service to them. Halle, though has applied these simple truths in a consistent and humble way to achieve his success. In the end, you realize that anyone could be Halle and do what he did. So the question for all of us is, why not?

3.      As a businessman you served as the president of the nation’s largest investor relations agency.  From that perspective, tell us what you admire most about how Bruce built up and runs his company? I’ve had the opportunity to advise C-suite executives at more than 150 large companies, including the founder/CEOs of dozens of firms. Less than a handful of these founders cultivated either the productive culture or the long-term success that Halle achieved—and I can’t think of any who achieved both. Ultimately, all business is about people. Whatever the product, whatever the price, relationships and trust among people drive success—or failure. Bruce Halle has achieved a nearly impossible level of success by engaging, inspiring, rewarding and retaining good people. It’s a reminder to managers everywhere that it’s important to put away the spreadsheets and performance metrics and figure out how to motivate and inspire the people behind the numbers.

4.      Bruce talks a lot about “paying forward.”  Tell us what that means. When you receive a gift, you have two obligations. One is gratitude to the person who provided the gift. Second, and possibly more important, is the need to mirror the giver’s act by providing a benefit to someone else. There are givers and takers in the world. Halle wants employees who are givers, who recognize their own good fortune and are willing to share it. Those people are more likely than the norm to pay forward to customers and build strong relationships in the stores, or pay forward to other employees and increase the loyalty within a team. This emphasis flows in large part from Halle’s faith, but the real world business impact is measurable.

5.      What advice would Bruce give to today’s aspiring entrepreneur? Bruce doesn’t give a lot of advice, but if you take the lessons of his life described in the book, it would pretty much boil down to this: Be prepared to work hard, probably over a long period, to build momentum. Create a team of people that will take care of each other and work together to take care of the customer. Do whatever you can to turn a transaction into a relationship. Worry about the customer first and the spreadsheet last. And don’t forget to have fun.

6.      What lessons can we take from how Bruce Halle lives his life and runs his company? It’s important to walk the walk. Many corporate leaders talk about the importance of people, including employees, but fail to back up their words with action. Halle gets more from his people, I believe, because he makes a clear and visible effort to keep the faith with them. If you hire the right people, they will respond to this kind of support, so it’s critical for Halle to staff his company with people who share his pay-forward mindset. It’s the same as the rest of life: surround yourself with the right people and success will follow.

7.      What was it like spending time with a billionaire whom most people have never heard of? In Halle’s world, which is focused primarily on the company, he is absolutely famous. Outside that small sphere, he has never made an effort to raise his profile. So when you travel with him in his world, it’s like being on a rock tour. Everyone knows who he is and what he has achieved. So it’s definitely cool to travel on a private jet, but when you land and go to the tire stores, there’s no difference between a billionaire and any other business owner.

8.      What was the writing process like for this book? It took me back to my days as a reporter and editor, with all the interviews and research that carry you into a story. As with all these projects, the toughest part is figuring out what the real story is. What’s the angle? For me, the most intriguing part of Halle’s life is the way in which he has created a team of true believers who want to replicate his model in both business and life. That makes it more than a biography of one person or one company. In a way, Halle’s story is being cloned by hundreds or thousands of his employees, which is a fascinating process.

9.      What is the most important lesson from this book? We have a complicated relationship with money. We all want to get more of it, but we don’t necessarily trust the people who have done so already. People often look a billionaire as somehow different from the rest of us and think their experiences don’t apply to us. What I want people to understand is that this is a normal guy who achieved something extraordinary, not a demi-god sent down from Mt. Olympus. So the most important lesson of the book is that it is possible to achieve great success without a great start in life. When you read this book, you realize that anyone could be Bruce Halle, even you. 

 Michael is my client at the PR firm that I work for. If you want to see more information, please consult http://www.sixtiresnoplan.com/

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.