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Sunday, September 30, 2012

Which Media Should I Do?


All media, big and small, is worth your time, especially when undergoing your first publicity campaign. PR is all about visibility and frequency of your message being heard.  You can’t ignore any medium --radio, TV, print, and online are each valuable.  Local coverage, national reach and even international publicity can be of value to you.

It’s not realistic to expect you’ll get major media your first time out, unless you have something of true value to the media- something they really want.  National TV is the hardest medium to crack because to get it, not only are you expected to have a great topic or story and worthy credentials, they expect a media resume filled with newspaper or magazine clips, a roster of radio shows completed, and sample footage from local TV interviews.  They want to see a track record.

To get major print coverage, a few factors are at play, aside from the obvious:  having a good story. good timing, finding the right reporter, building on small-publication exposure, and luck are all parts of the puzzle.

National radio is broken into two tiers.  Some national shows are quite hard to get. It is also difficult to get on a highly-rated local show in a Top 25 market.

The best places to start as a new author are:

  • Small to mid-level radio markets
  • Local media in your hometown or cities where you have a connection – a business office, or if you conduct a seminar, or if you have consulting clients there.
  • Online media – create your own blog, podcast, and Web site and seek to get interviewed or mentioned on other people’s blogs, podcasts, or Web sites.
  • Write op-eds or 500-1000 word by-line pieces that can be published by daily newspapers, industry trade journals, newsletters, smaller magazines or community papers.
You are initially trying to seek out exposure that will get a certain number of people to go to your Web site or to buy your book. They then become your word-of-mouth posse.  For better or worse, they will spread the word as to whether people should visit your site or get your book.

Once you get some media under your belt, you can approach bigger radio and larger print, and if you get coverage from those two you’ll be ready to approach national TV.

However, timing is an issue here.  Some media expect to be approached way in advance of your book being published.  Other media will give you a serious look within the first 8-12 weeks a book’s been out. Once you get to the fourth month after the official publication date, the major media will likely ignore you.  Why?  Because by then,  you will have contacted everyone and they don’t want to cover you because they don’t see you’ve gotten a lot of media and therefore, they assume their colleagues in the media don’t find you a worthy subject to interview. Plus, you’re competing with the next batch of new books and those will get a more serious look than an “old” book.

However, there are times when a book still has legs.  For instance, if the book ties into a topic that is still making news – like oil, Iraq, a scandal – then they will consider you.  Or, if your book is making news by climbing the best-seller charts or there’s a controversy surrounding it, then you have a shot at more coverage.

Another way to get coverage for an “old” book is if a holiday, special anniversary, or honorary day/week/month arises.  A six-month old book about Martin Luther King Jr. will get attention in January for Martin Luther King Day or in February for Black History Month or on certain anniversaries that mark the civil rights movement.  A five-month old diet book will get attention in January when people with weight-loss resolutions for the new year kick in or in February when people try to get into bathing suit condition.  If your year old book on World War II warrants media coverage, something like the anniversary of the war’s outbreak or U.S. entry or the war’s end would be a good tie-in.

So which media should you do? Themedia that you can get!

Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer, the nation’s largest book promoter, Media Connect (www.media-connect.com). . You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at brianfeinblum@gmail.com. He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. Copyright 2012 Brian Feinblum

Friday, September 28, 2012

Advice From Writer's Digest Chief Editor




Interview With Writer’s Digest Chief Editor Jessica Strawser,

1.      How does Writer's Digest magazine help today's writer navigate through the publishing maze? Ever since our first issue was published in 1920, our mission has remained steadfast: to inform writers about the craft and business of publishing, to inspire them in their work, and to celebrate the writing life.

2.      What trends are you seeing in the world of book publishing? I think most writers and publishing pros agree that the increase in ebook sales and the rise of more accessible, affordable and viable self-publishing methods are without question the biggest trends shaking up the industry today.

3.      What types of challenges do today's writers face? Publishing is evolving so rapidly that it's difficult for even those of us working in it to keep up. Writers have more potentially viable outlets for their writing than ever before, and with more options comes more confusion about which path to pursue, and more pressure to make the right decisions for their individual career goals and writing projects. The flip side of that is that today's writers also have more control over what becomes of their hard work than ever before.

4.      What advice would you give to a novice writer? In addition to working on your craft, which is always paramount, the best thing you can do for yourself is to stay educated about how the industry is evolving and what new opportunities are at your disposal. There are so many resources readily available to writers today—publications like Writer's Digest (which now offers both digital and print subscriptions, and has supplementary content available for free through our website and weekly e-newsletter), countless websites devoted to writing and publishing, blogs maintained by top literary agents and generous writers willing to share what has worked for them—that there's really no excuse not to be savvy, so agents and editors these days tend to perceive uneducated writers as simply lazy or unmotivated. And you don't want that.

5.      What do you believe motivates most writers to keep on writing, regardless of rejections or sales? The craft of writing and the business of publishing are two very different things, and they certainly don't have to go hand and hand. I've interviewed some of the most commercially successful writers in the world on behalf of Writer's Digest, and you might be surprised to learn that one of the most common pieces of advice they offer up is that the best work comes from simply writing what you feel driven to write, without trying to write what you think might become a bestseller. I think there's a lot to be said for treating writing and the pursuit of publication as separate entities. Most of our readers tell us they write for the joy of it, because that's how they express themselves, because they feel compelled to do so. While rejection stings, it's such an inevitable part of the writing life that writers don't have to go far for support or inspiration to help them shake it off and get back to doing what they love. All of us on the editorial team at Writer's Digest are writers, too—so we can relate! It helps to remember that you'd be hard pressed to find a bestselling author who has not been rejected more times than he or she can count. We're all in this together.

6.      What should today's writer do to embrace the opportunities that social media offers them? Social media is all about give and take. If you wait until your book has been published and then set up a Twitter account and start tweeting about how everyone should buy your book, you're likely to be disappointed by the results. The writers who are most successful at platform building through social media are those who build genuine connections with fellow writers and potential readers—exchanging writing tips and book recommendations, cheering one another on in even small successes (such as meeting a daily or weekly writing goal, or getting up the courage to start submitting), and the like—long before they have a book or other writing project to promote. 

7.      Where do you see publishing heading in five years? I'm not too big on speculating about the future—but you don't have to look far to find myriad conflicting views about where publishing is headed. I'll just say that I think it's an exciting time to be a writer, and that all of us at Writer's Digest are deeply committed to keeping our readers informed every step of the way.

Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer, the nation’s largest book promoter, Media Connect (www.media-connect.com). . You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at brianfeinblum@gmail.com. He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. Copyright 2012 Brian Feinblum

Don’t Say Thank You To The Media


Many of the authors I have worked with have asked about sending thank you notes to members of the news media who interviewed them. I always suggest that this would be a mistake.

In order for the news media to see those that they interview on an equal footing, a thank you note is the last thing they should receive. It takes two to create an article or an interview. Shouldn’t the media send us a thank you note for sending them a great guest? No, it doesn’t work that way. We are partners with the media to inform and enlighten the public. The media outlet serves its readers, listeners or viewers and we serve our clients. Everyone is happy for it. The media should be just as thankful for arranging the interview as you are to them for having you interviewed.

Then again, there are many publicists and authors out there and only a certain amount of meaningful or influential media exists, so one could say that authors and publicists need the media more than the media needs them. But the media has a job to do and without great guests or publicists helping them find such guests, the media would be challenged to do its job.

Rather than getting a ‘thank you’ note, I would suggest that the media receive a note that says it was great to have the opportunity to discuss blah blah and to share insight on your topic. You may see this as the same as a ‘thank you’ except the difference is the attitude expressed. Saying ‘thank you’ is to acknowledge someone did you a favor, which is what you don’t want to acknowledge here. But highlighting that you valued the chat and expressing your availability for contributing to future segments or articles is appropriate.

Most shows won’t have someone back on so soon, in part because they like to keep things fresh and in part because it is not likely you will have anything new to say or promote.  Some of the bigger publications have internal policies against using the same source or article subject until a certain time frame passes.  But sometimes you can appear on another part of a show or in another section of the publication. For instance, having your book reviewed in a newspaper would not preclude you from being interviewed by the features editor or from your byline article running in the publication.

So, even though you are thankful for the opportunity to get media coverage with a media outlet, never say thank you. You can thank me later for the tip.

Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer, the nation’s largest book promoter. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at brianfeinblum@gmail.com. He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. Copyrighted 2012 by Brian Feinblum.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

The Role Of Ego In Book Publishing


Are You More -- Or Less -- Than Who You Think You Are?

Ego is what drives the world, for better or worse.  It certainly drives the book publishing industry.

For those who think they are soooo great and that everyone should love what they write or have to say, there are whole industries that benefit from such people: public relations, marketing, advertising, sales, the news media, and book publishing – to name a few.

Ego leads to action – good and bad. When the ego gets worked up it can lead to wars, violence, and destruction. It can also lead to competitive entrepreneurs, winning athletes, and prideful workers. If only a balance could be struck, where one has a healthy enough dose of ego to propel them to achieve beyond their abilities and resources, but not to the point of being unhealthy where one is demanding, obsessed with unachievable levels of success, and downright deluded.

For me, authors with egos is good for business. They think they deserve to become stars – and willingly shell out the bucks to chase lofty goals and best-seller lists. And who should deny them a chance to pursue their dreams? Everyone deserves a shot at winning the publishing lottery. But, when an author falls short of where they think their career should be, the ego lashes out at others and leaves the author feeling lost.

Ego is also good for those in the book industry: the marketer who believes beyond reality that he or she can build a great brand or sell a ton of books; the publicist who sees every author as a potential media darling; the editor who believes he or she can take any manuscript and turn it into a literary masterpiece. Without someone believing they can do more than they are actually capable of, we would end up with a world of underachievers or at best, mediocrity.

A healthy ego is needed in order for people to create, rise up the ladder, and to accomplish things. How many insecure, depressed, or self-critical individuals put themselves in a position to succeed? The key is to check the ego at times, and to balance optimism, confidence, and an assertive personality with a dose of reflection, caution, and honesty.

One’s ego gives them a sense of pride and confidence, the will to try harder and do better, and the inspiration to fight against the odds. But it feeds a narcissism that could be costly. When one lacks the substance and resources to support the monster the ego has created, a grave deficit is created.

The egotistical author is sometimes driven by the wrong things. He or she:
·         Sees almost all authors who become popular as undeserving, untalented writers
·         Mistakenly thinks everyone is so successful and wonders why they are not
·         Focuses too much on tearing down others and not making themselves better
·         Fails to make an honest self-assessment that would help them change and improve themselves
·         Underestimates what it would take to truly succeed and believe if they just demand something it will come to be

Authors, of all people, know what it means to feel rejected and unwanted, but they have a special ego gene that keeps many of them going and trying even in the face of odds against success. I applaud those who have found the right balance of ego but I have yet to find many who can remain both optimistic and realistic. It seems that no matter how talented one is, the ego will be there, for better or worse, to drive their careers.

Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer, the nation’s largest book promoter, Media Connect (www.media-connect.com). . 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, September 26, 2012

Can A Novelist Reform Government?


Debut Novelist Leads Way For New Revolution


Can a new fiction author of an action-thriller lead America to launch a government reform movement during this very important election season? Computer engineering instructor-turned-author Lauren Enns hopes so. He says the fate of America rests on it.

Loren’s unique work of historical fiction offers the dramatization of a story involving one man who seeks to lead a peaceful revolution to ensure that the representative democracy of our Founding Fathers remains intact. On the 225th anniversary of when the first state ratified the US Constitution, he is releasing his new book, Sword of Liberty (September 17). He believes so much in his cause that he is offering the book for free (http://www.theswordofliberty.com/purchasebook.htm).

Sword of Liberty is about Special-Op warrior John Laurens who stumbles upon his ancestral tie to hero George Washington, and inspired to lead America back from the edge of a nation drowning in debt, corruption, and a loss of will to correct its course. In between his courageous, life-risking missions overseas, Laurens manages to illuminate Americans through anonymous letters to a newspaper. Dark forces discourse his identity and seek to silence him. Clues from the past lead Laurens to uncover a legal means to work with the system to override a failed government.

Loen, who co-hosted a weekly political radio talk show for five months last year on WFLA in Orlando, is sparking an exciting debate over the following issues:

Why America is at risk for collapsing, just as Rome and Athens did.
How a little known and forgotten clause in the US Constitution --Article 5-- can be used to recall politicians who fail to honor their promises.
How a newly proposed amendment to the Constitution could give Americans the power to initiate referenda and settle significant issues that politicians lack the will or honesty to address, such as:  deficit spending, definition of marriage, Social Security, health care reform and military spending.
What’s wrong with American government today and how to fix it.
How ordinary citizens can take back control of a government that has disappointed and failed us, regardless of which political party is in power.

“Although my novel offers an exciting and entertaining story, the goal is to raise awareness about the financial and political dangers our nation faces and the fact that we can’t trust our government to fix it”, says the author. “America needs to serve its fate now or risk permanent damage.”

Below is a  Q and A with the author:

1. Loren, what inspired you to write your new book? All my life I had an extremely strong desire to serve my country. Asthma kept me out of the military, so any future service I left to fate.  That all changed over Labor Day weekend 2005 after a chance encounter with Sec. of Def. Don Rumsfeld and an eerie visit to Arlington National Cemetery at the same moment Chief Justice William Rehnquist died just miles away in Arlington, Virginia. Taking these as motivational ‘omens,’ I decided to prepare myself for whatever future service I might offer America. And what better way, then to get inside the mind of our founders. Their biographies led me to the stories of Athens, Rome & England, which inspired them to sign the Declaration of Independence and craft the Constitution. In the tales of our democratic forbearers, I observed the greatest story of all time: mankind’s long-suffering struggle to find liberty—and the victorious culmination of that struggle in the founding of America -- a story I knew I had to share.

2. Though it’s a work of fiction, tell us about the historical basis for your book. The book has two connections to history: 1. The factual stories of Athens, Rome & England, one included to give the reader a grasp of the magnificent historical origins of America and inspire them to take the same kind of action our democratic forbearers took to defend their liberty. 2. In the story of the Sword of Liberty, I used both real historical fact and well known Greek/Roman mythology to construct a fascinating tale that almost seems real. I used Greek mythology to claim that the sword was forged by Zeus as a reward for the mythological founder of Troy who passes the sword down to King Priam (of Homer’s Iliad)—and Roman mythology to claim that Priam bestows it upon the Trojan prince Aeneas (of Virgil’s Aeneid) who carries it from the burning city of Troy, to the land of Italia where he is to found the new city of Troy—which becomes Rome. Other historical characters that I use to carry the sword include: the founder of Rome (Romulus), the founder of the Roman Republic (Lucius Brutus), the founder of the Roman Empire (Julius Caesar) and the founder of America (George Washington). 

3. You make the point that America is on the cusp of decline, that we could be on the verge of collapsing the way democracy fell in Rome and Athens.  Why do you feel this way? The arrogant way in which our politicians are starting to ignore the wishes of their constituents and the dangerous way in which they are pushing us towards bankruptcy is extremely similar to the way in which the Athenian and Roman political elite (aristocracy) abused and endangered the common people. They responded by establishing direct democratic assemblies to protect themselves and their interests from the aristocracy. That is exactly what I am suggesting that the American people do to protect our nation from its own politicians who seem bent on destroying her.

4. You pose an interesting solution to the current state of political corruption and gridlock.  Please share it with us. I am proposing a constitutional amendment to be ratified, using the Article 5 Constitutional Convention. It would establish a national initiative process—albeit with tight restrictions to eliminate the possibility of ‘mob rule’—that would allow the American people to vote directly on federal legislation. The amendment would also establish a national recall process that would allow the American people to remove the President, House of Representatives and Senators from office, and vote a new candidate in to replace them. This would give the American people the power to take action on issues in the worst-case scenario and remove politicians by a majority vote of their constituents.

5. Are there any modern-day politicians that inspire you or lead you to believe there is still hope for our country? There are a few who are worthy of admiration, but none who inspire me with any hope that they can single-handedly lead our nation back from the edge. Both parties have proven that they are equally capable of massive deficit spending, despite the risk of bankruptcy. Many have railed against it, but no one from either party has stepped forward to STOP the dangerous spending of our government. In this case, actions MUST speak louder than words.

6. We know the cons to our current government is that money and politics can corrupt the process.  How will giving citizens direct access to vote on ballot initiatives on specific issues help the country? The main purpose of the national initiative process is to provide a new check on federal power—after all, we wouldn’t be here if they hadn’t abused their power. Ideally, representative democracy would function as our founders intended—each elected official faithful to represent the interests of their constituents. Sadly, it hasn’t. Our politicians have put us in an extremely dangerous position. With a national initiative process in place, the American people would possess a mechanism that could only be used in the most extreme situations—due to its own built in limitations.  The purpose of a national initiative process would not be for the American people to weigh in on every issue. Its main purpose would be to keep our government honest, always knowing that we can intervene if they betray us.

7. What will it take to restore the American dream?  Either our politicians need to find the honesty they lost along the road of life, or we need to establish a national initiative process to keep them honest. One way or another, we’ve got to stop our nation from going bankrupt, and I’m not willing to bet the future of America on a Congressional come-to-Jesus meeting. The American people need to wake up and realize that this isn’t another annoying political problem that will go away if they just ignore it. This is an end-of-civilization type threat which will destroy our nation if we don’t tackle it head-on. Abraham Lincoln once wrote, “America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.” A truer word was never said.

8. 2012 is a big election year.  What needs to happen this November? Without stating my personal political choices, I believe that America needs to vote for whichever candidate they believe can best jump-start the economy, eliminate deficit spending and start to pay down the national debt. Personally, I am not willing to give our politicians any more chances, but I am not the majority.

Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer, www.media-connect.com . Pleaen ote tha Loren is a current client of Media Connect. You can follow Brian on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at brianfeinblum@gmail.com. He feels more important when discussed in the third-person.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Getting Book Publicity Is Like Conducting A Job Search



While reading one of my client’s books, Forget Job Security by Dawn Rasmussen, it occurred to me that one’s job search is like a book marketing campaign and one’s job interview is similar to an author’s media interview.  The fluctuating job market also parallels the transitioning book industry.

Everyone needs to create, foster, and grow their personal brand. Whether it’s to keep your job or find a new one, how you are seen by others will greatly influence your career success. The same is certainly true for writers.  No matter how many books you are writing or have had published, you must establish and build your brand identity.  This is true no matter where you are on the author food chain – novice or bestselling author.

Where Rasmussen’s book speaks about “career management,” which she describes as “a process that takes place every single day both on the job and off-the-job, and represents a new mindset and approach to building a meaningful professional background that attracts opportunity,” authors should concern themselves with ‘writer management.’

Writers can take control of their careers.  They don’t need permission from anyone to succeed.  They can control their own fate.  If writers fail, it’s no one’s fault but their own.  Don’t blame others because you weren’t smart enough, aggressive enough, and opportunistic enough.

Writers can control many things.  They can:

Write as much as they want on any topic.
Edit their work or hire a helper.
Contact as many publications, literary agents and publishers as they want.
Self-publish at any time.
Create a blog and use free social media to promote themselves.
Speak before large groups and connect with others.

What they can’t do is do nothing and hope to be discovered or demand that gatekeepers recognize their writing brilliance.  To succeed as a writer it’s not enough to write a very good book, magazine article, or blog post.  You need to market yourself.

If you can’t – or don’t want to market yourself – then hire help.  Otherwise, you’ll be spending time with a therapist whining about how the world doesn’t recognize your genius.  Take control of your writing career and use your time and resources not just to write a book, but to promote your writing brand.


Interview With Writer Phyllis Humby

  1. You are looking to get your first novel published.  How challenging has the process been for you? It has been a huge challenge.  A published author told me that securing an agent/publisher was like winning the lottery.  I believe him.  It’s not just about the writing.  It might include being in the right place and having the right connections.  Timing is a major factor, as well.  There are a zillion writers and we all have a story.  The process entails researching new agents to find the perfect fit.  I sweat blood over the ever-changing queries that go out.  I give it my best shot and hope for positive feedback.

  1. What is the book about? I’m glad you asked that question, Brian.  There’s nothing I love more than talking about my writing – what a surprise.  I’ve just finished the first draft of a psychological thriller and I’m totally pumped editing this challenging story.However, the book I am currently flogging to agents/publishers, Old Broad Road, is a mainstream novel.  I overheard someone say that there is not enough gray matter on the bookracks these days.  I don’t think they meant fifty shades either! Is there an age limit to starting over?  Is there a point in time when even though our lives are unbearable we are too old to run away? 
Sylvia Kramer’s world is shattered in the time it takes to open a door.  Life as she knows it disappears, blurring her own identity.  Desperate, she embarks on a six-week road trip and impulsively purchases an abandoned house in Chapel’s Cove, Newfoundland − two thousand miles from home.  Her rashness is partly driven by the need to get away not only from her ex-husband, but also from her grown children.
The way of life in Newfoundland is as strange to Sylvia as a foreign country, and she struggles to understand the rapid dialect, distinctive idioms, and home-spun reality of the welcoming Newfoundlanders.
Just as she comes to terms with the estrangement from her family, a violent home invasion leaves her brutalized and scarred, forcing Sylvia to adopt a unique coping strategy.
Through diverse characters, humour, and heartbreak, Old Broad Road tells the story of one resilient woman coming to grips with and surviving the consequences of life-altering decisions.

Like Bette Davis said, “Getting old ain’t for sissies.”

  1. What do you love about writing? I love creating complex characters; putting thoughts into their minds and words into their mouths.  Individuals with problems, eccentricities, talents, and relationships.  They become real people to me and, hopefully, to my readers.  My writing style is more of a pantser.  Writing from an outline doesn’t seem to go well.  My characters are determined to lead me in unexpected directions.

  1. Where do you see book publishing heading? I would like to believe that print books would always have their place.  It grieves me to think that book signings will consist of a handshake and a flash stick.  Having said that, I’m never without my e-reader.  I’m guilty of purchasing digital books for convenience sake but as a consolation I read more now.  Whether it’s waiting for an appointment or for a friend at lunch, I manage to spend the time constructively.   It’s odd that I associate guilt with digital books.  Perhaps it’s a feeling of disloyalty because of my life-long love of print editions.  I still remember the thrill of cracking open the latest book in The Bobbsey Twins series when I was a child, feeling its weight in my hands and stroking the crisply inked words. In my opinion, there should be a print version of every book as well as digital.  Do I see book publishing heading in this direction?  I’m afraid I don’t. 

  1. How do you use social media to boost your author brand? I use Facebook.  Who doesn’t?  I also connect on Linkedin.  More than anything else, my blog The Write Break has increased my online exposure.  For now I’m Twitter-less.  I have only so many hours in a day and I want to spend every one of them working on my novel. 
Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer, Media Connect (www.media-connect.com), the nation’s largest book promoter. 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, September 24, 2012

Ebooks Grow Wildly But Will They Level Off Soon?

E-Books Are Growing Fast; When Will They Level Off?

29% of all fiction book unit sales were ebooks in the final quarter of 2011 and 16% of all non-fiction book sales in that period were ebooks. A year before that, 12% of fiction unit sales and 5% of non-fiction sales units were ebooks.  The 250% and 300% gains in their respective categories shows that wild growth in ebooks is all around us.  Juvenile ebooks tripled – in one year as well. So what does any of this mean? It may be too early to tell. It is obvious there is an increased interest in ebooks but the question is: When will ebooks stop growing? I think the years of triple-digit growth will continue for another year or two and then double-digits for at least the next couple of years after that.

www.bookconsumer.com lists more details of the annual study on ebooks and book consumer purchasing habits.

According to Nielsen Bookscan and Publishers Weekly, print sale units are down YTD. Paperbacks declined by 12%, hardcover by 9 % and mass market paperbacks by 26%. Interestingly, board books are only down by less than one percent, which shows parents and grandparents prefer physical books for toddlers.

Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer, the nation’s largest book promoter. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at brianfeinblum@gmail.com. He feels more important when discussed in the third-person.

Amazon Loses – Or Does It?


Amazon, the behemoth the book industry both loathes and loves, took a hit the other day when Wal-Mart announced its chain of thousands of stores would stop selling the Amazon Kindle. Target did the same thing this past May.

Why would these stores stop selling a popular product that nets them money and customers? Because that product contributes to putting them out of business.

Though Amazon has no physical stores, its online reach is everywhere. Its tablet, the Kindle Fire, allows e-readers to also shop online. Amazon, which last year released a shopping app that encouraged consumers to browse at competing stores like Wal-Mart and then to shop for a lower price at Amazon, wants to sell everything to everyone, even at a loss.

Amazon netted a profit last quarter of less than 1% of what it took in. That means for every dollar it collected from consumers it had expenses that exceeded 99 cents. Wall Street, however, is banking that Amazon will be super profitable. Its stock price was around $170 per share a year ago – now it is $260 – but its net profit as a percentage of overall revenue has been shrinking. Go figure.

Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer, the nation’s largest book promoter. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at brianfeinblum@gmail.com. He feels more important when discussed in the third-person.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Do Public Libraries No Longer Need Books?

With the growth of ebooks there is a lot of talk about how it will impact the surviavl of brick and mortar stores, the fate of printed books, and how individual authors will publish direcrtly to consumers and skip the publisher as a gatekeeping middleman. But there is another insitution under siege: the public library.

One would think there will always be a need for libraries, especially as the number of bookstores is dwindling. Libraries bring the reading community together and help educate children, studemts, seniors and people of all ages, especially those of a lower economic class. However, if /I were to judge the actions of my neighborhood library, I would have to wonder whether libraries will survive.

I recently went with my son to the library and brought five shopping bags worth of books. There were maybe 150 -200 books, mostly children's books, that were in excellent condition. I couldn't wait to show my seven-year-old son that donating items of value helps the community and is appreciated. Instead, I was met by a less-than-excited library worker who blurted out, upon seeing me, "Oh, we don't normally take that many books. Only one bag per family."

I was expecting a "thanks" and a smile.

When she saw my look of frustration and confusion she hurriedly said, "OK, just put them over there in that room. We don't normally do this."

Now I was placed in the position of having to thank her for making this excpetion to a ridiculous rule. But I instead asked her why the library was turning down resources it seems to be in need of.

"We lack the space" she shot back.

They have plenty of space. I am not an architect or a librarian engineer, but believe me, there were plenty of places to store these books, at least for the short-term. Most libraries either use the books that are donated to them, or they sell them (to raise money for the reosurces and services they are in need of), or ship them to a nearby library in greater need. The books I gave her, even if they were sold off for 50 cents each, would net them about $75 -$100. Couldn't they find a way to make sure they accept the larger donations of others?

Otherwise, what inevitably happens, is people stop donating to them altogether, or they bring fewer books. In either case, that means less money for the library. How can that be a smart policy?

I want to see libraries thrive. In a recession with limited budgets given to libraries -- as well as the challenge posed by the digital wolrd -- libraries will need to navigate in a smart way or they may just perish.

Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer, the nation’s largest book promoter. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at brianfeinblum@gmail.com. He feels more important when discussed in the third-person.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

New Book Rethinks What It Means To Be Crazy


I recently received a copy of a very interesting book, Rethinking Madness: Towards A Paradigm Shift in Our Understanding and Treatment of Psychosis, written by Paris Williams, PH.D.

Though he earned a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology, Dr. Williams learned firsthand about psychotic disorders when, as a world champion hang glider, he found himself struggling with mental illness. This bout led him to embark on a journey of healing, discovery, and an exploration of how those with a mental disease struggle to live meaningful lives.

The fruits of his labor led him to write his book, which explores new research that shows recovery from schizophrenia and other related psychotic disorders is possible. His publisher’s press release sums up the book as follows:

“he then disentangles the complex web of research on schizophrenia, illuminating how it is that mainstream understanding of schizophrenia has become as profoundly misguided  and then goes on to craft a new vision of madness – one that is based on the findings of his own pioneering research and that  draws from both Western and Eastern conceptions of mind and consciousness. As this new vision unfolds, we find that we arrive at both some unsettling realizations and some very helpful possibilities. On one hand, we are forced to recognize that our current mainstream paradigm of care may be causing  significantly more harm than benefit, both for those so diagnosed and also for their friends, family members, and society at large. On the other hand, we discover that those who find themselves struggling with these challenging disorders have a very high likelihood of moving on to meaningful and productive lives.”

His book is an interesting beginning point for society and the psycho-medical community to begin a dialogue on this most important subject.

Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer, Media Connect (www.media-connect.com) the nation’s largest book promoter. 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, September 21, 2012

Prolific Author For The Movies Speaks Out



12 Questions With Warren Adler



Warren Adler (www.warrenadler.com) has published his 33rd novel, The Serpent's Bite. He has had a long and interesting career. Below is an interview with the man who has penned two million words, had books turned into movies, and had his works translated throughout the world. He writes for the Huffington Post and is active in the literary community.

By the way, Warren came up with a list of the most evil women in literature and it ran in today's Huffington Post. The lead character in his new novel clearly ranks as one of the most villainous of all time: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/warren-adler/female-villain-literature_b_1900980.html?utm_hp_ref=books#slide=more251889

He shares insights on publishing, writing, and his new book below.



1.      Warren, you have been a part of the literary scene for nearly half a century.  You are one of the elder statesmen for the publishing industry.  Where do you see the book industry heading? As I have been predicting ever since I first digitalized all my work more than a dozen years ago, and as I said when I introduced the SONY reader in 2007, as the first stand-alone reader at the Las Vegas Electronics Show, the publishing business will morph massively to cyberspace and considerably shrink the number of stores selling printed books, all of which has come true. What I did not foresee was the number of self-published books that would hit the marketplace and offer hard competition for traditionally published books. What is coming long-term, in my view, is a massive number of fiction books available on the Net, where it will be a challenge for any writer of fiction to be discoverable. Even major stars in fiction will find that they will have to work doubly hard to keep their brand in the eye of the reading public. Many will eventually lose their luster. The traditional publishers will not spend the marketing and advertising money to create new branded authors, although they are hoping, by publishing their first novels, to test the waters for their future brands.  There will be many flash-in-the-pan authors who will not warrant future investment in their careers. Indeed, authors of non-genre fiction like myself will be better off investing in their own branding, especially in today’s marketplace of fading print stores. Being discoverable as an author will not cut it without finding ways to penetrate the reading marketplace. This will grow more and more expensive as competition accelerates. There will be many frustrated novelists with hopes and dreams of fame and fortune.

2.      You have tried traditional publishing, Amazon exclusives, and self-publishing.  Which method works best?  The publishing method that works best is the one where the marketing is intense and repetitive. Traditional publishers cannot afford it. Amazon, too, will hope that their various methods of discoverability will work for its authors. The joker in the deck of course will be the mystery of “going viral”. In the end it is always word of mouth that will boost readership. For the non-genre author who dreams of being the next Hemingway, Faulkner or Fitzgerald, the stakes are higher than ever. The literary filters that brought their works to the general public are disappearing and what is taking their place is too scattershot, too numerous, too diffused. Information is too massive. Opinions do not have the same power as they had when media and information was limited. Indeed, the best shot an author might have of being publicized and discovered is if his novel is adapted to a mega-hit movie. My conclusion is that the only real hope today for an author is if he takes the reins of his own career and attempts to find a marketing solution to attract readers. For a totally unknown author the best outcome will be the satisfaction of becoming a novelist, a small following among friends and relatives and a hands-on approach with signings in the locality in which the author lives. Beyond that he or she will have to trust to luck and the prospect of spending a great deal of money for marketing.

3.      There are tens of thousands of books  published weekly in America.  What does one need to do to stick out and get discovered? They need to do exactly what I am doing: Banging the drum as loud as I can.  It is hard for today’s author to get heard and discovered amid enormous competition,  less shelf space, short promotional span, and an avalanche of competition on the internet.  I am setting the standard for such an approach but the outlay of money will do nothing unless there is a substantial backlist that might benefit the author. In my case the overspending on The Serpent’s Bite is designed to attract readers to my 32-book backlist. Nevertheless I trust to luck that the book will find its audience. In my opinion, it will be the harbinger example of what’s to come in establishing the non-genre writer’s career.

But discoverability is merely the opening gun. If word of mouth does not kick in all the promotion in the world will make no difference. Also, when you talk of 50,000 books, you are generalizing. Non-genre fiction is between a quarter and a third of all books on the Net. I write non-genre fiction, which further reduces the fiction numbers. Genre writers have the advantage especially if they are “factory” books, meaning books turned out by Patterson, Cussler and numerous romance novelists. These writers don’t write their own books anymore. They supervise their branded names and make enormous sums of money. Romance fiction is churned out by thousands of writers and follow strict formulas based on the needs and preferences of their readers. Sorry, that is not my goal or my interest. For me, the joy is in the work, which is everything. If a reader gets into my mindset and becomes a faithful reader what more can I ask? When all is said and done the novel is a one-on-one communication system. I have been lucky as hell making it a career. But then, one must consider that I did suffer through endless rejections of my work until I was 45 years old, when I was finally able to interest publishers. I immediately quit my business interests to concentrate on my writing career exclusively with single-minded devotion.

4.      What advice would you offer a struggling writer? I can only give advice to a “real” writer who puts his work above all other forms of activity. For him or her, the issue is not necessarily making a living but it is in the artistry, satisfaction and joy of the process. I do not agree with Samuel Johnson about only writing for money. A real writer writes because of his artistic need above all.

5.      In the late 1990’s you already saw how publishing would go digital a decade before the kindle launched.  What did you do back then that was unheard of? Do you see yourself as a pioneer in e-books? Absolutely. I am probably one of the first non-genre novels in the world who digitized his books. Frankly it was a no brainer. If the publishing world did not see it coming they were fools and they are now paying the price. But then they are now owned by conglomerates and number-crunchers. Reality is just beginning to make them change their business models. Many will not survive. Nevertheless I do believe that there will always be a place for the printed book, but its size will eventually be reduced by three quarters by 2020. In my opinion, too, it will not stop the avalanche of self-published books unless someone comes up with a business plan that finds a way to filter out the wheat from the chaff. The problem is that every self-published writer has hopes and dreams of breaking through and believes his work is exactly what readers are panting for.

6.      You already have over two million words in print.  How much of writing comes naturally to you vs. it being a labor?  Do you edit much or do you stick with your first draft? The secret of writing is rewriting. I rewrite constantly, over and over again until I am reasonably satisfied. I usually can’t tell if I got it right until I’ve written one hundred pages or so. It is at that point that I either abandon the book or slog on.

7.      Everyone has hopes and dreams.  In your new book, The Serpent’s Bite, it appears that if unchecked, one’s ego or lust for success and fame can threaten people and those around them.  Is everyone searching for their victory, even if at the expense of others? Not everyone. But the thirst for recognition is a powerful motivator, e.g. Facebook. For many people, the thirst for the unattainable is a destructive force for human nature. We are now deeply immersed in a celebrity culture and the uncelebrated yearn for the transient ego satisfactions of being “known by many” and “celebrated”. On top of the charts is the person who longs to be a movie star and how this longing and obsessive pursuit totally destroys one’s moral sense. In the case of the woman in my book, she will do anything it takes, including the murder of her father and brother to achieve what she believes is her ultimate goal. She is the epitome of evil. Another character in the book, the illegal Mexican wrangler, will also do anything to better his position. These characters illustrate the dangers of desperation. It is not easy to find the balance required to come to grips with compromising one’s goals and ambitions and reaching some personal truce, the so called “philosophic calm.”

8.      The Serpent’s Bite takes its title as a play on the famous William Shakespeare quote that was uttered by King Lear: “How sharper than a serpent’s tooth it is to have a thankless child.” Your book reveals two children who believe they deserve more from a dad who has offered love, guidance, and millions of dollars.  How hard is it to cut off a child?  As a parent, I believe that there is no greater, more obsessive love than for one’s progeny. As a committed father the protective role for one’s children is built into the human condition. A child who grows up without a father is missing a decisive link in his upbringing. A father who dismisses or ignores his progeny is depriving his offspring of something profoundly important. It is, of course, a two-way street, as King Lear and millions of others have discovered. A child who disrespects or dismisses his parents is also missing out on a profound relationship. I am a father who would never, under any circumstances abandon his children.   

9.   Your new book features one of the most evil female characters in contemporary literature.  Why is she so bad? Like Dorris Lessing’s character of Ben in The Fifth Child, a bad seed begins in the womb. Add to that the frustrations of an obsessive need for celebrity and you have the ultimate mix for evil. I hope that explains the character and motivation of Courtney Temple.

10.  The Serpent’s Bite deals with the taboo subject of incest.  Though you show the dangers associated with it you also scripted several erotic sexual scenes that, if you forgot for the moment are between brother and sister, stimulate the reader, leaving one just as conflicted as the characters.  Do you expect people to be repulsed or engaged by this?  Both. Incest is a recognized and much publicized aberration. There are numerous novels written with incestuous characters and thousands of porno sites that offer the subject for erotic stimulants. In today’s world few things are taboo. Google “incest” or “novels about incest” to see what I mean. But of all the taboos incest is still looked upon as the worst of all, hence my use of it to illustrate Courtney’s evil character. In my opinion it is not only legitimate to discuss but it is probably widely practiced. In the context of my novel it is just one manifestation of Courtney’s dysfunction.

11.  Your newest book also deals with the blind pursuit of stardom and the perils of celebrity, as well as issues of covering up secret lives and one’s moral boundaries.  How do you take all that is swirling around in your head and funnel it into a fast-paced, adventure novel that explores the depths of the soulless?  I wish I knew the answer to that but I am happy to be able to keep the reader’s interest. My style is honed from long years of writing stories. I am a fast writer, having been a newspaperman used to deadlines. In writing novels, I, too, am anxious to know what happens next. I can’t wait to find out. I never know how my books will end.  If I knew that, I probably wouldn’t write them. Another thing that is difficult for people to understand is that once a novelist creates a character, the character begins to work out his own destiny.  

12.  If nothing else, does The Serpent’s Bite, War of the Roses, and your other books have the reader feeling better about their lives as a result of seeing these reckless, violent, and angry characters play out lives of destruction and division? Yes, people see them as cautionary tales. I cannot tell you how many people have come up to me to say that The War of the Roses changed their lives by informing people it is better to compromise about material things in a divorce than let it get out of hand. 

Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer, Media Connect (www.media-connect.com), the nation’s largest book promoter. Warren Adler, please note, is a client of Media Connect. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at brianfeinblum@gmail.com. He feels more important when discussed in the third-person.