Follow by Email

Monday, December 31, 2012

Magazine Growth Indicates The Recession Will End In 2013


Officially, the recession, from a technical sense, ended a while ago. Truthfully, the Great Recession has been going on for a little over four years. But I think it will finally end.  There are good signs upon us: unemployment is decreasing, housing prices are rising, and the fiscal cliff scare will subside shortly. Even more interesting, the magazine publishing industry is growing, a sign that ad revenue is there to support it. And ad revenue only comes when consumers are buying things.

242 new magazines published at least quarterly in 2012. From 2008 through 2011 there was not a single year with at least 200 such new magazines. Total magazine launches hit 870 in 2012, up from 678 of a year ago and 798 from two years ago.

With magazines being launched at an increasing rate, either publishers are speculative idiots or sme of them see evidence to support their gambling ways. I just hope some of these magazines survive and inspire others to launch. Then we'll really see a flourishing economy.

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. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog 2012 ©

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Random House To Own Barnes & Noble?


Call it a stretch, but Random House, soon to be merged with Penguin Books, may end up owning Barnes & Noble.

Pearson, which owns Penguin Books and the Financial Times, just bought a 5% stake in Barnes & Nobel’s Nook Media.

Who knows how the book industry will get carved up but it seems obvious that the big players are looking to align with one another and feed a merger frenzy.

Maybe some strange alliances will occur, such as movie theater chains linking with bookstores, or gas stations connecting with publishers, or libraries offering book kiosks like the $1 movie rental vending machines in supermarkets. Or maybe auto dealerships will combine with book publishers. No doubt 2013 will yield changes in the publishing marketplace and I am sure it is about to get interesting.

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.

Why Authors Really Write


Many authors write books in hopes of making it big – movies, best-sellers, and a series of books.  Others write books because they believe passionately about their subject matter and want to share a message that enlightens, inspires, informs, and educates others.  But all authors write, I believe, because it is their gift and curse, because if they didn’t express themselves artistically they’d kill someone or themselves. Or go insane.

I have never met a writer who doesn’t enjoy his craft and the opportunity to share ideas, experiences, opinions and stories.  I went to a book party recently for my client, Howard Schatz, who has put together an amazing photography book called At the Fights.  It was at this literary gathering that I came to understand what drives writers and artists to relentlessly pursue their craft.

You see, an author or photographer never really rests or remains at ease with his or her work.  They continually seek to improve and perfect their artistry.  They cannot be satisfied but for a moment otherwise their entire drive will be at risk.  They don’t have to be perfectionists but they strive for an achievement that feels like perfection, ever elusive and always being redefined so that even if one reaches a state of perfection, he or she has now set the bar higher for themselves.

Photographers and writers observe life and reflect it in their work, but many fail to really see themselves or obtain an honest measure of the role they play in the world.

It is a burden to be creative, but it can also be so rewarding.  I don’t know if Howard can see what he’s accomplished, or even be willing to acknowledge it, but he can be proud that he’s achieved a lifetime of work in just the past two decades.  He has published 19 books and had images splashed across magazine covers.  He is always challenging himself and pushing his limits.  I applaud his relentless pursuit to get to some undefined, ever-moving target that may seem like perfection for a moment.  He may never get there.  He’s more at ease in chasing the top, the ideal, the gold – for he wouldn’t know what to do if someone told him that he’s reached the top of the mountain.

So who am I to say he’s done it all? Perhaps there is more to be done and we’re not even close to seeing his best work.  But I know that even when he arrives at that holy moment, he will already have his eye on the next big thing.  He wouldn’t have it any other 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. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at brianfeinblum@gmail.com. He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This blog is copyrighted material by BookMarketingBuzzBlog 2012 ©

Saturday, December 29, 2012

The Probability Of Possibility



I ran into a friend on the train the other day. He’s a bright guy with advanced degrees in math and science. He was telling me he may soon take a job with a major advertising agency to create software analytics that will help capture and analyze consumer behavior data in the hopes it will reveal patterns that help advertisers determine the right message and advertising vehicle.

The concept is not new – people try to predict or influence behavior based on past patterns of activity. But what used to be done, based on polls or limited/outdated data – and just gut instinct – is now being turned over to digital detectives. Will humans become more robotic as a result of robotic formulas seek to analyze -- and then influence and dictate our behavior?

Pattern analysis can tell us, hypothetically, that 75% of commuters drive to work, and that 45% listen to the radio and 29% eat in their cars. But they don’t tell us “why.” Yet, advertisers, governments, and social policy experts will seek to capitalize on this information and use it to get consumers to take a certain type of action step. I just wonder if merely connecting seemingly unrelated things (let’s say people who drive also tend to eat tomatoes) will help predict and influence other behaviors.

On the other hand, too many marketing decisions are made without access to relevant, timely, and comprehensive data. Book publishers decide every day to publish a book because they were overly sold on a single number or an incomplete statistic.

Though many more people could buy a diet book, than say one on a disease that affects a smaller amount of people than say obesity, the latter may sell better due to lack of competition, need, and price. But usually a publisher dismisses the niche or specialized book, and favors the book that could have mass appeal – despite obstacles such as market saturation of existing titles on the subject.

There may not be a perfect formula to fully predict buying patterns, but surely people, like my friend, are racing in a lab somewhere to find the digital DNA for consumer buying patterns.

And once those patterns are found, and others try to capitalize on – and influence them – the patterns will again be altered as a result…until new ones are discovered.

Now if we only knew where to find all of the people who will buy your book, we’d all be rich!

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. This blog is copyrighted material by BookMarketingBuzzBlog 2012 ©

Friday, December 28, 2012

The Book Clubhouse


When I was a little boy, maybe age 6 or 7, I used to play in my room for hours at a time. In the early 1970s I didn’t have all of the distractions of today’s child. No competing gadgets, 200-channel cable TV, or the Internet. We used phones for talking and letters came via the mailman. It was a different time – no better, no worse than any other.

I remember making up my own games. I’d play with toys, toss a ball against my room walls, and push Matchbox cars off my window sills. I also used to take stacks of books off my dad’s bookcase and build a clubhouse out of them.

Piles of hardcover grownup books were best used not for reading, but for building materials. Walls of books surrounded me until I was locked in by them. I took my blanket and put it a cross the books to act as a roof. My imagination kept me going. It was an early interaction with books that taught me lessons not included in the words of these volumes.

No one sat in my clubhouse but me. It was my little piece of real estate with in my room that left me to feel safe and secure.

They took me to a whole other world, simply by walling out the world. I used the books to shield me from the outside.

Words have a strength that far exceed the physical capacities of the books’ shell. But the books stood up and created a palace for me, showing me a different type of strength. These books became concrete, steel, and wood for me. They became my home.

I suppose kids won’t be building clubhouses out of digital bits and bytes. Maybe they will pile up smart phones, tablets, and laptops to build their huts. If they turn everything on, the hut can be lit up like a Christmas tree.

Books have always meant so much to me. They still do. I cannot imagine not having books in my life, but back in my childhood books were literally the building blocks for my imagination. They helped construct a new landscape that allowed me to see life differently.

If I piled the books up today I would change one thing: I would never come out of the clubhouse. And I would just sit inside it and read the books that shelter me.

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. This blog is copyrighted material by BookMarketingBuzzBlog 2012 ©

Thursday, December 27, 2012

No Is A Delayed Yes


When I assumed the role of head of marketing for Media Connect nearly a dozen years ago, I hung up a hand-made sign that has come to be my motto: NO IS A DELAYED YES.

Why do I believe a ‘no’ means ‘yes’? Three reasons:

1.      I have found people, if pushed on an offer, may initially say no but it is not fully based on examining the offer completely and against all other offers. Maybe that person was not ready to say yes but they did not really say no to my particular offer. They were saying no to anyone selling anything for the moment. So, trying them again, maybe three, six, even 12 months later may yield better results simply because now they would at least be open to the possibility of buying from me or others.

2.      Some people say no before they can hear your offer. You may have caught them at a bad moment. Perhaps they were in a hurry to be somewhere or their mind was cluttered by a task at hand or maybe they were just having a bad day. All you need to do is dry them on another day, at another time, and their mood would be totally different this time around.

3.      People will try other options and actions – and fail. So when you get turned down today in favor of some other vendor/author, give it time. They may end up unhappy with their selection and hire you or buy from you when you give them a second chance later on.

The key to overcoming a no or an objection is to learn why you are being told no sale today. Once you understand why you didn’t get their business today, work on how to win it tomorrow. I guarantee someone’s no today will lead to a yes on another day.

If you disagree with this blog today, you may end up agreeing with it in a few months.

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. This blog is copyrighted material by BookMarketingBuzzBlog 2012 ©

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Chess Lessons For Life


The game of chess is often compared to life, with analogies to war, sports and business. It is a game of thought, strategy, analysis, and measured moves. Like all games, you could get lucky, but most chess games are won because an opponent made a mistake and was a move behind the opposing player. It can be a fun game that stimulates the mind and challenges one to navigate through landmines. I would rather have a good chess player working with me on a business venture. They stand to be good planners and opportunists.

Today I showed my son, who turns eight in a few weeks, how to really play chess. I started to show him the basics a few months ago. Then he started to play in school. He played four games in a row with me today, losing each of them, but always coming back for more. He then said: “Why am I going to play if I am just going to lose?” I told him that he “should play to learn and to improve. The wins will eventually come.”

The game teaches him many things, such as how:

**One move sets up another one. Often you have to think one or two steps ahead.
**To capitalize on a player’s mistake.
**To play offense while playing defense and to look for moves that protect your key pieces but position you to capture the pieces of your opponent.
**Today’s loser can be tomorrow’s winner and vice versa.
**Two people will start out with the same tools and resources but end up in different places.
**One move dictates the next one.
**You can win even if you suffer heavy casualties.
**You can win using different strategies and styles of play.
**You are never immune to making a mistake or missing an opportunity.

Interestingly, chess is the only game I know where you don’t end it by capturing the opponents’ last piece. It ends when the opponent can no longer move his king. It never actually gets taken off the board.

Also of note is the game does not allow you to move a piece that puts your king in check. Thus, it forces a do-over of your move. What other game stops you from losing the piece that is the object of the game?

I love the game of chess. But it should not be mistaken for being seen like life itself. Life doesn’t play by the rules and its parameters are not limited to a board of finite spaces and moves. Life has many options and surprises, which is what makes it the hardest, but most rewarding game of all.

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. This blog is copyrighted material by BookMarketingBuzzBlog 2012 ©

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Cutting A Tree Down Before It Dies – Or Kills You


A casualty of Hurricane Sandy, I had to have a really big, old tree cut down recently. The 110-year-old oak tree rose over 100 feet high and loomed over my house. After having several enormous, heavy branches break off and fall onto our house during the late October super storm, I realized the inevitable was upon me. If I didn’t remove the tree, I would continue to fear it every time a storm approaches. I have worried about it for the past few years and know that time was not on my side. It would be only a matter of time before it damages our house.

Some may say I was reactive and took too long to chop it down in the first place. Others would say it was a preemptive action, but one that was done prematurely. In the end, I had to do what science and my gut told me. I could not afford to go on much longer with such a looming threat. Believe me, I was not eager to shell out two grand to get rid of one tree – not to mention I felt bad about killing a piece of nature. But safety trumps all.

After seeing neighbors with tress lodged in their roofs, I realized that I should not press my luck any further. The time to act had come, and I did what I thought was best. I don’t regret it, but I still wish I didn’t have to be such a grown-up and do the right thing. Tough decisions, even no-brainers, can weigh on us.

So, what is the lesson here? Sometimes you add by subtraction. I may have added years to the life of my house and moved closer to ensuring my family’s physical safety by cutting the tree down. Sometimes you need to be proactive and not merely reactive.

Still, knowing all of this does not mean I am fully content with my choice. After all, I could have just done nothing and then deal with any consequences only when needed. If the tree remained and never fell, it would have been a looming issue. If the tree eventually fell, insurance would have covered any damage. But nothing can replace having peace of mind or ensuring my family’s well-being.

In this situation I feel like I came out ahead after losing the shady tree. We will never know for sure what calamity I may have averted by removing the tree, but that is the point. I will no longer have to wonder what could have happened when most of the potential scenarios involved danger and damage.

Good bye, ol’ tree, but hello to feeling safe again.

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. This blog is copyrighted material by BookMarketingBuzzBlog 2012 ©

Monday, December 24, 2012

Did You Know This?



As a writer, marketer or promoter, it is important to take the pulse of society periodically. One can do this by reading surveys, polls and statistical abstracts – or by checking out an almanac or reports from the Census Bureau. Below are a few random facts I just happened to come by in the past few days from the Statistical Abstract of the US, New York Post, and The New York Times. Perhaps you have other stats and facts you’d like to share with us. I hope you find these of interest:

**Liquor stores outnumber bookstores by a three-to-one ratio.

**Americans spend an average of $100 annually on reading materials - -but $2500 on other forms of entertainment.

**27% of US households use only wireless telephone service - -no landlines.

**Almost twice as many Americans (10.6 million) belong to a fantasy sports league than to a book club (5.7 million).

**41% of US births this past year came from unwed mothers – up from 33% a decade ago.

**It costs the US government two cents to manufacture a penny and 11 cents to produce a nickel.

**More foreigners visited NYC (9.3 million) than any other American city (La with 3.7 million).

**More households own dogs than cats but there are more pet cats than dogs.

**Each year the number of teens and children lost to gun violence equals a 9/11. Every two months the number of Americans lost to gun violence equals a 9/11.

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. This blog is copyrighted material by BookMarketingBuzzBlog 2012 ©

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Kick The Social Media Addiction


People are making their 2013 resolutions to change their lives, contemplating the areas that need improvement. For many, they do not have to search too long or far to find what they want to change. Excessive drinking, eating, and smoking are usually the first to get cut. Others may want to commit to getting their finances, relationships, or houses in order. Most will try -- and fail. That is just human nature and statistical probability at work.

But from a book marketing perspective,  is there one behavior that you can change that would make the greatest difference in being successful? Yes, and it starts with social media. If you don’t spend much time blogging, tweeting, and networking on Facebook, you need to do so. But conversely, if you are addicted to digital chatter you may need to go to rehab.

Finding the right balance of time is not easy. There is an experimental, trial-and-error side to the Internet. You don’t know how successful an online strategy will be until you try it. But I can tell you from experience, don’t let it take up too much of your time.

Here are some guidelines for a better relationship with social media in 2013:

1.    If using social media really starts to feel like a burden or nagging obligation, cut down on your screen time.

2. If you find you are not getting enough results that are measurable, change or reduce your efforts.

3. Diversify and vary your social media portfolio. If you never posted on You Tube, try it. If you never guest-blogged, do so now. If you have not joined groups on LinkedIn or FB, do so.

4. Determine what you are trying to accomplish (Is it more book sales, branding, getting a positive message out, or something else?) and compare other opportunities to achieve these goals. What other things would you do with your time and resources if you were not tweeting and blogging so much? Consider the ROI of the alternatives.

5. Just take a break. Step away from the tablet, smartphones, or laptop and slow down. Review what you have been doing and explore how you can do things differently or more efficiently. If all else fails, use your social media addiction to circulate my Book Marketing & PR Tool Kit: http://bookmarketingbuzzblog.blogspot.com/2012/12/book-marketing-book-publicity-tool-kit.html

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. This blog is copyrighted material by BookMarketingBuzzBlog 2012 ©

Saturday, December 22, 2012

The Obligation Of Readers


The value of information, when provided to others, is that it is acted upon. If the government learns of a terrorist plot, it takes action to foil it. If a doctor receives lab results of a patient indicating pre-diabetes exists, he seeks to treat the patient. If a parent learns her child is struggling with her class work, she talks to the school and seeks a solution.  But what about when book readers are given the facts, statistics, and cogent arguments of experts for the resolution of a major issue, such as curbing alcohol addiction, improving our diet, or decreasing gun violence? Once, as a reader, you take in this information, what can -- and should – you do as a result?

Can a reader merely take in the information and simply do nothing? They can, but should they/?Does a reader have any kind of moral obligation to act on what he or she comes to know?

You would think the reader should want to not just know what is wrong or learn of how to fix it, but to actually be a part of the solution, If the reader has additional questions or wants to challenge the book’s assumptions and findings, he or she should continue to explore the issue. Call a reliable source. Read more books on the topic. Discuss it with friends and family. Do not let your curiosity or ability to change the world just end when the book concludes.

Reading may seem like an isolated, passive, even entertaining activity, but it really is a step towards action, one that demands you put the book down, and forces you to be an advocate, a mentor, and a doer. If you have been given insights on how to make society a safer, smarter, healthier and more loving one, how could you not feel inspired and obligated to find a way to help/

Yet millions of us do this every day. We read books, blogs, newspaper accounts, and magazine articles that shout at us to do something. We can remain on the sidelines no more.

Knowledge can burden us. You cannot ignore what you now know. It is one thing to be unaware and oblivious to the world’s realities – and at least half of Americans in any given day are not reading books or newspapers and are not focused on the issues and problems of society. Instead, they read not to learn, but to escape. They bury themselves in fiction and pop culture – not that anything is wrong with that – but they fail to leave time to witness the world’s shortcomings.

Who can blame them? The world offers the beauty of life but also the tragedy of death and the many failures, shortcomings, heartbreaks, and physical aches that lead up to one’s ultimate demise.

Life experience should be enough to make us act with charity and kindness, but it doesn’t always. We have the capacity to open our hearts to many, but it is safer and easier to just distance ourselves from the ugly side of life.

Still, the educated reader has the burden to act. Action can be simplified: write a letter to Congress to advocate for something; donate five bucks to a cause; volunteer for an hour or two; cut a person a break; give someone a third chance; teach another to do what is right. Or you can take a bigger action step and really look to be a part of major changes. Maybe you create a business that solves a problem, or you run for local office, or you write books to rally others for change.

You have now read this blog. Before you let the digits of text evaporate into air, just let this message linger a little bit longer. Think of how you can turn towards the solution instead of ignoring the problem. Words mean only the value you give them. Was this blog a wasted guilt trip or can it leave you with a feeling of hope, empowerment, and change?

It’s your choice. Choose well.

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. This blog is copyrighted material by BookMarketingBuzzBlog 2012 ©

Friday, December 21, 2012

The Probability Of Possibility



I ran into a friend on the train the other day. He’s a bright guy with advanced degrees in math and science. He was telling me he may soon take a job with a major advertising agency to create software analytics that will help capture and analyze consumer behavior data in the hopes it will reveal patterns that help advertisers determine the right message and advertising vehicle.

The concept is not new – people try to predict or influence behavior based on past patterns of activity. But what used to be done, based on polls or limited/outdated data – and just gut instinct – is now being turned over to digital detectives. Will humans become more robotic as a result of robotic formulas seek to analyze -- and then influence and dictate our behavior?

Pattern analysis can tell us, hypothetically, that 75% of commuters drive to work, and that 45% listen to the radio and 29% eat in their cars. But they don’t tell us “why.” Yet, advertisers, governments, and social policy experts will seek to capitalize on this information and use it to get consumers to take a certain type of action step. I just wonder if merely connecting seemingly unrelated things (let’s say people who drive also tend to eat tomatoes) will help predict and influence other behaviors.

On the other hand, too many marketing decisions are made without access to relevant, timely, and comprehensive data. Book publishers decide every day to publish a book because they were overly sold on a single number or an incomplete statistic.

Though many more people could buy a diet book, than say one on a disease that affects a smaller amount of people than say obesity, the latter may sell better due to lack of competition, need, and price. But usually a publisher dismisses the niche or specialized book, and favors the book that could have mass appeal – despite obstacles such as market saturation of existing titles on the subject.

There may not be a perfect formula to fully predict buying patterns, but surely people, like my friend, are racing in a lab somewhere to find the digital DNA for consumer buying patterns.

And once those patterns are found, and others try to capitalize on – and influence them – the patterns will again be altered as a result…until new ones are discovered.

Now if we only knew where to find all of the people who will buy your book, we’d all be rich!

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. This blog is copyrighted material by BookMarketingBuzzBlog 2012 ©

2013 Book Marketing Resolutions



The new year will soon be upon us and you no doubt want to make a renewed commitment to yourself, to change or eliminate addictions, stop negative thinking, and avoid inertia when it comes to how you lose weight and keep it off, balance the checkbook, switch jobs, and get your relationship on the right course. Or maybe it is the year you change one habit, whatever it is. And it is the year you will support your commitment to being an author who gets published and takes control of your book publicity and book marketing.

Perhaps this book marketing and book publicity tool kit will help you make 2013 a banner year: http://bookmarketingbuzzblog.blogspot.com/2012/12/book-marketing-book-publicity-tool-kit.html  But no matter the tools and resources at your disposal, nothing will happen until you make a choice to move forward.

For 2013, commit to:

·         Promoting yourself every day, no matter how small or big the task is.
·         Marketing your book with a purpose and a passion that drives you to go the extra mile every day.
·         Improving your base of knowledge as it relates to the book industry.
·         Hiring someone to help you do the things you don’t like to do, don’t know how to do, and don’t have time to do.
·         Doing three things you say you would like to do but do not seem to find the time to do, such as blog, utilize social media more often, or revamp your Web site.
·         Keep writing more books – never put the pen down.
·         Building your brand.
·         Networking more than you have.
·         Making your writings more marketable by creating content that people truly demand.

2013 and beyond will hopefully bring you new challenges and rewards, both as a writer and as a human being. 2012 may have had its pitfalls and triumphs but it will soon be in the rare-view mirror. May your new year bring you happiness, health, fulfillment, and a hunger to want to do more, learn more, and share more.

Happy Holidays!

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. This blog is copyrighted material by BookMarketingBuzzBlog 2012 ©



Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Do Books Kill -- Or Save Lives?


I had a conversation with a friend the other day about gun control, in light of the Newtown massacre. I failed to convince him that we should pass laws to restrict certain guns from being sold, decreasing the number of bullets in a clip, making sure all gun purchases have a background check performed on them, and other reasonable laws that would not in any way infringe on one’s right, to own a gun for protection. He felt it was not going to solve the real problem, that Americans are violent, mentally ill, and angry people. I failed to use common sense, my skills of persuasion, and an appeal to moral decency.

If I cannot convince my educated friend that we need to begin taking reasonable steps to curb the violence, starting but not stopping with gun reform, I am afraid the nation won’t unite to take actions that are needed to return a balance of power to society. We simply cannot tolerate continuous random acts of violence that lead to tens of thousands of deaths each year.

I wonder if there are books out there that can save lives, maybe frame the gun control debate in such a way that every reader would be left with no choice but to call for reform. There are books that show is how to make bombs, reveal how murderers committed crimes, and share the angry rhetoric of mass murderers like Hitler. Are there any books that can help us solve a problem such as gun violence?

I would gladly support - -and promote – any books that offer timely, practical, and relevant solutions to the gun violence epidemic plaguing America today. If you can present a moving dialogue that can sway the most hardened gun nuts. I will champion your book for free. PR and marketing should not just be used to make money, entertain people, or stroke an author’s ego. PR and marketing – and books – should also serve our world and the greater good. Authors – if you have a good book on gun violence reform and solutions, please share it with us!

Books cannot kill, can they? But they could possibly save lives, can’t they?

Other Recent Posts On This Subject Include:
http://bookmarketingbuzzblog.blogspot.com/2012/12/children-teach-adults.html 
http://bookmarketingbuzzblog.blogspot.com/2012/12/think-of-kids-for-one-more-day.html 

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. This blog is copyrighted material by BookMarketingBuzzBlog 2012 ©

Children Teach The Adults



A few days have passed since the massacre in Newtown left 28 dead, including 20 children, and it looks like the news media will not let the issue of gun control die. That is the best news in years. If we can rally the corrupt political arena to actually help save lives and do what government is supposed to do - -serve the public – it will be a miracle long overdue.

I see encouraging signs. For one, a rightwing paper such as the New York Post called for a ban on assault rifles in its editorial today. That is a step in the right direction. Can our media – movies, books, news, social – help push the nation towards a saner policy on guns?

It is getting harder for gun nuts to defend not their right to own a gun but their right to own unlimited numbers of fast-shooting military-type weapons of mass destruction.

It seems daily violence of 35 gun murders a day and another 45 suicides-by-gun each day were not enough for people to be moved to change the laws. Or when mass shootings in Columbine, Aurora, and elsewhere left unbelievable carnage. Or when presidents are shot at and Congressmen are used for target practice. But finally, it has happened. Killing 20 children made even the hard line extremists pause to reflect on the society they are encouraging us to live in.

I used to think being a shooting victim does not make you a hero – not even in war. But these tiny soldiers of love and hope are my heroes because their deaths – with your support – will not have happened in vain. Tomorrow may be a little brighter for today is so dark. It is so dark we cannot see our way anymore.

Let’s hope that these beautiful young souls show us the light and lead the way. Adults are supposed to teach children, but it looks as if the children will need to lead us.

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. This blog is copyrighted material by BookMarketingBuzzBlog 2012 ©

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Leaving It All Behind


A new client of the public relations firm that I work for has a really amazing story to share. Many of my clients do. But what really sticks out about adventurer Rene Cormier’s book, The University of Gravel Roads: Global Lessons From A Four-Year Motorcycle Adventure, is that it makes you want to hit the road and live out a dream.

Cormier sold his house and his possessions, quit his job, said goodbye to family and friends, and did what many people dream of but few actually do: Go on a global trip without setting a return date. At age 33 he left everything behind to see what the world has to offer. He drove off on his BMW motorcycle and didn’t return until logging 96,000 miles across 45 countries.  He chronicles his four and a half-year journey across the world by motorcycle in his book. 

Along the way he made many eye-opening, observations, experienced unique things with people in far off lands, and discovered universal truths about the world, life and himself.

I wish I had the courage to just dramatically change my life like he did. On the other hand, I wouldn’t want to leave my wife and two kids behind and I don’t imagine I can rough it with them on board. Rene was a 33-year-old single man with no ties to anything or anyone. Though I can’t really just uproot the family, there is something romantic about simplifying one’s life, dumping what we own, and starting fresh, waking up each day in a new environment.

Of course the details of reality assault me as I try to imagine life on the road. What if my transportation breaks down? What if I get sick? How will I be able to afford being on the road for very long -- and what would I come back to after selling everything and quitting my job?

I guess the truth is most of us don’t do what Rene did out of fear, obligation, and other reasons. Few of us can surgically remove ourselves from the grid. Sure we’d like to make resolutions and change aspects of our lives, but few of us could just walk away from our life completely.

Still, I admire what he did and find his stories and photos alluring. He reminds me there is a world out there that is for the taking -- when I am ready. For today, I will seek to find the adventure that exists within the confines and restrictions of the reality I have agreed to live by.

The road warrior managed to complete his journey crash-free, though he did hit a deer, was shot at in the Utah desert (leaving a .22 caliber bullet in his bike), and escaped from gun-toting, corrupt border guards in Ethiopia. But he did not run into trouble where he expected  -- with banditos in Mexico, drug lords in Colombia, and the mafia in Russia.

The Canadian resident admits there were challenges during his journey. One such experience happened early on in Utah, when his bike was shot at. Another one happened at an Ethiopian checkpoint, where a drunken border guard, wearing only a wrap-around beach towel, insisted Cormier take a guard with him to the next town, ‘for safety reasons.’ “Drunk guards never make good travel companions,” says Cormier, who proceeded to race the BMW into the safety of the desert while the guard and his AK-47-wielding partner wobbled unsuccessfully after him. “They were looking for bribes,” says Cormier, ‘and I’m too cheap for that.”

The independent traveler reveals how he:
·         Felt lighter, freer once he got rid of everything he owned, leaving his life in the rare-view mirror.
·         Taught himself to make routine maintenance, repairs, and change dozens of flat tires.
·         Found love on the open road and married a woman he met on his trip.
·         Feels fortunate living the authentic travel experience that backpackers crave.
·         Discovers what is truly important after seeing the world on just $25 a day.
·         Navigated rough roads through foreign terrain, not knowing the language or the culture, traversing diverse landscapes through all kinds of weather.
·         Met many special people with unique stories to share.

In writing of how he held his bike together, he said: “An international collection of mismatched bolts held the plastic bodywork on, and where they were missing, the job was left to trusty but unsightly cable ties. One of the side panniers leaked and my dry bag repair in Iran had failed. The rubber handgrips had almost worn through and most zippers on my clothes, the luggage, and my tent did not work. The bullet hole repair in the tank had held fast, though, and the bike – still without a nickname – had made the journey without once leaving me mechanically stranded on the side of the road.”

“The motorcycle would be at home on dirt roads, highways, and trails,” writes Cormier. “It was faster than a bicycle, but not as hermetically sealed as a car. The limited carrying capacity forced the luggage down to its most basic elements, and any subsequent needs would be sorted out on the road with a healthy dollop of creativity.”

He was able to live out his dream of a crazy, half-planned, under-funded motorcycle expedition. As he puts it: “There was no longer a house that required a job to pay for it, and no longer a job that kept me booked 50 out of 52 weeks every year. I was left with a little bit of money and an extraordinary amount of time, my time, which was now open to be filled with whatever activities I wanted. It was like I had won a strange lottery, where each ticket cost $50,000, and I was the only one entered.”

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. This blog is copyrighted material by BookMarketingBuzzBlog 2012 ©

Monday, December 17, 2012

10-Year-Olds Make The Best Book Publicists



In order to promote a book or an author to the news media, one must have an imagination that goes beyond the stretches of reality. If all that publicists did was tell the truth, they would not get very far.  I am not saying one should outright lie, but what is needed is some creativity. It helps if you can visualize what could be and should be and then wrap a pitch to the media around it.

Let’s take a hypothetical book about how to keep your marriage happy. Let’s say the author has 15 years of relevant experience and has some interesting things to say but the vast majority of the book is not extraordinary and is not much different from the work of 30 other consultants with books. A truthful pitch would say what?

People make the truth a game. To some, not revealing a fact or an opinion is not lying, even though withholding it is sure to influence others. Some may pitch the author, not based on what the book is about, but more about the topic itself Anything having  do with relationships is fair game, including celebrity relationships, dating, divorce, etc. Further, you can take a relationship angle to other topics – parenting, health, businesses, etc. Another way to pitch the author is based on her personal life of professional experiences, even if they do not directly tie into what is in the book.

Once you untie yourself from the book and just let ideas flow regarding what the author could conceivably talk about, as a publicist you will then find a way to bridge the gap between the book and what you want to pitch to the news media.

A good publicist does not color within the lines or even acknowledge lines exist. He or she knows no boundaries and doesn’t let things encumber their thinking process. They just let their imagination run wild and seek to make connections between things that seemingly have no connection at all.

The only time you pitch exactly what you have is when you have something bulletproof-amazing, like an A-list celebrity with a new movie, and even then, you probably need to spin things because of the type or amount of media coverage that you are seeking. Whatever you are promoting, you will need to make it better, different, and more interesting than it really is. And whatever you do, don’t just tell the truth. Create one.



Interview With Literary Agent Donald Maass


1.      Don, what inspired you to write your newest book, Writing 21st Century Fiction? In the last several years I noticed that commercial fiction (thrillers, say) were running on the New York Times Hardcover Best Seller's List for fewer and fewer weeks.  At the same time, certain literary novels were running on the NYT Trade Paperback list for one or two or more years.  Excuse me?  Commercial thrillers leap onto the list for a few weeks and then disappear?  Meanwhile, certain literary novels sell at blockbuster levels for years?

That interested me.  How can literary fiction sell so well?  What gives those books such high impact?  The answer, in brief, is that they present great stories beautifully told.  That's also true of genre novels that sell at "out of category" levels.  They often bring literary values and techniques to their stories.

There are techniques that commercial writers can learn from literary novelists, and vice versa.  Writing 21st Century Fiction explains what those things are and how to do them, regardless of the way you work or your intent.  If forecasts the death of genre in this century and emphasizes the importance of breaking out of whatever box you're in as a novelist.

2.      What do writers need to know about the evolving marketplace?  There have been a lot of changes in the last few years, but it's important to realize that e-books are not a revolution or a new paradigm.  They're simply another way of delivering fiction to readers.  They work best when they work together with widely distributed print and audio editions.  E-books alone sell to a consumer base a quarter the size of the overall readership for books.  They sell largely in three bookstores, which only feature 100 titles in each category.  E-books are great, don't get me wrong, but if that's all you've got out there you're still facing the difficult task of publishing your titles, which is different than merely making books.

3.      What advice do have for a struggling novelist? The learning curve is longer than you think.  Don't be in a hurry for validation.  The problem with 95% of the manuscripts we read at my agency is that they simply aren't ready.  The author has more to learn, both about craft and about the story he or she is telling.

4.       How does one write fiction that sells? That's a big question and my answer is several books long!  (See my latest, for instance.)  But briefly, I can tell you this: Two big things lacking in almost all manuscripts are 1) characters about whom we immediately care, 2) insufficient micro-tension to make it necessary to read everything on the page.  Many manuscripts are quickly skimmable.  There's a way to counteract that, with micro-tension. (See The Fire in Fiction for a detailed discussion.)

5.      You help place about 150 manuscripts for publication each year. What trends are you seeing in terms of what publishers are looking for?  Higher quality is demanded in all categories.  Publishers generally want not only a great story but a great read.  It's not as easy as it sounds to do both things.  Most writers are good at one but less so at the other.

6.      How does it feel to be an author and not just wear the hat of literary agent? I'm like any author: worried about my deadline, wondering whether my editor will like it, hoping my message gets across.  That said, I love to write.  I love being an agent too, but it's a different set of skills.  When writing my books I feel like I'm talking directly to each author about craft.  That's wonderful.

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. This blog is copyrighted material by BookMarketingBuzzBlog 2012 ©