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Sunday, March 31, 2013

Go See Spring Breakers


I see a lot of movies, often in the theater, because I love the communal experience of escaping into the lives, real or imagined, of others. A recent movie has stayed with me long after the final credits rolled and I left the popcorn-strewn Union Square theater in Manhattan. It is a movie that presents something quite titillating but quite instructive – a rare combination. The movie is called Spring Breakers.

It is about four girls from a small town who want to escape their little world and find some excitement – even if that adventure means falling into a reckless lifestyle. It is spring break and these young ladies don’t have enough money for a Florida road trip so three of them decide to rob a store using a hammer, a toy gun and some tough talk while wearing ski masks. They go on to sink deeper into breaking the law and crossing boundaries they previously adhered to. They get so deep that they are way beyond drinking, drugging, and screwing to excess. They are full-fledged gangstas.

The film is interesting on many levels. Visually, it is a guy’s fantasy. They did not spare revealing and up close – even slow-motion shots of naked chests and thronged butts. These girls are beautiful and the film certainly wants you to feel their powerful sexuality. Second, the way the story is told is almost like watching a 90-minute video.

There’s not a lot of one on one dialogue. Instead, there are plenty of flashbacks and replays with voiceovers. Snippets of conversation are interspersed with music-filled panoramic views of girls gone wild. It is like watching a visual scrapbook with a story pieced together by snapshots in time. Some of it is like viewing a car wreck, one that you cannot pry your eyes off of and almost feel a guilty pleasure in watching.

By the end of the movie, you feel like running away from the reality it portrays. As a father of two young children, I realize that they too will confront not just spring break but how they will live their lives. Will their adolescent adventures cost them a high price or will they find a balance between living a life of values and responsibility and having some fun?

This film shows what happens when one crosses limits and challenges the normalcy of everyday life. Go see it.

Interview With Romance Novelist Sue Moorcroft

1.  What type of books do you write? Romantic fiction of dauntless heroines and irresistible heroes. I'm fascinated by love affairs, basically, in all their dynamics and life-changing decisions. The books aren't romantic comedies but do contain the odd witticism or funny situation. I make it my mission to stop readers putting my books down. I envision those who are reading to the end of a chapter with the view of putting down the book - then I try to stop them.

2. What is your newest book about? Dream a Little Dream is about dreams both sleep time and aspirational. Liza Reece has a dream and Dominic Christy has lost his dream job after being diagnosed with the rare sleep disorder narcolepsy so has had to find a new dream. But if Liza realises her dream then Dominic can't realise his and if he gets his she can't have hers. To write a 'damaged hero' is to write about a man who has to be strong or cave in. Obviously, I don't let him cave in ...
 
3. What inspired you to write it? I knew a couple of things. I knew that the heroine was Liza Reece, who readers would already have met in All That Mullarkey as the sister of Cleo. Liza was just too naughty and fun to leave in Secondary Characterland.And I knew that Liza, a reflexologist, would meet Dominic when he was dragged unwillingly to a reflexology treatment with something he was pretty certain reflexology wouldn’t help at all. I didn’t know what the ‘something’ would be.

Then something random took a hand. I was in an online conversation about titles with a writing buddy and, speaking about a family situation, he said, ‘Life’s not a dream’. Even as I typed, ‘Dream! That would be a great word to have in one of my titles’ the idea flashed into my head to give Dominic the rare sleep disorder, narcolepsy. Had I realized then what a complex, frustrating and fantastical condition narcolepsy is, I think I would have chosen something easier!
  
4.  What is the writing process like for you? My first draft is messy. When I begin it's like being on the grid for a race - there are unlimited possibilities and nothing has gone wrong yet. But then it's hard, it hurts, I wonder why I ever thought I could make the story work and why I just don't begin another book. It helps if I know the ending, what I'm working towards, and have decided on some major plot points. This is very loosely what you might call 'a plan'. I write most days of the week but probably only a few hours as I have to fit in teaching and appraising and writing columns and other stuff I do. But I think those few hours are my best hours and if I devote twice as many, I don't get twice as much done.

5. What did you do before you became an author? The only full-time job I've ever had was as a secretary in a bank. I've also been a copytaker for motor cycle news, a book keeper and worked in digital pre-production, but they were all part-time jobs. At one point, I was doing all three at once.
 
6. How does it feel to be a published author? Seriously? Great. It has been my life's ambition and it took me a while (and a lot of hard work) to realize it. It takes a lot of work to keep it current, too. There's loads of promo and email conversations and stuff going on behind the scenes. I have to balance those things with writing or I'd never get another book out.
 
7. Any advice for struggling writers? Persist, educate yourself, don't make enemies. i) I truly believe that the name for a writer who doesn't give up is 'published' (just look at me) and giving up is not a good route to success. ii) There's some mad idea that writers are born and not made. My belief is that you may be born with an aptitude but you have to train hard, just like in any other career. You wouldn't expect to be a professional actor with a drama GCSE so why should you think your writing education from school should be enough? I'm not talking about formal qualifications but courses, classes, groups, seminars, talks, conferences, online forums, 'how to' books - they all educate you not on in the art of writing but in the world of publishing. iii) Enemies turn up in the most inconvenient places. If you let rip at an editor at Magazine A you can bet your last note s/he'll either turn up at Magazine B or be best friends with someone there.
 
8.  Where do you see book publishing heading? I don't, really. I'm just trying to keep up with wherever it goes. 

Sue Moorcroft writes romantic novels of dauntless heroines and irresistible heroes. Dream a Little Dream was nominated for a RoNA in the Contemporary Romantic Fiction category, and also the Best Romantic Read Award 2012 which her earlier novel Love & Freedom won in 2011. Sue is a Katie Fforde Bursary Award winner, has written a ‘how to’ book, short stories, serials, articles and courses, edited two anthologies and is a competition judge. For more information, please see: www.suemoorcroft.com and http://suemoorcroft.wordpress.com/.

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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 ©2013 

Saturday, March 30, 2013

What Will Stop Kim Kardashian?


It is time for me to write about someone I never thought I would have to discuss:  Kim Kardashian.

If you define success as wealth and fame, she is very successful. However, she has accomplished little other than to be an attention hog. There is little merit to her popularity. Not since Paris Hilton was the darling of the media has there been such a magnet for unwarranted and undeserved attention.

I mean, what has Kardashian done that is of any value except hawk products, play her dumb self on a stupid reality show, and be interviewed by a brain-dead media about what it’s like to be her?

Why all the bitterness, you ask? Well, it concerns me that she has gotten so much media exposure that is way out of proportion to her true news worthiness. Even by celebrity standards she has gone way past her 15 minutes of fame. When will the madness stop? Is she a good example of why the media fails to cover hard news, discuss real issues, or interview quality authors about their books?

The media cannot do it alone. They need people to tune her out so they can stop covering her. But of course the more she is covered, the more people tune in to her. It’s a vicious cycle. Apparently big butts and a bigger mouth can allow someone like her to find a following. But society, as a whole, is getting dumber every time she opens her mouth. Can anything stop her from almost single-handedly melting our brains?

Interview With Author Jane Pollard

  1. Why in the world do you think people need your book? Because I have researched thoroughly and, being of mature years, have sufficient insight into the human condition to be able to bring the people and period to vivid life. My books open a door into the past and allow readers to live there for a while.

  1. Do you feel to be a writer carries a certain burden? I feel a responsibility to be as accurate as possible about life as it was. History isn't simply a matter of dates and events, it's about attitudes, beliefs and behavior.

  1. What role does fantasizing play in your writings? A huge one.  The research gives me all the information, but then I need to immerse myself in the location, season, daily life etc through my senses: what does it smell like, taste like? I also need to live the events of the story, seeing and feeling them through the eyes and emotions of my characters. These are real people to me, and I need to make them just as real to my readers.

  1. How about the role of evading your life in your writing? Having twice been a single parent with young children, evading my life was never a possibility. But writing offered escape into a different world for a few hours at a time. It was, and is, a life-saver.

  1. If you didn't write books do you think you would have killed someone or yourself by now? The short answer?  Yes, without a doubt, probably myself. 

  1. Have you told parents, siblings, friends or lovers to screw off for not supporting you as a writer? No, because you can't change people or make them do something they have no desire or interest in doing.  We are all ultimately responsible for ourselves.  My parents used to refer to my writing as 'Jane's little hobby' until I became successful. Then their attitude changed.  Most of my friends are writers which gives us a lot in common. My present husband is hugely supportive, built me a fabulous office, but is not a writer, having more practical interests. It works really well.

  1. Which legal addictions help you write well – smoking, food, gambling, sex? I don't smoke, don't gamble, don't drink (never got the taste for it) enjoy food - I find baking therapeutic and a great opportunity for day-dreaming about plot situations or character reactions - but I'm a moderate eater as I want to remain healthy and active and die in my own bed in my sleep.  Sex? Mind your own business.

  1. Would you rather write about taboo topics and take a politically incorrect approach – or play it safe and turn out what is commercially viable? As I write historical fiction much of what is now acceptable was then illegal or taboo.  Though I never set out to be a trailblazer, I write about characters, people, so it is who they are, the choices they make, and the consequences of their actions that drive the plot.  Being true to the culture and social mores of the period often means writing situations that may now be considered politically incorrect. But you can't airbrush historical fact simply because it might offend current sensibilities.  

  1. Do you write better after an argument? It depends. An argument is usually personal and involves emotions. A heated discussion might be about politics or corruption in government or the Catholic church. Both stir powerful feelings.  I've learned to channel these into writing so I make a positive out of a negative. Often the strong emotions engendered by a row are worsened by a sense of helplessness and frustration if you are not in a position to change anything.  As nursing grudges and ill-feeling is harmful to your health, I refuse to allow anyone that power over me.

  1. Do you need to get high or blitzed from booze to write? No.  Never have, never will.

  1. Do you secretly believe your book is the best and yet cannot understand why publishers, literary agents or consumers won't support it? I've been fortunate – and there is a huge element of luck involved in offering the right book to the right publisher at the rights time – every book I've completed has been published, that's 28 so far.  Certain titles were released in hardback, large print and audio only, which did limit sales due to price.  But the advent of epublishing and the publication as ebooks by Accent Press of six of my historical novels gave sales a huge boost, so much so that all six titles are being issued in paperback over the next twelve months.  Award-winning Accent Press is also reissuing six of my Harlequin contemporary romances as ebooks, and AudioGo another six. I have just completed a new historical novel of 129,000 words and am currently writing character biogs and a story outline for a new one.

  1. Do you want to quit your day job and be a full-time writer? Writing is my day job, and has been for 35 years. I'm truly blessed.

Her book is out shortly: Eye of the Wind: paperback: Accent Press: April 2013  For more information, please connect with www.janejackson.net

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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 ©2013 

Friday, March 29, 2013

Are You Born To Blog?


I just finished thumbing through a nice guidebook called Born to Blog: Building Your Blog for Personal and Business Success One Post at a Time by Mark Schaefer and Stanford Smith (McGraw-Hill Professional). They write a breezy book a subject of significance and it’s much appreciated. People want to know how they can get their blog going without wasting time and seeing it pay off. Born to Blog addresses all aspects of blogging with an easy-to-understand approach.

So what does it take to be a good blogger? The authors say you should have:

Tenacity
Passion
Flexibility
Consistency
Courage

Born to Blog covers many topics on all things blogging, including:
How to find guest bloggers
Ways to handle negative comments
What to do when you run out of things to write about
What should be included on your blog
How to measure the ROI of blogging

The authors say a blog post should meet the following criteria:
Have a captivating headline
Present a unique personal view
Share a personal risk
Provide an entertaining spin
Use words that sing

The book also talks about the writing style of great bloggers. They tend to elevate their writing by relying on their personality, which may consist of being a dreamer, story teller, persuader, teacher, and curator.

What the book makes clear on blogging is this: Have fun with it. If the blog is done well, you will experience a benefit in some fashion. And if you end up hating blogging, you can always blog about it.


Interview With Writer & Editor Sally Collings:


1. Sally, with over 20 years of publishing experience, can you tell us what makes for a great book? Passion. Felt by the author for their subject and their readers, as well as by the publisher, the marketing team, the booksellers. Books that lack passion are produced by authors who 'saw a gap in the market' or 'wrote it because everyone said they should'. Luck and timing, too: a book has to hit the sweet spot at the precise time it reaches the market. I particularly love books that are a complete package: good looking, compelling title, thoughtfully put together, as well as a pleasure to read. I hasten to add, not all great books are also necessarily bestsellers. If I could unfailingly predict those, I would be very rich indeed!

2. You are a ghostwriter or developmental editor who has produced award-winning and bestselling books. What do you specialize in? Non-fiction. Over my career I've ranged widely from prescriptive books and motivational titles through to memoirs, but these days I'm concentrating on narrative-driven books: the ones that tell a story, perhaps with a subtle message woven into the narrative. I've written and edited a number of tragic stories in my time, but these days I look for stories that are a little lighter and brighter. There is only so much sorrow you can engage with in your life, I think, even when it is confined to the page.

3. What were the challenges in being the non-fiction publisher for Harper Collins Australia? I had a very diverse publishing program to run, ranging from cookery through political biography and astrology and all stops in between. With a list of about 70 titles a year to champion and manage, the love can get spread pretty thin. Time management was always challenging, with more and more manuscripts piling on my desk and begging to be read, as well as the titles I had actually commissioned that needed close attention. It was exhilarating and challenging, but I'm glad that these days I get to concentrate on maybe a dozen books over the course of a typical year.

4. What do you love about working with books and authors? The books and the authors – sometimes! More seriously, I love that every book is different: working with books is like constant Lumosity brain training, your mind has to remain agile as you seek solutions to problems with cover designs, legal challenges, budget constraints, print delays… there's always something new to be negotiated, particularly as we shift to books on digital platforms alongside paper formats.

5. Any advice to struggling writers? Find your tribe and lean on them. Writers are loners by reputation, but most of us can benefit from a mentor, a writing group, an editor, a book coach, a truth-telling friend. The writing itself can be a solitary pursuit, but other parts of the process benefit enormously from the fresh perspective that is provided by someone who is not you. I get a kick out of collaboration, and I think it can be a healthy way to inject new life into your writing work.

6. Where do you see book publishing heading in a few years? I think shorter books will continue to flourish. Long-form essays and fiction 'singles' are already gaining traction – they suit modern attention spans. For so long they were not economically viable in the 'paper economy' of printed books, but in digital form they work beautifully. International boundaries will break down and the structure of rights territories will crumble, again as ebooks become a default format (instead of or alongside print books). I think we'll start to see 'entertainment portals' where you get curated content of all kinds – books, music, apps, short films; the distinction between forms of entertainment will become less significant. I don't believe books will die, nor publishing, they will simply take a wider range of forms. Think of it as a genetic explosion in the publishing industry!

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

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 ©2013 

Thursday, March 28, 2013

The Easter Impact On Books


Easter dinners will no doubt get into discussions about faith, work, school, the weather, travel, sports, TV, movies, things in the news … and books.

Yes, while tens of millions will gather to honor their religion and rejoice in quality time with family and friends, people will discuss which books they are reading and exchange recommendations.

Look for a boost in book sales as a result of this word-of-mouth exercise. You won’t see another elevation in sales like this until Memorial Day Weekend, when barbecue chit chats will dictate summer reads.

Social media may drive conversations online but nothing beats actual socialization, face to face. Large gatherings around the house like Easter meals will help decide people’s next book buying decision. So when you are talking about the opening of the upcoming baseball season or commenting on the main course, be sure to give the book marketplace a boost with a good recommendation for some pleasurable reading.

Interview With Fiction Author Myra King


1.  What type of books do you write?  Literary, Mystery/Crime, YA. 

2. What is your newest book about? My newest book is the sequel to one I wrote early last year. (I wanted to have two books completed before trying for an agent. I’m still in the process of editing.)  Set in country Australia, it’s a YA novel, starring fourteen year old Kaleen Pingelly and her best friend Velvet Brown, named after the heroine of National Velvet fame. Sadly, unlike the character in the film, Velvet is horseless. But she has a gift, a unique but terrifying ability only Kaleen knows about. My latest published book is Cyber Rules, an e-book, published by Certys UK, available on Amazon. All royalties from this are being donated to Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders).  I have raised over a thousand dollars. 

3.  What inspired you to write it?  I’ve been an avid fan of psychology for as long as I could read. The age old debate about ‘Nature over Nurture’, or is evil born not made, has always fascinated me.  The personality types dictating our lives - empathy or the lack of it, among other emotions, is it brain (matter) generated or learned? So I’ve created characters to work this out with me. Their journey is mine and I’m always learning. 

4.  What is the writing process like for you?  I often write an opening line or two in bed, after waking at three in the morning. At other such ungodly times, when I’m working on a story, I will be jolted awake with useful edits in my head such as: Myra, you blithering (insert far stronger word) fool, you can’t have angora sheep! There’s no such thing. What were you thinking? But mostly I work in my office with the door closed. I need quietness and, if possible, no interruptions. 

5.  What did you do before you became an author?  Like most writers, I’ve always needed to write. As far back as I can remember I have always enjoyed writing. I was the only kid in the class who, when told to write an essay, would smile while my classmates were groaning. It’s not an escape, it’s a necessity and a different reality, especially when the writing is flowing well. To make up for the money deficit that writing brings though, I’ve been a tourist operator, ran a riding stable and worked for one of Australia’s top thoroughbred horse breeders. 

6. How does it feel to be a published author? Of course there’s the thrill of that first check, mine came back in 1980 from my first article published in a national magazine, but seeing my ideas in print and knowing then that what I wrote could make a difference, was the main bonus. 

7. Any advice for struggling writers? Join a writers’ group, or several. Share, critique, write.  Read as much as you can of everything that interests you.  Get out and live some life, listen and observe people and things, so you can draw believability from experience. Work on your writing, aim to get and hold the reader’s interest with conflict or seduction, appropriate pace and intrigue. But most importantly, cultivate the voice. Voice goes way beyond dialogue. It’s that indefinable quality of character, which gives the story its authenticity. Build a name for yourself. Enter writing competitions and submit to magazines and journals. Be prepared for rejection and keep trying. Don’t be frightened to nudge or push the boundaries.  Edit and edit, then print out and edit, you will always miss errors and typos on screen. Leave what you have written for a month or more, especially first or second drafts. Come back to it with fresh perspective. You may be surprised at what you change. 

8.  Where do you see book publishing heading? It’s no longer heading but arrived. E-publishing is the way of now. Our schools have virtual libraries and our bookstores are becoming as deserted as abandoned churches. However there will always be a place in print for niche market books, kids’ picture books and the top best sellers. 

Myra King is an Australian writer living on the coast of South Australia. She has written a number of prize winning stories, including a first prize in the UK-based Global Short Story Competition, and has a short story collection, City Paddock, published by Ginninderra Press. In 2010 her short story, The Black Horse, was shortlisted for the US Glass Woman Prize. She has been published in the US, Australia, New Zealand and the UK in magazines and journals such as Boston Literary Magazine, Orbis, Melbourne University Press, San Pedro River Review, Short Story America volume 2 and The Valley Review. Her novel, Cyber Rules, was published by Certys UK in 2012.  Check outhttp://myrakingprofile.webs.com/ 

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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 ©2013 

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Interview With Author Lynelle Clark



  1. What type of books do you write? So far I have published one book ‘A Pirate’s Wife’ a Historical Romance. Two books that are in line for publishing in this year are Contemporary Inspirational Romance, ‘Life changes’ and ‘Master of her Heart’. Another one, ‘New Beginnings’ is a Contemporary Women’s Fiction also in line for editing.

  1. What is your newest book about? Life changes is about choices when confronted with life styles that is not in normal households. Swinging, the life that Anabella Anthony’s parents lives with no recognition of what it does to the children in particular Anabella. An eighteen year old at the brink of her future being part of The Olympic Swimming Team. Her parents’ refusal to accept her choices and forcing her to adapt, with alarming results.

She met Aldrich Hagin a lawyer who was ready to settle down. Recovering from the death of his young bride. From the moment he met her he knew he found the woman he wants to share his life with. However, her nightmares, continues trails and age difference stood in the way. Willing to help her even if it meant that he had to stand back and allow her to make her own choices.
Seeking help with a councilor, a woman that was there for him during his trails Aldrich helps her to over come the nightmares, making choices that would not only affect her but his future.

  1. What inspired you to write it? Believe it or not but this was actually my first book that I wrote. It was written in a time when we ourselves went through life changes as well. Seeking answers. Why I chose the swinging life style I have no idea it just came up and I ran with the concept. Maybe I read something about it that triggered me subconsciously I do not know.

In the book it is in its worse situation but in my research I know that most will never cause their children to suffer in the extend I let on in my story. They are wary of taking care of them, keeping their life discreet at all times. I do not attack people’s choices in the lifestyles they choose. In the book it also becomes clear that each of the couples involved make their own choices how they live.

But it was an interesting scenario and one I thought of a few times. The interaction and what the effects could have in the childrens lives. Each sibling in Anabella’s life had a different take which I highlighted in the book. I am always interested in restoration, this was a good plot.

Support is another topic that is intertwined in the book. Support from friends, family and parents, and the examples they set helping forming and making the choices needed to have a future they want.

  1. What is the writing process like for you? Since I am still very new in the writing business I have no real process other than that I write what is on my heart. Allowing the words to flow.  I try to write at least 1000 words a day, sometimes it is more, sometimes less. I love to make notes first in a note book, doing research as an idea comes before I put it down on my PC. Building the characters personas. This part I find difficult at times if you really have to think of people you may know that would fit into the character type, drawing from them.

But it is a journey I simply love. The creativity of the whole process stirs me and opens new avenues of discovery in my own talents.  I love the interaction with co-authors, learning from them as I go along. Finding a community of people that is willing to help. It does not matter what genre you write every one pitch in and every one gets the benefits.

  1. What did you do before you became an author? We had a business up until 2010 and I was the Financial officer.

  1. How does it feel to be a published author? To be honest it felt weird to call my self that at first.  Number one I was never one for titles and stuff. Those things just never impress me much. Number two I never thought that this would be the direction my life would take and to own up to that title gives me a responsibility of being the best that I knew I was not. I was a late blossomer and had no formal training in writing. So to call my self that was simply intimidating but I know that if I do not own up to it no one else will take me serious. So at times it feels way cool (as the children would say) but at times it makes me pause and think.

  1. Any advice for struggling writers? Do not allow circumstances or people’s influence to stop you. The lack of money is not as important as writing.  Keep on even when the odds are against you. Try all avenues until you find the one with which you are comfortable with. Simply Write.

  1. Where do you see book publishing heading? There are many debates about this issue currently floating around on the Internet. People who would be able to give clear cut answers better then I will but as a Self Publisher I can only say that I believe self publishing is the future for all writers.  Books are very important; I love books, the smell and the feel of it. There is nothing like it but practicality says that we are messing with earth’s resources and since technology is advancing as we speak lets use the sources offered.  It makes life simpler and when you have to move easier. I know. We moved awhile back. The books alone filled boxes and boxes, so heavy those two men had to carry one box out of the door with great difficulty. I felt so sorry for them, making excuses but there was simply no other way. I also see smaller publishing houses standing up giving more personal attention to the authors. But at the end only time will tell.


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Book Says Social Media’s BS

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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 ©2013


Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Interview with Anti-Social Media Author Brandon Mendelson


It may be hard to trust someone who writes a book but only gives his initials – B. J. – but the title is too provocative to ignore: Social Media is Bullshit. He may piss off the hand that feeds him – he has contributed to The Huffington Post, wrote a college survival column for CBS College Sports and has been a new-media director for a syndicated ABC TV show. But he does raise some interesting points and counters the mad rush by everyone to use social media to save the world and sell stuff.  It certainly stirs a good debate. The book was recently published by St. Martin’s Press.

1.      B. J. you seem to say everything and everyone is full of crap – social media, marketers, publicists, ad agencies. Why? I wouldn't say EVERYONE, but certainly a majority of people, particularly in those fields. Language is used to conceal the truth. This is something George Carlin observed many years ago, and the deeper I got into researching the social media industry, the more I found that George was right. Language is being used to conceal the truth. In this case, social media marketers, and some of the folks in different industries that you mentioned (but not all!) are repackaging and re-selling old stuff in new ways with fancier names.

So Web 2.0 and new media before that became "Social Media".

SEO strategies got rebranded as "content marketing".


The amount of information we now have at our fingertips is no longer just referred to as data but "Big Data".

The reason is greed, and in the pursuit of that greed, a lot of these professionals have decided to embrace bullshit like this, and that's why I think so many of them are full of crap.

2.      If social media is a waste of time why do some people seem to enjoy breakaway success as a result of it? Why are you doing an interview with my blog? Give me some examples and I'll show you that, more often than not, their "success" can be contributed to a number of factors, many of which has little to nothing to do with "social media". Justin Bieber is a great example of this. So is Shit My Dad Says. Any number of the YouTube originals and (alleged) viral videos like "Will It Blend?". There's so much more to the story, and we're often not given the whole story for greedy and other shitty reasons.

Put another way, I was doing a book signing at SXSW and one of the guys from Orabrush, often trotted out as a "successful" viral campaign, came over to talk to me. And he said that they don't advertise the fact that they paid for pushing their videos on YouTube (as so many big agencies and brands do as well) because the media likes to think this stuff is magic. So those "breakaway" successes you described are often portrayed as magic when in reality, they're anything but.

That's not to say stuff doesn't go viral organically. It can happen, but the things we often hear about aren't legit.

Why am I talking to you on your blog? Because attention is attention regardless of platform (although, it should be noted the kind of attention people think they can get from these platforms has grossly been distorted). Any chance I can get to stick my nose out and get anyone to stop and think about why they believe what they believe is an opportunity that can't be passed up. Even if nobody reads it.

I'm being flip, but I hope you get the point: There's a difference between using these platforms and tools for personal use, that's totally fine, and for business and other professional use. I don't think all of the platforms are bad, just grossly overhyped. So it's one thing to go and get on Twitter and think it'll make you famous. It probably won't. It's another to go and be interviewed on someone's blog because of the amount of power Google has in terms of what gets indexed and surfaces.

3.      Most people don't tweet, but they sure do search. So you don’t tweet or have a Facebook page? I have Twitter only because it now exists as a living breathing example of everything I write about. I have a Facebook Page that's hidden from the public and is used only so I have access to share and like buttons (should I ever go and incorporate those.) My Twitter account is verified, at one point it had a million followers (now it's close to 700,000), and most of those people don't click on anything or retweet anything. So I keep it around to show people that the number of followers you have is irrelevant. I noticed when I gave presentations before and just told them this, they didn't believe me, but then I showed them my account's analytics, and the evidence given by other people I interviewed for "Social Media Is Bullshit" with large followings, and then they were like "Oh. He's right!"

4.      Are you saying social media should be completely ignored as part of one’s marketing strategy, or merely that we should balance our efforts between social media, traditional media, and other efforts? You have to ask yourself this: If I walk up to someone on the street and tell them who I am, are they going to know? Now expand that out further: Does the average person on the street know who I (or my company / brand / whatever) is? If the answer to that question is yes, then for customer service purposes and customer service purposes only, it may be worth hiring someone to man different social media accounts and maintain a presence to address possible complaints; however, most of us don't fall into this category, meaning our presence on these platforms is totally optional, not mandatory as often portrayed. So what this comes down to is whether or not your customers are there in the first place. Do your customer research and see what that tells you. Do they use Twitter? How do they use it? Do they use it enough to justify your presence? These are all things you need to research and figure out for yourself. No one else can tell you. Once you figure out who your customers are, and what they like and what they use, then you can come up with a plan. But do that first. So few bother to do this, and that's what often leads to a lot of confusion and mistakes when it comes to their marketing and publicity efforts.

5.      If social media is useless why do so many corporations, including traditional media, push it on to consumers to use? A friend of mine works for a major corporation. If you open your wallet, you probably have something from their company in there. At the end of every fiscal year, what happens at that company and what happens at many major companies across America, is that there is money left over. That money is often dumped into social media. Not because it works, but because the money had to be spent. So don't confuse the fact that all these corporations have this stuff as some sign that it works, or that you should be doing it. That's not the case at all. In fact, if you read Social Media Is Bullshit, you'll find that social media is more of a money loser than anything else for these large corporations.

Other times this stuff gets pushed, and this is true for the American media, because we don't know any better. We see people talking about it, especially among journalists, and some journalists (not all) do that arrogant thing where they assume what's true for them and their friends must be true for the rest of America. You can see this happen often with the New York Times Style Section. It's not grounded in any sort of reality it's just "our friends are using it, this must be a trend!"  Actually, the reason behind the American media is much more complex than I can answer here, but it's answered pretty effectively in the book. This is just one component, there's a lot more to be said about how the American media is mostly corporately owned now, and how a lot of the stupidity you see is coming from them too.

The bottom line is that nothing is what it seems. So you shouldn't assume because you see the media talking about it and the corporations using it that it's some kind of sign that everyone else is or should be doing it. To put it in the words of a member of the monetization team for one of the world's largest social networks when it came to their data that was coming in,  "We don't know what the fuck we're really looking at."

6.      Here’s the million-dollar question: So how does one market their product, service, or idea if they don’t rely on low-budget resources like social-media? PR. Seriously. Social media isn't low budget. It's foolish for people to think that. It may be free to get in, but think about the time you're giving up to man those platforms, and the time, effort, and energy you're going to put in to "grow" those audiences. And you may even hire people to run those resources for you, meaning there are costs involved.  PR and marketing (which, honestly is the same thing) is legitimately cheap and free. You just have to craft a good story, make sure it's easily understood, strikes an emotional chord, and has a component in it that's worth sharing in a way that's easily conveyed. You want to market something? Tell its story. Make it compelling, easy to remember, easy to understand, and easier to share, and then fire up Google and start calling your local media outlets. Better still, find the person who covers your beat and take them to lunch. That's how this stuff is done. It's not magic on the Internet, it's building real world connections and getting press coverage, and if you do that stuff right offline, the online stuff takes care of itself.

7.      Why is the “long tail” bullshit? The Long Tail theory has been disproven by numerous parties since the book was released, including Harvard economists. The short version is that the long tail theory implies that you can run a sustainable business by selling narrowly targeted products to a narrowly targeted audience, but often that audience isn't large enough to sustain a business. The only place where the long tail is true, and this is the reason why it even got a book deal because the guy who wrote it, before other writing other nonsensical things, was the EIC of Wired Magazine, is for the media. And this is only true because of Google. So in their case, the content can have a long shelf life, and since it's all indexed by Google,  it can live practically forever. However, most of us aren't the media, and the long tail for media assumes (because of its reliance on Google) that ad supported websites are a viable business model, and that's becoming less and less true, unless you want your site to look like Buzzfeed or Mashable: Filled with shit.

8.      So are people like Seth Godin a bunch of liars and frauds? Mostly. Seth started out ok. I was a fan of unleashing the idea virus, but he figured out very quickly that he can say nothing and make a lot of money doing it, and others took the lead from him like Guy Kawasaki, Chris Brogan, and Gary Vaynerchuck, among numerous others.

Here are samples of what BJ offers in his controversial book:

“Offline matters more than online. This will never change. Your location, your circumstances, your audience, that determines everything.”

“Ninety-nine percent of the things that are often referred to as “viral” are driven by offline forces: real-world connections, traditional media, legitimate celebrities, corporate spending.”

“The concept that if you put something online “people will see it” is not true. Most YouTube videos go unwatched and most websites go unvisited.”

“Be skeptical of metrics like “awareness” and “engagement.” These and other “social media” metrics don’t really mean anything.”

“You don’t need to use any of these platforms. It all comes down to what you’re looking to do and who your audience is. Telling people that they’re losing money by not using “social media” is a lie made up by marketers of all stripes to sell you bullshit that’s going to benefit them.”

“Everything that happens on the web is driven by the media. The idea that there are limitless choices and millions of alternatives online is bullshit. We spend most, if not all of, our time with corporate owned Web sites, and although there millions of blogs and “social media” users out there, all of the information they get is coming from a consolidated group of places that are almost exclusively under corporate ownership.”

“’Social media’ is bullshit. Search engines optimization is not. But, SEO isn’t going to solve all your problems, either. That industry is filled with just as many assholes as the “social media” industry, and most of what they’re selling you can figure out on your own.”

“Analysts like to repackage what they’ve read elsewhere and then sell it to corporations at outrageously marked-up prices. If the analysts are saying it, you’re too late to be “ahead of the curve.” So essentially they have a scam going where they’re taking advantage of people, both the companies and the rest of us by selling “insight” into things that are already past their expiration date. “

For more information, please consult: http://www.bjmendelson.com

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 ©2013