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Monday, September 30, 2013

Time For A Change In Publishing


Women are U.S. Senators. They are Supreme Court justices. They are Fortune 500 CEOs. They are Secretary of State. They are astronauts. But not one woman has been the managing editor of the nation’s leading news weekly, Time, in its 90 years of existence.

Until now.

It’s hard to believe, that in the world of publishing, an X chromosome has never led the vaunted magazine. Who would’ve thought America would have a black president before Time appoints a woman this high?

Time, which has 4.9 million Twitter followers, has managed to retain its readership, as total circulation of subscribers and newsstand buyers stands at 3.3 million. But sales at the newsstand have fallen 39% in the past five years.

So is Time to be applauded for its newest appointment or should it be criticized for taking so long to make such a move? Yes is the answer, on both ends.

On the other hand, no one’s asking if she’s any good. Maybe the only thing she has going for her is her gender. I’d assume she is qualified and potentially brings a new perspective to the publication, regardless of sexuality.

It’s hard to believe, given women make up the majority of the country and consist of the majority of newly minted college graduates that so many high-level positions still go unfilled by women.

The fact that the liberal bastion of publishing and media still lags in the advancement of women at a place like Time is mind boggling. But reform and change must not stop there.

How diverse is the media industry when it comes to its workforce? I don’t just mean sexually, racially, or age-wise, but in terms of its members' training, viewpoints, and ideas? We need fresh thoughts to lead the soulful growth of society.

Perhaps Time’s appointment of a woman to lead it proves to be a great move. Or it can be a dud. But it’s a step in the right direction. For an industry in flux and change, due to the Internet and economy, change won’t be complete until the media truly reflects the American landscape.

It’s about time.

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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 is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog © 2013

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Your Non-Fiction Self-Publishing To Do List



To write and self-publish a book, just follow these 20 steps and you’ll be successful. Of course, the details behind each step make all the difference, but I think just having an ordered overview will be of assistance to you.

1.                  Conceive of an idea for a book. Think big!

2.                  Test the idea by writing articles or blog posts related to the topic, to see if you get a favorable response.

3.                  Float the idea to trusted colleagues, close family members, and valued friends and ask for feedback, questions, or support.

4.                  Explore the competition: Who else has written a book like yours? How did it sell? What will differentiate your book?

5.                  Sketch out an overview of the book. Start identifying chapter titles and then fill in bullet points as to what each chapter will cover.

6.                  Begin to research the materials for your book, including conducting interviews, finding relevant statistics, etc.

7.                  Create a schedule to write your book so that a good idea doesn’t go to waste. Be ambitious, but be reasonable. Can you write daily? Every other day? How much time will you put in?

8.                  Once the book is finished, edit it yourself.

9.                  Then hire an outside book editor, especially one who specializes in your genre or field.

10.              Explore who you will use to publish your book and determine which formats you’ll release it in. For instance, will you do e-book only? E-book and print-on-demand? Paper book (trade paper or hardcover?)? Audio version? All of the above?

11.              Get your cover designed and draft copy for the book jacket or back cover.

12.              Apply for things like ISBN, CIP Data, Copyright, etc.

13.              Develop a marketing/advertising/publicity plan budget.

14.              Explore who you might hire to assist you in some aspects of publicity, marketing or advertising.

15.              Develop a Web site..

16.              Launch a blog.

17.              Create social media pages, such as a Facebook fan page.

18.              Set a publication date that gives you enough time to do pre-launch publicity and pre-release orders.

19.              Seek out testimonials and endorsements for the book.

20.              Publish the book and work hard in hopes of getting lucky!

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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 is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog © 2013

Friday, September 27, 2013

Publishing's Bottom Line Is No Longer Topless


The old adage “sex sells” may still hold swagger, but there are signs that such a formula no longer holds true for the magazines of the adult entertainment industry.

The owner of Penthouse magazine just filed for bankruptcy. The magazine once boasted of five million readers. It’s down 96% from its peak, to just 200,000 monthly consumers. Chief competitor, Playboy, has also seen a huge circulation erosion over the years.

Several factors are at play:

-Free content readily available
-Stiffer competition
-Online competition

Penthouse likely won’t survive.

In the past decade they started including x-rated DVDs with each magazine purchase. The magazine photos of naked women used to be enough to get eyeballs. Then it went hardcore and added males to the featured pictorials. All of its competitors do the same except Playboy, making it difficult for any of them to stand out.

The world of publishing needs to take note, even if the world Penthouse lives in seems to look  vastly different from most of mainstream book, magazine, and newspaper publishing. How much can something change, in form, to compete with what’s out there, without losing the essence of what it’s been?

Will book publishers one day package movies with books? Will they hype the free downloads associated with a book more than the book itself? Will books change their format to the point of being unrecognizable as a book?

Imagine if you were to get a new spouse every three or four years and change homes and jobs as often. That’s what it feels like to be in the arts and entertainment industry--so much change is swirling about. There seems to be a little stability right now, but that of course will change as soon as another technological development occurs.

But there is a predictable pattern to watch. Once an institution sees a decrease in sales, it never comes back. Publishers and publications, thus far, have not been able to answer for its readership losses. We can only hope they come up with a formula for survival.

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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 is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog © 2013

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Why Coke, Apple, & Disney Promote -- And You Should Too!



One may wonder why such huge brands and internationally dominant companies spend significant resources to promote, market, and advertise themselves. The answer is simple: to return their brand image and hopefully expand it.

Authors and publishers should think the same-way and some do.

Without book marketing or book publicity, how much smaller would the book industry be? It’s not just a matter of getting a consumer to switch their book money from one book to another, but a matter of getting the consumer to switch their money from non-book to book purchases. The PR machine creates currency for authors and publishers.

Books get discovered when they are discoverable. Little happens by accident. Like the lottery, you have to be in it to win it.

Many authors tell me they don’t have the funds, time, knowledge, or desire to promote their books. Well, sadly, this virtually ensured their book’s readership will suffer greatly.

Certainly, there are two different skill sets at play here-one is to be a great writer (thinker, editor, researcher, dreamer, and communicator) and the other is to be a businessperson (marketer-advertiser-promoter-salesperson). Few do both really well, just as it is challenging to find someone well-rounded in life (How many smart jocks or brainiac beauty pageant winners have you met?)

It’s okay not to like the act of promoting yourself.

It’s understandable you’d rather write than promote.

Maybe you are really shy; that’s why you write.

You want the writing to speak for itself.

Your time or funds are limited.

I totally get it. But you need to accept that there are consequences to ignoring the role the marketplace demands that you take.

So what are the solutions?

1. Change your attitude and try to promote yourself.
2. Hire someone to help, even if it means borrowing money (but don’t take out a second mortgage).
3. Find a co-author, one who likes to promote.
4. Change nothing and pray.

Remember, if billion-dollar companies recognize they need to keep promoting, then you should make an effort to get your name out too.

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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 is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog © 2013

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Don’t Send Me Your S.A.S.E


I was recently skimming through a book about book publishing and it contained a glossary of industry terms. Upon reviewing them I noticed a few things worth sharing with you.

1.      “New Adult,” an up and coming genre for books read by 18-29 year olds (kind of like YA, but with sex) was missing. Hard to believe a glossary would miss this hot new segment.

2.      But it did include “deus ex machine,” which I’ve never heard of in all my years in the industry. It refers to “any unlikely, contrived, or fast resolution of a plot in any type of fiction.

3.      The term “erotica” seemed to leap off the page. It should just be defined as “romance” because that is what people are buying now.

4.      The word “advance” is starting to look foreign, as many authors get little or no advance these days.

5.      Same with “auction.” There are so few bidding wars for homes and books.

6.      “Creative nonfiction” sounds like a made-up story being presented as true.

7.      Another term I’d never heard was “hi-lo.” It was described as “a type of fiction, that offers a high level of interest for readers at a low reading level.”

8.      One term that is quickly vanishing is “mass market paperback.”

9.      The term all authors are disgusted with was there: “platform.”

10.  Lastly, “SASE” looked outdated. In the digital era, a self-addressed stamped envelope sounded as current as a telegram.

Publishing is all about the words, and the words that reflect the business of publishing are changing.

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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 is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog © 2013


Tuesday, September 24, 2013

You’re Never Too Smart For Good Book Marketing Advice


We can all learn from each other, no matter what stage we are at -- whether in life, family, career, or school. For instance, I know a lot about book marketing and publicity, perhaps more than 90% of all authors and 
book professionals. But I recognize I don’t know it all, especially when things keep changing in publishing, the media, and technology. However, after a recent email exchange with a best-selling author, I realized that some of us forget that we should be open to learning from others. It’s a lesson worth learning.

Being the aggressive marketer that I am, I contacted my 10,763 linked in connections to share my recent blog post on how one can write a book that is promotable. It was a lengthy piece -- probably 5,000+ words- that grew out of a speech I gave to the Cape Cod Writers Convention. I enjoy imparting my ideas, sharing experiences, and providing resources to others. I don’t get paid to do the blog. I just like doing it. But sometimes I get ridiculous responses from people, including:

“I can’t afford whatever you’re selling.”
I am not selling anything -- it’s just a free blog.

“Don’t spam me -- why are you contacting me?”
Excuse me, but we are connected and this info is useful to you.

“Your stuff is just self-promotional.”
I get tons of readers telling me it’s a great blog with lots of useful tips. I don’t even advertise my services in the blog.

Then I got an e-mail from an unnamed NYT and USA Today best-selling author. She said I should really take into consideration who I am e-mailing the blog to, as if to say she’s too accomplished and important to be given any advice.

Really?

Instead of chastising someone who is trying to help, why don’t you actually read the post and maybe learn something? Success doesn’t remain with anyone for long. It’s not a right or something as permanent as a birthmark. For her to even come close to repeating her initial level of success she will need not to replicate what she did before, but something better and different. Whatever she already knows or does may not be enough to take her back to where she’s been.

Now, I get it, she’s busy and feels above the advice of others since she’s already proven herself, But the minute one closes herself off to new ideas, techniques, or information, it is the moment that this person ceases to grow and be competitive.

Whenever I get negative responses to my efforts, my first reaction is to write back something equally nasty, sarcastic, or biting but then I stop myself. It won’t do any good -- being mean doesn’t help others come to see your viewpoint. It just leads into a circuitous, negative exchange of useless emails.

But I hope the naysayers, to the close-minded, and the too-important-to-learn-a-new-technique folks change their ways. Not only would they truly grow as a result, but they would stop making others, who try to do something good, feel so bad.

It’s never too late to learn a lesson and I implore you to learn the lesson of being open to learning.

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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 is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog © 2013

Read The Book That Changes Careers



7,000,000 jobs go unfilled every day. That number will, under     conservative estimates, double in the next six years to 14 million.

A new book warns of the jobs cliff --and reveals a comprehensive,
proven solution to stave off an economic meltdown.

America’s Economic Dominance Is Threatened   
by a Crushing Skilled Labor Shortage





I have known Edward Gordon for the past 13 years and I think his newest book really highlights an important moment in time for our nation.

America is at a crucial employment tipping point – trillions of dollars in economic growth as well as the survival of millions of businesses and careers are at stake.

“The United States and the world are locked into a structural labor market race between advanced technology on one side and demographics and education on the other,” asserts Gordon. “By the end of this decade, many businesses will no longer have the talent needed to sustain themselves.”

Gordon has been the Paul Revere of the next revolution, one involving jobs and America’s ability to position itself for the next great economic era.  For much of the past two decades, Gordon has consulted with corporate leaders, educators, government agencies, and NGOs, sounding the alarm bell of an impending crisis – the skill wars that are now negating the economy’s ability to grow and remain globally strong.  But these dire warnings, though largely unheeded, are now coming true. 

His newest book, Future Jobs: Solving the Employment and Skills Crisis (Praeger, September 2013), offers a thorough look at the converging forces behind the skilled labor shortage crunch and presents a comprehensive, proven solution that can help America remain competitive and create millions of jobs.  The answer, however, is nothing short of revolutionary, in terms of how business and government will work together, how education will be reformed, and how workers will determine their career fate.

Below is a Q & A with Mr. Gordon:

1. Why have corporations, schools, governments been so slow to move on the jobs crisis? Society has been in denial. Public opinion will only begin to shift as the majority of people become directly caught up in this unfolding jobs revolution. But now we have reached an employment tipping point. The broad requirements of the U.S. job market can no longer be supplied simply by maintaining the current failing system. The United States and the world are locked into a structural labor market race between advanced technology on one side and demographics and education on the other. Too few Americans are prepared to run in this race. By the end of this decade, many businesses will no longer have the talent they need to sustain themselves. Around the world, workers and businesses are caught up in a transitional labor market era. In this new era, the success or failure of individual businesses and of regional or national economies will largely be determined by their ability to provide more people who can meet labor market requirements with the right skills at the right time.

2. How does Future Jobs propose a solution? Future Jobs explores the concept behind Regional Talent Innovation Networks (RETAINs) and their credibility as a major labor market change engine. RETAINs are community intermediaries. They act as hubs for cross-sector partnerships engaged in a systemic redesign that matches skills and jobs to regional economic development. RETAINs facilitate broader civic engagement by forging links between businesses, educators, community leaders, and ordinary citizens.

3. Why do millions of jobs go unfilled when so many people remain unemployed or underemployed? The American education-to-employment system is largely failing to prepare more people with the required skills to compete in this new labor market era. Laid-off workers often lack the skills to move into jobs in growing sectors of the economy. Businesses and government job training programs are largely inconsistent, short term, or too generic. Too many younger workers lack general education and specialized career skills, let alone a strong work ethic, to sustain a middle class standard of living. They are now adding to the growing American underclass. “We have underemployment, part-time work, people leaving the labor force, reduced participation, more long-term unemployment,” said  Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke (June 2013). This could mean that the U.S. unemployment rate issued each month is “not exactly representative of the state of the labor market,” he said. In 2013, over 30 million Americans of working age are unemployed or underemployed with millions more not part of the U.S. labor market. The number of people looking for work (labor participation rate) was near the historic low of 63.5 percent, while the average duration of unemployment remained near historic highs.

4. Why can’t we import qualified workers to handle these jobs? Until recently, U.S. businesses have bridged the skills deficit by using the twin talent safety valves of importing educated workers or exporting overseas high-pay/high-skills jobs wherever they could find a skilled talent pool. These talent safety valves are beginning to fail in part because this is also an international jobs–talent issue. The World Economic Forum (2011) predicts that this disconnect will persist for decades and the worst global talent shortages are yet to come. The populations of Japan, South Korea, and many European nations are in decline. India and China are moving into more sophisticated high tech manufacturing or IT services. They both are now encountering severe shortages of engineers, scientists, and technicians with the requisite educational preparation due to their deficient public education systems and the inadequate quality of institutions of higher learning.

5. OK, then can we outsource our way out of it? As stated in the last answer, skilled talent is in short supply everywhere. In China wages are rising, and corruption adds significantly to the costs of doing business in both India and China. Reshoring or bringing jobs back to the U.S. is gaining momentum. A reshoring trend, says Boston Consulting, is likely to bring up to 3 million manufacturing jobs back to the U.S. from overseas by 2020.  Chinese wages have been increasing at 18 percent annually for the last 10 years. Much of that cost savings is now gone. Other factors in reshoring are a desire to get products to market faster, a more rapid response to customer orders, savings from reduced transportation and warehousing, improved quality, reduced theft of trade secrets, and the elimination of bribes paid to corrupt foreign officials. A Hackett Group research study (2012) found that the cost gap between the U.S. and China has shrunk by nearly 50 percent over the past 8 years, and is expected to stand at only 16 percent by 2013.  However, U.S. reshoring will only occur if we have the skilled workers to do these jobs.

6. How will government, education, business, and nonprofits need to work together to stave off the growing job skills gap? RETAINs break down the silos separating these and other segments of communities so they can unite to address problems arising in times of regional crisis including population and business flight, local economic stagnation, and declining tax bases. Communities want to “retain” their life, viability, and spirit to build a better, hopeful future. To do this, they must update their local talent, develop their capacity to innovate and also attract new businesses into a region. From their beginnings in the 1990s, the RETAINs movement has been about much more than just economic development, or school reform, or tax reform. RETAINs are regional, cross-sector, public-private partnership hubs. They do not duplicate services already exist. They act as non-profit intermediaries, rebuilding the pipeline that connects people to the job market and filling in the gaps. RETAINs are reinventing a 21st-century education-to-employment talent-creation system that can support a tech-driven, knowledge-based economy. RETAINs are joint collaborations in community building. The key words here are “bottom-up collaboration” defined as joint authority, joint responsibility, and joint accountability among all the partners.

7. Are there models of success that have embraced your RETAINS approach? Transformation is never easy. Changing a region’s employment and cultural outlook takes both time and perseverance. In many cases, a local crisis pushed a community to take action on the talent front. The individual leadership shown in each instance depicts how civic activism can take many different creative paths to achieve meaningful change. All of these Regional Talent Innovation Networks (RETAINs) and other talent initiatives are still works in progress. But they have sustained support through their initial stages and are making advances in transforming their education-to-employment system for the talent requirements of a 21st-century workforce. They include: regions of North Dakota; High School Inc., Santa Ana, CA; the New North in northeast Wisconsin; the Vermilion Advantage, Danville, IL; Partners for a Competitive Workforce, Cincinnati, OH; and about 1,000 other RETAINs across the U.S.

8. Was the Great Recession a game changer for the labor landscape?  The spread of digital technologies through almost every type of industry had meant the U.S. business has less and less use for people with minimal education. The Great Recession has accelerated an ongoing labor market shift that was masked by the many low- or semi-skilled jobs created during the housing/financial bubble. In today’s labor market, employment for low- or semi-skilled workers has fallen dramatically. Even middle-skilled professionals have seen a steady decline in jobs because of automation. In general, the job opportunities are brighter for high-skilled people who have kept their knowledge and applicable certifications up-to-date and who can relocate to where jobs exist.  Increasing computer power requires more people with increased brain power.

9. Which industries are growing to the point qualified labor shortages will cause them to stall? There are four sectors of the U.S. economy in which the skills crisis is particularly acute. Each has its own special problems and needs.  HEALTH CARE: To cope with a rapidly aging population, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimates that by 2020 jobs in health care occupations, including doctors, nurses, pharmacists, lab technicians, therapists, dentists and many allied career areas, will grow by over 20 percent.  IT: Gartner, a technology research company, expects 1.9 million IT jobs to be created in the United States between 2012 and 2015.  AEROSPACE: As airlines seek more fuel-efficient planes, they have placed a record number of orders for Boeing’s new 787 Dreamliner and the European Airbus 380. However, both companies now face significant worker shortages.  MANUFACTURING: U.S. manufacturing employs over 11 million Americans as well as seven million in related industries. But nearly 2.7 million U.S. manufacturing employees were age 55 or older in 2011. As many as 600,000 skilled technical positions in U.S. manufacturing were vacant, according to a Manufacturing Institute and Deloitte Consulting 2011 study.

10. If you were advising parents of teenagers, which fields of study would you recommend they encourage their children to pursue? The first consideration is what career sectors will be in demand between now and 2020. Occupational projections and surveys by government, universities, and business research organizations point to five general growth areas that are part of almost every U.S. industry: (1) research and development, (2) information technology, (3) operations, (4) management, and (5) sales.
Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM)-related occupations will experience significant growth. The U.S. Commerce Department estimates that by 2018 STEM employment will grow by 17 percent, compared to 9.8 percent for other occupations. Surveys conducted by the Society for Human Resource Management in 2011 and 2012 report shortages of engineers, sales representatives, accounting, and finance staff. High-skilled technical positions and scientists also occupied top spots in these surveys. Other sources point to growing shortages for health care professionals and management staff in biomedical and life science areas due to the aging of the large baby boomer cohort.

11. If the jobs skills cliff is impacting nations globally, why will the US be injured by it any more than other countries? We are in a watershed era of historical transformation driven by major technological advances. The key challenge is rethinking how we create stronger learning skills for more people. The United States has the world’s largest and most advanced knowledge economy. We need more people to become “well educated” than ever before. What is the bottom line for talent in 2020? The United States can expect a skilled talent shortfall of between 14 and 25 million workers to fill new and replacement jobs. Between 2020 and 2030, the Boston Consulting Group predicts high to very high talent shortages across the United States in many economic sectors, including: IT, business services, health care, public administration, education, financial services, hotels and restaurants, transport, communications, trade, construction, manufacturing, utilities, and other businesses. Such a scenario will devastate the entire economy and may create an expanding poverty cycle. Unless a new talent creation system is in place by 2020 that has begun to alter those conditions, major social unrest across America will become a distinct possibility.

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Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer, Media Connect, the nation’s largest book promoter. Please note, Mr. Gordon is a client of Media Connect. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at brianfeinblum@gmail.com. He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog © 2013