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Thursday, October 31, 2013

Book PR Trends


There are always trends that emerge in book publicity. The key is to keep up with them and to know when there’s a tipping point that demands something move from merely being on your radar to being your bullseye.

Book PR trends come from a few areas. Certainly, a book promoter needs to be aware of changes and trends in book publishing, book marketing, the news media, and technology.

The trends that stick out to me are the following:

·         More books are self-published then traditionally published.

·         More books are being published today than yesterday.

·         Book prices have been falling.

·         EBooks are growing at a slower pace than in recent years.

·         The U.S. population continues to grow and even with declining test scores, colleges continue to turn out record numbers of graduates each year.

·         There is more free content available today than ever before -- but less than tomorrow.

·         More content is re-circulating and competing with new content.

·         The viewership, readership, and listenership are down at every single media outlet from three years ago with the exception of a few outlets in radio, TV, or print.

·         The words included in Webster’s Dictionary grow every time the editors publish a new edition, so our language is growing along with our inventions.

·         More things compete with book readers for their attention from TV, music, and movies, to on-demand videos, webinars, seminars, podcasts, streaming video, chat rooms, Skype, email, and social media networking.

·         Here’s one trend that won’t change: We only have 24 hours in a day to read, write, promote, consume, experiment, sleep, eat, work, and do everything else humans tend to do. Soon we will run out of time to do all of the things we used to do.

·        The pre-launch is probably the biggest trend these days. Months and months before a book comes out, the author has to already have planted seeds for growth. For instance, your platform has to be running- Web site, blog, social media, and networking, contacting certain media, researching groups, list-building, and positioning yourself so that come publication date, you have thousands of sales already lined up.

·         Lastly, don’t follow every trend. Who knows how long they will last. Jump into what’s established, then fast-growing, and then what’s experimental. For instance, don’t dismiss Twitter as a fad, but don’t worry if you are not as active on Google as you are on Facebook.

Trends develop based on a need for something and then some entity comes up with a solution and people gravitate towards it, so what will trend next? My guess is technology will still drive the many trends influencing book publicity, but I think it’s safe to say the trend that people will continue to buy, sell, and write books looks strong for years to come.

THE CHOICES WE MAKE


A few years  ago I read 54 pages into a book called Choices: Manage Your Choices and You Will Manage Your Life!-Discover Your 100 Most Important Life Choices.

“Even school children who have reached the age of reason seem to know the difference between right and wrong, good and bad, and what works and what doesn’t. And it also seems that even when they should be able to exercise free will. They-just as we did when we were their age- make choice after choice that is wrong, even when they clearly know better.

“We all suffer from the same dilemma. Think of some of the things that you have done against your better judgment-when you knew better. Why do we do it?

“Why do we argue when we shouldn’t, show up late for work morning after morning, eat or drink too much of the wrong thing, smoke, fail to exercise, drive too fast, put things off even when we know they have to be done, spend too much, marry the wrong mate, knowingly hurt someone else when we could avoid it, and put up with a bad job instead of making a change? Often we ignore responsibilities, fail to spend enough time with our kids, tell lies, get out of school and never go back, let the car run out of gas, let someone bother us daily at work, let ourselves get depressed when we don’t have to, not study for tests, or a thousand or so other things that we do or do not do even when we know better.

“If we have free will, why aren’t we using it?! After years of pondering this important question- a question that even philosophers have argued about through the ages- the answer finally became unquestionably clear to me: the free will we are given is stopped by the programs we receive.

“What we suspected is true. Everyone does have free will. Most of us do know right from wrong. But it is our past programming, both from others and from our own harmful Self-Talk, that stops us from exercising our free will.”


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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

10 Ways To Give A Great Media Interview


There are scores of tips I can share with you about giving media interviews that sell books and make an impact, but I believe if you focus on these 10 you will be ready to take on the world.

1.      Don’t mumble, whisper, ramble, go off topic, act crazy, or sound like an infomercial.

2.      Speak with energy, passion, emotion, conviction, awareness, sensitivity, humor, and confidence.

3.      Look to inform, enlighten, entertain and inspire.

4.      Know the media outlet’s demographics and speak to their needs and desires. Be relevant.

5.      Raise an idea, issue or point and back it up with a fact or statistic and a real-life example or analogy.

6.      Practice and have notes to help you get through the interview.

7.      Focus on indentifying your key points and then sharing them at every opportunity.

8.      Ask for an action step, such as giving people a reason to buy your book or go to your Web site.

9.      Go out on a limb -- you have little to lose. You don’t score points for being conservative or reserved. You need to be on the offensive, seizing every opportunity to score a knock out. Act out of a sense of urgency, desperation, and even fear.

10.  Show the benefits of your message. Paint a picture of how you offer a resolution to someone’s problem. You need to create an enemy that only you can defeat.

The media loves a good personality, controversy, news, shock, extremes, oddities and anything that makes you ask questions. Be the guest or interview subject that makes things exciting and amusing.

A media interview is your chance to shine. Say something memorable and people will not only remember it, they will share it, and act on it. Say the norm, the typical, or what everyone else says or expects you to say, and you really say nothing.

An interview with the media is your chance to make an impression, not play it safe. You can’t be defensive or protective. You’ll need to feel the burden of saying something witty, interesting, unusual, or news-worthy, because the truth is you need to move people to buy into your message. You need to tease them into wanting to know more, and to invite them to your world.

Good Luck!

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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, October 30, 2013

Is Publishing World Scarier Than Halloween?


Halloween is one of those days where we can step away from who we are—or at least the public persona of who we’ve been—and become who we’d like to be, or perhaps really are.

You don’t have to worry about what people will think of you on this universal dress-up day.  You want to dress like a slut, pimp, or crazed killer?  Be my guest.  Any secret fetish can play itself out.  Boys, strap on your dresses, and girls, put on the football pads.  Unleash your opposite lifestyle.  This is your moment to be whomever you want to be—and not take any responsibility for your actions.

So what would the struggling writer go as, or the overworked publishing editor, or the under-resourced publishing publicist, or the time-challenged literary agent?  No one is wearing costumes to depict the writer, the publishing executive, or the agent.  How come?

And those who wear those costumes on a daily basis want to be someone else, but who or what shall they be?

I guess if you work in an industry of words or ideas the opposite of that is to embrace the physical and brutish side of yourself.  We may feel like the superhero for 364 days of the year.  Time to play the villain and walk on the dark side.

Writers become someone else whenever they write a book.  If they pen fiction, they become their characters and escape to a world of fantasy.  If they bang out non-fiction they take over the persona of being an expert at something. They use their imagination to create something that is not there, spending as much time to see possibilities than they do in living in reality.  For writers, Halloween is just another day to be someone they’re not, only this time they get to manifest their identity into a physical form.

Perhaps this year people should dress up as a thing, rather than a person, for we are fast becoming our things, especially our technology devices.  You might as well go as an ipad, a smartphone, or a DVR, because we spend more time with these things than we do with other people.  Maybe we should attach a screen to our chest and let it play our blog, video, book cover or whatever it is that we spend hours on.  We’ve become a hybrid of human and machine.  We are not vampires and witches or whores and ax murderers—we are streaming bits of data that get pushed from one screen to another.

Maybe our day-to-day costumes are getting harder and harder to separate from our bodies and our souls.  We already don’t know the boundary between work and home or digital and physical.  One day, Halloween will arrive, and we won’t be able to put on another costume because the one we wear all day and night is getting harder to take off.

Authors have great visions and fantasies but only express half of them in their books.  Even those who write of crazy, exciting things only reveal part of who they really are.  We all wear masks and Halloween is no different, except maybe we are truer on October 31 about our base desires than we are on any other day.


I think there should be a day without masks, machines, or clothes.  We should all walk around naked for 24 hours.  Let it all hang out and have nature take its course.  We are animals deep down inside and we can’t dress up who we really are.  Writers try to tear down walls and expose truths, and many succeed in doing so, but we’re still far off from each of us living life the way we really want to.

On this Halloween, don’t pretend to be something you’re not.  Become who you really are.   That might just be the scariest thought of all.

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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. 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, October 29, 2013

Authors & Publishers Need An Airport Wing


Is a monopoly the only way for a company to succeed at selling its product?

I was at the airport recently. I wanted to buy gum and to my dismay I found there was only one brand available. All the stores sold the same gum. It wasn’t a brand I even recognized. No competition yields no choice. Worse, no competition left them to charge what they wanted -- which was twice the price gum normally goes for. I paid over $3.50 for nine chiclet-sized pieces of no-name gum.

Of course I had the choice of not buying but that wasn’t really an option, given my breath demanded mint gum and my ears for the plane required gum-chewing jaw movement. So I bought it, but I felt angry that an entire airport created a monopoly that doesn’t exist in the real world.

So maybe book publishers and authors need to find such monopolistic situations and exploit them. Where can you be a favored or preferred vendor? How can you get your title sold while the retailer doesn’t offer your competition for sale?

The closest thing to a monopoly in publishing is Amazon but in this case, the process works against authors. Instead of Amazon charging above or at market rates for books it has undercut the market to charge the least, leaving fewer profits for authors and publishers.

Perhaps authors and publishers need to package books with another product, service, event or opportunity so that a more valuable exclusive arrangement exists. For instance, a book on relationships or romance is packaged with lipstick and sold for more, collectively,  than either product would get separately.

We should learn from what happens at airports, concert arenas, sporting events, highway rest stops, and conventions. Whenever you can create an environment of exclusivity you can charge more and give less.

My inferior gum is losing its flavor as I write this. It may have left a bad taste in my mouth, but it opened my eyes to seek out new exclusive arrangements. The only way to charge what you’re worth is to exclude the competition.

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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

Monday, October 28, 2013

A Tale of Two Publishing Worlds



I was asked a question the other day about having advice for those looking to jump from the digital world to the offline world, in terms of creating and marketing a physical book. That question would not have been asked seven or eight years ago, and now it has relevance. Just as some struggle to go from a print book/traditional media approach to e-book/online media, we now have people who find the world of touch to be a challenging one.

There should not be a barrier between the online and physical worlds. We have to work in both and hybridize our efforts. If you don’t have a holistic approach to publishing and publicity you will surely lose out. The key is to find a balance, just as one would diversity their wealth portfolio. No one puts all of their eggs in one basket. Do you?

No doubt, you will be stronger in one area over another. One feels more familiar, more comfortable. One feels like English to you, the other Arabic. It’s only natural that you’ve built up a muscle in one area, and thus have ignored the rest of the body, but you need to improve your weakest parts as much as strengthening your strongest ones.

Life is about balance and finding a way to be inclusive in your approach to it. When it comes to publishing, you can’t dismiss or ignore online or physical, any more than you can have an imbalance between work and play, mind and body, society, and individual, nature and synthetics, people and animals, walking and driving, art and reality, or robots and humanity. Get the idea? 

Even things that seem like opposites -- entertainment vs. reality, dreams vs. living, learning vs. teaching, or love vs. hate need a balance. It’s not 50-50. Maybe it’s 90-10 in certain cases, but you need to strike a balance. 

Dip into other worlds in order to live a full life.

The Internet is the Fifth Estate (traditional news media, legislative, executive branch, judicial, and now digital) or a sixth sense (touch, taste, hear, see, smell, virtual). Online holds a growing number of opportunities to publish, market, advertise, promote, brand, and sell books. One can’t succeed without getting online media coverage, whether it is from bloggers, reviewers, Web sites, or social media such as Twitter and Facebook.

Conversely, those who don’t publish in print, dismiss 86% of the marketplace in terms of the amount of money earned from book sales. Further, to not approach traditional media, such as radio, print, and TV, is to handicap the possibility of breaking through the clutter.

The solution? Play on both campuses -- develop smart, cost-effective tactics to excel in both areas.

We live in a world of collaboration. Though this is a a time and an era where one’s sense of self and ego may be at an all-time high, due to the technological advances that permit one to create and promote a brand, our best chance of success rests on our ability to work with others and to exploit their resources and connections. We are not islands onto ourselves. We are not isolationists. The formula for victory is to give to  others whom you hope will give back to you.

You’ll need all the tools you can get your hands on. The online world is one piece of the puzzle.

The physical world is another. Wed the two and you’ll feel whole.

I can’t imagine a life of voyeurism and zero participation. Nor can I imagine a life of doing without thinking and analyzing. We need to strike a balance between our different worlds and find a path to publishing bliss. There’s no one road that will lead any of us there, but a road that’s not inclusive of our digital and physical worlds is one littered with gaping potholes.

One world, many approaches. Play both sides of the fence, and soon you’ll tear that wall down.

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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. 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

Will You Be Responsible for Killing Publishing?


I recently blogged about how the Netflix model will kill book publishing and unfortunately, not enough readers agreed with me.  I must have failed to somehow state what should be obvious: such monthly discount programs are the cheese on a very deadly mouse trap.

When someone says go buy all of the dresses or cups of coffee or bottles of wine that you want for the price equivalency of just one of those items, you’d understand how the industries could survive, right?  Answer: They couldn’t.

Books are no different.

Even Netflix is not a good analogy.  It recycles content for the most part.  For instance, Netflix doesn’t have anything new (except for one or two original series).  It shows a movie that already was shown somewhere else.  Further, that movie got to make money by playing in theaters or being seen on commercial TV.  But when you bundle masses of books and tell readers to go ahead and take all of them for a fraction of their cover price, you create an impoverished industry.

So do I think it’s wrong for competing forces to discount its product or service?  Absolutely not. 

Many businesses will offer deals, such as these:

All-you-can eat breakfast buffets are still popular in Las Vegas.  One may wonder why someone would take a loss on a meal.  Well, it’s simple.  It’s called a loss leader.  They hope their loss will lead you to them.  They hope you’ll end up staying at the hotel housing the restaurant.  Or even better, that you’ll gamble there.  They hope the great lure of a free meal will secure word-of-mouth advertising.  In the end, they make a nice profit.

Amazon will sell e-books for peanuts because it just wants you to buy their e-device/tablet AND to use that to shop for other, higher ticket items.  It also wants to juice its stock price and consumers have a liking towards a company that charges pennies for things others charge the market value for.  Amazon wins.

When restaurants and businesses use Groupon to get new customers, it pays a price for it.  Usually, the business sells a full-price item to Groupon for 75% off and the consumer saves 50%.  The business usually breaks even or maybe takes a small loss-but it uses this to introduce its products, services or food to new customers—or to win back old ones that had not visited in a while.  The business wins in the long run.

So, as you can see, many businesses benefit from their discounted pricing arrangements.  But in the world of book publishing, words by the pound is an industry-destroyer.

Pandora or Spotify or Netflix may or may not pay-off for the music and film industries, but a monthly book-reading fee is a doomsday device for the book world.

Why?

·         Book stores lose business and will then go out of business.
·         Printed books get snubbed for the preferential e-pricing, this speeding up the extinction of print.
·         Publishers lose because their profits become capped—and then they dwindle.
·         Authors lose because their royalties take a hit.

The problem is that consumers feel like they win when a bunch of discounted services fight each other and offer the most books at the lowest price.  And, as readers, they do win—if you judge victory purely by economics.  They lose when the quality of books suffer.  They lose when publishers go under or when authors start writing fewer books.  They lose when they hurt the creative arts industry that they love.

Some may say that the book industry started this model many decades ago when it had Book-of-the-Month Club.  But the comparison falls short.

The club deal was temporary—you get a few books (not all you can eat) for a limited time for a few pennies—but then the full-price kicks in and consumers actually end up overpaying.  The book selection is very limited and often they are not brand new titles.  Today, subscription services are looking to start the show. 

Safari Books Online has been successful for the past dozen years selling business and technology books, a more specialized area, via subscription.  It has a number of tiered plans starting at $28/month.  They have a catalog of 32,000 books.  They may be okay, but what do you do with Oyster and its 100,000 trade books, where users have unlimited access for a paltry $9.95/month—or the equivalent of two trips to Starbucks.

Scribd tops that with a $9/month offering its tens of thousands of books—unlimited access.  The selection, for now, includes Harper Collins' backlist plus indie house titles.

E-Reatah offers 90,000 titles but thankfully limits use to two books per month, depending on the plan.  It has tiered plans starting at $15/month.  They still threaten the written word economy, but offend me the least.

The thing I hate more than these give-it-all-away plans is authors and publishers literally giving books away.  Too many are giving away free downloads of  entire books, desperately hoping they will find new readers who will love a discovered author so much that they will suddenly buy their books.

It works, at times, exactly as they hoped.  But the bigger industry issue is that we are training consumers to look for FREE books or to feed off these minimally-priced monthly plans.  By doing so we have gotten consumers used to paying little or nothing for a book.  The industry is suffering from deflation, and putting itself in line for a book depression.

The library is the great economic equalizer.  If you’re poor or on a limited income, use the library to gain access to books.  I love the library.  But the marketplace mustn’t turn itself into a bazaar or a swapshop flea market.

What it comes down to is this:

1.      The monthly pricing plans take away from individual book sales and instead groups books together—good and bad, old and new.

2.      It takes away from publisher and author identities.

3.      It reduces how we see books -- they will be commoditized.

4.      It will limit price growth for single books.

5.      It will be the final nail to B&N and many bookstores.

6.      It will reduce the quality of books produced. It will lead to a decrease in the number of titles published. It will cause publishers to shut down. It will lead to fewer authors getting published.

7.      These unlimited plans—coupled with free books—will not allow any time for those who may want to buy a book not on the plan.  They simply lack mind capacity or time of day to read any more.

It’s bad enough Amazon undercuts the entire industry but the real bomb would be to allow the Netflixation of the book industry to soar.

Any questions?  Any doubts?  I implore the major publishers to avoid participating in their own demise.  If you truly love books and hold the written word n high regard, you will not support a pricing plan that makes books irrelevant.

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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