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Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Beware The False Prophets Of Book Publishing


Even if you are not deeply religious, you no doubt have heard of various prophets.  Most major religions have them, and almost all of the religions have not recognized any modern-day prophets.  This raises many questions, which relate to publishing.  Writers are the closest thing to prophets… they declare ways we could or should live but don’t necessarily say their writings are God-delivered or even God-inspired.

So, which prophets should we listen to – and for how long?  Are certain prophets relevant for an era and then new ones come to reinterpret the world and advise accordingly?

In the days of religion going back centuries and thousands of years, competing prophets spoke out.  How did we know who spoke for God and who for themselves?  Who was to say who was right and who was wrong?  Why did history record the words of some prophets, but not all of them?  Are the recordings accurate and complete?  Have they been translated and then redefined over the years in a proper manner?  Did some recordings of prophets disappear?

What about prophets who came before we could record and preserve their words?  Perhaps prophets’ words are only meant to be heard for a certain people and time and not forever.

How do we know if someone proclaiming to be a prophet today is genuine and not merely crazy, self-serving, or a liar?  Are today’s prophets those who influence us – politicians, pro athletes, CEOs, celebrities, and newsmakers?  Are they our authors, who seek to use words to sway your views and actions, or to at least get us to question things and spur a dialogue of change?

Why do we listen to the so-called experts?  Who is really qualified to be an expert?  What is the shelf-life of an expert?

If I was to see a doctor, I’d want someone in the sweet spot ages of 45-50 or so.  Such a person is presumably young enough to be open to learning new things and is old enough to take a seasoned and mature approach to my care.  Someone right out of med school is too green, too techy.  Someone older has skipped over the tech revolution and likely is jaded by having “seen it all.”  Now, I could be totally wrong on how I filter for a doctor.  Age isn’t everything.  Their experience, credentials, success rate, knowledge, availability, bedside manner, and acceptance of my insurance also weigh on my decision to use him or her.

Book publishing has many false prophets.  So many experts out there, as well as people in important positions of power and influence, are not true prophets because:

·         They are not really qualified to speak about something
·         They speak with a bias of reward (they only promote what betters them)
·         They communicate with a bias of perspective (they only know so much and not everything)
·         They speak with ulterior motives, some of which may directly conflict with your needs
·         They may identify  a problem or issue but really don’t offer a solution or their solution is not viable or is worse than the problem they seek to fix
·         They are ego-driven and not speaking from a pure heart

A lot of advice that is shared in the book industry is by people who suffer from many or all of the above.  Most industries are the same in that regard.  There are different situations, people, or times – there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to book publishing.  There are many ways to write, edit, promote, market, publish, sell, and design a book.  Run from the prophet who says they know all and know better. Run from the one who says a problem can be resolved in four easy steps.

Maybe I am a false prophet when it comes to book publicity.  I only know what I know, from school, seminars, listening to others, reading books, experimenting with clients, and the principles of communication and human nature. I may know more than many, but not more than all – and no one knows anything near everything.  I, too, have a bias; I work in the PR industry.  When will I tell you to not hire a book publicist?  Although I give advice to you to promote yourself, I’d be out of business if I didn’t have authors hiring me, right?

I try to give honest, comprehensive, correct, and relevant advice, strategy, and resources to help all who are on the writing and book publicity journey.  I know a number of people, for any number of reasons, will hire a book publicist and specifically hire my firm, so I don’t have to say anything that sounds like an infomercial.  My hope is you value this blog and see it represents smart thinking and personable insights.  In my case, merely attempting to be a prophet will be beneficial to you and me.

But, have your eyes wide open – and your wallet shut – when listening to our publishing prophets, know-it-all gurus, get-rich-quick schemes, and self-anointed experts.  They only know of profits – and not prophecy.

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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 © 2014.

2 comments:

  1. Thought-provoking article, full of caveats and words of wisdom. Writer beware---or at least, be aware. Not everyone's motives or methods can be trusted. Thanks for the reminder, Brian. I shared your blog on Facebook.

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  2. If everyone who exchanges advice for money is self-serving, then who can be believed? Even non-fiction authors who sell a single book would be guilty. :-)

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