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Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Interview With Author Alysia Keller


Finding Faith in the Battle


Across the nation, 30 million men and women will suffer from various eating disorders. Of those 30 million, only 35% will seek treatment making eating disorders the leading cause of death among mental illnesses.

Author Alysia Keller was one of those 30 million people who suffer from eating disorders. As she traveled the road to recovery, she focused on her family, friends and faith to get her through.

As a certified health coach, Keller has daily encounters with people struggling with eating disorders. She has mentored young women who struggle with low self-esteem and body dysmorphia. Given her first-hand experience and knowledge of eating disorders, she hopes to encourage others going through the recovery process.

1. What inspired you to write your book?
The inspiration to write my book came from the girls I had met in rehab and also the countless people who have reached out to me for advice on eating disorders due to loved ones struggling. I want to bring awareness and for the ones struggling to know that they are not alone in this fight and there is light at the end of a tunnel with a life to live fully.

2. What is it about?
This book is about my personal battle with eating disorders and also some prescription pills and alcohol.

3. What do you hope will be the everlasting thoughts for readers who finish your book?
I hope they not only feel inspired but to have an understanding of the disease. It's not just about food as people think but so much more with a battle of one’s mind.

4. What advice do you have for writers?
Write from the heart! I believe we all have our own unique way of telling our stories. Writing with true meaning from your heart is the best way to tell a story.

5. Where do you think the book publishing industry is heading?
The book publishing industry is great. There are so many different publishing companies and writers who want to write and let others read a good story.

6. What challenges did you have in writing your book?
The challenging part writing this book was bringing the emotional past back to life. Not only did I go through a life changing experience but also my family and friends around me.  And also trying to figure out how to tell the whole story without bringing the other girls name form treatment into it and also my treatment team at the ranch. It was hard to keep it anonymous but also wish I could have been more detailed and deeper within thoughts. But for the most part, I feel good about it.

7. If people can only buy one book this month, why should it be yours?
I believe people should be aware of this disease and this book has my story. It's true, emotional, inspiring and shows that once hitting rock bottom, you can build a foundation to form a new life.

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Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer. 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 © 2016

Interview With Author Gary Jones


A Jerk, a Jihad, and a Virus

1. What inspired you to write your book? I wrote the book because I saw how an old rumor about mistakes made with a deadly pathogen and new information on the origin of the HIV-1 virus could be combined and adapted into a story of a fictional mutant of the SARS virus. I entered graduate school at the age of 42, so my experiences in grad school at the U. of Minnesota were still relatively fresh in my mind and I could use them to begin the story.

2. What is it about? The story is set in 2004, shortly after the SARS virus ravaged China and caused 13 deaths in Canada. Veterinary virologist Jason Mitchell can’t keep his mouth shut, can’t lie convincingly, and can’t follow orders. He’s an unlikely candidate to help the CIA locate and destroy a deadly hybrid SARS virus stolen from his lab at the University of Minnesota, but he is the only scientist who has worked with the virus. From Washington to Djibouti, from Minneapolis to Yemen, Marines cringe, Senators turn livid, and CIA agents shudder as Jason flounders to prevent the virus from becoming a biological weapon in the hands of jihadists.

3. What do you hope will be the everlasting  thoughts for readers who finish your book? The story stresses that science is a cooperative enterprise, that graduate students in American universities work their butts off, that there are rewards for treating your fellow man decently, and that life will be funny--at time hilarious--as long as there are people.

4. What advice do you have for writers?  Read. Read widely and often, and write. Write when you're tired, write when you're stuck, and write when the story seems to be going no where. Your first draft is a scaffolding. At least for me, it is easier to revise 20 times than to get that first draft on paper.

5. Where do you think the book publishing industry is heading? I don't know. The only constants are that it will change and that whatever my guess is as to what it will be like in the future will be wrong.

6. What challenges did you have in writing your book? Making a humorous story that was scientifically accurate about a pathogen capable of causing a pandemic imposed limits. Writing about countries I hadn't visited required research and talking with people who had been there. I wrote the first five chapters and started over four times with three different viruses before I had my plot well in mind and an idea where in the story should start. I got to the middle of the book and wasn't sure what to do next, so I followed the advice of an instructor and made life hell for my protagonist. It was so much fun, I did the same for my antagonist. I have good friends who are Muslim. They are some of the kindest, gentlest, and best educated people I've worked with, so I took pains to portray characters like them.

7. If people can only buy one book this month, why should it be yours? The story is a fast-paced, witty, and tautly written thriller with an international setting, great detail, and realistic and interesting characters who maneuver for the safety of the Western world. It is funny, scientifically accurate, and instructive.

About Gary Jones: He was raised on a dairy farm in Wisconsin and grew up showing Holsteins and Clydesdales. Jones earned his veterinary degree at Michigan State University and practiced bovine medicine in rural Wisconsin for nineteen years. At the age of 42, Jones uprooted his family and returned to graduate school at the University of Minnesota, where he earned a PhD in microbiology. While at the U of M, Jones developed both a diagnostic test for a disease of swine, and a means of extracting bacterial DNA from swine feces and used the test he’d developed, which was based on PCR, to identify pigs infected with a bacterium that had not been able to grow in the lab. The diagnostic test is now a standard test used worldwide in veterinary diagnostic labs. Jones is also the author of Doc’s Codicil, a finalist for the INDIEFAB Book of the Year Award for 2015.
Learn more and connect with the author at garyfjones.com, and on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn

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Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer. 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 © 2016

Monday, May 30, 2016

How To Do A Proper Author Q&A



Too many authors and promoters fail at the art of the author Q&A.  After publishing hundreds of Q&A’s on my blog over the past five years,  I’ve noticed too many Q&A’s are weak, incomplete or lack sales tools.  Here’s how to make the Q&A work much better for you:

First, understand the purpose of this document.  The Q&A is used as a means to sell your book and market your brand.  What voice will you speak in?  What will you say to show your expertise?  How will you get people to take an action step such as go to your site, buy a book, or follow you on social media?

Second, mention the full name of your book a few times within the answers that you provide.

Third, provide one or two links to your site, Amazon page, or social media, so people can easily order a book, connect with you, or learn more.

Fourth, don’t keep your answers too short or it books like you lack substance, depth, and know-how.

Fifth, don’t provide answers that are too long or you’ll seem unfocused, wordy, or boring.

Sixth, answer the questions on the offensive, not the defensive.  Your goal is not to give a good enough answer or an answer that doesn’t hurt you.  Instead, go out on a limb to make a positive impression.  Say something that sounds insightful, unique, odd, funny, emotional – not just blandly slinking words together.

Seven, don’t ever say “buy” or try to sell your book in a blatant commercialistic way.  You sell it by giving a great interview, not by commanding or begging others to buy it.  Show them why they should buy it.

Eighth, be controversial, outrageous, or unusual.  Ordinary is not good enough.  Good enough is not enough.  You have nothing to lose but everything to gain – take a stand, take a risk, take a shot at reaching beyond the length of your arms.

Nine, create a narrative or context.  People need to understand where your book is coming from.  Give them perspective.  Try to thrust them into your world but give them the sub-titles to follow along.

Ten, offer ideas or content that helps others.  Be useful.

Lastly, don’t read off your credentials, like a resume, but do sprinkle into your answers how you are qualified and best positioned to write the book that you penned.

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Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer. 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 © 2016

How Liars, Losers & Manipulators Get Promoted


The other day I signed a new client for the book publicity firm that I work for.  The author seems interesting and qualified to speak about his area of expertise.  I believe we can get a fair amount of decent media coverage for the book and author brand.  But I realize that I’m part of the problem out there, or why disinformation from disreputable people circulates above more accurate information from more qualified sources.

The problem has many layers.  First, as a paid promoter, my objectivity goes out the window. I’m a pay-to-say media whore.  I draw the line that I won’t purposely promote a lie or someone that I know is lying, but what happens when I don’t know someone is a liar or is speaking half-truths?  What obligation, if any, do I have to make sure I’m only promoting facts, or if opinions, ones that I think are acceptable and clearly labeled as opinions?

The other issue is that anyone, including authors, can get access to quality media representation simply because they are willing to pay for it.  The news is hijacked by publicists because they know how to sell a message, even one that could turn out to be fake.

The media is doing a poor job at guarding the hen house from the fox.  Perhaps it’s because the fox brings them flowers.  The media is understaffed and overtaxed. Further, it is compromised by its advertising model.  Too many media outlets, especially on TV and radio, have paid arrangements for media coverage.  It’s a pay-for-play approach that leaves the consumer exposed to illegitimate messages.

Social media is not the great equalizer.  All that it did was create a bigger playground for those who have the means to get a message out.  People “buy” followers and “sponsor” tweets and posts.

It all leaves you to wonder what source is reliable and which message is truthful.  We always knew that the media acts in the interests of its advertisers and in the political or financial preferences of its ownership.  But now the media is also corrupted by outside forces and it doesn’t appear to be improving.

George Orwell, with his prophetic book 1984, predicted we wouldn’t be able to trust in the news media or information that is published, primarily because of a dark government influence.  It now appears the real enemy or threat to information and free speech comes from Corporate America, the media itself, and the public relations industry.  It doesn’t have to remain this way but it is clear that the public will need to work harder and smarter to uncover, discern, and properly digest facts from fiction, truth from lies, and right from wrong.

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Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer. 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 © 2016

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Amazon’s Most Well-Read City Survey Is Broken



Amazon recently issued a press release that said it was revealing “the most well-read cities in America.”  The only problem is the list was not accurate.

First, it doesn’t reveal the key determination of who makes the list.  It did not clearly state the list is based on sales of its products only.  Think about it, if you bought a book from an independent bookstore, Barnes & Noble, Target, or from KOBO, it didn’t register in this study.

Second, it only registered sales of newspapers, magazines, and books, and not free downloads of books or of books borrowed at libraries. It didn't measure reading consumption, only Amazon sales.

Something is obviously wrong when the survey’s results list the supposed Top 20 most well-read cities and absent are No. 1 market, New York City, No. 2 market, Los Angeles, Boston, Philadelphia and not a single city in the third-most populated state, Florida.

Amazon listed the top cities and surprise, surprise, it’s headquarter-home of Seattle topped the list. That’s probably just a coincidence, right?

Their big 10 includes:

1.      Seattle. Washington
2.      Portland, Oregon 
3.      Washington, D.C.
4.      San Francisco, California
5.      Austin, Texas
6.      Las Vegas, Nevada
7.      Tucson, Arizona
8.      Denver, Colorado
9.      Albuquerque, New Mexico
10.  San Diego, California

Not to beat this horse to death, but the release issued no details or data as to how the list was compiled.  Was it based on total units sold (does a newspaper equal a book?)?  Was it based on total dollar sales of materials (or was it based on total number of unique individuals purchasing materials?)  What if things were purchased but sent elsewhere as gifts – does that count towards the city that received the book or purchased it?

I know, I know, so many questions for a silly fluff piece, but the bigger question is why do we even pay attention to a survey that’s obviously flawed or biased?  My concern is that the weight of the Amazon name sways others to buying into the list without giving it any further thought.

Let’s face it, Amazon doesn’t care which cities are named or what criteria was used, it just wants to get its name out there in a positive way, so it can position itself as the book central, as the authority of all content.

But it’s not so. Plenty of books, magazines and newspapers are bought or shared through non-Amazon  sources.  We need to keep the marketplace diverse and to have content sold via many sources and from many physical and virtual locations.  

Amazon, though a significant player in the book market is not The Book Market, and thus, its press releases and surveys need to be clearer when making bold statements about all readers and content consumers.

Interestingly, Amazon seems to contradict its own list.  Just three years ago they issued the list and it looked a lot different.  Seattle was No. 13.  How did they leapfrog so many spaces so quickly?  In fact, not one of the top 10 from 2013 made the top 10 in 2016.  How’s that?

The more respected list that’s been issued for a while is the non-commercial one put out by Central Connecticut State University.  It ranks cities by how literate they are. It doesn’t judge test scores nor tally sales of content. Instead, it looks at cities (77) with 250,000+ people, and examines their access to six areas: library systems, bookstores, digital readership, educational attainment, and newspapers and other publications, including books.

Only four cities in the top 10 most-literate study can be found an Amazon’s top 10.  For the record, the most recent study showed Minneapolis, DC, Seattle, St. Paul, and Atlanta as being the best five cities for literacy.

Whatever these surveys show it’s clear there’s no singular way to approach this.  We also know that regardless of these surveys, we need to increase book sales, improve literacy, and make the written word a vailuable thing to 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. 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 © 2016

Saturday, May 28, 2016

What Will the Book Market Look Like In 2041?



Twenty-five years ago the book market looked a lot different than it does today – or even five years ago. Not counting the independent bookstores or big box places that may carry books like Target or Costco’s, there were 3,293 chain bookstore outlets in 1991.  There are less than half of that today.

The big difference then and now is Amazon. Another big difference is the advent of e-books.  The Great Recession also greatly altered the book retail landscape.

In 1991, Barnes & Noble had 1,343 stores.  They now have around 640 stores.  Back then, Waldenbooks had 1,268 stores.  None exist today.

Where will the book market be in 2041 – 25 years from now?

Will we be more of a book mobile pushcart society or will we go back to the big mall bookstore environment?  Perhaps we will just be a print-on-demand world.

The future of the book marketplace will depend on technology, convenience, cost, competition and the preferences of the masses.  Who knows how much people will pay for content or how much time they’ll have available to read books in a society that’s constantly distracted by many competing mediums.

Check This Oddball New York-Centric Site Out
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Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer. 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 © 2016

Friday, May 27, 2016

How Should Authors Be Coached?



My two children allowed me the pleasure of coaching their athletic teams this spring.  My eight-year-old daughter played softball and my 11 year-old son played baseball.  Neither are the stars nor weak-links of their teams and both most assuredly won’t play sports professionally.  But they have fun playing a game, learning some skills, and competing on a field. But I noticed that so many parents and coaches say things to the child-players that really don’t help them. They are too simple, yet quite hard to actually do.  Maybe this holds true for experts who advise authors on getting published, promoted, and marketed.

For instance, we tell the kids who are pitching to “just throw strikes” or “it’s okay to let them hit it ,just get it over the plate.”  Obviously if they could, they would, but kids’ arms don’t always move in the same direction as that of their brains.

“Wait for your pitch,” we tell the batter. “If it’s good, swing.”  These kids are still figuring out what they can physically hit and then have the added layer of processing a lot of information quickly.  What coaches need to do is show the hitter how to actually hit, not just encourage them to swing at pitches they should know are hittable.

I realize now that the advice I give in this blog and to my paying clients at work may make perfect sense to me, but perhaps others hear me the way these kids hear adults telling them what to do on the ball field without really showing them how to do something.

On the other hand, some of this advice really does seem to make sense.  If only others could fully understand it and act upon it!  But it’s easier said than done.  Still, sometimes we try to simplify the hardest things in hopes that it will allow others to execute and not get overwhelmed with overthinking or excessive preparation or strategizing.

The simple advice to authors is usually this:

·         Authors must build a platform.  Start early and use social media to launch your brand.
·         Promote often and keep at it.
·         Examine the marketplace and fill in the voids.
·         Build a network and then ask for favors.
·         Give things away in hopes of earning book sales.
·         Keep writing and if you’re really good, you’ll get discovered.

All of these things are potentially true but what makes them so depends in large part on you and your abilities, connections, luck, and ability to execute upon these simple mantras.

Coaches advise the child-ballplayer on how to play the game, knowing that some of them are just not capable – physically or mentally – to live out the advice they are receiving.  Professional publish experts – like me – need to realize that some writers just lack the capability – incentive – mindset to actually carry out the things we tell them to do.

This may be true of the advice industry.  Self-help books, diet books, addiction recovery books, and all the books that tell us to fix our money, relationships, or parenting may just not be for everyone.  Either we acknowledge that some people can’t do what they are coached on or we take a closer look at the coaches and demand they show us rather than tell us what to do.

Advice is a tricky thing.  The information is out there – whether it be how to play baseball, market a book, or lose weight – and yet the majority of people fail at such things.  Perhaps it’s not anyone’s fault, but I know now that to coach others requires more than just encouragement or stating the obvious.  The experts need to get advice on how to share their expertise in a way that it gets utilized by those seeking to learn how to be someone they may never fully be.

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Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer. 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 © 2016

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Do Writers Offer A Dialogue Or A Rant?



Writing a book allows for a one-sided conversation to take place.  The author tells the reader what to think, how to feel, and what to do, based on the words that are chosen or omitted on the topic selected for discussion. A real conversation only takes place after the book is read – with reviews, social media, author appearances, news media interviews, book club discussions, or classroom debates.

The good author, however, tries to think like the reader and understands the assumptions, standards, and knowledge that such readers operate under. If an author truly has no idea about the values, tastes, perceptions or lifestyles of his readers, how can he write for them?

He must think along with the reader and set the pace for what unfolds next. The author is in total control of the situation, but only if he properly reads the tea leaves on the mood and mindset of the public.

How does one push the envelope if he has no idea of a baseline from which to sprout from?  How can one shock or humor or educate unless he knows what his readers know?

Writing allows for arguments to be shaped, views to be molded, and for facts to fit into a neat construct.  The world could make sense when it’s only looked at from a certain perspective, when certain ideas, events, or theories are ignored, downplayed or refuted. The world, from the vantage point of a novelist, only works best when he or she holds one view above all others, when one truth is higher than other truths.

Books provide a narrative, however accurate, fair, or factual it may or may not be, and the only other view that matters is that of the reader, who will either agree with the author or whole heartedly disagree.  The book’s legitimacy or greatness will depend mainly on how the reader sees the world and how it either clashes with or supports the view outlined by the author.

If readers, in the end, determine a book’s greatness, shouldn’t authors query their readers more often?  Shouldn’t writers make bigger strides to know who their readers are?  If the writing process is one-sided, so is the reading process.  Readers react to what’s written.  They either will play along and be led to something familiar and yet refreshing or they will be challenged to choose whether or not they buy into what’s being proposed to them.  The writer-reader connection is one that needs to be looked at more closely if we are to come to see books as not only sparking a dialogue, but actually providing one.

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Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer. 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 © 2016