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Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Authors Must Avoid Rainstorms For Media Coverage



“Hi, I’m from Verizon Fios.  Do you mind if I shoot some footage in your place.  You seem to be the only store that’s busy during the rain.”

This is what a man shouted to the owner of a local bagel joint.  The owner agreed to the free publicity offer from the local cable-access station.

I couldn’t believe my ears and eyes.  I asked the reporter-cameraman:  “Are you seriously doing a story about the rain?”

He responded affirmatively, informing me he covered a stabbing earlier in the day, a Sunday.

“Isn’t there something between a stabbing and the rain worth covering?” I asked.

I didn’t get an answer.

Folks, this just demonstrates where modern-day journalism is heading.

In New York City, the media loves to cover a hint of a snow storm or a heatwave.  But the idea that a few hours of rainfall is worthy of a story sickens my stomach.  Does the media not know to cover the dozens of issues and human interest stories that float around it?  Authors, can you offer something that beats a story about some water falling from the sky? 

The funny thing is the reporter thought the crowd at the bagel store was substantial but at that point on a Sunday, the bagel place usually has a line out the door.  Crowds all around may have been slightly lower due to a few lazies not wanting to venture into the light rain but what likely reduced turnout for all stores was the fact that it was school vacation for the week and many people had not yet returned home.  It was a stupid story on many levels, and to think the journalists don’t realize the rain alone wasn’t the main crowd factor is sad.

But the lesson here can’t be that rain makes headlines, but rather it’s a call to authors to remind them that if you offer a timely, interesting, and where possible, localized story, you stand a chance to get coverage. Maybe if your book is about the weather you’ll be the lead story!

If you watch the news long enough you see that many stories repeat themselves.  Haven’t we all seen the story about the kid who raised money for a cause or the tragic shooting of a grandma?  Haven’t we seen stories about what to buy for Mother’s Day, how to spend Valentine’s Day, or how good will the local sports team be on its opening day? You can almost fill-in-the-blanks and predict a story by the calendar, clock, weather or latest sporting event.  As an author-turned-promoter you must offer up the new, unique, and different – and you must also fit into their expectations, patterns, and seasonal preferences for stories.

Your biggest competition could be the rain!

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Brian Feinblum’s insightful views, provocative opinions, and interesting ideas expressed in this terrific blog are his alone and not that of his employer or anyone else. You can – and should -- follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at brianfeinblum@gmail.com. He feels much more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog © 2018. Born and raised in Brooklyn, he now resides in Westchester. His writings are often featured in The Writer and IBPA’s Independent.  This was named one of the best book marketing blogs by Book Baby http://blog.bookbaby.com/2013/09/the-best-book-marketing-blogs and recognized by Feedspot in 2018 as one of the top book marketing blogs. Also named by WinningWriters.com as a "best resource."

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Interview with Book Cover Designer Ken Fraser



What is the key to good cover design for books? Visual IMPACT is the key in this day and age. If it doesn’t catch the eye it doesn’t even get picked up or looked at online. Your cover needs to be a good reflection of the content you have written about. But it also needs to attract those you want to buy the book. A sports book about great athletes that has a cover primarily done in pink is not necessarily going to attract the “macho men” readers you are looking for. It’s called target marketing, and your cover is your biggest advertising tool. A good cover can be very creative and impactful, without being overly designed and so cluttered that the eye doesn’t know where to focus. I have seen covers that have a great title, but because of all the background images, was extremely hard to read. 

How do you determine what the key elements of a book cover should be? It’s based on individual titles, and varies, but imagery is what I think is the key element. Attention grabbers. Taking a portion of the title and playing off of that to emphasize it makes a big difference. Color also plays a factor in the overall look. Emotional drama in the minds of the reader cause a reaction, and indices them to pick it up. Type style can also make a difference. It must be immediately readable, not too scripty or sloppy. A strong title with a good title treatment. Fonts, colors, and effects that compliment  the title as it relates to the background images. Background imagery or effects that can say the right things to the reader, even before they read  the title. Again colors and style that compliment the title and does not make it hard to read.

Can we really judge a book by its cover? YES, YES, YES! Well that’s what most people do. You need a professional book designer with the experience, creativity and the ability to create an eye catching, impactful cover that says, “look at me, pick me up, buy me!” Yes, you may save a couple of bucks with a “cookie cutter” book cover, but make no mistake, it will cost you much more in lack of sales down the road. Seriously, if this really is your baby, the project you have worked hard on and slaved over to write, then you want a nice warm blanket to wrap it in, not some paper thin sheet. Your writing deserves the very best cover it can have, and it will truly make a difference in the sales that it brings in.
How long have you been designing book covers? I have been designing covers for over 16 years now. And I have created hundreds of them. In just about every subject. This is my life’s passion now.

What inspired you to get involved in books? I have always been a creator. Inspiration comes from creativity and the ability to see something other than the obvious. I felt there was a great need for good cover design and I love doing them because of how creative I can be with just a single title.

What do you find rewarding and challenging when working with authors and publishers? The greatest reward would seeing how “blow away” they are when they see there baby (book) come to life. When they see a design that goes way beyond their expectations. I love to be a part of their dreams and helping make it a reality. Sometimes, and its more and more rare, but the most challenging is convincing them to let go and trust the designer,  that the design is really going to make a difference. Sometimes their inductiveness can get to me cause I know what is going to bring more success for their book.


Do you design differently knowing that book covers are viewed online as often as they are in a book store? Well, not really since my designs have so much impact in both areas. Wether it’s on a shelf at a book store or on an Amazon webpage, it’s going to get the attention it deserves and entice the reader to take a closer look.

What is your website link? www.impactbookdesigns.com

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Brian Feinblum’s insightful views, provocative opinions, and interesting ideas expressed in this terrific blog are his alone and not that of his employer or anyone else. You can – and should -- follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at brianfeinblum@gmail.com. He feels much more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog © 2018. Born and raised in Brooklyn, he now resides in Westchester. His writings are often featured in The Writer and IBPA’s Independent.  This was named one of the best book marketing blogs by Book Baby http://blog.bookbaby.com/2013/09/the-best-book-marketing-blogs and recognized by Feedspot in 2018 as one of the top book marketing blogs. Also named by WinningWriters.com as a "best resource."

Is It Time For Book-Themed Greeting Cards?



This past Valentine’s Day my family exchanged cards.  Growing up I only thought of the holiday as one for lovers to celebrate -- married couples, people in relationships, or young daters.  But my wife likes to give cards to our kids and wish others a Happy Valentine’s Day.  A pattern developed amongst the cards that were shared -- they all had a dog-theme. We love dogs.  It made me think:  Why don’t we have book-themed cards?

Imagine a line of greeting cards built around books? Wouldn’t it be nice to wish people a happy birthday, Mother’s Day, Christmas, or Valentine’s Day with a card that featured visual or written content tied to books?

The messages could be humorous, celebratory, loving or tributary. Perhaps they reference specific authors, genres, eras, books, or a play on words that only the book-loving wordsmith could appreciate.

A separate line of cards can exist for kids, starting with ones that feature their favorite characters, quoted lines from best-selling books, and messages of happiness that link to a specific book or series.

Perhaps these cards can look different from standard ones.  When you open it up it won’t just have a message on the inside; it’ll feature an insert of four to eight pages, simulating a book and providing additional content and the reproduction of images.

I can see some of the cards now:

“Happy birthday to a special boy.  May this day be as special and wonderful as a Harry Potter book!”

“Happy Valentine’s Day to someone I want to share my wildest fantasies with – and go 50 Shades of Grey on!”

“Merry Christmas to you and your family.  May you give the gift of the Bible to others.”

“Happy Mother’s Day.  May you enjoy your special day by living out the virtues of the book, Scream-Free Parenting.”

Greeting cards cover the gamut of special moments – and so do books.  Our written stories are a treasure that reflect the benchmarks of life that cards try to observe.  Why not inject some quotes from Twain or Shakespeare, share references of modern best-sellers or shine a positive light on our model children’s book characters and heroes? 

The gift of greeting cards is wrapped in their touching messages.  Let’s encourage the use of book-related references for our cards and we’ll deliver the gift of spreading the word  about something we all love.

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Brian Feinblum’s insightful views, provocative opinions, and interesting ideas expressed in this terrific blog are his alone and not that of his employer or anyone else. You can – and should -- follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at brianfeinblum@gmail.com. He feels much more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog © 2018. Born and raised in Brooklyn, he now resides in Westchester. His writings are often featured in The Writer and IBPA’s Independent.  This was named one of the best book marketing blogs by Book Baby http://blog.bookbaby.com/2013/09/the-best-book-marketing-blogs and recognized by Feedspot in 2018 as one of the top book marketing blogs. Also named by WinningWriters.com as a "best resource."

Monday, February 26, 2018

Book Explores How To Teach English Spelling



Thirty years before Noah Webster issued his landmark dictionary, he attempted to transform people into better spellers with his American Spelling Book publication.  The 1788 book became known as the Blue-Back Speller. However Americans have always struggled to be strong at spelling.  John Fulford, MA, B. Ed., has a solution.

The experienced English teacher has penned a terrific book, How to Teach English Spelling:  Including the Spelling Rules and 151 Spelling Lists.

“English spelling is complex, confusing, and often seems illogical, states the book’s back cover.  “Teaching English spelling often seems a thankless task.  No matter what techniques the teacher or parent uses, the results are often disappointing.”

So how will this book crack the problems that plague Americans for centuries?

He believes students need to know why a word is spelled the way it is and to know the rules that govern how we spell words.  Of course some spelling needs to be memorized, but students need to know how to break a word into syllables and pronounce it correctly.

Fulford knows his stuff, having taught English and ESL for over 30 years in America and abroad.  Kirkus Reviews says his book is “a highly effective guide for teaching the convoluted spellings of English words.”

English certainly makes spelling challenging. Look at all of the exceptions to the rules and things that seem weird, including the following:

Words with a double “c” get pronounced differently.  There’s the heard “c” sound in account but the soft “c” sound in access.

Words with silent letters, like the silent “e” in safe, use, and home.  Many words start with a silent letter — whole, psychic, knit, heir, gnat, and mnemonic.

Some words use double consonants – bully, follow, dollar – and some don’t.

Some words change a y to an i when the tense changes – cry to cried – or when we go from singular to plural – baby to babies.

There are five ways to pronounce “ought” – drought, dough, rough, bought, through.

We have homophones to confuse us – here/hear; past/passed; sun/son; hour/our; and know/no.

So many letters make the same sound.  For instance, the “shun” sound comes from tion, sion, tian, sian and other letter combos (ie: action, explosion, confession, magician).

Fulford notes that spelling doesn’t get enough attention. He writes:  “Despite the fact that English spelling is so important, the subject gets very little attention.  Most of the hard work of teaching spelling is done in the lowest grades.” But he notes many students graduate high school or college as bad spellers.  Hopefully this book – and his earlier publication, The Complete Guide to English Spelling Rules will serve a great purpose.

Excerpt
“English is now the most widely used language in the world.  Somewhere between 500 million and a billion people on every continent use it every day.  There must be some form of general agreement how words are spelled; otherwise, there would be linguistic chaos.  Over time, this general agreement has become a series of spelling rules.  For historic reasons, the English language contains an extraordinary variety of words, many with strange letter combinations that can produce a bewildering range of sounds.  Yet almost all of those words are subject to the spelling rules.  There is a logical pattern to the spelling of most English words.”

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Brian Feinblum’s insightful views, provocative opinions, and interesting ideas expressed in this terrific blog are his alone and not that of his employer or anyone else. You can – and should -- follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at brianfeinblum@gmail.com. He feels much more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog © 2018. Born and raised in Brooklyn, he now resides in Westchester. His writings are often featured in The Writer and IBPA’s Independent.  This was named one of the best book marketing blogs by Book Baby http://blog.bookbaby.com/2013/09/the-best-book-marketing-blogs and recognized by Feedspot in 2018 as one of the top book marketing blogs. Also named by WinningWriters.com as a "best resource."

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Shall You Read A Classic Or Something New?




One of the oldest bookstores in New York City, Argosy Book Store, established in 1925, sold me a copy of Cyclopedia of World Authors.  How fitting that I bought a used book from 1958 about hundreds of famous authors from the well-worn shelves of the vintage shop.

Argosy Book Store, near where I work on East 59th Street in New York City, sells old and rare books, antique maps, fine prints and autographed books.  Not quite as popular as Strand Book Store, it is nevertheless a pleasant midtown oasis for the discerning bibliophile.

The book that I purchased came with a book mark that was adorned with the words of Virginia Wolf that resonate today when one reflects on the experience of browsing at a used bookstore;

“Second-hand books are wild books, homeless books, they have come together in vast flocks of variegated feathers, and have a charm which the domesticated volumes of the library lack.  Besides, in this random miscellaneous company we may rub against some complete stranger who will, with luck, turn into the best friend we have in the world.”

The book that I hold in my hands features 753 condensations of authors’ lives that give illuminating facts about their philosophy, writing perspectives, and temp of the periods they wrote in.  For just 15 bucks I got to smell the past.  Literally.  Just flipping the yellowing pages reminded me of when I’d rummage through the bookshelf of my grandmother’s books.

This book represents another era, published by Harper & Row. Though published 60 years ago, it includes many authors we’d still consider important and relevant, from Hans Christian Andersen, Robert Browning, and Albert Camus to Marcus Cicero, Daniel Defoe, and Benjamin Franklin.

What’s interesting about this book is it attempts to introduce the writers of influential books where the writers come from all over the country and world, and represent thousands of years of writings.  The accompanying biographies not only include greatest works and basic details of the writers, but rather, they seek to tell a story that gives context to their writings and puts their work into a historical perspective.

However, the book fails to show by what litmus test the editors and contributors employed to figure out who is worthy of inclusion.  Such a book, if published today, would be burdened to judge not only all of the books of the distant past but the millions of volumes that have exploded in recent decades. It’s almost an unmanageable task.

It gets harder and harder to rank the most important authors, or even the best books – of an era, genre, or of all time.

I also think that the more emphasis we give to a canon of hand-picked books, such as Moby Dick or A Tale of Two Cities, the more we limit ourselves from experiencing other books that could be just as worthy and maybe even more relevant to us today.  If we don’t explore new books will we be relegated to the past works of great authors, leaving us in a time warp?

Great books teach us important lessons or awaken us to certain philosophies, tap into deep emotions, make us laugh uncontrollably, or explore fantasies guilt-free.  Whatever books can do for us, will we always find what we need in the so-called classics, or do we need to constantly revise that list and measure them to the newest generation of books?

This can be said of music, movies, television, and other forms of cultural art and content.  We must honor the past and take from it what we can, but we also must be open to recognizing the newly published classic right before us.

I find combing through the Cyclopedia of World Authors both overwhelming and comforting.  It burdens me to think there are at least 750 authors, each with several, if not, dozens of books, worth reading.  I could never in my lifetime get to all of their books – and certainly would have no time to explore any books that were published after 1958.

But it also comforts me to know that self-selected experts and book lovers could come together and, narrow down, from all of the books ever written and salvaged, a list of books and authors deemed significant and worthy of our attention.  By just reading about them, one can start to absorb the messages and principles espoused in the words of these authors, all of them dead and long gone.

This book allows me to fall back in love with George Orwell, Alexander Pope, Arthur Miller, Dostoyovsky, Hugo, and Edgar Allan Poe while discovering so many authors I never heard of or couldn’t recall having read, including Llewelyn Powys, Fernando De Rojas, Sappho, and Torquato Tasso.

What should you read next?  Will it be today’s best-seller, a university press title, or a self-published collection of poetry?  Or will it be a book from another century?  Mix it up and discover your own canon of great books.

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Brian Feinblum’s insightful views, provocative opinions, and interesting ideas expressed in this terrific blog are his alone and not that of his employer or anyone else. You can – and should -- follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at brianfeinblum@gmail.com. He feels much more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog © 2018. Born and raised in Brooklyn, he now resides in Westchester. His writings are often featured in The Writer and IBPA’s Independent.  This was named one of the best book marketing blogs by Book Baby http://blog.bookbaby.com/2013/09/the-best-book-marketing-blogs and recognized by Feedspot in 2018 as one of the top book marketing blogs. Also named by WinningWriters.com as a "best resource."

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Interview with author Donald Pitts



Pam Smith and the Phantom Church: The Lamb and the Dragon II

Donald Pitts has a very unique way of telling his tale about good versus evil, sharing his beliefs on spiritual warfare in his Christian fiction series The Lamb and the Dragon. Pitts is an ordained Pastor at two churches, and has multiple degrees including a Master’s in Theology and a Bachelor’s in Education. See: Amazon


1.      What really inspired you to write your book, to force you from taking an idea or experience and conveying it into a book? I wanted to make readers aware of Spiritual Warfare, which is the belief that forces of good and evil are in constant battle. If we could see in the heavenlies for a split second, we would see angels and demons battling over our very souls. “Pam Smith and the Phantom Church” introduced readers to this notion and the fight that is taking place.

2.      What is it about and whom do you believe is your targeted reader? It’s centered on a classic story of good versus evil. My book is written in such a way that ages from 13 on up can read, understand and appreciate this harrowing tale.

3.      What do you hope will be the everlasting  thoughts for readers who finish your book? What should remain with them long after putting it down? No matter what obstacles we have to overcome, we can see our dreams come true. Also, that spiritual warfare is real in the natural world as well as the supernatural. It is a current and present danger that should be taken seriously.

4.      What advice or words of wisdom do you have for fellow writers? Pursue, Persevere, Pray.

5.      What trends in the book world do you see and where do you think the book publishing industry is heading? I see more audio books and eBooks becoming more popular. Additionally, publishers are more willing than ever to help the first-time author. Since the 1960’s, and up until recently, publishing companies were owned by a handful of large conglomerates based in New York and London. Today, thanks to technology – eBooks, audio books, etc.—unknown authors can get published at a more local level through self-publishing companies.

6.      What great challenges did you have in writing your book? In 1996 I was diagnosed with Meniere’s Disease, an inner ear disorder affecting hearing and balance. There’s no cure. It took me 18 years from start to finish writing my first novel. My current book only took about two years to complete.

7.      If people can only buy one book this month, why should it be yours? readers like “Harry Potter”, they will love my book. Talking frogs and flying brooms aren’t real but angels and demons are real. My book conveys that in a fun and interesting style.

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Brian Feinblum’s insightful views, provocative opinions, and interesting ideas expressed in this terrific blog are his alone and not that of his employer or anyone else. You can – and should -- follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at brianfeinblum@gmail.com. He feels much more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog © 2018. Born and raised in Brooklyn, he now resides in Westchester. His writings are often featured in The Writer and IBPA’s Independent.  This was named one of the best book marketing blogs by Book Baby http://blog.bookbaby.com/2013/09/the-best-book-marketing-blogs and recognized by Feedspot in 2018 as one of the top book marketing blogs. Also named by WinningWriters.com as a "best resource."

Friday, February 23, 2018

Misadventures In The English Language



It’s always a joy to curl up with a book like Caroline Taggart’s Misadventures in the English Language.  If you love words, as I do, you’ll enjoy this lively look at vocabulary, punctuation, parts of speech, sentence structure, the creation of new words and all things English.

If you want to know what kind of writer Caroline is, let her say it in her words:  “I believe in precise language, the right word in the right place.  I think it’s a shame to lose nuances (such as the much argued-over differences between uninterested and disinterested) for want of paying a little attention, punctuation is there to help convey meanings; so is correct spelling.  Obeying grammatical rules can help avoid ambiguity – if you say what you mean, you don’t have to shrug and say, “Well, you know what I mean.’”

She proposes a short list of expressions she’d love to see disappear, including:

·         The elephant in the room.
·         Firing on all cylinders
·         On message
·         Seeing how it will pan out.
·         Win-win situation.
·         Taking your eye off the ball.

She also notes how words can be confusing:

·         Apprise (advise) vs. appraise (assess).
·         Averse vs. adverse.
·         Disinterested vs, uninterested.
·         Imply vs. infer.

Her book dances with split infinitives dangling participles, auxiliary verbs, and all facets of grammar.  But it doesn’t come off as elitist, boring, or stuffy.  She makes it fun to understand the building blocks of our language.

She also throws some foreign words at us that have been adopted into our lexicon, from vendetta and schlep to tete-a-tete and schaden freude (German expression:  the pleasure we feel at someone else’s misfortune).

Early on she discusses how new words - or neologisms -- come to be and notes how we get them from a variety of sources, including:

·         New coinages that cover new inventions, discoveries, or developments-television, amphetamine, Internet.
·         Words formed from amalgamating two or more existing words -- workaholic, brunch, blog, motel.
·         Words adopted from others languages, such as foods (spaghetti) or other fashions, utensils, building styles, etc.
·         They come from existing words whose meanings are now applied to some new phenomena, such as satellite, disc, file, forum or avatar -- all words that had been used for something different than how we think of them today.

I leave you with a few passages that cover topics that may interest you:

Apostrophes
If we were to abandon them, think what confusion there would be in the use of words such as wont, cant, well, ill, hell, shell and were.  Okay, it is not difficult to tell from the context the difference between, say, We found a pretty shell on the beach and if you ask her nicely, shell drive you to the station, or Hell for leather and Hell be with you in a minute.  But, as with my ‘I was in a state of course’ example earlier, it might make a reader pause for a moment to work out what you mean.  That would interrupt the flow of his or her reading and, as an author, you don’t (donut) want that, do you?

Punctuation
Punctuation may be the bane of many people’s lives, but its intentions are entirely honorable: it’s there to help.  It should – it really should – clarify meaning, indicate emphasis, distinguish a statement from a question or an exclamation and show where one train of thought stops and another begins.

Spelling
We hear a lot about the illogicality of English spelling  - the many pronunciations of ough, for example (borough, bough, brought, cough, dough, rough, to name but six); the silent letters in castle, gnome, psychology and thumb; and the fact that mint doesn’t rhyme with pint while main rhymes with both rein and reign and row can rhyme with either cow or show, depending on whether you are having an argument or competing in a boat race.  It makes English a joy for lovers of puns and crosswords and something of an ordeal for foreigners.

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Enjoy New 2018 Author Book Marketing & PR Toolkit -- 7th annual edition just released

Here are best author-publisher-publishing pro interviews of 2017

How do authors get on TV?

Study this exclusive author media training video from T J Walker

Brian Feinblum’s insightful views, provocative opinions, and interesting ideas expressed in this terrific blog are his alone and not that of his employer or anyone else. You can – and should -- follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at brianfeinblum@gmail.com. He feels much more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog © 2018. Born and raised in Brooklyn, he now resides in Westchester. His writings are often featured in The Writer and IBPA’s Independent.  This was named one of the best book marketing blogs by Book Baby http://blog.bookbaby.com/2013/09/the-best-book-marketing-blogs and recognized by Feedspot in 2018 as one of the top book marketing blogs. Also named by WinningWriters.com as a "best resource."