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Friday, February 28, 2020

Should Amazon Go Communist On Nazi Books?


Image result for book bans images

Amazon recently caused a stir on the right and left when news leaked it has been banning certain books or selling materials that were censored by others. It again raises the argument: should books be banned in America?

If you are going to ban books, you should publicly list which ones they are, state why, and show a consistent approach in your rules as to what makes the cut -- and what doesn’t.

Amazon doesn’t do any of that.

They are hypocritical. While it bans books by David Duke, a former Ku Klux Klan leader, and George Lincoln Rockwell, the founder of the America Nazi Party, it still sells books with plenty of questionable imagery and views. It also sells other controversial memorabilia, just as it does with Confederate books or memoirs of killers, rapists, and terrorists.

No one believes the world is better by Amazon selling hate-filled propaganda – except for racists – but the world is worse off when the biggest bookseller quietly bans books. If it does it with these books, what stops them from removing books espousing other views, values, theories, or histories, simply because it disagrees with the content?

I suppose some books challenge us, legally, morally, and psychologically.  Do we want books about bomb-making, pedophilia, or encouragement for violence?

There’s never a good answer to any of this. Free speech cuts both ways – Amazon can choose to sell what it wants to and writers can choose what to write about, just as consumers choose what to buy. But free speech can’t force a store to sell something anymore than it can force a writer to write something. Free speech really is a government issue. 

The U.S. can’t stop Amazon from selling a book by or about a white supremacist nor can it stop or force someone to read/buy the book. But we all tend to think of free speech has going beyond that.

Americans want free speech without retaliation from a government, employer, or housing development.  It wants to have people speak freely, without retribution. But it also expects people to be respectful, fair, and kind-hearted. Well. Americans don’t really agree on anything. One person’s love is another’s hate. One’s garbage is another’s gold.

Amazon gets a huge demerit for not having a clear and consistent policy and for not stating which books are blacklisted. But the bigger issue is beyond all of that. We need to resolve how to allow for all views to be heard while voluntarily encouraging that we have more tolerance by both writers and readers.

It’s a tricky balance. It’s an unending quagmire than many have been nuddied and bloodied by.

Perhaps Amazon should just go back to the ethos Jeff Bezos espoused in 1998, when Amazon was an ambitious start-up, when he said:“We want to make every book available – the good, the bad and the ugly.”  He believed customer reviews would “let the truth loose” and dictate what gets purchased or rewarded.

The Nazis, ironically, rose to power once information was controlled by the state and books were banned, burned or censored. First they keep you in the dark. Then they confiscate your rights and property   Then they enslave or kill you.  Amazon has triggered that first stage, though no one would compare them to the Nazis. But knowledge and information are invaluable assets to keep our nation a free and thriving democracy.

I will always err on the side of books. Write what you wish. Publish and sell them. We hope writers, publishers, and stores will act responsibly, accurately, honestly and fairly. But as we can see, challenges and loopholes are always with us. It is something we must live with.


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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 ©2020. 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.” He recently hosted a panel on book publicity for Book Expo America.

Thursday, February 27, 2020

Inventor of the Sports Bra Interviewed About Her New Book


      The Unlikely Story Of How One Woman Pioneered A Revolutionary Industry --And Helped Level The Playing Field In Business & Sports For Millions Of Girls & Women



                                          

As an aspiring artist, part-time secretary, and part-time undergrad student at the age of 28, Lisa Z. Lindahl, a person with Epilepsy, was an unlikely candidate to create a sports garment that would reshape the athletic landscape and become a 19 billion-dollar annual industry. Her new book reveals the amazing story behind the creation of the sports bra, an entrepreneurial victory that has landed her in The National Inventors Hall of Fame (the induction ceremony is May, 2020).

Unleash the Girls:  The Untold Story of the Invention of the Sports Bra and How it Changed The World (and Me) takes us back to 1977 when women, whether they wanted to go to the gym, compete in sports, or jog (as Lisa did), had no protection against bouncing, chafing, sweaty breasts. After casually talking to her sister about the need for such a bra, she went to her good friend, Polly, who later became an award-winning Muppets costume designer, about the need for an athletic bra. Lisa was determined to set out to find a better way to protect her body.

Lisa’s story takes us through the many challenges, ups and downs, and successes of launching a business by women for women in an era and an industry dominated by men. She not only shares “learn from my mistakes” advice, she also provides encouragement to anyone looking to turn an idea into a business.  Lisa’s story is brutally honest and reveals how she navigated – and sometimes fell into – the many pitfalls faced by female entrepreneurs in an industry that had ignored the needs of women.

Below is an interview with Lisa, who is represented by the book public relations firm that I work for:

1.      Lisa, what inspired you to write Unleash the Girls: The Untold Story of the Invention of the Sports Bra and How it Changed the World (And Me)? I wrote “Unleash The Girls” for two reasons, really. The first was that the sports bra had become more than just an undergarment, morphing into a symbol of women’s freedom and empowerment — an iconic symbol of women's liberation. What I had considered simply my first business born of solving my own problem was living on beyond my involvement, creating dynamics and consequences far beyond my initial vision.  This realization, arrived at over 40 years after its invention when the Smithsonian archived the original Jogbra, prompted the next inspiration for writing the book: today’s young women and this era’s chapter in the feminist movement, and the importance of women telling their own stories, in their own voices. The story of how the sports bra came into being is not a sweet story, but a complex tale of women growing and struggling to become.   The story has the possibility to be as empowering as the garment itself proved to be.

2.      This spring you’ll be honored by the Smithsonian Institute and the National Inventors Hall of Fame. Did you ever think your idea would turn you into being a pioneer? No. I invented the sports bra just to solve my own problem. I never had any idea that it would unleash so many other women and girls, that it would release so much potential and power in so many others. I'm really proud and humbled by what the creation of the sports bra has facilitated for so many others.

3.      We take the sports bra for granted today, but take us back to the 1970s, when you invented something that revolutionized women’s sports and health. What was the environment like back then? The 1970’s were a time of fluidity and change. The old rules were disintegrating and often we were making up our own new ones. For instance, mine was the first generation to have access to reliable birth control. Title IX allowed girls to have equal athletic opportunities in schools. Hair was getting longer and skirts were getting shorter. Girls were rejecting their mothers’ girdles and stockings and opting for tights and miniskirts. Bras were being burned or left in the drawer. Pantyhose was invented. “Women’s Lib” was going strong. We lobbied to have equal pay as well. Imagine! And the idea of fitness—jogging, aerobics, yoga—was just beginning. The influence of these dynamics on me and the culture appear quite a bit in “Unleash.” It was a time when everyone was experimenting, inventing and re-inventing. It was exciting, invigorating and, for me, sometimes frightening.

4.      Your entrepreneurial venture initially had two other co-founders. But one of your partners got squeezed out and you temporarily lost control of the company. How can people avoid launching a business with people they can’t trust? Ask good questions; listen to your heart and gut. But there are no guarantees. If a person isn’t being entirely honest with herself, she automatically is not being honest and transparent with those around and those she is dealing with—she is fooling them as well as herself. This is just further cause for us all to keep on top of our own inner work in order to move forth in the world responsibly and with integrity. Plus, if you learn to trust yourself it is easier to spot others deserving of your trust.


5.      You wrote in your book how women need to help women in business but you were surprised at how difficult your business partner, a woman, could be. Are women any different than men when it comes to business?   Is any person different from any other when it comes to business?  Of course. And different strengths and different weaknesses need to be identified and addressed appropriately. Differences often can translate into strengths. I dislike generalizations; they are dangerous.  If we are going to make an impact in curtailing our current cultural paradigm of polarization, we need to avoid too many easy generalizations. Women have considerations in life that men do not: they bear children – an all-important cycle— that has been too greatly undervalued in how the Western world does business, and thus women have had to create a different way of “doing” and “being” in business. SO much more can be said here, but not in 125 words or less without being grossly misunderstood!

6.      Ok, Lisa so take us back to 1977. How did the sports bra, or what you called the Jogbra, come about? It was started with a joke! A funny comment! I had been running for a while and my sister decided she would start too.  But after a few tries, she called me to ask what in Heaven’s name did I do about the discomfort of bouncing breasts? I told her not much, the best I’d found was wearing a bra that was one cup-size too small, but even then the straps still stretched out and slipped off my shoulders…annoying! And then there could be chafing too! She asked, “Why isn’t there a jockstrap for us women?” I laughed at the silly image and replied, “Yes! Same idea, different part of the anatomy!” We both laughed a lot, but I took it seriously. I wrote down what functions such a garment would have to do. But I can’t sew. So I went to my friend Polly, who was a costume designer, and together we figured it out.  The first working prototype was actually two jockstraps cut in half!


7.      Was the original sports bra actually based on the men’s jock strap?  Yes! When I asked Polly to help me create this bra for jogging she told me that it would not be simple: that there was only one thing that might be more complicated than a bra to design, and that was a shoe! This is for several reasons: both are 3-dimensional items, it must support as well as cover and the wide size range must accommodate several different areas of a body converging at the point the garment covers. ( Years later I discovered that most traditional bras were in fact designed by engineers!) But we went ahead, and after several disappointing prototypes, it was two jock straps cut in half and sewn back together that guided us to our  solution: the pouches became cups and the waistband became a rib band; the straps crossed in the back and it went over the head — a new concept!  Polly then sourced far better materials for our use, including what was then a new unused fabric — Cotton/Lycra!
8.       What advice do you have for entrepreneurial women? Be clear about your purpose and then be true to it: In your entrepreneurial endeavor how important is your time? Your independence? The money? Recognition? The message?  Then go for it. Ask any questions of anyone (even competitors)—most everyone wants to be helpful. Then sit quietly and listen to your own gut and heart. There will always be naysayers; don’t let them discourage you.

9.      How did you handle the areas of the business that you knew little about or had no real feeling for?  I was fortunate in that my partner had an interest and a knack for a part of the business that I was not interested in, the production end.  So while I took care of sales and marketing, she did production and inventory.  Together we oversaw hiring and finances.  But the basic truth for every entrepreneur – for both happiness and healthiness in business – is to recognize what you are good at, and what you are terrible at. Dedicate yourself to what you are good at and find someone you can trust to be steward of the latter. Then, as it becomes possible, hire out all the rest. The balance of the truth is that you may be good at something for a bit, then as the biz grows it needs more expertise than you are able to give that area.  The smartest thing I ever did was to hire those who had a greater depth of knowledge about some aspect of my business than I did. A bonus: if it was an area I was interested or talented in, they became a great teacher.

10.   You advocate in your book for people to be kinder to one another, to be more thoughtful, and to see the true beauty in each other. So how do we go about creating a “humanhood”?
Who can review our current culture and not see a paradigm of polarization? How many feel helpless in the face of what appears to be a hopeless set of dynamics?  Appears is the operative word here. We all know appearances are deceptive. Each one of us in fact has the power to make a difference. It is in action and behaviors that change is born. The poet John O’Donohue says “All contemporary crises can be reduced to a crisis about the nature of beauty.”  What is authentic beauty? By its very nature, beauty is harmony. And how might we practice it to help turn the tide and create a kind, compassionate globe on which the human species is a contributor as much as a consumer? The book “Beauty As Action, The Way of True Beauty & How Its Practice Can Change Our World” begins this journey with its 16 practices of True Beauty.

For more information, please consult: www.lisalindahl.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 ©2020. 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.” He recently hosted a panel on book publicity for Book Expo America.

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

The No. 1 Thing Authors Must Do

Image result for images of no. 1

What’s the best thing an author could do to promote his or her brand and market a book?

Well there’s no one thing that sticks out other than, do something.  Once you put yourself on the sidelines you are no longer in the game and have almost zero chance of selling your book or getting media coverage for it. Sure, one in a million get discovered naturally – no advertising, no publicity, no social media – just random word-of-mouth soars for a really good or unique book.

Now, back to reality. You operate in a dog-eat-dog world. There’s competition for everything and the 4,000 new books published daily offer a lot of competition. The No. 1 thing you should do is --something. Inertia is not a strategy.

Okay, so what are some things one can or should do?

1.      Designate a schedule – daily/weekly – of your time and resources for marketing and promoting. Set a budget of time and money. Set priorities and divide what you’ll do and what you’ll pay others to do.

2.      Set goals and keep re-setting them. Resting on a successful day or hiding in your room because of a failed activity are not recommended. You need to come at this with a can-do, opportunistic mindset. You can’t pray for luck or hope others do something for you. No, you have to make it happen.

3.      Have a plan. For everything.  With a timeline of the steps needed.  Plan your:

·         Speaking
·         Social Media.
·         Traditional Media.
·         Online Media.
·         Book Reviews.
·         Website Development/Expansion.
·         Press Kit Development.
·         Grass Roots Ideas on Marketing.
·         Advertising.
·         Securing of Testimonials.
·         Work, home life, rest, entertainment and anything else competing for your time, money, brainpower and energy.

4.      Establish a baseline or foundation of what you consider a success so you can judge or filter your activities through a prism that allows you to rate your production.  You need to know if you are moving forward even when it doesn’t feel you are. You need reassurance that today contributes to hitting a goal tomorrow.  You need to feel secure, confident, smart enough, skilled, and resourceful to succeed.

5.      You need to spend 80% of your time on the big stuff, the things with the greatest pay-off potential, and 20% on the easy-pickings, nuts and bolts stuff that are necessary and achievable, but not necessarily game-changers.

6.      Think about why you wrote the book and remind yourself of what you hope to accomplish. See it as a game. What can you do, perhaps in a way that you never really saw yourself doing to help you reach where you want to go? What habits, thoughts, actions, addictions, or fears hold you back? Can you simply become who you want to be – and not remain who you’ve been?

We can list a hundred to-do things, big and small, that authors can execute, but the most important thing is to keep moving, keep doing. Don’t overthink it or get psyched out. Quiet the fears or insecurities. They do nothing for you.  Just stay focused and take action.

Now.

Tomorrow.

Next week.

Next month  - and beyond!

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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 ©2020. 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.” He recently hosted a panel on book publicity for Book Expo America.

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

How Hard Is It To Become A Best-Seller?

Image result for images of a bestseller

Many authors crave attention. They want to be famous and seen on TV or reviewed by the New York Times. They want to be splashed across social media. They want to hit a best-seller list.  So what are the chances of hitting any of these marks?

There are only so many pages devoted to book reviews by the NYT. This is unscientific, but it appears that fewer than 4,000 books get reviewed annually by the paper of record. That is out of some 375,000 new titles from traditional publishers. There’s another million that are self-published that the NYT officially excludes from consideration. Do the math. Maybe 1 in 100 traditionally published books gets reviewed and only something like 1 in 350 of all books published in a year.

TV?  There are only so many national TV shows out there, each with a certain number of time slots to feature an author. Some of the shows end up covering the same authors. You’ll see the same big-name author on Colbert, then the Today Show, and then CNN.  Thousands of authors get interviewed by national TV each year – but there are millions of authors out there.

Social media?  Some authors are skilled at getting FB likes, retweets, and lots of shared views on You Tube. In theory, this is a wild-card area. Whereas the NYT has finite space -- as do TV shows – there’s no limit to how many tweets, FB posts, or You Tube videos one can post. I suppose this is the biggest potential for growth, but the odds are still very low that an author cracks big numbers or becomes an influencer.  And who has the time or inclination to spend hours daily clicking and engaging the world of free content and trolls?

The best-seller list is more achievable today than ever before.  But that also dilutes its impact, to a degree. Let me explain.

First, there are many bestseller lists. Behold:

New York Times
USA Today
Wall Street Journal
Publishers Weekly
Library Journal
BN.com
Amazon

And, many more individual stores, local newspapers, or groups may have a bestseller list. There’s no legal definition of “best-seller” so people use it liberally.

Let’s look at these best-seller lists more closely. There are different formats one can be a best-seller in -- audiobook, ebook, fiction cloth, nonfiction cloth, trade paper, mass market, etc. Further, these lists don’t just reflect a top five or ten but they could be reflective of top 20 or more books per format.

Then there are lists on BN.com and Amazon that have more categories and subcategories.  You can hit a business book best-seller list, a heath one, a thriller one, etc. Then you can narrow it to a list for business-career books or travel-Europe, or health-diet books.  These lists can change hourly, not just daily, weekly, or monthly.

See a pattern? You can hit multiple lists, multiple times. In any case, you can proudly say you are a best-selling author, but as consumers wisen up, they will ask: Which list? Get ready to explain that you were an Amazon best-seller in their fiction – romance – LGTBQ – London category for one hour on February 13. It still counts, though.

A study of Publishers Weekly bestsellers for 2019 shows the following:

345 different hardcover non-fiction books hit the list – way up from 275 the year before. There was also a 10% increase in the number of trade paperbacks hitting the list from a year ago.

Does this mean:

·         Books lack staying power because of quality or marketing?
·         More good books are being released and thus crowd each other out?
·         There’s something faulty in the way these lists are tabulated?
·         All – or none of the above?
·         Other?

The truth is the world of books is choking with competition and authors who market aggressively.

The overwhelming majority of best-sellers listed on PW’s lists are put out by just five companies – Penguin Random, Harper Collins, Simon & Schuster, Hachette and Macmillan. They account for at least 85-90% of those that hit a list. After the Big 5, only three publishers in America had five or more best-sellers with the highest being 10 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Hay House and Regnery were the others. Think about that. Quality brand publishers like Workman, McGraw-Hill, Rosetta, and Norton each had only one book hit the best-seller list.

Some people will look to manipulate the best-seller lists. They hire someone to get them on a list, using a scheme that costs hundreds of thousands of dollars via advertising, book buy backs by the author and free gifts used as bait to buy a book. The reading public just doesn’t know how a book becomes a best-seller or if that best-selling book is even any good.

Okay, so with all that said, nothing’s impossible here, but a lot is improbable or very expensive to achieve. The key to promoting a book is to do so in a way that legitimately tells as many potential targeted readers that your book exists and explains its worthiness in a matter of seconds. Reviews, TV, social media, and best-seller lists can be part of the equation but plenty of books sell well, impact readers, and brand authors without ever being reviewed in the NYT or hitting a best-seller list or trending on Twitter.

So don’t worry about your odds of success.  They are low.  That’s a given. But instead, zero in on what you are capable of doing and push hard to get your voice heard in a noisy sea. Ride the tide.


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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 ©2020. 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.” He recently hosted a panel on book publicity for Book Expo America.

Monday, February 24, 2020

How To Convince Others To Buy Your Book: 7 Rules



 Image result for sales images

The way to sell what you have is to appeal to what others want. So how do you sell your book to others?

Rule No. 1:  Highlight what your book has to offer. Succinctly state what’s in your book that sounds interesting, resourceful, entertaining, inspiring, or offering of some clear benefit. If you can’t state a few reasons as to why one should buy your book, quit now.

Rule No. 2: Identify what people expect;/need/desire from a book like yours. They want to be sold, not on what you offer but how you meet their wants or desires.  Reverse your thinking. Forget about why your book is great. Instead, put yourself in the shoes and mindsets of potential readers, and pontificate on what they are looking for.

Rule No. 3: Segmentize your potential reader. This means you put your readers in a bunch of buckets and each bucket differentiates from the others. For instance, one buys a diet book to lose weight, but why do they want to lose weight? Health reasons? Dating reasons? More energy? Looking for a new job? To get their clothes to fit? To feel good about themselves and to take control of their life? Each one gets a bucket.  Speak to those specific goals and needs and benefits in your targeted sales pitches.

Rule No. 4:  Don’t operate in a blind vacuum. Your book is not the only one that exists. Nor is it the only form of information or entertainment that one can consume. Start to know your competition and clarify how you are better or different.

Rule No. 5: People have to want or need your book to even consider buying it, but once that case is made, they look at price, availability, packaging, etc. Don’t price yourself too high and don’t skimp on presentation: a nice book cover is key. Availability and distribution is also a factor in whether they buy from you or someone else.

Rule No. 6: Establish your credentials. Why should anyone listen to you?  What education, work experience, life experience, connections, trainings, awards, media coverage, or other recognition can you point to that puts people at ease that you are a somebody?

Rule No. 7:  It’s not just about the substance of what you say – it’s about the style and presentation of what you say. Do you present well in your advertising copy, website, social media, or speaking appearances? Is the back cover copy alluring? Do you look attractive or disheveled? Do you speak with vigor and vision or like a dull, dazed, dumb-dumb? People will judge a book not just by its cover but by its author.

To sell a book requires courage, confidence, and creativity. Be assertive and vigilant in your efforts to reach out and passionately persuade others that your book is exactly what they want or need, even if they don’t know it.

Sales is a numbers game.  No one wins over everybody. In fact, few books are purchased by 1% of 1% of America.  So if you reach 1,000 people and one says yes – and you do this through the nation, you will sell 33,000 copies! But you won’t reach the whole country – and you will convert more than 1 in 1,000 to say YES. So go out there and sell some 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 ©2020. 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.” He recently hosted a panel on book publicity for Book Expo America.