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Saturday, August 18, 2018

Authors Can Be SUPREME In Their Marketing





My 20-year-old nephew introduced me to SUPREME a year or so ago.  I still don’t know what Supreme is but it’s become famous for being famous.  Apparently there are lots of people who are eager to have anything with the Supreme logo branded on something, from T-shirts to bags.  People just like the name.

Whenever some product is made available through limited channels, people line up for hours like they would to buy concert tickets, buying out all of the stock, leaving dust behind.  Then, people like my nephew resell this stuff and instantly turn a profit.  He doubled his $2,000 outlay in about 36 hours.  I kid you not.

There’s a phenomenon going on in America that seems to exemplify the way some entrepreneurs think.  It used to be that one would have a good idea, open a business, and provide a useful service or sell a needed product.  That’s Capitalism 101. We still have such forward-thinking, industrious, hardworking people, but we also have “flippers” – people who obtain something and then quickly sell it.  We see it in real estate, stock day trading, and we see it online.  People buy stuff on ebay or Craig’s list or some online crowdsourced supplier and then re-list them for a profit.  In fact, the good ones will seek to sell a product before they paid for it, testing the waters while not getting saddled with unsellable inventory.  Nothing’s wrong with any of that.  My question is this:  Can it work for books?

Can something be done to make a book more valuable than its cover price?

Sure, one can sell autographed copies – if their name was worth something.  You can create enhanced editions – nicely packaged books with special ink on glossy paper, tucked into a decorated sleeve or gift box – but that only works for a handful of titles.  Maybe what you need to do is print fewer copies – sell your book like it’s art work – a limited edition.

Or maybe you need to stamp S-U-P-R-E-M-E on the front cover!

Supreme is the brand and the brand is simply its name.  Maybe your book needs better branding?  You can make more money off of the brand than from book sales.  Sell T-shirts, posters, bags, etc. with your book’s cover image or showcase a quote from your book.  Make your book seem bigger than it really is and people will flock to it.

Sports teams shouldn’t be the only ones selling $300 jerseys.  How about author jerseys?  I’m serious. Print up your line of colorful jerseys, stick a number on it, put your book cover on the front, with your name on the back.  Throw in a cap and accessories like a scarf, socks, and gloves.

Merchandising is a huge industry.  The cost of making these things is inexpensive.  The key is the marketing behind the merchandise.  People need to perceive there is value in having something and often they will assign an inflated value to the most useless or frivolous thing.

Children’s book authors probably have an advantage here.  They may have cute, cuddly, colorful characters and scenic imagery that can be reproduced onto clothing and other keepsakes.  But there’s no reason a diet author, an erotic novelist or a self-help writer couldn’t find a catchy cover or phrase to highlight and market.

Maybe we can turn a book into a gateway drug, with all of the paraphernalia and merchandising that can go with it.  Some children’s books are turned into movies sell stuff all of the time, from plush toys to figurines to board game apps.  

Of course you’re in a Catch-22 here – to sell stuff your book has to be a success and in order for your book to be a success you need to sell stuff. 

You have to act as if your book will be a movie or that it has charming characters.  Maybe you can sell villain-wear if your thriller or murder mystery involves evil forces and bad guys.  Go sell a knife with its case engraved with your book title.  Sell fuzzy handcuffs with your kinky character’s name.  Create a fake instructional video on how to be a successful villain.  Sell T-shirts that say “It’s Good to Be Bad” and your book cover on the back.

Premium sales are going through the roof.  Everyone likes swag, even when there’s no obvious reason to desire something like a Supreme shirt.  But hey, don’t question or criticize it, just exploit it.  

If you’re really good at it, write a book about it – and sell product tie-ins.

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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. 

Friday, August 17, 2018

When A Graduation Rate Of 90% Fails America


High School Graduation Rate Is An All-Time High, But 20+ Million Are Still Without a Degree


In what should be hailed as an accomplishment – the highest high school completion rate for those age 25+ in America – ever – seems like a statistical tribute to what’s wrong in the United States.

Yes, on the positive side, the graduation rate is rising but on the negative side, in 2018, we still have one in ten adults age 25 or older, without a high school degree.  In a nation of 330 million that’s tens of millions of people who are not only lost, they are far from being contributors.  They are the wasteland of the nation. 

How could anyone function without a high school diploma?  What career prospects do you have without that? What skills do you have?

Think about it.  In the new era of watered-down degrees, where one can fail, fail, fail and then barely pass and get a diploma, where one can get a GED in prison, where one can do virtual learning or get credit at school for certain experiences, where one can cheat and lie to “earn” a diploma, how could, as many as 10% of adults not have a degree?

Sure, there are reasons for everything.  Poverty, teen pregnancy, youthful crimes, drugs, and other issues play a role in why one falls off the education grid.  But teen pregnancy is historically low and because of the Internet and more forgiving state governments, anyone with a pulse can get a second, third, fourth, fifth chance at accumulating enough credits over a decade to get a high school diploma.

But imagine if we can improve on that graduation rate – not by marginal numbers – but significantly?  Imagine if we can increase the number of high school graduates by millions of people who had already dropped out?  Can you be a part of the solution?

Kids get off course.  They develop a drug addiction or lousy habits that put them in bad crowds that lead to making school secondary.  They commit crimes, they take menial jobs to support a family, they get high and fail to see the value in a degree, or they get pregnant and get saddled with a burden that forces them out of school.  To prevent people from missing a chance to graduate high school is to resolve many major problems in America, from poverty and teen sexuality, to drugs and crime. That’s a tall order.

But how could we leave people behind and not try to get them back on track?  These people are part of our society.  They will be on our roads and working somewhere.  They will be our neighbors and raising kids of their own.  They’ll also consume services, from prison to healthcare to police.  We all win when our graduation rates rise, but how can we do this?

I don’t profess to be a policy expert in this area – and many of the experts have failed us – but it seems that, like with all social ills, society has to make the collective case for something, not just against something.

We can’t just say:

Don’t do drugs!
Don’t get pregnant!
Don’t drop out of school!

We need positive, empowering slogans, and constant reminders of what to do, how to do it, and where to seek support and help.  Tell us what to do instead of drugs.  Show us safe sex methods.  Encourage us to stay in school and identify the rewards that go with an education.  And while we’re at it, let’s show our youth a better world.  Let’s each be better role models.

Life can be quite challenging and throw each of us some crazy shit.  Some get more than their fair share of burdens, shortcomings, losses, and ailments.  But there has to be a vision to achieve, lots of love, hope and support and real resources to help us to do better, do what’s right, and to be at our best.

A 90% grad rate is the best America’s ever done. We can do better – and together, we will.



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.” He recently hosted a panel on book publicity for Book Expo America and participated in a PR panel at the Sarah Lawrence College Writers Institute Conference.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Interview With Marshall Poe, New Books Network



1.      Marshall, what is the New Books Network? The NBN is a non-profit consortium of 81 subject-specific author-interview podcasts. Its mission is public education--we want to tell people about what's in books so that they will know and, perhaps, buy and read the books. Podcast author interviews are a good way to do that. All the podcasts are hosted by volunteers, most of whom are professors, journalists, or writers. Almost all the books we do are non-fiction, but we do a little fiction and poetry as well. We publish 5 new interviews every week day and have published over 5,000 interviews to date. We serve--that is, our listeners download--about a million episodes a month, and rising.

2.      How do you feel it helps today’s reader? The truth is people don't have a lot of time to read. That means they have to be careful about what they choose to read. I don't know about you, but I'm often terrified about picking up a book. Is it the right one? Will I get half way through it and want to throw it across the room? I don't know. NBN interviews tell readers what books are about before they make a commitment to them. Want to know what a book is about before you buy it or read it? Listen to an NBN interview. 

3.      What genre of books is typically featured on New Books Network? Almost all the books we do are "serious non-fiction," as I like to call it, but we do a little fiction and poetry as well. The concentration this sort of book is largely a result of the way the NBN is organized, that is, by specific subjects: history, psychology, philosophy, art, African American studies, communications, technology, religion, etc. NBN hosts are experts in these subjects, so they are best suited to interview authors who write about them. And that's something that makes NBN interviews especially rewarding: it's people who "know their stuff" (hosts) talking to other people who "know their stuff" (authors).

4.      What is necessary today for a book to truly succeed in the marketplace? If I knew that I'd be a publisher! What I've learned running the NBN, however, is this: if you publish a book--no matter how good or timely or relevant it is--no one will read it (or even know about it) unless someone publicizes it. There is just too much "content" competing for too little attention. The former is seemingly infinite; the latter is finite. Essentially, things like book--and our podcasts--are competing for that finite attention.  The most important person at the NBN is our publicist, Leann Wilson. She get's the interviews noticed by listeners and that attention-getting drives audience growth. Indirectly, of course, it also drives books sales because our audience buys books and the larger it is the more books they buy. Of course a book has to be good; readers know. But it also has to be publicized. My admiration for publicists has really grown over the years. They do vital work. 

5.      How did you get involved in the book world? I start as an academic and wrote books. I thought they were pretty good. My colleagues wrote even better ones. But I quickly learned that very few people were reading them. I thought this was a shame: there's a lot to learn in books professors and serious non-fiction authors write, but almost no one was learning it. The problem, I soon realized, was, well, publicity: potential readers just didn't know about books that they might be interested in. The NBN is essentially a response to this problem. As I said, all we do is tell people about books and what's in them so that they might read them. I think we can all agree that reading books--or at least good books--is a good thing.

6.      What trends are you seeing today in the book publishing industry? I don't really follow the book publishing industry closely, so I'm hesitant to say anything. I can tell you what I'd like to see, and that's a decline in the cost of non-trade books. I think there is a larger audience for serious non-fiction books than most presses--UPs and others--realize. I think the growth of the NBN's listenership suggests this is so. We've gone from a few thousand downloads a years to millions in just a short period. And the numbers keep rising. People are interested in serious non-fiction books. The trouble is they cost too much. Now I understand why; they don't sell very well, at least the ones produced by most UPs. But I think--and this is just a guess--that if the price per unit were lowered the number of units sold might rise to the point that these titles become more profitable for the presses. I really want to see these presses succeed; they are essentially our partners. If they dropped the prices, I think a lot of NBN listeners would buy more books. We'd tell them to!

7.      What advice do you have for struggling writers? Talk to a publicist early in your project. The publicists know what will be picked up by the press and what won't. This isn't to say writers should sell their souls to the market. But if you plan to write for money, you have to make smart decisions about what to write and how. Talking to a publicist will help you make those good decisions, and will help you support yourself as a writer. 

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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.” He recently hosted a panel on book publicity for Book Expo America and participated in a PR panel at the Sarah Lawrence College Writers Institute Conference.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Great Book? Or Great Marketing?




All writers, at some point in their lofty goals and dreamy visions, think they can write a great book, one that will bring them fame and fortune, help others, and change the world. So how does one write a great book?  

Even if a great book is penned – by some arbitrary standard, of course – will it get read and in turn be in a position to make a difference and influence the minds, hearts, and actions of the human race on a meaningful scale?  Can this book influence other writers, helping to inspire their great works that in turn further enhance society and also influence other writers?

Which is more likely to happen:

A decent book, with great marketing, becomes consumed like a great book?

A great book, with little marketing, becomes a book society embraces?

Great book marketing can help sell a book, but will that book be truly loved and handed down to others or the next generation if the marketing quality exceeded the book’s value?

Great books can really change lives, help others, influence society, and lead to generations of followers, but without enough people discovering it, there’s no marketing muscle to give it a foundation of fans by which to exponentially expand its reach.

It would seem one needs a great book – and to market it really well.  You can’t just rely on a book to sell itself – nor can you think a popularly promoted book can stand the test of time if it lacks deep substance.  So how do we get to merge great books with proportionately great marketing?

First, publishers and authors mistakenly, cheaply, and inexcusably will fail to properly market and promote a book, believing somehow great books will mysteriously find their readers without a boost.  Or, they claim poverty, and refuse to lend support to their books, looking for the book to sink or swim before investing anything into it.  That’s a recipe for failure.

Second, too many mediocre books that become commercial successes eventually die, not due to the power of their words but rather the power of their marketer’s words.  Good ad copy, sharp press releases, and savvy digital campaigns can give a book a much bigger readership than it deserves.  However, the book will not influence society beyond its first generation of readers.  The marketing will die down and word-of-mouth will not come for a weak book.

There are not too many great books, but there are plenty of great book marketing campaigns.  Unfortunately, too few great books are marketed in a great way.

So what’s the lesson here?

If you really think your book is great, don’t rely on its merits.  Do all that you can to prime the pump and get the word out.  Do it yourself.  Push a publisher, if you have one. Hire help.  Do all of the above.

If you know your book isn’t great, no reason not to market it as if it is.  I can’t fault you for trying. Let the public be the arbiter of where your book should rest in its rankings.  But know that society can’t support mediocrity for long.  Some will buy into smoke and mirrors but if a book doesn’t live up to the hype, it will die.

Books are products for some – and money will guide which ones get a boost.  But books, first and foremost, are the building blocks and fabric of the nation.  The really good ones deeply inspire us to do more, educate us to act better, enlighten us to embrace truth, and entertain us to make us feel good about our lives.  We need great authors to become great book marketers, otherwise our nation drowns in popular mediocrity and merely perpetuates a cycle of publishing what sells but not what’s truly amazing or what’s needed.

Great book?  You need great marketing.


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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.” He recently hosted a panel on book publicity for Book Expo America and participated in a PR panel at the Sarah Lawrence College Writers Institute Conference.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

24 Resource For Writers




Writers rely on many resources, including organizations to network with, publications to read, and informative websites.  Here are 24 resources, courtesy of a new book., You Can Be a Winning Writer:

Publishizer
A crowdfunding platform that matches authors with publishers see www.publishizer.com.

Writer’s Digest

Poets & Writers

LitHub

Writer Magazine

The Write Life

Reedsy

LitCrawl

NewPages

Writer’s Guild

LitLists

The Review Review

WinningWriters

The Authors Guild

PEN America

National Book Critics Circle

Romance Writers of America

Mystery Writers of America

Sisters in Crime

International Women Writers Guild

Books by Women

Association of Journalists and Authors

National Association of Memoir Writers

Women’s National Book Association


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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.” He recently hosted a panel on book publicity for Book Expo America and participated in a PR panel at the Sarah Lawrence College Writers Institute Conference.