Monday, July 11, 2011

Are You Ready To Sell Out?

Should you write a book that is marketable but not necessarily one you’re passionate about or should you write the book you feel strongly about and then find a way to market it?

The age-old question – Do you marry for love or money -- seems relevant here.  But why does one have to choose?  Can’t one love money and the person they wed?  Can’t someone find a job that makes a nice salary and is fulfilling?  Can’t someone be smart and good-looking?  Of course!

The truth is one can only write what they know, what they like, what they feel.  To do otherwise is to engage in intellectual dishonesty.  Sure one can write about things that they aren’t passionate about.  Many hired writers produce research papers or put together collections of information that readers pay handsomely for.  But to be a writer, one usually writes not because they don’t just have a command of the English language or great research skills, but because they have something deeply purposeful and meaningful that they want to share.  The words write themselves, coming as a result of one’s experiences, contemplations, or witnessed events.  They feel compelled to write.

But writers want and need to get paid.  Without compensation, writers join struggling artists in theater, music, and art.  So to earn some greenbacks, some writers will compromise their craft and sell out.  I don’t blame them.  As a publicist, I’m called a flack.  Some journalists and writers who just turn out copy with little regard for what they write are called hacks. The publishing world mirrors the real world – for some it is just a job, and they will do what is needed to earn a buck.

Maybe there is a balance to be struck.  Writers do want to be read, paid, and praised.  They want to make a difference and they also want to be recognized as geniuses, thought leaders, or gifted talents.

As a marketer and publicist I am sure I have sacrificed some of who I am in order to work with authors I don’t feel are amazing writers or even nice people.  It’s a choice I and others make every day.  There’s no harm in being a literary whore on occasion but if all we do is write or promote books that we merely tolerate, we’ll start to deteriorate and our true talents and passions will get lost in the process.

Did You Know Mad Libs Was Self Published?

For those who enjoy writing books many will also be drawn to word games:  Scrabble, crossword puzzles, jumbos, etc.  One of the best ones is Mad Libs.

The co-creator of the game, Leonard B. Stern, died last month.  The Emmy-winning writer, producer and director of hit TV shows such as Get Smart came up with the idea in the 1950s while writing a script for The Honeymooners.  Interestingly he ended up self-publishing in 1958 after book publishers and game manufacturers declined.

It has sold 150 million copies.  There are 120 volumes.  In just the past couple of years over two million Mad Libs apps have been downloaded.  It’s nice to see that several generations have embraced the wordy game. It gives me hope that people still enjoy reading and have fun with words.  The more we treasure our language the better all of us will be.

Brian Feinblum is the chief marketing officer at Planned Television Arts ( and blogs daily at You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert.

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