Wednesday, February 1, 2012

7 Experts/Authors Share Publishing Insights

Interview With Best-Selling Author Steve Nakamoto

Author of: Wall Street Craps: How To Play Today’s Hot & Cold Stock Market For Fast Money With Less Risk

In this easy-to-understand book, you'll learn the master strategy for winning at Wall Street Craps which is to always play the game correctly by making only smart percentage bets at the optimal time period in the appropriate amounts relative to risk. Do these key tasks consistently as well as manage your overall bankroll wisely and "Know Thy Self" so that you can adjust your play according to your unique individual temperament.

1.      Why did you write the book? I am already a two-time Writer’s Digest award-winning author. Wall Street Craps is my fourth book – the first one in the area of investing. My first book was titled Men Are Like Fish: What Every Woman Needs To Know About Catching A Man. It was written over 10 years ago, as a way to teaching love relationship principles to women (the anglers) through the use of an animated metaphor (i.e., catching a man is like catching a fish). Hence, writing and promoting a book with the use of an empowering metaphor is something I have over a decade of experience in.

In the early 1990s, I served as a personal development trainer for motivational expert Tony Robbins. During this period, I learned to set and achieve goals in key areas of my life. One of those areas was what Tony called “financial mastery.” For me, this meant the effective use of intelligent money management strategies, along with tactical expertise in such areas as real estate, insurance, fixed income, tax-advantaged investments, and the stock market. Like many investors, I always maintained mental and written checklists of how to approach the stock market. But having a truly defined system for consistent success in the stock market was something that I had not fully developed … until I wrote Wall Street Craps.

This past year is when the right ingredients finally came together – my nearly 40-year love affair with the stock market (my primary interest in college), the discovery of the ideal metaphor (Craps, my favorite game to play in Las Vegas), and the ability to write award-winning non-fiction books. In a nutshell, Wall Street Craps was simply something that I felt destined to express and create.

2.      What do you love most about being a published author? It gives me some extra credibility in the self-help genre. I get asked by the media to comment on different topics which are very stimulating to the mind. I also like the idea of always searching for the next big idea for a book and that keeps me forever sharp.

3.      What advice can you give a struggling writer? Don’t do this with the purpose of making money. In fact, most authors lose money. But the side-benefits that come along with refining your ideas and learning the process along the way are priceless. I’d also say that it’s easier now to write a book with the advent of ebooks. It’s a low-cost way of getting started in the business. Otherwise, my advice to a struggling writer is to find what it is that you’re most passionate about and write something about it every day on your blog.

4.      How are you promoting your book? I write articles on several ezines along with posts on’s site. I also try to get as many book reviews as I can from individuals through But now I also have to relearn the promoting business and the intelligent use of social media.

5.      What do you make of the future for the book publishing industry? I think that Barnes and Noble stores will go the way of Borders and eventually close down or downsize. The future will be led by and Apple and it will pay to watch what they are doing. Content will always be needed so authors will still be in constant demand. But independently produced printed books that are sold in traditional bookstores will be less and less relevant in the future. Books will be sold over the Internet by Amazon and Apple.

Interview With Cajun Cookbook Author Pamela Lyles

I had the pleasure of promoting Pamela Lyle’s book a few years ago, Da Cajn Critter:The Lifestyles, The Rules, and Makin' Groceries.  Here is an interview with the talented author – and cook – from New Orleans. For more information, please consult:

1.      What inspired you to become an author? It was on my "bucket list" of things to do. I always wanted my own cookbook. Most of the cookbooks today are written by chefs from famous restaurants. For an individual to try and duplicate these recipes, one is setting themselves up for failure as the ingredients that are used, stove and oven heat, utensils, etc are totally different for restaurant use versus what is used in the home. The item prepared may come close but it will never match what you eat in that restaurant. My goal was to create a cookbook that was simple in direction, used everyday ingredients that could be purchased at your local grocery store, and were simply delicious ! So, when my family evacuated New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina and I had nothing to do in Houston. I started to write and compile my recipes to create Da Cajn Critter. From bad, comes good and Da Cajn Critter is proof of a labor of love and dedication to what I believe in. A good, usable cookbook with wonderful recipes that create a great home cooked meal!

2.      What do you like most about being a published author? The joy that I get to share with my client when they find one of my recipes as their favorites. It is so rewarding to be at a book signing or festival and someone walks up to me and says, "The  whatever recipe in your cookbook was the best I have ever had. My family loved it. I will use this recipe again and again." Now, I've touched someone's life and given them happiness .Additionally, it's so cool to walk into a store and see your name in print. Makes you feel good inside and very proud of your accomplishments.

3.      What do you find most challenging in the process of promoting your book? The constant grind of promoting a self-published book in the world of giant publishing behemoths that monopolize the marketplace. It never stops. It is a constant climb and you are the only one on the hike. Everything in today's world is "large box " stores and wholesalers. No one focuses on small, independents.

4.      What advice do you have for struggling authors? If you believe in your book and yourself, then keep at it! Sometimes you need to take a break to refresh your mind. Just look at it as a vacation and jump back into the shameless self-promotion when you return. 

5.      Where do you think book publishing is heading in five years? Totally e-books. People want a paperless society and the invention of Ipads and tablets has created the need for non-traditional book sources. My guess is that the last books to go by the wayside will be cookbooks and children's books. I will really miss holding a great book.

6.       What was you most recent book about? I have only published one book. It is a cookbook comprised of a “gumbo” of old family, friends, and personal recipes from Louisiana, all over the US, and even Italy. It is a way of life for someone who wants to eat good food, be with real people and make cooking simple and easy so you actually WANT to cook! It’s about breaking the rules and making cooking fun again. It’s your ticket to creating a great restaurant meal in the comfort of your own home. Southern Cooking to Melt your Heart!

Interview With EverPub Founder Neil Levin

  1. What is EverPub? EverPub engages in website development & strategy exclusively for publishers.  

With my technology partner we create websites for publishers that are uniquely designed for our every changing business.  EverPub websites have the standard core components every publisher needs, such as home pages, press pages, and company information but the really unique feature of our software is the EverPub book page.  The EverPub book pages were created to be used as a dynamic and powerful online catalog for a publisher.  We invested significantly in design and programming to make these pages serve as individual landing pages for each title. 

Using the EverPub book pages a publisher can add a new book in seconds and edit on the fly.  The EverPub are far more complex than the standard simple pages most publishers use.  In addition to a full complement of metadata the EverPub pages bring together an author, or publisher’s, Facebook page, Twitter feed, blog post, and YouTube video.  They include separate information for the author and his or her bio, appearance schedule, blog and contact links.  In addition to social media support we also have built in SEO on the pages, buy buttons to 5 of the most popular online retailers, Google book previews, and downloadable file capability.  We include sections for reviews and marketing blurbs.  Lastly, since I spent a number of years at Time Life books we also grab the names of the viewers on each page.  Most publishers now realize that list management and direct marketing should be one of their core competencies to market their books. 

All of these pages are managed with an easy to use administrative console that empowers the publisher to manage their website in-house instead of calling up their developer every time they need to make a minor change.  We employ the same approach with the other dynamic pages in our websites.  Our CMS (Content Management Software) is tailored to each publisher to permit them maintenance of most pages on their own.   Our websites are designed to be inexpensive to manage and run.  We know that the cost of ownership beyond the initial design and construction of websites is constantly overlooked and our goal is to solve that problem. 

  1. What inspired you to create it? I worked with 200+ publishers when I was SVP at National Book Network.  I had the unique chance to see their websites and online strategies.  Some were taking advantage of their online opportunities but most were missing out.  I knew there could be a better way to help publishers succeed on the web. I had started my publishing in career in IT and had experience in designing and building software for publishers.  I couldn’t resist combining my IT background with my years of hands-on experience within publishing.  EverPub became the happy convergence of my two passions.

  1. What are the rewards and challenges of being a published author today? In addition to the website business I have an active consulting practice.  I work with authors and publishers on marketing, operations and transitioning to digital, so I am very much involved with today’s’ challenges.

With the exception of those authors who are established brands all authors face the same major challenge today - discoverability.  Or, how to stand out when many of the platforms for author promotion have disappeared or changed dramatically.   We have plenty of tools to use – traditional advertising, social media, print, internet marketing, etc – but not many publishers, authors, or vendors know how to use them successfully.  Old-school publishers throw a good head fake that they know what to do but I would love to see their metrics.  I remain skeptical about their success. 

I think the better question should be comparing a self-published author vs. an author working for a more ‘traditional’ publisher. 

There are tremendous opportunities for the author who can see the complete picture and is willing to work (very) hard.

Obviously the main advantage is that the author will have complete control of their project.  They can choose pricing, partners, specs, covers, promotions, etc. to satisfy their own tastes and goals. 
There is nothing like cutting out the middle man to increase your profits.  The financial upside can be significant when you hold all of the cards. Some authors are born marketers.  They love pitching their books to anyone who will stand still.  They enjoy building a fan base and a community.  When you are up close and personal on all sides with your community you will be far more successful tan working through a middle man. The author who has been able to learn about the book industry and market can be the best conceivable brand manager for their book(s). 

On the other hand, there are numerous challenges when working with publishers:

 They are authors, not marketers, operations managers, or IT professionals.  They want to have an established organization take charge of all of the details.   Traditional publishers have been having a difficult time of late.  Many of them are still in the midst of scaling down their organizations to accommodate the collapse of retail and the growth of digital.  Aggressive internet and social media marketing may not be their strongest skills at the moment.  Publishers are extremely cautious with their advances now, are paying low digital royalties, and want to tie up long term rights.   Many traditional publishers are on rocky financial ground.  No one wants to be tied up with a sinking ship.   

  1. Where do you see book publishing is heading towards? In the short term our digital growth will slow and we will fluctuate in the 50/50 print to digital range.  Established front list authors and trade titles will sell the majority of their units in digital but I have a difficult time believing that 4 color illustrated works will head completely to digital.

The decline in brick & mortar retailers has bottomed out but publishers still need a way to underwrite the reality that their stores are used as showrooms for online purchases. Ideally there will be a way to connect the dots such that a consumer can scan a barcode in the store and the digital purchase is facilitated by that store. 

Many people question the value of today’s publishers.  Understandably so.  Their strategies were developed over years in a completely different environment.    But I have faith that publishers will slowly evolve their skills from production & distribution businesses to ones that have the know-how and muscle to get an author noticed.  This change will be painful as publishers continue to scale-down their companies.

I’m not 100% sure on this last one.  It’s more of a wish than a prognostication, but there needs to be a better way for great books to rise to the top.  If there are no barriers to entry then there will be unlimited books and many more great authors that can’t fight through the weeds.  Acquisition editors were the gatekeepers in the past, who will be handling that task in the future?

  1. What advice do you have for a struggling writer? Great writing always wins out.  Formulaic and derivative writing rarely does.  Be newsworthy.  Have a great story to tell.   Without a silver bullet to solve the discoverability challenge authors need to be the best marketer, brand manager, advocate, and sales person for their book.  Use all of the many, many free and inexpensive tools available to promote your works.  When you can, find a publicist or PR professional that can take to you the next level. 

Interview With Freelance Digital Marketer Erin Stadnik

  1. What do you love about being part of the book publishing industry? As one of the tenets of modern civilization, publishing gives us the power to convey almost any idea or emotion to anyone. Marketing within the publishing industry allows me to distill the complexities and nuances of a book and propagate that essence across as many markets as possible.

  1. Where do you see growth for the book industry? Print books will continue to give way to standard ebooks and enhanced ebooks.  As the technology continues to improve, enhanced ebooks offer a great opportunity to provide added-value incentives to customers through video, interactive components, social, and more. This mixing of mediums fosters greater synergy between brands and access to more non-traditional markets. In order to succeed in this dynamic environment, publishers must refine their business models to ensure a good profit margin and be more selective in their editorial processes. 

  1. Why don’t publishers brand their companies online more effectively? Publishers are slow to effectively promote themselves online for two reasons: one, the focus on big name authors rather than company; and, two, the reliance on third party retailers for sales. Online search and recommendation engines lead consumers to more types of books than ever, both popular and long tail. To effectively reach all markets across the spectrum, publishers need to combine their diffuse group of authors under a single brand. The decline of brick and mortar third party retailers, like Borders and Barnes & Noble, is a result of increased ecommerce. This shift allows publishers to act as retailers. Like any other effective retailer, publishers must have solid brand identity across all platforms, especially online.

  1. How can digital media be utilized by authors or publishers in a way it has not been thus far? Publishers’ and authors’ use of digital media is slowly developing. The reading experience is much more involved and rewarding if we involve digital media.  Apple recently introduced the iBooks2 app and iBooks Author which supports a more interactive reading experience, and gives authors the ability to create their own interactive book.  Publishers should explore interactive components such as these so consumers become more immersed and actively engaged with the content and like-minded readers.  Social media and gaming platforms allow consumers to interact with the brand and content, resulting in greater customer loyalty and market reach. Consider the following ideas:  You are traveling through Prague and know the popular sites you want to see. If Foursquare worked with a travel publisher to provide exclusive check-in rewards, there would be more incentive to buy the book.  Another idea is to incorporate the popularity of online gaming and pair it with educational content. For example, the history of WWII could be transformed into role playing game with checkpoints and quizzes that offer virtual or real rewards (like a discount at Best Buy).  You can also play with friends that also purchased the book or share a preview of the experience with them so they purchase the book.

  1. What should authors do to promote their books within social media? Authors need to be cognizant of how each social media outlet can uniquely help promote their work, maintain a consistent voice throughout all outlets, and intelligently time the release of content. To keep self-promotion manageable, the author should select one outlet as hub, and then use that outlet to disperse their messaging to all other outlets. For example, use Twitter or a website as the primary feed for content to Facebook, LinkedIn, Google +, RSS Feeds, etc. When distributing messaging to other outlets, the author needs to consider their audience for each channel and include a mix of conversational posts and promotional posts.  In regards to timing, the author should ration postings to maintain buzz both before and after the launch of their book. Throughout the process, the author also needs to acknowledge trends in feedback and adjust their messaging accordingly.

Interview With Kim Nagy, Executive Editor, Wild River Review
Co-Founder, Wild River Consulting and Publishing

1.      As the co-founder of Wild River Consulting & Publishing how do you work with authors and publishers? We offer premiere editorial and coaching services for emerging and established authors.  So we bring our knowledge of craft and publishing to each formative idea, business concept or tentative plot points (fiction, non-fiction, memoir, etc.) and help authors put together a solid plan in order to manifest their vision.  Our authors often tell us that we help them find a place to start and to finish their projects. Thus, our tag line: Your literary success is our bottom line.
In our view, good writing like superior editing requires an investment of time and focused attention, so through our manuscript evaluation and coaching services, we help authors draw out their strengths as well as overcome the potholes in their writing. We encourage writers to deepen their innate voices, which is where they will write most powerfully. We also help authors who are seeking to craft book proposals and query agents and publishers in a rapidly changing publishing scene.
We also recognize the importance of image and beauty in a visual marketplace.  Tim Ogline, our Creative Director (who designed our original website for Wild River Review) produces some of the most beautiful book covers I’ve ever seen for both print and digital formats. So, we can connect authors with superlative design services, which will distinguish their book on a crowded literal or virtual shelf.
In terms of publishers: We work with publishers everyday whether we are reviewing books on our website: or interviewing famous authors. For instance, I recently published an article on MacArthur Award-winning, Edwidge Danticat to honor the second anniversary of the Haitian Earthquake.
Right now, we are thrilled to be launching our own publishing company, Wild River Books, featuring print and digital publications. We’ve already formed major partnerships with publishers, booksellers, distribution companies, agents and universities.
Watch for our lead book this Spring, Anatolian Days & Nights: A Love Affair with Turkey, Land of Dervishes, Goddesses and Saints (March, 2011), which has been heartily endorsed by Harriet Fulbright and bestselling Turkish author, Elif Shafak. Another forthcoming novel arose out of a partnership with Princeton University--and features the work of a well-known author looking to expand his audience for a new generation of readers. We also have a family saga coming out, a love story set in East Prussia at the end of WWII, scrupulously researched and beautifully told. But in each case, we look for books that speak to the interconnectedness of peoples and societies.”
2.      As a writer, where do you see new opportunities in the evolving publishing landscape? I confess to being a glass half full kind of person. I see opportunity everywhere. So does my publishing partner, Joy Stocke. But, the internet has changed our concept of opportunity--things aren’t as straightforward, but rather mixed. For instance, I believe there are more chances to reach your niche audience with greater exactitude.
Indeed, ambitious authors can use a constellation of tools to in order to solidify their platform (Blogs, peripheral articles, Tweets, YouTube videos and Facebook posts are mandatory, but these all can be opportunities to think about one’s craft and how to network with likeminded souls). More good news is that there are so many more opportunities to reach out internationally.
As a writer (and mom and full time professional) I’m finally at a place in my life, where I’m about to finish my book proposal for The Triple Goddess Trials, a unique memoir that seeks to explore each phase of life (and help women live fuller lives) through juicy mythological stories and the cycles of the moon. 
I humbly thank my amazing editor, Joy Stocke, as well as the audience who has expressed appreciation for columns reinterpreting Kali, Medea, Medusa and Aphrodite and how their stories still apply to our modern lives. I used to feel that I wrote what I felt was missing in the most popular women’s books, particularly an acknowledgement of paradox, but the more I write and publish, the more I find kindred spirits through my research and even the promotion process itself.
Here’s a sample of Triple Goddess:
3.      When editing books, how do you improve them without hurting the feelings of the author? I keep it direct and deeply respectful. I focus on the sanctity of the book project itself rather than the person who created it. We work with serious authors. Most understand that they have hired us to improve their work--and for that to occur, in my experience, one must put one’s ego to the side--and pull up one’s sleeves. That's the place where gigantic leaps can be made. 
That said, we aim to provide a nurturing space where writers can honestly grow--and draw from their natural strengths. I want to help writers find where they are most inspired. There are too many writer’s groups that seem to enjoy tearing work apart for the sake of it, or because an author’s voice or perspective might not be in “vogue.” On the other hand, writers shouldn't go too easy on themselves or the writing will suffer. In my seven tips for writers, I point out that self-doubt can really serve us by forcing us to engage with alternative points of view.
We consider it our job to help with the nuts and bolts of the writing process, to deepen existing strengths, and to find and address each pothole (and offer some constructive suggestions) so that any deficiencies in the writing don’t undermine the work as a whole.
4.      Where do you think book publishing s heading?  As I said earlier, I see the glass as half full. We can't take back people's eReaders just as we can't take loyal readers' print books away from them.  I believe it was yesterday that Apple unveiled it’s iBooks Author App. Since I have experience working for major publishers, I empathize with the challenges of redefining how to aquire, edit, and package stories and sell them at a profit.
But, we're also in an age where a small house like Wild River Books has the opportunity to offer our writers a more intimate environment and an opportunity to receive the highest quality service both on the editorial and marketing side.
Moreover, as the book market becomes more and more crowded, quality control and the presence of trusted content providers will become increasingly important.
5.      What do you enjoy about being a part of the book world? Books are my life (in all of their formats). I curled up in corners with picture books and biographies as a kid, consumed fantasy, teen and classics as a teenager--and added academic monographs to the mix in college and graduate school. For me to be operating in the publishing world means I am able to live amongst my heroes and heroines-- authors, researchers, booksellers, agents and publishers--and work with respected organizations like the New York Public Library and PEN American Center. Despite chatter to the contrary, in my view, so many people still care so deeply about the potential of the published word--and its role in maintaining a healthy thoughtful democracy. I want to take an active role in guarding and expanding the quality of this vital conversation.
When I interviewed author and philosopher Alain de Botton, ( I loved what he said about the role of literature:
One of the things that literature is particularly good at is pinning down more elusive, finely grained truths that tend not to be discussed by the mass media. There are many ways in which you can be reading a book and think, “I’ve never heard anyone really say that before”...So, it’s what people have always thought, it’s a conversation with the best minds of the age. It raises our sense of what’s possible in the world of ideas and therefore possible more generally. That’s a constant source of inspiration and nourishment.”
Interview With Author Kristin Levine

1.      Kristin, what is your new book about? The Lions of Little Rock takes place in 1958, the year after Central High School was integrated. During the fall of that year, all the public high schools in Little Rock were closed, rather than opening as integrated schools.  My book is about a white middle-school girl, Marlee, whose older sister is sent away to go to high school.  Without her sister, painfully shy Marlee develops a friendship with Liz, a new girl at school.  But when Liz suddenly leaves school, the rumor is that she was actually black, passing as white.  Marlee must discover if she has the courage to maintain her friendship with Liz and to join in the campaign to reopen the schools. 

2.      What inspired you to write it? When I was in elementary school in the early 1980s, my mainly white neighborhood was paired with a mainly black neighborhood to create two integrated elementary schools, one for grades K-3 and the other for grades 4-6. When I asked my parents why I had to ride the bus to school, instead of just going to the school nearest my house, they told me it was a great opportunity for me to go to school with people who were different from me, by race, social class, religion, etc.  They said it was only fair that the busing be shared by both neighborhoods. Their enthusiasm for the pairing of our schools made a huge impression on me.  In addition, my mother grew up in Little Rock.  When I started asking her about her childhood, the very first thing she told me was about listening to the lions roar at night.  Something about that detail stuck with me.  Because of my personal experience with integration and my mother's family history, 1950s Little Rock seemed like an obvious choice of time and place for my second book.

3.      What are the rewards and challenges of being a published author today? I've found author's visits to be an incredibly rewarding part of being a published author.  My first book, The Best Bad Luck I Ever Had, made its way onto a number of state reading lists, so I've been invited to visit a bunch of schools.  It's so much fun to talk to a room full of students who have read my book!  I find publicity to be a challenging part of being a published author.  It's a different skill set than writing.  It's also sometimes hard to figure out how much time to spend promoting an old book and when to start writing a new one.

4.      Where do you see book publishing is heading towards? E-books are definitely the way of the future, though I hope physical books stick around for a while, especially for children. While self-publishing might be right for some authors, it doesn't seem like a good fit for me.  The editorial advice I've gotten from my traditional publisher (G.P. Putnam's Sons) has been invaluable.  I don't think I would be as good a writer without their guidance and support. 

5.      What advice do you have for a struggling writer? Find a good critique group.  Learning to give criticism and how to respond to constructive criticism from others (without losing what makes your voice unique) is an essential skill for any writer. 

For more information, please consult: 

Interview With Southern Author Deb Shriver
Author of STEALING MAGNOLIAS (Glitterati Inc.)

  1. Debra, as a 12th–generation Southerner, what do  you love most about New Orleans? New Orleans is a city of wonderful traditions.  It's the best part of the South -- mannered, easy, with a love of entertaining and a sixth sense for true hospitality.  There is a love of great food, a fondness for the perfect cocktail and a joie de vivre that is a big part of its DNA thanks to its European heritage.  It's a city that let's you use your good china, break out the silver, and fling open the parlor doors.  As they say, 'laissez les bon temps rouler!'

  1. Is the city of Mardi Gras finally back in recovery from Hurricane Katrina? Post-Katrina New Orleans is a feisty, empowered city.  It's setting an example for the nation with its dozens of new charter schools, has introduced new tax credits to attract movie and film projects, has accelerated preservation of its historical housing, and here's perhaps the best part, has more than three-hundred new restaurants since the storm.  

  1. Your book, with its rich photos and wonderful text, engages the reader to experience every element of one of the world’s most romantic cities. What inspired you to put this book together with your publisher, Glitterati? My goal was to do a luxe, illustrated book with text that is essentially a memoir.  It was my love letter to New Orleans in words and pictures.  Glitterati said yes right away.  Marta Hallett immediately understood what I wanted to do.  It was a joyful project, and I was a publishing 'virgin.' Thankfully, it worked.  The book has been reprinted and the Orleanais thankfully embraced it.  

  1. What do you enjoy most about being an author? I used to work in newspapers, am married to an editor and work at a large media company.  I've been around writers and editors my entire life.  I think in phrases, speak in sound bites and love photography, collage and art. I've always kept a journal.  Recording things and illustrating them is second nature to me.   

  1. Any advice to share with a struggling writer? Don't be afraid to seek out authors, publishers and agents for advice.
  2. Where do you see book publishing heading, including for coffee table books? I think enhanced e-books, with recordings, digital images and expanded content are a big part of the future.  The market for illustrated books and paper is here to stay.  It's not an either/or world.  It's an 'and' world.  The customer, or in this case, the reader, is king.  

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 He feels more important when discussed in the third-person.

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