Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Take The Apprentice Approach To Book Publishing

I confess that I watched and thoroughly enjoyed one “reality” show – NBC’s The Apprentice. The Donald Trump showcase is a great idea. I watched the first few seasons and eventually lost interest, mainly because like all reality shows’ weakness, they are manipulated too much. I cannot take watching something that is not really genuine though it is passed off as if it was. But when I suspended my belief and judgment for a few years, I found the show’s concept rewarding. I think book publishing should operate like The Apprentice.

Imagine every day you are tasked with a goal. You have limited resources and a deadline for accomplishing the task at hand. You work with a team – against another team – to achieve a quantifiable, measurable result. In the end, if your team loses to the other, you need to justify why you should remain on the team.

Many lessons can be derived from this that apply to promoting and marketing books.

Each of the tasks given to the competing teams are end results. You have the autonomy to determine how you go about achieving them. Life holds many possibilities. When a gun is put to your head and you are told to deliver X by a certain date and time you suddenly focus and laser in on how to get the job done. In order to promote a book, you need to set daily goals and then determine actionnable steps to fulfill those goals.

The other part one should not ignore is the team effort concept. You might write a book on your own but it takes a team to promote it. Publishers need to have more than one book publicist assigned to promote a book, providing not just extra hands, but additional ideas and mental support. For authors who try to promote on their own, I would advise you work with a publicist or have an assistant to help you tackle obstacles.

I like how the tasks given to teams are things one can count or add. They involve raising money for a charity, selling a product or service, or convincing a certain number of people to do something. Life is easier when you can put a number on something – then you either fall short or exceed it, but you are not left to not know where you stand. When we promote a book we should use numbers to measure performance, from total sales to Web site hits, downloads, connections made, number of people approached, size of media outlets or groups, contacted, etc. A task cannot simply be to “get media.” Be specific on who you are pursuing for media coverage.

On The Apprentice big tasks often get broken down into smaller ones. The same holds true for your marketing efforts. Think big, but execute small. Possibly the best part of The Apprentice is the concluding boardroom scene, where Donald Trump determines who the winning team is and then figures out whom to fire on the losing team. Never mind that he sits on his thrown as if he is omniscient or that his hair overshadows the pompous blowhards blather about what it takes to succeed. It is good drama.

The boardroom is judgment time. Those who were team members a moment ago suddenly turn on one another and make each other the enemy. This is a true aspect of the business world. There is competition going on, even within a company or department. Even within a family. Sometimes to inspire or to bring out your best, you need to be challenged by those who work with you and are closest to you.

Wouldn’t it be great if there was a season where the show is turned into The Publishing Apprentice and all of the tasks are related to the creation and selling of books? Maybe we’d all learn a few things in the process. Trump has had a few best-sellers, so he would be qualified to head the show. One episode can deal with writing a book, another one on editing; then cover design, printing, distribution, advertising, promoting, marketing, etc. There are so many components and facets to the book publishing industry. With millions of published books circulating out there and millions of wannabe authors, the show could have a substantial audience.

But first we need to launch Greenlight Apprentice, a show dedicated to convincing Trump and NBC to create The Publishing Apprentice. Teams will be selected with the task of getting the network to create a show that could feature bestselling authors mentoring novices, social media experts like Facebook teaming with traditional retailers such as Barnes and Nobel, and entrepreneurial startups and self-published authors dueling established publishing houses.

Every day of your writing and publishing life is like one episode of The Apprentice. You can create your own tasks and challenges. The results will be these for you to judge. You can internalize what Trump would say to you in a given circumstance and then use his would-be advice or criticism to spur you on to the next step.

If you adopt the best features on The Apprentice you will never hear the words “You’re Fired” but you may just get fired up all the way to the bank.

Interview With Best-Selling Author Julie L. Cannon

1.      What type of books do you write?   I write FLOSS - Fictional, Literary, Organically Spiritual, Southern. The two books I've got coming next are contemporary.

2.      What is your latest or upcoming book about?    "Twang" is coming out August 1 and it's about the cathartic nature of art. The elevator pitch I kept at my computer while writing goes - "When the 'music calls her home' one too many times, country music diva Jenny Cloud fears she cannot deal with the dark memories that her autobiographical lyrics evoke without losing her faith and her sanity.'

3.      What inspired you to write it?    Conway Twitty's quote that goes "A good country song takes a page out of somebody's life and puts it to music." I believe this with all my heart. After I settled on a premise, I played that old 'what if' game writers love. I asked myself, 'What if there was this girl, this exceptionally talented girl who could write music and play the guitar, who had a childhood straight out of a Faulkner novel. What if she makes it big in Nashville and must revisit her past for powerful songs?"

4.      What did you do before you became an author?   To hear my mother's version, I was born telling stories. I have a degree in Journalism (emphasis in Advertising and PR) but my work history after college is primarily sales, with a closet life as a writer until I got my first book contract.

5.      How does it feel to be a published author?   The published part is very humbling, very surreal sometimes, that I am able to do this thing I adore and that someone would put their faith in me enough to print and publicize my books. But, I also feel a responsibility when I write, to those souls who plunk down hard-earned dollars for my work. I feel I must use my gift coupled with my experiences to give them something real. To make a difference in this world.

6.      Any advice for struggling writers?   If it is your dream to write, if it makes your soul sing, do NOT give up. Sit your behind in that chair and write! I make myself write at least 1,000 words a day, except on Sundays and that occasional instance I choose to take time off for family and friends. Study your craft constantly by reading in your genre, and also by reading 'how-to-write' books. Continually submit your work, and stay open to suggestions and criticisms.

7.      Where do you see book publishing heading?   From what I've seen, I can only guess that the trend toward self-publishing and e-books will continue to grow. I must admit it pains me to think of the changes sweeping through our electronic-obsessed world. Are paper books ever going to be obsolete? I hope and pray not. It's no secret that I love, prefer old-fashioned stitched-together books made out of trees. As far as the civil war raging right now between traditionally published vs. self-published, I don't know how I feel. Perhaps we need more police in the self-publishing community?  

For more information, please check out: www.JulieLCannon.com

Why Do I Love Being Involved In The Book Publishing Industry?
by Saul and Dale Stanten 

"After many years of soul searching, I finally put my memoir, “The Hooker’s Daughter,” down on paper. The book, which describes a child’s journey into womanhood, reveals a Jewish family embroiled in prostitution, shoplifting, stolen cars, homelessness, homosexuality, and terminal illness. This candid and shocking memoir delivers a stunning account of shame, survival, and triumph. Additional information can be viewed on my website, www.TheHookersDaughter.com.

Many authors love the writing process but fear the more difficult aspect of promoting their creation. I love marketing! Selling something that originated in my head is a great challenge and generates a lot of satisfaction. By getting on the phone and the web, I have been able to arrange for numerous speaking engagements to promote the book and even receive honorariums.

However, money is not the point. Through networking, people have been introduced to me who are involved with or who provided me with contacts in the publishing and film making industry. This phase of my marketing plan has already begun. Will I be able to have a film or TV documentary made out of my book? Who knows? But, I will give it my best shot!!"

What Advice Would You Give To Struggling Writers?
by Peter Murphy

Murphy’s Laws For Writers

1.  Read! The more you write, the better you will write. The more you read, the better you will write.

2.  Writing is a craft as well as an art. If you rely only on your natural gifts without working hard, you will never be more than good.

3.  If you do not allow yourself to write badly, you will never write well.

4.  Study the masters. Study with a master.

5.  If you ask for criticism on your writing, don’t be upset or defensive if it is critical.

6.  If you write only to express yourself, you will bore others immediately and yourself eventually. If you write to discover and understand, you have a chance of being interesting to someone who doesn't know or love you.

7.  Inspiration, like acne, goes away when you reach adulthood.

8.  Learn the rules before you break them. Not after!

9.  Like Voodoo and the Occult, Writer’s Block is only true if you believe in it. If you don’t, it ain’t.

10.  If you don’t know what to write, keep writing.

For the rest ,please click on:  Murphy's Laws for Writers - Part 2
For more information, please consult: www.murphywriting.com

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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 brianfeinblum@gmail.com. He feels more important when discussed in the third-person.

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