Thursday, February 28, 2013

How To Promote Even When Under A Crisis

“There are few guarantees in business today. Unfortunately, one of them is the inevitability of a crisis having a potentially major effect on your business and your reputation. When your company finds itself in the midst of a crisis, the ripple effects can disrupt lives and business for the foreseeable future if public opinion is not properly shaped and managed. Skillfully managing the perception of the crisis determines the difference between a company’s life or death. Because in the pitched battle between perception and reality, perception always wins.”

These are the words from the book jacket of a new book by Steven Fink, Crisis Communications: The Definitive guide to Managing the Message. It is a very good book on a very important topic.

The author is in a good position to know about all things crisis. He is the president and founder of Lexicon Communications Corp. (, the nation’s oldest and most experienced crisis management and crisis communications firm. In addition, he authored the bestselling Crisis Management, the first book ever written on the subject.

“Crisis Communications provides proactive and preventive methods for preempting potential crises,” adds the book jacket. “The book reveals proven strategies for recognizing and averting damaging crisis communications issues before it’s too late. The book also offers ways to deal with mainstream and social media, use them to your advantage, and neutralize and turn around a hostile media environment.”

Sample Excerpts:
“The Internet makes it easy for rumors and cybercrises to arise. And whether they occur on purpose or by happenstance, they must be dealt with immediately, before they spread unchecked. What you want to do is drive a stake through the rumor’s heart quickly, but even that doesn’t always work. Once something is on the Internet, it has a way of rematerializing when you least expect it. Still, you need to be aggressive and try. “This will blow over” as a mantra or security blanket always fails.”

“Of paramount importance is this: if you are wrong in a crisis (for example, one of your products has a defect), say so via social media (and other media outlets) and explain what you are going to do about it, especially what you are doing to protect the public. Keep uppermost in your mind that you are now speaking directly to the people who may have been affected by this issue, and if they think you are stonewalling them, they will be your most ardent critics. Give your followers accurate, swift, and reliable information direct from “the horse’s mouth.” This will help reduce the length of time that the story stays alive, whereas lies and cover-ups will only prolong it when the truth eventually comes out, as it always does.”

He had an interesting section about social media, saying the following about how we should see each of these social communication sites:

Twitter: I’m eating a donut.
Facebook: I like donuts.
Foursquare: This is where I eat donuts.
Instagram: Here’s vintage picture of my donut.
YouTube: Here I am eating a donut.
LinkedIn: My skills include donut eating.
Pinterest: Here’s a donut recipe.
Last FM: Now listening to “Donuts.”
G+: I’m Google employee who eats donuts.

Hopefully if you are promoting a book you are not involved in a crisis, but you never know!


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Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer, the nation’s largest book promoter. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This blog is copyrighted material by BookMarketingBuzzBlog 2013 ©

Interview With Author Erica Ferencik

  1. What inspired you to write Repeaters?  My mother was a huge inspiration for this book, but not in the way you might imagine. How can I put this? She was nuts. Not a nice person at all.

She died in 2005, but the woman had such an intense personality, a presence, life force,
that no matter how ill she got in the end, I couldn’t imagine her dead.

When my mother was alive, she used to call me every day, which was one reason I hated the phone. This was before caller ID, so I would just helplessly pick it up when it rang, my heart in my throat. At least she never copped on to the internet.

Anyway, my mother died on a Saturday.

On Sunday morning while I was in the shower, the phone rang, right at the time she usually called me. My heart sped up; my breathing grew rapid and shallow. Frozen in place, with shampoo in my hair, I just listened to the phone bleating from the other room. I had to calm myself, tell myself: she’s dead, of course it’s not her. But as if drawn to it, I stepped out of the shower, grabbed a towel, and went to the phone. I stood there dripping as I listened to the answering machine pick up, my outgoing message play, and finally, to the caller.

Whoever it was, hesitated. The person’s breathing was labored, just like my mother’s was in her last days. After a good thirty seconds, the person hung up.

My hand was shaking so hard I could barely get the phone back in its cradle. I closed my eyes and forced myself to remember signing her death certificate the day before. But I couldn’t help myself. The power of her will was so strong. She was dead, so what? She could still pick up the phone…

And I thought, if my mother could return from the dead, why not others? Why not a race of Repeaters?

  1. What is it about? Repeaters is the story of a young girl who comes back to avenge her own murder by her mother’s hand.  Here’s the back cover copy:

An invisible society lives among us. They are the daily déjà vu: the man with the dead brother's profile turning the corner a few yards ahead, the eerily familiar voice on the phone, a laugh down the hall from someone we knew and loved years ago.

They are Repeaters. Trapped in an immortality of endless reincarnation, they must learn to love in order to die a natural death.

One in particular has come back a hundred times; her hunger for love compounded by lifetimes bereft of comfort. Dr. Astra Nathanson is a beautiful, forty-year old psychiatrist who has fallen in love with her daughter Kim's fiancé, Constantin. After centuries of loneliness, Astra will stop at nothing to make him hers, including murdering her own child.

But Kim returns as Lucy, who grows into a young woman haunted by memories she can't explain. At a psychiatric ward, Lucy comes under Dr. Nathanson's care. Soon she comes to understand who she really is, and seeks to avenge her own death even as she is hunted once again.

  1. Can you give us a 150-word excerpt that should drive us to buy it? CHAPTER ONE

Spring came to the square in splashes of color, with careful rows of blood red tulips and banks of showy daffodils. On the north side of the green, a magnolia was bursting with fleshy blooms, its leaves curled like tender green fists. Tucked deep in the knotty branches, a robin sat fatly in her bed of leaves and twigs. Beneath the downy belly of the bird, inside the chalk blue egg tucked below, the nestling’s fetal heart – the size of a sunflower seed – beat hot and fierce. The tiny chick dreamed pre-bird dreams of flight and fear; its big eyes pulsed under their purplish skeins of skin; it fit closely inside its jamming shell; it was ready, moments from ready, to break free.

The robin stirred herself, flapped to the edge of the nest where she perched, preened, shook her tail feathers free of a few drops of rain. Only a man’s height beneath her, worms nudged blindly to the surface of the soil as if asking to be devoured. The bird cocked her head down at them, then back at her egg: first this way, then that. She made up her mind. With her fierce beak she jabbed at the egg, cracking it open. Yolk spilled around the tiny wet bird as her mother stabbed at it again, ripping at its hot belly. The baby bird opened its mouth once, slowly, soundlessly, before she tore out its throat.

  1. Do you have any personal experiences with reincarnation? When my brother died at age 27, it seemed I would run into him about once a week for a year. After that the sightings seemed to peter out, but in the beginning I saw him all the time.

My brother was very tall and thin, with blond hair with lots of cowlicks. He took his life in September of 1987.

On a rainy night in October of that year, I was walking through Harvard Square, and saw a man in a long coat. He had exactly my brother’s build, precisely his loping gait, his wet blond hair plastered to his head. I ran to catch up with him. He turned the corner onto Church Street, but when I got there, he was no where in sight.

Days before Christmas that year I was having dinner with friends at Redbones in Cambridge. Through all the smoke and crowds, I caught sight of a man with my brother’s profile. He even had the same distracted air; the same way of talking with his long, thin fingers.

The following spring, at a crowded party, I heard my brother’s laugh in another room. I muscled my way in there and found a short, fat man laughing my brother’s laugh. 
I knew it was wish fulfillment. That we seek as well as manifest what we desire, wherever we look, whether conscious of that seeking or not.

  1. How would you describe your writing style? Because, like Brian, I feel more important writing in the third personJ, here’s my bio:

Erica Ferencik is a novelist, essayist, and screenwriter with a BA in painting and an MA in Creative Writing from Boston University. Her work has ranged from the hilarious to the terrifying and everything in between, spanning media from a decade of standup comedy working with the likes of Louis CK and Dane Cook and performing her own work on Morning Stories for NPR, to penning critically acclaimed novels.

  1. Any advice to a struggling writer? Hmm, I’m not sure if “struggling” refers to 1) the general aches and pains of being a writer, as in: writing is hard, damnit, and I tend to distract myself doing anything rather than writing, such as laundry or cutting my cat’s toenails…OR 2) struggling to pay the bills with your art, an ageless problem…OR 3) struggling to get your work traditionally published or published in a “respected” media, such as well known ezines, newspapers and so on. A contingent struggle is whether or not to self publish…

All of which is a hell of a lot of struggling…

Regarding the psychic struggles of being a writer: just be sure you genuinely like it, and everything involved in it: including being able to deal with the isolation and the time commitment among other issues. Actually writing is evidence that you enjoy it. Learning to write well and actually producing something as long and complex as a novel is like a marathon, so you better like to RUN…

So assuming you do like to write…at least most of the time…

Never stop learning your craft, whether that’s through reading what you admire, or writing. As you read, NOTICE what grabs you and look deeper to find out what that author has done to make you feel something. In your daily life: never stop taking mental or actual notes about what is happening around you. Keep that third eye open.
Forget about inspiration. Set a schedule for yourself and stick to it. You would be AMAZED what you can accomplish. And never, ever, EVER give up.

Re: issue number 2):  Struggling to pay the bills with your art. Be realistic. It’s possible to be the next Amanda Hocking, but for every ebook millionaire there are thousands and thousands of writers who sell just a few books a year.  It’s totally okay, and in many ways preferable, to find a way to make a living that you enjoy that is completely separate from your art. It’s a big, beautiful life out there, and the more you experience it, the more you will have to write about.

Re: 3), the struggle to get traditionally published. Or I should say, the pros and cons of striving for the traditional route versus self publishing. Not only a very personal decision, but one that might change during the course of your career, and might have different applications for different projects. For example, self publishing via Kindle Singles might be a good idea if you are an essayist, short story writer, or have something with an odd length that you want to get out there right away.  But for your novel, you prefer at this stage in your life or based on what you’ve learned, to push for the traditional agent and publisher.

  1. Where do you see publishing in five years? So many of us in this “industry” would give very special body parts to know the answer to THAT question. I confess I have so much of my brain devoted to writing that I don’t pay as much attention to the publishing machine as I know I should.

But if we’re eliminating the middle men – agents, distributors – then doesn’t it all come down to marketing? And if that’s the case, doesn’t it really come down to being the master of whatever technology (such as social media) is roaring down the pike? Of course the element I’m cynically leaving out here is good writing, because I’m not convinced that’s always necessary. The gatekeeper of the future is the buying public, the same people who launched “stars” like Justin Bieber and so on. The brilliant movie “Idiocracy” comes to mind.

I think bookstores will have to rethink what they offer, selling even more coffee and hosting more events than they already do, to continue to exist. In-store print-on-demand services may become common.

Publishers will try to align more closely with the needs of authors (such as giving them a bigger cut on ebook royalties or really help with marketing) in order to stay in the game. That said, these days it feels like they are still just going for books they think will be mega sellers (which will continue of course) or signing up super successful self-pubbed writers to piggyback on their success.

For more information, please consult:


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Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer, the nation’s largest book promoter. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This blog is copyrighted material by BookMarketingBuzzBlog 2013 ©


Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Are Good Publicists Ever Ethical?

Most people who are considered to be good people do not always act ethically. The real question is this: To what degree and how frequently do they act unethically?

So if being an ethical human being challenges many educated, well-intentioned, conscience-driven individuals who should know right from wrong, what should we expect from the paid practitioners of a profession that seeks to serve its clients before the interests of society? Perhaps that is the problem with our country and the world – we have different standards in place that contradict and conflict with each other all the time.

No one has a constitutional right to PR representation but publicists do operate under the laws of the land and the tenets of their profession and of the industries they represent. Can someone promoting the NRA, the government, or a Fortune 500 company be guilty of being unethical from the get go, just by the mere fact they have agreed to cover up the secrets they learn, to commit to putting a spin on messages they know to be false or at the very least against the interests of society, and to publicly support the words and ideas of a client whom you’d rather reverse if you met them outside of a working relationship?

The better you are at being a public, the worst you are at being an ethical person. The more you advocate for the interests of one, no matter  if it is a non-profit promoting children’s safety, the more you move towards creating a world that is void of the things you don’t advocate for. To be an ethical publicist could mean you are an unethical human being. To be an unethical publicist may actually mean you are an ethical person. How so, you wonder?

An ethical publicist puts his client’s needs above others. An ethical publicist may not lie but is under no obligation to reveal truths he knows of. The ethical publicist represents his or her client to best of his ability, using all available tools and resources to promote the client – but what if competitors of that client are better and more deserving of PR? You won’t, as the publicist, admit that your client is second-best or even third-rate.

Take an unethical publicist, in certain situations, could be an ethical person. If you, as a publicist, know your client sucks and is a loser you can continue to promote him, you can violate a code of professional ethics for the greater good, and help expose your client for what he really is. You could leak things to the media that are against your client’s interests. You could speak out against them. You could contact this competitor and quietly help them. All of this makes you can unethical publicist but perhaps a more ethical person.

Are good publicists ethical? Can good people be good publicists? As someone in the PR industry since 1989 I can this: The world is far from perfect and humans are flawed. We do the best we can to act ethically as often as possible but I have no doubt that all publicists have and will act, in some degree, unethically. And in some cases, that may even serve society well.

Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer, the nation’s largest book promoter. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog 2013 ©

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Interview With Author Jon Boilard

1.   Jon, what is your debut novel about? Somebody asked me that very question at a bar the other night and before I could answer one of my drinking buddies blurted out, "It's about mayhem." And I guess on some level that's certainly true. It's a dark and violent romp through a busted little New England mill town. Bobby DuBois, the central character, is the youngest male descendant of Franklin County's most notorious family of badasses. His old man gets locked up and his girlfriend gets knocked up, and so Bobby goes on the run with his uncle, who is determined to teach his nephew how to be a "right DuBois" with all the drinking and fighting and fornicating that that entails. So it's about the lessons Bobby learns, how he's coming to terms (or not) with his station in life. But at its core the book is about a troubled young man trying desperately to save his own soul.

2.  What inspired you to write it? The main character has been haunting me for years. I've written a bunch of short stories about Bobby DuBois, although he hasn't always been named that. At some point I recognized that I needed to spend more time with the character and so the idea for the novel basically came from that. From a practical perspective, I was also moved to write a novel because I have been told over and over that there is no market out there for short story collections--especially those coming from new or undiscovered writers. I think that's complete bullshit because I personally buy three or four collections by new writers every year. But hearing that again and again, well, I'd be lying if I said that it didn't motivate me to try a longer piece.

3. You got a book deal in an unconventional way -- how did you do it? A young man named Frank Rossi is one of the bartenders at my favorite watering hole in San Francisco, Gino & Carlo's. Frank has been a fan of my short stories for several years. One night he mentioned to me that David Poindexter was known to stop in the bar from time to time. The name didn't ring a bell with me but I went home and Googled him and of course I did recognize the name of the publishing company he had founded, MacAdam Cage--a real gem of an independent publisher. I was excited about the prospect of working with David and possibly having my debut novel published by MacAdam Cage. So the next time I visited Gino & Carlo's, I left a few of my published short stories with Frank along with an introductory note and cash enough to buy the publisher a drink or two. David called me a week later and the rest, as they say, is history. We handled all of our business at the bar, even the contract signing. The moral of the story: you don't need a literary agent if you have a bartender worth his salt.

4.  Two-thirds of the way into writing your book your laptop was stolen. How did you overcome that loss? It was a blessing in disguise. My first attempt at writing a novel was a mess and I needed to start from a clean slate, but of course at the time you couldn't have convinced me of that and I certainly would have stayed with it for too long. So my laptop getting stolen and the fact that I hadn't been sharp enough to back up the manuscript anywhere else, well, in retrospect it was probably a good thing. Years ago I worked in a kitchen for a guy named Jim Gongwer and every Saturday morning before we opened the cafe he'd have me fire up the hood and get the first batch of flapjacks cooking. And without fail the flapjacks in that first batch would be misshapen and cooked unevenly. "Throw them out," Jim would tell me. "Always throw the first ones out. Nobody wants them." It pained me a little to throw them out because I had created them after all ... and they weren't really that bad. But he was right, he knew he couldn't sell fucked-up looking flapjacks. A writer could do worse than to apply Jim's lesson to the first draft of his or her debut novel. Get that first batch out of the way and don't be afraid to discard it, and the second one will be stronger because of it.

5.  What do you enjoy most about being a writer? I've always enjoyed reading and writing. The act of writing is cathartic for me and also helps me make sense of the world. The most enjoyable part of writing fiction? When I string the words together just right. And it's a thrill when a reader tells me that he or she has been moved by something I have written, I enjoy moving people in that way, it's rewarding. But let's be honest, what could be more fun than sitting around and making shit up all day? 

6.  How do you market and promote your writings? Specific to the novel, my publisher, MacAdam Cage, hired a publicist in New York City to bang the drum a bit and to send advance copies to all the reviewers and bloggers out there. In addition, David and my esteemed editor, Sonny Brewer, made the rounds and talked it up with booksellers to try to create some kind of buzz before we went to print. And since the book has hit the shelves I have used email, Facebook and Twitter to share any small victories with my followers--a positive review here, a good reading there, etc. I've done a bunch of readings at bookstores and bars in San Francisco, there are some book club engagements on the horizon, and I'm looking into setting up an East Coast tour for this summer. I also bought a half-page ad in the winter issue of Poets & Writers Magazine and I recently sent two copies of the book to my favorite local radio show in hopes that the hosts will discuss it on air (they sometimes talk about the books they're reading). It almost feels like guerrilla marketing at this point.

7.  Why do you write and when did you know you would be a writer? I think I've always known. I remember being a kid, maybe nine years old, wandering around the grounds of the abandoned Chapman Valve factory in Indian Orchard, Massachusetts, making up stories in my head about the Maniac Latin Hoods (a local gang that had tagged the old building). Then I'd go home and write the stories down. Today I write because writing is cheaper than therapy. It allows me to exorcise my demons and also lets me explore different parts of my personality similar to what I imagine actors go through. I can go to some dark place and then come back. It's a thrill to be able to do that, when it works the way it's supposed to. The journey can also be scary and exhausting because you can learn things about yourself. But when everything clicks just right, there's nothing better, nothing more exhilarating. And like any other addict I simply have to go back for more.

Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer, the nation’s largest book promoter. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This blog is copyrighted material by BookMarketingBuzzBlog 2013 ©

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Standing The Test Of Time

All creative artists want their work to be embraced by a loving public, even long after they are dead. They want to leave a legacy and to be appreciated by others. It doesn’t matter if it’s art, film, books, architecture, or other forms of creation – the desire and drive of all creators is the same.

Sure, some are ego-driven, money-hungry, fame-seekers, but all, at the heart of their efforts, want to see their work valued and to know it inspired, enlightened, entertained, and informed others. They want to know they sparked a dialogue, provoked action, stimulated thought and led to a change in society or impacted lives. Writers want to think that we created something not just for today or for a generation, but something everlasting and permanent.

The truth is it doesn’t work that way. Not at all.

I was in the public library the other day to help my eight-year-old son do research for a school report he was writing for his second-grade class. While he looked for books about the Blue Iguana of the Cayman Islands (we found none), I happened upon a volume entitled “Colonial History to 1877.” As I flipped through the book I realized how much has happened in our nation’s history of nearly 237 years but I said to my son: “You know, there will come a time when all of the history you will spend your school years learning, will be taught in a day.”

Eventually there will be little difference between 1813, 1913 or 2013, because so much history will have taken place over the years. Here’s what will happen:

·         The more recent history of the present era will always seems more significant and important than the distant past.
·         So many more significant things will happen in the centuries to come that by the time it is 2513, to reflect on the quaint times of today will seem insignificant.
·         As time goes by, the time dedicated to studying history will be replaced, in part, to be used to learn new skills that future technologies will bring about.

Our ability to record news, find facts, publish analysis and share information will overwhelm the education system and forbid it to properly give students enough time to discuss any specific event or subject in great detail.

Every year that goes by, the amount of classroom time spent learning about history generally remains the same but the amount of time put to any one event or person generally shrinks because more history is created and has to be covered. History books have three decades of history and five more presidents to write about since I graduated high school in 1984.

How much longer will the school year need to be in order to properly cover future history? I calculated I spent about an hour per day in class on history – some 2160 school hours (an hour per school day, 180 days per year, 12 years). That is about 10 hours dedicated per every year of this nation’s history. That means another 290 hours of instruction would be needed just to cover the last 29 years. What will that come to in 100 years? 1000 years? 10,000 years?

So, I come back to my opening remarks about the lifespan of a creative artist’s work, especially books. We still read old books – the Bible, works of Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, and some ancient texts, but compared to all that has been written and published, how many books are read well beyond an author’s lifetime? Books expire. They have a shelf-life even if they can exist forever online. Relevance, discoverability, language – all of these things doom most books.

But it does not stop us from writing as if our words will last forever. Heck, before we can think about our works being read and enjoyed a century from now, we struggle to find readers today.   But we can strive to write today and hope the words live another day.

The odds of being read today are much greater than they will be even next week, when, at least 7,000 more books will have been published by traditional publishers. Write as if you’ll be read tomorrow, but hope to be read today.

Remember these words, for chances are they won’t live beyond your lifetime: Create, because you reflect the truth. Create, because you need an alternate to the truth. Create, because you don’t know the truth. Create, to inspire greater truths.

History will tell us what really was true, if only history were complete, unbiased, and accurate. Who knows how long your words will exist, but make them count right now, and if they do their job to inspire greatness, change, and more creativity, then they will become useless and unneeded with time. They will have led a revolution that will render them obsolete. Perhaps being made obsolete is the honor to strive for.

Will your words stand the test of time?

Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer, the nation’s largest book promoter. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog 2013 ©

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Long Live Underdog

Cartoons come and go, though some have lasted beyond the generation of children they were created for. I grew up loving the Looney Toons – Bugs Bunny, Woody Woodpecker, Pork Pig, Daffy Duck, etc. They had attitude, color, and wit. But they have been pushed aside today by cartoons that use special effects, superheroes, or educational themes. No longer do just a few networks dictate our viewing fare. There are now hundreds of options available to kids.

When I was a little boy growing up in Brooklyn, I loved watching the exploits of the heroic Underdog, a cartoon about a crime-fighting dog who always seemed to rescue one person, his love, Sweet Polly Purebred. The show debuted in 1964 and I started watching before the last original episode aired in 1973.

The flying canine was my favorite when I was five or six-years-old, more than Bugs Bunny, The Flintstones, Tom & Jerry, Mighty Mouse, Yogi Bear, and other contemporaries. I watched all 124 episodes – multiple times.

“There is no reason to fear, Underdog is here,” was one of my favorite lines.

The co-creator of the classic series, William W. Biggers, just passed away at age 85. I had not thought about the series in years and yet upon reflection I realize how influential the show was on developing my attitude towards seeking justice. He may have been fictional but I shared many real moments with him.

Now I hope to share a few such moments with my kids, 8 and 5. I just ordered the series on DVD for less than $40. I am not the type to own a series or even buy many DVDs of movies, but if I was to treasure one thing from my childhood’s early days, it would be Underdog.

I cannot wait to get it and see how my children react to the 50-year-old animation and story lines. Will it seem lame and outdated or will it resonate with them as it did with me?

I know one thing: I will get to see my beloved Underdog again and that it will be worth the purchase price to touch an old memory. He is back to save the day.

Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer, the nation’s largest book promoter. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog 2013 ©

Friday, February 22, 2013

Interview With Book Editor Lauren Mosko Bailey

1.  How long have you been an editor? Where have you worked? any books or authors of note that you have worked with? I've been a professional editor for 13 years and a book editor for 10 years. I worked for Writer's Digest Books from 2003 to 2009--first as an assistant editor for Children's Writer's & Illustrator's Market, then as editor of Novel & Short Story Writer's Market, and then on the trade book line. I've been freelance since then, doing book editing for WD, HOW Books (owned by the same company, F+W Media), Kirkus Media, and private clients. 
During my WD days, I had the pleasure of editing many writers and editors of note: essayist and story writer Steve Almond, southern humorist George Singleton, Asheville Poetry Review editor Keith Flynn,Glimmer Train editors Susan Burmeister-Brown and Linda Swanson-Davies, to name a few. Probably the most popular title I edited, released during Pirates of the Caribbean mania, was a comprehensive dictionary of piratespeak called The Pirate Primer: Mastering the Language of Swashbucklers and Rogues, by George Choundas. Since writing is just as much a part of editorial life at WD as editing is, I also got to interview tons of amazing writers, such as Khaled Hosseini, Mary Karr, Megan McCafferty, and Gregory Maguire.

2.   As a book editor, what role do you play in making an author's work better?  Because every project is different, I adjust my level of involvement to accommodate the author's vision and skill level. I've done everything from a ghost (re)write and complete organizational overhaul to a light-handed line polishing. But most of the time, what I'm doing is offering a trained and fresh eye, acting as sort of a "super reader"; I not only call out what really works but also shine a spotlight on anything that will prove troublesome or unsatisfying for the author's audience: ideas that are incomplete, language that is muddled, plot points or characters that are flat or confusing. And then of course I apply whatever style is preferred for consistency's sake (Chicago, AP, or something specific to the house) so that all the book's edges are smooth. To me, a great editor is one whose work is invisible to the author, and together the two work to make great writing that's invisible to the reader--the words falling away so that the reader just gets lost in the narrative. 

3.  What are the rewards - -and challenges -- to editing books? I think one of the greatest rewards is the personal creative relationships I've formed with my authors. Knowing I've helped a writer achieve his or her goals for a book is a tremendous high, and staying in touch with my authors--watching their careers develop and sometimes developing a true friendship with them--contributes to the intensely personal nature of bookmaking. 

In some cases, the editor also gets to work closely with book designers and sales, publicity, and marketing colleagues, and for me it always felt wonderful to be in the company of so many creative people who love what I love. Just as it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a team--all devoted to the love of language and literature--to make and sell a book. Being a part of that is tremendously special. And of course getting that first copy of a new book, still warm from the printer, never gets old.

As for the challenging part, sometimes no matter what feats of communication and diplomacy an editor performs, for whatever reason, the author-editor dynamic just doesn't work, and that makes the whole process harder. And it's hard when you really believe in a book or author and you just can't get the marketing support behind it or it doesn't sell as well as you think it should. On a micro level, when a rougher manuscript comes in, it can really take some mental acrobatics to get it ready for publication--but that's also the fun part.

4.  What trends are you seeing in the genres of books that you have been editing? Genre blending is being embraced by both writers and readers to the point that I think it's becoming nearly impossible to shove a book or author into a particular silo, which is wonderful. And I love that authors are producing work outside the genres they're typically known for. 

5. Where do you see book publishing is heading in the next few years? It's funny because I remember--maybe 6 or 7 years ago--panels of WD editors being asked by writers at conferences if we thought ebooks were the future of publishing. Our stance then, and I think we were not incorrect in saying it, was that ebooks wouldn't catch on until there was a truly viable ereading device. And now there are Kindles and Nooks and iPads galore... And the major publishers are reporting growth in this area and declines in print sales. No surprise there. 

So thanks to these devices and the public's comfort with them, I think, with the exception of children's picture books--Scholastic or the ALA just released the results of a survey that showed that children prefer print for family reading times--the ease and ubiquity of ebooks will continue to convert readers at a significant rate. I also think the stigma of established authors taking control of their publication and sales and self-publishing through places like Amazon will be a thing of the past. In fact, particularly for genre writers with extensive backlists, it may become the norm. I still don't think ebooks or self-publishing vehicles will make it any easier for the average unknown writer to break in, but I do think writers who are building or have already built an audience will find it increasingly easy to reach them.

Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer, the nation’s largest book promoter. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This blog is copyrighted material by BookMarketingBuzzBlog 2013 ©

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Magazines Take A Dive, But It’s Just Gossip

Normally I cry over the decline of print sales – books, newspapers, magazines – but the latest numbers released regarding tabloids that feed off of paparazzi photos does not upset me too much. Maybe it is a positive sign that people are maturing and are finding a better way to spend their time than to read rumors about which celebrity picked their nose.

InTouch Weekly, Life & Style Weekly, and People saw double-digit drops in newsstand sales over the last half of 2012. Cosmo and Glamour, magazines that alternately empower women with making them feel inferior, each dropped double digits at the newsstands as well.

Reader's Digest, once the magazine with the highest circulation (over 15 million in 1990s) just filed for its second bankruptcy in four years. Times are tough for magazines.

Overall, magazines of any kind, fell 8.2% at the newsstand, which is alarming, but verified circulation was only down .3%, which means most people get their magazines either by subscription or via digital downloads. But if magazines are to grow, newsstand sales will need to stabilize and at least stop the bleeding. Otherwise the tabloids will start to feature their own deaths splashed across their covers.

It looks like the sagging numbers is leading Time, Inc. to sell off many of its big magazine properties. USA Today reported Meredith, a media company that owns other magazines, will buy People, InStyle, Real Simple and other titles for about three billion big ones.

But not all is gloomy. People actually showed an increase in paid and verified circulation by 1.9% in the second half of 2012. It has a weekly circulation of 3.64 million.

Time, Fortune, and SI will remain with Time, Inc.

Interview With Author Susan Swan

1.    Susan, what do you love about being a published author?  I love the chance to get out and talk to people about my work. I used to be a performance artist in the Seventies so I see the public promotional side of the writing life as another art form. It's a chance to discuss the ideas in my book, and hear the reactions of readers who might not take the time to write. For instance, in my new novel, The Western Light, I was exploring
the idea of heroes and moral courage. One of my readers gave me a good answer: heroes are people who give too much away.

2. What inspired you to write your new book? My father, a country doctor, was a hero to his community yet he neglected the emotional needs of his family. He was so busy delivering babies and pulling people out of burning cars, sometimes operating on the spot. He was seen as the epitome of goodness. I admired him to bits but his neglect left me hurt and angry. I wanted to write about that conflict.

3.What is it about? My new novel tells the story of Mary "Mouse" Bradford--protagonist of my bestselling The Wives of Bath--who is torn between her distant father and a charismatic ex-NHL hockey player who is sent to the local asylum for murdering his wife and child.

4. What were some challenges you overcame to write this book? I had written about Mouse Bradford in The Wives of Bath which tells the story about a clique of girls at a Toronto boarding school who don't want to grow up into women. It was made into the feature film Lost and Delirious.) starring Mischa Barton, Piper Parabo and Jessica Pare. This novel was published internationally and the film was shown in 34 countries. So Mouse Bradford appeared to be a known quantity and at first I assumed it would be easy to write in Mouse's voice. It was anything but. Mouse is a year younger in The Western Light and because she hasn't been hit by the teenager's hormonal yet, she is somewhat different from what she was in Wives. I had to discover what those differences were and build them into the story. As Carol Gilligan says, young women know who they are at 12 but adolescence sweeps them away from themselves and into the world of trying to please men. Mouse, in my new book, hasn't been swept away yet.

5. What do you think can be done to make the book publishing world stronger? We need big, reputable online forums that discuss current books. I mean really big browsing platforms where readers and writers can talk with each other and find books they might not necessarily discover through prize lists and reviews. Blogs help but they are written by just one person. Goodreads is a start but it's not enough. 

For more information, please consult:

Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer, the nation’s largest book promoter. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog 2013 ©

Authors Should Answer These Questions

It occurred to me that I tend to ask the same questions of authors over and over when interviewing them for my blog.  I confess part of it is due to laziness and a lack of time. I have not done enough homework about the writers or their books.  But I have always assumed the answers that are given will make each interview interesting, unique, and special. I don’t feel like I am republishing the same interview all the time, but still, I know that a little more creativity should be at work here.

Maybe I should ask oddball, provocative questions and see what happens. Rather than asking for plot summaries, let’s psychoanalyze the writer. I want to hear something that few people discuss. I want to know what drives the creativity of others. The art of writing is truly special and those who make up the publishing industry are certainly an interesting breed.

Maybe one day I will ask some or all of these questions:

·         Why in the world do you think people need your book?
·         Do you feel to be a writer carries a certain burden?
·         What role does fantasizing play in your writings?
·         How about the role of evading your life in your writing?
·         If you didn’t write books do you think you would have killed someone or yourself by now?
·         Have you told parents, siblings, friends, or lovers to screw off for not supporting you as a writer?
·         Which legal addictions help you write well – smoking, food, gambling, sex?
·         Would you rather write about taboo topics and take a politically incorrect approach – or would you rather play it safe and turn out what is commercially viable?
·         Do you write better after an argument?
·         Do you need to get high or blitzed from booze to write?
·         Do you secretly believe your book is the best and yet you cannot understand why publishers, literary agents or consumers won’t support it?
·         Do you want to quit your day job and be a writer full-time?

Whatever the question asked, the answers should be interesting for all writers see the world a
little differently than others. And if they are good writers, they will help all of us to see as they see and perhaps change how we view life and live it.

Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer, the nation’s largest book promoter. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog 2013 ©