Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Why Authors Need A Therapist

Book publicists of the newer generation are more likely to have actually earned a college degree in public relations.  The prior generation likely earned a mass communications, journalism, or English degree.  Neither generation is fully trained in the techniques of psychotherapy, but the truth is, the most called upon skills of the modern book publicist is that of listener and therapist.

Authors, for as long as I’ve been in the book industry (since 1989), often confront the same issues regarding their ego, book sales, the pursuit of fame, and overcoming a fear of the media. 

They all want to be best-sellers, to be widely reviewed, to be validated by an adoring public.  Hopes, dreams, fears, and needs grip them like dog poop to a sock – you just can’t shake it so easily.

The authors project their concerns onto publicists, who in turn must become a member of the unofficial profession: PR Therapists.  Maybe colleges will hand out degrees for this one day.
Authors use their skills as weapons against themselves.  Creativity and vision, both often used to write great books, are also applied to an author’s fragile ego.  Suddenly, they fear the worst and envision disaster for themselves.

They often exist in their minds.  Authors live a whole other life in their heads and sometimes the brain is a home for negative, angst-filled thoughts.  If the thoughts manage to escape the echo-chambers of their minds, they are hurled at the book publicist.  Authors, never short on words, will look for a sympathetic ear in their publicists.

For authors, their book is their baby.  They spent countless hours weighing every word that was researched, written, and edited.  They feel an embryonic relationship with their book.  If the book fails, the author feels rejected.  Every book sale, every media appearance, every tweet is part of the battle ground for the author’s soul.

Perhaps authors aren’t the only ones who need a therapist.  Publishers aren’t much better.  They make a lot of decisions, some costly, and they must feel alone out there, trying to squeeze a few bucks out of every book.  But book publicists, above all others, could use a seat on a psychiatrist's couch.

They get it from all sides – the news media that rejects them, the author who nags them, and the publisher who pressures them.  But all a book publicist needs is that momentary high when he or she learns a media outlet wants to run a story, do an interview, or set up a guest post on a blog. 

Then the euphoria wears off, as soon as their author asks: “But what about the Today Show?”

Interview With Author Lesley Fletcher

What is your latest book about? My latest book, 5 Pillars of the Gypsy is a book of Art and Verse which follows the ‘gypsy’ as she tries to make sense of her own existence. She forays into all kinds of subjects, learning and growing along the way. Like most people she starts without a clue of where she may be headed but knows deep down that there must be something more to life than how she has lived it until this point. She begins by trying to throw her memories away and re-start but as we all know, this feat is impossible.  It swings into each pillar (Encore of a Beginning, Discoveries of a Universe, Realities of a Life, Mindful of an Imagination and finally Musings of a Gypsy) with a purpose which is only really known to herself at the end of the pillar.  Each person who has read the book and provided feedback or a review has maintained the same theme. It is a book that inspires the reader to examine their own lives and spirituality. It reads differently to each person though, depending on where they are in their own ‘journey’. The poems are in themselves, stories. They are not written in abstract, however most of the accompanying art is abstract. It makes for an interesting contrast.

What inspired you to write it? Over a period of about three and a half years, while creating my other books, marketing them and during time at the art studio, I was also writing ‘stories’ in the form of poetic verse. One of the first poems came to me while I was travelling. I wrote it up quickly in my notebook. By the time I knew it the notebook was full and it was only at that point that I was inspired to pull everything apart and re-build in a book format.  At the beginning of the book on what would have been a dedication page I wrote ‘This is my heart’ and so it makes sense that the book was inspired by my own heart and by seeing the world while listening to my heart.

What was the writing process like for this book? It was very emotional and very personal for me even though the book belongs to everyone who reads it. I am self-taught both in art and in writing so felt very un-nerved a great deal of the time (only after my decision to publish).  The actual writing process gifted me the freedom of expression and the freedom of emotion as well as a realisation that story telling had finally proved to be something that lit my inner fire and gave me wings.

What are the rewards/challenges of writing in your genre? I was warned time and again that poetry doesn’t sell and I have to say that it not true at all. It sells but to a select audience. The audience for this book is not limited to but of more interest to a woman over twenty-five with some life experiences in which to gauge the concept and emotions in the book, which cuts out about 50% of the population!  I needed to develop it as a journey even if the word journey has become one of the most over-used words in recent times and yet I also wanted to keep it fresh. The actual pillars are segments. Pillar 3 is a difficult one to get through as it does deal with realities that not everyone wants to face. Pillar 4 lifts the reader out of that phase and train of thought to a fantasy/imagination level that is light and fun. Figuring out the pillars was one of my biggest challenges. The reward has been in its completion and naturally the fantastic reviews and feedback from the audience. My readers have pointed out to me what my words and art have meant to them and in doing so made me see how spiritual I have become in myself. That was my biggest reward and my biggest surprise about the book. While I recognised the spirituality and the gifts the book had to offer, until I heard it from readers, I was a bit unsure of the impact. It is very satisfying as an artist and as a writer to have produced a book like this.

What advice do you have for struggling writers?  Writers who are struggling are not alone in their struggle. There are many, many writers who are very tough on themselves, so tough in fact that they try to adhere to a strict schedule rather than giving themselves time to receive. Listen closely to your own heart and then during that ‘break’ go out and research what other writers have done (especially in the case of self-publishing) to get to the point of a finished product. Write blog posts, inviting other writers to comment on your perceived downfalls. There is such a big community of willing and able people that would be more than willing to provide a boost when needed.  Try to be in a physical place to gain insight for your book. For example, if your book characters center around teenagers, find a way to be around teenagers whether it be on a commuter train or at a soccer field. When writing my first book, Prom Girls a North American Passage, I engaged every person I came across to tell their own story. Everyone seemed to remember being 17 and graduating from high school and so I had wonderful material to work with.

Where do you see book publishing heading? This is a loaded question. I believe we are already there. All those who formatted their book in e-book format only have started to swing around to also formatting a hard copy which I was surprised took so long. I believe that every format that a book is offered in is another step toward a greater audience. Audio books are also on the rise.  As far as the actual big six versus self-published, it has been debated and written about so many times that I can add nothing to it. I do think that the sooner it loses the “us” vs. “them” stigma the better off the buying public will be. I am happy you asked this question though because I have given a lot of thought to physical bookstores and the fact they do not carry or list independently published books unless it is a best-seller gone AWOL J. I would like to see a database – Kiosk, similar to the Amazon database or even via Amazon where customers may look up and order books into the store they are shopping at. The store (I am thinking Indigo/Chapter here, being Canadian) will then have an indicator or which books the store should carry in their physical inventory. I think it is a doable, innovative idea that needs to see the light of day sometime soon.

For more information, please consult: http://journeyofthegypsy.wordpress.com and         http://inspirationimport.wordpress.com
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 brianfeinblum@gmail.com. He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This blog is copyrighted material by BookMarketingBuzzBlog ©2013 

Interview With Author Luella Dudley

Your fourth poetry book was recently published. What are all of your books? In 1994 I published The Reflection of My Mind in gold paperback. In 1995 I published The Reflection of My Mind 2nd Edition in black and white paperback. In 1998 "Solid As A Rock I Stand also in paperback.
In 2012, it was "Message In My Pen 

What was your last book about?  In all my poetry book I tackle difficult life situation that people experience in their lives.  When writing about these difficult topic like substance abuse, abandonment, hurt by love, or etc.  I write with a very gentle and sensitive tone.  I actually tap into the very thing that one feel when experiencing these difiicult situations.  I see problems as problems not dividing it into the race card because life shows up at all of our doors at some point if not your door someone you know.   I have received numerous testimonial letters from my readers thanking me for writing and sharing my work because it was just what they needed.  Several who was thinking of committing suicide my work turn them  around.  I found that my book even made it inside the prison walls.  A friend husband was in jail and one of his friend read my book daily and kept it under his pillow.  When his wife called and told me that I was so touched but surprise at the same time.

What goes into the process of how you write about a topic?   My heart and soul goes inside each topic.  Sometimes I just begin to type and the poem just comes to me.  It has to be something I can feel.  I remember one time I left out of my apartment in San Francisco and when I open the door I saw someone personal belonging spreading all over the ground credit cards and California ID.  It was clear someone had snatched this peron purse.  So this is the history of purse snatcher in my book titled "Solid As A Rock I Stand"

What kind of feedback have you been getting over the years for your writings?  I have won numerous award for my publications.  I received 2 letters from the Mayor of the city that I was residing in 1994 and 1998 Mayor Elihu Harris was the Mayor of City of Oakland at that time.  In addition to that the City of Oakland placed a order so that my book was in every library in the city.  I am also very, very proud to say San Francisco State University in 1994-1998 used my books in their classroom.  Then Laney College and channel 20 news crew came out and did a cover story on me that was absolutely amazing.  The students was so emotional.  Some students was caring both books one in each hand to show me their love for my work.  Vista Community College also used my book in their poetry class where I went out and spoke to the students.  I also spoke to the women at Walden House in San Francisco, CA

What inspires you to write?  I am a natural born poet.  Life and people struggles inspires me. 

What advice do you have for struggling writers?  My advice to struggling writers is to never give up no matter how hard the fight get.  Know there is a winner inside of you. Imagine yourself as a fighter in the ring to win this is what you are with your pen.  Know your pen is your sword.  A sword of love, hope, compassion, someone else voice who can't even speak or fight, your words may be like heaven wings that landed just in a nick of time.  Know that your voice must be heard.  Your dream will come true if you only believe and never give up.  Even when negativity is starring you directly in the eye you say to yourself I will never give up.   Someone needs what you holding inside.  You pen is the blessing that can give life and it can even bring on a change.  I believe if God gave me a gift He created a plan with it.  I must believe in me and my dreams because it is worth believing in.

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 brianfeinblum@gmail.com. He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This blog is copyrighted material by BookMarketingBuzzBlog ©2013 

Pitching To Understaffed Media

The past four to five years has yielded a new media landscape.  More syndicated content is being used, such as newspapers relying on the AP feed more than ever.  Local radio shows are being replaced by syndicated shows.  TV talk shows and news programs lean heavily on celebrities, network personalities and Twitter or Facebook sensations.  So how is one to break through not just the increased competition for media coverage, but the shrinking state of opportunities?

A recent study by the Pew Research Center on the state of American journalism revealed the following:

<Sports, weather, and traffic now account for 40% of the content of local TV news programs.  Throw in a few crime stories and local politics, what’s left for an author?
<Cable news’ coverage of live events is down 30% from five years ago, in part because they are cutting costs. However, interview segments, which are cheaper to produce, rose 31%, so there may be more opportunity there.
<Newsroom employment at newspapers fell 30% from its peak of 2,000 and is at its lowest level in 35 years.  This means short-handed staff is filling a decreased number of pages with whatever is quick, cheap, and easy.

The way to appeal to the news media is:
<    * Localize your story when possible
<    * Have a truly timely and news-worthy hook
<    Present a story that is easy to cover, with well-packaged materials such as written content, videos, or visuals
<     * Let them know you have a large platform, such as a big number of Twitter followers or YouTube viewers – this will move them to cover you because they hope your social media fans will follow them
<      * Say something new or something old in a new way
<       * Don’t make the media have to think, do research, or download 50 things – make your pitch short, simple and catchy

The good news about the news media is there is a growing opportunity for coverage.  If you can’t get onto CNN, cnn.com is possible.  If you can’t travel, you can do interviews by phone or from a nearby TV studio.  If you can’t get the media to cover you, go directly to the public via Twitter, Facebook, blogging and YouTube. 

If you truly have an important story, it’ll get discovered. 

Interview With Paul Vachon -- Freelance Writer, Editor and Ghostwriter

1.      What type of books do you write? Of the four books I've written so far, three (including my upcoming title) are on local history of the Detroit area, while one has been a travel guidebook to Michigan's Upper Peninsula. At the same time, I've also written articles on a freelance basis on topics as diverse as business, green living, religion and health.  My work has appeared in several national publications.

2.      What is your newest book about? My upcoming book, Legendary Locals of Detroit, is a collection of profiles on individuals and groups who have had (or are having) significant impact on the south east Michigan community, usually--but not always--for the better.  But despite the overall local focus of the book, many of the subjects' influence extends to the national stage.  Examples include Rosa Parks, Jimmy Hoffa, Henry Ford and Minoru Yamasaki, the noted architect who designed the original twin towers of the World Trade Center.

3.      What inspired you to write it? Previously I had written on local history from a more traditional angle, and when my editor suggested I tackle a project which places people, rather than events and places, at its center, I found the idea intriguing.

4.      What is the writing process like for you?  Since I write non-fiction, I place a heavy emphasis on organization and through research before my fingers actually hit the keys.  Once I get what I want to say very clear in my head and I actually begin to write, the words tend to flow rather easily.  While I do, of course revise and polish my work afterwards, I often reconstruct sentences right after I write them.

5.      What did you do before you became an author? I worked in the retail industry for twenty years.  Most of my career was spent selling men's suits and shoes, but I also had stints moving furniture, rugs and carpeting.

6.      How does it feel to be a published author?  It feels wonderful, but at the same time humbling, which perhaps is a bit of a paradox.

7.      Any advice for struggling writers?  Never hesitate to ask for help from seasoned writers.  Almost all will share their expertise as a matter of professional courtesy, and most remain quite aware of how hard it was for them at first. But at the same time be careful not to abuse their generosity.  Always respect their time and thank them profusely!

8.      Where do you see book publishing heading? The emerging digital technologies will become even more ubiquitous, but I honestly think there are limits as to how impactful on publishing technology will ultimately become.  The convenience and portability of print are difficult to beat. A few years ago a friend (not a writer) repeated a claim she'd read that by 2020 a full ninety percent of everything we read will be digital. I didn't believe it then and still don't today.     

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 brianfeinblum@gmail.com. He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This blog is copyrighted material by BookMarketingBuzzBlog ©2013 

Monday, April 29, 2013

Writers Read This: You Are Marketers

I had the pleasure of speaking on a panel about publicity and marketing at the American Society of Journalists and Authors (ASJA) this past week.  For those of you not familiar with them, check their site out, www.ASJA.com. One of the things that became clear during a Q&A session with the audience, is authors still believe or hope their publishers will do a lot for them.

Surprisingly, for all the years I’ve been promoting authors, I still see authors who expect or think their publishers are doing all that should be done to promote and sell their books.  They believe this because it seems logical. Why wouldn’t a publisher that invested in your book, not want to help you succeed? They believe it because they are told by their publishers that they have marketing covered.  They believe it because sometimes a publisher does help an author and so then others think that is the norm.  They believe it because they want to, otherwise the time and money needed to promote it falls on the author.

Ladies and gentlemen, please let me clue you in on something that should not be a secret: Do not expect your publisher to do a lot for you when it comes to publicity and marketing.  It’s up to you and in your hands to do the things you wish your publisher was doing for you.
I tell you this for a few reasons.  First, I don’t want you to be deluded into living a dream that comes crashing later.  Second, if you understand it’s up to you to promote, you’ll be empowered to act now to take matters into your hands.  Third, I think the publishers would welcome your help.

Some people at the ASJA event asked if they are stepping on toes by doing things they think their publisher should be doing.  The panel unanimously said that authors have to realize they need to take matters into their own hands.  They have more to lose in being silent and immobile than in potentially annoying their publisher.

Authors should speak with their publishers, five-six months prior to the scheduled release of their book.  Find out which publicist has been assigned to you.  Ask for a timeline of what they will do for you.  Offer to support them and fill in the numerous gaps.  They can’t do everything for you – do what they are not doing.  Get specifics from them, and work together.

If I can impress anything upon you, it is this: Take matters of PR and marketing into your own hands.  Few people are solely writers – most writers also must promote and market their work, or hire others to assist.  But if you just have wild expectations, hopes or misguided beliefs about your role and what publishers do for you, you’ll find yourself frustrated.  You are a writer, and you are a promoter, and marketer, even if your business card doesn’t say so.

Interview With Author Meredith Bond

1.      What type of books do you write? I write Regency-set paranormal romance.

2.      What is your newest book about? I’ve got two books which I’ve recently published. The first, Storm on the Horizon, is a novella which is the prequel to Magic in the Storm, a novel I put out last year. The story of Storm on the Horizon centers around Tatiana, the villain in Magic In The Storm. I love to know what makes a villain tick. What makes them who they are, and why do they do the evil things they do – and Tatiana is definitely a very cruel person. She tries to kill her son immediately after his birth. Why? Because he’s male and was supposed to be female. So, Storm on the Horizon is the story of how Tatiana met the man she later marries (and with whom she has seven children, including the hero of Magic in the Storm) and fell in love. Sometimes it’s not easy being destined to do great things.  The other book I’ve recently published is a re-release of one of my first traditional Regency romances which I published with Kensington Publishers many years ago. An Exotic Heir (originally title Love of My Life) is the story of a young woman who is demeaned by a man she thinks is going to ask her to marry him. She runs to her parents in Calcutta, India where she meets Julian Ritchie, an Anglo-Indian who is looked down upon by the English society there because of his mixed blood. It’s a story of revenge and how it can turn back on you, and how it can lead to love. 

3.      What inspired you to write it? As I mentioned earlier, for Storm on the Horizon, I love to know how villains become so mean and nasty. I had to explore what Tatiana was like as a young woman. I really think readers come away from reading her story with a good understanding of who she is, so that when you read Magic in the Storm, you know why she does what she does.     I wrote An Exotic Heir because Calcutta during the Raj was a fascinating place. The British had a love-hate relationship with the Indians there. This story reflects a period when the balance tilted closer to hate, and that, naturally, affected those who were products of the time when it tilted the other way. And revenge can be so much fun.

4.      What is the writing process like for you? I am a plotter. I plot out my stories in detail before I write them. I do endless worksheets on my characters trying to get to know them before I begin to write their stories. And after I do days, sometimes weeks of work on my stories I usually still have to restart my book at least three or four times before I get it right. Once it’s started, though, I can usually keep on writing straight through to the end without too many stops to figure out where I’m going next.

5.      What did you do before you became an author? I was and still am a mother of two wonderful people (now teenagers) and I teach writing. How does it feel to be a published author? Fantastic. I love being a published author. I’m very lucky because no one has ever had anything unkind to say to me when they find out I write romance novels (I’ve heard horror stories of some things said to other romance writers).

 6. Any advice for struggling writers? Work on your craft. Read all that you can of books within the genre you write, books outside you genre, and books on writing. Where do you see book publishing heading? Ha! If I only had that crystal ball... I think ebooks are going to become as common-place as print books, but I don’t think print is going to go anywhere. People still love to browse a bookstore and hold that physical book in their hands. Traditional publishing houses need to get smart if they’re going to continue to dominate the industry, otherwise more and more authors are going to switch to self-publishing. And e-retailers have got to figure out a way to challenge Amazon’s dominance in the market -- probably with some sort of fabulous new technology, just as the Kindle blew everyone else out of the wate

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 brianfeinblum@gmail.com. He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This blog is copyrighted material by BookMarketingBuzzBlog ©2013 

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Interview With Author Michael Helms

1.      WHAT TYPE OF BOOKS DO YOU WRITE?  As a USMC combat veteran of the war in Vietnam, most of my writing leans to the military.  My memoir of the Vietnam War, The Proud Bastards, was first published by Kensington/Zebra in 1990 and has remained in print for twenty-plus years.  Republished by Simon & Schuster/Pocket Star in 2004, it has sold around 50,000 copies.  It was a hardcover selection of The Military Book Club and has been translated and published in hardcover by a Czech publisher.

    Shortly after the publication of my memoir, I followed with a semi-autobiographical novel, "The Private War of Corporal Henson," which remained in my desk drawer for many years, but is now being shopped around by my agent.  It's based on a group of combat vets who are in therapy for PTSD.  About 85% of the story is true, although some of the characters and combat actions are composites.

    Book One of my two-part Civil War/Reconstruction saga, "Of Blood and Brothers," is due out September 1, 2013, with Book Two following in March 2014.  Based on a true story, it is the tale of two Southern brothers who inadvertently find themselves fighting in opposing armies during the Civil War.  I grew up near where these brothers actually lived in the Florida panhandle, and had been fascinated by their story since a young boy.  The urge to bring their story to light kept gnawing at me until I finally decided to give it a shot. The story opens in 1927 during a family reunion when a cub reporter is assigned to interview the elderly brothers.  He soon finds that a simple few lines of newsprint won't do justice to the brothers' saga, and receives permission from his editor to do a weekly feature on their experiences during the war and the difficult Reconstruction era they faced afterward.  The research and writing was a ten-year commitment, but well worth it.  Further information can be found at the publisher's website:  http://www.koehlerbooks.com/2013/01/praise-for-michael-helms-of-blood-brothers/,or my personal website:  http://www.emichaelhelms.com/

2.      WHAT IS YOUR NEWEST BOOK ABOUT?   I changed directions with my fourth and newest book, "Deadly Catch - A Mac McClellan Mystery" (due out this fall), although the protagonist is a newly-retired career Marine.  While on a leisurely fishing vacation contemplating what to do with his post-Corps life, Mac snags a badly decomposed body with his first cast of the day.  And when a baggie of rare marijuana is found stashed aboard his rental boat, he must butt heads with local law enforcement, shady politicians, and thugs from the eastern seaboard to clear his name and bring the real perpetrators to justice.  The second book of the proposed series has been turned in to the publisher, and the third book is about 1/3 finished.  Hopefully the series will be picked up and I'll concentrate on Mac and his adventures in the foreseeable future.

3.      WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO WRITE IT?  I've long been fascinated with the private-eye genre (Sam Spade, etc.)  Although Mac McClellan is an amateur sleuth in the first book, by the second he's been taken under the wing of a private investigator and is working for him "off the record" while he studies for his Florida P.I. license.  At the conclusion of the second book, after solving the case, he's just passed the tests and received his license.  The third book finds him tackling his first case as a bona fide, yet inexperienced, P.I.

4.      WHAT IS THE WRITING PROCESS LIKE FOR YOU?  It's a grind.  I usually place butt in chair around ten in the morning and work until four or four-thirty in the afternoon.  Happy hour at five!  I'm one of those writers who rewrites as he goes along, and I don't really outline, so I'll most always re-read what I wrote the day before, and sometimes I'll go back a few chapters and "fix" things if I find my characters have led me in a direction I hadn't anticipated.  I also hold to the notion that once the storyline starts to flow, most often the characters do take over.  My job then is to follow and record what happens.  Writing is hard work, and demanding, but it's one heck of a good feeling when you've finished the manuscript and are satisfied with the results.

5.      WHAT DID YOU DO BEFORE YOU BECAME AN AUTHOR?  After Vietnam I bounced around the country a bit, moved to California and played some guitar/sang with a buddy in a few dives.  We were lucky to escape with our lives, much less our meager equipment!  I worked at a few dead-end jobs and then tried college for a couple of semesters, but just didn't feel like I fit in.  However, I did excel in creative writing, so I suppose that's where the seed was planted that I might someday be a writer.  Eventually, I wound up back in Florida and edited a couple of local/area tabloids for a few years.  I began The Proud Bastards at the suggestion of my PTSD counselor as sort of a cathartic exercise through journalling.  I soon realized there was a book inside me, found an agent in New York for whom I'd written some magazine articles (he edited several magazines as a day job), and once finished, the book was quickly sold.  Some dreams do come true.

6.      HOW DOES IT FEEL TO BE A PUBLISHED AUTHOR? Short and sweet:  Much better than being an unpublished one.

7.      ANY ADVICE FOR STRUGGLING WRITERS? Yeah, keep on keeping on.  It's not an easy road to travel, but you'll never get there if you quit.  Read a LOT in whatever genre(s) you plan to write.  Study styles, technique, and make your dialog real (it's a whole different animal than regular speech).  Dialog should cause conflict, reveal character, or move the story along.  Empty chatter just makes the story drag and bores the reader.  There were a bunch of dry years between my first book and the three I have coming out soon, although I thought I had it made when The Proud Bastards was published so quickly.  Very few writers enjoy continued success from the first time they step into the batter's box, although that does happen on rare occasions.  Most writers warm the bench, practice their swing and keep hoping to break in at some point.  There are no guarantees except one -- if you quit, you'll never experience the thrill of that ball leaving the bat and arcing over the fence!

8.      WHERE DO YOU SEE BOOK PUBLISHING HEADING?   I'm no Nostradamus, but I believe ebooks are the future.  Amazon (and other on-line sites) have the few big New York conglomerates shaking in their boots, although they are loathe to admit it.  Self-publishing -- if done right -- can be the wave of the future.  Imagine storing hundreds of books on your e-reader for a couple of dollars per book.  The big problem I see, is that so many are self-publishing now and the majority of ebooks out there are pretty bad.  There are brilliant writers doing it the right way and are every bit as talented and legit as most big house authors, but they are far outnumbered by those wanna-be's who haven't sweated enough to learn the trade yet.  I hear all the time, "Hey, I'm a published author, buy my ebook at so-and-so!"  There is a lot of good stuff out there, but so much more bad that it still gives talented self-publishers a black eye.  And the biggie NY types are loving that!
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 brianfeinblum@gmail.com. He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog © 2013

Online Retailer Tax Levels Playing Field For Authors & Publishers

Good news is on the way for the book publishing world, brick and mortar stores, and local governments nationwide.  Finally, Congress seems poised to pass legislation to tax Internet sales. 

There are also discussions to exempt small businesses with less than one million dollars in-annual digital revenue.

So how does this add up? As a consumer, you’ll feel a pinch, as sales taxes will be charged every time you go online to buy something. But the government will finally get back lost funding.  Online sales generate over $250 billion in revenue and a substantial amount is not taxed. 

Estimates are forecasting online sales to double in five years, to half a trillion bucks.

For Barnes & Noble, independent bookstores, and authors looking for the playing field to be leveled for Amazon, the tax issue is a key step in that direction.  No longer will there be a discrepancy between bricks and bytes.

Every act of Congress creates new winners and losers and in this case it is clear that it should be seen as a victory for fairness.  There’s no reason for things to be taxed differently based on how you bought something - whether online or in a store, whether by credit card or cash, whether at night or by day.

The collection of the tax will cost some time and money to implement for businesses, but computer programs can make it a streamlined process that doesn’t have to burden store owners.

The next thing the government should work on is the elimination of cash.  Only with cash can illegal payments and transactions take place.  If you eliminate cash, you can eliminate many, many crimes.  But for today, we can celebrate an online tax that keeps things fair for all and raises revenue for schools, police, parks, mass transit, and health care.

Interview With Historical Fiction Author Margaret Callow

1.      What type of books do you write? Historical Fiction and I am particularly interested in periods in English history which are less often written about. It can be more difficult to research these periods because of lack of written records, but that brings with it an even greater challenge!

2.      What is your newest book about? The Peasants’ Revolt of 1381 and in particular the part played by a small group of men from the county of Norfolk who held out to the very last.

3.      What inspired you to write it? When I was researching my family roots, I found my great, great grandmother was a Pauper Inmate in an Union Workhouse in Shrewsbury in 1900. Looking through the Register at that time made sobering reading and here was my inspiration. So many stories waiting to be told. Not usually names recorded in history, but ordinary working people who were incarcerated in workhouses through being poor or in ill-health often through no fault of their own. For so many years society was so divided – wealth and poverty, nothing in between. So great uprisings of the poor commons took place like Kett’s Rebellion, Jack Cade and the Kentish Men and Wat Tyler’s Peasant Revolt – all three have been the subject of my three novels. When we think of the freedoms we enjoy today, we must remember it is thanks to them and many more like them especially in 14th and 15th century England.

4.      What is the writing process like for you? Exciting, frustrating, interesting, challenging, rewarding, at times difficult, but very satisfying. I don’t write to make money, you see. It is just nice to get that warm feeling that you are quite good at something because others have judged it so. 

5.      What did you do before you became an author? I came late to writing novels. Most of my adult life has been spent in Health Care so I’m pretty good at dealing with the gory bits in battles!

6.      How does it feel to be a published author? Unless people read your work, it doesn’t feel much at all. Only if they do read it and hopefully review it favorably do you know you have achieved something.

7.      Any advice for struggling writers? Be interested in the subject before you attempt to write a story round it. It is all about imagination so you must play to your strengths. For me, I have the greatest respect for people who write in the Fantasy and Sci Fi. genre. If it is well written, the writer can transport the reader to another and hugely believable place. I couldn’t do it, I just don’t have that kind of wild imagination. Too much of a realist, I suppose. I do have my own writer’s philosophy - whatever else, just believe if your work is worthy and it is meant to be, you will make it. And if you don’t, it probably means you just weren’t quite good enough.

8.      Where do you see book publishing heading? I wish I could be original here, but clearly digital is here to stay. However, I think there is still a place for the hardback or paperback or at least I hope there is. However it is hard marketplace nowadays and purses are tight whichever direction you choose to go. I do know writers must take a lot more responsibility these days and not wait to be spoon-fed by a publisher. Plugs, platforms, promotion are the tools needed by a writer today and perhaps a lot of praying!!! I wish I could say publishing might get easier, but sadly I can’t see it happening.

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 brianfeinblum@gmail.com. He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This blog is copyrighted material by BookMarketingBuzzBlog ©2013 

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Paper Losses Decline Digitally

The newspaper industry is the healthiest it’s been in years, despite registering a decline in 2012.
Newspaper business revenues hit $38.6 billion, says the Newspaper Association of America. 

This accounts for  a 2% drop from 2011.  It was the smallest drop in half a dozen years.  Things are starting to look up. 

Print ad money dropped 9% but digital ad revenue rose 4%.  Further, circulation revenue rose for the first time in a decade.  Additionally, money from other revenue sources rose 8%.  Newspapers are learning how to leverage their assets in working more closely with local businesses and it’s paying off. 

The road to saving print rests in the digital world, but that’s good news to those who value keeping our newspapers viable and strong. 

Interview With Eric Lorberer, Editor and Robert Martin, Assistant Editor, Rain Taxi Review of Books

1. What would you say is the unique voice that your publication contributes to the discussion of books? Rain Taxi prides itself on seeking out new and innovative writing from the far corners of the publishing landscape.  Small presses, chapbooks, emerging or underappreciated writers, it doesn't matter.  So long as the work is good, we'll consider it for review.  As a non-profit, we're positioned to pursue our mission of highlighting creative work that most review outlets overlook, and we're interested in artistic merit over commercial viability.  Though we don't discriminate against major publishing houses--a lot of high-quality work is published in New York.  But that doesn't mean only companies with major financial backing can put out quality work, especially given the technological advances of recent years which have, in many ways, helped to level the playing field for small and independent presses. 

2. What do you find to be the rewards and challenges of running a book review outlet?
We do this because first and foremost we love books.  We love the written word.  One of the major benefits of an operation like ours is that we get to see so much of what people are doing in literature--we only get to review maybe 1/100 of books we receive, and wish we could give many more the attention they deserve.  We're fortunate to get to witness how thriving, and constantly surprising, writers continue to be, year after year.  As for challenges...dealing with the pettiness, egomania, and back-scratching that some writers and publishers fall into while trying to get attention for their work. 

3. What goes into your decision of whether to review a particular book? There are several factors, but our decision-making process is most generally guided by the drive to give attention to good work that other outlets don't.  If we think something is interesting and see that it hasn't garnered acclaim elsewhere, we'll assign it.  Sometimes we'll pass on a book if others are quick to discuss it, because then our job is done for us. We do try to avoid too much consecutive attention, as well--that is, if we've reviewed a couple books in a row by a particular author or a particular press, we might think long and hard about whether the work warrants such sustained focus.

4. Does it surprise you to see two polar opposite reviews of the same book between various publications? Not at all!  Reading is a personal, subjective experience.  I personally have had polar opposite reactions to the same book, depending on my mood going in.  On occasion, we've run simultaneous reviews of the same book just to give a picture of how disparate reactions can be.

5. How does one become qualified and trained to review books?
Read a lot of books, and write about them.  Part of good reviewing is knowing what else is going on, knowing how a particular book fits into the overall conversation that text is addressing.  And part of it is general command of language--syntax and structure and those goodies.  That said, we've published reviews by people just starting out in their careers, still learning the ropes, you might say, as well as by some of our era's greatest writers.  There isn't a test you have to pass to become "qualified"--it's evident in the writing and in the approach. 

6. Any advice to writers who get a bad review? I don't know about advice, but I'd congratulate them on getting any attention one way or another. As I said, we can only review a tiny fraction of the books we receive for consideration, so someone discussing your work is a payday regardless.  Of course, this won't soothe any wounded egos, so I'll reiterate my thoughts about subjectivity.  One man's Tolstoy is another man's Twilight.  You can't control readers' reactions, all you can do is work to express your authentic self in writing.  Don't write to your reviewers, don't censor your impulses. Contribute your voice to literature and don't worry about the rest of it.

7. Where do you see the future of book publishing heading? It's a fascinating time because there are so many new developments, any of which could take publishing in a different direction.  E-readers have gotten a lot of press, but this doesn't fundamentally change the nature of a person's relationship to the content--they're still reading, and writers are still writing. The self-publishing boom has caught a lot of the industry off guard, and that seems to have some sway in regard to the way people interact with books.  More than anything, I see the future of book publishing as a vast and successful enterprise, I suppose, because at the heart of all of these new developments, be they technological or grassroots or independent or market-driven, is the undeterred love of language. As long as people are interested in using language to create art, book publishing will continue to exist.

For more information, please consult: Rain Taxi Review of Books


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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 brianfeinblum@gmail.com. He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This blog is copyrighted material by BookMarketingBuzzBlog ©2013