Sunday, June 9, 2013

Bookstores Are A Living Web

When I go into a bookstore I feel as if I step inside a vast network of ideas, events, emotions, theories and contemplated actions that symbolize the world.  Here, right before me, stand tens of thousands of volumes that serve as a microcosm of all people.  Their virtually isn’t a book, a sentence, a word that doesn’t mirror a life out there somewhere.  Whatever life is for us, it’s expressed in a book, written by humans, for humans, from human experience and experimentation. 

Books are not distant objects, they are the source of new ideas, the vault of recorded knowledge that is capable of being expressed and diagrammed and they are even a hard copy catalog of our deepest desires and fears, of our dreams and fantasies, our nightmares and our prophecies.  It is in this context that I share with you a feeling of both being overwhelmed and delighted with such a rich opportunity to be nakedly exposed to all of the world.  Right before me is information that can change my thoughts, my behaviors, and my values.  And I experience it in a community, sharing a silent validation by so many others who are eager to rejoice in knowledge and feel nestled away from the very world they seek to understand, share in, and consume.

Life can be very complex or very simple.  Indeed, depending on circumstances, it can be either one or a rotating combination of degrees of both.  If we look not at books by themselves, but at genres, we then reduce the world to dozens or hundreds of areas – each with many varied voices and degree of opinion and knowledge to share.

A lot of information repeats itself.  New themes or new ways of expressing old ideas? Just look at diet books.  How many celebrity cookbooks do we need? How could there be so many ways to lose weight when our choices come down to a few food groups, basic exercise, surgery, or medication?  The truth is that many books vary on matters of science simply because we don’t know the answers.  And when it comes to matters of preference or style, well, everyone has an opinion – and a book.  Other books really are compilations of previously printed materials – news clips, poetry anthologies, famous quotes, excerpts from best-sellers.  Then you have statistical, data-filled  books that need constant updating.  Then you have books that question, analyze, or re-state the data.  Every genre or industry has books of these kind.  None of what I just said is intended to minimize the world of books. 

In fact, what I said reaffirms we have variety and diversity on every topic.  Even the Bible sits not just in one version by one publisher on a shelf.  We have hundreds of Bibles, some identical but for print size, paper quality, binding materials and price; others vary on a few words and many have added commentary and interpretation. The dictionary is the same way.  Study guides too.  We have a rich choice available to us, but as you can see, for as many books that are out there, the core topics addressed may be severely reduced to just a few thousand at best.  Each day and year we recycle, reinterpret and republish a majority of information.  The rest just raise questions and even the number of questions is limited to what we care or need to probe. 

Our bookstores keep us connected and I cannotthink of a better place to gather than a bookstore.

Interview With Author Paul Guzzo

1.      What type of books do you write? Prior to this book, my books have been history and memoirs. I have written a handful of vanity memoirs for families looking to capture an elder member of the family’s stories before he or she passed on. In early 2012 I released a book titled From Indians to Indian Americans: How Tampa’s India Community Was Built, which is obviously a history of Tampa’s India community. It was financed by a nonprofit that catalogues Indian history. And in August 2012 I released The Darkside of Sunshine, which is a criminal history of Tampa focusing on its most infamous people and events of the past century. My publisher has joked that I didn’t find exposing Tampa criminals dangerous enough so I decided to tackle something more dangerous – raising children.

2.      What is your newest book about? My new book is about my family life. It is aptly called The Overnight Family Man. On April 22, 2010 I was single with no responsibilities. On April 23, 2010, I kissed Amy, a single mother of two. That night, we fell in love. Less than six months later we were engaged and living together. I was suddenly a father of two. A few weeks later, our third child was conceived. A few months after he was born, I became a stay-at-home dad. The man with no responsibilities suddenly had limitless responsibilities. I began keeping a weekly journal of my journey into fatherhood. This is my story. Sometimes it is funny. Sometimes it is sad. Sometimes it is touching. Sometimes it is offensive. It is ALWAYS 100 percent honest.

3.      What inspired you to write it? I make my living as a freelance writer so I am always looking for new topics to write about. After I became engaged, I suggested to a publication for which I write – La Gaceta – that a column chronicling my adjustment to fatherhood would be a fun read. The publisher agreed and I started writing a weekly column. I had no idea if it would be interesting. I had no idea what I was in for! But once I became a father, I realized I would NEVER run out of topics. After two years of writing it  I decided to turn the collection of columns into a book.

4.      What is the writing process like for you? A lot of long walks to clear my head … a TON of coffee … a very detailed outline … and a LOT of curse words.

5.      What did you do before you became an author? I’ve been a journalist for 15 years. I currently write columns for La Gaceta, Cigar City Magazine, The Tampa Tribune and Tampa Bay Parenting and have also been published in five other publications in the past few months. I hustle my “you know what” off to provide for my family as a freelance writer.

6.      How does it feel to be a published author?  It’s cool. As a freelance journalist, a book is a great marketing tool. I am always selling myself to new publications and books show that you dedicated a lot of your time to researching specific topics. For instance, Darkside of Sunshine is what enabled me to land the freelance gig with the Tampa Tribune. Just the fact that Overnight Family Man was coming out was enough to land me columnist work for Tampa Bay Parenting Magazine. I am currently working in a book on Tampa’s role in the Cuban Revolution and I hope that book leads to more writing work. Surviving as a writer is a hustle and every article or book I write has to be about that particular paycheck but I also write thinking how it can lead to my next paycheck. I always have to think three jobs ahead.

7.      Any advice for struggling writers? Just what I wrote above. Everything you write also has to be about leading the next job as well – maybe the topic can lead to a series of articles, maybe someone you interviewed for that article would be great for another article on another topic, if you write columns do so in a manner in which they can be bound into a book, etc. Success does not find a writer. You have to make your own.

8.      Where do you see book publishing heading? No idea. I am a realist. It could be a major hit or it could be a complete flop. All it takes is one major review or TV appearance to make a book a hit. But without one, it just collects dust. For instance, sales for Darkside of Sunshine were few and far between, then all of a sudden Tampa’s FOX news features it and the book became popular. Authoring is a tough medium. In a perfect world, of course I would like to see my new book become then next hit family sitcom, but we will see. I will not wait for a big review, though. I will keep sending it off, hoping for a big hit, all while grinding out sales. Every time I write a freelance article on anything family-related, I end the article with a plug for my book. It’s all a grind.


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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

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