Thursday, April 30, 2015

Asking For Help Sells Books!

We all would benefit from getting help in any aspect of our life, but it’s especially true when it comes to writing, publishing, marketing, and promoting our books.  In fact, just the act of asking for help would greatly assist us, as it forces us to (a) admit we need help and begin the process of seeking an answer, and (b) allows us to examine alternate methods and possibilities that we previously dismissed or failed to explore.

To peer into how the world of help works, let’s identify the relevant questions:
·         Whom should you ask for help?
·         What should you ask for?
·         How often should you ask for assistance?
·         What type of help should you expect to receive?
·         How shall you return the favor to those who help?

When asking for help, ideally you’d ask people whpm you believe are in a position to help you.  They may be smart or have specialized knowledge.  They may have money or access to other connections who can help you.  They may have experience in the specific area that you need help in.  But anyone can be helpful.  You just need to be open to asking anyone and then use your filter to figure out which responses are truly helpful.

You should ask people their opinions, even on things you’ve made your mind up, just to see how they answer and to discern their overall usefulness – or to see if they surprise you with an idea or source of motivation that you didn’t expect.

Be willing to ask for something, depending on what you need.  After opinions and ideas, people can give you things, resources, and funds.  You never know what people will give you.  They can always say no, but that’s not a loss – and they could say yes, and that’s a bonus!  Often, the best one can do is give you psychological support and then lead you to other helpful people.  When money comes your way – whether as loan, investment or gift (if you need some); that would be the jackpot.

You should be willing to ask many for help and appear open to hearing from everyone, but don’t go to the well too often.  People get annoyed if all you do is ask them for things.

To accept help of any kind, you need to be of the frame of mind to accept it.  Don’t criticize the one who helps you, never turn down one’s help, always act delighted to get their input and assistance, and send thank yous their way.  Be prepared to repay the favor of those who help you and do so gladly.

There’s no limit to how much help one needs nor of what one can receive nor of what one is willing to give.  Asking for help should be part of your strategic business plan.

What could an author ask for from others?  Oh my, the list is never-ending.  Authors need help with everything!  Start small and ask for people to connect with you via social media.  Ask friends and family to introduce you to people who can help you.  Ask for people to buy books, to sell books for you, and to help you increase your brand.

When asking for help, employ alternate styles.  For some, they will appreciate you coming to them and will want to mentor you.  For others, appeal to them out of desperation.  For some, if you approach them in a tit for tat style, they’ll agree to help you in exchange for something.

Let me be the first to ask for help.  Please share my blog with other people.  You not only help them but you build up my readership and make me feel great.

Now, what can I do for you?  What can others do for you? What can you do for others?

Start asking, receiving, and giving.  It’s a wonderful cycle.

In Case You Missed It…

Can You Overcome 16 Obstacles To Being A Successful Writer?

Print Book Sales Are Growing

Ready For The $500 Book?

How you will master the book marketing science of Captivology

Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog © 2015

Interview With Victor Kahn, Author of Walking Distance

1.       What is your new book about? I focus on individual episodes of eleven shows that have long been my favorites, analyzing them from the perspective of the playwright I am and trying to point out how and why they work. I also recall the actual experience of viewing these and many other programs, all the while drawing on an embarrassingly extensive backlog of information I’ve acquired about the creative personnel involved.

2.       What inspired you to write it? I’ve been watching television all of my life and ruminating about these shows for decades. This book represents my sharing ideas that have been percolating inside me for as long as I can remember.

3.       What was rewarding and challenging about the writing process? For me the greatest challenge in writing is always capturing the proper tone, so I manage to say exactly what I want as effectively as possible. The great reward of this project was revisiting these programs and finally putting into print thoughts that have been with me since I was young.

4.       How do you compare TV today with the fare of fifty years ago? The chief distinction, of course, is license. For today’s artists, especially those in cable TV, nothing is outside their realm. All aspects of life may be dramatized and with no boundaries. Artists in the ‘50s and ‘60s, on the other hand, worked within severe parameters of content and style. Yet the best of their creations remain as compelling today as they were fifty or sixty years ago. In sum, no matter how many options artists today have, the core of a successful show remains the same: characters and plot that inspire audiences to care.

5.       What are your all-time favorites? Why? My favorites are the ones I discuss here. I begin with “Walking Distance,” the best episode of what I believe is the most influential series of all time, The Twilight Zone. Each of the following chapters includes discussion of two shows that are in some way related: two military farces, The Phil Silvers Show (“Bilko”), and McHale’s Navy; two creations by Roy Huggins about quintessential loners, Maverick and The Fugitive; two of the most popular comedies of the 60s, The Dick Van Dyke Show and The Andy Griffith Show; two spy spoofs, The Avengers and Get Smart (which feature two of my favorite women characters); and two comedies that often verge on drama, The Honeymooners and All in the Family. I don’t insist that programs are the best of their time, although some surely are. They just matter the most to me.

6.       Where do you see book publishing heading?  I can’t claim to have more than minimal expertise in the business of publishing. All I can say is that I relish the feel of a book in my hand, and I hope I never lose the opportunity to experience that sensation.

In Case You Missed It…

Can You Overcome 16 Obstacles To Being A Successful Writer?

Print Book Sales Are Growing

Ready For The $500 Book?

How you will master the book marketing science of Captivology

Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog © 2015

Speaking Book Marketing Or Mandarin

“It’s Greek to me” is a phrase we hear when someone admits they don’t understand what they are looking at or being told.  I felt those words the other day when my son, who is taking Mandarin in the fourth grade, asked for help.  I took one look at their letters – actually they are called characters (but look more like pictures or symbols or emotions that you’d find on a smartphone) – and realized I was at a deficit.  But we couldn’t just throw in the towel.

As much as I truly love the English language and all of its quirks and curves, Mandarin seemed like a whole other universe.  It is read top to bottom.  The way things are translated leaves room for misinterpretation.  Every stroke of the pen could greatly alter the meaning of a word.

He wanted to just quit.  Give up.  Act as if the class was meaningless and an impossible puzzle that was no longer worthy of his time or emotional investment.  He was tired of failing at something he never really understood.  It just doesn’t make any sense to him.  The problem is compounded when the teacher expects greatness while speaking in broken English.  If only they could find a way to communicate and teach each other their language, then my son would no longer feel beaten up.

I took language later in school than he is taking it now. I had Spanish for five years, starting in junior high school. I didn’t excel at it, in part, because I felt like I was cheating on the English language.  I wanted to perfect my use of the written word – in English – and not have to filter everything through a language and culture that were foreign to me.

I can’t imagine what my kid feels when he has to speak, read, and write a language with no natural reference points.  At least Spanish and English are similar.  But Chinese is like speaking dog or bird.

As I sat down with my son to finally look at what he’d been talking about all school year, I discussed a few things.  First, he really knew more than he realized.  I told him to teach me and suddenly he rose to the occasion.  I repeated an old Chinese saying to him: “When the student shows up, the teacher appears.”

Second, I was able to pick up a few words from our lesson and realized it was fun to enter a whole new world.  But I also saw how challenging it is to look at similar-looking symbols and to make heads or tails on what each one means.  Language is good for people with great memories.

Learning something new may be challenging and rewarding and can even be entertaining.  He enjoyed studying with me and for the first time in seven months he started to feel confident he could do better than what he’d done so far.  A switch went off.  Instead of complaining and reminding himself that he hates it, can’t do it, doesn’t get it, doesn’t care, he suddenly saw himself being able to score better than the 3 in 50 he got on a recent test.

The key with any challenge, whether it’s to learn Mandarin or market a book, is not to lose faith in your ability to learn and then execute.  We all need a tutor or mentor who not only teaches but inspires.  And once we produce a positive result, no matter how small, it’s something we can build on.

Book marketing may seem like Chinese to you but if some two billion people can speak it, you can speak marketing.

Good luck.

In Case You Missed It…

Can You Overcome 16 Obstacles To Being A Successful Writer?

Print Book Sales Are Growing

Ready For The $500 Book?

How you will master the book marketing science of Captivology

Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog © 2015

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

How To Sell Books On Amazon By The Truckload!

Penny C. Sansevieri, founder and CEO of Author Marketing Experts, is a bestselling author and book marketer.  She has written books that include Red Hot Internet Publicity, From Book to Bestseller, and No More Rejections: Get Published Today!  But her newest book tells authors how to sell lots of books on the world’s leading book retailer, Amazon, and offers good resources and insights in the process.

How To Sell Books By The Truckload On Amazon is a long but catchy title, and most importantly it includes keywords like “sell,” “book,” and “Amazon.”  Her book talks a lot about keywords, freebies, and incentivizing book reviewers.

She identifies a number of very useful and relevant resources, including:

Finding Amazon Reviewers

Huge List of Book Blogs

Keyword Search Tools

She targets valuable ground when she writes about book reviewers.  First off, she recommends offering real swag – “that’s classy and not junk,” such as a tote bag.

When it comes to gifting ebooks on Amazon, she suggests lowering the book price to 99c and then give the book to select people who didn’t ask for a copy.  This is different than book giveaways that are free to you and the recipient – and requrie someone to voluntarily download it.

She’s a big fan of Goodreads and offers these tips to get reviews or do giveaways:
·         Post excerpts of your book on your page.
·         Create a blog post that says your book is available for review, and provide a link to your blog on your page.
·         Use groups to get reviewed on Goodreads.
·         Make sure when you sign up for Goodreads to get a Goodreads widget for your site, which helps get additional followers.
·         Schedule a Goodreads giveaway.  Let readers know if you plan on providing signed copies.
·         End your giveaway on a non-popular date, like the middle of the week – and not on a holiday.

“Another way to boost exposure is to run an ad to help push your giveaway,” says the author.  “Ads are simple on GoodReads.  They operate on a pay-per-click system, which means you only pay when someone clicks on your ad.”  You can get started at

She offers a great list of nearly three dozen sites to list your book-giveaway, including:, and

Sansevieri has been helping authors for many years and though this book only reflects a fraction of what she knows, it’s a great place to start for launching your book sales.  I’m sure she’s talking her own advice as she strategizes to give her book a sales boost.

When it comes to your freebie, she advises: “Ideally, you should wait until the book has been up on the site for a while before you offer a freebie.  I’ve found that waiting ninety days is best.  You want to give it a chance to grow on its own.  The book will flip from the paid category to the free one and then back to paid once the giveaway is over.  Although it ends up back where it started, it will grow because of the residual momentum you’ll get from the giveaway.”


1.      Penny, what do authors need to know if they want to generate more book sales on Amazon? Well the most important it to know that keywords and categories are really crucial for exposure. Think of Amazon as Google. People say all the time: I want more visibility for my website in Google, how can I do that? And SEO experts will tell them well, keywords, keywords, keywords. The same is true for Amazon. Their search function works much the same as Google. Also, don't think keywords as a singular but rather as a phrase. people generally don't search on just a single keyword but on a string. So, for example: thriller and serial killer OR romance and firefighter might be how a consumer searches for a particular book. They generally won't go to Amazon and just type in "thriller" because the search results will be all over the place.  

2.      How important is it to give books away in order to increase your book sales? I think it's very important, especially if you want to pull in new readers. Readers like to sample and free is a great way to do that. But you can't give a book away with no means for follow up and expect the magic to happen. Make sure that there is something in the back of your book that encourages folks to reach out to you. A letter inviting them to write you and review the book. Nothing too salesy, but a nice, direct letter to the readers. Studies have shown that readers often aren't inclined to review a book, not because they don't want to but because they don't really know how much their opinion matters. Make sure they know. So how does this increase book sales? Well for one, people like what other people like and getting book reviews is always a challenge for authors so 1) it helps to get more reviews and 2) again readers can get a sense of your writing style and, if they like you, they'll go back and buy the rest of your books. Sampling 100% works.

3.      If a few thousand books are being published daily in America -- not to mention the 15 million already in existence -- what will it really take for authors to separate themselves from others?   I think Super Fans. Really you have to network with your readers because while blog and bloggers are great, these folks are really inundated with requests for review so build your fans. Free is a way to do that. Per the point above if you can get readers from Amazon to you (by giving them your email) you can start building relationships with them. An example of this is a book we worked with that I cite in my book. So we gave away 61,000 copies over 2 days and that got the author 200+ letters from readers, she wrote each of them back and by the time the next book came out it did screaming well in pre-order. Between the pre-order time (which was three weeks) and the on sale date she sold a few thousand just to her fans (and fans telling fans) with no promotion. Super Fans are really important. There's a book I love called The Curve by Nicholas Lovell and he cites that it only takes 1,000 Super Fans to hit the New York Times Bestseller list.

4.      ​​What tips do have for us regarding the selection and use if keywords? Well first off you want to know what readers are searching on in Amazon. So with your single keyword in mind (let's say it's social media or business) go over to Kindle in Amazon and start typing in your keyword. You'll immediately see a drop down of keyword suggestions and that’s where you start. These Amazon suggestions are going to be popular among consumers/readers to take your cue from whatever pops up in that dropdown because, just like Google, it's telling you what's popular and being searched on.

5.      What do you enjoy about working with writers? I love helping authors gain exposure for their books, I love brainstorming with authors about what we can do to promote them or what they might do on their own. Marketing these days is much more about strategy than it ever has been and I love brainstorming strategy because I believe that's where the marketing juice is.

6.      What is rewarding and challenging about book marketing? I love discovering new things. Much like how I sort of stumbled on this Amazon algorithm stuff, I got curious one day and said "I want to know how this works." So I love creating new pathways for authors or coming up with new ways to market. In fact we will often revise our programs 4 times a year because things chance quickly. I love that. The challenging part is keeping up with it because it is changing all the time - *ALL* the time. So it's a full time job just keeping up with all the changes.

7.      What do you see for the future of book publishing? I think that you're going to see a lot of changes in traditional publishing. I think that publishers are going to have to consider a different model of publishing - perhaps one where an author pays into their marketing because, candidly, it costs a lot for a publisher to put a full marketing campaign behind a book and often they are dealing with authors who don't have time or aren't sure how to market so I think that the current model is going to have to change. I know that a few publishers have tried this and it's hard to change the old model but I feel it does have to change. I also think that you're going to see a lot more in the way of collaborative marketing - so authors that are all working together to help market each other's books OR writing books together - like a bundle series or something.

8.      Is it ironic that the title of your book talks about selling books by the truckload when, in fact, a lot of your strategies relate to selling digital books online?  Yes, it is - but that's one of the secrets of keywords because when I was trying to decide how to title the book, I did my research on Amazon first so, hence the title. 


2015 Book PR & Marketing Toolkit: All New

Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog © 2015

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Interview With Kerry Hannon, Author of Love Your Job: The New Rules for Career Happiness

1.      What inspired you to write your book?  I spend quite a bit of time speaking to audiences around the country about how to find work after 50. When I look into the audience, I see a palpable fear in their eyes of outliving their money. These are people who want to work and need to work, but finding a job for this age cohort is a slippery slope.  Ageism is alive and well in the workplace. Although the employment picture has improved, it’s far from rosy for this group of workers, in particular. I give my audiences action steps and give them hope that they can do it…and find work that matters to them. Then I come home and meet friends and colleagues who whine and complain about their job, about how they’re miserable, that their boss is a pain and so on. I want to shake them and say, “Stop it.” Be grateful you have a job. If you aren’t happy, do something about it. No one is going to do it for you.  It’s often an internal shift, an attitude adjustment and taking action to find joy in your work—sometimes it’s joy found around the edges. But as the refrain goes, life is too precious to be unhappy. And it’s far easier to find ways to fall back in love with the job, or employer you have now, than to find a new job–especially when you are over 50. Sometimes you do have to look elsewhere, but in the meantime, there are even small changes you can make that allow you stay in a good place until that plays out.

2.      What do you hope readers will do as a result of consuming your book?
KH: My goal is to provide readers of Love Your Job: The New Rules for Career Happiness with the tips they need to thrive in their current work—to build new outlooks, find satisfaction around the edges of their daily duties, and craft a more entrepreneurial attitude toward their job. I hope to empower them with the tools to take control of their lives in manageable ways.

I hope readers will examine their job responsibilities, their work rituals, and their attitudes toward their work, to do an MRI of your job. And then to ask the hard questions: What new habits or routines can they craft to bring more love to their workday? Can they look into telecommuting, mentoring, volunteering, raise their hand and ask for new duties, sign up for continuing education or professional development programs offered by their employer, start a walking group at lunch time?

What inner changes can they make to rekindle their hope, eagerness, and resilience? How can they learn to celebrate even their smallest successes and those of their co-workers?

In the process, I hope they identify what makes them feel good about work, and how to recognize the negative thoughts that creep up in their loop of self-defeating talk.  I hope they learn that by truly looking someone in the eye, listening, and supporting their colleagues and championing their successes, they can renew their own energy, gain confidence, and build the resources to face new challenges.

My approach is a positive, can-do look at work that offers creative solutions. Bottom line: I hope they will find novel ways to design their job so it works for them.

This is a book about taking control of your own workplace happiness, but it’s grounded in the real world. This is not pie-in-the-sky conjecture. These are actionable steps.

Finally, I hope they remember to laugh more. A recent Gallup poll found that people who smile and laugh at work are more engaged in their jobs. And the more engaged you are, the happier and more enthusiastic you’ll be. This won’t just trickle down to the quality of your work; people will want to have you on their team. Plus: couldn’t we all use a laugh?

3.      What challenges did you overcome to write it? I love my job, but like everyone, I have to always remember to balance my workload, to focus and meet deadlines with grace and gratitude. Writing a book can be all-consuming, but when you work for yourself, your publisher is just one client. You can’t live off of your advance, so I had to constantly find ways to weave in reporting and writing Love Your Job with completing other assignments for clients like The New York Times, Money magazine, PBS Next Avenue, AARP and Forbes, along with my speaking schedule—and of course, walking my dog and riding my horse and spending time with my husband, my 85-year old mom and nieces and nephews. Happy times, but I had to hit the pause button, look up and smile, push back from the computer and get out in nature and open my eyes and enjoy the present moment. Sounds corny, but so true.

4.      What advice do you have for recent college graduates and the job market? Every job will have its challenges and good and bad bits. It’s often a mash up. But the goal is to find happiness in your life and feel like you’re relevant.

It’s not always about the money. Yes, salaries are important, and they make you feel valued. But when I ask people what they love about their jobs it’s usually the people they work with, the mission of the company or nonprofit they work for-pride in the product or service, the opportunity to always be able to learn new things and grow, to travel, to have the flexibility to work from home or flex-hours.

So when you look for work, think about the cultural fit and what else a job has to offer beyond the pay and prestige of a title. And remember loving your job is a two way street. You need to bring the enthusiasm and energy to every job you have. No one can give that to you.

Just four in 10 workers are highly engaged in their jobs, according to the Towers Watson 2014 Global Workforce Study, but I believe there are a few ways you can fall in love with your job even if you don’t like it right now.

If you find yourself in a slump at work, do something about it. Don’t be a victim. If you can make it work where you are right now, you’ll save yourself a lot of trouble.

Not every day will be a high. That’s unrealistic. As I said above, what it means to love your job is a mixture of effort and joy, good days and bad days.

Regardless of our career stage, we all run up against difficult bosses, feeling stuck with no signs of promotion, feeling like we have no work-life balance, bored and burned-out.

All of my advice in Love Your Job is geared to helping people making the most of where they are right now.

I don’t suggest that sticking it out is always best for the long-haul, but it can give you the time to hit the pause button and not make any rash moves. It’s far easier to find a new job when you already have one, regardless of your age.

My techniques are all about building hope, optimism, value, enthusiasm and resilience—my HOVER approach. By building these psychological inner muscles, you’re nimble. You begin to see your options and the possibilities and can prepare to make a successful shift.

5.      What do you tell people who were downsized after 15-20 years at the same job? Pick up a copies of my books: What's Next?: Finding Your Passion and Your Dream Job in Your Forties, Fifties and Beyond and Great Jobs for Everyone 50+: Finding Work That Keeps You Happy and Healthy ... And Pays the Bills.

Keep in mind that nothing is forever. You may wind up doing lots of different jobs in your 50+ years. You may want a job for a season, for a few years to gradually unwind into retirement, or even for a few hours a week. Then too, you may be looking for a job that really does turn into full-blown second career.

I also wouldn’t be surprised if you test a number of different kinds of jobs to find what you really shine at or want to do in the years ahead. You may even strategically build an income stream from a tapestry of work you enjoy and are skilled at doing.

Be patient. It can take a little time and you may need to re-train.

What are you up against? Some employers figure your salary demands are out of their ballpark, and that if they hire you for less, you’ll resent it and probably jump ship if you get a better offer. They often perceive, true or not, that you’re set in your ways, or lack the cutting-edge skills, or even the energy to do the job.

Then too, some hiring managers might surmise that you have age-related health problems, or are likely to, and that will be a problem if you take too much time off for periodic sick leave.

And, of course, there’s the nagging issue that you’ve got an “expiration date,” and you’re not in it for the long haul, even if that’s far from the truth. Finally, there’s reverse ageism—the employer thinks you won’t want to take orders from a younger boss who is probably making more than you.

It’s up to you to lay their worries to rest. The vital first step in fighting ageism is to be physically fit, energetic, and positive in attitude. That’s just the top-coat. You need to speak up about your flexibility in terms of management style, your openness to report to a younger boss, your technological aptitude, your energy, and your knack of picking up new skills.

Job search is difficult for everybody. And everyone seems to have a different take on what it takes to break through. It’s not automatically your age that’s holding you back. People want to employ people they know, or someone they trust.

And your experience does matter, but maybe not as much as you think it does. For many employers it’s not about the candidate with the best credentials. It’s about fitting in with a crowd, its culture, so you’ve got to make it personal on some level.

And that means networking. Reach out to everyone you know and tell them you’re looking for a job. Seek out informational interviews. Get out of the house and volunteer. Be proactive and start job hunting as soon as you can. The longer you put off job hunting, the harder it is to find a job.

6.      Are you following a career path that you expected to be on? Absolutely. When I was a kid–I wrote my first book at 12– I always announced I wanted to write books in my career. And now I am writing my tenth book. Admittedly, I thought I would be writing novels and books about horses–not jobs and personal finance, but I love that I am touching lives and making a difference with my work

Writers, please never violate these three rules!

How much longer should outdated phrases last?

The new book reading experience: 1915 vs. 2015

Great quotations to lift your writing

Amazing New Photography Book Culls 4 Million Images Into 1,100

Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog © 2015

Overcoming 16 Obstacles To Being A Successful Writer

Being an author can be very rewarding – and highly challenging.  Most writers do not become successfully published authors, but so many try.  Can you overcome the obstacles most writers face on the route to getting published, gaining some notoriety, and selling books at a decent clip? Here are 16 challenges to work around:

1.      Confidence
You must believe in yourself and remind yourself of your abilities

2.      Drive
You should pursue far more than is achievable.

3.      Focus
You must keep your eye on the prize and not get distracted by life’s chores or convenient escapes.

4.      Set Goals
Certainly, you should have short-term and long0term benchmarks for achievements.

5.      Plan Ahead
You need to have a roadmap, but be ready to adjust course as needed.

6.      Ego Check
You need a healthy dose of ego to achieve anything, but keep it in check or your swollen 
head will blur your vision.

7.      Fearlessness
We all are afraid, but you need to act as if you fear nothing. Act like you have nothing to lose and feel free of obligation or explanation.

8.      Be Assertive
Thrust yourself into the conversation – don’t sit back.

9.      Be Aggressive
Assertiveness on steroids.

10.  Strategize
Think before you act, then react, then think again.

11.  Experiment
Don’t stick to one path, one formula, one routine.

12.  Network Endlessly
Few things just come to you.  Go out and claim what’s yours.  Begin by networking – people make things easier when you know the ones who can help you take shortcuts.

13.  Work At Writing
I believe good writing comes from the heart, experience, and knowledge, but writing can be improved upon.  Work at being better – don’t settle.

14.  Ignore Critics & Unsupportive Family
Screw those jealous, selfish, and uncreative critics.  Family and friends may appear supportive but they too can convince you to quit.  Ignore them.

15.  Research Competing  Authors
Don’t create in a vacuum – know your marketplace so that you can fill its needs.

16.  Be Willing To Fail
There’s only failure in not trying, otherwise all other failure is a temporary precursor to growth.

It’s not easy to stay energized, focused, motivated, and confident, but for writers to succeed they need to deal with a lot of crap and challenges.  Writers can be their harshest critics.  But I believe in those who believe in themselves, who want to express their world in words, and who want to make the world a better place through the power of the pen (or laptop).  Keep at it until you drop dead.

Writers, please never violate these three rules!

How much longer should outdated phrases last?

The new book reading experience: 1915 vs. 2015

Great quotations to lift your writing

Amazing New Photography Book Culls 4 Million Images Into 1,100

Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog © 2015

Monday, April 27, 2015

Interview With Author Jan Elizabeth Watson

1.      What inspired you to write your newest story? I have always been interested in novels set in academia as well as literary crime novels, and What Has Become of You gives the reader a bit of both. Due to a variety of macabre influences in my youth, most notably having four older brothers with a taste for the macabre, I’ve had a lifelong curiosity about the darker side of human nature and what that says about us as a larger society. I also enjoyed playing with the idea of a protagonist who over-identifies with her students and, as a result, does everything wrong.

2.      What challenges did you have in writing it? Writing about the murder of several young girls brought me to a tough place emotionally, but I had to push my way through that sense of recoil. And creating Vera, my less than perfect protagonist, required a certain amount of letting-go as well; I was tempted at times to clean her up, to make her more admirable, but I felt that keeping her flaws intact was important to the story.

3.      This thriller revolves around the murder of a young woman. Why are so many stories built around the loss of someone? Loss is our greatest fear, and it is all the more fearsome because loss is unavoidable. We all are doomed to experience it at some point—most of us more than once. And although all loss is always painful, a loss that is greatly unexpected and unjust—the death of a vibrant young person under barbaric circumstances, for example—is something that grips our national consciousness.  We idealize youth and innocence even when we know that youth isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

4.      What do you find most rewarding about being a writer? For me, it’s the process itself. When the writing is going well… when the sentences start taking on a fluidity and start humming with life… when the ideas start to coalesce and I know I’m writing something that’s true to my own voice and not quite like anyone else’s… that’s when the feeling of being a writer is most intoxicating.  If the writing eventually sees the light of publication and finds its audience… well, that’s just gravy.

5.      Your book is set in New England. What is it about that area that fascinates you and your readers? Having lived most of my life in New England and coming from a long line of Mainers, this is definitely the region with which I have the most firsthand experience. Being a dyed-in-the-wool New Englander is its own funny thing. We are proud people but also inherently modest, not liking to call a lot of attention to ourselves, preferring remote observation to stepping forward (the mere act of publishing a book goes somewhat against the New England character, even though our literary tradition that extends way back). There is also a great deal of Puritanism that is still alive and well in parts of New England. A true New Englander values things like thrift and  ingenuity and simplicity. I always say that I am a complex woman with simple tastes, and this simplicity comes straight out of my New England background.  From a writing perspective, I  like creating stories in which complex characters can pop against simple backdrops.

6.      Any advice for struggling writers out there? Read! Read as though your life depends on it, because it does. The worst mistake that any writer can make is to not be well-read enough and to not be well-versed in our rich literary history. Engage with the text to make note of the author’s sentence structures, the use of imagery, the selection of particular detail. Why were these choices made? What do these choices achieve? Read from a ‘reverse engineering’ standpoint, where you are taking the text apart in order to see how the author fit it all together. That’s the best way to learn your craft, consciously and unconsciously.

7.      Where do you see book publishing heading? I keep my eye blissfully trained away from the publishing trends, so I’m not one to foretell what ‘the next big thing’ is going to be. But what I do strongly feel is that the publishing industry is alive and well and not nearly as endangered as some seem to think. I was just at the AWP Conference in Minneapolis and was staggered by the number of booths in the Book Fair—staggered! Publishing companies in the thousands, ones I’d never even heard of, turning out good books not just because it is a business but because they still have such a tenacious belief in the power of the written word. It’s enough to give anyone hope.


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Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog © 2015