A unique blog dedicated to covering the worlds of book publishing and the news media, revealing creative ideas, practical strategies, interesting stories, and provocative opinions. Free speech, literacy, and great books are also discussed. Along the way, discover savvy but entertaining insights on book marketing, public relations, branding, and advertising from a veteran of two decades in the industry of book publishing publicity and marketing.
is how I felt when I saw those three words in my 11-year-old son’s reading choice,
an award-winning, critically-acclaimed book, I’ll Give You the Sun, by Jandy Nelson.
School Library Journal, Publishers Weekly,
Booklist, Boston Globe, Time, New York Times and others rated it as one of the
best YA books of the year. The New York Public Library and Chicago Public
Library put it on their best-of-the-year list.
The author’s site describes the book as “radiant,” that will “leave you
breathless and teary and laughing – often all at once."
sounds like a great book. The
best-selling novel could be in the hands of our youth for generations to come.
have we crossed a line somewhere?
get me wrong, I’m no prude. I long ago
decided to let my kids – by age six – say “shit” and a few other funny-sounding
words. But I draw the line with the F-word. I do my best not to say it in front of
them. But now my son, in fifth grade, is
reading a book with this line in it.
don’t oppose the use of the word. All great books cover
controversial topics and sometimes blue language goes along with them. But I didn’t realize the day has come where
the F-word is so normal and mainstream that we let kids in elementary school
read books with such words.
concepts, terms, or actions are hard to define.
My eight-year-old is not reading a book with that word in it. No fucking way! But my son is. Is it too soon? Is it really necessary? On the other hand, so what?
old enough to grasp the use of the word.
Soon he’ll be exposed to such language more regularly as he enters
middle school. But I thought we could
keep him innocent for a little longer.
He doesn’t even turn his head to look at beautiful young women. He
hasn’t entered the world of sex-obsessed, drug-taking, language-offending
he will. With the reading of this book
it’s begun. I think what bugs me is his
school is endorsing this. It could’ve
chosen any number of great books, but it took the one with the F-word. The mass media endorses it, too. Maybe parents need to follow suit, I don't know.
all for pushing the envelope and challenging people on their ethics, passions
and behaviors – but when it comes to kids, my kids, I thought some things were
still off limits. I guess not. What a fucking shame.
always telling authors, whether they are first-time novices or veterans of
multiple best-selling books, the key to success is to go all-out on book
marketing and publicity. That is
actually more important than making a book great. A mediocre book with great PR often does
better than a superior book with little or no marketing behind it.
doesn’t matter what genre you write in.
It doesn’t matter if your publisher is big, small, a university press or an independent. It doesn’t matter what your
book is about, how it’s written or designed, or how catchy your title and cover
appears to be. You have to promote and
market the heck out of it.
some authors lack the key elements to promote:
They don’t know what to do, when, or how.
·Ability;: They lack certain skills needed to sell
·Time: Everyone is short on this.
·Money: You need it if you want a professional helper.
You don’t want to talk about yourself or book.
Make-up: You fear public speaking or desire
·Attitude: You think you shouldn’t have to blow your own
horn, that the book sells itself.
how do you get some marketing success when you lack one or more of the above?
either do what you can and supplement the rest, or you outsource everything, or
you do nothing and pray that you get discovered.
you recognize that you need help, you have a few options:
for professional services.
less for amateur services.
your services/resources with others.
with your network for help.
funds and resources.
an investor or sponsor to fund your efforts.
Kickstarter and other crowdfunding sites.
what can authors do to make sure they have exhausted all possible avenues for
success? They must act with a sense of
urgency and assume a mindset of desperation.
They can’t have a wait-and-see attitude.
They can’t be laid back in their approach. They can’t just hope to win the lottery or be
dependent on the kindness of strangers.
Nor can they risk debt or bankruptcy to take a dream and turn it into
you do what you are capable of and what you enjoy doing. I don’t mean writing. I’m talking about the specter of book
marketing and PR that you do well. Let’s
say you are good at research and emailing people, but not so good in
networking. Let’s say you are good at
getting speaking gigs but not at securing media coverage. Perhaps – you know how to get radio
interviews but social media baffles or even frustrates you. Know what you do well and identify what needs
to be outsourced. Accept the things that
you will ignore, that neither will you do yourself nor get others to do for
identify who can help you do the things you plan to outsource. Query them on capabilities, fees and past
performance. Find people you can work
with. You likely will need multiple
experts to help you if you have numerous areas that you require help in. There are no one-stop-shopping pros in the
figure out how to work your network, as well as build it up. What will you ask of them – and give in
return? How will you reach the networks
of your network?
think of how to trade with people who can help you. I don’t mean paying your web guy with books
or compensating someone with sexual favors, but what you can and should do is
think of what it is that you have digitally that is perceived to be of value of
others. Incentivize others to buy your
book not only because it’s a great book at a great discount – or because they
are your friend or colleague – but because by doing so they will be rewarded
with a free item. It can be a prior
ebook. It can be a webinar. It could be copies of presentations, missing
chapters, or a resource guide. It can be
something that belongs to someone else.
Share the digital resources of fellow authors – not only does it help
you sell your book but the authors that you help promote will be willing to
share your stuff with their list of connections. It’s a win-win.
you need to simply take the extra step or do the thing you didn’t think you
were capable of doing. To break through
you need to do more than you think possible and to try things you never
did. That’s how you get moving from
point A to point C: pay others, trade with others, exploit
your networks, and do work on your own.
the loss of Prince potentially due to an overdose of pills – presumably
accidentally – it rekindles the age-old debate about creative types and
reckless behavior. But let’s take it a
step further and look at suicide and the writer.
study was published on suicide and mental illness around four years ago in the Journal of PsychiatricResearch. It was based on the work of the Karolinska
Institute in Sweden. It slowed that
authors were almost twice as likely to commit suicide as the general
consider that suicide in the United States has dramatically increased over the
past 16 years. A new study shows that
the suicide total of 29,000 in 1999 has risen sharply to 42,000 last year. This is almost a 50% increase. The suicide rate, which is adjusted, based on a growing population, jumped more than 24% - from 10.5 to 13.0 per 100,000
most frustrating thing about suicide is that it is preventable and even with
all of the public outcry to improve mental illness treatment, even with all of
the medicated Americans, and even with all of the therapists, counselors, and
psychiatrists available, and even with the declining public stigma of getting help for mental
illness, we have failed miserably to help those who obviously need help.
can speculate on any number of reasons why people kill themselves. For some, it
could be a crappy marriage, the loss of a job, an addiction gone wild, or any
reason and no reason at all. Suicide is
not rationale and is induced by mental imbalance. But why are so many more people imbalanced,
and why are so many pushed to their doom?
do have an increase in psychologically damaged veterans returning home from a decade-and-a-half of fighting terrorism wars. We did have a Great
Recession that killed dreams and hopes.
We still have many problems, as a society and as individuals, that if not
addressed, can get out of control and lead to one believing that ending their
life is a better option than to live with pain, loss, or a broken heart.
we missing something here? Is life
itself the problem? Does life cause
suicide? Does the toll of life burden so
many people to the point of no return?
Is it chemical, like a toxic pollutant that gets into our system and
leads to out-of-control behavior? Could
suicide not be a mental issue at all, but a physical one, one based on the
why do writers choose to kill themselves twice as often as the average
person? Is writing itself a symptom, or
even a cause, of mental illness?
uncle committed suicide when I was just five years old. I learned a lesson early on about death that
will stay with me until the end of my days comes. But I know my death will not come at my own
hand. I learned that we are bigger than
life’s troubles and I know that there can be some hellish scenarios that could
tempt us to see death as relief. But we
get this one life to live. Reincarnation
may be possible, but nothing is certain. I choose to live this life fully and
I don’t blame anyone for taking their lives.
Everyone has their threshold of pain. But I bet most victims would alter
their plans if they had hope or love or support in their lives. Still, for some, a disease, an injury, a
personal loss or even a professional shortfall tests their resolve and seems overly
Writers, if they didn’t write, would probably kill themselves at double the rate they
already die at. Writing is a salvation
to many. It’s our therapy, our passion,
our artistry, and our way of seeing the world and sharing it with others. It’s our cry for help. It Is the legitimization
and validation of our pain, suffering, and shattered lives.
came across a web site that listed hundreds of writers who either attempted
suicide or killed themselves. You may recognize
list can get really long. It’s not just the famous, award-winning or best-selling
writer that takes his life. It’s the amateur writer, the unknown poet, and the
person struggling to be heard and seen.
For some, fame and fortune accelerates their demise; and for others it is
their failed pursuit of such things that expedites their dark ending.
have a great ability to rescript the world and imagine it in a way that it
never has been and may never be able to become. They have a gift and a talent
that can be shared with so many others. If only they could appreciate their
writings in a way that others are impacted by their words and ideas.
every book is a portion of a long suicide note.
For many writers, that note is never completed but all too often, the
note is finished before they can fully share their works with others.
has a suicide and mental health problem. We have failed to contain it. On a mass scale, society has unequivocally
dropped the ball. Can we merely throw
dollars, doctors, and drugs at the problem?
Suicide is winning by huge numbers.
You can’t point to something specific and say if we fix that we fix the
problem. How could we go backwards and
fail so many people?
is the exclamation point to the bigger issue – society suffers from mass depression. I know, not everyone is sick, sad, or crazy
but tens of millions are suffering or at risk.
Maybe the answer is not to treat depression but to treat life. Something
is deficient in the world that leads so many people to lose hope, faith, and
would think that our lives are supposed to be better.
it’s technology and the digital era that’s killing people off. The meteoric, suicide rate coincides with the
period of time that the majority of the population has been connected online.
it’s the terrorism era. Could we be
self-imploding because we fear terrorists are coming for us?
it’s something in our genetically-altered foods, the global warning
environment, or the oversized lightweight T.V. in our homes.
it’s none of that. The mental health community obviously has no clue because it
has failed us miserably.
our improved society is to blame. As we have more laws to protect ethnic minorities, the LGBT community, pot-smokers, and women – and as it becomes more publicly
acceptable to be different, if not weird – we have an increase in people killing
themselves. I thought the opposite was
supposed to happen. It seems as life
became easier for us on a socially accepted level we instead have retreated
deeper into depression. What the hell is wrong with us?
wonder if my writing could ever save a life.
What could I say that would lead people to veer off their suicidal path?” Maybe one day I’ll need inspiring or
encouraging words to pull me from the brink of reckless despair.
and feng shui experts tell us how to employ better surroundings and environments
for maximum living potential.
Psychologists tell us to reduce stress and meditate. Religion tells us to have faith in God and
community. Sports and Hollywood distract
us in useful ways. So we have all of these
industries and experts to make us feel good and enjoy life, but again I
ask: What went wrong? How are we, citizens of one of the greatest
nations in modern history, so screwed up that we can’t even choose life over
we need more therapy dogs? The pet
population is at a record number but so is suicide. Comfort food sales remain high, but so is the
suicide rate. Our exposure to new ideas,
health information, and resources to prevent or heal from depression is on the
rise, but so is suicide.
numbers just don’t add up. Sometimes
pieces of our lives don’t add up either.
1.What inspired you to write your book? After becoming a
master at what did not work in my parenting, coming full circle back to where I
remembered what did, made me realize that other parents need to know this
stuff. I wanted to share the details, processes and ways for parents to
have their ideal relationship with their kids!
2.What is it about? My book teaches parents the importance of tapping
into their own internal guidance system, then teaching their children how to
use their IGS to access their best choices and decisions. The book coaches parents
on finding and maintaining their alignment (feeling happy) so
they are able to parent effectively. Trusting one's own IGS and also trusting
your child's power to choose for themselves is what will enable a more
stress free relationship with your kids and empower them to know what is right
3.What do you hope will be the everlasting thoughts for
readers who finish your book? I hope that readers will know it is possible to
have a great relationship with their children and even their teens. That they
will make their own wellbeing a priority so they can be the kind of parent and
person they would like to be.
4.What advice do you have for writers? My advice for
writers is to trust that what they feel inspired to share is the perfect thing.
Never sit down to write when out of alignment. Nothing productive can come of
5.Where do you think the book publishing industry is heading?
think the book publishing industry is heading toward more self-published books
and more people utilizing all of the marketing venues available today.
6.What challenges did you have in writing your book? Getting to the
point where I knew I was I supposed to. As in meant to.
7.If people can only buy one book this month, why should it be yours?
book offers ways to get what you want.
Author Sharon Ballantine is a certified Law of Attraction Life Coach from
Quantum Success Coaching Academy and has spent the past 20 years studying and
applying this law. Additionally, Ballantine has headlined her own parenting column
for BeliefNet.com and has
recently launched Ballantine Parenting Institute, an online parenting program.
For more information, visit www.SharonBallantine.com.
do teachers, tutors, parents and coaches create great students, athletes, and
takes a village to raise greatness. It
begins with the child and his or her DNA, social upbringing at home, the community
environment, and the era in which they were raised. Things like race, wealth and other
demographics can certainly play a role too.
Children are the result of a physical-psychological-economical cocktail.
Still, I wonder how any one individual can make a significant difference in the
life of a child.
parent and an amateur sports coach, I always try to teach kids the raw skills
and the psychological approach to whatever they are doing. My belief is everyone, at every level, can
benefit from coaching and motivation, and can always improve by some
incremental amount. Great players can be
even greater. Mediocre students can excel higher. Low-performing writers can
rise and show vast improvement.
the heat of the moment, adults forget that kids are kids. They tune you out on purpose – they know
better! They zone out and get easily
distracted -- ooh look, a butterfly! They
can be emotional, sensitive, and touchy.
They can be tired, unfocused, unmotivated or even bored. You may love a sport or value knowledge or
worship the art of writing – but kids need to be nourished, molded, and
encouraged to discover their strengths, convictions, and passions. They can’t live out our dreams. They must pursue theirs.
we end up pushing children away from what we love most. We’re too intense, too aggressive, and just
overtly pushy when trying to pass on our experiences and knowledge. The
children get overwhelmed by your suggestions and prodding. They need to feel they own their lives and
that we are there for times when they feel they need us.
want to do things their way and develop their own style. They want
encouragement but not to be pushed beyond their comfort level or safety
zone. They went to succeed without
practicing, to achieve without always having to try so hard. They get jealous of fellow teammates or
classmates who seem to naturally and effortlessly conquer any challenge.
they need us, whether they know it or not. For our youth to become tomorrow’s
writers, scientists, and even professional athletes they need volunteers,
trained professionals, guardians, and coaches to help them rise above their
abilities, expectations, or desires.
think the keys to getting the most out of children when seeking to teach them
something is the following:
encourage them. Let them know you
believe they are capable of doing better and of accomplishing the task at
hand. Everyone needs to hear it.
positive reinforcement to reward good behavior. Praise their effort as much as the result.
possible, let the child know how to do something better. Every moment is a teaching opportunity. Even if a child does something that results
in a run scored for his team, show him or her how to do it better or how he
could’ve done it differently.
acknowledge great plays or excellent essays or wonderful test scores. The child feels proud when others hear of
patient. You have to tell a kid
something scores of times until it clicks in their heads. “Oh, so that’s how you do it?”
assume a good result means your work is done.
Kids can easily go into a slump or develop bad habits or forget what
they did right. Adults still need constant reminders to do their jobs well -- kids
certainly are no different.
you need to accept a child’s limitations.
They may not be physically coordinated or mentally suited or
intellectually-gifted to process a certain task. Never give up on them, but allow yourself to
move on to other skills and challenges.
give up too quickly. Just because a child initially struggles with a task
doesn’t mean they won’t turn a corner. Make sure you give them enough tries and
training before tossing in the towel.
a break and just have fun. Let the kids express what they want to do and try it
their way. Instead of them doing things
the way you think they should be done, let the kids tell or show you how they
want to approach things.
your methods, your words, your tone. Yes, you may be the problem. Each child
responds to certain approaches. Change
your approach if it’s not working and see if a new style gets the job done.
was inspired to be a writer at any early age.
My dad said he wanted to be a writer but didn’t pursue it. He did however write many letters to the Congress,
White House, and newspapers, protesting the Vietnam War. His activist voice
stuck with me. I had good teachers as
well. In the end, I think I became a
good writer because I followed my passion and spent many hours naturally and
instinctively honing my craft. I had the
inner confidence to know I had something worth saying and that I’d find the
right way to say it. Words have such
power and writing them down allows me to map out a one-sided argument without a
rebuttal. In my mind, I’m always right!
lot of things children are taught or told come from volunteers. The volunteers
often lack professional training. Sometimes they teach the wrong things, fail
to break bad habits, or say negative things.
In such cases, not only are kids not taught how to improve, but their
dreams get ignored or crushed.
develop great writers, I would suggest the following:
them to all kinds of genres and types of books – let them see there are many
styles and subjects out there.
them to free-write – without worrying about spelling, editing, or even grammar.
them used to keeping a journal but don’t encourage them to post so much of
themselves on social media just yet – they first need to develop their voice
and protect their privacy.
them how to conduct research and how to decipher if a source is reliable.
them new words every day.
them to ask questions – it all starts with a curious mind.
whatever they share with you, ask them how they could’ve made it better or
different, and offer a strategy to improve upon it.
them to write how they feel and to speak their truth – even if it goes against
the wishes, expectations, standards, or desire of others.
gift of writing is the best gift of all – next to the gift of love. Maybe writing is love. I know I love writing
and so will millions of others from every generation. They just need a good support system. Are you ready to mentor the next great
writer? It’s not too late to become the writer you know you are capable of
being – keep learning and teach others.
always wondered if the government uses copyright law to get a heads-up on what
books will say before they are published.
Often, many books apply for copyright before they are released to the
public. Do you think there are thousands of workers combing through these
manuscripts to learn what people have to say before the masses learn about
There is a distinct advantage given to the government when it learns things
before others do. Based on the information contained in these books, it could:
its policies, procedures, plans, or priorities.
to form a defense against an accusation.
information to make certain financial investments.
to cover its tracks
its military or security strategy.
a case to arrest someone.
insight to prosecute an entity.
evidence of a controversial program.
so maybe I’ve been exposed to one conspiracy theory too many, but it makes
sense. Sure, copyrights are issued to
protect the domain of a writer’s original work, but don’t you wonder if the
government uses it to its own advantage?
What if the government learns the details of a book that will release
information it doesn’t want leaked? Could the government then
blackmail/threaten /pay-off the author to not publish such materials? Or maybe the government, upon being alerted to what will be published, prepares a smear campaign to discredit the author
and book before it’s released. Or how
about the government, upon learning of a book’s contents, doesn’t squash the
book but instead asks the author to make changes that are favorable to the
are the same thing. While the government
serves its function by ascertaining who owns the rights to certain creations,
it is secretly looking to apply such ideas, technology or techniques to serve
its own interests and needs – well before any of it is actually available to
the public. I think the copyright office
is doing the same with books.
another thought. What if the copyright
office doesn’t record your book, word for word, and instead purposely edits out
certain passages and then adopts its version into the permanent record?
the government already spies on us, manipulates the financial markets, fixes legal cases, and does whatever is needed to keep us safe, protect America’s
interests, or serve the needs of corrupt politicians, why wouldn’t it violate
the copyright process for its own needs? Hey, I have zero proof here and am
just speculating on a “what-if,” but seriously, what if I’m right?