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.
Schieffer, a real newsman, has been a reporter for over 60 years, including
four decades at CBS News. He started out
in newspapers. He’s respected by the
news media and citizens alike. His new
best-selling book is excellent. Overload:
Finding the Truth in Today’s Deluge of News (Rowman &
Littlefield) examines today’s journalism and how those who practice it view
their profession. Today’s journalism is
a changing landscape and under attack from fake news, ad budget cuts, the
Internet, and changing tastes of the American public. Schieffer guides us through the media maze.
have access to more information that at any time in history,” says the book
jacket copy. “But are we more informed
or just overwhelmed by so much information we can’t process?”
talks a lot about the 2016 presidential election and the role all media played
to inform people.
shows some sobering stats:
reporter in 8 lived in New York, Washington, or Los Angles in 2004. By 2014 it
was down to 1 in 5.
125 daily newspapers shuttered over the last decade – and the majority of
surviving ones have made drastic editorial staff cuts.
recent study by the Pew Foundation showed that 21 of 50 states lacked a single
daily with a DC-based reporter to cover Congress.
are a few good excerpts from his book:
and innuendo have always been a part of most cultures, but what has changed is
universal access to the web and the ability to transit information, true or
false, to literally billions of people in milliseconds.
all of the industry’s bad news, newspapers keep finding innovative ways to keep
publishing – on paper and online. Some
are partnering with nonprofits and journalism schools, nearly all have devised
ways to do more with less, and some, like the Washington Post, have been fortunate to find new owners with deep
pockets, but with its new owner and new editor, the Post has created a whole new culture in its sparkling new
editors not only increase the possibility of mistakes but also require
individual reporters to be well grounded in libel law and ethics. Learning on
the job and having the backup of experienced editors are luxuries unavailable
to many young journalists, and this puts new emphasis on what they need to know
as they embark on that first job. It is
somewhat akin to pickup sandlot sports.
Sure you can learn the game without a coach, but a coach can help the
·CONCLUSION: Americans are so overwhelmed by information
in the digital era they cannot process it.
It seems reasonable to conclude that specialists and some elites are
more informed, especially if one judges advances in math and scientific
fields. But there is little to suggest
we are more informed politically, which is especially difficult for those in
the lower-income groups. Research
indicates that situation may be getting worse with increased reliance on mobile
devices – a development that could further divide an already deeply divided
·CONCLUSION: Fake news made up out of whole cloth for
political or financial profit poses a growing and dangerous threat to
democracies both here and in Europe, all of which depend on informed
electorates and faith in traditional institutions.
the risk of stating the obvious, of all the changes brought on by the
technological revolution, fake news is clearly the most dangerous and will be
the hardest to eradicate.
depend on an informed electorate with access to independently gathered,
accurate information that they can compare to the government’s version of
events. It is as vital as the right to
effort by government or outside agents to impede or undermine the free flow of
information is a serious and real threat to democracy and should never be taken
have spent too much time worried about whether newspapers should continue to
print their news on paper when we should have been worried about the story, not
the surface on which it was printed.
There seems little question that the decline of newspapers has had an
impact on politics. In large rural areas
it has not been a question of what kind of local news people were getting but
whether they were getting any news at all.
dearth of political news in so many areas poses an obvious danger: if some entity doesn’t rise up to do what we
once depended on local newspapers to do, we’ll have corruption in cities and
towns across America on a scale we have never known.
politician’s mission is to deliver a message.
Our job is to determine if it is true and what its implications will be
for the electorate.
should not assume that everyone in public life is corrupt or there for evil
reasons, and we should never leave the impression that we are the exclusive
fount of all wisdom.
are not the opposition party. We are
reporters. Our role is simply to ask
questions and to keep asking until we get an answer. That will not always make us popular, but it
is clearly what the Founders intended. I am proud to be a reporter.
The All new 2018 toolkit to promote a
book -- 7th annual edition
flacks outnumber the hacks by at least a 5 to 1 margin. Is there any surprise that we have a media
filled with fake news, manipulated reporting, under-reporting, and news bought
and paid for by the lobbyist-fueled PR industry? What can or should be done about this?
the United States, according to government figures, there are 50,400 reporters
and 260,000 PR practitioners. In a
decade, the gap will widen so that PR people will actually outnumber
journalists by a 6:1 ratio.
today’s reporter is overworked and supports a media outlet that is
understaffed. How can the truth be
discovered and preserved and defended if the process to uncover it is corrupted
by so many factors and figures? Further
with a media diluted and suspect, how can authors write books based on missing
facts, half-truths, or propaganda-fueled lies?
many books get their ideas – or research – from news media reports. But if the media is reporting what the PR
stiffs push on them, how reflective is the reporting on the real world? The news media-fueled narrative of life is
merely one possibility for today’s author to pursue. Life holds so many stories and possibilities
but in order for them to be unearthed and shared, writers will need to look
beyond a PR-saturated media world.
The All new 2018 toolkit to promote a book -- 7th annual
are always looking for websites that provide support, information, and
connections that can help them write, publish, and promote great books. Here are 18 websites that should be utilized
may sound like a strange question. After
all, you are who you are. If you are a
bubbly, smiling person or a grumpy, shitfaced one, it’s not easy to change. When
promoting your writings via social media and traditional media, what types of
persona do you want to present?
first rule to Personality 101 is be consistent. Whatever image or voice you
care to share, do it uniformly. You
can’t be funny all of the time and then try to be politically serious – or vice
versa. If you are known for one thing,
it’s hard to be seen as something else.
think about a makeover. Maybe you’re not
as witty as you think you are. Maybe
your writing isn’t as sharp or clear as you believe it is. Perhaps you aren’t as creative or edgy as you
hoped to be. Take a look at how you
present yourself and look to see what can be improved.
keep up with what others in your genre or space are saying and doing. Study the social media activities of those
who are popular, successful, or worthy of your admiration. Borrow things that you like and that fit with
the persona you seek to push out.
make sure your vocabulary and content match the persona you seek to put out
there. Are you using the right jargon
and making timely references to things?
Do you sound like the kind of person that you are trying to present?
don’t look to be perfect or come off as a know-it-all. Just be you.
find a way to share and inquire, to engage by telling as well as asking.
always be kind and polite. Being rude
won’t get you very far. But that doesn’t mean you can’t be opinionated, bold,
challenging or strong-willed. You can’t
please everyone nor should you try to but you don’t have to go out of your way
to be mean or corrosive.
persona needs to stick out and vary from the competition. No one needs a “more of the same” blog or
book or media outlet. We want to be
entertained AND informed. We want facts
and analysis of things important to us.
We want good-looking, intelligent, outgoing people to tell us what we
need to know or do. We want a
personality-- not-just a resource -- to talk to us.
The public demands so much. So
what kind of persona do you want to offer?
The All-New 2018 Toolkit to Promote a Book -- 7th annual
recently read The Book: A Cover-To-Cover Exploration of the Most
Powerful Object of Our Time, by Keith Houston. It’s all about the printed book, the ones
that have mass and fill out a bookcase.
It’s about the best format a book can take – greater than e-books, clay
tablets, papyrus scrolls, or wax writing boards.
praising the printed book as the “world’s most important form of written
record,” it notes it faces an unknown future:
“Just as paper superseded parchment, immovable type put scribes out of a
job, and the codex, or paged book, overtook the papyrus scrolls, so competitors
and electronic books threaten the very existence of the physical book.”
speaks of the e-book’s appeal -- cheap, convenient, weightless, up-to-date -- and
says “It takes a strong will to resist the lure of the e-book.”
love physical books and they deserve to be with us forever. But in order for this to happen, they will
either co-exist with digital books or they will have to squash the e-book. Right now print still dominates, thankfully,
but who knows for how long.
support the printed book, a book like Houston’s is needed, providing historical
support for the beauty of paper-filled tomes.
had a 3,000-year run as a writing material.
Eventually that got replaced – and perhaps like it, printed books will
one day be supplanted by their digital counterpart.
invented by King Eumenes II of Pergamon, a ruler of a Greek city-state around
200 B.C., replaced papyrus. And other
resources would come to be used to write and print on but in the end, paper has
won out. Interestingly, in the age of
email, digital books, and websites, our dependence on paper has grown, not
notes: “World consumption of paper has
doubled since 1980, with each resident of the U.S.A. consuming the equivalent
of 5.57 forty-foot trees in 2012. That
is to say, an average American gets through almost 500 pounds of paper in a year.”
book talked about mass deacidification and how in the 1930s, “it was discovered
that wood-pulp paper slowly, inexorably disintegrates even without the presence
of excess bleach or acidilignin, a complex molecule found abundantly in wood,
reacts to ultraviolet light to destroy the cellulose that binds paper
together. In the 1980s, when the Library
of Congress first tackled the issue of brittle books, it estimated that 25
percent of books owned by large American research libraries – 75 million
volumes in all – would crumble to dust if handled. A slow fire was consuming books across the
world and something had to be done.”
book is a fascinating read, especially for philologists (who study the development
of language) and those who love to learn about the written word. Below are some random excerpts that may be of
appeal to you:
Birth of Writing
day linguists think that the idea of writing-that visual signs could be used to
represent spoken words, sounds or concepts – came to Egypt from nearby Sumer,
in what is now northeastern Iraq.
B.C. The Scroll
Egyptians invented something else, too, during that frantic period at the dawn
of writing. To borrow the Oxford English
Dictionary’s words on the subject, Egypt’s scribes had figured out how to
combine individual sheets of papyrus to make “portable volume[s] consisting of
a series of written, printed, or illustrated pages bound together for ease of
reading”; they had invented the book, in
other words, in the form of the papyrus scroll.
As evidenced by the papyri preserved Egypt’s arid climate, and as
described in Pliny’s second-century buyer’s guide, the books of the ancient
world were made from long series of papyrus sheets trimmed to matching heights
and pasted together, to be rolled up for storage and unrolled for reading. What we do not know, however, is why the
scroll ever came about in the first place.
or not a scribe understood a word of the text he was copying, progress was slow
and methodical. Each letter was
constructed stroke by stroke in iron gall ink, and a conscientious scribe would
pause to sharpen his quill tens of times each day to maintain an even
line. The penknife with which he did
that, in fact, was every bit as important as his pen: with it, he could prick
holes for guidelines; scrape off a mistake before its ink soaked into the page;
or hold springy parchment flat so as to write upon it more easily. At the end of all this he would have picked
up the completed page, cast an expert eye over its neatly ruled lines and disciplined
text, and then passed it on to a colleague practiced in the graphic arts.
writing of books evolved in fits and starts.
If we could plat a line tracing that history, it would be punctuated
with abrupt spikes announcing the invention of hieroglyphs, papyrus, movable
type, and any one of a hundred other innovations, large and small. The story of book illustration is a similar
one, and one of the key inflection points on our hypothetical graph – a
skyrocketing discontinuity that dwarfs what come before and paved the way for
what followed-marks the arrival, in medieval times, of the illuminated
papermaking, movable type, and woodcut printing, book-binding was not a craft
disposed to great inventive leaps.
Occasionally, a bookbinder was moved to experiment with some radical
alteration to the basic formula of the book – two books bound to a single
wooden covering board, for instance, or a series of books concertinaed together
like an unholy orihon but with the adoption of double-cord binding, the form of
the book was effectively standardized.
From the time of the St. Cuthbert Gospel, the Ragyndrudis Codex, and
their medieval ilk, through to the encyclopedias Britannica and Webster’s dictionaries
that lined nineteenth-century bookshelves, the evolution of the book was a gentle
one, borne onward on a tide of tinkering, refinements, and changes in material.
The All-New 2018 Toolkit
to Promote a Book -- 7th annual edition