Sunday, May 20, 2018

Long Live The Writer -- And Words!

I feel, when faced with an empty canvas (in the form of a lined yellow pad), that the words will just come to me and flow out of me, onto the page as if they were being dictated.  I rarely am unsure of what I’ll write next.  It comes naturally, if not necessarily.  I want to write.  I must write.  This is my purpose – and pleasure and passion.

The words are supposed to get us somewhere – both you, the reader, and me the writer.  The words should help us understand and appreciate the lives we lead and the world we live in.  They help us fill in the blanks, supplement a life that’s incomplete and a world that often makes no sense.

The words have meaning and a past and relevance to one another.  There are no unknowns with words.  They are predictable. It’s other parts of our world that seem unknown and unknowable.  Words should not fail us. They are assigned a value and they reflect what we understand, experience, think, feel, and desire.  But life goes beyond our words and sometimes no combination of existing words can explain how we feel nor comfort us nor make us any better than we really are.

Words can lead to fights even wars.  They can lead to death and destruction.  They can also bring people together and tell us what love is all about.

Words elevate our society and those who read, write, and teach with words should be our leaders.  Without intellect we have chaos.

Sometimes our words get twisted in lies and are abused by marketers, politicians, lawyers, and desperate people.  It’s when we misuse words and say what we don’t mean that we fall into a trap, where words become weapons for our enemies.

Writers love to play with words.  They don’t just use them as the building blocks of some magnificent architectural marvel.  They toy with words and tinker with them.  Writers want to own words, even coin a few.  But really they are merely renting them.

Writers have access to the same resource as everyone else -- we each can use the same words, even simultaneously.  It’s an unlimited energy source in the sense that billions of people can use the same words, with no scarcity of usage.  You using a word doesn’t stop me from using the same word, but, due to copyright laws, we can’t arrange the same words in the exact same order.

There is a limit to how many words exist at any point in time but nothing stops the writer from making words up and creating a new language.  Some of the best books include fake words, some of which would later get adopted by the dictionary.

The writer, especially of books, sees words as valuable tools in which he or she uses to convey ideas, inspiration, information and visions of a better life and world.  The writer knows that there’s a challenge – for him to say the right thing and for readers to correctly interpret his intentions; for the reader to feel so moved that the book impacts his or her life; for that changed individual to make a positive difference in the lives of others.  All of that can come just from the juxtaposition of words.

Long live the writer!

Spelling Sells
One of the earliest best-sellers in America was Webster’s Spelling Book, published in 1783.  By 1890, 60 million copies had been sold.

Best Seller Lists – Origins
According to the book.  The Bestseller Code by Jodie Archer and Matthew L. Jockers, the word “bestseller’ entered the dictionary in the late 18th century, around the time the first list of books ranked by consumer sales was crafted.  They write:

“While it should be a neutral term, it has developed some connotations that are likely misleading.  The literary magazine The Bookman started to print “Sales of Books during the Month” in 1891 in London and in 1895 in New York after the International Copyright act of 1891 slowed down the distribution of cheap pirated copies of British novels.  Until then, no sales statistics had really been possible.  From the beginning, the lists – which were printed in each major city and typically reported the top six sellers of the month – were about two things that were new to the book world.  The bestseller lists were about sales as the only criterion for inclusion, and a proxy recommendation system for what to read next.”

Authors Owning Bookstores
We’ve heard of authors who become publishers, as more books are self-published than produced by traditional publishers.  But do authors now need to open bookstores too?  Some small presses recently opened up bookstores, so why not an author?  Novelist Alex George (A Good American-Putnam, Setting Free the Kites-Putnam) and founder of Unbound Book Festival, opened an indie bookstore in 2018 in Columbia, MO.  It’s a general bookstore that fills the void for an area that’s lacking bookstores.

Book Advertising

According to The Books in America, “The first full-scale advertising campaign for a book was probably mounted in 1898 with Charles Major’s When Knighthood Was in Flower.  Full-page advertisements were displayed in magazines that compared the author, whose name was not revealed, to such literary greats as Shakespeare, Scott, Dumas, and others.  The public was fascinated, and the publisher encouraged highly publicized attempts to discover the author’s name.  Sales were huge, and the publishing world was duly impressed.  Advertising was here to stay, and without the publishing industry firmly entered the twentieth century.”

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Brian Feinblum’s insightful views, provocative opinions, and interesting ideas expressed in this terrific blog are his alone and not that of his employer or anyone else. You can – and should -- follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at He feels much more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog © 2018. Born and raised in Brooklyn, he now resides in Westchester. His writings are often featured in The Writer and IBPA’s Independent.  This was named one of the best book marketing blogs by Book Baby and recognized by Feedspot in 2018 as one of the top book marketing blogs. Also named by as a "best resource.”

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