On a recent visit to Philadelphia, the home of American democracy and the birthplace for freedom, my family and I came upon an unusual tourist attraction: a prison.
We’d been to Philly numerous times over the years and had already been to Betsy Ross’s House, The Franklin Institute, Independence Hall, Mutter Museum, Liberty Bell, Please Touch Me Museum, The Barnes, and the Rocky statue by the base of the steps of the public library. We wanted something different.
The Eastern State Penitentiary popped up on a Goggle search for things to do in the land of cheese steak sandwiches. Off we went in search of education and entertainment. What we found was enlightenment.
The prison, last used in 1971, served the community for nearly 150 years since it opened its doors in 1829. At the time it was created it was reported to be the world’s largest prison and one of the first of its kind, serving as a model for other soon-to-be built prisons. It attempted to see prison with a purpose, not just a way to punish people, keep criminals off the street, or deter would-be criminals. It sought to reform them and to instill a fear of recidivism.
However, it seems the well-intentioned and very expensive attempt at this was misguided. In the first few decades of its existence, all prisoners were kept in solitary confinement. They never saw each other nor spoke to one another. It was enough to make a person go mad.
The prison, nearly two centuries old, is too dilapidated to be anything but a showcase for architecture, social justice and history, but it is amazingly well preserved. Its hallways and bars tell so many stories. There were even a few celebrity prisoners there, including gangster Al Capone and Willie Sutton, the bank robber who used to rob banks “because that’s where the money is.”
Towards the end of the tour there’s an excellent display of images, statistics, and prisoner testimonials, raising a thoughtful discussion about prisons. What are they for and how should they be run? Does it make sense that the U.S. is the incarceration capital of the world? Is it cost effective to spend annually for a prisoner what would equal two and a half times the cost of a state college education? Is the justice system fair with who it sends away and for how long?
Okay, so you may find this interesting, but where’s the analogy to book marketing you ask?
Well, I have two analogies.
First, let's look at the concept of how one’s ability to control his or her mind can dictate his or her ability to succeed. For those in prison, I can’t imagine the strength needed to overcome their misery. Either they are isolated and feel helpless or worthless – or they are amongst others who want to do them harm. How do they keep up hope and see a way out, a life beyond prison?
Authors sometimes feel they are prisoners of their mind, victims of negative thinking. They feel limited or helpless when it comes to promoting a book. How do they find a way to see beyond their self-imposed jail and look beyond their surroundings to find hope and optimism when it comes to marketing their brand?
Second, just as the penal system has undergone changes and reforms over the years, so should an author’s approach to book marketing. There’s no one “right way" to do this, and not every approach serves everyone well. Authors must find the path that’s right for them.
Alright, so maybe it is not a fair comparison to make – prisons and book marketing – but you get the idea. Go out there and live your life fully and freely. Experiment with the best way to market your book and release the shackles, real and perceived, to soar high and far.
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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 email@example.com. 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 http://blog.bookbaby.com/2013/09/the-best-book-marketing-blogs and recognized by Feedspot in 2018 as one of the top book marketing blogs. Also named by WinningWriters.com as a "best resource.” He recently hosted a panel on book publicity for Book Expo America.
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