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.
the best of times and the worst of times – for the news media.
the worst of times because:
news circulates like wild fire
news is undermined by false claims of “fake news” and by people like Trump who
dismiss a truthful report from a traditional media outlet as “fake news.”
central media influencers – the old guard like New York Times, Today Show, NPR, Time magazine see the shrinking in
size of their editorial staff -- and in their influence.
digital media is finding it has to cut back on editorial staff because it’s not
getting the revenue to support it.
it’s the best of times because:
are more news media outlets than ever before.
are more ways to communicate a message than ever before.
is an increased consumption by America of information.
past week saw some ugly news. Glamour
produced its last print edition.The JewishForward, after 121 years, also was ceasing its print edition.Buzz
Feed and Huff Post both
announced cuts to their editorial staff.These digital juggernauts were supposed to be the new business model for
news media.What happened?
those layoffs were being announced, the non-profit Newseum built as a testament
to honor journalism and the First Amendment, said sold its 420
million-dollar space and has to vacate in a year.It lost tens of millions of dollars on the
real estate deal --in addition to annually bleeding around fine million dollars.
any form of media have a pay-off ?
the one hand, news organizations are valuable to those who own and run
them.They offer editorial voice to the
owner.These media outlets occupy real
estate and some trade publicly on Wall Street.There are billions of dollars tied up in media companies.But few seem to run at a profit – and so many
can’t afford a downward turn of the economy.
to be a journalist is a dangerous occupation, especially overseas when covering
war, terrorism, and corrupt governments.While our president shits all over a free media, we must do better.
news media is mostly made up of people who are not well paid.Sure there are some superstar TV
personalities and national radio hosts that earn lots of green, but most are
underpaid, overworked.With so much in
the world to cover, how can the public be assured that a trained, educated,
ethical media will properly cover it, without delay or bias?Can the public often distinguish truth from
distortion? It is a roller coaster ride for the media, that is for sure.
attending paralegal school in what seems like a lifetime ago, I learned to
draft papers that provided a legal argument for a certain position, for or
against something.You looked at case
law, government regulations, and general rule of law to help you make a cogent
argument.It was all very dry, though
still up to interpretation, analysis, and clearly tied to the selection of specific cases that would determine how one would view an issue.Writing press kits and pitch letters to the news media, though an act of
persuasion, is quite a different task.Perhaps the two practices should merge.
you state your case to the media as to why it should pay attention to your book
or cover you as an expert, you need to convince them of facts, sell them on
ideas, and appeal to their personal sense of justice and passion.This is not so unfamiliar to lawyers, who in
addition to methodically discovering and sharing facts that support their side,
will in the end, win over a judge and certainly a jury, with emotional appeals
and the selling of personality.As an
author, think like a lawyer when trying to appeal to those who judge you – the
the case of lawyers and publicists, the words chosen to frame an argument are
so very important.All words have
precise meanings, but many have connotations -- a way in which we feel,
interpret and see these words.We attach
thoughts, feelings, even biases to certain words.Sometimes, the words you use are more
important than the reality they’re intended to reflect.
burden of proof in a court of law is different than the arbitrary way a media
outlet might be convinced to cover a story, but there is a similarity of
process.In both situations, one must
advocate convincingly of their side or risk failure.In court, some win their case by showing
enough cause to doubt a conviction, but with the media the burden is always on
the author or publicist to show why he or she is worthy of media exposure.
have to present their case live, in person, on a neutral territory – a courtroom.Authors and publicists do most of their
lobbying by phone, email, social media, or by mail.They rarely get to be in the same room,
face-to-face, with the media, and if they are together, it’s likely on the turf
of the media outlet.But whatever the
place or time one gets to appeal to the media, he or she must seize that moment
and do all that’s possible to turn the opportunity into a point of closure, a
moment of negotiated agreement.
Authors and lawyers are very similar.They may
resort to distortions, stunts, and factual withholdings in order to build their
points.They are supposed to be honest
and respect the law, but they will bend ethically in order to find a way to
convince others they have merit.Just as
lawyers will even defend those they believe to be guilty, authors will promote
a book they know is far from being an award-winning best-seller.They advocate to be heard, no matter what.
comparing the legal process to pitching the media is silly.Lawyers are trained and licensed to do their
job, while, publicists have no requirements and authors rarely have any
training in book promotions.Whereas
lawyers can go to jail for lying, authors have no such fears when talking to
the media.Whereas lawyers may argue
over huge sums of money, life and death, or human rights, most authors don’t
have such things at stake.
can and should learn from other professions as to what can help them be better
at book promotions.They should watch
politicians, lawyers, car salesmen, and anyone who can provide insight on the
powers of persuasion.Everyone, at every
level, from an escort to a Fortune 500 CEO, has some insight to offer about the
power of sales and communications.
recently published book, Farsighted: How We Make the Decisions That Matter the
Most by Steven Johnson, is a good book by a best-selling author on the big,
life-threatening decisions that are really important to us. It can also be used to make decisions about
which book to write, who to publish with, and how to best market your book.
Authors often make choices based on:
·Emotions: fear, ego, passion, jealousy
goals, and needs
Johnson says that complex decisions:
us to predict the future
varied levels of uncertainty
to confront doubt and uncertainty
anticipating objections and obstacles
writes: “When we look back at the
trajectory of our lives, and of history itself, I think most of us would agree
that the decisions that ultimately matter the most do not – or at least should
not – rely heavily on, instincts and intuition to do their calculations. They’re decisions that require slow thinking,
not fast. While they are no doubt
influenced by the emotional shortcuts of our gut reactions, they rely on
deliberate thought, not instant responses.
We take time in making them, precisely because they involve complex
problems with multiple variables.”
have to make some big decisions, even when they don’t realize the enormity of
their choices or in certain cases, that they are actually making a decision by
not doing something.
first choice is: What should I write
about? Usually they can answer that
based on why they write. Obviously they
won’t write about something unless they have a passion for the subject matter
or feel inspired by their experiences or those they have met. Other times, writers simply point their pen
towards money. They will write for hire
or write about something they feel will be profitable.
second choice is: How will my book be
published? This is a choice that authors
usually have made for them. Many try to get published by a big traditional
publisher. Once the rejections pile up –
from literary agents or publishers – they decide to consider other options. Plan B can be to self-publish, go
print-on-demand or e-book only, hybrid publishing, or pursuing a small, indie
press or a university press.
third choice is: Production. How will the book cover and interior be
designed? Which editing changes can I
live with? What should the book’s title,
sub-title, page count and price be?
fourth choice is: Marketing. How will I market this book? What is my publicity plan, social media plan,
advertising, speaking appearances, and approach to special sales and distribution?
step of the way, authors need to know what their options are before making a
decision – and they need to know the potential rewards and pitfalls of each
option. A big factor in all
decision-making moments for the author is timing. Some decisions get made simply based on where
you are at on the publishing timeline spectrum.
Others get ruled by your pocketbook.
all decisions should emanate from your core vision for your book – your needs,
goals, and desires. Figure out what you
want to accomplish, draw a map and the small steps needed to turn a dream into
a reality and focus your mind, body, spirit or resources towards the key
choices you must make.
Franklin took an approach to making tough decisions by using what he called
“moral algebra," where a numerical value could be assigned to every option
considered, where one can generate a resulting decision by placing a value on
said of this method: “I suspect many of
us will find this kind of calculation to be too reductive, taking a complex,
emotional decision and compressing it down to a complex, emotional decision and
compressing it down to a mathematical formula.
But of course, the whole process is dependent on the many steps that
have preceded it: mapping the decision,
in imaging scenarios, conducting premortems, and holding charrettes. The weights and grades only work if they’ve
calculated at the end of a full-spectrum investigation of the choice at hand –
Still, the same frame work can be applied without actually doing the math: list
your core values, think about their relative importance to you, sketch out how
each scenario might impact those values, and, based on that more narrative
exercise, make your decision.”
in the end, need to be well-informed and goal-oriented in order to make strong
decisions. The key is not to let fear or
greed shape your thinking process. Let
your book lead you into making the choices that will best serve you.
must confess to being a fan of The
Twilight Zone, an amazing series that ran on CBS-TV for five or six seasons
in the 1960’s. I know I am not alone in
valuing the black and white show that intelligently and touchingly explored a
nation’s morals, fears, confrontation with technology, government, power, war,
beauty, greed and other leading issues of the day — many of them timeless. But I’m always surprised when someone,
especially a contemporary of mine, says they don’t like or never watched the
course we can’t all have the same tastes, passions, or views – and certainly we
won’t all watch the same TV show, movie or play. But that also means we won’t all read or like
the same book. Yours included.
fact, the vast majority of people rarely read the same book. Mega-bestsellers may sell a million copies in
a year – possibly 15-30 million over many decades. Compare that to the hundreds of millions of
individuals that will live in the U.S. during that time. Some of the most critically-acclaimed,
award-winning best-sellers, if lucky, may get consumed by 10% of the population
over time. Many wildly successful books
may only get read by 1% of the population.
course, as an author, you would be happy to experience any of that, but the
truth is, your barometer for success is quite a different standard. To sell
10,000 copies of a book within a year of its publication is a level of
though they hope for book sales to climb and to hit the big time, what they
really crave is gaining support for their writings, being received by consumers
and the media favorably, winning awards, building a brand, and helping others
with a positive and empowering message.
All of that is possible with a sound book marketing and publicity
key to a successful campaign is targeting and segmenting. Don’t expect everyone to like your book or be
interested in it. In fact, assume the
opposite. Most media and consumers will
not care about your book – but that’s okay.
You only need to impress a handful of kick-off, word-of-mouth buzz.
step back from your book and try to see things objectively. Who would likely be most interested in your
book? What would they look like
demographically? What type of people
would they be? What experiences would
they likely have had? What views would
they be prone to hold?
of where such people gather – online and in the physical world. What types of media would they consume? What is it that they want to hear, that would
appeal to them?
narrow down who your targeted reader is and filter all of your actions through
that prism. Market to your reader – not
all readers. By dismissing 99% of the
population, you are on the road to success!
it takes a novel to get us to understand the deeper, more important truths
about life and death -- especially when it involves love, miracles, and one
woman’s powerful desire to find meaning in a world, turned upside down by the
loss of her husband.
by widow, Gloria J. Yorke, is such a book!Based on her true, but incredible life and journey, Gloria’s story also
explores selfless caregiving for her husband Dick, his recovery against all
odds, gross medical malpractice, and medical record cover-ups.
lost him nearly six years ago. He was a Chicago legend, entertainer, singer, and
virtuoso of the tenor sax who opened shows for many of the greatest
entertainers in history….the original Rat Pack—Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and
Sammy Davis, Jr. – and Tony Bennett, Johnny Cash, Wayne Newton, Mel Torme,
Phyllis Diller….the list is almost endless.
one morning in July 2012, Dick collapsed at his home, and was rushed to the
closest local hospital.Tests proved he
had blood on all sides, and inside his brain.It was recommended that he be immediately transferred to a larger hospital
that had its own neurological department.Upon doing so, he was placed in ICU.After three days there, and starting to show signs of slight recovery,
they moved him to a regular floor for rehab. Was expected to go home in three
days!It was here that the doctor assigned to him made
a crucial medical error that began the end of Dick’s life.
medical mistake pushed him into a coma by the following morning! The head neurologist
stated, ‘Let him die!’The hospital began to harass Gloria with daily
demands to discharge him, while nursing homes were refusing to take him. But finally one did accept him, thinking he
was going to die in a week.Through
sheer determination and prayer, Gloria willed him out of a 34-day coma and
helped him live another six months, while recovering from garbled speech, brain
damage, and other related complications.
happened to him at home was an accident; but what happened at the hospital was
criminal!” fumes Gloria. “I brought him into the hospital with his senses. He
could walk, talk, and he knew me…only suffering with severe head pain.This hospital turned him into a vegetable state,
by pushing him into a coma by forcing a prescription drug needlessly, over my
repeated objection!No amount of time, nor
inundated tears will ever erase the devastation and heartbreak that I lived,
every minute of every day during that nightmare…and still can vividly recall!”
who is a client of the public relations firm that I work for, is a tireless
advocate for those who are caregivers and lobbies hard against the unnecessary
suffering caused by medical malpractice taking place daily. Below is an
interview with her:
1.What inspired you
to write Medical Manslaughter?In January 2013, my husband died due to doctor
error.The Doctor assigned to him, in
the hospital on a regular floor, prescribed a sleeping pill, even though his chart showed that he
still had blood on all sides and inside his brain, since leaving ICU, three
days prior. She completely ignored my objection, as wife and power of attorney.
He was sleeping fine, and did not need any medication.I asked her to review his chart again. Her
response was, “I know what I’m doing!”Before I could stop the nurse, she administered the pill early that
evening.The following morning, he was
found in a coma, which began the end of his life!
2.Gloria, your debut novel provides a
real-life dramatization of what happened to your husband once he fell and hit
his head in his house.Do you blame the
doctors that treated him for his death? Absolutely!I believe
the initial doctor assigned to him caused his death! My husband did not need a
sleeping pill, and I stressed that fact to the doctor emphatically. She could
have started with a small dose, but no, she prescribed the strongest…50
mgs.I reminded her that he had a
concussion, and had been in ICU for three days, and was sent up to a regular
floor for rehabilitation, and was told he would be home in three days!His condition was extremely delicate. But,
she would not even listen to my opinion.She resented that I was challenging her decision, and let me know it, by
ignoring my wishes, and abruptly walking out of the room.
3.Why didn’t you file a lawsuit for
medical malpractice? I
contacted an attorney, specializing in malpractice. He seemed very interested,
until I told him the name of the hospital. Then his tone changed.I sent him the records. A few days later,
his secretary called saying they were not interested in this case.The following week, I called another
attorney, and spoke with the senior partner, asking that I send all of the
records.The following week, he called
to ask the exact date my husband went into the coma.I repeated July 27, 2012. He informed me that
the record showed from July 27 on…”Patient was alert and anxious to go home!” I
shouted, “Stop!He was in a coma for 34
days! He replied, “The doctor and nurse went in and changed the record…You
don’t have a leg to stand on!”
4.There are over a quarter-million
deaths blamed each year on medical errors. What could be done to reduce that
government, under Health and Human Services, must mandate accountability
procedures, so that hospitals keep honest and accurate records, that should be
checked often by statistical auditors!There should be no more hiding of the facts, so that hospitals get
funding and good ratings.Accountability
will highlight this fearsome situation, bringing to light the fact that medial error
has reached epidemic proportions! It is only when uncorrupted and facts are
chronicled in patients’ records, that experts will be able to address the
situation clearly. Those institutions and individuals who show repeat error
occurrences and deaths, should be subject to interrogation, investigation, and
prosecution.No longer can the excuse
just be,“Oops, I made a mistake!”
5.What should those who enter a
hospital know about their level of care they are to receive? Everyone entering a hospital, needs
to KNOW that they need an ADVOCATE.A
spouse, friend, or relative must visit daily, and take an extreme interest in
what is happening to and for the patient.It is wise to discuss with family and friends, prior to getting ill,
asking them to assume that responsibility if and when you might be
hospitalized.You of course, would most
likely do the same for them.What are
the duties of an advocate?A sincere
trusting advocate, takes a detailed interest in your welfare. They look for
signs of abuse, adverse reactions to medicines, the patient’s mood—are they
irritable, itchy, not sleeping.Cleanliness--- bedsheets, pillows, the floor, the bathroom…keeping in
mind that germs are your enemy.
6.Once your husband was in a coma for
a week, why did the hospital tell you “to let him die”? When my husband first went into a coma,
I had asked immediately for another doctor to be assigned to him.Obviously,
I did not trust the judgment of the doctor who put him in that coma. This new doctor
engaged the help of the entire neurology staff, including the Head Neurologist,
who started extensive testing.They
tried everything, to find out why he went into a coma, and how to bring him out
of it.After two weeks, he met with me
and showed me his brain tests, stating he was stymied.He did not know the answer to either
question.Believing he exhausted all
efforts, and that my husband would never come out of the coma, he stated, “Let
7.How did you will him out of it,
after 34 days in a coma? Actually
it was more than just my WILL that did it.Quickly, I researched as much as I could about the brain, and figured he
needed circulation to that area.So I
purchased a Theta CD which supposedly stimulates a part of the brain.Then I began massaging his neck, shoulders,
arms, hands, and legs with a vibrating massager.Naturally he was very stiff all over, having
not moved in an entire month.So I had
to handle him carefully and gently, as he would moan many times, even though
still in the coma state.I did this
religiously every day, which took about an hour or longer.His physician at the nursing home thought my
husband was going to die within one week after his admittance.
8.You then helped him to regain his
speech with intense rehabilitation and therapy.Were you amazed that he lived another six months upon waking up from a
coma that the doctors thought he’d never awaken from? He went into the coma in July,
while in the hospital.In August, 34
days later, he awakened in the nursing home.Of course, during that month I began my ritual of massaging him, and
playing his CD’s.Being he was a singer
and had a big band orchestra for many years, it was natural to stimulate his
brain this way.When he first woke up,
he replied “OK” to the administrator.However, upon waking up, when I was present, his speech was all garbled
and unrecognizable.Yes, I needed a
professional speech therapist to help unravel his speech.No, I was not amazed that he lived another six
months.I thought with my personal care,
I would have him for at least one year!
9.What tips can you offer to those
who have to be strong advocates regarding the healthcare of a loved one?First
major tip---TALK about your wishes...if something should happen to you.Perhaps during Thanksgiving or Christmas
gatherings, it would be a good time to bring up this subject.In doing so, all of your family/friends would
know your wishes, and would know that they ALL will play an important part in
your care, depending on its severity.This is important, because being an advocate demands a lot of time and
energy.If your spouse or friend is a
senior, they might not have the energy to be at your side for eight hours or
more a day, every day.This is when a
rotating schedule would go into effect, so the responsibility is distributed.
advice do you have for others who struggle with life-death decisions and
YOUR INTUITION! God has blessed us with
this marvelous alarm button, and all too often we ignore it….our
INTUITION!If you don’t have a good
relationship or connection to your Creator…God…The Universe...call it what you
will, you will be like a kite blowing in the wind, with no string attached. You
will be a lost soul.Think about those
who are diagnosed with a disease, or hardship and they have nowhere to
turn.Many family, relatives and friends
don’t want to hear your problems…they just want to hear your successes.Eventually, those successes stop.Without having a connection to a Higher
Power, you will sink into the lowest form of loneliness and depression … a
black abyss, where you are powerless to save yourself!For example, look at the many named
personalities, whose lives have ended in suicide.
do you hope readers will take away from your emotional saga? It is my desire that they will
learn much!That they will see what
Gabriella did right, and what she did wrong. Hopefully, they will emulate the
right, and leave the hospital in good health.They and their advocate (s) simply must be alert!Ask questions, meet with the attending physician
often, educate themselves about the illness, so they can ask pertinent
questions.Ask about the negatives….what
could go wrong with an operation or procedure, or adverse reactions to
medicines.When asking questions, make
sure the doctor, nurse or specialist answers in layman terms.If you don’t understand what they’re saying,
ask them to clarify. Lastly, it is
always a good gesture to bring some goodies for the nursing staff.---cookies,
candy, donuts. A little kindness will go a long way!