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. 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.
recently caused a stir on the right and left when news leaked it has been
banning certain books or selling materials that were censored by others. It
again raises the argument: should books be banned in America?
you are going to ban books, you should publicly list which ones they are, state
why, and show a consistent approach in your rules as to what makes the cut -- and
doesn’t do any of that.
are hypocritical. While it bans books by David Duke, a former Ku Klux Klan
leader, and George Lincoln Rockwell, the founder of the America Nazi Party, it still sells books with plenty of questionable imagery and views. It also sells other controversial memorabilia, just as it does with Confederate books or memoirs of killers,
rapists, and terrorists.
one believes the world is better by Amazon selling hate-filled propaganda –
except for racists – but the world is worse off when the biggest bookseller quietly
bans books. If it does it with these books, what stops them from removing books
espousing other views, values, theories, or histories, simply because it disagrees
with the content?
suppose some books challenge us, legally, morally, and psychologically.Do we want books about bomb-making,
pedophilia, or encouragement for violence?
never a good answer to any of this. Free speech cuts both ways – Amazon can
choose to sell what it wants to and writers can choose what to write about, just
as consumers choose what to buy. But free speech can’t force a store to sell
something anymore than it can force a writer to write something. Free speech
really is a government issue. The U.S. can’t stop Amazon from selling a book by
or about a white supremacist nor can it stop or force someone to read/buy the
book. But we all tend to think of free speech has going beyond that.
want free speech without retaliation from a government, employer, or housing development.It wants to have people speak freely, without
retribution. But it also expects people to be respectful, fair, and kind-hearted. Well. Americans don’t really agree on anything. One person’s love
is another’s hate. One’s garbage is another’s gold.
gets a huge demerit for not having a clear and consistent policy and for not stating which books are blacklisted. But the bigger issue is beyond all
of that. We need to resolve how to allow for all views to be heard while
voluntarily encouraging that we have more tolerance by both writers and
a tricky balance. It’s an unending quagmire than many have been nuddied and
Amazon should just go back to the ethos Jeff Bezos espoused in 1998, when
Amazon was an ambitious start-up, when he said:“We want to make every book available – the
good, the bad and the ugly.”He believed
customer reviews would “let the truth loose” and dictate what gets purchased or
Nazis, ironically, rose to power once information was controlled by the state
and books were banned, burned or censored. First they keep you in the dark.
Then they confiscate your rights and propertyThen they enslave or kill you.Amazon has triggered that first stage, though no one would compare them
to the Nazis. But knowledge and information are invaluable assets to keep our
nation a free and thriving democracy.
will always err on the side of books. Write what you wish. Publish and sell
them. We hope writers, publishers, and stores will act responsibly, accurately,
honestly and fairly. But as we can see, challenges and loopholes are always
with us. It is something we must live with.
The Unlikely Story Of How One Woman Pioneered A Revolutionary
Industry --And Helped Level The Playing Field
In Business & Sports For Millions Of Girls & Women
As an aspiring
artist, part-time secretary, and part-time undergrad student at the age of 28,
Lisa Z. Lindahl, a person with Epilepsy, was an unlikely candidate to create a
sports garment that would reshape the athletic landscape and become a 19
billion-dollar annual industry. Her new book reveals the amazing story behind
the creation of the sports bra, an entrepreneurial victory that has landed her
in The National Inventors Hall of Fame (the induction ceremony is May, 2020).
Unleash the Girls:The Untold Story of the Invention of the
Sports Bra and How it Changed The World (and Me) takes us back to 1977 when women,
whether they wanted to go to the gym, compete in sports, or jog (as Lisa did),
had no protection against bouncing, chafing, sweaty breasts. After casually
talking to her sister about the need for such a bra, she went to her good
friend, Polly, who later became an award-winning Muppets costume designer,
about the need for an athletic bra. Lisa was determined to set out to find a
better way to protect her body.
Lisa’s story takes us
through the many challenges, ups and downs, and successes of launching a
business by women for women in an era and an industry dominated by men. She not
only shares “learn from my mistakes” advice, she also provides encouragement to
anyone looking to turn an idea into a business.Lisa’s story is brutally honest and reveals how she navigated – and
sometimes fell into – the many pitfalls faced by female entrepreneurs in an
industry that had ignored the needs of women.
Below is an interview
with Lisa, who is represented by the book public relations firm that I work
what inspired you to write Unleash the Girls: The Untold Story of the
Invention of the Sports Bra and How it Changed the World (And Me)?I
wrote “Unleash The Girls” for two reasons, really. The first was that the
sports bra had become more than just an undergarment, morphing into a symbol of
women’s freedom and empowerment — an iconic symbol of women's liberation. What
I had considered simply my first business born of solving my own problem was
living on beyond my involvement, creating dynamics and consequences far beyond
my initial vision.This realization,
arrived at over 40 years after its invention when the Smithsonian archived the
original Jogbra, prompted the next inspiration for writing the book: today’s
young women and this era’s chapter in the feminist movement, and the importance
of women telling their own stories, in their own voices. The story of how the
sports bra came into being is not a sweet story, but a complex tale of women
growing and struggling to become.The story has the possibility to be as
empowering as the garment itself proved to be.
spring you’ll be honored by the Smithsonian Institute and the National
Inventors Hall of Fame. Did you ever think your idea would turn you into being
a pioneer? No. I invented the
sports bra just to solve my own problem. I never had any idea that it
would unleash so many other women and girls, that it would release so much
potential and power in so many others. I'm really proud and humbled by what the
creation of the sports bra has facilitated for so many others.
take the sports bra for granted today, but take us back to the 1970s, when you
invented something that revolutionized women’s sports and health. What was the
environment like back then? The
1970’s were a time of fluidity and change. The old rules were disintegrating
and often we were making up our own new ones. For instance, mine was the first
generation to have access to reliable birth control. Title IX allowed girls to
have equal athletic opportunities in schools. Hair was getting longer and
skirts were getting shorter. Girls were rejecting their mothers’ girdles and
stockings and opting for tights and miniskirts. Bras were being burned or left
in the drawer. Pantyhose was invented. “Women’s Lib” was going strong. We
lobbied to have equal pay as well. Imagine! And the idea of fitness—jogging,
aerobics, yoga—was just beginning. The influence of these dynamics on me and
the culture appear quite a bit in “Unleash.” It was a time when everyone was
experimenting, inventing and re-inventing. It was exciting, invigorating and,
for me, sometimes frightening.
entrepreneurial venture initially had two other co-founders. But one of your
partners got squeezed out and you temporarily lost control of the company. How
can people avoid launching a business with people they can’t trust? Ask good questions; listen to your
heart and gut. But there are no guarantees. If a person isn’t being entirely
honest with herself, she automatically is not being honest and transparent with
those around and those she is dealing with—she is fooling them as well as
herself. This is just further cause for us all to keep on top of our own inner
work in order to move forth in the world responsibly and with integrity. Plus,
if you learn to trust yourself it is easier to spot others deserving of your
wrote in your book how women need to help women in business but you were
surprised at how difficult your business partner, a woman, could be. Are women
any different than men when it comes to business?Is any person different from any
other when it comes to business?Of
course. And different strengths and different weaknesses need to be identified
and addressed appropriately. Differences often can translate into strengths. I
dislike generalizations; they are dangerous.If we are going to make an impact in curtailing our current cultural
paradigm of polarization, we need to avoid too many easy generalizations. Women
have considerations in life that men do not: they bear children – an
all-important cycle— that has been too greatly undervalued in how the Western
world does business, and thus women have had to create a different way of
“doing” and “being” in business. SO much more can be said here, but not in 125
words or less without being grossly misunderstood!
Lisa so take us back to 1977. How did the sports bra, or what you called the
Jogbra, come about? It
was started with a joke! A funny comment! I had been running for a while and my
sister decided she would start too.But
after a few tries, she called me to ask what in Heaven’s name did I do about
the discomfort of bouncing breasts? I told her not much, the best I’d found was
wearing a bra that was one cup-size too small, but even then the straps still
stretched out and slipped off my shoulders…annoying! And then there could be
chafing too! She asked, “Why isn’t there a jockstrap for us women?” I laughed
at the silly image and replied, “Yes! Same idea, different part of the
anatomy!” We both laughed a lot, but I took it seriously. I wrote down what
functions such a garment would have to do. But I can’t sew. So I went to my
friend Polly, who was a costume designer, and together we figured it out.The first working prototype was actually two
jockstraps cut in half!
7.Was the original sports bra
actually based on the men’s jock strap? Yes! When
I asked Polly to help me create this bra for jogging she told me that it would
not be simple: that there was only one thing that might be more complicated
than a bra to design, and that was a shoe! This is for several reasons: both
are 3-dimensional items, it must support as well as cover and the wide
size range must accommodate several different areas of a body converging at the
point the garment covers. ( Years later I discovered that most traditional bras
were in fact designed by engineers!) But we went ahead, and after several
disappointing prototypes, it was two jock straps cut in half and sewn back
together that guided us to our solution: the pouches became cups and the
waistband became a rib band; the straps crossed in the back and it went over
the head — a new concept! Polly then sourced far better materials for our
use, including what was then a new unused fabric — Cotton/Lycra!
8.What advice do you have for entrepreneurial
women? Be clear
about your purpose and then be true to it: In your entrepreneurial endeavor how
important is your time? Your independence? The money? Recognition? The
message?Then go for it. Ask any
questions of anyone (even competitors)—most everyone wants to be helpful. Then
sit quietly and listen to your own gut and heart. There will always be
naysayers; don’t let them discourage you.
did you handle the areas of the business that you knew little about or had no
real feeling for? I was fortunate in that my partner
had an interest and a knack for a part of the business that I was not
interested in, the production end.So
while I took care of sales and marketing, she did production and
inventory.Together we oversaw hiring
and finances.But the basic truth for
every entrepreneur – for both happiness and healthiness in business – is to
recognize what you are good at, and what you are terrible at. Dedicate yourself
to what you are good at and find someone you can trust to be steward of the
latter. Then, as it becomes possible, hire out all the rest. The balance of the
truth is that you may be good at something for a bit, then as the biz grows it
needs more expertise than you are able to give that area.The smartest thing I ever did was to hire
those who had a greater depth of knowledge about some aspect of my business
than I did. A bonus: if it was an area I was interested or talented in, they
became a great teacher.
10.You advocate in your book for people to be
kinder to one another, to be more thoughtful, and to see the true beauty in
each other. So how do we go about creating a “humanhood”?
Who can review our current culture
and not see a paradigm of polarization? How many feel helpless in the face of
what appears to be a hopeless set of dynamics?Appears is the operative word
here. We all know appearances are deceptive. Each one of us in fact has the
power to make a difference. It is in action and behaviors that change is born.
The poet John O’Donohue says “All contemporary crises can be reduced to a crisis
about the nature of beauty.”What is
authentic beauty? By its very nature, beauty is harmony. And how might we
practice it to help turn the tide and create a kind, compassionate globe on
which the human species is a contributor as much as a consumer? The book
“Beauty As Action, The Way of True Beauty & How Its Practice Can Change Our
World” begins this journey with its 16 practices of True Beauty.
the best thing an author could do to promote his or her brand and market a
there’s no one thing that sticks out other than, do something. Once you put yourself on the
sidelines you are no longer in the game and have almost zero chance of selling
your book or getting media coverage for it. Sure, one in a million get
discovered naturally – no advertising, no publicity, no social media – just
random word-of-mouth soars for a really good or unique book.
back to reality. You operate in a dog-eat-dog world. There’s competition for
everything and the 4,000 new books published daily offer a lot of competition.
The No. 1 thing you should do is --something. Inertia is not a strategy.
so what are some things one can or should do?
a schedule – daily/weekly – of your time and resources for marketing and
promoting. Set a budget of time and money. Set priorities and divide what
you’ll do and what you’ll pay others to do.
goals and keep re-setting them. Resting on a successful day or hiding in your
room because of a failed activity are not recommended. You need to come at this
with a can-do, opportunistic mindset. You can’t pray for luck or hope others do
something for you. No, you have to make it happen.
a plan. For everything. With a timeline
of the steps needed. Plan your:
Roots Ideas on Marketing.
home life, rest, entertainment and anything else competing for your time,
money, brainpower and energy.
a baseline or foundation of what you consider a success so you can judge or
filter your activities through a prism that allows you to rate your
production. You need to know if you are
moving forward even when it doesn’t feel you are. You need reassurance that today
contributes to hitting a goal tomorrow.
You need to feel secure, confident, smart enough, skilled, and
resourceful to succeed.
need to spend 80% of your time on the big stuff, the things with the greatest
pay-off potential, and 20% on the easy-pickings, nuts and bolts stuff that are
necessary and achievable, but not necessarily game-changers.
about why you wrote the book and remind yourself of what you hope to
accomplish. See it as a game. What can you do, perhaps in a way that you never
really saw yourself doing to help you reach where you want to go? What habits,
thoughts, actions, addictions, or fears hold you back? Can you simply become
who you want to be – and not remain who you’ve been?
can list a hundred to-do things, big and small, that authors can execute, but
the most important thing is to keep moving, keep doing. Don’t overthink it or
get psyched out. Quiet the fears or insecurities. They do nothing for you. Just stay focused and take action.
month - and beyond!
DON”T MISS THESE!!!
How Do You Pitch Your Book To The Media In The Face Of Breaking News?
authors crave attention. They want to be famous and seen on TV or reviewed by
the New YorkTimes. They want to be splashed across social media.
They want to hit a best-seller list. So
what are the chances of hitting any of these marks?
are only so many pages devoted to book reviews by the NYT. This is
unscientific, but it appears that fewer than 4,000 books get reviewed annually
by the paper of record. That is out of some 375,000 new titles from traditional
publishers. There’s another million that are self-published that the NYT
officially excludes from consideration. Do the math. Maybe 1 in 100
traditionally published books gets reviewed and only something like 1 in 350 of
all books published in a year.
TV? There are only so many national TV shows out
there, each with a certain number of time slots to feature an author. Some of
the shows end up covering the same authors. You’ll see the same big-name author on Colbert,
then the Today Show, and then CNN. Thousands of authors get interviewed by
national TV each year – but there are millions of authors out there.
media? Some authors are skilled at
getting FB likes, retweets, and lots of shared views on You Tube. In theory,
this is a wild-card area. Whereas the NYT has finite space -- as do TV
shows – there’s no limit to how many tweets, FB posts, or You Tube videos one
can post. I suppose this is the biggest potential for growth, but the odds are
still very low that an author cracks big numbers or becomes an influencer. And who has the time or inclination to spend
hours daily clicking and engaging the world of free content and trolls?
best-seller list is more achievable today than ever before. But that also dilutes its impact, to a
degree. Let me explain.
there are many bestseller lists. Behold:
And, many more individual stores, local newspapers, or groups may have a bestseller
list. There’s no legal definition of “best-seller” so people use it liberally.
look at these best-seller lists more closely. There are different formats one
can be a best-seller in -- audiobook, ebook, fiction cloth, nonfiction cloth,
trade paper, mass market, etc. Further, these lists don’t just reflect a top
five or ten but they could be reflective of top 20 or more books per format.
there are lists on BN.com and Amazon that have more categories and
subcategories. You can hit a business
book best-seller list, a heath one, a thriller one, etc. Then you can narrow it
to a list for business-career books or travel-Europe, or health-diet
books. These lists can change
hourly, not just daily, weekly, or monthly.
a pattern? You can hit multiple lists, multiple times. In any case, you can
proudly say you are a best-selling author, but as consumers wisen up, they will
ask: Which list? Get ready to explain that you were an Amazon best-seller in
their fiction – romance – LGTBQ – London category for one hour on February 13. It still counts, though.
study of Publishers Weekly bestsellers for 2019 shows the following:
different hardcover non-fiction books hit the list – way up from 275 the year
before. There was also a 10% increase in the number of trade paperbacks hitting
the list from a year ago.
lack staying power because of quality or marketing?
good books are being released and thus crowd each other out?
something faulty in the way these lists are tabulated?
– or none of the above?
truth is the world of books is choking with competition and authors who market
overwhelming majority of best-sellers listed on PW’s lists are put out
by just five companies – Penguin Random, Harper Collins, Simon & Schuster,
Hachette and Macmillan. They account for at least 85-90% of those that hit a
list. After the Big 5, only three publishers in America had five or more
best-sellers with the highest being 10 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Hay House
and Regnery were the others. Think about that. Quality brand publishers like Workman, McGraw-Hill, Rosetta, and Norton each had only one book hit the
people will look to manipulate the best-seller lists. They hire someone to get
them on a list, using a scheme that costs hundreds of thousands of dollars via
advertising, book buy backs by the author and free gifts used as bait to buy a
book. The reading public just doesn’t know how a book becomes a best-seller or if
that best-selling book is even any good.
so with all that said, nothing’s impossible here, but a lot is improbable or
very expensive to achieve. The key to promoting a book is to do so in a way
that legitimately tells as many potential targeted readers that your book
exists and explains its worthiness in a matter of seconds. Reviews, TV, social
media, and best-seller lists can be part of the equation but plenty of books
sell well, impact readers, and brand authors without ever being reviewed in the
NYT or hitting a best-seller list or trending on Twitter.
don’t worry about your odds of success.
They are low. That’s a given. But
instead, zero in on what you are capable of doing and push hard to get your
voice heard in a noisy sea. Ride the tide.
way to sell what you have is to appeal to what others want. So how do you sell
your book to others?
Rule No. 1:Highlight what your book has to offer.
Succinctly state what’s in your book that sounds interesting, resourceful,
entertaining, inspiring, or offering of some clear benefit. If you can’t state
a few reasons as to why one should buy your book, quit now.
Rule No. 2: Identify what
people expect;/need/desire from a book like yours. They want to be sold, not
on what you offer but how you meet their wants or desires.Reverse your thinking. Forget about why your
book is great. Instead, put yourself in the shoes and mindsets of potential
readers, and pontificate on what they are looking for.
Rule No. 3: Segmentize your
potential reader. This means you put your readers in a bunch of buckets and
each bucket differentiates from the others. For instance, one buys a diet book
to lose weight, but why do they want to lose weight? Health reasons? Dating reasons?
More energy? Looking for a new job? To get their clothes to fit? To feel good
about themselves and to take control of their life? Each one gets a bucket.Speak to those specific goals and needs and
benefits in your targeted sales pitches.
Rule No. 4:Don’t operate in a blind vacuum. Your book is
not the only one that exists. Nor is it the only form of information or
entertainment that one can consume. Start to know your competition and clarify
how you are better or different.
Rule No. 5: People have to
want or need your book to even consider buying it, but once that case is made,
they look at price, availability, packaging, etc. Don’t price yourself too high
and don’t skimp on presentation: a nice book cover is key. Availability and
distribution is also a factor in whether they buy from you or someone else.
Rule No. 6: Establish your
credentials. Why should anyone listen to you?What education, work experience, life experience, connections,
trainings, awards, media coverage, or other recognition can you point to that
puts people at ease that you are a somebody?
Rule No. 7:It’s not just about the substance of what you
say – it’s about the style and presentation of what you say. Do you present
well in your advertising copy, website, social media, or speaking appearances?
Is the back cover copy alluring? Do you look attractive or disheveled? Do you
speak with vigor and vision or like a dull, dazed, dumb-dumb? People will judge
a book not just by its cover but by its author.
sell a book requires courage, confidence, and creativity. Be assertive and
vigilant in your efforts to reach out and passionately persuade others that
your book is exactly what they want or need, even if they don’t know it.
is a numbers game.No one wins over
everybody. In fact, few books are purchased by 1% of 1% of America.So if you reach 1,000 people and one says yes
– and you do this through the nation, you will sell 33,000 copies! But you won’t
reach the whole country – and you will convert more than 1 in 1,000 to say YES.
So go out there and sell some books!