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Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Why Book Publicists Won’t Work On A Royalty-Sharing Basis



In the course of a week I’m probably asked by at least one potential client for publicity services to agree to work on a royalty basis, whereby I only get paid if the author sells books as a result of book publicity. In each and every case my answer is always the same: "No."  

Book publicists are not authors and they are not publishers, nor are they editors or cover designers.  They are a different animal, and thus, are compensated differently.  But when I explain to authors why a book publicist doesn’t work on a commission basis they inevitably seek to wave before me what they feel are generous offers of shared revenue.

“I’ll give you half of what I make on a book,” is the most common offer.  Others will insist I’ll end up making more than the money I intended to originally charge if I take up the revenue-sharing plan.  But I always stick to my answer, first, because that’s the company policy of the book promotions firm that I work for, and second, because It would be financial suicide to do otherwise.

Does this mean I don’t believe PR makes a difference in sales?  Of course I do.  In fact, PR helps authors on many levels and it is because of that, I feel justified in showing and charging for the value of what I do.

So here’s why publicists shouldn’t agree to split book sale proceeds:

1.      The publicist is not a publisher and distributor and can’t control all of the things that bring about sales.  For instance, I had no say in the look of the cover, the book’s price, the functionality of the author’s website, etc.  I might get great media coverage for a book but other factors limit its sale.

2.      A publicist is not an accountant and can’t be involved in tracking sales and payments and wondering it he’s being told by the author of all sales that take place.

3.      How does an author even know if a sale took place because of the PR generated or something else?

4.      PR has value beyond book sales.  Authors will build their media resume, which may, in a year or two or three, be cashed in to get a job promotion, a new job, or start a business.  Or, the PR will help improve their credentials and allow them to get more speaking gigs or consulting work – and to charge higher fees.  Further, PR can help sell various rights (foreign, film, audio) and it can help an author get a new publishing deal down the road.  It can also help an author build up his or her network of contacts, social media platform, and media profile. It can help sell older books or unrelated products and services.  But none of this may convert into royalties to the publicist.

5.      Publicists supply things that are not quantifiable or something that can be monetized immediately, such as: media consulting, advising, brainstorming, researching, sharing information, enhancing ideas, and introducing connections and networking  with individuals. They also write pitches and develop press kit materials, strategize on social media, and provide valuable feedback to an author’s ideas.  How will a publicist be compensated for those things under a royalty basis?

How an author leverages the guidance and media coverage generated is up to the author and is something in his hands and not that of the publicist.

A good media campaign also shares a positive message, influencing millions and impacts society.  Again, there’s no royalty split that could tally such a value provided.

Authors should see promoters as not only performers but as partners.  The relationship of a publicist and author can be one that pays off in the short- and long- run

Perhaps one thing that authors and promoters can consider is to develop a working agreement that honors the accomplishments of a book promoter, but not one entrenched in book sales. I’d like to see a new hybrid arrangement, one that includes a base fee for work performed and then to have incentives and bonuses for achieving certain deliverables.

A publicist can secure a certain number of media placements and a portion of them can be at a high level, another portion at the B level and then a bunch of C-list placements.  Incentives can cover all of that.  For instance, for landing certain agreed-upon media outlets a bonus can be delivered for each outlet or for a certain total of outlets.  Another approach is to add up the estimated circulation/viewership/readership/views and when they eclipse a certain number, a bonus is paid.

But when you then say “How many books were sold?” and choose to only pay based on sales, you’ve lost me and fellow publicity practitioners.  I understand that authors need to concern themselves with sales, as they should, but when weighing the overall value of what a promoter provides, the sales metric is incomplete and short of the total package provided.

So, authors, please understand why publicists can’t and won’t buy into a royalty-based arrangement.

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Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer.  You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at brianfeinblum@gmail.com. He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog © 2015

Monday, March 30, 2015

Improve Your Writing With A Better Vocabulary



Writers, book marketers, publicists, editors, news media and so many key people in the communications industry rely on one thing to get their ideas, missions, visions, and information conveyed to another: WORDS.

Before you can do anything else, whether writing or speaking, we each must choose our words carefully.  There are ramifications for the words we select or omit, from legal and financial to political and military.  If one misunderstands another or misinterprets the intention of one’s statement, lives, money, and history could be on the line.  Words carry weight and meaning.  They are utterly important to a society that relies on words to defend truths, pursue justice, exonerate the innocent, damn the evil, earn a buck, or pay homage to the accomplished or deceased.

Unfortunately, the vocabulary of the average American is lacking.  Many don’t know the words that they should while others refrain from using the words they know for fear of them not being understood by others.  When we’re unable to let words flourish and allow for their artistry to take hold, we are reduced to mechanical utterances that serve function at its lowest, simplest level.  Words, however, could raise us to see, think, and feel beyond the world that exists in such concrete terms.  Language can be used not just to inform, but to inspire, enlighten, influence, and instill a special something inside each of us.  We need to grow our vocabulary in order to grow, period.

So what is a helpful tool for building one’s vocabulary?

First, commit to studying a certain number of words daily.  If you read the definition of just 10 words a day, you’ll expand your vocabulary by thousands of words by the time Christmas comes.  That’s no small feat.  Considering most people only call upon a few thousand different words through the year, this is huge.  Some people have working vocabularies in the tens of thousands of words, so even one who knows 30,000 words; to add 3,000 words this year is to raise the sum of their personal dictionary by 10%!

Second, make an effort to use newly learned words.  You don’ want them to be stated awkwardly or without context, but if the setting is right – be it business, personal, or in the practice of your craft –feel free to spend these newly acquired words.

Third, by increasing your reading time and diversifying the level of content and diversifying the subject matter, you’ll expose yourself to many new words while reacquainting yourself with words you have learned.

Fourth, play games with words, such as Scrabble, word searches, crossword puzzles, and select board games.  Not only does this delay dementia, it really helps in a fun way to build up your vocabulary.

On a recent visit to Barnes & Noble, on East 86th Street in Manhattan, I came across more than a dozen books in its cavernous reference section that promised the reader would learn new words quickly and easily.  There was 1000 Most Important Words by Norman Schur.  How can we determine what makes the cut and won’t be there? There is widespread disagreement on what’s included or excluded?  It contained words like torpid (slow, sluggish, dull), traduce (to slander and malign), and trenchant (forceful, incisive, effective).

For those who value short, easy-to-carry books, you’ll like Webster’s New World Pocket Vocabulary, where one can find words such as mercurial (volatile and given to changing moods suddenly), miasma (a noxious, dangerous, or unwholesome emission, atmosphere, or influence), and mordant (biting or stinging remark).

Merriam-Webster’s Vocabulary Builder shared over 3,500 words, including interstice (a little space between two things), interpolate (to put something between other things or parts), and undulant (rising and falling in waves).

Verbal Advantage also teachers 3,500 words, including parsimonious (stingy), meretricious (attractive in a flashy or cheap way), and sagacious (wise or shrewd).

Another book highlighted “specialized words everyone needs to know, called Think You Know Your Vocabulary?  It broke up the vocabulary lists based on subject matter, including musical, culinary, medical, mechanical, and scientific terms.  Words to be found here include denouement (the final revelation in a drama, in which everything becomes clear), coulomb (a unit of electrical charge), and languidly (in a lethargic manner).

The Big Book of Words You Should Know shares over 3,000 words “every person should be able to use (and a few that you probably shouldn’t”.  Words found inside its informative pages include abnegate (to renounce), aggrandize (raise the importance of), and eschew (to shun).

The book with some of the hardest, least-used words is 1500 Words in 15 Minutes A Day by Ceil Cleveland.  It featured words like yashmak (a veil worn by Moslem women), urceolate (a jug or pitcher that is urn-shaped), and syzygy (the configuration of the sun, moon, and earth lying in a straight line).

Some words may be more useful than others, but each of them is a potential tool to help you convey your thoughts, feelings, experiences, needs, visions, and desires.  Words are the currency of a world that lives 24/7 with its communication devices, and media.  There are no barriers to you learning more words and then using them.  It takes time, but not a lot, and it takes very little money (cost of a book – if you don’t get it form the library).  No excuses!  Go learn more words and you’ll be a better writer for it.

DON’T MISS: ALL NEW RESOURCE OF THE YEAR

2015 Book PR & Marketing Toolkit: All New


Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at brianfeinblum@gmail.com. He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog © 2015

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Author Report Cards Make The Grade



The other day my two elementary school-age children brought home their report cards.  They both met or exceeded their standard grade level capabilities, and at times, excelled beyond our expectations.  As a parent, I praised their hard work and told them I was proud of them.  I also highlighted areas where they were exceptionally good or underperforming.  The report card is a useful tool for giving a snapshot of where they each are, allowing me to compare their work to their past performances and to their contemporaries.  It occurred to me that authors would benefit from a report card, even if it’s a self-grading system.

The school grading system originated in Europe, at Oxford and Cambridge. At Yale in 1785 the beginning of rating students began, though the use of letter grades didn’t come about until a century later, reportedly at either Harvard or Mount Holyoke College.  Other schools experimented with numerical grades.  I had trouble locating the history of elementary school grades, but suffice to say, it’s been around for many generations.  Could authors devise their own system of identifying the areas they should rate and then sufficiently assign a grade that honestly reflects their performance?

If we develop a standard or metric for which we should strive to reach, we will work harder to achieve success.  When we quantify something we give it form and purpose, a way to measure our role in things.  Grades help us strive for more.

Further, by identifying all of the areas that need to be judged, we start to track what needs attention.   The report card becomes a blueprint or business plan.

By giving ourselves a grade we are forced to confront our performance in a given area and specifically identify what needs improvement.

Some areas may not warrant a grade other than pass/fail.  Other areas may not be eligible for a grade simply because it’s not something you’ve worked on at all.

By grading yourself periodically you can chart what spots need improvement while praising yourself for areas you have continually improved in or excelled at.

I would consider a two-tier grading system – one for effort, and one for results.  Now, one may say it’s the results that matter the most.  You are graded by the bottom line – book sales.  Or, is there more to grade?

What about branding?  Did you do a good job of raising your media profile and enhancing your resume so that when you look to get a job, apply for a promotion, seek to get a higher consultation fee, or earn a speaking gig you’ll be able to present a portfolio of third-party endorsements?

What about impacting others?  Did your positive message come across well through the media and reach your targeted readership in a way that influences their behavior, attitude, or lives?  Did you contribute something to society?

Did you gain other things from your PR?  Did you end up building your network of followers so you can have a pipeline to sell future books, products, and services?  Did you open doors to establish ties with those who may hire you down the road as a speaker or consultant?  Did you build up enough exposure to win the attention of a literary agent or publisher for a new book?

Did you sell other rights?  PR, when done well, can help win foreign rights deals, maybe even a deal for a movie, a TV show, or an audiobook.

So, you can grade yourself on the big things such as number of books sold, number of rights deals secured, number of speaking gigs arranged, etc.  You can also judge yourself on how many media placements you got, how many people they were circulated to, and how much your social media or web traffic numbers increased.  Or you can grade yourself on specific things, such as how good your press release is, how your site compares to others, how many calls you made, how many free appearances you participated in, etc.

However you choose to grade yourself on whatever standard you employ, the main thing is that you use a report card not only to see where you’ve been, but to map where you’ll go.

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2015 Book PR & Marketing Toolkit: All New



Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at brianfeinblum@gmail.com. He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog © 2015

Saturday, March 28, 2015

The Greatest Book List is Impossible & Faulty



While recently searching for lists of great books and all-time classics, I had to confront a number of concerns and issues, including these:

·         Who got to choose such a designation for a book and what credentials do they have?

·         What criteria was employed to come up with these lists?

·         How did the individual members of a group draw a consensus – was it negotiated, debated or just voted on?

·         How often should such a list be reviewed and edited to determine which books fade into irrelevance in favor or newer, perhaps better ones?

·         How many books did the group members read?  What did they consult to gain insight on books worthy of their consideration?

It’s certainly hard to compare books from one generation to another – and it’s difficult to keep up with the torrent of books produced today (more than 1,000 every 24 hours from traditional publishers).  Further, you have human bias tossed into the equation.  

Is there really a good method by which to truly judge which books are best?

There are some metrics that could be used, but each has its shortfalls.  Let’s take a look:

Sales
Do we judge a book based on being a bestseller?  If so, which lists do we look at?  What about total sales of a book – including those that aren’t verified by bestseller lists?  Is popularity enough of a reason to judge a book?  If so, Fifty Shades of Grey would rank very high, but no one is confusing that with the works of Shakespeare.

Social Media
This more recent invention can give us statistical analysis on how often a book is tweeted, liked, or discussed on a platform such as YouTube.  But those could be negative comments or they can be pushed by an assertive author.  Again, such a measurement doesn’t indicate quality.

News Media
Should we rank a book high because it was well-reviewed by traditional or respected media?  Self-published or smaller independent presses produce some great books but the major media doesn’t always give ink to them.  They choose to review books that big publishers produce (perceived bias) or the ones from publishers who tend to finance their publication through advertising.

Awards
Which awards – and how many of them – must a writer win or place high in to get a ranking worthy of greatness?  What is the application and selection process like at each award?  Some awards are politically driven. Others select from a pool of paid applicants, thus limiting others from participating.  Further, what bias exists for the judges, and how many books do they have time to read or review?  If a thousand books were submitted to an award, this represents eight hours of publishing’s productivity.  Based on 3,000 books published daily – from traditional to self-published – the award is only looking at a tiny fraction of all books released that year.  Even then, who has time to read all of them in order to make a legitimate judgment?

Impact
It’s too soon to judge the socio-political impact a book could have on society during the first year of a book’s existence, so time would be needed to see how a book influences others and touches the world.  It would admittedly be difficult to quantify a book’s global impact.

Testimonials
If a lot of people who are well-known, credentialed experts, and trusted individuals come out in support of a book, should weight be given to them to determine a book’s greatness? How do we rate the testimonial-givers or the testimonials?

Experts
Do our intelligent, trained, educated and experienced librarians, readers, editors,teachers – and even other authors – serve best to determine a book’s greatness?  Who has the time to participate in judging and ranking books?

Let’s say each method is faulty, but relevant to be used in combination with one another to draw some kind of limited conclusion about a select number of books from each year’s production of books.  Now take the list of the year’s best books, break it down by genre, and tell me how many books should be on this list.  Now compare one year’s list to another and another and another. After just 50 years you would have thousands of books on the list.  Now look back into the centuries past.  A conservative list of all-time books could easily total 10,000.

If you read a book a week, in 200 years you would get through a list that would by then have likely doubled or tripled in size.  The process, as you can see, to create any list is limited by time, subjectivity, money, experience, training, and politics.  This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to put such a list together, for something to guide us is better than nothing at all, but we should realize these lists are faulty and need improvement.

However, if you want to see what some of the perceived experts say are some of the best books of all time, take a look at these randomly and subjectively chosen links:






My favorites?  As A Man Thinketh, Man's Search for Meaning, and most works by Leo Buscaglia, Dale Carnegie, George Orwell, Joseph Heller, Norman Vincent Peale , Og Mandino, Stephen Covey,  Ken Blanchard, Tony Robbins, and gosh, a hundred other writers just from this past century would occupy a list by themselves.

What do you believe are the best books ever?

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2015 Book PR & Marketing Toolkit: All New



Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at brianfeinblum@gmail.com. He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog © 2015

Friday, March 27, 2015

How Do You Celebrate Author Birthdays?


Recently, I learned it was Bach’s birthday.  Happy 330!  But who keeps track of birthdays for writers?

I stumbled upon a few sites that track the birthdays of select writers though it’s not clear what they use as a basis for including someone.

FamousBirthdays.com features author birthdays by their birth state.  Alabama had 27, including Harper Lee, Helen Keller, and Zig Ziglar.  California had 36, including John Steinbeck, Tony Robbins, and Rick Warren. New York featured 36, including Joyce Carol Oates, JD Salinger, Danielle Steel, James Baldwin, and Ann Coulter.

Scholastic.com celebrated the birthdays of authors and illustrators of books for children up to high school.  From Edgar Allan Poe to others, short biographies were given along with their birthdate.

PagePulp.com, which claimed “more babies are born in the summer than any other time of the year,” identified July as a popular month for writers, including the birth of Franz Kafka, E B White, Henry David Thoreau, Ernest Hemingway, George Bernard Shaw, and Beatrix Potter.

AuthorBirthdays.blogspot.com highlights birth and death dates of a handful of authors daily.

LitBirthdays.wordpress.com honors the birthdays of writers, extending beyond books and into music, television, and those who wrote papers and documents, such as historians, judges, and comedians.

LibraryBooklists.org/literarybirths seems pretty thorough.  It lists up to ten people per day, and shares information about the authors’ accomplishments.  Almost all of the people listed are dead, so it skews to the past.

What should one do to honor the birthday of a writer they have enjoyed?  I suppose you can use that day to read about that writer, read or reread his or her works, and spend time talking to others about how wonderful that writer was and what he or she means to you.

Birthdays are more accidental than planned.  There is a randomness attached to them.  More important than a birthday would be the moments that have no dates, those special seconds that define who that writer is and will become.  They may not even have known it at the time, but they had to have had a series of moments that came to inform and create the writer in them.  We should celebrate such moments.

As time goes by it’ll be harder to determine which writer’s birthday should be added to the list.  There is a growing crowd of writers.  Will we only remember those whose books sold well or those that won awards (which ones, how many?)?  Will we recall those who had one big book that, by itself, is worthy of honoring an entire life?  Will we recall the birthdays of great writers but lousy human beings?  Shall we celebrate the birthdays of writers who came to influence society, politics, or professional standards?

We can honor writers and their birthdays by continuing to read their books, discuss and share them with others, and continually examine or revise their relevance to today’s world.  Eventually, some, if not many writers who are valued today will be forgotten and cast aside to make room for newer, more influential ones.  And they too will have birthdays to be celebrated.

DON’T MISS: ALL NEW RESOURCE OF THE YEAR

2015 Book PR & Marketing Toolkit: All New


Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at brianfeinblum@gmail.com. He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog © 2015

Interview With Author Ben Anthony


What inspired you to write your new book?

The people around me, my immediate environment and all events happening in the world as reported by News Stories

What is it about?
"Maya: Initiate 39" explores the plight of Maya taking a journey through ---coming from a broken home since her mother left, ending up with the dreaded juvenile cult, the Alternative Lifestyle Club, popularly known as the ALC, and then growing up into a stand-up woman.

What challenges did you overcome to write it?
 I avoided the constraints known as Laziness, procrastination, yielding myself to other frivolities and most importantly the 'writer's block syndrome' by keeping myself abreast with family-related issues 

What do you find rewarding about writing a book?
The grass to grace move of Maya's predicament.

Where do you see the publishing industry heading?
Taking a vivid projection from my stand-point, i see the publishing industry directing its dynamics of literary operation in "digitals"-the advanced use of e-books, iTunes, Google Play,  and other developed digital formats as completely-suitable replacements to hard copies-print versions.

What advice do you have for fellow authors?
To my fellow authors, I say the following:
1) Don't give up on your writing as you prepare real hard to face incessant rejections.

2) Because your book was accepted by a publisher doesn't necessarily make you a good writer (vice versa).

3) Expect the 'Writer's Bloc'(a situation were a writer appears not to have anything to write) because it happens. However, keeping yourself acquainted with information concerning the related topic of interest is a way of avoiding the Writer's Bloc.

4) Lastly, learn to always polish your writing skills by continuous writing. In my opinion, "a good writer becomes better  when he or she progresses from being  labeled a 'bad' writer, via constructive criticisms of work(s) by an array of honest reviews, and takes writing as a 'take-home-assignment-for-life' interest. 

For more information, please see:


Barnes and Noble: Maya: Initiate 39.








Available in: Paperback. From Linkville Press: Maya was raised single-handedly by her father, Samuel, who had divorced his wife, Cynthia years ago, on gro...
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Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at brianfeinblum@gmail.com. He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog © 2015


Thursday, March 26, 2015

Book Marketing Flashcards For Authors


My seven-year-old daughter has shown great progress in becoming an independent reader.  One of the things I believe will help her is for her to recognize more words by sight.  I decided to buy some flashcards that help her learn scores of words on one side, and then a chance to create new words on the other side.  It made me think that it would be cool if we had flashcards for ideas, especially ones that help authors to build up their book marketing and publicity skills.  Maybe I’m onto something?

There are many books, online courses, and seminars that profess to tell authors how to promote themselves and their books.  This blog has done that for the past four years.  But if we had to narrow down the core elements that represent the foundation of PR building blocks, what would they be?

Flashcards are usually quick reminders of things.  Children learn numbers, equations, letters, words, and images that help them expand their minds.  Teenagers and even adults use them to prep for tests and to prepare for speeches.  We associate many traits and ideas to a single picture, phrase, or symbol.  Authors need their reminders and cues to jumpstart their book publicity.

I would break the cards down into the core areas that they need to address:

·         Social Media
·         Traditional Media
·         Speaking Appearances
·         Direct Bulk Sales
·         Branding
·         Networking
·         Writing Pitches
·         Press Kit Development
·         Media Coaching
·         Research And Learning
·         Website Launch/Revision
·         Bookstore And Library Singings
·         Brainstorming
·         Creating Marketing Materials

Of course, there are other cards that could be created, but this is a quick-study method, so let’s focus on the above.  Then break each of those 14 areas into subsets.  For instance, traditional media would list national/local/international TV, radio, and print (newspapers, magazines, newsletters, newswires, trade publications).  Social media would be divided into content you generate blogging, podcasting, via video, and on various platforms such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Google+ and YouTube.  Then there’s getting coverage by others: bloggers, podcasters, reviewers, and major media websites like The Huffington Post.

So the flashcards would identify the areas that need attention, post questions, and give you food for thought so that you’ll spur your own ideas as to what you should be doing.

The questions for each area would revolve around the obvious.  For instance, if the flashcard reads Twitter, it may have these questions:

·         How much time shall I designate towards it today?
·         How many people will I seek to follow me today?
·         How many people will I choose to follow today?
·         How many tweets will I send today?  What will they say?
·         How many retweets will I share today?  What will they say?
·         What types of lists shall I create today?
·         Whose tweets will I read today?
·         How many people will I Direct Message or respond to today?
·         How much time will I spend reading and learning about the profiles of Twitter members?
·         What leads can I find on twitter that lead to real-world contacts?

You get the idea.  It’s all very logical and methodical.  If only you had 240 hours in a day!

If flashcards are helping my little girl to read, they can help you promote and market yourself and your book.  Don’t forget to create a flashcard that says: Read BookMarketingBuzzBlog!

DON’T MISS: ALL NEW RESOURCE OF THE YEAR

2015 Book PR & Marketing Toolkit: All New


Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at brianfeinblum@gmail.com. He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog © 2015