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Thursday, July 30, 2015

How Will You Celebrate World Wide Web Day?


August 1 is World Wide Web Day.  Will you celebrate such a day?  How could or should one honor this day?

Some companies wouldn’t exist if there were no web – Google, Amazon, Facebook, Airbnb, Uber – and many things would be vastly different without the Internet.  It would be 1985, a time when things were done manually, when communication was done in person, when the physical world created barriers, and when books were made out of paper and sold in stores.

The web is continuing to grow, expand, change, and challenge life as we know it.  There have been mini-revolutions, from shopping patterns and ebooks to email and social media, but none of these things will compare to the next phase of what develops online.  

In fact, the next stage could be the perfecting of the changes that have resulted with the digitization of life.  Or the next stage could be a revolt to the revolution.  I don’t mean a backlash or a protest against technology – no, that’ll be phase three when robotics and invasive, spying software, hackers and government intrusions force people to look for an alternate network.  

Phase two will be disrupters to disrupters.  For instance, Uber upends taxis now, just as Priceline reduces travel agents to order-taking.  But what happens when there becomes competition to Google, Amazon, Twitter and others who seem like kings?  Further, what happens when not just a competitor arises – but a new technology comes about to completely displace an existing one?

To celebrate WWW Day is something that comes with mixed emotions.  On the one hand, it honors progress and a visionary future, but it also tramples on the present, treating it like a distant past from the horse and buggy era.  We don’t want to contribute to the demise of the world we’re born into, but we don’t want to miss a chance to make it better, faster, cheaper, and easier to access.

When planes soared past trains and buses, few cried.  When television surpassed radio, no one got depressed.  When autos replaced horses, the world cheered.  But the Internet comes with mixed emotions. There are many more plusses to outweigh the negatives – but the potential for the negative is increasing and comes with higher stakes.  We’re becoming addicted to – and dependent upon clicking our lives away.  We all do it -- and it’s getting to be alarming.

Celebrate World Wide Web Day, but don’t forget to touch the real world that’s outside the plastic box in your palm.

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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


Deceased Dr. Seuss Leads Children’s Book Parade


Dr. Seuss, though dead 24 years, has a new book out this summer – his 17th posthumously released book after 45 published titles during his prestigious career.  Theodore Seuss Geisel is one of the all-time bestselling authors.  Cumulative sales are estimated to be 650 million copies.  What Pet Should I Get?, the newest title, is sure to be a bestseller.  So what other children’s books are coming out?

Publishers Weekly published its Fall Children’s Book Preview.  Filled with one-line summaries of thousands of books, I skimmed through them and came to the realization that children’s books are filled with so many messages – to educate, to inspire, to dream, and to help us accept myriad people who are different from us.

Here’s a quick, random sampling of books that caught my eye.  Maybe you’ll find them interesting – or your kids will too:

Dear Santa, Love, Rachel Rosenstein
A Jewish girl is determined to celebrate Christmas.

Austin, Lost in America: A Geography Adventure
Austin the dog is followed through 50 states

I Love You, One to Ten
Spotlights 10 things a mother loves about her child.

Groundhog’s Dilemma
Groundhog convinces his pals he can control the weather.

Even Monsters Say Goodnight
Does a monster baby girl dare check under her bed at bedtime?

The Budgie Likes to Boogie
Offers rhymes about animals, insects, and birds.

Stina
An Icelandic girl who hates the cold discovers the warming effects of friendship.

Young Macdonald Had A Farm
Can farm animals work together to get the planting done?

The Christmas Coal Man
Santa tells the man who supplies his coal that he’s no longer giving coal to naughty kids.

I Can Roar!
This die-cut book encourages readers to mimic the sounds and actions of animals.

Books for older kids, such as teens or pre-teens, look to tackle bigger issues or more serious topics, such as these:

Nothing Left To Burn
A foster teen who falls for a fellow volunteer at a firehouse is suspected of arson.

Jillian Cade: (Fake) Paranormal Investigator
Jillian is a private investigator of paranormal phenomena – which she doesn’t believe in.

Your Voice Is All I Hear
When her schizophrenic boyfriend becomes dangerous, how far will April go to protect him?

What You Left Behind?
A teen struggles with grief, guilt, and single parenthood when his girlfriend dies after childbirth.

The Yearbook
A girl whose life is falling apart wakes up in her own room – 80 years in the past.

Fuzzy Mud
Two kids lost in the woods discover a substance with the potential to wreak havoc on the world.

Friday Barnes, Girl Detective
A mystery series about a genius detective who discovers her boarding school is a hot bed of crime.

Dreamstrider
An espionage novel set in a world where dreams are the key form of political intelligence.

The Last Kids on Earth
Kids defend themselves and their tree house against the Apocalypse.

All The Major Constellations
Andrew is drawn to his crush Laura and her fundamentalist Christian beliefs as he questions his identity and spirituality.

The most interesting book that was mentioned in this issue is one that was featured in a full-page ad, This Is Where It Ends by Maricke Nijkamp (Sourcebooks0.  It sounds like an interesting by quite disturbing book for children to read.  It’s about a fictionalized 54-minute gun-shooting siege at a school.

There certainly is an interesting selection of books for kids out there. These books will serve to inspire a new generation of reading enthusiasts and from the look of it, today’s children will grow into strong readers.

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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


Wednesday, July 29, 2015

What’s Your Bestseller Strategy?



Every writer wants to publish a book.  Every author wants his or her published book to become a bestseller.  Only so many books can qualify for bestseller status, so how does one make a list?

The gold standard for bestseller lists has long been – and still is – The New York Times. Hundreds of books each year earn a spot on this vaunted list – out of some 350,000 traditionally published books and perhaps another 500-650,000 self-published titles.  You do the math.  The chances of making the list are tiny, perhaps one in a thousand.

And when you land on the list, chances are you won’t stay there very long. Too much competition knocks you off.  Plus more people are orchestrating campaigns to get on the list – some legitimate – and some with paid-for bulk buys that they hope go undetected.

It’s no secret that one of the ways to get on the list is to prop up pre-orders so the sales can add up to a big debut launch when their book goes on sale.  They are similar to presidential candidates who campaign 18 months before Election Day, hoping to use the big lead up in time to enhance name recognition with voters.

Others look to make the bestseller list by hiring one of a handful of companies that cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to manipulate with pre-arranged sales and author buys transacted through a third part to mask what’s going on.

Another way to get on the list is to have a targeted marketing campaign that combines well-timed advertising, public appearances, publicity, and social media solicitations. 

However one tries to get on a list, few will make it. So what lists are worth making?

·         Publishers Weekly
·         Wall Street Journal
·         USA Today
·         Amazon
·         Barnes & Noble

For business books you also have 1-800-CEO-READ and Bloomberg Business Week bestseller lists.

Libraries monitor popular purchases by libraries through Library Journal’s bestseller list.

Independent bookstores rely on one list – The Indie Bestseller list (indiebound.org, bookweb.org).

Small presses call upon the Small Press Distribution of Poetry Bestseller List (spdbook.org).

There are also local and regional bestseller lists, including The Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, San Francisco Chronicle, and Miami Herald.

Audiobook sales are tracked by audiobooks.com and the Audio Bestsellers List.  Books of Christian faith are followed by the Christian Booksellers Association’s list at cbanews.org.

Why do people want to make these lists?  Certainly these reasons come to mind:

1.      EGO – first and foremost.

2.      More sales – hitting a list inspires others to buy the book.

3.      Rights sales – bestseller status helps with foreign rights deals, movie negotiations, and other format sales such as audiobooks.

4.      Media help – saying you’re a bestselling author helps you get more media exposure.

5.      Speaking gigs – organizations and corporations are likelier to hire bestselling authors to present to their members.

6.      Spokesperson gigs – companies like bestselling authors to back their products or services.

7.      Branding – certainly bestseller status helps with one’s branding and image.

8.      Influencer – you have a bigger stage to speak your views as a bestselling author, providing you with more currency and a chance to impact the lives of others.

9.      Deals – you can command better terms and more money for your next book deal as a bestselling author.

10.  Career – your resume is enhanced with bestseller status, which could help you get a promotion, land a new job, or if you’re in business for yourself, land new clients and raise the fees that you charge.

11.  Product line – bestselling authors may want to launch products such as plush dolls or action figures that highlight a novel’s characters –or maybe the author of a non-fiction book wants to sell a product on QVC, eBay, or elsewhere.

12.  Spin-offs – Authors can take their book and convert it into other things.  For instance, they can design an app based on the book and sell it.  Maybe they’ll launch a newsletter subscription service.  Perhaps they will publish a sequel or a whole new series based on it.  Maybe they’ll take an adult story and issue a children’s version.  Perhaps they’ll take the key points and issue a smaller book or a gift-enhanced packaged book.

You can see why so many people will try to fight their way to the bestseller lists, and that increased size and intensity of competition that makes hitting the list that much harder will feel all the more worthwhile when you do.

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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

Kickstarter Awaits Your Next Book


Kickstarter is the favorite crowdfunding site for authors.  It’s been around a few years, raising millions of dollars for writers seeking to defray costs for printing, promoting, and marketing.  A good source for learning how to use Kickstarter would be www.kickstarter.com and another useful tool is Kickstarter for Dummies.  I read the latter recently and am happy to share with you the basics of how to get started, run a successful campaign, and use the seed money to grow your publishing empire!

“Successful publishing campaigns on Kickstarter raised nearly $22 million in 2014,.” according to Publishers Weekly.  Not all listed projects were successful.  In fact, 72% of the 7050 campaigns launched failed to secure the goal for funding, which meant no money was received by the campaigner.  Still, over 2000 projects were successful, raising on average, $10,000 per campaign.

So how does it all work?

First, understand that if you don’t raise the amount you set as a goal, within a prescribed period of time, you receive nothing.  That’s right, if you raised $8,500 but your goal was $11,000, you walk away penniless.

Second, Kickstarter only makes money when you do.  It’ll take a cut of about 5% - and tack on around 3% for credit card transaction costs. So keep that in mind when figuring out how much you really need.

Third, you can promote your Kickstarter campaign to others – friends, family, media – so they can help you raise funds.

Fourth, keep in mind Kickstarter funds projects, like books, but not a cause or charity fundraiser. If you aren’t sure what your campaign falls under, consult www.kickstarter.com/help/guidelines.

Fifth, your campaign consists of nine key areas:

a)      Defining your project

b)      Creating rewards for donors

c)      Setting an achievable goal

d)     Making and posting a video

e)      Building your project

f)       Promoting and marketing your project

g)      Issuing updates on your progress

h)      Fulfilling the rewards to donors once your goal is met

Sixth, come up with a catchy name for your project – one that is memorable, easy to spell/say, and something that could be searchable.  For instance, someone may want to support books about dogs or health and when they search Kickstarter for such a word or term, your campaign should come up.

Seventh, though you only get 135 characters – shorter than a Tweet – to describe your project, you must be crafty and strategic in your word usage.  You need to say what it is – and express it in a way that you differentiate yourself from others.

Eighth, utilize multi-media to support your campaign.  There’s an area for you to add photos, audio, and videos.  Keep these clips short.  Use these images and sounds to make people feel at ease with you.  They can’t meet you in person, but they can sense if you’re someone they like, trust, or find interesting by listening to and viewing you.

Ninth, spy on competing campaigns.  See what they offer and how they present themselves. Learn from what you think are the do’s and don’ts.  All projects are listed on the site.

Tenth, you need to do a good job of describing, with passion and vision, what you need money for and why the book is so important or interesting.  Friends and family will give to you just because they love and know you, but you need to convince strangers they need to invest in you.

Eleventh, the rewards offered could act as an incentive to give for some. You can have different price points for rewards.  For those who give $5 or less, they may get a thank you on your website.  For a $10-$20 donation, they could get a free resource that you can email to them.  For $21-$30 they get a printed book.  For more money, they get multiple book copies, signed copies, or access to other vents or resources.  For even bigger amounts, you can offer gifts from other people.  Maybe you can offer a friend's ebook or another’s audio book. Or access to a seminar.  Maybe you can get a company to offer special coupons or gifts, giving itself free advertising and you a gift of value.

Twelfth, you can advertise your campaign on FB or with Google Adwords or your blog.  Like promoting a book, promoting the fundraising campaign requires an all-out effort.  Good luck – and be sure to spend some of those funds that you raise on book publicity!

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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

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Discovering Writer Archives



Where are the archives of writers? How do we find and interact with them? How can we promote their existence?

Writers always write and overtime, they accumulate thousands of pages of diaries, letters, rough drafts, and private notes.  Novelists, biographers, and others are infatuated with writer archives.

The Writer, a wonderful magazine, had a story in its August issue about writer archives, stating: “By studying the personal diaries, notes, drafts and letters of writers, we often see a side of them not read in their books, and we can trace how they developed as people and writers.”

The whole thing sounds fascinating, to have access to the millions of words that collected dust in a lifetime of writing.  Archives may not capture everything written by famous writers, but they sure retain a lot of history and insight into the mind and life of the writer.  Imagine having access to one’s email account and all of the private notes stored on one’s smartphone?  Get the idea?

Some writers may not give any thought to having an archive created, while others believe the published record is all that should remain, and not the scraps of ideas or partial thoughts that never saw the light of day for a reason.  But many archives exist out there, and though I’ve never gained access to one, they sound fascinating.

A few archives were listed in the article, including these:

Maya Angelou Papers (1958-1990) – New York Public Library
Ray Bradbury – Indiana University
Truman Capote Papers (1924-1984) – New York Public Library
E. E. Cummings Papers (1916-1962) -- New York Public Library
Emily Dickinson Collection – Harvard University
F. Scott Fitzgerald – Princeton University
Jon Steinbeck – National Steinbeck Center in Salinas, CA
Mark Twain – University of CA, Berkeley
Ayn Rand – The Ayn Rand Institute, Irvine, CA
George Orwell – University College in London
Toni Morrison – Princeton University
Jack Kerouac – New York Public Library

If you go to www.wgfoundation.org, you’ll find a way to search for the index of film, TV, and radio writers and the repositories that hold their materials.  The Library of Congress, major libraries and universities, and select museums tend to house writer archives.  But The Writers Guild Foundation Archive contains many unique and rare items from the personal papers of prominent writers.

One archive that’s fairly large is the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center, the literary archive of The University of Texas at Austin.  It contains one 36,000,000 manuscript pages and a million books.  It houses things like a rare first edition of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and one of the 48 complete Gutenberg Bibles.

Will your work end up in an archive on e day?  As things move to the digital world, will an archive exist merely online and not physically anywhere?  Maybe one day there will be an archive for my blog, where copious drafts fill drawers upon drawers of massive filing cabinets.  I doubt it.  There’s no evidence of my blog beyond the posts that I make daily.  I don’t keep any written notes, even though I do write with a pen before readers see the typed version.

Most archives never see the light of day.  A few researches and historians might skim a select number of documents for a handful of writers, but most collections rarely get read page for page.  There just isn’t enough time in the day to rummage through hand-written notes that were often drafted in cryptic forms.  

I believe there’s interest and value in combing through a writer’s archive but I also believe that whatever was deemed good enough for publication when the author made such decisions is what we should look at.  Everything else is just a refection of unfinished ideas and experiments that, for whatever reason, were left behind.  We need a filter to help guide us and I trust that an author’s filter should be respected.

One day we’ll figure out how to read and record our thoughts.  Will archives download the life we lived in our imagination and judge it harshly?  Archives are one step removed from such a thing – but not far off.  Archives give us a license to snoop on a writer, to get a glimpse into their unpublished lives, private thoughts, secret activities, and personal insecurities.

The life of an archivist sounds both boring and exciting in our instance.  But it would be cool to write a story about an archive or archivist and how buried among millions of pieces of paper we discover new truths, hidden facts, and rare glimpses into the mindsets of our greatest writers.  

Then, whomever writers such a book will eventually die and leave his or her papers behind for an archivist to curate.  Then someone should write about he archivist and the process repeats itself, again and again.

Maybe archives hold all kinds of secrets and insights – and perhaps they are worth exploring.  But I just hope that we promote and protect the published writings of those we seek to define by what was never supposed to see the light of day.

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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, July 27, 2015

The First Amendment Needs Support


Who is safeguarding us from the government?  Should the news media act as a watchdog on our government?

A survey from the Newseum Institute’s First Amendment Center shows 69% believe that journalists should act as a watchdog on the government – well below the 80% of the previous two years.  Why wouldn’t it be 100%?  Why would people not expect the media to keep a watchful eye over the government?

Maybe people have lost faith in the media to fulfill such a role? Perhaps other groups or people are to be viewed as watchdogs, but who would they be? Could it be that the media, with its biases and shortcomings, is in need of a watchdog itself?

Are authors and book publishers watchdogs of the government, the media, and everything out there?  Everyone needs some watching.

The study went on to show that a substantial number of people – 70% - believe the news reports with bias.  1 in 5 people think the First Amendment goes too far.

The Newseum survey also showed how dumb people are.  One in three Americans can’t name any of the rights the amendment guarantees.  Only 57% were able to cite freedom of speech as one right protected by the amendment.

This is an indictment of our education system, the media, and parenting.  Everyone should know about the constitutional protections of the First Amendment.  This is preposterous!

You’d think it’s so obvious that people would know about – and care to protect – the First Amendment, but I guess so many don’t.  We can’t take it for granted that our citizens know anything about anything.

For a watchdog, like the media, to be effective, citizens need to read the media and be active and act on the knowledge it comes upon.  When we have people not knowing basic things, how can we expect them to tackle the tough topics? 

Book publishers and authors have many challenges in getting book sales and in finding readers.  One of the problems appears to be ignorance on the part of a substantial portion of the American Citizenry.  As Bill Maher often says: “Don’t underestimate how dumb Americans really are.”


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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