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Friday, August 18, 2017

Interview with author Brian Connor



From Bud to Blow

Brian Connor once convinced a police officer when he was 16 that he had to drive on the front lawn of his elementary school for his own safety. And has been making up stories ever since. Brian was born and raised in Chicago and graduated from Indiana University in 2013. This is his first published story. For more info, see: http://www.brian-connor.com.

1. What really inspired you to write your book, to force you from taking an idea or experience and conveying it into a book?  Traveling for my day job. That was my inspiration. In all honesty. I was so extremely bored sitting in a hotel room in San Antonio for 8 months straight every Monday through Friday, knowing I was about to start going to Columbus for a couple months. So on a plane ride from San Antonio to Chicago, I wrote the last two chapters of this book in the Notes app on my phone. With the ending in place, I would go back to my hotel room after work and just write. Hours and hours would pass of just writing, but I realized I started looking forward to coming back to my hotel room to write instead of dreading the boredom. Flash-forward 8-months in San Antonio, Columbus, and New York hotel rooms, and it was finished.

2. What is it about and whom do you believe is your targeted reader? It’s a story about how an innocent college freshman can get lost in the peer pressures of college life. The book follows the main character, Cory Carter, through the freshman year parties, to joining the wrong fraternity just to make some friends, to hazing, and finally to excessive binge drinking and party drugs. Instead of buying the weekly weed he smokes, he decides to sell it himself. Instead of lying to his girlfriend, he decides to break up with her. These decisions begin to add up until Cory finds himself as the number one drug dealer in the state. This story is told from the eyes of an 18-21 year old, written by a 25 year old who was in that same fraternity, at that same school, just four years prior. So the #1 target reader is college kids, incoming college students, and recently college graduates. However, the more feedback I receive from readers, the more I realize the big state school university experience has not changed much since the 80’s. So my target reader has expanded to include former college graduates and even parents with either college children or soon to be. Because while this book is very heavily focused on college life, the effects of peer pressure are universal to everyone, and this story can help teach people, through examples, on the seriousness of it.

3. What do you hope will be the everlasting thoughts for readers who finish your book? What should remain with them long after putting it down? Well first I hope they enjoyed it. So that would be the primary everlasting thought. But I hope people look back on this book and really think how crazy college life actually is. We put 30,000 18-22 year olds in a small town and expect their behavior to mirror that of typical society. Cory’s life illuminates the true behavior that is born from this atypical society. Because again, the concept of college is 18-22 year olds making up the majority of a town. Just read that sentence. The sheer thought of it is crazy! Most Hollywood versions of college is, “Fraternity guy sets up huge party but it gets out of control, but he falls in love with the shy girl during the process”. But that is just BS and everyone knows it. The real story of college is hazing, skipping classes, the drunken hook-ups, the black-outs, the drugs, etc. And I hope this story hits home for a lot of readers.

4. What advice or words of wisdom do you have for fellow writers? Well if they are “fellow” writers, then they are probably more experienced then me already! But, I want to tell every writer to keep writing about what you know. Because true and honest stories need to be heard. My story is about peer pressures of college life. And I know this, because it was my life too. It was easy being a yes-man. Booze, weed, cocaine, molly, gambling. I’d do anything for a good time and remove any aspect of my life that deterred from it. Convincing myself things were ok by pointing to others that weren’t, without recognizing we were all escalating our negative influences simultaneously.  So if more writers can write based off their experiences, then the world can have authentic stories told from all walks of life instead of getting the Hollywood versions of them.

5. What trends in the book world do you see and where do you think the book publishing industry is heading? I am new to this world, so you could either say I’m na├»ve or have a fresh perspective. But my concern about the book publishing industry, is that it seems like money can buy you a “better book”. Publicists, marketing campaigns, book reviewers, all of these things can be bought. Which is no one’s fault, and is probably not even a trend. It’s just something I noticed stepping into this world, and something that seems to be off. Places like Goodreads/Amazon can help act as the IMDB of books, but in order to get the book into readers hands, well, that takes money or luck.

6. What great challenges did you have in writing your book? The 25%-50% mark in the story. The beginning was easy, the ending was already written on my phone, but filling in some of the character development parts was tough. Not necessarily because of writers block or anything, but because at page 50 or page 100, I had absolutely no clue how long this book was going to be! Should I move faster, do I need to slow down, is this book going to be 150 pages or 500 pages?! That was for sure the greatest challenge.

7. If people can only buy one book this month, why should it be yours? Because it’s the summer time, people will be on the beach, on planes, at a pool, doing whatever they want to do to enjoy the weather. This book is a quick read and doesn’t take a lot of intelligence to read! It’s fast paced and there is a lot of rapid dialogue that keeps the pages turning. So if you had to buy one book this month, breeze through From Bud to Blow in one or two days in the sun sounds like a lovely time!

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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 2017©. Born and raised in Brooklyn, now resides in Westchester. Named one of the best book marketing blogs by Book Baby http://blog.bookbaby.com/2013/09/the-best-book-marketing-blogs 

Do American's Reading Habits Dictate How Book Publishing Markets Books?



Americans love lists, statistics, and factoids that reveal some metric that they can compare themselves by.  If the numbers affirm their views, experiences, and circumstances they are happy.  If it appears they are better than average, they’re even happier. Out of ego, curiosity, or opportunity, we crave to know how we stack up against others. I recently came across stats on geography-based tendencies of Americans and wondered what this could mean for the book world.

For instance, in a recent New York Times piece that highlighted findings from Facebook data that showed where users “check in when they are traveling abroad" the last four summers, a map can be constructed for each state.  Looks like Californians, Texans and a few other states each find Mexico to be the most popular overseas country. Oregon, Washington, and a few other states up north chose Canada.  But some states chose Liberia, Somalia, Ireland, Bolivia, Tonga and Marshall Islands.  Do these demographics help the book industry figure out how to market books regionally?

A very recent Entertainment Weekly article picked one film per each state that best captures the spirit and story of each state. New York had Do The Right Thing while South Carolina had The Big Chill and Pennsylvania had Rocky.  My favorite book-themed movie?  Vermont and Dead Poets Society.  Actually, a lot of these films were based on books, including Missouri’s Gone Girl, Kansas’ The Wizard of Oz, Colorado’s Misery, and Montana’s A River Runs Through It.

Last year, Business Insider put together its list, “The Most Famous Book That Takes Place in Every State” that should’ve been correctly titled as “Each State’s Most Famous Book.”  Alabama had To Kill a Mockingbird, Alaska Into the Wild, Arizona The Bean Trees, Arkansas A Painted House, and so on.

We live in a nation where one in four American adults say they have not read a book in the past year.  One in five haven’t visited a library or book mobile in that time either. Three in five people in U.S. prisons are illiterate.  These are stunning stats that show our nation needs to give reading a boost.

Will books change to meet the needs, abilities, and preferences of a new America, one that sees other languages besides English growing and one in which free online content is starting to replace a domain that used to be filled by books?  Should book publishers market to those who read more books (women average 14 books annually to men, 9) or should it make an emphasis to reach out to the under-served – ethnic minorities, high school drop outs, and those who speak English as a second language?

Since at least half of all new books released in 2017 are self-published and thus, turning authors into publishers, such writers need to confront the same marketing questions that big publishers struggle to address.  One cannot simply write whatever he or she desires and then demand the marketplace embrace the book without making a smart, strategic, and invested effort to reach targeted consumers.

Globally, the United States, according to World Culture Score Index, doesn’t even rank in the top 20 nations when the amount of time spent reading books is taken into account.  For instance, India doubles the US output, with the average Indian reading more than 10.5 hours per week and the typical American languishes at 5.5 hours.  Russia, China, France, Indonesia, and Hungary are way ahead of us.  Maybe selling books overseas or foreign rights needs more attention.

Perhaps publishers and authors need to market most heavily to young readers and those who buy books for them.  If we don’t nurture a new generation of book readers, the industry will die out.  The Guardian reported a Scholastic study from a few years ago showed only 51% of children claim they love or like reading books for fun -- down from 58% three years prior to the 2015 study.  It was 60% in 2010.

As the new school year is about to heat up, the book industry will need to not just sell books to its base of readers.  It will have to grow by reaching beyond its repeat customer and reliable demographics.  Get kids, illiterates, and people who say that don’t read books often to start buying books.  Create new consumers and in turn, not only will society benefit, but book publishers and authors will be able to reassure themselves that there is a marketplace for them.

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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 2017©. Born and raised in Brooklyn, now resides in Westchester. Named one of the best book marketing blogs by Book Baby http://blog.bookbaby.com/2013/09/the-best-book-marketing-blogs 


Thursday, August 17, 2017

Does Book Publishing Pricing Hurt Sales?



In 2016, according to sales estimates released by the Association of American Publishers, the total number of book units sold was 40,000,000 more than in 2015 - up to 1.2% - but revenue declined by 5.1% - to 26.24 billion dollars.  To me, the only conclusion one can draw from this, is that publishers aren’t charging enough for books.

Who sells 40 million more units but sees revenue decline by 420 million dollars?

There are some positives, however, in the data:

·         Trade sales were up 1.5% but other areas declined.
·         Adult fiction was the only segment within trade books to decline.
·         Print sales rose, e-books fell, and downloadable audio doubled its 2012 total.
·         Mass market paperbacks only fell .4%.
·         Adult non-fiction, is the largest revenue provider at $5.87 billion, up over 5% from a year ago.
·         Religious presses soared nearly 7% in revenue in one year.
·         Children’s books and YA jumped by 6.7%.

Book publishers must raise their prices.  Stores and vendors like Amazon or B&N can choose to pass along discounts to consumers if it wishes, but publishers need to be financially healthy.

It is great that more books sold last year than in 2015, because that could indicate an expansion in the number of book buyers or it means voracious readers are expanding their reading.  Or maybe more people chose to buy discounted books as presents.

Publishers Weekly, in analyzing the data, suggested that adult fiction declined steeply because there was a lack of a big book “as was the inability of novelists to get media attention while the broadcast and cable networks covered the presidential election.”

What I find to be remarkable is that non-fiction adult trade books is doing so well.  This is the exact category of content the Internet, with all of its free blogs, resources, and data was supposed to make outdated and obsolete for book buyers.  Instead it’s seeing a resurgence.

I expect to see book sales rise for 2017.  Why? I’m an optimist who bets on books every day. I think with more indie stories and even Amazon brick and mortar coming out, we’ll see higher sales. I also believe in a non-election, non-Olympics, war-free year, and an improving economy, we’ll see more media covering books and more people looking to enjoy the escape books provide us.

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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 2017©. Born and raised in Brooklyn, now resides in Westchester. Named one of the best book marketing blogs by Book Baby http://blog.bookbaby.com/2013/09/the-best-book-marketing-blogs 

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Sometimes We Can’t Rewrite The Ending



I didn’t realize how much I love dogs until I first got one at age 26.  I had just moved into my first house and I received a basset hound as a gift. Brandy was a wonderful treat with her big, floppy ears and disproportionately long body and stump legs. 

She had a deep bark with so much sound coming out of her odd-shaped body.  She would be the first of many dogs to leave me. 

The latest one, Daisy, an English Bulldog, was put down on August 11th, which coincided with my 15th wedding anniversary.  She represented love, so perhaps it was fitting. 

No ending of life is ever good and it can get messy.  This one was complicated by the fact my wife and I were hoping she could last to say goodbye to our nine-year-old daughter.  We had Daisy for 7 of her 8 years and my daughter has loved her since she was only two.  They had a very close relationship.  My daughter went to sleep-away camp for the first time and her seven weeks ended the day after we put Daisy to sleep. 

We just couldn’t let Daisy suffer any longer.  

She hadn’t eaten in four days nor urinated in two days.  Her body was breaking down, ravaged by lymphoma.  She only made it 16 days after she was diagnosed.

Daisy’s story – and ours – is perhaps no different than what tens of millions of dog owners will go through.  We loved her with all of our hearts and enjoyed every moment with her snorty, farty, playful self.  Her imperfections – a face that looked like it was hit by a truck -- provided appeal.  

Have you ever seen a bulldog run?  She did move, in her younger days, and would animatedly bump into other dogs at the dog run.  Then she would plop down like a bear rug, pant, and watch the other dogs flag balls down.

She was in decent shape for her breed. She got up to 50 pounds but was athletic enough to roll over for a belly rub or engage in tug of war.  Daisy loved to nudge us with her toys at ten or eleven at night, just as I was settling into TV time. She also used to sharpen her teeth on our shoes but it took her longer to outgrow grabbing for my daughter’s many stuffed animals.  

Daisy had health issues over the years – cherry eye, allergies, and a case of mercer.  Even with pet insurance, she cost thousands of dollars to care for, but she was worth it just as she was worth the stress and sadness that comes with putting her down and suffering that loss.

Now, for the first time since we had children, we are dogless.  

We lost Buzzy, a 15-year-old pug that we adopted at age 7, five years ago.  He overlapped with Daisy for almost two years.  We also lost Lulu, another pug that we adopted, when she was hit by a school bus while on a leash.

As a kid growing up in a Brooklyn apartment, a dog wasn’t on the menu.  But we had turtles, fish, parakeets, and a rabbit over the years.  It’s amazing how much animal life one can experience and how it can still hurt when you lose one of these critters.

I couldn’t help script the ending for my daughter to say so long, but we did the right thing by Daisy and we’ll miss her.  She’s given us great memories and photos and soon her passing will even lead us to a new dog to love and hold and eventually lose as well.

We learn about life through death.  A little over a year ago.  I experienced human loss when my dad died.  Look, the most precious beings and the best things in life are fragile and vulnerable.  That’s the rules to living on this planet.  But even knowing this – and accepting the terms – I can’t help but feel a little lonelier and empty for having lost Daisy.

My wife, 12-year-old son, and I were with Daisy in her final moments as the vet administered not medicine but a toxic dose of anastesia to put her to rest. We all caressed her meaty body and hit-and-run face. The process was familiar to us from when we did this with Buzzy a little over five years ago.

Daisy went from struggling to breath to silence, and peace settled into the room. Mixed feelings of relief and sadness bathed us.

Surprisingly Olivia has taken it well. She asked us if the fish was alive as soon as she came off the camp bus. When she asked why didn't we bring Daisy at pickup we told her what happened. She thought it was a joke at first, in total shock.

She asked to see her and we called the vet and luckily she had not yet been carted for cremation... so we went. They took her out of the freezer and I think it helped my daughter heal.

Daisy was a cool dog who made the last seven years with us a wonderful time. We fondly look back at people she took a piece out of: friends Bruce and Keith, a back-up mail lady, two dry cleaners, and a handyman. Plus she was a TV star a few years ago when the local CBS TV news filmed her after coming out post-blizzard to chew the snow and take a romp in it. I can feel her around me. She is farting snd snoring in dog heaven.

Hey we knew going into this that having a great pet means a hard ending. They ingratiate themselves into our lives and become a part of the very fabric that we wear. If it hurts so much it is because we loved her so much and that is a good thing.

But her ending will bring a new beginning for us.  For Daisy, I hope she’s playing in dog heaven, perhaps with Brandy, Lulu, Buzz or others.  We’ll miss you, Daisy Dukes.

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 2017©. Born and raised in Brooklyn, now resides in Westchester. Named one of the best book marketing blogs by Book Baby http://blog.bookbaby.com/2013/09/the-best-book-marketing-blogs 

Monday, August 14, 2017

To Promote Books, Focus On What You Can Do, Not On What You Can’t



“Don’t let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do.”

Those words were stated by the legendary college basketball coach, John Wooden.  He could have been talking directly to you.

How often do you complain, whine, criticize, or lament that something isn’t going your way, that you fall short in an area, or that others disappoint you?  It’s only natural to participate in such behavior or negative thinking, but it’s useless.  Actually, it’s detrimental to your success as an author.

You mustn’t list all of your weaknesses or victimizations, or denote what you lost, don’t have, or can’t get.  No, you have to think about what you do have, what’s obtainable, what’s a strength.  Build on what you have and who you are, not on what isn’t or can never be.

Call upon your confidence, character, passion, energy, vision, creativity, connections, and sense of purpose to drive you to success.  If you merely bitch about this person or stew over some missed opportunity or merely dream of what you want without having a plan to actually realize it you waste your time.

This all comes down to your attitude and how you approach things.  Your core personality may be a result of your genes, environment, upbringing and circumstances, but if you can take control of it, you should.  You must!

It’s hard to convince a pessimist to be an optimist, but one needs to correct their vision if they are to see straight. Overlook your deficiencies and ignore what failures you’ve experienced.  Dig in and go for what you want and utilize the people and things that you have going for you.

Perhaps it starts with a belief, one where you are convinced you have a goal, a purpose, and a unique ability to succeed.  Where there’s a will, there’s a way. Project a mindset of confidence, be open to opportunities, and be willing to take a chance.  Remaining stuck in denial, anger, or excuses will get you nowhere.

Maybe you need a few words of inspiration to get you going.  Try these:

“Some people have thousands of reasons why they cannot do what they want to, when all they need is one reasons why they can.”
--Willis R. Whitney

“Whatever your mind can conceive and believe it can achieve.”
--Napoleon Hill

“If you don’t like something, change it; if you can’t change it, change the way you think about it.”
--Mary Engelbreit

“You’ll see it when you believe it.”
--Wayne Dyer

“Sometimes your only available transportation is a leap of faith.”
--Margaret Shepard

“Don’t get so busy making a living that you forget to make a life.”
--Dolly Parton

“I’d rather regret things I’ve done than regret the things I haven’t done.”
--Lucille Ball

“Act the way you’d like to be and soon you’ll be the way you act.”
--Leonard Cohen

“Make your choices reflect your hopes, not your fears.”
--Nelson Mandela

“It is our choices that show us what we truly are, far more than our abilities.”
--J.K. Rowling

“The world needs dreamers and the world needs doers. But above all, the world needs dreamers who do.”
--Sarah Ban Breathnach

“Your imagination is your preview of life’s coming attractions.”
--Albert Einstein


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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 2017©. Born and raised in Brooklyn, now resides in Westchester. Named one of the best book marketing blogs by Book Baby http://blog.bookbaby.com/2013/09/the-best-book-marketing-blogs