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.
inspired you to write your book, to force you from taking an idea or experience
and conveying it into a book?The development of
this story occurred over about 12 years, of half my life. If I had to point to
the core inspirations for “The Shroud of Peace,” it would undoubtedly be the Mass
Effect games, The Bourne novles by Robert Ludlum, and the works of John Le
Carre. Looking at the end product, it is a testament to broadening one's
perspective and marching toward a life goal.
2.What is it about
and whom do you believe is your targeted reader? Essentially, “The
Shroud of Peace” is The Bourne Identity in space. It’s a homage to probably one of the best spy novels
and action movies out there. I utilize the themes of that story but also ground
my story with personal and internal conflicts such as trying to accept one's
self and how blinded we are to the bigger picture in the face of conflict.
Suffice it to say, the conflict between a rogue super soldier and the Special
Forces officer hunting him gets very personal and very heated in a ruined
galaxy on the brink of war. I think this would appeal to anyone between the
ages of 16 and 32, especially future, current and former members of the armed
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?Though I do hate
to spoil things, if you go into this book expecting a happy ending, you will be
sorely disappointed. Neither character in “The Shroud of Peace” is necessarily
good or evil. They're normal people who grew up amidst war and chaos pitted on
opposite ends of a conflict they have no control over. They're foils to each
other. The actions they take to combat each other have far reaching
consequences on both the galaxy and each other.
4.What advice or
words of wisdom do you have for fellow writers?The only reason I
was able to get here was stubbornness and ruthless discipline. As a 12-year-old
boy I committed myself to this story and realized it as a 24 year-old man, that
takes a special kind of stubborn. I didn't spend 12 years of my life doing the things
teenagers and twenty-somethings do. Rather, I spent the better part of 12 years
dedicating myself to improving my craft to assume full command of my medium.
And ultimately, tell the best version of this story I could. Keep at it, but
always learn from your mistakes.
5.What trends in the
book world do you see and where do you think the book publishing industry is
is a scary thing. As much as I love a printed book, the next greatest story
won't be printed on a page. All of these E-book publishers have opened the
floodgates to writers. There's a lot of bad E-books out there, but there are
quite a few diamonds in the rough and at least a dozen talented enterprising
authors to follow in these examples. Given the utter disconnect the
entertainment industry and main stream media has from most people and the
creative drought caused by that disconnect, it would be no surprise to me if in
the near future the title of "Amazon Bestseller" will be more
coveted than "New York Times Bestseller."
challenges did you have in writing your book?Perhaps the
greatest challenge I faced during all of this was time. To put it in
perspective I grew up, graduated three schools, studied two martial arts, moved
out of my parent's house, joined the Army, got my first civilian job, and
resided in three different states. That's a lot for any man starting his life
before even thinking about writing a novel.
7.If people can only
buy one book this month, why should it be yours? Well, if you've
been disappointed in the plethora of "versus" movies and games that
have been coming out recently, Jason Bourne's recent film or novel adaptations,
or any recent interpretation of your favorite Sci-Fi franchise, this'll be
right up your alley. If you're looking for a quick but thought provoking
military space opera, this will also scratch your content itch. If you like
strong characters and conflict that results naturally from their faults with
strong subtext, you won't be able to stop reading this.
Szymkowicz is a recent graduate from SUNY Brockport with a bachelor’s in
history and minors in English and military science. He practices judo and
marksmanship regularly. He currently resides in Vermont.
The All-New 2018 Toolkit to Promote a Book -- 7th annual edition
needs people to perform all kinds of tasks, from the banker, lawyer, doctor,
entrepreneur and actress to the teacher, clerk, nurse, police officer, soldier,
exterminator and software engineer. Some
jobs pay much better than others and some seem glamourous or indicative of
intellect and skill, but all jobs are necessary for the world to function. We need our truck drivers, farmers, gym trainers,
and waiters as much as we need journalists, brain surgeons, and judges. But there is a scale to things. We see pay for a job is based on its
perceived importance or ability to make money for a company. Some jobs require special schooling or
training, where the pool of talented practitioners is limited. And yet it sometimes seems like the jobs that
involve risk (firemen) or a task few want to perform (janitor) aren’t always
paid as much as they should. But when I
heard that New York City receives 100,000 applicants for 500 job openings (200
apply per hire) to be a sanitation worker making around $35,000 a year I was
were people fighting for the opportunity to work with garbage, risking injury, and disease while having to work through snow, rain, bitter cold, and exhausting
heat waves? Why were so many competing
for a job that really offered little room for growth as far as advancement
opportunities? Well, the job doesn’t
require much by way of education or even one’s ability to speak English. For the low-skilled, undereducated person
this may be the ideal job. It comes with
OT, benefits, and a chance to make around $75,000 by one’s fifth year.
it shouldn’t surprise me that so many applied for the job of garbageman. More people look to become authors,
which arguably has a smaller payoff than being a salaried, union worker.
people want jobs with security, benefits, and decent pay while others strive to
be entrepreneurs. Authors get neither –
they are not often well compensated, have no job security, no benefits and
are forced to be entrepreneurs even though it’s not a part of their DNA to be
wonder how many sanitation workers are also authors. Writers perform many jobs, often because they
can’t afford to write full-time. Or they
work for years until they are in a position to write and not work a job as
well. Imagine if our best writers could
be allowed to flourish at a young age and get to have a 50-60-70-year career dedicated
to writing books, how great would that be?
people are fighting for the privilege to haul your garbage away, few are able
to write 24-7 without worrying how to pay the rent and childcare. But when you do get to write, enjoy what you
do and live in those moments as if it really was your full-time career.
The All-New 2018
Toolkit to Promote a Book -- 7th annual edition
columnist Liz Smith died at age 94 a few days ago. For 33 years, from 1976-2009, she was the
lead gossip queen for the New York City tabloids. She wrote for the New York Daily News, Newsday, and the New York Post. She
eventually was syndicated nationally to about 75 newspapers. Her passing represents the end of an era, but
more important to me personally, I celebrate the woman who made my engagement
on June 3, 2000 while at a Book Expo America convention in Chicago. I crashed a
Random House party being thrown to celebrate the publication of Natural Blond, the confessional memoir of
the woman known as the Grand Dame of Dish.
attended with colleagues from work. I
was just a year into the company, the same one I’m with now (Planned Television
Arts, since renamed MEDIA CONNECT). One
of my co-workers, Amy, had a sister who was the head of marketing for Random
House Audiobooks. Her name is Laura.
met the woman I would marry two years later and have been with ever since. I never saw Liz Smith again but I felt she
was connected to our relationship. On
Thanksgiving Day, 2001, just a few months after the horrific events of
September 11, I proposed to Laura in front of her entire family.
wrote to Liz Smith the next day in a personal letter, telling her she was there
when I met my special someone. I guess
the woman who covered celebrities for a living found it pleasing to hear. She was in the room when two ordinary people
found love and she ended up writing about us in her column.
it was, in black and white, read by millions of people: “When I was promoting
my memoir in Chicago, at least a year ago, in attendance were Brian Feinblum
and Laura Rosenthal. Both worked in book
promotion. At the party, these two met
and now they are blaming me for the fact that they fell in love, and are
engaged. Call me Cupid.”
comments were laced between gossip on Brad Pitt, Jenifer Aniston and Michelle
framed the article and hung it up in our house.
we got married we invited her to the wedding. She didn’t attend but she did
send a wonderful crystal bowl that we’ve used on special occasions.
passing saddened us but it made us fondly recall the day we had met. To review her career would be the subject of
a book. She covered Marlon Brando, Madonna, Elizabeth Taylor, Frank Sinatra,
Barbra Streisand, and every bold-face name from the second half of the 20th
also served for 11 years on NY’s popular TV show, NBC’s Live at Five, where
she won an Emmy for her gossip reporting.
of her biggest stories was the Donald Trump-Ivana Trump divorce. Trump hated Smith so much that he reportedly
tried to buy the newspaper she worked for so he could fire her.
to be out-scooped, she came out as being bisexual in her memoir, despite having
been married twice to men. At one point
she earned over one million dollars annually, exceeding the pay of any columnist
or executive editor of her day. She
became almost as popular as those she covered.
had an interesting career, penning books, working for Mike Wallace at CBS Radio, writing for Cosmopolitan, Parade, Vogue, Sports
Illustrated, and Ladies' Home Journal. She used to develop ideas for TV’s Candid Camera, and later appeared on E! Entertainment Television.
I’m so happy your event brought me together with my wife of 15 years. You were outstanding in practicing your
profession. May all those people, whom you covered
and knew, gossip about you
The All-New 2018 Toolkit to Promote a Book -- 7th annual
painting just sold at auction for $450 million.
Yes, that’s not a misprint.
though the highest sale ever for a painting was $300 million --in a private sale
two years ago -- a Leonardo DaVinci painting just fetched 50% more than that and two times more than any previously auctioned artwork! Talk
even more amazing is the painting originally wasn’t believed to have been
created by DaVinci, but in recent years it was declared one of the painting
master’s. Imagine if 450,000,000 dollars
was paid for a fraud?
love and support the arts but enough is enough.
How is one picture worth so much money, so much more than other art, and
so much more than the rarest books, prized sports memoraphalia, or celebrity
memento? How is it worth more than the
most expensive house, more than a sports arena, more than most businesses?
art sale is part of a bitcoin economy, where everything is commoditized and
sold off like a Madoff Ponzi scheme. I
don’t know that such a high price tag for art is good for society or even
artists. It turns the focus of art to money and a business -- and not on creativity and inspiration. This kind of art can’t be touched or
experienced – it’s under lock and key and treated like the Hope Diamond.
art doesn’t fetch anywhere near millions of dollars. The industry seems to vary wildly. No one really knows what to charge for any
art -- it’s whatever people are willing to pay.
Most artists don’t make a lot of money, but some do manage to get
thousands of dollars per piece and if they can work with a gallery or get
online buzz, they can manage to afford to practice their craft.
art, though it’s always been collected, sold, and traded, should be seen for its
beauty and not its appeal to get rich.
Art shouldn’t be a lottery ticket.
It should be a conversation piece, a valuable contribution to the
community, and a source for inspiration to all who view it.
I’m just not seeing this correctly.
Perhaps I should be glad that someone values art enough to pay such a
huge sum for it. Perhaps when art sells
at that price at the top it lifts all boats at the bottom. But it just seems like capitalism gone
awry. Instead of pouring all of that
money into one piece of art you could open up several art museums that can
provide art appreciation to lots of people.
For $450 M you could probably eradicate a disease.
sale came on the heels of a new study that shows over 50% of the world’s 280
trillion dollars in assets is owned by 1% of the population and 10% of the world’s
citizens owns 85% of the globe’s wealth. The top of the art world’s a mere toy for the uber rich.
The All-New 2018
Toolkit to Promote a Book -- 7th annual edition
Bible is arguably the most widely read book in human history but it wasn’t
until November. 17, 2017 that it got its own museum. Many other books and authors have museums,
but none may be as big as The Bible Museum, a 430,000 square-foot museum that
is the largest museum building space in all of Washington D.C., and is the most
expensive museum dedicated to a single book ($500 million in property,
demolition, and construction costs). Why
did it take so long to have a museum dedicated to the single book that has
inspired billions, led to Holy wars, and been the subject of endless debates
about religion and God? It has sparked
the story lines of many, many books and movies and has given comfort to
Americans since the nation’s founding.
have not been to the museum but I have heard of its coming for years. My guess is it will remain well funded for
decades to come. In its Publishers
Weekly advertisement, the museum says one would need nine full eight-hour days
to take in the entire experience.
offers more than 500 Biblical texts and artifacts on just one of the
floors. It even has a 1,000-seat lecture
hall and a 472-seat preforming arts theater.
you are a religious person, especially a Christian or Jew, scholars,
historians, writers, sociologists, and others are sure to find this a
fascinating place to visit.
happy that a book is getting such attention.
The world offers a lot of museums and theaters of entertainment, but few
revolve around books. We need more
museums dedicated to books.
will often display books or feature a temporary display that highlights the
works of a major author, but to have a gigantic museum dedicated to featuring a
permanent collection of one book is unheard of.
what will the museum feature? “It will
provide guests with an immersive and personalized experience as they explore the
history, narrative and impact of the Bible," ways its website. “Museum of the
Bible will be an unparalleled experience, using cutting edge technology to
bring the Bible to life.”
has 1150 items on display from its permanent collection, and another 2000 cure
on loan from other institutions and collections. “These collections allow the Museum of the Bible to convey the global impact and compelling history of the Bible in a
unique and powerful way,” the site said.
might say the Bible has a museum already – thousands of living museums and
memorials in the form of churches. It’s
in many homes and cars and its influence extends into culture, law, and
ethics. The Museum of the Bible is new –
but the Bible has always had a huge following. No doubt, its museum will be
around for a long time, preserving the legacy of the book that has had the greatest influence and impact on Western society than any other book.
The All-New 2018
Toolkit to Promote a Book -- 7th annual edition
New York City Marathon this month featured over 50,000 runners. They ran as
hard as they could for 26.2 miles.
Amazingly, only three seconds -- out of 7800 seconds worth of
running --separated the winner and the second-place finisher. In fact, less than a minute separated the top
four finishers. Can you imagine running
for several hours and around 137,000 feet – and you lose by just seconds or a
type of separation in running is no different than the level of competition in
day, 3500 books are published in America – or one every 25 seconds or so. Many
books compete for a sales ranking on places like Amazon and other best-seller
lists. A few may really stick out, but the vast majority are bunched together
and just a few sales can make the difference between being considered a winner
or a best-seller vs. being viewed as mediocre, or worse, a failure.
you look at the finish times for the marathoners, many finish within four
hours, which is no slouching feat considering how many like me hardly move and
couldn’t walk 26.2 miles in a day, let alone run it so quickly. But for those in the game and competing,
there can be a sea of difference in how you place in the standings just by a
matter of minutes.
can sprint to success by getting a certain number of registered sales in a
short period of time. According to the
best-seller lists on Publishers Weekly,
one usually makes it if they sell 3,000 copies in a given week through recorded
channels like Amazon, B&N and places that use BookScan. So it could come down to 100 sales in a week
that turns one book into a best-seller and one into obscurity.
like to write and let the book marketing work itself out but today’s writer
knows he or she has to write the ending to their book sales. They have to make that final push at the end
of a grueling, competitive race to nudge ahead of the competition.
can’t take anything for granted or leave things to chance. They have to implement a best-seller strategy
and pad it with extra sales to ensure they don’t just fall short of their goal
to hit a best-seller list.
will land you on a best-seller list? Get
pre-orders for your book prior to launching.
Discount the book if necessary.
Call upon friends and family to buy copies from traditional outlets in a
specific week – and ask them to ask their friends and family to buy as
well. Offer bonus incentives or trade
favors with people who have big social media followings to play your book
up. Advertise on Facebook and generate
buzz with a strategic book publicity campaign.
you do, you need to know that the field of competition is enormous, hungry, and
fierce. But not everyone has a great book,
nor do they apply resources and a good strategy to support it. You can get a leg up on the competition and
surpass perhaps hundreds of thousands of others simply by securing a hundred book sales more than them.
don’t want to run a marathon and place far behind the winner when only a minute
separates you. It’s time to turn the
page and go all Rocky on your fellow writers.
The All new 2018 toolkit to promote a book -- 7th annual
1.What really inspired you to write your book, to force you from taking
an idea or experience and conveying it into a book?
1950’s "Sunset Boulevard" served as a huge inspiration to me in
writing Marvin’s Garden. That is where I found the idea of a dead woman telling
her story. More specific elements of the book were taken from my life such as
my main character Madge, who is based off a distant cousin of mine who was
abused by her husband. The setting, more specially the barn/farm are based of
property a few of my friends own in Iowa.
2.What is it about and whom do you believe is your targeted reader?
Relationships that involve abuse are very complex and layered. Marvin’s
Garden shows the depth with which people need to go to live with or
overcome crudity. In the same right, I
believe it highlights that karma will always win out. I did write the book
first to please myself and to honor the town of Pond Creek, Oklahoma.
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?
As Art Buchwald
said during his 1993 commencement address to the graduating class at the
University of Southern California: “I hope they remember having a pleasurable
experience,” and, as Martin Luther King once said: “The arc of the moral
universe is long but it bends towards justice.”
4.What advice or words of wisdom do you have for fellow writers?
Write every day,
follow your heart and your bliss and trust people who will read your work and
provide your with beneficial suggestions.
5.What trends in the book world do you see and where do you think the
book publishing industry is heading?
I think the book
world in general is doing fine so long as readers would prefer to hold a book
in their hands rather than staring at a computer screen. I just finished
reading Larry McMurtry's wonderful book about his adventures in trading
second-hand books, which gives me hope about the book world. It is true, films
and television seem to be satisfying people's cravings for fiction, but I don’t
think this is completely eliminate fiction books.
6.What great challenges did you have in writing your book?
challenge was in writing it from the point of view of a woman, much less a dead
7.If people can only buy one book this month, why should it be yours?
There is no
accounting for some peoples' taste, but I would advise them to buy it and then
warn them: Don't read it as you go to sleep because you won't doze off until
you finish the book. Marvin’s Garden will take you into the wee small hours of
Joseph Brisben has been writing fiction off and on for more
than four decades. He studied English and American literature at the University
of Chicago and at Drake University. In recent years, he participated in the
Summer Writing Program at the University of Iowa. Now retired, Brisben has
worked as a reporter and copyreader, in college public relations and as an
The All new 2018
toolkit to promote a book -- 7th annual edition