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Sunday, November 19, 2017

Interview with author Nathaniel Szymkowicz


 The Shroud of Peace

1.      What really 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 forces.

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 heading? Technology 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."

6.      What great 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. 

Nathaniel 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.

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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


Why Writers Must Work While People Fight for Garbage Jobs



Society 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 surprised.

Why 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.

Maybe 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.

Some 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 in business.

I 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?

Keep dreaming.

When 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.


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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

Saturday, November 18, 2017

How Queen Of Gossip’s Book Party Launched My Marriage



Gossip 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 special.

Back 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.

I 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.

I 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.

I 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.

There 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.”

Her comments were laced between gossip on Brad Pitt, Jenifer Aniston and Michelle Pfeiffer.

We framed the article and hung it up in our house.

When 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.

Her 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 century.

She 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.

One 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.

Not 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.

She 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.

Liz, 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 today.


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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


Friday, November 17, 2017

Does $450M Art Masterpiece Boost The Book Industry?



A painting just sold at auction for $450 million.  Yes, that’s not a misprint.

Even 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 about inflation.

What’s 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?

I 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?

This 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.

Most 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.

But 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.

Maybe 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.

The 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.


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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, November 16, 2017

The Biggest Book Finally Gets A Museum!



The 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.

I 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.

It 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.

Whether 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.

I am 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.

Museums 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.

So 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.”

It 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.

One 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.

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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, November 15, 2017

Few Book Sales Separate Best-Selling Writers From Obscurity



The 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 few feet?

This type of separation in running is no different than the level of competition in book publishing.

Every 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.

When 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.

Authors 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.

Writers 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.

Authors 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.

What 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. 

Whatever 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.

You 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.

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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

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Interview With Author Joseph Brisben



Marvin’s Garden

1.      What really inspired you to write your book, to force you from taking an idea or experience and conveying it into a book?
Billy Wilder's 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?
My largest challenge was in writing it from the point of view of a woman, much less a dead woman.

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 the morning.

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 investment counselor.

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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