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Monday, January 22, 2018

Have You Read The Great Modern Writers?



It is becoming a sport for me to read books about books – and writers, language, publishing, writing, reading, editing and all facets of the book world.  I just finished a nicely packaged one, Great Modern Writers:  A to Z by Andy Tushy with Caroline Taggart.

The book purports, on its back cover, to be "an accessible, covetable guide to 52 key modern writers." The hardcover, glossy-paged book features essays on the great modern writers who flourished in the 20th century.  Those selected are ones that are being read decades later.  Their legacy may even last centuries.  But, as with any book of lists, there will be entries that are expected, controversial, even disagreeable.  The author acknowledges:  “There are some names here that I’m sure no one would argue with – Atwood, Camus, Joyce, Updike – and some that are more contentious.”

When reviewing the authors included in the book, one has to wonder how we can narrow down all of the writers who won awards, had best-sellers, and received critical acclaim.  If you even try to look at a list of those who won Pulitzers and Nobel Prizes, you’d have to choose from hundreds of writers.  And even amongst best-sellers, you’d choose between tens of thousands of authors.

I learned a number of factoids about the great writers featured here.  For instance, I didn’t realize Maya Angelou’s I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, in 1969 became the first-ever best-seller by a black woman.  I also didn’t know early in her career she was employed as a street car conductor in San Francisco.  She reportedly got the job after sitting at the transit office for two weeks until they hired her.

I didn’t know that Albert Camus, famous for The Stranger, lost his dad when he was just a few months old and survived a childhood that was plagued by poverty and ill health.

Whereas we know Ernest Hemingway and Virginia Woolf died at their own hands, I didn’t know that George Orwell was actually born and raised in India or that he died in his 40’s from tuberculosis.

I also liked the way these great writers had their writings summarized:

On Simon de Beauvoir:  “In her massive and ground-breaking work, The Second Sex (1949), she took the view that men imposed on women an ideal of femininity, and that both sexes were then disappointed when women didn’t measure up.”

On Samuel Beckett:  “Waiting for Godot is one of the most important plays of the Theatre of the Absurd – funny, yes, but unsettling and pessimistic, showing the pointless of human endeavor.”

On T.S. Eliot:  “The Waste Land …is a poem about lives that have no meaning in a society that is in a state of collapse, and it captures the despair of the post.  World War I generation as no other work of art has done before or since.”

On William Golding:Lord of the Flies…depicts the disintegration of society.”

On J.D. Salinger:  “In 1951, when The Catcher in the Rye was published, the word “teenager” was a recent coinage and the publishing genre “Young Adult” was unheard of.  The disenchanted voice of 16-year-old Holden Caulfield delighted young people and shocked their parents everywhere.”

On James Joyce:  “On a deeper level, it is a study of a modern Everyman portrayed in epic terms, experiencing a series of what Joyce called “epiphames”-finding? Spectacular truths in ordinary things.  It is also a huge experiment with form and language, with interior monologues and stream of consciousness.  In many people’s assessment, it is the greatest novel of the 20th century.”

In reading the book about great authors and their masterpieces, it made me want to read or re-read some of these young classics.  If you’re looking for a reminder of – or an introduction to – the top works of the past century – read this book.

Here’s a quick summary of some of the featured writers and their best works:

Margaret Atwood – The Handmaids Tale
James Baldwin – Notes of a Native Son
William Faulkner – The Sound and the Fury
F. Scott Fitzgerald – The Great Gatsby
Aldous Huxley – Brave New World
Franz Kafka – Metamorphosis
D.H. Lawrence – Lady Chatterley’s Lover
Toni Morrison – Jazz
Vladimir Nabokov – Lolita
George Orwell – 1984
Marcel Provst – In Search of Lost Time
Salman Rushdie - Satanic Verses
Jean Paul Sartre – Being and Nothingness
John Steinbeck – The Grapes of Wrath
John Updike – The Rabbit
Kurt Vonnegut – Slaughterhouse Five
Virginia Woolf – Mrs. Dalloway

DON”T MISS THESE!!!
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Enjoy New 2018 Author Book Marketing & PR Toolkit -- 7th annual edition just released

Here are best author-publisher-publishing pro interviews of 2017

How do authors get on TV?

Study this exclusive author media training video from T J Walker

Brian Feinblum’s insightful views, provocative opinions, and interesting ideas expressed in this terrific blog are his alone and not that of his employer or anyone else. You can – and should -- follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at brianfeinblum@gmail.com. He feels much more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog © 2018. Born and raised in Brooklyn, he now resides in Westchester. His writings are often featured in The Writer and IBPA’s Independent.  This was named one of the best book marketing blogs by Book Baby http://blog.bookbaby.com/2013/09/the-best-book-marketing-blogs and recognized by Feedspot in 2018 as one of the top book marketing blogs.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Will You Set A Guinness World Record For Books?



The Guinness World Records 2018 edition features thousands of interesting and amazing records.  As a book, it’s pretty special.  Where else can you find out:

·         The fastest marathon run in pajamas?
·         Largest human jigsaw puzzle piece formation?
·         Largest firefighting aircraft?
·         Youngest volcano?
·         Tallest:  bicycle, Easter egg, tree, statue, mammal, or building?
·         Longest tongue on a dog.
·         Oldest donkey, people, cat, amusement park, hotel, or cave art?
·         Fastest: plane, human, tank, roller-coaster, tennis serve, or bird?

But the sections, pertaining to books, comic books, and society interested me most.  Here are a few interesting factoids featured in this information-packed book:

·        Longest novel translated into emoji-Moby Dick.  It consists of 206,052 words.  The translation, finished in 2010, is called Emoji Dick.

·         Most expensive comic book sold at auction – a special edition of Tintin in America went for $1.6 million in a June 2012 auction.  The comic book was created in 1932.  However, the most valuable comic is Action Comics #1, June 1938, the debut of Superman, the first superhero with super powers. Value?  8.14 million dollars.

·         Highest annual earnings for an author – James Patterson, according to Forbes, raked in 95 million bucks from June 2015 to June 2016.

·         Largest book signing belongs to Vickrant Mahajan, who signed 6904 copies in one sitting in January 2016 of his book.  Yes, Thank You Universe.

·         Most published writers per capita – Iceland has five books published per every 1000 citizens.  Over the course of their lifetime, one in 10 Icelanders will have a book published.

·         Oldest living full-length audiobook - a 1935 album features Joseph Conrad’s 1902 novel, Typhoon.

·         Largest library book fine ever paid - $356.14.  Days and Deeds was returned to a library in Illinois 47 years after it was loaned out in 1955.

·         Most expensive typewriter - $89,473 was paid at a London auction in 1995 for a 1952 typewriter that Ian Fleming commissioned after completing Casino Royale, which launched the James Bond series.  The special typewriter is gold-plated.

·         Most expensive printed book – one of 11 copies of the Bay Psalm Book sold in 2013 for $14.16 million.

·         The first book printed in English was sold at auction in 2014 for $1,851,460.  It was a translation of a French work, entitled The Recuyell of the Historyes of Troye.  It was published in 1474 at a time when most books were printed in Latin.

·         The most expensive book of any format sold in 1994 to Bill Gates for a mere $30,802,500.  It included hand-drawn notes by Leonardo da Vinci, dating to 1508 containing a collection of his observations, musings, theories, and illustrations.

Maybe you can set your own record related to books.  Get started now!

“Cultivate above all things a taste for reading.  There is no pleasure so cheap, so innocent, and so remunerative as the real, hearty pleasure and taste for reading.”
--Robert Lowe, Lord Sherbrooke

“In books I have traveled, not only to other worlds, but into my own.  I learned who I was and who I wanted to be, what I might aspire to, and what I might dare to dream about my world and myself.”
--Anna Quindlen, How Reading Changed My Life (1998)

“Books are a guide in youth, and an entertainment for age.  They support us under solitude, and keep us from becoming a burden to ourselves.  They help us forget the crossness of men and things, compose our-cares and our passions, and lay our disappointments to sleep.”
--Jeremy Collier, “Of the Entertainment of Books,”  Essays upon Several Moral Subjects (1698)

DON”T MISS THESE!!!
The Fast Book Marketing Start To 2018

Which pros - -not prose -- will you need to succeed this year?

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Enjoy New 2018 Author Book Marketing & PR Toolkit -- 7th annual edition just released

Here are best author-publisher-publishing pro interviews of 2017

How do authors get on TV?

Study this exclusive author media training video from T J Walker

Brian Feinblum’s insightful views, provocative opinions, and interesting ideas expressed in this terrific blog are his alone and not that of his employer or anyone else. You can – and should -- follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at brianfeinblum@gmail.com. He feels much more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog © 2018. Born and raised in Brooklyn, he now resides in Westchester. His writings are often featured in The Writer and IBPA’s Independent.  This was named one of the best book marketing blogs by Book Baby http://blog.bookbaby.com/2013/09/the-best-book-marketing-blogs and recognized by Feedspot in 2018 as one of the top book marketing blogs.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Which Children’s Books Rank As The All-Time Best?




Last year I purchased a copy of The Collector’s Book of Children’s Books by Eric Quayle, a 1971 edition from Strand Book Store in New York City.  It’s a wonderful history of children’s books.  Coming to life, through its over-sized pages were Aesop’s Fables, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Huckleberry Finn, The Jungle Book, and Voyages of Dr. Dolittle Which childhood memory rushes back to you just at the mention of such illuminary books?

Growing up with books as the centerpiece of fantasy and escape may be a thing of the past for most.  Today’s child has the Internet, television, movies, theater and a downloadable catalog of entertainment and information that’s mind-boggling.  As we look back at some of the classics for kids, we harken back to a lost era when these books brought an ephemeral, elusive pleasure to children.

Here are some insightful excerpts from the book:
1. "Picture-books provide one of the most fruitful ways in which a child can increase his knowledge of the world and extend his vocabulary to include a diverse and exotic mixture of places and things to which he would otherwise remain a stranger."

2. "Long after the novels and romances of adult life have faded and been forgotten, the simple stories and tales we read in childhood live on in our hearts.  Who ever forgets The Story of the Three Bears, the tale of Jack the Giant Killer, or the plots of Rumplestiltzkin, Cinderella, or The Wizard of Oz?  The nursery rhymes and fairy-tales we first heard in the tucked-up-in-bed security of early youth continue to exert a fascination throughout life, the words and phrases etching themselves in the memory for instant recall at any time or place.  They colour our literary consciousness, and are repeated as fables to the eager young listeners who re-create the image of ourselves so many years ago.  Just to hear again the magic words Once upon a time… with all the breath-taking anticipation they inspire, is to crowd the mind with the lost delights of childhood and conjure up a picture of never-never land of make-believe and fantasy.  Once, a long time ago, all of us lived there and believed it to be true.  This is the story of the little books that made us believe; and probably brought us more happiness and peace of mind than anything we have ever read since."

3. "Book publishing began to develop in a way we recognize today with the appearance of sophisticated and worldly-wise fiction for adults and books of amusement and entertainment for children.  Both these phenomena occurred in the 1740s, the former with the appearance of the first ‘true’ novel in English, Pamela; or, Virtue Rewarded, 4 vols. 1741-2, by Samuel Richardson (1689-1761), a book discussed in the companion volume to this present work; and the latter with the publication by John Newbery of his first book for children in 1744.  Brief mention must be made of Thomas Boreman, a publisher of children’s books, who sold them from his shop at the ‘Boot and Crown’, and from a temporary stall erected with those of other traders within the Guildhall, London.  A Description of a Great Variety of Animals, and Vegetablesespecially for the Entertainment of Youth, 1736, and The Gigantick History of the two famous Giants…in Guildhall, 2 vols. 1740 shows that he was publishing books for children before Newbery came into the field."

4. "Children have never ceased to enjoy reading fairy tales since the first collection of them appeared in print early in the 17th century.  They were the first literature for children to escape from the stifling toils of didacticism and were attacked and condemned by the puritanical writes for precisely this reason.  The battle between the strait-laced juvenile tract and the fairy stories that children delighted to read extended until well into the 1830s.  By the age of Victoria, they had been grudgingly accepted by the parents, guardians and governesses of even the most strictly regulated children, and well-thumbed collections of the best known tales were to be found on nursery shelves everywhere."

5. "Two great landmarks in the annals of children’s books are more fully discussed elsewhere in this work:  but it can be said that the appearance of Alice in Wonderland, 1865, marked a decisive victory over the now scattered exponents of moral earnestness and that the battle was finally won with the publication of Stevenson’s Treasure Island in 1883.  Children could identify themselves with the Jim Hawkins of the apple-barrel perhaps more easily than Alice in her dream-world of fantasy and make-believe, but both were rational human beings who became as easily excited, bored, irritated and bad-tempered as the boy or girl who turned the pages of their books."

Here are the best chldren's books identified by Quayle:
A.B.C. for Children
Aesop’s Fables
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
Adventures of Baron Munchausen
Andresen’s Fairy Tales
Basket of Flowers
Black Beauty
Books for the Bairns
Boy’s Country Book
Boy’s Own Annual
Butterfly’s Ball
Children of the New Forest
Child’s Garden of Verses
Christie’s Old Organ
Christopher Robin’s books
Coral Island
Daisy Chain
Elementarwerke fur die Jugend und ihre Freunde
Emil and the Detectives
Eric or Little by Little
Fabulous Histories
Fairy Books, by Andrew Lang
Girl of the Limberlost
Girl’s Own Annual
Golliwogg books
Goody Two-Shoes
Grimm’s Fairy Tales
Gulliver’s Travels
Helen’s Babies
Hisoires ou Contes de Temps Passe
Historical Account of the most celebrated Voyages
History of Babar
History of Little Henry
History of Sandford and Merton
History of the Earth, and Animated Nature
History of the Fairchild Family
Holiday House
Home Treasury of Books
Huckleberry Finn
Hymns for Infant Minds
In Fairyland
Island Home
Jack Harkaway Stories
Jessica’s First Prayer
Jungle Books
Just William
King of the Golden River
Kunst und Lehrbuchlein
L’ami des Enfans
Leather-Stocking Tales
Life and Perambulations of a Mouse
Little Lord Fauntleroy
Little Master’s Miscellany
Little Pretty Pocket-Book
Little Women
Looking-Glass for children
Martin Rattler
Masterman Ready
Ministering Children
Minor Morals for Young People
Moonfleet
Mopsa the Fairy
Only Toys
Orbis Sensualium Pictus
Original Poems, for Infant Minds
Out on the Pampas
Parent’s Assistant
Peacock “at home”
Pentamerone
Peter and Wendy
Peter Parley annuals
Peter the Whaler
Pilgrim’s Progress
Peter Rabbit books
Queechy
Railway children
Rambles of a Rat
Renowned history of Giles Gingerbread
Rollo stories
Sandford and Merton
Secret Garden
Stalky & Co.
Story of Little Black Sambo
Story of Little Henry
Story of the Treasure Seekers
Swallows and Amazons
Swiss Family Robinson
Tarzan of the Apes
Through the Looking Glass
Tom Brown’s School Days
Tommy Thumb’s Pretty Song Book
Tom Sawyer
Treasure Island
Uncle Tom’s Cabin
Under the Window
Voyage s of Dr. Dolittle
Water Babies
Wide, Wide World
Wind in the Willows
Wizard of Oz

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Brian Feinblum’s insightful views, provocative opinions, and interesting ideas expressed in this terrific blog are his alone and not that of his employer or anyone else. You can – and should -- follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at brianfeinblum@gmail.com. He feels much more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog © 2018. Born and raised in Brooklyn, he now resides in Westchester. His writings are often featured in The Writer and IBPA’s Independent.  This was named one of the best book marketing blogs by Book Baby http://blog.bookbaby.com/2013/09/the-best-book-marketing-blogs and recognized by Feedspot in 2018 as one of the top book marketing blogs. 

Friday, January 19, 2018

Can Book Publishing Employ A Timeshare Approach To Sales?



“We’re not going to force you to make a decision today,” said a man that goes by the name of Q. “You’re going to make a choice.”

See the difference?

No?

This is because there’s no difference between the two.  My decision, er, choice, would be obvious.

Welcome to the world of high-pressure sales tactics in the world of time shares.

In fact, this presentation said it wasn’t a “time share”, but a "travel ownership.”

They were big on euphemisms and semantics, but that kind of word dodgeball is what makes you suspicious of their offer, no matter how tempting.

I took my family skiing in Vermont to a place called Smuggler’s Notch.  A lovely, snow-filled resort perfect for those who love to risk body parts in the freezing cold after withstanding an 8-hour drive (includes one gas and two bathroom breaks) through winding roads with poor weather conditions and low visibility.

Notice I said I took my family.  I participated in eating, sleeping, driving, and non-ski activities – but I stayed off the mountain.  I only skiied once in my life – about three years ago – and that was enough.  It’s hard to teach an old dog new tricks.

To defray $400 off of our resort bill, we agreed to submit to a two-hour presentation on time shares.  For my wife and I, it was fine.  My kids were on their own, skiing.

We knew going into the sales pitch that we wouldn’t buy in no matter what they said but it was very interesting to see how they try to get people to spend as much as $100,000 on the spot.

That’s right, they ask you to buy right then and there, so fearful that once you’re out of their hypnotic clutches you won’t want to pay up.

Have you ever bought something that expensive without researching it, talking to others, or sleeping on it?  You can buy a pair of shoes spontaneously.  You can go to see a show on a whim.  You can suddenly upgrade your smartphone.  But who spends the equivalent of a year’s worth -- or more – of salary after hearing a slick pitch from a pro trained in the art of separating you from your money?

Now, let me just say that Wyndham’s offer seemed tempting and I can see how it may work out for others, maybe even myself.  But I felt rushed, pressured, and in a positon where I was making a decision -- or a choice – without doing due diligence.

For instance, they tell you they have 80 properties or whatever the number is, but I didn’t get to learn about any of them.  Would I necessarily travel to those locations – and what about areas where they lack coverage? I had other questions, including:

  • What if Wyndham goes bankrupt and doesn’t honor its commitment?
  • What if they lower their prices to sell more memberships and then there are too many members, too few properties?
  • Will I be able to go where I want, when I want --or will there be booking conflicts?
  • They say I can sell or transfer it but how would I do that and what stipulations would there be?
In addition to shelling out a lot of money up front, there’s a monthly maintenance fee being charged, one without fixed costs that rise over time.

Wyndham doesn’t own any properties – they act as a management company.  What happens when these properties go under or their quality wanes?

The package they pushed heavily was one that gets you 200,000 points/year for $48,000.  It gets confusing with the points but they try to show you that you get value on what you book.

That $48,000, if borrowed, depending on the interest rate and duration of the loan, could easily cost you 60, 70, or $80,000.  That money in theory, could also be used for other things, such as investing in the stock market, netting you more money.  Should I prepay a lifetime of vacations now – is it worth it?

Of course I thought about how I could split the costs with a friend, but that can get tricky.  Then I thought of how I could sell vacations to people, but that also seemed like more work than it’s worth.

Ok, so why am I like Hamlet on this?  Because there do seem to be appealing advantages of this plan, but it gnaws at me that they demand you do it on the spot, and I wonder if there are shortfalls that I don’t know about or can’t fully anticipate.

The experience did leave me wondering about how things get sold.  The time share people waived a carrot worth a few hundred dollars to lure me in to spend tens of thousands.  You see how easy it is to fall victim to a scam or to let your guard down.

I’m not saying this is a scam, but it could prove to be a poor investment.  It also might be a great one.  I don’t know.  I can’t process this over a cup of tea.  And then empty out my bank account.  But someone likes these tactics.  They obviously work often enough or they wouldn’t be in business.

What if authors did this with readers and offered to sell them lifetime readership memberships?  Each year you’ll get access to one new book – and always to the author's backlist.  You just need to prepay $175 plus shipping fees.  Would you do it?

Maybe bookstores – or publishers – can sign up lifetime patrons – or have a ten-year, thirty-year, or fifty-year membership for buying books.

I’d sooner buy into that than a travel deal – less money, great product, and with a brand I can trust.  Maybe Wyndham can partner with authors or publishers so that books get thrown into the travel deal.  Ready to sign up?

The interrogation process applied to sales by Wyndham was interesting.  They would first have you meet one -on-one, then a group, then one-on-one.  Then, when the first salesman failed to close, a second, more seasoned one was called in, making a different offer.

It didn’t work.

Unless I heard “free” or “please think about it and call us next week,” I wasn’t signing anything.

If the timeshare is amazing, which it might be, there’s no reason to do a rush job to desperately squeeze someone.  Even car dealerships have concluded they can’t always get a sale just because you went for a test-drive.

The harder they pushed, and the more they tried to dance around certain words and terms, the more reluctant I became.

Still, I was envious of their approach.  I wish that it can be taken to sell books and to grow the book industry.  If people feel invested in books, publishing will prosper.  But when we depend on single-book purchases we risk having to prove value on every purchase.  We need to get people to make a single decision that ties them up for a lifetime.

I lust for the very process I just condemned.  But for books, I’d do anything!

DON”T MISS THESE!!!
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http://bookmarketingbuzzblog.blogspot.com/2018/01/which-pros-not-prose-will-you-need-to.html

How can all authors blog with impact?

Big Marketing Lessons From My All-Time Top 10 Blog Posts

Enjoy New 2018 Author Book Marketing & PR Toolkit -- 7th annual edition just released

Here are best author-publisher-publishing pro interviews of 2017

How do authors get on TV?

Study this exclusive author media training video from T J Walker


Brian Feinblum’s insightful views, provocative opinions, and interesting ideas expressed in this terrific blog are his alone and not that of his employer or anyone else. You can – and should -- follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at brianfeinblum@gmail.com. He feels much more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog © 2018. Born and raised in Brooklyn, he now resides in Westchester. His writings are often featured in The Writer and IBPA’s Independent.  This was named one of the best book marketing blogs by Book Baby http://blog.bookbaby.com/2013/09/the-best-book-marketing-blogs and recognized by Feedspot in 2018 as one of the top book marketing blogs.