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Barnes & Noble College issued a press release this morning after having come to terms with 5 new U.S. colleges and universities to run their brick & mortar and virtual bookstores. That brings the total to 34 schools serving approximately 200,000 students.

Thinking back to the end of summer between age 18 and 21, I can remember how it felt arriving on Amherst College campus to register and pick up syllabi for the classes I’d chosen. I’d head over to the basement of Hastings where books would be stacked in piles organized ahead of time for us. Laden down with my burden of pounds of volumes, I’d cross back through the town commons to campus and my dorm room to unburden myself.

To this day I honestly don’t know how I got all that reading done, but I do remember being diligent about it, reading as many as 500 pages in different books every day. Wish someone had taught me excellent study habits! it took me years to come up with an efficient strategy.

What does B&N College mean for self-published authors? It means bookstores are still available. It means students are reading in print.

    Click Here to Read the Release on Yahoo! Finance

 

Group of business people and men handshake reflected onto table with documents.

Authors: Here’s How To Make A Deal!  By Brian Feinblum

(My friend Brian is the Chief Marketing Officer, and SVP at Media Connect, formerly Planned Television Arts, arguably the nation’s largest and oldest book promoter. He is one of the consultants and advisers who works with Lincoln Square Books’ clients. — Peter Rubie)

When I first started marketing the PR services of the firm that I work for, Media Connect (called PTA back then), one of my first clients helped me land another client through triangular trade. It’s something I highly recommend for authors.

So here’s what I did: I was looking to work with Entrepreneur Press, which at the time published Entrepreneur magazine and had a book line as well. The publisher proposed hiring us to do some work that we’d normally charge $15,000 to $20,000 for, promoting several books on big radio tours. However, rather than pay us cash, they offered to provide us with several full and half-pages of ads in their magazine that normally would sell for double our fee. I had never done anything like this before. What will I do with these ads?

Before I declined, I queried some of my business author clients and it turned out one of them wanted to market his book, about living The American Dream, to entrepreneurs – the very targeted readership of this magazine. He ended up paying us more than what Entrepreneur Press would have given us, but less than what their magazine would have charged him. Everyone won. That three-way deal is known as a triangular trade.

Getting a third party to help you close a deal can be quite helpful – and fun. Bartering often gets you more value than using cash. Why? Because people value things differently but when people hear a dollar amount, they all want to get a discount or feel the number’s too high. But if I say to my neighbor I’ll trade you my three-year-old lawnmower for your five-year-old snow blower it sounds like a fair trade. Who knows what each of us actually paid for those items? The price back then is different than today’s and who knows if there was a special sale going on.

So how would this work in your world?

First, think about what you want or need. Have an idea on what it costs. Second, think about what you can trade – a service, your time, a thing, a favor – and grasp what it could be worth to others. Third, find people to trade with. If you can’t find a good trading partner, invite a third party in. If you can give person A something to trade, he can give you something that you now can trade with person B. And what you get from person A can now be enjoyed by yourself.

Authors typically want or need the following:
· A way to sell books
· Testimonials
· Positive Reviews
· Media Coverage
· Advertising
· Speaking Engagements

So how can you trade for these things?

Let’s talk about advertising. Let’s say you want to advertise on a particular site and it costs $350. Rather than pay it upfront and risk losing money if few or no sales come in, you suggest a partnership, where the site gets a % of all sales that come in. Potentially, the site can earn more than $350 – or it can earn little to nothing. It’s all about trading profits and risk.

Now, let’s say that offer is declined. Your follow-up proposal could be to split the cost. Pay $175 up front and for sales earned beyond that cost to you, profits are split based on agreed percentages.

Ok, let’s say they don’t agree to that either. Here’s another option – pay them in books. Your book, with the cover price of say $14.95, costs you $3 to produce. So you net $12 per book. To get to $350, you’d need to sell about 30 copies – and earn a $10 profit – although due to shipping costs, you may have to sell more like 45 copies to break even. So you tell the website you’ll give them 25 free copies (costs you $75 +shipping) and tell them they can resell them and keep the profits. They let you advertise at no additional cost. What do they do with the books? They may have a way of selling them to people they know and are connected with. They may trade them with someone else for something they value. Or they could give them as a premium to people who sign on to their subscription site or who sign up for other products or services sold.

So you see, there are ways to cut costs or reduce risks or combine offers.

In fact, in the scenario above, you could have traded your books with those of another author, if you feel you had a place to unload them on – or a means to sell them.

Another example of a triangle trade is to work with people who have sister companies or a network of connections. The more people they know, the more likely you can find a deal in a three-way trade.

Now that the wheels are spinning in your brain, go out there and make a deal!
Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer, Media Connect, the nation’s largest book promoter. 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 © 2014

 

Business man walking on a high tightrope Memoir writing is increasingly popular as a storytelling genre, but there are pitfalls even to what you might think is the easiest thing to write — adventures based on the story of your life. Someone once said it’s the closest thing to writing poetry a prose writer can do. Whether that’s true or not, what is true is that writing a good memoir is like walking a tightrope — the details of the narrative have to be compelling, but the details in the end aren’t what makes the memoir work, it’s the universality of what you’re saying that is important.

Susan Faludi’s recent book In the Darkroom is a good case in point. Faludi is arguably one of the most important feminist writers of the last 30 years. In the summer of 2004 she received an email from her 76-year-old father, a man she had barely spoken to in nearly 25 years. When her mother divorced her father Faludi was 16, and her father responded to the news with what Faludi describes as “a season of escalating violence.” His unexpected 2004 email said, “I have decided that I have had enough of impersonating a macho aggressive man . . .” and announced he had recently had sex reassignment surgery and was now Stefánie Faludi.

Would you want to read more? I think the odds are strong the answer is yes. The fact that this really happened makes it compelling, but the fact that it is also in part an exploration of gender roles and expectations, and the way Faludi writes her memoir defies obvious conclusions and explanations, also makes it universal.

Whether you have Macmillan publish your memoir or you do it yourself, publishing a memoir about outrageous events (which is why we read them) and turning them into edge-of-the-seat adventures can be seriously problematic if you can’t validate what you are saying actually happened. These things will return boomerang-like if not handled professionally. That’s why it’s always useful to hire a company like Lincoln Square and it’s editors and copyeditors who are trained to spot the unintended sinkholes in the road before you actually reach them. (We can’t do anything about fabrication however. We accept what you say is true and may be able to point out where things may start setting off some bells.)

Fictionalizing nonfiction is like walking a tightrope — deliberate deception clearly crosses a line that, for instance, Lorrenzo Carcaterra’s bestselling book Sleepers frankly hugged. He at least warns you that while the book is true, names and details have been changed to “protect” characters in the story. In other words, while it’s true it’s also not exactly true either. It’s up to the reader to figure out exactly how far Carcaterra went in stretching the truth in the drama.  (E.L. Doctorow once famously said that all novelists are professional liars, but because they are forced to admit they are lying, they end up telling the truth.)

Another well known deception that clearly crossed the line was James Frey’s A Million Little Pieces, his 2003 memoir of being a 23-year-old alcoholic drug abuser in a Twelve Steps-oriented rehab center. Margaret B. Jones’ (aka Margaret Seltzer) Love and Consequences,  was a “memoir” of her life as a white foster child raised by a black single mom in gang-infested South-Central Los Angeles. Once the book was out and gaining some attention her older sister “outed” her by saying it was all made up.

We live in a “gotcha” culture, and the more a book becomes successful (which is surely one of the reasons we publish in the first place), the more scrutiny the book and its author get. The real shame of it is that the writers mentioned above (and others who fell victim to the same problem) are usually pretty talented.

Sarah McGrath, the editor at Riverhead who worked with Ms. Seltzer for three years on the book, told the New York Times she was “stunned” to discover that the author had lied.  “There’s a huge personal betrayal here as well as a professional one,” she said. Meanwhile, Cyndi Hoffman, 47, the older sister who “outed” Margaret, commented about the publisher: “I would think that protocol would have them doing fact-checking.”

But as Geoffrey Kloske, then publisher of Riverhead Books said, “The fact is that the author went to extraordinary lengths: she provided people who acted as her foster siblings. There was a professor who vouched for her work, and a writer who had written about her that seemed to corroborate her story.” He might have added that she also signed a contract with a warranties clause agreeing to tell the truth.

The whole point being, whether you are published through a mainstream company, or create your own company to publish your book, you should go to great lengths to make sure your dramatic story is verifiably true.

Mimi Read, the freelance reporter who wrote the profile of Ms. Seltzer that brought down her house of cards summed it up: “The way I look at it is that it’s just like when you get in a car and drive to the store — you assume that the other drivers on the road aren’t psychopaths on a suicide mission. . . .  She seemed to be who she said she was. Nothing in her home or conversation or happenstance led me to believe otherwise.”

We are all prone to exaggeration. But beware telling people that instead of walking past the gorilla cage in the zoo, it became a life and death struggle with that gorilla as you tried to rescue a hapless child from its grasp. Almost certainly, the more successful your book, the more likely it is that someone somewhere will check out the truth of what you say and call you on it if you’ve gone too far.