Friday, October 30, 2009

Is It Time for Publishers to Change Marketing Strategies?

Is it time for publishers large and small to change their marketing strategies? Which is more relevant, readers you’re hoping to help establish your financial success, or how much money can be made in any given quarter or fiscal year? No one will ever dispute that mainstream publishing and all of their subsidiaries are money making ventures that caters to a bottom line relative to return of invested dollars that have branded their products. Their status quo mentality oftentimes have taken the reading public for granted, but now that the economy is forcing them to reassess their financial foundations it should also be a magnification of how their decisions are affecting readers. A colleague of mine, Fauzia Burke, who is the founder and President of FSB Associates is currently a featured blogger on The Huffington Post new books vertical where the article you're about to read below originally debuted. The article due to heavy readership ended up on the front page of Huff Post for a few days where it featured poignant pleas for the industry to take heed to that segment of the industry that cannot be ignored any longer. After talking to staff members at FSB Associates it was agreed that the area that I serve most should be aware of her approach to opinionated matters that would ascertain to a wider awareness. I readily support this effort and I invite your attention to her concern:

With today's search empowered readers, do we need to market and publish books differently? Does general publishing makes sense in an age of Google searches, micro communities and niche marketing? Today's readers are tech savvy and resourceful. They know how to get the information they need and have higher expectations from publishers and authors. They don't just expect a book, they expect a community with their book. I often hear publishers say that there are "very few brands in book publishing." But to thrive in today's competitive, niche markets, perhaps brands are exactly what we need. What readers choose to read is personal and an extension of who they are. Shouldn't their book choices be supported by a publisher, a brand that is invested in their interests?

Many small publishing companies have done an enviable job of branding themselves and building reader communities around their books. Take O'Reilly, TOR and Hay House. You may not read their books, but you know what they publish. Their communities trust them. People who share their point-of-view flock to their lists. These companies publish for a niche community, and are trusted members of their community. They provide extra resources, and often their authors are members of the community itself. TOR has even launched a bookstore to meet their readers' needs. These publishers show passion for their books and an understanding of their readers, and as such their readers reward them with loyalty.

Publishing books for the community

Besides reader loyalty, publishing for micro communities may have other long-term benefits as well. For example, the focus would help publishers save money on marketing. Marketing through online communities is less expensive and much more powerful than trying to reach the general public and hoping to find the right match. The publisher's Web site wouldn't have to cater to a wide variety of people, it would be designed to serve the needs of a small group. Instead of expensive advertising, they could announce the book to the community that has already bought into their brand. Publishers and authors could enlist the support of the community to spread the word (which will always be the most efficient method for marketing books.) The logo on the book spine would mean the readers have a promise that the book is worth reading. The readers would know that the publisher looked at over a thousand manuscripts all on the same topic and is offering them the very best.

So are large, general publishers at a disadvantage with today's search-empowered, community oriented readers? I think so. General trade publishing is for everyone, yet there is no "everyone" out there. Readers are part of micro communities. They want good books, and they need publishers who will support their interests and passions. The bottom line is that publishers and authors need to evolve their marketing and publishing strategies to accommodate for a new kind of reader. A reader whose expectations demand more interaction and community. A reader whose loyalty you can have once you have earned it. A reader who wants more than a 6 week marketing campaign so you can sell a book. This new reader requires an investment of months and years. Is that too much to expect? Perhaps. But this is your new reader, and she will stay with you if you stay with her.

Author Bio: Fauzia Burke is the Founder and President of FSB Associates, a Web publicity firm specializing in creating online awareness for books and authors. For more information, please visit Stay tuned for Web marketing tips in future weeks, or follow FSB on Twitter to see our result is in real time: ©2009 Fauzia Burke

Friday, August 14, 2009

What Lies Within the Souls of Men?

There will come a time in your life where you'd want to have questions answered about your man, father, brother, uncle, son, nephew, husband or friend. The subject is men and what is in their souls and minds that would tend to keep them silent in some cases and mysterious in ways that baffle the minds of those around them. Questions are always asked -- what lies in the souls of men? Love, laughter, heartache, and sorrow? Pride, fear, rage, and contentment? These questions aside, I contend that the soul of a man lies in his heart and in his inner being. Trials are measured and grounded by an inner sanctum that serves as a holding tank of ideas, feelings and thoughts. Real or imagined, they are the expectations gone awry, hopes and dreams that are nurtured with some sort of light at the end of tunnels.

From socio-economic barriers to racial tensions, from broken hearts, to new found faith experiences, the plight of man varies individually. There are many stories to tell and those still being told, and now cones a seminal anthology extolling all of the above by a few good men whose souls are bared. THE SOUL OF A MAN is the name, and in it are the wacky and weird situations are laid out in living color. Check out this book and be enlightened! 

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Generational Curses - Real or Imagined?

I remember distinctly as a child how my grandmother would always cite curses that my siblings and I were under. It wasn't until later that I came to realize and be cognizant of how the Bible mentions “generational curses” in several places (Exodus 20:5; 34:7; Numbers 14:18; Deuteronomy 5:9). Despite the fact that I understood the issue after much research, It still sounded unfair to me for God to punish children for the sins of their fathers. However, this is looking at it from a perspective that bears witness to all things Spiritual. God knew what he was doing when He included seed begging bread, passed down from one generation to the next maladies that effected all. When a father has a sinful lifestyle, his children are likely to have the same sinful lifestyle as well. Of course that's why it is not unjust for God to punish sin to the third or fourth generation – because they are committing the same sins their ancestors did. They are being punished for their own sins, not the sins of their ancestors. The Bible specifically tells us that God does not hold children accountable for the sins of their parents (Deuteronomy 24:16).

Now let's cut to the comes the eloquent Toyi Ward with her debut book about generational curses involving a family experiencing issues that to them, is nothing but curses from the past. The Book -- PAR FOR THE CURSE is an interesting one. I had a chance to talk to the author and what an insightful analogy given on her take of curses:

1. Indeed, this is one of the best books I've read thus far in 2009, tell the reading audience your journey to becoming a published author.


Depending upon where you begin it took five years or twenty years. I started writing stories as a teenager but never considered writing as a career. Five years ago I began crafting PAR FOR THE CURSE.  Managing my career as a sales & marketing executive while writing in my spare time proved difficult but not impossible.  Last summer, after several complete revisions,  the final manuscript was ready. I began searching for agents to no avail. That's when I chose the small press route. And the rest, as they say, is history.


 2. Why all the recent interest in generational curses...Is it something African-Americans should be overly conscious of?


Absolutely!  It's something everyone should be conscious of, but especially African-Americans.  A lot has changed for us in the last forty-plus years, but not everyone has been included in that change. While some African-Americans are getting educations, starting businesses, and running the free world, others are still caught in the same rut as their parents and grandparents. Some projects have three generations of family living in the same building.  Divorce, single motherhood, absentee fatherhood, poverty, violence, and substance abuse are all things that are often passed through generations of African-American families.  Until the very fabric of the community is healed from these curses, the race, as a whole, cannot truly move forward in it's stature.  When African-Americans have a cultural reputation similar to the wealth of the Jews or the entrepreneurship of the Asians, then we will have moved collectively

3. What makes your story unique and different than any other situation relative to the subject?


Well, I don't know of many stories written about generational curses. That's why I chose to address the topic. However, the particular curse in the story, unfulfilled love, has been written about many times. In most of these cases, the character struggles with relationships, finds their true love, and the couple live happily ever after. Par for the Curse is not about love. Nor is it about living happily ever after. It's about our attitudes toward love. The goal of the story is not for these women to find Mr. Right. It's for them to discover who they really are in word and deed. It's about them getting it right. 

4. What if any, are the benefits and banes of curses...are they real or figments of imaginations?


I believe curses are real. The division we have as a people is a curse from slavery. There is no question. Curses have been spoken since biblical times.  However, there is great debate over where curses originate. Can someone put a curse on someone else?  If you believe they can, they can.   There are no benefits to a curse. If you have inherited something's a blessing.

5. How would you summarize the path to overcoming generational or any other type of curse?


One word. JESUS!  Generational Curses are patterns of learned behavior that need to be unlearned, often times without an example. You can find that example in Christ. Breaking that pattern is not an easy thing to do.  The first step, like anything else, is to acknowledge and recognize that there is a generational curse on your family.  It's not enough to simply stop a behavior. You need to also proactively start a positive behavior in the opposite direction.  As for the other type of curses, your faith is even more important.  Those curses come from darkness. The only way to rid something or someone of darkness is to shine light. 

6. Do you believe in curses yourself, and why did you feel the need to write this book?


I strongly believe in generational curses - negative patterns of behavior that continue to regenerate themselves in a bloodline.  So many people are suffering without realizing that they are trapped in a cycle.  People need to realize that they are born with a clean slate. Your mother's mess and your father's drama do not have to dictate how you live your life.  You may even help them in the process.  That's why I wrote the book.   My mother had some mess. My father stays with drama.  I put down their baggage and dealt with my own stuff.  Now, my mom is like a new person too. This whole process has been a blessing.  

7. What advice would you give he/she finding themselves real or imagined, coming into  a cursed situation or relationship?

First, be real with yourself.  See the situation for what it is and not what you want it to be. If it's abuse, call it abuse.  If it's poverty, call it out quickly.  The second thing a person needs to do is arm himself/herself with information. Figure out what's going on and what the best way is to stop it.  If you find yourself abusing drugs just like your parent, you need information to help you out of that.  Get the knowledge on how to be better.  Lastly, get someone to go through it with you - someone who doesn't suffer with the same issue.  You are not looking for camaraderie. You need to seek strength.

Interestingly enough, before entering the promised land Moses warned  the Israelites about a new generation that was preparing a new life, and that they would have to repent and deal with their own personal sins that were their fathers'. Isn't it so today that we should not be held accountable for our father's sins until we repent ourselves and stop curses before they become par for our course?

Thursday, April 09, 2009

A Southern Man

I was born and raised in Miami, the part of Florida with tropical allure, a melting pot of culture and a place that I defend regularly. You see, I'm a Southern Man. As I celebrate the south, I can think of no other place than home where I lay my hat, caress my pillow and post on blogs like this to know that this is where I want to be --the South. Anywhere below the Mason-Dixon line is fine where a unique sense of belonging rife with distinct flavors that resonate with familiarity. There's nothing like southern living, believe me! It's the center of my familiar, a place for lovers of the out of doors where nature beckons. It is that which gives me pride when I visit other places and long to be home; it is the type of hospitality we are known for, where in some places the village is still intact; and it is where you can enjoy Mama's apple pie on the way to the beach.

In the south chivalry certainly not dead, and in some places warts are still viable and visible, where you  find people whistling Dixie wishing for the antebellum days of yore to reappear. The Southern Man takes nothing for granted, walking with pride often dismissing the ignorance and fear of other persuasions.  Stereotypically in the south is where one is reminded that to be African-American is inevitably to find yourself defined by other people's distortions, misplaced sense of superiority, and the fear of an angry Black man. A Southern Man shrugs, knowing that the work of a lifetime is to make them see you with just as much intellect as they would want you to believe they have.  He will endeavor to make them see him anew -- not the person that they've been told he should be, but the person that he is, standing there astute and in living color!

A Southern Man's way to his heart is how well his food is cooked and the fact that it's plentiful. His food is grown, picked and shipped from the south, and wants it served on silver platters. It's about oranges, peaches, pecans, peanuts, mangos, guavas, strawberry fields forever, and yes -- watermelons! He's a glutton for Hoppin' John, peas and rice, fried green tomatoes, catfish, corn pone, oatmeal; crave dirty rice and other Creole staples; love his macaroni and cheese moist, cornbread and collard greens cooked with ham hocks, and cobblers baked with the best peaches this side of Georgia. It's about that Mississippi Magnolia with poetry & prose prim and proper; he longs for erstwhile cotillion balls, Canal Street and the Essence Music Festival. He knows that only fragrant orange blossoms and Virginia hams alongside rashers of lean bacon served up with creamy grits and butter can only be appreciated in the south.

A Southern Man travels basking in the bayous, cruising the highways and other mainstays while educated in the best academic institutions with historical value -- that's me!  George Washington Carver would be proud, so would Booker T. Washington of Tuskeegee. Then there's Meharry Medical Institute, Stax Records, Beale Street, The French Quarter, The Fisk Jubilee Singers, Florida A&M Marching 100,  the best beaches in Florida and Morehouse College's Distinguished Gentlemen among the aforementioned living in southern comfort. Lastly but not least...

A Southern Man is a gentle man, debonair, respects and loves his women! He wants them with curves, brains and beauty. He can appreciate the wiles that women often display in trying to be hard to get, but in the end a Southern Man will woo, wine and dine for bed and board to really mean something. New York, Boston, Philadelphia and Baltimore are fine cities, nice places to visit but not to live...But I'm a Southern Man tried and true, give me the South -- for there's no place like home!

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The Mississippi Magnolia

The deep south resplendent with aromatic euphoria associated with delicious food, fine hospitality, comforts beyond imagination, and -- Mississippi! Much maligned and ever so magnificent, this state is a bucolic jewel indicative of its state flower, so majestic and matronly. It's on display along with another symbolic treasure -- Patricia Neely-Dorsey who is on a journey of love and admiration for her home state to dispel the notion of stigmatized misinterpretation that usually depicts it. Now comes reflections from this talented Poetess with much articulation and a sassy way of showing it. She's rapidly making a name for herself, albeit with several interviews already under her belt. This being next in line is yet another intrusive look at what Mississippi has given us! I caught up with this remarkable  young woman along this journey as she opened the door a bit to facilitate my entrance. Here is what she had to reflect upon about all things Mississippi, magnolias and more:

ACR: Give us an idea who the REAL Patricia Neely-Dorsey is...why do you feel people should buy your poetry?

PND:  I am a multi-faceted and many layered woman! In my book I uncover and and peel away at some of those layers for myself and others to examine. I think that readers will begin to connect with things within themselves as they are reminded of their own life circumstances that may coincide with mine. I remember one woman writing me saying that my poems connected her to some of the best times of her life. She went on to say that it just doesn't get any better than that! What more can you ask for in a book (or anything else) than something that gets you more in touch with who you are, and helps you to explore and appreciate some of the simple pleasures that have been pushed back in the darker corners of your mind. What a wonderful thing it is to be reminded of the beauty of life. Generally speaking, Reflections Of A Mississippi Magnolia does that.

ACR:  When did the idea hit home that you were a poetess...was it difficult starting the process?

PND:  In the Foreword of my book, I say that I hesitate to call myself a 'poet' because of the way the poems were "gifted" to me. It was not hard at all to begin the process of writing poems because it was not something I tried to do or worked at in the beginning. All of my initial poems from Reflections Of A Mississippi Magnolia were poems that just started to flow out of me with no real forethought on my part. Over time though, I've become comfortable with the title because it is what I do. There's more conscious effort and just another part of who I am.

ACR:  Why did you decide to write poems as opposed to other forms of writing?

PND: I've said countless times that I really didn't choose the genre nor venues to express myself in it - poetry chose me! I think that I had a lot of things within me that I wanted to have released to share...and they all came out in poetic form in a natural way.

ACR:  How do you approach writing poetry as a whole...what comes first, the title or content?

PND:  My poems are basically inspired by a memory or thoughts of some life event. I might be talking to a friend about something, or riding along and see an incredibly beautiful scene that jolts something inside of me. The poems then begin to form themselves and take a life of its own. I have a habit of telling people that my poetry come to me in many ways complete and fully packaged title and all. When I sit down to write, more often than not the content comes and then the title pops up as a sort of punctuation and icing on the cake. I must say that my titles really amuse me!

ACR:  Let's talk about your latest claim to did it actually come about, why focus on Mississippi and what was the journey like form idea to shelf?

PND: Believe me, I had no desire or intentions of writing a book. I woke up on Valentine's Day 2007 with a poem swirling around in my head. I quickly got up and scribbled it down. After that, many more oems started to take shape, and flowed over a period of time. They became a source of personal entertainment and inspiration. When I started sharing them I constantly were told that I should do something with them. That encouragement led me down the road toward publication and as a result the book was published a year from the date that I wrote my first poem. 

ACR:  Do you have a specific approach for creating a model for a poem or coming up with a sense of style for your poems?

PND:  As I write more, I am slowly learning the 'craft' of writing poetry. I didn't consciously use any elements of technically crafting or developing any of the poems in Reflections Of A Mississippi Magnolia in the true sense of it. The word that I repeatedly use concerning the poems therein is that they were a gift to me 'beautifully packaged', title and all. It's like they were gift-wrapped with a nice bow on top and laid at my front door! I say that to say that there's no specific approach or technique use on my part in getting the poems to the page. Even now, when I read some of the poems it's like opening a wonderful package not knowing what to expect. I'm still absolutely delighted with them, especially when people comment about how much I seem to enjoy interpreting them during readings and presentations. I feel myself smiling a lot when I read because telling the story about how the poems and book came to be seems more unbelievable to me. The STORY of the book is really a book in itself!

ACR:  What have you learned about the writing of poetry and pulling deep within to feel warranted to write?

PND: I think that every person has a unique voice in the world. So much so that their story is different and need to be told. I have found that there is great value in sharing one's story. With it there is a true connection with self and with others that can be found in exploring the elements that make up a life story and the things that lie within. I'm learning so much about myself by reading and writing poems. There's something therapeutic and freeing in self-examination through creative insight. As a result of writing in poetic form I've found out so much about the lives of other folk as we compare and share life experiences. The expression of my inner self has opened up a whole new world that I'm just beginning to scratch the surface. I feel that there's so much more for me to share.

ACR:  What's in store for you next, and what would you do differently now that you've published a book of your poetry?

PND:  There is much more to come! My publisher is encouraging me to write a children's book of poems. I think that will be in the very near future for sure. There also will be another book of Southern-life poetry, and then a book of more intimate poems dealing with sensuality. I've already titled it --  'The Secret Garden Of Love In Poems' . As far as doing things differently, I honestly feel that I probably wouldn't change a thing. Things are as they should be. I let all of the poems come as they do with them having my unique 'feel' and brand to them. I definitely want to continue learning more about the business of this business -- the marketing and promotional aspects of the industry. That, I feel is the REAL work!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Write In the Midst Of It All!

Despite the gloomy state of our economy we as professionals and others from different centers of influence will endeavor to do what we've always done. 'Tho I open collectively with this initial approach, I know that when I'm alone I will reflect on the times. It will hit home more astutely and force my hand. The intrinsic value will galvanize me and dictate my every move for empower and inspiration. My need for expressionism will extrapolate my angst for better longitude and latitude to live large, but I would be exonerated. 

But can I really escape...and if I could where would I go? Whom shall I seek, and what would be the final analysis? If and when I descend there await me will be my imagination and verve. I will take my pen, position my paper and assume the posture to persevere. In the midst of it all, I will write with renewed anticipation. I will dig deeper and draw near the fire and warm my soul for all that dwell within. I will summon the imagery and imagine with immodest zeal how I can be much more than status quo. I will write legibly and indelibly to be understood.

While waiting to exhale a bit I won't tarry, nor will I exhort unfavorably those that may disagree with me. I will resort to my 'to be read pile' and write to infinity. My writing will define and defend my motives and serve as my mentor. In the midst of it all I will continue talking to Him for guidance and support. My ink will dry as page-turning delight will also be apropos. Nothing will refute my understand that reading is paramount to a certain level of serenity in my solitude. If I should sign my name you will know who I am, and know that the "do not disturb sign" would have meaning. Yes, I'm indeed in the midst of it trying to assess the soul of a man!