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“It Has to Be about What You Stand For, and Who You Are”

posted December 23, 2010

Posted by Erin Brown in authors books marketing publishing social media

Jane Friedman (of the blog There Are No Rules) had a much-tweeted-about post last week titled “When (or Why) Social Media Fails to Sell Books.” Ironically, I clicked the link in the same spirit as the naysayers Friedman so often contends with—those who are hungry for some confirmation that this Facebook/Twitter stuff is just an unfortunate fad (like the infernal skinny jeans: surely this will pass in another season or two). But, of course, Friedman is not heralding the coming end of social media. Rather, she is pointing out the flawed logic in expecting social media to justify itself with direct sales figures or in rejecting social media after you tweet out a few links to reviews of your book . . . and the big sales bump doesn’t come.

Friedman’s not the first person to remind us that self-promotion—or “building a platform”—in the digital age is a nuanced and long-term project, a leap-of-faith investment, whose dividends are hard to quantify. But she hits the nail on the head nonetheless. Be creative, she is is saying. Participate. Bring something of immediate value to the table, and (this is critical) be willing to give it away.

Most importantly, it has to be about more than selling books—or whatever your goal might be. It has to be about what you stand for, and who you are.

Self-promotion, with integrity. Is that it? Coincidentally, this is the title of a great piece in Publishing Perspectives about Stephen Elliot and the interesting and innovative ways he has generated a following, both as founding editor of the online magazine The Rumpus and as author of The Adderall Diaries. With his house-to-house reading tour, his weekly personal e-mail to 5,000 subscribers, a self-designed iPad app for his book, and other outside-the-box initiatives, Elliot seems to exemplify much of what Friedman is talking about.

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On Being Asked for a –

posted November 10, 2010

Posted by Erin Brown in poetry



In anticipation of returning to Ireland after seventeen years, I’ve been reading Yeats again, wondering if I will find the country much changed, as some say it is; wondering, too, what words there are to describe where we are now, in November 2010.

Here is a poem on the virtue of speechlessness.

On Being Asked for a War Poem

I think it better that in times like these
A poet’s mouth be silent, for in truth
We have no gift to set a statesman right;
He has had enough of meddling who can please
A young girl in the indolence of her youth,
Or an old man upon a winter’s night.

From The Wild Swans at Coole (1919)

Lots to Admire about Lauren Cerand

posted August 6, 2010

Posted by Erin Brown in publishing social media trends


This week Publishing Perspectives launches a new series of stories called Publishing People We Admire. The first installment features Lauren Cerand, a self-taught independent publicist in New York City, who helped discover the enormous book-selling power of “The Daily Show,” in addition to anticipating several years ago that “the online community would be the next stage in public engagement, presentation, and dialogue.”

On her website, testimonials about the quality of her work indicate that she is not only a discerning judge of talent but also a refreshing force of positivity and integrity in the industry. In Meredith Bryan’s recent New York Observer article called “My Town of Kind!”—which describes a new era of civility, earnestness, and colleaguiality on the Internet—Cerand is quoted as saying, “that very cynical voice worked really well from 2003-2006 . . . but really negative people, they don’t have a lot of friends.” (And in 2010, as we all know, “friends” = audience.)

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Gone 2 Paris–for the Shakespeare and Company Literary Festival

posted June 16, 2010

Posted by Erin Brown in Bookselling events literary awards uncategorized world literature


This weekend (June 18-20) in Paris, the much-venerated Shakespeare and Company bookstore is holding its fourth literary festival. Inaugurated in 2003, the festival has since settled into a biannual schedule, running in 2006, 2008, and now 2010. Each festival has centered on a different theme, including “Lost, Beat & New: Three Generations of Writers in Paris”; “Travel in Words: Celebrating Travel Literature”; and “Real Lives: Exploring Memoir and Biography.”

This year’s theme is “Storytelling & Politics”—appropriate, given that Shakespeare and Company founder George Whitman (now in his nineties) has always seen his bookstore as a political vehicle, even describing it as “a socialist utopia masquerading as a bookstore.” Check out this video to get a sense of the unique literary atmosphere he created.

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Children’s Literature in Translation: The Last Frontier?

posted June 1, 2010

Posted by Erin Brown in Children's literature translation world literature

Literature in translation is becoming increasingly visible in the United States these days (emerging, that is, from near-total darkness), especially with the recent announcement of Amazon Crossing, a new publishing imprint that will be devoted to publishing works in translation. (For some useful insight into how Amazon’s latest publishing initiative might affect other publishers of literature in translation, and the market for these books in general, see Chad W. Post’s comments on Three Percent).

Here at TRC we’ve been wondering lately about children’s literature in translation. What are the unique challenges of translating for a young audience? Might children’s imaginative and flexible minds be more receptive to stories from other cultures? In the era of globalization, is it not vital for our children to empathize with and understand a great diversity of stories?

 365 penguins

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