Take it back

Tad Hargrave is a different kind of marketing coach.  His latest news on marketing deflects a list of the sound bites for headings that can cause panic, and his message is, “panic is not a business strategy. What if we all . . . slowed . . . down? I don’t know if panic is a norm for small businesses, maybe just for those earning less than 35,000.00 a year. We certainly can feel subject to the trends and leveraged markets of the powerful. So often we see how it works, creating the impression of how their products or services feed individualism. Maybe it’s time to take back our taste.

It often seems like so many things in life make us feel invisible, less of an individual. So it follows that marketing, in an almost subliminal way, offers us back our individuality. Are we falling into a place where we can’t read something abstract like poetry, we cannot look at abstract art, or look at conceptual art, because we may be losing our capacity for understanding, our lives are so filled with time and work and chores, there seems little space for the quiet and the slow, for contemplating what others are saying.

The World Disguised as This One

A new work by Mimi White, a year in Tanka.

I have a writer friend who has consciously taken herself off-grid intellectually, so to speak. She is very concerned with language and communication of a personal level, teaching creative writing and with the act of writing, how forms of communicating have changed not only technically but by effecting language, expression, and imagination. We often talk about the imagination. How having everything served up to our senses might be effecting imagination.

Consider the world of the late nineteenth century, the Civil War and after, if you have ever taken time or been shown the letters from that time, experienced through them the thoughts and feelings of the people writing, it’s no surprise to mention the fact that writing was how the world communicated, putting pen to paper, hand and eye coordination while imagining, a rather quiet undertaking. You may think that writing via keyboard and desktop is the same but is it?

The World Disguised as This One will be available soon, sometime in early July,; also The Conversation: Learning to Be a Poet by Dawn Potter will be available in about one week from the Website, just so you know.

Did you know that Schubert might be considered the father of modern song?

What does it mean when a retired director of the Met says, “I don’t believe art has redemptive qualities.”


Ground on which we cannot stand

In doing some research on the conceptual and postmodern I came a cross a useful and honest site that offers information up for the serious artist and writer. Here is an example of the kind of thing you will find under marketing research. Not sure where it leaves our/your perception of Deerbrook but we don’t really have any illusions about what we are doing as publishers, what to expect, and how imagination and work does or does not correlate with business these days. This sites author is experienced an informed. The link is provided at the end.




The first thing to establish is the market. How many people are likely to be interested in your book, and how could you convince them to buy?
Take the first. Who actually wants to buy a new collection of poems, or yet another first novel? You can make some rough guesses by:
1. Talking to booksellers or publishers about sales figures.
2. Placing an advert on eBay or in a specialist magazine. Or by using pay-by-click promotion on a website specially created to sell your work. You don’t have to deliver a yet-to-be-written book, but you can note the interest. No inquiries, no interest.
3. Reading the trade news.

Having now guess-estimated likely sales, and an acceptable price for the book, you now have a notional sum to accommodate all the other items that have to be paid for, i.e:
1. Your time in writing (and marketing) the work.
2. Photocopying and postage of the MS.
3. Page layout, proof-reading and editing.
4. Design of book cover.
5. Printing costs.
6. Delivery and warehousing charges.
7. Costs of press releases, trade adverts, publishing launches, travel to bookshops and talk centres.
Next comes your time. You’ll probably have a day job: how many of your evenings and weekends can you reasonably devote to the project, and when would it be sensible to hand over to professionals with skills you can’t match or acquire?
Publishing is no different from any other business, and projects fail for the same reasons: under-funding, over-optimistic hopes, insufficiently researched markets, poor implementation and/or financial control. But many companies that are now household names began with a plan that was presented not dozens but hundreds of times to skeptical businessmen and funding institutions. Persistence does pay off, and what was difficult at first becomes second nature.

book buyers percents
You’ll appreciate the difficulties if you look at matters from the publisher’s perspective.
Dan Poynter {1} quotes a publisher’s survey of 1988, where the average fiction book took 475 hours to write, publisher’s average annual sales were $420,000, and staff worked 50 hours a week. Putting that together, we find the average small publisher produced 4.7 books/year, for an average revenue per book of $89,400. Even if royalties were 10% and there were no book returns, and rewriting was only done once— all rather unlikely— the author would have written at 295 words an hour to turn out two books yearly and earn royalties of $18,000 a year. Such examples come from popular or mass-market fiction, which accounts for 53.3% of book sales. Literary fiction, together with poetry and art books, accounts for only 3.3% of book sales. {2} Given that the average first novel, favourably reviewed in leading newspapers, will sell a few thousand copies over its total shelf life, {3} it is obvious why publishers don’t rush to fill their lists with new names, and indeed look after only that small percentage of writers that pay their salaries. {4} Much more dismal are the earnings from poetry publishing. A few specialist publishers (e.g. Anvil, Carcanet, Bloodaxe) do turn in respectable figures, but in general poetry is not handled at all (the great majority, e.g. Corgi, Harper Collins, Hodder and Stoughton), is subsidized by sales elsewhere (e.g. Faber and Faber, Peter Owen, OUP) or supported by regional grants (e.g. Peterloo). {5} But what about academia, where talent is rewarded and protected? Here is a breakdown of sales by Cambridge University Press in 1998: {6}
Number of titles offered: 13,500.
Annual Revenues: $60 million.
Titles selling less than 100 copies/year: 8,000.
Titles selling less than 10 copies/year: 2,000.
Average number of copies sold/title: 32.
Number of new titles: 1,500
Number of titles discontinued: 1,300
When you’re considering writing up that specialist interest, you might remember these figures, do some research on Amazon, and recall that academic books are often subsidized anyway-a subject of anguished debate in academic sites and blogs.


I think that the advice and recommendations for writers, and for other artists, is realistic and eventually shall offer links on our site under submission guidelines.

Thanks for stopping by. We may or may not sprinkle in the expected images just to make it pretty.

Books 4 sale at Deerbrook.

Different but the same

aviary digpho

The Unexpected Aviary received the Jane Kenyon Award for Outstanding Poetry

Thought of the day: Read as much as you can anywhere. Your creativity will be better for it.

Some years ago I got a call from an irate would-be customer, a lawyer it turned out, calling me complaining and accusing me because he couldn’t find L.R. Berger’s book in any Boston independent store. This was probably four or five years before the crash. I knew that the Grolier Bookshop (Cambridge, MA) had had the book because L.R. knew the owner, before it changed hands. I think she even gave a reading there. This fellow claimed to be an acquaintance of L.R. Berger. I was so taken back, and probably didn’t say the right thing. Probably my words were more like excuses than apologies. It was rather disturbing because he pretty much told me in his anger that I shouldn’t be publishing. The complete opposite of what all the authors had been telling me.

I sent him four books and he never paid me.

If you want to know about publishing—all that you don’t know about publishing—there are some good books out there. Even if they are three years old; if a book is in a second printing you can assume it is probably a good book; there will be something worth while in them. Basic How To books on publishing and self publishing are still worth reading, even if they have tagged on sections for marketing on the internet. Like any field it is best to build your knowledge on a foundation of old principles, even if the old ones are morphing.

publishing house

The walk in, before shrinking windows.

One could say watch out for any book, essay, blog post, or PDF that promises anything in the way of marketing using Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr, but assume that bits of information in them will be useful. The New Rules of Marketing by David Meerman Scott will give cases of how a joke caught on in a tweet, went viral and turned into T-shirts whereby the originator of the tweet made several thousands. Scott  admits not many can turn a tweet into a money-making club. The principle that a phrase that touches a lot of people, has nothing to do with business or brands but people relate to, can suddenly be shared, passed on, favored, what is known as going viral, where so many people see and relate to and add to, is the kind of thing that marketers and promoters have determined is the thing to do to get brands out there.

Anybody that has seen a post on a Facebook page stat suddenly get 400 viral views gets the idea that this kind of thing cannot be forced. It’s the kind of thing that copy writers can do and what makes one good. Many small businesses cannot afford a copy writer. Small presses cannot afford a copy writer, a Website guru, a marketing guru, any of the above that can roll out the content that any given audience  gobbles up and shares, creating the social capital that sends folks to stores and Websites to buy books; the marketing model you will be told about if you subscribe to SEO and Marketing blogs.

It just isn’t that easy, and akin to creating epub /ebooks. The come-round brain-equation, or the consideration of this idea implementation, is that for a small press or magazine, it requires more staff, time and money, and leads us back to the print media door trying to get the print media audience. And for many customers here is where it’s at.

Still we work at the networking on social media doing what we can to get exposure believing that it might not show success in a week but builds something over time. Keep believing in your creative thinking and that it reveals or will connect with your audience even if it seems like you only really have 14 friends and not 137, the networking on the social media is kind of like going fishing or rolling dice at a crap shoot (which I have never done).

Two books I recommend are John B. Thompson’s Merchants of Culture; The Publishing Business in the Twenty-First Century, and David Meerman Scott’s The New Rules of Marketing & PR; How to use social media, blogs, news releases, online video, and viral marketing to reach buyers directly. 


Merchants of Culture is an in-depth study of publishing, what’s happening, what’s changed or changing, and is not a how to book per se but a picture on the world of publishing that “situates the current challenges facing the industry in a historical context . . .” and many principles are universally valid to apply given the knowledge one can get from this book.

Many valued books are more valuable for their indexes, contents, and chapter subheadings. The two mentioned are rather different kinds of books but they both benefit from being able to find material that might be key to something you are trying to implement. Thompson’s book is more of a read, it actually is comprehensive when looking at, for instance, the web of collective belief. The age-old issue for new books is that no one really knows how well they will do. So at the agent and editorial level there is a great deal invested in persuading that a book will be a “big book”. A key point in publishing that correlates to marketing is that “big books have to be created,” they don’t “exist in and by themselves.” The buzz starts here, and is equivalent to the new rules of marketing, only they are not new but expanding and applied in new and different ways, largely because of the internet.


These kinds of factors effect the large and small publishers, and can be more of a challenge for small or micro presses because they rarely have marketing budgets of any size. More is almost entirely due to the size of the “playing field” they are negotiating. Big publishers are increasingly Publishing Corporations, with pressures and difficulties of their own, even though they have money. For everyone there are dynamics like; and as Thompson’s table of contents indicates; the growth of retail chains; the polarizing field; extreme publishing; shrinking windows; and the digital revolution.

Many small presses cannot create enough innovative content without being subsidized by donations, or extra capital, of any kind (economical capital, human capital, social capital,intellectual capital, symbolic capital), but mostly financial, which means they have to become non-profit. There is a route to becoming non-profit involving legal assistance and money. it can be a difficult road if you are not a press that was founded on a conventional business plan and acquisition of loans. Publishing can be a risky business, partly due to the unknowns when it comes to authors and their books.

There is a lot to comprehend when it comes to publishing, and it should be considered by writers as well as any small publisher. As a small press, believe me when I say that independent literary presses and journals or magazines really do need the help they often ask for. Presses that have been around for twenty years or more have established themselves. Any number of things can help a press take off.  Until that turn around happens we and others like us need readers and authors to understand how much work goes into every aspect of finding good and interesting authors to bring their books to market. For everyone it can be different. What administrators and retired executives tell you may sound well and good, but what so many artists and creative business people need are folks that listen.

The independent presses and the independent bookstores provide a valuable service and are enriching culture by developing missions that connect the arts and humanities with their communities. You can help by buying books and, if you are in the frame of mind or position to do so, donate any amount, whether they are a non-profit or under the umbrella of a fiscal sponsor, every donation helps. Small donations add up, they may not give you a deduction, but for example if 50 people give 10.00, that becomes 500.00. If an individual can donate a larger amount then a deduction, and usually a complimentary item or perk, is some compensation.

All independent stores and presses need each other. Give your support by buying books and making donations when you can.

Have the courage to use your own understanding

If you feel that marketing seems sort of superficial, trendy or ineffective, it may be because of the quirky nature of social media. Then there is the weighing of social media against SEO. Searching still seems to be the number one indicator of how people find things or at least attempt to find things whereas often diversion and multiple choices lead us astray. So for business sake we have to do both, do everything, all the time, just to keep up with the other guy and maybe we will by some small grace, some gift of intellect or creative genius, out smart the big guy. Some of us will think that sounds idealistic or pollyana-ish while at the same time think it has been known to happen, right, or more of the same? The big guys have all the money and can afford to do anything and make us think that maybe we can, too, while we struggle in the wake with our small change. It’s the American Dream. Courageous ambition, hard work, adventure, discovery, they may not be all myths.

Perhaps there is a little myth in the way I never know how things are going to go from a prompt to download a new version of compression software that I need to prep files for, say, amazon.com Search Inside The Book program. This program is supposed to help people not only find a book due to the ‘tag’ effect of words in the book but allows them to see it and read it, want to buy it, but not download it. The recommended way of delivering files to amazon is in a zip file, a compressed pack of files with cover jpegs and content PDF. I don’t know how much time I spent downloading and setting up a bit of software to accomplish this task but when it came to creating the archive, there was an error. Restarting didn’t help.

All this in order to perhaps sell a few more books and eventually offer them as ebooks, too, on amazon. Amazon used to scan books for this. Maybe they still do but my sense is they would rather not pay somebody to do this when it should be simple to upload a PDF. And it is. The snag is how to get the required covers to go along. I’m going to stop trying to figure a way to put them together and send them separately. I don’t have time for searching for the program or technical troubleshooting.

Such is the life of the little guy who has to hesitate to spend 30 or 80 dollars to get the full version of software that supposedly does this task of compression. Now I wonder if it makes sense to purchase the software or if even then it will fail and another hour or day will be spent in tech support trying to solve whatever the issue is. Haven’t we all had that experience? We think we need some internet security software that costs a mere 89.00 but for some reason we weren’t told that it is not compatible with our current system so we don’t find out until we install it.

It may be because half the time I am still using an older computer and operating system. There is a dilemma to the ever-changing and improving computer and its operating system, utilities, browsers, applications, all will become no longer able to function or use the new plug-ins, for example, especially with browsers, and, most importantly, they become less secure. So, as delimitating as this is, as frustrating and demoralizing, there is no getting around the eventual upgrade. It has to be planned. Just as parents try to instill the need for income, the work ethic and sense of business our young people must understand in order to continue to make more income, so should the sense that we must keep up with the improvements in technology. No matter how much we think Ford had the right idea, or that obsolescence is planned, corporations are just out to get our money and keep us down, we have to suck it up and keep that job. Keep our computers equipped with the latest software and extensions, utilities and all the rest because your business, personal identity and valuable data will become at risk.

I may sound a bit sarcastic, but I believe there actually is some truth to this. Being young and idealistic without being enterprising or realistic can lead to dilemmas, even poverty. But money is not everything. Wealth does not equal happiness.

In a recent article in The Economist (June 16th, page 52) “Money can’t by me love” discussing the Chinese people, the Confucian phrase leads, “admirable indeed” is a man who has only a begging bowl yet “did not allow his joy to be affected.” Even the thought that rulers are concerned with the people’s happiness seems out dated but studies show that in China surveys show that the people who expect their living standards to improve in five years went up “from 62% in 2004 to 73% in 2009.” With a Chinese growing economy there is also growing discontent thought to be due to “procedural injustices, abuses of power and the lack of resources.”

Do I come away from this with a notion that rulers and corporations try to use human behavior and habits to keep them engaged with money and merchandise as to keep them happy so they, the rulers and corporations can do what they want, or that it’s the same wherever we go? In this country, the USA, many are concerned with the enormous wealth being held by large companies and how the courts have given them almost carte blanche to influence political campaigns appearing to take away the democratic process while little is said about how people can organize to use power of their own.

There almost seems to be a trend in politics to divide and conquer, and it doesn’t stop there, if we think, we can go on to misrepresentations, blaming, deceptions, and more until it becomes bigger than life and our sense of futility grows driving us into some comfort zone. As if that is just where they want us to be. It all looks rather morose and incomprehensible.

Somehow we need to do our best at what we do and even better to find a way to compromise, to understand each other, to resist the urge to be unforgiving or assuming the worst and projecting onto one another things that are false beliefs. Somehow we must find the courage to use our own understanding and say and do things that unify us. We can always complain but it takes real leadership and real love to reach out and try to make a situation better.

Now, if I sound overly optimistic, look at this.

Is there any shouting above the waves?

Issues regarding social media that go both ways on ROI and the ease of use to a point of sale that are not inherent in the platform but compare poorly does make for great content. It could be the same for a “paywall” or the subscription register for major newspapers and magazines. It all seems rather out of reach for “long tail” indies, since exposure is all we can expect from the web if we are not a giant merchandising web site. So every bit of marketing help we get makes the gears turn. I remain positive that one day an idea will take off, but I don’t hold my breath. Sometimes only reading about what the so called experts are thinking and giving us insights for keeps me thinking that I am still in the game. I still have my doubts while I try to implement an initiative without a task force or even a writer. Finding a good proofreader and copy editor can make a difference in presentations as long as a budget holds up. Believing that a message finds an audience is also unpredictable. Does just raising a voice or attaching a gimmick or bonus  equal shouting above all the noise, and the Web has a lot of noise and a lot of merchants. Even publishers, since almost everyone on the Web can be considered a “publisher” have to step back and think, “am I going to look too trendy doing this, or, is giving in to trend what it is all about?” Maybe integrity will leave us standing, after the electric dust settles, when the pieces of pie start falling from litigation and deal making, who will be there to catch the scraps from the giants table? (After midnight, we’re gonna let it all hang down.)

Some media and marketing folks are doing good things while putting out their decent content. They should get the work and they should be applauded.

Read about the comparisons of Facebook and Amazon and you decide if it should be an issue? Visit these media and smart marketing creatives and try not to worry about trends.

And check out this Platform.