Kim Weiss Publishing Services
 





Just the book for a baby boomer-wanna be rock star-voyeur

October 13, 2008 at 6:54 am

Whose biography would a voyeuristic baby boomer with former rock star aspirations, probably female, drool over? Grace Slick? Janis Joplin? Laura Nyro?

How about a triple header featuring Carole King, Carly Simon, and (drumroll) Joni Mitchell? I might have traded Carly Simon in for Laura Nyro but thus far, Girls Like Us by Sheila Weller is pretty darn good. 

I’m a Joni Mitchell (forgive me) worshipper, a Carole King admirer, and somewhat appreciative of Carly Simon’s music.  When it comes to female vocalists, I’m a mite critical and usually insert myself into an imaginary ring positing whether or not I could hold my own. In the cases of Joni and Carole, it’s impossible. With Carly, probably not, but I can dream. (Notice who’s on the world stage and who isn’t…)

The book is about 575 pages and I’m still only in 1969 on page 203. The author crafts a good biography and segments it into years rather than lives. Therefore, I’m reading about 30 pages at a time about each diva. (which is perfect for my gnat’s attention span). Everybody’s there. Weller almost tells more than I need to know, especially when the asterisks appear and we learn the too detailed back story of accompanying characters. Some of it’s interesting, but some of it is just too much.

But, learning the background of these music icons is pure delight.  Picture Carole King writing hit after hit still a teenager, married to her master lyricist husband, Gerry Goffin, with a baby on her knee. Working in a songwriting mill, pumping out one classic after another.

There’s a window into Carly Simon’s unconventional yet privileged family between New York and Connecticut and lots of name dropping of future trendsetters and newsmakers from the Sarah Lawrence campus.  Who wouldn’t get a vicarious thrill when traveling to the south of France with Simon’s novelist beau?

Meanwhile, in a small town in Saskatchewan,  Joni Mitchell’s evolving from beauty queen to art student to  bohemian talent. We watch her belly grow bigger behind her guitar as she goes through a very solitary pregnancy. The heart wrenching result: adoption.

And, except for Carole King’s career jump as a prolific songwriter, none of the three have yet to realize their solo careers as important minstrels to an entire generation. (None have yet met James Taylor, either, a fellow who touches their lives in one way or another)

I count myself as a lifelong fan of at least Carole King since I’m sure I was doing a 7-year-old’s version of the  “mashed potatoes”  to her hit, “the Loco-Motion,” at  my older sister Pam’s parties.  And, I’m not talking about the version by Grand Funk Railroad in 1974 or Kylie Minogue in 1988.  It was the first genesis of the song by Little Eva, a 19 year old girl from King’s NJ neighborhood.

Joni Mitchell’s music began to permeate my life (and still does) at age 14 when my friend Jackie and I would steel away to the woods with my guitar to harmonize folky tunes. 

I’m at the part of the book where King is splitting with Goffen, moving to Los Angeles where the stage will be set for her to launch Tapestry. I can just feel it (and the earth move under my feet).  As with many adolescent girls of that era, the songs from Tapestry are markers in our personal histories. I’m sure lots of us are still emotionally triggered by some of these songs.

Joni Mitchell will soon emerge from playing traditional folk songs like Sloop John B to her quintessential Joni originals. (I will swoon). Carly Simon will emerge from her family duo with sister Lucy to write iconic tunes like “Anticipation.” 

I have a long way to go before I reach the current century but I’m savoring all the stops along the way. As a book lover and a rabid music fan, especially of great women singer/songwriters, I look forward to returning to the pages of Girls Like Us. Let me know what you’re reading. Anything out of the ordinary for you? Next on my list, The Girl From Foreign by Sadi Shepard. (Those are the books I want to hear about!)

I may sling a good self-help book or two, but my momentary lapse into voyeuristic baby boomer lit is very satisfying.

Maybe inspiring enough to dust off and tune up one of those guitars hiding in the spare bedroom.

p.s. Sorry Carly, my King and Mitchell pedestals are so tall, it’s hard to picture room for anyone else way up there

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Money, money, money – read all about it

October 2, 2008 at 7:32 am
Money.

It’s everywhere in the news. It’s the hottest hot button we know. And, when it comes to money we love to lay blame.

In 2005, HCI published a little red book called, The Financial Wisdom of Ebenezer Scrooge: 5 Principles To Transform Your Relationship With Money . It was written by, of all things, two psychologists and a financial planner.

The book had a funny name, but its content was intriguing. It told us that the money issues we experience largely stem from our “money scripts.” These are the self-limiting beliefs about money that drive our behavior. A lot of them stem from our childhood (doesn’t everything?!) Often, it’s what we heard from our parents, like, “money doesn’t grow on trees,” “there’s never enough,” “what goes up must come down,” or even messages that are positive.

From my vantage point as a publicist, back in 2005, the book had a message that would apply to a large audience. We all deal with money. We all had parents. Most of us struggle with money on some level.

The book actually got some coverage in the Wall Street Journal. One of the authors Ted Klontz,appeared on the weekend version of The Today Show.  Impressive exposure, but not enough to move books.

Oh well. Such is life. (I often think we publicists are innately masochistic)

Fast forward to 2008. Financial mayhem. Markets failing. Busy banks with people scrambling to withdraw life savings.

Chaos.

Enter co-author, Brad Klontz (son of Ted and the other therapist author). He publishes a psychological  study that examines money disorders. Ah, it’s not all about externals after all. Dr. Klontz thinks our recession begins internally. Interesting idea.

The media loves it.

I’m happy to say that Brad’s study interested The New York Times. They wrote about it last week. Without mentioning his book. Drat. But, all is not lost. Yahoo Finance called. So did ABC’s 20/20 and a producer from Oprah.

Today, the elder Klontz is being interviewed by Good Morning America. It should air this Monday.

(Please, God, make them show the book – publicists don’t usually pray for media coverage, as far as I know, but why the heck not?)

Better news is that he’ll appear with one of his clients. Her name is Wynona Judd. I asked if we could make her wear a Financial Wisdom of Ebenezer Scrooge T-Shirt. If only there was time. (Just kidding, sort of.)

I can truly say, with or without publicity, I respect these authors a lot and find their work to be more than just timely. The word important comes to mind. For those who know me well, they would love to see me have my head shrunk by these guys.

Money issues? Not me. Sure, Kim.

I thought I’d share some of the wisdom from the book. I know it probably won’t apply to you and your life (ahem) but, you may want to pass it along to someone in need.  And, remember, sometimes it can take two to three years before a book hits its stride with the media.  Case in point, our mega-seller ‘A Child Called It’ by Dave Pelzer. Two years after it came off press, it hit the big time and hasn’t stopped selling yet. Stayed on the NY Times bestseller list for years.

So, be patient and don’t give up too soon. You, too may be sitting on a sleeper.

Oh, by the way, the little red book has grown a new cover and is now in paperback.

From The Financial Wisdom of Ebenezer Scrooge by Ted Klontz, Brad Klontz, and Rick Kahler:

1. Face Your Fear. You must admit you have a problem before you can solve it. While financial denial relieves stress in the short run, it can lead to financial ruin. Open your bank statements, look at your investments, and take an honest inventory of your financial choices and what they have cost you.

2. Visit Your Past. Self-destructive financial behaviors are often linked to painful financial experiences in your past. Maybe you were poor and could never afford the things you wanted. Perhaps you grew-up wealthy but felt guilty about it. Identifying those experiences and the resulting money scripts that accompany them can help release their grip on your life.

3. Open Your Present. Gaining clarity on your money scripts and where they come from helps open your eyes to your current financial reality. This clarity inspires you to gather information and explore new strategies.

4. Envision Your Future. Identifying your long-term financial goals will help inspire you to make needed sacrifices and take steps to achieving your goals.

5. Transform Your Life. When you get honest about your financial reality, explore your past experiences around money, replace dysfunctional beliefs with accurate ones, and get a clear vision of what you want, you are ready to take action. Find a professional you trust to help you review your goals, asset allocation, and risk tolerance, and create a plan to help you move forward.

Wise words. I hope they help you.

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Where do I start? At Peace Village, of course. (part 1)

September 30, 2008 at 6:50 am

It’s the eve of a new year, according to the Jewish faith. A time to clean the slate and make a fresh start. We’re lucky. We get to do this once a year. So if we screw up, we’re encouraged to get it right the next time. Kind of like an annual do-over.

I can’t think of a better way to face my new year than attending the Images and Voices of Hope Annual World Summit * this past weekend which ironically was located in a former geographic haven for Jewish family vacations. Maybe in addition to the amazing people at the summit were the souls of some of the great tzadiks. Who knows.

All I can say is that it felt like we were being stroked and coddled in the lap of the Catskill Mountains while our minds danced in some of the most stimulating conversation I’ve experienced.

Peace Village is the name of the place where the summit was held. It’s full of peace as it’s a full time retreat center run by what some refer to as “angels on earth.” The hosting organization is The Brahma Kumaris affectionately known as the “BK’s.” I’ll let you read about them with my links but whenever I have to describe who they are, I call them peace missionaries. And, the distinction that I love to share about this spiritual group, which spans around world in over 80 countries, is that it is run by women, has been for decades.

I think that’s divinely unique. Uniquely divine.

So, ok, Kim, get to the summit.

The theme: Engaging Our Audience: Effecting Change in Ourselves and the World. The participants: around 100 of  the most brilliant and creative journalists, artists, musicians, documentary filmmakers, photographers from around the globe, and yours truly.

We gathered to do what the IV of Hope folks like to do best. Examine the vast realm of communication and how we might positively affect it. This doesn’t mean just telling nicey nice stories and closing our eyes to the sadness and horrors of the world. It means how can we do it better.

When someone said “we’re among giants,” he wasn’t kidding. Around me were people well known in the media and many who deserve to be.

On Friday, we sat in rotating groups in the exercise of “appreciative inquiry” exploring how we are engaged by the media on a grand scale and in our personal lives. There was a recurrent micro to macro theme weaving through the groups and throughout the weekend.

After the circles of rich conversation came the showcases of the work. I’m talking lump in your throat work. Documentaries about child slavery (Jody Hassett Sanchez), an epic dimension anti-war mural (Huong), songs from an emmy award winning composer (Gary Malkin), environmentally powerful photographs (Chris Jordan) and a host of other amazing stuff.

Then, on Saturday we witnessed Bob Steele, the country’s leading expert on ethics in journalism interview some more giants. There was Maura J. Casey from the New York Times, Renee Ferguson from NBC5 News Chicago, Maude Beelman from the Dallas Morning News (formerly AP war correspondent) , Victor Merina, an award winning investigative reporter and to top it off, Jon Alpert, producer/reporter/co-director and co-founder of the Downtown Community Television Center (known for his years on the Today Show and his current HBO special, “Baghdad ER“) and then…be still my beating heart…Steve Hartman. Yes, the Steve Hartman who, on CBS, throws darts over his shoulder on the evening news at a map, goes to that location, and finds the subject of his next story in the phone book. He’s a rock star to me and often a part of the show that Charles Kurault used to host on Sunday mornings.

Steve Hartman and fan (moi)

Steve Hartman and fan (moi)

We watched the first presidential debate together with people who worked on Jimmy Carter’s presidential campaign. My jaw rarely closed.

There was an impressive Saturday night awards program, meditation sessions for ambitious early risers, delicious vegetarian food, all going on inside of a lush landscape of orange, gold and green speckled mountains. There was actually a noticeable change of autumn colors from when we arrived to when we left. Just for us.

Today, I wanted to paint a broad brush of what the summit at Peace Village was like. There was so much going on in our heads, our hearts and our bodies that I’ve still not assimilated it enough to convey more detail. I’m hoping that will happen.

What I did take away from the weekend was something I know has been in short supply for me and surely for the rest of the world.

Hope.

Yes, hope. It was and is so comforting and so inspiring to know that there are many really smart, really talented and hard working people out there that really give a damn. Whose work is about affecting change.

Thank you Judy Rodgers, Meredith Porte, Gayatri Naraine, and Veronica McHugh for inviting me for the last ten years.

I finally made it.

*The mission of IV of Hope:

“To expand awareness of the choices those in media make that raise public trust, generate constructive meaning, and amplify human hope, thus enhancing humanity’s capacity for life-promoting action.”

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Good Monday -coming: Images & Voices of Hope, Summit 08 – reflections from the Catskills

September 29, 2008 at 6:37 am

 

Images and Voice of Hope 2008 - much to tell...

Images and Voice of Hope 2008 - much to tell...

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Publish, POD, print your own or perish?

September 24, 2008 at 5:00 am
ah...smell the ink

ah...smell the ink

 

There are all your “p” choices, and believe me, I find it hard to keep up with this stuff.

To publish. To print-on-demand (POD) or to print on your own. Dying is really not necessary.

Today’s post is a very abbreviated overview of how these routes differ. Surely, you and I will both require more sleuthing. Especially before any decisions are made.

Publishing:

That which relies on the acceptance of an enclave of people who think they know what readers want. They take you on, they foot the bill. Unless you are very clever at contract time, they take charge of your timeline, your title, your cover, some direction of your content, your promotional campaign, your destiny. You get a buck or two for every book sold. You may have to wait a few publishing cycles for your book to be born, but you have no cash outlay (except for the hidden suggestions that you really should be proactive in marketing your book. Proactive translation: expensive)

If you get a big fat advance, remember, all that money needs to be made by the sales of your book before you see any more of it.

POD:

You hire a company to act as your publisher but you pay them. Hey, what? It’s true, but you retain some semblance of control as you employ them. They do all of the front end fussing like getting you an ISBN number, designing your book, choosing the paper, and they even offer some promotional packages (that’s extra) or a la carte services. What do you get? Books when you want them, no warehousing woes, limited distribution (be careful here, this can be misleading), and some help along the way if you need it. Beware, the company OWNS your ISBN number and your files. You are bound to them. Can’t just pick up your files and take them down to the neighborhood printer. And, the unit price for POD printing is pretty high. Hard to  profit this way.

Printing on your own:

I kind of like this option. We even have a division that does this at HCI. There something a little more freeing about it. You get total artistic license, you are the master of your own castle. Hire your own editors, proof readers, researchers, whatever you need. Take your finished manuscript, download it into some “Quark” or “InDesign” or other file and turn it over to some master printers. The more you print, the cheaper the unit price is. So, whatever you sell it for, once you get the money, everything but your investment goes into your pocket. True, you now need to investigate fulfillment houses and think about marketing your book. That’s where people like me come in – hee – hee! All kidding aside, at this phase you either become not only a self-published author but a self-marketer, too. Or, seriously, you can hire any number of very talented people to help you promote your book. For both the POD and this route, getting books distributed into stores is a little tricky. It can happen, but it’s hard. Trust me, distribution is hard even for the big league publishers.

So, if you’re an author who does a lot of lectures, special events, or have an online presence, you may have plenty of opportunity to sell books this way. This is really one of the primary secrets to the legendary Chicken Soup for the Soul success. The old selling books in the back of the room routine. It just so happened they had a publisher. The same can be done if you don’t.

If you’re just a woodshed writer waiting to be discovered and handled, these are not for you. 

Whatever your publishing scenario is, at least now there is a bigger variety of choices. And, the alternate publishing routes are gaining more respect and credibility all the time. Just be sure to do your homework, always ask to see samples of a POD or printing company’s wares. Talk to former customers. Just because a book gets self-published doesn’t mean it has to look self-published. 

I’d like to hear about your experiences particularly working with the self-publishing companies like Lightning Source, iuniverse, authorhouse, etc. You don’t have to mention them by name, but I am curious about how things went for you. I have heard mixed stories.

So, until the next time

May the force be with you.

p.s. Coming Thursday AND Friday: Your election haikus and limericks. They turned out pretty well!

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