Will Shakespeare didn't have to work as hard as you, by Bruce Meisterman
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Will Shakespeare didn't have to work as hard as you, by Bruce Meisterman

Appleton : WI : USA | Dec 02, 2012 at 7:59 PM PST
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As a photographer, Bruce Meisterman has worked in areas as diverse as fine art and commercial photography, always looking to meld the two. Originally studying to be a painter, Bruce found that he could express himself and his art more effectively with a camera. Starting out as a photo-journalist with a newspaper, he honed his eye, insight, skills, and story-telling abilities from working with the demands of daily deadlines.

The book Arn? Narn. was initially conceived as an examination of a western culture, isolated from the world. Isolated not so much as to having no contact with the outside world, but as to being a destination rather than a place along one’s way. In researching the then-untitled book, Meisterman determined Newfoundland would be the perfect place in which to do this study.

After his first trip up there to photograph, he realized that a core element to his photos was missing, necessitating another trip to Newfoundland the following year. It was then where the story became apparent to him. The title of the book tells it all.

“Arn? Narn.” is the shortest conversation in Newfoundland English. The story behind it is this: two fishing boat captains are in the bay: one departing, the other returning. The departing captain yells out across the bay “Arn?’ The returning captain responds “Narn.” The translation is simple: “Any fish?”; “No fish.” And this book is about a culture, that culture, having supported itself for many years on fishing, finding itself now unable to do. The fish are gone.

While Arn? Narn. is about Newfoundland, the implications are of a much broader scope. The lessons learned here have global ramifications. Meisterman likens it to a canary in a coal mine, but on a planetary scale. When the canary dies, it’s time to get out of the coal mine and avert a human catastrophe. In this instance, the canary (the Newfoundland fishing industry) died, but no one took notice until it was too late. Evidence indicates other such global collapses are inevitable but may be avoidable, but only if action is taken.

Meisterman has been widely published in numerous publications such as: the New York Times, The Sun magazine, Yankee magazine, Country Journal magazine among many others and has been featured in a number of books. He has had numerous exhibitions ranging from galleries to museums. And his work resides in many private collections. Arn? Narn. is Meisterman’s first book.

He has been a guest lecturer at colleges and universities, religious organizations, and trade groups conducting them in a fashion where he also learns from the process as well as those attending. “We are all teachers to each other. How fortunate that I can be the recipient of a whole room full of teachers’ knowledge. They have made me a much better photographer. The one thing I never want to do is stop learning.”

Will Shakespeare didn't have to work as hard as you.

Will Shakespeare had it easy by today's standards. To get published then was probably a far simpler task than it is today. He probably didn't even have the competition that new authors do today as well. He didn't have to worry about the next James Patterson or Martin Amis coming along. He was it! That he had a modicum of talent didn't hurt either.

The Ol' Bard himself may have (probably not, though) sent out book queries and copies of his manuscript before he struck gold. Alright, so did I. He probably had to do any number of edits and changes before the book was ready for the finality of ink on paper. Same here. He wrote plays and sonnets, that kind of thing – high class stuff. Me, not really, just Arn? Narn., my photo-documentary book about a vanishing culture in Newfoundland.

But I would be willing to bet, I could be wrong here, that he did not have to make a press kit, do book tours, and a video book trailer. Of course not, they didn't even have electricity in his day. Creative hand shadows would be the closest thing to TV in those days. Hell, they didn't have anything that remotely resembled media unless you count the Town Crier and who knows if he was fair and balanced too.

Getting published today is a multi-level affair played on a number of different fields. Getting an agent or publisher interested in your book is the first albeit most important part of the process. but it doesn't end there. Unless you're John Grisham, it's not likely anyone is going to put a lot of resources behind marketing your book, especially if you're a first time author. All of that good stuff and hours of fun fall to you. Just make sure you've put in enough in your budget for extra coffee.

How to begin? Even if you're going to use a PR agency, it helps to build a media hit list. If your book is of a specialized nature, the agency will appreciate this identification. Who are the media people you want to reach? What is the audience for your book? Once you identify and reach out to them, then what? With all the competition out there for people's attention, you've got to tell a compelling story about your book. And while it may be the next Great American Novel, no one is expecting it. It's all up to you (or me in this case) to beat this drum and as many others you can get your drumsticks on. And don't stop. You've come this far to complete your book. It would be a shame to not follow it through to its logical end.

That said, we can call on things previously not available as recently as 15 years ago. We have a few more, very powerful tools at our disposal that our friend Will did not. The internet is central to all of this. E-mail the hell out of your book's publicity to anyone who is conscious. Some of them may even tell someone else about it. It could happen. It will happen. Use social media, but use it wisely. Do not populate your posts with pictures of cute puppies, unless of course that's what your book is about. Do not go about exclaiming, “Buy my book!” You need to create a need and desire. It's elemental that you position the book to reflect its importance.

Do a video trailer. Hire a production person to help. It's a small investment, but once it's done, you can put it on YouTube and it'll be available 24/7 to any and everyone.

As an example, be sure to check out my video book trailer for Arn? Narn. on YouTube. Just type in the book title or my name, Bruce Meisterman, in the search bar. I guarantee you, even Shakespeare would do this if he'd been able.

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Bruce Meisterman
Arn Narn
Gleichner is based in Appleton, Wisconsin, United States of America, and is a Stringer on Allvoices.
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