Posts Tagged Sisters in Crime

Consider the Audio-book Alternative

Friday, June 8th, 2018 | Permalink

How often do you read books? How often do you listen to ’em? Do you prefer one communication method over the other?

These are some of the questions Marshall Davis of Davis Sound, LLC, addressed in his presentation to the Twin Cities Sisters in Crime monthly meeting at St Peder’s Evangelical Lutheran Church Tuesday evening (June 5, 2018). Previously an engineering manager for Seagate Technology, Davis launched his audio recording, video production, and editing services company in April, 2012. Since then he and the rest of the country have experienced exponential growth in the production of audio books, roughly 20-30 percent per year over the last five years, to become “the fastest growing part of the publishing industry.”

Despite his personal involvement in the business, his presentation provided a reasoned, cost-benefit approach to authors considering whether or not to market their books in audio format. Besides weighing the pros and cons of the flat-rate (potentially larger return) versus the royalty approach (no upfront costs) investment approach, he discussed the benefits of hiring a professional reader and, most significantly, provided an estimated cost analysis for a professional company like his to produce a completed audio book based on the number of words needed to be read.

While many in the audience, myself included, calculated in their heads or on scratch sheets whether such a production outlet might prove feasible for their latest opus, Davis added that the ultimate success or failure of such a venture depended upon a variety factors. Among these he included genre (memoirs provide the smallest percentage of overall sales; thrillers the highest), distributor arrangements (Amazon-owned Audible is the largest distributor by far, but there are others), high and low volume/revenue percentages based on hard cover/paperback sales, and series/bundling potential. Based on an Amazon exclusive agreement, Davis stated “In general, you would need to sell about 300-400 audiobooks to pay for the production cost(s).”

Despite appearing a lucrative revenue source for authors, Davis cautioned that audio book sales represent only three per cent of all titles sold in this country. However, people more than ever (millennials in particular) are “interested in [the] telling of a story.” With decreasing time and patience for involving leisure activities, audio books offer a viable format for authors, producers, and readers alike.

What do you think?

Criminal Offenders and Mental Judo

Wednesday, September 6th, 2017 | Permalink

Ever dream of thwarting an attacker in a vacant parking lot? Or of putting a bully in his place at work? Or wonder why such people act the way they do?

We all have–in books and movies. Frank Weber, the evening’s speaker for the September meeting of the Twin Cities Sisters in Crime writing group, does this for a living. A trained clinical and forensic psychologist as well as a recently-published mystery writer (Murder Book, North Star Press), Weber treats these and many other types of aberrant and anti-social behaviors as Director of CORE Professional Services, PA. A disciple of criminal psychology researcher Robert Hare, Weber’s success as a therapist takes a two-pronged approach: seeing problems correctly and utilizing mental judo in interpersonal situations.

Regarding the first one, Weber supplied a variety of statistics to show that many commonly held beliefs about America’s social problems, its criminals and its mentally ill are misconceptions. For example, though the number of minority teen pregnancies is twice or more than that of white teenagers, the ratio of teens giving birth in each group is approximately equal, roughly 25%. So the incidence of teen pregnancy, which has been declining for years, is really a function of poverty rather than of moral decline. The same can be said for homicides, sexual assault, and drug use, all of which peaked before or during the mid-1990s and have declined ever since. In Frank’s opinion, the current alarm over these behaviors stems from the fact that “nobody ever talked about [them] before.”

As for the mental judo aspect, Frank’s discussion proved more personal and anecdotal. To deal with defiantly unresponsive teenagers, Frank employs reverse psychology, responding to their sullen defiance by stating his relief that they don’t talk–which prompts them to start talking immediately. With narcissists, Frank appeals to their innate need to be better than everyone else by challenging them to make positive contributions in their personal interactions. The important thing is to have them “focus upon doing something” counter to their previous behavior.

To accomplish these behavioral changes, Frank advocates four characteristics that mark non-deviant people:

    1. Attachment to people
    2. Involvement in activities
    3. Commitment to a goal
    4. Belief (morals) in something or someone

Weber admitted that not every criminal offender is susceptible to treatment, but most of them do seek the light at the end of the tunnel. They “just need help finding the tunnel.” Often that effort requires a change in the therapist’s point of view to help that patient discover the light. Perhaps if society employed a little mental judo of its own, the change of perspective might reach beyond the realm of fiction and supply the empathy criminal offenders need to start building a new and positive lives for themselves and the people around them.