Rebecca Bratspies is an award-winning author, scholar, and speaker. Her most recent book, Naming New York: The Villains, Rogues and Heroes Behind New York Place Names, uses the names New York gives its roads and bridges to tell bigger stories about racial and class politics, and to highlight who has the power to name things and who gets to define what counts as history.
When not geeking out about New York City history, Rebecca is a Professor at CUNY School of Law, and the founding director of the Center for Urban Environmental Reform. A scholar of environmental justice and human rights, she writes extensively about how to build a more just world. She is best known for her award-winning environmental justice comic book series The Environmental Justice Chronicles. The three books, Mayah’s Lot, Bina’s Plant, and Troop’s Run are designed to bring environmental literacy to a new generation of environmental leaders.
Interview Transcript Rebecca Bratspies
Richard Lowe 00:01
Good day. Hi, I’m Richard Lowe, the writing King, I’m a ghostwriter, book coach, and the LinkedIn branding expert. And this is author talks with Richard Lowe. And today I’m interviewing Rebecca. I didn’t get how to pronounce your last name. And she’s an award-winning author, scholar and speaker. She’s a professor at CU NYU School of Law. And as the author of a new book called naming Gotham, the villains, rogues and heroes behind New York place names. That sounds like a fascinating book. Why don’t you tell me about yourself? Sure.
Rebecca Bratspies 00:38
Well, as you said, I’m a professor. I’m a scholar of environmental law, environmental justice and human rights. And so when I’m wearing my professor hat, that’s the area that I write in and thinking and teaching. When I’m not wearing that professor hat, I’m a New Yorker and I love this city. And that was where I started. Place. I started from it right? It was just I love this city, and I’m endlessly curious about it.
Richard Lowe 01:07
When I think Gotham I think Batman, are they related?
Rebecca Bratspies 01:10
Well, I’d be certainly Gotham City was in Batman was intended to be sort of a fictional fictionalized version of York.
Richard Lowe 01:20
At least I hope fictionalized. Me too. Yes, but I think your book has nothing to do with Batman.
Rebecca Bratspies 01:28
It does not have anything to do with that.
Richard Lowe 01:31
darn nice. That man was never my favorite superhero. Anyway, I always thought of him as kind of psychotic.
Rebecca Bratspies 01:39
It always amazed me that he was a hero because he seemed pretty walk in that line between hero and villain.
Richard Lowe 01:45
He’s more what you’d call an antihero. Yes. Which I love antihero books, but I don’t like that particular series. Anyway, since it has nothing to do with your book, we can tell that. So tell me a little bit. How did you decide to write that book?
Rebecca Bratspies 02:05
Well, um, to be honest, it began at a traffic jam. I used to my parents live in Pennsylvania. And so my husband and I would drive out of the city to visit them, we would always take a road called the Major Deegan Expressway, which goes past Yankee Stadium. And anybody who’s ever taken in quotes taken HD again, knows that what that means is it means you sit, possibly for hours in traffic going nowhere. And the Major Deegan is the road that leads to the George Washington Bridge. Obviously, everybody knows who George Washington, but nobody has a clue maitre d in its great takes the maitre d, but nobody knows who he was. And I, in my lack of patience, when I would be stuck in traffic on this Major Deegan Expressway used to really curse him. And I would say, you know, who was that guy? I hate him. And my family eventually got sick of hearing me say that. And they said, Well, why don’t you find out? So I did. And it turned out that he was actually a lot less impressive than you might think, given that he has this major road named after him. But that sparked my curiosity about who are the other roads in New York named after who was Bruckner? Who was Hutchinson and the bridges as well like who was Costco who was Pulaski Pulaski Skyway is in the beginning shot of The Sopranos. It’s this beautiful Iron Bridge. Well, who was the guy? So I started doing research and it eventually led to this book.
Richard Lowe 03:37
Interesting. Yes, the sopranos now that is one he is one of my favorite superhero. Anti heroes. Tony Soprano, anti hero. Because he is bad, bad, bad, but
Rebecca Bratspies 03:50
awesome that in my book, The Pulaski Skyway is
Richard Lowe 03:53
I imagined, so I imagined so but we’re just having a discussion. So anything can come up. Yeah, I’ve often been curious about place names in California and in the West southwestern states. And I’ve noticed that a lot of those tend to be named after Indian tribes. Same here in Florida, especially in Florida, man, a lot of them are. And I looked up a few and not that many I wasn’t that curious. In California, when I waited in traffic, I was mostly cursing.
Rebecca Bratspies 04:24
See, that’s the thing that’s sort of the tagline for my book stuck in traffic, think of me.
Richard Lowe 04:29
Interesting. You also are interested in environmental justice and human rights. How did you get started in that?
Rebecca Bratspies 04:37
That’s a difficult question. I guess I grew up. I was always an environmentalist. And you know, I, I love going to national parks. I love the idea of preserving sort of green spaces. But what really interests me is where people live. What’s the air like, where people live and have to breathe it? What’s the wall? underlying where people live and have to train it, what’s the what’s the land flight? Are they living on land that’s gonna make them sick? And when you ask those questions that leads you to environmental justice and human rights. And so that’s sort of the research that I do. I do a lot of research here in New York City, but I’ve done research across the country and around the world. And oh, one thing I should mention that may be of interest to people is that I collaborate with a very talented artists to make a series of environmental justice comic books that are available for free download for any nonprofit or educational use from my website, which is just my name, Rebecca breastfeeds.com.
Richard Lowe 05:36
That will be in the description of the video also. Good. Yeah. When my wife passed away, I picked up the camera and I photographed all of the Southwest states, national parks, every single one of them. There are a lot.
Rebecca Bratspies 05:51
There are indeed and some of them are really spectacularly beautiful
Richard Lowe 05:55
Zion and Bryce and Grand Canyon several times. And so for the fact that went to the Grand Canyon with a belly dancer. The the idea was, is I paid for the trip, she danced on the rim of the canyon while I photographed. Wow, yeah. And it was about five degrees. So you can imagine it was she was called,
Rebecca Bratspies 06:17
dedicated to her craft while she made
Richard Lowe 06:19
a promise. And we gathered quite a quite a crowd because it was right in the main area of the town. Cliff, 4000 foot cliff on one side, her dancing, right on the edge of that me being scared to death. She’s gonna fall off. But I took about 2000 photos, and they’re still the best photos ever take because she looks like you just floating over the canyon.
Rebecca Bratspies 06:39
Wow, that sounds fascinating. That was fun. Yeah, I’d like to see those available online anywhere.
Richard Lowe 06:44
Yeah, I got him on my my photo site. I can send you a link. Yeah, I’d love to see ya. You Yeah, she’s, she’s a nice lady. We did a lot of fun. Do we prove that men and women can be just friends, because we did a lot of time together. That’s just friends on cruises and things like that. It was very interesting. Because I was one of those guys before her that that men and women can’t be friends. They you know, and that’s not true. That’s a complete lie. That isn’t deep. It takes a little bit of effort. But you can certainly do it. And we’re still friends. And she’s still, every once in a while some memory pops up and on Facebook. And she says Oh, thank you for the pictures, you know. Any anyway, that’s neither here nor there. But that’s I have a similar love for the environment I’ve never gotten involved in. In the politics of in the environment, though. I’ve never gotten involved in politics. It’s not my thing. And my father was an artist. And he was heavily involved in the environmental thing. He painted pictures of animals and stuff. So I got kind of turned off by his environmentalism, I guess.
Rebecca Bratspies 07:57
Because he was, for me, it was the opposite. My parents took me to Earth Day when I was a very young child, and it makes such a huge impression. And it really shaped the course of my life.
Richard Lowe 08:09
Interesting, interesting. Yeah. Mine had the opposite effect. But then me and my dad didn’t get along. So anything he wanted to do, I was kind of kind of turned out the opposite. You know, that is their children’s stuff like that. It’s interesting that you have downloads of a comic books are those of the environmental justice Chronicles. Yes. Yes. What’s the story behind those?
Rebecca Bratspies 08:32
So those are another fictionalized version of New York. A little less frightening that Gotham City perhaps, but it’s, they take place in the town of Forest Hill, which is New York’s Alter Ego, but it’s also any place that is struggling with the reality that whether or not you get to breathe clean air and drink clean water has a lot to do with what color your skin is, what zip code you live in, and how much money you have. And so are the story follows young people in this community as they organize both themselves and the adults around them to make things better to prevent the siting of yet another polluting facility in their already overburdened community. That’s book one. And then Book Two, they intervene in the relicensing of a very dirty electricity generating facility and get it to clean up its act. That’s book two. And then Book Three. They enter electoral politics running a candidate for mayor on a Climate Change plan. So the the art is spectacular. The Charlie libretto of Alaska was so talented, you can read the view if you’re not interested in environmental justice. You can read them just because they’re fun and they’re beautiful. We tried to make just stories that are actual stories. But if you are interested in environmental justice So you’re interested in protecting the environment. They are a teaching tool for how to organize communities and the kinds of legal decision makers that you might be able to persuade to do something to protect the community you care about.
Richard Lowe 10:16
Interesting, interesting. Yeah, one of the books that I’ve got ghostwritten is about environmental justice and stuff. And that was kind of eye opening, because I’ve never been involved in it before. dei and environmental justice and sustainability and stuff like that, it was eye opening experience, being hip deep, and people who were in that and me not being in that made it note, of course, they didn’t know when I started that. I don’t lean that way politically, but I don’t care. I mean, you know, people believe what they believe. And they’re right, they have every right to be. And I have a brain so I can parse out the, the nonsense from the realities from all sides of the political spectrum. So many people to deal with, that’s just part of having a brain I don’t have a rational conversation about subjects without as long as the other person can also have a rational conversation. And there are some political things today where you can’t have a rational conversation period. And that’s very perplexing to me. Like, we can have a rational conversation about the environment, and I may disagree or disagree, but that won’t stop us from having a rational conversation. If as long as you’re willing. I’m down for that. Yeah, we won’t do it here. But But um, yeah, so it sounds like you’re really into the DEI and all the other related topics that we’ve discussed.
Rebecca Bratspies 11:37
Well, I care about kids, and I want every kid to be able to breathe clean air. You know, I don’t know, like what category that falls into, but I have a lot of kids around me have asthma. I live here, a lot of power plants. And the fact is that a lot of the people who live here, live here, because it’s one of the few places they can live. And, you know, I don’t think that’s fair.
Richard Lowe 12:04
Yeah, I understand. I know about asthma. I always had asthma and smoked and COPD and stuff. So clean air was very important. Although the smoking kind of obviated that. It doesn’t matter how, how clean your air is, if you’re smoking.
Rebecca Bratspies 12:20
It is not certainly not an ideal situation for somebody with asthma or COPD.
Richard Lowe 12:25
Yeah, both. So it was definitely not ideal. But as she put it, it was her body and she could do what she wanted with it. I heard that so many times, I was fed up with the term.
Rebecca Bratspies 12:37
See that? Yeah, they’re also addiction issues involved?
Richard Lowe 12:40
Yes, I understand.
Rebecca Bratspies 12:43
Believe me, I’m sure you do.
Richard Lowe 12:46
Believe me. Same with the parents. I actually don’t have any addictions. You know, minor vices like eating too much sometimes. But nothing. No major addictions. I’ve managed to avoid that through my whole life.
Rebecca Bratspies 13:02
If I do not have coffee in the morning,
Richard Lowe 13:04
I’ve never tasted coffee. I’ve never tasted alcohol. I’ve never smoked a cigarette or smoked anything for that matter, because it always seems silly to me to put hot ash in your lungs.
Rebecca Bratspies 13:14
Yeah, it never seemed like a choice I wanted to make.
Richard Lowe 13:18
Yeah, and I do like, not having cancer. So you know, I consider that a good thing. And I’ve ever even gambled. So I’m in little angel. But then if you read about angels, you’ll notice that they’re not really nice beings. And Lucifer was an angel. People say they’re an Angels, like, wonder what they’re really saying. Interesting. Perhaps that doesn’t mean what you think. Perhaps not. preppers should be more specific. So you let you enjoy New York. It sounds like yeah, there was a song I live in New York or something like that. Oh.
Rebecca Bratspies 14:04
Yeah. You know, it’s just a place that people write songs about.
Richard Lowe 14:09
Ghostbusters is one of my favorite movies and I think it took place in New York did the original Ghostbusters asbestos two was goofy but okay. After that, they just not not enthralled with them. What a CU NY School of Law you work
Rebecca Bratspies 14:26
for. So that’s an acronym for City University of New York. Okay, and we pronounce a CUNY CUNY School of Law. We are a public law school here in New York City. And our mission is to provide legal education, affordable legal education to people who want to use their law degrees to make things better.
Richard Lowe 14:46
I see. I see. Interesting. I wonder if people use their law degrees to make things worse.
Rebecca Bratspies 14:54
Oh, some do I think?
Richard Lowe 14:58
Yeah, I know they do. But I wonder Some people actually have the purpose to do that. Yeah. I don’t think villains
Rebecca Bratspies 15:06
are the villains in their own story, do you?
Richard Lowe 15:09
I think that everybody, everything they do they think is the right thing. And one way or another, whatever they do even Adolf Hitler, he thought in his mind, he was doing the right thing. I’m sure. But that doesn’t mean they’re doing the right thing. We are very good at self deception. Many of us that’s
Rebecca Bratspies 15:28
true. That is true. And I also think, I mean, Nazis with aside, I think a lot of the way people wind up doing things that are maybe against what we consider the public’s interest is sort of a slippery slope, it doesn’t happen all at once, it happens little by little. And you maybe don’t realize how far you move from, what your goals and ideals were when you started.
Richard Lowe 15:54
I’ve been in as a, I worked in corporate for a long time. And I’ve been in boardrooms and CEOs and things of big companies. And one thing I’ve noticed is, I haven’t seen anybody who’s evil. In my mind that, you know, big CEO, fortune 500 company, think he might be an evil person because of what he’s doing. Nope. He just has other agenda. He has. He’s more concerned about his shareholders, perhaps or about other things. Not even that much concern for getting the bonus, which is always the button for a lot of people who are protesting, they get these huge $300 million bonuses. It’s more of we need to do what’s right for the stakeholders and shareholders then, and unfortunately, environmentalists aren’t stakeholders or shareholders. So that’s they’re not on the list. And that’s the problem.
Rebecca Bratspies 16:41
Right, right. There is the vision of who are the stakeholders, that matter is so narrow. I mean, it’s sort of Hannah Arendt vision of the banality of evil, right. Evil is not the cartoon character who’s the villain in the Batman. The evil is the person who is thinks maybe they’re doing the right thing, but it’s really not seeing the picture, fully in a fashion that would like them appreciate the sort of the consequences of what they’re doing.
Richard Lowe 17:10
I’m talking about regular people who are doing their jobs. I’m not talking about people who are truly evil. There are truly evil people in the world. Milosevic and your Slavic Slavia evil person. Absolutely evil if you know who he is, he’s Oh, yeah. Yeah. Serbian massacres later. Human rights. Yeah. I mean, Milosevic, I don’t remember what happened to him. But there isn’t a punishment strong enough for that man. In my opinion.
Rebecca Bratspies 17:38
Thank you guys in person,
Richard Lowe 17:40
probably. And you know, all the people involved in Germany in World War Two, and that have those type of properties. Same thing. I would say a lot of the Chinese involved in the current genocides are probably on the evil side. But they don’t have enough knowledge to be able to say that because they’re relatively hidden. But there are some genocides going on right now. And that’s rather interesting that we’re in the 21st century. And we’re still tolerating that.
Rebecca Bratspies 18:09
I spent a lot of time in Xinjiang in western China, which is where a large weaker population is watching what’s happening.
Richard Lowe 18:19
Yeah, yeah, I’ve been reading about them. And there’s really not much we can do here in the United States, because they don’t really care what we think. But it’s just fascinating that it’s happening fascinating in a detached kind of way. That is still happening or in Africa, there’s no end in Europe. I mean, Russia’s committing a genocide against Ukraine right now. We say we shouldn’t be involved in Ukraine. Russia’s committing genocide, they’re aiming at food. We need to stop that, and, or at least help. Yeah. And the interesting thing is, while costing too much money, we’re giving them weapons that have been sitting in warehouses for 40 years. We’re not making them except for the Patriots. We’re not giving them anything new. These are things that are molding and we’re gonna throw them away. So it’s the cheapest war we could ever fought. We’re not fighting it. Anyway, we’re not getting off on that subject. But it’s something that I’ve been reading a lot about, because it’s a very, it’s a very important conflict.
Rebecca Bratspies 19:18
It really is. Yeah,
Richard Lowe 19:21
if the Russians when they’re not going to stop and the next thing in the list is Poland and Romania, and that’s not going to be good. So I don’t think that there’s any real choice here. And people who think there’s a choice are ignorant.
Rebecca Bratspies 19:40
I think that there’s a lot of lack of knowledge about what’s actually happening there where what you create is who is who did what, and yeah, I agree with you.
Richard Lowe 19:52
What was the point at which who did what becomes irrelevant you just have to look out for interest isn’t are in our interest to let Ukraine loose and No, we don’t even have to look beyond that. I mean, if we just stopped aggression in World War Two before it started there were times when we come to Munich. And
Rebecca Bratspies 20:11
yeah, well, this is right. This is really a Neville Chamberlain moment. Right? Are we going to stand aside or not?
Richard Lowe 20:21
Yeah. And so far we haven’t stood aside, we’ve been doing, I think, the right thing without crossing the red line, because there is a red line, which is would be a bad red line across. But anyway, that’s more on the social justice side. I think
Rebecca Bratspies 20:38
we’ve gotten far afield from bridges in New York City, that’s for sure.
Richard Lowe 20:42
It’s true. Well, these conversations go all over the place. So if you ever don’t want to talk about something, feel free. I like talking to you. Yeah, me too. Me too, especially about I’m a, I like talking about geopolitics because I study that. And when you understand geopolitics, you understand why things happen. It’s not just because the Russians are this and this and this, the Russians are surrounded by flat plains, which makes the needle easy to attack. So of course, they’re they’re a little picky about who’s on their borders, the Iranians who are surrounded by mountains, they’re very hard to attack. So they’re not as touchy about who’s on their borders. Because there’s they’ve you can’t attack them. I mean, it’s really hard secure. Yeah, it’s really hard to attack Iran, and we would lose anybody who does is going to lose. You know, why is Egypt? Why do they act the way they do? Well, they’re a river valley. You know, I love learning about these things. And the United States. Why is it so powerful Mississippi River. That’s why. And there’s lots of videos on YouTube that you can watch them talking to our, to our listeners. Now, that will explain why the Mississippi River is so important, is the most important river system in the world. And because it enables the United States to be the power it is. Because it’s cheaper to to ship food over water against the river than it is overland and everybody else doesn’t have. Most other countries don’t have that type of.
Rebecca Bratspies 22:06
It’s a big service system. And it also helps that we’re a continent,
Richard Lowe 22:10
we’re a continent, we don’t have any real enemies on this continent. We’ve never really been attacked. I mean, 911 comes to mind that’s about it. War of 1812 was probably the last time we were attacked, and Pearl Harbor, Pearl Harbor. Well, that was out in the Pacific that didn’t attack continental United States. And Japanese could never even have attempted to attack the continental United States in any significant way. They did drop a few balloon bombs. I mean, you know, and I think once floatplane, that was it. So we’ve got some luxuries because of our locations. And that’s why I love geopolitics. Because once you understand that, that’s why people are so nuts over there, and from my, from my viewpoint, because they’re in a different land, and for a forest and the land makes the people or makes the politics.
Rebecca Bratspies 23:00
So you’re gonna make an environmental justice advocate out of you and Sue. The land shapes the people that the land is polluted, that, you know, impacts people’s lives in ways that are devastated.
Richard Lowe 23:12
Of course, of course, and I do tend to like nature, I’ve done I’ve done many, many, many hikes in the southwest. Some very, very rough trips, almost died, and a couple of them, it was fun, I should write a book about it. I got too many books on my list, I read five books at a time from clients. That I’m a net, plus all the marketing and stuff, how do you market your book, by the way?
Rebecca Bratspies 23:36
Um, you know, that’s, that, for me has been the biggest learning curve, because you know, I’m a law professor, I don’t, you know, when I write scholarly stuff, it doesn’t get marketed like the people who it’s got, it’s written for a small audience. I mean, I always thrilled if more people read it, but really, I’m writing to be part of a very specific conversation. But this book is really aimed for anybody who is interested in history and wants to know more about viewer. And so it’s really taken me out of my comfort zone. I mean, talking to you like this, podcasts are not anything I ever did before. And, you know, I’ve spoken, I speak to a lot of reporters in my professor roles. So I sort of leaned on that a little bit. I asked them for some advice. I wrote a lot of blog posts, which was really fun, because there was a lot more stuff I wanted to write about them could fit in the book, it turns out, unlike a law review article, or an academic publisher, when a popular publisher tells you you have a page limit or word limit, they mean it. They don’t want you to be like, I just want to have another 20,000 words, like absolutely not. So I have all this stuff that I wanted to say that I couldn’t put in the book. So I’ve been writing blog posts for a lot of different logs, and that’s good.
Richard Lowe 24:50
Yes, but the key point is does that bring in sales and my experience blog posts don’t bring in sales. They they bring Again, some fans, sometimes you can build a fan base with it. But it’s very tough. Google’s not very friendly to smaller sites. I hate to say it’s more friendly to corporate sites who have money and spend on advertising. And I’m finding that to be more and more real now. Same with Bing. And on the other ones there. There’s really not a friendly search engine. AltaVista used to be very friendly. That’s I’m dating myself there. That used to be a very friendly site to all sites. And Google’s not. Marketing
Rebecca Bratspies 25:33
is a bit of a mystery to me. Not really my forte, but you know, I’m having fun. So that’s a win. And you have a day job.
Richard Lowe 25:44
Yeah, my job is ghost writing, and I have to market or I don’t eat. So I’ve been learning marketing very fast. I had some really nice big fat contracts for a couple of years. So I kind of got lazy on the marketing, and I am paying for it now. I’m quickly coming up to speed, I hired a marketer to do some of my marketing and writing blogs like crazy. I’m writing LinkedIn articles, getting got a lead generator generating leads, and lots and lots of other things doing these podcasts, which one reason why I’m doing them? Because this isn’t gonna generate a lot of leads, if any, but it’s out of my comfort zone. Like you said, way out of my comfort zone. Because I’m an introvert.
Rebecca Bratspies 26:26
Really? Well, I think you’re doing great at it. Thank you for interviewing me.
Richard Lowe 26:30
My pleasure, my pleasure. I’m interviewing different people, partially to stay out of my comfort zone. And partially because it’s fun, and partially because we promote each other. Because you promote the podcast, and I promote you, and we help each other. And hopefully, that’ll generate something for both of us. Midnight. Fine. We had fun for a few minutes. I had all meet some good people.
Rebecca Bratspies 26:55
Exactly. I mean, I want people to read my book, because I think it’s interesting. And I put a lot of work into it. But um, you know, I also really enjoyed meeting people and just talking to them and learning about what makes them tick.
Richard Lowe 27:09
Yep, yep. I wrote two best sellers, Kindle bestsellers, one sold 15,000 copies and one sold 5000 In a week, each in a week. Now, they continue to sell a few copies at a time one of them is about LinkedIn. And it’s very out of date. So it’s not selling very well now. But I need to update it. But I’m too lazy, or too busy, depending on how you put it. The other ones on how to sell on eBay, that one is still selling pretty well, because eBay hasn’t changed forever. eBay is the thing. which surprises me, because it it definitely has some stuff this age.
Rebecca Bratspies 27:45
But it worked. have only been asked a few times.
Richard Lowe 27:49
Yeah, when I was starting out to experiment with different ways to make money. And I made 35 grand off of eBay selling stuff in one year. And then I decided this is hard, it’s ship, you got to ship thing then. Lot of work. Yeah, unless you get into dropshipping, where you’re, you’re putting something on your website, say from, there’s a sale that there’s a sale on some home depot for half price. So then you drop, you put it on eBay at full price. And then people buy it, and then you ship it straight from Home Depot to the place. So you never actually see the product. That’s called Drop Shipping. But it’s also hard work because you’ve got to do all that manually. Yeah, that’s a lot of logistics, a lot of logistics. And what about returns? How do you return something to Home Depot that you didn’t actually get, which they want to return, it just became a pain. There’s ways to do, there’s companies that help you do that they cost money. But I made 35 grand in a year, selling my own junk
Rebecca Bratspies 28:51
on eBay. That’s, that’s, that’s impressive.
Richard Lowe 28:55
I even sold a set of books, all books for $10,000. And what was funny about that is eBay was calling me every day to make sure I shipped it. Like you sold some for $10,000. We’re gonna make sure you ship it. And it’s funny. But then I made money as an affiliate marketer, I made about 10 grand, and bunch of other things, just trying things out. So I know, I can make money. But I push authors. And one thing I run into is common to every single one except for the big names that I’ve ever run into is they read a great book and they know how to market it. So it sits there. My security book, sold maybe 10 copies. And it’s a pretty good book. But am I going to spend the time to market it and oh, I’ve got other things to do. So it’s gonna sell me it’s gonna sell probably five or 10 copies a year maybe.
Rebecca Bratspies 29:44
I naively thought that the press would handle that. I just what I’ve learned that is not how it works.
Richard Lowe 29:51
The publisher you mean? Yeah. Yeah, the publisher doesn’t do the marketing, except for maybe a little bit upfront. But the first question that Mike my mic Clients different question they always ask when they go traditional is, what’s your following? They want to know how many you got to have at least 50,000 people in your following to help sell the book? If you don’t have that, yeah, well, unless you’re in a special case, if you don’t have that many, they usually won’t even talk to you. Unless you have an in my three traditional published authors have always had an in, they knew somebody at the publishing place. So they were able to just jump right in. But if you don’t have that in you don’t know it, you don’t know how to network because you’re inverted because you’re a writer. Right? You’re in a, you’re in a catch 22? How are you gonna? How you gonna sell your book, we have to learn to market, how are you going to market? Well, you have to sell your book.
Rebecca Bratspies 30:43
Right? And it is a skill. It’s like people go to college, and they major in marketing, and they go to grad school in it, you know, like there are there are things to know. And if you don’t know that, like, I don’t even know what I know.
Richard Lowe 30:59
I know, I know. And I’ve been diving into a deep, and it is interesting the difference between the first sentence in a motion, just how you word that can make the difference between nobody actually looking at it and having a ton of people look at it. Just the first word, that opening line, that opening hook. If it’s lame, you’re not getting anybody who was good. You might get somebody if it’s really good. You’ll get some people. How do you come up with a really good opening line? I don’t know. It’s just I keep trying. And sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn’t. There’s people who just do it. But then, you know, there’s pickup artists and in bars always says dummies like they just have a line. And they’re like, how did they do that?
Rebecca Bratspies 31:44
Yeah, I noticed that I did an interview for a local press. They wrote a great story about Gotham. And then they promoted it on social media, because it was their story. And their social media was like I wanted to read it, you know, and I knew exactly what I said, because it was an interview of me. But they were so good at it. I could learn from you.
Richard Lowe 32:08
Right? But even then I run into, even though I know that and even though that’s happened to me, too, I still run into the this sounds really good. How do I do it for me? How do I put in and I’m learning that and I’m getting better at it. There’s one person on LinkedIn, she puts an article out, she gets, you know, 1000s and 1000s and 1000s of views and hundreds of comments and repost. I put this as experiment, I put almost the exact same article out. But with my own slant on it. It’s like 53 views, you know, and two comments and people asked to comment and how does she do that? And, you know, I’ve got people in my I’ve got 10,000 follower or 10,000 connections and followers and things. I have more than hurt by double. But she’s getting she’s got them engaged. And the engagement is what’s hard. getting them engaged. Or getting engaged was easy for me. I did it sorry. I got married three weeks after I met her. We didn’t have any engagement. We just got married. It’s neither here nor there. Getting the it’s not the marketing that’s so bad, hard. It’s getting the people that you’re marketing to engaged, that I’m finding to be the challenge. Getting them to want getting into ask you where’s your post this week? That’s the hard parts.
Rebecca Bratspies 33:26
Yeah, I mean, I, I know that. That’s one thing I really appreciate it is how hard it is to get people’s attention.
Richard Lowe 33:34
And keep it? Yes, keep it in a classroom,
Rebecca Bratspies 33:37
right? hour and a half or two hours. I know how to do that. But just out in the ether that’s,
Richard Lowe 33:45
I can do that. In a classroom. I’ve actually been asked to speak because of my books. I’ve got books and consulting and stuff. I’ve spoken at universities and things virtually since it was 2020. And I’ve kept them engaged students. I mean, believe it or not students, you know, students typically aren’t engaged with that kind of thing, because they’re just doing it because their professor said they were engaged. They wanted to know, that wasn’t hard. But when you’re talking electronic, and I’m competing against 1000s and 1000s of other people plus the algorithm of the social media, and that’s the tough one is the algorithm of the social media, or Google or whatever. That is a bear. Because it changes all the time, and it’s not friendly towards the little guy. There’s this guy who says it’s easy. He’s got 2 million followers. Of course, it’s easy for him.
Rebecca Bratspies 34:39
Easy for him. That’s the first get 2 million followers then it’s easy.
Richard Lowe 34:42
Yeah. I mean, he puts out one email, one post, he gets, you know, 5000 people responding, literally commenting, 5000 comments? Yeah, yeah, I’d get 5000 comments to if I had 2 million followers. That’s easy. I like to tell them start from zero. pretend you’re pretending or nobody start a new account and see how long it takes you don’t know, I don’t know if that
Rebecca Bratspies 35:06
experiment would be interesting to see how that would go.
Richard Lowe 35:09
It would be the algorithms are changing rapidly to they’re trying to LinkedIn has changed. So for example, you used to be able to publish something and you get 10,000 views. If you had 10,000 followers. Now, you’re lucky if you get 100. They are discouraging the viral posts, and basically, you’re not getting views anymore.
Rebecca Bratspies 35:34
I’m pretty new to LinkedIn, I always thought of it as a place to get a job. And since I had a job that I loved, I didn’t pay much attention to it. I would if my students asked to connect with me, I would say yes, after they graduated, but I really do anything with it until this book, and it’s really brought me into social media in a way that I hadn’t been.
Richard Lowe 35:55
I’m using LinkedIn, YouTube, and Facebook, I’m probably going to dive into tick tock with these videos, I’m probably going to start slicing and dicing them and putting some some, you know, if you see something very, very cool, I’m gonna slice it and dice and put it on. Yes, well, you probably said a cool thing, a couple of cool things, you know, some quotable moments. But then I have to have the time to listen to the whole thing again, which I’m trying to do two interviews a day so that there’s not time to listen to these things twice. I didn’t have to do them. That’ll probably slow down as I get on to other things. But I had this, this podcast going a few years ago, and I did 25 interviews, and then I stopped and I’m basically restarting it. And I just want to kind of catch up a little bit. And it’s fun. I am sitting here in my chair on my butt all day long for 12 hours a day, I need to do talk to somebody besides the client. Okay, well, anything else you want to say?
Rebecca Bratspies 36:57
No, just thank you. It’s really been a pleasure talking with you. And if you’re listening and you’re interested, check out Namie got it’s a really fun read.
Richard Lowe 37:08
I will do so. I will do so. And I’ll check out your comic books too. Yeah, please do. Well, this has been the writing King. This is author talks with Richard Lowe. Thank you for watching the show. This is a several times a week Podcast. I’m posting these on YouTube and Tik Tok, probably eventually Instagram and SoundCloud and anyplace else because they can figure it out. As long as it’s easy. And, you know, share it posted everywhere. Like it subscribe, whatever is appropriate for the media moron. And I’m also a ghostwriter. So if you need a book written, come see me. I’m a writing coach. So if you’re having trouble writing your own book, whatever the trouble is, I can help you because I’ve written over 100 which is astounding to me. And yeah, that’s in 10 years. And also, I’m on LinkedIn branding experts. So if you and I’ve been trained in it, so if you if you’re having trouble getting any kind of reach on LinkedIn, I can help with that. So it’s been nice having you on and thank you for coming.
Rebecca Bratspies 38:03
Thank you very much
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