Thursday, December 12, 2013

2014: Essential Tips for the Year Ahead

Everyone wants each New Year to be better than the last. To do so, instead of setting broad, generic resolutions, it might be more effective to take small, simple steps to tackle 2014. We have approached some of the most trusted colleagues and associates of Benay, who are movers and shakers in their own industries, to tell us what they feel is most important for a business to focus on in the new year.

We have included a sampling of some of their responses in Benay's "user's guide" to help you best navigate 2014 based on the current the marketplace.

The Benay Way

All of these tips come from the wonderful business colleagues and resources of Benay and Benay clients to boot. We wish all of our clients, colleagues, and friends the happiest of holidays and continued success in 2014.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Time Is On My Side - Yes, It Isn't

As a small business owner, I've learned the importance of grabbing your audience's attention as quickly as possible.Attention spans are short these days, especially when it comes to digital content. According to recent market research:
And the most shocking statistic of all: The average person's attention span in 2012 was only 8 seconds.

So as a business professional, what can you do to keep your audience's and employees' attention for longer than eight seconds? One of the most effective ways is to compile information in an easy to understand, entertaining way. A new slideshow platform,PechaKucha, solves this conundrum. According to an article in Inc. magazine, "The rules are  beyond simple. Speakers display 20 slides and spend 20 seconds on each. If you have more than 20 points to make: too bad. Cut some." Ruthless? Maybe. Effective? Definitely. Next time you or one of your team members needs to give a presentation, try utilizing the PechaKucha method, and watch as others listen intently and engage with your ideas.
Looking to start a new business? Have you spent hours working on en executive summary that trails on for pages and pages? Is the marketing plan exponentially growing? Well, stop. Instead of writing a novel about your business, make a "deck."According to Eric Paley in Inc. magazine, "No matter how gifted a writer you are, slide presentations, or decks, are a better way to get your message across." Investors and potential partners will be more likely to follow along with your slideshow presentation than read your ten-page business plan. Writing a business plan is a good way to organize and formalize your ideas but a slideshow presentation will be a more enticing, succinct way to garner support and funds.
The moral of this newsletter is that less is always more. Keeping attention while piquing interest is the challenge we all face in today's digital world.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Stuck in the Middle With You: Baby Boomers vs. Gen-X vs. Gen-Y

The Great Recession of 2008 continues to play a large role in today's job culture. Baby Boomers, Gen X-ers, and Gen Y-ers alike are all feeling the effects. Many Baby Boomers have postponed their retirement plans, holding onto their senior positions, and making it harder for Gen X-ers and Gen Y-ers to move into the workforce, let alone move up the company ladder.
Generational Work Styles
Many studies and much research has been done regarding each generation's work-style and their positives and negatives. Baby Boomers may be most likely to hold senior positions due to age. Positives? Most likely to be loyal. Negatives? May lack adaptability. Gen X-ers may be the best team players but rank lowest in cost effectiveness and having executive presence. And Millennials may be the most tech savvy and enthusiastic about their jobs, but rank lowest on being team players.
As Baby Boomers slowly move out of the workplace and the Millennials begin flooding in, managers and leaders will do well to learn how to effectively motivate and manage Gen Y-ers.
Gen Y-ers may be the most brash and overconfident generation yet. "They tend to enter the workforce with very high expectations both for themselves and for their employers, and they often have plans to effect change at their company from day one." Thus, it's important to foster their need for stimulating work that allows them to grow.
The Millennials are often referred to as "the boomerang" or "Peter Pan" generation. About 28% wwill move back in with their parents after college and not become fully independent until their 30's. This leaves Millennials a lot of opportunity to job hop and find the one they're most compatible with. "This lack of fear about holding on to one job tends to make them outspoken and unafraid of the boss."
In turn, Gen Y-ers should take a step back and realize that a green employee will not necessarily be able to change the company right off the bat, even with that "ground-breaking" idea. It's also important for them to be reminded of the old adage, "don't burn bridges." Having unrealistic expectations in a work environment can have repercussions - many career opportunities are made by on-the-ground networking and Millennials will do well to create professional relationships.
Obviously these are generalizations, but recognizing other generations' work traits, wants, and needs can help everyone succeed in their personal careers as well as benefitting the company as a whole. As Mark Smither, VP, Strategic director for Paulsen Marketing said, "Multiple generations working together makes for a better work environment and better end product to customers."
The graph below summarizes the strengths and weaknesses of each generation.   
Graph stats taken from: "Here Are The Strengths And Weaknesses Of Millennials, Gen X, And Boomers" by Vivian Giang. September 9, 2013. 

"Leadership is not about titles, positions or flowcharts. It is about one life influencing another."
- John C. Maxwell

Friday, October 25, 2013

Benay Client, Soho Press Launches a Revamped Website

There’s some more breaking news regarding Soho Press this week. According to an article in Publisher’s Weekly, they've just launched their website with a new goal in mind. The site now allows users to buy titles, sign up for subscription services, and even includes an interactive map with the featured locations in their crime series.

“The new hub was created, the publisher said, ‘with an eye toward direct-to-consumer digital sales,’ and is offering titles at a discount.” Purchased individually, the books are at a discounted price of 30%, with the subscription service, the titles are 50% off retail and arrive monthly. The subscriptions are available for their Soho Teen and Soho Crime imprints.

Brick and mortar stores will still be supported says publisher Bronwen Hruska. “’We will continue to maintain a strong presence in traditional retail markets and libraries, supporting our books there any way we can,’ she said. ‘We will always continue to print galleys for trade shows, mail books to booksellers and librarians, and regularly tour our authors.’”

You can check out their website and newly discounted books here.

- Marcie Gainer

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Benay Tip: How to Follow and Still Be a Leader

How to Follow and Still Be a Leader

We’ve all experienced that feeling of being overwhelmed with the responsibilities of running a team, a department, or an entire organization, regardless of the size. Everyone needs to focus part of their daily duties on being a leader within their organization, regardless of position. It’s then paramount to use the skills of a follower to be even more effective in the workplace.  When you follow the cues of your staff, coworkers, clients, or even mentors and role models, you’ll be able to learn what’s working in your organization, how to fix or improve it, and how to truly grow your business.

Change Your View of Leadership

Past traditional models of business leaders may have consisted of taking constant meetings in-house to review, evaluate and respond to data. It’s not unusual to picture the manager or CEO remaining separate from staff, creating and maintaining the distinction between boss and employee. I suggest that like Henry V and the battle of Agincourt, you fight with your troops on the battlefront of your business—let them see your own strengths and fortitude! If all you’re doing is creating, reading and evaluating reports and financials, a vital responsibility of any position, you’re not on the front lines of your business, seeing and meeting staff and clients alike. If you are spending all your days behind your desk instead of in front of your employees and customers, you’re doing something wrong. Get up and get out, to industry events, to spend time with staff and customers, and learn what you and the company are doing right (and wrong) and how to improve.

Look Sideways as Opposed to Up and Down

 We have a tendency to view organizations in a hierarchical manner but often people work better and are more productive if they are accountable to a group of equal level co-workers rather than one leader. It’s one thing to let your boss down, it’s another to let your co-workers down, and have them share in the blame. I often am amazed by the constant talk of employers needing to find team players yet not giving them the opportunity to truly participate in being part of a team.  If you delegate leadership & accountability you create many more captains than yourself, who often might have a better skill set, ideas or motivational qualities in a particular area than yourself. Empower your captains and let them participate in growing the troops and business along with you.

Cultivate Your Corporate Culture 

There’s an internal brand and an external brand to every company, and often the chasm between the two are quite wide. We may think of the behemoth Amazon as an incredible company but it has a high turnover rate and a great deal of internal employee dissatisfaction (find article link). While you’re up and out from behind your desk, you’ll be cultivating your own brand and corporate culture to both employees and clients alike.  When was the last time you asked a staff member or client, “What is it that we do best? How can we make the workplace/product/brand better?” Don’t forget to strengthen your internal brand to increase employee retention, internal and external growth. Do so by leading to follow the company focus, energy and culture that you and your staff have worked diligently to create together.

Remember the old adage by Sir James Dewar: 
“The mind is like a parachute;
it works best when open.”

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Another Big Congrats to Soho Press

At this point, it’s not as much of a surprise as it is a pleasure for us at Benay to see our client, Soho Press in the New York Times Book Review. Soho Crime, an imprint of Soho Press, has recently released The Monster of Florence to American audiences. Written by Magdalen Nabb about several double homicides in Florence, Italy from 1968-1985, The Monster of Florence was published in Britain in 1996 but never made its way to American audiences.

The story revolves around the intuitive detective, Marshal Salvatore Guarnaccia. Guarnaccia may not be the brightest detective but he understands people on a deeper level than most. “He watches, he listens, he asks discreet questions, and his intuitive intelligence (‘He either knew things or he didn’t) gives him insight into minds closed to reason.” The book is written in Nabb’s “expressive style” and “is one of [her] darkest novels, almost shocking in its disenchanted acknowledgement of human brutality.”

Another exciting win for Soho Press. You can read an excerpt of the book on their website.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Quality Job Ads Can Yield Quality Candidates

Job hunting in this economy for many is like finding a needle in a haystack. With the influx of people into the job market, it can be equally as demanding for an employer to find the right candidate as it is to find a job. Post a job listing? You can expect about half of them to be serial appliers – people who apply to every job they can, whether or not they have the right qualifications. According to this article in the Wall Street Journal, maybe it’s time for employers to spend more time writing a quality job ad. It turns out that a quality ad brings quality candidates. Who’d have thought it?

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Akashic Books and Tin House Make Flavorwire's "25 Independent Presses That Prove This Is the Golden Age of Indie Publishing"

We just wanted to give a big congratulations to Benay clients, Akashic Books and Tin House for their feature in Flavorwire’s 25 Independent Presses That Prove This Is the Golden Age of Indie Publishing. With all of the publishing doomsayers, it’s nice to see the little engines-that-could pulling strong.
Independent publishing — that is, publishing whatever an individual or small group think is worthy of dumping their time and money into — is nothing new. From Virginia and Leonard Woolf starting up Hogarth Press to the early days of Farrar, Straus and Giroux championing now-iconic authors that other publishers wouldn’t touch, DIY publishing has long been responsible for some of our best literature.

 Here’s what Jason Diamond from Flavorwire had to say about Akashic:

Literature lovers smiled when Adam Mansbach’s Go the Fuck to Sleep became a massive bestseller — not just because of the clever title, but because it was awesome to see this fearless publisher get the mainstream recognition it deserves. And with a mission statement that emphasizes its intention of forever remaining a “independent company dedicated to publishing urban literary fiction and political nonfiction by authors who are either ignored by the mainstream, or who have no interest in working within the ever-consolidating ranks of the major corporate publishers,” Akashic is pretty much the ultimate indie. From its acclaimed Noir series to books on punk-rock history to publishing Melvin Van Peebles, Akashic is doing it on its own terms.

And here’s what he had to say about Tin House:

Going strong as a literary magazine since 1999, this operation based in both Portland, Oregon and Brooklyn has seen its book-publishing wing getting bigger and better with every new book, including titles by Christopher Beha, Lucy Corin, and Matthew Specktor, as well as Zak Smith’s We Did Porn. 
Congratulations to them both! We love to see our clients get the recognition we know they deserve. Here’s to many more years of continued success!

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Digital Undead: How to keep from becoming a social media zombie by estate planning

Every time I log onto LinkedIn, I am asked if I want to become associated with a dearly departed friend. It's more than disconcerting, it's downright macabre. Unfortunately her family doesn't know her login and passwords to her LinkedIn and many other social media sites she was active on. So her friends, family, and social acquaintances are constantly reminded of her passing and unable to stop the ghoulish prompts.
It's time for Internet and social media users to start thinking of their user names and passwords as part of their estate planning, so that they can securely leave this information for family members to access upon their death. Digital assets, such as iTunes, Twitter, and Facebook accounts may or may not be transferable to beneficiaries depending upon each companies specific licensing terms and agreements, but even so, no one wants their family members' account to "live" eternally once they are dead.

If you have a business and you or your business partner have tens of thousands of Twitter or Facebook followers, your online account is of great value even though it might not be found listed on your financial statement. These integral assets, including domain names, blogs, and websites, need to be thought of and treated as assets. Thus they should be listed and considered as part of your financial possessions to be bequeathed upon one's death.
According to attorney Kate Diehm, of Rucci Law Group, LLC, "When thinking of business assets (domain names, business Twitter/Facebook accounts, etc.), the most important thing is to make sure that the digital assets are owned by the business entity, not an individual. (In other words, if you had an employee set up your website for you ten years ago, make sure that the domain name is owned by the business, not by the employee.) That's critical, not just for succession planning issues, but also for investment in your current business - if you're running a successful e-commerce site, but the business doesn't own the domain name, the business is missing control over a critical asset."     
Don't forget that assets in online trading and bank accounts can be difficult to access and close without user ID and passwords so creating and maintaining a secure access list is crucial.   
So, what can you do to prepare for this? Here are a few simple steps to ensure your digital life will be managed after death:  

To quote Chuck Palahniuk: 
"We all die. The goal isn't to live forever, the goal is to create something that will."

Benay's Role
Benay works diligently to understand the changing financial climates and legal directives for our clients' respective states so that we can effectively inform and assist them.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Soho Press's 'Masaryk Station' Close Out Series With A Bang, Receives Much Praise

by Colleen McClintock

Benay client, New York-based publisher, Soho found one of their newest books well-lauded in the September 15 issue of the New York Times Book Review.

Coming out of the Soho Crime imprint, Masaryk Station is the last of a series of six crime novels written by author David Downing. It is set inside a post-WWII political context; a setting that lends itself aptly to suspense and drama.  Likewise, it is a world that can seem impossibly complex to anyone examining it, but as Jan Stuart says in her review in the New York Times Book Review, Downing does an incredible job of “elucidating… post-World War II geopolitics without dumbing down.”

Like most crime series, the books follow the secret, often tumultuous life of a man undercover. In this case, we see John Russell; a journalist-turned-spy who – by the sixth installment of the series – has got himself mixed up in the proverbial snake pit of post-WWI/pre-Cold War Germany. He is working for both the CIA and Stalin’s NKVD , and no longer sees the benefit in either. As Russell scrambles for a way to come out clean, Masaryrk Station quickly starts to show the reader that it will in no way be letting the Russell series go out quietly.

If you are interested in the John Russell series, visit the Soho Crime website to view all of the titles that comprise it. Pick up a copy of Zoo Station – the first installment of the Russell series – to get started today.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Lee Montgomery's Fall Master Writer's Workshop

Former Tin House editor, Lee Montgomery is teaching an intermediate advanced “master” writer’s workshop in Portland, OR: The Fall Master Writer’s Workshop. The class begins on October 8th and will be held Tuesdays 6-8pm. Tuition is $600 and enrollment is limited to ten people.

“Designed to combine seminar and workshop methodologies, Montgomery employs in-class exercises, outside reading, as well as the classic workshop format. Students can expect to present new work at least twice during the session in addition to a private consultation with Lee during the final weeks of class. For those students who are interested in presenting their work to a broader audience, the class will culminate with a public reading.”

Montgomery has extensive experience as an editor and author. She is the author of The Things Between Us, A Memoir (Free Press, August 2006), Whose World Is This? Stories (University of Iowa Press, September 2007), and Searching for Emily: Illustrated (Nothing Moments Press, October 2007). The Things Between Us received the 2007 Oregon Book Award in creative nonfiction and Whose World Is This? received the 2007 John Simmons Iowa Short Fiction Award and was a finalist for the Ken Kesey Award in Fiction in 2008.

Click here to download the flyer for further information on signing up. We’re sure that this will be a fun and exciting experience for the students (I’d consider signing up if I was in OR) and wish Lee the best of luck in this and future endeavors.

Same Corporate Compliance Required For Same-Sex Marriages

The Supreme Court's decision on the "Defense of Marriage Act" has forced employers to scramble to ensure their employee benefits plans comply. While creating new responsibilities for employers, it also offers new opportunities and tax strategies for civil unions and/or domestic partners. Employers must continue to monitor their state's marriage and partnership laws in order to keep their employer-provided benefits packages and company policies up-to-date, or risk violating laws and discriminating against newly protected employees and their spouses or partners.

There are currently 13 states that recognize and approve same-sex marriages. On August 29, 2013, the IRS released guidelines that show the effects of the Court's decision on various tax issues, including the coverage of same-sex spouses under employer-sponsored benefit plans.

Several of the key Employee Benefit Implications of the IRS Ruling are:

  • Same-sex couples can receive the same tax break on health coverage that other couples have been receiving.
  • Employees will now be able to seek reimbursement from flexible health spending accounts for the medical expenses of same-sex spouses.
  • The value of employer-provided health coverage for employee's same-sex spouse no longer is to be included in the employee's gross income for federal tax purposes.
  • Contributions made by an employee for the coverage of a same-sex spouse are no longer required to be paid on an after-tax basis.
  • A retirement plan must recognize a same-sex spouse for purposes of qualified joint and survivor annuity and spouse death benefits.
The Supreme Court's decision means same-sex spouses are entitled to a host of benefits they were denied previously. Now in New York, same-sex spouses should be offered education and funeral leave as well as the right to take leaves under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) to care for an ill same-sex spouse.

In addition, other employer-provided benefits and policies for opposite-sex spouses also must be offered without discrimination to same-sex spouses.

Legal ambiguities remain and will have to be resolved in future court decisions but here are some tips: 

Benay's Role

Benay works diligently to understand the changing laws for our clients' respective states so that we can effectively inform and advise them.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

In Remembrance of 9/11

At this time 12 years ago, I was on my morning commute—unaware what horrors were unfolding. Upon my arrival, Dawn Reshen-Doty asked me up to her office saying “Do you want to watch the TV up here?” I had assumed a client was on the morning news discussing their latest book. I then soon found out what the reality was, and just a few moments after I had reached her office—we watched the second plane hit.

The day was spent trying to make sense of what had happened as well as trying to reach our clients (most of them at the time were located in the city) and employees’ friends and family to make sure all were accounted for, and safe.  Due to most phone lines being tied up or completely down, this took a few days. However, even though a few clients were located extremely close to Ground Zero, we eventually found that everyone was safe.

On this September 11th, we at Benay not only reflect on the thousands of lives that were lost, we are also thankful to have the clients we do. While some have come and gone over the years since, our clients are our extended family. We are very thankful to have worked with all of them.

Merrilee Warholak, Director of Client Relations

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Benay Tips For Surviving Annual Insurance Audits

Almost every insurance company requires an annual review of a company's payroll and financial records. It's
very easy to get through these quickly and without incident if you prepare.
Here are some tips:

  • Create a separate file specifically for audits that contains copies of all quarterly payroll tax reports for state and federal agencies, as they are always required. On the federal level they are 941 forms while the state forms vary. If you file them yourself, keep copies. If you have a payroll provider, such as ADP or Paychex, make sure you receive copies from them.
  • You will always be asked for payroll records for the audit period in question, so keep your payroll and taxes up to date. Your financial records will be compared to the tax filings, so do not fall behind in entering them. Not having up to date financial records is a sure sign to any auditors that something may be amiss in your company, even if it's not.
  • Reconcile your accounts every month - this is a good way to remain on top of financial data entry, not to mention understanding your financial picture. You will be required to provide sales journals, sales tax reports, and your general ledgers if requested.
  • Be sure to keep copies of Workers Compensation Insurance and other policies on hand that may be needed.
  • When paying bills, make sure you track and maintain records on payments to independent contractors. This will be reviewed by auditors to make sure you are not trying to avoid paying any withholding payroll taxes on individuals who should really be treated as employees. You will also be required to show any certificates of insurance for subcontractors you may have, if applicable.   

If you follow these tips and prepare, prepare, prepare, and even provide these documents to your auditor prior to meeting, the entire process should go smoothly. Then you can get ready for the next years' audit!

Benay's Role

Benay handles the annual audits for all of our clients, leaving them free to focus on running and growing their businesses. Our clients never experience that last minute rush to gather records and reports because we always have the necessary records on hand. If you want a business management company that frees you to focus on growth and development, please give us a call.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

E-Verify – Everyone Holding their Breath While the House Takes Up the Issue

Nightmare or business-as-usual?
Right now E-Verify, the Government’s Internet-based system that allows businesses to determine the eligibility of their employees to work in the United States, is voluntary for most companies.

Touted as “fast, free and easy to use,” the potentially universally mandated background check program has employers of all sizes quaking at their laptops. Right now only federal contractors and six states (AZ, MI, SC, AL, GO, NC) are required to comply with the program which started in 1997.

Many current employers who use the E-Verify system complain about difficulty of use, with one out of four applicants entered into the system being rejected as illegal when the system doesn’t recognize social security numbers or other identification. As of July 1, 2013, E-Verify can email employees directly if their information triggers a Tentative Non-Confirmation of eligibility (TNC).

However even this upgrade doesn’t compensate for the increased amount of time, energy, and manpower that is required to document and comply with US regulations. More likely than not, it’s only going to get more time-consuming for companies both large and small.

What to do?

Get Ahead of the Curve

Take a tour of the E-verify site and start an account for your current employees.

Review Your Procedures

Make sure you already comply with I-9 regulations.

Keep Detailed Employee Records

You should already have stored securely and on-file the following information for all employees:
  1. Employee’s name and date of birth
  2. SSN, "A" number or I-94 number
  3. Proof of identity and its expiration date, if applicable

Lastly, get over it!

If E-Verify becomes a requirement for all companies, everyone will equally be responsible for assuring the eligibility of their employees to work here in the US. Like every other regulation that has come before, onerous or not, we’ll all eventually become smarter, better and faster at maintaining this intrusive yet safety-oriented program.

Do What You Do Best, and Let Benay Do the Rest!

Benay stays ahead of the informational curve for all our clients so that changes in regulations and compliance issues aren’t a surprise. Want to learn how you can focus on growing your business rather than filling out forms and databases? Give us a call.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Tin House Books Gains More Repute Through Favorable New York Times Review

by Colleen McClintock

Tin House Books' logo.
The Tin House Books title, The Celestials, was featured in a New York Times online review today*. The book, written by Karen Shepard, was released by Tin House just one month ago and has already amassed a fair amount of praise from some of Shepard’s more well-reputed peers, such as Darin Strauss and Julia Glass. The Times is likewise generous, calling the novel “richly detailed,” and claiming Shepard’s highly metaphorical style as more genuine and lifelike than anything else.

In The Celestials, Shepard weaves a tale of vivid fiction to life from a basis of stark fact. She takes the real, yet obscure history of Chinese migrant workers in the United States and shoves it into the spotlight, under the sympathetic context of an unhappy married couple. This couple is what drives the plot’s intensity, but the true, more refined quality of the book lies in the subtext; the historical accounts of the Chinese workers. Shepard hits on the historical points of their assimilation, starting with details as facetious as the immigrants’ obsession with photography, all the way to the serious, and tragic passage of the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, which barred Chinese immigration into the United States.

In addition to The Celestials, Tin House Books released a huge range of other books this season, not one bit less complex or gripping than Shepard’s. Since March they have released seven fiction titles alone, many of which have received much attention.

Horses of God – a book that has been pegged as the Moroccan equivalent of Paulo Lin’s City of God – won the English Pen Award, and the much talked-about American Dream Machine is in line to become the next Showtime Original Series (at the hands of Dexter, himself, no less).

Tin House plans to release six more titles before the year comes to an end, and if the past is any indication of the future, they will surely close it out with a bang.

If you’d like to learn more about Tin House Books has to offer, please visit their website by clicking here.

*The review will be published again in print in this Sunday’s New York Times Book Review.

Friday, July 19, 2013

The Literary Group Merges With Folio; Impressive Roster Of Agents Draws Attention

by Colleen McClintock

Benay client, The Literary Group International (LGI), saw its biggest change in company history on July 1st, when it finalized its merger with Folio Literary Management. Upon the merger, it was decided that the company would maintain the Folio title.

October Sky, by Homer Hickam;
just one of many famous books
backed by The Literary Group.
LGI founder Frank Weimann will take the roll of Senior Vice President and Director of Operations. LGI agents Katherine Latshaw and Jeff Silberman will join the Folio team as well; Latshaw, as a full time agent, and Silberman, as a separate entity working in affiliation with Folio.

Though the company will keep the Folio name, there is no doubt that The Literary Group’s role will be an invaluable part of Folio’s future. Weimann’s roster alone boasts an impressive spread, with titles like the recent Grace, Gold and Glory by Olympic gold medalyst, Gabby Douglas, and the gripping autobiography by Gregg Allman of the Allman Brothers, entitled My Cross to Bear.

The Literary Group’s past successes have also included a wide variety of books – How-Tos by Tia Mowry, Carmen Electra, and Warren Brown and memoirs by Ed Hardy, Chris Perez, and Homer Hickam.

Neither company has made comment on the merger so far, but the prospects look promising for both as they move together towards a more secure, fortified future.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Apple Guilty of eBook Price Fixing

Apple, Inc. owns one of the largest media distributors in the world; iTunes. But today a federal judge ruled that the company conspired with five major publishers to raise the retail prices of electronic books.

The shocking conspiracy was revealed today when U.S. District Judge Denise Cote of Southern New York found “compelling evidence” that apple violated federal antitrust laws by playing a “central role” in a scheme with the publishers to eliminate retail price competition and raise e-book prices.

Apple planned to undercut retail giant and its e-book dominance by raising some prices to 12.99 or 14.99 from the 9.99 that Amazon charged. Amazon once held a 90 percent market share.

In the 159-page decision, Cote said “Apple chose to join forces with the publishers’ defendants to raise e-book prices and equipped them with the means to do so.” She also added that without Apple’s involvement, this scheme could have never been orchestrated effectively.

Assistant Attorney General Bill Baer of the Justice Department released a statement, saying, “This result is a victory for millions of consumers who choose to read books electronically.” He also stated that the court decision is the first step in a long process to undo to harm caused by Apple’s price fixing scheme.

Apple released a statement, also in response to the ruling, that allegations against them are false and that they plan on appealing Judge Denise Cote’s decision.

Apple spokesman Tome Niamey said: “"When we introduced the iBookstore in 2010, we gave customers more choice, injecting much needed innovation and competition into the market, breaking Amazon's monopolistic grip on the publishing industry. We've done nothing wrong."

Last year however, Apple settled a separate antitrust case over e-book pricing with the European Commission. They also admitted no wrongdoing in that case either.

Only Apple went to trial; the publishers agreed to pay more than $166 million combined to benefit consumers. The publishers included were Lagardere SCA’s Hachette Book Group, Inc., News Corp's HarperCollins Publishers LLC, Pearson Plc's Penguin Group (USA), Inc., CBS Corp's Simon & Schuster, Inc. and Verlagsgruppe Georg von Holtzbrinck GmbH's Macmillan.

Baer said that Cote’s decision, together with the settlements, have helped to reduce prices of e-books.

This decision has the potential to be a major blow to Apple, whose stock prices have never quite recovered to its Jobs-era highs. In the morning trading, Apple shares fell by 30 cents. 

- Emma Kent

Don’t Be a Leader or a Follower; Be a Joiner!

Join the conversation
We were all told as children that there are leaders and followers but no one talked about the rewards of being a joiner. Try being a joiner in your own organization and get more out of your business by putting in less!

Join the Conversation, Don't Lead

During our weekly office meetings I always try to speak last so I can hear the concerns, thoughts, and issues of my team. By speaking last I don't lead or direct the conversation but rather act as just another participant. I also learn what is of concern and what's really important as opposed to my own preconceptions.

Follow the Lead of Your Team

My inclination is to always give my opinion but that quickly stifles discussion as I'm the head of the company.  When there's an important company decision to be made, let others give you their reasons for or against an idea and then weigh in. Many times others have better or more developed ideas, or are coming at a conclusion from a very different vantage point. You can always have the last word but that doesn’t necessarily make it the best.

Encourage Frank Speaking

If people know they can truly voice their opinions, innovation and change become encouraged and welcomed. Let people know they can interrupt you or suggest a change when necessary, especially if they think they’ll keep you from making a mistake or not putting forth the best effort you and your company have to give.

Enjoy Fresh Ideas

After 23 years in this business and with staff members who have been with our organization for 8, 10, 15 years or more, it's not uncommon for me to be overridden by staff on opinions and to be honest, most of the time they are right. That doesn’t mean they don’t respect me or my vision for the company. Rather, it makes room for others to jump in with their own ideas, which may be newer, fresher, or better. Conversations rather than decrees build a team.

Do What You Do Best, and Let Benay Do the Rest!

You and your team work hard to grow your business. Get more time to focus on what you do best by letting Benay work behind the scenes, handling your AP/AR, invoicing, HR issues, and financials.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Infamous Books Now an Imprint of Akashic Books

Benay client, Akashic Books, is taking it to the street with their new imprint, Infamous Books. Akashic has paired with Infamous Records to release a line of urban fiction novellas. The first book, H.N.I.C., by rapper Prodigy (who also owns Infamous Records) and Steven Savile will be released on July 16th. Prodigy (Albert Johnson) is a member of the rap duo, Mobb Deep and the H.N.I.C. release will coincide with Mobb Deep’s international tour.

H.N.I.C., a novella by Albert Johnson with Steven Savile will be released on July 16th.

According to Publisher’s Weekly, Akashic Books will work as the distributor and “co-handle the editorial and marketing duties with Infamous.” Marvis Johnson, Prodigy’s talent manager, “will oversee the daily operations of the imprint.” Johnson plans to use innovative marketing strategies to reach audiences wider than just the African American demographic. “’The statistics are that 90% of urban music is not purchased by African Americans. But urban books, when they are released, are only promoted to African Americans,’” he said.

This will be Prodigy’s second book. His memoir, My Infamous Life (Touchstone), was published in 2011. Interestingly enough, H.N.I.C. began as a film script in 1999. “’After My Infamous Life came out, I decided to take the H.N.I.C. script and [work with] somebody who was a book writer,’” said Prodigy. He chose to work with Steven Savile who is an award-winning British novelist and has published works in the fantasy, horror, and thriller genres.

Albert Johnson is better known as Prodigy, a member of the rap duo, Mobb Deep.
“’Steve brings the European style and mixes it with mine,’ Prodigy says. ‘I love street slang, and I listen to the street slang of other countries. So Steve added twists and turns and changed the language.’ Savile added, ‘each of us basically added our own unique skill set to the book. It's certainly a book neither of us could have written alone.’”

The books will be in novella form (80-100 pages) with a small trim size of 5” by 7”. They will be published in all formats simultaneously (hardcover, paperback, audio, and e-books). As Akashic Books publisher, Johnny Temple says, “’We’ve had a lot of success with small trim sizes …With the Hip Hop street esthetic, there’s something about being able to slip it in your back pocket.”

Infamous Books will release an average of four novellas a year and will include novellas from other urban fiction authors such as K’wan (Hood Rat, Welfare Wifeys), JaQuavis Coleman (co-author of The Cartel, Murderville), and Miasha (Secret Society, Diary of a Mistress).

Prodigy is not the first rapper to enter the publishing world. 50 Cent, T.I., Jay-Z , and Eminem have all written books. According to the New  York Times, there is a stark distinction between urban fiction and street-lit, which many of these rappers’ books fall into. The street-lit genre features stories that are more violent and devious. Urban fiction tends to focus more on morality and issues of loyalty.

Akashic Books has previously published urban fiction but tends to stick with literary fiction and political non-fiction. “’It’s a perfect imprint for the way the book industry is suffering,’ Temple said recently. ‘It will bring in new audiences. I see this as crime fiction, and there are not many black crime fiction writers beyond Walter Mosley and the late Chester Himes. Akashic is a literary publishing house, and we’re in a perfect position to crossover books like this and to say, ‘Don’t let the hip-hop aesthetics scare you off.’”

- Marcie Gainer

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Transparency and Excellence Bring Kudos to Trust and Estate Attorneys at The MacLean Law Firm

Ian MacLean
When listening to founding attorney Ian MacLean speak about the estates and clients his law firm works with, there is no denying it: The MacLean Law Firm, P.C has its priorities straight.

The Manhattan-based firm was established in 2004 by Ian MacLean. He and the three of counsel attorneys — Philip Bouklas, Jill Teitel, and Richard Hubell — all specialize in trusts and estates law - probate, trust and estate litigation and administration, and estate planning.

The MacLean team works cohesively under the credo that transparency is of the utmost importance in their work. They see clients as real people, not numbers, and put value on keeping clients out of long drawn out litigation processes. 

“We work in a very personal area of the law; and we are always conscientious of that, along with the finer legal points at issue,” says MacLean.

That being said, MacLean and his associates are no pushovers. “We do litigation … from a very thoughtful, pragmatic, realistic perspective; keeping people out of long, drawn-out fights is usually the first option we consider,” says MacLean. “But if a fight is in our clients’ best interests or necessary to enforce our clients’ rights and protect their assets, or if the other side wants to fight, we strap on the proverbial armor and do battle.”


Over the past eight years, the MacLean Law Firm has gained a heaping amount of prestige.

MacLean has been named a “super lawyer” in the New York Metropolitan area by his peers, and both MacLean and Hubell are AV rated – an award given to a lawyer by his peers, ranking them at the highest level of professional excellence.

And yet, MacLean prides himself most on one thing: thank you notes. Amongst the many praises The MacLean Law Firm regularly receives from clients, they have been called uncommonly attentive, reassuring, appropriate, compassionate – and above all, thorough.

It is with this delicate—and what’s more—perfected balance of compassion and realism that The MacLean Law Firm excels. Their meticulous attention to detail, sense of humanity, and strength as just representatives of their people are what make them unique and exceptional.

Do What You Do Best, and Let Benay Do the Rest

While Ian MacLean and his staff are working hard for their clients, Benay is working hard behind the scenes, handling the AP/AR, invoicing, HR issues, and financials, so the attorneys at The MacLean Law Firm are free to focus on what they do best.

If you, too, want more time to battle on behalf of your clients, give us a call at 203-744-6010.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Tin House Gains More Speed with N.Y. Times Rave Review of 'American Dream Machine'

by Colleen McClintock

Tin House Books saw yet another rave review of Matthew Specktor’s novel American Dream Machine appear in the print copy of the New York Times’ June 2nd Sunday Book Review. The same review was published early on the New York Times website, the previous Friday.

In laymen’s terms, the exposure that both Tin House and Specktor received within one single weekend was downright impressive. The review was featured on the eleventh page of the Book Review section, and took up the entire space of the page; a feat not easily achieved in the Times It was written by Christine Sneed, a well-established author, herself. It is perhaps because of this that Sneed was able to tap into the sentimentality of Specktor’s novel in her review, calling its dismal tone “elegaic” and deeming it as a “hip bildungsroman” narrated by the protagonist, Nate, in the fashion of a “fever dream.”

A photo of Matthew Specktor featured in the Times' review
of American Dream Machine, June 2.
This is arguably the biggest of praises that Tin House has seen this year via American Dream Machine, but it is definitely not the first, as the Timesand others – have featured smaller-scale reviews of the book since its April release.

But it is not just novels like American Dream Machine that give Tin House its chutzpah; titles are only part of it. There are factors like last year’s VIDA count that also come into play.

The VIDA count is an annual survey taken by the feminist literary group, VIDA, to see where the most gender equality lies in the world of publishing. In 2012 Tin House stood out among the lot as one of the most progressive in terms of gender balance, along with fellow Benay client, Granta Magazine.

Tin House also reinforces itself as a living, breathing institution through the yearly workshops they hold for up-and-coming writers. They are residential programs run by the very same editors of Tin House Books and of their sister lit mag, Tin House Magazine. The workshops are entered strictly through application and acceptance, but hold little pretense elsewhere and promise much growth for those who enroll. It is Tin House’s way of aiding new writers in reaching the successes that authors like Specktor have reached. In this, they ensure the survival and perseverance of a literary tradition based on craft, style, and most importantly, passion.

If you’d like to learn more about Tin House Books, please feel free to visit their website by clicking here. To see excerpts from American Dream Machine, please visit the book's page on the Tin House website. 

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Golf Writers Association Taps Bruce Smith as Marketing Director

Golf Writers
Exciting news for Benay client Bruce Smith, president of Sporty Bears Productions! He’s now also the Director of Marketing for the Metropolitan Golf Writers Association

According to Smith, “The new position is charged with the responsibility of securing the financial success of the MGWA National Awards Dinner.  Primary responsibilities include ticket sales, sponsorships and raffle/auction.”


This year’s 62nd National Awards Dinner will be held on June 18 at the Westchester Marriot in Tarrytown, New York.  Paul Azinger, a 12-time PGA Tour winner, will headline the event and receive the Gold Tee Award.  Past award winners include some of the most memorable names in golf: Bobby Jones, Sam Snead, Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player, Nancy Lopez, Phil Mickelson, Annika Sorenstam, and Ernie Els.

The MGWA Dinner enjoys support from golf’s leading organizations – USGA, PGA of America, PGA TOUR, LPGA, MGA, MetLife, and Rolex.  It is the longest running golf dinner in the world and has raised over $1.3 million for Caddie Scholarship programs in the metropolitan New York area and for the the MGA Foundation.”

Smith himself has been very active with the MGWA, “the most active golf writers’ association in the world.”  He’s been a member of the MGWA Executive Committee for 20 years and was also president from 1999-2003, during which he raised an astounding $300,000 for the association’s four charities.


Smith’s most recent project is a promotional video he made for the MGWA Dinner, mixing excitement for this year’s event with a bit of nostalgia for the past.  View it here:

Do What You Do Best, and Let Benay Do the Rest

For close to two decades Benay has been a trusted advisor for Bruce and Sporty Bear Productions. We take away the hassle of everyday business and financial tasks so that business people like Bruce can focus on their true passions.

If you want more time to follow your passions with peace of mind that your company is still operating smoothly, give us a call at 203-744-6010.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Where Were Their Advisors?

Great Read from InsuranceNewsNet

Estate Planning Failures of the Rich and Famous

Sometimes you just can't write a better piece than the one you just read. That's the case with Steven A. Morelli's fascinating and funny article, "Estate Planning Failures of the Rich and Famous."

The article was featured in the May issue of InsuranceNewsNet Magazine, where the author is editor-in-chief. The publication might not sound sexy, but Morelli provides witty anecdotes and insights on estate planning fiascos one might not expect from some very smart people who surely had the means to hire competent advisors.

Bottom line: Even when you think you've crossed all your 't's and dotted all your 'i's, things can go wrong after you've passed on.

The late Sherman Helmsley


Sherman Helmsley (George Jefferson from "The Jeffersons") passed away in 2012 from lung cancer. After he died, his half-brother, Richard Thornton, came out of the woodwork demanding Helmsley's entire estate ($50,000). No one Helmsley was close with had heard of Thornton but tests proved he was a blood relative. Because Helmsley didn't explicitly mention anything about Thornton in his will and because he signed it six weeks before he died, Thornton had ground to stand on.

Morelli notes: "In Helmsley's case, a judge said his half-brother could contest the will but followed Helmsley's wishes to be buried in El Paso."

The late Whitney Houston


We all remember the untimely death of Whitney Houston back in 2012.

When Houston's daughter Bobbi Kristina Brown was born, Houston never drew up a new will. She simply added a clause that said Bobbi would gain 10% of the estate when she turns 21, 20% when she turns 25, and the rest at age 30. Houston's mother is saying that Houston would have preferred that her daughter receive a lifetime stream of money instead of the lump sum.

What was Houston's intention? There's no way to tell, so it's left up to a judge to decide. A good way to remedy this is to clearly state intentions, which can be done with a video will.

Do What You Do Best, and Let Benay Do the Rest!

There are some good lessons to take away from these stories. One, even best laid plans goes awry. Two and more importantly, expert planning is everything.

Having the proper advisors for personal and business estate planning coverage is important, and one of our jobs here at Benay is to ensure that our clients have all their bases covered, estate planning included. We make sure that each client, through trusted advisors in all fields of business, has the proper estate planning for their specific needs.

Friday, May 17, 2013

The DO Book Company

I just found a really curious and noteworthy new independent publishing house out of the UK, The DO Book Company. They’ve only started with five titles and the books run only about 100 pages.  They’re mini-inspirational primers on subjects that people want an immediate insight into, like “Do Grow – Start with 10 simple vegetables.” 

At close to $6 a pop for the eBook, who wouldn’t want to gobble them up like M&M’s, reading “Do Disrupt – Change the status quo or become it” in between corporate meetings? Check them out and support independent publishing.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Tin House Author Approached by Dexter's Matthew C. Hall with Plans for Showtime Script

Of course we at Benay know all too well the breadth of talent our clients publish, but the verity of this realization came to fruition when Benay client Tin House Book's author, Matthew Specktor, was approach by none other than Michael C. Hall, who had a very particular proposal for him. Hall, who many of you may know better as the murderous television vigilante, Dexter, had read Specktor’s most recent novel, American Dream Machine, released from Tin House Books in April, and seen huge cinematic potential. He wanted the story to come to life on screen as a new Showtime television series, and he wanted Specktor to be the one to write it to life. Specktor agreed to the project; a decision that he would have had trouble making years ago.

Tin House author, Matthew Specktor

“I didn’t know very many happy screenwriters,” he writes in a recent column for Salon Media Group. “I didn’t know any, in fact: even the most successful among them… were miserable, touched with a kind of self-loathing unique to the breed.”

And yet Specktor is still giving it a go. The American Dream Machine project is still in its infancy at the Showtime studios, according to The Hollywood Reporter, but the prospects do seem hopeful. With the Dexter saga at a close, Hall is ramped up for a fresh new project, and Specktor seems to be in a rather healthy place these days in his relationship with screenwriting.

Tin House Books joked about the news on their Facebook page, last Monday, asking their followers who they think should play Beau, the father of the novel’s main character who rises out of nothingness to become one of Hollywood’s top agents. Answers proved cheeky, ranging from Patton Oswalt to Fred Melamed.

Screenshot of Michael C. Hall from an
episode of the Showtime series, Dexter.
On a more serious note, it does seem only fitting that an actor like Hall would pick up a book like American Dream Machine and bring it to Showtime. After all, their fast-paced racy series like Dexter, Weeds, and Californication, mirror the tone found in a large amount of Tin House’s titles. Alongside American Dream Machine’s gritty reality sits novels like Me and Mr. Booker, a tale of a small town sixteen-year-old who finds salvation from boredom in a charming Brit who shows her the ways of the world through style, adventure, whiskey, cigarettes and sex, and Misfit, a novel that outlines the last week of Marilyn Monroe’s life, and her long hard fall from the top of stardom.

Tin House’s books having a modern cinematic feel is unmistakable. They are highly conducive to the modern medium of film and television; a fact solidified by Showtime’s recent interest in American Dream Machine, and a quality that will prove to be invaluable, given the way that the story is favored so immensely by motion picture in this age. It is just another way that we at Benay are right in saying that our clients are, indeed, on top.


If you’d like to learn more about Matthew Specktor and his novel, American Dream Machine, please visit the Tin House website by clicking here. You can find excerpts from the novel, information on Specktor’s other works, other Tin House authors, and more.

- Colleen McClintock