Case Study: Seizing Opportunity with The Opportunity Agenda

A Plan to Grow the Middle Class and Revitalize the Democratic Party



Disrupting the Democratic Party to improve its core
New York businessman and civic leader Winston Fisher and former Kansas City mayor Sly James wouldn’t seem like they have much in common. They come from different cities, cultures, and professions. But they do have one thing in common: their desire to save the Democratic Party from itself. Together, in The Opportunity Agenda: A Bold Democratic Plan to Grow the Middle Class, they outline a way forward for the party that focuses on what really matters: appealing to the American people.

What does this mean?
Winston Fisher and Sly James are both faithful Democrats but believe the party can do more to achieve long-term success. They think that rather than rehashing the same common platforms—Medicare for All, higher minimum wage, a Green New Deal—the party needs to target voters by focusing on mainstay policies that will appeal to a wide swath of Americans for years to come. If the policy makes sense with the words “for you” tacked onto it, then that policy is likely to interest most Americans beyond a single election cycle. Voters want to see a platform tailored for them rather than one created on the rebound from a lost election.

Our goals?
1. Edit The Opportunity Agenda after Fisher and James write it
2. Update the book during production to be up-to-date with the COVID-19 pandemic
3. Capitalize on the biggest talking points of the 2020 election cycle


Winston Fisher wanted to help improve the Democratic Party, so he set up a meeting with Sly James to discuss ideas. They soon realized they shared a lot of the same ideals and agreed the Democratic Party is due for a change because of its repeated failures. So, they co-authored a manuscript intended to solve those problems and provide a roadmap for Democrats moving forward. They took their time developing the manuscript, brainstorming various policy points and the best possible solutions for the American people. After about a year of development and writing, they had a final manuscript that achieved those goals.

When COVID-19 swept the United States, the need for Fisher and James’s policies was clearer than ever. Portable benefits, for example, became sorely needed as people lost their traditional nine-to-five jobs. Despite the fact that The Opportunity Agenda was already at the printer, we updated it to ensure the book remained topical upon its release.

Both authors are active in their Democratic scenes, which was useful as we neared the book’s release date. Sly James covered Kansas City, Missouri, while Winston Fisher was in charge of New York City. And in addition to leveraging their personal networks, James and Fisher partnered with Global Strategy Group, a public affairs and communications firm that specializes in the intersection of business and politics. Javelin, a DC-based media and public relations company known for marketing political titles, also got involved to assist with media and publicity. Between Fisher, James, GSG, Javelin, and Amplify, it was a coordinated effort to make waves in the press in advance of the 2020 presidential election.

The effort bore fruit. Sly James and Winston Fisher co-authored an op-ed for Newsweek entitled “A Warning to Our Fellow Democrats: A Campaign Focused on Trump Won’t Win.” In it, they acknowledge the unity of the Democratic Party against President Trump and his reelection bid but insist on the need for a “major campaign pivot” to ensure lasting wins. Sly James also made appearances on national television. On Fox News, he discussed the George Floyd protests as a situation needing strong leadership, and on MSNBC, he appeared to discuss how the Democratic Party can become the party of opportunity. He wrote an op-ed in The Kansas City Star, advocating paid family leave as an economic boon and an issue the Democrats should champion beyond the 2020 election. Kirkus Reviews, a trusted voice in book reviews, also hailed Fisher and James’s ideas as “ambitious and cogent.”

It takes more than relying on the failures of others to make a political party successful and transcend just one election cycle. Winston Fisher and Sly James dug deeper and created a plan to renew the Democratic Party and bolster middle-class Americans for years to come.

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The Rapidly Changing Marketplace for Political Books

Bob Woodward, Donald Trump Jr., and RealClearPolitics make headlines in the 2020 Election Book Season

by Naren Aryal

 

As the November election approaches, we are in the heart of the political book season. And just like the election itself, the battle for readership is unlike anything we’ve witnessed before. There are a slew of titles from the large publishing houses that cycle in and out of the news, with the most recent entry being Rage by Bob Woodward.

Here’s what’s new and notable in the political book arena:

From the “Big Five” traditional publishing houses:
Rage by Bob Woodward revealed that President Donald Trump concealed the threat of the coronavirus from the American people, Live Free or Die by Sean Hannity argued against leftwing radicalism, and The Room Where It Happened by John Bolton accused Trump of colluding with Chinese officials to secure re-election. Each of them managed to secure media attention surrounding their publication date in an attempt to claim readers’ attention.


A recent self-published title:
Donald Trump Jr.’s new book Liberal Privilege: Joe Biden and The Democrats’ Defense of The Indefensible is markedly different from its contemporaries. Trump Jr. self-published Liberal Privilege on Tuesday, September 1 and, at the time of writing, was ranked #12 on Amazon and #30 in the Kindle Store. It claimed the #1 spot in the following Politics and Government categories: “Ideologies & Doctrines,” “Political Conservatism & Liberalism,” and “Nationalism.”


From the latest entrant into publishing, hybrid publishing:
RealClear Publishing, a new imprint of Amplify Publishing in partnership with RealClearPolitics and Gotham Ghostwriters, also has several political titles in the mix. Its hybrid model allows for a variety of authors to join the national political conversation while retaining creative control and an advantageous royalties split. Contract to Unite America: Ten Reforms to Reclaim Our Republic by Neal Simon prescribes ways to bring America back from the frenzy of political partisanship. From longtime advocate of basic income, Steve Shafarman, comes Our Future: The Basic Income Plan for Peace, Justice, Liberty, Democracy, and Personal Dignity, a book that discusses a potential plan for Universal Basic Income (UBI), a prominent policy that has taken center stage in the 2020 election. Andrew Yang, former Democratic presidential candidate and proponent of UBI, writes the foreword. And Bob Worsley, former Arizona state senator, in The Horseshoe Virus: How the Anti-Immigration Movement Spread from Left-Wing to Right-Wing America traces the origins of anti-immigration sentiment in the United States and urges for a return from extremism.


The Rise of Alternative Publishing
After hitting a home run with his first book, why would Trump Jr., or other respected authors, choose a non-traditional pathway to publishing this time around? Some reasons include:

Speed to market. With the November presidential election looming, the time is ripe for political books. Trump Jr. turned his book around from draft to printed book in a matter of months, whereas traditional publishing usually takes at least a year.

Creative control. Self-publishing means Trump Jr. can produce his book the way he wants it, without editorial or design interference. He’s beholden only to himself, and that means he can write anything (including typos on his book cover) and has total creative liberty.

Potentially greater financial upside. Trump Jr. reportedly turned down the advance Hachette offered for Liberal Privilege. However, if he’s able to leverage his audience, he’ll do just fine with this second book and will receive a much high royalty percentage than he would have otherwise.


Access to readers is key for self-publishing and hybrid publishing success and has long been the biggest obstacle to self-publishing in the past. Author platforms don’t get bigger than Trump Jr.’s 5.5 million Twitter followers (not to mention his father’s 85.7 million). Trump Jr. has access to his readers and the counter-establishment mindset to reach them. RealClear Publishing’s platform taps into RealClearPolitics’s political news audience to make waves with its titles.

Of course, the appeal of traditional publishing has been high editorial quality, access to bookstores, and robust marketing support. But ever since Amazon came onto the scene in the early 2000s and rocked the publishing world, no longer is the only legitimate way to get an author’s book read by going traditional (and dealing with literary agents, acquisition editors, and bookstore buyers). Now anyone can upload a PDF to their CreateSpace and Kindle Direct Publishing services and create a sellable book.

The rules are different now, and Trump Jr. is just the latest in a long string of authors finding publishing success by pursuing alternative routes.

Here are a few others:
-Alex Berenson, former New York Times reporter, self-published Unreported Truths About COVID-19 and Lockdowns in June which hit #1 on Kindle.
-Marc Reklau self-published 30 Days: Change Your Habits, Change Your Life which became the #1 bestseller on Amazon.
-Andy Weir’s The Martian was originally self-published on his blog and then sold on Amazon for $0.99 before debuting at #12 on the New York Times Fiction Bestseller list.


But it’s important to draw a clear distinction between Trump Jr.’s approach to self-publishing versus the average self-published author. Trump Jr. likely retained experts to help him throughout the editorial, design, and printing steps of the publishing process, essentially opting into the hybrid publishing model. These are some critical book production tasks many self-published authors either neglect or don’t have the resources to do well.

The hybrid publishing model offers high editorial quality, premium book packaging, and widespread marketing and distribution, while keeping the advantages offered by self-publishing, such as copyright ownership. RealClear Publishing follows the hybrid model to give authors the combination of creative control and publishing industry knowledge. Typically, the hybrid model works best with authors who (1) are authorities in their field but want the advice of book experts, (2) ready to leverage their own emerging or established platforms for success, and (3) ready to be part of a collaborative experience.

To break away from the pack, authors used to have to chase traditional publishers for a book deal. Now, with alternate respected publishing pathways, there are new ways to remain prominent in the 2020 election discussion.






As the CEO at Amplify Publishing and Mascot Books, Naren Aryal is a recognized publishing industry expert. Naren advises authors, thought leaders, and various organizations on the opportunities and challenges that exist in the evolving publishing world. He’s guided the company’s growth from a single children’s book in 2003 to becoming one of the fastest growing and most respected hybrid publishing companies in the world. Today, Mascot Books publishes hundreds of books a year across all genres, and Amplify Publishing is a leading nonfiction imprint specializing in “big ideas” from some of the most reputable names in business and politics. 


Naren frequently speaks at publishing and business events about the importance of developing compelling content and a robust author platform. He is also the author of
How to Sell a Crapload of Books: 10 Secrets of a Killer Author Marketing Platform.

Prior to entering the world of books, Naren worked as a lawyer, advising technology companies in the Washington, D.C. area. He holds a B.S. in Finance from Virginia Tech and Juris Doctor from University of Denver.

 

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Case Study: How The Horseshoe Virus Created Political Change in Arizona

A Political Title Ideally Suited for New RealClear Politics imprint


Former Arizona state senator Bob Worsley uncovers the surprising beginnings of modern anti-immigration sentiments in his book, The Horseshoe Virus: How the Anti-Immigration Movement Spread from Left-Wing to Right-Wing America.


What is the “Horseshoe Virus”?
The “Horseshoe Virus” is the spread of “toxic, anti-immigration legislative and ideological strategy” from groups within both Democrat and Republican parties, Bob Worsley argues. Worsley focuses on how far-left activists shape far-right policies, reveals how anti-immigration feeling rose to prominence in modern politics, and prescribes ways to bring America back from the brink of extremism.


Our goals?
-Set up for success by partnering with RealClearPolitics and Gotham Ghostwriters and publish under the newly-established RealClear Publishing imprint
-Make waves in the press with Worsley’s activism on immigration policy
-Pick a strategic publication date to capitalize on the 2020 election cycle and move quickly to launch title

RealClear Publishing is an imprint of Amplify Publishing, RealClearPolitics, and Gotham Ghostwriters. RealClear Publishing was established with the goal of diversifying the conversation around politics. While traditional publishers only publish books by the political elite, RealClear Publishing works to bring out voices from educated thought leaders and respected individuals. RealClear Publishing authors retain full ownership of their copyright, receive 80% of the profits from sales, and have access to over 17 years of publishing expertise through the Amplify team.

When we started working on The Horseshoe Virus with Bob Worsley, we knew the collaborative style of RealClear Publishing was a perfect fit. Three heads are better than one, so we combined RealClearPolitics’ brand equity as a trusted platform for political news and commentary (and the massive audience they offer), Gotham Ghostwriters’ expert editorial and writing services, and our know-how when it comes to production, distribution, and marketing. The Horseshoe Virus is the product of partnership in action.


Going viral and the media interest that followed
While RealClear Publishing was working behind the scenes to get this book out there, Bob Worsley was getting attention for his well-timed op-ed in AZ Central titled, “A Response to the ‘Latter-day Saints for Trump’s Rally in Mesa, Arizona” in which he called for a return to the values of “truth, respect, honor, competency, freedom, and concern for our fellow man.” He argued that “President Trump is the antithesis of so much the Latter-day Saints community believes.” The letter has gained media attention in the Los Angeles Times, Deseret News, KJZZ, AZ Family, and the Daily Mail.

With Worsley leading the Arizona Republican movement to pull away from Trump, we knew the timing of The Horseshoe Virus had to be just right. With Worsley so prominent, it only made sense that his call to return from far-right extremism would debut on the market in October, right before the November general election.

The strategy paid off. In the election, Arizona went for the Democratic candidate Joe Biden despite being a Republican Party stronghold and a predicted Donald Trump win. Bob Worsley credits that flip in part to the efforts of many good members of the LDS Church and grassroots interest groups like Stand Up Republic, saying they were “a united effort to pull away from Trumpism, anti-immigration feelings, and return to decent, centrist American values.” Worsley’s voice was part of the call for Arizonans to vote for Biden not Trump, and The Horseshoe Virus achieves what a good book should: influence change.





As the CEO at Amplify Publishing and Mascot Books, Naren Aryal is a recognized publishing industry expert. Naren advises authors, thought leaders, and various organizations on the opportunities and challenges that exist in the evolving publishing world. He’s guided the company’s growth from a single children’s book in 2003 to becoming one of the fastest growing and most respected hybrid publishing companies in the world. Today, Mascot Books publishes hundreds of books a year across all genres, and Amplify Publishing is a leading nonfiction imprint specializing in “big ideas” from some of the most reputable names in business and politics. 


Naren frequently speaks at publishing and business events about the importance of developing compelling content and a robust author platform. He is also the author of How to Sell a Crapload of Books: 10 Secrets of a Killer Author Marketing Platform.

Prior to entering the world of books, Naren worked as a lawyer, advising technology companies in the Washington, D.C. area. He holds a B.S. in Finance from Virginia Tech and Juris Doctor from University of Denver.

 

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Ideas to Bridge the Political Divide

Neal Simon and Steven Shafarman have concrete and actionable ideas on how to bridge the large (and growing) ideological divide in present-day America. They have outlined their ideas in new books recently published by RealClear Publishing, a new joint venture established by Amplify Publishing, Gotham Ghostwriters, and RealClear Politics.

Here’s a taste of what Simon and Shafarman believe will fix a broken and hyper-partisan political system.

Contract to Unite America
Business executive and 2018 candidate for United States Senate Neal Simon recently published Contract to Unite America: 10 Reforms to Reclaim Our Republic, a call to purge our political system of corruption and partisan politics. Simon breaks down ten practical ways in which we can restore trust and bipartisan ideals in our political system—from implementing term limits to putting restrictions on campaign financing. One of Simon’s main positions? Ranked-choice voting.

The Skinny on Ranked-Choice Voting
TIME magazine defines ranked-choice voting (RCV) as a system that “allows voters to rank candidates by preference, meaning they can submit ballots that list not only their first-choice candidate for a position, but also their second, third and so on.” The results? Simon told CSPAN that RCV “has done a lot to give voters more choice; it’s done a lot to encourage civility in elections, and you end up with more people elected who represent more of the country.” In Contract to Unite America, Simon argues that RCV provides third-party candidates with a platform and prevents the two-party system from dominating election cycles, ultimately encouraging candidates from different parties to work across the aisle for the sake of their constituents.

According to some experts, here’s how it would work. Say you have a gerrymandered district that is dominated by either Democratic or Republican representatives. With multimember districts under RCV, these areas could instead see a mix of representatives—Democrats, Republicans, and independents. As Simon explains further in Contract to Unite America, “Congress would end up with more Republicans from blue states like New York and more Democrats from red states like Texas.” Meaning, RCV would not only give Democrats or Republicans a chance to represent a new district, but it would also encourage these representatives to work together to serve their shared constituents. Simon believes this is a win-win for politicians and voters.

Our Future
Political advocate Steven Shafarman has been a vocal proponent of universal basic income for more than thirty years. In his upcoming book, Our Future: The Basic Income Plan for Peace, Justice, Liberty, Democracy, and Personal Dignity (June 16, 2020), Shafarman discusses how the implementation of UBI would not only improve the quality of life for all Americans, but would also be a source of common ground for Democrats and Republicans.

The Skinny on Universal Basic Income
Universal basic income (UBI) is exactly what it sounds like—a fixed, guaranteed income for all US citizens. UBI was once thought to be a fringe idea, but yesterday’s fringe idea has become one of the government’s key tools in stimulating the economy during the COVID-19 crisis, garnering bipartisan support. As Shafarman notes in his TED Talk, “The idea is to set some amount, say $1,000 a month, and provide that to every adult citizen.” Citing our nation’s founding fathers, Shafarman argues, “In order to truly secure our inalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, basic income is imperative.” But how could this bridge the political divide?

In Our Future, Shafarman notes that funding for UBI could come from cutting government programs that have become superfluous, appealing to the Republican Party, which prefers less government spending. At the same time, UBI would become a government-funded endeavor, appealing to the Democratic Party, which advocates for big government and the social safety net. In Shafarman’s opinion, the long-term effects of UBI have the potential to lead to bipartisan reform, including improved public health and lowered healthcare costs, a surge in job creation, more successful small businesses, and enduring national security. The idea is simple: We the People versus special interests and the status quo. To Shafarman, it’s a no-brainer.


Ranked-choice voting and universal basic income—two big ideas for political diplomacy from even bigger thought leaders. Simon and Shafarman are leading the conversations, and we look forward to hearing what else they have to say during the 2020 election cycle and beyond. And with our partners at RealClearPolitics we’ll continue to provide political experts like them with a platform to share their big ideas.

Interested in learning more about Amplify’s thought leaders? Check out our authors and upcoming releases.

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The Big Ideas Coming Your Way in 2020

Thought leaders. Influencers. Disrupters.

How we label them doesn’t matter. It’s the ideas that matter. And our Amplify authors have the kind of big ideas that will change minds, shift perspectives, and—at the very least—make us stop and think this year. (Something we can all agree we need more of.)


Contract to Unite America bookContract to Unite America: Ten Reforms to Reclaim Our Republic
Pre-order now on Amazon, available February 18.
As an independent candidate for U.S. Senate in 2018, Neal Simon witnessed the destructive nature of modern American politics. He experienced firsthand the perverse incentives that push candidates and lawmakers to ideological extremes. He watched as party leaders resisted pragmatic solutions to our nation’s problems. He saw politicians prioritize loyalty to their party bases over progress for the American people.

In this comprehensive analysis of United States politics, Simon shows how degradations in party primaries, campaign finances, and election rules have caused American self-government to collapse into gridlock and divisiveness. However, the American promise is so much greater. As the first U.S. President, George Washington, noted in his famed address, “The basis of our political systems is the right of the people to make and to alter their constitutions of government.”

Capitalizing on personal insight derived from Simon’s political campaign along with extensive research, Contract to Unite America provides specific, practical solutions for an improved government and a better tomorrow.


Invisible Solutions bookInvisible Solutions: 25 Lenses that Reframe and Help Solve Difficult Business Problems
Pre-order now on Amazon, available March 3.
Unprecedented access to infinite solutions has led us to realize that having all of the answers is not the answer. From innovation teams to creativity experts to crowdsourcing, we’ve turned from one source to another, spending endless cycles pursuing piecemeal solutions to each challenge we face.

What if your organization had an effective and systematic approach to deal with any problem? To find better solutions, you need to first ask better questions. The questions you ask determine which solutions you’ll see and which will remain hidden.

Stephen M. Shapiro’s compact yet powerful book contains the formulas to reframe any problem multiple ways, using 25 lenses to help you gain different perspectives. With visual examples and guidance, it contains everything you need to master any challenge and will help you discover why we are hardwired to ask ineffective questions; learn to work through those barriers; understand the power and importance of well-defined questions; reframe any problem multiple ways to find the optimal solution; and move from idea-based innovation to question-based innovation that drives higher ROI.

Apply just one of the lenses and you will quickly discover better solutions. Apply all of them and you will be able to solve any problem—in business and in life.


The Conscious Marketer bookThe Conscious Marketer: Inspiring a Deeper and More Conscious Brand Experience
Available in April
The parameters of what constitutes successful marketing are shifting. In today’s increasingly competitive, global marketplace it is essential for companies and brands to not only understand what consumers are buying, but why they are making those purchases. That is where The Conscious Marketer comes in.

It’s one thing to be conscious, but it’s something else entirely to do something impactful with that consciousness. In this expansive guide, Jim Joseph breaks down the ways the marketing industry is changing to meet the needs of a more conscious, engaged consumer, and how those within the marketing industry can adapt to meet those expectations.

The Conscious Marketer provides readers with the tools to navigate the ever-changing landscape of effective marketing and branding, explaining how to market empathetically, actively, and with intent.


Our Future bookOur Future: The Basic Income Plan for Peace, Justice, Liberty, and Personal Dignity
Available in April
Politicians promise to bring us together, seek the center, and reach common ground, yet our government is broken and paralyzed by partisan conflicts. Americans have been in need of a plan to unite the country and renew the vision and values of our founders, and it’s finally here in Our Future.

In this conversational and thought provoking book, basic income expert Steven Shafarman presents a comprehensive history of related ideas—as well as offers a solutions-based compelling vision—with basic income as the key. It’s a concept millions of us currently support, with liberal Democrats endorsing it as a solid floor to replace the tattered social safety net, and conservative Republicans as a way to cut and simplify government. The core of Shafarman’s plan takes the best of both, updating proposals form moderate politicians and leading economists.

Our Future holds the blueprint to successful years ahead, to acting together as We the People and making history.


Pivot & Go bookPivot & Go: The 29 Day Mindset Blueprint to Redefine and Achieve YOUR Success

Releasing in June
Most of us run on an endless string of vague goals, should-haves, and “tomorrows”, with true, empowering change always just out of reach. Most of us feel stuck in a pattern or are unknowingly trapped in our day-to-day routine, without the proper tools to break the mold and live our best lives every single day. David Nurse, a renowned optimization and life coach of more than 100 NBA players and CEOs, knows it doesn’t have to be that way, and a powerful shift in perspective is the answer.

Pivot & Go is a compelling, hands-on blueprint to changing course and leading the life you want to live—today. In this energizing, adventurous, and actionable guide, David outlines a clear 29-day plan; not to living the life, but to living your absolute best life. His key is to make mindful mindset pivots, ones that allow you to shift your perspective by incremental, but profoundly powerful, degrees. Focusing on success, failure, passion, joy, and confidence, Pivot & Go is here to help you find your genuine rhythm—one that will carry you through each chapter of life with the energy and ability to make the most of every day.

Punctuated with stories from his own journey to leading a full and rewarding lifestyle, as well as featuring never-before-told stories of triumph from some of the top NBA athletes in the world, David has delivered a book like none other. Not only will it give you the power to change your life, it will give you the strength to do so. Get ready to banish negative thoughts, live to the max, and become energized and ready to tackle each and every day.

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