Virtual Book Tour: Interview with Mark Bernstein and Yadin Kaufmann

Mark Bernstein, a native of Knoxville, TN, is a graduate of the Wharton School of Business of the University of Pennsylvania and New York University's School of Law. He was an attorney with the King & Spalding law firm in Atlanta, served as senior legal counsel at Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. and was a senior vice president of CNN and general manager of CNN's digital content division, CNN Interactive.

He has served on the boards of many community and civic organizations, including Hands on Atlanta, City Cares, American Jewish World Service, Senior Citizen's Services of Metropolitan Atlanta, the Piedmont Park Conservancy and the Atlanta Committee for Public Education. Bernstein has been recognized for his community service by receiving the Martin Luther King, Jr. Center Community Services Award, the WXIA Atlanta Jefferson Community Service Award and the Metropolitan Atlanta United Way Golden Rule Award. Bernstein was selected by the World Economic Forum as one of its 100 Global Leaders for Tomorrow in 1999.

Yadin Kaufmann, a native New Yorker, is a venture capitalist, and is a Founding Partner of Veritas Venture Partners, co-founder of MainXchange Ltd., an Internet company that delivered financial and business content to the teen market, and founder of Tmura, a not-for-profit Public Service Venture Fund. He has served as a board member of numerous successful venture-backed companies. He received his B.A. from
Princeton University, M.A. from Harvard University, and J.D. from Harvard Law School, where he was an editor of the Harvard Law Review.

You can visit their website at

About the Book:

How to Survive Your Freshman Year was compiled from interviews with hundreds of students at over 120 colleges across the country, and includes the latest advice and tips straight from students. The book is sure to help freshmen get off to a great start in college, armed with the experience of hundreds of others who have "been there, done that." The book also helps parents better understand how their teens can survive and thrive in college, and makes for a great high school graduation gift.

The book’s Special Editor, academic advisor and instructor Frances Northcutt, adds expert advice, guidance and insightful commentary.

How to Survive Your Freshman Year gives students great advice on:

• Getting off to a great start in college

• What to take

• Where to live

• How to get a good roommate

• Dorm Life

• Choosing classes

• When and where to study

• Exams secrets

• Filling free time

• The dating and party scene

• Finances, and

• Choosing a major


Welcome to The Writer's Life, Yadin! Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and how long you’ve been writing?

I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember. I think I sold some poems I wrote when I was about 8. In college, my then-girlfriend (now wife) and I spent a summer in France and came back and wrote a book about it. Then in grad school, the two of us (we’re big ice cream addicts) wrote a book called The Boston Ice Cream Lover’s Guide – which was as much fun to research as it was to write. Addison-Wesley published that one.

I’ve been in the venture capital business for the past 20 years – but still keep a finger in writing, and I always enjoy it.

Can you please tell us about your book and why you wrote it?

A few years ago, I was thinking about how best to help my oldest son, Dov, prepare for college. My own college experience (at Princeton) was a bit stale…and Dov wasn’t likely to listen to his father anyhow! Sure, I could introduce Dov to my circle of friends and acquaintances – but that’s a narrow group too.

It occurred to me that it would be great to find a way to give Dov – and everyone else who’s about to start college – input about what college life is really like, from thousands of kids who are in college today, and have something interesting to say about it.

So, with an old friend (Mark Bernstein), we put together a team of journalists whom we call “headhunters.” These headhunters went out and interviewed thousands of students at over 120 colleges all across the country - big schools, small schools, Ivies, and state universities; Greeks, geeks, and jocks. They spoke with students at the college newspapers, kids hanging out in the library or in the rec center, kids on their way to class or lounging around in the dorm. One headhunter in Pennsylvania offered free pizza for students willing to share their advice. The interviewers asked the students questions about every aspect of college life – about what they would advise incoming freshmen, and why. We also collected tips at our web site,

We then compiled the best material that we felt gives our readers direct, informative and humorous advice they might not get, even from their best friends. The result was How to Survive Your Freshman Year – which is now in its 3rd edition. The book has become a sort of “bible” of college life for entering freshmen, and offers hundreds of the best practical tips and fun stories to help entering freshmen better navigate their way through this challenging period.

How to Survive Your Freshman Year gives students great advice on:

· Getting off to a great start in college

· What to take

· Where to live

· How to get a good roommate

· Dorm Life

· Choosing classes

· When and where to study

· Exams secrets

· Filling free time

· The dating and party scene

· Finances, and

· Choosing a major

The book reflects today’s new freshman lifestyle and experiences, with new chapters covering:

  • Social networking and Facebook
  • Wireless & digital devices
  • Student expectations vs. reality
  • Changing the world and environmentalism
  • Diversity
  • Food, fashion, the party scene - and much more

A new appendix provides useful checklists for incoming freshmen.

The book’s Special Editor, academic advisor and instructor Frances Northcutt, adds expert advice, guidance and insightful commentary. Fran is an academic advisor in the William E. Macaulay Honors College of the City University of New York at Hunter College. She has advised students at Wesleyan University, the University of California, Berkeley; and the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia, where she also taught classes on college skills and professional development. Frances is active in the National Academic Advising Association, and was selected as the Outstanding Advisor (Primary Role) for the Mid-Atlantic region in 2006.

What kind of research was involved in writing “HOW TO SURVIVE YOUR FRESHMAN YEAR”?

First we consulted with experts, and looked at every book we could find on the subject, to make sure we covered every issue that would be of interest to entering college freshmen. We drew up a list of questions we thought students would want answered. And we sent our team of dozens of journalists – our “headhunters” – to campuses all across the country, to find students with something interesting to say about some important aspect of college life.

Altogether, we interviewed well over 1,000 people for How to Survive Your Freshman Year.

How much input did you have into the design of your book cover?

Too much, probably! We went through many different versions until we came up with what we thought was a great cover. It was a little more challenging than usual in this case, because we knew this book would be the first in a series, covering many different subjects – so we wanted a cover look that could work for lots of different topics, and appeal to many different age groups. It was also very important to us that the cover conveyed the fact that our books contain the experiences and advice of hundreds of different people – rather than the voice of a single author. That’s how we got to the multiple “heads” on our covers.

Has it been a bumpy ride to becoming a published author or has it been pretty well smooth sailing?

In general, smooth sailing – though the fact that we were the publishers, too, added lots of new challenges that most authors don’t encounter.

For this particular book, how long did it take from the time you signed the contract to its release?

From the time we decided to produce How to Survive Your Freshman Year, until it was released, took about a year and a half. Most of that time was spent making sure we had enough great material from a broad mix of students at many different kinds of colleges all across the country. Then there was an extensive editorial process, with several layers of editorial review and improvements.

Do you have an agent and, if so, would you mind sharing who he/is is? If not, have you ever had an agent or do you even feel it’s necessary to have one?

We didn’t use an agent. That’s one advantage of starting your own publishing company!

Do you plan subsequent books?

After we produced the first edition of How to Survive Your Freshman Year, we took our basic idea – collecting the “real-life” wisdom and useful advice from hundreds of “experienced” people to help others – and started applying it to some of life’s other challenges. By now we’ve produced 20 books, including How to Survive Getting Into College, How to Survive Your Marriage, How to Survive A Move, How to Survive Your Retirement – and many others.

Are you a morning writer or a night writer?

I tend to work better at night – fewer distractions.

If money was no object, what would be the first thing you would invest in to promote your book?

A “grass-roots” tour to a few dozen of the college campuses our interviewers went to. This would help spread the word about Hundreds of Heads to college students, and probably would generate some good PR, too.

How important do you think self-promotion is and in what ways have you been promoting your book offline and online?

It’s very important. You can’t rely on the book to sell itself, even if you succeed in getting it on the shelves of the leading retailers. And even if you have a publisher – they’re probably busy with lots of different titles to promote, whereas you only care about your own book. To make the book rise above the noise, you need to think creatively about what sort of promotional things make sense to do given the type of book you’ve written.

One of the most effective things we’ve done is to reach out to counselors who advise high school juniors and seniors, to tell them about the great advice in How to Survive Your Freshman Year, so that they can tell their students about this useful new resource for when they go off to college.

Any final words of wisdom for those of us who would like to be published?

If you’re passionate about the subject you’re writing about – and about writing itself - don’t give up. There will be challenges along the way, but learn from everyone you can – remember, hundreds of heads are better than one! – and stick it out. The feeling you’ll get when you see your book in print and at the cash register when someone buys it – is terrific!

Thank you for coming, Yadin! Would you like to tell my readers where they can find you on the web and how everyone can buy your book?

Sure, thanks. Our web site is How to Survive Your Freshman Year is available at Amazon

and at Barnes & Noble online - and at all the leading bookstores.

Editor's Note: Because we are having problems with our comment box showing up on the main page, please click here to leave a comment. Thank you!


HOW TO SURVIVE YOUR FRESHMAN YEAR VIRTUAL BOOK TOUR '08 will officially begin on August 4, 2008 and continue all month. You can visit the authors' tour stops at in August to find out more about them and their book!

As a special promotion for all our authors, Pump Up Your Book Promotion is giving away a FREE virtual book tour to a published author with a recent release or a $25 Amazon gift certificate to those not published who comments on our authors' blog stops. More prizes will be announced as they come available. The winners will be announced on this blog on August 31!

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1 comment:

  1. This is an excellent resource for incoming freshman! I wish it were around when I was considering college.



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