Archive for the 'e-books' Category

Social Media Marketing for Books

If you read the many social media advice pages, you could be forgiven for thinking that all you need for success with social media is to learn some tricks and tips for Facebook and Twitter (or any one of the latest social networks with a buzz). This is a bit like saying if you learn to use Microsoft Word, you will have no problem being a successful writer.

–“3 Epiphanies about Social Media Marketing for Books” by Lisa Buchan in Publishing Perspectives

Digital Book World 4

A new study from
Digital Book Word and Writers Digest

I wasn’t able to attend this year’s Digital Book World conference in person because of the kid’s tonsillectomy. (It went well!) But at the last minute someone sent me a link for live streaming and on-demand access. I haven’t made my way through all the sessions yet, and it’s already been worth the money. I especially like the ability to pause, rewind something interesting and watch the sessions on my own schedule.

The “What Authors Want” study from Digital Book World and Writers Digest was a really informative piece, and several of the smaller sessions have led to ideas for new projects and investigations.

 

The Power of Referrals

Find Your First Profitable Idea

I just paid way too much money for an ebook.

Granted, it feels more like a program since it comes with videos, forums and other content, but I never would’ve plunked down the credit card if it hadn’t been for the power of referrals.

About two years ago, I started reading Marian Schembari’s blog. This was before she started her Pajama Job Hunt, moved to New Zealand and hired on with an ad agency. Over many months, I read along as she began a freelance business and took a course with Marie Forleo.

I saw the changes Marian made to her blog, to her business model and to the pricing of her services as she gained clients and experience. I heard her praise for Marie Forleo and how Marie’s influence connected to Marian’s growing successes.

So I started reading Marie’s blog and signed up for her newsletter.

Then, the other day Marie sent an email advertising her Rich, Hot and Happy B-School, which sounds completely awesome if you have a good business idea. I clicked through, waded around and landed on an ebook giveaway. Unfortunately, the giveaway was connected to the more-expensive-than-I-expected B-School, but a quick Google search lead me to another version of the book.

That’s the one I paid way too much money for.

I’d watched Marian’s business grow. I’d read the blog of her mentor. So when her mentor recommended the content of this book, I was influenced enough to buy it.

Now, I’m in the midst of the program, and I’m stuck on chapter two’s brainstorming activity.

The whole point of my purchase was to jump start some good ideas, and I refuse to move forward in the book until I’ve conquered this task. So, for now, my really expensive ebook will remain unfinished.

But if it can eventually help me find a profitable idea, it will pay for itself.

Happy Mother’s Day to Me!

Look what my kiddo and hubby gave me for Mother’s Day!

kindle

My picture is in the “paper”!

original photo of TOC
(Original photo courtesy of James Duncan Davidson)

When I was a kid, my family used to squee when anyone got their picture in the newspaper, no matter the reason.

So I loved that my face showed up in a digital “paper,” Publishing Perspectives, this morning. See, here I am, circled.

circled at TOCCON

Squee!

Also, the Perspectives discussion piece poses an interesting question. Are the many recent book conferences creating a “paywall around best practices” to keep the democratic means of production (read: publication) out of the hands of the masses? Or are the conferences the result of old industry leaders paying for the seeds of new industry innovation so they don’t become obsolete?

Maybe it is an attempt at the former, but the tone of the sessions leaned toward the latter. I learned a lot of specific and useful information, but I also heard a lot of ego-stroking (e.g., the new way needs you and your content) and pitches for products aimed at the pub biz market.

Several of the sessions and keynotes were from folks who had innovated at somewhat of a distance–or even completely separate–from the business. If they can do it with sweat equity, why not anyone else?

The tools of change are out there, free for the learning. A conference is just a filter, a way to cut through some of the noise on the way to finding out what you want to know.

My personal TOC

There are a lot of solid wrap-ups for the Tools of Change for Publishing conference making the rounds today. DBW’s webinar chose TOC Take-Aways as today’s topic, though technical problems and catch-up work prevented me from listening. Mark Coker had a piece, as did Publishing Perspectives. [Update, 2/27/10, a few more TOC links: an insightful observation about the value of chance and open-mindedness at conferences from Debbie Stier; Kirk Biglione’s DRM slides; Don Linn’s observations; and a summary of Tim O’Reilly’s speech on Teleread.]

I’m still working my way through my notes, which are way more detailed than usual, thanks to typing them instead of writing them. But I do have some personal take-aways from the conference.

1) It’s really fun to take your computer into a room with free wifi and interesting speakers. I took notes, looked up URLs as they popped up on the big screen, added books to my Goodreads to-read list as they were mentioned and had my RSS feed right there for reading should I get bored, which only happened once or twice. I wish actively using your device was socially acceptable at every conference.

2) Social media is the new SEO, especially when it comes to selling more books via word of mouth. I found the panels by Bob Carlton, Chris Brogan and Angelina Ward to be immediately applicable in my daily business.

3) Analytics will become (or have already started to become?) the new sales numbers. The amount of information that will soon be available…I mean, you can actually know if the book was bought and not read. Or, if the reader started, but then lost interest at page 20. As one presenter put it, you’ll know the multiple differences between those who read at 2 am in bars and those who read at noon during lunch. Talk about niche markets.

4) Technical guys who can create their own version of xml, automate all of their publishing systems (e.g., turn a 2-day process into a 37-second process), publish all of their royalty data for everyone to see and make money…well, they make me wish I could write a book about code and publish it with them right now.

5) I don’t like to feel that my content is brought to me by sponsors. I found suspicion creeping in every time there was a product related to a presentation, even when some of the products were ones I want to try.

6) Mobile is everywhere, even in emerging markets. The coverage is only growing. So who needs ebook readers?

7) And the most important point: It’s all about the customer–know them, meet them, talk to them, engage them, give them all the information you can, give them their choice of devices and formats, add value for them. Then maybe you can publish what they will pay to read.

Macmillan vs. Amazon, round-up

Everyone and their mama has written about the knock-down, drag-out between Macmillan and Amazon. But just for posterity’s sake, I have collected the links that kept me refreshing my browser all weekend and into today.

A prescient piece by Sarah at The New Sleekness calling for a group strategy around ebook prices and reminding us that an ebook is a “mass market paperback, plain and simple”

NYT’s coverage on Friday

The Twitterverse response

The paid PW letter from Macmillan CEO John Sargent

Dear Author’s Jane standing up for readers, questioning the legality of Macmillan’s move, and rounding up a few links herself

MIRA author MJ Rose reminds us that readers were completely left out of the brouhaha, and Smart Bitches, Trashy Books’ Sarah reasserted where readers’ final loyalties lay: with the authors they love.

The tangentially related Washington Post article stating what any self-respecting publishing person should know: readers want books to be good, cheap and easy

Ebooknewser’s affirmation that yes, reader’s like the $9.99 price point

Digital Book World’s link round-up of author responses to the debate, mostly on the side of Team Macmillan

Author Charlie Stross’ very informative take on how this debate is really about how the publishing ecosystem is trying to evolve in a digital age

Booksquare’s Kassia Krozser warning publishers that if they want to charge a print-volume-like fee for ebooks then the quality will also have to improve, for story and production

Indie author April Hamilton argues that authors may need to side with Team Amazon

DBW’s Guy Lecharles Gonzalez providing the “you win” letter from Amazon and saying what we all should know already, “Welcome to the new world of publishing. Everything you thought you knew about the business is going to be upended.”

And, finally, two post-mortems that concentrate on the communications issues (and mistakes?) made by both players. One from Macmillan author John Scalzi, and one from Ami at The New Sleekness

Finding 1000 True Fans

The conversation surrounding The Millions’ interview with a book pirate is fascinating.

Within the civil and well-written discussion, someone linked to The Technium, a blog by Kevin Kelly, and his post about gathering (and nurturing) 1000 True Fans. He posits that an artist can make a living wage if they cultivate a small but dedicated fan base and have direct interaction with their customers.

Later, in a follow-up post, he provides some of the monetary information he received from artists attempting this method. The results were not really a living wage.

However, both of his posts were written in 2008, and dovetail nicely with that other 2008 classic Here Comes Everybody. Now, since it’s 2010(!), and mobile and Web technologies are even more a part of everyone’s lives, surely there is someone making a living wage off their work through direct fandom.

The two examples of cultivating fandom that I can think of (Coelho and Doctorow) are also dependent on the old media systems as a launching pad and support structure. I’m betting there are some self-published or digital-only authors who have nailed this formula for supporting their work.

Jaron Lanier, a musician featured in Kelly’s post, has been looking for musicians who fit the following criteria:

The musician’s career is not a legacy of the old system (such as Radiohead). The musician has not merely gotten a lot of exposure, but is earning a living wage. I’ll define a living wage as a predictable income sufficient to raise a child. Finally, most of the musician’s income derives from sources that would still be robust in an “open” world that is highly friendly to massive, unregulated file sharing. These include live performances, paid ads on the musician’s website, merchandising, and paid downloads (like iTunes), but does not include label contracts, movie soundtrack placement, and other revenue streams that rely on old, declining media.

If you know of any authors who fit Jaron Lanier’s definitions (or if you are one), leave a comment! Let us know how it’s done.

#DBW–day 1

So not only did I miss what seems to have been great discussions at Digital Book World today, I have been nearly offline for the last week and a half catching up on reading for work.

Now that my deadlines have loosened their grasp just a bit, I scrolled through as many #dbw updates on Twitter as I could handle.

I was especially impressed to see Angela James’ (@angelajames) impact on the New Business panel.

amywilkins: Heehee RT @IrisBlasi Audible gasp from the audience when @angelajames said Carina’s books have no DRM–across the board. #dbwnewbiz #dbw

booksquare: RT @rilnj: RT @calreid: #dbw @angelajames No advances, 30% royalty/cover price & no DRM. R. Nash howls “you’ll be pirated!” angie: probably.

Love the gasping visual! And I’m intrigued by Angela’s response to accusations of letting in the pirates.

The DBW webinar last Thursday dealt with piracy, in a limited way (focused mostly on O’Reilly titles.) But the guest researcher, Brian O’Leary, said the initial data shows that the most pirated titles are also the titles with the most sales. Correlation? Causality? It’s unclear. (If I remember correctly, he said that the titles that were the most pirated also had 2/3s more sales than titles that were not pirated.) It seems to lazy-ol’ me that when it’s easier to buy than to steal, people will pay for the convenience, if for nothing else.

Also, aren’t publishers always giving away free reads? Like dope pushers, they know a good book will bring the addicts back for more. Samples, excerpts, advanced review copies, and libraries. Free e-books, just from anecdotal evidence, seem to do the same job. So maybe encouraging piracy is a good thing?

And then the conversation took a turn:

IrisBlasi: Discussion about ebooks getting heated. @angelajames offers to “take it outside.” #dbw #dbwnewbiz

A duel at dawn? Thunder Road? If only… It was probably more like, “Time’s up. If you want to keep chatting let’s go outside.” In any case, I can’t wait to read more about this panel from Angela and others who were there.

A few other updates stood out that were not Carina Press-related.

concentricdots: Most crucial message for publishers from #dbw today is STOP marketing products and START cultivate customers. Use the tools of change

This is where social media comes in, I suppose–but only when done right. IMO, Harper Studio’s blog is an example of the publisher getting it right. I read their blog because the posts are interesting. The blog writers, who all work at Harper Studio, cover timely topics related to publishing, media, entertainment, editing and, of course, their books. But when they do get around to writing about their books, the posts are about more than just what’s coming out and why it’s great. Instead they discuss something cool or personal that is related to their books.

Those blogs that only say “see this book/interview/author”? Ugh.

charleenbarila RT @IrisBlasi: Mindshift: Publishers are not selling the book, we’re selling the author.-@R_Nash #dbw #dbwnewbiz

Is this really a mindshift for publishers? Hmm. Isn’t that what happens with those blockbuster names like Nora Roberts, James Patterson, etc.? Harlequin folks always talk about “growing the author.” The assumption is that authors will always write more than one book, and future books will be just as good as, if not better than, the one that first caught an editor’s eye. Holding that assumption as true, an author’s audience should grow as she becomes known by more readers. Other publishers don’t think this way?

geogeller we are in the business of selling experiences, food for imagination #dbw #140conf @jeffpulver @chrisbrogan @garyvee @lizstrauss

I love this! Reading is always about the narrative experience for me, even for non-fiction. Now we readers can add to the imaginary world with other virtual experiences. Like that time when I was ten and I baked scones to go with my Philippa Carr novel–except way better.

nyefwm RT @alicepope: Sara Nelson: One of the truisms in publishing is that publishers don’t spend money promoting their backlists. #dbw

As someone who works on backlist quite a bit, I found this truism interesting. If publishers don’t spend money promoting those older titles, and authors have nearly forgotten that they wrote those books, how can editors best help get the word out? Homework for me!

An explosion in e-books

I saw this tidbit via Shelf Awareness, which cited Crain’s New York and iReaderReview.com as the sources:

…at Random House, “September 2009 sales (of Kindle e-books) were $22.6 million–a huge increase from a year ago when they were just $2.9 million. The Lost Symbol was a huge part with 100,000 e-book sales in its first week out (5% of total sales). In first half of 2009, Random House Kindle e-book revenue grew 400% from a year ago.”

Usually the e-book numbers are shown only as a percentage, which can be misleading when talking about actual money spent/made. But 2.9 vs. 22.6 million is a big, well-measured jump.

My favorite conclusion from iReaderReview and Shelf Awareness:

The impact of holiday e-book sales offers a “huge opportunity for new companies to become successful publishers.”

I wonder if these new publishing companies will look anything like the ones we see today.


DISCLAIMER

I work as an editor at Harlequin, but the posts on this site are all mine and don’t represent my employer's positions, strategies or opinions.
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