London Book Fair 2014: Amazon and the Evil Iron Throne in Publishing

amazon is evil, iron throne, publishing, game of thrones, king joffrey, winter is coming, publishing war, self pub authors, london book fair, lbf14In case you missed it, London Book Fair 2014 was a week ago. And while we believe it’s important that publishers and even authors attend publishing industry events like LBF14, sometimes you just can’t fly half way across the world. In that case, you can scour the Internet for highlights and articles about the seminars, exhibits, and events so you can stay on top of trends and current industry conversations.

One of the most talked about speeches from LBF14 is the keynote speech by bestselling British author Anthony Horowitz, who called out Amazon as evil bastards that are contributing—if not single-handedly—to the decline of the publishing industry by dominating the book market with low prices that undermine actual value, DRM, and as Chief Executive of UK Booksellers Association Tim Godfray said, “destroying the competition…and then lock those customers in with their own proprietary systems.” But as Horowitz noted, he still uses Amazon because they are “wonderful.”

So the question is, if Amazon is leading the publishing industry into such a state of decline, how can they be wonderful? Well, as someone who has worked with the publishing side of Amazon, I can say they aren’t wonderful, not in a publishing sense. They don’t necessarily care about the […]

The Reader Relationship

readers, reader relationship, gatekeepers, publishing, pubsoft, chuck wendig, publisher, traditional publishing, selfpub, self-publish, reader communities, book reviews, amazon, bookseller, hugh howeyOne of the most important relationships in publishing today is the reader relationship, whether it is between author and reader, publisher and reader, or even reader and reader. Readers are the new marketing team, the new grapevine, and some may even say, the new gatekeeper.

There are, however, those that disagree (often vehemently) with the “readers as gatekeepers” ideal

And as, Misha Burnett says, “Writers don’t get to decide if their books are good or bad. Nor do publishers, editors, reviewers, or literature professors. In the end there is only one meaningful standard by which books can be judged—do people want to read them?”

There is no magic formula that determines a book’s success, or as Burnett calls it, the “goodness” of a book.

“If there was a formula that could be applied to determine the “goodness” of a book then bookstores wouldn’t insist on guaranteed returns. The amount of waste in the publishing industry is unbelievable,” states Burnett. “It doesn’t matter how much of your heart and soul you pour into a book, it doesn’t matter how many editors parse your prose with a fine toothed comb…it doesn’t matter if you get glowing reviews in The New York Times Review Of Books. What matters,” says Burnett, “is if people want to read it.  Period.”

Readers. They are the real salesforce. Publishers today that have recognized that and the importance […]

Giving Authors What They Want

if you build it they will come, field of dreams, publishing, publishers, self publishers, traditional publishing, writer's digest, phil sexton, dbw14, pubsoft, kemari howellAuthors, despite the oft-praised “freedom” of self-publishing, would still opt for traditional publishing, given the chance. That statement is based off the results of a Digital Book World 2014 survey.

More than 9,200 authors that took the DBW survey were grouped into four different category types:

  • Aspiring (not yet published)
  • Self-published (have only self-published and never worked with a traditional publisher)
  • Traditionally published (only published traditionally)
  • Hybrid (have been self-published and been traditionally published)

The impression the survey gives is that authors crave the experience and sustainability that traditional publishers can offer, but they also want the creative freedom that self-publishing allows. Furthermore, as Phil Sexton, Publisher and Content Strategist, Writer’s Digest at F+W Media, discussed at his DBW14 presentation, authors believe they will receive a higher royalty rate with self-publishing than with traditional publishing. So authors that are seeking to make a career out of publishing not only want creative freedom, but they want more financial control and transparency with their numbers than traditional publishing has previously allowed—something the self-publishing route gives with ease.

As Keith Martin-Smith said, “Self-publishing seems like it offers everything a writer could want. Print-on-demand. Design services. Fast turn-around. Copyediting services. Minimal financial risk. High rates of return per-sale (from 50-85%, as opposed to 8-15% in traditional publishing). The ability to write the book a writer […]

Stories Are What Connect Us

stories, stories etc., patrick talley, pubsoft, ememoir, memoir, writers, authors, readers, traditional publishing, hybrid publishing, memoir app, storytelling app, self-publishing, indie authors, publishersThe publishing industry often focuses on the mechanics of publishing—sales, marketing, branding, etc. But the heart of publishing is not truly about those things, it’s about the stories—not the publisher, not the author. Yes, those things are important. Without the authors, we’d have no stories. And without the publishers (self-pub, traditional, and hybrid), we’d have no readers. But it all comes down to the stories that are told. Stories are what connect everyone in the publishing industry. Stories connect everyone, everywhere.

I always loved sitting at my grandfather’s feet as he regaled my brother and me with stories about him and his prankster brother and all the things they would do to get in trouble. Often, there was a lesson in the stories that I only recognized in hindsight. I became much of who I am because of those stories, because of all the stories I’ve heard or read over the years.

There’s a passage in one of my favorite writing books, Writing as a Sacred Path by Jill Jepson, that says: “Storytellers are the custodians of human history, the recorders of the human experience, the voice of the human soul. They are the ones who keep safe the vast […]

Author Branding, Discoverability, and Book Sales Conversions

author branding, book discoverability, author brands, brand author, publishing, publisher, publishing brand, publishers brand, branding, book conversions, book sales, dbw14, peter mccarthy, codex, sarah wendellIf you were lucky, you got to attend the Digital Book World 2014 conference and hear some of the amazing presentations about where the publishing industry was, is, and will be soon. One of the presentations, by Peter Hildick-Smith of Codex Group LLC, is about the importance of author branding. In his presentation, Hildick-Smith states that most book conversions (from discoverability to availability, and then of course, to reader purchases/sales) occur because of author branding and/or the book’s topic or message.

In this new publishing world where digital production is an equal giant next to paper production, author branding (sometimes mistaken for an author’s platform) is even more important, because there is unrestricted accessibility to publishing—which means there is the threat of oversaturation of new content, which has already started to happen (hence the “discoverability” buzz word at DBW14). Authors and their publishers are struggling to maintain book discoverability and find new ways to maximize their resources, so there is more reader conversion.

One thing Hildick-Smith makes note of is that there are “three pillars of initial new book sales.” They are:

  • Discovery – Wherein the reader needs to know about the existence of the book. This is where marketing (niche marketing, adjacent customer marketing, social media marketing, author branding, etc.) comes in.
  • Conversion – Does the book offer anything interesting to the particular reader […]
By |February 28th, 2014|General|2 Comments

The Benefits of Online Reader Communities

online reader communities engagement direct sales relationships marketing consumer data metrics ebooks goodreads amazonOne of the great things that the digital era has brought to the publishing world, and really to the world in general, is enhanced online reader communities. Before digital publishing, most reader communities consisted of book clubs, niche forums, informal gatherings around the coffee table, and the like. But technology has made it so much easier for readers to gather together, socializing and sharing their favorite books, authors, and even publishers.

There are already some branded online reader communities that have made headlines in the publishing world. J.K. Rowling’s Pottermore is one of the more well-known examples. Rowling created Pottermore as a transmedia interactive online reader community that lets Potter fans engage with the story and world of Harry Potter beyond the books and movies. What Pottermore also did was allow for Rowling to develop intimate direct relationships with her fans, foster an ongoing environment of social engagement among readers, and create a platform that increased content usage—all while eliminating that pesky DRM and building a direct sales channel.

Mills & Boon is another good example of the successful online reader community. M&B’s community pages encouraged discussions among readers for “Romance HQ”—where readers could engage with each other through their own personal blogs, by creating book reviews, or by sharing their thoughts on life and love. M&B’s online reader community platform catered to the reader’s desire for […]

By |February 21st, 2014|General|0 Comments

Ebooks as a Data-Driven Marketing Tool

ebooks marketing data-driven data analytics content marketing pubsoft publishing dbw14 discoverability authors self-pubThere’s still buzz from January’s Digital Book World 2014 hot topics about ebooks, the decline of physical shelf space, and book discoverability for publishers and authors. Despite all the talk and worry, there aren’t a lot of solutions on the table. Of course, there’s mention that publishers need to utilize data analytics as a means of expanding the discovery of books and their authors.

And let’s be honest, data is definitely the name of the game for publishers of all sizes, great and small, indie and trade. Those who ignore the necessity of data-driven marketing will ultimately perish in the dust. This is a digitally-sound future we’re moving into—technology is only going to advance, with social media and the mobile market becoming even more intrusive.

But understanding and utilizing data in a strong, viable way is a means of survival in a fast-growing digital, mobile market. Still, discoverability doesn’t just hinge on data gathering alone. Publishers need to find innovative ways to use this data. There are many tools at a publisher’s disposal that can be used to drive interest and sales for their content. Multi-channel purchase points, author websites, and a strong recognizable brand are all great ways to maximize resources and expand discoverability […]

By |February 7th, 2014|General|1 Comment

Digital Book World 2014 – The Publishing Industry’s Current Landscape

DBW 14 Publishing Publishers ePublishing EbooksThis week, the publishing industry came together at Digital Book World 2014—described as a reflection of the current state of the publishing industry and the changes it has experienced—to tackle discussions such as “change management, technology and start-ups, data-driven decision making, cutting-edge tools for ebook production, and much more.”

Here are some key highlights from Digital Book World 2014 panels that sum up the publishing industry’s current landscape:

Amazon’s “Cheetah” to Publishing’s “Gazelle”

Brad Stone, author of  The Everything Store, spoke at Digital Book World 2014 and immediately addressed the elephant in the room by telling a story from his book about Jeff Bezos instructing Amazon staff to go after publishers with bloodlust, the way a cheetah would hunt a sickly gazelle. This thinking tends to result in publishers’ books being pulled or buying options skewered until publishers eventually cave to Amazon’s passive aggressive business tactics.

Stone went on to warn publishers to be more alert than ever, taking care not to underestimate Bezos in the wake of reported declining ebook sales.

“Jeff Bezos and his colleagues do not believe that the pace of change in any media business is stagnating,” said Stone. “If ebook sales are flattening, Amazon will find a way to spark them.”

Publishers need to be innovative, eliminate DRM, build direct sales channels, and collaborate with this new sea of authors to

By |January 16th, 2014|General|8 Comments