Friday, January 30, 2009

EXCELLENT post on David Meerman Scott's ...

Web Ink Now blog - this is the future of publishing!

No 'book publisher', no editor, can engage the reading audience the way that Lisa Genova did as described by David. Must reading for authors - THIS IS HOW BOOKS SELL. Critical reading for book publishers who are ready to let go of the co-op driven business model and invest resources to help authors identify their 'tribe' and lead them, as Lisa did.
The reality is that big publishing is too big, too slow and unlikely to change. They'll keep publishing more and more books, fail to work with authors who, having managed to 'score a deal' are under the impression the publisher will 'market' their book.

The bill for your sins is past due, publisher! You've been sent to collection.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

I'm calling the meeting of the Nomenclature Committee to order

Today's NYT article is a good look at how the traditional (big 6) book publishing model is quickly unraveling. May I ask that we agree on the following: 'printing' and 'publishing' are not the same thing! 'Publishing' a book, at least in my estimation, includes not only the careful distillation of ideas, but thoughtful design and most importantly the ability of the author to engage and motivate their audience (please - if you have not yet- read Seth Godin's TRIBES).

The other big softball I JUST HAVE TO SWING AT in this article is the bit about trade-offs authors make by forsaking signing a traditional deal:

They do not have the benefit of the marketing acumen of traditional publishers, and have diminished access to the vast bookstore distribution pipeline that big publishers can provide.

Are you kidding me?? You mean like the paying of tolls at turnpikes or blind mailings of bookmarks? Or do you mean the mindless 19th century 'loading of the wagon and carting the goods to market' distribution model? How could anyone give that up?

Friday, January 23, 2009

Brilliant Marketing

Here are a couple of examples from today's SHELF AWARENESS of what book publishers call marketing. I'd laugh if it didn't make me ill. I sure wish she'd name the offenders!

Susan L. Weis, proprietress of breathe books, Baltimore, Md., writes:

How to waste money in this economy, let me count the ways . . .

My FedEx guy just came in with a big bubble envelope shipped FedEx Ground. I open it up, and it's a tiny stack of maybe 20 bookmarks promoting one book. That's it. No book. No paperwork. No nothing. Just a huge waste of money and time and a huge carbon footprint.

The FedEx Air guy came in with a very heavy box this morning. Must be something very special to send it FedEx Air! I eagerly opened the package. Bookmarks and promotional material from another publisher for events that are happening nowhere near Baltimore. FedEx Air! Air! The waste! It's not even timely material. Sending it from the post office would have been just fine.

I've heard of all kinds of problems. 10 copies of the same ARC arriving at a bookstore throughout the month. A giant poster for a book booksellers have no intention of selling. Catalogues for sports books sent to a children's bookstore.

We all need to work together to stop this waste and maybe give jobs back to a few people who have been laid off.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

What's the Matter with Publishing? This is what's RIGHT!

Nice piece from Lev Grossman in TIME. The missing link - he implies, but isn't explicit ... so I will be ... is that authors who connect with their audience and motivate them to become advocates will be successful! IT DOESN'T MATTER if there is a little house or a rooster on the spine. Publishers no longer are the filter through which all transactions travel. Authors can speak directly to their readers. Authors can establish relationships with retailers. Authors can design and print and publicize books. Oh - one thing - printing and shipping books isn't "20th century" as Lev says - more like 17th century.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Book promoters pay tolls on Kansas Turnpike

THIS is what passes for 'marketing' at book publishers. Some may call it that - I say it falls into the "well, we did something" bucket. I realize the 800th diet book of the year isn't a piece of cake to promote. But paying the toll in the fattest cities - to the tune of $5,000 per? How is the author connecting with his audience? Motivating his buyer to become an advocate? Of course he isn't. Could he? Well, if Sterling is willing to throw this kind of money at promotion - why not fly the author to Kansas, and arrange for several appearances in the market where he speaks to an audience who then get a FREE copy of the book. What if he spoke to a couple hundred people motivated enough by wanting to LOSE weight to show up. What if even 10% of those people were successful in losing weight - you'd agree that those are going to be 20 people telling EVERYONE they know "I went to the health food store/company cafeteria/bookstore and heard this guy - and it really works!!" And then you get some momentum.

It costs a hell of a lot less than paying tolls - and is a heck of a lot better way to sell books.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Blockbuster Strategy - Good for Agents, Top Authors

but certainly not good for making money. Irrelevant for authors with any goals outside of collecting the guaranteed revenue from the advance. I'm the first to agree that in the case of Myron's DEWEY - great for Vicki. And a nice job by the agent to whip up the level of excitement that earned that big advance. But let's keep it real. How many books have been peddled by agents over the past few years as "sure to appeal to the Marley & Me audience". For that matter - how many times have editors heard "this is the next big vampire book" since Anne Rice's INTERVIEW or even Bram Stoker's DRACULA.

What are the goals of the WSJ in publishing this article by HBS professor Anita Elberse? Sell papers, of course. And the goals of Prof. Elberse? Perhaps to paint the incestuous, dying world of traditional book publishing with a patina of respectability? It's over, kids. Publishing casino is fun while you've got the chips in your pocket, you have some luck at the wheel and your boss isn't too picky about the return they see from their publishing business. The house wins in the end.

Dewey isn't a hit because of the brilliant strategy of anyone at Grand Central, or B&N. And isn't this (Grand Central) the same division that Time Warner sold off a few years ago ? Grand Central is having a great run at the tables for now - but they are still making more money on Salinger's back list than they'll ever make pursuing a blockbuster strategy.

It's the author, stupid. It's the energy and focus they bring to the process. It's their ability to connect with their audience and motivate their fans to become advocates for their ideas. No publisher, no advance, no agent will substitute for that.