Publishing/Writing: Insights, News, Intrigue

08/11/2012

Insight Into How SEO Affects Publishing and Content (and Ultimately Book Marketing)


In days prior, one who understood how to juggle (fool) the search engines with keywords, etc. could fool robot search crawlers into promoting shit content into digital/online best sellers.

Well, google is working to make content king in publishing once again with last year’s Panda release and the more recent Penguin release. Google is going to flip SEO on its head.

How will they ever find the algorithms or formulas to rank content itself? 

Details are provided by Yaron Galai [you’ll find this guy quite interesting 🙂 ] in AdAge.com :

How Google’s ‘Penguin’ Update Will Change Publishing, for the Better

Over the past decade, the publishing industry been swinging on a pendulum created by the effects of search engine optimization (SEO). In the old, primarily print days, the most successful publishers were those that could produce great content for a specific audience and keep that audience engaged via subscriptions or at the newsstands. More recently, the kings of publishing were those that could best engage web crawlers and monetize their sites through a windfall of free search traffic. The focus has been less on creating great content and engaging readers than on producing lots of words on lots of pages to engage web crawlers.

But there is a silver lining to all of this. With last year’s Panda release, and the more recent Penguin release, Google is going to flip SEO on its head. If Old SEO enabled some to fool a crawler into indexing borderline junk content to get high rankings, New SEO looks likely to take any notion of fooling anyone out of the equation. 

New SEO will put all publishers on more equal footing, favoring those that produce quality content that is highly engaging to a certain audience. If SEO was previously a linear method of feeding a crawler with words and links, Google’s results are now the result of a feedback loop: show them that you can produce quality content that people are attracted to, and free search traffic will follow. 

There are two ways for a user to arrive at content — the first is actively searching for it on a search engine like Google or Bing. The second is to discover or stumble onto it via a link on another website, an e-mail from a friend, a link shared on Twitter or Facebook, etc. “Discovery” encompasses all those times we reach a page without first typing a keyword into a search box.

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08/26/2011

Publishing as Manufacturing and the Tribalism of Literary Communities.


Richard Nash - Publishing Entrepreneur

Publishing needs to return to the basic concept of connecting readers with writers … and get away from selling book products to bookstores.

I like this concept! …  And, it is one discussed in an interview titled Revaluing the Book with publishing entrepreneur Richard Nash by Matt Runkle in the Boston Review.

Richard Nash “has created a social-networking platform called Cursor, which allows writers to form literary communities and post their manuscripts for members to read and react to.”

The interview:

Revaluing the Book

Richard Nash, former head of Soft Skull Press, insists that book publishing needs to return to the simple task of connecting readers and writers. He has created a social-networking platform called Cursor, which allows writers to form literary communities and post their manuscripts for members to read and react to. Nash also helms Red Lemonade, Cursor’s first imprint, which publishes work selected from its site. Matt Runkle spoke to Nash recently about publishing as manufacturing, the closing of Borders, and the tribalism of literary communities.

Matt Runkle: There’s a lot of worrying about the disappearance of the book as an object. Do you see the printed book in the same state of flux as the publishing industry?

Richard Nash: If people want something, why do they think it’s not going to exist? Not to get all sort of laissez-faire capitalist about this, but I’m going to have a moment of laissez-faire capitalism here and note that if people want to read the book in its printed form, then I predict there are going to be ways in which they can ensure that they will continue to get it in printed form because people are going to be willing to pay for it.

I mean the reality is that soon enough—even right now, technically—anyone will be able to get a digital version of a book and go and get it made into a physical printed book if they want. I mean right now, whether you’re using the espresso machine or—goodness gracious—3D printing, which is very, very, very much in its infancy, any kind of manufacturing over the next 10, 20, 30, 40 years is going to be able to be done as a hobby. So if you want a printed book, you will be able to get a printed book.

It has been a fascinating phenomenon in the discussion around publishing how adversarial people get around other people’s choices. So if someone says “I like an ebook,” a person will respond “Ohhh, I can’t believe—how can you do that?” It’s like that obnoxious person who you don’t want to go out to dinner with anymore because they can’t just order what they want, they have to comment on what you’re eating as well. What’s been epidemic in this discussion is that when both camps talk about their own preferences, they have to malign other people’s preferences too, and make grandiose extrapolations about the consequences of other people’s preferences for their own. If they like printed books, they should be buying the damn things instead of whining about other people’s preferred mode of reading. So I’m tremendously optimistic about the future of the book as an object. I think the worst years of the book as an object have been the last 50 years. 

What we have witnessed over the last 50 years is the progressive shittification of the book as an object.

MR: Why?

RN: When I started at Soft Skull in 2001 we were printing on 55-pound paper. By 2005, we were typically printing on 50-pound paper. By 2008, half our books were on 45-pound groundwood. And that’s because our print runs were going down. And even with publishers whose print runs weren’t going down, they were trying to save money. Because when the book’s primary purpose was not to be an object, but rather to be a mass-produced item for sale in big-box retail, then there’s going to be downward pressure on costs. And so what we have witnessed over the last 50 years is the progressive shittification of the book as an object—a process that is not external to publishing as it was practiced over the last 100 years, but has in fact been at its fore.

If you’ve got a manufacturing supply chain, then the dictates of manufacturing are going to be the ones that drive the business. And there’s certainly going to be some ad hoc occasional efforts not to do that: certain independent publishers will try to focus on quality, and certain individual books from other publishers might be tarted up for one reason or another, for marketing purposes. But those are the exceptions. Basically, when you’ve got an industry that is pushing out $25 billion worth of physical products into a supply chain, the vast majority of businesses are going to try to cut costs and increase revenues. And the simplest way to cut costs is going to be on the production side. So if the core of the business is no longer a supply chain, but rather the orchestration of writing and reading communities, the book is freed of its obligation to be the sole means for the broad mass dissemination of the word, and instead become a thing where the intrinsic qualities of the book itself can be explored.

MR: How did you come up with the idea for Cursor?

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07/21/2011

Paid Book Reviews – Credible or Expensive Trash?


Do Book Reviewers Actually Read the Material?

All the new indie publishing opportunities out there begs the question: Are book reviews functional or even necessary … especially in the digital sector where readers can just read the trailer or synopsis to find if the story may appeal to them enough to fork over $.99 to $1.99 (or a little higher).

I really don’t know. I’m a little conflicted on the whole concept of book reviews … especially paid book reviews.

Even in traditional publishing, book reviews RE fictional story telling, especially, were dubious to me at best. After all, reviews are just opinions … and you know what they say about opinions. Just because another author or other person of note says a story is good or bad, doesn’t mean another one million readers won’t disagree!

The only legitimate book reviews, I believe, probably exist in the science, math and technical areas when an expert in the field of the subject matter comments on its viability … But, this is something that can be politically motivated, so you have to be careful here, also! 

So, are book reviews necessary or good? I feel they might have a certain marketing value among those enamored with the reviewer … usually this applies to the adolescent, younger crowd.

Reviews will also be taken more seriously if the reviewing source has worked up a certain credibility (this seems very hard work) and track record amongst a particular niche. “I have enjoyed every single book that XYZ has reviewed and recommended! I will always read their reviews.”

If your e-book is good, it will get great word-of-mouth (or social media rush) and that is the best reviews you can receive … and they are free!

Here is a good insight and view on book reviews by indie author advocate Lynn Osterkamp, Ph.D. at http://pmibooks.com:

Are Paid Book Reviews Credible?

What if you could get 50 people to post positive reviews of your book on Amazon? For a reasonable fee?

I know the importance of having reviews of my books on Amazon. A mix of professional reviews and customer reviews is ideal. But for indie publishers and self-published authors, reviews–especially professional reviews–can be hard to get. Many professional reviewers still refuse to review books not published by mainstream publishers.

Sites that will review our books are increasingly charging a fee for what they term an expedited review or for posting the review they write on sites like Amazon and B&N. While most of these book review sites continue to offer free reviews, they warn that due to increasing numbers of submissions, a book submitted for a free review may take months to get reviewed or might not get reviewed at all.

So should you pay for a review?

Purists on author discussion groups and blogs continue to insist loudly that paying for a review with anything other than a free copy of the book, it is wrong. They say these reviews have little to no credibility and will ruin your reputation.

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01/13/2011

Decoding the Business-Side of Being an Author


Online booksellers are continuously working on new platforms that make the publishing and selling of books easier for authors of all grades. Amazon and other onliners have come up with all kinds of dashboards that give author-clients instant, realtime info on their books’ sales, campaigns, visits, sample reads, etc…Data that traditional publishing furnished to its authors much more slowly and with less detail through BookScan.

Sarah Lacy of TechCrunch wrote the following article giving more details:

First Amazon Took Down Booksellers…Are Publishers Next?
  
It’s not that Amazon set out to destroy small book stores. They just offered a better option for a large number of people. Now, Amazon is increasingly offering small features here and there that taken together may start to make a traditional publisher a lot less necessary for authors.No one is more shocked by that sentence than I am. While I’ve jumped firmly from old-media to new-media when it comes to articles and videos, I’ve remained a big believer that self-publishing via eBook isn’t yet a viable option for most authors, assuming you want a lot of people to read your book. It’s just not personally satisfying either. A book is something I spend years of my life writing– usually for a comparatively small amount of money — and I want to hold it once all the pain is over. I want it to sit on my coffee table.  I want it reviewed in the New York Times. And I want to walk in a book store and see it on the shelf. In most cases, only a traditional publisher can do that for me.

Don’t get me wrong–  I’m sure I will sell more eBooks than physical books this year and over my lifetime. But without the vetting, marketing, distribution and clout of a major publisher, I doubt I’d sell many of either. The first question anyone asks an author is, “Who’s publishing you?” Much like how the WashingtonPost.com relies on the brand and legacy of the Washington Post, unless you are a huge name, you need the anchor of a “real book” for your eBook to do well and be taken seriously. That’s just reality.

But it won’t always be reality, and Amazon has quietly been doing small things on Author Central to help authors take more control. My second book comes out later this month, so I’ve been taking a close look at the services Amazon offers to authors. It’s changed dramatically since my last book was published in 2008.

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12/28/2009

Should Famous Authors Bother with Traditional Publishers?


I came across the subject article by Hannah Johnson on Publishing Perspectives this morning. It appears that not only are new authors finding better opportunities away from traditional publishing paths, but established authors are too!

By Hannah Johnson

As mentioned in today’s lead article, author Timothy Ferris, author of The 4-Hour Workweek, gave a presentation at LeWeb about how his personal marketing efforts with online tools and social media put his book onto national bestseller lists, while his publisher’s efforts with traditional media were less effective.

Yesterday, Seth Godin released a free e-book online, and Steven Covey announced that he will give Amazon exclusive rights to his e-books for a year. More often, well-known authors are sidestepping the traditional path to getting published.

While this means these authors have to deal with more issues themselves, it also means a greater percentage of the profits. What value do traditional publishers bring to famous authors? What are the benefits of choosing an alternative path to getting published?

Let us know in the comments below or on Twitter using the hashtag #ppbonus.

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