Publishing/Writing: Insights, News, Intrigue


The New Paradigm of Publishing

More and more writers are getting their books published and to readers utilizing internet avenues and new online publishing models (companies such as AmazonEncore) not available before…New models such as the new-developing middle ground publishing field I posted about yesterday on my other blog Writers Thought for Today Blog

Writers are establishing online platforms by giving some of their work away for free and getting feedback and editing from the readers, entering online contests, producing serial podcasts, etc… and many are being picked up by online publishing companies that will also sell POD written versions of their books.

Exciting stuff happening!

Regan McMahon, writing for SFGate of the San Francisco Chronicle, has some details of just how three Bay Area writers got published using internet avenues and bypassing the old agent-publisher-bookstore gatekeeper model:

In the old days – which, in this case, you might define as “two years ago” – getting your book published would entail finding an agent, sending it off to publishing houses like Random House or, when that failed, paying a vanity press to put the thing in print.

All of that has changed, thanks to radical shifts in the publishing industry and, oh yeah, the Internet.

Here are some examples of how a few Bay Area authors recently got into print:

Retired occupational therapist turned writer Francine Howard of El Cerrito had a short stack of unpublished manuscripts collecting dust while agents kept rejecting her queries. Then in January 2009, she entered her novel of interracial love in the Jim Crow South, “Page From a Tennessee Journal,” in’s Breakthrough Novel Award contest, whose top prize was a contract with Penguin Books.

She didn’t win, but for making it to the second round, in a field of 6,500 hopefuls, her prize was two Amazon Vine (customer) reviews of a 5,000-word excerpt of her book. They were both raves, and that May, an editor from the Web site’s then-week-old imprint called AmazonEncore called with an offer to publish her book. It came out last month.

Berkeley author Seth Harwood, who teaches writing and literature at Stanford University and City College of San Francisco, wrote his first book, the gritty crime novel “Jack Wakes Up,” in 2005. He began posting 50-minute podcast episodes from it on in 2006, establishing a marketing platform for his work. He made a print-on-demand deal with Breakneck Books in March 2008, and then Three Rivers Press, an imprint of Random House, scooped him up and published the book in May 2009.

Read more


News in the Age of Blogs

Stephen M. Saunders, an independent media consultant and the founder of Internet Evolution, contributed an intelligent article to FOLIO magazine suggesting how to spruce up popular blog material for inclusion on more traditional news sites that will appease the advertisers. I present it here:

Publishers all over the country are wrestling with how to incorporate popular blog material into their Web sites without losing credibility with advertisers.

It’s a toughie, because the siren song of the blogosphere is loud. If you build blogs into your network, so the Web 2.0 hype has it, the audience will come.

At the same time, publishers are rightly leery of the well deserved reputation that most blogs have acquired for being poorly written, fact-challenged and potentially defamatory.

And oftentimes the publishers’ in-house editors want nothing to do with blogging—climbing onto their ethical high-horses and lecturing about the importance of continuing to deliver “real news” in a Web world before going off to the bar to sulk.

The end result is the worst of all worlds. Most sites that deal in the business of news, or even news about business, now feature “split” home pages. One side of the page features regular old news analysis. Another page element, usually smaller and lower down, offers a handful of half-hearted blogs.

Right Problem, Right Solution

The fact of the matter is that everyone’s tackling the wrong problem with the wrong solution. In the upside-down publishing world created by the Internet there is no reason not to slaughter the sacred cow of “traditional news” and invent an entirely new type of news coverage—one that combines the best practices of news (dual sourcing, quantitative analysis, content and copy editing) with the attitude, qualitative opinion, gossip, and social networking benefits of first-person blogging.

This is the model that we have been employing on Internet Evolution since 2006, with great success (and I do say so myself).

Another hugely popular technology Web site, The Register, has effectively been doing this for years, as has The Guardian newspaper’s online “Comment” section, with its 700 or so contributors—not to mention The Huffington Post.

Implementing this hybrid of news and blogging allows in-house editors to focus more of their efforts on community-building activities (finding external writers to produce the news/blogs rather than writing them all themselves). And, having run both traditional online news organizations and a blog-based site, I can tell you it’s also much cheaper than maintaining a traditional news staff—and far more likely to generate traffic in a search-driven publishing online world.

The two main obstacles to implementing such a model are people: editors and bloggers (not readers, note, who love this format).

A lot of currently employed editors won’t buy in—especially older ones, who tend to suffer from an “information age gap.”

At the other end of the spectrum are the bloggers. When we rolled out the hybrid news/blog model on Internet Evolution, a couple bloggers balked at having their work edited and withdrew from the site, claiming that it ran contra to the fundamental tenets of blogging (spontaneous, uncontrolled, blah blah blah).

However, it was notable that the only ones who complained were also—how to put this delicately—not especially wonderful writers; draw your own conclusions about what was really driving their hostility.

Don’t Sing the “Blews”

The vast majority of bloggers, and we now have more than 200 contributors to Internet Evolution, welcome and enjoy the editing process, rightly recognizing that being content and copy edited by professional editors makes them look better (or is “good for their brand” as they like to have it).

Which just leaves one problem—what to call this combination of news and blogging? “Nogging” just doesn’t do it for me.

But one thing’s certain: Publishers that don’t embrace this hybrid are soon going to be singing the “blews.”

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