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.

Read and learn more

This Publishing/Writing Blog is available on Kindle :)))

06/04/2012

Need Funds to Write/Publish a Book? More on Crowd-Funding


Crowdsourcing

I have previously posted on the crowd-funding or crowdsourcing phenomenon on both The Writers Welcome Blog and more recently on this blog

 A commenter to one of the above posts (that appeared on one of my Linkedin groups) said he did not want to give up any writers’ rights to use the Kickstarter crowd-funding site. To answer his concern, users of any of these crowdsourcing sites do not give up any copyrights.

Crowdsourcing sites usually charge between 3 to 5 percent of the successful amount funded. This is how they make their money.

RocketHub, Kickstarter, PledgeMusic, Funding4Learning, ArtistShare, FundRazr are just a few of the hundreds of these type sites that are popping up worldwide.

About 450 crowd-funding sites raised 1.5 billion dollars last year. 

“The gradual success of many projects has validated this as a real option, a real way to make things,” says Yancey Strickler, co-founder of Kickstarter. “The Internet is incredible for harnessing organizational power.”

More details such as how to apply, how much they cost, etc. are provided by Roger Yu, USA TODAY:

Need cash? Ask a crowd

While studying abroad in Ghana in 2006, Meghan Sebold often roamed local textile markets and marveled at the surplus of colorfully patterned fabrics that were left unwanted.

After she returned home to San Francisco, her thoughts kept drifting back to the faint but enduring idea of producing a clothing line that used textiles and talent from the West African country. She had few concrete plans on how to start a business — and even less money.

Then, a chance encounter at a seminar in New York with the founders of start-up RocketHub, a crowd-funding website, stirred her hopes. At the urging and guidance of Brian Meece and Vladimir Vukicevic, Sebold wrote at length about the business idea on RocketHub.com, accompanied by a video, and asked for direct financial contributions from family, friends, and friends of friends.

Her modest goal of raising $4,000 was achieved in about two weeks. Her first set of dresses, funded by the donations and made in Ghana with local labor, sold out online and at local pop-up stores. “It gives you more credibility than saying ‘Hey, Uncle, can you lend me $20?'”

Entrepreneurs and dreamers such as Sebold are flocking to crowd funding, an emerging field of finance that, by using the Internet as an efficient middleman, often manages to be both more intimate and more high-tech than traditional means of raising seed money. The idea has existed for years but is receiving renewed attention now that social media, online networks and payment technologies increasingly strip away legal, psychological and logistical barriers for money solicitations.

RocketHub, Kickstarter, PledgeMusic, Funding4Learning, ArtistShare, FundRazr and hundreds of other sites call on individuals to pool their money, by way of the Internet, and support others’ artistic, educational and business efforts, as well as charities and disaster relief. Some sites, like Kiva, specialize in small loans.

“The gradual success of many projects has validated this as a real option, a real way to make things,” says Yancey Strickler, co-founder of Kickstarter. “The Internet is incredible for harnessing organizational power.”

While they get a sense of fulfillment at seeing the campaigns they support continue, donors typically receive neither a stake nor artistic/operational input. That could eventually change. President Obama recently signed a law, the Jumpstart Our Business Startups (JOBS) Act, that would allow individuals to buy equity stakes in companies via crowd-funding sites under certain rules, likely effective next year.

A few dollars here and a couple of hundred bucks there can add up quickly. About $1.5 billion was raised in 2011 by about 450 crowd-sourcing Internet sites worldwide, says a report by Crowdsourcing.org, a site tracking the industry. That’s expected to double this year, the report forecasts.

“This expands on the angel investor model” in which a wealthy individual puts up money in return for equity, says David Rubenstein, partner at accounting firm WeiserMazars. “There is some good to this. This will ultimately result in growth of companies and additional jobs.”

The business is also good for those who operate successful crowd-funding sites. They make money by taking a percentage of the money raised — typically about 3% to 5% — and a per-transaction fee.

Kickstarter, one of the largest crowd-funding sites, has so far counted $200 million of pledged contributions, though not all were given to fund seekers. Fund seekers on Kickstarter get their hands on the money only if they can meet their goal. If a campaign fails, money is returned to donors. About 20,000 Kickstarter campaigns have met the goal, or about 44% of all campaigns.

Rival RocketHub sees about 1,000 campaigns a month launched on its site, Meece says. RocketHub allows campaign creators to keep the funds they raise even if they fall short of the goal.

Many campaigns, such as for Sebold’s Ghana-inspired dresses, are quirky, artistic or creative, but modest in their financial goal. Successful Kickstarter campaigns average about $5,000 in funds raised. “Kickstarter changes the question of funding from ‘Is this a good investment?’ to ‘Do I want this to exist?’ And that’s a much lower bar,” Strickler says.

Read and learn more

This Publishing/Writing Blog is available on Kindle :)))

03/18/2012

An Example of the Convergence of the Old and New Publishing Models


One of the main advantages of the new digital age publishing model is being able to streamline your work directly to publication without the months, years and forever waiting periods to even an interest nod from a traditional publisher 😦
 
In good old Downunder Territory, Linda Morris writes this revealing and incisive piece for The Canberra Times that details how the latest romance e-book bestseller, Fifty Shades of Grey, made it big digitally but never would have gotten off the ground under the old TP publishing model: 
 
Steamy yet discreet: an e-book revolution
 
If the future of books looks like a horror story, electronic publishing may help provide a happy ending.
 

There is an internet meme called Rule 34 which states: ”If you can think of it, there is a fetish for it.” Rule 35 follows: ”If no such porn exists, it will be made.”

The publishers of the electronic-book arm of Harlequin, that grand dame of the paperback romance, understand these immutable laws better than most. Carina Press sells e-book romance in 11 categories and 17 spin-off niches – including Amish, dragon, angel and demons, space opera, paranormal, fantasy and time travel – reaching to the edges of cyberspace to corral a readership of the most eclectic kind.

The personal tastes of Carina’s chief executive, Angela James, run to steampunk, cyberpunk and a discreet touch of BDSM (bondage, discipline, sadism, masochism) and she jokes online she’s still looking for the author who will write her a space cowboy book in the vein of Joss Whedon’s Firefly.

But love stories laced with buffed blokes and sexually game heroines are the genre’s current hot ticket.

Fifty Shades of Grey is an erotic romance novel written by an obscure British author and mother of two, featuring college student Anastasia and her millionaire beau who hides a secret sexual predilection for whips and floggers.

This month the trilogy made the jump from underground fan-based fiction to mass market, landing a seven-figure advance for the US rights from Vintage/Random House, and a six-figure sum for the British and Commonwealth rights.

”I certainly see why readers find it compelling,” James says, ”though it’s certainly not the most well-written or original book, especially given its start as Twilight fan fiction.

“But clearly there’s a perfect storm of story elements that make it attractive to a commercial fiction audience, and anything that increases the profile of romance, books and publishing is a win for all of us.”

While fans argue over the ethics of a storyline spun from the Twilight franchise and critics dispute its literary merit, Fifty Shades stands as a remarkable example of the convergence between old and new publishing models. Its author, E.L. James, started without a major publisher and marketing machine behind her, her re-imagined tale of the Bella and Edward love affair being published by an unknown Sydney amateur fiction publisher.

A US fan base loyal to Twilight promoted the books on Facebook, Twitter and book review sites such as goodreads.com, generating a word-of-mouth buzz that eventually went viral.

Without the changes brought by the digital age, Fifty Shades would probably never have made its way out of a publisher’s pile of rejected manuscripts, a Macquarie University media studies academic, Associate Professor Sherman Young, says.

Digital proved itself the perfect low-cost vehicle for bringing the experimental, risky story to market while social media substituted for the literary critic and the publicist.

It was Young who in 2007 wrote The Book is Dead, Long Live the Book, a prescient prediction of the migration of the physical book from page to screen. Young’s observations were made before the advent of the Kindle and iPad.

Publishing is not dying but it is in the midst of enormous upheaval not seen since the invention of the Gutenberg press.

The arrival of the internet retailer Amazon and its aggressive strategy to sell e-books at a loss to build market share has benefited consumers but undermined the very business model of the big publishers. In some eyes, its platforms for self-publishing have rendered the entire author-agent-publisher relationship obsolete.

Publishers are making e-books available simultaneously with p-books and are converting backlists. Only one big Australian publisher, Pan Macmillan, has established its own straight-to-digital imprint although others are soon to follow.

The agency model, the means by which the six major US publishers have effectively limited Amazon’s deep discounting, is under investigation by the US Justice Department and the European Union.

The effect of publishers setting a cover price for e-books is more expensive books, but authors such as Salman Rushdie argue that to break this system would be to ”destroy the world of books”, denying a fair return to story creators and their editors.

The digital world is a riotous jungle, publisher Henry Rosenbloom of Scribe concedes, posing all sorts of technical and practical challenges for traditional publishers. But the structural changes under way may be the least of the publishers’ problems.

Rosenbloom has warned of a precipitous drop in the value of Australian bookshops’ print-book sales, as measured by BookScan. Down 17.5 per cent in December last year, compared with the same period in 2010, the sales trend is accelerating.

Read and learn more

Get this Publishing/Writing Blog on your Kindle 🙂

07/28/2011

A New Way to Reinvent Book Publishing?


Unbound Publishing, the Kickstarter for books

How about getting the public’s opinion on the viability of a book story … AND THEN get them to contribute to its funding, story input and advance? Pretty cool, huh?

Well this business model is being fine-tuned, tweaked and used by Unbound Publishing in the United Kingdom.

“…with Unbound the funding for the book–as well as the fan’s approval process, which is very public–happens up front, and much more swiftly…and the marketing happens by word of mouth.”

Details by Kit Eaton in FastCompany.com :

Unbound’s Crowd-Financed, Spine-Tingling Effort To Reinvent Book Publishing

Unbound publishing, the Kickstarter for books, just had its very first success: It reached its target so that it could produce and then publish a new book by none other than Terry Jones, of Monty Python fame. Why is the tech and publishing world so excited about a single book from a lone, unheard-of, pint-sized publisher? Because the whole principle behind Unbound is to take the ancient, leather-bound business model of book publishing, rip out its crumbling pages, and replace it with crowd-funding, social interaction, and tandem digital publications and real hardback books. 

Here’s the core of Unbound’s idea: It proposes a new book on its website, and people choose to “donate” a small amount of money to it, in the hope that the book gets produced. The more money you donate, the more likely the target will be reached, and the bigger “treats” you get–right up to dinner with the author. When the target is reached, writing begins and people who’ve funded the book get special access to a back room at Unbound’s website, where they can interact in limited form with the author as the book emerges. At the end, an e-text is published and distributed, but you can also choose to get a high-quality hardback edition, printed on good paper with cloth binding for people who like their books to be weighty, well-designed, and smell like traditional books.

Unbound (tagline: “Books Are Now In Your Hands”) is most similar to Kickstarter, the crowd-sourced funding body that’s been responsible for all sorts of interesting projects from iPod Nano wristwatches to a swimming pool. “We get a little bit of gyp from purists who say we’re not opening the platform out as wide as Kickstarter,” Unbound’s cofounder John Mitchinson explained to Fast Company, “Which at the moment is definitely true.”

Unbound promotes carefully selected books–from well-known names–to see if the crowd is keen to buy a final product, and that’s definitely no Kickstarter. “We’re managing the back end in a way that Kickstarter doesn’t,” says Mitchinson. “They’re a pure fundraising platform.” In comparison, Unbound takes on more of a traditional publisher role once the funding target is raised. “We’re printing and distributing and finding the market for the books,” says Mitchinson. 

Read and learn more

Get this great blog right on your Kindle HERE

 

07/17/2011

Columbia Publishing Course Slow to Respond to Current Realities


I didn't know digital was the coming new wave

Who said the Ivy League colleges are the first with innovation and other learning prowess? A very debatable point, indeed (always has been since their birth, truth be known).

A case in point is illustrated in this article from the New York Times by Julie Bosman

E-Book Revolution Upends a Publishing Course

FOR decades, even after it was renamed and relocated from its original home at Radcliffe, the Columbia Publishing Course seemed unchanging, a genteel summer tradition in the book business, a white-glove six-week course in which ambitious college graduates were educated in the time-honored basics of book editing, sales, cover design and publicity. Not this summer.

With the e-book revolution upending the publishing business, Madeline McIntosh, the president of sales, operations and digital for Random House, stood at the lectern on the opening day in June, projecting a slide depicting the industry as a roller coaster, its occupants frozen in motion at the top of a steep loop.

“You might be wondering if this is the moment where we’re at,” Ms. McIntosh, a tall figure in a slim navy dress, said with a smile, as dozens of students with plastic name tags hanging around their necks watched raptly.

So the summer session began with a focus on “The Digital Future.” Students were schooled in “Reinventing the Reading Experience: From Print to Digital” by Nicholas Callaway, the chairman of a company that produces book apps for children. Managers from Penguin Group USA explained how to master “e-marketing,” and a panel of digital experts talked about short-form electronic publishing — not quite a magazine article, not quite a book — which is so new, the genre doesn’t really have a name.

“You never know what’s going to happen,” Carolyn Pittis, the senior vice president of global author services at HarperCollins, told a packed room of students several days into the course. “So it’s very exciting for those of us who spent many years when a lot of things didn’t happen.”

As the students scribbled in notebooks and clicked on laptops, Ms. Pittis recounted some of the biggest developments in the industry so far in 2011. The proliferation of e-readers and the growing digital market share of Barnes & Noble. Amanda Hocking, a formerly self-published author, making a book deal with a traditional publisher. J. K. Rowling’s selling her own “Harry Potter” e-books online. Even the surprise success of “Go the — to Sleep,” a hilariously vulgar children’s book parody that rose to the top of best-seller lists after being widely pirated via e-mail for months.

In the past year, e-books have skyrocketed in popularity, especially in genre fiction like romance and thrillers. For some new releases, the first week has brought more sales of electronic copies than of print copies.

Read and learn more

05/31/2011

Publishing Acquisitions Faulty Strategy: ‘I Love You, Now Change.’


"If you change, I'll love you"

“What makes a small publisher’s books interesting is usually the first thing that disappears when being acquired by a larger company.”

Why is that? Instead of expounding the acquired publishers’ unique successes, the acquiring firm often wants to immediately make it over in its own image…an image which is often suffering and in need of the spark that attracted the acquiring firm in the first place!

More insight by Edward Nawotka of Publishing Perspectives :

Why Do So Many Publishers Say “I Love You, Now Change”?

“I love you, now change,” is something we’ve all heard before in relationships. It’s likely that instead of actually being in love with the person as they are, you’re in love with the person as you imagine them to be. The desire to shape them into the perfect creature is not unreasonable.  Illusion is, frankly, a part of love.

The same goes with publishers. In the micro sense, they often covet a writer (and poach them) or, in the macro sense, they covet a publishing house and merge them. Publishers are by nature in love with the possibility of something, instead of something as it is. Sometimes they can genuinely improve on a writer’s work and career, but just as many times they can radically alter an author’s career path for worse. The same goes when publishing houses merge and absorb a smaller firm. Often, what makes that smaller firm’s books interesting in-and-of themselves — perhaps it’s branding, perhaps it’s an eclectic list — is the first thing that disappears into the larger entity. Does it have to be this way? Of course not. But as with today’s feature story about the rumors swirling around the merger between Aufbau Verlag and Eichborn Verlag in Germany, things can get sour fast.

Read and learn more 

Get the Publishing/Writing: Insights, News, Intrigue Blog right on your Kindle

02/16/2011

Is Content King or Pauper? Value or Valueless?


Some are trying to redefine what content REALLY is…or isn’t. They are doing this by trying to separate content from any measurable value of it’s own and essentially saying that the mass availability of any content somehow makes it valueless.

 Au contraire! In this writer’s humble opinion, content CANNOT be separated from it’s own inherent value…which is simply what the content portrays to each of us. Some peoples dislikes are others love affairs.

Look at basic content (say raw data and facts alone) as a blob of clay (to be shaped later into a unique sculpture) or a painter’s blank palette (to be transformed into a work of visual art)…the content blob has inherent value on its own because it is the substance or heart of what will be (refined content, if you will). Basic content is like the living cells of a larger being. The ability to create this larger literary being is talent loaded with value.   

It’s how the content is structured, analyzed and presented that adds more overt value, insight, viewpoints, education and entertainment to the basic content. It becomes a living, breathing piece of readable gold…And this is the intellectual capital of the author-artist and it is literally PRICELESS!…And deserves proper compensation and copyright protection.

Jeff Jarvis of the HuffPost seems to harbor a different view (if I’m interpreting this correctly) even though he is restricting his comments to news and media…Hell, content is content:

Please read my yesterday’s post on the Writers Welcome Blog  (Is Copyright a Relic?) for more background on what Jeff Jarvis is referring to in his featured article here:

It’s Not All About the Content    

In his New York Times column complaining about Huffington Post and the new economics of content competition, I think David Carr makes two understandable but fundamentally fallacious assumptions about news and media: that the value in journalism is in content and that making content must be work. Because that’s the way it used to be.

In their op-ed the next day in the New York Times complaining about copyright losing its hardness, Scott Turow, Paul Aiken, and James Shapiro extend the error to entertainment, assuming that content is entertainment and content is what content makers make.

Not necessarily.

Pull back to view the true value of these things: information, knowledge, enlightenment, amusement, experience, engagement. Content can be and has been a vessel to deliver their worth. But it is not the only one. That is the lesson of the internet — indeed, of Huffington Post itself. I have argued that the New York Times, the Washington Post, CNN, the BBC, and other media should have but never would have started the Huffington Post because they, like the gentlemen above, still see content as value in itself and further believe that content is their own franchise (granted by their control of the means of production and distribution). So the benefits of content cannot come from others — bloggers, commenters, citizens, amateurs — as new wine in new casks. They instead want to put their old wine in the new skins (witness The Daily). (John’s note: I do believe good content can come from others — bloggers, commenters, citizens, amateurs, etc.).

That is why old media people are missing new opportunities. It’s not about the content (stupid). It’s about the value.

We can be informed now by many means: by our neighbors telling us what they know, enabled to do so by the net, at a marginal cost of zero, doing so not because it is work (and work must be paid) but because this is what neighbors do for each other (John’s note: This has always been the case, even before the net…nothing new here). We can be entertained by many means: by clever people making songs and shows and telling stories because they love doing so and because they are compensated in attention rather than royalties (and that attention may well lead to money when they can finally detour around the gauntlet of old media’s closed ways to find audiences on their own). (John’s note: Again this has been the situation since the beginning of time).

Why do people write on Huffington Post? Because they can. Because they give a shit. Because they like the attention and conversation. Because they couldn’t before. Why do they sing their songs on YouTube? Same reasons.

Is there still a role for the journalist, the professional, the artist in this? Perhaps. I think so. That’s why I am teaching journalism school. But I’m not necessarily teaching them to make content. (John’s note: you can’t “make” content, it already exists due to human existence; you can only interpret and write about it). That is now only one of many, many ways to meet the goals of adding value to information, time, and society. Some of my entrepreneurial journalism students are, for example, creating businesses that will use data to impart information; they will add value by gathering and analyzing it and making it possible for you to find the intersecting points that matter to you. Other of my students are creating platforms for you to get more value out of your own data. Others are creating platforms for people to connect around interests and make and find their own value. Others are finding new ways to sustain reporting and the making of content. They are all valid if they bring value.

If you concentrate on the value, not the form — content — then the possibilities explode.

Turow et al shut down the idea that opening up information can yield greater value that protecting it. Sharers are…

Read and learn more

Remember, you can get Publishing/Writing: Insights, News, Intrigue on your Kindle at http://alturl.com/t3pkp

05/16/2010

Are Publishers Predators?


I always thought publishers…and I mean the old-school publishers…were scholarly, sophisticated, intelligent people who made their living by discovering, mentoring and helping new talent get into print as well as managing known authors.

But, I am finding I was wrong!


When I started researching the publishing industry, not too awfully long ago, I began to understand the meaning of the phrase “putting the cart before the horse” and also the newer “the tail wagging the dog”.

The crumbling publishing business model (always critically flawed!) took egregious advantage of the very talent off whom they made their money! I see the new technology empowering writers as almost a second coming!

That’s why I read with interest Lenox Parker’s blog post from his Eat My Book Blog titled The Legacy of Publishing’s Ownership of Work:

NOTE: Some strong language is used…

There are a couple of things here that you may think are unrelated but I’ll try to bridge the gap and make a coherent argument in support of my thesis. I contend that the history and very institution of publishing has lent itself to a culture of a lack of ownership by authors and artists, resulting in today’s hysterical clamoring on privacy issues.

You all have a better sense of the publishing industry since Gutenberg than I do, so there’s no need to retread. So just think about how difficult it is to turn that Titanic of a beast around in just a few short years. I’m no industry apologist–I think that’s been made clear–and I’m not saying that we should give it some time. I’m asking that we reconsider how we are framing the debate around the breakdown of the traditional publishing industry; the rise of the independent author; the risks and opportunities of technology to serve readers, established authors, and independent writers; and the implications of copyright, privacy, and ownership on all of the above. Here are some of the areas through which we have to change our perspective in order to offer thriving solutions:

Read the rest of the post here: http://alturl.com/rw8z

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: