Publishing/Writing: Insights, News, Intrigue

01/19/2013

Publishers Outclassed by Digitally Savvy Writers


Digitally S a v v y Writer

Digitally S a v v y Writer

Actually, publishers have ALWAYS been outclassed by writers — who created the very content (product) that made publishers their living in the first place.

Publishers, as discussed in this post, are traditional publishers, OK? I make this clarification because today more and more writers are publishing their own works through self-publishing platforms — and are, therefore, publishers themselves 🙂

Michael Drew writes this nice piece in Huffpost, Books, that further details the slowness of TP’s to take full advantage of the new digital publishing landscape:

As E-Books Rise, Publishing Still Waivers

(John’s Note: I think Michael means publishing TP decision-making waivers – not the publishing business as a whole)

There’s probably no going back: e-books are going to be the dominant form for publishing pretty soon.

Consider that 23 percent of Americans now read e-books, up from 16 percent in 2011, and that the number of people reading “traditional” books is declining. On top of that, according to a study released by the Pew Internet & American Life Project, “the number of owners of either a tablet computer or e-book reading device such as a Kindle or Nook grew from 18 percent in late 2011 to 33 percent in late 2012.”

Okay — and tablets are likely even to overtake e-readers, as tablets grow smaller and more comfortable to hold and still more versatile than many models of e-reader.

And publishers may be embracing e-books more than they had in the past. They have, for one thing, the ability to change prices. As Dominique Raccah, president of Sourcebooks said in an piece on NPR, “The exciting thing about digital books is that we actually get to test and price differently,” Raccah says. “We can even price on a weekly basis.”

On top of that, too, publishers can release books more quickly. Although in traditional publishing, you still have to wait a good year for a book to appear on shelves once it’s been accepted for publication, with e-publishing, of course, those delays — brought about by distribution, printing schedules, etc. — no longer exist.

Read and learn more

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

04/10/2011

There’s No Such Thing as Easy in the Writing Biz!


Joanna Penn is one of my favorite mentors and I have learned a great deal of insight from her. Two days ago she had a guest post on her Creative Penn site by Grant McDuling titled “Write For A Living In Seven Easy Steps”

While reading this post, two things struck me right off…First, I thought, NOTHING is easy in the writing business world; unless it happens by accident, it seems!

And second, after Mr. McDuling lists his seven easy writing steps (which I respectfully disagree with as being easy and are much too broad and generic), he goes on to say (and rightfully so) that “Launching out on your own in business – any business – takes courage and a great deal of faith in your own abilitiesJohn’s Note: and here comes the kicker: But it also takes a whole lot more; money, discipline, dedication and even, some would say, madness. But there’s another absolutely important ingredient that no university, school or college teaches, and that’s ATTITUDE. You have to think of yourself as a businessperson and not a writer. You are a businessperson whose business happens to be making a profit – through selling words.”

All true enough. But even MORE true is Mr. McDuling’s statement about it taking a lot more than intimated in the seven easy steps…and included in this “more” is money, discipline, dedication and even, some would say, madness…The money part is especially true. 

I loved the post, though, because it got my juices going!

Write For A Living In 7 Easy Steps (from the Creative Penn):

This is a guest post from ghostwriter Grant McDuling. You can also listen to an audio interview with Grant on making 6 figures as a writer here.

As a full time writer, I get asked so many times by all sorts of people what it takes to give up the day job to become a full time writer. This was a question I too had pondered long and hard years ago.

You see, I had been dabbling in writing since a school boy back in the 1960s and always felt this inner urge or compulsion to write. But as time went on and I grew up, realizing this goal became harder and harder because I found myself going down a path I didn’t want but had to pursue because commitments came along that had to be tended to. Commitments like paying the rent, buying food, paying off a car, to mention but a few.

The road to becoming a full time writer seemed to be an impossible one to follow — until I couldn’t resist the urge any longer and decided to do something positive about it.

My experience in the business world convinced me that, if I was to be serious about it, I would have to treat writing just like any other business. I was going to have to set about developing a plan of action.

This I did, but mostly by relying on non-business-like behavior; a healthy dose of enthusiasm mixed with gut feel and a liberal sprinkling of trial and error got me to the point where I at least had a system to work with. And it was a system based on business lines.

This gave me the courage to take the proverbial plunge, and I have never looked back.

So what was my system?

In simple terms, it consisted of 7 basic steps:

(1) Take control of your own future. Here I am referring to assuming responsibility for your own future. And become accountable. Have a plan to get rid of debt. You can read more about this in my Kindle book Write for a Living in 7 Easy Steps

(2) Getting into the writing profession needs the right ATTITUDE. It’s about seeing yourself as a professional writer.

(3) Become a PRACTICING writer. Just like lawyers or doctors are in private practice, so too must you be. Understand and make use of the principle of leverage to achieve more with less. Syndication is a good example here.

(4) Concentrate on sales and marketing. Understand that, as a practicing writer, you should be spending around 50% of your time on sales and marketing.

Read and learn more

02/06/2011

Publishing, Writing and the Super Bowl


Well, the super bowl is under way! I have been watching much of the pre-game festivities and would like to take advantage of a small teaching moment.

All interested in publishing and writing should look at this huge media event as a learning lab…and it’s FREE! Pay close attention to the writing and production of the great commercials that surface with the super bowl presentation.

The great writing, camera work and special effects on the E-Trade Baby ad and the Michael Douglas narrative on the history of the two “blue collar” teams and their relationship and values to our own country’s growth, through good and bad times, were edgy, sharp and great examples of good writing and production values. 

Whoa!!! Green Bay just scored another touchdown!!! So far the odd makers are on course.

Anyway, good people, keep your eyes peeled on the rest of the advertisement writing and any production dialogue at halftime…You just might learn something new.

Now BACK TO THE GAME!…After all, it is the main event…

12/20/2009

What’s The Value Of Online Content ?…NOTHING Per Demand Media, Inc


I posted this on my other site but decided it belongs here too. It presents an interesting trend toward greed that I feel must be snipped in the bud.

Demand Media is paying writers, video makers and other media artists pauper wages. The pay rates are actually un-American and smack of master-slave mentality…all for their own damn bottom line at the expense of others…AND their bottom line is substantial enough to pay the ones who create the stuff that makes them their money in the first place a decent, livable wage!

Demand Media is a superficial company and all writers and media artists should boycott them at ALL costs! After all, Artists, you have the power to set your own worth and market value…NOT some stingy, greedy company.

That’s my take on Demand Media and here’s an article by Folio Magazine’s Jason Fell with more details:

‘I was thumbing through the November issue of Wired when I stumbled across an article on Demand Media, penned by senior writer Daniel Roth. It’s a detailed look at how the online network has successfully leveraged a user-generated content model and become the largest supplier of videos to YouTube. According to the report, Demand rakes in roughly $200 million a year and was valued in a recent round of financing at $1 billion.

Demand is reportedly the 15th-most-visited online media property, attracting 52 million visitors in September—bigger than CNN.com, Twitter.com and Weather.com.

But what jumped out wasn’t the soaring profits. It was how co-founder Richard Rosenblatt thinks other media companies, which have been trying to increase the value of their content to at least match the cost of producing it, have the equation backwards. As he’s done with Demand, Rosenblatt said the trick is in cutting costs until they match market value for content.

Demand utilizes an algorithm system that mines search data, traffic patterns and keyword rates to commission stories/videos based on what online users want to know and how much advertisers will pay for it. The company has all but eliminated actual people from the process, other than to make sense of terms the algorithm spits out. (“Demand uses editors in its process, too,” the Wired story says, but “they just aren’t worth very much.”)

$15 Per Article

Another way to cut costs: Pay your content producers squat. Rosenblatt’s massive stable of freelancers earn just $15 per article and $20 per video produced, on average. Some writers opt to earn nothing upfront and instead participate in a profit sharing program, although it can take months to earn even $15 that way. Copy editors take home $2.50 per article, fact-checkers get $1 an article and headline proofers bank a whopping 8 cents a headline, according to the Wired story.

Fifteen dollars a story? Granted, the stories are far from 4,000-word investigative pieces, but only a few years ago I was freelancing for a Boston-area newspaper, writing 300-word lifestyle/entertainment stories at about $100 a pop. That’s more than six times what Demand pays.

The pittance Demand pays multiplied by the volume of content it produces has added up to $17 million in expenses so far. But even so, the idea that online content and its creators have been so devalued is truly astonishing.

Others Weigh In

I asked TheAtlantic.com editorial director Bob Cohn his thoughts about Demand’s business model. He said that even though Demand doesn’t do “journalism,” the downside is that its model might help reduce the amount of money writers and video-makers can charge for their work across the media industry.

“And it could well change the market when it comes to editing by showing that computers rather than people are ‘better’ at making story selections,” Cohn said. “All this could have a negative effect on quality, especially in areas like complex financial reporting, investigations into government corruption, and explanatory journalism.”

At TheAtlantic.com—which is expected to ring up 103 percent digital revenue growth in 2009—Cohn said he and his team “strive for insight and distinction” in its news analysis. I asked Cohn if he thought publishers should be worried about what Demand is doing. “Demand is giving readers what they want, and doing it with ruthless business efficiency,” he said. “That’s a model that’s bound to succeed.”

I guess so, but at what expense!

 

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