Month: August 2006

Links of Interest (At Least to Me) 01/09/06

Sometimes there is just so much out there on the web it is hard to narrow down what to link to. Because of that I have decided today to do link clusters, a couple of links around each idea/concept. We will see how it works!

Promoting a book especially early in a career presents challenges in the modern atmosphere. A great post on the value of free from Jurgen Wolff’s blog should be read and his Gurellia Tactics post should not be ignored either. But by far the most impressive post to date is from A Newbie’s Guide to Publishing and is a manifesto in a post if ever I saw one. Read it; it is called Do Something and if you do not get inspired to promote your book more effectively then I just don’t know.

I know I bemoaned memes the other day and so this is exceptionally hypocritical BUT the idea just got in on me. Stainless Steel Droppings Blog has launched the Readers Imbibing Peril (R.I.P.) Autumn Challenge and the line up is impressive to say the least. You should follow SOME OF THE LINKS as they are pretty much all great book-blogs!

So there has been some incredible chat recently on Self-Publishing. Read the Blurberati Blog for the skinny on what is going on in the world of innovative self publishing facilitators. Read Wired.com for industry reaction and read Organic Research (2 different posts) for some illuminating consideration. Marginal Revolution is sceptical (like all good economists I say) and finally for something COMPLETELY different.

That is about all I can reasonably fit it for today (And yes I am vaguely conscious that it is only technically the 1st for many readers but even though it is 40 minutes from the first where I am it feels like the 1st)
Eoin

Blurb.com Upgrades, gets commented on in Wired.com and generally attracts attention

Wired.com ponders Blurb, self-publishing & blogs
A very nice post on the Organic Researcher pointed me to a Wired.com article on Blurb.com the self-publishing outfit that I have linked to several times before. The basis for the story is their new plan to introduce a blogbook.

The Booksmart Factor
I recently changed the RSS feeds on this blog to more accurately reflect the content and one of the feeds I added was the Blurberati Blog which is the blog of Blurb.com. I added it because I have been impressed by their innovation and their ability to surprise me. By far the most impressive element of their offering is their technology. The Booksmart system for creating a book is so deceptively simple. And they have upgraded this piece of software. I would heartily encourage people to download and play with this little Gizmo.

Blurb have developed a way to remove almost all the professionals between the printing press and the author. It is flattening the industry. Oh for sure Boosmart does not solve the issues of PR and promotion, but it does resolve the issue of design and layout and in a way that presents books in pretty decent templates.

On the value of Self-Publishing
There is a wonderful Old School quote from the HarperCollins CEO in the article:

HarperCollins CEO Jane Friedman says self-publishing is little more than a vanity press. “A good book will get published,” she said. “Self-publishing is denying that fact. The filters of agent, editor and publisher are still essential.”

I cannot get over the arrogance of this. Faced with a functioning and effective rival Ms Friedman is simply denying reality with that kind of talk. Clearly the filters she mentions are not necessary. Even of she has said desirable or that they are useful in judging or improving a book she might have made sense but thinking yourself indispensable is surely foolish when faced with the type of challenges that mainstream publishing currently faces.

As ever Jeff Jarvis has an interesting contribution:

“Every author I know says the publishers don’t get the job done on marketing — they end up having to do their own. As for a middleman, you can sell enough books on Amazon now to make it worthwhile.”

“The face of publishing will change,” he said. “As for who wins, the big guy or the little guy — I have no idea.”

What do I think?
Blurb are clearly innovative and forward looking. i like their product if not their prices. They are far from easily dismissed and certainly for publishers in niche sectors they are to be worried about. they may at some stage make the role of the niche publisher uneconomic. This is especially true if they begin to offer softback books at reasonable prices. I say this not because such publishers could not match them for book design, price and distribution but more because for a certain type of author the freedom and control offered by Blurb may prove irresitible.

As I have said before Authors Will Drive Change and Blurb is perfectly placed to benefit from that trend. Commissioning books within niches and genres will become more difficult over time if blurb and its fellows succeed in establishing the legitimacy of their business model in the mind of the consumer. Publishers will need to change and adapt to this threat. I wonder if we can?

Enjoying the possibilities
Eoin

References:
New York Times: From Blogger to Published Author, for $30 and Up
Wired.com: Blurb.com Gets Book Smart

Don’t end up in the long tail of the Long Tail

The Long Tail Series Part One(August/September 2006)

1) Introduction to The Long Tail for newbies
The Long Tail is basically the idea that beyond the bestseller lists and the top X hundred number of products in a given market there are many hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of alternative products that might actually be of more value to different consumers. These products are not necessarily good but amongst them there may be exceptional and wonderful products. In the book Chris Anderson of Wired discusses how this Long Tail is emerging, what forces are driving it and how companies are exploiting it and how it will benefit consumers. It started as an article and he maintains a good blog too.

And you are saying, how obvious is that? Well you are right BUT Anderson brings together some interesting insights into how the Long Tail works, the forces driving it and the reason why it is important in the current times.

2) Important notes for writers
The most interesting aspect of the Long Tail concept for authors is that it relies on tools and techniques for sorting information and building context to work and to drive user/consumers down the tail towards information that is valuable to them. He calls these tools Filters. If you are having trouble getting to grips with what tools are thing of iTunes where you can search by Genres, by Artist or by ranking and even within the genres by ranking and by sub genre.

This is exceptionally important for artists, authors and publishers because in essence these Filters are the new gatekeepers. Anderson underplays the barrier role the filters are now playing. You only benefit from Long Tail Effects if you are within their system i.e. if they can find you, process you, assign you metadata, decide who might like you, see you in other users play lists/reading lists and generally collect information on you.

Anderson keeps saying that it is important to have good tools and systems for accessing information but the sad truth is that if you don’t get within the system then you will not even register with the filters. So for say, a subscription based music model, the company controlling the subscribers can decide if your song merits attention or not. Amazon for instance is open enough to allow you join their associate system and start from there. Who knows perhaps enough reader have bought and reviewed your book to catapult you into good company on their recommendation lists and thus some extra sales.

My point here is this Long Tail Effect will not happen by accident. You need to make them happen. In the same way that publicity and PR don’t just fall from the sky you need to build contacts, encourage newspapers and radio stations. In the Long Tail World you need to build relationships, encourage friends readers and fans to write reviews and include your work on top ten lists and within their notes, general to evangelise your material or it will not even register with the filters, never be suggested to a new fan and remain in the long tail of the long tail!

More to Follow.
Eoin

Google Book Search is doing free downloads now

UPDATE: Google Book Search finally posted on it.

Techcrunch, a site that covers technology says that Google Book Search is now facilitating download. So does BusinessWeek and PaidContent.

There is no mention of it on Inside Google Book Search at least not yet (though they do now allow yoiu to add GBS to yoiur website, a fairly nifty feature).

I am able to download Dante’s Divina Commedia. Which is absolutely amazing. Wow. Usage must be oncommercial and also must retain the Google Watermark. Seems pretty fair. Does this make Google an e-book publisher?

I like the idea of downloading classics, and I do not mind if it is Google, Penguin, HarperCollins or Nonsuch who provide them. It does strike me that this product a revenueless one. Considering the effort Google and others have gone to to get this off the ground is it realistic to belive that they will simply allow downloads for free?

I guess it is.

Fearing the day I have to pay
Eoin

Links of Interest )At Least to Me) 30/08/06

Cork Graham blogs his new book and the process of submitting it for print. Early days and worthwhile.
Here

For writers considering their life online, Booksquare has an interesting and thoughtful post.
Here

Penguin tempt, you, me and everybody who likes books and the idea of serialsed books.
Here

Terry Whalin who has a wonderful blog has two very nice posts on rejection and writing for the long run.
Here and Here

Modesty prevents me from saying who the Publisher is but Litlove deserves a push for here efforts in The Publisher returns.
Here

Links of Interest (At Least to Me) 28/08/06

Joe Wikert has a brief review of The Long Tail on his blog. Nice taster of what is to come on this blog. (A friend recently asked if I was getting paid per mention of this book. I assure you that I am not)
Here

Scott Karps publishing 2.0 has a nice riff on MySpace magazine idea and proposes that users could choose their own magazine content. I agree. It also echoes something that both Bloglily and I mentioned following my recent post on magazines.
Here

Sometimes being in publishing is fun. At least for Richard Charkin.
Here

NewsAssignment.net is kicking off

I am very excited about this project NewsAssignments.net if only because I see it as a fantastic model for publishing in general. If it works for news I can see no reason why it will not work for books of all kinds!

There are many opinions on this project and not all of them favourable but I remain sure it will have excellent results and ones favourable for journalism, reporting and the professional side of the industry too.

Read more on the topic, concept and progress by Jay Rosen Here
Jeff Jarvis of Buzzmachine has some thoughts too Here