I Have a James Beard Award and I Think You Are So Great. – The EverywhereistI published my essay about Mario Batali and his shitty cinnamon roll apology on this site because I assumed that no publication would want it. It ended up getting a James Beard nomination for Journalism in the Personal Essay category. And then it won. This doesn’t fall into the schema of dreams coming true, because this was never a dream I’d had. It’s not something I thought was in the realm of possibility. […]My blog was up against publications whose editors don’t even reply to my emails.
Avoid writing for the echo chamberThis lust for virality deforms how we think in public. What do you get if you mentally focus-group every utterance before you post it? Stuff that’s panderingly dull (best not to offend anyone) or that leans into the kabuki hysteria of a sick burn (offend everyone!). Posts designed specifically to hack the attentional marketplace.
Where we are nowBlogging has never been easier but getting read has never been harder.
Ivan Klima's libraryAs he explains all this, Klima goes to the bookshelves that line his living room and starts pulling down thin volumes, typed double-sided on air-mail paper. "This is one of Havel's plays, this is a volume of Jaroslav Seifert's poetry." A neatly bound history of dissent. "In the end we managed about 300 titles in 18 years," he says. At first the police tried to confiscate individual samizdat copies during house searches but the words spread too quickly; they could not cope. It was a secret policeman's worst nightmare. "It was also," says Klima, "really what kept us going."
The Strategic Use of Book GiveawaysThe giveaway is one of the more powerful tools in the new author’s arsenal because it’s a way to get attention when you may not have anything else going for you. There is no demand curve for you yet. And especially if you have no publisher backing you, then it’s important to provide social proof to potential readers, or have some way of indicating merit before they’ll invest time or money. (Thus the race for reviews, social media presences, etc—anything that indicates your work deserves attention.)
Do Facebook Ads Work For Books?Some clever sleuthing by Derek Muller, proprietor of the science-focused YouTube channel Veritasium, determined that many Facebook ad clicks are worthless and, worse, that buying lots of Facebook love can significantly decreases the popularity of any content you subsequently post to Facebook.
Lazy, trend-chasing consumers ignore the long tailHarvard University Professor Anita Elberse, published in October 2013 in her book Blockbuster: Hit-making, risk-taking and the big business of entertainment. It is worthwhile noting that Elberse points out that less than 1% of the digital songs in US account for more than 80% of sales. This seems to exclude the current observability and relevance of Long Tail theory in the market of the digital songs.
Amazon Offers All-You-Can-Eat Books -- Authors Aghast.“Six months ago people were quitting their day job, convinced they could make a career out of writing,” said Bob Mayer, an e-book consultant and publisher who has written 50 books. “Now people are having to go back to that job or are scraping to get by. That’s how quickly things have changed.”For romance and mystery novelists who embraced digital technology, loved chatting up their fans and wrote really, really fast, the last few years have been a golden age. Fiction underwent a boom unseen since the postwar era, when seemingly every liberal arts major set his sights on the Great American Novel.Now, though, the world has more stories than it needs or wants to pay for. In 2010, Amazon had 600,000 e-books in its Kindle store. Today it has more than three million.
How to hack your way to the top of any Amazon bestseller category with free and cheap books | CreativindieThe “Feel Good Myth” is only 21 pages! You could write it in a day or two! You don’t need to price aggressively with your main book. Instead, write a bunch of mini-books like this, or “long form essays’ with a nice cover and keep them at free or 99cents (they are different lists, so you really want content in both). Dominate the top of every category related to your niche. Get them to sign up to your optin by promising free stuff on your website. Use the strategy to grow your list and keep visibility high – use these little books to drive traffic and sales of your main book. Here’s a book I put out yesterday, without much fanfare, at #1 in the “Time Management” category (also pretty competitive). I’ll stay at #1 for the next few days, and then I’ll be #1 in the paid list after I switch to 99cents.
A new author's real goalHere’s the secret – making money is not your goal. Fighting your way out of obscurity is.
New musicians ignored as the web focuses on clicksJohnston, who has written about music for Rolling Stone, The Village Voice and other publications, believes that the pressure to increase web traffic causes major music publications to churn out sensationalist outrage pieces and “celebrity coverage” of popular artists, a development she compared to “when your bagel shop starts selling frozen yogurt.” […]Johnston said she personally struggles with this trend in content creation because her interest in writing about new, unhyped artists is less profitable for publications compared to pieces covering mainstays who are “guaranteed clicks.” When Johnston wrote for The Village Voice and the pop music website Idolator, “the things that were like ‘Hey, this is a cool band…’ would never get as much traffic as a list of something or [a piece] pointing out something is bad,” she said.
Social media as a launch pad for a self-published book -- good luck!Yes, the good news is that you can create a platform with social media, and that it is virtually free except in terms of your time. But the bad news is that in a world that is completely oversaturated with traditional media, information, news, hype, marketing, books, other platforms, social media, blogs, magazines, online magazines, advertising everywhere, television, and so on, it’s incredibly difficult to stand out. To do so, you have to craft an extraordinarily compelling message and story, create a clever platform around it that makes sense for what it is and who you are, and then have the patience to do what it takes to develop that platform through the social media and traditional media you’ve chosen. It can take years.
Amazon offends the elite by flooding their marketDespite my benefitting from it, I am unwilling to pretend that this system is beneficial for readers or for writers who lack my privilege. […]The reason my fellow elites hate Amazon is that Amazon refuses to flatter our pretensions. In my tribe, this is a crime more heinous even than eating one’s salad with one’s dessert fork.The threat Amazon poses to our collective self-regard is the usual American one: The market is optimized for availability rather than respect. […] If Amazon gets its way, saying, “I published a book” will generate no more cultural capital than saying “I spoke into a microphone.”
Without filtering by agents, publishers and stores, book ecosystem is bustedAt The Post, we’re getting about 150 books a day. A day. And these are books that had to find an agent. And then a publisher. And then were professionally edited. And now are being professionally marketed by people with money on the line. Many of these books, of course, are bad, but many — far more than we can review — are interesting, engaging, informative, moving, timely and/or newsworthy for various reasons. All the winnowing and editing work that went on before a galley ever arrives at our door make this job possible. The idea of dumping several hundred thousand additional books on our small staff every year is terrifying.
Book selling: its all about targettingAn audience of “everyone” is typically too big to grasp or connect with. Where does “everyone” get their information? There’s no single source. What motivates “everyone” to learn something? There’s no single motivation. What does “everyone” care about? There’s no single topic. You get the idea… “Everyone” is not your audience. Your audience is a specific set of people with specific motivations and values. They’re much easier to reach and connect with than everyone.
Sometimes authors shouldn't read reviews. Or comment on them.You offer no evidence to back up any of your drive-by pronouncements that I just showed were wrong. It is abundantly clear to everyone now that you really didn't read the book. If you had, you would have seen it as a breakthrough work. […]You didn't write this book; I did. Why does it bother you so much? To dislike a book because you just don't like it is one thing. But to purposefully mischaracterize what's in and then tell others, that's something else entirely.
Two middlemen is too many? Try 3 or 4 layers in the book industry.An investor in oDesk once said, “Two middlemen seems like one too many.” It was a pivotal statement that solidified the early focus on providing direct connections between employers and freelancers anywhere in the world. Everything we did in the early days of oDesk to support and benefit these direct connections paid off. Everything we did to accommodate other middlemen in the process was a waste of time. I’ll be the first to confess that I know basically nothing about the book publishing industry and look forward to being enlightened by readers’ comments. Until then, this is how I see it as a marketplace investor with Sigma West. Hachette is a middleman. So is Amazon. There should be only one.
If you want to sell more books, get a good cover from an experienced designer! […] Marketing is critical to getting noticed, but concentrate on those activities which generate the best results, whether it be sales, engagement with customers, or joking around on Twitter. […] Reviews from readers, bloggers, and professional reviewers can be crucial. […] If you've corresponded with someone who enjoyed your book, ask if they wouldn't mind writing a review.
Yet while the film industry eventually embraced the notion of a director’s cut and ran with it—ran, in fact, with the idea of releasing multiple versions of films, each definitive in its own, idiosyncratic way—publishing did not. Despite a few exceptions, there seems to be very little enthusiasm today for multiple editions of the same contemporary book. And that’s a real shame, because when I was asked—unusually—to significantly “re-cut” the U.S. edition of my novel for its release in the UK, I actually found much to appreciate in the enterprise.
The biggest threat to publishers are the hybrid authors, who move from traditional publishing into self-publishing. While publishers work hard to keep their name-brand authors from defecting with sweet enough deals to keep them happy, midlisters in the past have been neglected. These are the people for whom self-publishing may be increasingly attractive. In the past, these authors might have been dropped by traditional publishers if they didn’t have enough sales, marking a precipitous end to their careers or their series. The publishers could then have turned around and offered the authors’ readers something else to read with a good chance of sales. Now, however, these authors can self-publish their work, and their readers can and do follow them and find the books they love. Readers’ relationships are with authors and their stories. No one really cares who the publisher is. The traditional authors who goes indie quickly becomes the publisher’s competition. In the 2014 Digital Book World and Writer’s Digest Author Survey, 5% of authors fit this profile or more than a third of traditionally published authors. All indications are that this number is growing.
The other big news is that Garth’s entire catalog will be available for downloading starting on Monday at his website, www.garthbrooks.com. Garth had previously been one of the few remaining holdouts, refusing to allow his songs on iTunes, amazon, or other services. Now he’s going do it himself and cut out the middle man. I don’t know why more artists don’t do it this way.
If Hachette doesn't have the power to maintain 70% earnings, how will million-copy-selling New York Times bestselling indie authors have any power when Amazon decides to put the squeeze on them? And how about the rest of the indie community which has even less leverage over Amazon? How long until Amazon puts on the squeeze? The squeeze may already have started. In February, Amazon gutted the royalty rates they pay for audiobooks, as Laura Hazard Owen reported at GigaOm in her story, Amazon-owned Audible lowers royalty rates on self-published audiobooks. Previously, authors earned up to 90% list. Under the new terms, authors earn from 25% to 40% list. Amazon can do this because they dominate audiobooks.
Welcome to NoiseTrade. The idea is simple. Authors can upload ebooks (and audiobooks) and NoiseTrade’s community of readers can download them for free – for as long as the author wants. There is a tip-jar, and you can suggest a figure, but it’s not compulsory. So it’s pay what you want, but with a killer twist. In exchange for the download, the reader provides their email address to the author (in full knowledge they will be contacted in future). In other words, it’s a smart way to boost your mailing list, with the possibility of making a little money on the side too.
30% of the top-selling e-books on Amazon are self-published, beating out the biggest authors from the largest publishing houses in the world – as well as titles from Amazon’s own imprints (which aren’t included in the Indie Top 100). This roughly tallies with the limited data we do have from Amazon, who recently announced the top-selling Kindle Books of 2013 (January to March). Seven of the Top 20 were self-published (and that’s not counting formerly self-published work, or Amazon imprint books).
But a survey of 1,007 self-published writers – one of the most comprehensive insights into the growing market to date – found that while a small percentage of authors were bringing in sums of $100,000-plus in 2011, average earnings were just $10,000 a year. This amount, however, is significantly skewed by the top earners, with less than 10% of self-publishing authors earning about 75% of the reported revenue and half of writers earning less than $500.