Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Chad's second installment

on the publishing biz in these crazy financial times must be read. Read it here.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

She's getting HOW much??

Word on the street is that Sarah Palin could get up to $7 million to write a book. I would like to throw up right now, except that the Times does pose this very good point:
With publishers as nervous as everyone else about next year’s economic
prospects, Palin’s popularity has become a boon. “Nobody is waiting for George W
Bush’s memoirs,” one New York agent noted.

Two Smart People on Two Tough Subjects

The first smart person is Kassia Krozser at Booksquare, and she wrote about social networking. What I like about this post is that Krozser asks companies to be responsible and involved in their social networking strategies. Rather than setting content adrift online or building a rudimentary Facebook page, Krozser insists that social networking is, at its heart, more about old-fashioned relationship building. It is a process that requires a personal investment of time and energy.

Social networking is not a magic new concept. If anything, it’s a return to
basics: talking to your customers, reminding them that they are important to
you. The only difference between then and now is that your customers are
everywhere and technology gives you the power to find them, listen to them, talk
to them, and build relationships that extend long beyond the boundaries of a
traditional marketing campaign.Social networking, by its very definition, is a
sustained, ongoing process. If you’re a publisher, this is requires changing
your thinking. You’ve traditionally maintained some distance from your ultimate
customers: readers. People buy books from retailers. Retailers buy books from
distributors. You might take out some ads and put dollars into promo, but you
haven’t spent a lot of time talking to readers. Focus groups don’t count.

It’s time to get your hands dirty, to dig into the real-world
conversation. It’s a weird thing, and sometimes awkward and uncomfortable,
especially if you’re accustomed to public relations-speak and the cheerleader
behavior that accompanies marketing messages. When you talk directly to real
people who read and buy books, they tune you out when you try to stay on
message. If they wanted to rehash cover copy, they’d read the back of the

In a recent conversation I had with some social networking and media gurus, this very topic of proactive communication and interactivity came up. How do you get readers to visit your website and read your content? These days, you don't. You push your content and your expertise to the places your target audience spends time. You become the authority outside of your own space, which will eventually create an audience. Am I going to seek out books on a publisher's website? Not unless I have some personal relationship with that publisher or someone who works there (hint to publishers: most people outside the industry do not have that personal connection). And that brings us back to establishing relationships with readers through social networking.

The second smart person is Chad Post of Three Percent, and he wrote about the business of publishing in these economically challenged times (and will continue to write about this in follow-up posts). As this first installment seems to indicate, we are in trouble and it might be because our industry is a bit too top-heavy.

Rarely—if ever—did people start up publishing houses with the idea that
this would make them millions. Same goes for bookstores and bookstore owners. In
the best of times, these businesses aim for 3% profit margins. As conglomerates
took over the industry though, and houses started merging, the expectations
jumped to the 10% range, fundamentally changing the rules of the game and, in my
opinion, pushing the industry into its current tenuous position where a lot of
people are filled with anxiety and dread.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Good News

from the Bookseller: "Deloitte described books as a 'significant mover' in this year's Christmas survey with shoppers placing books fourth on their Christmas shopping list."

Thursday, November 6, 2008

New "Godot" Productions

This would be worth a trip to New York or London!

Michael Crighton

The news of Michael Crighton's death took me by surprise this morning. I paused midway through eating my overcooked egg to reflect on Crighton. My first encounter with his writing was when my third grade teacher read Jurrasic Park to us aloud in class. It might have been a bit to early, because my only memory of the book is a scene where a guy's guts get ripped out by a dinosaur. Disturbing as this early image was, I got over it and even went on to read other books by Crighton. I also became an avid "ER" viewer in high school (the George Cloony and Julianna Margulies era). Sad to think that we will never get to read the new Michael Crighton book again.

Obits from the Guardian and New York Times.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Yes We Did!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Rounding up

I love round-ups, the lazy approach to blogging that makes me look well-read and informed. Thank you, other bloggers. Thank you, Google Reader.

The Google settlement, everyone is talking about it. TOC Publishing News has a nice collection of responses to the settlement, and Carolyn Kellog from the LA Times' Jacket Copy analyzes the value and bottom line for publishers and authors. Georgia Harper on how the settlement will affect orphan works.

Roberto Saviano attended the Frankfurt Book Fair behind closed booth doors. His book, Gomorrah, investigates the inner workings and major players in the Italian mafia. Obviously the mob has threatened his life, and he has lived under tight security for the past two years. The Guardian reviews the book here.

Young publishers unite!

The essays of George Orwell reflect his "restless intellect"

The final count for translated fiction and poetry for 2008 from Chad Post. German is number three on the list with 34 titles!

Booksquare does not agree with Random House's ebook royality rate.

Barnes and Noble braces for a slow holiday season. As the 8 Ball would say, "Outlook not so good."

Apparently there was a buzz book during Frankfurt this year.