Thursday, May 31, 2012

David Ogilvy on marketing a bad product

“Great marketing only makes a bad product fail faster.”

"Can advertising foist an inferior product on the consumer? Bitter experience has taught me that it cannot. On those rare occasions when I have advertised products which consumer tests have found inferior to other products in the same field, the results have been disastrous."

People don't buy books from strangers #2

Still thinking about what Seth Godin said: "People don't buy books from strangers." I finally decided to list some of the books I've bought in the past two weeks, and why I bought them.

The Commonsense Guide to Weight Loss for People With Diabetes
  • Found in a used bookstore I often frequent.  Written by someone I never heard of. Hated it.
Platform: Get noticed in a noisy world
  • Read about the book on Seth Godin's blog. Great book. Applies directly to what I am trying to do. Love it.
The Best American Noir Century: Ellroy and Penzler
  • Found in a new bookstore. I recognized Ellroy's name on the cover. Love it.
The Mark Inside : a perfect swindle, a cunning revenge, and a small history of the big con, Amy Reading.
  • Read about the book in an article written by Reading on the Huffington Post. Ordered the book that day.
End This Depression Now. Paul Krugman.

  • Read about the book on Krugmans blog. Love it.
Tipping Point. Japan after Fukashima by Mark Pendergrast.
  • Exchanged occasional emails with Pendergrast on WriterL. Read it because I always try to read and write a review of books by writers I know. Love it.
I draw three conclusions from my tiny, biased, anecdotal list:
  1. First people have to get to know you (one way is by reading your blog or an article.)
  2. Then they have to come to trust you.
  3. Then they buy your books.
How powerful can it be to build an audience and gain its trust?

Seth Godin recently showed exactly how powerful this process is when he published End Malaria. He wrote one blog post and within 30 days the book raised over $300,000 to buy mosquito nets for malarial Africa. One blog post!

Of course, it wasn't Godin's single blog post that did the trick. It was the trust he'd earned by doing three or four years of daily blog posts, hundreds of public speaking gigs, and thousands of hours of pro-bono work for non profits like the Acumen fund.

Sure looks to me like Godin was right: People don't buy books from strangers.

Tomorrow: Defining strangers, fans, followers, friends and family.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

People don't buy books from strangers

"People don't buy books from strangers."  Seth Godin
Strangers everywhere
What exactly does Godin mean?  I read books by strangers all the time. Hemingway is a stranger to me. Hell, he's dead!

To understand what Godin was saying, I decided to figure out how I came to buy Seth Godin's books. (I have about all of them. A real true believer, me.)

1990--I get interested in film making (because a friend kept talking about film.)
1992--I go to film school. (A teacher tells me about local filmmaker Dorothy Fadiman.)
1994--I hear Fadiman speak, and leave my name on her mailing list.
2000--Fadiman sends out an email saying she is looking to hire an intern. After a lengthy interview she hires me as a filmmaking intern.
2002--Fadiman asks me to co-author a book on documentary filmmaking, Producing With Passion. She introduces me to the publisher.
2008--Producing With Passion is published. I get to know the publisher and he asks me to write Digital Video Secrets.
2008--Digital Video Secrets published. I learn--to my surprise--that I have to promote the book if it is going to sell. I ask a friend at my yoga studio if she knows anyone who can help me promote a book. She introduces me to a marketing expert.
2009--The marketing expert recommends Seth Godin's daily blog posts.
2009-- I read everything I can find online by Godin.
2010-- I start buying Godin's books.
2012-- I sign up for the May 16 event. I fly to New York. After the event, I am delighted to shake Godin's hand, thank him for the work he is doing and get my picture taken with him.

So... why did I buy Godin's books?

  1. A friend got me interested in film. (trusted friend)
  2. A teacher told me about Dorothy Fadiman. (trusted teacher)
  3. Dorothy Fadiman introduced me to my publisher. (trusted filmmaker)
  4. A friend told me about a marketing expert. (trusted friend)
  5. The marketing expert told me about Seth Godin. (trusted expert)
  6. I read Seth Godin's blog for three years, and bought his books. (learned to trust Godin by reading him)
  7. I went to New York to hear Godin speak. (trust confirmed)
I bought Godin's books because after reading his blog for three years he was not a stranger! 

The moral? If you want people to buy your book, 1) gain their trust, and 2) 'don't be a stranger.' 

A few ways to gain trust:
  • public speaking
  • workshops
  • blogging
  • being recommended by a friend, teacher, or a trusted reviewer. 
  • joining the tribe that will use and buy your book
  • forming your own tribe!
  • pro-bono work for causes you believe in.
First people have to get to know you. 
Then they have to come to trust you.  
Then they buy your books.

How powerful can this be in the Internet age? Godin showed exactly how powerful this process is when he published End Malaria. He wrote one blog post and within 30 days the book raised over $300,000 to buy mosquito nets for malarial Africa. One blog post!  Of course, it wasn't that one blog post that did the trick. It was the trust he'd earned in by doing three or four years of daily blog posts, hundreds of public speaking gigs, and thousands of hours of pro-bono work for non profits like the Acumen fund.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Mr. Happy Man -- the power of digital video

Every so often a delightful video appears that reminds me of the power of digital video. 

I wrote Digital Video Secrets to empower regular people to make their own films. Mr Happy Man is a good example of the kind of film I'd like to see more people making.

(PS: I do not know the gifted filmmaker who made Mr. Happy Man, Matt Morris. I am sure he has never heard of me or my little book. You can see more of Morris's films here.)

Sunday, May 27, 2012

The secret to long life

"The secret of long life is double careers. One to about age sixty, then another for the next thirty years."
David Ogilvy, 1911-1999.

Tips for making an after-sixty career work:
  • Stay healthy.
    A daily walk, a moderate diet, and very little alcohol.
  • Be as generous as you can.
    Volunteer, tip generously, practice kindness in daily interactions.
  • Keep working.
    Volunteering, part-time work, full-time work, writing, art, film making... whatever your work is... keep it up.
  • Take classes.
    Whatever interests you, including things like yoga.
  • Don't buy into other people's myths about age
    Old-age myths are pervasive and crippling. If you buy into them, they become real. If you don't they won't. Like Satchell Paige said, "If you didn't know how old you was, how old would you be?"

Aim for "Wow!"

All the marketing in the world will not save a lousy product. The first step to building a platform is building a great product, one with  "Wow!" in it--like the Apple iPhone, or TOMS shoes. Shoes? Yes, shoes.

Michael Hyatt tells the story of TOMS shoes in his book, Platform: Get noticed in a noisy world:

"In 2006, Blake Mycoskie was traveling in Argentina and saw that many children there had no shoes. So when he returned home to America, he created a new company, TOMS Shoes.

For every pair sold, TOMS matches it—one for one—with a pair of new shoes given to a child in need.

When he returned to Argentina with reinforcements the next year, they placed ten thousand pairs on little feet." That, to me, is "Wow!"

Find the theme, first

Storycraft by Jack Hart

Writing coach Jack Hart suggests finding the theme of any piece of writing before writing the first draft.

Hart's book Storycraft explains the theme and it's importance. (The) "theme statement suggests your structure. It guides your reporting. It helps you find a title. If you have to cut, it tells you what can go and what must stay. In one way or another, it affects every phase of the writing" Storycraft, by Jack Hart.

Hart follows his own advice. He begins each essay, article, or book with a short theme sentence at the top of his Word file. He refers back to the theme as he writes. The theme tells helps him choose what to include, what to cut, and how to structure his writing.

The theme for this blog post is:
Theme creates content.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Finding the cause of a perfect problem

Problems with multiple causes are often "perfect problems." All efforts at solving a perfect problem fail because there is an underlying cause that is hidden.

One way to find the cause of a perfect problem is a multiple cause diagram.  Write the problem at the bottom of a page of paper. Then start adding causes. Keep going until all the causes are revealed.

One of them will be very difficult. You won't want to face it. That's the one you have to fix.

Here's an example from the Open University of a multiple cause diagram.

Friday, May 25, 2012

How did Michael Hyatt get 400,000 visitors?

Traffic on Michael Hyatt's blog went from 110 to 400,000 monthly visitors in 8 years. In his new book Platform: Get noticed in a noisy world, Hyatt tells everyone how he made this happen. I bought the Kindle version of the book, and I am reading it now.

I like his description of platform:
"...a platform is the thing you have to stand on to get heard. It’s your stage. But unlike a stage in the theater, today’s platform is not built of wood or concrete or perched on a grassy hill. Today’s platform is built of people. Contacts. Connections. Followers." -- Michael Hyatt, Platform, Kindle edition, locations 315-319.

First impressions? A very good book. Easy to read, well written and worth buying. The recommended techniques are proven, tested and usable.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Change the environment to change behavior

The other day, the manager of my local coffee shop rearranged all his chairs and tables.  

Immediately, people began forming different groups and acting differently.

Four men who met once a week to talk about sports and politics moved from a cluster of armchairs to wooden chairs around a big table at the other end of the coffee shop. They talked less and left earlier.

College students who use the coffee shop as a place to study moved from small tables to armchairs. They started staying longer.

What struck me was  how easily the manager changed everyone's behavior by rearranging the chairs.

Change the environment to change behavior.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Portland workshop with film maker Jon Jost

Upcoming at the North West Film Center:  two nights of screenings of Jon Jost films. If Jost gets 10 participants, he will hold a film making workshop.

Here’s the schedule:
NWFC, Whitsell Auditorium, 1219 SW Park Avenue, Portland, Oregon

Screening May 31
7:00 PM                Last Chants for a Slow Dance
9:00 PM               Parable

Workshop June 1-2  (To register call 503-221-1156)

Screening June 3         
6:30  PM             La Lunga Ombra  (Italian with English subtitles)
8:15   PM            Imagens de uma cidade perdida  (minimal Portuguese with English subtitles)

Japan after Fukashima--The Tipping Point

Reporter Mark Pendergrast visited Japan shortly after the Fukashima disaster. In his book Tipping Point, he describes tested, working options for a post-nuclear, post-fossil fuel future for Japan.

"Japanese trains run to the minute, and the country's businesses pride themselves on energy-efficiency. The Japanese boast of their eco-services for eco-products in eco-cities. Yet they rely primarily on imported fossil fuel and nuclear power, live in energy-wasteful homes, and import 60% of their food. That may be changing in the wake of the Fukushima nuclear disaster. Maybe. Japan is at a crucial tipping point. As an island nation, it offers a microcosmic look at the problems facing the rest of the globe. And as Japan tips, so may the world." Mark Pendergrast, Tipping Point (Kindle Locations 65-69).

On May 5, 2012 Japan shut down the last of its 50 nuclear reactors after the Fukashima disaster.

Japan, like the rest of the world is at a tipping point: it can go renewable or continue on the fossil/nuclear path. Pendergrast traveled through post-Fukashima Japan to survey a wide range of small-scale renewable energy projects. Tipping Point is unflinching in looking at the political and economic obstacles facing each of these projects. As I read the book, I could not help thinking that Pendergrast had found and reported on dozens of real reasons for hope. Although none of the renewable energy projects was in itself a single 'magic bullet' to solve Japan's energy crisis, when combined they may offer a profound opportunity. If Japan chooses to go renewable, each of these small projects shows a proven way to implement a workable solution within the Japanese culture and political system.

Tipping Point is a important book about a subject of critical importance to the entire industrialized world. As I read it I couldn't help but think that Japan and the world was fortunate to have a gifted reporter like Pendergrast on the scene to report on these options, and assemble them into one, short readable book. Coincidentally, all the solutions that Pendergrast describes are equally valid in other industrial nations.

I found the book surprisingly optimistic because it shows what can work, and what has worked. The question now is, will Japan accept this challenge? Will we?

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Where do you add creative value?

Elevate the areas where you offer creative value. Find someone else to do the other stuff, or don't do it at all.

My to do list from yesterday:
done... Go to veterinarian, pick up dog medicine
done... Buy rope tie-downs for the pickup
done... Fix the solar lights next to the path.

(not done) Write 1000 words on the ebook

Creative value for yesterday's work? Zero. But at least the dog is healthy.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Everything will be OK

Seth Godin at the Pick Yourself event on May 16, in answer to a worried question from a young entrepreneur.

Keep working
Be as generous as you can.
Everything will be OK.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Seth Godin's advice on selling books

On May 16, I attended Seth Godin's Pick Yourself event in  Manhattan. Before I left home, I promised several writer friends that I would get Seth Godin's advice on how we could promote and sell our books. Here is a paraphrased and condensed version of his reply, as taken from my notes. (No recording or video permitted for the event.)

"People don't buy books from strangers." He repeated, "People do not buy books from strangers."

Seth had four suggestions.
  •  First, accept that this is going to take at least six months or a year. If you need to see results in two weeks, or even in two months it isn't going to happen.
  • Second, use the "First, ten" method:  "Find ten people. Ten people who trust you/respect you/need you/listen to you... Those ten people need what you have to sell, or want it. And if they love it, you win. If they love it, they'll each find you ten more people (or a hundred or a thousand or, perhaps, just three). Repeat. If they don't love it, you need a new product. Start over."
  • Third, make a video. If you can make a 5 minute video with a high emotional impact, make one and post it on YouTube. Hope it goes viral.
  •  Fourth, look for existing platforms with high viewership (Huffpost for example) and write articles for them. Approach them with a well written pitch and chances are they will accept your article.
Questions people asked:
  • What if I don't have time to do this?
    "You find time. Maybe all you can do is spend Sundays doing this. That is what you do."
  • I don't know how to promote books, or market myself. How do I learn?
    "The only way to learn anything is by doing it. Set aside a time, and do it. Keep trying different things until you find out what works for you."
  • What if blogging doesn't work for me? 
    "Different things work for different people. Blogs are not right for everyone. Giving talks to groups is not right for everyone. Keep trying different things until you find out what works for you."
  • What if I fail?
    "I can't guarantee this will work for you. No one can give you that guarantee. (This is important) What people are really asking me is 'can you promise me this will work?'  The answer is no. I can't. Failure is hard, it is scary and it is OK. Failure is part of the process. Failure means you are learning. We have to change our whole view of failure."
  • I just want to write, I don't want to build a platform.
    "If you want people to see your work, you have to build a platform. In the Internet age, obscurity is the enemy."
  • You often advise giving things away, like free eBooks. How can I make a living if I give my books away for free?
    "I've never heard anyone say "Too many people are reading my free books and I'm broke!" Never!  If a million people are reading your free ebook, a few of them are going to find you indispensable. You will not have a problem earning money."
Godin's parting words:
"Keep working Cut costs.
"Be as generous as you can.
"Everything will be OK."

Best Job Application Ever -- Updated for 2012

On my recent trip to New York, a woman told me about her husband's job search. He sent out 300 resumes before he got an interview. He was eventually hired, but at far less than he was earning before. People tell me this story over and over. They send out 200, 400 or even more resumes. The result is either a low paying or no job. Fortunately, there is a better way, one that might have a better chance.

Sending out a job application or resume worked in 1934, but it won't work in the 2012. What might work in the Internet Age is sending out a web link to a page showing a year's worth of accomplishments.
Seth Godin suggests doing something like this over the next two years:
  • Spend twenty hours a week running a project for a non-profit.
  • Teach yourself Java, HTML, Flash, PHP and SQL. Not a little, but mastery.
  • Volunteer to coach or assistant coach a kids sports team.
  • Start, run and grow an online community.
  • Give a speech a week to local organizations.
  • Write a regular newsletter or blog about an industry you care about.
  • Learn a foreign language fluently.
  • Write three detailed business plans for projects in the industry you care about.
  • Self-publish a book.
  • Run a marathon.
(Don't be afraid if you can't do everything on this list. Seth Godin probably could do all of them. I don't think I could.)

All of these things can be done for free. All you need is a laptop, a commitment, and plenty of coffee.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Two paths: Foxconn or Apple

Seth Godin gets it: The Internet revolution changes everything.

The Internet forces nations to choose one of two paths--the Foxconn model or the Apple model.

The Foxconn model says: focus on using the Internet and the digital revolution to manufacture commodities as cheaply as possible and race to the bottom.

The Apple model says: focus on using the Internet and the digital revolution to reinvent the world and race to the top.

What will we choose? Foxconn or Apple? It doesn't appear that we can choose both.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

The Internet changes the way books are written

The Internet is changing the way books are read and the way they are written. People are reading more than ever before and they want more content, faster.

The traditional book writing process of 'one person, one idea, and one or more years.' is not going away. There will always be a place for a long, articulate exploration of one idea.

The Internet favors shorter, faster writing. This is changing the way books are written. New processes are emerging.

500 blog posts
Instead of one 55,000 word book, a writer might write  five hundred blog posts of 130 to 150 words.  The author still writes 55,000 words over 18 months, only now the words are spread over five hundred daily blog posts.  Seth Godin's daily blog posts focus exclusively on marketing. Cumulatively they are an education in marketing. Assembled and expanded, 500 blog posts turn into a book.

A group of smart people discuss an idea
Get a dozen smart people together, and discuss an idea. Record the discussion. Transcribe the talk and spend the next three months editing the material and adding transitions. Publish the book as a PDF. The result: a published book in three months. End Malaria is an example of what this kind of book might look like. (I've read it. It's a good book.)

Quickly written books
John Locke wrote several novels featuring one series character, then published all five books at once. The idea was that people could read the first book and quickly buy a second. He describes his marketing plan in How I sold 1 million ebooks in one year.

Short fiction and more novels
According to a piece in the New York Times, publishers are pressuring best selling authors to write at least two a year, and a few pieces of short fiction between books.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Seth Godin photo op

I got my picture taken with Seth Godin after today's event. I am delighted I had a chance to shake his hand and tell him how much I appreciate the work he is doing.

Seth Godin is about much more than marketing. He recognizes that we are living through one of the biggest changes in history.  The Internet and the digital revolution is altering everything it touches.

Watching him talk to young people was great. He was always warm, funny, and offered encouragement. This man is changing people's lives.

All my questions were answered. I have thirty pages of notes. I will post more about the seminar and the answers to my questions over the next few days.

Very interesting to listen to Godin speak. It really put his books and blog posts into perspective.

If you ever get a chance to go to a Seth Godin event, I have one word of advice: Go.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Questions for Seth Godin on May 16

Tomorrow morning I have to find my way to the nearest NYC subway station. Then I have to make it  uptown by 9 AM for Seth Godin's all-day event.

My goals for this event:
1. Tie together everything I've learned from studying Godin's work over the last three years
2. Connect with people who are successfully using Godin's ideas in publishing
3. Connect with people who are successfully using Godin's ideas in nonprofit organizations

The organizer suggested that each of us bring questions. As usual, my problem is that I have too many ideas. A few candidates:

- What is Seth Godin's description of an author's platform?
- What is the best way to build a platform?
- What is a personal story? (Starbucks has a story, and they stick to it.  Apple has a story, and they stick to it. Seth Godin has a story, and he sticks to it.)
- What is the best way to make a book a success
- How to make book success repeatable (As Godin did with 11 straight best-sellers)
- What should I do with the ebook I am finishing?  It is all about helping people get unstuck. (Give it away as a manifesto, probably.)

And maybe my meta-question:
- What is the best way to spread an idea in a post-paper world?

Spreading an idea is how non-profits do good, how social movements happen, and how authors sell books. Seth Godin was able to raise over $300,000 for End Malaria Now because of his ability to spread ideas. (Now THAT is what I call success!) I began following Godin because I wanted to learn how to sell my books. But what Godin is doing is about much, much more than selling books.

What is an author's platform?

The phrase Author's Platform seems to mean different things to different people.

An agent: How many individual page views does your website get per month?
A publisher: How many book sales can you guarantee?
An old-school marketer: How big is your mailing list?
A writer: How many people can you find to buy your book?
Another writer: Something sleazy people build by groveling and kissing ass.
A social media marketing expert: What is your Klout score? How many facebook friends and/or fans do you have? What is  your website ranking?

A more useful description might be, "How many people are eagerly waiting to read what you write?"

Monday, May 14, 2012

Traveling, intermittent posts for a couple days

Traveling for the next couple days and preparing for a conference. Blog posts will be intermittent.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Openings are critical

Each word in an opening is at least 100 times more important than any other word in a book.

- The first 7 words are all that appear in an RSS reader
- The title and the first 10 words are all that appear in a Google search
- The first sentence is all that an agent will read before deciding to pitch an unsolicited submission
- The first page is all a bookstore patron will read before deciding whether to return a book back to the shelf
- The first chapter is all that an Amazon patron will read before deciding whether to buy or not

Consider these classic openings:

"Call me Ishmael." Moby Dick

"You don't know about me without you have read a book by the name of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer; but that ain't no matter." The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

"I have never begun a novel with more misgiving." The Razor's Edge.

"We were somewhere around Barstow on the edge of the desert when the drugs began to take hold." Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Winner takes all or winner takes niche?

Performers and musicians have been living in a winner-take-all world for years. Maybe there's another world now, the winner-take-niche world.

A guitar player begins by studying, practicing and performing for small groups. The audience goes wild. The guitarist plays for a larger audience. The audience goes wild again. Eventually, the guitarist plays for Bruce Springsteen and the E Street band. Only a microscopic handful of guitarists (or writers) can become international big-media rock-stars.

The Internet gives writers the opportunity to  focus on a tiny niche. Maybe it's possible to become a niche rock star. Chris Guillabeau does this by focusing on people who want to live an unconventional life. Adam Wilt does it by focusing on the technical intricacies of video cameras.  A tiny niche is all a writer needs in a web 2.0 world.

FS100 camera review by Adam Wilt

I think it is important for a writer to own a good camera, and know how to use it. Video and still cameras have been improving at light-speed for the the last few years. One of the most interesting high-end cameras ($5000 range) is the recently released Sony FS100.

Adam Wilt writes a good review of the new Sony NEX-FS-100 super 35 video camera at Pro Video Coalition.

One of the things that attracts me to the FS-100 is the availability of third party accessories. Third party accessories are a good indication that a camera has a strong, devoted following.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Pathwright for online courses

Pathwright looks like a scalable, easy-to-use way to create, sell and teach online courses.

I am seriously thinking of creating a online Digital Video Secrets course just to test it.

This is the first online education package that really excites me.

I've been at least aware of online education since the beginning of the Internet. I still remember the corporate push for online education at one of my big writing clients--12 writers, multiple millions of dollars, awkward Unix based course software... Everyone could see the potential but no one could make it work. Maybe Pathwright will make it work.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Seth Godin's lessons from the Domino project (reposted)

When Seth Godin closed down the Domino Project he wrote about what he learned in a blog post titled . The last hardcover. (If you are not familiar with Domino here's what happened: Godin started a publishing company caleld Domino. He published a string of 11 best-sellers. Then he SHUT IT DOWN because as he said, "It was a project...")

What Godin says in this has profound implications for any writer. The complete post:

"Today the Domino Project is publishing Sarah Kay's new book. It's a short poem, a great gift and a book I'm proud to publish by an author on her way to big things. I hope you'll take a look.

"Almost exactly a year after we started, Sarah's book is the last print book we'll be launching. Twelve books, twelve bestsellers, published in many languages around the world.

"I've posted a history of what we built, along with some of what we learned along the way.

"By most of the measures I set out at the beginning, the project has been a success. So why stop? Mostly because it was a project, not a lifelong commitment to being a publisher of books. Projects are fun to start, but part of the deal is that they don't last forever.

"The goal was to explore what could be done in a fast-changing environment. Rather than whining about the loss of the status quo, I thought it would be interesting to help invent a new status quo and learn some things along the way. Here are a few of my takeaways:

"Permission is still the most important and valuable asset of the web (and of publishing). The core group of 50,000 subscribers to the Domino blog made all the difference in getting the word out and turning each of our books into a bestseller. It still amazes me how few online merchants and traditional publishers (and even authors) have done the hard work necessary to create this asset. If you're an author in search of success and you don't pursue this with singleminded passion, you're making a serious error. (See #2 on my advice for authors post from five years ago, or the last part of my other advice for authors post from six years ago.)

"The ebook is a change agent like none the book business has ever seen. It cuts the publishing time cycle by 90%, lowers costs, lowers revenue and creates both a long tail and an impulse-buying opportunity. This is the most disruptive thing to happen to books in four hundred years. It's hard for me to see significant ways traditional book publishers can add the value they're used to adding when it comes to marketing ebooks, unless they get busy with #1.

"Booksellers have a starfish problem. Without permission (see #1) it's almost impossible for a publisher to be heard above the noise, largely because long tail merchants haven't built the promotional tools traditional retailers have long used to highlight one title over another. You Linkused to be able to buy useful and efficient shelf space at a retailer. Hard to do that now.

"There is still (and probably will be for a while) a market for collectible editions, signed books and other special souvenirs that bring the emotional component of a book to the fore. While most books merely deliver an idea or a pasttime, for some books and some readers, there's more than just words on paper. Just as vinyl records persist, so will books. Not because a reader can't get the information faster or cheaper, but because there's something special about molecules and scarcity.

"When you combine #1, #3 and #4, you get to Kickstarter, which it seems to me, is going to be ever more important, particularly to new authors, authors that don't write genre ebooks and anyone with a tribe who wants to produce something like a book.

"Sponsored ebooks are economically irresistible to readers, to sponsors and to authors. I'm proud to have pioneered this, and I think it's a trend worth pursuing. The value transfer to the reader is fabulous (hey, a great book, for free), and the sponsor gets to share in some of that appreciation. The author gets a guaranteed payday as well as the privilege of reaching ten or a hundred times as many readers.

"The ebook marketing platform is in its technical infancy. There are so many components that need to be built, that will. Ebooks are way too hard to give as gifts and to share. Too hard to integrate into social media. And the ebook reader is a lousy platform for discovery and promotion of new titles (what a missed chance). All that will happen, the road map is there, but it's going to take commitment from Apple, B&N and Amazon.

"If you're an author, pick yourself. Don't wait for a publisher to pick you. And if you work for a big publishing house, think really hard about the economics of starting your own permission-based ebook publisher. Now's the time.

"Most of all, the character of people in the world of books hasn't changed since I started in this business 27 years ago. Every author I dealt with was a delight. Smart, passionate, honest, humble (and yes, good looking). Readers sense this, I think, and treat books and the people who make them very differently than someone hawking a vitamin or a penny stock. Publishing is about passion and writing is a lifestyle, not a shortcut to a mansion and a Porsche. Bestselling authors are like golfers who hit holes in one. It's a nice thing, but there are plenty of people who will keep playing even without one."

Sunday, May 6, 2012

new paradigm for publishing

Building an audience
The old paradigm said, "Find a publisher, publish a book, and hope for sales." The old paradigm favored long development (writing) times, extensive research, and depending on the publisher for marketing.

All that is gone.

The new paradigm, enabled by web 2.0, is based on immediate feedback.

It goes something like this: "Write. Publish. See how people react. Write better. Repeat." Continue until you have an audience.

The traditional publisher only comes into the picture after the writer has an audience. The traditional publisher's job is to get the book into the global book distribution system. I don't believe the publisher builds the audience any more -- unless your name is Stephen King.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Kickstarter success tips by Jennifer Fox

Excellent tips for Kickstarter success. A series of 7 articles by Jennifer Fox on indieWIRE / Hope for Film. In which she explains the Kickstarter program for her film My Reincarnation. Although Fox was raising funds for a film, the tips would work for any project.
  • May 20, 2011: “Change Or Die: How 22 Years On One Film Lead To Desperate Measures”
    Read the Article
  • May 24, 2011: “The First 6 Tips For Launching A Six-Figure Kickstarter Campaign”
    Read the Article
  • May 25, 2011: “The Next 14 Things I Learned From Our Six-Figure Kickstarter Campaign”
    Read the Article
  • June 8, 2011: “How MY REINCARNATION Broke All Kickstarter Records & Raised $150,000”
    Read the Article
  • June 22, 2011: “PART 2: How MY REINCARNATION Broke All Kickstarter Records”
    Read the Article
  • June 23, 2011: “PART 3: How MY REINCARNATION Broke All Kickstarter Records”
    Read the Article
  • June 24, 2011: “PART 4: How MY REINCARNATION Broke All Kickstarter Records”
    Read the Article

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

The Power of Free

In his latest report, The Power of Free, Peter Broderick tells how the creators of  Hungry for Change used free screenings to connect with their audience and build a following. With minor modifications, the techniques should work for book promotion, too. This may be Broderick's best report so far.

 And it is free.