Digital Book World: Content>Consumer; Tweet Notes, Wrap-Up

Authors produce content.  Readers consume content.  Pretty much everything I saw tweeted during Digital Book World 2011 concerned the people in between and was especially tweeted by the people in between.

If you’ve ever walked the halls of Building 4 at Fort Benning, GA, home of the Infantry, you know the motto:  Lead, Follow, or Get The Hell Out of The Way.

That is also our motto at Write It Forward.

I saw a lot of people concerned about their positions, whether it be publishers, libraries, indies, agents, tech people, etc.  Many of them need to get the hell out of the way.

I also some forward thinking people who I put in the lead slot in all those categories.

Here are some comments on various tweets:

Investors are assuming that Amazon, Apple and Google are going to get 40-50% of the overall ebook market. #dbw11

Um.  Who’s getting the other 50%???? Amazon already has over 80% of it.  They’re going to lose it?  What am I missing here?  Are you talking selling ebooks or producing them?  There’s a term I love from The Wire, a fantastic mini-series:  Juking the Stats.  It means the statistics can be made to fit whatever we want them to fit.  More on this in a bit.

Jane Friedman “the traditional book store is imploding, social media is exploding, but indies have a chance”

See my blog post:  Where Goes Starbucks there goes the plan for bookstores.

Frankly, most indie bookstores are like most publishers, longing for the good old days and reluctant to let go of the past.  Reacting is the kiss of death in the current world that is changing at an exponential pace.  Acting is the key to success.  Indies do have a chance but they need to focus as much at the true content providers, authors, as much as they do publishers.

Publishers must have sophisticated + creative digital vision + capabilities to prevent authors from migrating to digital

Too late.  And that’s not the problem.  The problem is royalty rates.  Publishers no longer control distribution via eBooks.  See my post Resistance is Futile: The Future of Publishing.  Hard as it is to believe, publishers really need to focus on their content providers and treat them as equal partners, not as easily disposed of replaceable parts.

3 keys to branding yourself as author: Understand the tools, define yourself, understand your audience

True.  But first, the author must look at the three Ps:  Product, Platform, Promotion.

There’s a simple reason for all the conflicting advice:  no two authors are exactly the same. The variables are:

  • Platform
  • Product
  • Promotion

Quick definitions:

Platform:  Name recognition is what people think of, but there’s more to platform than that.  Are you an expert in your field?  Do you have a special background that makes you unique?  Everyone has some sort of platform, even if it’s just your emotions, exemplified Johnny Cash in Walk The Line, mining his anger into art.  I use the film clip of his audition at the beginning of my Warrior Writer workshop, book and presentation, and show how quickly he changed, mined his ‘platform’, and was on his way to becoming a star.  All within three minutes.

So don’t get close-minded on platform.  However, for traditional publishers, they immediately are looking at name recognition (brand) and ability to reach a market (which ties into promoting).

Product:  The book.  Yes, Virginia, you need a book.  Or a proposal for a book.  This is your content.  Most authors become totally fixated on content, while ignoring platform and promotion.  Do so at your peril.

Promotion:  The ability to do it.  The access to promotional outlets.  Unique hook or angle that gets attention.

Axelrod is making romance authors sound savvy, brilliant, and eager to build effective reader relationship. Which we knew! #dbw11

RWA is the most professional writing organization around.  I’ve been a member of just about every group and I say that without qualification.  Every local chapter has numerous published authors in it.  I recommend to every writer, regardless of genre, to join their local RWA chapter.

Additionally, if publishers want to get an idea of a template for the future, look to Harlequin.  Not only did they start Carina Press very early with @angelajames on social media everywhere, but people do walk into a bookstore and ask for the next SuperRomance.  A brand.  No one walks into a bookstore and says give me the next Random House.  Backing up from HQ, also consider one of the forerunners in the digital publishing field:  Elloras Cave.

If content is king, distribution is King Kong

Can’t distribute nothing, King Kong. You neither Godzilla.  Depends what you mean by distribution.  We handle our own distribution at Who Dares Wins Publishing.  What we’re focusing on is promotion.  Finding readers.  That’s the conundrum we all have.

Marketing direct to readers is NOT a “new skill set.” It’s only new to traditional book publishers.

Bingo.  Selling direct to readers is more profitable to us at WDWPUB than our Kindle sales, and we have good kindle sales.  Lots of authors are loving the 70% royalty from Kindle.  What about the 100% royalty from direct sales for digital?  There was a lot of focus on indies and bookstores at DBW11.  What that indicates to me that publishers tend to still be of the mindset that they need to sell to the retailer and not the consumer.

“The opportunity for publishers is to develop communities with readers.” #dbw11

How?  HQ might be a way.  Have imprints that are specific to types of books.  I think publishers need to help authors develop communities with readers, not try it themselves because each author is a distinct provider of content.  As @smartbitches retweeted yesterday, via Axelrod, publishers need to team up with authors on promotion.  That’s the team needed.  I’ve been singing this chorus for three years now and not a single publisher or agent has picked up on it:  what training program do you have for your new authors?

Just because you give them a book contract doesn’t mean they know as single thing about how to do business as an author.  I developed my Warrior Writer program and book for just this reason.  I put my 20 years of experience into it, using the techniques of the elite Green Berets, to develop a program to train writers how to be successful authors.  I’m very open to any agency or publisher to discuss how to work this program into your team building with your authors.  I also have extensive experience in team building via commanding a Special Forces A-Team and helping develop the current training program at the JFK Special Forces Center—and being an author for 20 years, and being a publisher now.  Shameless self-promotion, but the agencies and publishers that train its authors and develops team-work with them are the ones that will succeed.  The good old days of throwing a hundred books against the wall and hoping a couple stick are over and inefficient.

RT @AshleighGardner: eBook sales reported rising 300% by adding more accurate BISAC codes. Don’t be vague!

Book sales for biggest fiction authors are now at or near 50% digital says agent Simon Lipskar.

Juking the stats.  Every publisher author I know tells me e-sales were 40-60% of their royalties as of June 2010.  I’m just not buying the numbers publishers are putting out.  I buy what numbers back up royalty checks.  Let’s accept ebooks are the future and the future is now.

Random: Sitting in back of the room. Just realized I haven’t seen one Kindle here. All iPads, laptops, handhelds. #dbw11

Why would anyone be using a kindle or a nook at the conference? They are dedicated eReaders, so if someone had one out during a workshop, they were reading and not listening. iPads, laptops and handhelds all have capabilities of notetaking…

Refer to my blog yesterday regarding the disconnect between ‘tech experts’ and tech doing.  A lot of these experts talk about things they aren’t doing.  If you’re not tweeting and blogging for your business but are telling publishers and authors they need to do it—frankly, you don’t know what you’re talking about.  Which leads to:

Favorite new word for me at #dbw11 – “anecdata” Anecdotal info presented as empirical data.

So and so had great success with her blog book tour, therefore every author should do a blog book tour.

Not.  Gets back to teamwork and the three Ps.  Every book isn’t the same and every author isn’t the same.  Got to all work together and develop specific plans for books and authors.  The keys we’ve seen to build sales at WDWPUB are focus, consistency, and teamwork.

Publishing CEOs Optimistic About the Future.

Um.  What else do you expect them to say?  I love the guy in Alien II running around screaming:  “We’re all going to die.”  No one likes that guy.

White Star Lines was pretty optimistic about the Titanic.

I think anyone, author, editor, publisher, bookstore, library, etc that is willing to really change, has every reason to be optimistic.  I tell authors it’s actually the best time ever for us.  Unfortunately, I’m a realist.  In Warrior Writer I give one statistic that should truly scare many people:  only 5% are capable of internally motivated true change.  Want to know the techniques we used in Special Forces to do this?  Drop me a line.

RT @DanBlank A mantra for all publishers “Everything I thought I knew last week, I have to unlearn, & learn something new this week.”

Yepper.

Write It Forward.

About Bob Mayer

Bob Mayer is a NY Times Bestselling author, graduate of West Point, former Green Beret (including commanding an A-Team) and the feeder of two Yellow Labs, most famously Cool Gus. He's had over 60 books published including the #1 series Area 51, Atlantis and The Green Berets. Born in the Bronx, having traveled the world (usually not tourist spots), he now lives peacefully with his wife, and said labs, at Write on the River, TN.

Posted on January 26, 2011, in DBW11, Publishing Options, Write It forward and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 15 Comments.

  1. “Hard as it is to believe, publishers really need to focus on their content providers and treat them as equal partners, not as easily disposed of replaceable parts.”

    I like the sound of that. Very much.

  2. I loved these posts from DBW11 (as you’ll see on twitter where I sent out a whole bunch of quotes).

    I have a question about something you wrote in your newsletter:

    “if you blog, make your blog a non-fiction book as part of your platform. Since you’re going to be taking the time to write at least once a week, make the topic something of interest to readers, outline it, then make your posts part of the actual book. This kills two things with one writing: builds your platform and gives you content.”

    Can you expand on this? Maybe in an future post?

    Thanks – Danielle

  3. Jennifer Annonymous

    I agree with everything you said — except……….
    The RWA is woefully slow at recognizing e-authors on the same professional level as they recognize traditionally published authors. While I love my local chapter, several of us e-authors only belong to RWA so we can maintain membership in our local. We are definitely treated as second class by the national organization. Not in so many words maybe, but it’s there.
    Hopefully with Carina being HQ affiliated, this will begin to change. (Being a powerhouse in the publishing world and all…)
    But we’re not holding our breath.

  4. As far as slow to recognize epubbed authors. As Tom Cruise said: Show me the money. Once people really look at their royalty statements and see over 50% of income is from ebooks, the game will change. Our ebook sales at WDWPUB far outstrip our print sales. Nora just passed 1 million ebooks. Don’t worry about recognition. Focus on making the money. I think selling 1,000 ebooks a month is better than hitting the NY Times list. Because the former means making money. The other is wrapped in mystery and juking the stats in some cases. When Kate Gosselin can sell 11,000 hardcovers and hit #6 on the nonfiction list, something is up.

  5. If I ever had any doubts about which direction to jump in the train wreck that currently is the publishing industry, that tweet about preventing authors from migrating to digital made up my mind.

  6. I am putting the “PPP” (platform, product, promotion) where I can see it. This blog post is succinct and to the point and, therefore, invaluable to me as a writer. I can’t imagine anyone left who thinks they won’t be publishing digitally, or who can’t imagine their novels published in XHTML/HTML so that readers can use hyperlinks and change the story to their liking. “Ego” begins with “E,” not “P.” Yes, I have one: I’m a writer, but at the moment I’ve changed the spelling: “P-go.” Everything begins with a “P” until further notice. Thanks for a great post.

  7. >>Random: Sitting in back of the room. Just realized I haven’t seen one Kindle here. All iPads, laptops, handhelds. #dbw11

    >>Why would anyone be using a kindle or a nook at the conference?

    Oh Bob, thanks for the laugh. That was exactly my thought and I just had to shake my head. Some people really don’t understand the digital revolution.

  8. Awesome posts. And people think they need to sit in a classroom for an education. I’ve learned more as a reader, writer and newly pubbed author in less than a year than I’ve learned in many many more years at the day job. Thanks and keep ‘em coming please. Any chance you’ll be taking on new fiction Soon? Sounds too great over at WDWP.

  9. Great post, Bob! As an author, I’m thrilled with all the new avenues available to get books to readers. I have a series going with Carina that is doing well, and the ladies running Carina are nothing short of amazing. I also self-published two of my unsold books to Amazon and have made more on them in 2 months than I made in 3 years with five traditionally published books. I’m seeing a whole new way forward in light of this successful experiment.

    I so agree with this statement: What that indicates to me that publishers tend to still be of the mindset that they need to sell to the retailer and not the consumer. I think this is one of the most important factors at work in today’s environment. The reader who sits at the end of the food chain is barely considered. In the romance world SHE knows what (and who) she wants to read and doesn’t give a FIG about how the book made it to the marketplace, which is why those of us with even a small following are able to realize big results by posting our own books to Amazon. When people ask me why I posted my own books I say because no one was interested in them–except my readers.

    I couldn’t agree more that it’s a great time to be us. The way I look at it: have books, have readers, have a business.

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