Category Archives: DBW11

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.

Digital Book World: Disconnect and 10 Tweet Observations

I’ve been watching the tweets from Digital Book World 2011 and noticed the same trend from a conference on digital publishing and the future of books.

The vast majority of twitterers claim to be techno-savvy, publishing experts, masters of their domain.  They dispense wisdom about the digital world and where it’s going and how to use it, yada yada and I had the brisque.

But 90% of the so called techno-savvy publishing experts, when I check their twitter numbers, have less than 1000 followers and less than 1000 people they follow.  Which indicates to me they consider Twitter insignificant and not worth their time.  Yet, they sit on panels and preach the importance of social media for authors and selling books.

I call that do as I say, not as I do.  It also tells me many have no idea what they’re talking about when they discuss marketing books via social media.  Because most of them have no idea how to actually do it themselves.

There are exceptions.  @smartbitches is well established on social media (despite the shock of google at romance being #1 seller).  @JaneFriedman is a constant presence.  @MichaelHyatt of Thomas Nelson is one of the leaders in using social media as a publisher.  These are people who should be listened to.  Because they’ve done it.

In essence, 99% of the ‘advice’ coming out of it is generic, or too specific, or flat out pointed in the wrong direction, as you’ll see below where I pick 10 tweets and respond.

The other key is that most people are protecting their turf.  Publishers are trying to point out how they hold the keys to the future.  Brick and mortar bookstores are trying to hang on with their fingernails.  Libraries want to stay alive.  Tech people think the software and hardware and data mining hold the key.  Authors, well, actually I didn’t hear about any authors on panels or doing workshops.

So let’s comment on 10 tweets:

Good content without audience or distribution is a guarantee of $0 ROI.

Actually distribution isn’t hard any more.  It’s called digital, which is the name of the conference.  We’ve got great ROI and audience at Who Dares Wins Publishing, but started with great content.

Trial and error is sometimes the best way to figure out what customers want.

Actually, it’s not, but an expert said it, so it must be true.  We had plenty of trial and error at WDWPUB, so I will agree it is one way to find out.  But there’s a difference between trial and error and being ignorant.  Remember I want my MTV and the music business?  I want my Kindle and content.

What can we do to help indies?

What can indies do to help authors?  Most genre authors, especially romance, are treated with disdain by indies.  And why do we care so much about brick and mortar?  WDWPUB is an indie bookstore.  Go to our web site.  Buy some books.  Please support us.  We’re not going out of business, BTW.  Last week was our best week ever and our web site outsold our books on Amazon, but we do enjoy our Amazon business.  Want a business model for selling books that works?  We’d be glad to speak at your next conference.

Zero mention of word of mouth.  How to spark that tsunami of trad and self-pubbed books?

Good point.  Word of mouth is #1 way to sell books.  Look at Snooki.  Because if someone knew how to do it, they’d have been doing it for decades.

You can build something wonderful but you have to have someplace to sell it (and someone to sell it to).

Really?  So profound, I’m speechless.

Are there any authors at #DBW11?

ROFL.  Are you kidding?  We only produce the product.  Most of these conferences don’t think authors have anything to contribute, or if they do, they recruit bestsellers or the usual suspects.  But most of publishing has treated all but their superstar authors as replaceable parts for decades.

Every book is going to become a bookstore. Every book is an e-commerce opportunity.

Huh? Sounds neat, but what exactly does that mean?  Actually, I think at WDWPUB we’ve already done it.  Wondering why we weren’t invited to speak?  Did the person who said this, do this?  That’s my big question—all these great quotes.  Say ‘em when you’ve done ‘em and proven ‘em.

Highly disappointed that the State of the Union address doesn’t discuss the effect of ebooks on small businesses.

This was a tongue in cheek tweet.  But it highlights something that has always bothered me.  An indie bookstore goes out of business, it’s a story in the local paper, people rally to try to save it, everyone laments.  An indie writer goes out of business the only people who notice are the author’s family.  eBooks are making my small business, Who Dares Wins Publishing.  Awfully sorry we followed the business, saw what was coming, took advantage of opportunity and are now selling thousands of books a month.  I’m sure there were many people lamenting the fate of their local blacksmith and carriage maker as they drove by in their new car.  Damn nice fella, old Smithie, maybe he can go work in the new Ford factory.  I love bookstores.  But I also love being in reality.

@SmartBitches: Publishers are not willing to underwrite costs of social media. Pubs are ok with losing money in old ways, not in new ways #dbw11

Exactly.  Reacting, not acting.

What can pubs do to help indies?

Once more, I’m an indie.  I don’t need publishers’ help.  Because I’m also a publisher.  And a bookstore.  And an author.  All we need at Who Dares Wins Publishing are the most important people in the entire business:  READERS.

10 tweets and comments tomorrow.

Write It Forward!

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