Home » Big Publishing, Video » Simon & Schuster Moves to Build Publisher Brand With ‘Behind the Book’ Videos

Simon & Schuster Moves to Build Publisher Brand With ‘Behind the Book’ Videos

5 August 2014

UPDATE: For those who don’t see new blog updates, I’m working on the problem. Some visitors see the new ones and others see this post even though more recent posts are up.

From Digital Book World:

It’s a question that’s been floating around for years now: What do publishers do in an era when anyone can publish a book?

And publishers have been answering it.

Several years ago, Digital Book World obtained a leaked document that publisher Hachette had been circulating among agents and authors, explaining the value it added to the publishing process . . . . Later, Random House put out a series of videos directly explaining what publishers do.

And now, Simon & Schuster has launched a series of videos featuring its editors giving inside details about titles and authors called “Behind the Book.” The company said in a release that the series is meant to be “an extension and a complement to Simon & Schuster’s ongoing series of author videos, offering new and revealing information that can enhance and inform the reading experience.”

The move also serves to give Simon & Schuster a consumer-facing brand that could help it in the future when legitimizing its role in the publishing process to authors and partners.

. . . .

Self-publishing advocates often argue that publishers don’t add enough value to the publishing process to legitimize their take. Publishers have responded by saying that they help make books better, offer them print distribution, help authors get translated into other languages and exploit other opportunities, and help authors build careers.

This series of videos is another small way that publishers are saying to authors — and readers — that they add value. The videos themselves (there are five at this point) show editors talking intelligently about various titles they worked on.

. . . .

In the book publishing world, authors have traditionally been the brand: Everyone wants to buy the new James Patterson title, not necessarily the latest release from his publisher, Hachette. But there are consumer brands among content companies in other media businesses and these brands give those companies advantages in the marketplace: For instance, everyone looks forward to new Disney and Pixar movies.

Link to the rest at Digital Book World and thanks to Robert for the tip.

Videos showing editors talking intelligently.

Or videos featuring something else.

Who’s going to win on YouTube?

Maybe if you gave an editor a ball of yarn.

.

 

Big Publishing, Video

167 Comments to “Simon & Schuster Moves to Build Publisher Brand With ‘Behind the Book’ Videos”

  1. show editors talking intelligently about various titles they worked on.

    First belly laugh of the day.

    What a weird description!

  2. Grumpy Cat©®™ FTW.

    • This needs a love button!

      • Ever see the movie “She-Devil”? There’s a scene where Meryl Streep is hilariously writing a romance novel and uses the phrase “love button” thoughtfully while chewing her pen.

        • O…M…G…

        • You seriously jumped the shark, Chris. :lol:

          • It really is one of the best depictions of a writer in a movie (in terms of being funny).

            • I had read the novel before that film came out (loved me some Fay Weldon back then) and so I rushed out to catch that film. I laughed so hard. Meryl was fricken brilliant parodying the stereotype of romance authors (and the Barbara Cartland pinkness). I know so many romance authors. They are totally not like that. But ,well…still funny. Streep stole that movie. (I did not like Roseanne as the lead as her acting skills could not support what this protagonist needed.)

              • I didn’t even know it was a novel! (shame)

                Yes, Meryl really walked away with that movie.

  3. I’ve seen those Penguin Random House youtube videos. They talked to everyone from the editors to the page design people to the cover designers but they never once interviewed an author. That was before I learned about self publishing, but even then I thought it was odd.

    • Well apparently S&S has already done some videos featuring the authors and this is an expansion on that. I haven’t seen any, or even heard about them before today. I’m not in a hurry to, either. I bet they’re chock full of cringe-worthy moments.

    • Don’t you know? Authors are scruffy behind-the-scenes types who shouldn’t be seen in public, and should never be allowed to speak. They probably use actors as standins for interviews – with scripts.

      Do your little job, and let the grownups ‘create’ the book.

    • W.E.S., your description of those videos brings back the comment I’ve seen a number of times by now, to the effect that publishers forgot their job was to put content into a format that could be distributed, and started to think that format what was readers were buying rather than content.

  4. The videos are just begging for a parody.

  5. “So in said to the guy, I said, ‘No! The comma goes inside the quotes, so back off’! That was a crazy day.”

    • “Tell me about it! I once had to beat an intern to death with a goathide edition of Strunk & White because he dared to tell me semicolons were not an abomination of the English language. Anyone using semicolons should just stop writing.”

      • :(

        Hey now. I’m a copyeditor, and I’m nice.

        That said, I do not appear in adverts and tend to save storied of my homonym, typo, and fact-checking triumphs for other copyeditors…

    • This is a hoot.

  6. Smart Debut Author

    *Snicker*

    If you’re spending marketing budget on justifying your continued existence to the public, it’s already past the point where you should just give up.

    • Smart Debut Author

      Every one of those stupid videos they create is depriving a dozen Simon & Shuster authors of the marketing they should have had instead for their book.

      • ain’t that the truth.

        I was at a conference last weekend where Penguin Sales and Marketing gave a very high-energy presentation about all the great stuff they do for authors and they showed two slick videos. There were photos of authors, but only the big name ones. And I was thinking, okay, I’m sure you get the fancy tour bus out for John Green, but what about for the 500 other books that come out that year?

        it made me sad.

        • Jane, I was there, too. I found it embarrassing in its shameless self-promotion. They also claimed each author is assigned a personal publicist and marketing plan (I don’t know if this is actually true at Penguin/RH, but do know everyone doesn’t get that fancy tour bus). I was with several illustrators who were new to trying to break into publishing, and they all were dazzled, thinking they’d be touring the country on Penguin’s dime to promote their future picture books. They also thought they’d be getting radio and tv ads, because the Penguin team said readers need to hear your name (your book’s name) 3 times before making a purchase, and those 3 times might involve a friend’s recommendation, a print ad, and a tv ad. I’ve seen two tv book ads in my life – James Patterson and John Green. Talk about misrepresentation.

          • Smart Debut Author

            Merging with exploitative vanity press Author Solutions was the most honest thing Penguin Random House ever did.

            Tells you what the big publishers see their future role being, doesn’t it?

            Also tells you how they honestly view authors, despite all that “nurturing” horseshit.

            The beef industry can make commercials about happy cows all day long… but if you want to see the real truth, just check the meat section of your local supermarket.

    • My thoughts exactly!

      Who wants to hear from editors and other publishing people? Readers want to hear from the authors who imagined and wrote the characters and worlds they love.

      • I think they made it clear a long time ago that they don’t care about readers. Distributors and bookstores perhaps, but not readers. Or non-big name authors.

    • I was just thinking how expensive the NYC video production would be. I think their rates are eve higher than LA.

  7. So publishers are going to explain to authors everything they do for them by shifting the principle branding to readers from the author to the publisher itself? Yeah, thanks but no thanks.

  8. God bless them for trying. In an age where any indie can make a video for next to nothing, this is too little, too late.

  9. I’d watch a video in which an editor discusses what work they did on a particular title, but I’m a writer. Is a reader going to care? Probably not.

    Also, I can make a video talking about any “behind the book” aspect of any of my books that I please. This might be an interesting and fun way to help build a brand, but I don’t think they’re doing anything an indie can’t do, and therefore, this is not adding enough value to justify taking up to 90% or more of net.

    • Supposedly, a big part of John Green’s success is his huge rambling youtube presence.

      It couldn’t hurt. It would give you one more thing to link to.

      • That’s what I’ve heard, too. I have a pretentious turquoise-painted all and everything, so I’m all set. ;)

        (I can’t stand John Green, ugh.)

      • He gets points for being the actual author, though. His fans don’t want editing tips, they want to know the hero’s secret backstory or what the love object was really thinking when she died, or what real life girlfriend so and so was based on. So he can ramble on topics they care about.

    • That’s my thought, too, Libbie. While I’m interested in the writing process (the behind the scenes stuff), I don’t think I’m an average reader. I always say showing an average reader that stuff is like a tour of the sausage factory. The question is, are these videos really really aimed at the reader or are they intended for the possible victim … I mean author?

  10. “Oh boy! The new Penguin Random House thriller is out!” is what the avid reader says…never.

  11. Publishers start making videos because anyone can publish a book.

    Shhh, nobody tell them that anyone can make a video. Even authors.

    But who would want to hear from creators when there are offices full of executives to watch?

  12. They should make trading cards.

  13. When I spotted this item on DBW today, I just had to share it with PG, knowing how it would amuse you folks.

    Dan Meadows, above, nailed the essential point: Once again, Big Publishing shows what its real focus and concern is, by trying to shift its branding focus from authors to publishers. Instead of saying to writers, “We’ll help you build YOUR brand as an author,” they say, “Aren’t you impressed by OUR brand as your publisher?”

    Every time these people try to communicate, they only reinforce every criticism we level against them.

    • +1

    • Exactly. It is mind-boggling.

    • Yep.

      Think of the money they’re spending just to produce these videos, because you know they aren’t doing it without help. That same money could be channeled into better royalties for their authors…

    • Smart Debut Author

      Every time Big Publishing tries to publicly justify their existence, they make a stronger case for their disappearance. Let’s see, in the past few months we’ve heard from the publishers own mouths that they are necessary and important because they…

      – redirect money from genre sales away from authors and instead use it to artificially subsidize unpopular” literary” fiction and “important” nonfiction

      – deliberately overcharge readers for ebooks to try to force them to buy expensive dead-tree hardcovers instead

      – redirect marketing funds away from the “burdensome” midlist authors to reinforce sales of their richest 1%-er best sellers

      – pay smaller advances to midlist authors while instead paying oversized advances to book-writing politicians in a transparent attempt to buy political influence

      – use their media cronies to artificially put books on the rigged bestseller lists (Colbert Edan Lepucki’s California)

      – rely upon the deep pockets of their foreign-conglomerate owners to fight against an American company that is trying to broaden the reader market with lower consumer prices while simultaneously paying authors 5x more

      I gotta say, the technological disruption of the publishing industry sure is a beautiful thing to watch :)

      • Yeah, it’s amazing what poor spokespersons for their own position publishers and their various pro-publishing pundits and media supporters are.

        I’m rooting for someone from big publishing or its friends to make a persuasive, compelling rational, thought-provoking argument, because this has become just painful to watch. How many more people and companies are we going to see damn themselves and their allies with their own words?

      • Long as you’re on the right side of the disruption. When I was working for the newspaper, it wasn’t so cheery. But on my last day, stepping into the indy publisher shoes, it felt like I had gotten a ticket to the lifeboat off the Titanic.

    • When I first saw this headline I thought these videos were supposed to be akin to those commercials Lee Iacocca did for Chrysler back in the 80’s, with a glamorous executive (or editor) explaining why you want to work with them.

      But it looks like the PR team behind S&S has never see those commercials.

    • DBW thinks everything the BPH’s do is genius. And everything Amazon does is evil.

      I can’t get enough of this.

    • +2 @ Robert

      • “DBW thinks everything the BPH’s do is genius.”

        Well, when you’re trying to inherent the Shatzkin mantle, become the next big Publishing Thought Leader (or would they be a “Publishing Think Tank”, as a group?) and sell a lot of your expensive “knowledge” to the industry, you’ve got really big shoes to fill.

  14. I’m reminded of the old line: “If you have to explain the joke, there is no joke.”

    If they need fancy videos to explain their value-add…

  15. “And publishers have been answering it.”

    It’s a little sad that they think publishers have been answering this question with something other than regurgitating a list of bundled, overpriced services and business practices that were far mor effective in 1988.

  16. Maybe if you gave an editor a ball of yarn.

    A Big Pub editor?

    I don’t want those guys touching my yarn. They’d insist on playing with it for life + 70 years.

  17. >Everyone wants to buy the new James Patterson title

    Speak for yourself, pal.

    • Never read Patterson. My daughter couldn’t get into his Maximum Ride series. I thought she was being harsh, until I read the first chapter: it ended up being a dream. I was nonplussed, and I read all the Twilight books – even the novella. The things we do for our kids…

  18. Another sign of desperation, and an interesting one. When powerful people have to start explaining themselves and justifying their existence the jig is nearly up.

    One is reminded of aristocrats having to explain to the peasants all the good they did, and how those confiscatory taxes were actually for the benefit of the peasants. Once it got to that stage, everyone knew that the aristocrats were irrelevant and it was just a matter of time.

    • So are you proposing storming Manhattan with pitchforks and rakes?

      (Which I could totally get into if we stop on Broadway to see Wicked.)

      • Hmm. We could do that. We could storm Manhattan with pitchforks and rakes, and if the cops try to stop us, we’ll tell them we are a troupe of performance artists doing a street-theatre rendition of The Mouse That Roared.

      • First we take Manhattan, then we take Berlin.

  19. “Hi, I’m Troy McClure. You may know me from such acquisitions as ‘Snooki: My hellish Hour’, and ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’. For all you laydeez out there” *grins insincerely*.
    “Today, I’ll be telling you…” (snaps fingers impatiently. Book is handed to him from off camera. He smiles back at the camera while putting his glasses on, then freezes in shock at seeing the title.)
    He angrily whispers to someone off camera. “Are you kidding me? More porn? I’ve got a reputation to protect. I’m not talking the F about Moby Dick!”

  20. Smart Debut Author

    “Wow! I’ve always wanted to know what a publisher does!” said no reader, ever.

  21. They really don’t get it, do they? It’s not supposed to be about them. They always think it’s about them. That’s 50 percent of their problem right there.

  22. Aw c’mon, guys. At least watch the videos. (They could certainly use the hits.) In one, a guy actually uses the word, “finacialize.” That alone is worth telling all your friends.

  23. Following PG’s links I found a page where I could, for free, download a report entitled ‘What Advantages Do Traditional Publishers Offer Authors?’

    A great feeling of ennui swept over me and the washing up seemed suddenly attractive.

  24. Since anyone can make a video (don’t even need a camera and a Firewire anymore, just capture from your computers built in webcam) maybe a flurry of former legacy authors will start posting videos of all the things their publishers DIDN’T DO for them. Maybe they could even title them similiary so they could all show on the Youtube sidebar while you’re watching the editor intelligently discuss…something.

  25. *eye rolls* And here I’ve trained all these years to be a publisher by practicing my intelligent use of the word “No” only to find out that saying no to everyone isn’t enough. I have to put out a ridiculous youtube video (that no one wants to watch because they’re busy watching parodies of publishers talking intelligently) BEFORE I can tell them ‘No’.

    It’s hard work making youtube videos and saying no for a living.

    ~Le sigh~

  26. I’ve been saying for a few years that top editors could start creating a series “NAME EDITOR Presents” brand that appears on the front of their books.

    There was this guy named “Stan Lee” who did something similar, and it worked out pretty well for him.

    Also, you don’t need a publisher to do that.

    • Yeah, but people sorta trust Stan Lee. His tastes are idiosyncratic, but you know what they are and why he likes things. So you can ask yourself whether that’s what you’re in the mood for.

      Still, there have been other editors and/or anthologists who were names. Jim Baen, obviously. Terry Carr. Donald A. Wollheim. Frederik Pohl. Forrest J. Ackerman. Judith Merril. Damon Knight. Martin Greenberg the anthologist. Even Harlan Ellison, albeit somebody should have just gone to his house and slapped Last Dangerous Visions in the mail for him.

      The point is that, if you pick out stuff you like, and you do some little intros that tell people, “This is why I like this book/story,” people can examine your taste as a picker, and decide whether they want more of the same. Of course, it helps if people have already vaguely heard of you in the fandom; but it’s not necessary. Reputation can be created by just being a good picker.

      This was why deejays originally made good money – because they were good pickers of music, willing to pick through obscure new records for good stuff to play. Editors could potentially do that; there was a lot of it going on in the Seventies and Eighties. I don’t know why it stopped.

      • The mergers happened.

        • And the price of paperbacks shot up beyond all reason.

          When you could buy a magazine or a paperback for a buck, an anthology was a pretty cool idea – it was like a magazine that didn’t have a new issue every month, and you could keep it in your bookcase more easily. And the stories were likely to be the pick of the litter, instead of the cheapest thing the editor could buy to fill up that month’s pages.

          When it became a choice between a $5 magazine and an $8 paperback, well, of course the anthologies didn’t sell well. So Big Pub issued its ukase: The Public Does Not Want Anthologies.

          It never occurred to them (and still doesn’t to this day, or Hachette would be encouraging Amazon to cut prices instead of fighting them tooth and nail) that this is only half the story. The public does not want anthologies at the price Big Pub wants to charge for them.

      • “…being a good picker.”

        Every time you type that phrase I laugh too hard and get strangled on something. This time it was a Dorito.

  27. Here’s a video for you….

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-wntX-a3jSY

    Now, who among us can tell those Trad Publishers not to tighten their grasp? Oh wait, we already have….

  28. “The move also serves to give Simon & Schuster a consumer-facing brand that could help it in the future when legitimizing its role in the publishing process to authors and partners.”

    Bwahahahahahahaha! Oh gods, that’s a good one.

    You’ve been in this buisness How Long? And you need to start making videos to legitimize yourself? If you aren’t already legitimate at this point…*shakes head*

    I guess the old meme comes through once again:
    “You’re doing it Wrong!”

  29. What a great cat video! Loved it. :) Yeah, I needed a break from writing.

    • I liked the little dark gray guy lying stretched out on his back with his front paws resting against his stomach as he drifted off to sleep. What’s cuter than that?

      • Was that the one that has his legs stretched out straight with his little paws tucked up. It was so cute!

        I also loved the one that was nodding off to sleep, and his head just went zzzunk and hit the ground. lol

  30. Oh, please. No one wants to see an editor talking, unless it’s a cult book like Harry Potter or something.

    People are interested in authors.

    It is supposed to be about the books and the authors, not about the publishing company. But that’s why they are going under. This is not consumer-oriented at all. MAYBE one young, good-looking, charismatic editor may get a following. MAYBE.

  31. The intriguing part is, who is the intended audience for the videos?

    As mentioned above, readers wouldn’t care. That leaves English majors and writers. I doubt English majors looking for future employment are a main concern for publishing houses right now.

    That leaves present and future writers.

    I think Simon & Schuster just cried “Iceberg” and posted it on Youtube.

  32. In the comments, Jeremy Greenfield compares it to listening to Darren Aronofsky recount anecdotes about his movies.

    Which to me demonstrates everything wrong with the strategy and everything wrong about analysts/pundits/whatever Greenfield is.

    Aronofsky is a filmmaker. A director and writer. A creator. As comments have already noted, readers might be interested in videos like this if they came from authors.

    This, though, is like Rob Moore, vice chairman of Paramount, discussing the theatrical distribution of Noah.

    And the worst part is that people like Greenfield and S&S think it’s a fine idea, because they legitimately don’t seem to see a distinction there.

    • “Aronofsky is a filmmaker. A director and writer. A creator. ”

      Yes. I’d watch an interview with Aranofsky or Stanley Kubrick. Aaron Spelling, not so much.

    • Maybe the film analogy is apt in that film producers are famous for claiming credit for all successes (and disowning all failures).

    • It seems to me like they’re trying to go after newbie writers who don’t yet know how close to useless they’re becoming. It’s the “look at what we do all day and worship us” technique. I guess it could work for writers who don’t believe trad pub has lost its value, the ones who want to get an alternate viewpoint on trad pub. I think those writers would be better of watching business videos though.

    • I’ve watched my fair share of videos from directors. In fact, when Prometheus was close to being released, I watched many made by Ridley Scott.

    • It’s part in parcel of how authors are not even considered important, even though if it weren’t for the content they created this industry wouldn’t exist. Yet we are at the bottom while they seat themselves at the top. They don’t see our importance at all. That’s why they come up with ridiculous ideas like this.

  33. I might watch if the editors were in a steel cage match or jumping motorcycles through a Ring of Fire.

    “Tune in for the next exciting episode, to see Our Hero get bumped up to a better table at (wherever today’s equivalent of Elaine’s might be)!”

  34. It’d be smarter for them to license out the brand name authors and/or their popular titles for example: Daniel Steele presents: A novel by Jane Smith or a Jurassic Park Novel by John Doe. It’s too late for them to brand their company names. People don’t care.

  35. To me, a publisher that’s a brand that I might come to trust would have to be like DAW or DelRey or Tor. They have to be pretty narrowed to a genre or two and I have to read a few and trust that the editor does a good job and I can trust new offerings.

    Simon and Shuster is huge. They publish all sorts of things. How the hell can they be a brand? DAW was a brand to a younger me. I recognized the cover/colors and I reached for it on the shelves. Baen is a brand. Harlequin (especially if you narrow to the various imprints within Harlequin) is a brand: I knew I pretty much would enjoy the Silhouette Intimate Moments and Special Editions. Although I still preferred to shop by authors, even within lines.

    But I see authors as the brand. When I enjoy a few of an authors works, I look for the author. He or she is the brand.

    I also see editors as a brand. Ellen Datlow gets my money thrown at her. I have stacks of stuff she’s edited. I see her name: I trust it.

    So, unless S&S plans to devote itself entirely to lit fic or women’s fic or YA fic or SF or Historicals or Biographies or some other genre, how can it be branded?

    “Hi, we’re S&S. We cost more.”

    • More publishers used to do this; for example, as a kid, I could see a book with the New English Library logo on the spine and already had a pretty good idea of what it would be like. Similarly, the used military history books I bought off the rack at the local corner store; I don’t remember the publisher, but I do remember the cover branding. If I saw one there, I knew I’d find it interesting.

      But, yeah, the fatter and more bloated publishers become, the less valuable their logo is as a marketing tool. The Random Penguin logo tells you nothing about what kind of book you’re holding in your hands.

      To succeed at branding, they need to grow smaller and more specialized, and that’s a failure from their viewpoint.

    • Yes, I agree that there have been some strong publisher brands in recent memory — the Dummies books, DK, Golden Books, Harlequin — but the content is much more narrowly defined and compatible. A publisher that grabs at just about anything it thinks will find an audience is not much of a starting point for creating a distinctive (or any) brand!

  36. Rejoice! Literally TENS of people will watch these videos and learn more about the value publishers add to the process of making a book!

    Mark this day on your calendar folks. The publishing industry is saved! (falls down laughing)

  37. Loved the cat video!

  38. Truly?

    Co-dependence at its finest. I’m referring to the Mary Alice Monroe video. I didn’t need to see any more. This didn’t come across on screen a talk between equals. This had a parent – child vibe. And the editor knows best, as in, always.

    They’ve worked together for eight years. EIGHT YEARS. But when Monroe gets her LONG editorial feedback letter about her latest MS back from the editor, she has to take a long walk on the beach after she reads it and then “man up” to call her editor back to discuss. Power in action.

    Can we talk? Oh, and one time they had to talk at midnight on Christmas Eve because according to her editor, “it had to be done”. It had to be done. Screw the holiday, Alice, we gotta talk.

    Boundaries, people.

    This is the exact reason as to why I am so happy with my decision to do it all myself. All myself. #Loveit!

    I’m glad I swung by to read the post!

    • Thank you for bringing this up. The whole power imbalance there was nauseating. And Christmas eve, seriously? Who does that?

      I started cringing fairly quickly in the video, and “manned up” to watch a bit more.

      I thought the “Oh my goodness, I’m sitting in the same room with XYZ author” was a bit forced on the editor’s part, and it seemed more of a “let’s get the part where there’s an author involved over with. ”

      Afterwards, it was all “what the editor does all day and how wonderful they are,” which I could barely stomach. The whole thing was staged. I get that interviews are scripted, for the most part, but I got the feeling that someone from PR ran around shouting “we gotta get a vid out to get our message out to the people!” And then they rushed it out there, thinking it was the best way. And it isn’t. Because the people to whom it would matter already know: editors are good and useful, but publishers aren’t. End of story.

      P.S. Why did the editor send a letter? Why didn’t she just send the MS back via email, with track changes and notes and stuff, and then, in the email, include the explanation if needed. I feel pretty sure in thinking that the editor in question in this vid (I didn’t watch it all the way through, but I’m pretty sure) felt that her word was law and that, of course, the author should just listen to her.

    • The editor didn’t have somewhere to be on midnight on Christmas Eve??? Dang. That’s sad.

    • I believe the author was summoned to New York (could she really refuse?) on an emergency basis and specifically told that her employers needed her assistance in defending themselves against baseless attacks. The author appeared anxious to be seen elevating the editor’s importance. It’s as if she was asked to say on film, “I’d be nothing without you,” and she did so. What sort of working relationship would have resulted if she declined to defend her employer?

      The video induced flashbacks of my time working as an in-house writer (business and education blurbs) when I initially started working in publishing. The company’s employees believed editors were tasked with making silk purses out of sow’s ears. Writers were literally at the bottom of the publishing department’s formal hierarchy and compensation ladder. All other departments were allowed to state how many days they required to complete their portion of specific projects and whatever time remained was given to content development.

      I suspect that readers prefer to imagine that narration comes from story tellers who know and relay the “truth” to them in a book. Likewise, when sitting down to a chicken dinner, guests prefer to envision a farm in the midwest with chickens in the yard, a tractor in the field and a few milk cows standing next to a red barn. Videos portraying authors as untrustworthy and incomplete story tellers will not whet reader loyalty for the same reason that showing conveyor belts drawing raw chicken through a greasy, cloudy industrial pond to wash them prior to factory packaging does not relay a frisky little “Bon apetite!” to diners.

  39. I learned what big publishers do by looking at the Author Solutions web site.

  40. Sigh. If these people had a clue, they would be building their brand by creating franchises written by work-for-hire writers. You know, like Hardy Boys and Doc Savage.

  41. I am very tempted to put up a video wherein I rant about how stupid this idea is. I bet I would get more views than them and drive more traffic to their site than anyone else.

    • I would love to see that, Will. I’m sure I’m not alone.

    • Okay, so….you gave me an idea.

      What if Joe, and Hugh, and David, and all these great folks who inspire me daily, did their own youtube interview videos about “what they do all day.” I don’t mean…or maybe I do, in rebuttal, but, frankly, I would rather watch Joe and other indie-inspiring-the-people-to-think-for-themselves writers, I would rather watch them and listen to THEM tell me what they do all day. And not tons of videos, they’ve got more important things to do, like writing. But what if we had a few videos of when Hugh and his editor talked? Or Joe and his editor? How much more interesting a dialog would that be, eh?

    • I’d watch.

      Wear a kilt. That always ups video views amongst my friends.

  42. Now thousands if independent authors will be making videos showing their coffee cup, crumpled bags of Fritos, monitor ornaments, and cats walking across the keyboard. Consumers are clamoring for the inside story.

    • I’ve been meaning to ask somewhere: what is it with cats and keyboards?

      • They are trying to communicate. Not with us, you understand. They are trying to reach the intelligent life that they are sure must be out there somewhere, and that will feed them what they actually want.

        • STARKIST tuna in spring water, most likely.
          (I thought they might be trying to write their memoirs.)

  43. Well, I watched the cat video at least. Laughed out loud, too.

  44. I’m sure the propaganda will be fair & balanced.

  45. Hey, don’t I deserve some kinda award for sparking the most entertaining thread of the day? (Glenn Close voice:) Do you think I LIKE being IGNORRRRED????

  46. Well, the first thing S&S should do is stop putting the author’s name on the book too.

  47. Actually, I can only take a “producer” credit for the farce. Credit the actors from Big Publishing for their comic genius.

  48. Perhaps a video of how you send a link to PG so consumers can get a feel for the writer’s life?

  49. I made it 46 seconds into the one I tried to watch.

    The saddest part is that those videos will be forgotten and left up on YouTube long after the editors in them have been let go. And I’m not saying that gleefully; I was in the editorial trenches of various places and have been laid off twice.

    Somewhere, the people with the real power—those who have revenue associated with them rather than cost—are already questioning the budget spent on these and are asking about success metrics and ROI.

  50. This might sound bitter, but I think there’s a clear reason why they went with editor rather than authors.

    If they promote an author and the author is successful, then said author is in position to expect different terms from the publisher.

    Why would anyone want that?

  51. I checked out S&S’s Youtube channel. Right away you see a page full of videos with 45 views, 65, 53, and so on. That made me laugh pretty hard. Those are all pretty new videos, though, from within the last couple of weeks.

    So I sorted the videos by how many views they have. That’s when things got bizarre. The top video on their channel is the official trailer for “The Hunger Pains”, which was a parody of that other movie you’ve heard of. Yes, this was a movie trailer. Other prominent videos on their top list was a couple about language learning software that can teach you French. There were a few about actual books, but in this range the views had fallen to about 200,000 or less, for videos that had been out for a few years.

    The average video that talked about books was lucky to crack 1,000 views. Most I saw were under 100, though they were still fairly new. NOT a great companion to the Big X’s “Launch and two months” strategy of sales.

    Also, remember the Random House video from over a year ago that showed us how involved they were with the production of our books? Today that video has 17,675 views. That’s it. The Big X aren’t exactly making a splash with their channels.

  52. I don’t see this working for them just because they are too big. Disney has a brand because we know exactly what to expect from a new Disney movie. Some speciality publisher can do this eg Harlequin and Baen have brand names. But the big five are just to big with too many different types of books for this to work.

    • Agreed. If they want to develop a brand name, they need to leave off the S&S logo and focus on building imprint recognition with very narrowly focused product lines so people know what they are going to get when they pick up a book in that product line, just like Harlequin does. Otherwise they need to stop wasting their money on promoting themselves. But hey, at least some videographers made some money off of S&S rather than it going as a bonus to someone in upper management who already makes seven figures a year. Too bad they didn’t spend those thousands of dollars promoting their own product.

  53. LOL, I love this cat video!

  54. I don’t really have much to say about this. I read the article and the comments here, but I’ve just been like: “They did what? It’s up where? They said that? Uh huh.”

    Irrelevant, meet big publishing. Auto destruction sequence begins in five, four, three, two…

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