Monthly Archives: October 2016

No one

30 October 2016

No one wakes up excited to see more advertising, no one goes to sleep thinking about the ads they’ll see tomorrow.

Jan Koum

7 Tips for Avoiding Book Marketing Trends That No Longer Work

30 October 2016

From Penny Sansevieri via Digital Book World:

One of the biggest certainties about marketing trends, including book marketing trends, is that they are always in a state of change. This has a lot to do with changing technology. In nearly every aspect of every day, someone is marketing something to each of us.

. . . .

2. Print Ads
An author recently told me he was holding off doing any marketing until his ad ran in the New York Times. He had bought a $5,000 ad in the book section and was eager to see how it worked. It ended up being a $5,000 mistake. Print ads, unless you’ve already got a platform, are best to avoid. And even if you do have a platform, they’re still sketchy unless you’re already well-known.

Instead, try ebook ads. Ads, like the kind you buy to promote your ebook, work well, but truthfully, I am beginning to see the effect of these fading; you actually have to do more ads now to get the same amount of bounce. Thankfully, most ebook ads are cheap, so you can still do a lot of them and spend far less than you would on print.

3. Generic Blog Tours
This ties back into generic anything. You used to be able to host a blog tour and see the momentum for your book kick in almost immediately. That’s not really the case anymore.

Instead, try genre-based blog tours. Blog tours that are focused on your book topic, specifically, are far more effective and a better use of your time and money. They tend to be more work, but they are absolutely worth it in the long run. Regardless of how many book blogs you get featured on, focus on the niche blogs. This is not just because you want to stay away from generalized topics, but also because you reach a more highly focused audience.

. . . .

6. Bad Blogging
Blogging is important, and many of us would blog for the sake of blogging. That said, there’s a lot of content out there, and much of it isn’t really worth our time. With all the noise in our daily lives, it needs to be really good for us to want to spend time reading it.

Instead, practice good blogging skills. Put out solid content even if it means reducing how often per month you blog. Instead of blogging every day, consider posting once a week with stronger, better content. This is a case in which less is actually more. Readers will appreciate the effort, but almost more importantly, so will Google. You may see more traffic for one great piece than for five mediocre posts that are only interesting to those closest to you.

Link to the rest at Digital Book World

Amazon to buy publishing business of Tata-owned Westland

30 October 2016

From The Hindu:

US-based e-commerce giant Amazon today said it is acquiring the publishing business of Tata-owned Westland for an undisclosed sum.

The acquisition will enable authors of Westland, a subsidiary of Tata Group firm Trent, to grow their physical and digital book businesses in India as well as expand their reach to customers globally, Amazon said in a statement here.

Earlier this year, the online marketplace had acquired a 26 per cent stake in the Tata-owned publishing company,

“Our acquisition of Westland continues our commitment to India – enabling Amazon to bring Westland’s highly talented authors and their books to even more customers in India and around the world,” said Amit Agarwal, Vice—President and Country Manager at Amazon India.

“Since investing in Westland earlier this year, we have built a great relationship with the company and its authors.”

. . . .

 Westland has a history of over 50 years in retail, distribution and publishing.

Link to the rest at The Hindu and thanks to Nate for the tip.

‘A Man Called Ove,’ Sweden’s Latest Hit Novel

30 October 2016

From The New York Times:

Fredrik Backman got tepid responses when he sent out the manuscript for his debut novel, “A Man Called Ove.” Most publishers ignored him, and several turned it down.

After a few months and a few more rejections, he began to think perhaps there wasn’t a market for a story about a cranky 59-year-old Swedish widower who tries and fails to kill himself.

“It was rejected by one publisher with the line, ‘We like your novel, we think your writing has potential, but we see no commercial potential,” said Mr. Backman, 35, who lives outside Stockholm with his wife and two children. “That note I kept.”

In hindsight, that critique seems wildly, comically off base. Four years later, “A Man Called Ove” has sold more than 2.8 million copies worldwide, making the book one of Sweden’s most popular literary exports since Stieg Larsson’s thriller “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.”

“Ove” became a blockbuster in Sweden, selling more than 840,000 copies. It was adapted into a successful stage production and an award-winning Swedish feature film, which recently opened in the United States. Translation rights have sold in 38 languages, including Arabic, Turkish, Latvian, Thai and Japanese. Mr. Backman has gained a passionate fan base in South Korea, where the novel became a huge best-seller.

“No one really knows why,” Mr. Backman said in a recent telephone interview. “Not even the Korean publisher understands what the hell is going on.”

. . . .

Mr. Backman didn’t fit into any obvious genre mold, and there was no guarantee that his whimsical, oddball sense of humor would appeal to Americans. Atria was cautious at first and printed 6,600 hardcover copies, a decent run for a debut novel in translation.

The novel got a boost from independent booksellers, who placed big orders and pressed it on customers. The Book Bin in Northbrook, Ill., has sold around 1,000 copies, largely based on word-of-mouth recommendations.

“I passed it around to the rest of the staff and said, I think this is absolutely wonderful, am I crazy?” said Nancy Usiak, a bookseller at the shop. “There are 10 of us, and this was one of the rare occasions where we all agreed.”

Link to the rest at The New York Times

Here’s a link to A Man Called Ove

More Wretched News for Newspapers as Advertising Woes Drive Anxiety

29 October 2016

From The New York Times:

The gloom began earlier this month, when Gerard Baker, the editor in chief of The Wall Street Journal, sent a memo to employees that said, in part, “every story should be as short as it needs to be.” The next week, William Lewis, the chief executive of Dow Jones, which owns The Journal, announced a newsroom review that he said would be “underpinned by a series of cost-management initiatives.”

Two days later, on Oct. 21, the anvil fell: Mr. Baker informed employees in another memo that The Journal was looking for a “substantial” number of them to take buyouts, and that layoffs were in the offing.

With print advertising continuing to drop precipitously, you would be hard-pressed to find a newsroom devoid of uncertainty anywhere in the country. Companies like Gannett have recently announced layoffs, and its stock price has plunged during a monthslong pursuit of the company that owns The Los Angeles Times and The Chicago Tribune. The New York Times recently went through buyouts and has acknowledged that its newsroom will get even smaller next year. And for journalists at The Wall Street Journal, anxiety in the last several weeks has been especially pronounced.

. . . .

Across the country, those working in the newspaper industry are fretting as the end of the year approaches. Driving much of the anxiety is a steep drop in print ad revenue, once the lifeblood for newspapers. Spending on newspaper advertising in the United States is projected to fall 11 percent this year, to about $12.5 billion, according to the Interpublic Group’s Magna.

. . . .

At the same time, digital advertising and other forms of revenue have been slow to pick up the slack, leading news companies, including The New York Times, The Guardian and Gannett, the owner of USA Today, to cut costs by downsizing.

“More and more publishers are coming to the recognition that there’s a new normal,” said Alan D. Mutter, who teaches media economics at the University of California, Berkeley, and writes about the media on the blog Reflections of a Newsosaur. “And the new normal is not nearly as nice as the old normal was.”

. . . .

Across the industry, similar declines in print advertising coupled with the shift to digital and, increasingly, mobile, are driving newspaper companies to reconfigure their newsrooms.

. . . .

The Times has also announced its intent to make subscriptions the driving source of its revenue, an acknowledgment that newspaper advertising, both print and digital, can no longer be counted on to finance the company’s journalism on its own.

The New York Times Company, which will report its third-quarter earnings on Wednesday, said in August that its print ad revenue had fallen 14 percent in the second quarter. Digital advertising revenue dropped 7 percent.

Link to the rest at The New York Times

PG never likes to see people losing their jobs.

He included this item to demonstrate the great power of disruptive technology to affect some of the most established publishing institutions in the United States.

Book publishers are not immune to the same types of disruption. PG suggests that being contractually bound to such institutions under long-term contracts is a risky idea.

Far more thought and care

29 October 2016

Far more thought and care go into the composition of any prominent ad in a newspaper or magazine than go into the writing of their features and editorials.

Marshall McLuhan

Newspapers Are Social Media

29 October 2016

From The Wall Street Journal:

Digitization exposes weak links. Then it breaks them. So much so that it makes you wonder what people were thinking in the first place. According to Bharat Anand, a professor at Harvard Business School, the weakest link is between producing content and everything else. Such connections “are at the heart of what shapes any digitally touched business today.” He looks as the content assumptions behind various industries and shows the ways in which, over time, they can become an obstacle to success.

To see why, consider the news. By the end of the 20th century, the master plan for a newspaper in a major metropolitan area was something like this. Step 1: Produce great journalism. Step 2: Become a trusted news source (e.g., by winning acclaim such as Pulitzers). Step 3: Use that reputation to get subscribers. Step 4: Offer the readers up to advertisers. Step 5: Market the weekend edition to nonsubscribers. And, finally, Step 6: Use the virtuous circle (readers beget advertisers beget more advertisers) to charge high ad prices. With so many steps between content and returns, this reads like the master plan of a particularly ambitious movie villain. It worked—until it didn’t.

It’s easy for investors or observers to rail against media executives for not seeing weak links in their plan. But when the business has always emphasized steps 1 and 2 (the creation of good “content”), it is “perfectly natural,” Mr. Anand writes, that the immediate reaction to a new set of market circumstances is to shore up the severed links. The problem, as Mr. Anand points out, is that, in the process of shoring up a collapsing business model, companies often fall into the “trap” of thinking that content is all that matters. To be sure, content is important. But what matters more is the connection between that content and the rest of the master plan.

Digital technologies break the plan somewhere between steps 3 and 4. In the case of newspapers, companies that made articles free on the internet stopped the subscriber flow; then other internet sites offered advertisers other ways to reach consumers. The firms that foresaw this disruption or were never relying on the same plan in the first place fared better.

. . . .

The Content Trap” is a book filled with stories of businesses, from music companies to magazine publishers, that missed connections and could never escape the narrow views that had brought them past success. But it is also filled with stories of those who made strategic choices to strengthen the links between content and returns in their new master plans. The author shows that “winning strategies come from recognizing the context you operate in, not the content you make. . . . They come from setting priorities and saying no, rather than following the herd.”

One company Mr. Anand praises for going its own way is the publisher Random House (now Penguin Random House). When other publishers were working with Apple to try to find ways to fight Amazon’s push for lower e-book pricing, CEO Markus Dohle kept Random House out of any dealings (and thus out of the later antitrust tangles, too). To understand why, look at the old master plan for book publishing: Steps 1, 2 and 3 (creating content and finding readers) follow the newspaper model except with the goal of getting books into stores. But digitization hit the industry right between steps 3 and 4 (monetizing content) by bypassing stores and then bypassing shelves. The industry focused on Steps 1 and 2, thinking that providing books that people wanted to read would get them the rest. Often, however, books bought were not books read. They were, in part, meant to be displayed in homes or on desks as a signal that the person might have read them. For e-books, the situation is different. That’s why the romance genre flourished under the digital onslaught. Random House, it turned out, had one of its biggest print successes of recent years when it acquired “Fifty Shades of Grey,” a book that people don’t claim to have read if they haven’t.

Link to the rest at The Wall Street Journal (Link may expire)

H.G. Wells Hid a Sick Burn Inside The War of the Worlds

29 October 2016

From Atlas Obscura:

The images of three-legged Martian attack tripods and rivers covered in strange red weeds are now iconic symbols of alien invasion, thanks to H.G. Wells’ influential science-fiction novel, The War of the Worlds. But when his story was first published, the illustrations were a far cry from the otherworldly imagery described in the text.

. . . .

The War of the Worlds was initially published as a serial in Pearson’s magazine in the U.K. and Cosmopolitan in the U.S. throughout 1897. The story, one of the first to detail a war with another planet, was a popular hit during its initial serial run, at least with readers. Wells himself wasn’t so pleased with everything.

“Wells was unimpressed with the illustrations,” says H.G. Wells expert Michael Sherborne. “He complained about the pictures in a letter to his agent.” Goble, a fledgling artist at the time, who would go on to have a successful career as a children’s illustrator, envisioned the Martian fighting machines as ovular pods that stood on metal beams, which looked like a standard construction support. In some ways they didn’t look very alien at all. Ssee a modern critique of Goble’s art over on Open Culture.) And Wells wasn’t having it.

In 1898, the first collected version of The War of the Worlds was released, and Wells had added a handful of new and previously omitted material to the narrative. Included in the additions was an entire paragraph directly commenting on his disappointment with Goble’s illustrations. Found in Book II, Chapter 2, in the middle of dealing with a planet blasted by alien war, the narrator takes some time to give a sort of bitchy, and suspiciously familiar, critique of a war reporter’s illustrations:

I recall particularly the illustration of one of the first pamphlets to give a consecutive account of the war. The artist had evidently made a hasty study of one of the fighting-machines, and there his knowledge ended. He presented them as tilted, stiff tripods, without either flexibility or subtlety, and with an altogether misleading monotony of effect. The pamphlet containing these renderings had a considerable vogue, and I mention them here simply to warn the reader against the impression they may have created. They were no more like the Martians I saw in action than a Dutch doll is like a human being. To my mind, the pamphlet would have been much better without them.

Of course this in-world account was simply a not-very-veiled reflection of Wells’ reaction to Goble’s work. In his new book The War of the Worlds: From H.G. Wells to Orson Welles, Jeff Wayne, Steven Spielberg and Beyond, author Peter Beck describes the reasoning behind Wells’ objections to Goble’s artwork, saying, “Apart from being a very visual writer capable of both conjuring up vivid fantastic images for readers and representing his thoughts through picshuas, Wells had strong feelings about the illustrations employed to support his work, as evidenced by his above-mentioned critique of Goble’s illustrations used for the story’s serialization.”

. . . .

In subsequent years, Wells would loosen up his opinion on Goble’s illustrations, coming to see them as just another vision of his creation. Wells eventually authorized the use of Goble’s illustrations in printings of The War of the Worlds, and as noted in Beck’s book, he seems to recant his negative opinion of Gobles’ work, saying in a 1920 interview in Strand magazine that the art “was done very well by Mr. Warwick Goble, during its first magazine publication.”

But the dismissive critique remains in modern editions of the text to this day. Just like his greatest Martians, H.G. Wells’ greatest troll is now a permanent fixture in the sci-fi canon.

Link to the rest at Slate and thanks to Matthew for the tip.

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