Facebook is Adding Buy Buttons to Ads – Do You Think They Could be Used to Buy/Sell eBooks?

20 July 2014

From The Digital Reader:

This crossed my desk yesterday:

Facebook is trying out letting you pay for ecommerce purchases from other businesses without leaving its site or app. For now it won’t be charging the few small and medium-sized businesses in the US to test this new Buy button on their News Feed Pages posts and ads. When I asked if Facebook would be charging businesses for the feature eventually, it said “it was not disqualifying that option” in the future.

Facebook is getting ready to take a cut of the retail sales made on their site, something I thought they would have done years ago.

. . . .

So do you think the new ads could prove useful for buying or selling ebooks?

Link to the rest at The Digital Reader

Are Indie Books Being Squeezed out of Book Promo Sites?

9 July 2014

From Indies Unlimited:

I was at dinner with a couple of friends recently and my buddy reached over and grabbed my wrist. He told me that his wife was using his credit card to pay for books on her Amazon account. She was buying books every day, and it was all my fault. After he released me, she leaned over and said she couldn’t leave the house in the morning without checking her daily emails from three different book promo sites. We laughed it off and he admitted that secretly he was glad because even though she was buying more books than she had when she was buying print books she was actually spending less money.

She’d found those book promotion sites from Facebook posts that I’d promoted. Now she purchases books almost every day and she’s very happy. She doesn’t care who publishes the book; she just wants to find a good read, and sites like Bookbub, Peoplereads, and The Fussy Librarian offer great books. It’s just that simple. I’m one of many who post links to these sites and others and it’s helped them build their lists of subscribers. Things are changing though. A colleague pointed out to me recently that a book promotion website that we’d utilized in the past, (not one of those listed above), posted in their guidelines that their main emphasis was now on promoting mainstream published books. And they said they intended to only promote a limited number of independently published books. That means the majority of books on their site are published traditionally.

. . . .

 To some extent self-published authors have shown traditional publishing houses and traditionally published authors a new way to connect with readers. We helped build the subscriber bases for sites that began with a few hundred or even a few thousand readers to the point where one of them now has a reader list of two million. There are a number of successful sites out there and the professionalism amongst them has grown over the past couple of years.

. . . .

 Two years ago it was still relatively easy to be featured on one of the major sites. Today it’s far more difficult. Traditional publishers, or the smart ones anyway, see what we’ve been doing and they’re attempting the same things. Check out your favorite book site and have a look at the books that are featured. I’ll bet you recognize the authors and I’ll bet a lot of them did not self-publish. It’s an honor to be featured on the same pages as some of these authors but at what cost? Are self-published books being gently squeezed out? Does it mean that once again there are going to be some great books that readers won’t find because the sites are concentrating on non-Indie publications? Or, should we just be happy that we’re in the game and that it’s a relatively level playing field?

Link to the rest at Indies Unlimited and thanks to Meryl and others for the tip.

Book Convention Invites Actual Readers

27 May 2014

From The Wall Street Journal:

Publishers who say they want to connect directly with readers are about to get their chance.

BookExpo America, the publishers’ annual trade show, starts on Thursday in New York. Two days later, on Saturday, the last day of the show, the doors will open to the public, marking the launch of a consumer-focused book festival called BookCon. Attendees paying $30 a ticket will have the chance to mingle with such authors as John Grisham, David Mitchell, Carl Hiaasen and Veronica Roth and to pick up some free giveaways—including a single signed copy of Stephen King’s coming novel “Mr. Mercedes.”

It is a big step in a new direction for BookExpo, a long-standing event used by publishers to promote their fall and winter titles through author events and private meetings. The added public dimension is expected to boost awareness of coming books and spur chatter on social media.

Traditionally retailers handle most direct consumer marketing of books. But with the Borders book chain gone and Barnes & Noble gradually shrinking its store count, publishers are increasingly concerned about how consumers can discover new titles—making it necessary for publishers to meet their readers directly.

“Publishing was always a business-to-business industry, but today we need to speak directly to readers on behalf of authors,” said Jim Hanas, director of audience development at HarperCollins Publishers.

Publishers tried to use BookExpo to lure consumers in the past two years, without much success. This year, publishers lobbied for a more robust effort.

. . . .

Industry insiders are watching to see whether a consumer show tucked into a business convention can work. “They seem to have a better concept for a show that regular readers and fans might want to come to,” said Michael Cader, owner of Publishers Lunch, a book industry newsletter and website. “But they still have to bridge the gap between a trade show that’s about books which haven’t been published yet and readers focused on books coming soon.”

. . . .

“We’re interested in any opportunity to reach readers directly if we can encourage them to sign up for our newsletters and introduce them to new writers,” said Ms. Perl. “We want to identify influencers, people with strong social media platforms who are active in book clubs or who write reviews for Goodreads.”

Link to the rest at The Wall Street Journal (Link may expire) and thanks to Abel for the tip.

The Demands of Book Promotion: Frivolous or Necessary?

23 May 2014

From The New York Times:

Each week in Bookends, two writers take on questions about the world of books. This week, James Parker and Anna Holmes discuss whether they find the demands of book promotion — author photos, media campaigns, Twitter feeds — frivolous or necessary.

. . . .

[from James Parker]

Authors have to promote their books, and they have to be flashy about it. Especially these days. You can’t imagine anything less frivolous, and more painted in grim necessity, than an average midlist bookstore reading in 2014. The audience is hushed and minuscule, the shattered-looking author can’t believe he’s there — the whole thing has the last-ditch solemnity of a persecuted religious rite. Oh sure, there have been good reviews; there has been polite acclaim. Fellow authors have kicked in with the blurbs and the boosts. A prize might have been won. But as regards this book, and this writer, the great sleep of the culture is unbroken.

So: You find new formats, new gimmicks, new shows to be on, new ways to prickle or perforate the oblivious disregard in which America holds you, the dark night of your unfamousness. The problem of course is that it’s all so, you know, unliterary. Anti-literary, really. In the promotional moment, what has hitherto been an inward enterprise (the writing of the book) is turned outward overnight; the author, that nose-picker and thief of light, is all of a sudden on display. She must explain herself. He must sell himself. To a gifted minority it comes naturally; to the rest, it really doesn’t. Hence the tremendous awkwardness that often attends these sorties into the national mind. Author photos, for example, are invariably ghastly: pouting, bedraggled or staring down with blazing eyes from the spire of genius, the author is basically saying (or trying to say): “Trust me. I’m worth it.” As for media appearances, any interview in which the author doesn’t swear uncontrollably or break into loud sobs must be considered a public relations triumph.

. . . .

[From Anna Holmes]

Writers are prone to take themselves very seriously, which is fine, except it also means they sometimes find the self-promotional aspects of their craft distasteful, if not downright excruciating. Writing is about the journey, not the destination, right? (Answer: It can be about both.) And bookselling is such an inexact science, it would be near impossible to prove that more publicity necessarily translates into more sales.

Except it often does. Sure, there are veteran authors who have to do nothing more than hit “send” on a manuscript before the Time magazine cover gets scheduled and the royalty checks start pouring in; others, thanks to whatever particular combination of timing and talent, seem to skyrocket into the public consciousness out of nowhere. But they are the exception, not the rule.

Then there are the rest of us. As the editor of two well-publicized but by no means best-selling books, it would make sense for me to deem aspects of book promotion “frivolous” — sales of my first book were proof that multiple appearances on high-profile public radio and morning news shows don’t always move the needle — but I do believe promotion is a necessary, if often exhausting, endeavor.

For my first book, a cultural history of the female breakup letter published in 2002, my contacts — and the book’s provocative subject matter — combined to help secure coverage in numerous media outlets, including a coveted appearance on the “Today” show. Even so, my book didn’t sell many copies.

Link to the rest at The New York Times and thanks to Randall for the tip.

Book Blurb As Salesperson

20 May 2014

From Digital Book World:

Your book blurb is a salesperson. The “book description” area of your online sales page (commonly called a blurb) must sell your book for you. In an online store, there’s no knowledgeable store clerk ready to offer a verbal book recommendation to browsing customers. If you’re self-publishing a novel, you need a book description that works hard to sell your book.

Create a mood

First, the book description has to create a mood. Readers want to slip into a feeling when they dip into a book. That feeling could be suspense, romance, humor, nostalgia. When you begin to write your description, don’t worry about outlining the plot step by step. First, think about the atmosphere you’ve built in your book.

. . . .

Explain what happens, briefly

Sure, your audience wants to know the characters they’ll be reading about and the events that happen. But do this briefly. Mention what your character yearns for. Describe the challenges of the situation. Don’t go into the sub-plot, that’s too much for a book blurb.

Link to the rest at Digital Book World

Penguin Random House Creates Company-Wide Consumer Marketing Department

16 May 2014

From Digital Book World:

Penguin Random House has created company-wide consumer marketing group that will both support title- and author-based marketing efforts and spur marketing innovation in the company’s U.S. publishing groups.

. . . .

[From a Penguin Random House press release]

Penguin Random House today announced the formation of a cross-company Consumer Marketing Development and Operations Group. It will both support the dedicated title-, author- and category-marketing, and the marketing innovation within each of its U.S. publishing groups, while at the same time taking a lead in the development of full-scale company-wide corporate digital programs, platforms, and partnerships.

“By approaching marketing development this way,” said Madeline McIntosh, U.S. President and Chief Operating Officer, “both from within publishing and from a broader corporate standpoint, we will be able to most effectively expand our consumer-focused capabilities, and deliver value for our publishers, authors, booksellers, and readers.”

Link to the rest at Digital Book World

PG says this is a typical large corporation move – put a new department in charge of everything so all those lower in the corporate hierarchy have one more layer of bureaucrats to penetrate when competing for scarce resources.

Thousands of books will be enmeshed in this “system” and some will win the competition for promotional support while others lose. Most books will receive about the same amount of individual attention as a McDonald’s hamburger sitting on the grill.

Compare this to the indie author’s marketing efforts. Each book receives the optimal marketing program the author thinks will launch and support it the best. The author may use a set of standard advertising/promotional activities for a book launch or relaunch, but the author is also thinking about what will be best for this particular book. (There are always money issues, but that happens at Randy Penguin as well.)

The indie author spends no time or effort working through layers of corporate approval when he/she wants to try something new. The indie author’s book is not just another cog in a massive collection of wheels. The indie author’s book isn’t required to support the salaries and expenses of flocks of vice presidents and directors. All profits go straight to the author.

Chipotle Cups Will Now Feature Stories by Jonathan Safran Foer, Toni Morrison, and Other Authors

16 May 2014

From Vanity Fair:

Jonathan Safran Foer was sitting at a Chipotle one day, when he realized that he had nothing to do while noshing on his burrito. He had neglected to bring a book or magazine, and he didn’t yet own a smartphone. “I really just wanted to die with frustration,” Foer told VF Daily.

Suddenly, the Eating Animals author (and vegetarian) had an idea: What if there were something truly good to read on his Chipotle cup? Or the bag? A few years earlier, he had met Steve Ells, Chipotle’s C.E.O., so he decided to write the executive an e-mail.

. . . .

Starting Thursday, VF Daily can exclusively reveal, bags and cups in Chipotle’s stores will be adorned with original text by Foer, Malcolm Gladwell, Toni Morrison, George Saunders, and Vanity Fair contributing editor Michael Lewis. Foer says ,” Chipotle refrained from meddling in the editorial process for the duration of the initiative, which the burrito chain has branded Cultivating Thought. “I selected the writers, and insofar as there was any editing, I did it,” Foer said. “I tried to put together a somewhat eclectic group, in terms of styles. I wanted some that were essayistic, some fiction, some things that were funny, and somewhat thought provoking.”

Link to the rest at Vanity Fair and thanks to Dan for the tip.

Tend Your Garden

11 May 2014

From Joe Konrath:

Your ebooks function much like a garden.

One rare occassions, a plant will thrive with little help from you.

Others may whither and die no matter how much help you give them.

But the majority need to be constantly tended. Planted, watered, fertilized, weeded, pruned, mulched, replanted, harvested. In other words, lots of work.

Ebooks aren’t a Mr. Popeill invention where you can set it and forget it. Quite the opposite. You need to pay attention, and keep active, or your garden won’t thrive.

Everyone experiences slow downs in sales. It’s inevitable, and it seems to be cyclical, but not in any sort of way I’ve been able to project. Sales seem to rise and fall for reasons unknown.

. . . .

Here are some tricks to tend to your garden.

1. Change prices. As an indie, this is one of the biggest advantages you have over the legacy industry. You decide what the customer pays, and this is powerful. Don’t be afraid to weild that power by experimenting with prices, both lower and higher.

2. Newsletter. There is no excuse why you don’t have a newsletter. People who sign up are actively looking for your titles. Make them aware a new title exists.

3. Sales. Unlike a change in price, a sale only lasts for a short time. KDP Countdown is what I’m currently using, because it offers 70% royalties when I drop the price. I’ve been pleased with my results.

. . . .

Which brings us to the last tip:

11. Stop complaining. Writing and self-publishing is your choice. No one is forcing you to do this. If you went into this business thinking it would be easy, you were wrong. It would be awesome if every ebook written became a huge bestseller, but only a small fraction will. You should be thinking about the long game–amassing a backlist ten years from now, and cultivating that backlist so it constantly has new eyeballs discovering it.

Link to the rest at A Newbie’s Guide to Publishing and thanks to Julie and several others for the tip.

BookBub Raises $3.8M to Help Readers Find E-Book Deals Online

2 May 2014

From The Wall Street Journal blogs:

A Cambridge, Mass. startup called Pubmark Inc., better known as BookBub, has raised $3.8 million to help publishers and authors sell their e-books online, according to Chief Executive and co-founder Josh Schanker.

. . . .

Prior to starting BookBub, Mr. Schanker and co-founder Nick Ciarelli had no experience in book publishing. They were repeat entrepreneurs in the all-digital world of tech startups and blogging.

. . . .

The duo came up with the idea for BookBub when a friend who was starting an independent publishing company sought help marketing her authors’ latest e-books online.

They found that the industry lacked the kinds of tools, resources and best practices that helped app makers and other companies connect directly with consumers, Mr. Schanker said. So they built their flagship product — a kind of newsletter full of daily deals on e-books — to help.

. . . .

 BookBub charges publishers anywhere from $100 to $2,000 to be featured in its newsletter and website, the CEO said. The price to list an e-book deal varies with the genre. Targeting fans of a large category like romance or mysteries costs more than targeting fans of a niche category like supernatural suspense.

. . . .

 The CEO plans to use the funding to develop new “e-book discovery” products for people who love to read. The company also plans to “localize” the BookBub newsletter and site for different, international markets, starting with English-language speaking countries.

Link to the rest at The Wall Street Journal and thanks to Jason for the tip.

Pharrell Williams Wrote a Book. Now He Needs Your Help.

27 April 2014
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From The New York Times Arts Beat blog:

Singalongs seem kind of quaint these days, but the singer Pharrell Williams – whose current hit, “Happy,” has a chorus that seduces listeners into joining in – has come up with a new twist. He has completed a book, “Inspiration,” and has invited fans to participate in a write-along while they wait for it to be published.

It is a contest, of sorts: if you visit a website for the book (, you find several pages of the book, with white spaces indicating words that are missing. Your job is to guess the missing words and type them in; if you guess right, you get a video thumbs-up.

. . . .

If you are the first to supply the correct word, you will have your name listed in the book when it is published. (If you hover over the words that do appear, the first name and last initial of those who supplied them appear as a pop-up.)

Link to the rest at Arts Beat and thanks to Elizabeth for the tip.

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