From Writer Unboxed:
My address is 2025 Avenue of the Stars.
This is as it should be, of course. 90067.
With my sunglasses so firmly in place that I can barely read anything on the screen, I’m writing to you on the eve of Phil Sexton’s Writer’s Digest Novel Writing Conference in Los Angeles. It’s at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza again this year, the kind of hotel that’s designed to look good on you.
. . . .
There are certain dangers here, naturally. If the paparazzi are spotted, you can be trampled by starlets running toward them. And parts of LAX still seem to be undergoing the same renovation project that put Hangar No. 1 into place in 1929.
But one of the side benefits of being in Tinsel Town from time to time is a reminder that being on is no longer just something stars and motivational speakers worry about.
The more we talk about authors needing to market themselves, their brands, their work, the more we’re really saying that they need to be aware, be alert, stay on top of issues, to position themselves in and around the going media story about publishing and books and writing.
In short? Like a Hollywood hopeful, you want to be…on.
. . . .
In today’s edition of The Bookseller, my fine London colleagues Tom Tivnan and Felicity Wood are writing with special timeliness about what publishers’ growing understanding of consumer data might mean to how those publishers work with their authors.
“Publishing’s increased focus on consumer insight and customer data,” they write, “is set to drastically change relationships with authors, informing decisions around acquisitions, contracts and publication itself.”
And if that line didn’t fully get your attention, go back and read it again. You may not be quite on, baby. Grab the sunglasses for better viewing and I’ll give you more:
Rufus Weston, insight director at HarperCollins [UK], explained: “Publishers are realising what Amazon realised much earlier: that our own data is a business asset. As physical sales become less important, it is more difficult to use the TCM to calibrate what a successful book or author is.
“We can now look at the social trajectory of a potential acquisition and use that to our advantage to set the advance. We’re seeing authors becoming more data-savvy, and I think we will see a further recognition that data is part of the business process. I can see us asking for a regular amount of tweets from a celebrity as part of their contract, for example.”
Note that this all is being phrased in a positive light. I mean, eureka!, right? Well, of course right. More data on how readers are reacting to authors’ interactions on this or that social medium? — means more info on how to enhance those authors’ readership with such knowledge. Big smile, darling, they’re all watching. Right now.
Author care will also be further improved by the rise of consumer insight, Weston said, with publishers better equipped to expand author brands through feedback. He added: “We can monitor an author’s interactions on Twitter and then say when is the best time for them to tweet, and who they should be interacting with. It will increasingly become part of the service we offer and [it] will also help to emphasise authors’ obligations for social media.”
Catch that last line? About emphasizing “authors’ obligations for social media?”
. . . .
Never does one hear, “It also can show us which authors to cut off at the knees if they’re not toeing the line and workin’ it the way our data says they should.” Heaven forbid. It’s all as bright as an ingenue’s grin on premiere night. Just before she tweets that selfie to her fans.
. . . .
And in case you haven’t felt personally digitally disrupted so far as an author? Let me suggest you feel harder.
When your publisher — or your self-publishing platform which may or may not be your friend — learns to gauge how well you’re getting out there to the folks, then you will begin hearing…things. About about your “profile,” your “visibility,” your “presence,” your “reach,” your “connection,” your “commuuuuuuuuuunity,” and your….on-ness.
. . . .
I’m saying the world has changed. And is about to change more. You don’t have to “worry about all that,” no. But somewhere, somebody is going to be worrying about all that for you, if you do want to have a bit of a career, a salable, going little thing here in the marketplace. They have to worry. So you may want to worry first, worry faster, worry better.
Link to the rest at Writer Unboxed and thanks to Louisa for the tip.
PG was about to let slip the dogs of snark, but he’s running behind this morning, so he’ll just ask a few questions:
If you had notable talent for understanding consumer data, why in the world would you work for an antediluvian organization like a publisher instead of a sexy modern company where you could do really cool stuff, get paid well today and receive stock options that might be worth a lot of money tomorrow?
If you’re an author who wants a publisher so you can just focus on writing, do you really want to focus on writing tweets in addition to writing books?
And receive critiques on your tweets? And quotas for how many tweets you must send each week?
If you’re an author who is data-savvy and tweet-savvy and can build your own brand, what, exactly is your publisher doing for you that justifies giving it the large majority of the money your books earn?
Particularly when all this online marketing, etc., is more likely to lead to sales on Amazon and other ebookstores than sales in traditional bookstores?
If your horde of followers on Twitter sees a tweet about your new book, any social marketer will tell you to include a link. Where is that link going to point? If you say to Joe’s Bait Shop and Book Store instead of Amazon, you flunk Social Marketing 101.
And if your hordes of followers click on the link, would you rather receive 70% of the money they spend on your book at Amazon or 17%? (Even less after your agent’s cut)