Facebook has begun hiding likes (in Australia)

1 October 2019

From C/Net:

Facebook began hiding likes on Friday, Sept. 27, making the number of reactions, views and likes visible only to a post’s author. The test kicked off in Australia, the social media giant confirmed last week, and includes ads.

“We are running a limited test where like, reaction and video view counts are made private across Facebook,” a Facebook spokesperson told CNET in an emailed statement on Sept. 26.

. . . .

As of Sept. 30, Facebook said it is still expanding the experiment to more people in Australia, but it should be out to the majority of people in the country within the next day or two.

The social network indicated earlier in September that it might experiment with hiding likes, after testing the approach on Facebook-owned Instagram this year. In August, Facebook said the Instagram test was meant to “remove the pressure of how many likes a post will receive” on Instagram, and that Facebook was “excited by the early test results.”

Link to the rest at C/Net

PG would be interested in comments from serious Facebook users about whether this is a good/bad/whatever idea for authors who use FB as an important part of their promotional efforts.

Amazon is Shutting Down Kindle Matchbook, Its Print+eBook Bundling ProgramAmazon is Shutting Down Kindle Matchbook, Its Print+eBook Bundling Program

30 September 2019

From The Digital Reader:

It’s only been a few short days since Amazon announced that Amazon Giveaways was ending, and now they’ve decided to shut down another promotion service.

. . . .

Starting October 31, we’re retiring the Kindle MatchBook program. If you have books enrolled in Kindle MatchBook, they’ll be unenrolled at that time.

Here are a couple things to know:

  • Readers will still be able to buy books in their preferred format (eBook or paperback).
  • We’ll issue payments from any remaining Kindle MatchBook sales on your regular payment schedule.

Best regards,
The Kindle Direct Publishing Team

Launched in 2013, Kindle Matchbook was a program where authors and publishers had the option of creating ebook+print bundles that combine a Kindle ebook with a print book sold by Amazon. The ebook could be given away for free, or sold for $1.99 or $0.99.

. . . .

Most authors have never heard of it, and the ones that do have books in the program report that there was little interest from readers. “I can see why they are retiring it. I’ve had all my books enrolled in Matchbook since the beginning, allowing people to get a free ebook copy of any paperback they buy,” Shawn Inmon wrote on FB. “I think I’ve given away maybe 20 copies in all those years. It just doesn’t seem to be something people are interested in.”

Link to the rest at The Digital Reader

What influences Book Purchasing Decisions?

29 September 2019

From Marketing Christian Books:

BookNet Canada conducts studies on book reading and buying behavior. In one of their studies, they looked at which element influence readers to purchase a particular book. Were readers drawn in by the awesome cover design? Were they won over by the gripping book description? Did endorsements influence readers purchase decision?

It turns out familiarity was the most cited influence for reading a given book. In other words, the reader was familiar with the author. Somehow the reader knew about the author. They may have read another book by that author. They may be familiar with the author because he or she is already famous. Maybe they saw the author on television or heard her on the radio. The key ingredient was that they “knew” the author somehow.
Here is the breakdown of the percentage of people who ranked each option first in terms of how they influence when books they read / listen to:

  • Familiarity with the author – 35.5%
  • Read a synopsis – 25.8%
  • Familiarity with the series – 17.2%
  • Cover design – 6.9%
  • Awards and bestseller stickers/badges – 6.5%
  • Saw an ad for the book – 4.7%
  • Author or celebrity endorsement – 3.1%

Notice in this breakdown that “Familiarity with the Author” was chosen by over one-third of the readers, and “Familiarity with the Series” was chosen by just about one out of every six readers.

From Marketing Christian Books

Questions for Indie Authors

23 September 2019

Mrs. PG and PG were discussing the upcoming release of her newest book (more details in a later post) and came up with a couple of questions, the answers to which we were uncertain:

1. What is the best day of the week for the release of an indie book? Or does it not matter?

2. What experience has anyone had with BookGorilla?

Feel free to provide facts, opinions, opinionated facts or factual opinions in the comments.

The Five Myths of Crisis Management for Authors

16 September 2019

From Anne R. Allen’s Blog:

I know what you’re thinking. You see the word crisis and say, that will never happen to me. Sorry to burst your bubble, but you are wrong. As with all public figures, a reputation-tanking, book-disappearing, fan-stalking, Twitter-storm crisis can happen to any author.

And it could ruin your business and your reputation if you’re not prepared.

You need to know about crisis management.

Let’s face it, author businesses thrive or die online. Whether it’s a website, social media, our newsletters, online classes, bookstores like Amazon—whatever it is—our business and our reputations exist online. We may have lots of offline marketing going on, but the bulk of our livelihood is attached at the hip to the internet where the good, the bad, and the ugly hang out.

. . . .

1) I don’t need crisis management. I don’t pay attention to what’s being said about me online.

Listening is the first line of prevention when it comes to your reputation. If you don’t have your author name set up on a Google Alert, it needs to be. This is the bare minimum of prevention. These searches can be set to come to your inbox once a day. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. And in online crisis, sometimes there is no cure.

If you’re not listening to the chatter around your name, you will miss the warning signs of a potentially life-changing event. On the flipside, if you’re overanxious and listen to everything, you won’t know what you’re looking for.

If you don’t know how to evaluate the severity of the crisis, you’ll respond to nothing or everything. And, if you don’t have a response plan, you will be making spur of the moment decisions fueled by emotional pressure. Or worse, you’ll be tempted to hide your head in the sand—a sure recipe for failure in this connected age.  The old adage is truer in crisis than anywhere else: fail to plan – plan to fail. And you can’t afford to fail in a crisis.

. . . .

2) I don’t have time to build a core group of engaged fans that will support me.

When you build engagement on social media and through your newsletter, you’re building credibility. Advocates can do more to shorten a crisis than anything you can say or do.

I have personally seen many crises cut short or averted by purposeful intervention by engaged friends, fans, and press. The sum total of your engaged network constitutes your reputation. And reputation is your biggest asset in most crisis events.

We’re not talking about taking to the internet to let loose an army of positive talking do-gooders here. We’re talking about building a network of core readers, author friends, media people, and industry friends who know you, like your books, and would do you a strategic favor if asked.

You never want to try and go online to dispel your own crisis. Everything you say when you’re under fire is gas on the fire.

. . . .

4) If people start harassing me or talking about me, there’s nothing I can do.

Actually, there are lots of things you can do. You can’t stop them from blabbing, but you can do some things to slow them down.

  1. Report them. Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram all have procedures for reporting stalking, hate speech, impersonation, and more. Become familiar with them.
  2. Familiarize yourself with deleting, blocking and reporting features on all the social media channels where you maintain a presence. Know how to report inappropriate content, where to go to register a complaint or concern on Amazon (I’ve found using Author Central is the best way), get a manual review on an ad, and report someone who has stolen your name on a social media channel. Don’t skip this one—it will save you a ton of time when you discover something is wrong.
  3. Don’t engage in dishonest online practices like buying followers or reviews, adding email subscribers that haven’t opted in, buying or trading reviews, or sending out spam (or cold calling as the marketing world politely calls it). Bad habits invite crisis. Your ignorance may not get your books reinstate on Amazon. Be honest, transparent, and remember you are on rented land. You don’t own that Facebook page—you’re renting it.
  4. Have a posting policy on your social media sites. Stick it under your About tab. Tell people you have the right to delete, block, or report. Ask people to be civil or risk getting the boot. Have the courage to delete posts that don’t comply with the policy or block people who don’t play nice.

Link to the rest at Anne R. Allen’s Blog

Level the Playing Field for Books in Translation

13 September 2019

From Publishers Weekly:

(PG Note – The author is a Slovenian publisher)

Nowadays, when everything is just a click away, people around the world have come to expect the latest installment of great TV series such as The Handmaid’s Tale or Game of Thrones to be delivered to their screens more or less simultaneously with the original release, together with corresponding subtitles in Croatian, Macedonian, Serbian, Slovenian…. There are many people involved with the production, and the security risks are extremely high, but still—the magic happens.

It is therefore somewhat surprising that in book publishing we’re witnessing a discriminating practice that has become increasingly common in recent years. In fact, this is now a sort of a status symbol, which divides major from merely big or important authors. At my Slovenian publishing company, Mladinska Knjiga, we still receive Mr. Barnes’s or Mrs. Hawkins’s or Mr. McEwan’s or Mr. Nesbø’s or Mr. Walliams’s new novels way ahead of publication (Mr. Nesbø even kindly provides the complete English translation for those who are not translating from Norwegian!), whereas this is not the case with authors (brands?) such as Dan Brown, John Green, or J.K. Rowling. Even Harper Lee’s second novel, Go Set a Watchman, was strictly embargoed until publication of the English edition. And now Margaret Atwood’s The Testaments faces the same issue.

The reason given is always the same: security. We were told by Atwood’s agency: “If this manuscript leaks, the consequences are huge, and therefore we have to have a strategy that minimizes the risk.”

A strategy? Some (well, most) of us are obviously not trustworthy. But there’s more. Initially a universal practice, this “strategy” is not without exceptions now. For example, the German version of The Testaments is scheduled for simultaneous publication with the original—so is the Spanish one and the Italian one. Is this then just a variation on a good old theme of “paying more” ? (One wonders how much of this is known to authors themselves, all fine people, who are usually sincerely grateful to each of their publishers from all around the world.)

The Booker shortlist was just announced, and it includes The Testaments. This is great news. It means that the book is good. But what it also means is that the jurors were given the manuscript ahead of publication, too. How did security procedures work in this case? I would rather not speculate, but let me just say that this only made us even more furious.

. . . .

In the case of The Testaments, we were particularly disappointed because we had initially been promised the manuscript in March (just enough time to publish more or less simultaneously), only to later be told that we’ll have to wait until September 12.

Why is this so crucial? We will lose the global promotional momentum and lose face in the eyes of our readers, booksellers, and librarians: the book is published, so where’s the Slovenian version? Most of them will think that the publisher is rather sloppy and slow.

The bottom line: we will sell less. And this is as important for German publishers as it is for Slovenian, Slovakian, and Icelandic publishers. Literary bestsellers are extremely rare. Therefore, one must seize every selling opportunity, and publishing simultaneously with the original edition is an especially effective one.

Sure, there are those houses that will hire multiple translators to finish the translation in two weeks, enabling the hasty publisher to publish the book just in time for the Christmas season. But would you really want to see or read the result? Margaret Atwood is a very fine author, one of the best. Her books deserve a committed translator and proper editorial dedication. And this takes time. So here is another factor that speaks against this strategy—the author’s reputation is at stake.

Link to the rest at Publishers Weekly

PG suggests that large publishers are almost religiously attached to their superannuated ideas about how to promote and advertise the books they release. Based upon shared folklore that the world is breathlessly awaiting the next release from OldPub in New York, they believe that a relative handful of chosen bookstores and an exclusive review in The New York Times will move the sales needle like it did before most people buy books online and the Times print circulation is plummeting.

New York Times Print Circulation – Monday-Friday – Wikipedia

Amazon Under Fire for Breaking Margaret Atwood ‘Handmaid’s Tale’ Sequel Embargo

4 September 2019

From The Hollywood Reporter:

Margaret Atwood’s latest work The Testaments — the highly anticipated sequel to her 1985 best-selling novel The Handmaid’s Tale — is set to be released globally next Tuesday. However, a “retailer error” by Amazon broke the embargo, resulting in a “small number of copies” already ending up in the hands of readers.

Todd Doughty, Doubleday’s executive director of publicity, told The Hollywood Reporter in a statement, “A very small number of copies of Margaret Atwood’s The Testaments were distributed early due to a retailer error which has now been rectified. We appreciate that readers and booksellers have been waiting patiently for the much-anticipated sequel to the best-selling The Handmaid’s Tale. In order to ensure our readers around the world receive their copies on the same day, our global publication date remains Tuesday, Sept. 10.”

. . . .

The embargo breach has also created an outcry from independent booksellers on social media, including Astoria Bookshop owner Lexi Beach, who shared her frustration on Twitter. “There will be ZERO consequences for $amzn violating not just the fine print but the entire basis of this embargo agreement some exec surely signed digitally through Adobe Sign just like the rest of us did,” she wrote Tuesday.

Added Beach: “And the kicker is that $amzn will make hardly any money selling this book. Books (especially big splashy publications like this) have always been a loss leader for them. Whereas I and many other independent retailers are counting on this release to pay our bills.”

Link to the rest at The Hollywood Reporter

PG notes that embargos occupy a hallowed spot in the uninspired world of Big Publisher marketing.

Embargos are also breached with some regularity by people other than Amazon. PG is not the only one who suspects that publicity about the breaking of more than one embargo has been part of a publisher’s staged marketing campaign for quite a while.  Throw in the dreaded Zon and people become even more excited.

From The Washington Post, September 27, 2012:

The embargo on the J.K. Rowling novel “The Casual Vacancy,” reportedly one of the most draconian non-disclosure agreements in the history of publishing . . . did not quite work. ¶ Thursday is the release date for the first book for adults written by the empress of Hogwarts. Reviews were embargoed until 1 a.m. and book sales until 3 a.m. Since Rowling’s Harry Potter books have sold more than 450 million copies worldwide, the release of her new book — even though it is set in an unmagical British town called Pagford — is one of 2012’s largest publishing events. ¶ Thus, it is a test case for the common, if unloved, practice of forbidding booksellers from selling the book in advance of the embargo date, and forbidding media outlets from reviewing said tome before the date the publishing company decrees. ¶ The practice generally has several intents: to make sure books are in stores when readers hear about them; to retain the news revelations in nonfiction books; and to try to bottle up interest in big fiction titles, propelling them onto bestseller lists with an unusually high number of immediate sales.

“For franchise authors, you want to drive it to Number 1 by having everyone buy it the first week of release,” said Elyse Cheney, a literary agent in New York.

Rowling, who is nothing but a franchise author (she is the first in the world to earn more than $1 billion in book sales), added spice to this release with an unusually strict legal document that its publisher, Little, Brown, reportedly imposed on prospective reviewers.

The Independent in London reported a clause that not only required signees to hold off on sales and reviews but also forbade them to even mention a contract.

But — and this almost always happens — somebody got the book anyway.

The Associated Press and the New York Daily News (and perhaps others) said they managed to get early copies of the book, and they published reviews Wednesday. AP reported it did not sign the contract but “purchased” the book; the Daily News said the novel was “obtained.” Because they alone had reviews, those two organizations set the tone for readers’ perception of the book.

The Post and other news organizations observed the embargo, running reviews Thursday.

Just about nobody was happy.

“I couldn’t even get an embargoed copy to review,” said Dan Kois, editor of the book section for the online magazine Slate, which is part of The Washington Post Co. “They wouldn’t send it to us. They had very clear levels to this campaign.”

. . . .

The Post and the New York Times refrained from publishing their staff-written reviews online Wednesday, though The Post put AP’s review on its Web site. The Post’s executive editor, Marcus Brauchli, said he thinks the publishing industry is ultimately “fighting a losing battle.”

A spokeswoman for Little, Brown said she would have a company representative call for comment on this article, but no one had done so by press time.

This sort of struggle between publishers and media outlets has been small-arms combat for years. With some books, in which authors and publishers have signed exclusive excerpt rights with magazines or newspapers, there is a clear business mandate to preserve those rights and to keep others from writing about the material.

. . . .

Connie Ogle, books editor for the Miami Herald, and LaFramboise, the Politics & Prose book buyer, both noted a similarity between some embargoed titles and B movies that are not made available to critics for pre-screening.

“There is a core audience that is going to go see the movie or read the book anyway,” Ogle said, “and those films or books often tend not to have a long shelf life.”

Link to the rest at The Washington Post

Is a “Personal Relationship” with Authors What Readers Want?

19 August 2019

From Anne R. Allen’s Blog:

The latest trend in online marketing is building a “personal relationship” with customers and readers. Sending newsy emails about your fab summer vacation isn’t enough anymore. Now you have to ask them about their fab summer vacations.

This is supposed to let readers know you really care about them.

Does it?

Speaking as a reader, that would be a…not so much.

I read lots of books. Do I want all those authors clogging my inbox, trying to be my BFF? Nope. Not even if it’s Margaret Atwood. If she really cares about me, she’ll write another book, not have a virtual assistant send me a faux-friendly email.

As an author, it all makes me want to cry. How can a working author find time to be pen pals with thousands of readers—even with robotic help?

. . . .

In this current marketing scenario, the author/vendor offers a bribe, like a free ebook (called a “reader magnet”) in exchange for a potential customer’s information. (And recently many vendors have dropped the freebie, and the “magnet” is simply the privilege of entering a website.)

Once they’ve got your deets, they’ll hammer you into a “personal” relationship with their robots whether you want it or not.

. . . .

The plan goes like this: once you’re on the hook, the author or vendor sends an immediate automated email that asks friendly questions like:

  • What books do you read?
  • Where do you live?
  • What do you like to do?
  • Yoga? And when are your classes?
  • Oh, so you’re out of the house on Tuesday evenings between 7 and 9?
  • Where do you keep your valuables?

Kidding aside, not everybody feels warm and fuzzy when asked personal questions by complete strangers. The line between “friendly” and “invasion of privacy” can be a thin one. When you cross it, you are going to have less than positive results.

. . . .

And somehow unsubscribing takes weeks, if it happens at all. (I still get emails addressed to “Dear Unsubscribe Me You Morons.”)

And unsubscribers are also subjected to a major guilt trip. “Where did we go wrong?” one site asks if you try to leave. Or you have to hit a button that says: “I’m not interested in becoming a published author,” or “I prefer to remain ignorant.”

Link to the rest at Anne R. Allen’s Blog


Next Page »