Archive for the ‘In the Press’ Category
SEATTLE–(BUSINESS WIRE)– Amazon.com, Inc. (AMZN) today announced that it has reached an agreement to acquire Goodreads, a leading site for readers and book recommendations that helps people find and share books they love.
“Amazon and Goodreads share a passion for reinventing reading,” said Russ Grandinetti, Amazon Vice President, Kindle Content. “Goodreads has helped change how we discover and discuss books and, with Kindle, Amazon has helped expand reading around the world. In addition, both Amazon and Goodreads have helped thousands of authors reach a wider audience and make a better living at their craft. Together we intend to build many new ways to delight readers and authors alike.”
“Books – and the stories and ideas captured inside them – are part of our social fabric,” said Otis Chandler, Goodreads CEO and co-founder. “People love to talk about ideas and share their passion for the stories they read. I’m incredibly excited about the opportunity to partner with Amazon and Kindle. We’re now going to be able to move faster in bringing the Goodreads experience to millions of readers around the world. We’re looking forward to inspiring greater literary discussion and helping more readers find great books, whether they read in print or digitally.”
“I just found out my two favorite people are getting married,” said Hugh Howey, best-selling author of WOOL. “The best place to discuss books is joining up with the best place to buy books – To Be Read piles everywhere must be groaning in anticipation.”
Following the acquisition, Goodreads’s headquarters will remain in San Francisco, CA. Founded in 2007, Goodreads now has more than 16 million members and there are more than 30,000 books clubs on the Goodreads site. Over just the past 90 days, Goodreads members have added more than four books per second to the “want to read” shelves on Goodreads.
Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed. Subject to various closing conditions, the acquisition is expected to close in the second quarter of 2013.
I came across an interesting read on PublishersWeekly.com this week. It’s about four YA authors who got together and organized their own book tour.
Here’s a summary of the article:
- The touring authors – Martha Brockenbrough (Devine Intervention, Scholastic/Levine), Sean Beaudoin (The Infects, Candlewick), Kevin Emerson (The Lost Code, HarperCollins/Tegen), and Cat Patrick (Revived, Little, Brown) – are friends who met through the Seattle writing community.
- The “You Are Next” tour, a nod to what the group calls “the next generation of books for the next generation of readers,” launched in January, with visits to schools and bookstores in Las Vegas, and San Francisco, and Portland, Ore.
- To chart their itinerary, the authors brainstormed about West Coast cities they’d like to go to and bookstores they’d enjoyed visiting in the past. They contacted booksellers to arrange store and school visits, and circulated flyers announcing the tour.
- The tour will next touch down in greater Los Angeles, where the quartet will make several store appearances during the week of March 25.
- Capping off the week is a visit to Disneyland on March 30, when they will be joined by several other YA authors, plus bloggers, librarians, booksellers, and fans for a day of play.
- At each stop on the You Are Next tour, which the authors are publicizing through its Facebook page and through their respective Twitter feeds, the authors offer a panel presentation that involves significant audience participation.
- The authors show embarrassing photos of themselves (“including but not limited to prom photos,” she says), read from their books in voices mimicking those of celebrities, and give kids prizes if they guess correctly which “fun facts” pertain to which authors.
What a brilliant idea! These four YA authors came up with an innovative way to get their books in front of their target audience … and have fun all the while. I’m not sure who is paying for this trip — or how much the total cost will be — but this should be a model for authors everywhere.
Communicate with other authors in your genre. Think of them as idea-generators, not competitors. Together, you can think outside the box and come up with creative ideas like these four women did.
I need to start this post with a confession. I build author websites, not apps. So I’m a bit biased in writing this post. That said, I’m going to do my best to give you an honest opinion on this issue, with quotes from others in the field who know more than I do about apps.
Okay, now that I’ve got that off my chest, let’s start by defining both websites and apps. Most of you use both of these on a regular basis, but may not be totally clear on the differences. For example, you might read news on the NY Times website or you might get highlights on the top stories from the NY Times app. In cases like this one, they’re almost one in the same.
But when it comes to authors, there are distinct differences between the two. And it’s important that you understand these before deciding what you’re going to spend your money on.
The first — and most important — difference to understand is that websites are used for browsing, and an app is a bit more of a commitment. For example, when you’re looking for a good restaurant in the area, you may use your favorite restaurant app. You would then click on the links to some local restaurants that you’ve never tried and “browse” those restaurants’ websites. Let’s say you then pick a restaurant for the evening and absolutely love it. You may decide later on that you want to download that restaurant’s app, through which you can regularly browse the menu, order meals for pick-up, etc…
See what I mean? A website is something that you “visit.” An app is something that you use regularly.
When a LinkedIn member recently started a conversation about whether or not authors should create apps, there were a few interesting responses. The one that I found most helpful was from Kristen McLean, Founder & CEO at Bookigee, Inc.
She said, “Apps are costly, and will generally not return their cost unless you have a good way to promote them, or you make it so awesome that it will spread virally. I have yet to see an app related to a specific book that has performed this way. So, I guess this is a long winded way of saying ‘No, I don’t think so.’”
So does this mean that an app is a bad decision for all authors? That they should all build websites instead?
I would venture to say that’s pretty much the case for 95% of all authors today. After all, what’s the purpose of your author website? Chances are, it’s to sell books. And most people who visit your site probably are first-timers. The purpose of your site should be to entice readers to stay, to read an excerpt, and to buy the book. You’re probably a long way from having a list of loyal readers who will be willing to download your app — be it free or for a minimal cost.
That said, even Kristen says that there are a few exceptions to the website-not-apps rule. For example, if…
1) You’re an app developer yourself, and you can build it with very little cost
2) You’ve got a project that is inherently “transmedia” in that it would benefit from some of the things you can’t do in books but can do in apps. Examples would include adding movies, animations, or game-like interactivity that moves the story forward in unique ways. Examples Kristen gives include Inanimate Alice-http://www.inanimatealice.com and Moonbot’s http://morrislessmore.com/);
3) You are Amanda Havard. http://amandahavard.com/immersedition.Yes, if you’re already a bestselling author, you probably have a whole slew of fans ready to download your app as soon as it’s released. If you’re a self-published author just getting started … not so much.
Now, none of this means that you have to choose between an author website and an app. In an ideal world, you’d have it all: websites, apps, social networking profiles, and e-books in every possible format. But in reality, you have a limited budget and want to use it wisely. In this case, think of an app as something that might be great for you to add down the line, but not a must just yet.
In today’s world of social media, some people like to proclaim that “email is dead.” They’re wrong.
But all of this does mean that you might need to work a little bit harder at making your email efforts successful.
Here are five things to keep in mind, courtesy of Internet & Marketing Report, as you build an email campaign to promote your author website and your book.
1. Pay attention to your subject line. Remember: the email that you’re writing is essentially a marketing tool. So choose the wording wisely. For example, subject lines that include the word “exclusive” or touts the “top 10″ of something lead to a much higher open rate.
2. Treat email as a two-way street. Send out an email to your readership asking them to review your book (with a link for them to do so). Or encourage them to respond to your email with questions, which you can then answer in future blog posts. Emails asking people to offer their own opinions on things get a 39% higher click-through rate.
3. Always send a welcome email. Go ahead. Sign up for your own email list. What do you receive? How quickly do you receive it? By going through this process yourself, you will get a chance to see exactly what happens to your fans when they enter their email address. If you don’t have an automated email that goes out within a reasonable amount of time after sign-up, you’re likely to lose that person. “Sometimes they forget they signed up or flat out ignore companies’ email by the time the first one hits their inbox,” according to the report.
4. Clearly spell out what users should expect. First, you have to get someone to give you their email address. To do so, you must clearly explain what it is that they will be getting by doing so. For example, will they be receiving daily emails? Weekly emails? Or only emails when you have big news to share? Make this information very clear in the sign-up area, and then re-state the information, either in the “welcome” email or in a follow-up email.
5. Avoid clutter and long emails. Some people like to use their emails to readers as places to share their latest and greatest stories. But be forewarned: people probably aren’t going to read it. According to Internet & Marketing Report, here are some questions to ask yourself to find out if your email is too cluttered:
- Does it take more than 30 seconds to read?
- Does it look and feel like a full page on a website? Or worse … like a magazine?
- Does it have multiple calls to action?
If you answer “yes” to any of these questions, then it may be time to pare down your email efforts.
Okay, so I’ve worked with published authors for the last six years, helping each of them build their own, successful author website. But what I have never been until now is a published author. Now, I am … sort of.
I was recently contacted by a colleague, David Wogahn, who helps authors create e-books. I have sent many clients his way over the past few years, and vice verse. He was putting together a book about successful e-book publishing and asked me to write a chapter about developing a web presence. I was, of course, more than happy to do so.
Yesterday, I received the book in the mail. There it was, titled Successful eBook Publishing: The Complete How-to Guide for Creating and Launching. And I flipped my way to Chapter 37, Author Websites: From the Must-Haves to the Most Common Mistakes, with my own name as the byline.
So, of course, I encourage all of you to buy a copy of this book. I will never make a penny off of it, but I’m proud nonetheless. And if the book is as good as David is at what he does, then it’s a must-read for any author who wants to successfully publish an ebook.
This past week, Amazon added a new feature to the site. It’s author rank, and it basically ranks authors by books sold, much like it has always ranked reviewers for how their reviews are rated.
Amazon calls this new feature, which is still in beta, the “definitive list of best-selling authors on Amazon.com” According to Amazon, “this list makes it easy for readers to discover the best-selling authors on Amazon.com overall and within a selection of major genres.”
The information on Amazon Rank is updated hourly and is based on the sales of all of an author’s books on Amazon.com. The top 100 authors overall, and the top 100 authors in each genre, will be displayed at any given time.
Obviously, all authors are probably clamoring right now to figure out a) how they currently rank; and b) how they break the top 100 in their genre.
The first one is easy. Log in to your Amazon Central account and click on the Rank tab. The information there dates back to September 28, 2012 and you can see a cool chart demonstrating how your author ranking fluctuates from day to day.
As far as the second, there’s certainly no magic bullet that can make you J.K. Rowling by tomorrow. But here are a few ideas on how you can start climbing the Amazon Author Rank…
1. Sell your e-books at a steep discount. Obviously, reducing the price of your book will help you sell more copies, which can then increase your author rank.
2. Publish more books, short stories, etc… The Amazon Author Rank is based on the total number of sales of your books on Amazon. That means that someone who has published one book is going to have a much harder time climbing the ranks than someone who has published 20 short stories.
3. Market, market, market. Make sure that your Facebook page, your author website, your blog, and any other online publications include a picture of your book cover with an easy link to purchase the book through Amazon. It sounds simple, but you’ll be surprised how many authors make it more difficult than it should be for someone to click once and buy a copy.
Remember, the higher your rank, the more likely someone is to find your books. So it may be worth a little extra effort to get your ranking up a bit. You may never crack the top 100, but it’s worth a shot!
I came across a press release today about a new website/tool for authors, called Bublish, which claims to help connect them with new readers. If it works, it may become an essential piece of an author’s marketing campaign.
Here’s the press release. Decide for yourself if it’s worth delving into. And if you’ve signed up already, please do share your experience with us in the comments box!
Bublish Your Way to More Readers!
The biggest challenge writers face today isn’t finishing a book and getting it to market, but being noticed once they get there. So at WWW we get excited when a new platform demonstrates the sort of ingenuity that can help get books noticed in an ever-growing crowded marketplace.
The social book discovery and commerce platform Bublish fits that bill. Writers can join Bublish for free. You create a bio and upload your photo and book (Bublish requires the ePub format). You then add a book synopsis as well as links to your website and an online retailer, i.e. Amazon.
“My partner Charles Wyke-Smith and I are both writers,” says Bublish founder Kathy Meis. “We wanted to empower authors, to give them a platform to get the word out about their books. We wanted them to have tools to start conversations and draw interested readers toward their larger body of work and into conversations about their stories. As writers, we also knew that the platform also had to enable authors to create quality content fast, share that content across multiple social platforms efficiently and be simple for readers to share with others. What we came up with was the book bubble.”
Meis explains that there are a number of things that make the book bubble a unique piece of highly effective social content. “Bublish allows authors to chop their digital book into hundreds of small excerpts,” notes Meis. “Authors begin creating a bubble by highlighting the passage from their uploaded ebook that they wish to share. Next, they add their Author Insight. At Bublish, we call this the story behind the story. Think of it as a director’s cut for books. It’s a type of bonus content, and it’s a very powerful way to engage readers.”
“Finally,” says Meis, “the author shares the bubble on Facebook, Twitter or via email and at the same time the bubble becomes part of the Bubble Stream on Bublish.com. Three steps. That’s it.”
Of course writers can then also link their latest “bubble” to their other social media outlets, too — giving all their potential buyers an opportunity to read a passage and gain an insight.
For readers, book bubbles recreate online that quiet, enjoyable bookstore browsing experience that is becoming more difficult to find amid widespread bookstore closures. “No one sells you a book in a bookstore,” says Meis. “With Bublish, there’s no need for writers to say, ‘buy my book’ or ‘download your free sample.’ Instead, they can simply say, ‘enjoy this book bubble.’ If a reader encounters a bubble on Twitter or Facebook and wants to buy a book right from the bubble, they can. If they’re not inclined to impulse buy, they can explore the author’s website and learn more. The book bubble gives readers a lot to explore at their own pace.”
We especially like the author insights that let authors say a little about their book or the particular passage, a bit of “insider info” that lets readers get inside the head of the author.
“There is incredible downward pressure on the price of books,” says Meis. “Authors are going to have to sell more books over a longer period of time to make up for lower prices. This means relationship building will be key. Bublish aims to provide writers with innovative tools to engage with readers in meaningful but sustainable ways throughout their career. It’s a win/win situation for readers and writers.”
What does the future hold for Bublish? “We’ve only just begun,” says Meis. “We’re still in live beta, having just launched this past summer. As we build out our backend mapping tools, we’ll be able to see how readers are interacting with different book bubbles. Our aim is to be able to create a ‘contextual serendipity’ for book discovery.
“In other words, readers on Bublish will be introduced to new writers in the context of the genres and topics that interest them as well as through a social graph interested in those same genres and topics. It’s time to shake up book discovery, and we’re out to revolutionize how writers share their stories and readers find books they’ll love!”
I came across an article in my trusted Internet and Marketing Report magazine. In it, the manager of Brand Marketing for Gap clothing, Samantha Willems, was asked how to create good Facebook content and boost engagement.
Her answers were good, but what struck me was that they’re relevant to far more than Facebook. Follow these guidelines for just about everything you create content for — your blog, your tweets, etc…
Here’s an overview of her recommendations (in my own words, of course), customized a bit for authors…
1. Create a schedule … and then be flexible. Plan your posts in advance by creating the equivalent of an editorial calendar, but be ready to act if something newsworthy happens related to the subject matter of your content. Then post on that stuff ASAP.
2. Use multimedia. Text isn’t enough any more. Try to make your contributions a blend of audio, video, questions, and straight text.
3. Interact. I tell this to clients all the time. Your blog (or Facebook or Twitter) is not like an editorial column in a newspaper. It’s a conversation, and you’re making a mistake if you don’t treat it as such. Respond to comments and questions. Engage with your readers. If you don’t make them feel involved, then they’re not likely to come back regularly.
4. Treat readers as friends. Don’t make your content too marketing-centric. Nobody likes that … on any platform. Instead, remember that the web is one huge world of friends communicating with one another. Their voices are just as important as your voice. So treat your readers with the same respect that you would want to be treated.
See what I mean? Samantha is right about this being the best way to create compelling Facebook content. But what she didn’t mention is that these golden rules should be followed on every platform.
Today’s authors spend a lot of time blogging, tweeting, Pinning, etc… It’s practically become a requirement in today’s world of writing. But is it possible that the key to an author’s success lies in something much more basic and timeless: word of mouth? Possibly…
It’s important to remember that each genre of book is different. How a biography becomes successful (hot subject matter) is completely different from how a cookbook becomes successful (great recipes at the right time). And a novel? That’s a completely different beast entirely.
You see, when it comes to nonfiction books, it’s easy to get the word about your book out there to your target audience. They already are interested in the subject matter and looking for information on it, so all you have to do is get your book in front of them.
Fiction books are a completely different beast. No one goes on Google and searches for “the best novel.” Instead, fiction books generally become popular because people hear about those books from friends. When everyone else is reading it and/or raving about it, you want to, too!
Want proof that book reviews and/or book clubs are the secret to a fiction author’s success? Just read this Wall Street Journal article.
It talks about Kathleen Grissom’s debut novel, “The Kitchen House,” which came out in February 2010 and is now a huge hit. What took two years and how did it become so popular?
Here’s a paragraph from the article:
In an era when digital buzz is considered crucial to launching books overnight, it was old-fashioned book-club word-of-mouth that prevailed. The book is in its 21st printing, with 254,000 copies in print and 152,000 e-books sold, the publisher says. It has hit some best seller lists, and in July, giant retailers like Target and Costco began selling it; sales jumped 25%. An Alice Walker blurb now adorns a new front cover. Grissom’s $35,000 advance has been followed by “a couple of checks” for $100,000 each with more to come, she says.
How did she do it? Hint: It wasn’t her publisher. As a first-time author, her publisher wasn’t about to invest a lot of time and money into marketing her book. Just like most authors today, Kathleen had to do the work herself:
She sent advance copies to influential book bloggers, asking for a review. If she didn’t hear back, she’d bug them again. Eventually, bloggers began to read it and review it—positively. Book clubs, which pay attention to such sites, started contacting Ms. Grissom via her website. She often offered to speak to the club personally, sometimes driving there on her own dime, or to call in to talk to the groups. She estimates that she has spoken to as many as 50 book clubs over two years. She would also arrange for the nearby bookstore to have enough copies to accommodate the members. Word of mouth spread.
Today, Kathleen’s book is in most airports, on summer reading tables at Barnes & Noble, and will be prominently displayed in its stores throughout the end of the year, said Michael Selleck, executive vice president of sales with Simon & Schuster.
You see? Sometimes a little old fashioned hard work pays off. If you’re the author of a fiction book, build yourself an author website and then focus your time and energy on getting that book reviewed in as many places as possible, and encouraging book clubs to add your book to the reading list. Here’s to hoping you’ll be the next Kathleen Grissom…
When is a book not just a book? Well, today.
You see, a book used to be nothing but print on paper. But then e-books started taking off, and the traditional book became an electronic version of the same. Today, with all of the downloads and apps out there — which have numerous bells and whistles — the book industry is just starting to figure out that it needs to catch up.
According to a recent article on Wired, book publishers are trying to figure out how to make their titles more immersive in this digital world. In other words, they need to take what was once a reading experience and add audio, video and interactive components for their built-for-tablet books.
According to the Wired article, here are some examples of the initial authors and publishers venturing into this realm. Check these out … hopefully they can spark some ideas.
- Chronicle (a small publishing company) recently released an iPad app for artist Stephan Pastis’ comics series Pearls Before Swine.
- A few years ago, author Amanda Havard wasn’t able to find a publisher that could bring her book The Survivors to electronic life the way she wanted. So she and her father, L.C. Havard, a former executive for a company that developed technologies for the health insurance industry, formed a company called Chafie Press to publish her books and create digital offerings. The app version of The Survivors, the first in a series of five books, integrates audio files of the music her characters are listening to (some of it produced by Chafie), pictures of the designer clothes they’re wearing, links to the characters’ Twitter accounts (Havard mostly runs them herself) and Google Maps of the places they visit
- HarperCollins released an app for The Art of the Adventures of Tintin last year; Penguin Books also launched a much-lauded app of Jack Kerouac’s On the Road.
- An immersive retelling of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is also being released as an iPad and iPhone app on April 26.
As an author today, you have to do more than just put words on paper. When you start working on your next book, think about it as a three-dimensional experience. Think audio, video, graphics. Consider how readers can interact with the story. If you don’t keep these types of things in mind, you’ll probably fall behind the times.