Reader Engagement to Be the Next Big Thing

Amazon ™ just today announced in a letter to its authors, that instead of their previous method of reimbursing authors for borrowed books, they are moving to a system that awards a certain amount per page of the borrowed book that was read. Few authors realize how often a book -in fact this is true even more so with bestsellers – does not get read.

People buy a best selling author because everyone else is buying it: word of mouth, reviews, and several obtuse factors (“I want it on my shelf”) can all lead to the purchase. But often there is not enough due diligence.  Too frequently there is not any questioning about whether you would actually enjoy reading that best seller. Indeed romance readers are far more likely to read to their HEA ending of a romance, than the typical best seller.

But as Amazon with its KU (TM) program and others move to reimbursing authors based on reader involvement, the question becomes, how will worth be translated into metrics like pages read? Will pictures count for 1000 words, or none? That will effect coffee tables and children’s authors.  Will dialogue-intensive genres like romance get a bonus (i.e, more pages) or, as I expect will happen with Amazon’s page count method, will they be penalized?

As a writer of mostly nonfiction, I wonder what will become of information intensive books in which chapters 10 and 13 may be more compelling than  Chapter 3? I have faith in technology to be able to eventually handle these issues, but in the interim, when retailers make business decisions based on imperfect technology, this could really impact the field, more than people imagine. Will the next James Joyce give up because his readers put the book down after 8 pages, only to pick it up a month or two later?

Overall, I think that big data will win the most from this, and it will be a way to commoditize writing content, that the distributors have only dreamed of until now. Will writers make two cents a word (at least for borrowed books) or three, and will an upstart company, paying more per word, be the next Amazon? It is a slippery slope that the retail giant has embarked on, and it depends on Jeff Bezos and his peers, and how well they play their hand, and whether a free market economy can bring out the best in writers. I believe this move could easily be the kind of over reach that opens the door to more competition, buy we shall see.



Independent Publishing in the Year 2015

I mentioned in a previous post that I was planning on self publishing my upcoming Non-Fiction book Overcoming Anxiety, and I noted the changed landscape of the publishing industry. I promised to update and share the information I learned as I picked it up. Reader beware, at the speed of a flash, these things are changing so everything I say here will be outdated by the time I push the publish button on WordPress.

One most noticeable difference is that Discoverability is now the buzz word. There are millions of digital books flooding the market and the gatekeepers have changed.  While previously you needed to send ARC’s to bookstores and newspapers, the gold standard was Publisher’s Weekly and New York Times. You also wanted your legacy publisher to buy you shelf space near the front of the store. Blogs were a nice niche place to get reviews, but they were often seen, with the exception of a few of the bigger ones, as rather frivolous and really nor important.

in 2013-2014 it became more necessary to get plenty of reviews, to get promoted on a site know as Bookbub (which reached over a million digital readers and could be targeted), and to write series, as they were the engines of online sales. For reasons I won’t go into now, even that changed and independent publishing got much harder. It no longer was a gold rush.

Bookbub‘s success (it now reaches over 2 million subscribers) meant that it had to get picky and expensive. You still made your money back and more if they “picked” your book but it was an expensive outlay for the struggling indie author. But getting picked meant, among other things, that you needed at least five substantial reviews, a certain length of book, and the most convincing book description, since you were often competing with 19 other authors for one opening (nowadays there is no specified number, but in a recent Q and A on Kindle boards Bookbub admitted that in a competitive area like contemporary romance, typically 100+ reviews were the norm

To make matters harder, how was a new independent author to get all those reviews? The multitude of authors with whom you are competing all turned to niche blogs to get reviewed, which worked for a while, but then all these bloggers were swamped with books to read after they came home from their day jobs.  Soon getting five reviews in the first few weeks became hard, and when the goal posts moved again (Bookbub‘s success squeezed your success out) – there was no way to get 100 reviews, except by giving away free books in the tens of thousands.  The free giveaway worked briefly for increased sales and definitely for more reviewers (including more negative ones) but Amazon changed the algorithms and the way affiliate referral were made, and so free books, while still a good idea with a series, became much less useful.

When I return to this topic I will talk about the trend to lend (especially on Amazon) instead of sell, and to other issues only briefly touched on here.

What are Hub Pages?

I recently was helping a friend (and author) find some freelance writing work, and she started writing an article for hubpages. She found that they are a legitimate venue, and they have not yet been anything but professional.  If you are looking for a way to get a little extra cash and know something about writing, then (with some patience) this type of effort could be a source of a small steady addtional income.

They pay by sharing revenue from advertisements, so it is not a lot of money, but for those who do not have time to monitize their website it is worth a look. Thier tutorial is clear and helpful at the above link.

To sign up to use hubpages, to make money writing,  go to this sign in page . Another place to consider is  Be forewarned, both of them take some effort and patience.  At elance you bid for jobs and fulfil the contract if it is awarded to you.  On the hubpages, you just publish something and then, if you get the hang of it you will see some passive money coming in several months down the road, assuming you have good content. Consider that for a little bump up for a writer’s pension. For every thing you write, with any skill and luck you might get, on average about 8-12 cents a day down the road. So if you wrote one article a week for the next 5 years, you could be looking at about an $800/ month writer’s “pension” in that you would receive passive income from it. Of course it takes a little more effort than that, but you get the general picture.

Published in: on October 16, 2010 at 12:30 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Friends or Fans? Social Networking Basics for Authors

one of my friends

one of my friends

Social Media for Book Promotion, Part III

People new to social media often get confused when it comes to what the internet means by “friend.” In the following post, I help explain the basics of how to establish a thriving network of friends and other contacts on the internet.

Anyone who uses social media to keep track of friends and colleagues in the same way they used an address book, are pretty much missing out on web 2.0 — and they are making a mistake similar to the kind made by those who shy away from using a word processor when writing books, or from emails when they are penning letters.

Friends in social media websites are the backbone of the networking potential unleashed by the web, and the “tail that wags the dog” of the new media. Making good use of effective social networking makes sense, especially for anyone with something to promote.

Buzz Builder

But celebrities and authors have another challenge, one of harnessing their fans as a “word of mouth” resource.

Getting Started

When you first sign up for sites like Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter, you will quickly discover that you need to figure out this “friending” thing. After you have created a profile, with some relevant information about yourself, you can select other users of the same site to be your “friend,” if you want to have a connection. The rationale for asking for and accepting someone as a friend/connection can range from a weak shared interest, to intimate bonds of trust, but one thing that you need to remember is that it will be fairly public.

Whom should I add as a friend?

Friends and family of course, for starters. But other kinds of people can and should be your friends on social media sites. What other type of person you want as a friend may well vary from site to site.

Freud Friend

Freud Friend

On a site like Linked In, where the emphasis is on connections in the professional arena, you will want to be sure to add friends who are from your professional life. For authors, that means publishers, agents, reviewers, distributors, book sellers, publicists and such. But it helps if the people you add in a site like that are well connected in the industry.

An author may well choose to use a site like Facebook and/or MySpace to inexpensively and easily keep in frequent contact with fans, or even with readers with similar tastes, who may well become fans of your book sometime well after they become fans or followers of you. And this may be a good place to stay in touch with your peers as well.

On still other sites, such as Digg or StumbleUpon, friendship means something else, or at least it serves a different additional purpose. On social news sites and similar venues that recommend things of interest – a funny video, a thoughtful commentary, a useful website, a great tutorial, a pithy blog comment –for these sites, friends are primarily useful as collaborators. It’s a culture of “you scratch my back and I will scratch yours.” If you plan to use these sights to champion anything you wish to promote or “shout out,” then you need reliable and persistent friends who will help you get your impact.

Can I really ask a stranger to be a friend?

Most certainly, some people prefer to have only close friends and maybe family as their social networks, and yet others want literally 1000’s. Some choose to have one site which they use for closer relationships, and then use Facebook to reach out to the universe. It’s partly a matter of style, temperament, and what you’re looking for. But if you are planning on using the web to advance your career, or publicize your novel launch, or promote your blog, you will want to start connecting to a wider group of people.

Here are some basic steps to get you started adding friends you know:

1. Invite your email list address book (yahoo or gmail, etc.) to become a friend. Most of the major sites will make this easy for you if you feel comfortable letting them have your password.
2. Put a link to your profile on your website or blog, if you have one, inviting people to friend you.
3. In many sites you can search classmates, people at places you have worked, or people from your hometown, to see if there are any familiar faces.
4. Put a link to your socail media site or sites in the signature of your email.
5. Join and participate in some groups, at each of oru sites; you will make friends.
6. Once you have a few friends, you can look at their profile. In most cases you can see who their friends are as well, and some of them are often people you know in common.
7. Accept the friend requests that come your way. If the new friend turns out to be selling something you wouldn’t dream of owning, you can simply remove them as your friend.

How About Approaching People I Do Not Know?

If you have carefully read a site’s spam policy, (so you don’t misuse these ideas), it is perfectly all right, in fact it is standard in social media sites, to befriend people whom you do not know. It is always polite to include a small note saying what prompted your friend request, but this is a matter of etiquette and not a requirement. Usually you ask someone to be your friend because they are a friend of a friend, and/or something about their profile interests you, or because you share a professional or personal interest, entertainment taste, or common goals, values or ideas.

How does an author connect to his or her fans?

In addition to the standard friendship steps, authors may want to attract their fans. You can advertise or promote in order to do that, but I suggest you save your money. If you already have 50,000 readers, you can expect at least 5,000 of them already are, or soon will be, on sites like Facebook or MySpace. You can locate them by searching their profiles. Most people list the kinds of books they like to read, and also cite specific author or book favorites.

Romantic Comedy

Romantic Comedy

Start by searching for your own name, in quotes, or one of your more popular books. So for example, Romantic Comedy author Charlotte Hughes should search for “Charlotte Hughes” (the quotes are important, don’t leave them out), as well as some recent books like “What Looks Like Crazy” and “Nutcase.” You will get a list of everybody on the site who said she was their favorite author, or who has mentioned those books as favorites in their profile.

Next, to broaden the net you cast, you can search for your genre. In the above example, Charlotte would certainly want to see who said they liked romances, and also do a separate search for potential friends who like comedy. Since “What Looks Like Crazy” was sold on the mystery shelves, she would also want to search for mystery. Problem is, each of these genre searches will give you way too many potential friends, and you might want to narrow it down. You could require, in the search, for example, that they have mentioned that genre and be from your home state. More practically, why not become friends with people who share your genre, and who live in the cities where you plan to have your next book tour?

Try Joining and Participating in Some Interest Groups

One other obvious source of new friends is from the various interest groups that form on the sites you join. If you have a dachshund or two, and love them, there is a good chance you will make a few new friends, among the 5000+ people who belong to the Facebook Dachshund Lovers group. Authors might enjoy, and make new friends in the various groups that are focused on writing, or their genres, or related areas such as book publicity or publishing.

Once you have over a hundred or so fans, you can relax a bit, because, if you are a good writer, and people enjoy your book, you will start to also get friend requests, especially on Facebook, where they give you friend recommendations of people whom “you might know.” There is a good chance you will have a lot of “friends in common” with people who share your interests, so you will be suggested by the site to others over and over again, or people will read about your activities on their friend’s site.

How Many is Too Many?

There is some research that shows most people do best when their network of friends is no more than 150. If your goal is to become closely interconnected, 150 is a good target, if that is your style, and you will actively network with these friends. But if you plan instead to gather your fans or readers there, then there is an upper limit (several thousand) to the number of friends you can have on some of the sites. There are ways around that problem and we will be touching on that again in later posts.

How Can Friends Create The Buzz to Sell a Book?

Now that you have a ton of friends, how will that help you sell any books? The next several posts will introduce you to five important sites on the social media web where you should begin; we will touch on how to make use of what each has to offer if you are producing something of value, like maybe a book that you feel deserves to be a best seller. Then after we have grounding in the basics, we will move on to a more advanced understanding of how social media connections drive the new media.

For other artcles in the series:
Part I: Overview of Social Media: New Opportunities for Book Promotion
Part II: Five Best Sites for Your Book Promotion

PR Notes

The Brooklyn Book Festival which is this weekend, features famous names ranging from Jimmy Breslin to 2008 Bobi Literary Award winner author Walter Mosely.

Todd Defren blogging at PR Squared discussed whether or not Bloggers are media. His conclusion- that we are something more, is worth pondering. Most effective bloggers not only know how to work the 24/7 news cycle and the information behemoth once known as the internet, but also we know how to swim in the living breathing Web 2.0. In addition to being knowledgable, we are also on the cutting edge of the culture. That’s a far cry from “reporting.” We are the leaders and they are the followers — reporting, more often than not.

The Book Tour Blog, a California based blog that was started by authors anounced a partnership with IndieBound, a socially conscious movement that suports Independent Bookstores. This should mean author events at their stores will be automatically added to their calendar.

Initial post, musings and introduction

As a psychologist, teacher, publicist, author and ranked online poker player, I have a little to say about a lot of things. I intend to use this blog as a way of musing and commenting and will post to categories for books and authors, psychology, publicity/promotion topics, poker and other areas by category but many of my posts will be across several areas and so more general, or on topics far affield such as politics.

None of my comments are offered in a professional sense. I am not writing as a psychologist with prescriptions for improved mental functioing based on research in my field nor am I diagnosing George Bush (thankfully never met him) when I say he seems to be on a dry drunk..Nor am I working as a publicist if I praise or pan a book or a teacher as I share information I stumble accross. So let me be clear, this is not a professional website. I do not spend much money on it, and it reflects my personal and not my professional veiwpoint on wide ranging issues, While me expertise in poker, pschology, and writing/promoting invariably  effect who I am and what I believe, I will charge for my professional opinions. These are free for what its worth, although I still maintain the copyright claim. You have my advance permission to quote anything I say, so long as you provide a link back from it to your website, or if you print it, a referenece to the URL (