Thursday, July 15, 2010

The World of Personal Publishing, Part 2


Welcome! I'm not surprised to see you here, today. Finding a cool spot to have an icy drink is the only way to ride out this heat wave.

I've asked Kristen Hackett from Offthebookshelf.com to join us, again. Last time, she described the concept and the purpose behind their new business. Today, I've asked her to explain how Offthebookshelf.com makes the connection between the authors who participate in their site and the readers. This is an important part of the picture for writers who want to find an audience for their work. Kristen, you have our attention.

"We developed a two-tiered marketing approach. Since Offthebookshelf.com is a relatively new business, we needed to inform authors of the opportunity to open their own virtual bookstores. Using social media, events and paid advertising with Publisher's Weekly and Writer's Digest, we began building our author base. In the few months that Offthebookshelf.com has been available, over 900 authors have signed up.

The highlight of this marketing program was the Great American Author competition, which just ended. Three winning authors will be announced on Offthebookshelf.com in August. These winners will have their books featured in our first television commercial. The television commercial will officially launch our marketing program to attract the readers to Offthebookshelf.com. We are also switching much of our social media efforts over to attracting readers now that the contest is over. Offthebookshelf.com is becoming the new hot marketplace for writers and readers."

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Thank you, Kristen.

Not too long ago, writers had only two options for getting their work published: being accepted by a traditional publishing company or using what has always been called a vanity press. Both options resulted in ink-and-paper books. The synergy of readily available computers, the internet, and publishing visionaries has changed that picture so much that it is hardly recognizable. Jeff Kagan expressed his frustration with the new environment in a comment to a Wall Street Journal article: "…As a successful businessman who is writing a book I find myself swimming in a sea of new ideas, competing claims and confusing choices as I try to understand this changing marketplace. This new world creates unlimited new opportunities, but for authors trying to decide which way to go it can be maddening. jeffKAGAN.com"

The article on which Mr. Kagan commented is entitled 'Vanity' Press Goes Digital. I highly recommend that you read it - carefully. It offers a number of "expert" opinions on the way the whole industry will shake out – some of them contradictory.

The one idea on which all the experts appear to agree is that traditional publishing companies have lost control of the industry. A writer has much more control over their work with this new paradigm, but with control comes the need for business savvy. As Mr. Kagan explained, even a successful executive may have difficulty in finding his way. This is a time for all of us to continue learning as much as we can about the business of publishing while we keep on polishing our writing skills.

We'd love to hear about your recent activity with publishing your book. Please leave a comment.

In the meantime, keep writing.

1 comment:

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