Category Archives: Debates

Debate: Social networking websites, useful for authors?

I can’t seem to open a marketing magazine at the moment without reading about social networking websites. But are they useful for authors? And for what? Networking with potential readers or within the trade? Which are the best sites?

I’m on MySpace, and I’m also a member of asmallworld and pelime, both of which are invitation only to join. Pelime has a specific focus on people working within the creative industries and there are dedicated forums to discuss writing and publishing.

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Book covers

Seen a book cover that really does shout “buy me” to the right audience?* Email me, and I’ll feature the best ones here with my own analysis of their marketability before Christmas.

*Yes, you can nominate your own cover!

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Debate: how long have you got to promo your book?

A current debate running on the Marketing for Authors email list is how long a shelf-life one’s book has got. Is it:

  • 2-3 months, while it’s in the shops
  • 6 months: who cares about the shops, there is Amazon
  • 1 year, if you can keep interest up
  • until you’ve a new book out

However, what also needs to be considered is how long you should be promoting pre-publication:

  • don’t be daft, no point promoting until it’s available
  • 2-3 months before, to get reviews and the launch party organised
  • 6-9 months before: need to get the website up and search optimised, MySpace, get blog up and running, video promo, adverts and media, booktrade PR, arrange book tour, try and secure speaking slots and major events
  • 1 year before: you can never start too early

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Why Marketing for Authors 2.0?

Answer: I probably read too much hype about the internet and the overused buzz word of 2006 is Web 2.0. There’s even a Web 2.0 conference going on at the moment. Look, I used to work for a dot com company. I had my first website in 1994. I guess I’m kind of interested in it.

But one of the things that struck me this week since I started this blog in 2005 is how the internet has developed even further for author marketing than just one year ago. More and more authors are active online. 2-3 years ago the online landscape to an author looked like this:

  • own websites
  • a handful of industry websites
  • email lists
  • discussion boards
  • chat rooms
  • and a new thing called blogs

Now to add to this we have:

  • social networking sites, e.g. MySpace
  • numerous niche communal websites, blogs and online communities
  • interactivity (i.e. streaming media) e.g. YouTube, video reviews
  • voice-over-ip e.g. skype

The internet is changing the communications landscape – and quickly – and this all has implications for authors. What’s niche today might be mainstream tomorrow. And the advantage of getting in on the niche? Well, your voice will be heard first before the masses move in.

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Debate: ebooks, are they worth it?

The ebook market in 2005 was worth $11 million U.S. dollars* and if growth trends continue should break $15 million in 2006. A multi-million dollar industry then, but still small fry. A small UK publisher with 11 staff and producing 100 titles a year has approximately this turnover.** The ebook market in 2005 published 5,000+ new titles. It doesn’t take a genius to work out that there’s less in the total pot per title. My ebook has brought in a few pennies. Kate Johnson, aka Cat Marsters, tells me her etitles earn significantly better. So what’s in it for the epublished author? Riches, if you promote? Or is the cost of promotion too high for the possible returns?

* Source: International Digital Publishing Forum

** John Blake Publishing

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