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Monday, December 14, 2015

A Certain Level of Wisdom

Yesterday When I Was Young
Tonight's topic goes outside of the publishing industry block and concerns itself with 'other life stuff' - although it is related to published words (delightfully crafted) that can only come with age and experience.
"Hier Encore", whose original French title translates as "Only Yesterday", is a song written by Charles Aznavour and released in September 1964. [1] It was subsequently released in English as "Yesterday, When I Was Young", in Italian as "Ieri Si", in Danish as "Hvor tiden går", in Japanese 帰り来ぬ青春, and in Spanish as "Ayer Aún". It is considered one of Aznavour's greatest hits.
The English-language lyrics, were written by Herbert Kretzmer. 
This post is taken from a recent Facebook posting of mine.
The words to this thoughtful poem and song about life hit me especially hard today:

Yesterday when I was young,
The taste of life was sweet as rain upon my tongue,
I teased at life as if it were a foolish game,
The way the evening breeze may tease a candle flame;
The thousand dreams I dreamed,
The splendid things I planned
I always built, alas,
On weak and shifting sand;
I lived by night and shunned the naked light of day
And only now I see how the years ran away.
Yesterday, when I was young,
So many happy songs were waiting to be sung,
So many wayward pleasures lay in store for me
And so much pain my dazzled eyes refused to see,
I ran so fast that time and youth at last ran out,
I never stopped to think what life was all about
And every conversation I can now recall concerned itself with me, and nothing else at all.
Yesterday the moon was blue,
And every crazy day brought something new to do,
I used my magic age as if it were a wand,
And never saw the waste and emptiness beyond;
The game of love I played with arrogance and pride
And every flame I lit too quickly, quickly died;
The friends I made all seemed somehow to drift away
And only I am left on stage to end the play.
There are so many songs in me that won't be sung,
I feel the bitter taste of tears upon my tongue,
The time has come for me to pay for Yesterday
When I was Young.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

2015 Digital Publishing Trends

The Data Conversion Laboratory (DCL) and Bowker have teamed up for their second annual survey on digital publishing trends and stats. Some cool data.

The results will be shown in colorful charts and graphs indicating statistics Re just who in the industry has published digitally, what genres were published more frequently digitally, the quality of digital works compared to print, etc.

Useful info that delves into some actual numbers. An interesting look-see into the digital publishing landscape.    

This news from E-ContentXtra: "The “2015 Digital Publishing Survey” shows that about 73% of respondents have published digitally (up from about 64% in 2014) and that about 45% have self-published. About 13% of respondents feel that ebooks are held to a lower standard than print books, but about 53% believe that the quality of digitally published content is improving.
Publishers are including quality assurance (QA) measures in their workflows: About 36% are performing self-checks, 36% are hiring editors, and 23% are performing QA before conversion." 

Excerpts from tonight's research article:

Many more categories of 2015 digital publishing data are presented in the 2015 Digital Publishing Survey

Please go read, ingest and enjoy :)

The Writers Welcome Blog is available on your mobile device here

Sunday, October 4, 2015

'Predatory Scholarly Publishing Practices' are Contaminating the STM Publishing Industry

For those of us who forgot, the STM publishing industry refers to the Scientific, Technical and Medical publishing field; generally encompassed within the academic journal genre.

I have long had an interest in the internal workings of the academic publishing field, due mainly to the enormous money making capabilities of the academic journal publishers and their shabby treatment of the researcher-authors (from whom they make their livelihood). Even to requiring the authors to pay an APC (article processing charge)! 

AND, mind you, the authors of academic research never receive a percentage of compensation based on article usage (for further research) or overall journal profit - even for a specified time. Talk about corralling intellectual knowledge into academic slave labor!

At any rate, tonights research article comes from Knowledge Speak, the daily intelligence resource for the STM Publishing industry and discusses 'a study conducted by researchers from Hanken School of Economics and published in the open access journal BMC Medicine, which sheds new light on the volume and market characteristics of so-called ‘predatory’ scholarly journal publishing.'

Key excerpts:

"The study shows the number of articles published in journals defined as such that have increased nearly eightfold since 2010. However, it concludes that the problem of ‘predatory journals’ is limited to a few countries where researchers are known to be placed under pressure to publish in international journals."

"The success of open access publishing, which has seen enormous growth in the last 15 years, has also seen the unwelcome development of what has become known as ‘predatory’ journals. These are APC-charging journals, which publish articles rapidly without proper peer review."

"In the past few years, there have been investigations or journalistic stings into ‘predatory’ publishing but very few systematic research studies. To address this, an empirical investigation was undertaken, which took as its starting point Beall’s List. Beall’s List is a blacklist of over 600 ‘predatory’ publishers and 400 individual journals compiled by the librarian Jeffery Beall based on a number of criteria that he believes reveal the true nature of such journals, for instance obscuring where the journal is operating from, faked editorial boards, and marketing unrealistically low delays from submission to publishing. The researchers utilized this list as the basis for their study, as it is currently the most widely known list available."

Read the rest of this insightful article: New study reveals characteristics of the ‘predatory’ scholarly publishing market 

The Writers Welcome Blog is available on your Kindle HERE :) 


Sunday, August 16, 2015

Corporate Publishing Booming on the Backs of Slave Wage Authors

Corporate Publishing Profiting
On Authors' Slave Wages
Sad to say, but, the corporatized publishing industry has no heart left! It apparently donated it to make room for balance sheets, algorithms, marketing deception and other faceless, detached, formulaic 'analysis-crunchers' to determine the probable success of an author's work. These so-called new tech 'advances' have replaced human, heartfelt, intuitive relationships between authors, agents, editors and other blood and flesh homo sapiens that actually considered little things like writing style, grammar, flair, character development, intuition, plot creativity and twists, etc., etc., etc. NOT TO MENTION the nurturing of newbie talent that can only take place between two humans who breathe and understand raw talent, creativity and their fulfillment through guidance, learning and experience.

I hate to say this, but it would be neat if ALL writers (from all fields) took a stand and ONLY self-published from now on!

Or, at least, until the true creators (product producers) get their rightful share of the profits! 

Tonight we will investigate the heartless, robotic state of modern corporate publishing and how its success is tied to the slave wages of authors. 

Tonight's research article “A Lament for Modern Publishing” was published in The Irish Times and written by Fiona O’Connor, a former Hennessy Short Story Prize winner. She lectures at the University of Westminster and is artistic director of St John’s Mill Theatre Company, Beaufort, Co Kerry

Key excerpts:

‘Publishing is a corporatised, market-driven, bottom-line privileging of the blockbuster, maintained by writers’ low-wage drudgery; in this case it is writers who toil for poverty-line rates with no security and few rights. Marketing is king, and critics absorb the advertising code: do not offend.’

‘In 2014-15 the British and Irish publishing industry turnover was £4.6 billion, up from £3 billion in 2013. Against this apparent boom the Authors’ Licensing and Collecting Society warns that authors’ incomes have collapsed. The median income of established professional authors is £11,000, down 29 percent since 2005. But the typical median income of all writers is less than £4,000 and declining yearly. Output of books is rising steadily: 185,000 releases this year in the UK and Ireland. The writer’s share of this Benison is about 2.8 per cent – that’s 28 cents on a €10 book.’

‘The Big Five publishing giants – Hachette, HarperCollins, Macmillan, Penguin/Random House and Simon & Schuster – point to the techno revolution, evidencing their struggle with even bigger monoliths such as Amazon as the problem, rather than their own exploitative tendencies. But it is in the nature of corporatism to externalise costs wherever possible. The costs of living as a writer get passed on – writers teach, edit, review, ghost-write, cab-drive, put out in myriad ways so that they may write the books that support the global corporate entity that is modern-day publishing.’

Read the rest of the research article and learn more about the vast difference between a seemingly buoyant industry and third-world income-streams for those generating the product – this is deeply appalling, actually.

Get The Writers Welcome Blog here

Research article: http://www.irishtimes.com/culture/books/a-lament-for-modern-publishing-1.2292101

Friday, July 3, 2015

The Scant Economics in Book Publishing

So few bucks!
First of all tonight, I want to wish all my readers a very happy and safe Fourth of July celebration. Happy Birthday, USA!

In this post I want to discuss a topic that we all probably know a little about - at least in part: The cash flow (or lack of it) in the current publishing landscape.

I just LOVE IT when I hear someones first person experience in publishing their first book. Especially from an experienced journalist or writer.

This scenario allows us to relate and learn from another's first-hand endeavors and will, hopefully, encourage questions and/or recommendations from others depending on their own past experience and position in the publishing food chain.

This from Thomas Lee, a San Francisco Chronicle Business Columnist:

Are there brutal economics in book publishing? Let me tell you...

Writing a book was like disappointing my parents all over again.

Like many Chinese immigrants, they wanted their only son to be a high-earning doctor or lawyer. Instead, he became a newspaper journalist who valued career satisfaction over dollars and cents. (Don’t worry, Mom and Dad, I sometimes wonder if I’m related to you, too).

So to my surprise, my mom was unusually excited when I told her two years ago that I was taking some time off to pen a book.

“Oh!” she exclaimed. “You make lots of money!”

I suspected she was confusing my project — a niche business book about retail and technology called “Rebuilding Empires” — with the work of J.K. Rowling: “Harry Potter and the Resurrection of the Big Box Store.”

Little did she know, there are some brutal economics underpinning the book publishing industry. As I would soon discover firsthand, most books — even those published by major houses like Random House, Hachette and Simon & Schuster — don’t make much money or any at all.

Blame it on a number of factors: the low-cost dominance of Amazon; competition with other entertainment venues like Netflix, cable TV and cineplexes; or the fact that I picked a niche topic in the business world.

In any case, an unknown first-time author like myself pretty much assumes nearly all of the financial risk.

I was actually one of the luckier ones — at least my publisher offered a modest advance. Many authors don’t even get that.

Not surprisingly, that advance disappeared quickly when I took a three-month unpaid leave to research the book. How else would I find the time to work on it?

Unless you’re independently wealthy, the choice comes down to begging your employer for a leave or not sleeping for the next 12 months. (Which happened anyway).

The publisher agreed to print about 5,000 copies, which it distributed to Barnes & Noble, Amazon and various independent bookstores and wholesalers. In order for the publisher to recoup its advance, “Rebuilding Empires” needs to sell 2,000 copies. After that, I get paid a percentage of the list price of each book sold, a royalty rate that gradually goes up the higher the sales.

That doesn’t seem so bad. But here’s the thing that most people don’t really know: Publishers have near-zero marketing budgets to promote your book.

It seems counterintuitive. To make money, you must spend money. Yet the author is ultimately responsible for spreading the word.

But maybe the book will build some momentum after positive reviews, right?

Think again. Outside major names like the New York Times and Los Angeles Times, the media hardly reviews any kind of book these days — never mind nonfiction business books like “Rebuilding Empires.”

The publisher recently sent me some sales data: since December, net sales for “Rebuilding Empires” (that is, sales minus the number of copies retailers ultimately shipped back to the publisher) totaled about 1,500 units and 100 e-books. Those figures also include international sales, from Great Britain, France, Canada, New Zealand (of all places) and Japan.

I’m actually pretty pleased with the results. Despite the lack of marketing muscle, “Rebuilding Empires” is considered something of a success, selling about a third of its printed run in just seven months and about 80 percent of the target set by the publisher to recoup the advance.

All in all, “Rebuilding Empires” will probably turn a profit, though I really can’t say when.
Until then, my mom will have to temper her expectations.

Read Thomas Lee's original article (with comments) in the San Francisco Chronicle.

The Writers Welcome Blog is available on your Kindle here :)


Research/Resource article: http://www.sfchronicle.com/business/article/Are-there-brutal-economics-in-book-publishing-6363578.php

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

IDPF, The International Digital Publishing Forum, Discusses Book Discovery Tactics

How many of us have even heard about the IDPF? Well, this forum has been around for about 16 years and was part of the 2015 Book Expo America Conference that was just held 26 thru 29 May 2015.

'The International Digital Publishing Forum (IDPF) is a trade and standards association for the digital publishing industry, that has been set up in order to establish a reliable and complete standard for ebook publishing.
This is the organization responsible for the EPUB standard currently used by most e-readers.
Starting from the Open eBook Publication Structure or "OEB" (1999), which was created loosely around HTML, it then defined the OPS (Open Publication Structure), the OPF (Open Packaging Format) and the OCF (Open Container Format). These formats are the basis for the common EPUB and Mobipocket ebook file formats (Comparison of e-book formats).
While the basic standards are now established (pages, hyperlinks, definition of table of contents, authors, etc.), some other standards intersect the hardware field, such as those for power and for features of the hardware reader devices, and are still undergoing change and evolution. Other standards for ecommerce (including Digital Rights Management protections), are tied to the way the ebook is sold or delivered, and are therefore controlled by the respective vendors.' - Wikipedia

The BEA's IDPF conference last Tuesday discussed ways/means and tactics of getting your digital books discovered in today's world of intense overload. There were a few golden book marketing nuggets thrown out at the conference. 

Tonights research source is from Publishing Perspectives and was written by Erin L. Cox and Edward Nawotka:

Where’s Waldo the Reader? Book Discovery Tactics from IDPF

Executives from Goodreads, HarperCollins, and Penguin Random House shared book discovery tactics in the age of overload at BEA’s IDPF conference last Tuesday.

When we talk about discoverability in sales meetings and publishing conferences, we speculate about how readers “discover” books, but, in actuality, readers are discovering, discovering, discovering all day.
A message that has been repeated throughout today’s IDPF conference is that readers are overwhelmed with content and media that they discover (just think of your last YouTube wormhole or the hours lost on Twitter/Facebook reading articles you didn’t know you would be interested in that were posted by friends), and books are no different. What publishers need to drill deeper into when they talk about discoverability is what Porter Anderson, Futurebook editor and moderator of “The Fracturing Book Discovery Landscape: How to Find Your Readers,” said, “[publishers] need readers to discover what we NEED them to discover.”
But, how and where and when do publishers do that to be effective? There doesn’t seem to be one answer to those questions. Instead, it depends on the book, the publisher, the budget, and the readers.
Amanda Close, Senior VP and Director, Consumer Marketing and Development & Operations Group, Penguin Random House said that publishers pick avenues to meet the reader either in a space where they might be thinking about reading or perhaps where they are not thinking about reading, depending on the book. “We really want to meet readers where they live and where they spend time and are thinking about other things. I think we are all thinking about how to get to readers and connect them with the brands, books and authors they really want to engage in,” she said.
Angela Tribelli, CMO, HarperCollins, said, “The most immediately valuable consumer for us has the highest intent to purchase. We need to know when to borrow audience, engage with the one that already is there, or whether to build our own. We might to think we are very close to that purchase intent. We want to reach all people who are reachable through traditional marketing channels. I’m interested in leveraging audience that we can reach on a day-t0-day basis.” As an example, HarperCollins created a partnership with the fast food chain Chipotle to feature quotes from more literary or philosophical writers such as Paulo Coelho, Barbara Kingsolver, and Amy Tan on the packaging of their food and also the partnership with JetBlue to feature their samples of their bestselling ebooks for free on the airline’s Fly-Fi Hub.
With the glut of content out there, curation is necessary for discovery, whether that be publishers working with a bookseller, media, or an individual reader recommending books to a friend.
Otis Chandler, CEO of Goodreads, best described the title of the panel — fracturing of the book discovery landscape — Goodreads now boasts 40 million users with 14 million books being marked as “to read” each month, many through recommendations from friends.
The focus for the company — which is owned by Amazon — going forward, will be focused on mobile. “What we are seeing now is ‘half-mobile.’ I have a challenge to try and never let a good recommendation get lost in the ether. We did a survey of our avid readers and found 48% are reading are reading on their mobile devices, and 80% were women. 1/3rd are using their mobile device as a backup device. That really opens up opportunities for marketers on how to drive into books.”
Publishers successfully tap into this audience of engaged, influential readers through print and ebook giveaways (though ebook giveaways tend to be less successful) and encouraging authors to share their recommendations. Chandler noted that authors are not leveraging their platforms enough. The core question is whether “people are people talking about books,” he said.
Can you define the quintessential influencers: micro-celebrities, authors, book bloggers and power users who have big influence in their respective genres. So, on the first ones, Bill Gates just released his summer reading list, “which is really interesting to our readers,” said Chandler, who also called out the work of Brian Johnson, an entrepreneur, who offers daily tidbits and tips on self-development from various books and other sources.
Much of what publishers tend to do is to tap into existing readers, but what of the “potential reader?” Peter McCarthy, Co-founder, Logical Marketing, advised publishers to look at the way people view their lives when they are not reading. Seeing that entirety of their lives will help define what books might be of interest to them that reading data points alone would not necessarily point to. “Reaching hardcore readers is more narrow-casting than broadcasting,” he said. “Digital media is about seeing the influence of the niche influencer — they have a big bat and when they swing, they swing hard. Look at something like programmatic advertising and other consumer goods and you find audiences who want what you have as soon as you publish it.”
The personal connection — whether that be through the recommendation by a friend or providing desired content in a space and format that a reader wants it — continues to be the best way to get readers to discover books.
The Writers Welcome Blog is available on your Kindle here :)

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Has Social Media Helped or Hindered the Publishing Industry?

When social media began to emerge many thought that it would destroy the publishing industry. But, actually, social media brought new sets of tools that 'matched content to reader likes, helped build communities and even build brands.'

It turns out, these social media inherent tools actually aided the publishing industry as a whole by providing springboards for distributing (and redistributing/re-posting by blogs and other communities) cool and in demand content.

Just how this is done is described in tonight's research/resource article written by Joe Hyrkin, the CEO of Issuu, a growing digital-publishing platform that delivers content across 18 million magazines, catalogs and newspapers:

How the Publishing Industry Has Learned to Thrive With the Social Media Industry

The conversation about how social media is changing publishing has been going on since the dawn of social media. Ten years ago, prognosticators were sure social networks would usher in a new era for publishing. Five years later, social media spelled doom for the industry as a whole.
Yet, instead of transforming publishing into a mass of niche blogs and feeds or bringing about the end of the business, social media has become a set of sophisticated tools for matching content to reader interests, growing communities and building brands.

1. Matching content to interests.

It is tempting to think of social media as a generic channel for broadcasting to the world. In actuality, social media enables the formation and maintenance of an almost limitless number of smaller communities, each organized around a relatively narrow theme. It empowers publishers by enabling them to market relevant content to these communities more effectively.
Instead of relying on a single front-page spread, for example, traditional publishers can tune their content for several different Twitter streams. By sharing  the right content to thoughtfully selected audiences, publishers can pique their followers' interest and increase traffic.

2. Social means community.

Another common misconception about social media is measuring the impact only by generated traffic. A great social media strategy certainly includes getting more visits, but the goal has to be about creating a vibrant and engaging online community. It is this community that will do the sharing that is critical to success.
Each social channel, from Facebook and Tumblr to Pinterest, has its own style of engagement. By optimizing content that best fits the community on each channel, a publisher can keep readers talking and engaging with content and drawing more attention.

3. A great brand requires great social.

You cannot measure the effectiveness of a brand with a simple cost-per-click metric, and you can’t easily evaluate your social media community this way either. But brands increase reader loyalty, enhance the efficacy of acquisition strategies and keep customers coming back for more. Publishers can leverage social tools to strengthen their brands and increase awareness; this requires consistent messaging and engagement with readers and viewers wherever they may be – exactly what is now possible with social media.

4. Another tool in your toolbox.

Has the death knell been rung for publishing? Far from it. The best distribution channel on the web is still more porous than the content it carries. Social media has led to significant consolidation and increased competition for eyeballs.
Publishers may no longer own both content and distribution, but content is still what matters.
This article was published in various online resources, including Entrepreneur 
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Research/resource article: http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/242595