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Thursday, December 31, 2009

Playboy Passes Core Business Duties to AMI

Playboy is delegating advertising, sales, marketing, circulation and production to get lean and mean and return to profitability by 2011!

The venerable mens magazine is also being assaulted by the current economic times as well as technological multi-media advances (what ever happened to Mariyln Monroe ?)

Jason Fell of Folio Magazine reported the inside info on this Playboy re-structuring with some interesting, insightful figures:

During a recent earnings call, Playboy Enterprises CEO Scott Flanders said he was working on a joint venture to develop a new business model that would help Playboy magazine profitable again. Some details of that venture have come to light.

Playboy said it has agreed to farm out the magazine’s advertising sales, circulation, marketing, production and all other business operations to American Media Inc. Playboy will continue to oversee the magazine’s editorial operations.

AMI's Distribution Services, Inc. will handle Playboy's newsstand marketing and distribution services.

Roughly 25 jobs will be affected as a result, although some of those could be transferred to AMI. “AMI will be interviewing all of our employees in the areas being outsourced, and it’s not clear how many of them will be asked to join their company,” a Playboy spokesperson told FOLIO:. “We will also keep a few employees.”

Playboy will incur a $2 million restructuring charge in the fourth quarter related to the deal.

Financial terms were not disclosed. As part of the agreement, Playboy said AMI will be paid “negotiated fees” and will be incented to increase both advertising and circulation revenues. The publishers expect to complete the transition by March 2010. UPDATE: Under terms of the contract, AMI said it will be paid "potential fees" in the range of $5 million for advertising, circulation, production and related services. This, the company said, would result in profitability of approximately $2 million.

When asked about AMI's strategy behind boosting Playboy's ad and newsstand sales, and its plans for managing the magazine's recently reduced rate base and frequency, AMI CEO David Pecker had no comment.

According to Flanders, AMI will be able to manage the magazine operations “more effectively than we can as a standalone publisher. By joining forces with American Media, we will be able to significantly reduce our cost structure and leverage the economies of scale related to manufacturing, distribution and marketing that are available to this large, multi-title publisher.”

Flanders said Playboy magazine is expected to lose $8 million this year. This deal, he projected, will allow the magazine reduce the loss to approximately $5 million in 2010 and to reach profitability again by late 2011.

During the earnings call, Playboy Enterprises reported a $23.5 million net loss through the third quarter, down from a $13.6 million net loss in 2008. The company’s print/digital group reported a $900,000 loss through the first nine months compared to a $3 million loss during the same period last year. Flanders said he expects the magazine to report a 38 percent decline in ad pages during the fourth quarter this year.

AMI publishes several titles already targeting man aged 18 to 34 years, including Men’s Fitness, Muscle & Fitness and Flex. AMI also publishes Shape, Star, Natural Health and the National Enquirer.

It was not immediately clear how the agreement with AMI might affect a potential sale of Playboy Enterprises. The company has been said to be entertaining a number of offers, including one from London-based brand management firm Iconix Group. The Playboy spokesperson declined to comment on a potential sale.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Analysing the Global Ranking of Publishers

This great annual ranking will open your eyes to who REALLY are the biggest publishers on the world-wide stage, who their subsidiaries are and who owns who!
Just click on the rankings image to view in larger size.

From Publishing Perspectives by Rüdiger Wischenbart:

For the past three years publishing consultant Rüdiger Wischenbart has released a “Global Ranking of the Publishing Industry,” which looks at companies with revenues over $US250 million. Here is his analysis of the latest ranking, focusing on how the changing dynamics between the professional/science, education and trade sectors have have affected this year’s ranking.

It is a strange world we live, read and publish in. Among the top ten global publishing groups, just five have a significant presence in trade books: UK’s Pearson (with its Penguin group), Germany’s Bertelsmann, of course (with Random House and the ever ailing “Club” business), France’s Hachette Livres (which is also a strong player in education), Spain’s Planeta (the new kid on the block, having gobbled up France’s #2, Editis), and Italy’s De Agostini. Oh, and by the way, they are all headquartered in Europe.

This being said, many companies in the rankings are doing much better, both economically and in terms of re-inventing themselves. While the Pearson group performs remarkably well in comparison to most of its peers, the real powerhouse seems to currently be Thomson (now Thomson Reuters), last year’s #1, and currently #3. It slipped to this position due to last year’s internal reorganization following its merger with Reuters, the result of moving a major stake of its old information business into the new, news driven Reuters division and of selling off “Thomson Learning”, which is performing well under the newly established brand of “Cengage” (#13 on the list). Thomson’s traditional publishing arm, in this perspective, is still good enough to rank it #3 on the global scale.

The story also demonstrates a much more fundamental lesson about how “the book industry” has completely reoriented itself within just a few years when it comes to handling “professional information” (which includes STM, science, journals, and a lot of other pragmatically useful content). Today, this wealth of information is born digital, distributed digitally, and is not available in any bookstore near you.

This “professional information” has become the primary load bearing column in what amounts to a new global temple of knowledge.

Accordingly these “knowledge groups” prefer generating four out of five dollars (or euros) from an integrated digital value chain. Digital subscriptions, they explain to their stockholders, because they’re often sold to institutions, bring in a consistent flow of revenue, and are a much better financial bet than struggling to sell a single book at a time to an individual reader.

This new era of digital integration is a bit more difficult to cope with if you’re an education publisher. Pearson Education has taught everyone the lesson of how to sell content plus branding plus distribution plus services (i.e. testing and scoring materials) on a global scale. Recently, the dream of selling education has been the catalyst for other mergers and acquisitions in the sector. But this has merely resulted in companies faced with huge debts and few sound and sustainable business models. This is why, at least for the moment, education is an unstable column in our new global temple.

That said, there is a new and interesting publishing terrain out there. It reminds one of the famous Chinese curse: “May you live in interesting times,” which of course translates to unrest, uncertainty, famines, floods, and the like. It is important to note that in the field of education, the first major Asian global players have stomped into our temple of knowledge and proclaimed, “Here we are. We represent major markets with the potential for substantial growth, and, after having bought your content for quite a while now, we now want to play the game on a more level playing field!”

Companies like Korea’s Kyowon or China’s Higher Education Press have pretty strong arguments and opinions when it comes to “localizing” content (i.e. cultural adaptation) but also to the economics of it all. “We want to take our rightful place among you,” they are saying.

Only the third pillar of the temple — if we want to think of our industry in such classical patterns — is traditional “trade” publishing, or just plain books. Looking at the numbers among the global top 10 as well as further down the list, we see a steady decline in the revenues in trade. There has been no real drama as of yet; just a few percentage points falling off each year.

What’s interesting to point out is that a few ambitious winners can still be found in this otherwise flat environment. Penguin is pursuing a strong strategy, both at home and internationally, and has become the leading brand for global literature. There are also a few, new regional players vying for a larger role, including Planeta (as noted above), Denmark’s Egmont — which had a significant boost from Harry Potter, and has a significant presence in emerging genres like Manga and graphic novels — and Sweden’s Bonnier, which has substantial holdings in Germany. In this, Bonnier is like Holtzbrinck, Germany’s second largest group. They are less about bold growth and innovation than sustaining a relatively boring, if solid presence in the market.

So what is next? One thing is probably quite easy to predict: The combined forces of digital and economical change, together with globalization, will be hitting trade publishing sooner rather than later,that’s for sure. Couple this with the fact that people are now reading differently, for different purposes, in different contexts, and based on different economic rationales than was the case ten or even five years ago and we know something is about to occur.

What this means in detail is certainly more difficult to foresee. Take the example of professional (science) publishing. Wouldn’t consumers prefer to subscribe to a vast amount of (digital) reading that can be delivered online or via cable TV subscription for five dollars (or Euros) per month, rather than buying individual titles for a much higher price?

But what will happen if Internet or phone or cable TV providers consider reading as too small a niche to cater to? Or what if publishers balk at the idea of feeding their books into such pipelines? The likely outcome of that scenario is that trade publishing may be in for some serious trouble sooner than we think.

Some wise person once said that “making predictions is always a headache, particularly when it is about the future.” Which is why, for the moment, I can only offer a picture of the status quo, backed up by a few numbers, and with a history of a few years, at least, to illustrate a few trends. Digitization and globalization does not spell the end of publishing, or of books for that matter. But one thing is for certain: things won’t stay the same for long.

The “Global Ranking of the Publishing Industry” is an initiative of Livres Hebdo, Paris, researched by Ruediger Wischenbart Content and Consulting, and co-published with buchreport (Germany), The Bookseller (UK) and Publishers Weekly (US), with yearly updates since 2007.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Hearst's Digital Reach Grows

Advertising revenue for digital publications is taking off. And, subscription rates for online pubs is also climbing if Hearst's online magazine empire is any indication. The way they are able to tailor ads to specific targeted groups in different regions in the same issue is golden...

Amy Wicks, World Wide Digital, reports it this way:

GROWING REACH: With 26 sites and counting, Hearst Magazines Digital Media will launch a new vertical late next year that “is not one you’d expect from us,” noted Chuck Cordray, senior vice president and general manager. He added the URL already has been purchased but declined to provide more information. Next summer, the digital unit also will relaunch its teen network, which includes seventeen.com and teenmag.com.

And the digital space continues to attract new advertisers for Hearst, with ad revenue up more than 20 percent year-over-year. Cordray said the focus for next year will be on the retail category, which rose more than 50 percent this year. Cordray contended advertisers are coming to the Hearst digital network because, among other things, the package of sites on which the ads will appear can be customized depending on the audience a given brand wants to reach. “Ad networks usually can’t guarantee quality like we can, and they will alter placements across their sites,” Cordray said. “The nature of our content means the audience is very tailored.”

Meanwhile, the Web continues to be a greater source of subscriptions, with 3.3 million garnered this year versus 2.5 million in 2008. House Beautiful is one of the leaders, with more than 75 percent of subscriptions sold online.

Hearst magazine sites represent more than 40 percent of the total traffic in the digital network and 50 percent of its ad revenue. According to comScore for March through October, traffic across the total network was up 33 percent, including food site Delish.com. Traffic at Cosmopolitan was up 1 percent, Marie Claire was up 19 percent and Harper’s Bazaar was up 151 percent. Kaboodle, a nonmagazine site that focuses on fashion, was up 66 percent.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Should Famous Authors Bother with Traditional Publishers?

I came across the subject article by Hannah Johnson on Publishing Perspectives this morning. It appears that not only are new authors finding better opportunities away from traditional publishing paths, but established authors are too!

By Hannah Johnson

As mentioned in today’s lead article, author Timothy Ferris, author of The 4-Hour Workweek, gave a presentation at LeWeb about how his personal marketing efforts with online tools and social media put his book onto national bestseller lists, while his publisher’s efforts with traditional media were less effective.

Yesterday, Seth Godin released a free e-book online, and Steven Covey announced that he will give Amazon exclusive rights to his e-books for a year. More often, well-known authors are sidestepping the traditional path to getting published.

While this means these authors have to deal with more issues themselves, it also means a greater percentage of the profits. What value do traditional publishers bring to famous authors? What are the benefits of choosing an alternative path to getting published?

Let us know in the comments below or on Twitter using the hashtag #ppbonus.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Is Publishing Becoming a Minimum Wage Trade?

It's no secret today...many publishers are hurting to the point of hemorrhaging due to the (probably long over-due) upheaval in their industry caused by new technological advances affecting all logistics, suppliers, readers desires and, in the process, birthing new attitudes and procedures.

And NOT lost in all of this is the major publishing houses abandoning real artistry and content for superficial glitz vomiting forth from celebrities writing their own stories, mostly ghost-written anyway, for the sure buck. And expounding on and pushing the concept that a writer must have a "platform" before s/he can get published; in other words...forcing you into doing their job of marketing you into a position for a chance at successful sales!

This new-tech leveling of the playing field, if you will, has empowered new writers and authors in numerous ways...one of which is the fallout of self-publishing becoming much more professional and accepted...and fast; allowing the writer to cut out the middle man and pocket all, if not most, of the profits.

Anyway, now the entire publishing industry is being downgraded somewhat both in remuneration and prestige...

Phew! Let me get off my soapbox. Here is an editorial by Matt Kinsman, Executive Editor of FOLIO magazine:

Is Publishing Becoming a Minimum Wage Trade?

The memo received by BNP Media staffers this week alerting them to 25 percent salary cuts for the foreseeable future includes a line that jumps off the page almost as much as that "25 percent" figure: "Minimum wage will be the floor for this reduction."

It's a line that assures employees the company won't be cutting below minimum wage (which of course, would be illegal), and only applies to those support positions that may be hovering around minimum wage after the 25 percent cuts.

But still, are things so bad that we have to be assured now that salaries won't be cut to minimum wage? Salary cuts usually start at the top and the Henderson family (who owns BNP) have taken theirs as well. However, an associate editor making $40,000who is hit with a 25 percent salary cut is suddenly making $30,000. Forget trying to live on that in publishing capitals like New York City-that's a tough hit anywhere (BNP) is based near Detroit.

As publishers continue to make cuts to keep their businesses alive, they need to be mindful of labor rules and regulations in their state, particularly with employees below a certain salary level. As Southern Breeze editor Mark Newman noted in FOLIO:'s March issue, many high level employees (particularly editors) need to "stop being figureheads and do some work." But for those entry and associate level employees, for whom the historic trade-off has always been "low pay but great experience," the returns are getting harder to justify.

The company leaders who impose these cuts will need to balance their contribution margins against the eventual pushback: The unwillingness of their teams to tolerate major pay cuts even as they're being asked to do significantly more work. It's a dangerously narrow line to walk.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

And All Through The House EVERYTHING Was Stirring

Here it is Christmas Eve!...And the house is FULL and all kinds of commotion and yakety yak going on...All I can think of to say is:

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to everyone! May you ALL be blessed this joyous season in all possible ways...


Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Seven Things I've Learned So Far: A Series For Writers By Writers

This post gives a link to a new series being posted on A Guide To Literary Agents Blog that gives good advice to writers from other writers:

There is a new recurring column they're calling "7 Things I've Learned So Far," where writers at any stage of their career can talk about seven things they've learned along their writing journey that they wish they knew at the beginning. This installment is from Debbie Fuhry, inspirational fiction writer.

Debbie Fuhry is a writer of inspirational fiction. She has a website and runs
the blog Grace is Sufficient. Her seven points are:

1. Look before you leap. Don’t immediately sit down and start typing as soon as you realize the story in your head might be turned into a novel. Go ahead and make notes so you don’t lose your train of thought, but then take time to study a few of the books on the art of fiction writing.

2. Don’t be cheap. The old saying is still valid, “You have to spend money to make money.” Be willing to spend money—think of it as an investment—on books, magazine subscriptions, memberships to professional associations, and writers’ conferences.

3. Find a writing group. In addition to joining a professional association, look for a smaller group that meets locally. You will be encouraged by spending time with others who share your goals and interests, and you can often learn a lot, too. Such groups often include critique sessions. You will gain from having your own writing critiqued as well as from listening to the members comment on others’ work.

4. Make the best use of writers’ conferences. Attend a conference with the primary goal of listening and learning. Many writers attend their first conference with purposes of pitching their novel and making contacts. You will miss some of the best opportunities a conference affords that way.

5. Don’t bypass the agent. It’s natural to think, “If I sell directly to a publisher, I won’t have to hand over 15% of my earnings.” Setting aside the fact that plenty of publishers will not accept unsolicited submissions directly from writers, a good agent knows the legal and practical end of the business and most writers do not. Also, an agent can offer a layer of quality control between you and the publisher.

6. Cheer on other writers. It’s easy to be envious of others' success, and if you feel that way, acknowledge it and move on. It’s something else entirely to be resentful about it, and usually indicates that you feel as though another writer’s success somehow diminishes your chances. It doesn’t.

7. Keep your expectations in line with reality. While it’s fine to be able to dream about writing multiple bestsellers, be realistic. Only a tiny percentage of authors are that successful. So keep dreaming and keep working toward your dreams, but don’t quit your day job yet!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Lebhar-Friedman Sells Dowden Professional Publications

Publishing Executive, FOLIO and other publishing industry sources have reported that Lebhar-Friedman, an 80 year old B2B publisher, has indeed sold its medically oriented Dowden Professional Publications Division.

FOLIO's Jason Fell reported:

Trade publisher Lebhar-Friedman has sold Dowden Professional Publications to multimedia communications company Quadrant HealthCom Inc. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Included in the deal are Dowden’s four medical journals: OBG Management, Current Psychiatry, The Journal of Family Practice and Mayo Clinic Proceedings. Also included is its events division.

According to Lebhar-Friedman president Roger Friedman, the sale allows the publisher to better “concentrate” its media strategies. About 30 Dowden Professional Publications staffers are expected to relocate to Quadrant HealthCom Inc.’s headquarters in Parsippany, New Jersey.

What the deal means for the remaining Dowden properties was not immediately clear. A Lebhar-Friedman spokesperson did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

Quadrant HealthCom publishes nine medical journals and their affiliated Web sites serving a number of markets, including dermatology, primary care, neurology, emergency medicine and women’s health.

One investment banker contacted by FOLIO: said the deal seems “surprising.” “It must have been for a robust price,” the banker said. “Lebhar-Friedman seemed to love this business. Health care media is still a desirable sector.”

Lebhar-Friedman acquired Dowden Health Media in 2005, effectively expanding the company beyond the retail and foodservice markets it had traditionally served. The purchase was financed through GE Commercial Finance Global Media & Communications.

According to its Web site, Dowden Health Media also publishes the Annals of Clinical Psychiatry (American Academy of Clinical Psychiatrists), Current Clinical Practice, and Sexuality, Reproduction & Menopause, and produces APCToday.com. The division also includes the Medical Education unit and Dowden Custom Media, which develops and produces custom publications, interactive e-media solutions and live multi-channel events for healthcare organizations.

Last week, Lebhar-Friedman announced leadership changes in both advertising and editorial for its Nation’s Restaurant News publication

Monday, December 21, 2009

Conde Nast, Magazine Publishing Empire, Gets Hacked & Goes To Court

Conde Nast, publisher of established magazines covering fashion, technology, food, and travel, including The New Yorker, Vogue, Glamour, GQ and Wired, has been hacked and had images and future editorial content stolen and published on another publisher's website!

More intrigue and drama in the publishing world!

This from Matthew Lynch of WWD Media:

CONDE NAST SPRINGS A LEAK: As if the year-end newsstand competition weren’t enough, Condé Nast Publications said in court documents Thursday that GQ’s December issue had to contend with a hacker who leaked a large swath of its editorial content before the magazine even hit shelves. In a copyright lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Manhattan, the publisher said an unauthorized Web user, which it knows only by his or her Internet protocol address, had accessed the company’s networks in September and copied more than 1,100 files. In November, the anonymous author of the blog FashionZag posted some of the lifted content, including GQ’s five alternate December covers, using a third-party photo-hosting site. Condé Nast’s legal team sent a takedown request to the photo host, which complied. Two days later, however, the publisher said the blog used a different photo service to repost the images along with much of the issue’s “still as yet unpublished editorial ‘well.’”

Lawyers wrote that the subsequent posting was “willfully done by defendants to thumb their noses at Condé Nast…” The company said the second post enabled numerous third parties such as Twitter users and other bloggers to spread the content across the Internet.

According to the suit, the original hacker also copied pages from the December issues of Vogue, Teen Vogue and Lucky. The company said it believes it will be able to discover his or her identity through the course of the suit. It is seeking an injunction, attorney’s fees and unspecified damages from up to five anonymous defendants. A visit to FashionZag Friday revealed the five GQ cover shots were still up, as was a Leighton Meester spread from the issue and Lady Gaga’s December Vogue shoot, though some of the other editorial material described in the suit was gone.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

What's The Value Of Online Content ?...NOTHING Per Demand Media, Inc

I posted this on my other site but decided it belongs here too. It presents an interesting trend toward greed that I feel must be snipped in the bud.

Demand Media is paying writers, video makers and other media artists pauper wages. The pay rates are actually un-American and smack of master-slave mentality...all for their own damn bottom line at the expense of others...AND their bottom line is substantial enough to pay the ones who create the stuff that makes them their money in the first place a decent, livable wage!

Demand Media is a superficial company and all writers and media artists should boycott them at ALL costs! After all, Artists, you have the power to set your own worth and market value...NOT some stingy, greedy company.

That's my take on Demand Media and here's an article by Folio Magazine's Jason Fell with more details:

'I was thumbing through the November issue of Wired when I stumbled across an article on Demand Media, penned by senior writer Daniel Roth. It’s a detailed look at how the online network has successfully leveraged a user-generated content model and become the largest supplier of videos to YouTube. According to the report, Demand rakes in roughly $200 million a year and was valued in a recent round of financing at $1 billion.

Demand is reportedly the 15th-most-visited online media property, attracting 52 million visitors in September—bigger than CNN.com, Twitter.com and Weather.com.

But what jumped out wasn’t the soaring profits. It was how co-founder Richard Rosenblatt thinks other media companies, which have been trying to increase the value of their content to at least match the cost of producing it, have the equation backwards. As he’s done with Demand, Rosenblatt said the trick is in cutting costs until they match market value for content.

Demand utilizes an algorithm system that mines search data, traffic patterns and keyword rates to commission stories/videos based on what online users want to know and how much advertisers will pay for it. The company has all but eliminated actual people from the process, other than to make sense of terms the algorithm spits out. ("Demand uses editors in its process, too," the Wired story says, but "they just aren’t worth very much.")

$15 Per Article

Another way to cut costs: Pay your content producers squat. Rosenblatt’s massive stable of freelancers earn just $15 per article and $20 per video produced, on average. Some writers opt to earn nothing upfront and instead participate in a profit sharing program, although it can take months to earn even $15 that way. Copy editors take home $2.50 per article, fact-checkers get $1 an article and headline proofers bank a whopping 8 cents a headline, according to the Wired story.

Fifteen dollars a story? Granted, the stories are far from 4,000-word investigative pieces, but only a few years ago I was freelancing for a Boston-area newspaper, writing 300-word lifestyle/entertainment stories at about $100 a pop. That’s more than six times what Demand pays.

The pittance Demand pays multiplied by the volume of content it produces has added up to $17 million in expenses so far. But even so, the idea that online content and its creators have been so devalued is truly astonishing.

Others Weigh In

I asked TheAtlantic.com editorial director Bob Cohn his thoughts about Demand’s business model. He said that even though Demand doesn’t do "journalism," the downside is that its model might help reduce the amount of money writers and video-makers can charge for their work across the media industry.

"And it could well change the market when it comes to editing by showing that computers rather than people are ‘better’ at making story selections," Cohn said. "All this could have a negative effect on quality, especially in areas like complex financial reporting, investigations into government corruption, and explanatory journalism."

At TheAtlantic.com—which is expected to ring up 103 percent digital revenue growth in 2009—Cohn said he and his team "strive for insight and distinction" in its news analysis. I asked Cohn if he thought publishers should be worried about what Demand is doing. "Demand is giving readers what they want, and doing it with ruthless business efficiency," he said. "That’s a model that’s bound to succeed."

I guess so, but at what expense!


Saturday, December 19, 2009

The Media Company Of Tomorrow

With the transformation taking place in the publishing industry and the seemingly indisputable decline in print revenues, one wonders what the future of the media company will metastasize into.

Tony Silber of Folio Magazine relates what F+W Media Company's CEO David Nussbaum
thinks the future media organization will be like:

'One of our keynote presentations at the virtual FOLIO: Show Virtual last week included a panel of leading executives in the industry, including F+W Media CEO David Nussbaum.

Nussbaum gave one of the most provocative responses during the hour-long discussion, essentially saying that print advertising is an irrevocably declining source of revenue, and that companies that don’t recognize that do so at their own risk.

As it turns out, Nussbaum jotted down some notes to the questions I asked the panelists to consider in advance. Here are Nussbaum’s notes, with the questions that prompted his thoughts.

Q: When will the industry see some recovery?
A: This is totally unclear, but there is a sense that we have found the bottom of the market. However, with consumers still under siege (credit difficulties, high unemployment, no or low salary increases), it is hard to see what the impetus will be for growth.

Q: What will the recovery look like?
A: I don’t think it will be ad driven. But rather, we’ll see an expansion of marketing budgets looking for “non-traditional ways to reach buyers.” That will mean everything from custom content solutions, to one-to-one marketing, and expanding our portfolio around our core brands to create new, profitable products and subscription services, like Webinars, which are a growing part of our business.

Q: Will we see the robust industry health of 2005 to 2006 again?
A: I really don’t know.

Q: How will the business be different going forward?
A: In a few ways.

1. Print advertising will continue to be a no growth-to-declining business.
2. Events will rebound, but event producers will need to find a way to mitigate the high costs of exhibiting.
3. High quality and unique content, always at a premium, will be even more important as the Holy Grail of dollars for content will become even more intense.
4. Staff size will be kept lean, with those making it through the recession owning a wider variety of skill sets than those who came before. We need to be bringing new talent to the industry from outside our standard recruitment channels, and producing new ideas across e-commerce, retail, social media. There’s no limit to what we can learn.
5. Online advertising rates will continue to erode, but engagement will be at a premium.
6. Social networks, location-based marketing, custom content selection—these will all be critical for future media providers. And those who aren’t already building their communities may get left behind.

Q: Are media companies being disintermediated on the reader side through social media and blogs?
A: Yes and no. Yes in that there is much more competition for community building, for content presentation and for lead generation. No in that media companies are becoming strong participants in the blogosphere and in using social networks to both build community and drive traffic to sell stuff. F+W and other enthusiast media companies have a unique advantage in that our communities already exist, created around a common interest or goal. Being of and in the community, and respected and trusted though our own blogs, positions us well. Social media interactions are the key.

Q: What are the most important things media companies can do now? Adjust organizational structure? Change their approach to content creation? Layoffs? Debt reduction?
A: Media companies need to find a way to focus as vertically as possible, make community building the core of existence, ensure that staff is cross-trained, fleet of mind, and willing to adapt to radical change comfortably. Portfolio management is critical. Organize your resources around the core communities and properties with the most opportunity for success.

Q: What will the media company of 2012 look like?
A: Community focused, really good at demographic analysis, excellent at nurturing around verticals, diverse in terms of product offerings and delivery systems, Web centric, advertising will be considered gravy, customers pay for content and contribute to the creation of content.

Q: What is the most important lesson og the 2007-2009 recession?
A: The sheer desire of people to adapt and to participate in tomorrow. I have really been impressed with the willingness of people to learn and to change.'

Friday, December 18, 2009

Big Publishers Don't See The Core Reason Their Biz Is Imploding!

The old business model for publishers of letting "content" find them is failing today due to the overabundance of content (much of it free) on the internet. Also, general publishers, who do not cater to a specific audience, are having more difficulty in selling content because they have not cultivated a niche audience and a sense of trust for what they do publish.

Anyway, Michael Shatzkin, an industry professional whom I trust and admire greatly, has some targeted thoughts on today's publishing dilemmas and I am proud to present them here:

The rapid series of developments in the digital book space and my rising profile mean that I seem to be in an interview with a journalist just about every day. As I was yesterday. The focus of yesterday’s conversation was the Baker & Taylor“Blio” platform that I wrote about last week. How widespread did I think its uptake would be?

The interviewer and I covered a lot of ground, including ebook pricing and timing and whether publishers would be able to make enhanced ebooks work. Those are the topics of the moment (and they are all panel topics at Digital Book World.)

At one point we had a robust discussion about ebook pricing. My interviewer asked me about a pundit’s observation that hardcover books were just wildly overpriced. The implication is that publishers should consider themselves damn lucky that people would pay $9.99 for an ebook, which, after all, has far fewer bytes than a movie they can get for $1.99.

That’s an easy one to answer. What’s a “right” price? Well, from the publisher’s perspective, that’s a question with a clear mathematical answer. (The math wouldn’t yield the same answer for an author.) The right price is the one at which the total gross margin — revenues after all costs — is maximized. We all know more will buy if it is cheaper and fewer will buy if it is more expensive, but the “right” price is the one where customers times margin (margin being revenue minus costs) is the highest it can be.

There is no way in the world that a publisher would maximize margin cutting $28 print book prices to $9.99. So the author of this blogpost being quoted to me might be looking at the “right price” from a consumer perspective or a high-level industry observer perspective, but they sure aren’t looking at it from the perspective of the one who sets the price: the publisher.

At the conclusion of the interview, the journalist on the other end of the phone asked me whether, in effect, publishers would be able to save themselves. “Is there a model,” she said, “which assures that a publisher will profit selling their books in the future?” ...

The rest of the story: http://alturl.com/ztsf

Thursday, December 17, 2009

115 Magazine and Media Predictions for 2010

Here are great insider, professional & industry predictions for 2010:

Jason Fell and FOLIO: has reached out yet again to a wide selection of magazine/media industry professionals—publishers, editors, chief executives, dealmakers, bloggers—to channel their inner Nostradamus and work up some predictions for 2010. Which magazines will survive? Which won’t? Which technologies will propel the industry next year? Some responses were humorous. Most, understandably, were serious. Whether or not 2010 proves to be as grim and depressing as 2009, one thing seems clear: next year should shape up to be just as volatile in terms of technology and evolving business models, if not more so, than 2009.

Put on your seat belts, folks. The roller coaster of a year that was 2009 is grinding to a halt and 2010 is getting ready to blast off.

We saw bankruptcies. Layoffs. Shuttered magazines. Shattered dreams. But it’s nearly 2010, dammit. That’s all behind us now. Right?

Well, maybe not.

Keeping with tradition, FOLIO: has reached out yet again to a wide selection of magazine/media industry professionals—publishers, editors, chief executives, dealmakers, bloggers—to channel their inner Nostradamus and work up some predictions for 2010. Which magazines will survive? Which won’t? Which technologies will propel the industry next year? What are the keys to staying in business while hopefully making a profit in the process?

Some responses were humorous. Most, understandably, were serious. Whether or not 2010proves to be as grim and depressing as 2009, one thing seems clear: next year should shape up to be just as volatile in terms of technology and evolving business models, if not more so, than 2009.

So, here you have it—115 (give or take) magazine and media predictions for 2010, mostly unedited and in no particular order. Get it here: http://alturl.com/55az

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Reed Expands ‘Espionage’ Lawsuit Against McGraw-Hill

Here is the latest on the espionage lawsuit Reed Construction Data (RCD) filed against McGraw-Hill Publishers (Construction Dodge Division) last October. I initially posted on this lawsuit three weeks ago, 25 Nov 2009. You can get initial information by reviewing that post if you wish.

Folio Magazine's Jason Fell, who has been following this espionage court intrigue, updates his initial report:

Reed Construction Data, a unit of b-to-b publisher Reed Business Information, has expanded the lawsuit it filed in October charging corporate espionage against McGraw-Hill Construction Dodge.

RCD’s amended complaint, filed Friday in federal court, alleges that Dodge also used access to RCD’s database to misappropriate its construction information by downloading hundreds of project-related documents. After viewing “specific details for thousands of construction projects,” RCD charges that Dodge subsequently used the information to populate its own database.

According to RCD’s original 60-page complaint, it claims Dodge unlawfully accessed confidential and secret trade information from RCD by hiring consultants to subscribe to RCD’s confidential data, using made up names and fake companies. It also alleges that Dodge manipulated the RCD information to create “misleading comparisons” between Dodge and RCD’s products and services “in an attempt to mislead the marketplace.”

The RCD complaint cites 11 counts of misconduct by Dodge dating back to 2002 and says efforts to obtain competitive information from RCD dates back to “the mid- to late-1990s.” Late last month, McGraw-Hill filed a motion to dismiss five counts, including those alleging misappropriation of confidential information, tortious interference with prospective economic advantage, violation of New York General Business Law, violation of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) and conspiracy to violate RICO.

The motion, however, did not request the dismissal of the other counts alleging fraud, misappropriation of trade secrets, unfair competition, monopolization, and others. RCD’s legal counsel declined to comment about McGraw-Hill’s motion.

RCD is seeking an unspecified amount in lost profits, punitive damages and injunctive relief. McGraw-Hill has said RCD’s suit is “without merit,” and that it intends to defend itself “vigorously.”

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Print Magazine Failures Slow Down!

Happy Tuesday to all readers! Hope all are healthy and happy as possible today.

Well, the number of dead tree print magazines that have failed (or "shuttered" in industry talk) in 2009 has fallen off by approximately 200 per year over 2008 and 2007...Going down from 640 to 420 or so.

Could be that print mags have reached some sort of bottom and found new business models and niches that have spurred some success in their survival rates.

Vanessa Voltolina of Folio magazine has the following statistics:

The year that was 2009 is drawing to a close and data from online magazine database MediaFinder.com reports that 428 titles have ceased publication in 2009, through December 14.

While any magazine going out of business isn’t good news, the silver lining is the total number of foldings this year (although anything could technically happen between now and December 31) is down significantly from 2008 (613) and 2007 (643).

But while the number of ceased titles may be fewer than years past, there have also been fewer launches. There were only 275 startups this year versus 335 in 2008. Regional magazines topped the list with 21 launches, including Maine Magazine and B-metro Birmingham.

Regionals, however, also topped the list of shutdowns (34), with titles such Atlanta Life and Denver Living going under. Business magazine shutdowns came in second (16), with casualties including BusinessWeek Small Biz, Condé Nast Portfolio and Fortune Small Business.

The Health category had the second highest number of launches (15), including Scottsdale Health and Natural Awakenings. Food titles came next with 14 new magazines such as Food Network Magazine, Edible Queens, and Sandra Lee Semi-Homemade.

Magazines that ceased publishing early in the year and have since relaunched were not counted as closed, said a MediaFinder spokesperson. But titles like Vibe, which shuttered in June, but has already relaunched, is still counted as shuttered.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Bonnier Corp To Expand Magazine Brands into Book Publishing

Who said all publishers are just surviving at best. Bonnier Corp has gone on offense!

This Swedish publishing company has been doing just the opposite of most publishers these days and has been on a buying rampage goobling up many magazine empires and now a book publishing firm as well!

Folio Magazine's Jason Fell reported on 12 Dec 2009:
Bonnier Corp. has taken another step in its aggressive acquisition plan, only this time not in magazine publishing. The Swedish-owned company said Wednesday that it has acquired Weldon Owen Publishing and will create a book division to manage it.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. Weldon Owen, however, has annual revenues of approximately $20 million.

Bonnier said adding Weldon Owen will allow the company to expand its existing magazine brands and content into book publishing projects. The company said it is considering bookazines, collectible yearbooks and other book products for sale on newsstands and online.

Founded in 1984 in Sydney, Australia, Weldon Owen Publishing develops and publishes illustrated reference, lifestyle and education books and has worked with several specialty retailer clients including Williams-Sonoma and Pottery Barn. It formerly was part of Bonnier Publishing in the U.K.

Bonnier also said it has redesigned its corporate logo as part of a branding effort to align all of the Bonnier company’s worldwide with a similar look.

Bonnier has been on a buying spree over the last 15 months. Most recently, it bought Conceive magazine from its founder and a group of investors. Most notably, Bonnier acquired American Photo, Boating, Flying, Popular Photography and Sound & Vision magazines from Hachette Filipacchi Media U.S. in June.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Easy Way For Writers To Enter Affiliate Marketing For Free

Today we are going to speak of "other life stuff" but with a bent toward writers.

Just as in the past, there are many starving writers in the world today (if not actually starving then poor as hell due to the present economy). But today, with the internet and new technology, writers can take advantage of some programs that won't take too much time away from their writing and can put some extra change in their pockets to sustain them between sales of their work. And can involve a little creative writing to boot!

I am trying a free program that is a whitelisted application to Twitter called Twivert that is working for me. It's a little slow to start but should grow if it's promise and premise materialize. I will post about my progress from time to time in the future.

This free program involves posting ads on your Twitter account (and you can approve the ads if you wish). When someone clicks on the ad you get paid! This is called CPC (cost per click) and is known as Affiliate Marketing. If you don't want to spend time on this, you can automate the system and have four ads per day posted for you by Twivert in any time frame you pre-set in the settings. Twivert doesn't believe in spamming and restricts the number of ads per day you can post.

For more info to be a twitterer on this Twivert program go to http://www.twivert.com/o/2z1

If you are a writer with a book, website or any other product to promote you can also be an advertiser on Twivert at dirt cheap prices and get your promotions in front of thousands & thousands of targeted tweeters!

For more info on advertising on Twivert go to http://www.twivert.com/o/3z1

Friday, December 11, 2009

Nielsen Business Media Sells Off Hollywood Reporter, Billboard, Other Titles

Nielsen Business Media, publisher of many trade publications, including many in the entertainment industry, is selling off several of it's media brands to streamline it's financial structure and adjust to the current economic climate.

UPDATE: A Nielsen spokesperson said that while the company has no immediate plans for other changes to its trade magazines, it will continue to "assess the remaining publications to make sure we are focused on businesses with the highest potential for growth."

Jason Fell of Folio Magazine reports it this way:

Nielsen Business Media has agreed to sell eight of its media brands, including a number of its trade magazines, to e5 Global Media, a new company formed by private equity firm Pluribus Capital Management and financial services firm Guggenheim Partners.

The sale agreement includes The Hollywood Reporter, Billboard, Adweek, Brandweek, Mediaweek and Back Stage magazines, as well as Nielsen’s Clio Awards and Film Journal International. Also being sold is the Film Expo Business, which includes the ShoWest, ShowEast, Cinema Expo International and CineAsia trade shows.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, although it was rumored to be priced at approximately $70 million.

In addition, Nielsen said Thursday that it is ceasing operations for Editor & Publisher and Kirkus Reviews. UPDATE: A Nielsen spokesperson said that while the company has no immediate plans for other changes to its trade maagazines, it will continue to "assess the remaining publications to make sure we are focused on businesses with the highest potential for growth."

According to e5 Global Media, the company is committed to adding “financial and strategic resources” to the Nielsen properties to add “enhanced content across their print, online and new media channels and to continue to deliver value to their subscribers and advertisers.”

It was not immediately clear if all of the trade magazines will continue to be published in print or if any layoffs were associated with the deal. A Guggenheim Partners spokesperson did not immediately return a request for comment.

“This looks like it will be an excellent acquisition for Pluribus,” DeSilva + Phillips managing partner Reed Phillips told FOLIO:. “ I think they’re buying at the low-point in the market and these properties are in a good position to rebound now that the economy is getting back on track.”

Nielsen Business Media president Greg Farrar said in a statement that the divestiture allows the company to “focus its investment on its core businesses and those parts of our portfolio that have the greatest potential for growth, including our leading trade show group.”

Pluribus Capital was founded by James A. Finkelstein, who has been said to have been pursuing the Nielsen media properties for several weeks.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

"Kindle" & "Nook" eBook Readers Will Be Left In Dust By New "Blio" !

A higher tech digital eBook reader with many more applications that can be used on ANY device with an operating system, including computers & iPhones, is coming out in 2010.

Mike Shatzkin revealed this discovery on "The Shatzkin Files":

Baker & Taylor has the next big thing in ebooks. Really!
Posted by Mike Shatzkin on December 8, 2009

We’re about to see the Next Big Thing in ebooks next month and it’s coming from Baker & Taylor. Baker & Taylor?

For the past ten years, Baker & Taylor in relation to Ingram has looked remarkably similar to Borders in relation to Barnes & Noble. Ingram and B&N are family-owned companies (although B&N has the very significant complication of being publicly traded which, with Ron Burkle as a publicly disaffected shareholder, has been well-reported lately) while B&T and Borders are highly leveraged and controlled by private equity. Ingram and B&N with their long-view management styles have made significant infrastructure investments that the always-looking-for-an-exit B&T and Borders ownerships haven’t matched. Ingram built a great supply chain support structure and digital capabilities and B&N built a well-oiled, customized-to-their-needs internal supply chain. And B&T and Borders have made publishers’ credit managers bite their nails while B&N and Ingram are financially solid.

Over the past couple of years, Baker & Taylor has been cobbling together a team of third party vendors attempting to match the service offering Ingram has bought and built internally. To compete with Ingram Digital’s content conversion and digital repository offering, B&T teamed with LibreDigital. To match Ingram’s ability to set up retailers to sell ebooks, B&T created a partnership with OverDrive’s Content Reserve. And to create a print-on-demand capability like Ingram’s Lightning Print, B&T teamed up with Donnelley, which put a machine in B&T’s Momence warehouse.

All of this made sense to me, but it didn’t add up to B&T presenting any serious challenge to Ingram. But they’ve now developed something that might not only give Ingram food for thought but might have them scratching their heads at Amazon and Google and Apple, as well as ScrollMotion and Vook and anybody else thinking about enhanced ebooks.

On January 7 at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, K-NFB will unveil a new “reading technology.” We in the book business will get to know it as a proprietary ebook platform from Baker & Taylor that has capabilities nothing presented previously can match. The platform is called Blio and creator K-NFB is a partnership of tech visionary Ray Kurzweil and the National Federation of the Blind...

Read more at http://alturl.com/fjyt

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Self-Publishing Question: Print or eBook?

Eldon Sarte, creator of Wordpreneur, has hit upon a subject I have discussed in past posts: self-publishing...but from a little different perspective that made the old lightbulb turn on in my overworked brain (what I have left of it).

His article on using self-published eBooks to test the market first before doing a possible print version is short but thought-provoking:

After observing the consumer ebook market with the seeming success of the Amazon Kindle and the upcoming Barnes & Noble Nook, I think this brings up an interesting question for self-publishers. Namely…

Instead of first doing a “print” edition and then releasing an ebook version as an afterthought (the usual M.O.), why not do a Kindle/Nook edition first, test market the book on the dirt cheap, and then decide whether a print edition is worth the time and expense?

For many scenarios, this seems to make oodles of sense. The market certainly seems ready for this kind of approach, for most niches I care about anyway.


Sunday, December 6, 2009

Advertorials Pump Life Into Print

Marketing diguised as editorial or legitimate content is finding more receptive publishers who need the money to survive. But, these marketing advertorials should be clearly identified as commercials so as not to fool the naive and gullible.

Advertisers love this venue and are gaining more freedom of advertising control when they throw in the dollars. So, readers, as the old adage goes: "Believe nothing you read and only half of what you see!"

A few of these type of advertising models are springing up and getting around the accepted norm of clearly marking them with "advertising tags". One example given in the following article by Matt Kinsman, Executive Editor of Folio magazine, is Worth magazine:

Advertorials Give New Life to Print
But not labeling them as such is a mistake.
By Matt Kinsman 12/01/2009

Advertorials—the original "paid content"—are no stranger to magazines (FOLIO: does it too. See an example here.) Marketing that looks like content is always attractive to advertisers and as publishers agonize over plummeting print revenue and clients starting to do their own branded Webinars/events/lead gen, advertorials are a way to lure them back and maybe even hit budget for the first time this year.

Reader’s Digest’s Taste of Home recently said it will produce custom editorial columns that are more "synergistic" with advertisers’ promotional goals. Taste of Home created custom in-book sections that feature branded recipe cards for client Jimmy Dean that run next to the magazine’s own recipe cards section. According to RDA’s Taste of Home and Home & Garden Media Group vp and publisher Lora Gier, these sections are clearly marked as advertising and all advertroasial sections are "new pages" that don’t take away from existing editorial pages.

"The conversations we have are very strategic versus just discussing demographics and rates," Gier told FOLIO:. "We are winning exclusive business through these partnerships."

Advertorials Without the "Advertising" Tag

However, other publishers are pushing the boundaries of advertorials. A recent RIA Biz article gave a comprehensive look at a new advertorial program from Worth magazine, which was acquired by Sandow Media in 2008.

Worth charges financial advisors $2,495 per month or about $30,000 per year (the minimum commitment) to receive two-page profiles in six issues, free reprints, magazine subscriptions worth up to $11,000 for the advisor’s clients and a hard cover book with advisor profiles.

The article quotes Worth publisher Patrick Williams as saying, "Fifty-one million of assets under management just for the first issue. People say print media is dead but I have $51 million that says they are wrong." [It’s funny how marketers' complaints about print seem to disappear when they get to control the message.]

However, Worth isn’t labeling profiles as "advertising" but includes a sentence in the preamble of the profile section indicating they are paid for.

I’m all for vendor content and realize publishers (and editors) need to work more closely with advertisers but I don’t agree with advertorials that are anything less than clearly marked.

In 2006, FOLIO: did a cover story on the rise of Schofield Media Group, a publisher which at the time had grown to 10 magazines in the U.K., 14 in the U.S. and $40 million in revenue, thanks to a model that includes selling editorial case studies.

At the time, then Penton Media group publisher Terri Mollison said of Schofield's model, "How can any market derive what key trends or 'hot companies’ are worth reading about when the only criteria to select those companies is which vendors and distributors who are willing to pony up money to have accolades written about them?"

I wonder how many publishers are willing to take that same stand today.

Friday, December 4, 2009

National Geographic Kills Print Edition of Adventure

Oooh no! When they start messing with my old standard the National Geographic the volatile times in the publishing industry hits home even harder!

I received a Folio Magazine Alert yesterday announcing that the National Geographic "Adventure" series will be taken out of print version.

Jason Fell of Folio magazine gives this account:

After quietly exploring options for a sale, the National Geographic Society has decided to shutter the print edition of its Adventure spinoff title. The announcement was made today to staff.

“We’re tremendously proud of what [editor-in-chief] John Rasmus and his team have accomplished over the last 10 years,” National Geographic Magazine Group president John Griffin said in statement e-mailed to FOLIO:. “They have consistently delivered award winning editorial to an enthusiastic audience of readers and advertisers. But given the current advertising environment and the opportunities we see in emerging digital platforms, we think the time is right to transition the Adventure brand.”

Seventeen layoffs were associated with the closing, a spokesperson said. The majority of the cuts came from editorial and production.

The Adventure brand will live on, the group said, in a “multi-platform model,” including books, e-magazines, mobile applications and a Web site. It will continue to produce the National Geographic Adventure Awards.

Launched in March 1999, National Geographic Adventure carried a circulation of 625,000 and published eight times annually. Through the first nine months, the magazine saw ad pages fall 44 percent, according to PIB figures.

UPDATE: Not far behind Adventure in terms of ad page losses is National Geographic Traveler, which saw a nearly 40 percent decrease through the third quarter. Despite those losses, a spokesperson said National Geographic is "fully committed to Traveler, saying the magazine is still part of the group's "DNA."

The flagship National Geographic is down 21 percent in pages while Kids has held steady, growing roughly 1 percent, according to PIB.

National Geographic Quietly Puts Adventure on the Block

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Is There A Secret Formula To Writing A Best Seller?

A secret formula to a best-seller? Certainly there is no generic formula, not even in the same genre, I think. But, there may be a formula hidden within each of us if we write from a passion of what we are interested in and/or aroused by.

Lee Masterson, an excellent writer from Australia, wrote an insightful article addressing this topic and I am pleased to present her thoughts here:

The Secret Formula for Writing a Best-Selling Novel
by Lee Masterson

The Secret Formula for Writing a Best-Selling Novel is...

Wait for it...

Well, the truth is, there isn't one. That is, the formula is no secret.

Go ahead, browse your local bookstore, or search the net merrily if you like. You'll quickly learn that there are thousands of How-To books out there, all declaring that they can show you how to write a best-seller.

The problem here is that there are so many of these books available that the information begins to blur a little at the edges. They all offer good advice, but each seems to offer slightly different angles or varying approaches to applying techniques.

For this reason, it's often hard to determine which is right or wrong. Often these books, although helpful, are simply documenting a particular path one writer took to achieve publishing success. Unfortunately that same path may not work for another writer.

Writing in differing genres may require more specific information than a broad-based fiction manual. For example, a writer reading a How-To book on romantic fiction is not going to learn the best way to apply that information to writing science fiction. But the basic rules will be the same.

All stories, whether horror fiction or historical fantasy, all contain the same basic structure. They all have a beginning, middle and end, and they all have characters who must struggle through your plotline to reach a resolution. And all How-To books will agree on these basics.

In fact, most of them are pretty consistent in their foundations. The variances come from the individual author's own personal experiences and chosen genre.

Once you have a fair understanding of the guidelines offered in the self-help manuals, file those rules away and WRITE. Let your own unique imagination supply the finer details.

Write from your heart, not from a misguided notion of following someone else's rules. Write what you are happy writing. Tell yourself often that what works for one writer may never work for you. But above all, keep writing.

Look through each section in any bookstore. There will always be authors whose names are instantly recognizable as belonging to best-selling writers. Every fiction genre has its share of them, and they all began as comparative unknowns with one thing in common.

They all happened to stumble upon the magic ingredient for turning their passion into amazing success.

That ingredient is a passion for writing.

So that elusive secret formula really should be as simple as writing something you truly believe in. It should be as difficult as struggling through the isolation of the creation process.

It should be as crazy as daring to persist in the face of all adversity. It should be as frustrating as needing to resubmit your work again, even after you've received forty rejection slips.

But, above all, it must be as satisfying as wanting to write purely for the joy of writing.

Lee Masterson is a freelance writer from South Australia. She is also the editor of Fiction Factor (http://www.fictionfactor.com/) - an online magazine for writers, offering tips and advice on getting published, articles to improve your writing skills, heaps of writer's resources and much more. Check out Lee's newest book, "Write, Create & Promote a Best-Seller" here and jump-start your writing career.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Query Letters

Today we are going into the teaching mode for a certain group of writers. Discussion will be the ALL IMPORTANT query letters to sell yourself and your project. 

Query letters are necessary to sell your written work to literary agents and publishers of all kinds. It is your pitch or written job interview if you will.

All query letters should be short and sweet and summarize your entire project succinctly. Ideally, the query letter should be one page. And this one page tome must include, at minimum, your qualifications and a Synopsis of your entire project...No small feat! It takes practice to write a good query that grabs and holds interest.

Allena Tapia of About.com has written a short five (5) point guide to get you started on the right track. Although she uses a query letter for an article, it also applies, as she notes, to book publishers as well:

By Allena Tapia
The point of your query letter is to sell an article or an idea for an article. This is the format and medium in which magazines, newspapers and book editors expect to be approached.

1.Use standard header information. Address your letter directly to the editor in charge of queries and manuscripts. Do your homework, and avoid sending queries and pitches blindly.

2.Open with a statement that makes the editor want to keep reading. This could either be a brief statement about your particular qualifications for this article, or an attention-grabbing introduction to the idea itself.

3.Spend more time detailing your idea. This is the area to make the sale convincing. Why does the editor care about this? Is it really timely? Does it fit in perfectly with the publications mission? Will it hook her readers? Often this is a good place to use quotes, anecdotes or samples from you proposed article.

4.Convince the editor to hire you. If you haven't done this above, convince the editor that you are the most qualified writer for this angle. Perhaps you've got an inside scoop. Maybe your subject has promised you, in particular, the first interview. This would also be the place to mention past credits or significant education in the subject. Whatever it is that makes you the best person to write this article, here is where you sell it.

5.Never make the editor work harder. Be sure to close with your contact information highly visible. In addition make sure the editor knows exactly where he/she can follow up on you, the writer. Do you have any clips, or perhaps a website? Don't make them look- put it right out in plain sight!

What You Need:
•Name and address of the submissions editor
•Word processing program
•Shining idea that no sane editor would ever pass up