Not just books Publisher attitudes publishing evolution

Format Considerations

If you haven’t been to a publishing industry conference or trade show recently (and I would ask why not, because it’s more important now than ever to keep yourself informed of all the latest technology and trends affecting our world), you may not have heard that the book is dead. Oh, you have? Okay. Just checking.


Seriously, we all know books will never die. Like other forms of energy, they simply morph into another format. But saying the book is dead is certainly a way to get attention, and it’s been done rather well in some venues.

At 2012’s Upublish U panel during that year’s Book Expo America,  Bob Young, CEO and founder of, got a rise from the audience by saying, “There’s no such thing as a book.” Of course, that was just the first part of his theorem. He continued, “There’s only content carriers. A physical printed book is a reader the same as an e-reader.”

Fellow panelist Mark Coker, Smashwords founder, concurred. “A book is just a holder for your content. We’re a distributor,” describing the service Smashwords has now provided to 40,000+ authors. That Coker would say, “For most self-published authors, print is dead,” is likely no surprise, considering his company is the world’s largest distributor of indie e-books, in addition to providing authors the tools to market their eBooks and receive sales reports.

The whole point is that, as publishers, we collectively need to stop thinking ONLY of the “dead tree” version of the book we grew up with. We even have to stop thinking only of print and eBooks. We pretty much need to stop concentrating on the whole concept of the “book” altogether, and instead start considering it just ONE format or shell for the content we develop, curate and distribute to end users.

Yes, I know — it’s a hard habit to break. We love our books, our memories and experiences of them. It’s why we got into this business in the first place. But break it we must, for as long as we continue to think first or only of the book, we inadvertently trap ourselves into outmoded ways of delivering the substance of our product. And in so doing, we very likely trap ourselves into limited mindsets about what that content could or should be, thereby eliminating so much promise and opportunity and freedom in our creative concept stages. By removing the limits of our perception of what makes the “right” content container, we remove the limits we impose on ourselves about the potential of that content.

Let’s vow to stop thinking about the vehicle and start thinking first about the passengers: all those wonderful, vital, important, breathtaking ideas and words and concepts and photos and illustrations — and now, video and animations and audio and who knows what will come next — that create the magic of what used to be just “books.”

Let’s commit ourselves to breaking the constraint of “container-first” thinking by starting, right now, to view ourselves primarily as content curators and developers of ideas, and only secondarily as producers of containers for that content. I firmly believe this subtle but significant thought shift will help us keep our minds more fully open to the great potential that is Publishing 2.0. I, for one, am excited about the possibilities, and hope you are, too.

Author marketing Book marketing

It’s That Season…


Yep, it’s here: Spring, the beginning of the active author promotional season. In most places in the U.S. (not all, I’m sorry to report, seeing as it’s almost MAY!), the snow’s gone and local/regional travel is again becoming plannable with a reasonable expectation of accurate weather forecasts. Some of us will be doing the age-old author tour dance.

Sure, the Internet has allowed many of us the ability to do a large part of our promotion from home, but some of us still enjoy getting out there to meet our readers in person. I’m one of those. I like feeling that personal connection. Nothing fulfills this writer’s heart more than seeing someone’s eyes light up when they describe a certain passage they enjoyed in one of my books, or a story of when they just couldn’t put it down.

But others of us just really don’t dig that whole author appearance scene. As a marketer, this always bothers me, because it really is the very best way to develop a rapport with your readers, and to create lifetime loyalists. But the fact remains that for any number of reasons, some of us just can’t or really don’t want to do the personal appearances. For those, and for the rest of us who want to leverage every possible channel we can, there are blog tours.

Many folks believe these aren’t really effective. And if you’re measuring in terms of direct sales, I’d agree. Unless you’re making some sort of irresistible special offer, you’re not likely to see a large bump in sales from a blog appearance. But I do strongly believe it’s a single element of a well-rounded marketing plan. So if you agree, I’d like to share a resource with you.

If you’d like to find bloggers who interview authors, here’s a list that includes many different types and topics. Here’s some good rules of etiquette when you contact them:

  • Actually READ the blog for a while before requesting to be interviewed. It’s the smallest courtesy you can show. Even better, follow it and actually participate with thoughtful comments — you’ll become a known quantity and if the blogger is impressed with your knowledge, may even invite you before you ask!
  • Offer a free copy of your book to the blogger as a courtesy, and send a signed copy.
  • Consider offering another free copy for the blogger to give away to followers. This will really be appreciated.
  • Don’t be a know-it-all. Remember it’s someone else’s blog. Try to find ways to reflect positively on your host, and be gracious.
  • Follow up with a thank-you email or card after the interview or guest blog.

Consider this my contribution to your successful spring promotions! Good luck, and happy blogging!


Author marketing Book marketing Book publishing Indie Publisher marketing publishing evolution Tech for authors Tech for Indie Publishers Tools for Success

Three Important Trends in Book Publishing

I’m happy to share this recent post by Joe Hyrkin at GigaOm about how publishing will continue to evolve this year. The CEO of Issuu, a Danish digital publishing platform, confirms what I’ve been telling my clients for a few years now: Digital is here to stay, and we need to learn how to use its most powerful and relevant new tools if we’re not just to survive, but prosper as self-published authors and indie publishers.


More specifically, he also validates my assertion that Twitter is not so much of significance in and of itself, but instead functions best when used as an ultra-short-form alert to draw Tweeps’ attention to breaking news, rapidly evolving situations, or places where they can go to learn more about something already important in their lives.

Check it out — the few moments it’ll take to read it are sure to be edifying, and to help you better prioritize how you’ll spend your time promoting your titles and authors.