Friday, March 20, 2009

Naysayers and Online Promotion

~Sia McKye~

There are a lot of Naysayers out there who negate the value of Online Promotion. Particularly with using social networks to create name recognition to sell their products—books. They tout other methods, proven methods formerly used in promoting books and authors. What I say to the Naysayers, is this: Times change. The basic methods of publicity/marketing remain the same but the focus of the methods has changed. To be successful you must change with the times. Or get left behind.

These days, a great deal of shopping is done online, including books, music, movies, clothes, house wares and appliances—even cars and houses. Online is a HUGE mall and that’s the way you have to look at it. No it hasn't replaced concrete stores, but that doesn't reduce the validity of online sales, or online promotion. Why?

Face it, we’re a techie generation and the technology is there, in ever-increasing numbers, to facilitate online selling and buying. Studies track how much time the average person spends online for things other than working. While I don't have the figures at my fingertips, it’s a huge block of time. Computers can do about anything a TV can—provide you with the latest news, music, TV shows, movies, and books. Cell phones can hook you to your computer and access the Internet. C’mon. The Internet isn’t going anywhere unless some catastrophe happens to eliminate it. Naysayers have to get with the times. Which is why e-Books, Print on Demand or digital technology, and traditional published books in e-book format, aren’t going to go away, no matter how many opinions there are on what constitutes a real book.

If online sales weren’t valid, why is every paper catalogue put out have an online store? Why are even major manufacturers providing an online presence and a venue to sell their products? Everyone from attorneys to roofers sell their services on line. Manufacturers from Beer to Xanax use known personalities to sell their products. These personalities and stars are known because of their activity in sports and on the silver screen—and known on the Internet. Why? Name and face recognition.

Hollywood sells their products online. Their products are stars, producers, movies, and TV shows. The music industry is the same. Just about everyone who sells something has a website. It’s real. It’s today, not yesterday.

For instance, in Hollywood of old, anything that got the actors, producers, and the name of the movie or show, in the paper was publicity. It was encouraged, it was “leaked”, it fabricated. Paparazzi are still everywhere with hopes of catching something to write about and sell on the citizens of the movie and TV industry. But now, it’s not the papers that get it first, it’s the Internet and the publicity grinders make sure their people are on the internet. It’s the same method, different focus. Actors get known on the screen by the body of their work—if that was enough we wouldn’t see them in print or on the Internet. Personalities sell products. People want to get to know something about the actors not just the shows/movies they’re in.

If you’re an author and your product is good, you are going to sell it—if people know you have a product. How are they going to know? Today, it’s the Internet. Authors have to have an Internet presence. Social networks (no doubt there will be other ways in the future) provide a way for the authors to become known and to build a readership base. If the author is a known presence, then readers will know who these authors are, may have even chatted with them online. Readers will know the books, the storylines, and release dates. Consequently, authors will have better sales both online and where ever books are sold.

I’m not discounting the other avenues such as book signing events, speaking to book clubs, newspapers, radio, and TV, but, unless you have an existing platform for it, unless you already have name recognition, this may not increase your sales appreciably. Local, versus the World Wide Web. This is especially so given our present economic situation and the money spent to do this physically. The old ways vs. profits made? Getting known on the Internet can increase your sales. It’s free. Will it give you over night success? Pfft, not usually, in fact rarely.

It takes time and work to garner success. It may not seem like you’re getting anywhere in the beginning, but this is a long-range goal. The amount of publicity also depends upon how you promote yourself as an author and it depends upon how soon you start with gaining name recognition on the Internet before your book is released. It takes a lot of focused time and work.

My thinking on it this is if you go to all the trouble and time to write a book what’s the point if you’re not going to take the time and work to sell it? Or ignore the new ways to gain name and face recognition.

To the Naysayers, I again say, times change and either you change with the times or get left behind.

Welcome to today.



Sia McKye has spent over twenty years in marketing and promotion. She's written and published various articles on writing, marketing, and promotion. She's a Marketing Rep by profession and also writes fiction.

34 comments:

ML said...

Ah, but do times still change when using a Times font? :-)

Margay said...

Very well said, Sia. As a new author myself, I can tell you that I don't have the name recognition to pull people into a book signing or public appearance - yet. But I am building that recognition by planting my name across the internet and seeing what grows from it. So far, I'm getting some pretty good buzz, so online promotion is working for me.

Margay Leah Justice

~Sia McKye~ said...

Margay, good for you! I know you are a hard working author. :-)

If you get the chance, what a thing that surprised you about online promotions? Have any good experiences to share?

~Sia McKye~ said...

Mike, are you saying I'm old fashion and behind the times, Sir? lolol! What's wrong with Times or arial for that matter? hmmm?

Margay said...

I think the thing that surprised me the most was how willing people (both readers and bloggers) are to welcome new authors and read what they have to say. I've had many good experiences online and only one negative one so far, so I think that's encouraging.
Margay

~Sia McKye~ said...

Margay, sounds positive! I've observed that so long as authors don't beat people over the head with their book, most ARE willing to read about new authors. Especially when those authors take the time to be personable and friendly.

One negative? Hey, that's nothing in the scheme of things although it can sting--as all negatives do. :-) Glad to see you're taking it all in stride!

ML said...

Nothing wrong with Times. Every study or visual presentation I've had to give has been done with Times. As a typographer friend of mine once said, Times is timeless...lol.

jrafferty said...

Sia, interesting post. Back in the corporate world, my company is putting more and more attention on various online methods of promotion; it's cheaper than having big travel and trade show budgets. It is not surprising that this trend is playing out in the publishing industry as well. However, the challenge for the author is to get noticed in the digital tide. Building the author brand is essential.

James

Pat Bertram said...

Even major publishers are promoting online via author blogs and reader reviews. I got a letter from St. Martin's Press today thanking me for reading, reviewing, and blogging about one of their new releases. They said, "the best way to hear about a good book is to hear it from someone who read it and wants to spread the word."

~Sia McKye~ said...

James said: "...my company is putting more and more attention on various online methods of promotion; it's cheaper than having big travel and trade show budgets."

This is what I've been seeing and hearing from my corporate friends, James.

"...the challenge for the author is to get noticed in the digital tide. Building the author brand is essential."

I couldn't agree more, James. It's learning the most effective way to use your time online in a focused manner. It easy to get caught up in lots of extras. But as you say building the "author Brand" is a must.

Thanks for stopping by. :-)

~Sia McKye~ said...

Pat Bertram said... "Even major publishers are promoting online via author blogs and reader reviews."

Absolutely. They know it works and they are looking for ways to increase their sales, and increase their authors readers. So more and more pressure is brought to bear on their authors to do blogs and such. The cool thing is the publicist are helping with blog site suggestionsand other ways to use online.

"St. Martin's Press said, "the best way to hear about a good book is to hear it from someone who read it and wants to spread the word."

Nothing draws customers like another happy customer singing the praise of the product!

Jamie C. said...

In a nut shell, yes, I think online promotion is very important. Especially, for a new writer. It's time consuming but a lot of it is free, so even better.

Kat Sheridan said...

Great article, Sia, and absolutely dead on. I am no where near publishing, but it's a goal, so I'm out there in the cyber-world, just chatting, making friends, building name recognition in anticipation of that lightning strike! I agree, you shouldn't beat folks over the head with your book. Far better to let them get to know you as a person, let them know your ambitions, and let them cheer when good things happen! And that's what I do for my friends as well!

~Sia McKye~ said...

Kat Sheridan said..." agree, you shouldn't beat folks over the head with your book. Far better to let them get to know you as a person, let them know your ambitions, and let them cheer when good things happen! And that's what I do for my friends as well!"

Bless you Kat! You've hit it on the head. If authors are attempting to cram THE BOOK down readers' throats, it's perceived as a hard sell and no one likes it. Your method (chatting, making friends, building name recognition) is what I recommend. The focus is on you, the writer first and your work second. Being interested in others will draw them. Take the time to cheer others on and let them do the same for you. Your work won't get lost in the all that, if anything, it's highlighted because of the person you are.

Thanks for stopping by! :-)

Anonymous said...

"Which is why e-Books, Print on Demand or digital technology, and traditional published books in e-book format, aren’t going to go away, no matter how many opinions there are on what constitutes a real book."

They're multiplying like insects. Problem is the quality is so low the resulting value is nil. All the data show this. When the ultimate goal of a vanity contest is a vanity press book, then you'll know things have changed. Things online are easy to miss, especially books, which is why most book are sold in stores.

~Sia McKye~ said...

I've read several good eBooks put out by traditional publishers and by Independent pulishers--Amazon is full of both. I haven't seen a lower quality of work with either. They go through the same submission process as their paperback versions.

What data shows eBooks to be of lesser quality just because they're eBooks as opposed to reading them as a paperback?

Granted I haven't read any Vanity Press books although I have read some books published by several Independent publishers using digital technology. Those I've chosen to read have been well written and I enjoyed them.

By your standards, anything not produced by a traditional offset press is bad? Opinions on what makes a good read is subjective, wouldn't you say? That's true regardless of what press prints them. I buy a lot of books off Amazon, Borders, and Barnes & Noble online. I buy most of my music online too. Does that make it bad?

~Sia McKye~ said...

BTW, has anyone been following the story on the Espresso book machine?

I've read quite a few stories on it and have seen a few interviews. Random house was a big mover behind the scenes and is transferring as many books of theirs as they can into digital format. Less backlists of books is lost when put into digital format.

The idea is the machine produces a print on demand of whatever book. Imagine pushing a button and getting a copy of Little Women or the latest fiction on the market. To me it's amazing. I'm wondering how soon the big houses will be using digital technology for printing books. The guy from Random House said this process of digital technology will revolutionize publishing.

Lots of hype is being bandied about on the machine. The next few years should be interesting, no?

M said...

You mean the Ovid I've been reading that came from a POD publisher like many of the classics do now and was purchased through an online retailer is no good? Oh no, how will it ever become a classic?

I wouldn't worry about Amazon too much longer Sia. They only surpassed Barnes for North American media sales for the first time in 2006 and are expected to again for 2008. At that rate they won't be around in another year or so. Also ignore that Barnes just bought an e-book retailer within the past few weeks.

~Sia McKye~ said...

To me, this is one of the most AMAZING things. As a result of digital technology or Print On Demand technology that books, classics and books of our civilization are still available instead of being lost. Fiction and non-fiction books in trade paperback stock abound. Many universities use POD technology to print all sorts of books. POD technology is such now, that it’s feasible, if the book has been put in digital format, to have in minutes any book printed in any language from anywhere in the world. People may look down their noses at POD technology, but it has revolutionized publishing and will continue to do so.

Since the early 1990’s, when computers and the Internet became public, all books are submitted to publishers as digital—computer to computer. Computers handle practically everything. Which also plays to the point of my article in that the Internet is used as a giant mall to buy a variety of products, including books online. It’s not going to go away. Neither is online book buying.

Mr. M—Ovid is indeed one of those classics, and a POD trade paperback. It doesn’t matter which type of press is use to print books, there are good and bad books out there. Taste is subjective.

Anonymous said...

"Granted I haven't read any Vanity Press books although I have read some books published by several Independent publishers using digital technology. Those I've chosen to read have been well written and I enjoyed them."

Sure you have. Every Wombat but Judi Fennell is produced by self-publishing or a vanity press. Erotic ebooks are not mainstream literature and never will be. They are what they are. An ebook edition of a hard copy published book from a real commercial publisher is the exact same quality. An editorial staff picked it. Anything from Second Wind instapublish and the like is far below second best. It's the slushpile. No one will see them but the authors and their friends. 130 copies per copy on average. Nothing will ever change that except bucking it up and selling the book to a real publisher. There's no exposure or sales with out it.

POD means print no demand by definition; good, bad or indifferent. It makes no difference on this platform. It's the breaks of the game.

Anonymous said...

Sigh. Yeah and a Random House arc is the equivalent of all the folks who lost a Gather contest and started their own press. Sure. Try a course in logic. I've had this same exchange since 2000. The responses never change, the revolution still at hand. Sales records tell a different tale.

Algonquin is an independent press. They aren't a POD. Ask yourself: why? Legitimacy.

If you want to as a writer go this route, have at it, but don't expect different results because that is what insanity is all about. Just write and submit to those who can help you. This will take much longer. Nothing worth having is ever easy. Vanity is eeeeeasy. And worth nothing.

other lisa said...

Oy vey.

I suggest that y'all go read this interview with a high-profile agent and professional editor. While quality control is a huge issue with self-publishing, you'd better believe that "New York" is paying attention to the best of POD and E-books. Completely writing off the entire field is really foolish and indicative of the kind of rigidity that seldom leads to success.

Speaking for myself, I'd prefer not to go the self-publishing route, but there are circumstances and projects for which I would consider it.

My 2 cents, speaking as an agented writer who hasn't self-published, been published by New York or by a small, independent press.

~Sia McKye~ said...

Mark, I highlight authors from traditional, independent, and POD publishers. It is not my intention to defend their choices or to tell them that they are losers if they choose a different route than traditional.

The POINT of this article is using online promotion to build name recognition and for authors to sell their products--their books and WHY online promotion is smart business in today's world. NOT as a debate about methods of publishing. Nor is it a forum for insulting those who do not choose traditional publishing.

Your opinion, Mr. York, is well known on many blogs and social sites where you have attacked and belittled those that who have chosen to publish through Independent or through POD format. You have a right to YOUR opinion, but you do NOT have a right to come on my blog and malign or defame, my guests, or me.

A word of advice, I would take great care in how you speak of a company's reputation on a public forum. And for your information, I am not a published author through Second Wind Publishing Company. I'm an independent Marketing Consultant and my clients are from various places, both traditional and non-traditional.

~Sia McKye~ said...

Lisa, I saw this interview. It was excellent and unbiased, which I always appreciate.

~Sia McKye~ said...

For general information, since it seems to be a point of contention:

I mentioned the Espresso Printing machine here because I think it is amazing. An open operating system using a computer. A book can be printed every 60 seconds!

I'm not the one who originated the term "revolutionizing the publishing field" with regard to this machine. The founders of this machine did. Jason Epstein, an editorial director with Random House said, in a public speech, that digital print technology "will revolutionize the publishing field" and "will replace the five-hundred year old Guttenberg system".

Time Magazine put the Espresso Printing machine on it's "Best Inventions of 2007” list. They called it "a revolutionary direct-to-consumer distribution and print model for books." Its inventor, Jeff Marsh along Mr. Epstein and his partner, Dane Neller have been instrumental in the further development of this technology through On Demand Books. On Demand Books stated, "The first EBM Version 1.5 was introduced for ninety days at the New York Public Library during the summer of 2007 and since then additional EBMs (Version 1.5) have printed thousands of books in multiple global locations. The new version, the EBM 2.0, is available now and will be installed in beta locations in the first quarter of 2009."

My personal opinion is this technology is, WOW. The possibilities for the publishing field are endless

other lisa said...

A little ironic, but I think it could be good for independent bookstores. They can be careful about their physical stock and invest in one of these things, so that customers can get instant gratification for titles the store doesn't carry. I'm thinking of my favorite neighborhood store. I'd like to buy more from them than I do - I would totally walk down there to order something from an Espresso machine, so they could get their cut.

Ken Coffman said...

I work for a company with worldwide sales greater than a billion dollars. Just yesterday I listened to an online presentation where they talked about their social networking efforts. They have a corporate Twitter account (to go with the corporate Facebook account, YouTube, etc.) They have a small number of Twitter subscribers, but six of the subscribers are industry publication editors. They realize they can't do the usual press release broadcast on the more informal social networks, so they're working on casual, breezy, fun, conversational methods of spreading the corporate message. I think this is interesting. Who would guess a 50 year old semiconductor company would try to get trendy? I have no idea if it makes sense, but I give them credit for trying something new; not new to the network, but new to the corporate suits.
For the critic(s), I think it's interesting that someone might try to climb El Capitan or K2 by a harder, less-traveled way, and that's admirable. Try to do something new in publishing? "That's not the way we do things in the big city, kid."
Can we say there is more than one path to the top of the mountain and leave it at that? Sure, there will be dead bodies along the way, but some achieve the summit.

Ken Coffman said...

Perhaps you'd need a obtuse sense of humor to appreciate this, but it made me LOL...

Develop sales, marketing, and publicity savvy; and, if necessary, self-publish (as did Irma Rombauer for The Joy of Cooking and James Redfield for The Celestine Prophesy).
- Arielle Eckstut and David Sterry, Putting Your Passion Into Print
Published by Workman (Algonquin) Press

~Sia McKye~ said...

Ken, I'm seeing that 'casual, breezy, fun, conversational methods of spreading the corporate message" style on many corporate sites and interestingly, there are seminars on how to blog today for the corporate world.

A friend passed on a seminar brochure and I laughed when he said, you know you would make some real money if you did this and the seminars would be a whole lot more fun.

Mike said...

Sia, love your post and your comments. I would encourage your readers to 1) disregard anyone without the guts to sign his or her name to a blog post; 2) avoid at all costs getting into a flaming contest. My granddaddy used to have a saying, "Son, never get in a pissing contest with a skunk." I would invite any reader who has serious interest in genre or general literature to select any of the book offering from Second Wind; then select any mass market size paperback of the same genre from a major bookstore. Read and compare the two, and if the Second Wind offering isn't at least as good as what you got in the store, Second Wind will buy it back.

~Sia McKye~ said...

Mike said, “My granddaddy used to have a saying, "Son, never get in a pissing contest with a skunk." Lololol! I do seem to have a few running around this time of the year.

Mike, that sounds like great advice, sir. You never can wash the stink off once you do, lolol! It’s a pleasure to see you here. For those of you who don’t know Mike, he is the publisher of Second Wind Publishing, LLC

“…select any of the book offering from Second Wind; then select any mass market size paperback of the same genre from a major bookstore. Read and compare the two, and if the Second Wind offering isn't at least as good as what you got in the store, Second Wind will buy it back.”

I’d say this statement speaks of how confident you are in both the quality of your products and the your submission process to reach that quality.

Thank you for stopping by and sharing your thoughts.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
aries18 said...

Great article, Sia. You know this subject inside and out and it's so great of you to share your expertise with all of us. Although I'm not at that place in my writing, yet, I know I'll be there one day and will searching for just this kind of thing.

Thanks for all you do.
wanda

~Sia McKye~ said...

Thanks you.

Wanda, I'm always learning. As with any subject, the more you think you know, the more there is to learn. And there are a lot of good sites out there that have sections of promotion and about any other subject regarding aspects or writing.

Thanks for stopping by. :-)