Posts Tagged ‘Internet publishing’

Reflections on the International London Book Fair, 2010

Tuesday, April 27th, 2010

I attended the International London Book Fair last week (and due to the Icelandic ash cloud, it was slightly less international than usual). Here’s some of what I did, saw, and got in my brain.


As an author who has launched a currently small independent publishing concern but with ten plus in-house years of experience in international publishing (and a lifetime of writing), and in attending the fair (which I had done a number of times previously) my interest this time around was in the electronic side of things. I am a PoD publisher, with eBooks and audio not only part of the package, but I believe eventually the bulk of the package.


I attended a number of seminars. The first seminar I wanted to hit was titled “Children’s Bookfutures: Children’s Literature & Digital Imagination”. As this was one of the first seminars on the first day, I was given crap directions by someone at the info desk who pointed my in the wrong direction with far too many stairs. I was three minutes late, and met a guy blocking the door: “There is no more room”.


I was not late to the next seminar (see below, title and panel names).
Winner losers in dig jungle slide names
They spoke of the importance of METADATA (this came up a lot), and that one should put an ebook in every possible channel, and APPS (again, many mentions) were the ruling prize while perhaps the 300 pages book had been a 20th century concept as the perfect sized book for commercial publishing but was meeting its death. Novellas may very well be the new ebook rule.


My next seminar, the opening slide of the speakers for this ILBF seminar. Guess what?
Vook no show slide of names


Vook no show seats
No one showed up — not a one. All ash damaged. And the rather sparse audience was only informed at the moment the show was supposed to roll, rather than informing us as we arrived. We sat there stupidly we hope in our hearts.


I had actually arranged to have a meeting with Brad Inman, the CEO of Vook, who was still in California. Vooks, for you all, is: “You can read your book, watch videos that enhance the story and connect with authors and your friends through social media all on one screen, without switching between platforms.”


Because I use words, images and performance for many of my stories, initially I was hugely interested in the “enhanced” multimedia e-books. Wowie-zowie, I can combine all of what I do. However, the more I researched it, the more I thought, One, I don’t really see a reader demand and yearning for it, and Two, an enhanced ebook already exists, and even available through mobile devices; it’s called a Web Site. So I have a big Hold On with this perhaps wishful development.


The whole point of fiction is the individual voice of the author speaking directly to the single imagination of the reader. The reader imagines through the author’s words the world of the novel or story. Add images, videos and voices and it may be more of an invasion than an enhancement, distorting, and in a way, narrowing what the individual mind can conjure. (Novels into films are the obvious metaphor: how many times has a viewer who was a fan of a book said, after seeing the movie adaptation: “I didn’t see it like that at all.”


In short, the author’s best tool is the individual reader’s imagination, and the choosing of the right words to spark the imagination. The rest can be clutter. I remain intrigued, and see possibilities, but perhaps not for most fiction.


Anyway, I had a sudden empty part schedule so visited the floor. Not a lot of action, but I did locate my PoD publisher, Lighting Source, owned by Ingram’s. Eleven years ago, when I already researching this independent publishing idea, I had attended the fair (and to see my now ex-literary agent) and their booth at that time had been tiny, one Vice President manned minor place tucked away in a maze of tiny, ghetto booths.


Amazing what a decade and a revolution can do. Here’s the booth this year:
Ingram booth 1
Ingram booth 2
Ingram booth 3


And surrounding this booth were these guys:
Little brown booth
HarperCollins booth
Penguin booth


And these were circling Ingram’s. PoD was no longer tucked away, but, symbolically, interestingly, it was at the center, surrounded by the others, the traditional industry.


A repeated phrase, from authors to publishers themselves, when it came to the changes overtaking the industry was: “Publishers don’t know anything.” It was judged that traditional publishers have neither the skills nor staff to make the sudden changes necessary to turn around toward digitalization and the ebook.


I turned up at another, less pertinent seminar for me on graphic novels and the digital world (but since I’d been locked out of the children’s seminar, I’d try this one). Here’s the panel:
Graphic novels to digital - panel names slide 3
Graphic novels to digital - panel 1
Graphic novels to digital - panel 2


This was a lively one. I was most familiar with Ian Rankin from television culture shows (he was one of those who said, Publishers don’t no nothing, like Hollywood execs”) but not his books.


iPad and Kindle were the reoccurring companions in the e-babble, but they may very well be a short term book-focused e-readers. They have, what, 10 million sold to date? The real action, the future-perfect, are handheld mobile devices: your phone. There are 2.7 plus billion sold. Currently Nokia, Samsung, etc., are all developing combined phones-ebook readers-game/playing-waffle-makers (joke) etc. with launch dates in 6-12 months time. Literary agents may end up have auctions on rights not with Random House and HarperCollins but Nokia et al for, say, the exclusive 3-month launch of the next Stephen King kind of novel on their mobile device before distribution goes wide.


Of course, versions 1 and 2 of e-anything are only development and not definitive, so it’ll be a couple a versions on, in 2-3 years, before it shakes out…


I also spotted at this seminar a “Facebook friend” and “Twitter” follower, Nick Harkaway, who wrote this book:
The Gone-Away World by Nick Harkaway - book cover


And here’s his signature:
Nick Harkaway signiture of "The Gone-Away World"
I almost went up to him to say, Hi, we’re fellow Twitter-followers and Facebook friends and I sent you a message two weeks ago wondering whether you were going to speak this year as you did last year on Social Media, but you aren’t, and you replied you were waiting for the invite and…” and my imagined confab went nowhere, except into stilted awkwardness, so I didn’t approach. Virtual nodding acquaintance is it.


The best seminar for me was this one:
Audio publishing for books read by authors
Ebook info slide - audible
Audible is still the best for getting your/my audio out there and into the ears of happy (willing) listeners. The seminar wasn’t greatly attended, but greatly appreciated by me.


After all this, I needed a massage. They have this row of young ladies ready to give a neck and shoulder rub for 7 minutes and you “give what you want”:
Massage 2
Massage 3
And here’s the one who relaxed me tensed muscles for a bit:
Massage 1


On the last day, I visited this seminar:
The Future of ebooks - ILBF 2010
The Future of ebooks - panel shot at London Book Fair 2010


Someone said 10,000 word stories will sell great in the future in ebooks. Another said the “Sunday Digital Conference had an average age attendance of 55: no one who knew what was going on was there.” Which is why I avoided it. Again, “Traditional Publishers know nothing,” the biggest cry.


Lastly, this one:
Want to be published? The rise of self-publishing.
Of little use to me, as I knew as much and more than the panel…which happened quite a bit throughout the fair, and its various seminars. I’m up to speed on a lot, following the correct industry blog, and seem to know my business fairly thoroughly. However, I would like to link Siobham Curham who has had four books conventionally published, but has turned down a two-book deal to go it on her own. She was proof of what some at this fair called “a movement for the future”, but it was happening already, and many are in major catch-up mode. That was the main rub. Many speakers were saying, “This could be happening in the near future,” while was already happening for a while, right at the show…


And here’s some general purpose shots:
ILBF - stands 1
ILBF - stands 2
ILBF - stands 3
ILBF - stands 4

Yep. A trade fair is a trade fair is a trade fair. They all look pretty much the same


And this is why, on this site, I like to just tell my stories. I don’t have a swell talent for journalism, travel writing, the exhibition visit. Where’s the story. Only facts and pointing out. I’m pointed out here.

Gibberish

Wednesday, March 17th, 2010

gibberish, random thoughts, blog mutterings, videos, stories


I’m busy being busy. And the following reflects it.


Or I’m busy trying to be busy. Circle stuff. Getting something halfway done when something hits my inbox and I need to turn my attention to that, and repeat such Pavlov dog behavior, and voilà by the end of the day, lots of half-done things that filled a whole day.


Let’s see if I can sweat some concerns out here. I need to do a couple more videos on my Self-Portrait of Someone Else work. Ideas: reviewing the reviews the book has gotten, and reviewing all the wonderful temporary refusals it got by UK publishers.


Also “drive” you and anyone else who reads this to my Hidden People Facebook Fan Page – a labor of half-love that went from a slow build to neglectful half-love. Haven’t pushed this because I’m not clear of its purpose and general reason why, except for doing because it’s somebody’s idea of a marketing package of indie publishers. Maybe someday I’ll do a blog on pleasepleaseplease “Join my Facebook Fan Page”, once I see the forest for the trees, as well as some mushrooms and all the leaves that turn into compost.


There’s been a lot of social media I’ve joined and tossed my books and info onto/into. Like another log on the fire, to see what burns brightest. It’s a massive world out there and lots of sites jumping up and down to get my attention and then my participation. So I can get other people’s attention, then participation.


Hey, this blog ain’t going much of anyplace, but isn’t that what so many blogs are for? Blowing off steam, or whining or venting and then instant ether death?


I also want to blab about Twitter, and some musings on videos, and Amazon, and my publishing experiences, and more, oh so much more, but you know, eyeballs, who cares? I do stories, and want to release them. Get a small living going via ’em. You can get gab elsewhere. Anywhere. I’ll just ooze words, images, performance bits up and wonderful that are story related. That’s what I think is most interesting about what I do and am and being and Zen om. Keep doing what I am doing.


That’s about it. Videos for the next few Wednesdays, promise. Thanks for reading this and wasting your time. I love you. Who are you again? Buy something. Buy what? (That’s another blog post.) Or in the word of many these days: Whatever.

Random thoughts on social media, commercialization, being a writer/publisher, some things I know

Wednesday, January 27th, 2010

Hidden People Limited logo for indie publishing company on books, videos, t-shirts


I’m a good slave to what’s going on in the social media world.


I’m on Facebook.


I have my Twitter account.


I have my place on Good Reads.


I even decided to follow the social media flow and put up a
Hidden People Fan Facebook page for my Indie Pub company Hidden People Limited, which at this point in time, at this writing, is bursting with FIVE FULL FEVERED FANS (does this mean it is this on its way or simply dead in the water and of really no use?).


Then I began wondering: at which point do I stop establishing multiple social media connects before I die and just get on with the life I have?


Like how about right about now? Enough already.


Meanwhile, here are three random quotes (living up to the title of this blog) from sources I forgot to source, on what I think or have found to be true, in the indie publishing, solo writing, general hodgepodge of what I’m doing…


— Indie-publishing must be a considered business decision, not a response to several hundred rejections or from general impatience to publish


— Most commercially published authors maintain day jobs to support their writing, which means the bulk of book authorship is performed on a volunteer basis.


— The traditional way of doing business (author-to-agent-to-publisher-to-printer-to-warehouse-to-wholesaler-to-retailer-to-reader) is mostly dead, dying, or only for the mostly connected.


And lastly, I’m not following many marketing “experts” on any of this social media march toward when-is-too-much-too-much, simply because there aren’t that many things to say about online marketing (reflecting perfectly off-line marketing experts). But boy do they like to say the same thing many times in different ways in order to make a living, bless them. But my own marcom experience has taught me there’s a handful of stuff to know on this subject, which I’ve known for decades. Many, many online experts are saying nothing new…Big Surprise…and I don’t want the modern disease of marketing to get in the way of the personal (semi)-purity of my creativity and sharing it.


There, we can all sleep better tonight, and this bumping blog falls asleep in the ether waves…


Note: If you post a blog and no one reads it, has it really been posted? (see: tree, forest, fall, no one around to hear, did it really, etc., so forth).

On a technical level, putting together books for indie publishing

Tuesday, January 19th, 2010

How to findFollowing up on yesterday’s post on initial steps to take when setting up a indie publishing company, on a technical level, here’s how I put the first two books together:


1.Set-up a publishing company, Hidden People Limited, bought a series of my own ISBN numbers fromNeilson — UK as it’s cheaper than USA branch.


2.Signed contract withLightning Source (which I knew about 10 years ago) as my primary printer–United Kingdom rather than the USA, as I am UK-based Limited company.


3.Book cover design by Fontana identity & design.


4.Since I work on every story for years (unless I get lucky and it comes out in a couple of hours), they don’t need huge amounts of editing. My “Self-Portrait of Someone Else” was edited by Viking-Penguin, and the pages from the original book was scanned and directly used in my paperback reissue. The Viking-Penguin editor suggested two paragraph deletions and a few sentences. I agreed with half. Otherwise, on proofing, after one less successful episode with an American proof-reader in Scotland, I do had two upcoming titles (novella and children’s book) line edited by Scribendi.
All this is ongoing and evolving and changes constant.


5.I’m still engaged in getting ebooks off the grounds via Smashwords and Amazon throughout the world.


6.Audiobooks, which I’m recording in my home studio, are still finding their best home via ongoing research and then more research.


That’s some of the basics that fills out yesterdays impressionistic piece….

Why I became a publisher

Friday, October 30th, 2009

I set-up an indie publishing company recently. There are various reasons for this, which I’ll explore in blogs to come. Right now, I’ll concentrate on the backstory that lead me to this move.

 

Twenty years ago, I had a novel published by Viking Penguin in New York http://bit.ly/3L12yh. My literary agent was on Fifth Avenue http://bit.ly/2cdczC. My editor, now a big deal V.P. there, was Kathryn Court http://bit.ly/17Rmee. Getting an agent, getting a publishing contract, had been accomplished without any contacts whatsoever. I lived in Europe far from the whole literary establishment. I did not mingle or hustle. I thought I was on my way.

 

As is the way of the majority of first novels, it tanked. The storyline has become fairly common. I was told the novel had a six week window of opportunity to get some buzz going (now I’m told it’s down to six days). The publisher sent out books for review and press releases and that was that.

 

My visualization: the publishing house tosses a number of books into the ocean of the reading public every financial quarter and watching which one floats, i.e. which book(s) got some buzz/some reviews in a short space of time. They placed their bets, some ad money, behind those titles.

 

The other titles, buzzless, were allowed to sink to the deep bottom of obscurity. I did manage some minor, steady buzz, but over a six month period, not six weeks. By then the publisher had long moved on. The paperback promise was dropped. Shortly after, they waved bye-bye to me when I presented my next book. So, I was not on my way at all.

 

Over the next fourteen years there followed seven different literary agents with seven different books. In each and every instance, I received the same reports. “Good writing, great dialogue, interesting characters, situations worked, etc., but…the publishers always ask, What’s the market for this?”

 

Publishers could figure how to sell my books to their sales force to enable them to say to chain bookstores: “this book is a perfect (insert category-thriller, spy, mystery, literary…) book. The categories were standardized and mine did not find a fit. I was told my writing was wonderful and deserved to be published. I was wonderfully unpublished, and remained so. But I was building a lot of unpublished books.
Then I went into a fuck it mode and stopped submitting but kept writing.

 

Meanwhile, I had gotten ten years experience as an international marketing manager at a top five media company—my only corporate time. It published business to business magazines. I learned how to launch print material, all the steps it took, from inception to delivery, into the international market.

 

I left the corporate world and set-up my own business when the Internet came along. I had been waiting for it for years without knowing it could exist. Then came YouTube, and social media, it was Oh Yes We Can time. The tools were back in the hands of the workers.

 

I’ll unfold more of this story as this blog, and my company, unfold.

 

My publishing company is Hidden People, Limited. The Viking Penguin novel that was published way back when was “Self-Portrait of Someone Else,” which I’ll be re-issuing in December 2009.