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Sunday, October 26 2014 @ 12:09 AM CDT

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OpenForum Europe Challenges Governments to Walk the Open Format Walk

Adventures in Self-Publishing

OpenForum Europe, an advocacy group focusing on IT openness in government, issued a press release earlier today announcing its launch of a new public Internet portal. At that site, anyone can report a government page that offers a document intended for collaborative use for downloading if that document is not available in an OpenDocument Format (ODF) compliant version. The portal is called FixMyDocuments.eu, and you can show your support for the initiative (as I have) by adding your name here (the first supporter listed is the EU's indominatable digital champion, Neelie Kroes).

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The Future of Competition in Publishing: Be Very Afraid

Adventures in Self-Publishing

Lord Stanhope's Printing PressIf you were to count up all of the earnest articles, blog entries, and even Colbert Report routines that have been dedicated to the Amazon vs. Hatchette dispute, well, you wouldn't have an accurate number, because more would have been written while you were counting. Curiously enough, almost 100% of them  miss the point of greatest concern to authors. The real issue isn't whether the on-line retailer or the publishers win the current battle, but whether there will be any real competition in the marketplace in the future regardless of who wins. Right now, it's very hard for me to see how there can be.  Here's why.

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Amazon or Hachette: Which Would George Washington Choose?

Adventures in Self-Publishing

Unless you’ve been taking a holiday from the news for the past month, you are already aware that Amazon is in the midst of a very nasty negotiation with Hatchette, one of the “Big Five” U.S. publishers. Together, as a result of a decades-long series of acquisitions, these five companies have consolidated virtually all of the most-revered, but now conglomerate-owned, publishing houses in the U.S. Given the degree of respect that books still command, the dispute has attracted far more public commentary than commercial disputes in such a narrow market usually attract.

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Blog Branding Blues: Can a Blog Divided Against Itself Long Stand?

Adventures in Self-Publishing

From time to time I've run into people that have more than one blog, and have usually wondered how that came about, and also how it was working out? Often, I've noticed, one of the efforts ends up petering out, left abandoned and forlorn, with that one last, lonely post waiting hopefully for the next to come along, which it never comes. With each passing day, the blog becomes less visited, soon to be found only by random Web searchers that skip out as soon as they accidentally arrive. Poor Blogger.  Poor blog.

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Adventures in Self-Publishing: Rediscovering GoodReads

Adventures in Self-Publishing

One of the frustrating things about learning your around the self-publishing landscape is that there’s a flood of data but no way to qualify it. Given that for every possible category of interest (print on demand publishers, community sites, promoters, and on and on) there are many, and in some cases even hundreds, or alternatives, that’s a real problem.

As a result, when I started down this path I engaged in the time honored custom of throwing mud against the proverbial wall to see what might stick. The problem is not only that this is indiscriminate and time consuming, but most of the time there’s no way to tell which mud might actually be clinging and which not, since there’s usually no way to track positive results back to the source.

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Adventures in Self-Publishing: Using Social Media to Promote your Book

Adventures in Self-Publishing

Social Media Marketing, courtesy of Paola Peralta/Wikimedia Commons - Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license Last time I promised to talk about setting up Twitter and Facebook pages. For many people this should be the easiest part of establishing a Web presence, since so many folks already use one or both services. If you’re one of them , the biggest challenge may be to unlearn existing habits and start using social media in a very different and more purposeful way than before (after all, unless your book is about LOL cats, pointers to their Youtube videos isn’t likely to help sell your book). If you’re not, the biggest challenge won’t be setting up the pages (which is easy) but finally taking the plunge into a bottomless pit that you may understandably have been scrupulously avoiding for a long time. Like me.

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Adventures in Self-Publishing: Establishing a Web Presence (Part II)

Adventures in Self-Publishing

Public Domain, courtesy of US Fish & Wildlife/WikiMedia CommonsIn the last post, we talked about the different types of Web sites you can create or take advantage of.  In this entry, we’ll talk about actually creating the Web-based pages you’ll need to sell your self-published book, leaving to a later date how to create and manage more social-media oriented pages such as Twitter and Facebook. 

Setting up the pages discussed below is well within the abilities of most authors, even if you don’t consider yourself to be very tech-savvy.  But as a client of mine often observes in similar settings, “Says easy, does hard.” That’s particularly true when it comes to Web-based promotion, because you should not – must not – assume that if you simply build it, that they will come.

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Adventures in Self-Publishing: Establishing a Web Presence (Part I)

Adventures in Self-Publishing

Public Domain photo courtesy of Jon Sullivan and the Wikimedia CommonsIt’s obvious that any self-published author needs a Web presence. Why? Because promoting your books at many venues is free and most of the rest are cheap, and the Internet is where people go to find out anything and everything.

And that’s great, isn’t it? In the old days, an author without a publisher had virtually no way to reach the marketplace at all. The problem now is that there are so many Internet-based avenues to choose from that it’s hard to know which to use, where to begin, and how to get the most out of each one. That’s what we’re going to talk about today, and for the next few posts in this series.

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Adventures in Self-Publishing: Launching a Promotional Campaign

Adventures in Self-Publishing

 Telstar Logistics / LOC Precision V2.0 launch, courtesy of Steve Jurvetson/Wikimedia Commons.   Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.According to proponents of the Brave New World of self-publishing, there’s never been a better time to write a book.  They seem to have caught a few ears with that claim, since in 2012, 391,000 new titles – an incredible number - were self-published in the U.S. alone – up an even more incredible 59% from just the year before. For the lucky few, that approach has succeeded brilliantly

But what about the rest of those authors? The same proponents point out that social media can turn a title into an overnight sensation, and that a self-published author has exactly the same access to social media channels as do published authors. That’s perfectly true. But needless to say, not every author is able to ring the social media bell, or it wouldn’t remain true that the average self-published author still sells only a few dozen books. So what’s the secret? Is it mostly luck, or should any self-published author of a decently written book, well advised and diligent in his or her approach, be able to find an audience?

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One Step Closer to the Open eBook Tipping Point: O’Reilly Joins the EPUB 3.0 Ecosystem

Adventures in Self-Publishing

Have you discovered The Alexandria Project?

Anyone who reads eBooks is aware that a number of content vendors are using proprietary platforms in an effort to lock you into their content libraries: most obviously, Amazon, with its Kindle line, Barnes & Noble with its Nook devices, and Apple with its iPads and iPhones. But there are many non-content vendors that would love to sell you an eReader as well, such as Kobo, and Pocketbook, not to mention the smartphone vendors that would be happy to have you use their devices as eReaders, too.

But can you? Well, as you’re probably also aware, that depends. For example, in addition to selling content that will play only on their devices, Amazon and Apple also produce versions of their content that can be viewed on the readers of their competitors as well.

All of this not only makes it confusing and limiting for eBook buyers, but also for content publishers large (like Random House) and small (like technical title boutique publisher O’Reilly), that have seen their traditional distribution models not only upended by the eBook revolution, but complicated by the proprietary antics of the Amazons of the world.