This Week in Publishing/ Internet Marketing: Riffle, Kindle, more price wars, and some hosting recommendations

By Lori Culwell

So, what’s going on in publishing this week?   I should correct that to say “What’s going on in publishing that I actually care about this week?”

It is 400 bazillion degrees in New York this week, and as such, everyone is cranky and everything is taking longer. For instance, even this blog post took longer, as this theme decided that it no longer wanted to recognize carriage returns, so I had to go all old-school and hand-write some hard returns so that it wouldn’t be the world’s longest paragraph. Sweet! In the continued saga of “publishing goes digital,” I have the following updates from the trenches, as it were:


1.  This week I had a weird “debate” with a person at a major publishing company about how they simply did not believe that eBooks should be priced below $10.   My reaction to this:   do you have a life-raft ?  You are on the ideological Titanic.  Publishers love to hate Amazon, but they sell a ton of books, and guess what?  They penalize you in the form of lower commission if you sell a book for less than $2.99 or more than $9.99.  To me, this means that Amazon will reward you if you stay in this profit zone.    Why on earth would big publishing not want the millions of dollars’ worth of market research Amazon is conducting every single day, I wonder?   Also, big publishing America, I would like to add that I talked to a New York literary agent this week who told me she just TURNED DOWN a $5,000 advance on a book for one of her authors because she wasn’t confident in the publisher’s digital capabilities.    Oh!  It burns!


2. I read this book, implemented some of this guy’s strategies, and am waiting and testing and recording results.  HOWEVER, I think he is absolutely insane for dismissing blogging and social media as a factor in author success.   I stopped reading his book once when he said “there’s no way Amanda Hocking blogged her way to success,” because I assumed anyone who would say something like that didn’t know the market and I couldn’t learn anything from him.  Well, my bad, he actually does have an interesting method (though, just to warn you, it is MUCH more complicated and time-consuming than it initially seems), but I still think he’s dead wrong about people with active blogs and social media.  Dead wrong.  Amazon will adjust its algorithm just like Google does, your books will rise and fall in Amazon ranking (after the first six months of your first book being out, you will quickly tire of this), and while this method may fall out of favor, you know what will NEVER be impacted be mysterious algorithms or whims?  A mailing list full  of your loyal followers and readers who actually want to buy your books.    I’m all for learning new things (in fact, I do it all the time so you don’t have to!), but it kind of bugs me when someone comes up with one theory, then dismisses all of the others.  This strategy, if you choose to learn it, should be PART of your arsenal of writer tools, not the whole thing.  Always be diversifying and building up that list!


3. I am now using and endorsing WP-Engine for hosting author sites.  They are fast and efficient, I really like them, and they have an anti-hacking guarantee.   If you’re an author and you’re using for your site, please make sure you have good security measures in place, or spend the money on decent hosting.  I saw an indie publisher get hacked this week, and they have an IT department. Scary stuff!  Remember, your website is the epicenter of your business, and if it gets hacked, you will be under duress and more likely to shell out the big bucks for repair or rebuilding of your site.  Don’t mess around with your hosting!    Oh, and if you’re dying to hear more of my scintillating thoughts on your internet hosting, lucky you!  I have a whole section on that right here.


4.  Odyl says that Riffle is the new Pinterest for book marketing.   I’m confused.  Isn’t Pinterest the new Pinterest for book marketing?   Let me put it to you this way—if you’re writing books that have the same demographic as Pinterest (women ages 30 – 50), you should be on Pinterest RIGHT NOW, pinning not only your books, but things that are relevant to you, your books, and to your target readers.   I have my eye on Riffle, but I’m not sure we need to reinvent the wheel when Pinterest is right there and available to give you all that traffic.  Oh, and if you need a Pinterest invite, let me know.  Seriously, why are you not pinning your books in Pinterest right now?  Get over there.   Also, if you go over and read that article, can I just recommend that you scroll alllll the way down to the bottom and read all of the totally hilarious comments that the Publisher’s Weekly readers are leaving?  Here is an excerpt from my very favorite comment:  “….Goodreads has always been poorly designed, overly complicated, and… well, bad. If it really does work as smiply as Pinterest, it would be genius. Frankly, a lot of people have added a Book category to Pinterest already.”   Awww, SNAP.


5.  You’re probably not noticing this if you’re an author who has not (yet) come over to the dark side of internet marketing, but Google has to be rolling out some changes, because there is a lot of page rank slip and slide going on out there.    There actually is nothing for you to do about this except to continue to be a good author and produce relevant content and update your social media regularly.  When I know what the update is and what it means to you and your books, believe me, I’ll let you know!


6.  Oh, also!   I have an entrepreneur alert for anyone who both develops software and knows something about book residuals.  I see a huge need in the new publishing marketplace for a piece of software or a website that can pull book sales from multiple booksellers and track them by author, you probably could develop that and have it be the next big startup, because this is a conversation I’ve had four times this week, just as more and more agents and publishers but their authors’ work online and then end up having to track micro-payments in a spreadsheet.  And, yes, I know that BookBaby does this for you, but this is not the type of solution I”m talking about.   The people I”m talking to don’t want to have to use one distribution method to release the book, they just want to enter multiple authors/ accounts and have it produce monthly sales reports.   I feel like internet marketing has already solved this problem with affiliate tracking software and solutions, so if you own one of those and want to re-purpose it for publishing, send me an email!


7.  Finally, I am already ready for people stop saying the word “Discovery.”   Discovery is like, the 2012/ publishing analog of the 1999/ tech industry’s favorite word, which was (in case you don’t remember)…..CONVERGENCE.   We all said “convergence” so much, it has ceased to have any real meaning, even all these years later.    Funny!

And with that, I will bid you good weekend.  Keep cool out there!   As usual, feel free to leave comments and tell me how wrong wrong wrong I am about everything.


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About Lori Culwell