A Digital Roadmap for Writers


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Looks at recent developments in ebooks and digital publishing, including Apple's iPad, and the impact of digitisation on authors. Examines changing role of the publisher, digital contracts, ebook self-publishing options, how writing might change. Finally, there's a crash course in internet marketing, an essential skill for writers.

Presentation to the New Zealand Society of Authors, 15 May 2010
By Martin Taylor, Director, Digital Publishing Forum

Published in: Education, Business, Technology

A Digital Roadmap for Writers

  1. 1. A Digital Roadmap For Writers NZSA AGM Christchurch, 15 May 2010 Martin Taylor Digital Publishing Forum http://digitalpublishing.org.nz [email_address]
  2. 2. Outline <ul><li>The rise of ebooks </li></ul><ul><li>The business of ebooks </li></ul><ul><li>Is it time to fire my publisher ? </li></ul><ul><li>Will writing change or books die? </li></ul><ul><li>A crash course in internet marketing </li></ul><ul><li>More if time permits because … there’s more . </li></ul>
  3. 3. How big is this? <ul><li>This is happening in the midst of a generational shift in technology </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Decline of PC, rise of mobile web and “ the cloud” </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Proliferation of smart mobile devices connecting to the cloud </li></ul><ul><ul><li>standards wars (but has Apple already won?) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Google, Apple, Amazon are early drivers </li></ul>
  4. 4. Music’s iPod moment <ul><li>Disruptive technology changes the game </li></ul><ul><li>Apple sells billions of songs in the face of free </li></ul><ul><li>Five years for 5 billion, 1.8 years for next 5 billion </li></ul><ul><li>iTunes share now 69% of online music sales (Amazon 8%) and 24% of all music sales in US </li></ul>Source: MacRumors.com iTunes reaches 10 billion music downloads, 24 Feb 2010
  5. 5. Books’ iPod Moment (courtesy of Amazon’s 90% share) +333% Q4 2009 vs Q4 2008 US trade ebook market growth, 2002-2009 Amazon Kindle launched Sony Reader launched
  6. 6. Next?
  7. 7. Skiff Hearst / Plastic Logic Dell Streak Google Android HP Slate Windows 7 Google Nexus One Android Notion Ink Adam Android / Pixel Qi
  8. 8. Speed of consumer technology adoption Source: NY Times
  9. 9. Is this already a one horse race? Source: Flurry.com Mobile App Development by Platform
  10. 10. The iPad: Is it a new paradigm for presentation of digital works? <ul><li>iPad is part of a new digital paradigm </li></ul><ul><li>Multi-touch: Pinch, swipe, tap (no mouse or keyboard) </li></ul><ul><li>Multiple media types </li></ul><ul><li>Optimised for media </li></ul><ul><li>Connected </li></ul><ul><li>The sizzle to win consumers, media </li></ul>Source: YouTube, woodwing.com, the wonderfactory.com, zinio.com
  11. 11. Illustrated publications and the iPad
  12. 12. Who sells ebooks <ul><li>So far, a small number of mostly global players </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Amazon, Apple, Google Editions (Jul), Kobo (NZ) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>High barriers to entry compared to bookstores </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Will ebooks be dominated by a few big players ? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>cf Music: Apple has 70% share of paid downloads </li></ul></ul><ul><li>What are the barriers today for booksellers? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>High technology costs and expertise </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Difficulty acquiring ebooks and managing metadata </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Scale needed to compete with large global players </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>High security and trust requirements from publishers </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Google Editions might reduce entry barriers </li></ul>
  13. 13. What sells? Source: O’Reilly Research, iBooks downloads during April 2010
  14. 14. How much should the ebook edition of a $30 paper book cost? Source: Digital Publishing Forum: digitalpublishing.org.nz – online poll conducted February-March 2009
  15. 15. What’s driving ebook pricing? <ul><li>Major publishers typically set ebook price today equal to cheapest p-book edition </li></ul><ul><ul><li>But with Amazon’s discounting, US$9.99 was becoming the de facto retail price </li></ul></ul><ul><li>April 3, 2010 it all changed: the agency model </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Catalyst was Apple’s iPad launch </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Means publisher sets selling price, no discounting allowed, all sites will have same retail price , retailer gets a commission </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Could create a more diverse market with more retail channels </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Will it help to keep prices up? Consumers will decide. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Rental or subscriptions might also work </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“ Owning” books will become less important </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Need for multiple price points in a market </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>How will libraries fit into this new world? </li></ul></ul><ul><li>About 60%+ of a print book’s cost is distribution </li></ul>
  16. 16. Average selling price in iBooks (US$) Source: O’Reilly Research, iBooks downloads during April 2010
  17. 17. Royalties: Print vs ebook <ul><li>In general, ebook royalties are a higher % </li></ul><ul><li>Unclear how close ‘e’ price will stay to ‘p’ </li></ul><ul><ul><li>But volumes might rise, eg more ‘pass along’ readers might pay </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Consumers expect lower prices </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Most publisher and author costs are similar </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Industry must remove costs from distribution, not author/publisher, to finance this </li></ul></ul>Royalties 10.50 15% net 14.00 20% net 30% 43% Retailer $100 $100 RRP 17.50 25% net 9.98 17.5% net $10.00 $10.00 10% RRP $70 $57 Net Ebook Print
  18. 18. Digital Contracts <ul><li>“ Wait and see” is a bad approach for both authors and the industry </li></ul><ul><li>Better to limit term than to do nothing </li></ul><ul><ul><li>eg three years then a review </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Typical royalties 15-25% of net receipts </li></ul><ul><li>Licensed editions vs publisher editions </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Higher rate should apply to licensed editions </li></ul></ul>
  19. 19. Contracts (cont.d) <ul><li>Should you separate digital from print rights? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Useful negotiating tactic, perhaps … but most publishers will shun this and difficult to manage </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Who does promotion? Could reduce incentives at a critical time for a new book </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Coordination: You should probably aim for simultaneous release of p & ebook </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Potential for duplicated editing and production costs </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>More likely to work for older backlist </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Revised NZSA contract with digital update is due shortly </li></ul>
  20. 20. Should I insist on Digital Rights Management? <ul><li>Probably, but: </li></ul><ul><li>DRM reduces copying by encrypting an ebook </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Special software needed at reader end to decrypt </li></ul></ul><ul><li>There are many incompatible DRM systems </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Same format can be incompatible if different DRM system used </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Adobe DRM is ‘open’ option (open for anyone to buy) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Publisher will almost certainly propose DRM </li></ul><ul><li>Limits e-reader devices and sales channels </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Makes it harder to build audience for new author </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Do sales lost to piracy outweigh sales lost from DRM? </li></ul></ul>
  21. 21. Is it time to fire your publisher? KEY: ↑ More important to author ↓ Less important ↔ Same ↑ ↑ ↔ ↔ ↓ ↓ ↓ ↔ ↓ ↑ .. and digital? Marketing to readers Sell other rights Collect and distribute royalties Marketing to booksellers Distribution Sales to booksellers Editing and production Provide finance Selection and endorsement What publishers do … for print
  22. 22. So you’ve fired your publisher. What next? <ul><li>The good news: Self-publishing is easier than ever (but success probably isn’t) </li></ul><ul><li>Amazon ’s Digital Text Platform </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Receive 30-70%, Kindle format (DRM) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Smashwords .com </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Receive 85%, ePub format (no DRM) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Also has Publisher option for multi-author list </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Lulu .com </li></ul><ul><ul><li>US$4-5 per download, ePub, Adobe DRM optional </li></ul></ul>
  23. 23. Self publishers selling well in Apple’s iBooks store Source: O’Reilly Research, iBooks downloads during April 2010
  24. 24. Making an ebook, made easy <ul><li>Options </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Conversion from print PDF via conversion service (work usually done in India) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Upload Word file to an automated system </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>eg Amazon, Smashwords, Lulu. Aimed at self-publishers. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Fine while production expectations are low </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>D-I-Y , eg using Adobe InDesign, or Calibre </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Technical skills needed (InDesign, HTML, CSS) </li></ul></ul></ul>
  25. 25. Making an ebook, made easy <ul><li>For books, recommended formats today are ePub and PDF </li></ul><ul><li>PDF is a poor choice for new mobile devices </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Useful for print including print on demand (POD) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>‘ Legacy’ format for complex layouts and PC-based access </li></ul></ul><ul><li>ePub is a variation of web technology (HTML) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Best suited today for long form narrative works </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Next ePub version 2.1 (due 2012) will be better for highly illustrated/complex layout works </li></ul></ul>
  26. 26. Will writing change? <ul><li>More social, less solo . Wisdom? of the crowd </li></ul><ul><ul><li>More critics  Internet brings opinions to the world </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Shared annotations and marginalia will be an increasing trend </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Public writing process: creating new works, in real time, with their readers contributing, eg O’Reilly </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Continuous updates: ‘ Literature as a service ’ </li></ul><ul><li>Usability will be important </li></ul><ul><li>The ‘vook’: a multimedia extravaganza </li></ul><ul><ul><li>There should always be a place for works conceived and executed solo </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Multimedia is inevitable (and good) for some genres </li></ul></ul>
  27. 27. Will the printed book die? <ul><li>Probably , over a generation or so </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Hard to see how print will compete as reading devices improve </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Economics and usability will cement digital’s place </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Preservation issues still to be solved </li></ul></ul><ul><li>‘ Beautiful books’ might remain a thriving niche </li></ul><ul><li>Print on demand will extend print’s life </li></ul><ul><li>Will long form narrative works survive? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Absolutely, perhaps stronger than ever </li></ul></ul><ul><li>More opportunities to read = more reading </li></ul>
  28. 28. A crash course in internet marketing What you need to do (but, alas, not how to do it)
  29. 29. The Toolset <ul><li>Website or blog </li></ul><ul><li>Search </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Organic and paid </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Email (‘old’ but still good  ) </li></ul><ul><li>Social media </li></ul><ul><li>Metadata </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The unglamorous but high payback foundation </li></ul></ul>
  30. 30. Getting found , getting bought <ul><li>Metadata (‘data about data’) describes your book to both machines and people </li></ul><ul><li>It contains bibliographic information, rights and usage data, and sales information </li></ul><ul><ul><li>It’s key to being discovered by search engines (Google or a site’s own search) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>And it contains your primary sales pitch for humans </li></ul></ul><ul><li>So make it accurate, complete and rich </li></ul>
  31. 31. Search <ul><li>Paid Search – ‘Pay Per Click’ advertising </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Google adwords, YouTube etc </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Organic search </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Getting high up in the search results </li></ul></ul><ul><li>A big subject but for the most important thing – fresh, relevant content - writers will be better at than most </li></ul><ul><li>Start with list of key words and key phrases searchers will use to find you </li></ul>
  32. 32. SEO Top 5: Tune Your Website <ul><li>Use keywords in Title (<title> tag) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Title shows on the top bar of visitor’s browser </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Useful, unique and fresh content </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Keywords in first 50-100 words of HTML page </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Use keywords in Heading 1 (<h1> tag) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Heading 2-6 (<h2> to <h6> tags) also useful </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Keyword use in page links </li></ul><ul><ul><li>both internal links and external (in-bound) links </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Site design: useful hierarchy , text-based links , breadcrumbs, sitemap (and XML Sitemap), keywords in domain name and directory structure </li></ul>Ranking based loosely on data from: http://www.seomoz.org/article/search-ranking-factors
  33. 33. Social Media <ul><li>Connects people to friends, business colleagues and interest groups </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Marketing power is in the potential to dramatically increase ‘Word of Mouth’ </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Facebook and Twitter (LinkedIn for business) are the best to focus on today </li></ul><ul><ul><li>A Facebook Page or Group is an alternative to a blog or website </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Twitter is a great way to share updates and interesting links about your field of interest </li></ul></ul>
  34. 34. Social media (cont.d) <ul><li>First principle of social media: “ Give and you shall receive” </li></ul><ul><ul><li>People will follow you, spread the word, if you offer good information, opinion, etc </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Be very respectful: hard sell is a turn-off </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Social networks need to be maintained regularly (but don’t overdo it) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Automation helps you update multiple media </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>But don’t get an ‘automated feel’: let people know there’s a human behind it. Personality matters . </li></ul></ul>
  35. 35. Instant website A free website in 5 steps
  36. 37. A free website in 5 steps <ul><li>Go to WordPress.com </li></ul><ul><li>Sign Up for a free account then Login </li></ul><ul><li>Go to Appearances | Themes </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Choose a theme (site design) and Activate it </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Go to Settings | General </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Add your site’s Title and Tagline </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Go to Posts | Add New </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Write your first story and Publish! </li></ul></ul>
  37. 38. Add PAGES for static information
  38. 39. Instant website (cont.d) <ul><li>(Optional) Go to Pages | Add New </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Write pages for static info (eg Home, About Us, Contact Us) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Go to Settings | Reading </li></ul><ul><ul><li>For Front Page Display select A static page </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Choose a Page for the Front page and for the Posts page (ie your news/blog articles) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Save Changes . You’re done! </li></ul>
  39. 40. Internet Marketing Summary <ul><li>The internet puts more marketing and selling tools in authors’ hands </li></ul><ul><li>You still need time and ongoing commitment to use it (after the day job) </li></ul><ul><li>Authors committing to use these tools should expect strong support from their publishers </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Driving traffic, creating digital resources to use on their sites, etc </li></ul></ul><ul><li>This will become an increasingly important part of assessing which publisher is best for you </li></ul>
  40. 41. Thanks! Martin Taylor web: digitalpublishing.org.nz email: martin@digitalstrategies.co.nz blog: activitypress.com/ ereport