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The Long Tail Of Publishing Workshop Slides 2009 10 10


Serena Robar presentation at RWA Emerald City Writers' Conference 2009

Serena Robar presentation at RWA Emerald City Writers' Conference 2009

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  • Let’s not forget we are social creatures and like doing things together. We love tactile things.
  • Red part is what brick and mortar stores can carry and still be profitableYellow is what digital or warehouseAfter bestsellers or ‘hits’ sell, what is left and how long does it last?Technology is turning mass markets into millions of nichesBottom Line: A Long Tail is just culture unfiltered by economic scarcity
  • Amazon is just one example of online retailer that doesn’t have to carry a physical inventory.Acquisition of Book Surge for POD technologySheer size of the tail.The average B&N superstore carries around 100k titles, yet more than a quarter of Amazon books sales are coming from outside that top 100,000 titles.
  • Distribution bottle necks demand2004 to 2005 B&N sold 20% more unique titles than they used toWhat bookstores are doing right now. If the above trend continues, how can they offer the selection necessary in their limited physical space?
  • The potential for sales in the Long Tail is huge next to the restraints of shelf space in a Brick and Mortar store.
  • Zombies?
  • First there were bookstores, then there was Amazon and now there is e-books. All physical inventory to no physical inventory=reduced cost to produce and stockWhat happens to the publisher when the bookstore no longer needs them to sell the content? If authors can use bookstores directly, the middle man (publisher) is dead. Revolution. Kings lost their heads (major publishers will fail). Shake up and a new world order emerges. What happens to you, the author?Get it out therePrint via publishere-book OnlineE-readerCell phonesAudioMp3iTunesPortableDownloadablePhysical cdCell phonesDownloadable appskeitaishousetsu: japanese text message novels (top 5 books sold in Japan were text messaging novels) written different, shorter, less description, direct due to cell phone screen size.
  • How to find itAggregates such as Amazon for physical goods, blogs/Social networking for information and word of mouthif you like this buy this, The new tastemasteser: People who’s opinions are respected. Smart Bitches, Book review sites (both print and online), industry experts/bestselling authors, the network hubs of friends (someone everyone knows), celebrities, Smart aggregates are using recommendations to drive sales Let readers do the work
  • Filters will guide you to what you are looking forNot all bestseller lists are created equal, only through filters do we find the bestsellers we CARE about.Niche genres are meant to appeal strongly to a narrow set of tastes
  • Harlequin analogy. Usually when Harlequin finally jumps on a trend, its over. Duets, Flipside, Bombshell, Red Dress Ink, Fear in my heart when they announced Harlequin Teen line. However, the success of Nocturne and Nocturne Bites by reviewing Post Filters, and not relying solely on Pre Filters
  • We are not about writing books, we are about creating Intellectual Property.Sherrilyn Kenyon has Manga and comic books based on her world and characters, she is expanding to action figuresLaurel K Hamilton optioned her Anita Blake character to make video gamesCharlaine Harris optioned True Blood to HBO who is the king of merchandising. True Blood merchandising like soda. All books in the series in the NY Times top 20 at the same time.Savvy agent vs traditional agent. Who are they connected to? Understand the IP markets and put yourself out there.
  • Free is cheaper than paying marketingExcerpts, audio files, deleted scenes, free novella’s, free backlist
  • Links are what get you higher in the search engines/filters


  • 1. The Long Tail of Publishing
    Insights and strategies from Chris Anderson’s bestselling book
    The Long Tail
    Presented by a nerdy YA writer who likes to read economy books for fun-Serena Robar
  • 2. The evolution of markets
    Location, Location, Location
    We go to the goods=the goods come to us
    We are turning from a mass market back to a niche , defined not by our geography but by our own interests.
  • 3. What is the Long Tail?
    Look! A pretty graphic
  • 4. New growth market:Products you can’t find anywhere but online
    5 million titles
    Avg. Superstore
    B&N store: 100,000 titles
    Products not available in largest offline retail stores
    * 3/2008
  • 5. 80-20 sales
    Traditional Brick and Mortar sales model vs Long Tail
    Both are here, which can you influence?
  • 6. The evolution of the 80/20 rule
    Bricks & mortar retailer
    Long Tail retailer
  • 7. Hits are not dead, but their monopoly is over
    Type 1: Authentic Top down products that are excellent and resonate with a broad audience (Harry Potter and Twilight series)
    **Type 2: Synthetic top down hits: lame products with lots of marketing that get people to try them (but regret that they did)
    Type 3:Bottom Up hits that rise from word of mouth and grassroots efforts (13 Reasons Why, True Blood)
  • 8. Three Forces of the Long Tail
    Make it
    Get it out there
    Help me find it
  • 9. How to find it
    Aggregates for everyone
    Online sellers for physical goods
    Filters such as keywords, recommendations based on other people’s purchases, etc
    Blogs/social networking for information
    Filters such as by topic or niche (ie: romance novels and smart bitches, trashy books)
  • 10. Filters in a niche market: Without filters, everything in the long tail is just noise.
    One size filters do not fit all
    Don’t compare apples to oranges
  • 11. Pre filters and Post filters
    We go from predicting tastes(pre-filters) to measuring tastes(post-filters)
    Once something is measured or quantified, it creates a market. Vampires anyone?
  • 12. 6 rules of successful Long Tail authors
    Your books, your backlist
    Let the fans do the work
    One distribution method doesn’t fit all
    One book=many opportunities
    Understand the power of free
    Art of social networking
  • 13. Your books and backlist
    Don’t keep your backlist from the readers because a publisher doesn’t have it in print
  • 14. Let fans do the work
    Make banner ads to give away on your site
    Encourage fan fiction
    Get a street team going
    Allow comments and interact
    Yahoo groups or forums
  • 15. One distribution method doesn’t fit all
    Make books available in all formats
    Print (traditional)
  • 16. One book=many opportunities
    Magazine excerpts
    Movie/tv options
    Video game tie ins
    Merchandising tie ins
  • 17. Understand the power of free
    Online excerpts
    Deleted scenes
    Interviews with characters
    Free book, novella, backlist
    Niche things (recipes, knitting patterns, etc)
  • 18. Art of social networking
    Who is influential in our space?
    How do I influence them?
    Effective blogging
    Building your customer list
    Art of begging for links
    Contests, gimmicks, meme and other link bait