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Wednesday, August 10, 2011

E-Book Signings In A Computer Nearest You

A new site, www.autography.com is now offering a way for authors to autograph their digital works. It also hopes to offer video-chat book signings.

By 2015, according to Forrester Research, e-book sales will triple to nearly $3 billion annually.  “Autography allows authors to create autograph pages, include digital pictures or stock photos as desired, and write personalized messages using a stylus,” says The Writer’s September issue.  “Those pages can then be mailed and downloaded into the e-books on readers’ devices.”

I am sure technology will continue to come up with ways to simulate the real world just as the adult industry seeks to create sex toys that resemble the real thing.  Of course, nothing replaces human touch for book signings and intimate relationships, but I guess technology should try to always advance one’s capabilities to mirror the real world.

Interview With Kirkus Reviews Indie Editor Perry Crowe

Perry Crowe has been the editor of Kirkus Indie, Kirkus’ review service for self-published authors, for about a year and a half, but before that, he freelanced for Kirkus, reviewing nonfiction and writing features. He has worked in media and/or publishing for about six years, and in that time he has self-published a novel, reported on hard news, blogged about culture, assisted an author on a book for a major publisher, created an online humor magazine, wrote a music column and edited parts of the features section of the Los Angeles Times. Before all that, he worked in television. His interview with Book Marketing Buzz Blog is below:

1.      What role do book reviews play today for authors and publishers? Reviews are a great way to distill a book into an easily digestible, sharable nugget of information. With books on the whole being fairly significant investments of readers’ time, both in terms of how long it takes to read a book and that reading is active entertainment rather than passive like watching a movie or TV show, and with readers being inundated with media options and more harried and than ever, authors and publishers need to get information across as quickly as possible. Kirkus has always provided succinct reviews of about 300 words, carefully balancing summary and criticism, and those reviews help people make quick, well-informed decisions about their reading choices. And since our ownership change at the beginning of 2010, we’ve been aggressively modernizing our website, and now our online reviews are fully integrated with Facebook, Twitter, Google +1 and e-mail, so authors and publishers can instantly spread their Kirkus reviews far and wide. Discoverability is crucial for books, and reviews can open the door to a lot of promotional opportunities, particularly online.

2.      Not that long ago, it was Kirkus, PW, Library Journal, Choice, NYT and a handful of key publications that reviewed books and greatly influenced a book’s fate. Now there are a zillion online reviewers and bloggers. What do you make of this change? There are a lot of voices out there, and everyone is entitled to his or her opinion. Ultimately, readers find the people or publications they feel most simpatico with, and that’s who they listen to when deciding what to read. Kirkus embraces blogging. We have a book blogger network where we’ve sought out some of the top talent from popular book blogs to produce original content for our site. Then we link to their site, they link to ours, and we expand the ongoing conversation about books. But even with the wide variety of voices currently weighing in on the best books, readers know they can come to Kirkus for professional reviews from experienced, unbiased book lovers. And that level of craftsmanship isn’t nearly as widespread.

3.      What do you love most about reviewing books? What I love most about reviewing books is being on the frontlines of publishing, seeing the new stuff and then telling people about it. What I love most about editing the Indie section and seeing all these self-published books is the exposure to unfiltered humanity. These aren’t books that some acquisitions editor thought were highly marketable; this is what people really want to write about. The authors aren’t getting paid to write them—in fact, sometimes they’re paying quite a bit to publish these books. So these are the stories and subjects that really matter to people. This is the stuff they’re thinking about and wrestling with and compelled by. The stuff that’s important to them. And that’s really fascinating to see. It’s like having a populist window on the Zeitgeist.

4.      What do you predict we’ll see in the next few years for book publishing? I think we’ll see continued growth in digital. I think chain brick-and-mortar book stores will continue to suffer, but independent bookstores, particularly those with used books, will develop into a real niche market, like today’s vinyl record stores. I also think we’ll see more big name authors go the self-publishing route as they realize they can do a lot of the marketing themselves, applying their name recognition to social networking sites, growing their brand and keeping more of the money generated by their book sales. At the same time, I think we’ll see more successful self-published authors signed to traditional publishers, with the publishers using self-publishing and online writing communities as a sort of farm system to determine good potential investments for them.

5.      What are the hot genres today? The pulpy stuff. Paranormal romance and thrillers. Things with a racing plot. I think e-readers encourage that sort of light fare, page-turners and potboilers, serialized stories. That’s especially true because of e-books’ lower price point. You burn through each installment and move on to the next, like watching a TV series en masse on DVD or Netflix.

6.      Are too many books being published? I wouldn’t say so. I certainly wouldn’t tell people to stop publishing. But people have to decide what they want out of their publishing experience. If you just want to have a book to hold in your hands and share with friends and family, that’s an easily achievable goal. But if you’re really thinking of using your book to vault to fame and fortune, you need to be aware that a very small fraction of a fraction of a percent of books achieve that for their authors. And you can’t just throw money at a book idea until it’s good, regardless of how many service providers are out there. But, really, having so many books published is good for Kirkus, because it increases the need for a discerning voice to direct people to the best books.

7.      What do you look for in a book when reviewing it? It depends on the subject or genre, but in general I’m looking for something that feels both fresh and familiar. Either a radically new idea that still feels grounded in the tried-and-true fundamentals of storytelling, or a new take on a classic idea, which immediately draws you in but keeps you guessing. It’s that sweet spot of simultaneously being of your time and timeless.

Brian Feinblum is the chief marketing officer of Planned Television Arts (www.plannedtvarts.com) but the views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and are personal and do not reflect the official viewpoints of PTA. You can read his blog (http://www.bookmarketingbuzzblog.blogspot.com) and follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at brianfeinblum@gmail.com

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