Friday, August 12, 2011

Interview with Peter Costanzo, Director of Digital Content & eBook Sales, F+W Media, Inc.

Peter Costanzo is the Director of Digital Content & eBook Sales for F+W Media, Inc. wherehe produces enhanced eBooks, apps, and special eBook projects for their various communities. Prior to his current position, he was Director of Online Marketing for The Perseus Books Group for more than seven years. His interview with Book Marketing Buzz blog is below:
1.      What do you spend most of your day doing? I spend my time working with app developers, in-house ePub programmers, outside digital conversion houses, cover designers, web designers, marketing and publicity teams, community leaders, retail vendors, and reviewing digital products in development. I speak with these various folks on a daily basis to develop apps and enhanced eBooks, as well as some special, short eBook projects. It's a lot of work but it's never boring and very rewarding when it all goes well. 

2.      What do you love most about the book publishing industry? The main thing that attracts me most to publishing is the unpredictability of each day. That's because on any given day I have no idea what might happen next. And for this reason I'm excited to get up in the morning and honestly can't wait to get to work. For me having an opportunity to create something that didn't previously exist is a real rush and is a major part of what drives me. I'm also amazed by the talented people I have the privilege to work with on a daily basis and enjoy the enthusiasm and energy they bring to the table. They inspire me to do the best I can. 

3.      What trends are you seeing in the book industry? I'm seeing the desire to innovate as a growing trend, whether it be in the development of new products or the way books, both digital and print, are being marketed to the masses. The smart, savvy, inventive people within publishing and bookselling are fully aware there's a need to rethink some aspects of our business to survive and prosper in today's challenging marketplace. 

4.      Which genres work best for developing e-books? Why? For straight text "vanilla" eBooks I've seen incredible support by readers of mystery/thriller because they're willing to try someone new and then become very loyal to that author, especially ones who write series featuring a reoccurring character. I do believe the "how-to" market, which are the kinds of books my company F+W Media mainly publishes, do very well in the enhanced eBook space. We're seeing very good response by our communities to the products we've released that focus on their passions. 

5.      You are also involved in creating Apps. Tell us how Apps are revolutionizing publishing today. Apps are a portal to whatever the imagination can conjure up. But most of the revolutionizing is happening in the app space by people who are not necessarily directly associated with publishing, so I'd say apps are changing the way people discover and read the written word when presented in ways that don't necessarily follow a traditional book format. What I love about apps is how they can be updated at anytime, making the content vibrant and relevant on an ongoing basis. 

6.      What should authors be doing to promote and market themselves? That's a tough one. I know many authors are doing all kinds of things they never imagined they would have to in order to support their work, whether it's tweeting, having a presence on Facebook, etc., and some embrace it and others wish the "new" marketing channels would just go away. Let's face it, it's a lot of work to Blog, to stay engaged, to make appearances, and so on, all while trying to be creative enough to write the next book. But I guess I'd suggest a willingness to try new ideas, even the ones that might seem a bit crazy, because these days it takes quite a lot to break through the noise to get noticed. I'd also recommend building an email list by collecting emails at every appearance, on their website/Blog, and via Facebook. Being able to directly communicate with your readers is still a very powerful way to stay connected and to creatively remind your readers why they were fans in the first place. 

7.      How can publishers work more closely with their authors on PR and marketing? I believe publishers do make an effort to work closely with authors and usually have the best intentions to promote and sell the author's work. That said, I'm sure most authors wish they were receiving more attention from their publicity team and feel abandoned after the window to "make" a book has closed. But good communication months and months before a book is published between the two can be very helpful as well as understanding the expectations of both sides as to what might/will happen with the book once it's come out. And building a springboard to launch from months in advance as opposed to the week a book goes on sale is key. It's a shared effort and if both parties are in synch it can lead to some terrific promotional opportunities. 

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