Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Authors Want Some Linsanity

By now most of America has heard of Linsanity-- referring to the amazing success of Jeremy Lin for the NBA’s New York Knicks. It’s a story because suddenly the 8-15 Knicks went on an 8-1 tear to look like contenders.  Lin came off the bench and quickly became a starter and a star. He went to Harvard, normally not the breeding ground for pro sports athletes. He is Chinese, born in America, the first such player in the pro basketball league’s history.  He is the underdog.  He is lightning in a bottle.  And his name is great for headlines:  Knicks Lin!  Lincredible! Linvincible!

Who knows how long this will last or if the Knicks will go far into the playoffs, but for now there’s plenty of excitement surrounding Lin.

A lot of authors would love to catch some Linsanity for their book.  In fact, that is really how many authors think. They dream of making it big, of having a best-seller, of receiving critical praise, and the feasting of accolades of fellow writers.

The thing is one can’t plan for it. Just like no  one could have predicted the emergence of Lin, just as few can foresee a video going viral.  For every success story out there, thousands fall short of reaching anything near Linsanity.

But Lin’s rise gives hope to the underdog, the unknown, the invisible. Maybe, just maybe, today’s the day your book catches fire. Maybe it’ll be you that everyone is reading and talking about.

Probably not, but you never know.

Interview With Susan Ruszala, President, NetGalley

Susan, why is NetGalley so important to the book publishing experience today? Galley distribution is one of the key publicity and marketing activities performed by publishers and media agencies, but the process of distributing print galleys is cumbersome, expensive, and inefficient. At its simplest, NetGalley helps to simplify and speed up that process by substituting secure digital galleys for print. Then we go beyond that to help publishers identify influencers and measure influence, and launch their titles into a dedicated community of what we call “professional readers”: media, reviewers, librarians, booksellers, educators and bloggers.

How does the process work for  someone who wants to post their book on your site? The process is pretty straightforward. Once the commercial and legal terms have been agreed (in our business model, publishers pay to list their titles on the site), we set up the publisher account and help them get started through training sessions. We can take metadata via ONIX files, and epub and PDF files via our FTP channel. We place a high value on the personal interaction and service our publishers receive from a dedicated Concierge team who help both with title set-up and providing examples and best practices for using digital galleys in campaigns.

When did you begin NetGalley and how has it grown in such a short time period? NetGalley launched as a start-up, and its first iteration was not successful. In 2009 NetGalley was taken over by Firebrand Technologies, a publishing technology company. We re-examined everything—from the business model, to the technology, to the service. We’ve always believed in the concept and promise of digital galleys as a springboard for many other services in the digital space. Our team is small, but they are passionate, dedicated and smart.  From December 2009 to today, our service has added 150 publishers, is being used in North America, Australia, and the UK, and counts over 50,000 members.

What are the rewards and challenges of publishing a book these days? We’re not publishers, but my guess would be that the rewards are the same as they’ve always been: seeing a story or a bank of knowledge benefitting the reader. And while challenges abound, it seems to me that with so many tools and channels available to disseminate and publish content, there’s never been a better time to be in the book space.  One of the challenges I’ve heard taken up recently is that companies and individuals who work in publishing need to help create and cultivate lifelong readers, that we need to help to promote reading as the activity of choice. I couldn’t agree more.

Where do you see book publishing heading? These are confusing times for publishers and for readers. It isn’t that easy to discover, buy or use content digitally. Prices are confusing and seem arbitrary to consumers; books blend into apps and other forms of media; devices aren’t inter-operable. We’re in a time of transformation where the business rules, players, and channels are all being redefined. The more clarity we can bring to the way readers find, buy and use content, the better.

What advice would you give to a struggling writer? Keep writing, of course. But if you want to transition from a struggling writer to a successful author, carefully assess what business aspects you excel at (promotion, marketing, developing an online community, staying engaged with that community) and if you’re not strong in those areas, partner with someone who is.

Podcast Miscellaneous

Want to post a podcast online?  There are many places to post content on, including Facebook, Twitter, and other social media sites. You can also put your podcasts on www.podcastalley.com, www.odes.com, www.americanwriters.com, and www.blogtalkradio.com.

Video Miscellaneous

Video, especially short, interesting, funny and visually arresting clips, can be posted all over the place.  Start with YouTube and then go to sites like vimeo.com, video.yahoo.com, Google Video, Bing Video, metacafe.com, howcast.com, bebo.com, blip.tv, blinkx.com, and dailymotion.com.

Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at brianfeinblum@gmail.com. He feels more important when discussed in the third-person.

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