Friday, February 17, 2012

The “Value” Of Social Media

I just read an article in the Wall Street Journal about a Web site that has gotten millions of monthly visitors but makes no money.  But it’s worth $200 million, by some estimates.  The site: is nothing special and seems like other social networking-type sites.  But it’s another place to promote things, another site for people to share images and ideas for free.  I have nothing against the site but it’s insane when you get over 10 million visitors in a month and you can’t figure out how to monetize it. 

Even more scandalous is the fact investors value the startup to be worth so much.  By what metric do they look at to make such a determination?  Sure there is potential there, but let’s not go crazy. Until the site charges for something, sells more ads, or finds a way to partner with other vendors, the site is worth about 200 million below its estimated value. Still, for those promoting books, Pinterest is the latest craze that, like all other social media sites, should be used, but not obsessed over.

Publishing Incorrect?

For those of you who admire the genius of Bill Maher and his HBO version of Politically Incorrect, you might appreciate this idea:  What if we had a blog or magazine dedicated to book publishing that was written by people not in the industry:?  You could have people from other industries comment on the industry, books, and the world of publishing.  How about a Sports Illustrated model serving on a panel with a U.S. Congressman, a comedian and an actress, where they debate whether Amazon is good for publishing, which is better for society: e-readers or bookstores, and whether publishers should pay bigger royalty shares on e-books? 

The blog or e-magazine can have advertisements but the advertisers will be mocked and criticized on the editorial side.  We can allow authors and book professionals to comment on issues but only ones that don’t relate to books.  We’ll have book publicists comment on political issues, literary agents discuss gay rights and book editors will weigh in on the death penalty.  It’ll be a real lovefest of ideas from those least qualified. Then again, who really is qualified to talk about anything? Credentials and degrees haven’t solved the world’s problems, have they? Maybe the best advice comes from people who speak about something they are not experts in.

Interview With Carol Hoenig, Publishing Consultant Inc.

1.      Carol, what do you do as a publishing consultant? I cover a lot of territory as a publishing consultant, but mostly I do manuscript critiques, help authors with book proposals and query letters, co-writing, ghostwriting, editing, marketing and publicity. I often consult authors, too, regarding going the route of self-publishing.

2.      What do authors most often need help in? It really depends on where they are in the process, but I do get a lot of clients wanting publicity.

3.      What did you do before becoming a publishing consultant? Well, since I am a writer, I have always done that, but I was also a National Event Specialist for Borders Group. I was the only one in the company based out of Manhattan, my office located in the Park Avenue location until 9/11. We lost a downtown store and staff was uprooted. I was asked if I could work from my home office then so that my Park Ave. office could be used during the upheaval. I was with the company for 11 years and in 2005 much of the marketing department was eliminated. I lost my job on the very same day that I got my first review for my novel “Without Grace.” It was a wonderful, encouraging review and I decided that day to see if I could work as a freelancer. What grew from that is my publishing consulting business.

4.      What do you love most about being a part of the industry? The books. That was one of the few things that I missed when I started working from my home office, even though I have a personal library to be envied. Still, the reason I got into the business in the first place was for the written word.

5.      How do you see the changes in book publishing impacting the industry? Well, as you know, Borders, through many of their own missteps, has ridden off into the sunset. It’s difficult now to find places for authors to do readings, even though bookstores weren’t and aren’t always where the audience is. I am also just now promoting my e-book “Of Little Faith,” having been made an offer from Booktango to be one of their first beta-testers. This will give me firsthand knowledge about how to promote an e-book for authors who have gone that route.

6.      Any advice to a struggling writer? I am on a lot of panel discussions at writers’ conferences and do a number of talks, and one piece of advice that I always tell writers is that just because it’s so much easier to get past the gatekeeper now, thanks to the Internet and self-publishing, it doesn’t mean writers should rush to do so. I get a number of authors who come to me wanting me to “fine tune” their manuscripts since they are going to self-publish and it’s apparent that they haven’t put the time and work into the craft of writing. What they require is much more than fine tuning. I warn writers that if they rush to self-publish, they may be hurting any chance for a future in this business.

For more information, please consult:

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 He feels more important when discussed in the third-person.

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