9 Matching Annotations
  1. May 2021
    1. There’s a version of the “why writers should blog” story that is tawdry and mercenary: “Blog,” the story goes, “and you will build a brand and a platform that you can use to promote your work.”Virtually every sentence that contains the word “brand” is bullshit, and that one is no exception.

      "Brand" is bullshit.

    1. Some newspapers, most recently the New York Times, have forbidden writers from launching personal newsletters without permission.

      Using their platform to build your own platform apparently isn't kosher any more?

  2. Apr 2021
    1. Sorry to hear this Dan, but I might be able to help in terms of providing some perspective for moving forward.

      These days the idea of bestseller means selling in the range of 10,000 books. The average book released these days sells only 250 copies, so if you're over that, you're doing well.

      It's also incredibly uncommon for any publishers to put any serious money behind promoting their titles unless PR opportunities are falling off the trees for them. (This means that unless you've been selling a million copies of everything you write, they probably don't care.) Many publishers will assign you a pro-forma publicist to help when they can, but don't expect much from them. Most publishers will tell you to hire your own book publicist (usually for about $1,500-3,000 a month).

      My guess is that the first run of your book was probably 1,000 to 2,000 books, which will bring the cost of raw printing down to $2 a copy. If you need copies of your book and they're remaindering them, you might offer the publisher $1-2 a copy plus shipping to get 50 or 100 copies for yourself for hand sales over the next decade (for speaking engagements, etc.) or selling a few copies from your own stash on platforms like Amazon, Abebooks, Alibris, etc. The cost of keeping a book in print these days is usually around $12 a year and then they print them on demand.

      Some of the methods you mentioned, talks, online readings, etc. can be useful marketing for both you and your book(s). Look around your local community/state for book events, fairs, bookstores that invite authors, etc to supplement this.

      Depending on your next title, it might be worth hiring a publicist if you're going the route of a text accessible to a broader public.Often this can be a reasonable risk but getting copies into reviewers' hands can be helpful, as can radio or print appearances. Another option is to pay for adds in appropriate print magazine outlets related to your material.

      It's an uphill slog, but getting a publisher to take most of the risk and offering you all the free amenities of editing, proofreading, typesetting and distribution can be worth it in the end to get your material out.

      When choosing your next publisher/editor, have a bit of this conversation with them at the outset to see what expectations they have for themselves. Don't tip your hand though by letting them know prior sales numbers.

      Since you've got your own website/newsletter/social media presence, you should also look into affiliate accounts with the bigger online platforms. Chances are you're actually selling most of your own copies, you may as well get a 4% or larger cut of the referrals you're giving. Your link on this page alone could give you a reasonable little return on top of the boilerplate 7% you're probably getting from the publisher.

    1. (Substack has courted a number of Times writers. I turned down an offer of an advance well above my Times salary, in part because of the editing and the platform The Times gives me, and in part because I didn’t think I’d make it back — media types often overvalue media writers.)

      This is an important data point. Almost no one is putting any value on editing and other institutional support that outlets provide. Some writers can see at least a little bit of the future.

    2. This new ability of individuals to make a living directly from their audiences isn’t just transforming journalism. It’s also been the case for adult performers on OnlyFans, musicians on Patreon, B-list celebrities on Cameo. In Hollywood, too, power has migrated toward talent, whether it’s marquee showrunners or actors. This power shift is a major headache for big institutions, from The New York Times to record labels. And Silicon Valley investors, eager to disrupt and angry at their portrayal in big media, have been gleefully backing it. Substack embodies this cultural shift, but it’s riding the wave, not creating it.

      This has always been the case, especially in Hollywood. The problem becomes that everyone thinks they can become rich and famous too. Talent shows like American Idol show us that this is rarely the case. Building a platform for oneself is not an easy thing to do, even if you've got the talent.

  3. Oct 2020
    1. Newport is an academic — he makes his primary living teaching computer science at a university, so he already has a built-in network and a self-contained world with clear moves towards achievement.

      This is one of the key reasons people look to social media--for the connections and the network they don't have via non-digital means. Most of the people I've seen with large blogs or well-traveled websites have simply done a much better job of connecting and interacting with their audience and personal networks. To a great extent this is because they've built up a large email list to send people content directly. Those people then read their material and comment on their blogs.

      This is something the IndieWeb can help people work toward in a better fashion, particularly with better independent functioning feed readers.

    1. The blog was not just the venue in which I started putting together the ideas that became my second book, the one that made promotion and various subsequent jobs possible, but it was also the way that I was able to demonstrate that there might be a readership for that second book, without which it’s much less likely that a press would have been interested.

      This sounds like she's used her blog as both a commonplace book as well as an author platform.

    1. Flow is ascendant these days, for obvious reasons—but I think we neglect stock at our peril. I mean that both in terms of the health of an audience and, like, the health of a soul. Flow is a treadmill, and you can’t spend all of your time running on the treadmill. Well, you can. But then one day you’ll get off and look around and go: oh man. I’ve got nothing here. I’m not saying you should ignore flow! This is no time to hole up and work in isolation, emerging after years with your work in hand. Everybody will go: huh? Who are you? And even if they don’t—even if your exquisite opus is the talk of the tumblrs for two whole days—if you don’t have flow to plug your new fans into, you’re suffering a huge (get ready for it!) opportunity cost. You’ll have to find those fans all over again next time you emerge from your cave.

      This is a great argument for having an author platform.

  4. Apr 2019
    1. [An aside about exogenous social capital: you might complain that your tweets are more interesting and grammatical than those of, say, Donald Trump (you're probably right!). Or that your photos are better composed and more interesting at a deep level of photographic craft than those of Kim Kardashian. The difference is, they bring a massive supply of exogenous pre-existing social capital from another status game, the fame game, to every table, and some forms of social capital transfer quite well across platforms. Generalized fame is one of them. More specific forms of fame or talent might not retain their value as easily: you might follow Paul Krugman on Twitter, for example, but not have any interest in his Instagram account. I don't know if he has one, but I probably wouldn't follow it if he did, sorry Paul, it’s nothing personal.]

      In publishing circles, this has long been known as platform or author platform--ie that thing that made you famous in the first place that gives you the space to attempt to try to use that fame to sell books.