sábado, 6 de septiembre de 2014

The scam thickens

Just in case you're just getting your feet dipped in "alternate" publishing and you happen upon his name.

There's a guy named Mike Shatzkin, out there, freelancing to ease publishers into the new world of publishing. If you come from the Big 5 publishing companies, his ideas are outrageously brilliant, risky, daring.

If you've been following this for a while, he's a scammer.

He's quoted here, and you can get the link to the original article and some counterpoints there. I simply refuse to send him traffic and promote his search engine results.

Two fragments:

Perhaps there will never be an “industry answer” to maximizing the marketing clout of our core “unit of appreciation”: the author. But we know that every author who has more than one published piece (book or article) on the Web under their name and who has the intention of publishing more should have the following built into a web presence they control and manage:

* a list of all their books making clear the chronological order of publication (organized by series, if applicable)

* a landing page for each book with cover, description, publisher information (including link to publisher book page), reviews, excerpts, and easy to find retail links for different formats, channels, and territories

* a clear and easy way for readers and fans to send an email and get a response

* a clear and easy way for readers and fans to sign up for email notifications

* a clear and easy way for readers and fans to connect and share via social media

* a calendar that shows any public appearances

* links to articles about or references to the author

Now, how someone who hasn't discovered the "unordered list" html tag can think himself able to counsel others on e-commerce is something that only looks sane from the intelligentsia redoubts.

That said, yes, a writer's site should have all that. There are systems out there that allow you to do it pretty easily (wordpress, the newer templates from blogspot...). That's about a given. It's also curious that he both recognizes and dismisses the brand recognition of a writer's name. On one hand, that's what marketing departments want to work with. On the other... the writer should submit to the publisher. He doesn't advocate for a channel between marketing and the writer. He insists that the writer should do A··Z to suit the publisher's need for brand recognition.

Meanwhile, publishers keep ignoring brand development. No? Tell me, when was the last time you saw a proper "author's page" in a publisher's site. One that included that writer's work outside the publisher?

No, sorry. If you want the benefits of the writer's brand, you have to nurture the whole of that, even that which benefits others. You may put your product first, but you have to acknowledge the rest. Otherwise, your site is misleading, and becomes irrelevant (and black-marked) when a reader notices it... which he will.

But, of course, it's much better to offload the work unto the writer:

They must have an active and up-to-date Amazon author page and Google Plus page; that’s critical for SEO. Twitter and Facebook promotional activity might be optional, none of the rest of this is if an author is serious about pursuing a commercially successful career.

My thoughts on that can be understood from here. Also, that's not SEO. Apparently, he knows "that internet thingie" about as well as publishing. I mean, I haven't posted the part where he admits to a 60,000 USD writer's website. Even if they didn't take that budget, the fact that it was even on the table is revealing.

And every publisher and agent should be urging authors to see these minimum requirements as absolutely necessary, offering advice, help, and financial support whenever possible. Authors should be wary of publishers who want to “own” the author’s web presence but they should expect publishers to be wary of any author who doesn’t nurture their own.

"No taxation without representation". Does that ring a bell? When publishers start giving writers enough say on their projects, then we can talk. Right now, they're getting about 80% of distribution net. No, you can't really consider their expenses, not when they insist on top Manhattan space and 5-figure websites. What's the current advance for a midlist writer, again?

My marketing whiz partner Pete McCarthy’s recommendation is that the authors own their websites but that the publisher run a parent Google Analytics account across author sites. That would enable them to monitor across authors, use tools like Moz to improve search (that would be beyond most authors’ abilities to manage and understand), and provide real support to authors optimizing their own web presence. This kind of collaboration is particularly appealing because it is reversible; the author can at any point install their own Google Analytics and remove the site from the publisher’s visibility. What this takes is for a publisher to set up the “parent” Google Analytics account and make a clear offer to authors of the support they can provide. As far as we know, only Penguin Random House — using an analytics tool called Omniture subsequently acquired by Adobe — offers this capability. Pete set it up a few years ago when he was there. As far we know, nobody else has done so.

This solution allows authors to own their own sites and email lists — ownership of email lists is a massively underdiscussed point between authors and publishers — but for publishers to have a sense of what’s going on. That means they can make recommendations about marketing, employing what is usually (and should just about always be) their superior marketing knowledge on behalf of the shared objective of selling more books.

Your whiz of a partner and yourself, sir, are scamming writers.

One, suppose that you have several publishers. Do you really have to give code access to your site to all of them? And, frankly, getting their widget and installing it yourself could be worse, if they approach coding standards the way they approach everything else.

But the thing is that he's advocating that writers give for free something that has a price (try buying data; better yet, try buying that kind of data to, say, amazon), a certain maintenance cost (small, but there), that gives data on their competition (heh... or do you suppose they should filter that before giving the data to the publisher?) and that they never shared themselves when that data was on paper and mainframes. That, by issuing cryptic semestral royalty reports, are still refusing to share.

Also, that article of his was over 1500 words. Good enough for a short story. Several printed pages long.

You should ask, where's his return of investment? That's a professional page.

Take care.

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