7.08.2005

The wave of the future ...

is a tsunami with MJ Rose on a surfboard.

Courtesy of the Dwarf
is a zippy new book marketing tool called VIDLIT
and if you click on that link you'll see a "vid lit" for MJ Rose's book
The Halo Effect. For more info about the book and MJ Rose,
Mr Perkins has a nice interview with her.

I had to remember to turn on my sound again, and it's not the best on
dial up, but you'll get the idea

People wailed and moaned when Jane Friedman CEO of Harper talked about branding books with
the publisher not the author but Jane Friedman is one smart lady
and when I see vidlit I can see Jane's vision:

Imagine if you will that your cell phone gets a text message that you've got incoming mail. You click yes, and for 93 seconds you see a vidlit promotion about a book. You click (or more correctly -thumb-) yes, and within 24 hours the book is delivered to your door. Your credit card is charged $8.95.

The technology for that chain of events is in place and working.
What remains is for publishers to collect their wits and begin both
marketing books like that AND using print on demand technology.

With POD technology, almost 30% of the cost of a hardcover book and 20% of a trade paperback is eliminated because you don't have to allow for returns.

(That info came to me from a seminar at the Small Press Center about two years ago).

I can certainly envision a savvy publisher bypassing brick and mortar stores for books that will appeal to a particular demographic. Literary fiction for example. Smart political books that don' rely on snarky titles to make a point. Poetry. Literature in translation. First time novelists in any genre.

We ALREADY brand by publisher within the industry in case you haven't noticed. Any reputable agent can tell you what an FSG book is like, what a Picador book is like, and what a Judith Regan book is like. Consumers may not do that yet.... but they will.

The good news is that this means that publishing as we know it will not disappear in a sea of self published POD trash heaps. The only way someone is going to thumb YES consistently enough to make this process work is if they get books they like to read. Maybe not "good books" in the pretentious New York look down our noses at the stuff that sells definition of good ... but "good" in the sense of exactly what the LitBlog Coop is struggling to define right now. One of my authors described it thus: a good book that keeps you engaged and when you're done you throw it over the back fence to the neighbor.

The world is changing and we're gonna be standing in here with our dicks in our hands wondering what the hell just hit us if we don't plan for this coming wave.

Surf's up snarklings!

11 comments:

Mark said...

Ms. Snark why should returnability be scrapped? That's what the trash heap of POD amounts to: books no store will take for this very reason. If they were sold cheaper than offset that would be one thing, but they aren't.

These sort of changes aren't ready for prime time yet for this very basic reason. If you have a book in a store you can damn well get it online if you so choose as it stands now. If it's only available online the data shows that hardly anyone will ever see it, much less buy it. What am I missing here?

Miss Snark said...

You're missing the point of the "vid lit" promo. It's like a calling card for a book. One reason people don't buy books online is that they can't find them, and another is that there's no quality control on POD.

What I tried to describe was a scene where consumers trusted the quality of the book because of the publisher brand.

As to returns: it's my opinion that this business model is choking the life out of publishing. I can think of no other business where you can buy something and return it, used, for a full refund. Try that down at the Ford dealership.

Even with major durable goods, you'll get socked with a restocking fee.

I was at St, Marks Bookshop today listening to the staff talk about a woman well known to them who comes in, buys books, and returns them. Last I looked that business model is called 'public library" and is not required to be a for profit corporation.

Mark said...

Good point, but the stores demand that back up guarantee as part of their business model. The Vidlit was interesting but didn't run very well on a dial up connection.

How would it not be considered spam? What kinds of books do you represent? And do you like e-queries?

Your candor is refreshing, but online readers can be touchy and easily insulted. A multitude of those are authors of POD books, as you'll certainly discover. Sharp reality is best prescription in my view. Thanks for the response.

Miss Snark said...

The model I'm describing does not require the participation of brick and mortar stores. This model bypasses shopping "on location" for shopping "online"....where MissSnark currently purchases her boy toys of course.

Dial up is going the way of the dinosaurs. Be ready.

It's not spam the same way that e-newsletters like Daily Candy, Writers Almanac and Publishers Marketplace aren't. You opt IN to get the notices and then click on what you want.

I care not whom I offend if they are offended by me speaking what I see as reality. If they want to get bent out of shape when I hurl invectives like snaggle pussed succubi, well, then, ok.

Until then, don't query any agent by email EVER, unless their website says specifically it's ok AND gives you some guidelines about doing so.

Were you to happen across Miss Snark's site it says in big fat Pink Plaid Caps DO NOT EMAIL.

Yet..oddly, they keep coming.

Mark said...

Thanks. I use www.agentquery.com and follow their gudelines. I think you should reconsider that submission aspect. I mean if you want to design online paradigms and yet require the drudgery of snail mail queries and hard copy manuscripts, that's quite a dichotomy don't you think?

Miss Snark said...

Online paradigms for marketing but you'll notice I said an actual text on paper, printed, book. If you want to submit a vidlit query, we can talk. Make sure you feature Ewan McGregor nekkid, and I'll promise to pay close attention.

My reason for no e-queries is that I want to give queries my undivided attention and focus. That means paper. It means not while I'm doing six other things and the phone is ringing. Email is quick, bing bang bong,

I'm pretty sure that's not the mode you want an agent in when s/he considers your work.

Other agencies operate differently.

For me: send me the paper, and we'll pay attention.

Mark said...

Well that's a fair point. If I knew who you were I'd send a hard copy of the query and proposal. Maybe I already have? How are you on American history and environmental essays?

JJ said...

Personally, I think you should have to etch query letters in stone or wrap them with razor wire. Anything to put up some barriers that might slow the blizzard and maybe deter those who would be deterred.

As for publishing, it seems like the industry has been on the brink of revolution for two decades waiting for that magic paradigm shift that never comes along.

Miss Snark said...

We are being dragged kicking and screaming into the 21st century. I have colleagues who would give their mocha cappuccino for a return to quill pens I think. And not just the science fiction editors. Publishing by definition is not an early adapter to technology. We're using some of the oldest extant technology and see no reason to change.

However, the dragging is at least in a forward motion and just because we're using a consignment business model developed to
build business in the Great Depression seventy years ago don't think change isn't coming.

If anything, the corporate masters who sneer at low growth will insist.

As for query letters, I think a lottery system will work just fine. Lottery a la Shirley Jackson of course.

As an aside: I never thought I'd read a creepier story than The Lottery but the fiction issue of The Atlantic Monthly features Joyce Carol Oates in what has to be THE creepiest thing I've read since ...well...China Mieville.

Richard said...

A great program for out-of-print books is The Authors Guild's Backinprint.com, published on demand by iUniverse. I've had four of my hardcover OP books published by them (they shoot down the original and put it in a trade paperback with a standard cover for absolutely no cost to Authors Guild members). I've been really happy having these books back in print and available to any of the mentally deficient people interested in reading them.

Laraqua said...

I think coding things by publisher and not by author wouldn't work very well at all, and not coz one day I'd love to be an author.

After all, if I want a Sue Grafton novel, I'd be peeved if I bought an Ed McBain by mistake and vice versa. No publisher can be streamlined enough to publish only material of some kind.