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Digital Book World, Indies and Niche

February 1, 2011

I’m an author, not a publisher, editor, distributor or reviewer. Like most authors, I didn’t attend last week’s Digital Book World 2011 conference in New York. But thanks to social media I was able to follow much of the conference content as well as observe some telling reactions. The Twitter hashtag  #dbw11 got me in the door, for free.

Best #dbw11 tweeter – Sarah Wendell from Smart Bitches Love Trashy Books. Best #dbw11 blogger – Bob Mayer, NYT best selling author and founder of Who Dares Wins Publishing.

Here are some of the tweets I paid attention to:

@SmartBitches I’m baffled that some of the comments in #dbwreader panel is news.

@SmartBitches “We were shocked to see romance was the best seller.” Wow. Way to thwart your credibility there, sir.

@DonLinn I was also shocked at how many ‘experts’ were surprised that Romance was a leading category among digital readers. Is this news?

@SmartBitches Publishers not willing to underwrite costs of social media. Pubs are ok with losing money in old ways, not new ways.

@glecharles Marketing direct to readers is NOT a “new skill set.” It’s only new to traditional book publishers.

@smartbitches  Authors should target niche communities related to book subject when devising plans for social media.

@smartbitches  How is an author not an entrepreneur? I’m confused by the idea that an author would not be.

@TheBookseller the traditional books store is imploding, social media is exploding but indies have a chance.

What do I take from this? Here are a few thoughts: The powerhouses at the conference – especially NY publishing houses and distributors – are woefully uninformed about digital books, digital media and social networking. And that could be a good thing for the rest of us.

In this digital age, authors are entrepreneurs, not just content providers. The combination of social networking media and digital book publication gives even the most niche-oriented author direct access to a focused audience, without the need for most of the middlemen who participated in dbw11.

As Bob Mayer points out in his blog, publishers are more focused on selling to retailers than on developing relationships with readers. Part of Mayer’s response to changes in the publishing world has been to start his own independent digital press – this, from a NYT best seller in the traditional print world.

The publishing world of the future will belong to entrepreneurs who can keep up with the rapid changes and take advantage of the exploding social networking media to develop direct relationships with readers in the niche for whom they write. That future started yesterday.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. Bob Mayer permalink
    February 1, 2011 12:23 pm

    Just the tweets and articles from DBW1 told me that NY is still way behind the power curve on the changes in publishing. As we watch Borders drown, how far behind can B&N be?
    One of my biggest issues is the lack of training from publishers to authors. At the same time publishers are saying authors must do more work promoting, they still provide no training on that and very little, if any support. Publishers have to become facilitators in getting the book into the hands of readers, not stores. Because there aren’t going to be many stores left.

    • adrianakraft permalink
      February 1, 2011 9:05 pm

      Thanks, Bob. Actually I’m not sure publishers have the knowledge to train authors, given the tweets I saw. I think the models and the savvy for social network marketing come more from the business world, and perhaps other successful authors.

  2. February 1, 2011 1:50 pm

    Great post , and I love the direction. Traditional publishing may still have the cachet for new authors, but given what little they do to support writers, I think this cachet is slowly but surely waning.
    Authors today are much more confident, tech-savvy, and media-smart AND they have options to publish what they want to. They can put out a fantastic product, push it out via the blogosphere and develop an audience over time without incurring major costs. In the end, they also pocket more of the money from sales of their books. Given this, they don’t have to flog their m/s to the big houses and end up feeling flogged themselves when they hit the brick wall.

    Digital media has always been key for readers of romance and erotica. They are some of the shrewdest users of this medium, and they are also avid readers. If the traditional publishers, bookstores don’t get on board soon, they will sink, and have no one to blame but themselves.

    • adrianakraft permalink
      February 1, 2011 9:08 pm

      I agree, Eden – hmm, and I like that term “shrewd,” too. Crucial, for staying on the cutting edge.

  3. Linda B permalink
    February 1, 2011 6:59 pm


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