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Riff Raff

Behind the scenes at The Riff Raff: why we built a community for debut authors

This is an interview with Amy Baker, founder of The Riff Raff. Amy is also author of Miss-Adventures: A Tale of Ignoring Life Advice While Backpacking Around South America, and a freelance writer, writing travel and lifestyle content for a range of publications. Learn more about The Riff Raff, and follow them on Twitter.

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Antipiracy Strategy

Creating a Winning Antipiracy Strategy

Devon Weston has been with Digimarc Guardian since June 2012, managing customer relations and operations for the company’s enterprise SaaS solutions within the online content-protection space.

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Voice-First Future

Thoughts on Apple Books

Bradley Metrock produced the iBooks Author Conference from 2015 through 2017, before Score Publishing acquired Digital Book World, and has authored many articles on Apple’s efforts with regards to books and publishing. This piece is in response to last week’s news from Mark Gurman at Bloomberg that Apple is readying Apple Books to compete anew in the digital book marketplace.

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Here’s how to turn book samples into a powerful B2C tool

Book samples are one of the most under-utilized tools in a publisher or author’s marketing arsenal. Most consumers will not buy a book without at least flipping through it, so many download samples before making a purchase decision. But how many times have you downloaded a sample which was nothing more than the frontmatter and a bit of an introduction? I’ve run into that problem countless times and those samples didn’t lead to me clicking the buy button.

The problem with today’s book sampling model is that it’s just some random percentage of the first several pages of the book. The fact that this approach involves no curation means it’s efficient but, unfortunately, it’s also highly ineffective.

Imagine how lame previews would be if movie producers used this same approach? You’re sitting in the theater and the teasers for a few upcoming movies are nothing more than the first two minutes of each. That’s not how it works with movies, of course, and it offers an important lesson for book publishers: Good samples require curation.

We learned that lesson recently at OSV. Rob Eagar, founder of Wildfire Marketing, is an expert in a freemium model where curated samples are the key ingredient. These samples feature more of the valuable content nuggets and enable readers to get a better sense of what they can expect to find in the full book. You’re not giving away all the book’s key ingredients, but you’re definitely providing readers with more value than they’ll find in a typical ebook sample.

These samples are delivered via email, so that means we’re able to establish a direct relationship with prospective customers, a critical step for a B2C business model. Having access to those names and email addresses means we’re able to build our B2C list and dramatically increase our up-/cross-sell activities.

If you’d like to see what this looks like, click here to visit the OSV freemium landing page. You’ll find the first several titles in our freemium campaign and more will be added in the coming months. We’re delighted with the initial results and we’re looking forward to building this out further as we add to our B2C capabilities.

Joe Wikert is director of strategy and business development at Olive Software. This post was originally published on his blog, Joe Wikert’s Digital Content Strategies, where he writes opinion pieces on the rich content future of publishing.

What can publishers learn from Pokemon Go?

Long considered nothing more than a gimmicky fad, it turns out that augmented reality (AR) is actually alive and well. At least that’s the case when it’s associated with a brand as large as Pokemon.

By now you’ve undoubtedly heard all the Pokemon Go stories and maybe you’ve even dodged a player or two, overly-focused on their phone while embarking on a virtual hunting expedition. On the surface it’s nothing more than another time-wasting game but I believe it offers some very important lessons for publishers.

Let’s start with the hybrid, print-plus-digital opportunity. Recent reports indicate ebook sales have plateaued and growth has shifted back to the print format. There are a number of underlying reasons for these trends including higher ebook prices as well as the adult coloring book phenomenon. But as I’ve said before, publishers need to stop thinking about print and digital as an either/or proposition. Some customers prefer print while others lean towards digital. Many readers are in both camps, switching between print and digital based on genre, pricing, convenience, etc.

Most publishers overlook the fact that digital can be used to complement and enhance print. Skeptical? Have a look at a few of the demos Layar offers on this page.

Stop and think about how something like Layar could be used to bring your static pages to life. Maybe you publish how-to guides, print is your dominant format and you’ve always wondered how you could integrate videos with the text. You’ve tried inserting urls but very few readers bother typing them in. QR codes are an option but they’re clunky and take up precious space on the page. Why not use AR to virtually overlay those videos on the page without having to dump in a bunch of cryptic-looking urls or QR codes?

Are you looking to engage your readers in the book’s/author’s social stream? Here’s your chance to integrate them virtually using a platform like Layar.

Better yet… have you always wanted to know who all those nameless, faceless consumers are who bought your print book from third-party retailers like Amazon or Barnes & Noble? Here’s an opportunity as a publisher or author to initiate a conversation directly with your readers. Add an Easter egg to the print edition where readers can receive a reward via an AR-powered offer; you will, of course, ask for each reader’s name and email address before handing out those rewards.

This approach to marrying digital to print is totally unobtrusive. Print readers who don’t want to bother with their phones can continue reading the book without interruption. Those customers interested in learning more, interacting with authors or uncovering special publisher offers will likely see the value of connecting their phones with the printed page.

The possibilities are endless. So the next time you see a Pokemon Go player wandering aimlessly be sure to thank them for helping identify new ways of distributing, promoting and enriching content.

Joe WikertJoe Wikert is director of strategy and business development at Olive Software. This post was originally published on his blog, ‘Joe Wikert’s Digital Content Strategies‘, where he writes opinion pieces on the rich content future of publishing.

Here’s what book publishers can learn from the podcast model

Did you make the same mistake I did and assume podcasts are yesterday’s platform, that interest in them has plateaued (at best) and they’re not worth thinking about today? If so, here’s a short article that might help you re-think your stance. If you’re still not convinced have a look at the infographic in this article, paying close attention to the chart showing how podcast listening is on the rise.

What seemed like a fad that’s dying off is actually showing nice growth. I’m contributing to that growth as I now listen to a variety of podcasts during my daily work commute. As I leverage this medium I’m realising it offers some very important lessons for book publishers:

1) Simple, easy subscriptions

When I discover a new podcast I’m interested in I literally click once to subscribe and the content stream comes to me. What could be easier? More importantly, what’s the analogy in the book publishing world? How do I “subscribe” to an author, series or topic? We all have our favorite authors. Wouldn’t it be terrific if a single click could initiate a subscription to everything they write in the future? That includes having samples of their new books delivered automatically to your preferred reading app/device.

2) Steady rhythm

Your favorite podcasts are usually delivered on a predictable schedule. Some are daily while others are weekly. This rhythm leads to anticipation, knowing that today’s edition will be loaded on your device at the usual time. This is another concept that’s totally foreign to book publishers. Books are released according to seemingly random schedules and some publishers are still even locked into the old “season” model. If you’re going to enable readers to subscribe to an author or topic as described above, be sure to produce a steady, engaging stream of valuable content for your audience.

3) Discovery

This remains one of the hot topics, always on the minds of book publishers. If you’re focused on discovery think about this question: How well do each of your products enable discovery of your other, related products? Some publishers still rely on back-of-book ads, even in ebooks. How about automatically delivering other, related content to your audience? A good example is how NPR promotes new podcasts. Yes, they advertise by plugging new ones in old, established podcasts. But recently I noticed they took the bold step of automatically downloading the first segment of a new podcast onto my device. I don’t recall opting in to that and it might irritate anyone keeping a close eye on their data plans but it’s a novel concept. I wasn’t going to seek that new podcast out and now all I have to do is click “play” to try it out, yet another example of one-click access and engagement.

If you haven’t been paying attention to the podcast marketplace it’s time to take a closer look. Subscribe to two or three that look interesting and see what other lessons can be learned.

Joe WikertJoe Wikert is director of strategy and business development at Olive Software. This post was originally published on his blog, ‘Joe Wikert’s Digital Content Strategies‘, where he writes opinion pieces on the rich content future of publishing.


megan mondi marketing

Marketing tips for improving the bottom line (in the wake of the EU referendum)

I don’t know about you, but I found the article in The Independent about job vacancy adverts falling by 700,000 the week after the referendum result absolutely terrifying, though not entirely unexpected. As companies spend the coming months evaluating the long-term implications of the UK leaving the EU, there will undoubtedly be increasing pressure on marketing teams to cut costs wherever possible.

Here are five steps every marketing department should be taking now to help improve the bottom line:

1) Brush off the dust on your RFQs

Be it designers, printers, videographers or mailing houses, we all have our preferred vendors – those we have worked with often enough that it’s easy to just throw a new project in their direction without thinking twice because it saves us from having to go back to basics. But now is the time TO go back to basics. I managed to save a company I worked for £20,000 during my first month on the job by submitting requests for quotes (RFQs) to new and existing designers, printers and PR platforms. Be as specific as you can with your project requirements – including deadlines – so you can compare like for like. You don’t need to go nuts: 3 or 4 requests for quotes or a price matrix for each service should help you realise who to hire and what the going rate is for a particular project. You’ll be surprised by what you find!

2) Canva is your new best friend

canva marketing exampleI work at Kogan Page, where all of our authors are business experts, meaning their LinkedIn connections are to die for and they more likely than not have very strong Twitter profiles as well. We aim to leverage that as much as we can, and Canva helps immensely. Canva is a free, easy-to-use online graphic design platform. It has a range of social media templates – including cover photo templates complete with holes cut out for where the profile picture sits – so you can easily add book covers, discount codes and calls to action on prime real estate. Similarly, if you have a great book endorsement, take a minute to turn it into an image you can tweet. I don’t recommend using Canva for everything – there’s a time and place for quick and easy design – but it’s great for creating profile headers and graphics for you to post.

3) Use what you have

We’ll increasingly be asked to do more with less, so think creatively about the great content already at your fingertips to grow your database. Do you have access to premium content you can put behind download forms on your website? I worked on the apps project team for an educational publisher, and we created a series of revision apps using content we already had. We secured 10,000 downloads in a single day and were then able to upsell other revision products through push notifications.

4) Don’t be afraid to try new things

I think the gut reaction for many over the weeks to come will be to just stick with what works. But try to avoid that, especially when it comes to digital marketing. The beauty of digital is that you can get results fairly quickly and that it’s an iterative process: test something, measure it, tweak it and move forward. If it works, do it some more; if it flops, then refine it or move on. So long as you have particular goals and KPIs you’re working towards don’t be afraid to try new things.

5) Go back to basics with digital

As with going back to basics with suppliers, take the time to do the same with digital. All activity will drive traffic to your website, so optimise it first to improve the performance of your other channels. Refine keywords and copy and make sure you’re adding new content regularly. Also take the time to find your best-performing channel – whether it’s a PPC campaign, affiliate marketing or another channel – and maximize that before moving on to others.

Megan Mondi (@meganmondi) is marketing manager at Kogan Page. Originally from Chicago, she has publishing experience in both the US and UK, where she has worked for educational, academic and professional publishers.


Voice-First Future

7 ways to create a premium edition of your book with iBooks Author

iBooks Author is Apple’s digital publishing software, used today to create digital books of all kinds.

A great strategy on how to use iBooks Author – and the interactive, multimedia-driven books it allows you to create – is to turn regular content into ‘premium’ editions by including new bonus features, just like the bonus features of a Blu-Ray movie, and then to charge a modest price premium over the original version.

Here are seven ways to create a premium edition of any book, using iBooks Author:

1) Include the audiobook

Get the original author of a book to record themselves reading the book out loud, and even include additional insights if you like that reside strictly in the audio recording. Then, include that recording within the iBook, with a button on each page that allows the reader to touch it and have the author read to them. Not only does this add immense perceived value to the content, but it also can be monetised as a separate revenue stream by selling the audiobook version separately.

2) Include a glossary

Take all the relevant vocabulary from your title – characters, settings, plot elements if a fiction title, or all relevant terminology from a non-fiction work – and utilise the built-in glossary feature of iBooks Author for your premium edition iBook.  Make sure to hyperlink the glossary terms as appropriate throughout the main text of your work.  Then, monetise the glossary separately as well by producing an iBook that is the ‘dictionary’ of your franchise, and sell that in the iBooks Store as well!

3) Include podcasts, TV interviews, or other media interviews conducted with the author

A curated selection of media appearances made by an author about a new book is a great addition within the actual book!  Readers who are connected with an author, or connected with the topic of a book or a book’s characters, often can’t get enough of the additional insight these media appearances bring.  The multimedia capabilities of an iBook are perfect to be able to include this bonus content.

4) Include video commentary from the author

This is a big one. Having an author speak, directly, yet casually, to the reader about the book or topics at hand, is something readers have shown they are willing to pay a price premium for. And with the rapidly expanding hard drives on iPhones and iPads, while this video might add to the size of an iBook, it is negligible for the end user.  Including video commentary from the author ensures the iBook version will not be ignored by readers, as long as this content is made exclusive to the iBook and otherwise kept off the internet.

5) Include previous books in a series

This practice, which is becoming commonplace in other creative sectors, like video games, makes sense as a consideration for book franchises as well within the iBooks format. Throwing in a previous book in a series, as a bonus inclusion at the end of an iBook, is easy to do and makes it easier for new readers to step up and engage with a franchise knowing they have all the content under one roof.

6) Include hand-written notes, sketches, or photos related to the book’s original production

No matter the genre, or whether we’re talking fiction or non-fiction, readers love to peek behind-the-scenes at the production process of any creative work. Combine that with the knowledge that high-resolution images look great on any current iPhone or iPad, and it’s a no-brainer to include photography, outlines, hand-written notes, or images of any other documents which illuminate the creative process for readers.

7) Include early access to the follow-up book

With iBooks Author and the Apple ecosystem (including iTunes Connect and the iBooks Store itself), publishing new updates to existing titles is easy and seamless.  Letting readers know early access to a follow-up book will be made available via a title update to an original title is a great value-add.

Bradley Metrock is CEO of Score Publishing, a digital media company with the mission of helping people become better interactive content creators. The company partners on content development, offers digital content creation training, hosts several national conferences on digital content creation (including the iBooks Author Conference), and owns and operates leading NCCA-compliant certifications in digital content creation.



6 mistakes to avoid when diversifying published content

The theory of diversifying published content is well-established among publishers in the modern industry. We all know that stories can be told in many different ways, and technology has enabled us to produce apps, games, and interactive ebooks to shine alongside print products. In a seminar at the 2016 London Book Fair, it was labelled by Alison Jones as “making your ideas work harder for you”. Unfortunately, not all publishers are equipped to do this effectively.

In this article, we’ll look at six mistakes to avoid when diversifying a product range for new technologies.

1) Go in blind

It’s rare that a whole range of books will be ripe for digital transformation. You’ll never know for certain before it’s put live into the marketplace, but it’s worth seeking the opinion of existing customers and others in the industry about which content is typically most popular. Go with your gut if you get a kick from the risk.

2) Copy and paste

Rather than copying the raw text from a book and throwing it into a mobile or tablet app, consider the ways in which readers will be consuming it. Can the paragraphs be broken down? Can the language be simplified? Where can you input video and imagery? These are important questions to ask when optimising content for digital products.

3) Price it stubbornly

The monetisation beast raises its head yet again; a monster that publishers big and small are well-used to battling. Consider giving away some content with the option to buy more, or using a digital product as a loss-leader for promoting something else in the range. Pricing it at paperback price will rarely cut the mustard.

4) Release without testing

Code has a habit of messing things up now and again. Before release, digital products need testing and re-testing across the spectrum of devices on which they’ll be available. The best results will come from multiple testers rather than one individual. Specialist testing companies can do the job to avoid lumbering an inexperienced team with it.

5) Think go-live is the end

Go-live is just the beginning (although it could be the beginning of the end if you do it wrong). Think about app store optimisation and further marketing activities to promote the product to the right audience, online and offline.

6) Ignore feedback

There will be direct incoming feedback, online store reviews, and information inferred from download data and user behaviour statistics. And there’s likely to be a phase two, when this information is analysed and acted upon. It’s great PR to thank users for their input and highlight where their feedback has impacted the product. This helps build a loyal community.

Marc Defosse is Managing Director at Ribbonfish, a London-based tech company that builds solutions for the publishing and media industries. You can connect with him on LinkedIn and follow Ribbonfish on Twitter.

skills for publishing

2016: A license to innovate

This is a guest post from Tom Chalmers, Managing Director at IPR License, on rights and licensing in 2016.

The advent of any New Year tends to generate numerous calls to action from many sectors within the business world, so why should the publishing industry be any different?

2015 was, by and large, a positive year which saw some significant growth across many areas of the market. Looking forward, some of these sectors will be coming under increased pressure and the impact of such will provide plenty of interest within the industry and beyond.

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Blook your blog: How to turn your blog posts into a book

Turning blog posts into books (or blooks) is on the rise, with companies like Blurb even offering specific production and print services. But the style, format and very nature of blogs brings new challenges to the editorial process.

BookMachine have been plotting for the next blook in the Snapshots series, Snapshots III, BookMachine on Publishing: The Next 5 Years. For the third year in a row, we’ve teamed up with Kingston University Press who have appointed a production team of students from Kingston’s Publishing MA course to design, typeset and proofread a selection of our best posts.

Having just finished collating, formatting and copy-editing the manuscript, here are 10 tips for tackling this new editorial territory.

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Companion publishing: How digital can complement print

The beauty of the web is that feedback for what I write here is spread across a variety of platforms. These days it seems most of those community discussions are happening on LinkedIn and that’s where some recent comments helped me see the common thread across a few different topics I’ve been writing about.

A couple of weeks ago I noted how Nielsen data indicates a large chunk (49%) of ebook readers are also still buying print. In other words, almost half the reading community surveyed by Nielsen is straddling the fence between print and digital.

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Two tick-boxes for app success

This is a Guest Post by Laura Cremer, Digital Manager at Octopus Publishing Group. Laura has been shortlisted for the FutureBook ‘Digital Achiever of the Year’ Award 2015. Two of Octopus’s apps have also been shortlisted for FutureBook Awards. Here she gives us the lowdown on the reasons for their success.

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The next 5 years of publishing: on connecting audiences to stories [OPINION]

In the run up to tonight’s event, Publishing: the next 5 years, BookMachine has been featuring a number of opinions about what might be next for the industry. This is a guest blog from Nicola Borasinski. Nicky is the Digital Development Assistant at Penguin Random House. She is a former MA student at Queen Mary University of London. During her MA she focused her research on the relationship children have with print and digital media and is currently working on digital products for amazing brands like Peppa Pig and Roald Dahl. 

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The next 5 years of publishing: jetpacks and hoverboards [OPINION]

In the run up to Publishing: the next 5 years, BookMachine will be featuring a number of opinions about what might be next for the industry. This is a guest blog from Lottie Chase. Lottie is the Sales Manager of Legend Press, a publisher passionate about championing new and high-profile authors and ensuring the book remains a product of beauty, enjoyment and fulfilment. She was the Chair of the Society of Young Publishers and has previously worked in export sales at both Walker Books and Quercus.

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