A Canadian book blog: Publishing, marketing, books and technology from a Canadian perspective

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Gone to Jordan & Egypt

Did I forget to mention that I’m away all of October? Yes it’s true. I’m in Jordan and Egypt.

Hopefully photos to come.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Online Marketing for Books

Defining Success: Accountable Online Marketing for Book Publishing ran a session last week and I had a chance to present some ideas that have been brewing in my head for awhile.

Here are the links:

7 Sentence Online Marketing Plan
How to quickly create an online marketing plan and where to start.

Internet Marketing: How to Measure Success
Figuring out cost per conversion and how to measure successful online campaigns. Good for offline too.

4 Myths About Internet Marketing
Why we waste money online and how to spend it wisely.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Genevieve Brennan on Google Book Search & Online Tools for Book Publishers

Defining Success: Accountable Online Marketing for Book Publishing was a full-day session run by BookNet Canada and the ABPBC on Thursday, September 18, 2008 at the SFU Downtown Campus, Vancouver BC.

2:00 – 2:45 pm: Tools to Use: The Google Suite from Genevieve Brennan
From Analytics to Website Optimizer, Google tools offer clear methods to set goals and track results of actions. Partner Manager Genevieve Brennan gave a thorough overview of the Google products relevant to online marketing for books. Genevieve Brennan, Partner Manager for Google Book Search, helps publishers develop and execute a strategy for promoting content online. She particularly enjoys working with publishers to maximize the benefits of adding search features directly to their own websites. Prior to coming to Google, Genevieve was Sales Manager for David R. Godine Publisher. She now works at the Google headquarters in Mountain View, California.

3 Steps for Online Marketing (from the perspective of Google tools):

  1. Drive traffic (PPC and SEO)
  2. Measure (Analytics)
  3. Test (Optimizer)

Quick Facts (any errors are mine):

  • 1.4B online users, up from 500M in 2003
  • $420B in 2007 of ecommerce sales
  • 183B emails sent per day 2M every second (jeez, I think they all come to me!)

Funny Traffic Spikes Marginally Related to Books:

  1. Paris gets out of jail and is holding Power of Now
  2. Search volume for “Power of Now” spikes 36% from April to May 2007
  3. 2nd book gets picked up on Oprah on Jan 30, 2008. Old book also mentioned.
  4. 73% spike in search volume for “Power of Now” from Jan to Feb 08

Other Tips and Conversation Points:

  • Drive Traffic: SEO and PPC: Nolo is a good example. They publish non-fiction, legal books and are optimized to show up for the search “legal books.”
  • Measure: Conversion tracking in Adwords, put the code on the thank you page to track conversions.
  • Other measuring tools: Google Trends: measure buzz (now insights), Google Alerts, Google Analytics: reverse goal path, internal site search
  • Potential tracking goals: ecommerce, lead generation, brand & product awareness, member acquisition
  • Testing: Test Google Book Search: you can change the percentage of book that is viewable, try 50-80% viewable, experiment. How much to people flip in a store? Browsing does lead to buying. Test.
  • Test & Analyze All Marketing Campaigns: Banner, search, email; SEO, referrals, affiliate, offline

Step-by-Step Plan:

  1. look at organic: what are they searching for? Book, author, topic. Then make decisions about what to feature.
  2. Take that message and buy the keywords in that vein
  3. Make sure analytics and adwords are tied together
  4. Check Keyword positions > click on keyword and select visits in the drop down, then in the second column set it to Average time on site.
  5. Optimizer with adwords: test, test, test

All the tools are available here: www.google.com/bookpublishers

Q: How does Google index full site?
A: Sitemaps is one way.

Q: Is there a Google Book Search equivalent for magazines?
A: Yes, the News Archive Program is the Google Book Search for newspapers and magazines.

Evan Munday on How Coach House Books Uses Facebook

Defining Success: Accountable Online Marketing for Book Publishing was a full-day session run by BookNet Canada and the ABPBC on Thursday, September 18, 2008 at the SFU Downtown Campus, Vancouver BC.

10:00 – 10:45 am: Event Marketing: Taking the Faces Out of Facebook from Evan Munday of Coach House Books
The Coach House Books Facebook Group has more than 1000 members (and continues to grow). Coach House publicist Evan Munday discussed how to channel online passion to drive turn out at offline events. Evan Munday is the publicist for Coach House Books, a Toronto-based literary press, where has worked for the past 2 1/2 years. He is also a sometime artist who has done illustrations for various magazines. He collaborated on a novel with author Jon Paul Fiorentino, Stripmalling, out in Spring 2009, and is semi-hard at work on a YA novel. He is also very funny.

Here’s what Evan had to say:

  • Over 1000 facebook users. Word of mouth is what drives more members.
  • Event marketing on facebook: If you have over 1000 members in your group, you can’t invite them to an event. Instead you have to send a message and ask people to rsvp.
  • With Facebook, we use the event as the publicity hook.
  • We [publishers] are all fishing in the same pond when we use our regular tactics. With Facebook Coach House is seeing new people at their events, people they’ve never met before.

Facebook Promotion of the Open House:

  • Coach House Books’ annual Open House: 132 confirmed guests on Facebook (doesn’t mean people will show up)
  • The Open House is for friends, readers, neighbours. No readings. Instead it’s a tour of offices and book table. Publicize on Facebook. Usually about 300 people come to the event.
  • This year we set up a ballot box. How do you know about Coach House: Author, friend, facebook, avid reader.
  • Only 30 respondents. 1/6th said the Facebook group, no other relationship to the press.
  • The Idea is to convert these unrelated strangers to Coach House book buyers. Get them talking about Coach House.

Evan’s Take-Away Lessons:

  1. Be selective about event marketing on Facebook
  2. Coach House has 60 events: Only invite people to bigger events, not all events.
  3. Be careful about location. 60% in TO, don’t waste their time with Calgary events.
  4. If members are outside TO, Coach House will create the event pages but maybe send only an email with links to all events across the country.
  5. Don’t harass people. Be judicious in messaging.
  6. Inject your personality. Make it seem like it’s not a marketing message.

Other Interesting Points:

  • Facebook referrals visit at least 5 pages and have a 43% bounce rate.
  • Nomediakings: Jim Munro, a self-publisher, drives a lot of traffic. We are unsure why. No link on the site.
  • Make Facebook the rec room of your publishing company. Post videos and links from the event.
  • All my friends are superheros: published in German by Random House, who created a very strange music video. (I’ll have to check it out.)

Things we don’t do:

  1. No Facebook ads becasue it costs money and sometimes there are minimum buys of $1000. They are also not effective.
  2. No Facebook Fan pages. Like Anansi. Instead of we have group, they have “Anansi”. You become a fan instead of joining group.
  3. In a Group: no applications, no analytics, little info on members, no ability to send targeted ads. Fan page might be better for your press. Know the options.
  4. Facebook pages: unlimited apps, extensive analysis, more info on members, ability to send targeted ads.
  5. No Free copies: HarperCollins. First 10 to send message get X. Idea is to get people excited and posting. Thinks it’s great but Coach House print runs are so low, we can’t do it. Eg. Quest for the Ice Fox: contest to win a $200 travel voucher, users had to find the fox.

Our Facebook Plan:

  1. start group
  2. invite friends
  3. make events and invite people
  4. see strangers at your event
  5. report on events (send photos to quill, blog, facebook group, encourages fun. “I’m sorry I missed that”. Come next time.

Q: How much time?
A: Very little time: 1 event week or every 2 weeks (15 min); post info. Ehren: online is his fulltime job is online, but blogging has moved to a publicist role now.

Q: Do you have a blog?
A: Coach House coffee room serves as a blog. (But really, the whole site is run on a content management system, which is what blog software is. The Coach House site, the whole site, is a blog, the coffee room is the bit that looks like what we think is a blog.)

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Ehren Cheung on Successful Online Marketing for Books

Defining Success: Accountable Online Marketing for Book Publishing was a full-day session run by BookNet Canada and the ABPBC on Thursday, September 18, 2008 at the SFU Downtown Campus, Vancouver BC.

9:00 – 9:15 am: Opening Remarks from Michael Tamblyn, BookNet Canada
Michael Tamblyn couldn’t print his presentation so he read it off his phone. A perfect intro to a day about online media and the changes it has brought to consumers and book publishers.

9:15 – 10:00 am: Blogs, Context and Conversations: Interaction, Change and Measuring Results from Ehren Cheung, online marketing specialist for Dundurn Press
Ehren Cheung discussed the elements required to build, maintain and grow a successful blog like Dundurn Press’ Defining Canada with a focus on how to set goals that measure what matters. Ehren has been involved with expanding Dundurn’s Internet marketing initiatives since he joined the publisher a little over two years ago.  I really like following Ehren online: Dundurn blog, on Twitter, he’s great.

Key Points from Ehren Cheung:

  • Using Facebook and other social media is about sharing. I’m defining my identity. I’m telling people about myself.
  • There are 3 basic ways we discover something new: Browsing (exploring), sharing, searching
  • Defining Canada started because Dundurn was overhauling its main site. In the interim the blog was created to tell people about what was going on. Sharing the news about the news: interviews, Q&As, videos, insider news.
  • In planning a blog, started with: What do we want to do? What are our goals? What should we be measuring?
  • Start by measuring: Unique visitors, how many pages do users visit, are they loyal, are they increasing their time spent on the site, how many clicks through to ecommerce do we see, what’s the impact of blog posts from authors ...
  • Ehren has worked hard on the design of Dundurn blog, which I think works for them.

Ehren’s Top Take-Away Points:

  1. Make it simple.
  2. Practice.
  3. Make use of social media: Use Twitter and Shelfari.com
  4. Listen to the conversations, connect on a genuine level, Share content and information.

Questions from the Audience

Q: How has the purpose of Defining Canada changed over time?
A: Defining Canada currently is an extension of the brand messaging. We arel slowly moving toward building community, focusing on calls to actions.

Q: How does the management view the blog and outreach?
A: We have 521 unique visitors per month. How do they feel about that? Good.

Q: Why do you suggest Twitter?
A: It’s important to my day. Monique suggests it’s like a news ticker in the background. Keep a finger on the pulse of personal contacts and business. Follow us and see what it’s all about:

Friday, September 19, 2008

The Book: A Week in Review

More things happened than I have links to, but here’s the skinny on the fat:

1. WeBook.com, a great collaborative writing tool or user-generated book writing tool, got a $5M deal led by Vertex and Greylock Partners.

2. Crab Whisperer: James’ exploit hand-catching crabs is caught in VanMag. (Ok, not book related but publishing related.)

3. Stowe Boyd has a great list of the tools he uses. I’m there baby! (Yup, also not book related but Stowe is awesome.)

4. ATM for books: Print on Demand. “Angus & Robertson today became the first Australian book chain to install the Espresso Book Machine (EBM), capable of printing, trimming and binding a paperback book on demand within minutes.”

5. BookNet Canada and the Association of Book Publishers of BC ran a full day session on internet marketing for book publishers. I presented on understanding and measuring results and will post those notes over the weekend.

Book Review: Graceling by Kristin Cashore

imageHarcourt continues to publish some of my favourite children’s books. In fact I would happily read any of their teen and young adult titles, especially anything by Ursula K. LeGuin (who’s coming to the Vancouver writers’ festival) and Kristin Cashore.

Kristin Cashore is the author of Graceling, a fantastic first novel about a land of seven kingdoms where only a few people are born graced. A Grace is an extreme skill, i.e., Martha Stewart would be graced with domesticity, Usain Bolt graced with speed. Of course there are graces that are frowned upon: killing being one.

Katsa is a Lady in the Kingdom of Randa, and she is graced with killing. Which makes King Randa pleased. He can be a brute to his citizens and neighbours. Katsa must do his bidding. That is until Prince Po comes along. He is graced with fighting (or so it first appears) and he reveals to Katsa that her skill is really survival.

Graceling is a fantasy books in the same vein as Ursula K. LeGuin’s Gift trilogy. I recommend it for the fast pace, adventure and solid writing.

Graceling by Kristin Cashore is published by Harcourt Books.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Book Review: Downtown Owl by Chuck Klosterman

I’m ready to read anything by Chuck Klosterman. So far Downtown Owl is my favourite book of 2008.

Klosterman’s sense of place in the novel Downtown Owl is spot on. In Canadian terms, he’s the comedian that Sinclair Ross wasn’t.

Sharp, witty, observant: I can’t say enough about Klosterman’s depiction of the town of Owl, North Dakota, and 4 of its inhabitants. Everyone knows everyone but they don’t know their inner thoughts, hopes and fears:

* Mitch, the football kid who doesn’t fit in.
* Julie, the new meat woman in town who has everyone’s attention (men at the bar anyway).
* John Laidlaw and his young girl vices.
* Horace—widower.

Horace is by far the only 1 of the 4 who deserves his end.

The stories are short stories that are inter-connected to form the novel. It is a novel rather than short stories but really any chapter could stand on its own. I’m particularly fond of a chapter in the middle of the book, “November 23, 1983” (page 129). It starts:

Edgar Camaro was Satan. Or at least an idiot. Or at least he was when he rolled dice, or at least that’s how it seemed to Horace.

Horace had two secrets. One of them was dark and sinister, as most noteworthy secrets tend to be. The second was less awful but more embarrassing, which is why it became the secret he despised more.

This particular chapter is a masterpiece and I really wish I could share it with you hear, but I’ve asked and no such luck. You can, of course, have a look at this chapter on Mitch.

Downtown Owl by Chuck Klosterman is published by Scribner (S&S) and you absolutely should read it.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Monique’s Perfumes

Monique's Perfumes

My favourite so far are the solid perfumes. I call them Perfume Pots.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Book Review: Nicholas by Goscinny & Sempé

Welcome to Nicholas, or rather welcome back Nicholas. Nicholas is the energetic French schoolboy who is forever in some kind of trouble. His exploits are brought to life by René Goscinny, the author of Asterix. The series was originally published in France in 1959 and is now available in a gorgeous hardcover edition by Phaidon.

The cover looks like it’s covered in cloth or linen and Nicholas is set into the cover. The interior sketches are also really cool.

The Nicholas series published by Phaidon. The short stories are a bit predictable but funny nonetheless.I like Photograph to Treasure in which the boys are so misbehaved the class photographer has left by the time they’ve settled down to have the picture taken. Or Playing Cowboys in which Dad gets tied to the tree and then forgotten. Or Playing with Çuthbert, who everyone really just wants to punch in the nose.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Amazon Acquires Shelfari

imageAccording to the Shelfari email newsletter, “Shelfari joins the Amazon.com family.”

Shelfair.com, acquired by Amazon.com on August 28, is a social networking site for book lovers. You create a virtual bookshelf and share reviews with your friends. I’m also a member of GoodReads.com, which I like for the email messages I receive of friends’ book reviews.

Both systems let users pull in your Amazon reviews, which is great and saves time. It will be interesting to see what happens now with the other virtual bookshelves using Amazon’s API (will they continue, get stronger, disappear) and what will “working hand in hand” (as claimed in the Shelfari email) actually look like.

I suppose I should go update my bookshelf in all of these places.

Is there not some way to do this in one place and have all my reviews distributed and posted to all my bookshelves? Hmmm. Must be…