Incognito Press

truth. knowledge. freedom. passion. courage. Promoting free-thinking, activism & rogue writing.

Posts Tagged ‘self-publishing’

The Importance of Blogging – 10 Top Reasons

Posted by E on September 1, 2015

Girl on tablet with social media icon chalkboard

Every day, about 175,000 blogs are created. There is a blog born every half-second. So why should YOU start one, you might ask? The real question you should ask yourself is, why haven’t you started one yet? There might be millions of blogs out there, but they are not all created equal. In the blogosphere, Longevity, Frequency and Quality are king.

shakespeare blogSome are simply online journals that capture an individual’s daily routines. Some are heavy-duty corporate articles that attract thousands of readers, or motivational pieces that are retweeted and reblogged hundreds of times. Each blog is different and some serve multiple purposes. But it shouldn’t come as a surprise that, based on how search engines rank their pages, a blog that updates more frequently will rise up in the search results and achieve greater exposure than a static site.

FIVE BUSINESS REASONS WHY YOU SHOULD BLOG:

Of course static websites like a .com have not outrun their purpose – but the most successful sites will have incorporated blogging as part of their brand-building strategy. You can also buy a .com domain and point it to a blog, which is what I’ve done in several cases where I didn’t want to pay for hosting a static website. Nowadays you can integrate a classic website with a blog architecture, as is the case of WordPress.org – where you can own your domain but still use the powerful blogging tools that WordPress offers.

people in the information space

  1. The cardinal rules of blogging are 1) Post frequently, and 2) don’t post articles that are too long. I’m guilty of violating the second rule rather frequently since many of my pieces run well in excess of 1000 to 2000 words. I believe in creating comprehensive and well-researched articles and often there is much more to be said about a subject than can be encapsulated in 500 words. But whenever I can, I make sure to break up the large chunk of text with appropriate images or fun facts, so it gets easier on the eyes.

Here are some reasons you need to incorporate blogging into your business:

1. Drive Traffic to your Website via built-in Links

This one is pretty self-explanatory. Each article posted on your personal or company blog has the power to drive traffic to your domain and sell your brand and/or products, along with potentially cross-networking with other powerful sites. The more interesting the material you post, the more likelihood there is for catching people’s attention and gathering awareness for your main product site.

blogging importance2. Increase your SEO (Search Engine Optimization)

Eighty percent of people who search for information online never get past the first page of results. It is therefore crucial that your business and brand identity appears in the top ten search results. Blogging frequently attracts higher traffic to your site and will result in your website being indexed higher in Google and other internet browsers, which in turn will lead to further expansion of your name and brand.

Companies that blog have 434% more indexed pages. And 9.81% of businesses consider their blogs to be an important asset to their businesses. Blogging is a sure-fire way to increase your SEO and do it fast. According to Social Media B2B, companies that blog generate 67% more leads per month than those that don’t.

Fresh content is key to beating out your competitors in search engine results and boosting your offline business. According to a 2010 study by the Kelsey Group, 97% of all consumers use online media to shop locally. Another study conducted by Intelius shows that 78% of consumers consider it important to look up information about businesses online before deciding to interact with them.

3. Establish your Brand as an Expert in your Particular Field

For years now I’ve written blogs for several corporations and non-profit organizations, mostly as a ghostwriter – meaning I was hired to write articles for the particular company to publish at their own discretion. I’ve also built several websites for clients and created their web content. I cannot stress how invaluable it is to keep constant, new information coming. Writing one entry every couple months or so will never build enough interest to bring people back to your site. And it’s not just a matter of creating content, but actually making it interesting and relevant for your audience.

4. Develop New and Improved Relationships with Clients, Fans and Customers

A key to being an effective blogger is the opportunity to engage with new people who search for keywords and stumble onto your blog. After several years, I have close to six thousand regular subscribers to my Incognito Press blog. I probably could have built more connections if I had been more persistent in updating my content. There were months when I was working on other projects and neglected my own website. However, despite the occasional breaks over the years, I’m at the point where my blog averages approx. a hundred new hits a day – and on days when I publish a new piece, my traffic spikes to several hundred.

why blog blogging 5. Increase Sales of your Product or Services, which will Monetize your Brand

Many of the people who purchase my books discovered me and my story through the articles I posted on my blog. Aside from being able to sell books through a blogging platform, you can also be paid to write articles on various products. Leading bloggers in their field are often given free products and/or monetary compensation for reviewing anything from fashion products to consumer goods. The more traffic you generate to your site, the more your brand value increases and you become a commodity. Eventually you have the option of selling your blog and associated domain at a premium, or publishing its contents as a book – the sky’s the limit!

FIVE PERSONAL REASONS WHY YOU SHOULD BLOG:

Should you blog, even if you have nothing to sell? Of course you should, and here are some reasons why:

how_to_blog1. Blogging Improves your Writing

I started blogging sometime in 2007, I think. Over the years I’ve noticed that, just like in journalism, blogging has helped me immensely in writing clearer and faster. Why is it like journalism? In a press office, journalists are expected to produce certain word counts on a deadline – after a while, the thought of writing 1000 words per day becomes routine. Practice makes perfect!

No more Writer’s Block

If you blog for as long as I have, you begin to realize that there’s really no such thing as writer’s block. Just like going for a walk, writing involves the process of putting one step in front of another until you get to the end of your goal – word after word after word, and then it’s done. It’s giving up the excuse of lack of concentration, and realizing that – just like in working out – blogging daily or weekly develops your writing muscle.

2. Blogging gives you a Voice

blogging voiceFew things are better than getting something off your chest. Art – writing, painting, dancing – are incredibly powerful and therapeutic methods to make yourself be heard in a world where it’s so easy for people to fall through the cracks. It’s a means to record your experiences through your own unique filter. It will capture a lasting chronicle of your days, months and years, as well as leave something behind for your loved ones when you are gone. Just like anything you create, it’s a legacy of your essence in this world and an important part of our collective history.

blogging-community3. A Supportive Community

Blogging can get you to come out of your shell. You can network with new people and be introduced to an audience and community of supporters who understand you and encourage your dreams. I’ve met some really amazing people through my blog or by reading their blogs, and I’ve been enriched by their presence in my life.

4. You are a Journalist

sky horizonHow many times have you watched your local television news and saw them quoting Twitter users or YouTube posters? In the age of social media, online news providers – yes, this means your blog also! – are at the forefront of NEW MEDIA. In fact, they are replacing traditional media at an astounding rate. Independent news networks and blogger sites are the main reason newspapers are shutting down all over the country and paid jobs in journalism are increasingly scarce. This isn’t a bad thing, people – the increased diversity of voices brings fresh and original perspectives to the human experience. It opens the door to niches and new ideas. It sparks a new hunger that ignites the imagination and originality.

bloggervsjournalistAs a blogger who often writes commentaries on politics and the arts, I can tell you that my blogs have attracted the attention of mainstream press and have reached many thousands of individuals. I’ve come to the conclusion that bloggers (especially those who cover hard-hitting issues) aren’t just doing a hobby but an actual job. Their pieces can be sold to newspapers and magazines and, in fact, they can be considered freelance journalists.

5. It can Lead to Speaking Engagements, Publishing Deals & Jobs

In the publishing world, there’s almost nothing better than having a platform of thousands of readers. There are authors who were rejected hundreds of times and subsequently developed such a strong following that agents and publishers came crawling after them. Many of them don’t even want a traditional deal anymore. Based on the contents of my blog, I’ve been asked to be a speaker at various conferences and have hand-sold more books than the average first print-run Canadian author typically gets.

Your new resume and calling card

Most companies’ HR departments are now regularly googling prospective new employers. People want to know you and what you’re all about, and this is your chance to establish yourself as someone who knows your field well.

Finally, the more you write and the more attention you get from your pieces, the more likelihood that you might be offered a freelance or ghostwriting gig. And there’s no better feeling than getting paid for what you were already doing for free.

On that note – if anyone reading this wants to hire me to write your blogs for you or your company, drop me a line! 😉

Blogging Brand Voice1

If you enjoyed the read or found it useful, please consider dropping a dollar in my Patreon donation jar 🙂

Advertisements

Posted in blog, blogger, blogging, press | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Is traditional publishing the new vanity publishing?

Posted by E on August 27, 2012

Normally I don’t tend to highlight articles, even some of the juicy controversy surrounding Amazon vs the Apple, Big Six et al collusion. But this is far too interesting not to share with you folks.

This article written by Bernard Starr, professor at CUNY, came out this past week in The Huffington Post, and as I read it my neck started cramping from all the nodding in agreement that it provoked. Yes, I too have had friends who have shelved viable manuscripts because agents or publishers refused to look at them, instead of trying to make a commercial profit from something that had taken them lots of sweat, time (in some cases, years) and grief to write. Even when confronted with the reality of being able to both monetize your career AND reach a willing audience, many of my writer friends have decided to “hold out” for a publisher – and admitted that they just wanted to be published by a trad press, period – even if their print run was in the hundreds and they never saw a dime.

This is absurd.

It’s time to peel back the blindfold and look reality in the eye. No matter which side of the publishing precipice you happen to fall on, this article will give you a lot of food for thought. Yes, it’s provocative and may rub some readers the wrong way, but if it wasn’t controversial would you be reading it? And just in case the Huffington Post page disappears or gets archived, as it so oftens in online journalism, I’m going to reproduce it here.

The old vanity publishing offered authors who could not attract the interest of a traditional publisher an opportunity to get their  books published. The process was costly and often required that the author purchase large quantities of books. According to legend, garages throughout America are warehousing these dust-gathering volumes. Some so-called vanity books were written by competent writers who just couldn’t find a way into the mainstream; others were exercises in ego building — the books were sold or given away free to family members, friends and colleagues. These authors were willing to pay the price to boast, “I’m a published author.”

Commentators on the current upheaval in publishing have observed that many authors desperately seek a traditional  publisher when self-publishing would serve them far better. Traditional publishing has thus become, in many instances, the vanity choice. Does it make sense?

The new world of self-publishing has little in common with the old vanity publishing, but  for many writers it still bears the taint of vanity.  Self-publishing has not only democratized publishing, it has opened up the opportunity for authors to publish at low or no cost, own all the rights, control the pricing and timetable for publishing, and get their books listed for sale and distribution on major outlets and platforms — e.g. Amazon, kindle,  nook, other e-readers, Google and more. Royalties for self-published books can range from thirty to eighty percent (depending on ancillary services that are selected) compared to the 71/2 to 15 percent in traditional publishing. And if you are adept at Internet marketing, you can reach large targeted audiences for your books.

Fact is that authors no longer need a publisher. And more and more writers  are awakening to the realization that if  you are not a high-profile author who can command large sales, a traditional publisher will do little for you beyond  editing and printing your book. While it’s true that they will also distribute it to the waning number of brick-and-mortar bookstores — self-published books are not usually available in bookstores — the number that actually land on the shelves is surprisingly small. And the argument that self-published books are not widely reviewed in mainstream publications loses steam when you realize that only a tiny percent of traditionally published books are reviewed at all. Add to that the growing number of  prestigious venues that now review self-published books.  Publishers Weekly devotes a quarterly supplement to reviews of self-published books and  Kirkus  Reviews, as well, offers self- published authors the opportunity to have their books independently reviewed.  Then there are companies springing up like Blue Inc., where self-published authors can pay a small fee for unbiased reviews  that are posted on the  web.

Can you count on  a traditional publisher to substantially market your book? A prominent literary agent recently told me that unless an author receives a hefty advance of  $100,000 or more most publishers will do virtually no promotion, leaving it to authors to create and exploit their own platforms via social media and networking connections, workshops and webcasts.  So when you go the traditional-publishing route, you may well find yourself self-publishing without the benefits of self-publishing.

Yet many writers who would do just fine with self-publishing — and build a following — still refuse that choice; they continue to pursue a” real publisher.”  My friend Mike (not his real name — I don’t want to embarrass him) has been sitting on a completed  non-fiction manuscript for the last three years while going through several agents and running the manuscript past numerous editors.  They all agreed that he’s an outstanding writer, but publishers rejected his manuscript because he doesn’t have a platform or relevant credentials for his current book. Mike says he would be happy to publish with any traditional publisher, even if this meant  a small print run, no publicity and high pricing. The fact that his sales are likely to be low — thus creating a bad “track record” when he goes to publish another book — hasn’t deterred him from the wish to have a “name” publisher’s imprint.

I finally realized that Mike was representative of the new quest for vanity publishing. These writers  are willing to forego the  benefits of self-publishing for the unshakable belief in the “prestige” of  signing on with a “real publisher.”

If Mike would shed his prejudice, he couldn’t help but notice that an increasing number of successful traditionally published authors are choosing to self-publish. Barry Eisler’s rejection of a $500,000  advance to self-publish has encouraged other writers to take a fresh look at self-publishing. Amanda Hocking’s phenomenal success with self- publishing has had  a similar effect.

And Mike should listen to Theresa Ragan’s story.  For nineteen years she was mostly a stay-at-home mom raising four children — all the while penning romance novels.  But she got nowhere with a few agents and was turned down over a hundred times by publishers. Although she knew about self-publishing she dismissed it as a vanity club. In 2010, while surfing the web for a  job to help pay the bills, she stumbled on an article by a successful self-published author which prompted her to give it a shot (“what do I have to lose?”).  She hooked up with CreateSpace, the self-publishing arm of  Amazon.com and self -published her first book in March 2011 in both paperback and e-book formats. Within the first two months she was stunned by the sale of over two thousand  copies — and the sales continued to rise. To date, she has self-published four romance and two thriller novels with sales exceeding three hundred and fifty thousand copies. Theresa expects to cross the million dollar mark in royalties by March 2013. And the good news doesn’t stop there. Several top-line publishers are pursuing her.Thomas and Mercer, Amazon’s “traditional”  mystery and thriller line, will now republish her two thrillers. In my interview with Theresa Ragan on August 21, 2012, she said that prior to venturing into self-publishing, “I would have gratefully signed with any traditional publisher with no advance and a six percent royalty.” Lucky for Theresa that all the publishers passed on her.

A. J.  McDonald, communications manager at Lulu, another leading self-publishing company, related similar success stories. Lulu has also attracted five formerly traditionally published bestselling authors who are now self-publishing and still making the best seller lists — with greater royalties and  total control of all the rights.

Will the bulk of self-published authors match Theresa Ragan’s spectacular success?  Of course not — and many don’t even have that intention. If you do, you must first write a marketable book, one that will appeal to easily identified readers. In fiction, that often means mystery, suspense, and romance; so-called literary fiction tends to do less well, since the audience is much smaller. In the nonfiction world, books on subjects with a niche market — cooking, nature, hobbies, music, spirituality and travel, to name just a few — fare best.  But regardless of your topic or the size of your potential readership, the new world of publishing offers an unprecedented and unlimited opportunity to forge your own destiny.

First- time authors and those struggling to find a publisher should seriously consider self-publishing. Keep in mind that self-publishing does not close the door on traditional publishing. Agents and publishers  are cherry- picking successful self-published books for traditional publishing.  And when they do they will roll out the red carpet, offer an advance and a marketing plan — a different experience than a hundred rejections.

Think about how much you are willing to sacrifice for a “real publisher.” Is the  “prestige” of a traditional publisher’s imprint mostly illusory in the context of the new world of publishing? Ask what  traditional publishing will do for you in the long run if you don’t get effective distribution and publicity. Which platform is more likely to bring you sizable sales? Which will help you build a large following  for marketing future publications?  These are critical questions that deserve serious attention, especially if you are planning a career in writing.

Posted in press, publishing, revolution, thoughts, writer, writing | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Revealing Racism

Posted by E on August 23, 2012

I hesitated to write this post, because I am too astounded and angry to consider giving this shitty Revealing Eden book any more publicity than it’s already had, so instead I will post a couple of self-explanatory YouTube reviews.


The only thing I’ll say on the matter is this: the insane media hype has already given this Turner Diaries-esque book way too much publicity. The fact that Weird Tales> was planning to feature it centrally in its next issue, before they were forced to backtrack by the angry backlash, should be enough warning to all other writers to boycott and stay the hell away from ever submitting any material to Weird Tales and any other rags that hope for controversy to boost sales/traffic.

Once again, I’m reminded by the rejection letters I received from Random House and Douglas & McIntyre for Race Traitor, who stated that racism and white supremacy had basically become obsolete.
When you see shit like this book hit it big, you gotta wonder – Have they, really?

Posted in activism, books, bullshit, media, meme, news, publishing, racism, writer, writing | Tagged: , , , | 2 Comments »

Small Press vs. Self-Publishing in the New Millenium

Posted by E on September 25, 2011

Ten years ago, if I couldn’t sell my book to a Big Six publisher I would gladly have taken the small press route. Heck, even as far back as five years ago I’d gladly have signed on the dotted line, and bragged to all my friends that at least I got a “real” publisher. I’d have used words like “legitimate” and “prestigious”, and snubbed my nose at the yucky self-published vanity “authors” who used to lurk in the gutter alleyways of imprints like Lulu.

But now, with the possibilities offered by Amazon and Smashwords, I wonder if any small publisher can come even close to the advantages offered by self-publishing. Not that self-publishing is a radically new thing. It’s basically what writers used to do for hundreds of years before established imprints took hold in the last century. So I asked this question on Twitter: If you can’t sell your book to Big Six publishers, would you go to a smaller press and get small/no advance OR self-publish?”

One person managed to give a nearly mono-syllabic answer: “small press”, but when I questioned whether splitting my royalties with a press who doesn’t have the marketing dollars to launch me (and thus force me to do my own marketing) is even worth it, she didn’t respond.

The answer seems obvious to me. I don’t begrudge the efforts of small presses and their editorial teams, but the fact of the matter is, most books published by small presses rarely sell more than about a thousand copies. Small presses do not have the budget for premium spots in bookstores, for massive advertising, and do rely heavily on authors marketing their own books. Which is something I already do every single day. And when my earnings are so small to begin with, I’m not sure I really want to split my royalties 85-15 (or worse) with a small press. I’m just being honest here.

Some may argue that small presses add an indispensable value to one’s book by providing expert editorial services and cover design. What I’d suggest is that if a writer so wishes, they can easily hire out editorial, formatting and graphic design services for a flat rate / one-time fee, rather than entering into contract with a publisher who cannot pay you an advance higher than four figures.

I believe we are living in the gold rush age of publishing. For the last couple of years, Big Six traditional publishers have bemoaned what they call a new evolution of the Guttenberg Press, an electronic Golden Age that they hope to survive unscathed. Hatchette and Random House executives have flown (no doubt first class) to meet Steve Jobs in the hope that Apple can somehow squash the Amazon revolution that precipitated a system in which Gatekeepers are being eliminated faster than one can say “Tyrannosaurus Rex.”

 I had a little laugh when I read about it, imagining all those execs in their crisp name-brand suits and ties, oiled briefcases in hand, walking pompously through Apple’s doors, thinking they have anything to leverage their arguments on. It was all the funnier, knowing that in the next five years, those New York penthouse residents will be lining up at their local Unemployment Office. Unless they package themselves out first, as several NY top editors already have been – and starting self-publishing consulting firms. Ah, the irony.

 This new age spells the end of MFA programs ran by greedy writers of the old generation, many of them mediocre writers in their own right, but who lucked out at a time when publishers would print nearly anything legible passed up the chain through nepotism and tapped favors. I mean, who in their right mind (aside from a trust fund baby) would spend $100K to get an MFA when there is no more Random House or Doubleday?

In the future literary universe, you’ll never get a huge advance. You’ll never have publishing execs speculate over your future success over endless luncheons. No, the only thing you will have to produce is a work that is good. Translation = that sells. That audiences, rather than editors and studio execs, will love.

 No more nepotism. No more favours. Of course, if you’re rich and can afford thousands on marketing, you’ll probably still manage to launch yourself out there. But without the gatekeepers, the world becomes a much more even playing field. Any hipster with a stack of flyers and a penchant for podcasting can generate the kind of grassroots buzz that can turn a coffee-stained manuscript into a bestseller.

In the new age we are entering, the ultimate gatekeeper will be the public. Only the AUDIENCE and the power of their mighty dollars will decide if your book has a future. NOT a nail-filing twenty-five year old acquisitions editor who’s rejecting anything on her desk that isn’t vampire teen porn.

 We are in a time of golden rushes. Thousands of new writers enter the self-publishing stampede with tin pan in hand, hoping to make their fortunes. Most will fail, in the same way that most authors in bookstores will fail to earn out their advance and never get anywhere.

But a few WILL succeed. Their ideas and manuscripts WILL strike gold, and when the dust settles they will enjoy the knowledge that they did it all on their own. That their success was entirely in their hands, and the profits they earned are not going toward paying for a Big Six publishers’ Fifth Avenue office suites and expense accounts, but in their own pockets.

We need to embrace this time of revolution, rather than cower and cling to sinking ships that are too bloated to sustain anybody. We need to remember that we at least have our talents and our fresh ideas, but agents and publishers, without their 15-90% cuts, have nothing. And that it was only a matter of time, in an industry that is barely a couple hundred years old, for things to change. For the unwashed masses on the outside of the palace gates to break through, behead anyone in the way and torch the whole bloody place down.

 Allons enfants de la Patrie! Le jour de gloire est arrive!

Posted in art, artist, books, commentary, culture, freedom, innovation, literature, publishing, technology, thoughts, writer, writing | Tagged: , , , , , | 7 Comments »