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.
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.