We met many more talented authors, publishers and marketers on our second day of Book Expo America (BEA) and BlogWorld. The opportunities for education abounded in the form of several sessions hosted by leading experts. From the latest social media statistics to book stunts to book reviews, we now report what we learned back to you. Below are the key takeaways from each session we attended.
The Social Habit
Tom Webster, vice president of strategy at Edison Research, shared his firm's new research data about how people are using social media. Some of these stats may help you decide which social media channels to target in your marketing plan. The key data:
- 88% of Americans have internet access. 84% of Americans have a mobile phone, and 31% have a smartphone.
- More than half of all Americans ages 12+ have a profile on one or more social networking sites. Social networking saw marked year-over-year growth amongst people ages 35-54.
- Facebook now reaches the majority of Americans; 98% of people are familiar with Facebook, which is more than have access to the internet (88%). Facebook user demographics essentially mirror the U.S. population with regard to male vs. female, ages, and ethnicity. 26% of Facebook users are over the age of 45.
- 8% of Americans ages 12+ use Twitter (that's approximately 20 million people). Three out of 10 Twitter users access the site daily. Twitter users appear to be growing more engaged: 70% of monthly Twitter users now post updates to Twitter, compared to 47% in 2010. Twitter users tend to be a bit younger than Facebook users, with 18% over the age of 45.
- Many people, defined as frequent users, are developing a "social habit," meaning social networking has become a part of everyday life. One third of social networkers use social sites several times per day (that's about 46 million people in the U.S. alone), and 56% use them at least once each day.
- 43% of frequent social networkers follow brands in social networks; 80% of those say they use Facebook most to connect with brands.
More Relevant Blogging Through SEO
Ric Dragon, CEO of DragonSearch and SEO expert, shared his knowledge of search engine optimization (SEO). While often considered one of the more intricate (and sometimes confusing) aspects of maintaining an online presence, the right applications of SEO can lead to more traffic from search engines like Google. Some highlights from Ric's presentation:
- There are three types of SEO usage: no SEO, where you make no effort to improve your position in online searches; bad SEO, where you use so many titles and keywords that your blog or site reads like it was written for search engines and not for readers; and good SEO, which is a balance between the two and is about becoming more relevant in search engines.
- The three parts to SEO are research, doing things the right way, and building connections.
- Free tools to aid your research: In Google AdWords, you enter a keyword or phrase, and it tells you what similar terms people are searching for and how many are searching. Google's Wonder Wheel shows associations with your keyword or phrase to give you ideas. Google Insights is a brainstorming tool that gives you top searching terms and other phrases.
- Think in terms of keyword neighborhoods. When you write, you create "sets" of related words. For example, the set of words you create for a blog about "food" will be different from a set of words about "kitchen," even though they're related. Searches will pick up these word sets to determine what topic you're talking about.
- Doing things the right way doesn't necessarily add extra work, but involves best practices you should learn when optimizing for search engines. Here, a basic knowledge of HTML is useful, as the title, description of content, and keywords you use are important for SEO. A webpage built on good structure will tell search engines what is most important.
- Connecting and linking: The text on Page A that hyperlinks to Page B - called "anchor text" - on your website can have a big SEO impact. Building links in places that aren't relevant to your site won't create SEO value in the long run, so focus on making relevant connections.
- Try copying and pasting a blog you've written into Wordle.net. It will show you the commonality of the words and phrases you've used, which is a great way to see if your words are rich and balanced.
Book Stunts: Surprising Marketing Practices from Around the World and What We Can Learn from Them
Ed Nawotka, editor-in-chief of popular industry journal Publishing Perspectives, Erin Cox, literary agent and business development manager for Publishing Perspectives, and Ramy Habeeb, co-founder of Kotobarabia.com, led a lively discussion about the impact of successful book stunts. Trying to think of some out-of-the-box ideas to market your book? Check out the highlights from this session:
- A book stunt is any activity that comes from outside-the-box thinking when promoting a book. It should be fun and have a playful element. It typically allows the author's personality to shine; if the author is willing to laugh at himself, most readers find it endearing. Ultimately, that's your goal with a stunt: to connect with readers.
- Examples of effective stunts include Jennifer Belle, a novelist who last year hired several dozen actresses to sit on the NYC subway system and at city landmarks for hours, reading and laughing heartily at her book. The stunt earned her press in The New York Times and The New York Post, among others. Brad Meltzer is a thriller writer whose campaign for his nonfiction book included posting several YouTube videos to evoke different emotions. In one of the funniest videos, he pokes fun at himself through a series of "negative reviews."
- Entertaining someone far exceeds getting a review in some cases, and you can make a bigger impression. It shocks people into paying attention.
- There are risks involved with stunts. Be careful not to cross any lines; if you do humor, watch the kind of humor you're using, as it should be relevant and not hurt the perception the audience has of the author. Positive word-of-mouth is one of the best ways to sell a book, but it can also turn into gossip if you don't manage your brand. Be genuine, and make sure you research and have a reality check before doing it, as you don't want to do anything destructive or illegal.
- Book stunts aren't necessarily physical events in the real world. The internet is a great place for stunts, so experiment with film and audio.
- A book stunt isn't about selling books; it's about showing the reader who you are, whether it's in a funny or emotional way. It shouldn't be about the bottom line.
- When brainstorming a book stunt, try to manifest the subject matter of the book and make it real so it's relevant. Marrying the content with the promotion is imperative, as you could lose your message by doing something so outrageous that it doesn't fit.
Book Reviews Online
Respected book reviewers were on hand from The New York Times Book Review, The Daily Beast, Publishers Weekly, and The New Republic. Each critic gave his or her impression on the state of the book review industry, as well as predictions for the future. Read on to get their perspectives on the changing landscape of book reviews.
- What is the current state of the review industry?
The New Republic: Print coverage for books has been declining due to cuts in the media industry. Online book reviews are attractive to critics because they are not limited by space as they would be in a print publication, and it gives them the opportunity to review more books. Also, reviewers are establishing a presence in social media channels.
New York Times Book Review: The "Paper Cuts" blog has been folded into the "Arts Beat" blog. They are embracing new media, such as podcasts, video, and social media (especially Twitter). They recently began introducing content exclusively online for the first time, and they launched their first-ever eBook bestseller list this year.
The Daily Beast: Its book section was launched within a few months of the site's launch, even before other entertainment sections. They do weekly reviews, but also have essays, interviews with writers, quizzes, and other content. Their main goal is to show that books are part of the news and part of the conversation, so they cover mostly nonfiction, but they do review fiction, poetry, and other genres as well.
Publishers Weekly: They are making an aggressive push to create a community via social media. They have many different, specialized blogs with small readerships and several social media accounts. In all, PW provides approximately 6,000 reviews per year anonymously; social media allows people to get to know the publication on a more personal level.
- What does the future of book reviews look like?
The New Republic: They are working on mobile applications for smartphones. Since space is not limited online, they are devising ways to encourage readers to read longer pieces online.
New York Times Book Review: They are a part of a smartphone application and will continue to be involved in social media to get more people participating in the book review. Regardless of the online or print format, they are still reviewing books the same as they always have.
The Daily Beast: They have been finding a balance between the short pieces people read online and longer print versions with eBook essays and will be reviewing more eBooks moving forward.
Publishers Weekly: Big reviewers and self-published books are coming together. PW has started a quarterly review of the best self-published books. "We are getting more and more book submissions during these times from self-published authors, and they are getting better and better."
As the show comes to a close, watch for the final edition of our BEA 2011 daily recap tomorrow (the show ends early, so the recap will likely be shorter, which I'm sure you're relieved to hear!). If you're attending BEA and haven't yet stopped by the CreateSpace booth #2538 (or if you'd just like to say hello again), we hope to see you!
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