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Booksquare Strikes a Nerve...In a Good Way


Kassia Krozser does an excellent job with the Booksquare blog.  It's one of my favorites.  So when I saw the title of one of her recent posts, Why Publishers Should Blog, my antenna went up.  Now that I've finished reading it, I'm both disappointed and inspired.  No, I'm not disappointed by what Kassia has to say -- I think she's absolutely right.  I'm just concerned that my blogging efforts for the past 3+ years have been misguided.  But there's hope.

Kassia's post talks about the similarities between publisher catalogs and publisher websites.  Unfortunately, most publisher websites aren't much more than the catalog in HTML format.  Where's the personality?  Who are the people behind the scenes making these books?  Where's their passion and vision?  And yes, while most readers probably care more about the author's passion, vision, etc., what's wrong with the publishers, editors, marketers, etc., participating as well?

My blog isn't connected in any way with a Wiley website/catalog.  That's true for most publishers and publisher blogs out there.  Even the ones with links to their blogs from their publisher websites are nothing more than that...simple links.

I don't want to read too much into what Kassia is saying, but I got inspired by interpreting her message as, "hey, you've got the catalog site, and maybe you've got a blog or two; why not integrate them better so that visitors get a real feel for who you are and how that ties into these books?"

Btw, if my blog magically wound up getting integrated with the imprint websites my group publishes into (highly unlikely), that's not going to change a thing.  One blog and one point of view won't make a difference.  What we really need are for representatives from all the various departments of a publishing house (e.g., publisher, acq editor, dev editor, marketer, etc.) to come together on this, and that's like moving heaven and earth.

Nevertheless, when I think about a publisher's website that not only features the usual catalog content but also a high likelihood that I'll bump into the publisher, editor or other people associated with the book I'm interested in, well, that would be be highly appealing to me.  I could see a site like that evolving into more of a social network for the publisher, their authors and customers.  One central location where all the players could have meaningful discussion and debate about a book.  How fun would that be?

Any publisher thinking about overhauling their website ought to give serious consideration to the social networking aspects of what Kassia is suggesting.  Nobody's there yet, but the first publisher or two to create a model like this will be the envy of the industry.

P.S. -- Speaking of publisher blogs...  I recently stumbled across a fine one called Books on the Nightstand.  It's written by a couple of Random House employees and should be on any booklover's RSS feed list.


Tracy Coenen

Joe - What do you think of the author blogs that Amazon lets authors create on its site? I've been participating because I figure it can't hurt, but wonder if it really truly helps sales. What's your take?

Here's mine:

And you may appreciate this... In my profile you see that I investigate fr@ud. Amazon would not let me use the actual word "fraud" and kept giving me a message to not use derogatory words.

Joe Wikert

Hi Tracy. I think Amazon blogs are worthwhile for most authors. I just worry that it would force an author to come up with different posts than what they might be doing on their own, separate blog. If I were an author faced with this dilemma I'd just post articles in both places. You never know how someone might find you, so why not leverage Amazon's platform as well?

Tracy Coenen

You read my mind. I blog a lot on my own site and I just copy over posts that are more pertinent to the topic of my book. No need to write new material for Amazon!


Hi Joe,
Thanks so much for the shout-out for Books on the Nightstand. As you can guess, I fall pretty squarely in Kassia's camp when it comes to publisher blogs.

As an industry, we've always struggled with the concept of consumer awareness of our brands. While a few very tightly-focused publishing programs have succeeded in building an identity with consumers, large general trade publishers have found it to be a challenge. By "branding" the people behind the books, we have an opportunity to connect with customers in a way that hasn't been done before.

As an informed reader, I "follow" certain editors who tend to acquire books that speak to me. There's no reason why the general book reader can't find similar connections.

Thanks again for a very thoughtful post!


Kassia Krozser

I feel a little awkward posting a comment after reading such nice words, but, wow, thanks for getting what I was saying! And understanding the broader implications -- the entire social possibility -- of my message. I think the passion for whatever your imprint is publishing needs to be put out there for the world to see!

I think you should be incredibly proud of what you're doing here (and I know you are!). I love the broad-minded approach to subject matter -- since this isn't a "publisher" blog, you get to move into a lot of interesting territory (I admit it...I get new insights from you).

PS -- So sorry I didn't get a chance to meet you at BEA. You were quite the elusive soul.

Joe Wikert

Ann and Kassia, thanks for stopping by. Kudos to both of you on the work you've done with your blogs. Kassia, it would have been great to meet you in person at BEA but I'm afraid I rarely if ever attend. In fact, I'm pretty sure I haven't been to a BEA in more than 10 years. I hope to make it to TOC next year though, so if you're attending as well perhaps we can finally put faces with names!

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