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School for Bloggers: The new world of book publishing levels the playing field. Kinda. Mostly. (#BWENY)

So, I’m in New York City. But unlike my last post, I have been inside all day attending Blog World & New Media Expo 2011 (hashtag #BWENY). Like many other conferences, there are “tracks” so that you can follow a specific theme that you might be interested in.

I’m in attendance for my “day job” as a corporate communications manager for a high-tech company, so the track I’ve been following is the Social Media for Business Summit. But at the end of the day, all attendees are reunited for a keynote session. And today’s keynote was about the world of book publishing.


People still love books. The printed word. The tactile page. That’s a fact. And it’s underscored in a certain ironic tone with Book Expo America (#BWENY) taking place in the same venue as Blog World.

But what IS changing is how an author gets published and promoted. For instance, Scott Stratten, of and a book of the same name, wrote a post (“The awesomeness of being a 2.0 author“) last January about how authors can now interact with their readers and get immediate feedback on how people are responding to their book.

And today’s keynote session included three authors who expanded on this topic … what has stayed the same, and what is now different with social media on the scene. The three panelists and their bio clips (as lifted directly from the BlogWorld directory) are:

Gary Vaynerchuk(@garyvee)
Gary Vaynerchuk is a self-trained wine and social media expert who has revolutionized the wine industry. Gary’s cult-like following is the result of his unconventional, often irreverent commentary on wine, combined with his business acumen and foresight to use social media tools like Twitter, Facebook, and You Tube to reach an untapped audience. Known as the “King of Social Media,” Gary is regularly asked to consult on social media for some of the world’s largest and most recognizable companies like Google, Johnson & Johnson, Disney, Proctor & Gamble, and Pepsi.

Jeffrey Hayzlett (@jeffreyhayzlett)
Jeffrey Hayzett, author of The Mirror Test, hailed a Celebrity CMO by Forbes Magazine and famous for his outspoken appearances on numerous television networks. Hazlett is widely recognized as one of the most influential marketers of our time. Previously as Chief Marketing Officer of the iconic Eastman Kodak Company, Hayzlett was responsible for the company’s worldwide marketing operations. Hayzlett’s best selling book has been acclaimed by thought leaders such as Donald Trump who said, “This book is a reflection of marketing genius…read it to find out how companies, big and small, “Trump” the competition!”

HP Mallory(@hpmallory)
HP Mallory is a kindle and nook bestselling author of paranormal romance and urban fantasy. Currently she has written two series, the Jolie Wilkins series is about a woman who realizes she’s a witch who can reanimate the dead and the Dulcie O’Neil series is about a fairy in law enforcement. HP Mallory recently signed on with Random House to publish the next three books in the Jolie Wilkins series. Look for the third book in this series, Be Witched, in Spring 2012! HP still self publishes her Dulcie O’Neil series and loves being an indie author.

Same. Same. 

What has stayed the same is that there is still prestige and credibility tied to being a book author with a publishing house. For Hayzlett, a best-selling book gets him in the door for high-paying speaking gigs. For Vaynerchuk, it is another way to continue growing his audience base for his companies which include retail and consulting. Mallory, on the other hand, is less “business” and more about the pure love of writing and being published.

In the end, Veynerchuk summed it up in his abrupt style (that really grows on you). A friend asked him why he would want to publish a book in print when he is so big into social media. He responded: “Because people still read books, asshole.”

Different. Mostly.

What’s different is that it’s not enough to let a publisher sinn you up for a book tour and call it a day. Book tours are gruelling and are still a big must, but the work has now grown to include building a fan base on Facebook, responding to tweets, maintaining a blog, and the list goes on.

Each of the three panelists had some very innovative ways to create these connections with readers. Veynerchuk is big into just about every social media avenue there is and spends up to 12 hours a day “plugged in.” He’s always experimenting and testing with new ways to make results happen. A favourite quote from him today was “It’s not enough to read about doing pushups, you have to actually do them.” And he does it … he gets down and dirty and works his guts out.

Hayzlett noted that he spends about 2 hours a day on social media communications. But I get the sense that he has a whole team behind him, helping to connect all the dots behind the scenes. And that cash to pay for these experts is not a problem for him. Don’t get me wrong, he works damn hard, I’m sure of it. I just think he gets more sleep than Veynerchuk does.

Mallory, on the other hand, is an interesting mix. She too says she spends about 2 hours a day, but she’s come up with some unique tactics that are all free. Alot of her work is on Facebook. And beyond just a general Facebook page for each book series, she has a separate Facebook page for: writing tips, sharing current reads, and for each of the main characters in her books. That’s right … people love her characters so much that they chat with them on Facebook!

That field.

The inspiring part of the whole thing is that, for those who have aspirations to become a published author, social media has leveled the playing field in many respects. Mallory is a prime example of this. She is completely self-funded, and does not have the coin to do book tours. And yet, she has sold more than 200,000 books.

She didn’t have connections at a book house. Nor did she have the money to buy ads or go on book tours. She just put her nose to the grind stone and threw in some creativity to make it happen. She has now left her full-time job where she was a Director of Digital Marketing and is a full-time author. She sees social media as a means to an ends (i.e. she built up a following, so there was less risk for a publisher to take her on) but also as an end in and of itself (i.e. she plans to continue self-publishing some of her books since she likes being an “indie” author).

Have you read any indie books? Do you think that digital authors will ever get the same credibility as print authors? And have you ever used social media to connect with an author? (I have, as you’ll see if you click on that UnMarketing link.)

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  1. Very very cool. Like many people, I have a book in me and always wondering about how to go about that publishing thing in the new social media world. Guess I’d better get cracking! 

  2. Very interesting to read about what’s possible and what Mallory has accomplished. Thanks!

    • coffee with julie says:

      I find it really inspiring too … self-publishing used to have a bad rap in a sort of “snob lit” way and now she’s proven that she can do it all on her own.

  3. This is fascinating, Julie.  I still read books the old fashioned way and have never read a book by an indie author.  But the amount of terrific writing I read by bloggers convinces me that there are plenty of “undiscovered” voices out there very worthy of being read – whether via a traditional book deal or through newer channels.

    So glad you enjoyed your trip to New York.  (I had fun following your travels on Twitter!)

  4. As an aspiring to be published author, I really appreciated this post and the different perspectives you shared. I’d love to know more about the conference. I’m headed to the CDC’s health communicator’s conference in August and I can hardly wait!

    • Hi Christine: Yes, I am very excited (and inspired!) by your memoir project. And I agree that going to conferences and soaking in all that learning is such a fantastic opportunity. Happy to share more about BlogWorld with you anytime.

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