Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Finding a Good Paranormal Romance

And once more twitter friends spark a subject we need to cover in Alien Romance:

I Retweeted this tweet from @dearauthor:
JLichtenberg: RT @dearauthor: I feel like my reading mojo is back. I've actually liked a few books in a row. 2 of them PNRs.

@freyasbower answered @dearauthor and tagged me in the answer thusly:

freyasbower: @dearauthor @JLichtenberg Perhaps it's not your mojo so much as the books. (g) 2:48pm, Jun 14 from Twitter for Mac

So I answered but forgot to tag @dearauthor

JLichtenberg: @freyasbower That's my thesis. I believe the creative torch has passed to the PNR field. Even non-PNR readers will find mojo there 3:00pm, Jun 14 from HootSuite

freyasbower: @JLichtenberg I have always been a fan of well-written PNR. It's finding it that can be challenging. 3:06pm, Jun 14 from Twitter for Mac

JLichtenberg: @freyasbower I need to blog about HOW TO FIND well-written PNR, why it's necessary, and why it's hard to find 8:07am, Jun 15 from HootSuite

freyasbower: @JLichtenberg you do. I am sure there are more authors out there who write it, but it gets buried .... 8:08am, Jun 15 from Twitter for iPhone

So let's tackle the issue of FINDING the "good" books among the undifferentiated flood of novels coming from a multitude of new small publishers, from the giant presses of mass market machines, and even more titles than both put together coming from self-publishing authors.

All these writers are trying to "stand out" or to get the readers' attention, to get "reviews" on Amazon or any blog that has traffic.

Even writers publishing via the mass market machines have to do their own "Me! LOOK AT ME! BUY MY BOOK!!!" publicity.

In most genre fiction, but especially Romance and Science Fiction/Fantasy it's always been that way, though in science fiction and Romance to a certain extent, a writer who said "buy my book" in any form lost credibility. With self-publishing, that's once more becoming a problem. 

Mass Market writers were supposed to step aside, fold hands, put their eyes down, and meekly let the professionals market their books. 

A mass market publisher generally does 4 to 10 titles a month, some of them reprints (though not in Romance usually).  The publisher has a monthly budget to promote the books, and decisions are made in committee which books to promote.  Usually the whole budget goes on the Lead title, with a little left for the second title, and the rest of the books fall where they may without promotion.

The most effective "promotion" done by publishers is not seen by readers.  These are not TV ads, magazine ads, newspaper ads that readers might see.  The magazine and newspapers that these ads go into are subscribed to book wholesalers and retailers, not consumers -- though some specialty magazines like LOCUS may be included and reach some readers of a genre.

Here's a typical list of targets for a heavily promoted major release:

National review and feature attention
Print advertising campaign to (whatever) interest groups
Advertising campaign at major general-interest sites like the New York Times book blast or NewYorker.com
Pre-publication buzz campaign through Shelf Awareness, Goodreads, Library Thing, and Read it Forward
Major blogger outreach to literary, historical fiction, and (whatever special)interest blogs
Included in all launch promotions of that publisher's imprint
Extensive bookseller, library, and academic mailing
Outreach to (whatever special interest) organizations
Major book group outreach
Author tours and Events

Where it says New York Times, it mostly means getting them to review or discuss it, sometimes website ads.  A few titles get actual ads to readers printed on review pages. 

The promotion that costs the most money is done to get the books into stores, before readers eyes, into the front window of the store, into a "dump" (a box set up in the aisle), or splashed at you on amazon etc, and to get it sold at a discount at certain huge outlets (like Sam's Club, B&N, and Amazon).  Promotion money is also spent on getting super-spiffy art for the cover, and sending out review copies.  As mentioned on #scifichat in June, the cover is the foundation of the marketing campaign.  If there's no campaign, they don't spend much on the cover.  Big money these days is spent on YouTube book-trailers, but many of those are paid for by the author. 

Promotion money is spent and campaigns announced like that to force reviewers for major publication such as big city newspapers to review the book, interview the author, etc.  If you are major newspaper or magazine reviewer, you don't dare not-cover what everyone is talking about or pretty soon you aren't "major" anymore!  So shouting about the publicity budget for a book gets books into bookstores.  Note that item Pre-publication buzz -- that's for real, and it is what actually does the trick to sell lots of copies.  They put that list on the back cover of ADVANCE READING COPIES (the ARCs reviewers get before all the typos are fixed) to shame reviewers into reviewing the book that "everyone" is buzzing about.   

A title that is not #1 or #2 on the publisher's monthly List has NO REVIEW COPIES sent out to newspapers, magazines, and these days, bloggers.  None of the things on that list are financed by the publisher for books that aren't at the top of their monthly release list.  Publishers shout like that to try to "find the readership" for that particular book. 

They "shout" like that about books they think will sell enough copies to more than pay for the "shouting" budget.  It's all about perceptions and economics.  If they promote an author's book like that and it does not sell big enough, the author's next book is not bought or not promoted at all.  Sometimes shouting works and gathers the audience.  Sometimes, even with a worthy book, it doesn't gather enough of an audience to be worth the expense of the shout.  Paying for an author to tour some big cities and sign autographs is another item in the budget for an author whose previous promotions have more than paid off.   

If the publisher shouts about the book, or if the writer does (and finances) the shouting, it amounts to the same thing -- advertising.  It's a way of saying "I want you to pay me money."  Or "I want you to pay attention to me." 

The publisher lacks credibility because the publisher has an investment in the book they want to make back and then some.

The writer lacks credibility for that reason and the inherent lack of judgement the creator of a work has about their own work. 

Publicity is the publisher or the writer, the one who invests in creating the work, looking for an audience.  It's not working well these days, so maybe the process needs scrutiny and re-evaluation. 

Paper publishing is dying because of the economics of printing, warehousing, trucking, and returning unsold copies.  Amazon's marketing innovation helps a lot, but they don't warehouse a lot of books all at once.  You see that "only 2 copies left" sign on pages "more coming" and you know they don't stock what they sell.  That's killing paper publishing.

But now that there's a good reading screen technology, e-books are taking off.  Paper is moving to print on demand except for those books with a pre-assembled mass market.   Check out Glenn Beck's best-seller statistics -- every book he releases is a category killer on Amazon.  He is reaching an audience of about 30,000,000  per month, (yeah, thirty million) and most of them are voracious readers, just not in Paranormal Romance! 

That's the number Beck himself gives for his "reach" and it includes all his media outlets - radio, print books, email newsletters, the online newspaper The Blaze (drawing about 7,000 hits per day he says), and about 300,000 paying subscribers to his web-only TV network gbtv.com (which is viewable in full HD and has state-of-the-art color).  He's in the midst of combining The Blaze and gbtv.com putting more news shows on his network and building it to a 24-hour operation.  

By studying what Glenn Beck has done for books about his (hobbyhorse) topics, we can discover how to find PNR novels that please us as keenly as Beck pleases his audience.  Nevermind what his books are about, they please his specific readership so perfectly his readership is growing by leaps and bounds and you see his books in Sam's Club!  Want to see our books in Sam's Club?  Costco?  Study what he's done. 

Since he was a teen, Beck has been a radio broadcaster -- talk show host.  His original training is in humor, comedy, standup I think, and maybe clowning.  He reverts to that schtick often, and sounds a discordant note that destroys his credibility where he actually has a bit of fact that needs thinking about buried under his behavior.  It's almost as if talking about a real fact embarrasses him. 

But his target audience eats up the clowning about facts and begs for more. 

It seems that Glenn Beck has FOUND HIS AUDIENCE, just as publishers try to "find an audience" for a book they believe they can make money by selling. 

I am not at all sure (I don't study Beck closely enough to tell) if he understands what has happened to him, and what he has done that's resulted in having this audience, but studying the phenomenon can tell us how to winnow out the great PNR novels that we need to read from the background noise of millions of novels that should have gone through another 10 drafts before being published. 

Years ago, when Radio talk-show hosts began "breaking into" TV, Beck got jobs with Cable TV channels.

I'm not sure of his resume before he worked at CNN where I first saw him (or heard of him).  I think he had been at a broadcast network before that.  CNN was a trial and a half for him because they keep commentators on a short-leash as do the broadcast networks ABC, NBC and CBS. CNN is has hit its lowest ratings in Spring 2012 and subsequently changed a number of their anchor personalities, bringing onboard at least one "Conservative" commentator.  Watch how that works out -- it is just like publishing, searching for what the audience wants. 

A viewer of these commentators thinks she's looking at a person and hearing what that person thinks.  Nope, not what's happening, any more than when you pick up a book from a mass market publisher's imprint, you are reading the book the writer wanted to write! Those 10 drafts mentioned above that self-publishing writers tend to skip, and that "short leash" mentioned above that networks use on commentators are similar marketing/publicity mechanisms.  The catch-all term for the whole process is "packaging" -- news segments have to be "shot" and then "packaged."  It's a complex process aimed at "finding an audience." 

See my series on EDITING to get this into your head.
http://aliendjinnromances.blogspot.com/2010/09/what-exactly-is-editing-part-vii-how-do.html  has links to previous 6 entries.

Writers who aren't able or willing to conform their output to the specifications of mass market publishers don't sell to mass market publishers.  It is very possible that those non-conformists are the writers who are writing what you want most to read - what you would enjoy most!  The content of Mass Market books has been "watered down" to reach a broader audience via mass market "packaging."  Even small publishers have to do "packaging" or go out of business.  Self publishers will give up after a while, if it's just not worth the effort, or they'll learn packaging. 

It's about effort/return ratio -- you've got to have a ratio that's considerably less than 1.00 or you'll quit. 

You can't write and self-publish on smashwords a 100,000 word novel and sell 1 copy and then do it again.  Very soon, you'll just stop publishing unless 1 becomes 2 becomes 4, 8, 16, etc. - positive feedback works. 

EDITING - (and with books, agenting) - all goes in between the reader, and the writer's imagination.

Being a "good writer" means being able to write what the editors and the publishers editors work for THINK will sell.  Agents are in the business of slush-pile-reading to find the exact books editors have been instructed by their publishers to package and send to the bookstores.  "Bookstores" are in the business of finding and presenting what their customers want.  Agents are the people who find or train the authors who consistently perform those novel styles that are selling best at bookstores at this moment.

Writing is a performing art, remember?  You don't write a book, you PERFORM a TROPE of a GENRE, just as a pianist performs Chopin.  We've covered that in many previous posts.  I learned it in 7th Grade from a professional writer, Alma Hill, who mentored me then!  And it's still true today. Writing is a performing art, just like standup comedy. 

So what Glenn Beck has done that's given him an audience of 30 million about 1 million of whom buy each book with his name on it (even if he didn't write it all by himself) is exactly what PNR writers need to do -- FIND THEIR AUDIENCE.

Publishers who invest in marketing as noted above are expecting to "target an audience" -- to find a pre-made, pre-assembled audience, a social-network, that's going to want to buy that book the instant they hear of it.  Successful self-publishing writers already have made an audience like that, just one too small or too scattered to be worth the kind of money big publishers spend promoting big titles. 

Authors running around looking for an audience for something they wrote rather than performed, have no more success than Glenn Beck did when he was just a radio broadcaster!  And they have even less credibility than Beck has now when they say "buy my book."   

Beck's stint at CNN let him shoot off a few arrows of his own opinions in various directions, and they struck home with a small segment of the CNN audience (which was much bigger then than it is now). 

I recall seeing Beck do a whole segment on the Mexican border and drug running issues, cartel wars, and the terrorist infiltration of the action at the border when he was on CNN.  The segment promised a lot more on that topic -- but every time I cruised through (I comparison shop news and don't believe ANY of it) he wasn't on that topic again.

Then he moved to Fox, and I caught most of his opening show there (totally by accident because I was cooking at the hour he was on, my hands too greasy to flip the channel) -- and he promised to do a whole, in depth, never let it drop expose of the Mexican border issues on successive shows.  He ranted on about being so happy to have moved to a network that would let him cover the Mexican border issues. 

He didn't go on to cover that topic, and because I know what "editing" means, I knew someone had shut him up.  They (networks) pay thousands of dollars for pollster tracking of audience not only after a show, but the pulse of tune-ins/tune-outs during a show.  Very complicated, very expensive stuff -- Beck's border presentation probably pulled really low interest.  Or it may have just discomforted someone high in the organization -- I'm guessing, here I don't know and I don't really care much.  They squashed him. 

My objective here is to solve the problem of getting GOOD PNR to the RIGHT readers who will actually glean something important from reading the novel.  Paranormal Romance Novels are where the fire is in our field right now, just as the border war and terrorism is where the "fire" of interest was in one segment of CNN's audience when Beck mentioned it. 

If PNR writers lose credibility (and audience share like Beck apparently did at CNN) when they go searching for an audience, then writers can't do what all editors and agents insist the writer must do herself, and FIND HER AUDIENCE.

I'm beginning to wonder about the standard interpretation of how publicity works. 

Maybe the writer can't find the audience.

Maybe the audience must find the writer.

BUT HOW???? 

What did Glenn Beck do?  By the end of his stint at Fox he was reaching maybe 35 million a month, through all his media -- website, email newsletters, books from his Mercury division, blogs, and while at Fox he founded the news organization that publishes the online newspaper THE BLAZE.

When he left Fox and began his own network, gbtv.com  he lost a lot of those people because gbtv.com is a network you can get only via the web, not on cable or broadcast.

But as his organization has produced some truly high-polish, slick, and informative (and serious, not comedy schtick ridden) SPECIALS on various news subjects, the web-tv-subscription audience has grown.  The one Special he said brought a substantial increase in his viewers was the third in a series, and it's topic is the Mexican border/drug cartel/terrorist wars issue he got squashed for talking about on cable news, twice. 

That one subject has let his audience FIND HIM AGAIN -- and he's up to 300,000 subscribers (which is more than watch some shows on CNN or Fox).  It's been less than 1 year since he left Fox and launched his web-network.  Audiences of Beck's size are not coalescing around broadcast network TV -- see my blog entry on TARGETING AN AUDIENCE part 5 on this blog, July 31, 2012. 
Note Beck doesn't have just one show.  He's been adding shows fast, and has I think maybe 5 different shows and his daily radio show done with cameras and up in video on his gbtv.com website. And he's gaining advertisers, many who advertise on regular networks. 

Likewise note this news item that appeared Aug. 3, 2012:

Cord-never numbers are particularly hard to measure. A cable company, of course, can't report the amount of people who never subscribed to them in the first place, but we can do some piecing together to get an idea of the changing trends. U.S. census data found that 1.8 million new households were formed, but that only 16.9 percent of those signed up for pay-TV services, according to Ad Age's Dan Hirschorn. The TV industry has been flat for years; U.S. households continue to rise. Meanwhile, as cable subscription rates have stayed flat, Internet subscriptions are on the rise. Comcast added 156,000 net broadband subscribers, an 8.4% increase; Time Warner added 59,000 residential high-speed Internet subscribers. While something like 100 million U.S. households subscribe to TV services, the U.S. 2010 census data had 120 million households with Internet -- those numbers have only risen since then, with these companies reporting increased subscriptions. And what do people do on the Internet? Watch things. Though the most popular Internet activity, as of 2010, was social networking, video saw a 12 percent increase, according to a Neilsen report. Though, those numbers include people with cable.
-----------END QUOTE-----------

But also consider this item from June 2008, just 4 years ago:
-----------QUOTE from end of that article----
One Month Later
It's been over a month since I gave up cable TV and a lot has happened since my first week of Internet TV. Content-wise, Hulu continues to refine its service introducing full episodes of Comedy Central's The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and The Colbert Report. In addition, the site is running a Hulu Days of Summer promotion where new content is introduced every weekday. A nice way to bring people back to the site each day. Meanwhile, Univision.com has launched a new portal and streamed its first, full-length, online concert by Latin Grammy winner, Fonseca. The micro site, which is called En Directo, is sponsored by Toyota (the ads are very aggressive) and will feature additional concerts, downloadable songs, backstage footage, and more. I'm not a fan of the artist, but I am impressed with the amount of online video you can find on Univision.com. It appears the site has even struck a deal with CNET.com and is translating many of its tech reviews into Spanish (it'll be interesting to see how this relationship plays out once CNET.com is owned by CBS.com). Although I speak Spanish fluently, I was never a heavy Univision watcher, but having more video options online never hurt.
On a more personal note, I'm back to my old TV-viewing habits, watching TV in the morning and in the evening when I get home from work. When I miss an episode I want to watch, I now turn to Hulu (when appropriate) instead of recording shows onto my DVR. I'm also more comfortable bringing my laptop into the kitchen and watching Internet TV from my kitchen counter — something I felt awkward doing before. Ironically, I also turn to the Internet for new shows (shows that I've never seen like "Dexter" or shows that are no longer shown on TV like "Arrested Development") and if I like them, I look for them on TV. Unfortunately, I didn't lose any weight during my cable-free month, and I have once again associated eating with watching TV.
But perhaps the biggest change in my everyday routine is the amount of time I spend online. Whereas before I would go online just to check e-mail, I'm now online the minute I get home. Most of the time I'm reading new blogs I discovered during my cable-free month, but the amount of time I spend online has spiked dramatically since the month of May.

----------END QUOTE---------

So compare 2008 to 2012 (Beck's web network started in 2011 and is about to expand again).  In fact, in 2008, Beck hadn't even moved to Fox and rocked the world with his ideas.  That's how fast this world is changing - the world of connectivity, of fiction at your fingertips, and thousands of other ways to spend/waste your time.

The potential and possibilities for living without cable or broadcast TV are expanding just that fast.

Glenn Beck's audience wanted his product and searched him out.  They found him; he didn't find them.

No matter what you think of Glenn Beck's message, study the process by which he's come to have the means to deliver that message to the target audience.   

Many of his audience are older people who owned old TV sets that couldn't connect to the internet.  Many don't have computers, though most do.  I haven't seen smartphone distribution figures among seniors either, but according to the Verizonwireless website's offer of a $20/month discount to seniors for a low-call, charge per text, very low data amount plan, Seniors can be relied on to NOT use the features of their smartphones.

So Verizon is offering seniors that discount on all the phones they sell.  And their stock is up over the last four years. 

That tech-reluctance of seniors may change quickly as a new generation becomes senior.  Apparently many older seniors have upgraded their technology this year to get at the one product they wanted, Glenn Beck's opinions. 

Nevermind that you don't want Beck's opinions.  The PNR novels you write are your opinions, and they are of as marginal an appeal as Beck's opinions on the Mexican border were when he was at Fox. 

Speaking of the Mexican border, here's another article from Aug. 2, 2012 on that subject, asserting that what Beck predicted several years ago, actually is happening now.  The Mexican border topic is one of Beck's hobby horses that has gotten him a lot of attention because nobody wanted his opinion on it. 


Nobody wants your opinions right now either.  And as a reader or writer of PNR, you are searching for the opinions of someone as marginalized as Beck is!  Your problem is really the same problem that he had, and he's solved it.  Figure out how he did it! 

Analyzing his audience, I have found it isn't ALL older people.  There's a wave of 20-somethings, and even teens, who are absolutely caught up in what he's doing.  Those 20-somethings are not likely to be readers of PNR either, but they found what they want in Beck's program. 

Again, forget what he's doing and focus on how he's doing it.

People will say HE FOUND HIS AUDIENCE -- but as I noted above his audience found him.

Beck says George Soros spent millions "discrediting" him -- some Soros funded organizations funded other organizations that funded organizations that hired bloggers to use filthy language emphatically lying about what Beck said on the air, thus discrediting Beck. 

I don't know about the hiring part, but I've seen the blog comments -- the exact same blog comments word for misspelled word turning up on news commentary threads  on various articles having nothing to do with the filthy-language comment on Beck.  I've seen copy/paste clones of those comments on Beck turn up day after day - the same comments, on different news item blogs, on different days, posted under different poster-handles. 

Being curious, I started watching the actual broadcasts and listened to what Beck said exactly, then looked for what the blog commentators said he said.  The claim that someone hired people to paste filthy-language comments all over the blogosphere is a logical way to interpret what I've seen.  But I have no knowledge of how these things happened, only that Beck never said most of what's attributed to him, but as the furor increased so did Beck's audience share.

Maybe we need George Soros to fund an anti-PNR campaign complete with filthy language?  Naw, that wold never work.

But just like Beck, PNR doesn't say what most people say it says.  Same campaign was waged against Dungeons & Dragons years ago and it got more popular the more it was opposed. 

I'm not nearly as interested in Glenn Beck (and his hobbyhorses) as I am in the audience response to him -- his audience found him.  HOW DID THEY DO THAT???? (other than the discrediting campaign blog comments)

If I can figure out how they did that, I can figure out how to FIND the PNR novels that need finding and develop a readership of millions (30 million readers -- think about that!  It's not unreasonable for an audience size: there are 330 million people in the USA alone!).

Note my most current novel, THE FARRIS CHANNEL is Paranormal but not Romance (has an offstage love story or two, but love/romance does not drive the plot).  I'm not telling you "buy my book" or "be my audience" or "find me!"  -- though that might be nice -- I'm trying to figure out how PNR readers can find their "Glenn Beck."

If we can't gain respect in one-step, maybe we can attain it by becoming vilified first?  I just don't like that idea.  No.  There has to be another way. 

You, as reader don't need to find the writer of PNR novels you want to read, but you need to find a "Glenn Beck" a spokesman that gathers a book-buying public.  That spokesman has to be someone we can rely on to bring to our attention  'the best PNR novels.' 

We have some great Romance blogs like Galaxy Express but they don't have 30 million readers!  (Million; think about that 30 million.)

Here's a web-radio talk-show that interviews authors and loves SF, Fantasy, Romance and PNR.  If you're a writer, contact them.  It's not 30 million (yet) but it's a start.

-------QUOTE FROM THE PROMOTION-----------

PWRTALK is the network with the best experts and programming that provides a conduit for voices not otherwise heard in this noisy techno and digitalized world. In the first 6 months of 2012, PWRTALK received 1 million new listeners. In the first 2 weeks of July, PWRTALK received another 1/4 million new listeners. For WebTV and audio interviews, please contact Lillian Cauldwell at 734-827-9407 or email
 ----------END QUOTE-------------------

Oprah Winfrey has lost and not regained her audience as she moved to create her own Cable network, but she was this kind of spokesman for her kind of "personal expose" book. 

When Beck has a guest on his show who's written a book, that book shoots to the top tiers on Amazon just as Oprah Winfrey's guests' books did.  Beck's audience listens to radio (and web-radio), watches TV, and behold -- READS BOOKS. 

When he left Fox, by contract he couldn't take the research he'd done there on their dime.  He can't use clips from his own Fox show.  And he can't afford to re-do that research from scratch (it was hugely expensive, though his show overall was cheap-cheap).  So he's been gathering sponsors, and subscribers (you have to have internet access (Roku but not Amazon will get the show for you) plus a gbtv.com subscription which is I think $100/year) to get his shows.  I absolutely must figure out how his audience has found him.  He didn't find them, though he tried for decades.  Suddenly, they found him! 

Once he got feedback for his passionate presentation of the Mexican border situation (being squashed indicates there's something there), he began researching, asking questions, looking for answers, searching out the roots of movements under the surface of US culture.  That quest became the core of his Fox show, and when he did a months long presentation on American History, his ratings soared.  His audience found him. 

The audience's responses and interest guided his research, his efforts, and touched something in him that ignited his personal curiosity, a need-to-know just like any writer's fascination with a story idea.  He's half journalist, and he had grabbed hold of a journalistic subject.  His audience touched off his explosion of interest in American History that led to the series of "revelations" he's presented that keep attracting more viewers.  He's a showman by nature -- anything that ignites an audience to enthusiasm will ignite him to out-perform himself, but he's also a shrewd business man (I have a sketch of his natal chart).  Once he mentioned a topic that got a ratings spike, his own interest in it spiked -- maybe it was dollar signs, or maybe it was his need for applause (he's a comedian by training). 

All writers are like that, PNR writers most especially are on the lookout for feedback, for applause, for understanding.  What gets audience response, gets more attention from the writer in the next book. 

Beck's audience found him sitting there on CNN like an unlit candle, and they touched fire to his wick.  He took that fire to Fox and found a bigger audience and became a much bigger candle. 

Beck's audience used him to get what it wanted.  The audience milked him, not the other way around as observers always think!  As a writer, I know what that feels like.  When an editor wants more, I find more!

The PNR audience needs to find a Glenn Beck of PNR.  Who?  How?  Where? 

I don't have the entire answer yet, but I do have an "app" on my iPod and Kindle that gets "radio" and can get internet radio shows.  Apple has subscriptions to podcasts. This is a growing business while paper publishing is shrinking.

You can dock your iPhone or iPod in your car's dashboard and make internet radio come out of your car's speakers while you commute.  Or subscribe to sat radio. 

Other than commuting, I don't know where people find time to "listen to radio" -- but they do!  See TARGETING AN AUDIENCE PART 5 again and that link above to unplugging from cable TV -- people are abandoning cable TV, broadcast TV, to the point where there are fewer and fewer TV Series, and the ones that exist do fewer shows per year.  People are doing something with their time.  Ebook sales are UP.  People watch movies streaming on Amazon on their TV screens and smartphones!  You can watch movies on Kindle Fire wherever you can get a fast wi-fi connection. 

There's a huge audience, a veritable tsunami of an audience, sloshing around looking for the Glenn Beck of their field, whatever that field may be.  PNR is only one of many fields that needs a Glenn Beck. 

Glenn Beck just about invented his field -- this whole schtick he's done on American History, and his examination of the cultural shifts we've been living through is put together from scratch.  He's going into the music business and the feature film business next.  He's holding huge "Events" people go to just to have a good time bringing the whole family exploring American history and cultural roots.  Imagine filling a football stadium with lovers of PNR! He filled Cowboy Stadium with 65,000 people July 28, 2012 and there's a video of that program on his website (or maybe on gbtv.com ). 

How can we do that?  There are podcasters and web radio talk shows interviewing authors, pulling in audiences numbering in the thousands.  But not 30 million.  65,000 yeah, probably, but not 30 million.

Why should we bother trying to ignite a Glenn Beck or Oprah Winfrey of our own?  What has PNR got in it that our lives "need" the way Beck's audience thirsts for whatever it is they get out of watching him?  (I haven't figured that out, yet, either.)

Until he started talking about the Mexican border and got squashed by his employers for it, he didn't have this kind of mojo. 

What topic lies within PNR that has the same relationship to PNR that the Mexican Border does to American History?  And where can we find someone to set on fire with that topic? 

On twitter, they now show you this notice if you click on the CHANGE link on TRENDING NOW on their page: Trends offer a unique way to get closer to what you care about. Trends are tailored for you based on your location and who you follow. 

Maybe that 'trending now' feature will help us find our very own Glenn Beck to aggregate the PNR audience, our Oprah Winfrey. 

Here's a QUOTE from a recent item on what Oprah is doing from a Financial News item in June 2012:


Faced with the potential failure of her money-pit cable network OWN, Winfrey is working the phones hard to secure big-name interviews for her show, "Oprah's Next Chapter." Back-to-back episodes last Sunday featured the Kardashian family and rapper 50 Cent, and the Kardashians will be back this weekend. Michael Jackson's daughter Paris and the late Whitney Houston's family made news with their interviews in recent weeks.
The open question is whether she can have the same cultural impact on a smaller stage. Winfrey's daytime talk show was generally seen by around 6 million people in her final years; "Oprah's Next Chapter" with the Kardashians was seen by 1.1 million viewers, according to the Nielsen company.
------------END QUOTE-------------

Beck's viewership isn't in Oprah's ballpark there, but his "reach" including all his media is bigger.

I'll get back to this topic when I do figure it out.  Meanwhile, don't get blindsided by the video gaming industry.  Study that, too.  

Jacqueline Lichtenberg

1 comment:

  1. So, I know of a tool you and your fellow writers might want to leverage, if you haven't already: http://www.fkbooksandtips.com/

    There's an Android app for the site, too - I downloaded it 2-3 months ago when it was in the top 5 free apps in the Amazon App Store.

    I've been reading books from it for a few months now, downloading anywhere from one to half a dozen books per day. Some of them I read right away, some of them I still haven't read even after having them for a few months.

    My impressions, as a reader:

    1. If the Amazon description isn't written well, then I'm less likely to download it, even if it's in a genre I like. My personal pet peeve is when there's a cliched ending dilemma along the lines of "Will Bill and Tammy be able to overcome their troubled past to embrace the future?" - even when I'm interested in that sort of plot, the way it's stated is often too blatantly trope-y. It needs more show and less tell. Not only that, it kind of spoils the ending. It evokes the response, "Well, duh! Otherwise it wouldn't have a satisfying ending." I'm much more interested in a book that has the confidence to tell me straight-up that it's a story about people overcoming their past to find love, and not insulting my intelligence by reminding me of Saturday morning cartoons.

    2. I've noticed a couple different models for the various free books. Some are "Free today only/Free through the 9th of the month", and others are almost always free. Of the latter category, I've noticed some are the first of various book series - that is, they'll offer the first one free, and the rest are for pay. I've read a couple novels that, had I felt I had the money to spend, I would've done so to read the rest of the novels. Among those is the first of the Nell Sweeney books that I remember you mentioning here.

    Thinking about that, related to your analyzing the Glenn Beck phenomenon, I notice a similarity - also with the standard promotion model. It's hearing about something from independent sources. I heard about the Nell Sweeney books first from you, then I saw it on the free books app, and so I read it. Had I saw it just on the app, I might not have downloaded it - the name "Nell Sweeney" didn't do anything for me, it was a genre I didn't normally go for (though because of that book, I'm now interested in the genre), and while there wasn't anything particularly annoying about the book description, it also didn't jump out at me as being something special. I remember pausing before downloading it, mentally shrugging, thinking "what the heck, let's try it."

    Unrelated, your statement of You don't write a book, you PERFORM a TROPE of a GENRE, reminded me of a story in the authors notes at the end of the later Harry Dresden novels about how they came about. The author originally wanted to write fantasy novels, but his creative writing teacher wanted him to write in a formula like the Anita Blake novels - the teacher thought the result was publishable, and the Harry Dresden books were born. He later did publish another series of fantasy novels, but I couldn't quite get into them, though my husband likes them. It's funny how your phrasing of "performing a trope" reminded me of that. I was skeptical at first, but now I'm starting to believe it.

    Anyway, I've rambled enough for now - I hope the free books link was helpful!