Jillaine Smith Consulting has a one-page handout that provides a quick list of things to check when reviewing or updating pages. Topics covered include content, navigation, audience and measuring impact.
Sometimes, looking beyond search engines is the best, if not only way to find the information you're looking for.
I call this information sleuthing approach thinking outside the search box. To do this effectively, you need to use different thought process and search strategies, especially with the steps you take after using search engines.
As an example, say you're looking for information on trends in the U.K. market for Internet phones, otherwise known as VOIP (voice over Internet protocol). I actually did this research for a client recently. Here are the steps I took.
I threw "VOIP" into a couple of search engines, just to see what alternative terms showed up, both in the search results and in the paid ads. I found mentions of "Voice over IP", "Internet telephony" and "IP telephony", among others.
I then reviewed the sponsored links, on the assumption that, if a company paid to have its ad appear for the search term VOIP, it might have relevant content. Sure enough, I found links to a white paper that VOIP player Avaya had written, and to Order.VOIP.com, a site that offered a comparison chart of various VOIP providers.
Too many publishers use metrics that lead to bad business decisions. Consider the three big decisions that you often sharpen your pencil to make:
1. whether to commit to publishing a book in the first place
2. where to set the retail price
3. how many copies to print
To maximize profits and, particularly, to make the best possible use of available cash, this is how I suggest approaching these decisions and others that you face as a publishing executive.
Recognize that publishers’ accounting systems are constructed primarily to enable bookkeeping that conforms to government regulations and to enable paying taxes. As a result, it is not at all odd that each copy manufactured carries a "unit cost" on the books, because, when it is sold, a charge for the cost of goods must be recorded. But costs are not actually incurred for each unit as it is sold; most of the costs are incurred when it is printed. Also recognize that overhead is, mostly, fixed. The practice of assigning the same overhead cost figure to each sale may be convenient for accounting, but in reality most overhead costs are entirely independent of what books are published, manufactured, or sold. You don’t pay more rent because you signed up one more title, and you usually can’t reduce your warehouse space just because you printed fewer books than you thought you would. Consider advance and prepress investments in each book sunk costs. It is meaningless to characterize them as unit costs because you have no clue (until it is all over) how many copies will ultimately share those costs. Don’t be fooled by the fact that it’s possible to present PP&B–paper, presswork, and binding–as unit costs. The cost of an entire printing is a sunk cost once the printing takes place, and whether the number of books manufactured is close to the number sold is almost certainly more critical to a title’s economic success than the unit cost of manufacturing it.
Bacon's looks at the advantages of an electronic press kit versus its "old school" hard-copy predecessor are many, including saving companies money on printing, photo reproduction and postage costs and generally expediting the process of garnering that elusive ink. Indeed, e-mailing a clearly branded press kit is fast, easy and convenient for all parties involved, and the digital documents can be easily shared among colleagues at each end of the spectrum. The interactive nature of a digitized press kit also allows public relations/marketing communications professionals to embed hotlinks within the content that links the media professional directly to desired pages of the company's Web site and/or other documentation offered online, which is an inherent, highly valuable benefit. Indeed, many of the world's largest companies and small dot coms, alike, now utilize electronic press kits rather than hard copy materials as standard operating procedure.
*Ted Koppel to former L.A. Dodgers exec Al Campanis on Nightline
It's been an action-packed week and a half. The Washington Story galleys arrived, and I was able to catch one final typo (can't believe I misspelled Comiskey Park). Word came from the Contra Costa Times that Crossing California has been chosen as a selection for their book club. Attended a luncheon for the Jewish Book Council, where I met up with a few fellow authors ("I absolutely loathe when rabbis stand up and pontificate," one author, who shall remain nameless, observed). And during BookExpo Week, it was tough to beat the sight of Ric Ocasek, formerly of The Cars, paging through a copy of my novel at an Upper West Side wingding, saying that it looked like an interesting read, never mind that he was paging through the German edition.
Speaking of BookExpo, the annual event where publishers, editors, publicists and authors pretend for a few days that they are involved not so much in any sort of literary enterprise as that they are conventioneers whooping it up at their sales conference, I spent some time on the convention floor of New York's ever-lovely Jacob Javits Center. I checked out some of the "buzz books" of the season and picked up copies of The Dream Life of Sukhanov, by Olga Grushin, and Girly, by Elizabeth Merrick, signed a few galley copies of Washington Story, and tried to avoid the gargantuan signing lines for James Frey and Kim Cattrall. I also had a lengthy conversation with a publicist friend of mine, in which we discussed a phenomenon in the publishing world with which I had been unfamiliar*authors who scream and swear at their publicists for allegedly not doing their jobs properly. Me, I don't usually have the nerve to yell much at anybody, although I did recently have a heated exchange !
with my wife's former doula (a column topic for a different venue, perchance). And yelling at publicists would seem to be a bad strategy for authors, akin to bitching out your physician or accountant. As Lissa Warren, the author of The Savvy Author's Guide to Book Publicity (Carroll & Graf, 2004) and senior director of publicity at Da Capo Press, told me at BookExpo, "Most publicists work harder on books they like and books by authors who are hard-working and appreciative." 'Nuff said.
What makes a great case study (By Debbie Weil Publisher, WordBiz Report)
I asked Ellis Booker, editor of BtoB magazine, for his tips. He’s been publishing a “from the trenches” case study in BtoB Hands-On, the print pub's free weekly e-newsletter, since January, 2002. He swears by his formula.
Short, candid and revealing
The best case studies, Booker said, are ones “that sound like a legitimate problem. The reader wants candor. They want to see the pain point. Readers want something to be revealed.”
Even more effective is a story that says, “We screwed up.” It should offer “a dialectic. Readers like opposing points of view.”
The case study “has to be specific and easily digestible. It has to be tactical information that can be generalized,” he said. “Unless you have results, the case study is not nearly as powerful as it should be.”
ALPSP which is the Association of Learned and Professional Society Publishers and represents not-for-profit publishers has made a position on Google Print for Libraries. ALPSP has encouraged its publishers to take up the facilities available for Google Print for Publishers. However, ALPSP says that Google does not seem to be able to arrive at a practical way forward in relation to in-copyright works that the publisher has not digitised. ALPSP has called on Google to cease unlicensed digitisation of copyright materials with immediate effect and enter into discussions with publishing representatives to arrive at an appropriate licensing solution for Google Print for Libraries.