Creative Approach to Reach Readers

Michael Knost started an online magazine called Noctem Aternus. He intends to distribute it free to encourage and introduce more people into reading fiction. This is a commendable effort and a fascinating idea. Traditionally the magazine model uses advertisements to pay for the publication and circulation costs and uses the sales revenue to pay for the content and other operating expenses. By moving the publication and circulation to digital means then one could theoretically remove the sale requirement from the zine.

The main problem then becomes how does one attract advertisers and how would a publisher track their circulation number.

In Michael Knost's case he intends to use an e-mail distribution model through Yahoo groups. This has many problems since the public trend is to move away from e-mail newsletters and the problem that Yahoo groups has a terrible time with spammers.

Wouldn't it be wiser to use an RSS model for distribution? This is where the public is trending and can still be easily tracked for circulation purposes.

Would it be better to offer two choices to the audience one add supported free for the user model and one user supported add free zine? This is the popular solution being touted but I don't know if that really works either. The compromise model divides the publishers circulation numbers because the advertiser is concerned only the issues with their add in and would not count the others that are paid for. Could that make the circulation numbers too low for an advertiser to even cut a check?

On the plus side because it is free this will make it easier for consumers to try out the zine and see if they actually like it. So what do you think? Would you subscribe to an e-mail distribution through yahoo groups?


C.E. Dorsett This is a topic near to my heart:

Can an author promote their books too much? That seems to be the question of the week making the blog rounds.


In the end, like any form of advertising, anyone who is tired of the advertising can always tune it out, or change the channel, or turn off the radio (SF Signal)...

As someone who is really into punk and goth, I have to say that I feel that any self-promotion is millimeters away from selling out. I feel queesy about charging money for the book... It feels like selling out to me, but I have to make a living somehow, and if I don't sell the books, t-shirts and such, I won't have time to write. Justine Larbalestier writes:

Accusations of being too self promotery make me a bit jittery. Promoting your books is part of a writer’s job. If no one knows the book exists how is it going to sell? A writer should be out there lining up bookshop appearances, sending out postcards/business cards/tshoshkas of some kind. You should be attending cons/trade shows/schools/libraries or whatever will help get the word out about your work. It may not have that much effect (no one really knows how to get word of mouth going*), but it might, and besides, for your own peace of mind it helps to know that you’re doing something (Justine

Tell me about it. At book signings, as a new writer, people treat you like a caged animal in a zoo. People point you out to their children, “That is the endangered SF Writer of Heartland. Don't get to close, they are unpredictable. Be sure not to feed them or they will come to expect it from you.”

It is even harder to get the attention of an editor. So many want to be writers... If only every would be writer would be a reader... then maybe their would be more magazines and opportunities to be compensated for creative impulses. What is a writer to do?

I just witnessed the most obnoxious slush submission EVER. Someone sent us a letter informing us of the impending arrival of his brilliant new story, along with a bunch of quotes from people he knows that say how good it is. But the best (or worst) part about the submission is that it was full of red, white, and blue stars, which got all over the place when I opened the envelope. And to make things worse, they're made of some material that's very static-clingy, so they're very difficult to pick up and/or brush off your hands (The Slush God).

Not that, sure, but I can understand the frustration that would drive someone to put confetti in a submission. With an editor spending on average 2 seconds on each submission, you have to stand out somehow...

Maybe if books were moved to the front, out of the stakes based on merit rather than huge paid placement deals, it would be easier to attract an audience.

Will I stop going to cons? No way. Here is why. Read Seth Godin’s book ‘Permission Marketing.’ He talks about primary ’sneezers,’ people who spread the word about a product or something they fall in love with (think mac evangelists, or religious cultists, or in biology, Typhoid Mary). Book ’sneezers’ are the kind of people who will go to a convention or a reader at a convention, or come to a signing. So if you want to prime that pump, you need to meet sneezers, and that’s why I think cons and readings and book signings are not initially profitable, but in the long run, start the first level of word of mouth (Tobias

On that note: I will be at Shoreleave this year! Hope to see you there.

What is a writer to do? Honestly, what? I blog...