Read all about it: Bookshop industry veteran dismisses the gloom, urges indies to get the model right8:33AM | Wednesday, 21 August
The bricks-and-mortar bookstore industry is here to stay provided owners can get the model right, says QBD The Bookshop managing director Mark Robinson. The company opened seven stores last year and is set to open three to five new stores this year. Robinson told StartupSmart they wouldn’t be opening new stores if they thought the industry was not long for this world. “We’re always opening shops, and we wouldn’t be doing that if we weren’t confident about the book industry’s future,” he says, adding each new store is on a six-year lease and costs the company almost half a million dollars to set up. “We’ve been doing this for 22 years and the industry has changed dramatically. But we see a future; you just have to get the model correct.” Robinson says the major changes are reduced store sizes and the constant evolution of the range offered. Ten years ago, QBD The Bookshop stores would easily sell tens of thousands of dictionaries and street directories, but now they’d struggle to sell 3000 a year as these services are available online. Online is the elephant in the room for many bookstores, with the rise of Amazon disrupting the book industry twice with lower priced, home-delivered books and the rise of eBooks, where Amazon retains market dominance. “I think Amazon has already had its impact, it’s here now. That said, I love seeing the Australian dollar falling so it’s less attractive to buy overseas,” Robinson says. “All retailers are doing it a bit tough with the downturn and bookstores have been caught up in that with a double whammy.” He adds he’s confident paper books are here to stay for the foreseeable future. “The market has changed, but there is an experience you’ll never get with the electronic book. You’re not going to wrap up a USB stick with a picture of Donna Hay and stick it under the Christmas for grandma,” Robinson says. “There are plenty of people out there who want to buy books.” While QBD The Bookshop stores are company owned, and therefore have the flexibility and range of a chain network, Robinson says the industry isn’t over for independent retailers who are smart about how they’re structured. “When things get difficult, owner-operators can adapt. Saying that, the market is very tight. It doesn’t matter if you’re selling books or saucepans, it’s not easy and you really have to be on your game,” Robinson says. QBD The Bookshop began fitting out a new store in the Sydney suburb of Liverpool this week. Robinson says the keys for a new store in Southland shopping centre in Melbourne are due in October, and they’re in the final stages of contracts for three more, including one in South Australia.
Getting backlinks, retweets, endorsements and social mentions from influential bloggers is a powerful way to give your content marketing a real boost. However, the challenge is that they get hundreds of outreach emails every day. So how do you, an aspiring blogger, earn the attention of the bloggers further up the food chain? Let’s start with what not to do. How to get ignored Send an un-personalised email Beg for something Guilt them into it Blast out a group email Talk about yourself Don’t include details on your email signature This ‘spray and pray’ approach does more harm than good. Fortunately for you, most people make one or more of these six mistakes and the worst culprits are usually SEO companies and PR agencies. I personally recommend doing this type of blogger outreach yourself rather than engaging someone to do it for you. How to stand out The good news is that it’s relatively easy to stand out in sea of appalling outreach emails if you do your homework. Think of backlinks as an indicator of your relationships and put work into your relationships. People will link to you, if you’ve earned it. Here is a process to follow to increase your chance at success. 10 steps to take before you “ask” 1. Identify the influencers in your market 2. Keep a list in a spreadsheet 3. Follow them on Twitter 4. Follow their blogs via your RSS feed (I use feed.ly) 5. Comment on their blogs 6. Tweet and share the posts that you like 7. Buy their books, read them, review them and blog about them. 8. Subscribe to their email newsletter 9. Email them with sincere praise or a thoughtful question (best to reply to their email newsletters) 10. Wait until you get a reply, and grow your relationship from there. The golden rule is always to lead with generosity! This process obviously takes time, and whilst that won’t appeal to some people, it is the only way to build relationships of substance with the right people. Blogger Outreach Email Template When that time comes to “ask”, I recommend you follow this format: 1. Be personal and friendly Hi [first name], how are you? 2. Show sincere praise As you may remember, I’ve been a fan of your books and blog since I was referred to your writing by ________ in 2009. 3. Lead with generosity Your recent book about _______ resonated with me because of XYZ. I wrote a short review on Amazon and since I knew my tribe would find it useful too, I emailed it to my 1500 subscribers. It also prompted me reach out to you. 4. Ask Using some of your tips from your book, I actually released my first e-book last week! It’s called ____________ and I credit you in the acknowledgements on page five. If you felt it was worthy of a tweet or link that would make my day! But if you don’t, that’s cool too, I just wanted to say thanks for inspiring me to take action. Note: My preference is not to actually ask for anything since they already know how valuable a tweet or backlink is. I trust that if I create something valuable enough, they’ll want to link to it or share it anyway, without me asking. I do however make it easy for them to link to, hence the link. 5. Close I notice your speaking schedule will bring you to Sydney later in the year. Knowing that you love _______, so you should really try _______ if you get the chance! 6. Email signature All the best, Adam Success The key to success is to take the time to nurture the relationship, lead with generosity, don’t ask for too much, make it easy for them and provide enough info in your email signature so they can make sure you are legit. Don’t fret if you don’t get a hit back, they are busy people. Keep following their work, leading with generosity and your time will come! I must to extend a hat tip to Rand Fishkin & Tim Ferriss for the insights I’ve been able to apply and share here. My first piece of content that earned the attention of prominent bloggers was the Web Strategy Planning Template, which is still a free download.
E-book writing, publishing and promotion platform 7write is looking for a home after attracting $250,000 in seed funding from a range of investors, including early PayPal investor Australian Peter Davison. The start-up is in the final stages of the three-month Startup Bootcamp Amsterdam program. It is set to launch in public beta in the next week or so, final tweaks to its platform permitting. The founder and developer of 7write, Paul Hayes, told StartupSmart the funding breakthrough and intense training experience has rewarded his commitment to getting 7write into an accelerator program. “There are about 400 global accelerator programs. I didn’t apply for all of them, but I definitely applied for at least 50,” Hayes says. “It took me four years to get here. I tried many, many different ideas and start-ups.” 7write offers writing software with a range of extra support tools, an eBook file-generating software and digital marketing support. Hayes says the success of 7write breaking through the crowd of ePublishing start-ups is due to offering a complete solution in an often confusing space. “We understand a lot of people will take certain pieces of the puzzle, whereas we take an author by the hand and guide them through from concept to fully published eBook and paperback. We’ve gone to extreme efforts to simplify a complex process,” Hayes says. Hayes started developing the interface for the platforms in September after trying to develop a range of start-ups. He says the demand after he listed on Beta List spurred him on. “I did a one-pager and a lean launch on Beta List and had over 1000 people sign up, so I knew I was onto something,” Hayes says, adding that the listing and following accelerator applications attracted interest from investors in New York and Dubai. Despite the success, Hayes is backing away from any claim of being a disruptive technology. “We’re not trying to disrupt the publishing industry. There is a huge space for self-publishers to work synergistically with the major publishers,” he says. “The number one problem publishers face is finding the next big-selling author, and the number one problem writers have is getting noticed by publishers and getting a contract.” Tapping into emerging markets Hayes says 7write taps into these problems as well as the rise of successful self-publishers achieving mainstream publishing success, such as E L James’ Fifty Shades of Grey and Hugh Howey’s Wool. “We’re partnering with publishers around the world and giving them access to our sales data. So people who publish with us are getting exposure to publishers who are increasingly seeking out new talent who already gained traction,” he says. Set to move into public beta shortly, the 7write team is in contract negotiations with several major publishers. The focus on data is something Hayes is keen to keep developing. “I know for a fact it was one of the things that interested Peter Davison quite significantly. So the more people who publish with us and the more data we collect, the better,” Hayes says, adding that they’re starting to experiment with cover split testing, “In our development pipeline, we’re working on features like split test covers. It’s pretty close to impossible to do this in Amazon at the moment, but we’ve talked to Amazon and they agree that the number one factor in sales is the cover.” The 7write team charges an upfront fee for authors to use the software that includes ISBN allocation, professional cover design, file conversion, and global sales. They also take a 10% cut of sales. “We do that to align our interests with the author, they win and we win. We’re constantly experimenting with ways to sell more books,” Hayes says. While anyone can publish using the service, Hayes says they’ll be offering extra services for bestselling authors, and working with them to test experimental marketing tactics before rolling them out to the wider network of authors. Hayes says their focus post-accelerator will be on expanding the team of four, developing an HTML5 version of their software and working out where to base the business. “We really are going to go where is best for the business. We do have a lot of interest and a strong base in Australia with a couple of funding offers available. But the majority of publishers are in Europe, so London, Amsterdam and Berlin are strong options for us too,” he says. International focus Hayes says not limiting the idea to a geographic location and honing his time management skills were key to the company’s success so far. “Don’t limit yourself, apply to global accelerator programs. If I only applied to Australian programs, I would have had a fraction of the options,” Hayes says. “If I had to pick one main skill to learn, it’s time management. If you can master your time, that’s a huge step up. You need to work out how to get things done. When you start up, there is so much focus on the idea and the notion the idea is what is going to get your there. “But, really, the idea is just a multiplier of the team; if you learn to get things done, and combine that with a powerful idea and a powerful market research, you’re set.”
A start-up NSW media company has bowed to pressure to change its name from US company The Business Insider, which claimed that it was deceiving visitors to its website by using a similar brand. Business Insider Pty Ltd, located on the NSW Central Coast, has switched its brand to Business Ink following legal action lodged by New York-based The Business Insider Inc in the Federal Magistrates Court of Australia earlier this year. Mark Cleary, co-founder of the Australian site, tells StartupSmart the name Business Ink was chosen as a way to “thumb our nose” to its American adversary. Cleary founded the Australian version of Business Insider with Bob Fitzgerald and Dean Collin in 2011, with the site providing information to companies in regional NSW. By contrast, New York-based The Business Insider, created in 2009 by entrepreneur Henry Blodget, has 23 million unique visitors a month and now has substantial interests in Australia. Allure Media, a subsidiary of Fairfax Media, recently won the right to publish a local version The Business Insider. However, Fairfax wasn’t part of the legal proceedings to force the name change. Business Ink initially hauled down its URL businessinsider.net in order to emphasise its local, rather than international, focus, but has now gone further by completely rebranding. “If we had a lazy $250,000, we would’ve carried on, but we made a decision to not risk it,” Cleary says. “Our legal advice was that it would be an ‘interesting’ test case. (Business Insider) beat us to the internet by 10 months and in that time they say they’d established a presence in Australia through the number of hits they were getting here.” “We got early advice saying to just rename ourselves and that has proved good advice. They could’ve bitten us when it was much tougher to rename.” Cleary says that one of the most damaging aspects of the episode is that the business’ entire online archive has been wiped by the rebrand. “The Google history we’ve created has just evaporated,” he says. Cleary adds that start-ups need to be increasingly careful when choosing a business name. “We talk about world shrinking, but it has already shrunk,” he says. “Your search for a name needs to be global and you need to avoid similar names, because it’s just too hard to compete when it comes to hard cash.” “We could argue that does anyone really care in New York, Rome or Paris about the laying of new sewerage pipes in The Entrance on Central Coast? But that doesn’t matter – we were in their space.” “You’ve got to be unique. That’s the challenge. Google or Amazon don’t have names that relate to what they do, but they have a strong brand name. Choose a name that you can really own.”
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