Catskill Mountain Story Festival

 

Catskill Mountain Story Festival

Presentations by Writers in the Mountains and Silver Hollow Audio, including a Food Panel with chef Bryan Calvert from Binnekill Tavern, author of “Brooklyn Rustic: Simple Food for Sophisticated Palates.” 

Catskills Visitor Center

Mount Tremper, New York

June 15, 2019

 

How to Leverage Content Marketing to Boost Reputation and Sales

Content marketing is a critical component of digital marketing given its effectiveness in increasing brand awareness, engaging online communities, generating new leads, and increasing sales.

Simona David

Content Marketing Class for the Greater Roxbury Business Association

What makes content marketing effective is that people trust editorials more than they trust advertorials. In essence, content marketing is a form of marketing that focuses on creating, publishing and distributing creative content for a targeted audience to generate leads and sales while informing and entertaining. Traditional marketing focuses on pitching products and services, while content marketing focuses on publishing engaging content.

Although content marketing gained traction during the digital age, the practice is nothing new. In 1895 John Deere founded The Furrow, a magazine designed to educate farmers about the latest advancement in the field, and help them find solutions to their problems. The magazine continues to exist today, not just in print but in digital format as well; it has a large social media platform, and is published in several languages around the world. The magazine helped crystallize the John Deere brand, and grow its market.

Forms of content marketing include: how to guides, white papers, newsletters, presentations, blog posts, social media posts, videos, podcasts, infographics, product descriptions, reviews, testimonials, and others.

#GEInstaWalk is a clever example of content marketing which allows the company’s Instagram followers to take a peek into GE’s facilities where cutting-edge technology is being manufactured. Amazon’s Building Your Book for Kindle free e-book is another clever example designed as a free guide to creating and publishing e-books. This is a great tutorial during the consideration phase when aspiring authors are weighing in their options. An example you might be familiar with is the Phyllo Shells recipes on the back of the package – the recipe itself might be enticing enough to make one buy the product, or vice versa. This isn’t something unique to Phyllo Shells however; there are plenty of food brands that offer recipes on the back of their package. It’s an ingenious form of content marketing.

The Roxbury Motel

Breakfast at Tiffany’s Room at The Roxbury Motel (Source: Facebook)

Two local examples that stand out are the Catskill Dream Team’s real estate blog, and The Roxbury Motel’s whimsical themed rooms as featured on social media. How to Buy a Home in One Year: A Step-by-Step Guide, for instance, educates prospective buyers, but it also builds expectations of a lifestyle, and that’s exactly what a real estate blog is about. The Roxbury Motel’s internationally renowned themed rooms also have stories to tell. Breakfast at Tiffany’s, for instance, designed as a tribute to Audrey Hepburn, has the walls stained to match Tiffany’s flagship store on 5th Avenue. The chandelier that hangs above the bed matches the mini chandelier in the Tiffany window at the opening of the movie when Audrey is eating a croissant and staring in the window. The owners of the motel confess that in their twenties they would go around Manhattan re-enacting scenes from the movie. The following Audrey/Truman Capote quote guided the design of the room: “Tiffany’s! Calms me down right away. The quietness and the proud look of it; nothing very bad could happen to you there. If I could find a real-life place that’d make me feel like Tiffany’s, then – then I’d buy some furniture and give the cat a name.” These fun facts shared on social media are bold examples of clever content marketing.

Moz identified four phases of content marketing, which one of them carrying out distinctive goals and types of content to pursue:

I. DISCOVERY PHASE

Goals: educate, increase brand awareness, generate interest

Type of Content (educational): blog posts, webinars, guides, videos, newsletters, presentations, tours

II. CONSIDERATION PHASE

Goals: direct customer acquisition

Type of Content (solutions): case studies, how to guides, demo videos, product descriptions, data sheets, recipes

III. CONVERSION PHASE

Goals: customer transactions

Type of Content (unique value proposition): product descriptions, reviews, testimonials, comparison charts, direct sales pitch, streamlined sales process

IV. RETENTION PHASE

Goals: retention of existing customers

Type of Content (help, support, advocacy): customer support, help documentation, insider tutorials, special offers, follow-ups

 

Here are a few steps to help you design your content strategy:

  1. Clarify your vision (three – five year plan)
  2. Define your audience (i.e., demographics, media consumption preferences, channels, what are they looking for, who do they follow, what are their wants and needs, etc.)
  3. Audit existing content (inventory, metrics, patterns, etc.)
  4. Set goals (meaningful, measurable, reasonable)
  5. Align your content style, tone and voice with your brand’s personality (set up guidelines)
  6. Documentation (governance rules and workflow)
  7. Content ideation, creation, promotion and distribution (team, tools and infrastructure)
  8. Analytics (metrics to evaluate success)

 

Depending on the size of your project, building an adequate infrastructure will help carry out the tactics and the execution of your content strategy, both creation and distribution. Often enough the work is outsourced to content strategists, writers, editors, and coordinators equipped with tools to designing and implementing an effective strategy.

In sum, content marketing works because:

  • It provides valuable information;
  • It provides entertainment;
  • It sparks conversations that bring people together;
  • It forms communities;
  • It converts potential customers into actual customers;
  • It creates loyalty;
  • It establishes authority.

Newly Opened Writers’ Residency in Roxbury

Roxbury, an international destination in recent years given its wildly popular attractions The Roxbury Motel and Plattekill Mountain, is now home to a Writers’ Residency, newly opened by writer Annie DeWitt and photographer Jerome Jakubiec. The three-day residency program includes accommodations, meals, workshops and manuscript review by DeWitt, who teaches writing at Columbia University and is the author of White Nights in Split Town City, greatly reviewed by The New York Times.

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© 2018 Simona David

The residency, which opened on July 11, hosted an inaugural Editors’ Panel on July 13, featuring Jonny Diamond, editor in chief of LitHub, and Tracy O’Neill, author of the acclaimed novel The Hopeful and editor of the literary journal Epiphany. Diamond and O’Neill talked about the submission process to literary journals.

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© 2018 Simona David

Read full article in Chronogram to learn more about this marvelous retreat in the Catskill Mountains.

Business Writing Workshop

Business Writing

Writers in the Mountains (WIM) introduces a six week long Business Writing workshop with Dara Lurie, running from August 11 to September 15, 2016. The class will be held Thursdays from 4 to 6 pm at the Phoenicia Public Library.
This class, dubbed Author Breakthrough, is a program for small business owners, artists and freelance writers who wish to create valuable content and great marketing copy. No one understands the heart and soul of your business better than you do. Now it’s time to communicate your vision using effective stories and expert content. You do not have to be a professional writer to create great content. The most important function of your content – whether it’s a book, blog, story or expert article – is to connect with your core message and bring that message into sharp focus for your audience.
In Author-Breakthrough you’ll have access to the experience of like-minded entrepreneurs who will provide the valuable feedback you need to develop and refine your message. The class includes engaging writing and dialoguing activities, content development sessions, creative think-tank environment to develop and test your ideas. By the end of the program you’ll have ready-to-publish articles, stories, or blogposts, and client-attracting copy for email or social media posts as well as an action-plan for best use of your content and copy.
Dara Lurie is an author, workshop leader and book coach who helps writers of all levels discover their passionate and original voices in stories. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Film & Theater from Vassar College and her M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Hunter College. Her first book, “Great Space of Desire: Writing for Personal Evolution” is a memoir and creative guide for writers. For over twelve years, Dara has facilitated writing workshops and retreats in diverse locations from college classrooms in New York City and the Hudson Valley to an open-air pavilion in the Costa Rican Rainforest. This year, she launched a new online mentorship program for small-business owners who want to create inspired content and marketing copy to grow their business.
To register, call Jean Stone at (607) 326-4802, or e-mail her at jtstone@catskill.net. To register online, visit writersinthemountains.org. Class fee is $100, if you register and pay by July 21, and $125 after that.
Writers in the Mountains is a 501 ( c ) (3) not-for-profit organization with a mission to provide a nurturing environment for the practice, appreciation and sharing of creative writing. Online at writersinthemountains.org.

Book Publishing, A Quick Look at the Industry

Publication2On April 24 I had the pleasure of sitting on the Publishing Panel at the Writers in the Mountains’ annual book festival held this year at the Union Grove Distillery in Arkville. I was joined that day by Leslie T. Sharpe, professor, author and editorial consultant; Anique Taylor, poet, painter and educator; and Lillian Browne, journalist. We all shared very different perspectives on publishing.

Here were some of my contributions to this conversation.

  1. General Considerations

Independent publishing or self-publishing, as it is now called, has always existed. Shortly after the invention of the printing press, artists and writers with entrepreneurial spirit learned to design and publish their own books. Digital technology has of course made things a lot easier. I highly recommend the essay “From Papyrus to Pixels” published by The Economist in 2014.

Self-published authors are those who set up accounts with various self-publishing platforms, and publish that way, and those who set up their own presses, and become their own publishers, the likes of Mark Twain and Virginia Wolf.

Earlier this spring I attended the Woodstock Writers Festival, co-sponsored by The New School. One author explained that publishing a book is ultimately a way to connect with readers, and self-publishing is one way to do so. But authors shouldn’t choose self-publishing as a way to avoid gatekeepers, because gatekeepers can really help make a manuscript better.

Four authors were asked about their route to publication, and all four of them had a different answer:

  • One of them met his publisher at a party in Woodstock.
  • Another one had a more methodical approach: she started by googling “how do you get a literary agent?” and then googling “how do you write a query letter?” Her manuscript was accepted on the first day she sent out query letters to six agents.
  • A third admitted that it had taken her a really long time to find an agent. She started by approaching friends, and friends of friends, and people she met at workshops. Her advice to writers was to look at books that were similar to theirs, and see who published them.
  • The fourth author said that he was lucky, because it took him six years to write the book, but sold it in forty-eight hours.

Ultimately, how you choose to publish a book depends on the complexity of the project, I would say, how resourceful you are, and how much time you have to commit to the project.

  1. Trends

My advice to writers has always been to remain constantly creative and curious, and look for new models in publishing, because the industry is changing rather rapidly. For instance, at the Woodstock Writers Festival last year I met someone who works for Diversion Books in New York City: Diversion takes a digital marketer approach to books – they use data analytics to assess book consumption, and enhance the commercial success of a book. What does that do to the literary value of a book, what does that do to poetry, and projects that don’t really fall into categories – these remain open questions.

A few trends I’d like to highlight:

  • Millenials watch YouTube more than television. They are the largest generation in the history of the country. The millennial market (18 – 34 year old) is estimated at 92 million people, and $200 billion worth of spending in the U.S. (source: Publishing Perspectives).
  • Digital audio books are becoming more and more popular, and more common in independent bookstores.
  • Also, we see more digital content in schools.
  • New apps, and new tools for writers are introduced every day – tools for writing, editing, organizing content, designing and publishing books. For instance, Amazon StoryWriter app automatically formats screenplays, so writers type without worrying about format. Moleskine introduced a Smart Writing Set that includes a smart pen and a notebook that instantly digitizes notes, including sketches – this comes in handy for illustrators.
  • Retailers are giving independent authors more space.
  1. Statistics

Smashwords 2016 Survey (conducted between March 2015 and February 2016) reveals that among Smashwords authors:

  • Fiction dominates (89.5% of Smashwords sales were fiction titles);
  • Offering books for free remains a powerful discovery tool – free books get about 41 times more downloads than books at any price, according to Smashwords;
  • Preorder is becoming more and more popular: 13.5% of new books released at Smashwords during the period under investigation were released as preorders, up from 9.8% in the year before;
  • Series books outsell standalones.

Read full article at http://blog.smashwords.com/2015/12/2016-book-publishing-predictions.html.

Also from Mark Coker at Smashwords:

  • Print books continue to dominate: print accounts for 70% of the market;
  • Independent authors control 15 – 20 % of the e-book market;
  • Kindle Unlimited model reconfigures the entire industry – readers get used with reading for free;
  • Libraries remain an area of growth and opportunity for independent authors.

Read more at http://blog.smashwords.com/2016/04/2016survey-how-to-publish-and-sell-ebooks.html.

The American Association of Publishers reported that:

  • When it comes to traditional publishers, e-book sales decreased 12% in 2015 compared to 2014.
  • After years of decline, physical retail stores saw an increase of 3.2% in revenue ($3.80 billion from $3.68 billion) and 4.1% in units (577 million from 554 million) in the trade category in 2014.
  • Online retail remained the top sales channel for customers in the trade category, selling 832 million units and providing $5.90 billion in revenue in 2014.

You can read more at http://publishers.org/news/us-publishing-industry%E2%80%99s-annual-survey-reveals-28-billion-revenue-2014.   

© 2016 Simona David

At “Meet the Authors” – Third Annual Catskills Book Festival

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Featured Poet: Danniel Schoonebeek

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On the Publishing Panel with Leslie T. Sharpe, Lillian Browne, and Anique Taylor

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Keynote Speaker: Rosie Schaap, author of the “Drink” column for the New York Times Magazine

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With the New York Times bestselling author Sari Botton

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Peg DiBenedetto with Linda Lowen

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Cookbook editor Carrie Bradley Neves

At the Union Grove Distillery in Arkville, NY on April 24, 2016

© 2016 Simona David

“Meet the Authors” – Third Annual Catskills Book Festival, Sunday, April 24 at Union Grove Distillery

WIM's Book Festival 2015Writers in the Mountains (WIM) invites you to a literary arts and community event and celebration we call “Meet the Authors,” the third in our series of annual book festivals. This year the event takes place on Sunday, April 24, from 12 noon to 4 p.m. at the Union Grove Distillery in Arkville, NY, an exciting new enterprise in the area. Union Grove is housed in a big old barnlike building featuring comfortable spaces fitted with stainless steel and copper and wood, a roaring fireplace, and the percolation of fine spirits—all making for a perfect environment in which to listen to, talk about, and think about books and writing.

The daylong event welcomes all writers and readers, artists and audience, and community members from every walk to brave the mud and chill of early spring and enjoy a warm gathering of successful and fascinating writers, illustrators, editors, educators, booksellers, and publishers from Syracuse to New York City and points between and beyond. This year’s keynote speaker is Rosie Schaap, author of the celebrated memoir Drinking with Men as well as the “Drink” column for The New York Times magazine.

Come by to shop for books directly from their authors, hear readings and peer-to-peer discussions, join in an enticing raffle (books are the prize, of course), and vote in the Best Book Cover contest.

Participating authors include Sari Botton, Robert Burke Warren, Linda Lowen, Ginnah Howard, John Gregg, Susan Wilbur, Craig Sanders, Jo Salas, Nava Atlas, Mary Lou Harris, and poet Danniel Schoonebeek, among others.

WIM Book Fair 2015 (1)

 

The program is as follows:

12:30—Poetry reading led by poet Sharon Israel. Featured Poet: Danniel Schoonebeek.

Danniel Schoonebeek’s first book of poems, American Barricade, was published by YesYes Books in 2014. It was named one of the year’s ten standout debuts by Poets & Writers and called “a groundbreaking first book that stands to influence its author’s generation” by Boston Review. In 2015, he was awarded a Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry fellowship from the Poetry Foundation and his second book of poems, Trébuchet, was selected as a winner of the 2015 National Poetry Series and will be published by University of Georgia Press. Recent work appears in The New Yorker, PoetryKenyon Review, Tin House, and elsewhere. A recipient of awards and honors from Poets House, the Millay Colony for the Arts, and Oregon State University, he hosts the Hatchet Job reading series in Brooklyn and edits the PEN Poetry Series. His latest book, a travelogue called C’est la guerre, is forthcoming later this year.

1:30—Group discussion on the latest news and trends in publishing. Leslie T. Sharpe, who taught writing at Columbia University and was an editor at Farrar, Straus and Giroux, and now teaches for Writers in the Mountains, will talk about traditional publishing; writer and consultant Simona David will touch on independent publishing; poet, painter and educator Anique Taylor will address getting published in literary journals; and Lillian Browne, editor-in-chief of The Reporter and editor of the Catskill Country Magazine, will share thoughts about her experience with the news media and travel magazine publishing.

2 p.m.—Rosie Schaap, author of the celebrated memoir Drinking with Men as well as the “Drink” column for The New York Times magazine, will deliver the keynote address. Rosie Schaap has been a bartender, a fortuneteller, a librarian at a paranormal society, an English teacher, an editor, a preacher, a community organizer, and a manager of homeless shelters.

2:30—Carrie Bradley Neves, writer, musician, and editor (with a specialization in cookbooks) will talk about new ingredients in the cookbook scene during the “foodie” era. Other illustrated book authors will be in the spotlight.

3:30—The Bounty of Books raffle, with a prize of ten selected book titles, will be awarded (come early, tickets are limited!), and the winner of the Best Cover contest will be announced.

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Throughout the day, participating authors will read from their works and share their stories with the audience. Admission is free. For more information, visit writersinthemountains.org, or e-mail writersinthemountains@gmail.com.

Writers in the Mountains is a 501 (c) (3) not-for–profit organization with a mission to provide a nurturing environment for the practice, appreciation, and sharing of creative writing.

 

End of Year in Publishing

Sophie McNeill from Penguin Random House summarized the five key trends in the book market in 2015, which reveal that:

books 2015

  • Print remains the most popular reading format with 63 percent of Americans reporting that they read a print book in the past year compared to 27 percent who reported they read an ebook in the past twelve months (data from the Pew Research Center).
  • Young adults are more likely than their elderly to have read a book in the past twelve months – McNeill points out that the range of successful movies based on young adult books may explain the age gap (which came as a surprise to me). Also, women are more likely to read books than men (the average woman reader reads fourteen books per year compared to nine books read by the average man reader).
  • In the first half of 2015 the trade book market when it comes to adult fiction, children’s and young adult literature, and religious presses was down 1.4% compared to the first half of 2014: $3 billion compared to $3.13. This statistic is from the American Association of Publishers, which only looks at traditional publishers, and does not include self-publishing. Children’s and young adult literature recorded the sharpest decline (12.3%).
  • According to the American Booksellers Association independent bookstores are coming back: according to the ABA the number of independent bookstores increased 20 percent from 2009 to 2014  (from 1,651 in 2009 to 2,094 in 2014).
  • 50 percent of Americans own a tablet or an ereader for reading digital content. It is expected that more and more Americans will shift from tablets to smartphones in the coming years. Read more about these findings here.

Mark Coker from Smashwords released his predictions for 2016, and these include:

  • Independent (in other words self-published) ebook authors will continue to gain market share at the expense of large publishers because indie titles are priced lower, and because indie authors move faster, and are creative when it comes to marketing and distributing their titles, among other reasons. According to Coker, “every year readers are spending more hours reading books from indie authors.” Also, according to Coker “more traditionally published authors will continue to experiment with self-publishing.”
  • Amazon Kindle Unlimited and KDP Select programs have trained readers to expect free ebook downloads, and this will have long-term ramifications not just for the self-published authors, but according to Coker for traditional publishers and traditionally published authors as well, and of course for the Amazon’s retail competitors.
  • According to Coker, the overall market for ebooks will shrink in terms of dollars, but will increase in terms of units.
  • Print won’t go away. Print books represent approximately 70 percent of the market today. Coker says that “for many readers, print is the gateway to digital.” He also writes about the importance of brick-and-mortar bookstores, and about Amazon’s plans to open a brick-and-mortar bookstore in Seattle.
  • Preorder usage will dramatically increase in 2016, according to Coker. Read full article here.

As mentioned in Coker’s article, Amazon did indeed open its first brick-and-mortar bookstore in Seattle back in November. The store, called Amazon Books, is located in University Village. Read article here. Amazon Books plans to use its huge database to stock its shelves; it will look at reviews from millions of readers, but also at staff-favorites, among other sources. Thomas De Monchaux wrote about Amazon Books for the New Yorker.

Amazon is not only the world’s largest bookseller, it’s also an important publisher. Launched in 2009, Amazon Publishing owns 14 imprints, and publishes both fiction and non-fiction books. Through AmazonCrossing, launched in 2010, the company publishes translated books. AmazonCrossing committed $10 million over the next five years to works in translation. Read more about Amazon Publishing here. Read more about AmazonCrossing in this article published by Alex Shephard in the New Republic.

Happy New Year, and Happy Publishing!

Simona David

 

Nonfiction Book Proposal Workshop

nonfiction book proposalWriters in the Mountains (WIM) announces Selling Your Nonfiction Book: The Art of Proposal Writing, a Sunday seminar with Leslie T. Sharpe, June 7, 1 to 4 pm, at the Andes Public Library.  In three information-packed hours, Leslie will effectively detail what it takes to write a winning nonfiction book proposal, illustrated with several handouts. In the second half of the seminar, she will invite writers to present their projects for evaluation and input in order to best shape their own top-notch “winning” proposal.

In addition to its diversity of forms, nonfiction also offers writers (which literary fiction does not) the possibility of having an incomplete manuscript accepted by an agent or editor— accompanied by a strong proposal. The proposal—including elements such as an Overview of the book, Annotated Table of Contents, Author’s Platform and Market Analysis—is usually submitted with two or three chapters of text and is, first and foremost, a writing sample as well as a sales tool. What agents/editors look for in a proposal is strong writing with a clear and cogent presentation of the book’s subject and/or narrative arc, depending on the form, and a persuasive rationale forwhy the book should be published, and why the author is the best possible person to write it.

Leslie, author, editor and educator, was a regular contributor to New York Newsday’s “Urban ‘I’” column.  Her essays and articles have appeared in the Chicago Tribune, Christian Science Monitor, International Herald Tribune, Newsday, New York Times, Psychology Today, and The Village Voice, among many othersLeslie recently finished her memoir, Our Fractured, Perfect Selves, and is currently at work on The Quarry Fox and Other Tales of a Catskill Summer. Wearing her editor hat, Leslie wrote Editing Fact and Fiction: A Concise Guide to Book Editing (Cambridge University Press, 1994), a “modern editing classic”and “On Writing Smart: Tips and Tidbits,” featured in The Business of Writing (Allworth, 2012).  Now an editorial consultant, Leslie specializes in literary nonfiction and fiction and poetry. At Columbia University, Leslie was Adjunct Assoc. Professor of Writing and taught in the MFA writing programs.  She taught in City College’s Publishing Certificate Program, and in NYU’s Certificate Program in Book Publishing. Now, Leslie teaches online courses for the cutting-edge all-media website, mediabistro.com—The Nonfiction Book and Nonfiction Writing Master Class.

To register, call Jean Stone at (607) 326-4802, or e-mail her at jtstone@catskill.net. To register online, visit writersinthemountains.org, go to Register Online page, and fill in the registration form.Class fee is $35.

Writers in the Mountains is a 501 ( c ) (3) not-for-profit organization with a mission to provide to the general public a nurturing environment for the practice, appreciation and sharing of creative writing.