Sunday, October 18, 2015

A Case for the "Less is More" Website Platform

[On well-known  Pub-Forum publishing chat group, a well-respected publisher and consultant was critical of our upcoming "Less is More" (LIM) website 'platform' (see and this is my reply. I will only use the author's initials so as not to identify said person.]

JM, as usual, makes an interesting argument. She come across to me as a traditionalist and there is a place for her in the book publishing industry if for no other reason than most authors as well as most publishers don't see the business as it is today and will be in the future, but view it as it was twenty or thirty years ago. 

There is no industry that I can think of (except maybe the taxi cab industry) that is and has been more resistant to change, be it technical or structural, than that of publishing. 

JM says "Most authors except first-timers have more than one book and want to build a following that (ideally) will buy all of them... " I agree but the harsh reality is that if the first one does NOT sell, most often there is not going to be a second!

JM says "No offense, but one-page, five-section site simply can't do everything..." and she is correct, but one does not have to do 'everything’ only has to do ONE thing... and that is SELL the book.

As you all know I have the ability, knowledge, and experience to write a 20,000 word, detailed, and very convincing argument refuting JM and her traditionalist approach to bookselling... but I won't. 

It won't change any minds... and to be honest most of the subscribers to this board are not in my  target market to begin with... there are not a lot of newbie authors-cum-publishers here... most are in the Yahoo based Self-Publishing group.

Here is the "tl;dr" version. 

I only know and concentrate on what works. That does not mean I know everything that works... I only know what I know that works. I also know what does not work (most of the time.) This is not a benefit of knowledge or clairvoyance... but one of age and experience… almost to the extent of Pat Bell… whom I’m told has an autographed copy of the original Ten Commandments.

Small sites work the same way that short novels work... many (most) readers LIKE them. A small site makes one convincing pitch to a surfer who has the attention-span of a gnat. 

There are places for longer sites... such as if you are selling something complex and big-ticket... like a car or a camera or a washing machine. 

But a book is not complex. It is a rather simple product. 

The key for all non-fiction and genre fiction is to find the audience and convince them to buy the book you have to sell to them. The faster and simpler you make the pitch the better your odds of making the sale. 

You don't need a 10 to 20 page website to do that. I contend that if you don't do it in the first paragraph about the book (or the author) the sale is probably lost. 

The web today reminds me of the 'scene' in Alice's Restaurant when Arlo is arrested and then taken to court for dumping trash down a cliff. 

They took twenty seven eight-by-ten colour glossy photographs with circlesand arrows and a paragraph on the back of each one explaining what eachone was to be used as evidence against us.

Man came in said, "All rise." We all stood up,and [sheriff] Obie stood up with the twenty seven eight-by-ten colour glossypictures, and the judge walked in sat down with a seeing eye dog, and hesat down, we sat down. Obie looked at the seeing eye dog, and then at thetwenty seven eight-by-ten colour glossy pictures with circles and arrowsand a paragraph on the back of each one, and looked at the seeing eye dog.And then at twenty seven eight-by-ten colour glossy pictures with circlesand arrows and a paragraph on the back of each one and began to cry,'cause Obie came to the realization that it was a typical case of Americanblind justice, and there wasn't nothing he could do about it, and thejudge wasn't going to look at the twenty seven eight-by-ten colour glossypictures with the circles and arrows and a paragraph on the back of eachone explaining what each one was to be used as evidence against us. 

When it comes to a book, people are just not going to look a the "twenty seven eight-by-ten colour glossy pictures with the circles and arrows and a paragraph on the back of each one explaining what each one was."

They used to look... but most don't anymore... especially younger people.

Bottom line, what traditionalists like JM preach, makes logical sense, but basically does not work anymore. How do I know? Jeez Louise, I've been doing long-form websites for years now. Our clients have come to us and said "We don't need it. People read one page of the site and go to Amazon to buy... or they don't.” 

This is what authors and publishers tell me. Why would I make it up? 

Don't you think we make more money on a 15 page site that we charge $1500 - $2000 for than a 5 page site for $399? Of course we do. But authors can't afford that and even if they could, they are going to Facebook instead of us (FB does not work either... but the price is right!)

We've researched this short-form concept for a long time. Some of you who are consultants to the industry know that I've been talking to you for over a year on this getting professional feedback. I've been on this board asking for peer-review of our templates as well as the concept in general. I didn't 'invent' this concept... I'm following what our customers are telling us here... not leading. (FYI, most people on this board agree with JM and/or don’t like our templates.)

We are going to formally roll out our “Less is More” (LIM) platform during the holidays... between Thanksgiving and New Year. (Why? Traditionalists say its a 'bad time' for 'new' stuff. But the publishing biz is 'dead' during the holidays, authors are not writing... everyone is taking a breather... I won't have to fight through as much clutter... and may even get more electronic 'ink' in the blogosphere than later on.)

To many authors it is all about price. They don't 'grock' the LIM concept yet. What they see is that they can get a site for $399 that will sell their first (and for some, ONLY) book. 

Most of our market are not authors who WANT to be publishers... they simply want to get their book 'out there' and make a side-income from it via selling it from their kitchen table or via Amazon (and Amazon/Smashword is the better approach because selling via mail-order entails more costs than are apparent.)

My market are new authors as well as publishers who 'get it'... one book... one domain... one website. 

Same with small one-person service businesses. Would you buy insurance from this guy?

Bottom line:
  • A domain cost $19 (you can pay less, but we recommend a year.
  • A host cost $65 a year (we are going to host our client's sites soon but now suggest
  • The LIM site cost $399 ... what you see from the template is what you get... we change colors.)

Who can’t afford that?

With your own domain for the title and with your own site for the title and with a one-file site (even though they look like separate pages... they aren't) for the title you get better SEO as well as loading speed.  graphic depending.

 (And we know HOW to optimize graphics… after all the owner of Bookwrights Design, Mayapriya Long, is my partner in this… of course we know graphics, composition, design, and color.) 

If the client can write good content the search engine web crawlers will find it easily. If they can’t, we can help them with it (for an extra fee, obviously.

No doubt, JM believes my approach is wrong. She would never say that, but I believe that was the intent of her posting. 

And she my be right. 

All I know for certain is that her approach to the web is costly, cumbersome, lengthy, inefficient, and bottom line, does not work all that well. I know this as a publisher, I know this as a technologist, I know this as an experienced marketeer.

But there is another dynamic working here. Just about everyone in the publishing business, like JM, have told that the LIM concept is… crap ... and wont’ work.

Well, after being in this biz for 35 years (after reading Dan Poynter’s ‘little red book,') I’ve leaned that there is one and only one certainty about the publishing business: that when everyone agrees on something, it's always wrong... always. 

Of course people say that about me too... and there is some truth in that. I have an award-plaque given to me years ago that says just below my name:

"Often wrong... but never in doubt!”

Alan N. Canton, Managing Partner 
NewMedia Create

"Short (and affordable) websites 
because on the web today… Less is More."