Tag: publishing

  • Love it or hate it, The Outline hits a nerve

    The Outline’s Joshua Topolsky:

    On the design front, it’s true that some people love the way The Outline looks, and some hate it. But no one is neutral about it. No one says “eh” when they see it. And no one thinks we’re another anonymous blog populated by random people churning out random content. But perhaps most importantly: The web is ugly. Media brands are ugly. They all look the same. They all use the same tools. They all try and replicate a form that is ancient by any conceivable metric. They all rely on someone else’s idea about what storytelling looks like.

    I’m in the “hate it” corner, although that’s too strong a word obviously, but he’s right. The Outline not only has good content, it’s also a publication that make you react upon first glance.

    Topolsky also fires a salvo at the banner industry in his piece. You should read it if you’re interested in online publishing and the future of media.

  • Facebook Instant Articles are flailing

    I wanted to write “failing”, but I see too many of those blasted things whenever I’m on Facebook that it just wouldn’t be true. Anyway, from a Digiday story on the matter:

    Many publishers are deeply unhappy with the monetization on these pages, with major partners like The New York Times throwing in the towel and many others cutting back the amount of content pushed to the IA platform.

    It goes on like that. Now if someone would please kill off Google’s AMP so that we could have a shot at an open web, wouldn’t that be nice?

  • Medium publishers are worried

    And rightly so, I might add. First Medium made the big push to get online publications to sign up for their publishing program, and then they change the whole thing. This is just one of several quotes from this Poynter piece that I think every small online publisher should read. It's a great reminder that there are no surefire solutions at the moment.

    "Right now, we're very concerned about the future of our site's partnership with Medium," said Neil Miller, the founder of pop culture site Film School Rejects. "What we were sold when we joined their platform is very different from what they're offering as a way forward."

    Tread carefully with Medium, and any other platform you don't fully own, if possible. This piece still resonates true to me on the matter.

  • Medium's paywall

    Medium is launching a paywall paid accounts, asking you to be a founding member. This means some of the content on the free publishing platform will be hidden from non-premium users. From the announcement:

    You’ll have access to exclusive stories from leading experts, including your favorite Medium writers, on topics that matter not just today, but tomorrow too.

    As always, own your content online, if you can. By all means, publish to Medium if you like (I’m playing with that), but make sure your online home is your own.

  • Beware the billionaire

    Tom Scocca wraps up his death of Gawker post with the most harrowing thing about this whole mess:

    Gawker always said it was in the business of publishing true stories. Here is one last true story: You live in a country where a billionaire can put a publication out of business. A billionaire can pick off an individual writer and leave that person penniless and without legal protection.

    If you want to write stories that might anger a billionaire, you need to work for another billionaire yourself, or for a billion-dollar corporation. The law will not protect you. There is no freedom in this world but power and money.

  • Wired's folly

    Wired is taking an aggressive approach to ad blockers come February 16. Either you turn off your ad blocker, or you pay to see the site sans ads. From Bloomberg’s piece on the matter:

    Wired plans to charge $3.99 for four weeks of ad-free access to its website. In many places where ads appear, the site will simply feature more articles, said Mark McClusky, the magazine’s head of operations. The portion of his readership that uses ad blockers are likely to be receptive to a discussion about their responsibility to support the businesses they rely on for information online, McClusky said.


  • The advertising bubble

    Hard words about the online advertising bubble, from Maciej Ceglowski:

    The prognosis for publishers is grim. Repent! Find a way out of the adtech racket before it collapses around you. Ditch your tracking, show dumb ads that you sell directly (not through a thicket of intermediaries), and beg your readers for mercy. Respect their privacy, bandwidth, and intelligence, flatter their vanity, and maybe they’ll subscribe to something.

    This route is not wrong, it would even make it easier to manage content blockers since the ads wouldn’t be laden with third party spy scripts. However, it does require a sales organization capable of reaching not only ad buyers, but premium ones at that. That costs a lot of money, which has to be earned by even more ads. It’s never as easy as it sounds, is it?

  • Ashen Sky launches this Wednesday

    Ashen Sky launches this Wednesday

    I’m happy to announce that Ashen Sky, my post-apocalyptic novella in three parts, is launching this Wednesday (November 11, 2015). Ashen Sky is $2.99 (or your local equivalent), with your country’s VAT added. Don’t get me started on international VAT and the clusterfuck that is, that’s a topic for another time.

    Back to Ashen Sky! From the (purely fictional) digital book jacket:

    The gray sky looms over the broken remains of our world. Life is hard for Dirk, who’s stumbling through the wasteland. Demon grass is cutting him, and acid rain is burning his skin. Out here, far from his family, Dirk makes acquaintances that lead him upon a path he didn’t know he yearned for.

    Ashen Sky is a novella in three parts, set in a post-apocalyptic world where the low-ceilinged gray sky blocks out the sun and the stars.


  • "I don't know how to market this"

    Author Kameron Hurley, in an essay for Uncanny Magazine:

    I found the “I don’t know how to market this” thing to be a mind-boggling excuse, because I’d written the book I wanted to read. And if I wanted to read it, surely there were other people out there who wanted to read it too. What I would slowly come to realize over the years is that the people like me, who like the types of books I write – the wild, weird, punching and magic and genderbending books – were not the types of people who publishers were used to selling to. They had an Ideal Consumer in mind, and that Ideal Consumer seemed to be scared of women outside of prescribed roles, queer people who aren’t just sidekicks, and any setting weirder than something from Tolkien. Clearly, you know, the world is FULL of people who actually DO love to read books about and including all of those people and things.

    This is a must-read for writers, and people interested in book publishing.

  • Medium opening up custom domains for all

    More Medium, this time concerning the custom domains:

    Starting today, we are fast-forwarding this migration by opening up custom domains to everyone and making it quick and painless to transfer.

    Custom domains are for publications on Medium, not user profiles. This is a bit like Tumblr, and it’s a lot better than using your publication’s Medium URL. I still recommend hosting your own content, but – again, much like Tumblr, and WordPress.com – this is the second best thing.

  • Medium introduce Publishing API

    Medium’s Katie Zhu:

    With our Publishing API, you can now share your story on Medium from anywhere. It’s easier than ever to plug into our network and build your audience here. There are so many amazing stories, ideas, and perspectives shared here every day, and we want to make reading on Medium even better, with more avenues for content creators of all shapes and sizes.

    I still think you should own your primary publishing space, but I must admit it’s heartening to see that Medium themselves built a WordPress plugin for cross-posting. Not that I believe that’s a great idea to begin with, but it might have its place somewhere.

  • Twitter to go beyond 140 characters

    Recode reports that Twitter are planning to go beyond the 140 character limit, with a longform product. Also, this, which I think it’s a no-brainer:

    In addition to the long-form product, execs have been openly discussing the idea of tweaking how Twitter measures its 140-character limit by removing things like links and user handles from the count, multiple sources say. In the past, Twitter has tinkered with the limit in other ways. Twitter Cards are still beholden to the 140-character limit but are intended to help people (and advertisers) share lots of information, and Twitter added a “retweet with comment” option in April to give people more room to comment on tweets they share. The company also lifted the 140-character rule on private messages back in June.

    This following Facebook’s revamped Notes, a snipe at Medium and other similar platforms, no doubt. Blogging isn’t dead, but it might very well be owned by social networks in the future. Let’s hope not.

    Also, hi. Sorry for the silence, it’s been a bumpy few weeks. More on that later.

  • Clickbait and quality

    Gizmodo (and Kotaku) really likes to take a negative spin on all things Apple. These are some of their recent headlines, coming off tonight’s/this morning’s Apple event: Apple’s New Smart Keyboard Turns the iPad Pro Into a Surface Clone, Apple Pencil: The Stylus Steve Jobs Warned Us About, Apple’s So-Called Gaming Console Is A Major Bust. These posts, aside from the last one which is whiny and ridiculous, aren’t even that negative. They’re reports, they’re noise to drive in the links (sorry about that) and the pageviews. It’s soulless reporting, rehashing what anyone could find out from Apple’s site. The soul purpose of these headlines is to drive more eyeballs, nevermind the fact that they fit poorly with the content.

    This is the thing I don’t get with Gizmodo. They sometimes produce great content, break stories and run with them in true new journalistic fashion, but then you get this crap. It’s not just Apple either, although that’s clearly a favorite topic of writers and readers alike, it’s all over the place. The strategy probably works, pissing some people off, and give others what they like. It’s just weak and, frankly, boring. For some reason it continues to amaze me, these things, when they come from outlets that can produce great content. Luckily I don’t have to read it, and neither do you. In the end, quality and analysis will prevail.

  • Fusion won't bash Disney

    Always consider who’s paying the bills; Fusion won’t bash Disney according to New York Times:

    Disney and Univision supplied Fusion with an additional $30 million in financing recently, according to a person involved with the deal who spoke on the condition of anonymity. But the cultures of the companies and Fusion have already clashed. For instance, according to two senior Fusion staff members, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, Disney put the organization on notice that it would not take kindly to coverage that might dent its standing with consumers. The warning came after Fusion published several stories based on documents that hackers stole from Sony.

  • On media company tech

    Austin Smith, writing about building your own content management system:

    To succeed at building your own platform, you need plenty of cash. Big media companies have access to the kind of capital required to launch a successful custom platform, but startups largely do not. Fusion, the startup-like child of ABC and Univision, is a great example of this. ABC and Univision could bankroll a BuzzFeed-style custom web platform if they wanted to — and have certainly bankrolled a BuzzFeed-style stable of journalism talent — but they opted instead to run WordPress. Likewise, Atlantic Media’s Quartz — which broke ground on reader experience and is often imitated –– picked WordPress.

    Great piece. Building your own CMS is all the craze these days, as it always has been. The difference is the amount of money these media tech/tech media startups are raising, and the general notion that you need to build from scratch to enable the media product. While I do think this can be done, and that some publishing platforms really do help then editorial workflow by opening doors to new forms of reporting, and staying out of the way, I also firmly believe that most of the time the end result is expensive crap. There’s no solid reason to bet against open source if you’re building an editorial product, unless your actual business plan is to raise a lot of money by riding the hype. You might succeed with your own CMS (and buckets of VC money), but you could just as well saved a lot of that cash by not building from scratch.

    It’ll be moot in the end, when the failures rack up, compared to the success (in terms of raising money at least) of Buzzfeed and Vox Media. Then it’ll be considered wasteful to build a CMS that is essentially a hack, more or less limited by the original idea, when there are way more mature options available for free.