Friday, January 30, 2009

What to do when publishers (or self publishers) won't..

It was inevitable that the economic downturn would hit the publishing industry. Book sales had dropped off before the recession. Shrinking wallets and corporate panic (with good cause, unfortunately) was unlikely to help. So mainstream publishers (who already weren't publishing a terribly high percentage of all new books) are publishing fewer books and promoting and marketing fewer of the books they have published. That means book publicists' phones are ringing more often than before -- not necessarily with tons of viable book promotion projects, but still, most authors understand that, if they want their books promoted, they have to do it themselves or hire a book publicity firm to do it for them (or at least to partner with them to conduct a book promotion campaign).

The hitch? So many authors come to the question of book promotion when it's almost too late. They email or call a book publicist and say, "My book was published by [fill in the name of a major publishing house] in 2008, and that publisher failed to promote my book. What can you do for me?" Well, immediately, I can tell them that they should have contacted me several months before the book was published so we'd have the greatest window of opportunity for book promotion ... and then I can tell them that there are still some highly effective book promotion strategies that we can try.

Mainstream books have a fairly long window for promotional opportunities because they are mainstream published books. But what about self-published books?

In case you missed the New York Times article of January 27, 2008, "Self-Publishers Flourish as Writers Pay the Tab," here's the link. It offers a headache-inducing quantity of information about various ways in which authors might self publish their books, but it doesn't offer a primer on how to figure out which self publish route is best. It's almost impossible for a publishing industry outsider to chance upon the best self publishing solution; it takes time, research and, unfortunately -- for many authors -- making some mistakes and learning from them.

So authors contact me and say "I'm curious about what it would take to launch a book promotion campaign for my self-published book" too late for me to steer them toward the most information they could find: they haven't really self-published at all. My definition of self publishing is having your own ISBN number and bar code on your book, and having your own imprint on it, too. The minute any company sells you those things, or insists that you use them, then -- for book promotion purposes -- you haven't self published. You've saddled yourself with someone else's baggage, and when you go to promote your book -- or you try to engage a book publicity firm to help -- you're necessarily dragging around the weight of thousands of subpar, unpalatable titles. The media is aware of the dismal track record of so many of the turnkey print-on-demand publishers. Therefore, many of them steer clear of those imprints. However, if your book is truly self published -- if you bring your own imprint to it, and your own clean slate -- then you are on an equal playing field when you launch your book promotion campaign.

I wish the New York Times article had urged would-be authors to do their homework before they committed to publishing their books through any of the companies they mentioned. All of those companies have their place, and I would personally go with any of them -- under the right set of circumstances, and for the right reasons. But I'd do so because I've done my homework. I know the differences between the companies, and I know their limitations, and I know which are likely to help -- or hinder -- book promotion and book marketing efforts.

At this time, there are no resources I would recommend as a shortcut to finding out which method of self publishing would be best under various sets of conditions. There's a book called The Fine Print of Self Publishing: The Contracts & Services of 45 Self-Publishing Companies Analyzed Ranked & Exposed by Mark Levine that's helpful in a lot of ways and that you should buy if you're comparing various companies' contracts -- but the book doesn't go far enough in discussion the book marketing implications of each publishing choice. To really understand how to self publish, you have to ask the right questions of each company you're considering. These questions include (but aren't limited to):

* May I use my own book cover? (So many print-on-demand companies' book covers are unappealing enough to cause negative feedback from important media outlets.)
* May I use my own imprint instead of yours? (As I've said, it's much easier to drum up book promotion opportunities for books that don't suffer the stigma of an imprint responsible for printing thousands and thousands of "duds.")
* Will my book be carried by Ingram Book Group? (If you don't know who they are, you really have to do your homework. Distribution through Ingram is critical to a book's mainstream success, and the only time distribution through Ingram wouldn't matter would be if your niche were so small that you were selling directly to your target audience rather than conducting a book promotion campaign to drive potential buyers to bookstores.)
* May I use my own ISBN number? (That's actually the same as asking "May I use my own imprint instead of yours," since book buyers and the media can easily recognize the ISBN numbers that belong to huge companies. You're far better off, from a book marketing perspective, if you can use your own ISBN number -- and, please, buy the whole block of ten numbers rather than a single number so you won't end up spending more money than you have to as you decide to publish an ebook, an audio book, or your next title.)
* What can you do to help me get book sales if I score some major book promotion opportunities? (In a traditional publishing house, the marketing department communicates your book promotion hits to its sales force on a regular basis so that stores will have an incentive to buy more copies of your book. What can the self publishing company you're considering do to help make your book promotion efforts worthwhile?)

That's a starter list of questions that will help you choose the "right" way to self publish a book that you intend to promote and market. But the best advice this book publicist could provide to most authors who want to self publish their books would be this: to maximize your chances of selling the greatest number of books as a reward for your book promotion efforts, work with LightningSource. I have no financial relationship with LightningSource, and I have never been a client of theirs (although several of my clients have worked with them), but I do appreciate the fact that the company distributes through Ingram; insists that you use your own imprint and ISBN number (they don't offer you any other option); doesn't require exclusivity; and -- last time I checked -- charges only about $75 to set up an account. But working with LightningSource isn't as easy as working with one of the turnkey solution print-on-demand companies. LightningSource insists that you be your own publisher, and while the account representatives will offer guidance, they won't do the work of a publisher for you.

I love the fact that I'm hearing from more authors than ever before, and I'm flattered that so many of them have looked at my web site, like what they see, and have inquired about my book promotion services. But I'd so much like to catch authors before it's too late to get a book publicist really excited about a project: before a major book publishing house has given up on promoting the book (or lost interest in selling the book) or before an author has committed to working with a print-on-demand company whose imprint would make a book about 95% more difficult to properly promote than it has to be.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Web sites rather than book tours for book promotion's sake?

Would “The Da Vinci Code" have become a blockbuster hit if it hadn't received help from a promotional Web site designed by Jefferson Rabb? Maybe not, according to a New York Times article called "See the Web Site, Buy the Book" that appeared on January 23, 2009. Although the article grants that no one knows for sure whether a Web site enhances book sales, it postulates that a Web site is as important part of a book promotion campaign as anything else and has, in fact, replaced the book tour has the core of a book promotion campaign.

Agreed. I've seen clients with substantive Web sites receive interest from national television shows, radio, newspapers, and wire services as a direct result of their online visibility. That doesn't mean, if Google singles you out as the de facto expert on your topic, that you can fire your book publicist and cease all other book promotion efforts. But, as an adjunct to a proactive book promotion campaign, a book's Web site is unmatched for its potential to raise the media's, and potential book buyers', awareness of you.

The Times article also talks about several firms that create book trailers: Circle of Seven Productions, Expanded Books, and AuthorBytes (the latter of which, I'm proud to say, designed my Web site.

I'd recommend checking out one of the companies in that Times article, or finding out which Web design firm produced the book sites to which you're most attracted, if you're in the market for a book Web site, or a book trailer, of your own. What the Times article doesn't say is that, if you have an amateur design your book Web site, or produce your book trailer, you can -- and, I believe, will -- hurt your credibility. With so many firms specializing in book Web sites, it makes sense to work with a company that knows how to create what the media, and book buyers, expect. That's not to say that you want to use a template to create your book Web site or you want an exact recreation of another author's Web site. But you do want to work with a Web design firm whose sole focus is on authors and books rather than a corporate Web designer. And, however much you may care for your young relative who's majoring in graphic design, this isn't the time to engage him or her professionally. Times may be tough, but an investment in a wonderful book Web site may be a wise idea. Doing business with an inexperienced firm, or a teenager, is not.

Friday, January 23, 2009

"Twitter must be part of every book promotion campaign you do.*

A publishing professional just called (yes, he called me on the telephone) to alert me to a article about social networking and to make his argument that, henceforth, Twitter has to be part of every book promotion campaign. "Twitter has become its own newsfeed," the publishing professional enthused. "That's how people are getting their news now! Tweets reach people before Associated Press stories do! If you're not tweeting, you're not promoting your book!"

Well, maybe. But I'm still not convinced.

If. heaven forbid, an author tweets to her followers, "We're having an earthquake!" then that news will make the rounds. But if the same author tweets five times a day about the progress of her book promotion campaign ("I just sent out 3 email pitches to the media," "A national radio show producer is on vacation this week and won't be checking his email - that leaves two pitches that might come through," "Just received an auto response from a producer, so who knows what might happen," "I received a random phone call from a high school classmate and pitched my book to her," and "I just sold a coworker a copy of my book"), that's going to get old pretty quickly.

As a book publicist, I'm excited about the growing possibilities of Web 2.0, citizen journalism, social networking, and all of the other avenues that are opening up as quickly as someone can invent new ways to use them -- for book promotion and beyond.

Who knows? Maybe there's a way to Tweet about your book promotion campaign without boring the socks off your followers. And maybe there's a way to broadcast messages to Facebook and MySpace groups without triggering a mass gag reflex on the part of recipients around the globe.

For now, it's worth keeping an eye out to see how authors, publishers, and book publicists are using social networking to promote their books and their messages. Tomorrow...maybe we'll all be tweeting instead of using email or talking on the telephone to spread our book news. We'll have to see about that. In the meantime, I'll dip another toe into the waters. I already have my Twitter, Facebook, and MySpace accounts....

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Wouldn't it be great if this could happen with book promotion opportunities?

Sometimes, for whatever reason, an interview doesn't go perfectly well during a book promotion campaign. The interviewer might be having a bad day or might become confrontational or ditzy; the author might be nervous, over-confident, or distracted. In any event, wouldn't it be great if book promotion interviews could be done a second time if they went south initially? Well, of course, if it's a taped radio or TV interview -- and if it really went south -- there's a chance (however slim) that the interview could be taped a second time (or, at least, that the most embarrassing part(s) could be edited out. And, if newspaper and magazine reporters have a heart, they simply won't use the portion(s) of the interview that were awful or would show the author in a bad light.

But, typically, book promotion interviews happen, and you do your best, and then you're done...and you move onto the next opportunity. Hopefully, you learn from the experience and you improve your performance each time. And, hopefully, your book promotion campaign gets stronger, and more effective, over time as you become better and better.

Wouldn't it be wonderful to be the President of the United States or the Chief Justice, though, and have an opportunity to take a wrecked TV opportunity and do it all over again the next day? It happened. The botched Oath of Office was able to proceed without a hitch the second time around. Here's the story.

There weren't many media people around when President Obama and Chief Justice Roberts went through the whole Oath again, "very slowly" this time. But it must have been a source of satisfaction to both the President and the Chief Justice that, when the pressure was off, both could perform at the top of their game...and that they weren't doomed to remember the silly mix-ups (because it sounds to me as though there were a couple of problems with the Oath of Office the first time around) that occurred on Inauguration Day.

Would that all authors had an opportunity to redo their less-than-perfect media moments!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Traditional book promotion just got a bit more expensive.

Traditional book promotion -- the type of book publicity campaign that involves mailing out books/media kits and following up to pitch reviews and interviews -- just got a bit more expensive. The price of mailing a United States Postal Service flat-rate envelope (the type of mailer that's supposed to be used for documents but that accommodates a trade book, too, most of the time, as long as you don't have to apply tape to keep the mailer closed) just went up to $4.95.

The postal rate increases (which apply to Priority and Express packages) might make some authors and publishers (and book publicist) think twice before committing to massive, blind, untargeted mailings. There are much beter ways to conduct book promotion campaigns. There always have been (online book promotion campaigns have always been far more efficient than traditional book promotion campaigns). Now book promotion specialists and others have more incentive than ever to make the switch.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Inauguration: Awesome, Inspiring, Overdue, and a Book Promotion Lesson

I was thrilled, proud, and overwhelmed to watch the presidential inauguration today. I also hate to be the book publicist to say "I told you so," but I do tell authors who are in the middle of their book promotion campaigns, or about to start their book publicity campaigns, "Rehearse! Don't presume your book's title and your Web site's URL will trip off your tongue when the host or reporter asks for it. Practice! That's the only way to know for sure that you'll be able to do the job when the time comes."

Notice: President Obama rehearsed his speech for the past week or two, and he spoke every word of it passionately and effortlessly. But the Oath of Office, to which he didn't give any thought (it was just a "repeat after me" situation, so what could go wrong?), went south immediately. "I solemnly what? Dang. Let me do that over again."

Yes, President Obama was nervous and under stress. But...sorry. It wasn't supposed to show during the Oath of Office. Nothing about the vow was spontaneous or unexpected. The President blew it.

Granted, if that's the worst mistake that the President makes during his Administration, we'll be the most blessed country in the galaxy. But...that embarrassment and momentary loss of cool could have been avoided by a few minutes of looking over the words, practicing them, and getting ready to say them.

Joe Biden probably flubbed his oath, too. It seemed to me he did, anyway, however slightly. Judge Judy might shriek..."Where did they think they were coming today? They were taking the Oath of Office. How difficult would it have been for the President and the Vice President to come prepared?"

I know that I'm being a grump. In part, I'm trying to cover up how deeply moved I am to have a new, youthful, and (I think, anyway) wonderfully exciting person at the helm and another great soul by his side. My prayers are going out to the Obamas and the Bidens, and to all of us, wherever we live, and whatever our political philosophies.

This is a great day, historically, and it's a great day for me, personally.

But...gentlemen? Next time? Look over the words before the cameras roll! That's all I'm asking.

Perhaps I'm being too hard on Obama and Biden. Perhaps they were given the words in the wrong order, and then they were flummoxed when they were supposed to report those words. But...again. Being prepared would have prevented the problem. Listening, and responding with cofidence, is so much easier to do when you're fully prepared.

Oh, well. Next time....

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Why are do online sales represent such a small portion of book sales?

I'm currently reading (actually, that's not exactly true; I'm currently devouring) Steve Weber's book, Plug Your Book: Online Book Marketing for Authors (more about that in a future post, I promise, because this is a book that no one who's tackling a book promotion campaign can afford to ignore, and I'd like to explain why in a post dedicated to the topic). Anyway, I'm reading Steve Weber's book, and he repeats a statistic I've heard before: 15% of book sales take place online.

That figure has always seemed low to me. I'm biased, because I do most of my impulse book buying online. Amazon, particularly, lures me to buy its wares with its well-targeted email pitches and creepily on-target, irresistible reading suggestions meant just for me every time I log onto the site. It's not only Amazon that triggers my book-buying behavior. It's also,,,, and any other .com that I stumble upon in my quest for truth, justice, information, entertainment, and the American Way. So I buy books online, and it's sometimes hard for me to fully appreciate the fact that most people don't, and that most book purchases take place inside bookstores. Isn't going to a bookstore less convenient than clicking a mouse a couple of times? Here in New England, during an Arctic cold snap, I'd say that it is. Of course, bookstores are more fun than an amusement park (to this book publicist, anyway), but I'm not always going to get to one. I will always have Internet access, and I will always be able to buy books online.

As for why most people don't buy their books online, I'm guessing that an article I just read on titled "Study: If you touch it, you will buy it" can, at least partially, explain why bookstores still boast more book sales than the Internet. The study in question, which was published in the August 2008 issue of the journal Judgment and Decision Making, found that people who touched items were more likely to buy, or at least bid for (at an auction), those objects than people who only looked.

Maybe widgets such as Amazon's "Look Inside the Book" feature which allows browsers to "flip through the pages" of a book in a virtual sense helps level the playing field between vendors whose books can, and can't, be touched. But...well, bricks-and-mortar bookstores (at least according to all the statistics I keep reading, in Steve Weber's book and beyond) maintain a huge advantage over online bookstores. The prediction of this book publicist is that, as book buyers all get Broadband service and move into the 21st century for real, that will change. I know. Other things will have to change, too. Computer security will have to be enhanced so that people will no longer fear giving their credit card, or their banking account, information to an online vendor. Some of the tougher-to-navigate online booksellers will have to hunker down and streamline some of their functions (I, for one, don't enjoy having to click about 24 times to find a relative's "wish list" when it was time to shop for holiday gifts).

But, when the dust settles, I think (and trust) that online booksellers will learn from shoppers' documented behaviors and quirks and preferences, and they will transform the online book buying experience into something that, finally, resembles the Holy Grail: walking into a bookstore, browsing the shelves, admiring the bindings and covers, and touching, smelling, flipping through, and hefting the "real thing."

Book promotion efforts these days focus as much on bringing readers to Web sites, and online bookstores, as they do on compelling people to walk into bricks-and-mortar bookstores. But I think that reality is already beginning to change.

What about you? Where are you buying books these days? And where are you directing readers?

Thursday, January 15, 2009

How to be the worst talk show guest.

According to CNN's "Showbiz Tonight," infamous author Ann Coulter may be the worst talk show host ever. Click here to watch her alienate the cohosts of "The View."

It isn't pretty, but it's instructive. Behaving badly on talk shows may help get your name out there, but it's also a sure-fire way to burn bridges. How many book promotion opportunities do you think you'll score if every talk show host cringes at the mention of your name, and every producer shudders to remember the last time he/she booked you on the show?

Book promotion opportunities, even for someone with Coulter's notoriety, are hard won. Some day -- after Barbara Walters of "The View" and all the other talk show hosts -- have been confronted by the antagonistic Coulter on the air -- book promotion opportunities may not be won at all.

To paraphrase an old truism: Book promotion is a privilege, not a right. You have to earn the privilege to have book promotion opportunities every time you sit down with an interviewers -- by phone, in studio, or via the Internet. If you don't earn that right, and you don't prove yourself with humor, grace, respect, and hard work -- then forget about having any book promotion opportunities in the future.

Behave now. Your book promotion campaign will benefit for all time.

And, anyway, is it really so hard to be appreciative of book promotion opportunities? You wouldn't think so. You really wouldn't.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Planning ahead for book promotion makes sense.

Putting some time and thought into your book promotion campaign ahead of time always makes sense, but now it might make even more sense than usual. February 17, and the days immediately following, will probably not be the ideal time to appear on a major television show, because some viewers might not be able to pick up the signal.

February 17 is the day when analog television broadcasts will be exchanged for digital television signals -- unless that date is postponed. According to The Red Tape Chronicles, that changeover may affect even viewers who were pretty confident that they'd be able to still get television reception after the big switchover. Seems there's some confusion over whether or not rabbit ear antennas will work (they won't) and whether rooftop antennas will be able to pull in the UHF signals used in digital broadcasts (they may, but only if you're willing to rotate the antenna to pick up each individual channel -- and, as the Red Tape Chronicles article points out, it's not going to be a whole lot of fun to climb on top of rooftops to adjust antennas in the cold of February.

Television viewers are resourceful. They're also highly motivated. Okay, let's face it. People are addicted to their television shows, whether that's "Oprah" or "The Today Show" or "American Idol." So, one way or another -- by spending the bucks for a digital television set, getting the cable and satellite companies to do the conversion. or coming up with another plan -- people will get their televisions working.

But there might be an interval when some television viewers are still figuring things out. It won't last forever -- the networks can't afford to lose hordes of television viewers forever -- but there might be a few days, beginning February 17, when some people who'd ordinarily tune into their favorite television shows can't.

That means, as you're planning your book promotion campaign, you'll want to take that time period into consideration. If you have a shot at appearing on a major television show, February 16 would be would be a grand day to make it happen. February 17, not so much.

It's all about timing, so keep the date in mind when you're scheduling television interviews. And then hope that, one way or another, viewers make their adjustments to the new technology quickly...and as painlessly (and inexpensively) as possible.

Monday, January 12, 2009

But book promotion can help.

I was just reading a very interesting and informative post written by Noel Griese on the Southern Review of Books blog. Griese points out that, according to the law of averages, authors who use a subsidy publisher will not make money on their books, although other benefits (credibility, speaking engagements, building brand, and so forth) may well accrue, rendering the book publishing effort worwhile. But, on the issue of book sales: Griese points out that many important bookstores shy away from books published by subsidy presses because of their perceived inferior quality. That reputation, in some cases, is merited. But for books that are the exceptions, book promotion can help level the playing field between mainstream books and those published through subsidy publishers.

Most media decisionmakers are democratic in that they care more about an author's expertise than a book's imprint. What difference does the imprint iUniverse, AuthorHouse, or Xlibris make when the author is an expert on a topic that's in the news? Fortunately, book publicists can get book publicity opportunities for all authors when the topic and the pitch is on target and timely. Book promotion then can lead to book sales, and book sales can lead to bookstore buyers' changing their minds about whether or not to stock a book.

Another interesting point that Griese raises is that the world of subsidary publishing has just consolidated even more. Author Solutions, which already owned iUniverse and AuthorHouse, has added Xlibris to its holdings. That means that, if you're an author who's using print-on-demand publishing via a subsidary press, then chances are, you're working with Author Solutions.

Good for Author Solutions...and good for authors who understand that book promotion is a key element of a book's succes, regardless of the publishing venue or process.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Book promotion is easier when ... your work seems familiar.

An interesting January 3, 2008 Wall Street Journal article claims that the major publishers are acquiring titles that they can turn into blockbusters. They're paying millions of dollars for such books as Tina Fey's and Sarah Silverman's that will have to sell a million copies to earn back their advances, and then they'll spend even more money on book marketing and book promotion.

Great. So how do you convince a major publisher that your title will be the next blockbuster? That's apparently easy enough if you're Tina Fey or Sarah Silverman (while I understand the former, the latter leaves me just scratching my head, but that's a whole other story). For the rest of us, it helps to have a book that reminds an acquisitions editor of another runaway hit. The WSJ article cites Vicki Myron's Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched The World, which was published by Central Publishing, a division of Hachette Book Group USA. Myron was a first-time author, and she supposedly received a $1.25 million advance for the book that reminded many industry insiders of an earlier hit by John Grogan called Marley & Me: Life and Love with the World's Worst Dog. That was all Myron's book needed to convince publishers that it was worth almost any amount of money.

So if your book feels like another bestseller, then book promotion, book marketing, and even book selling will be a whole lot easier than if you're trying to reinvent the publishing wheel. While there's still room for a break-out book that succeeds on its own merits, the WSJ article points out that life is a whole lot easier for authors whose works are less fresh and seem a whole lot safer than the Harry Potters or the Tipping Points of the publishing industry that pretty much invented, and then came to define, their own categories.

For a while, then, book promotion will be easier for titles with blockbuster potential. Of course, publishers can be wrong ... and publishers can miss something. As a book publicist, I'm still willing to let the media and readers decide which books, and which topics, are the most entertaining and informative. And I'd still rather work with authors whose titles break new ground rather than build on past successes. I'm hoping others in the publishing industry feel the same way.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

A book promotion new year.

The new year has begun with some unexpected news. WBZ-AM, Boston's 50,000-watt news/talk station, has just laid off three of its talk show hosts and a sportscaster. I read the rumor on the Web site, and found confirmation in today's Boston Herald. The demise of the "Steve LeVeille Broadcast" leaves the midnight to five o'clock hours at WBZ-AM unfilled; the departure of Lovell Dyett and Pat Desmarais mean that the evening weekend hours have new gaps in them. And sports anchor Tom Cuddy? Just another familiar WBZ name that won't be around until another slot opens up for him somewhere, in the Boston area or beyond. Who does that leave for talk show hosts at WBZ-AM? Well, Dan Rea, who hosts the weekday show, "Nightside," during the evening' Jordan Rich, who has a long-running late-night show bearing his name on weekends, and Morgan White, Jr., who fills in for the regular talk show hosts when they're sick or on vacation.

I'm a WBZ-AM listener (and have been since WHDH-AM devolved into an all-sports radio station), and I'll miss the hosts to which I've grown both fond and accustomed (not to mention one of my favorite radio producers of all time, assuming she's now out of work). But my concern, as a book publicist, is: what's happening to those time slots? Will they be filled by syndicated programs or by infomercials? (I can't see myself listening to either; WRKO-AM, down the radio dial, is sounding better and better all the time to me.)

From a book promotion perspective, I'm currently on yellow alert. Last year found several top daily newspapers filing for bankruptcy protection, ceasing their home delivery services, or (in the case of the Christian Science Monitor) moving from a daily print publication to a mostly Web-based entity. Just hours into the new year, a virtual carnage of talk show programming has taken place at a major market radio station. What's next? That's what everyone involved in promoting a book ought to be asking. Which other media outlets are in trouble and, therefore, are reducing their book promotion opportunities for authors and publishers and book publicists?

And, more importantly, which new book promotion opportunities will open up in 2009? Stay tuned. This is going to be an interesting ride. It's put people out of work; it's indicative that the economic crisis is as serious as we'd fears; it's horrible for those of us who can't stand the thought of switching our radio listening time allegiances; and yet -- it's also curiously fascinating to those of us who know book promotion opportunities are still to be had. They've already morphed into new arenas, such as blogs and Web sites and podcasts. And, in the months -- and perhaps years -- to come, they'll change in new and interesting ways that we can't even imagine right now.

I, for one, am looking forward to the ride.