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Writing and Publishing

A Lament for W

No, this isn’t a post about George W. Bush.

Instead, this is a blog about the letter W. I feel sorry for W; you see, it’s hard to pronounce.

Consider the phrase, the “World Wide Web.” It is easy to say; it’s concise, with only three syllables, rolling off the tongue.

Ironically, its abbreviation, “WWW” is a veritable tongue twister, requiring a total of nine syllables to spit out—or six, if you slur your speech. Though I’ve heard a few utterances of “Dub, dub, dub” instead of “Double-U, double-U, double-U,” I’ve never heard of W being pronounced “Dub” in other situations.

I think it’s time to start doing so. After all, the other 25 letters in the English alphabet all enjoy one syllable brevity. I think W deserves similar treatment. We need equality for all letters, regardless of their origin or history. Let’s strike a blow for balance and fairness by treating W with the same accord given to all other letters. Let’s be politically correct and call him “Dub” — like he deserves.

What do you think? Will it catch on? Will you give it a try?

Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is an author, blogger, and publisher with over 30 years of writing and publishing experience. Check out his book The Successful Author for insider tips and insights.

Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is an author, blogger, and publisher with over 30 years of writing and publishing experience. Check out his book The Successful Author for insider tips and insights.

Learn more about writing and publishing in Peter’s new book: The Successful Author: Discover the Art of Writing and Business of Publishing. Get your copy today.

Categories
Writing and Publishing

Periodical Publishing in a Down Economy

The trend in magazine publishing is to migrate to non-printed forms of distribution (such as email, PDF files, and online reading) in order to reduce costs.  While I see this transformation as spanning many years or even decades for most publications, I also noted that the recession is accelerating this trend.

The reason is that almost all printed media (magazines and newspapers) are mostly or completely dependent on advertising for the revenue they need to produce their product.  When advertising revenue falls, it becomes harder to cover the costs of each issue.  When this occurs, they reduce the number of pages.  Fewer pages means lower costs and the potential to still make money or at least break even.  For several of the magazines that I read (and especially newspapers), the page count has been decreasing in recent months.

Another sign that a publication is having trouble is when they miss their publish date.  This happens when they haven’t sold enough ads to justify printing any size issue.  That just happened to one of the magazines that I regularly read; they were several weeks late.  I don’t expect them to be around much longer.

The final sign is that they merely eliminate an issue, giving them more time to sell ads for the following issue.

Typically, publications that market leaders are not affected too much during difficult economies, but secondary titles are.  The above example is one such case.

(Happily, I have not had to take any of these steps with the two magazines that I publish; one is staying even and the other has been growing — so readers need not worry!)

Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is an author, blogger, and publisher with over 30 years of writing and publishing experience. Check out his book The Successful Author for insider tips and insights.

Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is an author, blogger, and publisher with over 30 years of writing and publishing experience. Check out his book The Successful Author for insider tips and insights.

Learn more about writing and publishing in Peter’s new book: The Successful Author: Discover the Art of Writing and Business of Publishing. Get your copy today.

Categories
Writing and Publishing

Is Blog Readership a Microcosm of Overall Activity?

I enjoy math and like working with numbers.  It is therefore not surprising that I track weekly blog readership.

The week prior to the US Presidential election, I noticed that the reading of my blog dropped 25%.  At first I assumed this was because too many of my musings were about the election; perhaps people were sick of politics and were skipping my blog.  Then I noticed that the drop-off occurred across the board in all of my seven blogs, even though political content only appeared in one of them.

The week of the election, there was a slight increase in viewers, but still well below pre-election levels.

Last week, readership completely rebounded for all seven blogs, even setting a new record for the week.

I don’t know if blog reading is a microcosm of societal activity in general, but it would seem that the election fervor and furor was such that it kept 25% of the people from doing what they normally do.

If that is true, then things must the getting back to normal!

Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is an author, blogger, and publisher with over 30 years of writing and publishing experience. Check out his book The Successful Author for insider tips and insights.

Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is an author, blogger, and publisher with over 30 years of writing and publishing experience. Check out his book The Successful Author for insider tips and insights.

Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is an author, blogger, and publisher with over 30 years of writing and publishing experience. Check out his book The Successful Author for insider tips and insights.

Learn more about writing and publishing in Peter’s new book: The Successful Author: Discover the Art of Writing and Business of Publishing. Get your copy today.

Categories
Writing and Publishing

Internet Sales Rise and Fall With Catalog Mailings

The DMA (Direct marketing Association) recently released their annual report on the catalog industry.

The report indicated that in 2007, 36% of sales [for the catalog industry] were conducted online. What is shocking is that this statistic is a decrease from 2006, when it stood at 40%. In fact 2007’s percentage was lower than both 2005 and 2004. To find a lower number, we need to go back to 2003, when it was a mere 29%.

What’s the deal? Is there a backlash against online buying?

No, seemingly it was a postage increase! This convincing theory blames the huge postage increase in May of 2007 as the culprit. Many catalogers drastically scaled back their mailings when their postage costs jumped 40%. Although some Internet buyers function strictly online, others are driven online when they receive a catalog or other direct mail piece. Ergo, less mailings equal less orders, and a decrease in sales.

I, too, feel the pain of the catalogers, as I experienced similar increases in postage for my magazines: Connections Magazine‘s postage increased 39% and AnswerStat, 41%. As a result, I began scrutinizing my subscriber list much more closely. Some magazines were pushed to e-publishing, dropping their print versions altogether.

So it should not be at all surprising that the USPS is seeing a drop in mail volume, which caused them to suffer a $1.1 billion loss for the third quarter. As a result, next year’s postage increase is expected to be the maximum legal amount. Experts predict that could mean magazines and catalogs will face a 5 to 6% bump.

Of course that means the affected mailers will scale back more, further lowering mail volume, and necessitating another maximum increase in 2010 — as mailing costs and post office efficacy spiral further out of control.

Learn more about writing and publishing in Peter’s new book: The Successful Author: Discover the Art of Writing and Business of Publishing. Get your copy today.

Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is an author, blogger, and publisher with over 30 years of writing and publishing experience. Check out his book The Successful Author for insider tips and insights.

Categories
Writing and Publishing

Are Two Displays Better Than One?

This week I received an email from a PR guy, pushing a press release for his client (www.ergotron.com and dare2dual.ergotron.com).  In the teaser, he wrote:

“Imagine how much companies would gain and save if they equipped all of their employees with more than one computer display.  The research findings are conclusive and striking: nearly a 20 percent gain in productivity, not to mention the benefits of happier, healthier employees.”

I wholeheartedly agree.  I’ve been dual-screening for about a year and find it frustrating to be restricted to single screen viewing when I use another computer.  I certainly concur with the 20% productivity boost — mine might even be higher.

Having two displays is great, but sometimes it still doesn’t seem like enough.  I want more.  If two is good, then three should be better, right?  Would three give an additional 20% boost in job efficacy?  I could defiantly put three to good use.  However, this brings up a positioning question: Should they all be placed side-by-side in a long row?  That may cause too much neck turning.

The other thought would be to place the third one above the other two.  But that creates symmetry issues.  If would seem weird to center the top one, offset from the other two.  But if I line them up two on the left, that would leave a hole, crying for a fourth unit.

Four displays would be symmetrical — and balance is a good thing.  But to have two on top of the others, creates a mounting problem.  I can’t just levitate the upper two.  I think I’d need a wall mount bracket or a desk riser.

Wait, that’s what Mike, the PR guy, was pitching.

Learn more about writing and publishing in Peter’s new book: The Successful Author: Discover the Art of Writing and Business of Publishing. Get your copy today.

Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is an author, blogger, and publisher with over 30 years of writing and publishing experience. Check out his book The Successful Author for insider tips and insights.