Notable things: Self-published authors don’t make much money, Jakob Nielsen on Windows 8, venting on Facebook … again

Shocker. The laws of popularity also apply to self-published authors. From The Guardian:

… a survey of 1,007 self-published writers … found that while a small percentage of authors were bringing in sums of $100,000-plus in 2011, average earnings were just $10,000 a year. This amount, however, is significantly skewed by the top earners, with less than 10% of self-publishing authors earning about 75% of the reported revenue and half of writers earning less than $500.

I imagine many of those self-published authors are thrilled to make a single dollar, let alone 500 of them.

This doesn’t map directly, but it still applies: I ran my own sites for years and I didn’t make much money off of them. They brought in enough to cover costs, but that was good enough. The point was to create something from scratch and set it loose, and the fact that it made actual cash dollars was a lovely bonus.

When you’re talking about a do-it-yourself realm — and I consider self-published authors to be in the bullseye of DIY — the definition of “success” must expand beyond financial reward.


Jakob Nielsen on the Windows 8 interface:

… the main UI restricts users to a single window, so the product ought to be renamed “Microsoft Window.”

This same piece also puts a name to a problem I often encounter: “swipe ambiguity.”

I once watched an Apple Store employee work wonders on an iPad. His fingers flicked and swiped and swooped and twirled as though he was conjuring some sort of IT demon. Now, I’m pretty good with an iPad, but I have yet to match that level of competence. I want to get better, but I’m also annoyed that I have to get better at something that’s supposed to be obvious.


This is why Facebook’s Timeline is equally brilliant and horrible.

(Via Reddit)

Facebook Connect and lock-in through ubiquity

Here’s an interesting piece from the New York Times that looks at Facebook Connect’s growing role as a sign-on / social graph utility. Twitter and Google have similar products. Why is this important? This excerpt sums it up: Since Facebook…

FacebookHere’s an interesting piece from the New York Times that looks at Facebook Connect’s growing role as a sign-on / social graph utility. Twitter and Google have similar products. Why is this important? This excerpt sums it up:

Since Facebook Connect was introduced in December 2008, more than 80,000 Web sites and services have put the log-in feature to use, said Ethan Beard, director of the Facebook developer network … “Facebook is evolving through Facebook Connect into much more than a Web site,” said Mr. Beard, who works closely with Facebook’s community of third-party developers. “It’s also a technology and a service to provide social plumbing and creating a social layer the whole Web can leverage.” [Emphasis added.]

These sign-on services, along with other APIs, attempt to achieve lock-in through ubiquity. That’s infinitely fascinating to me. Take Twitter, for example. It’s become the standard for micromessaging (or microblogging or whatever you want to call it) not by forcing people into a Twitter.com silo, but by allowing the Twitter service to seep into the web’s nooks and crannies. Put another way: “platform” is way more powerful than “website.”

Social media doesn’t make money directly, but it still has enormous value

Perhaps it’s a function of the intricate tracking the Web provides, but I’m still amazed at media’s inability to grasp the secondary (and often, tertiary) value of community efforts. So let’s make this as clear as clear can be: Twitter,…

Perhaps it’s a function of the intricate tracking the Web provides, but I’m still amazed at media’s inability to grasp the secondary (and often, tertiary) value of community efforts.

So let’s make this as clear as clear can be: Twitter, Facebook, forums and other social media functions rarely make money directly. Their value comes from the attention they gather and the opportunities that attention creates. If you have a mass of people who have willingly opted-in to your messaging, you damn well better put useful, for-pay products in front of them. Otherwise, all you’ve got is a social club.

This recent piece from Forbes does a nice job tearing down the direct-revenue mindset.

1-800-Flowers.com Facebook Store Good Step Forward for Online Retail

1-800-Flowers.com has opened the first retail store within Facebook, according to the Associated Press (don’t worry AP, I won’t quote you). This is what the Facebook shopping experience looks like: Seems like you’re shopping in a widget, right? You are….

1-800-Flowers.com has opened the first retail store within Facebook, according to the Associated Press (don’t worry AP, I won’t quote you).

This is what the Facebook shopping experience looks like:

1-800-Flowers.com Facebook Store

1-800-Flowers.com Facebook Store

Seems like you’re shopping in a widget, right? You are. And that’s awesome.

Shopping within a widget or ad is nothing new. The 1-800-Flowers.com move is notable because a major retailer offering its products through a massive audience platform is evidence the big companies are starting to get it: They need to sell their goods where audiences already gather.

Creating a retail experience within a popular social networking service is an important acknowledgement that online audiences are empowered to go where they want, when they want. Companies need to work with audience behavior, not bend it to their will.

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