Publishing Talks: David Wilk interviews Vikram Narayan

In this series of interviews, called Publishing Talks, I have been talking to book industry professionals and other smart people about the future of publishing, books, and culture.  This is a period of disruption and change for all media businesses.  We must wonder now, how will publishing evolve as our culture is affected by technology, climate change, population density, and the ebb and flow of civilization and  economics?

I hope these Publishing Talks conversations will help us understand the outlines of what is happening, and how we might ourselves interact with and influence the future of publishing as it unfolds.

These interviews give people in and around the book business a chance to talk openly about ideas and concerns that are often only talked about “around the water cooler,” at industry conventions and events, and in emails between friends and they give people inside and outside the book industry a chance to hear first hand some of the most interesting and challenging thoughts, ideas and concepts being discussed by people in the book business.

It’s more or less common knowledge that today more books are written and published than at any time in human history, and the current rate of production certainly shows no sign of slowing anytime soon.  This is true of all other art forms as well – we are surrounded by more music, video and every other form of art.  Being found, heard, seen, and ultimately having one’s work experienced by an audience in an environment of vast abundance must therefore be the goal of all creators, writers, musicians, film-makers, etc.  All content is competing for the valuable time that audiences have to give.  This “attention economy” is at the heart of how the web affects the business of publishing.

For some writers, the social sphere, the engagement with readers, and the marketing work they undertake is a natural extension of their creative work.  There are many other writers, of course, for whom marketing is a foreign concept, or who simply do not understand or feel comfortable with the emerging social network of the web.  Whether they are sophisticated marketers or novices just starting to figure out how to find their communities, writers who are trying to take their work from the private to the public sphere are faced with a vast and sometimes opaque ecosystem of human culture.

Of course in this environment, tools have emerged to help them navigate this fluid and highly challenging environment, and learning how to use those tools becomes another challenge for writers.

A couple years ago I met Vikram Narayan, a young technologist from India, who was setting out to launch a business dedicated to creating marketing easier for writers and publishers.  He started with one automated tool that would enable writers to make their books more visible on the web, and over the past couple of years, the business, now called BookBuzzr, has continued to evolve interesting, fun and easy-to-use tools that writers can use to better understand how they can connect with readers and to help them make that process more efficient and less daunting.  Vikram recently sent me a PDF booklet called “The 10 Book Marketing Mistakes that Authors Make” and that spurred me to talk to him about his work.

Vikram is the founder of BookBuzzr Book Marketing Technologies Pvt. Ltd. based in Bangalore.  His company provides a variety of book marketing and book promotion technologies to authors including the popular and free BookBuzzr Widget which has been referred to as a “portable author website” or “the calling card for the social Internet.” BookBuzzr also owns and operates – the world’s biggest book-winning site with hundreds of books to be won (which is a cool way for authors to be discovered). Vikram has an MBA from Carnegie Mellon University.  I recently talked to Vikram over Skype to hear some of his thoughts about marketing and books, what amounts to news from the front lines, where writers and readers are continually engaging, where the future of writing and reading can begin to be understood.