The Shatzkin Files

Welcome to The Shatzkin Files

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When Joe Esposito first told me about blogs in about 2001 or so, there were very few. Michael Cader had PublishersLunch, but if Michael knew that it was an emailed blog, he didn’t tell me. And then blogs “happened”, as things do: gradually, then suddenly. And now I’m late to have one of my own. Really late.

I’ll admit that I fiddled with this a couple of times before. I started up at least twice, maybe it was three times. I decided I’d try it for a while, see if I could get into the pattern of writing regularly, and then reveal it to the world when I’d piled up a month or two of posts. But I never GOT to a month or two of posts. And because I was keeping what I was doing a secret, I had no traffic, no comments, and none of the rewards of interaction which provide the motivation to keep going. So I didn’t keep going.

I admired my friends Gwyn Headley and Michael Cairns for starting their blogs and sticking with them. Gwyn started by making a list of 365 things he could blog about, so he could refer to his list every morning if he needed to. It would take me five years to make a list of 365 things I could blog about.

But I’ve been getting some signs that “now’s the time.”

One follows from having been on Peter Brantley‘s mailing list for a couple of years. Twenty, thirty times a week, Peter sends us a link to something he’s found about publishing and digital change and invites comment. The posts and comments have increasingly sparked a response from me that amounts to a blog post. Once in a while Peter would ask me to extend a comment as a post to one of his blogs, PubFrontier. Then last week David Rothman flattered me by turning another Brantley list comment into a post on his Teleread.

Then, thanks to my friend Laura Dawson, I hired a really smart woman named Tess Strand Alipour and her partner Hamid Alipour to help me optimize traffic to They rebuilt the site so the speeches can accept comments, which was never the case before. They did other things that have boosted our traffic by a gazillion percent in the past two months. And they’ve told me that traffic will get even better if I post whatever I have to say to my OWN site rather than always to other people’s.

And then two weeks ago I started using Twitter. I was a bit slow to get it, but Tools of Change accelerated the process for me. The complementarity of Twitter and a blog seem pretty apparent.

On top of that, I’m involved with a large number of exciting new initiatives even in these troubling times. Filedbyauthor, a new venture I’m co-founder of being headed by my longtime friend and colleague, Peter Clifton, will be live with a web page for every author with an active ISBN in another month or so. FotoLibra, an open-source photo stock agency based in the UK that I’ve been involved with since its founding a few years ago, has achieved orbital velocity. We’re working out details, to be announced shortly, to take our StartWithXML project to London soon. We’re doing a research project on “Shifting Sales Channels” with BISG that has an online survey component and will culminate with the Making Information Pay conference on May 9.

So there should be plenty to write about.

Please write back.

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  • Congratulations, Mike. The world has been your platform. Now you have one of your own. Good luck-


  • Charlotte Abbott

    The tweets have been sweet, but I’m looking forward to opening this new window into your thinking!

  • Pingback: Mike Shatzkin, an old-time book guy, starts blogging—after seeing reader comments help grow his site traffic | TeleRead: Bring the E-Books Home()

    • I was sloppy in my wording and left myself open for misinterpretation. The work Tess and Hamid did was a complete SEO job which, among other things, included opening speeches up for comment. I actually would attribute the big traffic increase to work on metatags not comments. In fact, I’ve had hardly any comments yet so I don’t think that’s where the traffic increase came from.

  • Please allow me to clarify: the SEO work we did on Idealog involved 40 different factors; metatags were an extrememly minor part of that work. Utilizing the ‘comments’ feature on Speech pages was not necessarily related to SEO. Your traffic has increased mainly due to our recode of the bones of the site [including the menu which was recreated from SEO-unfriendly Flash into something more ‘readable’] coupled with a multitude of other elements, which allow the search engines to better understand and properly index all of the pages on your site, not to mention the content itself. Thanks for the opportunity to clarify and thank you for mentioning our work!

  • Serves you right for relying on cheap labor to build the site back in the day!

    • You weren’t that cheap! Only compared to now…