A few weeks ago Palate Press published a story entitled WBC12 – Observations and Opportunities. In that story we first introduced the new idea of Palate Press Group Websites. The idea flowed from a few observations at the Wine Bloggers Conference in Portland, Oregon. There, we noted that the growing world of wine blogging is great, because it adds talented new voices and palates to the conversation, but the plethora of new voices also adds to dilution among a limited readership, meaning even the best new writers may never be seen. We also observed that great wine writers are always looking for ways to improve their writing and ways to monetize their best work. With all those ideas in mind we began to think about a new idea, Palate Press Group Websites. This is what we wrote:
Palate Press LLC has an offer for wine bloggers. The goals are to increase your exposure, improve your writing, and create a mechanism to identify the best work and get paid for it. The keys to the project are concentration through cooperation, editing, and sale and syndication.
Concentration through cooperation
There are a lot of wine bloggers out there. There are three basic ways to get your voice heard above everybody else’s. The first is a long slog, write and write and write, and get recognized for your talent. When it works it’s great. When it doesn’t, though, it is not really an indictment of your writing. You might be great, but never noticed. Another is to scream so loud everybody hears you. The blog equivalent is sh*t-stirring, from a diatribe about the 100-point system to attacks on fellow bloggers. That may get you noticed, but only until the echoes die down. The last way is to increase the chances you get seen. That can be done by concentration through cooperation. Put ten wine bloggers on one page and they will all get seen from one visit. You might attract viewers for people this week, while one of the other bloggers might bring people to you next week.
Palate Press LLC will host group websites. The goal is simple: put more people in one place so they are more likely to be seen. Front pages will look like Palate Press, with header art that rotates through all the individual websites. Each website will have its own page with all your stories, and new stories will post on the front page. Palate Press will pay for all the hosting, saving you the cost of a hosting site. Palate Press will also, for the first time, add links to its front page to the new group websites.
Palate Press has always started with the assumption that everybody benefits from editing. Hemingway had an editor. Shouldn’t you? Yes, of course you should. If you choose to participate in the Palate Press group websites, one requirement will be that every story be reviewed and edited by another website member. Everybody’s writing will improve from the experience.
Sale and Syndication
Palate Press: The online wine magazine is always looking for great stories and great writers. With the creation of Palate Press group websites, we will have a ready group of writers and stories producing quality content, content that already went through one level of editing. By participating in a Palate Press group website, you agree that Palate Press may select a story from the group website, assign an editor, and work with the writer to move it from there to Palate Press. We will pay our going rate for stories. In 2012 we are paying $150 for every Feature Story and $25 for every Short Story.
Each Palate Press group website must have five to ten dedicated wine bloggers, producing, among them, an average of one story per day. Every story should include the author’s name and the editor’s name, and no story should be posted without editing by another site member.
Wine reviews can be in any format the authors choose, but should include a standard Palate Press shelf talker following the Palate Press format. The template will be included with the new website. Wineries and wine stores appreciate shelf-talkers, and every one of them is an advertisement and endorsement for your writing.
Stories will post in order of publication on the front page of the group website.
Every group website member will have their own dedicated internal page on the website. They are encouraged to send people to the main website to increase visibility for everybody, but will have their own page for dedicated fans.
Palate Press LLC reserves the right to sell advertising space in the sidebar and in stories posted on all Palate Press sites.
Palate Press LLC reserves the right to move stories from Palate Press group websites to the pages of Palate Press: The online wine magazine, in exchange for payment of our standard rate to the story author. Authors agree, by participating in Palate Press group websites, to sell those stories and to work with Palate Press editors to create stories for final publication.
That’s the whole thing. We will increase your visibility by concentrating the work of wine bloggers in one place and by linking them to each other and to Palate Press: The online wine magazine. Cooperation with other site members, including editing and review, will improve everybody’s writing skills. And we will identify, buy, and syndicate your best work ourselves, without any additional effort by you other than, perhaps, some work with an editor.
Since that post there has been a lot of interest in Palate Press Group Websites, as well as a lot of questions about how they would work. With this post I hope to answer some of the questions and, even more importantly, invite new ones. We would like to get our first groups launched before the end of the year, so please let us know your thoughts, your interest, and your questions.
Who picks the groups?
Ideally, you do. It is important that people in the group be able to work together, contribute to each other’s knowledge, and edit each other in a constructive, rather than destructive, manner. We would be happy to help form groups, too. We would love it if you create a core then use social media to find like-minded individuals, but if you come to us in threes and fours, we will do a little matchmaking ourselves.
What kind of groups are you looking for?
We’re looking for groups that will have a common interest for readers. It can be “Virginia Wine,” “Wine Snarks,” “Wine Women,” or just about anything else that creates a central theme for a cohesive group. We are also interested in groups related to food, restaurants, and spirits, anything that goes with the “Palate” part of Palate Press.
Who owns the content?
You do, unless we pluck it from the group site, publish it on Palate Press, and pay you for it. Once that happens we own the copyright. Of course, if we sell the story in syndication, you receive the same 50% fee of any Palate Press writer.
Are there any restrictions on what we can write?
Yes. Palate Press will be paying for the website, and that means Palate Press will be liable for any actionable stories. What does that mean to you? No defamation, no copyright violations (including art!), and keep the language and images rated “R,” lest we run up against federal requirements for warnings and record keeping for certain types of website. If you have any questions at all about what you can do, joining a Palate Press Group Website also gives you access to free informal advice from our Editorial Board and Publisher, who happens to be a licensed attorney in three States and a dozen federal jurisdictions.
Do I have to lose my old website?
No, but you might want to. Did you win a Roederer Award this year for your website? Are you in The New York Times “What We’re Reading” blog roll, and regularly featured by Eric Asimov? Do you get 10,000+ unique visitors every month? Keep your website. Have you been blogging for less than a year or two? Do you get the same 800 viewers every month? Do you go a week without a new comment and are all your comments from the same dozen readers? Are more than 75% of you readers other wine bloggers? Move your website. We will link to the old site (you can even back-load your old stories), but you have so much more to gain than you will lose.
Tell me more abut editing. I’m a blogger and I don’t want to lose my unique “voice.”
Hemingway had a unique “voice.” He also had an editor. A good editor doesn’t re-write your content to make you sound like her. She helps you make your writing better. If you really want to know what great editing is, write your opus magnum, then ask Meg Houston Maker how much she will charge to edit it for you. It will change your writing and your life.
Can I team with one group member and just edit each other?
Are you doing it because you’re friends and you’re giving each other a pass, or because you have developed a great writer/editor relationship? Of course, over time, as you develop relationships you will fall into teams. But we encourage you to explore the skills of your whole group to make each other stronger writers and editors.
When do we get started?
Before Thanksgiving. At least, that’s our goal. Are you ready?