Your data… own it.
In the past couple of weeks, there’s been a furore in the self-publishing world. As usual, I didn’t even notice.
It’s an interesting story because it has implications for all online business and arguably people in general moving forward.
Let me give you the cliff notes version of events as I’ve understood them.
- There’s a guy known as Data Guy who releases an annual Author Earnings Report
- People have contributed data to him in order to make his reports accurate
- Those people were under the impression that it’d benefit them and their data would be private
- Data guy is now offering a premium service
- That premium service involves selling data – including the data people have given him for free
- He’s selling it to big publishers with a turnover of $10m+
- This includes exact data and figures that he’s both scraped and been allowed access to
Now, I might be wrong on that chain of events, and no disrespect or obfuscation is intended if I’m wrong.
Let’s talk about the meta-issue that runs through every post I tend to make on “The Big Economy” first.
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There’s An Upcoming Crisis When It Comes To The Information Age
I’ve said numerous times before that big business is “not your friend.”
I stand by that.
In terms of the book/publishing game, Amazon care very little about you as a micro-publisher.
They’ll pull your books if they think it’ll cause them trouble.
Your income to them is insignificant as are your contributions to the literary world.
You must think of Amazon not as your boss and saviour, but as a distribution platform. It’s a fantastic distribution platform.
Now… you must put yourself first.
It is not in your best interests to share data with anyone unless you have to. Remember, when you’re in the publishing game (and if you’re on the internet and doing business, you are in the publishing game) your value comes from your intellectual property.
You must guard your methods, business data and intellectual property as far as you can.
“But Jamie… You promised me WAR in this sub-heading”
People have no idea who owns their data, what data there is about them and what it’s used for.
This will haunt people and cause legal upheaval. It’s inevitable.
To go back to the Data Guy case… this is a guy who is selling author data to competitors. This is massive and a big no-no.
Will he be stopped?
Probably, because he’s scraping data from Amazon et al. and they won’t like it.
But it’s another case of what essentially amounts to a new concept of data warfare.
Back Down In The Trenches
Yesterday I wrote about a guy I know who got himself in hot water and upset some people who decided to take it upon themselves to try and get his business destroyed because of something they found creepy.
Put it together with today’s topic and my message is clear: Be careful.
There’s a tendency towards showing everything off in the new world of social media, and if you’re of an altruistic bent, you might also be tempted to help people by providing examples from your own life.
This blog is an example – I learn, experiment and report.
You must be careful though.
There are business practices that you shouldn’t talk about. Don’t talk about legal stuff except in general terms. Don’t reveal the whole system of what you do.
A big one for the internet marketers among you: Be very careful about showing your earnings.
There’s a tendency to show off earnings: “I make $3405 a day… here’s how you can too!”
This is a double-edged sword.
It’s effective. Absolutely. Back when I’ve posted little pieces of income earnings, engagements and views go up.
Yet on the other hand, there are a lot of people out there who’ll cause trouble if they think you’re doing well.
Finally, Legal Stuff
I’ve written before and no doubt I’ll write again: If you are in business, you must make it a side project to know the law in your area and generally.
You should also learn the terms and conditions of all the other services and platforms you use.
Finally, you should learn the rules of engagement and pay close attention to what people are saying and are not saying.
Most importantly: Think carefully about what you share and what you don’t. If you can keep your business details private, then do so.
These things aren’t optional. They are at the core of your business and thus your future success and happiness.