A (no longer) Brief History
of My Time Online

by Steve O'Keefe
Executive Director, Patron Saint Productions

1987: I bought my first modem (300-baud), hooked it up to my first PC (Kaypro II), and began surfing neighborhood "bulletin boards." At that time, I was working as a typesetter and downloaded my first job from a client over the modem.

1989-1994: Worked as editorial director for counterculture publisher, Loompanics Unlimited, in Port Townsend, Washington. Responsible for the editing, design, and marketing of 20-25 books per year. Opened accounts with CompuServe, America Online, Prodigy, GEnie, and The WELL.

1992: Began using CompuServe, The WELL, and Usenet Newsgroups to locate and hire researchers, artists and translators.

1993: Produced the first book publisher's catalog on the Internet. The catalog contained descriptions of 150 books on a gopher server.

1994: My first marketing success online: Began reprinting book reviews in Usenet Newsgroups leading to orders and rights sales. Left Loompanics in September, 1994, to start Internet Publicity Services exclusively for book publishers and authors. Starved. Covered the publishing beat for InternetWorld magazine and the Internet beat for Independent Publisher.

1994: Mosaic is released, marking the beginning of the modern World Wide Web. Landed my first major client, HarperCollins Trade, on Christmas Eve. I did not starve for a decade.

1995: Interviewed by Jeff Bezos for director of marketing position at startup Amazon.com. Even though I declined the position, Jeff and I have remained friends and meet every year or so I can be reminded of how really stupid I am.

1996: Wrote Publicity on the Internet, published by Wiley. Won the Tenagra Award for Internet Marketing Excellence.

1997: Relocated from Port Townsend, Washington, to New Orleans, Louisiana.

1998: Sold Internet Publicity Services to The Tenagra Corporation of Houston, Texas, and joined Tenagra as Director of Internet Publicity Services.

2000: Left Tenagra to write (tip: never take a writing sabbatical) and help nurse my first wife through cancer treatments.

2001: Started Patron Saint Productions as a training company to help book publishers take Internet marketing in-house. Starved. Began teaching Internet PR at Tulane University.

2002: Published the second edition of Publicity on the Internet, now titled Complete Guide to Internet Publicity (Wiley).

2003-2008: Launched AuthorViews, a division of Patron Saint Productions developing author videos for the web. Starved. After five years losing buckets of money, I closed AuthorViews in 2008 and joined what seemed like everyone else in the poorhouse.

2004: Started the International Association of Online Communicators with Don Dunnington, professor of Internet public relations at Rowan University in Glassboro, New Jersey. Don and I had been trying for years to organize an association of college instructors of Internet marketing or Internet public relations. IAOC made a big splash at the PRSA convention in New York, where I moderated the PRSA's first panel on blogging.

2005: IAOCblog.com became one of the top marketing blogs on the Internet. AuthorViews completes first U.S. tour in summer of 2005. Hurricane Katrina devastates New Orleans, displacing Patron Saint Productions, AuthorViews, and staff, for months, eventually years.

2006: AuthorViews completes second U.S. tour and first Canadian tour. Patron Saint Productions perfects an assembly-line style of creating online journalism using underemployed journalists and geeks that we call "newsblogging."

2007: Taught Internet Marketing for the Stanford University Professional Publishing Program, a career milestone. AuthorViews completes final U.S. tour and closes on December 31. The Stanford Professional Publishing Program closes two years later -- itself a victim of publishing's decline.

2008: Won the 2008 Bulldog Reporter Award for PR Innovation of the Year for our "Blog Buddy" campaign for AMACOM Books. This creative campaign pairs authors with online experts for a month of daily mayhem.

2009: First professor at a major university to broadcast live online from the classroom, free of charge, when my Tulane Internet PR class is carried on Kyte TV. Produced my first viral online TV network, Louder Than Words TV, for HCI Books.

2010: Joined with former AuthorViews and IAOC veteran, David Reich, to form SixEstate Communications. We're trying to turn newsblogging into a whole new kind of journalism --while keeping as many unemployed journalists and editors from starving as possible.

What "Patron Saints" Mean to Me: Some people think of saints as deities invoked for assistance. I think of them as your conscience, the voice inside your head that you disregard at your own peril. Do we think we're saints here? No. But we think some of our customers are saints, and some of the people we've met in publishing -- such as Alice Acheson and John Huenefeld and Holly Brady -- are saints, and we're trying to honor them with our work and profile them on our web sites so that their contributions are celebrated, shared, and preserved.

What Online Book Promotion Means to Me: Our goal is to use the Internet to get information about your book in front of the target audience without bothering those people who are not your target audience. Mostly we do this by pushing promo materials out to Sites That Matter to your target audience. We make a spectacle while doing nothing unethical. That's our philosophy. What's yours?


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