Monthly Archives: February 2015

First Principles

From the first day at Find My Audience (FMA) — an Indian lunch amongst our four co-founders in downtown Boulder — our driving purpose has been to put data, technology and social networks to work helping writers find readers. Although we quickly saw the potential of an “audience search engine” for other Creatives, and even small businesses, our focus has remained on writers, because that is who we are, and what we love.

As I watch the rapid evolution of all aspects of the publishing and blogging worlds, two principles continue to drive our vision:

  • Audience Discovery is a critical complement to Content Discovery.
  • An Audience is not the same as a market, a reader is not the same as a consumer, a writer is not a merchandiser, and writing is not best treated as a commodity.

I’d like to say a little more about these principles, because they are not self-evident.

Audience Discovery is a Critical Complement to Content Discovery

Right now, most of the really smart thinking about digital marketing of writing is being applied to “content discovery.” That means creating a digital profile of your work (using metatags, etc.) that causes it to appear in search results, recommendation engines, relevant social conversations, and potentially paid advertising channels.

As I read various online conversations about book marketing, I see advice on enhancing discoverability crop up EVERY DAY. It appears in self-publishing discussion groups, publishing industry trade articles, and in the services of professional book marketers. (That last link goes to Peter McCarthy and Mike Shatzkin’s Logical Marketing Agency, which does much more than SEO optimization.)

As a writer, improving your content discoverability is essential. However, two things make it a less than ideal way for writers to find readers:

  1. It requires a writer to think like a search engine. When you are improving your discoverability, you are prettying yourself up for a machine.
  2. It is passive. Once you metatag your work, you sit back and hope readers find you via the aforementioned algorithm-driven systems.

Audience Discovery is a critical complement to Content Discoverability because it turns the tables on these two factors. With Find My Audience, writers talk about their work in terms of specific interests and similar works, that is, in terms of what a potential reader (not a search engine) is interested in. And when an Audience is returned, the author can reach out and engage directly with people, communities, groups and conversations, extending the voice they have created in their work.

Some may contend that writers are not marketers and don’t want to do “active promotion,” but I disagree. Not only is it the way of the world these days, but writers are temperamentally disposed to talk about their writing; it is their passion!

The problem is when marketing tools are too difficult to use or appear to create spam. A writer never wants to come across as a shrill self-promoter.

We feel we are building a platform that puts the power of active engagement into the hands of writers, and based on responses so far, many writers agree.

I’ll talk about our second principle in a future blog post. As I just mentioned, I do believe that writers are actually well-positioned to be self-marketers, when the tools and context of their outreach are consistent with the usual skills and attributes of a writer. I DON’T believe that writers are well-positioned to be merchandisers, who are typically focused on engineering various environments to maximize sales for a commodity product.

Sorry…a book (or blog, or magazine, or newspaper) is not JUST a commodity, and writers don’t ONLY want sales.

Of course, they are, and they do…just not exclusively.

All right, it’s back to getting our alpha ready…keep writing, and I’ll talk back at you soon!

–Paul Agostinelli

At Find My Audience, we understand that not all authors are marketers. That being said, growing your social audience can expand your readership and book sales. You don’t have to be a book marketer to find new readers online. We are here to simplify this process for you. Sign up today and connect with potential readers across the globe.

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The Do’s and Don’ts of Facebook for Writers

If you’re a writer who wants to build a thriving fan base around your latest book, facebook  is still one of the best places on the web to do so.

Your facebook presence could catapult you to the next stage in your career, opening up hundreds of shiny new opportunities for you and your book…but you have to do it right.

Here are a few do’s and don’t’s that will help you make it happen.

DON’T: BE LAZY
There’s worse no faux pas than writers who join facebook groups to try to sell their fiction books to other writers. It’s like real estate agents trying to sell houses to other real estate agents, or car salesmen trying to sell to other car salesmen.

Yes, writers are also people who read from time to time, but they don’t join groups called “New Top Authors” to look at what YOU wrote.

DO: KNOW WHERE YOUR READERS ARE
Join groups where you’ll find people who love the genre you write in. Find people who will look to their facebook groups when they want to buy new books. Create posts that will be relevant to them, and will get your name remembered.

Don’t sell to them, befriend them – so that when that day comes, they’ll look to you.

DON’T: ACT CREEPY, DESPERATE OR PUSHY
People typically don’t log on to facebook with the intention to buy books. They log in to be entertained, to discover fun and interesting things, and to stay up to date with the things they care about. Your job is to integrate yourself seamlessly into their objectives, not rush in and ruin their downtime with rude interruptions and unwanted marketing.

You want attentive, interested people who are dying to hear about your new work, right?

Well, your typical facebook users won’t be in that mindset until you give them a reason to be. Interest is something you have to cultivate, not force.

Find your perfect space (a facebook page or group) to draw people into your world. Think  about what it will take for people to know, like and trust you.

DO: BE FRIENDLY & USEFUL
Engage with people through groups and other relevant pages. Ask your friends for introductions, like people’s stuff, and build relationships.

No one will feel threatened or offended if you’re adding value as opposed to self-promoting. Any self-promotion can come later, because once earned, you’ll be offered opportunities to do so with open arms.

We all know how we’re good at helping people, deep down. We know what people would appreciate from us most. A great sense of humour, for example – a caring ear, or fantastic advice. Even if it’s something you feel you could charge for – ESPECIALLY if it’s something you feel you could charge for – it is essential that you share it.

Sometimes your generosity will pay off right away, and sometimes not, but it’s the only way your marketing ever will.

About The Author
Stephanie Lennox is an award-winning author, keynote speaker, holistic writing coach and wellness advocate. She’s also the founder of “The Authorship Program®” – a book, blog and online course that helps writers write successful books and lead successful lives through spirituality and personal development. For free tips on feeling well and writing well, you can visit her at www.theauthorshipprogram.com.

At Find My Audience, we understand that not all authors are marketers. That being said, growing your social audience can expand your readership and book sales. You don’t have to be a book marketer to find new readers online. We are here to simplify this process for you. Sign up today and connect with potential readers across the globe.

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What 2015 Has In Store For Find My Audience

The new year has begun with a lot of excitement at Find My Audience. We are less than two months away from the beta launch of our audience discovery platform, and expectations are high!

Over the holidays I was reflecting on what a crazy time this is for writers. It has long been the case that writers have to promote themselves to find readers, but the signal-to-noise ratio of people talking about their work has reached epic proportions.

The traditional curatorial platforms of established booksellers and book reviewers are still relevant (and arguably even more important), but writers are no longer best served by fighting, cajoling or buying their way into those overloaded channels.

Likewise, the evolving discovery engines for books, while getting smarter, will always be a passive form of promotion for writers: we are being instructed how to metatag our works and our blogs, and how to talk in a way that search-recommendation engines will find us. These methods will become increasingly effective, but they are not satisfying ways to find readers.

We are excited to offer a new way…. social media can now give writers direct access to their audience. The combination of Social Networks and Big Data (what I call Big Social) is the new enabling technology for writers and other Creators to find people, places, communities and conversations who are likely to respond to their work.

At FMA, we are both Quants and Quals. We’ve been crunching data, writing code, and developing our algorithms for a year, building a platform that puts the power of Big Social into the hands of writers.

Social media concept in tag cloud

Writers’ gift to the world is their voice, and in a noisy world, we need to work with whatever diligence, grace and eloquence we can muster to put ourselves in a position to be heard. That’s always been our challenge.

What has changed is the transformation of the institutions and mechanisms by which art is created, distributed, promoted and sold. Desktop publishing, followed by WordPress, and now the self-publishing platforms, have revolutionized what we create when we write.

Digital publishing, ebook subscription services such as Oyster and Scribd, direct-to-consumer movements of traditional publishers, native commerce platforms like Gumroad, and of course the ubiquitous presence of Amazon, have opened up vibrant new channels for distributing and selling books.

Finally, the content marketing, social search and adtech sectors are rapidly changing the way marketing and “content” (in the form of writing, images, and sound) are intermingling and supporting each other.

At FMA we have always considered ourselves the advocate first and foremost of writers and readers. We don’t have a dog in the ongoing, and sometimes acrimonious, struggles between traditional publishers, indie publishers, emerging self-publishing platforms, online sales channels, and traditional indie and national retailers. They are all good … when they put authors and readers first, and when they are not driven by greed. (By the way we don’t feel that “giving consumers the lowest price” is the same as “giving readers a great service”.)

Writers want to find an audience and be paid fairly, readers want to find great work and pay affordable prices; and both want to do so WITHOUT being bombarded by the cacophonous online advertising bazaar.

The FMA Audience Discovery platform aims to make that possible. If you are a writer and would like to sign up for our Private Beta program (March 2015), check out our explainer video, and sign up.

In the meantime, we are furiously and happily getting the platform market-ready….. Jamie and Ray have been in the tech half of the garage, building out our system, while Mark is reaching out to colleagues in the writing and publishing communities to let them know what’s coming.

In their downtime, Ray’s finishing up his “Also Rans” manuscript and Mark is sherpherding his award-winning “Trainhoppers” telescript up the production ladder. These guys blow me away with their creativity. I love working next to them every day.

I hope you are all looking ahead to a great new year. Keep writing, check out our beta in March, and look for us at Book Expo America in May!

Paul Agostinelli
People & Numbers
FMA

At Find My Audience, we understand that not all authors are marketers. That being said, growing your social audience can expand your readership and book sales. You don’t have to be a book marketer to find new readers online. We are here to simplify this process for you. Sign up today and connect with potential readers across the globe.

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