EBook Marketing Innovations

Writers & The First Moment of Truth

In our previous posts on Writers and Micro Moments and the Writers & the Zero Moment of Truth we looked at the importance of understanding a reader’s “journey” and the “micro moments” within that journey.

The journey motif is a strong one in the Customer Relation Management and Cloud Marketing communities. Salesforce, for example, has a “journey builder,” a customer interaction mapping tool. And Google has a treasure trove of excellent articles on those moments when a person wants to know, go, do, or buy.

Writers who are looking to market and sell their books do well to understand what is needed in each moment of their potential reader’s journey of discovery and determine what kind of content the reader might need to help them move down the path, or “funnel,” to a transaction. In short, to quote Mike Grehan of Acronym Media, writers need to map their reader’s “intent with the right content response.”

Which brings us to the First Moment of Truth (FMOT). FMOT is a concept first advanced by Proctor & Gamble. It is the 3-7 seconds after a shopper first encounters a product on a store shelf. It is in these precious few seconds, P&G contends, that marketers have the best chance of converting a browser into a buyer.

So, what is the First Moment of Truth for a writer who is marketing their book? Undoubtedly it happens when a potential reader looks at the book cover. It is at this point that the individual makes an emotional, gut-level decision about the work — to find out more about it, or to move on. Usability guru Donald Norman refers to this as the visceral level of experience. At the visceral level, writes Norman, “people will be strongly biased toward appearance.” 

There have been numerous posts (and studies) on the importance of having a good book cover. This is particularly the case with self-published writers. Darren Beyer’s post on this topic demonstrates ably that a book is, indeed, judged by its cover. And this is why many book covers look similar (I know of four that look almost exactly like Anthony Doerr’s All the Light We Cannot See).

There are two takeaways for the book marketer:

  • First, it’s important to think of your customer as taking a journey to your book. Mapping that journey and identifying the micro moments within it will help you understand the content you will need to generate.
  • Second, we cannot overemphasize the importance of making an emotional connection with a reader through a well-designed cover. As Maya Angelou said, “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

— Mark Schroeder

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What is Micro-Marketing and How Will it Work for Authors?

Here at Find My Audience, we spent most of 2015 developing a full-featured Audience Relationship Management platform for writers. We let authors define their books, then we found potential readers across social channels. Writers could promote leads, create different profiles for their work (to establish segmented audiences), and even engage via their social media accounts.

Our beta users loved the promise of the platform. These included Big and small Publishers, as well as traditionally and self-published authors.

But while we were riding a wave of positive feedback, we felt that we needed to simplify the platform and make it easier to use. Our power users were creating multiple profiles, saving leads, engaging with and growing their audiences. But the average user was finding it hard to manage all the features we provided.

We realized that the problem was endemic to the challenge we had set for ourselves. Book Marketing has always been at least as much art as science, and now in the rapidly-evolving world of digital/social media, what works and what doesn’t has become even more mysterious.

Lessons have been learned and best practices are being developed. Facebook works for some things, but not for others. The same goes for Twitter, Pinterest, and the Blogosphere.

There are many success stories. Peter McCarthy, who has inspired us in the design of our system, is perhaps the smartest person in the industry at digital marketing, and he has brilliant case studies. But the successes are always hard won. The challenge — growing an audience of potential readers who can be addressed when they are ready to buy — does not lend itself to an easy technological solution.

In March of this year, we decided to simplify: to make our system much easier to use, and support our authors in playing small ball to build an audience. With one e-mail a day (or week), we’ll give authors the most highly qualified people, sites and messages they should pay attention to right now. With 10-15 minutes of attention each day, they can incrementally build their audience, as well as their awareness of different sites, channels and events that will most fruitfully increase their exposure to readers.

That’s what we mean by micro-marketing. We hope every author will give us a spin for a while, and let us know if the system provides value.

As much as we all want the “silver bullet” marketing approach that will work every time, with little cost or effort, no such thing exists for most commodities, even less so for a book, where subjective appeal is paramount.

With a micro-marketing approach, we hope to make audience-building easy, rewarding and, dare I say it, fun.

— Paul Agostinelli

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“Dogs Are People, Too”: What I Learned At Big Boulder 2016

This week I had the fantastic experience of attending the 2016 BigBoulder conference, thanks to the largesse of our partners over at GNIP. This was my first time attending the conference and the Big Boulder Initiative deserves a round of applause for the great job they did. Boulder’s best hotel, the St. Julien, was a gracious host, the food and drinks catered to a variety of tastes, the talks covered a wide range of pertinent issues in the social data world, and of course informing it all was the vibe of Boulder — even though I have lived here for twenty years, I still can’t get over how spectacular a venue it is. And if that wasn’t enough, the Dalai Llama was also staying at the St. Julien. Talk about a vibrational charge!

The BBI has already blogged about the talks in some detail so I won’t rehash a job well done; rather, I would like to share a list of thoughts, observations, and “things overheard” (without “last person” attribution). I have kept the list short, but truth be told, the conference generated a whole host of thoughts and ideas. So, without further ado: 

  • Dogs are people, too.
  • Brad (a real guy) does a better job than Radian Six at measuring sentiment. No one should tell Salesforce that.
  • A lot of folks are watching Mr. Robot. Is life imitating art?
  • If not art, then life often imitates (or is shaped by) Twitter — at least during political crises.
  • Pictures can tell a story — if we can see them.
  • Empathy — in design and presentation— will be a key element.
  • There are multiple truths.
  • We have miles to go before we sleep.
  • Bots are the future. But they still need Brad.
  • Algorithms are biased.
  • Now what?

Here are a couple of suggestions for the BBI for next year (assuming unlimited time and budget):

  1. It would be great to have a meeting planner capability where attendees are able to schedule meetings with other attendees prior to the conference. That may have been available and I was not aware of it.
  2. How about some workshops for brainstorming specific problems?
  3. What about a start-up competition? Start-ups would get ten minutes on the stage to make their presentation. Attendees could vote on the winner.

Look forward to seeing you all at Big Boulder 2017!

— Mark Schroeder

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Writers & The Zero Moment Of Truth

 

In our last post we discussed the importance of Micro Moments for writers. Micro moments present opportunities for writers to build their communities and/or market their books, assuming the timing is right. Micro moments comprise the first step in what we are calling the Audience Location Journey.

Here’s an example: assume that you have written a phenomenal work about a woman who is stranded on a distant planet without food or water. She will need to use all the ingenuity she possesses to survive until her crew can make it back to rescue her. Sound familiar? Of course it does. Your book could be the kissing cousin of the best-selling The Martian. And that’s not a bad thing, for if you can identify positive tweets and posts about The Martian, and connect with the authors of those sentiments, you may also find your own audience. Marketing experts call this an “affinity audience.”

Let’s further assume that your affinity audience has finished The Martian and is looking for a similar book to read. They are full of “intent to buy” but aren’t sure which book they will be buying. So they whip out the phone, pad, or computer and start researching. Google calls this The Zero Moment of Truth, which is “the precise moment when they [your potential readers] have a need, intent or question they want answered online.” This is the second step of the Audience Location Journey.

And journey it is, for in this phase your potential reader moves back and forth between devices (phone to computer and back again) and channels (Twitter, Facebook, et. al), checking prices, reviews, and in the case of books, asking for recommendations or simply taking a look, for example, at friends’ Bookshelves on GoodReads.

The marketing task, then, is this: to “shape” your potential reader’s journey — and anticipate the questions s/he might ask along the way.

This requires that you understand your reader’s intent. Indeed, one of the truisms of marketing today is that intent and immediacy of messaging are more important, as Lisa Gevelber of Google notes, than “reach and frequency.”

Zero_IMG_02_

So, where should you start? We suggest you first answer a number of questions, such as:

* What questions will the user want answered? And what are the answers?

* What kind of cover images or art will hook the user?

* What blurb works best to compel the reader to continue reading?

* Which books are similar to your book?

Keep in mind that your marketing efforts at this stage are not so much about “your” work but rather about addressing what your potential reader wants — what they feel comfortable with. To be sure, in the “morphology” of reader taste similarity takes pride of place. As a result, especially if you are a self-published author, you might want to engage in a species of resemblance marketing.

Another way of looking at this is that the answer to every potential reader question is this: “It’s like the book you just read (but with a slight twist).”

Let’s make this more concrete. Take a look at the following three book covers.

Notice the family resemblances? Now is not the time and place to talk in depth about our desire, or lack thereof, for originality in what we read (and see). Notwithstanding, it is important to take into account the degree to which the publishing industry shapes your readers’ tastes. Tim Parks in a recent NYRB article describes the situation as thus:

The difficulties of the writer who is not yet well established have been compounded in recent years by the decision on the part of most large publishers to allow their sales staff a say in which novels get published and which don’t. At a recent conference in Oxford–entitled Literary Activism–editor Philip Langeskov described how on hearing his pitch of a new novel, sales teams would invariably ask, “But what other book is it like?” Only when a novel could be presented as having a reassuring resemblance to something already commercially successful was it likely to overcome the sales staff veto. 

In closing, we should point out that your “public face” (cover art, web site, etc.) needs to be professional and enticing — in short, it needs to pass the “gut test.” If it does pass that test, and many don’t, then you have a chance to further influence the reader’s Zero Moment of Truth. In our next post, we will discuss the different ways you can do that.

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The 10 Most Memorable Book Titles of Last Week

Greetings from the Curation Team at Find My Audience! 

We have decided to write weekly blog posts that will reflect upon our experiences curating information about books, authors, blogs, and bloggers. You can expect to see us cover a wide variety of topics, ranging anywhere from posts like The 10 Most Memorable Book Titles of Last Week to posts about The Authors We Want to Hang Out With. Today we are focused on the former (but don’t worry, the latter is on its way).

We try not to judge a book by its cover, but it’s hard not to judge it by its title. We chose the following list of 10 most memorable book titles because they caught our attention and stayed on our minds last week. Some are funny, some are sad, and some are just flat out strange. We hope you enjoy them as much as we did!

What were the 10 most memorable book titles we curated last week? 

Have a lovely week!

Sincerely,

The FMA Curation Team

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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Pinterest for Authors

Every morning I spend a few hours collecting content to share on the Find My Audience social media platforms. I look for trends in the publishing industry and I pay special attention to the articles that describe how things are changing for writers (and readers, for that matter).

The publishing industry is always evolving and it adapts with the times—and fast! That said, in today’s age an author’s success is dependent on his or her ability to hit a moving target. Authors are left wondering, “What can I do to keep up?”

One thing the experts do agree on is the need for authors to focus on building a strong social media presence—right now. The social web is where things are happening for authors these days; and it makes sense, considering that’s where their readers spend their time.

One of the best social media platforms for reaching readers and sharing content on the web is Pinterest. You can use it as a tool to introduce yourself, engage with your audience, and drive traffic to your various websites.

What is Pinterest?
Jon Reed describes Pinterest as “a virtual corkboard – a place to pin your interests. You create and arrange boards on specific topics and pin images and other media such as video to them.” In essence, Pinterest is a referral engine that is filled with customer insight intelligence. Seth Fiegerman adds to the conversation in his article explaining why, “Pinterest Drives More Traffic to Publishers Than Twitter, LinkedIn, and Reddit Combined.” He says that, “When it comes to referral traffic from social networks, there’s Facebook and Pinterest—and then there’s everyone else.” Instead of having to ask people what they like, they tell you by pinning it.

Why is Pinterest a useful tool for authors?
It gives you the opportunity to share your content and your books with your current audience, as well as many potential prospects. As long as you have a visual representation of the work you have done – book covers, book trailers, illustrations from your novel, fan art, or even a headshot – you can pin links to your work, driving traffic to your website(s). Because referral marketing is so powerful in the publishing industry, it’s no wonder why successful authors are starting to use Pinterest. It screams book marketing!

Authors who are on Pinterest already?
Take a look at some of these Young Adults authors who already have accounts on Pinterest:

Lisa Shafer (Confessions of an Average Half-Vampire): http://pinterest.com/lisawriting/
Laura Thomas (Tears To Dancing)http://pinterest.com/lauracthomas/
Todd R. Tystad (Blue Hill): http://pinterest.com/toddrtystad
Sara Zarr (Story of a Girl, How to Save a Life, etc.): http://pinterest.com/sarazarr
Amie Kaufman (Wrecked): http://pinterest.com/amiekaufman
Lynne Kelly (Chained): http://pinterest.com/lynnekellyh
Caitlin Kittredge (The Iron Codex series, etc): http://pinterest.com/caitkitt/

So how do you get started?

  • Sign up. You have the option to log in using your email, Facebook or Twitter account. I recommend connecting with one of your existing social media accounts because it will be significantly easier for you to find your friends, family members, and favorite public figures or blogs to follow.
  • Create your profile. You get to choose a username for your account. Keep it consistent with your other social media usernames. That’ll make it easier for your fans and potential followers to find you.
  • Check your settings. Turn your email notifications on. You want to know who is pinning what, and overtime you’ll start to understand the “why” behind their behavior. Having access to the “whom”, “what”, and “why” is important.

How do you pin?

  • Install the Pin It Button. With the Pin It button on your browser, you can easily pin any of the content you have on your page.
  • Add a Pin. When you are browsing the web and you want to add a pin, you can click the Pin It button on your bookmark bar or on the website you are pinning from. Then, Pinterest will give you the option to select which board you’d like to pin it to.
  • Create a New Board. Everything you pin is added to a board you have created. You can do so by clicking the “Add +” button in the upper right-hand corner of your main Pinterest page. Select the option to Create a Board. You can name your boards anything you’d like–but try to be specific, so that when potential users search for pins or boards similar to your board, it will show up in their search results.
  • Repin from Your Feed. You are able to see what your followers are pinning as well. In order to repin their post, all you have to do is run your mouse over the pin and select the “Pin It” button. It’ll direct you to the board you’d like to pin it to.
  • Like and Comment. Engage with your Pinterest community! Like pins; comment on pins; get to know your followers and let them get to know you.

Sources used for the above information:

–Alexa Davis

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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Readers Are Not Consumers!

Spring has finally come to the Front Range of Colorado, where we are enjoying the warm days (along with the occasional snow shower!)

Here in Boulder, we like to think of ourselves as positioned not just geographically, but also culturally, between the traditional publishing world of the East Coast and the tech world of the West Coast.

“Big Data” is not a dirty word for us, but it is not an end in itself. Quant culture can be put in the service of the Human Creative.

A few weeks ago, I talked about the first of two principles that drive our vision:

  • Audience Discovery is a critical complement to Content Discovery.

Today, I’d like to talk about the second principle (a family of principles!):

  • An Audience is a special kind of market, a reader is a special type of consumer, a writer is not a merchandiser, and writing is not a commodity (or mere “content”).

One of the fascinating dimensions of the conflict between Hachette and Amazon last year (a conflict that played out again with Harper-Collins last month) is the clash of two visions of the cultural economy. On one side stand the technocrats of Amazon, ruthlessly rationalizing supply chains and profit margins in order to increase shareholder value; on the other stand the old-school book publishers, bravely championing a commercial structure that adequately compensates the Curatorial/Editorial Guild for their essential value.

Of course, both positions were immediately deconstructed by pointed counterarguments: 1) Amazon has served a great many authors — self-published and traditionally published, e-books and print — with their ubiquitous commerce and distribution infrastructure; and 2) Hachette is owned by a multinational conglomerate as committed to the bottom line as anyone else, and is run accordingly.

Who’s in the right? Well, both and neither, of course. To the extent that both institutions serve readers and writers, they are good. To the extent they serve a corporate bottom line divorced from social value, they are off base. That’s our view, at least.

The internal dynamics of commodity capitalism tend to diminish the unquantifiable allure of a creative work. In his classic essay, “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction,” the German cultural critic Walter Benjamin famously declared that mechanical reproduction destroys a work’s “aura.”

Indeed, the allure of aura is different from demand for a product.

Commodity capitalism does not know what to do with “aura.” What it does know is “branding” — a rich process of creative self-definition — and its moronic stepchildren: “hype” and “buzz.”

When we think of books as “commodities” and readers as “consumers,” we subject ourselves, indeed our entire society, to a world devoid of aura. If we follow the tried-and-true logics of consumer capitalism, where supply and demand, labor costs, profit margins, and supply chain dynamics are the governing parameters, we lose the very thing that makes literature and art valuable: the expression of an individual vision, voice, heart and mind as they percolate within a collective consciousness.

Authors are on board with this. They know aura. They are looking for readers, not “consumers.” They are looking for an Audience to engage with, not a “demographic” to sell merchandise to. Merchandise is entirely subject to the dynamics of supply chains and distribution channels. Creative works are not (ideally).

Cultural currency in an attention marketplace is not the same as dollars in the bazaar. 

Of course, all writers want lots of readers. But they don’t want to find them using the de-personalized techniques of modern commodity marketing, putting up billboards on the attention superhighways, or bullhorning slogans across the town square. They want to gain fans through engagement, listening, entertainment, and the sharing of interests and affinities.

Much of the advice being given to authors these days is spot-on. I’m thinking of Guy Kawasaki’s thoughts on Authorpreneurship, and everybody-and-their-sister’s advice on “building an Author Platform.” That’s what authors need to do nowadays, and that’s a good thing. It keeps writers engaged with their audience and with their own voice.

The missing piece to the empowerment of Authors is to put them directly in touch with their potential audience, and not trust to the “shelf space” dynamics of merchandisers (and search engines) to be “discovered.”

By now, if you are still reading, you may be wondering what I’ve been smoking (I do live in Colorado after all), or whether I am serious. Are these principles too out of touch with reality to apply to the daily lives and challenges of writers in America today?

I think not. Old structures are breaking down, and Creatives are taking it into their own hands to work out how to reach the most people who might have an affinity to their work. To a certain extent, audience-building is always, at least partially, a numbers game. And it always involves some level of inspired, efficient promotion. That’s where the Quant techniques can help. Any author who truly wants to appeal to a readership of any size, must put the numbers to work for them, and commit to reader engagement and promotion.

At Find My Audience, we want to help writers do just that.

–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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Getting The Most Out Of Google+

Since its beginning, Google+ has been a phenomenal writing community and resource. As a writer, you can find plenty of support, information, and feedback from people every step of the way throughout your writing process. Plus, there is an underutilized promotional tip that can bring attention to your book events. Some of the tips listed below will help you make the most out of your Google+ experience.

To forewarn those of you who aren’t familiar with Google+, this post is designed for those who have some experience with the social media site, but feel as if you just don’t “get it” or you haven’t unlocked all of its features yet. So, let’s get started!

1) Don’t forget to follow and engage.

 google_one

Much like Twitter, it’s easier than you might think to find other writers on Google+. Simply search for terms such such as “writing,” “writer,” or “author” and you will uncover a slew of fellow writers and authors on the social network.

Circling people is meaningless, though, if you don’t spend a little time engaging with their content by sharing, “plusing,” or commenting. With Google+, comments and interaction are much more meaningful than on Twitter, Facebook, or Pinterest, where it’s easy to get lost in the shuffle.

2) Utilize Communities

 google_two

The communities feature of Google+ is a wonderful resource for writers. Communities such as Blogger Coffee Shop and Speculative Fiction Writers allow one to ask questions about the writing process and gain support. I have also seen people ask questions about self-publishing, book covers, and everything else in between. Google+ Communities are the new hub of writing communities. You can find any group of writers you need for your niche.

3) Create events for book promotional dates, tours, etc.

google_three 

I utilized events recently when I launched a Twitter Party event for an author with a new book coming out. It was the first time I had used this feature, and I was nervous about sending this event request to so many people I followed. The results? All positive. I received a lot of supportive remarks and a lot of people RSVP’d.

If you haven’t used this feature before, I highly recommend it. It is very useful for book launch events or tours. Use it wisely, though, as it gets sent out to everyone you’ve selected to send it out to (I sent it to over 5,000 people I followed) and you don’t want to be flagged as nuisance. So, make sure you are sending this to other writers and bookworms who will appreciate this event.

4) Create smaller circles of more engaged people to be able to send out niche specific posts.

google_four 

One of the beneficial, but more “housework-related” features of Google+ is the ability to create smaller circles of people with whom you share your posts. I’ve clumped people into one or two categories of “following” or “writing” people. However, if you have a variety of people you share content with, some posts may cater to a specific crowd. With Google+, it’s very easy to build a circle of people who only receive certain kinds of posts.

5) Complete your profile and be active.

One deterrent to circling someone back is an incomplete profile. If someone doesn’t have a photo and they have shared nothing about themselves and have never shared anything on Google+, more than likely I will not follow them back.

Make an effort to have a photo of yourself on your profile and share a little bit about yourself. Better yet, make sure in your tag line you describe yourself as a writer. Many people search for people to follow based on various search terms that interest them, so if you want to gain the attention of other writers on Google+, use words like author or writer in your profile.

6) Don’t be overwhelmed by number of followers.

Last, but not least, what I’ve noticed about Google+ is just because you have a high number of people who have circled you back, doesn’t mean that you have a lot of engaged people reading your content. Indeed, if you have a core group of people who are engaged and share your content, then you are way ahead of the game. Don’t get bogged down by the goal of having more than 1,000 people who have circled you back. If you have 100 who have circled a comment, or given a plus one, or share your posts and interact with you, then you don’t have anything to worry about.

What I like best about Google+ is that it does engage writers. You can use more words in your posts and you can seek refuge in the community area to gain support. Whether you have just signed up or you have been with Google+ for a long period, it’s always possible to enhance your experience and make it the best social network you use. There’s a whole world of writers on GooglePlus. So don’t miss out.

About the Author
Nicole Pyles is a writer and blogger living in the Pacific Northwest. In her free time, she loves to read and write about things that go bump in the night. She enjoys helping authors unlock their potential with social media and recently started hosting Twitter parties for the book promotional service Pump Up Your Book. Read her blog at World of My Imagination and follow her on Twitter and, of course, GooglePlus.

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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Beginnings

A number of years ago I wrote The Book of Margery Kempe. I was inspired to write the novel by Edward Nolan, a professor of literature at the University of Colorado at Boulder. I was developing a CD-ROM on the history of the humanities and had hired Ed to write the section on the Middle Ages. One script, on the outspoken medieval pilgrim, Margery Kempe, fascinated me. Ed portrayed her as a character right out of Faulkner — except, of course, that she was English and lived in the fifteenth century. Regardless, I’m a big fan of strong women, and of pilgrimages, and for years Margery roiled about in my head until, finally, she walked out of it and onto the page. I hope I did her justice.

Like many of you, I self-published my novel. I couldn’t bear the thought of having to pitch a literary agent, assuming I even got one to respond to a query letter. I’m an entrepreneur and I’m used to asking people for money to build software but to have to do the “song and dance” for an agent didn’t sit well with me. The act of writing is such a personal process, such an act of self-discovery, that I didn’t want my hypothetical “market value” to determine my own self worth. Call me thin-skinned, but I decided to pass on that evaluation.

magaphone

So I jumped into the self-marketing game — started a blog, then added Twitter and LinkedIn accounts. I figured Facebook and Pinterest would come down the road once I got my “author platform” humming. I started blogging away and following other writers. And I worked those channels hard but it quickly became apparent to me that there was a lot of “noise” out of there — and it was time-consuming work, to boot! When I did hawk my book, what Jane Freidman calls “bullhorning,” it was unclear to me who was seeing the message or if the message was working — there just didn’t seem to be a good way to find and quantify which folks would be more “predisposed” to like my book. From that experience was borne Find My Audience, which is dedicated to finding a writer’s audience on the social web. And doing it quickly, so writers can have more time for — writing!

More than a year later we are in the final stages of preparing the Find My Audience application for Beta, which we will deliver to the market in June. We are having our first users test the application now. They provide us with feedback, we incorporate their suggestions, and then we release another version of the application — and so on, until we feel the application is ready for prime time. We’d love to have you join in the process. Take a look at the brief video of what we are doing at www.findmyaudience. If you like what you see, sign up for it here. Thanks for your support!

- Mark Schroeder

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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Metatagging, Genetic Analysis and Audience Discovery

In a recent blog post, Mike Shatzkin of the Logical Marketing Agency talks about the importance of understanding the potential audience for a book, as a crucial complement to metatagging (generating descriptive metadata that would allow a work to show up at appropriate places in search and recommendation engines.)

As the co-founder of a company called Find My Audience, I agree with Shatkin’s general point; indeed, I said something very similar in my blog post last week. But I disagree with several contentions that seem to inform his view.

The first thing I disagree with is his pooh-poohing of the type of structural, or genetic, deconstruction that companies like Trajectory are doing to help literary distributors or buyers find books they might like.

Towards the end of his post, he states bluntly: “If what you want is to make your book pop in the searches of likely readers … finding a book that is similar in writing style, pacing, and story construction really won’t help you at all.”

Really? It seems odd to me to dismiss the rather obvious notion that if I like one book, I might like a book that is similar to it in some way.

Sure, this can be done crudely … I happen to love Thomas Pynchon but have never taken a shine to the writing of Don Delillo, with whom he is often compared in theme, mood, voice and style.

But why shouldn’t we try to build and extend our understanding of how certain books work, and relate them to similar works, in the hopes that readers might find some guidance venturing into their next reading experience?

This work is still in its infancy, but where I see it going is that we will be able to describe writings in greater detail relative to the great literary critical frameworks of the last century:

  • Northrop Frye’s archetypal types and modes (tragedy, comedy, thematic; mythic, romantic, ironic).
  • Gerard Genette’s syntax of narratives (Order, Frequency, Duration, Voice and Mode)
  • E.M. Forster’s Aspects of the Novel (story, characters, plot, fantasy, prophecy, pattern, rhythm)
  • Wittgenstein’s theories of language games.

I think it will be amazing when we can go way beyond “keywording” to teasing out (with more or less help from humans) many of the generic, genetic and genealogical structures operating in a work and sending readers to interesting nearby lands. I believe the work Trajectory is doing (and Booklamp and Small Demons before them) is just the beginning.

The second place I disagree with Shatzkin is more a matter of emphasis. As I mentioned, I share his belief that audience research is a key component of book marketing. As he puts it, it is a “separate task that can take a couple of hours or more and requires a dedicated effort.”

But I believe he goes on to overstate what it takes to do this: “The research exercise we’re suggesting is a prerequisite doesn’t just take time: it takes knowledge and skill, as does applying what is learned to the copy. Even if the knowledge were there and distributed across all the people who write descriptive copy today — and there is no publisher on the planet in which it is — the time required for the research would tax the resources of any house.”

The proposition here is that understanding the audience for a work is the “core activity” for book marketing, that undue attention on genetic deconstruction is “distracting,” and that the core activity is best done by a professional digital marketer.

We say: not so fast. Digital platforms like Trajectory are getting better at understanding key effective structural elements of books, social listening platforms are already being used to understand sentiment and affinity trends, and platforms like Find My Audience are getting better at finding and understanding readers based on their expressed (and implied) interests and affinities.

There will undoubtedly be a role for professional book marketers for many years to come. We are in an age of constant evolution and disruption, and there will not be a monolithic platform for how books are marketed. Our interest is in developing tools that help writers first and foremost, as well as professional book marketers, agencies, and publisher-press marketing departments.

Algorithms and Big Social platforms that bake in smart and sensitive understanding of literary and semantic models will be a key part of the mix.

-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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