book marketing

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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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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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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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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11 Steps To Take In Marketing Your Book

Words that go with writing: solo, alone, unaccompanied, quiet, unobtrusive, internal.

Words that go with marketing: connections, mass, commercial, global, universal, noisy, external.

Few other art forms require both skills from one human being.

That’s you.

Yes, you could write the best book ever and run for the hills, never to fret about a bookstore signing or a writer’s conference. Hello, J.D. Salinger. And Cormac McCarthy. I guess Marcel Proust wasn’t out and about very much, either.

If you’re not producing work at that level, at some point you might have to undergo that strange transformation from recluse to extrovert, from solo artist to mass marketer.

No doubt you’ve perused a hundred web sites—looking for the secret.

You may have shelled out good money for a marketing class or a marketing workshop—searching to learn the magic touch.

You may have felt that electric tingle when you spotted a come-on tweet or a promising Facebook ad—sell millions of books tomorrow.

In fact, there seem to be as many people selling book marketing tips and strategies as there are actual writers.

Guess what? They don’t have the secret, either. Check their list of clients. Have you heard of the books they represent? Do these marketing “geniuses” really possess the perfect formula?

Just stop.

There is no magic.

Only thoughtful work.

Yep, it’s work. And it takes time.

So I’m here with a healthy dose of reality.

So herewith a list of (I hope) common-sense thoughts about marketing your novel:

  1. Be yourself. Only do what comes naturally.
  2. Go where readers congregate: bookstores and libraries. Introduce yourself to every independent bookshop within driving distance of your home. Check with the chains, too. Drop off books as gifts with the person at each store who handles events and inquire about options that might include you. Get to know your local librarians (you’re looking for speaking opportunities).
  3. Months and months before your book comes out, edit and check every email and every street address of every single friend, classmate, colleague, cohort, and relative you know. You will gently nudge them with postcards and well-designed, simple emails about the fact that your fabulous book exists. Once or twice, a few months after the book is published, you might remind me that it STILL exists and has drawn rave reviews. You can ask them to do things to help you (host book clubs, post reviews, tell friends).
  4. You will remind yourself on a daily basis: not all books are for all people.
  5. Be supportive of others in the writing community. Don’t write negative reviews. Don’t argue with people who don’t like your book. Don’t try and sell to other writers. Fellow writers are supportive. Make connections. You never know where a relationship could lead.
  6. If social media comes naturally, start making friends online many months or a year or two before your book comes out. Comment on reviews. Listen to podcasts. Re-tweet comments from your favorite critics or other writers. Yes, you can actually “meet” people here—people who can help you. Establish your voice and be clear about what you stand for. Not just “I got a book,” but comment and post about yourself and your priorities, too. What do you have to say? Establish yourself online the same way you do in your community.
  7. Hire a publicist. Yes, but only if it feels natural to you. Yes, if you have the money. Yes, if you are willing to interview three or four of them and choose the one with the most proven experience and legitimate contacts. Good publicists have connections and relationships. You’re looking for publicists who can increase your chances of receiving reviews and/or profiles written about you and your new book. You’re looking for publicists who can book you on radio or television shows and who will pitch you as a speaker at conferences. It is entirely possible to do this yourself. But it takes time.
  8. Months and months before your book comes out, make a list of dream publications you’d love to prod to write a review of your book (or a profile of you). Do you know anyone who knows anyone at these publications? Develop your pitch. Send a friendly email, something simple.
  9. Don’t overlook neighborhood newspapers and local magazines.
  10. Think topically. Make a list of every publication and website that might have an interest in the themes and topics covered in your book (even if it’s fiction). Start querying them early. Don’t get discouraged. A book editor at the Denver Post told me that they receive 50 to 60 book submissions each day. They review only a few each week. That means 300+ are not reviewed. (You know the editors can’t even give some books more than a cursory look.)
  11. Be yourself. Think long term. Think of a steady 24-month push for your title. Do something every day, whether online or sending an email or reaching out to someone online.

If it was a science, we would have long shared the formula. Book marketing is an art and it’s a long, thoughtful haul. Enjoy the ride. And start work on your next book. Maybe the next time it will be so good you can run for the hills.

About the Author
Mark Stevens has worked as a reporter for The Christian Science Monitor in Boston and Los Angeles; as a City Hall reporter for The Rocky Mountain News in Denver;  as a national field producer for The MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour (PBS) and as an education reporter for The Denver Post.  After journalism, he worked in school public relations before starting his own public relations and strategic communications business. He is a member of the Mystery Writers of America, Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers, Colorado Authors League, Pike’s Peak Writers, and the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation. Mark is the author of The Allison Coil Mystery Series, which includes Antler Dust, Buried By The Roan, and Trapline. Visit him at http://www.writermarkstevens.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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By |January 19th, 2015|EBook Marketing Innovations, Interviews|0 Comments

Why Similarities Are Important In Book Marketing

We’re new to the publishing industry and so we have been, for the last year or more, eagerly devouring articles from industry notables in an attempt to “school” ourselves in the language and practice of publishing. We have, in particular, learned quite a bit from Peter McCarthy and Mike Shatzkin, founders of Logical Marketing. Their posts have not only enlightened us but have reassured us that we are heading down the right road in the development of our Audience Management Platform for Writers.

A recent presentation by McCarthy entitled The Big Ideas in Big (or Small) Marketing Data reinforced for us the critical role that “similarities” play in book marketing. The sweet spot, as McCarthy notes, is to use similarities to find the audience that is “unaware [of my book] and just might [buy)” it. These adjacent  or “look-alike” audiences are comprised of people who are similar to our own followers or to a specific profile. They share the same demographic characteristics, use the same hashtags, etc. They may, in fact, like the same books.

Set of Black and White Feather.

We have trod down the same path as McCarthy in searching for those look-alike audiences – though we may use different terms and perhaps have received different inspiration for doing so. We are inspired by the philosopher Wittgenstein’s meditations on how “language” means (through “family resemblances”) and also from the linguist de Saussure, who posited that language was comprised of similarities and differences between words or signs.

This is not a leap, of course, for most writers – or readers. Amazon, Netflix and other companies have fashioned their recommendation engines so that we are constantly reading or viewing or listening to “similar” things (fortunately we can be a fan of many genres!). And many social media users are experts at finding similar hashtags through the use of www.hashtagify.me and other tools.

So we have been, instinctively, using similarities (or analogies) all along in our search for an audience (and for meaning in general). And this makes sense – as Douglas Hofstadter writes in Surfaces and Essences, “analogy is the fuel and fire of thinking.” It also drives what we are doing at Find My Audience. We are trying to automate that process, however. Take, for example, the screen presented below.

 

__FMA_PROFILE_01b_

 

This is our Profile Screen. Here we ask writers to tell us what genre(s) their book fits into, similar books, and keywords or phrases that might describe their book. Later on, the writer will be able to provide a fuller profile, but for now, these inputs are sufficient. We use those inputs to search the social web not only for matches but for similarities to the inputs the writer entered. Below is a sample screen return from our search of Twitter.

 

fma-audience-twitter-people

 

Note that our application returns users who have been “ranked” as being potentially predisposed based on the language they are using. We then enable you to communicate directly with that user. By narrowing down the audience, we save the writer time and we provide a direct-to-consumer marketing vehicle.

There are a lot of neat feat features in our Audience Management Application and in the weeks to come we will start to share them with you. In the meantime, should you want to be on our beta list of users, send us an e-mail at mark@findmyaudience.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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Writers And Self-Marketing

paul_2Literary Promotion Has A Long History!

One of the things we’ve been looking at here at Find My Audience is the evolution of literary promotion: how writers “traditionally” get the word out about their work, how that process is changing, and how writers can best adapt. I put the word “traditional” in quotes since there is really no set of canonical best practices that have held over the last few decades (let alone centuries) for a writer to connect with their audience.

But there have always been ways to get the word out, many of them inventive and outrageous (and hardly in keeping with the image of the writer as a housebound field mouse). Almost three years ago, the journalist and writer Tony Perrottet published a great piece in the N.Y. Times on “How Writers Build the Brand”. He put the modern writer’s need for proactive online self-promotion in the context of great literary marketing campaigns throughout history.

paul_1George Simenon Would Do Sit-ups For A Sale!

It’s quite a tale! In the short article, he traces literary self-promotion back to 440 B.C. when Herodotus stood up in the Temple of Zeus during the Olympic Games to plug his Histories; through Walt Whitman, who “notoriously wrote his own anonymous reviews, which would not be out of place today on Amazon;” up to Simenon, Hemingway, and Nabokov.  It’s a great, often hilarious piece, and every working writer should read it. As Tony puts it, “It’s always comforting to be reminded that literary whoring — I mean, self-marketing — has been practiced by the greats.”

In the three years since that article, online outlets and social media have proliferated even more, creating new, highly specialized, channels for authors to engage with. But it is not always clear how best to do so. Writers sense that their ideal readers are out there, but they don’t want to hang themselves above the street in a glass cage (as Simenon did), go on a reality TV show, or subject themselves to breathless play-by-play. And they justifiably don’t want to spam people.

We believe the immediacy of communication through these channels, and their effectiveness when used wisely, will start to overcome the writer’s natural resistance to self-marketing. When messages are targeted to likely readers, an author can be more confident that they are speaking to someone who may have an interest. They will speak more authentically and with greater confidence, and in turn their work will have a better chance of getting a reading.

fma-audienceFind My Audience’s Audience Page

Writers have feelings, ideas, and stories to impart, and we intend for Find My Audience to help them reach those people who will hear them as signal, not noise…. and not as a brazen attention-grab. That may work for something with superficial or titillating effect (throw an ad up in front of as many people as possible and appeal to the lowest common denominator), but it won’t work for a written work, where ideas and expression have been honed to present the authors’ unique voice or message, and need engaged attention.

For many decades, large enterprises and brands have used sophisticated demographic and market analysis to “find their audience.” The connection between a reader and a book is very different from that between a “consumer” and a product. But it does not mean that writers can’t take advantage of tools that help them assess interest.

Are you a writer looking for your readership? What do you think?

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By |February 27th, 2014|EBooks and Advertising, The Writer's Dashboard|0 Comments

Wittgenstein & Book Marketing

wittgenstein3Ludwig Wittgenstein

My propositions serve as elucidations in this way: he who understands me eventually recognises them as nonsensical, when he has used them – as steps – to climb up over them. (He must, so to speak, throw away the ladder after he has climbed up it.) He must overcome these propositions, and then he will see the world aright.

Ludwig Wittgenstein, Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus

Writers, perhaps this should be our writerly goal for 2014: to use our words as if they were hammers, chisels, pitching tools, as well as primary material (clay, wood, marble, etc.), to build temporary verbal edifices that lead our readers to new perspectives, new insights, to a glimpse of the nature, and importance of, silence itself. That, of course, was Wittgenstein’s last injunction, Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent.

Silence. To have your reader end in that state. That would be something.

* * *

reader2

Of course to lead our readers to silence (a stunned silence at that!) we must first find them. And that is no easy feat to do in the social media echo chamber.

At first glance, one would think that the larger one’s following (on Twitter, Facebook, etc.) the better positioned one is to find the elusive reader. The presumption is that someone out there must surely be paying attention to my verbal blitzkreigs and, impressed by my pithy tweets, scintillating quotes, and bargain price (99 cents), buy my book. If only it were so easy.

Dan Blank, founder of  We Grow Media, notes that “…most people, whether it’s a brand or an individual, do very little research to really understand their audience. They like it to be as broad as possible instead of narrowing it down. So I always ask authors, “who’s your audience?” and I get these vague answers back…And it really illustrates to me that they haven’t done the research to find out who specifically their audience is.”

magaphone

The problem, of course, is one of intention – more precisely, how can you measure someone’s intention to read a work based solely on their use of language (and a multi-faceted, multi-intended language at that)? Think of the difference between the intention (and reception) of a tweet and  a Facebook post. The former encourages a a carney-like atmosphere where everyone is a literary barker; the latter, on the other hand, discourages overt commercialization, a delicious irony of sorts.

* * *

For those of you unfamiliar with Ludwig Wittgenstein, he was, I believe, the only philosopher who was ever responsible for creating, or at least shaping, two different schools of philosophical thought: the Logical-Positivist and the Language School of Philosophy.

language2

Wittgenstein’s life is the stuff of legend: born into a rich, turn-of-the-century Vienese family; three brothers committed suicide; one brother, Paul, lost his arm in World War I and went on to become famous for his one-arm compositions for piano; stints at Cambridge where he shocked the English with his genius, his teutonic disposition, and his depression; bisexuality; self-imposed exiles to Norway and Ireland where he pondered epistemological problems while walking the coasts; and early death from prostate cancer. Many novels have been written about Wittgenstein and Derek Jarman has done a film. The novelist Frank Tallis does a fine job of depicting the heady atmosphere of early twentieth-century Vienna, should you want  a fictional account of the time.

maze

Wittgenstein’s later work, his work on the nature of language, consists of a series of questions, experiments, sorties that often ended up in a linguistic maze — without a thread to rescue him. What, he asked, are the rules of language? How can we mean what we mean? How does someone understand our intended meaning? Is language similar to a game? Are there many “games” within the language game?

* * *

What we find interesting for our purposes, which is to help writers find their readers, is his concept of family resemblances. This is the idea that “things” thought to be connected by one idea (“one essence”) are, rather, connected by similarities and traits, such as one might find in a family (you and your sister have similar noses and chins, but different eyes).

In his Philosophical Investigations Wittgenstein analyzes games in a number of very famous propositions. Here is a sampling:

And we can go through the many, many other groups of games in the same way; we can see how similarities crop up and disappear.

…And the result of this examination is: we see a complicated network of similarities overlapping and criss-crossing: sometimes overall similarities. I can think of no better expression to characterize these similarities than “family resemblances“; for the various resemblances between members of a family: build, features, colour of eyes, gait, temperament, etc. etc. overlap and criss-cross in the same way. – And I shall say: “games” form a family.

And, we might add, books form a family — as do readers. Some are close, like a brother, sister, mother, father; some are distant relatives. Our job is to ferret out the “overlapping” and “criss-crossing” between the language used to describe “a work” and that used by one’s potential readers. This enables us to construct a “proximal-distal” model, one that measures resemblance to a specific work from closest to most distant. In the process, we are able to make some educated guesses about whether someone is “predisposed” or has a higher degree of probability of reading your work.

resemblance

This is fundamentally different from what Amazon, for example, does with its recommendation engine. Amazon recommends books based on the buying patterns of its customers. This is a great service, one we use all the time, but what we are interested in doing is finding, not books, but readers — your readers. And the way we are doing it is by looking at the language they use on the social web. Game on!

duck

 

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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