publishing

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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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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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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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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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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Find My Audience: A Video Overview

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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, Here’s What’s Coming!

Rock concert

It’s hard to believe, but the team at Find My Audience is only three to four weeks away from completing the Alpha stage of our Audience Management Platform for writers.

Okay, what is an Audience Management Platform? Quite simply, it is a software platform that will enable writers to search the social web for potential readers – in just seconds – and then communicate with those  readers in a more sophisticated fashion than is currently available. Really.

Our software was borne out of our own frustration at trying to market our writing on the social web. We discovered that the noise-to-signal ratio was daunting — we never knew whether our tweets and posts were getting read by the right people. We figured there had to be a better way.

And there is.

Logical Marketing (founded by publishing industry veterans Peter McCarthy and Mike Shatzkin), for example, offers a wonderful service to help writers get discovered on the web. Their “foundational” approach focuses on the upfront metatagging and SEO so that an author’s work  can be “discovered” by someone searching for a particular type of title. This is an enormously valuable service.

Our approach, while complementary, is different: an analogy for our software would be the Bloomberg Terminal, a computer system that enables financiers to monitor and analyze real-time market data. Our Audience Management platform is constantly searching the web for people who may be interested in your title. It is a direct-to-consumer strategy. It works while you sleep.

 

audience-people-tiles-filters-top

Now of course we are only arriving at Alpha – which means we are still at the crawling phase. There will be bugs. The algorithm will need improvement. The user interface will need adjusting. But the early results are promising. If you would like to get a sneak preview of what we are doing, we would be happy to do a virtual demo for you. Give us a  shout!

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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