Why should you, as an Indie Author, consider doing a pre-order? Simple - to build the impact of the release of your new book. There are many aspects to consider when doing a pre-sale, and the most important one is getting as many people to know about your new book as you possibly can.
This article will outline the key steps to creating and implementing a Pre-Order Program that helps you to succeed on many levels. This includes:
1 ―Setting a Release Date
2 ― How You Process Pre-Orders
3 ― Advertising the Pre-Order
4 ― Pre-Sale Dates
For you, as an Indie Author, the first and most important one is building a war chest that pays off so you can do more marketing with the least amount of financial impact. Thus, by doing a Pre Order program, you can take your time to create the buzz and hype necessary to build upon your sales; thus, your profit.
Let’s begin with the necessary steps:
1 – Setting a Release Date. Indie Authors tend to rush their book to press and release so they can begin to make money from their investment. This is where 99% of authors fail.
You want to take your time in creating the buzz for your new book. The ideal situation is to get the book done in an ARC (Advance Readers Copy) first. This is done after all the beta testers, and final edits are done. The ARC is what you will use to send out for press reviews, fellow-author reviews, and most importantly to bookstores to get the buzz started on the new book.
The ideal situation is 3 – 6 months before the release date. This should give you enough time to get the reviews back, add them to your new cover and be ready for the release date. Having the reviews will also be critical for readers and bookstores to see the quality of your work and to get excited enough to want to purchase a copy.
Once you have set your release date, move to Step 2
2 - How are You Processing Pre-Orders – Most indie authors want to make as much money as they possibly can. Thus they will process the orders themselves on their website, in person, etc. However, when you do that, you could actually be missing out on the ability to report your sales figures to organizations that matter…Best Seller Lists.
“Oh, I won’t sell enough books to be on that list” is the common response I hear from authors. Ok, so let’s say you don’t sell enough for the NYT or the other big lists. Heck, there have been book releases that haven’t hit those lists when they were first released, but they did months and even years after they were released. While they didn’t hit the big list first, they did hit the local and regional lists which then spurred them on to success and ultimately the big lists.
As an Indie Author, you can’t afford to purchase the membership needed to be able to report to the ‘lists’ but through other organizations, you can then have access to them, plus opportunities you would not otherwise have.
Indie Lector is a member of both the American Booksellers Association (Indie Bookstores) and the Mountain & Plains Indie Bookstores. Between both of these programs, we have the ability to report the numbers for national lists, regional and local. And now, the Indie Authors Top 10 List, which is distributed to Indie Bookstores in Texas. But, in order to qualify for these lists, the Indie Author must have sales processed through the Indie Lector Store.
Step 3 - Advertising the Pre-Order opportunity and what goes into this program.
Yes, we have built a following, small or large, if you have been collecting information from people you meet and have sold some books to, you should have an email list to use, a Facebook following, twitter followers and any other social media outlet you have grown. Each of those people is now a valuable avenue to promote your book and get pre-sales.
Create ad sheets (order one here) that promote the upcoming release of the new book. Make sure a call-to-action (link or web address) is clearly visible, so people can purchase the book with a simple click.
Then give dates that the pre-sale is valid for. During this time, you are also offering something special for the buyers. An autographed copy is the most common, but what about SWAG, or a special gift, or discount that will not be available to anyone else on any site anywhere?
Make this promotion special for one main reason, to create a bigger desire to buy your book. Anyone can buy your book. Anyone can get an autographed copy of the book. But, what can they get that others can’t?
Do you know what SWAG stands for? Sales Will Accelerate with Goodies. These goodies can range from bookmarks, buttons, posters, or anything that you can create and be clever with. But whatever it is, it must be unique to the Pre-Sale only. Don’t give away something during the Pre-Order that will be given away at another time. Make it special in some way.
This step can be done while you are waiting on the reviews. Plan it out and know exactly what you want to give away with the book during Pre-Orders. Then create your ad images that relate to this. You can also create a web page, so people will see what they are getting in the pre-order. But, use SWAG as part of the advertisement program.
You have your SWAG in hand, and you have ordered the special edition copies for the Pre-Order.
Please review other articles about Social Media use and best practices.
Wait, what was that – Special Edition?
Yes, the ARCs are not considered as a general public release copy of the book, so they are not sellable and do not count as your first print. Thus, you want to add something special to the Pre-order by having a First Edition of the book just for the pre-orders.
You should print out 100 copies of the book with your new cover design (reviews added). Then go into the interior of the book and add the line – Second Printing and the month and year you are doing it. Example: Second Printing April 2019 or Second Printing 2019. This simple act now confirms that your first print is exactly that ― a First Edition, limited edition of your book. This book now has more value than any book that is printed after it. You can also cut down the number of first prints to 50 if you want, but 100 is the ideal number. You can then also number the books as you autograph them and sell them so people can see how special their copy of the book is.
Let’s Recap - You have the ARC done, and it is out for circulation. You have your SWAG selected, and your advertising is ready to go. You know the release date of the final copy. Now you need to select the dates for the Pre-Order Sale.
4 – Pre-Sale Dates – Let’s say you have an April 1st release date planned. You sent your ARCs out in January so the reviews should be coming in by March, if not sooner. If those are on time, you now can re-create your cover to include the best reviews. You can also now begin to use the reviews in your advertisements.
If you have tied in with a bookseller to get the pre-sales counted, then they will know how to add the sales into the calculation for the first week of actual general public sales. Thus, you can set the pre-sales to end about two weeks before the general public sales so that those who purchased the books will have a chance to read it, and if all is good, talk about it.
This ‘talk’ is one of the critical aspects of getting additional sales in the first week of release. Combine that will the pre-sales, and you could end up with a huge number that moves you to the Top 10 of some list. This increases your exposure even more. All of this can be that one combination of events and programs that move your book much further ahead than just a simple release.
How long should the Pre-Sale be? I recommend that the sales period should fall over at least two basic pay-days. For example, the 1st or 15th, and two Fridays. This covers the basic pay-days and gives you a greater opportunity for sales. Keep this in mind as you set the dates and still allow for a couple of weeks of reading time for those who pre-order the book.
No book is ever guaranteed success, but when you work the system in the proper way, your chances of success increases. Even if it is not with the first book, the second, sixth or twelfth book can be that break-out book. Dedication, great writing and planning ahead make a world of difference for all successful books.
Once your Pre-Order is done, then make sure you follow through and get the books out to the buyers fast. Don’t delay the delivery. The sooner they get the book and SWAG, the happier they are. Delays only frustrate and can turn them against you. So, you want to have the books on hand by the end of the sales dates, envelopes ready to ship them in, etc. If you planned it out, you should be ready to take advantage of a great opportunity and momentum!
What about other opportunities to help make the Pre-Sales great?
Publishers have the money to do a lot of extra special events and programs. Indie Authors, most of the time, simply can’t afford to compete. Indie Lector, Texas Authors, and Indie Beacon gets that. After all, that is why these programs were created ― to help even out the playing field for Indie Authors.
To that point, Indie Lector is networking with other organizations to create opportunities for Indie Authors to present their books to bookstore buyers. Those listed with the Indie Lector Store will be kept abreast of these opportunities.
One additional item for Pre-Orders done through the Indie Lector Store is the opportunity to have a free Library Notice sent out about the new book. This gives the librarians an opportunity to learn about the book and to be a part of the Pre-Order program. It is another way to increase the ‘talk’ about the book.
As an Indie Author myself, I fully understand the need to watch every penny while trying to get the most out of opportunities for exposure. When I started out with my books in 2006, none of these types of programs were available to me. If they had been, I know my books sales would have been much better, and my income level much higher. Don’t miss out on using these tools as outlined here as a solid way to increase your success!
Getting a review for your book is a daunting task. More and more companies that were free, like Kirkus, now want to charge for their review. At the same time, newspapers, magazines and even Amazon are refusing to display or print a paid review. The ever changing world of publishing.
I recently received a magazine entitled Forward Reviews which is distributed to Librarians across the country. Along with the library uploads we are doing, this too is a great way for libraries to learn about a new book release. I contacted the company to get their specs on how to submit a review request and have listed their response below.
I hope this helps many of you who don’t want to pay, or cannot afford to pay, for a review. If you use them, please keep me posted on the response you get. Thanks.
Thanks for your interest in Foreword Reviews. Here are details on the two book review options available through Foreword Magazine, Inc:
Foreword Reviews print magazine: Our quarterly review journal—which we print and send to subscribers at libraries, bookstores, and avid readers—mostly reviews books before they are published or very near to their date of publication. To be considered, submit your galleys or review copies to the Review Editor as soon as they are available:
Foreword Reviews Review Editor 425 Boardman Ave Traverse City, MI 49684
Clarion Review: For authors and publishers who have struggled to get a professional, objective review of their book, with a book three months or more past its pub date, or simply want to be guaranteed a review of their book, we offer the fee-for-review Clarion service. Finished books, galleys, and pdfs are all accepted and will receive a review within 4-6 weeks. We guarantee the same quality review provided in Foreword Reviews magazine.
This professional 400+ word review/critique is useful for marketing and promotion. Authors have also used Clarion to obtain objective feedback on a manuscript, so that they might make improvements to the book before publication The fee is $499 and is open to all books and all publishers. Orders for the Clarion Review Service can be placed online or by phone 231-933-3699. You can find more information here: https://publishers.forewordreviews.com/reviews/#service-clarion-review
With the author’s permission, both Foreword Reviews and Clarion reviews will also be archived with the top three title information databases used by booksellers and librarians: Bowker’s Books-In-Print online, Baker & Taylor’s Titlesource 3, and Ingram’s iPage, in addition to the Foreword Reviews website.
Check-out our website to determine which service best suits your book: https://publishers.forewordreviews.com/reviews/
Customers are searching for a solution to their problems. But do they even know your brand exists?
The key to being discovered lies in effective communication. Your brand must explain what it is doing and how that will impact your target audience. This information must be easy to find, understand and share with others.
Enter the press release. This traditional PR tool is often underestimated and overlooked as an asset to build your brand’s reputation. When done right, press releases can build a larger brand following, convert leads to sales and help you gain more media coverage. Press releases also help increase your discoverability, rank higher with search engines and boost web traffic.
Here are 11 tips to help you amplify your press release strategy for maximum exposure:
1. Lead With The Right Hook
First thing’s first. Your press release needs to be newsworthy. To pass this test, ask yourself a few questions. What is new or different about your brand? Will this interest anyone outside of your business? Why should anyone care?
If you can answer all three questions, begin to outline your news in a few sentences. You will want to lead with the most important information. Brevity is key in a world where attention spans are shorter than eight seconds.
2. Perfect Your Headline
Use your headline as an elevator pitch. Think back to why anyone should care about your news to determine how to give readers a reason to click.
“Your headline should offer enough information to understand what the announcement is about without giving away too much so that readers will want to read more,” says Kimberly Brazell, Editorial Manager at PRWeb.
If your press release distribution service includes a sub header option, use that space to add context to the main message.
3. Add Insight from Credible Sources
Associate your news with the expert or leader directly involved in your news announcement. Ask for their opinions on the matter in a few short quotes.
“Expert quotes add insight and credibility to your press release and help readers relate to your news on a personal level. Think of them as a recommendation from a friend, a face and a name you can put to the advice,” says Brazell.
Be conscientious of what you include though. Avoid jargon or technical language. Insights should reiterate the reasons why your news matters, not add unnecessary fluff and bury your lead.
4. Attract More Eyes With Visuals
With so much content coming from all directions, your audience can feel overwhelmed by another piece of text-heavy content. To increase your brand’s impact, include high quality and relevant visuals and/or videos in your press release.
For example, if your brand wants to promote an upcoming conference, include photos of who will be speaking along with information on what they’ll discuss. Or, perhaps your brand just appointed a new CEO and wants to spread the word. Include a video to introduce him to the public and highlight his vision so readers have a sense of how they’ll be affected by the news.
5. Optimize for Search Engines
Google has penalized the black hat techniques some brands use to garner the attention they desperately want. Keyword stuffing, excessive links and low-quality content is easily spotted and should be avoided. Starting with high quality, natural language content is critical, which means keywords should not be included in every single sentence.
Instead, research which words or phrases your target audience is already looking for and use those to direct but not lead your copy. Include one link per 100 words to drive traffic back to your brand’s website without looking overly promotional, and don’t forget tracking codes.
6. Provide Detailed Direction
The only way to prove results is to first know the goal you want to accomplish with your press release. Once readers get past your first paragraph, they’ll know what’s happening with your brand. But how do you want them to get involved?
“Think about what action you want your readers to take after reading your release. You need to make that next step abundantly clear to your audience, because they won’t be going that extra mile without some sort of direction from you,” says Brazell.
Whether you want someone to attend an event, buy a product or download your owned content, make your call to action clear and easy to follow.
7. Make Contact Easy
One very simply way to increase your chances of earned media is to include contact information in your press release. If your headline hooked a journalist, they will want to find out more information before they include you in a story. Make it easy for journalists to reach out with questions.
Include the contact’s social channels, email address and phone number so that readers have options. Always include a direct phone line. The automated prompt systems often associated with 1-800 numbers will quickly turn off interested journalists.
Also verify that the team member whose contact information you share is readily available to respond to the media and aware of all details of your brand’s announcement, so your brand can quickly take advantage of earned media opportunities.
8. Promote Across Multiple Channels
To successfully reap all of the benefits you seek from press releases, you must set attainable goals. Whether you want to drive leads, increase social shares or earn more media, promotion plays a big role in getting to those ideal results. Every time you create a press release, use as many channels as possible to announce your news and link back to your press release.
Coordinate with the team members who head your social channels, blog, emails and internal communication to ensure everyone has the right messaging and is spreading the news at the right time. Multichannel promotion will allow you to reach your audience wherever they may be which is key in such a fast-paced, digital-focused world.
9. Pitch To The Right People
According to Cision’s State of the Media 2016 Report, 93 percent of journalists still prefer to be pitched by email. But simply copying and pasting a press release and hitting forward to all will not put you in good standing.
Before approaching the media about your news, turn to your media database to verify that each journalist you target covers the same beat or industry, works in a relevant geographical location and/or works for an outlet that aligns with your brand.
10. Measure Beyond Basic Metrics
While media pickup is a major goal of any brand, it should not be the only metric measured when you distribute a press release. Look at audience engagement levels, sentiment and conversions as well.
Track the value of individual press releases in real time as well as over time. Group the data together by type of news announcement or time of year. Doing so will allow you to pinpoint which ones increase sales and have the most impact on audiences.
11. Use Results to Reap Future Benefits
Pay close attention to hills and valleys in your numbers. Examples of what to focus on include the topic or type of news announced, distribution time and day, multimedia type and link placement.
Once you’ve combed through the data, set up A/B tests to optimize future results. For example, if you’ve noticed higher engagement rates for the last four press releases that were sent in the afternoon, you might want to consider shifting distribution to that time moving forward.
Remember, don’t stop testing once you’ve updated one part of your press release strategy. Reevaluate your tactics and the tools used to spread your story to gain an edge on competitors and boost your brand’s discoverability.
Discoverability isn’t automatic. Your brand must work hard to be found and that starts with how you craft, distribute and track your press release.
by LEONARD TILLERMAN: Author, Book Blogger, Book Reviewer and Shared by M.J. Rocissono
You have just completed writing a virtual masterpiece! The words flow beautifully and seamlessly throughout the story. The setting description is truly magnificent and your characters are developed so well that they actually feel as if they are part of the family! There is no doubt about it…you have a winner on your hands! Or do you? The cruel truth is that writing that wonderful story is only part of what an indie author must do. To be successful and self-sufficient in this industry, they need to be expert book marketers as well. Otherwise their masterpiece will remain buried in boxes only seeing the light of day when a sympathetic family member picks it up for a read.
So how does an indie author most effectively market their book? Marketing is not most writers’ strong suit, after all, for it is not writing! This is why it is especially hard for indie authors to market their own books seeing as they have to take advantage of their own book promotion and marketing skills as well as their social connections. However, in reality your book is as good as useless if you do not promote and market it accordingly. Marketing involves interacting with potential readers for an author and this means you will have to put your book out there first. Your biggest possible fan might never know about your book if you do not market it for him or her to discover and share with others. So how do you actually do this?
First, make sure you have covered the basics when it comes to your book writing.
Is Your Book Any Good?
This is definitely subjective but the question is in reference to the topic or story at hand. Is it worth reading? Is your book interesting? Did you make use of beta readers to offer feedback on whether concerning the question? If not, then there is no way to know whether your book is any good. As an indie author, you also need to have independent feedback about your book because you cannot be the judge of your own work. A good book should develop with time following the first draft and this process only works with criticism and external suggestions. Although it is usually a good idea, you do not always need to spend money on a professional editor. However, for your book to be any good, you do absolutely require external input to help you refine and polish your manuscript before publishing it. If your draft is riddled with mistakes and is still in rough then the chances are it will not sell and if it does then it will not something to write home about.
Can the Book Bring In Potential Readers?
If you made your own book cover or attempted to do so, it probably will not look as attractive as you expected unless you are skilled in Photoshop and Book cover design. If this is not the case then you are better off hiring a professional to do it. Your book cover is one of the main promotional instruments at your disposal so you should make sure it is one of your best features. Your book does not stand a chance without an awesome cover because an amateur, boring, dull, and flat cover will kill your sales.
How is Your Book Description? Can it Attract Buyers?
The book description is another critical element of your book marketing strategy following your book cover. It will help to drive sales by attracting potential readers. If it is written poorly then this will hurt your chances of gaining buyers. Dedicate sufficient time to writing a genuinely sensational book description. Research on the features of an efficient book description and get to work on creating a few versions. Get external feedback to determine the best one and go with that one.
After covering these three sections, then you can start thinking further about your marketing strategy.
Determining Your Target Readers and Where They Are
Each book has its own target reader, which is why marketing your book generically and widely is a waste of your much-needed money and time. Instead of doing this focus on narrowing down on your target audience by determining shared demographic profiles, interests, and values. Write up a profile describing your ideal reader. Determine where they spend most of their time, the groups they associate with, the websites they visit most, the movies they like, and the magazines or books they read. A list of these things will be useful to you later. Next, try to put yourself in the reader’s shoes at each point of your marketing strategy. Every marketing action or decision you take should be preceded by asking yourself how it will be taken by your target reader. Marketing decisions should never be considered elements of your artistic self-expression but the communication of values in an effective manner. You will need to channel your work into the interests and values of the target consumer.
Maintain Professionalism Throughout
Stay away from anything that appears amateurish in your production values, editing, and writing. Essentially, your book is going up against many other books from popular authors backed by major publishers to gain your target reader’s purchasing dollars, consideration, and attention. For this reason, you should make your readers feel like you are equally as professional as your adversaries are. This goes back to the 3 elements of book writing mentioned above. Make sure your writing is impeccable by working to keep learning and improving. Take the time to do things the right way instead of rushing to publish your work. Making Sure Your Blog/ Website Gains Traffic
One of the best ways to market your book is by obtaining traffic from Bing or Google searches. Readers who land on your site via search engine results have a higher likelihood of showing interest in your themes, genre, or book topic. After all, these will be the factors they are looking for and thus how they locate you. In order to get significant search traffic, your blog or website needs to have a .com address. Having a website is almost as important as making sure it is updated regularly, and well-designed in an effort to promote your book. If your blog posts are well-written, they will be indexed by Google and hopefully, this will bring most visitors to your site organically. This is very beneficial for book promotion because this way people will get to discover your books and you as an author. Social Media
You simply must use social media to promote your work for your own good. However, being the significant time consumer it is, you must take care to use it appropriately if you want to write books and sell them. Restrict social media exposure to a few popular sites like Pinterest, Twitter, or Facebook. Most authors only need a Goodreads page, a Twitter account, and a Facebook page as the main social media platforms to promote their books. Google Plus, Medium, and Instagram are also popular. Spending most of your time posting links for people to buy your books will only end up repelling people. Instead, use your social media platforms to inform people, reply to comments or questions, and connect with your audience. If you do it right, you will attract followers in the process. Use it as a means of spreading your name and not advertising your books continually. Make your social media network bigger every day by expanding your reach, making friends, and following people. Building your social media presence on a couple of sites is better than doing so on every single one out there. Using image links frequently can also bring about an improved click-through rate on social media for your blog post and book promotion.
Get to Know How to Link Properly
As an Indie author, you should master how to create links and use them. This includes learning how to use Book promotion links, using Book Buy links in the best way, and embedding Links into images and text. Proper use of links to your blog articles and your books is imperative in effectively promoting your work and your content.
Use Amazon to Your Advantage
As a self-publishing author, a big chunk of the income from your sales will come initially from Kindle eBooks and Amazon. Amazon can be a very effective tool in helping to promote your book so you should take advantage of this by choosing and using the best keywords and categories to make sure your book can be discovered easily. To increase your chances of search exposure, you may want to publish in both Kindle eBook and paperback so that you can use various keywords and categories for both versions. Should you enroll in KDP select then ensure you make use of the extra promotional advantages allowed by Amazon. Use the free book days, put up countdown deals, and use Amazon Ads if your budget allows it. Pricing Your Book Strategically Several Indie authors have gained success by running sales on their eBooks on a temporary basis and even setting their book price at free for a certain period. This approach can help to create significant visibility for your work and develop your fan base quickly. If you apply this to one book in a continuing series of books, you can bring in more readers who will be prompted to buy the rest of the books. Think again like the target reader. If you price your book too low then the reader will probably assume it is cheap because the quality is low and if the pricing is too high and you are not a household name then you will lose out on sales. Consider that eBook pricing also influences your royalties based on which platform you are using to distribute it.
Spreading the Word
Look for services or sites that can help you promote your book. However, you may get free sites that do not offer worthwhile services that you would have gotten by spending just a bit elsewhere. The best way to approach it is by using both means, but ensuring you are selective in the book promotion services you opt to use. Just because an author spends a lot of money on their book promotion, it does not necessarily mean they will gain sales especially if their content is not any good as highlighted above.
Reach Out to Book Reviews and Book Bloggers
I have saved what I personally consider one of the best strategies for last. Obtaining good book reviews for your work is an imperative part of successful book marketing. Book reviews help to establish an author’s overall reputation. An author’s book will benefit significantly from book reviews in addition to their author status. A book review, and a positive one at that, is proof and reassurance for anyone looking to buy an author’s book that it is the best quality and worth buying. Most readers trust third-party reviews more than other sources because they usually have more credibility. This is something an author should place highly in their book sale process. Book reviews are a form of organic marketing for an author’s books. Word of mouth as a form of promotion is quite effective. A positive, or better yet a glowing book review, can make one reader recommend it to others. You can trust a typical reader to buy a book, particularly from an independent or first-time author, if they see that it has been bought and reviewed positively by other readers. If a book has more satisfied readers, there is a higher likelihood that it will be recommended to new readers. Book marketing at its best!
There can be little doubt that book marketing is no easy feat! It requires a lot of effort, time and perseverance. It also demands that a sound strategy be in place. It is critically important that this plan has started before your book is completed. You will need to spread the word and get potential customers excited about your upcoming work. Does the term “Coming Soon” ring a bell? Marketers and advertisers use this all the time when promoting products, films and books! Yes… book marketing can take a lot of time away from your actual writing. However, you are an indie author…you have chosen this path. Make sure that you are successfully marketing your book so others can see how great an author you really are!
Reader analytics can be a boon to publishers, fine-tuning marketing and consumer understanding, according to specialists at CONTEC Mexico.
By Adam Critchley & Porter Anderson for Publishing Perspective Published in June 28, 2018
‘An Aladdin’s Lamp for Publishers’
The analysis of reader emotion and sentiment can allow publishers to build strategies based on readers’ profiles, observe tastes and trends, and discover niche markets, while facilitating greater precision for book launches.
“Analysis is fundamental for publishers’ marketing departments to know who their readers are, and for discovering their tastes,” says Myriam Vidriales, director of communications and marketing in Mexico for Spain’s Grupo Planeta.
Vidriales spoke at CONTEC Mexico on innovation in publishing earlier this month, saying “Knowledge gleaned from data about readership, can also encourage a publisher to make riskier launches.
“To know the reader of each book is like having an Aladdin’s lamp. Each book is a special product, it’s unique. We’re not selling shampoo,” she says.
“And reader categories have multiplied. Young adult has divided into various groups, and there are age groups that defy simple classification. But while technology helps us identify those niches, the big challenge is understanding those values and how to apply them to marketing strategies.”
Vidriales says however that many publishers resist engaging in big data because it is seen as a purely commercial device, and that the size and complexity of each company determine how that data is used.
“One thing is to have big data, the other is to know how to analyze it. Publishers need to understand their readership. Beyond selling books, it’s all about using data to better serve readers,” Vidriales says.
‘Data Helps You Plan and Predict’
Having access to such data is comparable to meeting readers in person, according to Álvaro Jasso, CEO of the Mexican ebook publisher Malaletra. Jasso says he equates readership data analytics to traveling the country in a camper van and meeting readers face-to-face.
“Data helps you to plan and predict, and without knowing reader reaction or behavior,” he says, “you can’t see the way forward.”
But Jasso also points to the need for smaller publishers to be able to access that data, rather than having it be exclusively available to the bigger houses.
Data analysis in Mexico has been aided by the arrival of Nielsen’s BookScan and bestseller lists in 2017. David Peman, territory manager at Nielsen Mexico, says these metrics can reveal sales trends that help in publishers’ distribution decisions.
And according to Planeta’s Vidriales, “Publishers know a market intuitively, but only in a fragmentary way, and data can even influence a book’s title,” citing as an example the use of ‘guide’ over ‘manual’, given book buyers’ preferences for the former.
Using what Planeta’s Spanish-language platform Oh! Libro describes as its “magic” algorithm, this book recommendation website allows users to find reading suggestions based on their profile and preferences.
The site highlights books recommended by readers, thus acting as a walk-in bookstore, while making recommendations according to specific users’ tastes, gauged from their opinions expressed on the site.
‘The Goldmine of Successful Publishing’
Based on Barcelona, Spain, tech company Tekstum also relies on data and artificial intelligence to help publishers interpret readers’ preferences. Tekstum analyzes social media content and generates “sentiment reports” that can help publishers better understand how readers feel about particular books, genres, and more.
The company’s founding CEO Marc Santandreu says that gauging readers’ opinions is “the goldmine of successful publishing.”
Launched in 2015, Tekstum’s analysis of emotion and sentiment creates a “sentiment cloud” that tracks reader feedback, inspired by Robert Plutchik’s theories of emotion, and whose “wheel of emotions” tracks the prevalence and overlapping of various sentiments. “Algorithms will not replace publishers, booksellers, or librarians, but they will facilitate their work, allowing them to make better decisions, and make personal and more precise recommendations”Marc Santandreu
Santandreu tells Publishing Perspectives, “Knowing readers’ predominant emotions is a qualitative way of knowing their tastes,” Santandreu says, “and data helps publishers make better decisions. Culture needs to rely on technology to improve its dissemination. “Algorithms are capable of automatically analyzing thousands of opinions to find patterns within reader behavior and achieve a radiography of reactions.”
Santandreu acknowledges that the Spanish publishing industry initially has been resistant to the arrival of this and other technology.
“Publishing used to work on intuition,” he says, “but with technology, publishers can become much more efficient, and technology and culture need to walk hand-in-hand and create more of a demand-based business model. A multitude of tools can allow us to improve discoverability and sales.”
He acknowledges that there’s a margin of error when analyzing data gleaned from readers’ opinions, given the proliferation of false reviews on sites such as Amazon. “We always say the first 10 reviews on Amazon are written by authors’ relatives and friends,” he says.
But he adds that the credibility of reader sentiment also depends on the number of reviews, as a handful of negative reviews weigh little against thousands of positive ones. Nevertheless, “Five percent of data has to be taken with a level of prudence,” Santandreu says. “But if many people are saying a book is addictive, it probably is.”
He describes the publishing sector as “very conservative and traditional” and slow to embrace market research, unlike many other sectors, which constantly analyze product demand.
“Spain’s publishing sector is little-by-little increasing its use of data,” he says. “Algorithms will not replace publishers, booksellers, or librarians, but they will facilitate their work, allowing them to make better decisions, and make personal and more precise recommendations,” says Marc Santandreu. “And that ultimately helps readers.”
Publishing execs need to give metadata more attention than lip service
By Thad McIlroy | Oct 05, 2018 | Publishers Weekly
Let’s make metadata great again. Okay, perhaps that’s not the best slogan for my new campaign, but you get my drift. I want some enthusiasm, folks. Metadata for e-commerce has been sitting in the doldrums for too long now, confined to some kind of bibliographic hell, saddled with the ever-vague concept of discoverability. “Keywords” has been the cry: find the right keywords and you can rule the online universe. Is that all there is? Seven keywords and you’re off to the races?
Metadata has been vastly undervalued. I’m here to tell you that metadata is the most important part of selling books today. Bar none. Its power should change the way you market books. It can measurably increase your sales; this has been proven. Publishers have to start approaching metadata as a strategic weapon, not as the digital equivalent of an old library card catalogue.
Publishers Weekly started covering metadata 16 years ago (the first article I can find is dated 2002). “Accurate Metadata Sells Books” is the title of a PW article from 2010. Why, in late 2018, am I still trying to convince publishers that metadata sells books?
Editorial is at the heart of book publishing: if all other factors are equal, the better book will sell more copies. Of course, few of the factors are ever equal, and, in publishing, sales and marketing is mostly concerned with trying to tip the precariously balanced scales ever-so-slightly in your direction.
In a bricks-and-mortar world, the marketing process is well defined and easy to understand: take a good book, seek to influence the conversation via book reviews and the author’s presence, and, anticipating some interest, buy your way to prominent retail display, so the book is visible when the educated customer comes calling.
In the online world, publishers and authors still seek influence but, for the most part, can’t buy prominent display space. It’s a Gordian knot. A book appears most prominently on Amazon because it’s selling well despite not appearing prominently on Amazon.
We saw a vivid example of the problem earlier this year, when bad metadata appropriated the buzz of Michael Wolff’s Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House and turned a 2009 book, Fire and Fury: The Allied Bombing of Germany, 1942–1945, into an overnight bestseller.
And so achieving prominence becomes a far more complex challenge than it was in an exclusively bricks-and-mortar world. Relationships are established digitally; metadata is the grease on the wheel of online connections.
Metadata is left-brained, dry, and analytical, and publishing executives are mostly right-brained, creative, and sensitive. They don’t understand how metadata really works, and they’ll settle for the 30,000-foot view. And, truth be told, from 30,000 feet, metadata does look like a library card catalogue. Up close, it looks complicated. Metadata is standards based, and right-brained people don’t like technical standards. Going deep on metadata takes you into the realm of ePub, HTML, SEO, and Onix. What publishing executive wants to go there?
The other damning thing about metadata is that the #1 reason publishers need great metadata is to compete on Amazon. And if there’s one thing that makes a publishing executive cringe more than complex technology, it’s thinking about ways to more effectively compete on Amazon. The game is brutal and complex, the rules change all the time, and self-published authors and Amazon imprints keep winning.
The unpleasant truth is that, though online book pages may appear reminiscent of the bookshop on Main Street, they are in fact located at the bookshop in the city of Amazon. The cover still matters a lot, as do the jacket copy and blurbs.
But there’s so much more that happens on Amazon. There are reader reviews—good ones and bad ones—that signal a book’s quality from a customer’s perspective, rather than from the perspective of a doting friend of the author. There’s a dynamic sales ranking. There are multiple formats on sale side-by-side. Complementary titles are found below the fold. There’s dynamic pricing. On the author’s page are videos and links to community pages on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
The big hurdle for publishers is understanding that all of this online information is based in metadata. Metadata has depth and breadth. Metadata should be verbose but accurate. Metadata should emanate outward, linking, constantly linking, to every online way station that a book buyer might visit.
Preparing this article in mid-September, I dived into the Publishers Weekly Job Zone, searching for jobs that I was certain would demand a familiarity with metadata. To my surprise, I found several ads seeking marketing managers, publicity coordinators, and the like that did not list any metadata-related skills or knowledge in their applicant requirements. If it’s true that metadata sells books, then why do none of these marketing positions require metadata knowledge?
Until management prioritizes its managers’ knowing how to compete with metadata, metadata will be a good housekeeping afterthought. Metadata is great, and the publishers who embrace its strategic value will thrive.
Thad McIlroy is an electronic publishing analyst and author, based on the West Coast and at his website, The Future of Publishing. He is a founding partner of Publishing Technology Partners.