You know the cliche ‘it’s like riding a bike’? I deeply dislike this phrase because more often than not the first time you get back on said bike after time off, at best you are a wobbly mess and at worst a dirt eater staring up at the bike in anger, amazed that you could forget how to do something that was once second nature.
Well it turns out that book discovery is not at all like riding a bike. Instead, it invokes another vomit inducing cliche – “if you don’t use it you lose it”. And I haven’t used “it” – my book discovery model (get found, get feedback, get fans, get famous) – since sometime in 2014. Turns out the world of book discovery has completely changed in the intervening three years. I’ve changed as well.
In December 2012, a year after publishing my first novel One Blood I returned to my roots in Big Pharma and moved from Jersey City, NJ to Istanbul, Turkey. Then in 2015, I moved from Istanbul to Jakarta, Indonesia. My day job stole hours away from writing, blogging, marketing, and most importantly staying up on the latest pubbing trends.
Now I’ve got to get back on the proverbial bike and use “it” because my publishing company The Pantheon Collective (TPC) just launched Tangled, a gripping psychological suspense novel about the high school reunion from hell written by my excellent pubbing partner James W. Lewis. It was while reading Tangled for the first time that I realized the amount of pressure on my shoulders (as the marketing arm of TPC) this time. Not because of anything wrong with the book, on the contrary – the pressure came from knowing that James wrote a true smash – a book with broad-based appeal that could boost him to another echelon of success. I waded back into the pubbing pool and quickly realized just how much things have changed.
For starters, there are SO MANY BOOKS being published these days but there are less books being read than ever before which is quite the oxymoron but reasonable given the ease at which one can globally distribute ebooks versus the declining attention span of the populace. This presents a true conundrum for a book marketer, however, as the need to get your 5 P’s (product, positioning, price, place, and promotions) right truly sets you up for success or certain failure. In this bookworm’s paradise (or hell?) there are so many quality books in every conceivable genre that generating high visibility (discovery) and activation (purchase or download) is as hard as it’s ever been in publishing.
Back in 2010, Amazon was a true workhorse for early adopting authorpreneurs – a free Kindle promotion could boost sales by 10,000 books in those wild and free days. Reader hunger for content seemed to be insatiable and the big six publishers seemed shaken by the digital disruption at hand. These days, things seemed to have settled down. Print books have actually been growing since 2015 while ebooks have slowly declined. In 2017, Amazon is now a major publisher with several imprints: 47 North, Amazon Crossing, Amazon Encore, Amazon Original Stories, Amazon Publishing, Grand Harbor Press, Lake Union Publishing, Little A, Montlake Romance, Skyscape, Thomas & Mercer, Two Lions, and Waterfall Press. Amazon also now allows for direct advertising and has increased integration between kindle and goodreads.
The Nook is dead.
Facebook, once a burgeoning advertising platform, is now a professional-grade advertising behemoth with live video, augmented reality filters, and Whats App and Instagram integration.
Those augmented reality filters have taken over the world.
New social reading apps like Litsy are on the rise.
Reedsy is now a full fledged author services company.
I realized I needed to go back to the basics.
So I created a blank book discovery template for Tangled and got back to work. The more I worked, the more my book discovery “muscle memory” began to return. Back in 2013, I was committed to trying any and every method to find readers and burned a ton a cash in the process. In 2017, it seemed that the author discovery model still held up albeit with different primary tools for each pillar. My mission with Tangled is still be to boost the book’s discoverability (get found), generate lots of reviews (get feedback), create viral campaigns to get readers talking (get fans), and raise James’ profile to further increase his visibility and readership (get famous).