Digital Book World Discoverability and Marketing Conference Day One Recap

Expert publishing blog opinions are solely those of the blogger and not necessarily endorsed by DBW.

Day one was a bit of a surprise.  Perhaps I’ve become jaded, but I was expecting a lot of the usual suspects, especially gurus, who would talk about what they are planning on doing or doing for the top 5% of authors or boilerplate to make money off authors.

The reality was much better than expected.  Let me walk you through the day with some key points highlighted.  As always—just my opinion and also skewed by my point of view.

The first presenter was Rick Joyce, the chief marketing officer at the Perseus Book Group.  He likened the current publishing environment to being an explorer, going over the horizon for new worlds.  He carried that analogy through the entire presentation quite well.  After all, the key now is discoverability and those early explorers spent their life doing that.

Key points:

-Everyone is a publisher.  This means the Big 6 must really accept they aren’t the only game in town.  Which, in my humble opinion, they have not.  Looking forward to Sasha Grey’s new literary title representing the careful curation of literature that so many have blogged and railed about.  I’ll rack it next to Snooki’s book.

-Publishing is no longer a ‘mature’ business as it’s changed radically.

-You must connect, collect, assist, compete, accrue, share, get recognized and give bargains.  Wheh.

The bottom line is he clearly made the point that everyone in publishing must radically revisit the way we view getting the book from the creator (writer) to the reader (consumer).   An excellent start to the conference.

The second presenter was Kelly Gallagher, VP from Bowker.  He gave a lot of statistics, so many that I’m going to have to get his slides once they post them and pore over them.

Here’s what struck me:

First, the kerfuffle over sock puppets, reviews, yada nada:  less than 5% of readers base their purchases on reviews across all platforms.  Hmm.  Yes, the star reviews might alter Amazon algorithms, but still.

Second, even with print books, 39% of people buy them from on-line retailers.  26% from bookstores.  Huh.  Very interesting.  So even with print, distribution is becoming less important.  So at Cool Gus we’re accelerating our print.

And finally, of course, word of mouth is the #1 way readers buy books.

The third speaker was Marshall Simmonds, the CEO of Define Media Group.  He talked about SEO.

Key points:

-Put key words at start of titles

-Images are much more important than people realize.  20% of searches on Google are for images.

-Label your images with a title in alternate text that is searchable. Several speakers made this point so adjusting accordingly although I’ll have to get Jen to teach me how.

-16% of queries on Google each day are brand new.  I just thought was interesting.

Then Rob Eager, the President of Wildfire spoke on a ‘short’.  He made the very solid point that authors have to connect to readers emotionally in trying to sell their book.  He used a nonfiction example and showed how cover copy that was second person, directed at the reader, was so much more effective.

Then Debra Mastaler, the President of Alliance-Link spoke on rising to the top of SEO with strategic link marketing. I’m going to let my business partner Jen Talty discuss that over at our Write It Forward blog, since she cornered Debra after her talk and received lots of good information.

Clinton Kabler was next. He’s the COO and Co-Founder of Book Riot.

I had to take notes because Jen was meeting with Debra.

He talked about landing pages.  A key point he made was when someone hits the page, they have to see WHERE DO I BUY THE BOOK immediately.  I’ve been a big fan of this.  People also only want to do one click.  If they have to click twice to find the buy, they won’t buy.

He said readers need a call to action on your page.

He showed Margaret Atwood’s Facebook page and pointed out that number of Likes isn’t as important as how many people are talking about the subject.

Don’t put too much on landing page.

Using excerpts on landing page?  Not an effective way to drive people to book on landing page—poor use of real estate on landing page.

Small text turns off consumers.

Good landing pages:

-measurable goals—conversion rate, engagement rate

-readable at a glance (2 seconds)

-get consumer to behave as you wish

-present a unique value proposition

Elle Lothlorien got the unenviable job of talking after lunch.  I’d talked with her in Denver a week before the conference at dinner.  She discussed responding to reader reviews.  She’d done a couple of blog posts here at Digital Book World earlier this year on this (Link is to the one that had to get comments shut down) and got a viral reaction, some of it quite nasty.

Bottom line—I agree with her approach, but don’t try this at home kids.  She views responding to reviews as good customer service.  She’s not trying to get them to change their review or tell them they’re wrong.  Like the manager of a restaurant who has an unhappy customer she wants to find out what the complaint is and consult the customer.  She’s had amazingly positive results from this.

Then we had Erika Napoletano talking about authors and publishers.  Her presentation was solid, but I felt it was designed for an audience of new authors.  She’s had two books published and learned the harsh lesson of the lack of support most publishers give most authors, which most of us that have had a few books published know.  This is something taught at a RWA chapter meeting and I’m not quite sure was appropriate here, but publishers definitely need to be aware that writers who’ve been around the block know the promo publishing scam that is promised and not delivered to 95% of their authors.

After that things went really techy with metadata, SEO and my head started hurting.  I’m letting Jen do her companion blog on that at Write It Forward.

We also talked with Patrick Brown of Goodreads and that also was very, very valuable.

All-in-all, a very worthwhile experience and I highly recommend this conference.


6 thoughts on “Digital Book World Discoverability and Marketing Conference Day One Recap

  1. Toni Kenyon

    Thanks for the info, Bob. Please keep posting about the conference. Those of us who live in the Antipodes need to live vicariously!
    I’ll be heading off to read Jen’s companion posts shortly.

  2. Lauren Stewart

    Can I go with you next year, Bob? And then have you and Jen explain everything after each session is done?

    Sounds like an amazing conference. Thanks for letting us know. I’d forgotten it started today or I would already be using your great tip about following the hashtag.

  3. Erika Napoletano (@RedheadWriting)

    Hi Bob — fantastic recap of day 1 and caught me up on sessions I missed due to having to take calls throughout the day. But funny — while you might be a seasoned author with a few books under your belt and you KNOW all of this, my talk did a few things, I feel, to start conversations that weren’t being had (or being had under breaths and behind closed doors):

    1) Multiple publishers and in-house PR professionals came up to me afterwords and thanked me for my talk.
    2) MY publisher came up to me and opened a dialogue about what ISN’T happening with their PR team — we’ve been trying to have this conversation for 6 months now but to no avail.
    3) In as much as you call the “promo” of books a scam, I think my talk was perfectly relevant. I call bullshit where there is bullshit and this? Oh, honey — it’s complete bullshit that authors are fed a bill of goods of this flavor.
    4) Numerous authors working on their next/first project came up to me and thanked me for giving them a list of things to think about when it comes to marketing, promotion, and launch/post-launch planning.

    So, there ya go. For you? “Not appropriate.” Sure. But for every conference and every audience, there’s information that someone finds useful. I fully admit you weren’t/aren’t my target demographic 😉



    1. Bob MayerBob Mayer Post author

      You did a good job in getting your message across. All the best with your books and your approach. I’m sure your publisher will be on board now and push your book. All the best with it.

  4. J. R. Tomlin

    Who says that star reviews might alter Amazon algorithms? Everyone I have seen who has looked closely at BS and Pop lists says that they don’t.

    I am rather curious where that 5% buy because of reviews comes from as well. Unsourced “stats” are pretty meaningless.



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