Marketing & Discovery

The latest news and ideas in digital marketing, direct-to-consumer strategies and discovery solutions for book publishers.

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Twelve Publishers’ Websites Go Under the SEO Microscope

For publishers, a fully search engine–optimized website is the first step in improving discoverability and in building out a direct-to-consumer program. It’s usually the piece of the puzzle that’s fairly straightforward to implement and brings a pretty good return on investment. And since it’s the part of SEO that publishers themselves control, I recently...

book marketing strategies readers Peter McCarthy

Audience Research Needn’t Be Costly or Time Consuming

The line between “conventional wisdom” and “misconception” is often thin, blurry and easy to stumble over. As the book marketing world sharpens its digital chops, misconceptions tend to result from insufficient experience with, and incomplete understanding of, a particular tactic. In my experience, it’s that holistic sort of nuance that makes all the difference. This...

Publishers Finally Taking the Reins on Web Marketing

By the end of the London Book Fair last week, I had spoken to over 100 publishers, most of them mid-sized, (by going booth to booth—and yes, my feet are tired) as well as a handful of distributors, and I’ve noticed that for the first time there is nearly universal agreement on the following...

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Pressing Pause on the New Streaming Platforms

Two similar apps recently took the social media universe by storm: Meerkat and Periscope. Both allow you to live-stream video directly from your mobile phone to the web. The real difference between them is that Periscope is from Twitter Inc. while Meerkat isn’t, but Meerkat launched first and received $12 million in funding. If...

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It’s Not (Just) about Discoverability

The Five Stops on Your Customer’s Journey In the course of planning and developing a direct-to-consumer (D2C) strategy, it can be easy to lose sight of how the technical components fit into the broader strategic picture. So let’s zoom out for a moment and return the focus on customers—the people who are (or will...

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Three Ways to Engage Millennials on Social Media

“Authenticity is key,” said Huffington Post Teen Editor Taylor Trudon about engaging with young readers on social platforms, speaking at a conference hosted by Publishing Perspectives in New York City this morning, called “Designing Books for Young Readers.” Striking a tone that digital natives perceive as authentic doesn’t always come easily to book publishers. Social media marketing is nothing new in publishing...

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This Is Not a Blog Post

It’s an offer for those of you who are publishers or work for one. One of the things I want to do in this column is highlight real-world examples of the direct-to-consumer publishing initiatives whose components I write about each week. If you’ve been reading along, you know one of them is optimization, and...

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New Ebook Discovery Efforts Differ on Means

With ebook growth mostly flat, publishers, retailers and a smattering of start-ups are testing new ways to help readers discover content that interests them. One key question they’re all trying to answer in the process is what methods lead to the most meaningful recommendations. Two recent efforts, Penguin Random House’s new children’s reading website Brightly...

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Publishers Getting Left Behind on Mobile

Did you feel it? Did you feel the change? If you’re in the publishing world there’s a chance you didn’t. One reason for that could be you’ve been existing on the industry’s shifting sands for a while now. Maybe you’ve grown so used to change that it doesn’t even phase you anymore. But I...

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Researching Reader Intent to Fine-Tune Book SEO

There is one aspect of search engine optimization (SEO) that doesn’t get nearly as much play in the publishing business as it does elsewhere: understanding searchers’ intentions and aligning marketing content with their queries, usually by crafting landing pages. In this post, I’ll look at how book publishers and authors can better reach readers through...

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Your Content Is the Problem. Your Content Is the Problem.

…Your content is the problem. Content is what drives the Internet. And relevant content is what drives search results. Having superbly written, deep, descriptive, and most importantly, relevant content is the key to creating a thriving web presence. Duplicate content, however, will shoot all of your high-flying search engine optimization (SEO) efforts right out...

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The How and Why of Inbound Book Marketing

Discoverability, SEO, keywords, rich metadata—get these things correct and success is yours, right? Wrong, I’m sorry to say. Discoverability isn’t nearly enough. Discoverability relies on someone actively trying to discover something, which comes only at the end stage of the buying process. You need to catch people much earlier—long before they even know they...

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The Two Sides of SEO for Book Publishers

Here’s a scenario: A reader hears about a book you publish from someone they trust. They decide they want to buy it and read it. So how do they find it? It’s possible they go directly to their favorite bookseller (let’s assume this is all happening online), find it there and buy it. Awesome,...

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What Publishers Can Learn from My Local Greek Grocer

I live in the suburbs, where there aren’t many real ethnic groceries around. But there’s one little Greek grocery store I’ve driven past since it opened a couple of years ago, and I recently went in to check it out for the first time. By the time I walked out, I knew the owner,...

Three Direct-to-Consumer Steps Every Publisher Can Take

In my last post, I made the argument that not only should all publishers establish robust direct-to-consumer (D2C) programs regardless of their size, but that small and mid-size presses are in some ways better positioned to do so than large trade publishers. In this post I’ll break down the components of a direct-to-consumer operation...

Why All Publishers Can and Should Go Direct-to-Consumer

Many publishers think direct-to-consumer (D2C) programs are difficult to implement, expensive to operate and generate heaps of extra work that their bottom lines can never justify, leaving those initiatives the exclusive territory of only the biggest players in the industry. But all publishers can and should be developing D2C strategies, including—and especially—small and mid-size...

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Publish and They Will Come…Right?

We live in an age of abundance, which means discoverability matters more than ever. By some accounts, as many as 1 million new books are being published every year in the English language alone. In addition, readers can choose from a back-catalog over 30 million titles through Amazon, used bookstores, libraries and friends. Readers are spoiled for...

Top Four Best Practices for Writing Great Book Blurbs

When you sell your book online, your book description, or blurb, must be persuasive enough to compel people to buy. According to the Pew Research Center, 38% of readers rely on the information presented on your book’s online sales page when making a purchase choice. Your blurb must convince your audience that there’s no better...

Book Marketing the Old Way Versus the Way That Works Today—Part 3: Ignore the Expensive Launch

Effective book marketing today is a different game than it used to be. This post continues my recent series comparing traditional book marketing methods with newer, more effective strategies. This article (the third installment) focuses on the strategic decision forego a big launch at a book’s introduction into the market. Traditional book publishing once put...

Book Marketing the Old Way Versus the Way That Works Today—Part 2: Email Promotions

Selling a book today in either the self-publishing or traditional publishing worlds confronts authors with a marketing dilemma. Older methods no longer have the purchase they once did in the digital age. I’ve written a series of articles on that subject in an effort to compare traditional book marketing with more modern, effective strategies that work. This installment focuses on...

Want to Sell More Books? Understand Your Readers

Every self-published author wants to sell the most books possible. But not every book appeals to every reader—not even books that achieve best-seller status. The cold, hard fact is your book has unique characteristics that only interest a select group. The good news is you don’t need to appeal to everyone to experience brisk sales....

6 Steps to Overcoming Social Media Writer’s Block, Part 2

Part 2 in a 2-part series. If you’re an author who currently avoids social media, don’t be embarrassed. Take comfort in knowing you’re not alone. In my work helping authors promote their brands, I’ve only known a couple of writers who are naturals at social media. (Their books sell well, by the way—coincidence? I...

6 Steps to Overcoming Social Media Writer’s Block, Part 1

Part 1 in a 2-part series For self-published ebook authors, there’s one aspect of marketing that offers substantial exposure at a very low price: social media. It’s free, after all, and with social media, you can reach readers throughout the world. But when it comes to promoting their brands via social media, many authors freeze...