Category Archives: FindMyAudience

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.

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under EBook Marketing Innovations, FindMyAudience, The Writer's Dashboard

Reading and Memory

kindleA recent piece by Alison Flood in The Guardian brought up the issue of whether comprehension is lower when reading on a Kindle e-reader. Flood cites the work of researcher Anne Mangen of Stavanger University in Norway, who recently tested 50 people on their comprehension (plot, setting, etc.) of an Elizabeth George short story. Half of those tested read the story on a Kindle and half read it on paper.

Lo and behold, those who read the piece on a Kindle came up short when they were examined on the particulars of George’s story. Does this surprise anyone? I don’t think so.

Truth be told, our memories have, through the centuries, become increasingly downsized and outsourced. It’s true that back in the age of Homer (memory’s halcyon days), traveling bards memorized long epical poems in their entirety – and some mnemonic contortionists could recite epics like the Iliad backwards.

But even those bards used various  “distributed memory sourcing” techniques. In particular they (and their followers in the centuries to come) deployed the mnemonic strategy of loci et imagines. This is a technique where one placed what one wanted to memorize in a familiar place or attached it to a familiar object. That world is far removed from our own, and indeed it must have been a magical place, one that abounded in memories – but it does underline the fact that humans have historically created or found storage devices, both for mental and physical objects.

Scholars have posited that this kind of memory, which characterizes oral cultures, was pre-analytical, pre-logical, that it was external in nature. But that changed when books started to be produced and knowledge dramatically increased; memory migrated from the world to the page. The new “print” paradigm demanded that we only know how books were categorized; of course it helped if we knew what book specific information could be found in – but it wasn’t necessary. Freed from the taxing demands of personal memorization, our minds were able to, as Walter Ong, Robert Logan, and others have argued, to become more logical, more analytical – in short, the rise of books also witnessed the rise of the rational mind.

 

sleep_of_reason Goya, The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters

Of course this is all dialectical in the sense that one paradigm – oral, print, digital – doesn’t replace an earlier one but rather subsumes it in itself and resolves the tensions and weaknesses of the previous paradigm. Having a good memory is still important – indeed, just a generation ago reciting long poems by memory was still a staple of high-school English. And recently I heard Peter O’Toole in a Fresh Air interview reciting Shakespeare’s sonnets by memory. A magnificent performance!

So, back to the Kindle and the digital age. I wonder if the Kindle doesn’t suffer from the same cognitive ailments that plague computers: namely, automation complacency and automation bias. The former refers to those moments when a computer lulls us into believing that it has everything “handled” (including memory). The latter refers to the tendency to place too much faith in believing what the computer says or does is accurate. In an article in The Atlantic entitled “All Can Be Lost: The Risk Of Putting Our Knowledge In The Hands Of Machines” Nicholas Carr chillingly points out what can happen when we let the computer do too much for us – quite simply, we forget how to do things. And when it comes to navigation (airlines, trains, ships, cars, etc.) or the operation of large equipment that can have tragic consequences.

But what does this mean for reading – specifically for reading on devices such as the Kindle or the iPad? Do readers subconsciously change their reading habits when reading on a device? Do they not concern themselves with the details per se (since the device supposedly is) but rather with a holistic or even lateral view? Could reading on a device such as the Kindle increase empathy for characters, for the human condition? Could reading on the Kindle be, in fact, a radical act, one that challenges the “dominant” mode of thinking and remembering? Certainly changes are afoot – and in the same manner that the environment worked on and reshaped our genetic map through time, our increasing reliance on devices (and not just the Kindle and iPad but all of the devices that make up the Internet of Things) may well do the same thing to our cognitive capacities.

Of course some people will be upset. Paradigm change always has its naysayers. Think of how many people were burned at the stake or in a barrel by the Church for having a copy of the Bible (or even quoting from it). Learning and thinking for oneself have always threatened those in power – but, as Nietzsche reminded us, now more than ever it’s time to live dangerously!

 

Leave a comment

Filed under EBook Marketing Innovations, FindMyAudience

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!

 

8 Comments

Filed under EBook Marketing Innovations, FindMyAudience, The Writer's Dashboard

Friday Photo

berni-001Guess Who?

Leave a comment

Filed under FindMyAudience

Dial R for Recoleta

Looking for an exotic place to set your next murder-mystery? Buenos Aires’s La Recoleta Cemetary, set in the swanky neighborhood of Recoleta, is just the place. It’s the resting place of many of Buenos Aires’s notable personages from the past, including Eva Peron.

During the day cats saunter around the tombs enduring the stream of tourists. And at night? Well, then the ghosts come out…
 

Leave a comment

Filed under FindMyAudience

Silicon Valley, Beat This!

Finch Lake

Finch Lake

We’ve been deep in stealth mode of late designing The Writer’s DashBoard. But lest you think all we do is burn the midnight oil in search of your audience (don’t worry, our beta will be out in September and then you really will be able to find your audience), occasionally we play hookey on a Friday afternoon and head up to the mountains for natural, as opposed to caffeinated, inspiration (“Make me thy lyre,” wrote Shelley of nature – and we second the thought!).

Access to nature is the reason why many of us live and work in Boulder. The natural beauty of the Front Range serves as a source of inspiration and is also a refuge from the daily grind. Whether it be biking, running, rock climbing, kayaking, hiking or yoga, Boulder is an ideal place to blend an active lifestyle with creative endeavors.

Wordsworth wrote in his “Ode on Intimations of Immortality” that

                               There was a time when meadow, grove, and stream,
                               The earth, and every common sight,
                               To me did seem
                               Apparelled in celestial light,
                               The glory and the freshness of a dream.

One often feels that way in Boulder. Seriously.

Below are a few pictures of our hike up at Wild Basin, about thirty miles north of town.

Leave a comment

Filed under FindMyAudience

Magical Realism Realized

cortazar_1The Simon Bolivar of the Novel: Julio Cortazar

I received a text today. Or maybe it was yesterday. I can’t be sure…

It was from my youngest daughter, who was attending the Buenos Aires Book Fair. She couldn’t pass up the chance of sending me a photo of Buenos Aires’s own great writer, Julio Cortazar, author (most notably) of Hopscotch, amongst other works. A handsome fellow, that Cortazar, and with that cigarette hanging from his mouth, he reminds me of Camus  (famous picture of whom below) – and there are other similarities, too (the fight against oppression, the fascination with memory, etc.).

camusSmoking Never Looked So Good

***

I believe that for my daughter Buenos Aires may have a tenuous, albeit unconscious, connection to another city she experienced as a  young girl, a city where the older people carry within them secrets and painful memories, where they walk in a similar manner, still cast furtive glances when out on the streets (J’accuse!).  A city where they give books and roses to a loved one once a year. Barcelona, that is. Like Buenos Aires,  a stylish city, yet one full of ghosts, one that still bears the pall of dictatorship.

BA_6

Are books always the great foe of dictatorships? Is imagination our last refuge? The only place we can be free?

***

Buenos Aires has been on my mind a lot lately…

Whilst wandering the streets of San Telmo, Buenos Aires’s well-known historic barrio, I was struck by the presentness of its past – different epochs meld into each other, historical figures have a life, are tangible on a daily basis (the Perons, for example – and Evita’s visage is prominently displayed on buildings).

One can see a Porsche plying its way through the streets followed by a horse-drawn cart. On one side of Plazza Dorrego couples will dance the tango, a mating ritual seemingly as old as time – and on the other, kids will be playing techno pop, banging drums. It all works, like some fabulous Magritte painting. Garcia Marquez said of Mexico that “surrealism runs through the streets.” The same can be said of Buenos Aires.

BA_2

***

At night the streets of San Telmo are crowded with los cartneros searching through the  garbage bins for recyclables Not one or two, mind you. There are families. Gangs. Running mates. Solitaries. People pushing carts. When the sun comes up, they disappear.

BA_5

I barely know Buenos Aires, but like Cortazar’s Hopscotch, it seems to invite one to play a game with it – to begin where one finds oneself, to be swept up in a postmodern gesture that eschews structural and cultural unity.

Cortazar said, “These days, my notion of the fantastic is closer to what we call reality. Perhaps because reality approaches the fantastic more and more.”

Buenos Aires is a fantastic city. I will be returning soon…

 

Leave a comment

Filed under FindMyAudience