Members of Texas Authors, Inc., are welcome to post on our blog for other fellow members, or for the general public.
Each blog post will be approved by the website administrator and must not contain promotion of ones book. This is meant as an educational posting program.
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.”
by Rox Burkey
I grew up using the library and for several years I supported a local library secondary program in local community in Texas. The library has always provided a way to explore, travel, Imagine, and learn with resources galore. It helped shape my deciding to be an author. The Internet has changed some of the use cases, however the library as an institution is still an invaluable resource for all ages.
Big conventions for technology, security, sales conferences, and fun have been a part of my adult life as both an attendee and a vendor. The ginormous ALA 2018, with 16,000 registered attendees and half of the New Orleans Convention Center, was not what I imagined or expected. However we learned that many attendees were representing other affiliated libraries and we even met a nice lady who was from her group of affiliates from Cairo Egypt! A little of the insight I learned might be useful for other authors considering this event in the future.
Booths at the event were of all sizes and shapes with various activities to capture the mindshare of the attendees. They included publishers, book signings, many authors, and giveaways. The size alone made known early on that you had 20-30 seconds with a participant before they moved on. Any thoughts that they might return to visit or claim a prize was foolish optimism. Too much too see, giveaways everywhere, and lots of fish in the sea of vendors of all sizes, shapes, and ideas.
First, the badges of every attendee are color banded. Knowing the meaning of the colors helps clarify who to focus efforts on in discussions. We had created a one-sheet with information on us, our stories, contact information, and some branding. It turned out that this item was key and upon reflection I wish we had brought more. A great elevator or 15 second why should I stop marketing message.
Second, the badge contained a QR code, but without the +/- $500 application fee the registered user information was not easily obtainable. This forced the discussion to be compelling enough to let the user write the information. We used a drawing, pulled every 30 minutes for a book and be on a subscription list as the hook. Only about 10% of the winners returned for their books. We also used a really great bookmark which Nathan at EBG247 designed that helped them retain the information on us even if they did not return.
Third, we took books expecting to sell some with the first in the series discounted to capture attention. We quickly realized that this was a marketing event not a sales event. We shifted into a marketer persona and held drawings for free books every half hour. Nobody left without a bookmark but we missed our chance of handing out free giveaways branded to our series. Additionally, most people signed up for the mailing list but really became enthusiastic when they learned they were speaking with the authors not just “booth babes”. Discussions and branding should be your motivation for shows like this. Your goal, like ours, should be to capture mindshare, which is get a book into their hands and hope after a read or review the mindshare would help them do a library recommendations to add our books to their collection. In this arena, like most arenas, it is a numbers game; out of every 1000 attendees you need to speak with 100 people and of that expect 10 or less to recall your pitch so your giveaways must define you and your product. With that we should have taken many books to giveaway to folks who had interest and not expected an immediate ROI with onsite sales.
Realistic Potential Value to a Texas Author
1-Great exposure to a different type of audience
2-Giveaway ebook cards with moo stickers rather than heavy books if asked.
3-Grab email addresses for personalized thank you notes
4-More one-sheet type of exposure because knowing about an author can help increase that mindshare
5-Track uptick on sales to libraries over 6-12 months.
6-Monitor your book website for visit upticks after the show to gage your giveaways, elevator pitches, and overall branding efforts.
by Kathleen Shields
As a fellow author, I know the challenges of paying for a tradeshow, driving to said tradeshow, staying overnight at a hotel, setting up, and spending my entire Saturday hoping to sell books. You are eager to recoup your expenses, looking forward to those sales and when a show is slow (or in some cases – flops) it is an utter disappointment. Heck, I’ve even been to shows that have plenty of attendees, but none of them stopped by my booth or talked to me and you start feeling that lonely depression that only an author can feel. I get it.
But as an author who has attended hundreds of tradeshows over the course of many years, I can also tell you that almost ALL of those shows have rules about leaving early. Most of them will tell you that it is strictly prohibited. They usually add in their clause, that if you DO leave early your name will be crossed off the list to ever be allowed back at that show again.
Of course, you may be thinking; “Who cares? I have no intention of going back” which is your prerogative and right. But before you decide that leaving a couple hours early isn’t a big deal, please take into account what you are doing to those who choose to stay.
When a potential customer walks into a room to see half the tables empty, or half a dozen authors packing up to leave, it tells the customer three things:
How do you think it makes the other authors feel? Their potential customers are immediately feeling unwanted. Those customers are strongly considering turning around and leaving before they’ve given anyone a chance. And if they DO stay, they feel they need to rush because the show must be closing.
Your fellow authors who have worked hard, spent the same money, traveled just as far (or farther) and struggled just as much if not more so. They are being gypped of their success because YOU decided to storm off early.
While Alan may not impose that rule – that you won’t be allowed to attend future book events if you leave early – we authors are taking note. You think we’re going to be happy to see you next time? You think we’re going to buy your book or help you out, or share some of our valuable insight with you?
Instead of sitting in your chair with a frown on your face next time and then packing up early – why don’t you try taking this opportunity and doing something good with it? How often are you in a room with this many authors? Some have been in this industry for years. They know things YOU don’t know. They can offer marketing suggestions. They can give you a list of additional bookstores and tradeshows you haven’t heard of. They can point you in directions that you haven’t considered and they can help you succeed in your dreams! Have you ever thought of that?
Instead of leaving early and driving home angry, stay those last couple of hours and make a new friend or contact. Make the most of your time. You’re already here – you have the opportunity to learn, to expand your reach – to even sell a book to a fellow author – I’m pretty sure we ALL read!
Alan is working hard to develop these festivals for us, he isn’t the kind of person to block your chances at success – he wants to see all of us succeed because our successes are his. But it is not his job alone. It is each one of our jobs to help him promote these events, stay the entire time, and make the best of it. He doesn’t deserve our disgruntled attitude, unkind words and our disappointments. Who else in this world is working as hard as him to create future opportunities for us? Barnes & Noble? I think not!