The Battle of Book Discovery

For any writer, getting a book published is the first hurdle in the business end of the overall writing journey.  Marketing is the second – and perhaps toughest – hurdle.  If you’re like me, your mind spits a slew of creative plot lines and story ideas.  But, actually marketing the final product is worst than a job interview.  Obviously, no one outside of your close circle of family and friends will read your book if they can’t find it.  Whether it’s traditional publishing or e-publishing, getting your name out there is critical to your success.

Otis Chandler, founder and CEO of Goodreads, uses the title of the classic Jacqueline Susann book, Once Is Not Enough, to describe the need for readers to take interest in a particular tome.  Unless you’re simply a compulsive person, he states in this article, you need to run across a title multiple times before it will stick and motivate you to buy it.  Today, amidst heated discussions about the future of bricks-and-mortar bookstores, retailers must realize, when it comes to books, “rediscovery trumps discovery.”

Goodreads is a privately run “social cataloguing” web site Chandler, a former software engineer, started in December 2006.  Individuals sign up to create a personal library of their favorite books.  It also allows them to discuss books they’ve read and suggest them to fellow readers.  Just like when people walk into a traditional brick and mortar bookstore, determined to find one particular book, they often walk out with even more.

When shopping online, people are faced with a number of options – to buy, save it to a wish list for later, share it through social media.  Everything they might want is available through a mouse-click.  At the same time, though, there’s no urgency to buy.

If enough people become interested in a particular author, the writer develops a following, or what Chandler simply dubs a “tribe.”  I think in rock n’ roll terminology, it’s a groupie.  Whatever the verbiage, every writer hopes to gain a following.  We write for the joy of it, yes, but we also want to become recognized.

This pie graph displays the 10 primary means people discover books on Goodreads:


Social networking has become invaluable for writers, as the publishing industry evolves and gravitates towards the electronic format.  Nothing can replace the often difficult creative process.  And, nothing can replace the equally great challenge of marketing.

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