I thought this was an interesting short article. When Jon Fine from Amazon mentioned that readers are now finding books more so through search engine optimization than book cover displays in actual stores, I thought this is now the pervasive state of affairs for fiction writers in publishing. Will the web really ever be the great sounding board of opportunity for fiction writers, or are the Random Houses of yesteryear simply being replaced by the greedy, optimized, Tech-savvy ones like Amazon?
Sorry guys. My web link got messed up when I posted. Here it is http://ow.ly/mFu6Y
I don't trust publishers any longer. In my experience, they take the lion's share and do next to nothing for it. Times have changed. We are no longer dependent on them. Their primary attraction was always the idea that they would nurture and promote their authors. Well, they don't. They just want to make maximum dollars or they drop you.
I understand that Amazon's imprints are a tad better, both in the shares they allow their authors and in their promotional know-how. I doubt independent publishers can duplicate that.
Meanwhile, I self-publish. I have nothing to prove, having been traditionally published by two of the big houses.
One thing is for certain, I.J., the publishing houses may not have your back in promoting your work but the American library system sure does. I had an interesting experience with you and your work at the library yesterday. Typically, I listen to all my fiction on audio while I’m drawing and illustrating, and I had started to read one of your Sugawara Akitada books and really enjoyed it. I was only able to get about a third way through it before it had to be returned, and I wasn’t able to recheck it out. Seeing you on Crimespace made me think about Sugawara Akitada, so I went down to the Bellingham Library to see what was available. They had just about every book you ever published but nothing in audio. I put in a request in the intra-loan system for just one of your books on audio with Sugawara Akitada, and they got back to me about an hour later on email saying, “We didn’t know which I.J. parker book you might like on audio so we’re going to send you all six we have in the system.” So needless to say, I’ll become an expert on the Heian Period of Japan in the near future. As I figure it, that's about 130 or so hours of listening time. Wow!
Finding more on line, but not through SEO.
When you think about it a little you realise there is almost no way to make a novel perform through SEO. Think about your own book, then try to think of some keywords people could put in that would bring it up on first page of Google instead of the jillion novels from big presses whose very presence on a page at Doubleday or whatever gives it much huger SEO clout than you could rig up.
SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMIZATION is what I think I was doing yesterday. :) I was checking out Google Adwords. They have links that optimize and offer traffic projections for the tag words. Very helpful in boosting my presence around the net. Yesterday, for instance, I realized I'd been on Goodreads for five years without being part of a huge book club devoted to books like mine because I hadn't used the specific tag word, "funny mystery."
I think learning this technical stuff and knowing what it is about your book that attracts readers is just as important for writers now as the actual writing. Maybe it always was, though, as how else would you ever get an agent if you couldn't write a stupendous pitch.
I learning as fast as I can.
I agree. It's very important to learn as much as we can about "discoverability" of our books.
What you're describing works. But not as "SEO", really. I don't know if you've heard of the Panda of Penquin protocols, which revised the Google alogorithms for searches. Basically eliminating the advantage of a lot of "SEO tricks". Not that SEO was ever much help for fiction, other than something very heavily niched.
But there is one SEO improver that you can't go wrong with, since it's not only a very powerful search booster, but also works without needing search. Backlinks. The more links you can place that lead to your book or page the better.