Episode 27 – WriteOn, AuthorRise and Algorithms

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Jim and Bryan discussed how the publishing world is adapting to the digital landscape in the latest episode. We examined how the Washington Post is continuing to trash self-published books, HarperCollins is raising royalty rates for authors who sell direct and how Amazon is testing out its own WattPad clone, WriteOn. Our trio of tips included the AuthorRise analytics tool, using a Book Marketing Canvas and programming Buffer to do your social media. Other stories included the new InkCase for iPhone5 and Rachel Aaron’s theories on the Amazon algorithm. This week’s Question of the Week: How do you connect with your early adopters?

What You’ll Learn: 
  • How to track the correlation between sales and social media
  • What a one-page tool can do to improve your book launch
  • Why Buffer works best for Kate Tilton’s social media programming
  • How little the Washington Post’s anti-self-publishing sentiment matters
  • Bryan’s idea for integrating InkCase into existing devices
  • What Harper Collins did after reading Jim’s book
  • How Amazon plans to build its own WattPad
  • Rachel Aaron’s theory for her book’s incredible success
Question of the Week: How do you connect with your early adopters?

get show updates

  • Great response to that linkbait article from the WaPo. I especially liked your suggestion to avoid putting energy into anything negative, taking some time out to listen to some music, and then getting back to writing. Sad to see a paper that used to be so well respected sink so low, though. I wonder who they think their readership is these days?

    • Bryan

      Thanks, Laura! Yeah, I wonder if they even consider that question. Maybe they just assume that whatever they put out is worth reading. Hmm, seems like just what they’re accusing the indies of doing ;).

  • Personally, I LOVE the idea of that eInk screen, but I just want a phone with that so my battery lasts forever! I just want it to be generic and bluetooth, so I can use it with anything.

    I also want a laptop that I can use to write sitting outside in the sun, so a laptop, tablet, or netbook (with a keyboard) and eInk would be amazing. I’m sure the market is way too small to make it worth it, though.

    Good show, although I’m actually listening right now, so you might still screw up…

    • Bryan

      Very possible, Roland. Very possible ;).

      An eInk laptop is a GREAT idea. Sounds like a good Kickstarter project.

  • Julie Farrell

    Another great show, thank you Jim and Bryan! Please always feel free to ‘preach’, Jim! 😉
    The way I get early reviews is simply to ask my newsletter subscribers if they’d like an advanced review copy (ARC) two or three weeks before the release date. Usually only about half who request an ARC actually add their review, and I do chase them up, but I guess people are busy. Last time I actually requested people send me a link to a previous review of one of my books before I would send the ARC, but that resulted in only a few ARC requests! I think I will next try going through the reviews on Amazon and correlate them with my newsletter subscribers, and directly email them. I’m sure this thorough work will be worth it as I hear Amazon’s algorithm likes lots of early reviews – not that I’m trying to crack the code, as I know it’s impossible. 😉
    Maybe it’s simply that browsing readers prefer books with more reviews, which helps to give the book more exposure in the early days, and then maybe keeps it in the rankings.
    Sorry for the long post! Lol!
    Thank you again – you guys are a highlight of my Wednesday nights! 🙂

    • Bryan

      Aw, happy to be a highlight, Julie :). I will definitely make sure Jim does more preaching!

      Yeah, I’m noticing the same thing with the “send a previous review link” scenario resulting in fewer requests. The way you’re doing it is smart. I think Amazon’s algorithm does love the early reviews. It definitely helped with Ted book 1.

      Thanks for the comment :).

      • Julie Farrell

        Thank you Bryan 🙂

  • Gillian

    Love you guys! Here’s my answer to the question of the week: When I have a book coming out I send out teasers to people on my newsletter. I think that they are the true fans. If someone is willing to sign up for a newsletter, and stay tuned for months, then you know they are the real deal. My next course of action is sending personal emails to bloggers who have read and showed interest in my books, but are not on my newsletter. I have a special list for them.

    • Bryan

      Aw, thanks Gillian!

      I agree, those newsletter folks are pretty great. That’s smart with the bloggers. I need to work on doing that for book #2 in my series :).

  • Another great show, guys! I wish I had been able to make it to your event so please let out the dates as early as you can for upcoming events.

    I get advanced reader reviews for my books by posting on Facebook that I have a book coming up, as well as sending out an email to my list about 60 days prior to publication. I also encourage people to like my Amazon Author Page and subscribe to my new release email right there on the site. One way or another they will know I have a book coming or it’s already released and ready for them to read it.

    Have a great week!

    • Bryan

      Good stuff, Honoree.

      We’ll let you know when the next event is coming up. Thanks!

  • Crissy Moss

    My “true fans” so far are mostly my friends and acquaintances through the SPP community who have read a lot of my work. So, they are friends with me on twitter and G+, and follow my blog. I’m still trying to grow my mailing list, but that’s very slow. Mainly I just share the link and book cover on all of my social media sites, and announce it on my podcast.

    • Bryan

      I’m right there with you on that, Crissy. It’s a slow slog, but eventually we’ll have those gaudy mailing list numbers that the newbies can cower at :).

      • In my opinion, a small but passionate list is great. Resist the urge to grow your list (or facebook page) just to get numbers because a big mailing list costs money to own, and if they aren’t your true fans, then you have them for nothing.

        Facebook is almost worse (if you have an author page). Since they only show a percentage of your list your posts at any given time, ‘fans’ who aren’t fans get to see the posts while many true fans, won’t. …and when you pay to promote, you’re paying for non-fans to see them. Not good.

        • Crissy Moss

          There is small, and there is minuscule. I only have 7 people on my list ATM. Most of them are friends who already know what’s coming out.

          • It will build as more people read your work. My mom hasn’t even subscribed to mine. 😉

  • Gillian

    Briannnn! so excited I just got a newsletter email from Amazon and your book was listed in Popular Horror Books in Kindle Unlimited! How cool! Yay YOU!

    • Bryan

      YAY! Thanks, Gillian. I never would have known that if you didn’t tell me. Some Amazon algorithm likes me, it really likes me :).

  • I really appreciated Jim’s rant on not trying to uncover “secret techniques”. Succeed or fail, there are just some questions you will just never get the answers to.

    When you’re working hard to try and get your work out there, it can be very easy to believe that the reason you’re not getting the results you want is due to you failing to properly use a magic formula. Even though I know better from working in a variety of digital media, it still fall for it, especially when so many people are offering magic charms and snake oil designed to prey on our insecurities.

    One important lesson I learned as a videogame consultant, that I think is relevant here, is that it can be *very* easy for entrepreneurs to twist metrics into magic—especially when the numbers aren’t saying what it is they want to hear.

    • Bryan

      I love that phrase, “twist metrics into magic.”

      I saw Rachel’s post as something to aspire to, not necessarily a system that can be gamed.

      Thanks for posting, Andrew :).

  • Nick Marsden

    Harper Collins is going to call their “direct” experiment a failure. No one is going to go to the Harper Collins website to buy a book. They will have to spend a lot of money marketing that site and making it a site that can compete with Amazon and B&N. The costs behind having a site that only sells Harper Collins book, will keep them from marking their books down as much as 50%. It’s a hassle for shoppers to have to jump from publisher to publisher to look for books. Amazon has ALL the publishers. Shoppers might pay a little more to Amazon for the ease of shopping than to have to search multiple sites for a book. Unless I’m looking for a particular author AND know who publishes them, why am I going to look on a publisher’s site to buy a book? Harper isn’t going to sell Hachette or Penguin books on their site.

    • The only reason it “could” work is because it’s driven by the authors who promote it directly on their sites and social media channels. But yeah, what you said makes sense.

  • Lavie Margolin

    My first method for reaching my fans is emailing my groups on LinkedIn. I post new content nearly every day to engage my audience so when I do have an “ask” to purchase a book, I hope that they are more engaged.

    • Bryan

      What kind of response are you seeing from that, Lavie?

      • Lavie Margolin

        It is hard to tell what/where things works but it is my best way of reaching people directly. I think it had been helpful at the initial launch of a book and for announcing special promotions (like the Kindle countdown deal).

        • Bryan

          Cool, thanks.

  • Lol! Sorry for babbeling on…

    • Bryan

      You were great, we were just trying to keep things tight ;).

  • Joey Stoll


    This is the first episode I’ve listened to from you guys. Great stuff! Thanks for producing this.

    I’ve been part of the Writeon alpha from the beginning, so it’s fun hearing your review. Thanks for the positive spin. If you’re still interested, but I did a writeup on the platform with features, my opinions, etc:


    Thanks so much for the podcast!

    • Bryan

      Thanks, Joey! We’re glad you’re enjoying the show. Thanks for the link!

  • ❤️Marie Long❤️

    In response to Jim’s comment about why Big 5 companies aren’t creating innovative communities like Wattpad, like Amazon is doing with Write On — They already have, long before Amazon’s Write On program came about. There’s Book Country, which is owned by Penguin, Authonomy is owned by HarperCollins, and Swoon Reads is owned by Macmillian,

    • Bryan

      I suppose since we’ve never heard of those, they’re not doing that well, huh? 🙂

      • ❤️Marie Long❤️

        Well Book Country is pretty popular, though they had been spotlighted in a negative light when they started offering costly vanity publisher-ish “services”. Joe Konrath did a blog post about it a few years ago: http://jakonrath.blogspot.com/2011/11/book-country-fail.html

        But the fact is that these are Wattpad-like communities that preceded Amazon’s Write On program. I would personally prefer Wattpad over the others, for the simple fact of networking with friends and fans of your work. My impression of Write On when I looked around there before is that there are primarily a community of authors than strictly readers. I love that Wattpad is encouraging more usage of mobile devices to read stories on. It’s so easy and the interface is user-friendly to read a story on your phone.

        • Bryan

          Agreed. It’s definitely the best option.