Discoverability and books

“Discoverability” is one of the newer buzzwords in the book publishing industry. Maybe you’ve heard it a few times by now. Hearing it and understanding it are two different things, however.

As Thad McIlroy (quoted above) explains in his brief article, “Findability, Discoverability, and Marketing,” the difference between “finding” and “discovering” a book is that with finding, you’re looking for something specific — you know what you’re looking for. Discoverability is what happens when you’re looking, but not for something specific. Because of that, discoverability might bring with it more of a sense of delight than “finding” offers.

For example, I’m always looking for books that help authors solve a problem. Always. It’s one reason I’m on author and consultant Kristen Eckstein’s mailing list — who knows what resource I might learn about from her? Last Friday, I received an e-mail from her that offered one of her short e-books free on Kindle that day only. I immediately downloaded her Author’s Quick Guide to Creating a Killer Non-Fiction Book Title because I had discovered something useful for me — something I hadn’t been specifically looking for but knew I wanted when I saw it. That’s discoverability.

I shared the link and offer with my social networks, too, hoping that others would experience that “Yes!” that can accompany discoverability.

Get discovered

You want your books to be discoverable, too. Ideas for doing that include:

  • Go where your readers are. Maybe they’re on Goodreads.com, maybe they aren’t. Maybe they use Twitter, maybe they don’t. You have to know your target audience to get in front of it.
  • Talk to your readers about how they discover the books they end up buying and reading, then act on what you learn.
  • Figure out who influences your target audience and get copies of your books into their hands so they can become your evangelists.
  • Offer promotions with discounts, as Eckstein did, or special bonus material with a purchase. Host contests to get people interested and engaged.
  • Build a strong, solid author platform that helps you and your books get found when people are looking for what you write. Eckstein’s mailing list is part of her platform.

What are you doing to make sure your book gets discovered?

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  1. Thank you for your advice, I am having trouble getting my book discovered. Gideon’s Loop is a science fiction adventure that has a great rating on Amazon and great reviews as well but all I get is people who want to take your money and run with no results and they won’t return your emails, for instance pageonelit.com say that they will represent your book for 50 dollars at the BEA CONFERENCE. They said they received the money and the book and would get back to me with some questions but I haven’t heard from them since, any advice to get my book discovered, thank you for your time and have a great day!

    1. Terry, there’s so much you can do on your own without spending a penny, but I do hope you get that BEA issue resolved.


  2. I revel in the joy of discovering a new book or report that will help me achieve something I didn’t set out to do. I also want to help my authors build book buzz, so I shall return!

  3. G’day Sandra,

    I wouldn’t be at all surprised to have this question considered inane, but HOW do you actually track down where your potential readers are?

    1. Greg, first you identify your target audience — who is most likely to buy your book? — and then you spend some time online researching that demographic to learn more about them. You can get lots of info on who uses which social media networks, you can learn if they read newspapers or listen to online radio (for example: http://ow.ly/w7kfq), what blogs they like to read, etc. You can also interview people you know who read books in your genre to learn more about their habits and interests. It takes effort, but you need to do the work to really know and find your audience.


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