When it comes to social media for authors, I’m skeptical at best. The average conversion rate for B2B companies on social media is 1.6 percent and they’re selling a solution to some kind of problem.
Authors are selling a commoditized experience, something that depends on recommendations – word-of-mouth – more than anything else.
In part, that’s what intrigues me so much about Libboo, a new company that is trying to help authors promote their work through “advocacy marketing.”
Libboo offers authors the power to reward their most passionate readers – the ones who recommend your book to their friends – and has the data analytics tools to monitor just who recommends the stuff and how they’re doing it.
It’s a bold step in the emerging world of social commerce. I recently had an email interview with Michael Boezi, Vice President of Strategy, to learn more about the solution and what Libboo hopes to achieve.
1. What’s Libboo’s goal? How can it help authors?
Libboo is focused on helping authors build their community of readers through advocacy marketing. We make no distinction between traditionally published authors and professionally self-published authors. A good book is a good book—it just needs a fair shot at finding its audience in a very crowded market.
2. How does an author join Libboo? How much does it cost?
Today, authors apply for inclusion on the platform. We are looking for authors that are a good match for Libboo—those who not only have a professional product, but also are eager to connect directly with their readers. In the future, we intend to stop acting as gatekeepers ourselves and turn over the curation process to the real tastemakers—the readers.
We are currently running a Pay-What-You-Want pricing “experiment,” to help us determine the value of the platform to authors. We’ll run this probably through the end of the year. Authors can choose their own price—and get to keep that price forever—so there’s very little risk to give us a try right now.
3. What’s the process for uploading a book to Libboo? Is that a gateway to online retail locations, such as Amazon, or is it an exclusive partnership with Libboo?
It’s very easy. We don’t require any transfer of rights to the author’s (or publisher’s) intellectual property. Authors choose whether or not to upload an ePub file for preview purposes—and to gift copies as rewards to readers who win campaigns. But an ePub file is not required in order to participate.
Libboo offers gateways to any retail location that the author chooses. The most common, as you might imagine, is Amazon. Though it’s early, we have a good clickthrough rate to stores. It’s not surprising, really. Our influential readers are bringing in the “right” customers—they are, in effect, hand-picked. This is such a better, more effective way to identify potential customers. It cuts through the noise.
4. How does Libboo monitor the most engaged readers of an author’s book?
We are data guys. When authors run campaigns for their books on the Libboo platform, it brings activity in to the site. Then we watch, using a complex set of social psychology algorithms to analyze the behavioral data to determine how, where, and why the book is shared online. All this data is presented to the author in real-time, in an easy-to-read analytics dashboard.
5. Libboo seems like it could be a powerful tool in helping authors market their work, with the help of their readers… but what if a self-published author has no readers? How can Libboo help with the discovery process?
This problem exists for authors of all types, not just self-published authors. Even publishers can’t help with this—they ceded direct contact with their customers to bookstores long ago.
Starting from zero is always difficult. But all it takes is a few people to get it started. If they each bring in a few new potential readers, and then they in turn each bring in a few, you can see a quick growth by orders of magnitude. Again, it’s about identifying the right customers, not just spraying a message widely and hoping that it connects with someone.
6. What kind of rewards do readers get for building “Buzz?”
The most common reward that authors set is free copies of the eBook, and that works effectively. But it’s fun to see some of the other creative ideas, such as offering to write a guest blog post, a Skype session with the author, or even naming a character in the author’s next book!
7. Do you see any viable partnerships with a reader network like GoodReads in the future? How do you see Libboo interacting with Amazon and/or publishers in the future?
Definitely. But first, our goal is to become essential to authors. They are the ones who are the most underserved in the current system. Once we are established as the go-to place to build your community of readers, then we’ll see retailers and other book networks wanting to take part.
Today, GoodReads is a great source of authors for us, and almost every one of our participating authors has a link to Amazon. So we’re already there, in a way—even without a formal partnership.
8. Anything else to add?
Though we are still in the early stages, we’re growing quickly and starting to show significant results. So far, 4,500 readers have brought in nearly 350,000 unique book “discoveries.” Who in the industry can do that, especially for unknown authors?
We have almost 200 participating authors now—you can be next!
If you’re interested in advocacy marketing, submit your work to Libboo.com.
Michael Boezi is a long-time publishing veteran and Libboo’s Vice President / Minister of Strategy. He has helped hundreds of authors realize their ideas, from concept to completion, over a variety of roles. He is an Independent Advisor and Content Strategist, specializing in helping authors and publishers make the Shift to Digital. He is a Columnist and Writer for The EdTech Times, featuring The Good Content Series. He served as VP of Content and Community at Flat World Knowledge, an EdTech startup in the textbook realm. Before that, he cut his teeth as an editor at major players like Pearson Education and John Wiley & Sons.
He writes a blog about current issues and trends in the publishing industry, which you can find at michaelboezi.com, along with a full portfolio and more detail on consulting services for content creators, content owners, and investors. Connect with him on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Google+.