Welcome to Biting-Edge, a blog shared by authors and vampire experts, Mario Acevedo and Jeanne Stein. We’ll cover urban fantasy, vampires, pop culture, and all things Joss Whedon. Unlike other fantasy blogs, we don’t insist on body cavity searches (unless you ask politely). Snarkiness is most welcome...though we won't promise not to bite back!

Sunday, February 24, 2013
  We discover "Discoverability"

Mario here:

What I'm reading this week: Ice Station by Matt Reilly.

Let me start by admitting a personal fault. Every time a gaggle of publishing experts confabs to lecture us writers what to do in this book business, my jaw clenches, my blood pressure kicks up a notch, and I start trolling gun websites for a good deal on a .357 magnum.

Over at the Writing on the Ether blog, there's a bunch of well-meaning (presumably) folks gassing on about "Discoverability," which is industry-speak for how do readers find your book? The article has a lot of links, most of which lead you to regurgitations of Twitter feeds. So even in this collection of eggheads you have to dig for meaningful (and understandable) information. Thankfully, Lou Edgerly, a media journalist (from here in Denver no less), provides this nugget:

"Physical bookstores are still the place where most books bought are discovered. 31 percent of discovery is physical bookseller. Recommendations account for 14 percent. 11 percent is digital discovery. Social networks account for less than 2 percent."

I don't know where Edgerly got his numbers but they jibe with what we've posted here before, more-or-less. He doesn't break down recommendations between word-of-mouth and those you'll get from reviewers or book sellers, and we've mentioned before that word-of-mouth is the strongest driver of "Discoverability." We won't argue that co-op advertising in the bookstore is definitely a huge factor in reaching the elusive reader (and buyer of your book). Interestingly, he repeats what we've said on a previous blog, that social media is way at the bottom.

The Writing on the Ether blog also feeds us this pronouncement: that 48 percent of book sales on Amazon are planned purchases. Previously, the theory was that readers were led by the nose by Jeff Bezo's algorithm-driven promotional schemes. Forty-eight percent is a significant number and this realization launched a rant about the need for us writers to connect with readers before they even get to Amazon. (As if our practice is to chase away readers with tear gas and cattle prods.) But it overlooks the obvious that the majority of book purchases (52%!) are made by readers browsing through Amazon. And there is where the Amazon-focused marketing ingredients like book covers, descriptions, and sales promotions come into play.

So what in the article gets my blood pumping and my fingers itching for the trigger? Because no where in the discussion does anyone ever say: If you want to make it big in this business, you need to write a good book. One that resonates with readers. The word-of-mouth thing. Every writer's blog, tweet, and YouTube video is done in the hopes that it'll go viral. But as any honest agent or editor will tell you, success in publishing depends as much on "and then God smiled" as it does anything else.

And now, for the good stuff.

Join us for the Apparatus fundraiser. 6PM, March 6, 2013, at Flatirons Coffee in Boulder, CO. Featuring readings in speculative fiction by Julie Kazimer, Jesse Bullington, John E, Stith, Brandon M. Herbert, and myself.

March 18, I start teaching my 4-week workshop, Writing Your First Mystery, at the Lighthouse Writers Workshop. Besides honing your story-telling skills, it's a great opportunity to join this truly awesome community of writers.

April 10, at the LoDo Tattered Cover, Seattle writer pal, Jennie Shortridge will host a book signing for her latest novel, Love Water Memory. We can't wait.

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Hey that's right in my neighborhood. I'll come on down if I can...

Ditto on what you said about writing a good book. Even better: write lots of good books fairly quickly. :D
Betsy: hope to see you at Flatirons Coffee.
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