So last week was midterm week, and I wrote about the popular, mainstream app, Snapchat (article here). This week’s focus, however, is industry-specific, or “niche”, social media channels. Since I’ve worked in book publishing and editing for some time now, and I have several titles to my own name, I’m actually pretty familiar with a number of niche social media networks, particularly those designed for authors and publishers. This week I want to talk about one of the newer sites, a social channel called Authors Info.
What is Authors Info?
The simplest way to describe Authors Info is to compare it to a Facebook / Goodreads hybrid platform, only, Authors Info is designed more for authors, publishers, and agents first, and then readers. The site acts as a social network for those in the writing, editing, and publishing industry, and continually curates and manages new author and book information submitted by professionals who sign up to use the site. Its landing page often runs a looping slideshow-style banner that displays new or featured titles, and just below, users will find a “Search Listing” section, where they can browse newly reviewed titles, newly added listings, or search specifically for books or authors.
In this regard, Authors Info might look familiar to those similar with the popular social reading platform, Goodreads. I would argue, however, that Authors Info’s design is cleaner and more robust, and its content is much more detailed, setting it apart from other sites that host information about authors and their works. For example, if users look up a title and click the link to its on-site page, they access a detailed page (example left) that tells them everything they could want to know about a book, its author and publisher as well as their Twitter handle(s), its ISBN and ASIN numbers, genre and subject tags, all available formats, publication dates, page count, language editions, editor and user reviews–everything. Plus, these info pages are “favorite-able”, shareable across six other major social networks with the simple click of a button, and provide direct purchase links to sites like Amazon, one of, if not the largest seller of books online. But what makes Authors Info really special?…
Author profile pages! That’s right, Authors Info isn’t merely an information dump for reviews and book info. When it comes to its authors, publishers, and other industry professionals, Authors Info is a living community. It’s a place where readers’ favorite books and authors, as well as those authors, their publishers, and agents, gather to be able to speak to and network with one another.
Are you a reader who wants to know more about an author? Are you an agent looking for undiscovered or emerging talent? Maybe you’re a publisher trying to connect your imprints’ professional circles online? On Authors Info, that’s where public profiles come into play. They look and act much like a Facebook profile, and just as with other, similar channels, users can “follow” or “friend” one another, or simply view their bio, posts, links, videos, and other content. Publishing industry professionals, writers, and other users can post to their own feeds (and others, with permission), create calendars, discussions, notes, and track reviews and favorites from profile pages. The possibilities and uses are many. Publishers can create groups for their authors, unpublished authors can engage publishers and agents, and agents can network on behalf of their clients easily within the platform. Additionally, the site offers users the option to link their profile to their accounts to other networks, particularly Facebook and Google+.
Publishing, Social Media, and Proximity Marketing
I think Authors Info is built to work wonderfully alongside its more mainstream social channel fellows, and provides a great outlet for publishing industry professionals and readers to engage away from the noise. There’s also great potential for Authors Info to help its users tie their traditional blogs and Youtube channels into their Authors Info profiles and feeds. Youtube, in my opinion, is especially important, and I think as publishing moves forward, professionals need to find more ways to bolster print entertainment with engaging visual content online. As Penn simply explains, “video search is increasing, and you want to be found,” and “book sales are all about a human connection.” Video content is huge, and book publishing needs to invest effort in it.
What I’d like to see most, however, is the publishing industry employing some creative proximity marketing, and I’m not talking about setting up iBeacons in Barnes & Noble. I’m looking at small or independent publishers who frequent convention center or open-air book festivals representing their authors.
Think about it–festivals are basically temporary shopping malls, and malls are one of the best places to implement proximity marketing, grabbing consumers’ attention at the best possible moment, when they’re looking to buy. I’ve defended the value of selling at book festivals for years, now, and I think in-person booksellers either have neglected the advantages of combining social media and proximity marketing at book fairs and book festivals, or that they just have no idea the tools are available. Imagine the possibilities! Why not promote special offers on books, or tech-engagement with the event itself, like music festivals Coachella and Bonnaroo did in 2014?
Consider a study by PricewaterhouseCoopers that surveyed 1,000 people:
“The study included some information on what people liked that marketers can use when planning proximity ads. For example, 76 percent say they browse in-store because they want to see and touch the item before buying online, and 65 percent say they browse online but purchase in the store because they don’t want to pay shipping costs.”
–Peter Roesler, Bizjournals.com (2015).
Despite the rise of online shopping, there’s most certainly an audience that wants to shop and make purchases in-person. To publishers, that means we’re talking about those readers who swear by “old-fashioned” books, and who just “love the smell, feel, and look of a good ol’ print edition”. Many of these readers are on mobile, and if they’re looking to save on shipping cost, I’m willing to bet they’re open to receiving on-site or in-store offers as well. Don’t rule it out!
Authors Info has the potential to be an interesting toolkit for publishing as well as a great supplement to small-publisher and indie author proximity marketing. Authors Info itself is a platform that brings familiar social networking functionality to a niche industry by combining the best aspects of already-popular and successful channels. It doesn’t merely act as a professional network for the publishing industry, it also creates an interesting public forum for authors and their readers, a place where readers and writers can pierce the publishing veil a bit. As it’s a fairly new site, I’m excited to see how it grows as well as how it continues to weave itself into other industry-specific networks and general, mainstream channels.
Penn, Joanna. (2010, March 8). Thecreativepenn.com – “7 Reasons Why Writers Need To Start Using Video For Book Promotion”
Roesler, Peter. (2015, February 23). Bizjournals.com – “How to use proximity marketing without alienating potential consumers”