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Exactly a year ago, you held the fate of a dream in your hands. We were asking for $40,000 to fund our moonshot. And in Kickstarter, if you don't reach your campaign goal, you get nothing. Now, remarkably, we are feeling the gravitational pull of the App and Google Play Stores.
Without you, we'd have never gotten our time-traveling machine off the ground!
No one's taking anything for granted, but a year on from our Kickstarter launch in May 2015, hosted by Julie Gribble and KidLit TV, we wanted to pause for a moment, take stock and recognize all of you who shared the vision strongly enough to reach out and help us cross that first finish line… before we cross the next one — toward which we inch closer every day...
I need your opinion. But first let me tell you why…
Ensuring that your digital publication—whether StoryApp, interactive eBook, or print-on-demand product—is discovered and read by customers continues to be one of the greatest challenges facing authors and publishers in the digital space today.
Online distribution channels are “noisy” places. They are flooded with content, not all of it good. (Some might even say most of it.)
Online distribution channels are not well organized, especially the App Store, making it difficult for publishers, both big and small, to successfully “shelve” their digital offerings for easy discovery. (In fact, it remains quite mysterious how to best choose your categories.)
Online distribution channels can be daunting for the consumer, many of whom never dig deeper than what is “fed” to them by way of top picks, editor's choices, and other recommendations.
For the producer, the mere act of being on the App or iBookstores, Google Play, or on Amazon does not mean your job is done. Far from it. You now need social proof that your content is worth someone’s attention. This involves marketing. Lots of it. Ongoingly. And for the long haul.
I can state from experience, that digital publishing, while seemingly the opportunity of our age, is not for the faint of heart.
Because the name of the game—the way to get highlighted by Apple or Amazon, for example—is through downloads, lots of them, as well as high ratings and positive reviews. The more you get, the more likely you are to hit that magical tipping point where the system works for you, so you get even more. Only then does quality content rise above and get noticed in the crowd.
Developers with big marketing budgets know this. That’s why they allocate resources in an attempt to trip the system: giving their product away in order to boost downloads and/or paying for reviews are just two examples. These practices prove my point:
To survive in the digital ecosystem, you need ratings and reviews.
Reviews, especially good ones, are a kind of social currency. If I give your book a positive review, someone else is more likely to take your book seriously, purchase it, and also post a glowing review.
Even a bad review, if well-founded, can be turned into a positive if you use it to update and improve your book or product.
True, not all good reviews guarantee quality content. Some are just plain fake. But the power of a positive review cannot be overstated.
It’s exactly this type of community engagement that has driven such powerful social engines as TripAdvisor.
So, on behalf of all content creators out there, when you buy your next favorite book or app, the one you think deserves mention, please take a moment to go back to the store where you bought it and send up a starred review.
It takes many years, a lot of faith, and valuable resources of both time and money to write a great book or to produce a winning app. Yet, it takes mere minutes to let an author or developer know how much you appreciate their efforts.
* * *
Beware Madame la Guillotine
to your reading list this summer.
Request your FREE pdf download
in exchange for an honest review directly on Amazon.
I will be forever grateful.
Another year has come and gone. We’ve revolved once again through twelve months and four seasons. We've passed through the darkest days of winter and begun our ascent toward the longer, lighter days of summer. I already feel the days growing longer and that just makes me so glad.
The new year brings new beginnings. It’s a time for resolving to take on new challenges and setting the goals that go will them.
But it can also bring on serious overwhelm. And who wants to start a new year feeling that?
All this resolution-making can be depressing if we approach it from a place of lack, or failure; if we reflect only what we should have done (and didn’t) or what we intended to change last year (but couldn’t manage for whatever reason).
To punctuate this year’s reVolution, I took a page out of Katie Davis’ book, literally. I looked back on the year just gone to identify my achievements, before setting my resolutions for the year ahead.
I invite you to do the same. Because one accomplishment per month is a lot to celebrate when all is said and done, even if they were unexpected!
Rather than dwell on what wasn’t, highlight instead what was. I am sure you will see, as I did, that many boxes were ticked, even if they were unplanned.
Perhaps life intervened to take you off your original course. Maybe there were unforeseen necessary steps that had to be taken on the way to what still can be.
Don’t worry, it’s all good!
Because you’re now a bit wiser for it.
Because these achievements become the foundation stones upon which you may now climb toward your goals in 2014.
So let’s do it together --
What did you accomplish in 2013? How will that carry you through the 2014 revolution?
Download Katie's New Year gift pack today as she'll be taking it down by the end of January 2014. Let me know what you learned in the comments below! Here's mine:
Epiphany brought with it the epiphany that I was wasting my time trying to market my app, and my expertise, through a company brand. So impersonal! So I decided to launch my own website under my name. And here it is!
Beware Madame la Guillotine, the interactive eBook, launched in Apple’s iBook store after many months of preparation that included learning a new software application: iBooks Author.
I made my first conference speaking appearance at Tools of Change in Publishing at the Bologna Children's Book Fair as part of a panel of authors and illustrators,on the topic of “publishing digitally.” I followed that with an article published in the TOC online magazine, Transforming Publishing.
I recognized, once and for all, that my writer’s voice tends more toward an older audience after my agent, Erzsi Deàk, rejected yet another picture book MS. She said. “Sarah, I see you as a natural middle grade author. Don't send me any more picture books.” It was difficult to hear, especially as I'd resolved to sell my first picture book MS in 2013. But she was right. So you see, there is growth in rejection ;).
I wrote my very first ever business plan, people! And if I can do that, anyone can. Even you.
My pet volunteer project, The Young Authors’ Fiction Festival, which I co-coordinated with the American Library in Paris, concluded another year without a hitch and with many happy children, parents, and teachers present. I was thrilled at their collective successes.
I launched my brand new website. This one!
After speaking at SCBWI-LA with Julie Hedlund on crafting and submitting StoryBook Apps, I tucked in for two weeks of R&R with my loving and adorable family. It was there I found the inspiration for my first chapter book.
I started teaching again after all these years – Woot! Woot! In large part thanks to this website. I'm now working regularly, teaching writing and literacy at the Roaming Schoolhouse, International School of Paris, and American Library in Paris. I also made several author visits in 2013 to The Harpeth Hall School and University School of Nashville, both in Tennessee, and St. Stephen's & St. Agnes School in Alexandria, Virginia.
I finished my first full-fledged chapter book manuscript, I Call Him Griffin. It still needs more work, but hey it’s good enough to be promising. At least my agent thinks so. Contact me here if you'd like to share critiques!
I traveled to the US to
- participate in the Dust or Magic Institute;
- meet with the various members of the future Team TTT&T (more on that in 2014);
- make a sweep of school visits. Fun!
Team TTT&T is unofficially assembled, our future development partner is secured, talks with our first client begin (more news coming soon!), and I take two whole weeks off -- two weeks people -- to enjoy the holidays and my family. I haven't done that in a very, very long time.
And here are my words for 2014: