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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.
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Beware Madame la Guillotine
to your reading list this summer.
I will be forever grateful.