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App Store

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Digital Discoverability: The Importance of Reviews

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.

* * *

Consider adding
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.

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A Brief History of StoryApps and Interactivity

In July 2008, Apple launched the App Store, 1 1/2 years after the release the first iPhone, an event that would change the world of publishing forever.

At that point, software applications, aka apps (i.e., task-specific coded programs or utilities for end users), had existed for some time, since the birth of the computer. But their numbers were few. And never before had they been powered and run on a hand-held device that tripled as personal compu-
ter, music player, and phone.

The iPhone unleashed an industry more vast and far-reaching than even Steve Jobs had anticipa-
ted. New apps exploded onto the market, simpli-
fying life's daily tasks in ways we didn't know we wanted but now can't live without.

Apple discovered it needed a way to manage and benefit from the new cultural paradigm it had started, while also offering third-party developers and early adopters a place at their party. At that time, the App Store was the place to be and be seen.

By April 2010, the company changed the game again, as well as the party dress code. This time, it was the release of the iPad that brought new categories to an expanded App Store. Among these new categories: Children's Books.

And thus, the StoryApp genre was born. 

Humankind's newest storytelling genre, the StoryApp has since been trialed and tested and nurtured into its own as intrepid developers, authors, and publishers have struggled with, and learned, how best to make use of the form. From their initial attempts to recreate the book on the screen, these early adopters have much to teach us about how mobile and tablet devices can be used to enrich and extend story content as well as educate a new generation of tech-savvy young readers: today's "digital natives".  

In this Brief History of StoryApps and Interactivity, I attempt to illustrate through real-world examples the evolution of the StoryApp form, from its earliest flawed iterations to today's blockbusters. And with it, I hope to set the stage for more in-depth video views and reviews on the ground-breaking, earth-shaking, entertainment-making StoryApps of today... and tomorrow.

We all owe a debt of gratitude to the StoryApp pioneers. I include their products herein not to criticize, but to demonstrate what we may learn from their efforts to help us best usher our story content into an interactive future.

My thanks to all the developers, authors, illustrators, publishers, etc., featured this video. And to a whole host of others besides.

More soon,
Sarah

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