One of the buzzwords you hear in publishing today is discoverability. Authors must be discovered by potential readers. To that end, even though obviously selling a car is much different from selling a book, I still think we might be able to learn some lessons from Maserati.

I hadn’t thought about this automobile company except with the vague idea that they are an iconic Italian race car maker more suited for the Autobahnย than for my errands such as going to the mail box and church, usually navigating a 25-mile per hour zone.

So a few weeks ago when my husband and I saw two Maseratis parked inside Tysons Galleria, we said, “How about that?” and walked by. About a week later, my husband received an oversized card in the mail saying he should lease a Maserati. We showed this to Daddy (he loves cars) since this idea seemed hilarious. (Well, it still does, but…)

The next week, I received a large brochure in the mail with MY name alone on it, asking ME, of all people, to come in for a test drive. Clearly they had not gotten the memo that we are paying for a daughter to attend college. I had no idea what bizarre world I had just entered. I told Steve Laube they must have found out I’m with The Steve Laube Agency! Then I called Daddy. He said, “You should go in for the test drive!” (I don’t have plans to, but still…)

Since they had sent me a brochure, I learned how to spell their name, and did some digging on the Internet to learn more about their family of cars. This past week, we had some errands to run at Tysons Galleria. This time we stopped and looked at the parked cars more closely. We still can’t see ourselves driving a race car to church, but our interest had increased since they had sought us out.

Within a month, a company I never considered convinced me to learn about them. They had given our household three points of entry: the indirect impact of the parked cars, then two direct approaches — the invitation to lease, followed by the invitation to take a test drive, to let us know they hope to be an option for us.

Authors have books to sell, and in many ways, that task is easier because books are affordable and people can buy many, many titles. But authors still need to be discovered among the myriad of options competing for the reader’s limited time and attention. That is why authors must decide how readers who haven’t thought much about their particular books will want to find out more.

Your turn:

How did you discover an author or company you hadn’t thought much about?

What do you think is the most effective way for an author to reach readers?

In your view, what is the most impressive marketing tool an author can bring to a partnership with a publisher?



19 Responses to Discoverability

  1. Avatar
    Robin Patchen August 14, 2014 at 5:14 am #

    I’m chuckling, Tamela, because we’ve recently had a similar experience with Masarati. I saw one in town not long ago, then I saw that there’s a new dealership right here in Edmond, Oklahoma, and then my husband got a flier to lease. Now I’m waiting for that invitation to test drive–that sounds like fun. (If only we lived near the Autobahn!)

    The question is, how do we relate this to the discoverability of our books. Direct mail probably isn’t a great option, but social media can put the cover in front of people. Having the book in the right categories on Amazon is a must. Advertising. Getting in bookstores. This is where it gets hard, I think. I’d love to hear people’s ideas.

    • Avatar
      Jacqueline Gillam-Fairchild August 14, 2014 at 6:03 am #

      Dear Tamela: I loved this article. I am a new, unpublished author and I would be interested to know how some of your clients and readers who have published books have gotten their name out there. Thank you.
      Warm regards,
      Jacqueline Gillam Fairchild
      Her Majesty’s English Tea Room
      Author: The Tuck You Inn Series

  2. Avatar
    Judith Robl August 14, 2014 at 5:25 am #

    Getting into bookstores is a real key. When As Grandma Says was being released. I visited several relatively local bookstores (within a 6o mile drive of my home). These were not single visits.

    I began visiting these stores before the book had been contracted. I made it a point to speak to at least one of the employees of the store, or even ask for the manager. I always purchased at least one item – generally a writing magazine – which began a conversation about writing.

    I visited at least quarterly for two years. And only one of the six bookstores carried my book.

    It is hard.

  3. Avatar
    Shelly Miller August 14, 2014 at 6:03 am #

    Getting our writing in places where it isn’t usually seen, like the Maserati inside a mall, turns heads with curiosity. I was visiting our “Mayberry-esque” convenience store at our summer cottage in Canada recently, when I noticed an old fashioned spinning rack of Christian books. I saw some authors friends and some I was unfamiliar with, but I looked for several minutes when I wouldn’t have otherwise. And then someone with me made a purchase.

    • Avatar
      Jacqueline Gillam-Fairchild August 14, 2014 at 6:12 am #

      Gee that is very exciting. How did they get placed on that rack? Was it all one publisher? Was the publisher soliciting convenience stores or do you think the store sought out the publisher? Jacqueline Gillam Fairchild
      Her Majesty’s English Tea Room
      Author:The Tuck You Inn Series

      ps. thank you for your comments.

  4. Avatar
    Jackie Layton August 14, 2014 at 6:40 am #

    Right now I think social media is the way to get started.

    I ran a 5K race Saturday night with friends. We took pictures and posted them on Instagram and FB. I’ve had so many people ask me about why I ran both online and in real life. (Maybe it was the shock of me actually running a race.)

    I like how Maserati mailed you an invitation. So much of our mail these days pertain to bills, that it might be nice to get some happy mail.

    Thanks for sharing!

  5. Avatar
    Thomas Allbaugh August 14, 2014 at 7:14 am #

    The main way I discover authors I like is through the recommendation of friends. It has been that way since I was in high school. That is still the way it works.

    • Avatar
      J.D Maloy August 14, 2014 at 9:42 pm #

      Thomas, I agree all the way. Word of mouth is huge!

      Theresa mentioned Goodreads and I’m often on that site checking out information on various genres I like. That site has tons of lists. I work well with lists.

      I’m going to give myself props for a moment and say that this is the first time I have read a post that mentions marketing/platform in some way and I didn’t hyperventilate. That is growth and I’m thanking the Lord for working through my issues with them. Progress people!

      In regards to the question about marketing and the publisher, I think drive and an open mind are important. Work diligently with ones strengths, and be open to the techniques that are a bit more challenging but effective. Jesus is a great hand holder when we’re scared, yahoo!

      • Avatar
        Thomas Allbaugh August 14, 2014 at 10:23 pm #

        J.D., I have to seriously look into Goodreads. Some friends are recommending it. And yes, props to you for your growth. I know I need to grow up and get used to all the platform and networking talk. I still want to focus on writing well, though.

  6. Avatar
    Nick Kording August 14, 2014 at 7:33 am #

    Great analogy to becoming known. I’ve created an author website so I could be found (mostly for my coaching and ghostwriting clients… but I am not a blogger at heart so it’s a struggle to figure out where a writer who is led to write books rather than blog posts generates that excitement – or at least interest enough for people to learn to spell your name… I laughed out loud at that because my name is difficult for people to get right… I solved that problem by using Nick instead of Niccol.

  7. Avatar
    Jeanne Takenaka August 14, 2014 at 7:55 am #

    Wow, before reading this post, I wasn’t sure how to spell Maserati either. ๐Ÿ™‚ I guess I’ve learned my new thing for the day. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    It seems like most of the times I’ve discovered a new company or author, it’s been through the recommendation of friends, or exposure to said author or company via friends. If a company offers a product I’ve been looking for, I’ll try it to see how well it works for me.

    As for authors reaching readers, I keep hearing about the importance of building relationships. Which usually seems to begin online or/and through newsletters. Showing care for readers and offering them something of value. I’m not sure how that will translate for me yet, but it’s something I’m thinking about.

    I’d love to hear any tips you have for writers and authors to become more “discoverable.” ๐Ÿ™‚

  8. Avatar
    Laura Kirk August 14, 2014 at 8:06 am #

    If you can discover a way, through social media, to help people by either giving advice or directing them to helpful resources, I think you lay a path to their heart. Meeting their needs in this way endears them to you, so when you come out with a book, preferably involving the same subject, they are poised and ready to read it. Of course, they will also want to share it with their friends. This can work for fiction, as well as, nonfiction. Say you post exercises that actually help the working mom to whittle away at her waistline in only twenty minutes a day. Then you write a book about a zany, working mom that becomes obsessed with a FB friend who has actually helped her to trim up via her quick and simple abdomen exercises. She begins to stalk her only to find out the exercise miracle worker is in a wheelchair and cannot even perform the exercises she posts. Or, you could write a non fiction book on the subject. ๐Ÿ™‚

  9. Avatar
    Ann Shorey August 14, 2014 at 8:25 am #

    Great anaolgy, Tamela! (So, did you test drive the car?)

    • Avatar
      Tamela Hancock Murray August 14, 2014 at 8:51 am #

      No, Ann, although Daddy did ask about it also. His eyes lit up when I told him I should take him with me!

  10. Avatar
    Wendy Macdonald August 14, 2014 at 9:18 am #

    Tamela, I think the most impressive tool that an author can bring to the publishing partnership (besides an excellent MS) is a love for the readers.

    I’m reading an e-book right now that I became aware of because of a friendship that grew through social media. The author wants to return the favor one day.

    You were exposed to the Maserati brand several times. I think authors have to be engaged with the audience more than just once. It’s the writers who have touched base with me at least three times that stick in my mind. I want to read their books because they love their readers.

    Blessings ~ Wendy โ€

  11. Avatar
    Janet Ann Collins August 14, 2014 at 10:03 am #

    Advertising does make us aware of products, but there can be too much of a good thing. Some advertising can make us less likely to buy the products because it’s irritating. There are some things I will never buy because the ads are such a nuisance. How do we know where to draw the line?

  12. Avatar
    Theresa Santy August 14, 2014 at 10:43 am #

    There is a certain charm to “three points of entry.” That’s how I discovered the book Thin Blue Smoke. I read about it on two different book review blogs and then I saw the book mentioned on a Christian writers forum. But I don’t believe “three” is a magic number. For certain established authors, a reader could simply catch a glimpse of a hint of a new book coming out by this author, and the reader is online pre-ordering a copy. For many authors, multiple mentions are necessary.

    What are effective ways for an author to reach his/her audience? There are a handful of books that I’ve bought simply because I’ve spotted them so many times in so many different places (multiple points of entry). These are books I would never had been interested in simply based on the cover and title, had I not kept hearing about them or seeing them. (Fun Fact: The Help was one of these books). Occasionally, I’ll buy a book recommended on social media, or one recommended on Goodreads, but often, I glaze over these recommendations because there’s so many! Often, I read books recommended by friends. And almost always, I seek out books published by authors who have wowed me in the past.

    That leads me to your third question, Tamela. I believe the most important marketing tool an author can bring to a partnership with a publisher is a quality product.

    And by the way, that’s a clever marketing tool to place those cars in a crowded, public space. That’s being done with the Tesla in my area. I’m wondering how it would look to use that same idea for book promotion? An author can ask his or her friends, spanning multiple cities and states, to take the book with them the next time they go out…sitting on the bus or subway….at the coffee shop…the mall…Disneyland, etc. Every time I see someone in public with a book in their hand, I want to know what they’re reading, and why.

  13. Avatar
    Sandy Faye Mauck August 14, 2014 at 11:12 am #

    One thing I intend to do other than social media is become a personal person to my own town. People will read books they might not normally read because it is either written by a local author or about their town or history.

    I feel saddened by the closing Christian book stores all over and I have to literally drive 100 miles in one direction or 40 minutes in the other to get to one. But I hate buying books I don’t want to read. I try to look up the author’s websites/blogs to get to know them to see if I could even visit with them. Gives me a feel as to what I might see from their “pen”.

  14. Avatar
    Natalie Monk August 15, 2014 at 12:42 pm #

    Hmm. Discoverability. Besides writing a manuscript and back cover copy that will spark a word-of-mouth wild-fire, I think ads in reader saturated markets would be a good idea. Magazines and websites for Homeschoolers, and Christian resource sites, as well as fiction review sites would be a good place for this.

    Then there are those fiction giveaways that require readers to get the word out or share Pinterest images in order to win the desired prize.

    Another thing that might nab someone’s attention, someone who doesn’t normally read the genre, is to market an intriguing universal aspect of the story. One of my novels deals with alcohol abuse and domestic violence. Though the manuscript is historical, these issues are universal and are still trying to be prevented today. Partnering with a charity organization or cause could reach readers that may give to or benefit from the cause, who wouldn’t otherwise have known about the book.

    Great post, Tamela!

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