Saturday, March 7, 2015

Getting Your Books Discovered with Social Book Networks.

Social Media and Book Discovery only work when the Search Engines are involved.

(Photo: Phil Roeder)

While social media/networks are all the buzz about how to promote your book - as usual, the conscious work at ignoring what passes for conventional wisdom winds up usually easier, more efficient, and more profitable.

Confession: I have a very nasty personal habit with social media: I spend my time writing and publishing. I spend minutes each day with social media - less than an hour. Occasionally, I visit G+ and plus some nice photos. But mostly, I simply post great stuff I find. Completely opposite what "they say" you "should be" doing.

Otherwise, I'm working at what I need to get done that day in terms of published books or market research. Part of this is working out how the actual world works, not the ways we are being told about constantly.

I only post to G+ and LinkedIn, as they are content-based. Recently, I've been discovering Flipbook, and have been studying Pinterest as a way to promote my books - beyond the cover itself. All four of these are recommended because they are ranked well by search engines and reputed to bring you traffic.

Most of my use of social media is - gasp - to help search engines find my books and recommend them for me. Well, that's not entirely true. I send lots of #publishingtips out on Google+ nearly every day. Because I want to help, and that is an outlet for these fascinating things I find. It also helps me promote my blog posts - or that's the idea. (Hasn't worked much, it seems.)

Recently found the 5 key sites via Newbie Authors Guide that they recommended  about 3 years ago. (Starts at 4 of the 5 are still valid.

The test of uploading your backlist to social sites

Criteria here is how you can quickly get your books listed, particularly if you've been busy publishing for awhile, and neglected your social graces. Ideal is to be able to upload your books without having to upload them one by one.

The point is to aggregate your published works and get the reviews sorted so you are listed as the author, etc. That help you rank better on Amazon, and in general helps the search engines find your books.

Out of these, I found that 3 will allow you to upload your list of published books.

Goodreads ( and LibraryThing ( support CSV format. So you can download a CSV of your books from GooglePlay, edit that file to delete unnecessary columns, then re-import to these other two.

Shelfari is possible once you've uploaded them to LibraryThing and have a tab-delimited text file. (


There is a vital promotion point: Open Library. However, they can't accept CSV's at this time. There is one way to add books, which is You have to have an account. But it's simple to cut/paste from Calibre. This is just a single book at a time.

(There is another, involved way to upload to OpenLibrary - create and upload a MARC21, UniMARC, or ONIX file. Some searching found Booknet Canada which will convert to ONIX for you - although it's a bit involved
MARC is a format that deals with Library of Congress books. A nice description of MARC from the documentation of a free DOS-based tool is found at IMHO - way too geeky for the average indie publisher.)

Why get your CSV from Google Play/Books?

The real question is why I can't get CSV's from Lulu, iTunes, Nook, or Kobo.

As I try to publish everything to every distributor, Google is representative of just about all the books I've gotten up and out, as ebooks anyway.

The way you do it is simple:
1) Log into your publisher account (
2) On Book Catalog, click the "Export Books" button
On Book Catalog, click the "Export Books" button

3) A dialog box comes up - select our options and then the download will start.

4) Then you can simply delete the columns which have nothing to do with the book (I leave ISBN, title, subtitle, author - and search/replace-deleted the phrase "ISBN:") and save, then upload the CSV.

The results?

  • Library Thing added 145 books but only the title and author. Generic covers there - so these need to be updated.
  • Goodreads choked on it - kicked out 166 right off the bat, said 24 were already there, and imported 3. While they had about 23 yet to import, I uploaded the text file to see if that would help.
  • Shelfari found 223 books in that list. But needed help identifying 218 of them, which made no sense of adding them by text/CSV file.

Frankly, after editing several dozen books on Shelfari, I quit. Tedious, and I didn't see much return on this. I'm no big fan of Amazon and haven't seen anywhere that  this shows up on Google - Goodreads does, though. I don't need more of Amazon's "walled garden". It may help there, I don't know. The point of this is to get the search engines to recommend the books I'm publishing - so if I can't see anything show up on Google from within Shelfari itself, then there's no point in working it. LibraryThing reviews and author pages show up on a test.

Your best  bet is to add these one at a time when you publish the book. Just LibraryThing and Goodreads. Put these two above right next to OpenLibrary.

Looking over LibraryThing, and Goodreads shows that this is a fair promotional area to use when you do a launch. Pre-release reviews are possible with LT - these point out how more research is needed at these, along with the hardcore evidence that any of these actually help with recovery.

Was this a failed test?

No. With every test, we learn. We found out that Goodreads and LibraryThing reviews and author pages show up. Shelfari is a failed experiment by Amazon. We know to keep this as a regular part of publishing any new book.

Again, the best way to publish is to do this in batches. That makes updating sites like Goodreads and LibraryThing less tedious. (Skip Shelfari.)

And - stick to what you've proved to work, even though you can try new stuff if it looks possible. Test everything for yourself, especially what I say.

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