How to Increase Your Internet Discoverability

I just returned from BEA (Book Expo America) in New York and boy, are my arms tired. Seriously. With publishers handing out signed ARCs right and left, I should have brought an oxcart. Aside from meeting authors and publishing professionals, scarfing up swag, and nearly getting trampled by a gang of fans waiting to see Neil Gaiman and Amy Tan, I attended a full-day event called uPublishU, which consisted of workshop after workshop of tips and best practices for self-publishing.

Frankly, I was surprised this was even being offered, given the heavily New York TradPub presence normally found at this yearly show, but apparently the uPU event has been going on for a few years and is growing in popularity. The attendees ranged from aspiring authors to experienced self-publishers to former traditionally published authors looking to go it on their own. The workshops also ranged in complexity from the basics of how to make e-books, to platform-building techniques, to higher-level tricks with demographics, distribution, and mixed-media enhancements. Guy Kawasaki gave a keynote address where he shared his wildly successful method of inviting a small subset of readers in for feedback as early as the outlining stage, which, he said, builds reader investment in his books and helps him create a better product. (And hence, netting him more reviews.)

Yes, I know, it helps that he has name recognition. And you…well, not so much yet. Knowing this, the most popular buzzword running through nearly all of the workshops was discoverability. We’ve run a few posts in that neighborhood, including this one from Jim Devitt. Basically, discoverability is how potential readers find you on the Internet, which, from the latest statistics from Bowker Market Research, is mainly where readers are looking for book information.

This is why, according to Jon P. Fine, Amazon’s director of author and publisher relations, that it’s important to be as complete as possible when you fill out your metadata, not just at Amazon but anywhere you have an online presence: book description, author bio and professional photo, excerpt (including the “look inside” feature on Amazon), keywords, genre, social media and website links. And since, according to that same Bowker study, most purchases of self-published books are impulse buys, it’s that much more important to have a good, discoverable Internet presence and make it easy for potential readers to find you.

But how to do this, you say?

1. First, read K.S. Brooks’ fantastic post about how to build your online empire. If you aren’t in these basic places yet, get there. Make sure your book description is up to snuff, has some simple, clear keywords that make it clear what your book is about, and DOES NOT contain any typos.

2. Get on Mama Google to see where you might be deficient. Clear your browser’s cookies and then search on your name. So you have a Ganxy account you never completed? A presence on LibraryThing that only includes the first book of your eighteen-part detective series? Fill out those profiles and update your information. Make sure ALL blogs, YouTube videos, social media, retailer profiles, and your other “little corners of the Internet” [I only use this phrase this because Rich Meyer hates it] have a link back to your website.

3. Get organized. Make a spreadsheet (or use whatever method you find useful) to keep track of your Internet profiles. That way, when you need to add a book, change out a YouTube video trailer, or update your bio, you can save a ton of time and aggravation by having the links at the end of your typing fingers.

4. Make sure the sales links to your books are easy to find on your website. Bestselling romantic-comedy author Maria Murname, who spoke on a panel discussion on “Getting Discovered,” was aghast at how many authors’ websites are deficient here. Make it easy for those impulse purchasers. Put up an image of your book cover, and beneath that, a linked logo for each online retailer where your book is being sold.

5. Even your blog posts should contribute to your discoverability, according to author and creativity coach Nina Amir. If your upcoming novel is, for example, set into a backdrop of political corruption in Boston in the nineteenth century, blog about some of those topics. Use keywords in your post. Not only will you build discoverability about those topics, but you’ll also build your author credibility in this area and, hence, your platform.

6. Check your results. After you’ve made your updates (and it might be a good practice to do this occasionally), clear your cookies and do another Google search on your name. If you’re not coming up high enough, you may need to fine-tune your metadata by including better keywords and more information.

All this might take a bit of time, but it’s well worth it to make you and your books easier to find on the Internet.

Author: Laurie Boris

Laurie Boris is a freelance writer, editor, proofreader, and former graphic designer. She has been writing fiction for over twenty-five years and is the award-winning author of four novels. She lives in New York’s lovely Hudson Valley. Learn more about Laurie at her website and her Amazon author page.

43 thoughts on “How to Increase Your Internet Discoverability”

  1. Fantastic post! This checklist of things that aren’t new, just incomplete, was exactly what I needed to stop floundering about and do something useful.

  2. Yes – I do all this regularly. I must tweak my website books page, you’re right. I think the most important line in this article is: “most purchases of self-published books are impulse buys”. I must learn how to channel that impulse!!

  3. Great post Laurie. I’m happy to say that if I google for “Massimo Marino” the first pages are all about me and my books, but for a couple others with same name.

    I must be doing something good.

  4. By the way, since every online presence in important, my novel Daimones is on promo while the sequel gets the final touch for publishing. So, to save substantially, friends and potential readers, get it now and save $3 – down from $3.99 to $0.99 😀

    Laurie, you may delete it if you wish 😀

  5. Great stuff, and a timely reminder. I would add one thing, bookmark this post to come back to a couple of times a year and check things haven’t slipped when you weren’t looking. 🙂

    1. Thank you, Carolyn, and that will probably work better than a series of sticky notes around the house that eventually fall off things and gather dust under my desk, or as I call it, my former state or organization. 😀

  6. Great info, Laurie. My to-do list just keeps on growing, sigh…

    Oh! The Neil Gaiman thing. I’d never seen an author treated like a rock star before until I was at the World Fantasy Convention in San Diego in 2011. One of the guests of honor was Gaiman. When he did a reading, or was on a panel, they brought him in through the back passages. And his line at the book signing was practically around the building.

    1. Thank you, Lynne. Yeah, that’s weird about this Gaiman guy, isn’t it? Didn’t he write something important? I can never remember. 😉

  7. Great list Laurie. I’ve been remiss, and too busy getting done with Book Three of my Trilogy. I’ll find time and go back and refresh my links. Thank you.

  8. This isn’t fair. I just returned from my 35th reunion. No one said homework would be assigned! I should have known better. As always, a great post Laurie. Back to the books.

    1. I know, I’m so mean! 😉 Thanks for visiting, Jeff. My 35th is coming up some time this summer. But with so many of my classmates already on Facebook, I feel like it’ll be kind of anti-climactic. We’ll all be saying, “Oh. That’s what you look like in person. By the way, nice cat videos.”

  9. Thanks again to you Laurie, and to K.S. Brooks, Rich Meyer and Jim Devitt for contributing great posts! For some reason, I couldn’t find where to leave a comment for them?

  10. Thanks for the post. Very helpful. Especially appreciate your links to the previous articles (good for those of us relatively new to the site).

  11. Great post Laurie. You’ve reminded me of housekeeping I’ve been putting off. I particularly like the ‘get organized’ reminder. I’m anything but at the moment.

    1. That’s a tough one for me, too, AC. I’m getting into the habit by leaving that spreadsheet on my desktop. Any new entry goes on the spreadsheet.

    1. Thank you, and thanks for stopping by, Anna! I’m doing all those things, too, but a little at a time. It feels less intimidating that way 😀

  12. Laurie, great post; lots of good info here. Along with the spreadsheet to keep track of internet presence, I also keep one for all the guest blogs, author interviews and review requests I’ve done. That way when someone comes back to me 3 months later and says, “Ok, I’m ready for you now!” I know what the heck they’re talking about!

  13. Great post, Laurie, and I do know all of this but, as Dan said, it’s always good to be reminded. My problem is finding the time to fit everything in.

  14. Thank you, TD! I hear you on the time. There’s never enough, it seems. But I’m watching a lot less TV than I used to, so I just gained a few more precious hours!

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