This article is for authors to help them understand how we get readers to your book list so they can meet you and your book (and, hopefully, buy it!).
Our recommendations are forever (key point)
Once your book recommendation list is in our system, we promote you and your book list forever. This is unlike a magazine where you are only featured in the November issue. Shepherd is timeless, and we are constantly creating new ways to help readers discover you, your book, and your book list.
How does Shepherd currently get readers to my book recommendation list?
- Search Engines - If your list is a good fit for it, we work to rank your book recommendation list for what people are searching for on search engines. For example, if someone searches for "best children's books about elephants" and your list is "the best children's books about the world of elephants," we will work to rank you in search engines. This usually takes 6+ months to achieve but delivers interested readers every single day.
- Social Media - We give authors the tools to share their list on social media. Not only does this help authors engage their audience and sell their book, but it also helps readers find our website and our entire author community. This is a virtuous circle as we help people to find better ways to find books. And you can share your content multiple times a year to engage your communities (especially if you do it in a way to cause discussion).
- (Coming 2023) Email - In 2023, we will launch a personalized book recommendation newsletter for readers. Readers will select their favorite books, authors, topics, and genres and we will deliver recommended books and book lists to them. This will become another channel that we use to get readers to your book list.
- Our Topic Engine - Our bookshelf pages and recommendation system are powered by our topic engine. You can read a detailed breakdown of how it works and how we use it to pull readers toward your list, you, and your book here. Each book recommendation on your list is deployed around the website to pull more readers to your book list.
- Recommendation Engine - We use our recommendation engine to help readers find your book list from different parts of Shepherd. We use this system to recommend related book lists on the bookshelves, other book recommendation lists, individual book pages, "books like" pages, and more! In the first half of 2023, we will add genre and age data to this system to further expand this system.
- Bookshelves - Bookshelves are topic pages on things like World War 2, dragons, or grief. On these pages, we feature recommended books and feature what book list those books come from (as well as the author of that list and their book). One of our goals here is to entice readers from here to your book list. Keep in mind these are topics, not book genres; we are working on adding book genre data in early 2023.
- Internal Search - Our search feature allows readers to search for Wikipedia topics they are interested in, a favorite book, or a favorite author. We then point them to bookshelves and book lists they would be interested in. This drives traffic to your book list and helps them discover you, your book, and your book list. We will link this to genre later this year as we integrate that data (adding genre is the big project for early 2023, and our roadmap is here with more info).
- New Front Page - The new front page helps readers find the best place to start browsing for books (mostly through search in its current form). It will receive an update in early 2023 as we bring in genres and age data.
- "Books Like" pages - These pages will help readers who love a specific book find more books like that one. And it helps authors by connecting them with the book list that the recommendation came from. Try this example with books like Kitchen Confidential. This helps readers find your book list and connect with you.
- Individual book pages - This page will show readers why they should read that specific book is recommended within Shepherd. This helps them find lists they are interested in as well. Try Kitchen Confidential or Dune. We also added a page so you can easily see the lists that specific book appears on.
- (Coming in early 2023) Genre and age pages - This is a huge project. We will add genre pages around things like Fantasy or Science Fiction, as well as age pages so that you can find books for specific age/grade levels. Plus, a lot of other great stuff :).
What will Shepherd add over 2023?
Our roadmap is here if you want to see this in detail.
- Genre and age pages - This is a huge project. We will add genre pages around things like Fantasy or Science Fiction, as well as age pages so that you can find books for specific age/grade levels. Plus, a lot of other great stuff :).
- Adding the concept of a book series to our backend.
- A personalized book recommendation newsletter
- Sell books by sharing interesting facts.
- Sell books by sharing character profiles (online dating but for book characters).
- New Book Promotion - We will add a program to help authors with new book launches. I was hoping to launch this in 2022, but I pushed it back as I want to get genre and age pages out so we have more places to put this.
- And more!
You can also find more information on our overall marketing plan here.
P.S. Would you like to help us build features faster?
I launched a membership program for founding members at the urging of authors and readers. 100% of the money goes toward developing new features and my goal of hiring a full-time developer in 2023 (currently, we only have one part-time developer).