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?
Current External Channels
- 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).
Current Internal Channels
- Our Topic Engine - Both bookshelves and our upcoming recommendation system are powered by our topic system. 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.
- Recommendation Engine - At the bottom of each book recommendation list, we recommend related lists. We feature your list here, which helps more readers connect with your book list from related lists. We also show related bookshelves and books which help readers to find you and your list as well (although in slightly different ways).
- Bookshelves - Bookshelves are topic pages on things like World War 2 or dragons or grief. On these pages, we feature recommended books and book lists about that topic. The goal is to entice readers from here to your book list (we show off the author who made the recommendation, as well as their book). Keep in mind these are topics, not book genres; we are working on adding book genre data in 2022.
- 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 2022, and our roadmap is here with more info. We are also adding some tools in Q2 2022 to further improve the accuracy of the topic engine.).
- 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).
What will Shepherd add over 2022?
Our longer roadmap is here, and here are some highlights:
- (coming Fall 2022) "Books Like" pages - This page will help readers who loved a specific book find more books like that one. Plus, connect them with related books, book lists, and bookshelves.
- (Coming Fall 2022) Individual book pages - This page will show readers why they should read that specific book is recommended within Shepherd. Plus, connect them with related books, book lists, and bookshelves.
- (Coming Winter 2022) Genre and age integration and pages - This is a huge addition and will take a lot of time/money. It will probably run into early 2023. We will be adding genre pages around things like Fantasy or Science Fiction and age pages so that you can find books for specific age/grade levels. Plus some surprises!
What will Shepherd add over 2023?
Here are some early details; I will share more as I nail this down :)
- Personalized book recommendation newsletter - This is the top focus for 2023. We will deliver book recommendations to readers based on what they are interested in.
- 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.
You can also find more information on our overall marketing plan here.
P.S. do you want 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).