The NYPL’s new catalog: a social opportunity for authors

by Simon Collinson on

Last week, we introduced the New York Public Library’s new social catalog. Today, we’re talking a little more about the opportunities it offers authors in two crucial areas: connecting with other authors, and building links with readers.

There’s a reason writers tend to cluster together in the same pubs or MFA programs: there are myriad ways they can help one another. In our previous post, we mentioned one example of the new catalog helping authors meet and collaborate on research: a novelist, a historical nonfiction author, and a Ph.D. candidate who discovered that they were all studying the same topic and working with the same small set of resources.

As well as giving you the chance to pool your research, other writers can help with your marketing and provide much-needed moral support. This kind of social connection between writers can be extraordinarily valuable, both professionally and personally, and we encourage authors to get involved.

Above: an annotated list of sci-fi novels.

When it comes to building links with readers, the social aspects of the NYPL’s new catalog make it feel a little like a smaller, more localized Goodreads: a network which gives you the chance to interact directly with passionate readers. While some might argue that simply catering to the larger audience is the best marketing decision, we recommend authors explore all possible marketing channels, including sites like the NYPL. (And remember that Goodreads integration is coming soon!) If you’re based in New York, then the fact that members of the NYPL’s network are nearby will make connecting easier. Another spur to get involved is the fact that library patrons buy 3.2 books per month on average, and more than half of them go on to buy books by authors after originally discovering them at a library.

So what practical steps can authors take to build a community presence and a marketing platform for your books? Here are a few of our thoughts:

  • Be active and engaged in your genre’s community. If you’re a passionate reader (and what writer isn’t!) then chances are you’ll want to do this anyway: maintain your profile, write helpful reviews on new titles, and build genuine links with other passionate readers. Readers of your genre will come to know your tastes and writing style, and might start to feel curious about your books.
  • Don’t just try to sell your stuff. To avoid being ignored, you need to make a real contribution to the community, as well as promoting your books. You’re engaging in a form of “content marketing,” whose number one rule is that you must provide something of value to see any results.
  • Write lists. Everybody loves receiving a thoughtful book recommendation from a well-read friend. Write lists of your favorite books, subgenres, writers who’ve inspired you – and maybe one about your own titles. Don’t forget to annotate your lists with interesting comments, or for lists of your own books, contextual information and a suggested reading order.
  • Link your books to popular titles with lists. Remember to give your lists interesting names, since they’ll show up on the landing pages of the titles you've included. This means that when someone looks at a popular book that's on one of your lists, the name of the list will pop up towards the right side of their page (as shown here) and they can click through to find your book.
  • Cross-reference. NYPL lists allow you to include external hyperlinks, so link from your lists to your website, and vice versa. (If you don’t yet have a website, we can help you with that.) Consider curating a collection of your favourite lists, as the NYPL itself has been doing in its monthly “List of Lists” blog posts.

We hope our ideas help you get started in the brave new world of the social catalog. We love to hear about the creative things authors get up to in this space, so please keep in touch! And remember that if you want help making, distributing, and marketing your ebook, you can visit us anytime for a free consultation.

comments powered by Disqus