Goodreads Blog

Updating the Power of Blurbs for Today’s Book Discovery Landscape

Posted by Eunice on October 24, 2016
Blurbs from other authors have a long tradition in publishing, although you may be surprised to know just how long! Walt Whitman is credited as the first author to use a recommendation from another author" (Ralph Waldo Emerson no less) to promote Leaves of Grass all the way back in 1856. Today, the ability for a better known author to help a debut author continues and it’s hard to find a book cover without a few notes of praise. But what if publishers could take a recommendation from a well known author, send it in a targeted email to just that author’s fans and track the results? That’s the power of a Goodreads’ Author Recommended Mailer.

The Author Recommended Mailer is a highly effective marketing product for debut authors. Publishers can create an email with a recommendation by an established author for a new book. Goodreads sends the Author Recommended Mailer to readers who have reviewed and given a positive rating of 3 or more stars to the established author’s books. Backed by the established author’s endorsement, the mailer acts as a seal of approval for a debut author, therefore increasing the likelihood of discoverability, engagement, buzz and awareness of the debut title with the established author’s fan base.

How Del Rey Had Success With an Author Recommended Mailer

As the team at the Del Rey imprint of Penguin Random House started planning how to promote Sylvain Neuvel’s sci-fi/fantasy debut novel Sleeping Giants, they initially considered display advertising to create awareness. However, as Sleeping Giants started gaining industry buzz, they realized they could do more with Goodreads to leverage that momentum.

Del Rey’s goal was to help sci-fi and fantasy readers discover Sleeping Giants and they would measure that by the number of readers adding it to their Want to Read shelves on Goodreads. The challenge was that Sylvain Neuvel was a relatively new author without a large, established fan base. A key advantage they had was a quote from Pierce Brown, the New York Times best-selling author of the YA sci-fi Red Rising Trilogy, who loved the book. He also has a large fan base on Goodreads. It was the perfect scenario to test an Author Recommended Mailer.

The results of the Sleeping Giants Author Recommended Mailer speak for themselves. Del Ray saw a high spike in people adding the book to their shelves on the day after the email was sent. Erika Seyfried, Assistant Director of Marketing said, “Pierce Brown had given us a lovely quote for Sleeping Giants. Having the ability to be able to reach out to Pierce’s fan base with that quote through a Goodreads Author Recommended Mailer was a great way to pique interest from potential readers for a debut author.”

Tips to Make Your Author Recommended Mailer Successful

  • Readers love to hear from an author whose work they have previously enjoyed. They trust that person’s opinion, especially about books and writing. Just as with blurbs on book covers, it’s important to choose an author whose books are relevant to the book you are trying to promote. Do they write in the same genre? Are they experts in the same topic?
  • To create the best results, you need to have a personalized recommendation from an author who also has a large enough fan base on Goodreads. Once the publisher has identified the author that will endorse the debut or lesser known author, your Goodreads Account Manager can help identify the number of users that will receive the Author Recommended Mailer.
  • Where possible, ask the author recommending the book to write a note that’s in the style of a personal email to fans. They can talk about why this book is so special or what made it stand out for them, and even relate it to one of their own books. Remember, the Author Recommended Mailer has the potential to be much more intimate and therefore much more powerful than a 1-2 sentence blurb, although these can work too. For the author recommending the book, this is another opportunity to engage with fans, to keep the connection going in between books.
  • As with all email marketing, think carefully about the subject line. In order to encourage fans of the Red Rising Trilogy to open and read the Author Recommended Mailer, Goodreads collaborated with Del Rey to create a compelling subject line that mentioned Pierce Brown. Fans are much more likely to open an email mentioning the name of an author they love.
  • Make sure that the quote is compelling for readers. Pierce Brown shared that Sleeping Giants was “reminiscent of The Martian and World War Z...and is a luminous conspiracy yarn that shoots for (and lands among) the stars.” No wonder the email drove significant interest in the book!

If you are interested in learning more about running an Author Recommended Mailer campaign on Goodreads, please contact your account manager or email us.

Next: Advice for Aspiring Indie Authors by Successful Indie Authors

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message 1: by Brian (new)

Brian Suiter The Recusants - Amazon Kindle Store. Give it a read and let me know you thought, would love to hear them.

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