Reimagining Book Discovery Online
I love wandering around bookstores letting random books capture my attention. Nothing will ever replace the “bookstore experience”, but I want to reimagine book discovery online with a lot more serendipity.
I launched Shepherd.com on April 19th with this goal in mind. I want to help readers find books in new ways and help authors connect with readers and sell more books. There is a growing trend that authors have to become their own marketing team. That concerns me because it takes time away from writing and is very hard to do. I want to make it easier for authors to get their books in front of readers.
How does it work?
We work with authors to get their 5 favorite books around a topic or theme they are passionate about and why they recommend each of those books. Then, we feature the author and one of their books alongside that list forever. We promote the author, their book, and their book list throughout our website and marketing channels. This is entirely free for authors now and forever.
The results have been fantastic with people like Mark Davies sharing the best books about Lewis Carroll and Alice, Ray Foulk sharing the best books to help fathom Bob Dylan, Angela Reid sharing the best books on deciphering Ancient Egypt, and Sylvia Vetta sharing the best books for Oxford where town meets gown.
As of July 26th we have 1,000+ published book lists and we are adding more every week. The topic/theme can be almost anything you can imagine.
How does this help authors?
Readers are able to find book recommendations that match their curiosity, and when they do they are also introduced to you and your book. We are also finding that the short book recommendations get readers more interested in you and your book because your voice and expertise shine through.
The bulk of the work on our side is around attracting readers to the website and finding new ways to help them discover books. We are three months old and we are already receiving 25,000+ unique visitors a month. I hope to be doing that on a daily basis within the next 18 to 36 months.
We have a lot more planned and we are just getting started. I am currently working on adding topic pages, a search feature, and a much-improved front page.
Long live books!