"Discoverability" is a keyword related to keywords. It's the word that helps agents and editors decide if an author can be found by innocently browsing book-loving readers, because if folks can't FIND you, they can't buy your books.
You're scoffing. I hear you! You're saying "Ruthy, every author under the sun and a chosen few from former planet Pluto are on Amazon, so everyone is discoverable on "The Zon" and the world wide web! What are you smokin', girl???"
And in a way, that's right. If someone puts my whole name in the search bar: "Ruth Logan Herne", they get so many pages of me, it's downright frightening. No one needs that much Ruthy, do they? (Hush, Connealy, of course they do!!!) :)
And if I say "Okay, Google, find Ruth Logan Herne" on my smart phone, it brings up lots of mobile-friendly links, so that's awesome, right? With my full name, I am totally discoverable...
But how many folks only remember part of a name???
Maybe they lost the scrap of paper their friend had scribbled it on, or they'd deleted the text, or they remembered someone talking about a Christian author and ALL THEY REMEMBER IS "Ruth".... Here's the question that George Weiner, the president of Whole Whale, a company geared toward making non-profits more discoverable on the internet helped me answer. George began his business after working at dosomething.org for years, where he realized that people and companies with the best intentions can't generate business if they can't be found. He was made aware of the importance of "discoverability" in a world where everyone and their brother is now on the web, and how to play to those keywords in search engines.
Now, before you run screaming, hands over your ears, THIS IS NOT HARD. Come on, you know me, if I can do this, anyone can, because it's simply realizing what you have on your website, in your bio, on your blog, on facebook, that the search engines will find -- and then favor, over other people -- that make you easily found.
Let's show, not tell so you can see the relationship:
Google search, "Inspirational author Ruth": NOTHING ABOUT ME on page one. WHAT???? (Now I know I need to link the word "inspirational" into my paragraphs, into my bio, into anything I'm posting to gain some traction on the "inspirational" lists)
Google search: "Christian author Ruth": One to my website, third place down. (Christian is tough because there is so much competition to the word, but if I use the phrase "Christian author" in more references, that should help boost me in the ratings.)
Clearly you can see where my work will be focused... :)
Google search, "Inspirational author Ruthy": Five mentions on this page!!! There's a clue for you, Ruthy is more distinctive than Ruth because there are a lot of "Ruths" in Christian fiction, including a very notable one in the Bible... so my competition for simply "Ruth" is fierce... Now I know to use Ruthy more often, to put it in everything.... because those engines will search my opening paragraphs, so a simple "Ruthy here!" will aid people looking for me...
Google search, "Christian author Ruthy": Five mentions here, too, to website, Amazon (for Running on Empty, so that's curious, right? But reviews there call me "Ruthy") to my facebook, and a full bar of Ruthy books and bio images, and in the additional links at the bottom, it's all my stuff, so that's a lot better! My goal in February (besides finishing "Welcome to Wishing Bridge" and "Grace Haven 5") is to tweak words on my sites and facebook to reflect how people SEARCH... because that's going to give me more hits. They don't need to match me... I need to match THEM....
Okay, on to Amazon!!!
Amazon search: "Inspirational author Ruth": I'm the top four!!!! YES!!!! And interestingly enough they're my indie novellas listed as "by inspirational author Ruth Logan Herne", so the keywords MATCHED!!! And several of my traditional books came up, too, but not all which means the keyword "inspirational" might not be in their listing.... Six of the sixteen are my books, and the top four places, so whoever is looking for me just found me. It's a good start, and all because of those sweet historical novellas.
Amazon search: "Christian author Ruth": Same results!!!!
Amazon search: "Inspirational author Ruthy": Amazon redirects to the spelling "Ruth", but I'm still on the top four places, and two others...
So while a Google search brought up more with Ruthy, Amazon doesn't. Amazon weighs the author's name as listed, and KEYWORDS... It's no accident that I have the words "inspirational, heartfelt, Christian, heartwarming, author" as part of the "title" for these novellas... it was so I could "search" them myself, and see how well they "searched" for readers.
Think of how people will search for you, and do the test. First, check your full name. Do you get a page full of results? I want you to!
More is better in this case.
And if not, what can you do? Well, there are some basics that help!
- Keep your production high. The more you write, the greater chance folks have of finding you.
- Escape the cave and meet people. Not other writers, real people! :) Book clubs, Reader events (Christian Fiction Readers Retreat this summer, August 12 in CINCINNATTI!!!! I'll be there, chatting with over a hundred readers, bloggers and reviewers....) bookstore events, speaking gigs
- Tweak the words you use to describe yourself and your work, then use those words repeatedly.
- Check links on your sites, make sure they're all working correctly. A dead link can become a reader's dead end.
- Be available online even if you're not a people person. If social media isn't your thing, no worries... because lots of folks shrug it off. But if someone is looking for your kind of book, it's crucial that they can find you.
- Test your name recognition using just first name or variables... see if you come up. If you don't, figure out why
- Keep an up-to-date newsletter list and add to it regularly. Sure, some will drop you, but if you're polishing your list every season, it will grow.
George Weiner started his Manhattan-based company by seeing the confusion on the web, and taking steps to help non-profits combat it. By making search engines work for us and not against us, we can make it easier for folks to find us... even if they don't remember our full name, or if their spelling is a little off. It's easier to buy us if they can find us!
I just heard Heavyweight Champion boxer George Foreman talk about America being the place for first, second, and third chances. This sports icon-turned-entrepreneur said, "When you get up in the morning, plant your feet on the floor, and just go for it. Don't let anybody talk you out of it. Just go for it."
That's my advice to writers and readers. Go for it. Don't let discouragement, or discouraging words hold you back... Kick 'em to the curb, my friends! And if you can help folks find you easily... Well, that's a big step forward, right there.
I've got fresh coffee, hot chocolate, a selection of fine teas and a delicious array of treats for us this morning! Come on in, ask me anything and feel free to give me ideas, too! I love new ideas!
And I've got two copies of my upcoming Love Inspired release "Their Surprise Daddy", the third Grace Haven book and my 19th (SQUEE!!!!) Love Inspired release.... a touching story about two small children and an ailing grandmother, caught in the throes of illegal immigration... and the blessings of God's perfect timing and one great romance to help bind things together. Rory Gallagher's story... a dream come true in the hills of the Finger Lakes, and the sweet town of "Grace Haven", New York... A town full of heart, home and hope.