Kathy Meis, founder of Bublish, reached out to me this past summer for me to try her tool on my young adult fantasy novel and other fiction. My experiment using Bublish to showcase Henrietta The Dragon Slayer is still in progress, but I was intrigued by this new model of book promotion to invite her to be a guest to the magazine to tell us about Bublish.
Beth: What prompted the creation of Bublish?
Kathy: I’ve been a professional writer and editor for more than twenty years. What I’ve seen in the last ten years – the transition to eBooks, self-publishing, and online book selling – has completely transformed the publishing industry.
It’s a very exciting time to be an author, but it requires new tools and strategies for success. I created Bublish to provide these new tools and make it easier for authors to become effective marketers of their work without feeling like salespeople.
At Bublish, our mission is to create affordable discovery, promotional and brand-building tools for authors that will help them achieve their goals as professional writers. We want independent authors to have a suite of professional tools that rivals the big publishers in New York.
The trends I’ve mentioned have made it much easier for storytellers to become published authors. The challenge now isn’t getting your book into the marketplace; it’s getting noticed once you’re there.
Never in the history of mankind have more books been available to readers.
This is wonderful!
However, it means that authors need tools to help them find their readers, engage them and convert them into fans who will help spread the word.
The other big change – the dominance of online book retailers like Amazon, Barnes and Noble, iBooks and Kobo – means unlimited shelf space. The time constraint for selling books has been eliminated. As long as an author can keep their content relevant to their fans (and attract new readers), they’ll be able to sell copies of their books. This, too, requires different marketing tools and strategies. Bublish provides cutting-edge tools designed for this transformed book marketplace.
Beth: Why should authors pay attention to what Bublish is doing?
Kathy: Authors should pay attention to what Bublish is doing because we are innovators who spend a lot of time listening to what today’s independent authors have to say. We work with thousands of authors around the world. We’re constantly asking them to share the challenges they face. We then build tools to address their needs. This is why the team at Bublish gets up in the morning.
The first tool we created, the book bubble, was designed to help authors share their work on social media without feeling like salespeople. Included in each book bubble is an author insight where readers can share “the story behind their story” to let readers discover their “why” as authors. This is a powerful brand-building tool for authors. It also has backend automation that helps authors and their books be recognized by search engines.
Next, authors told us that they wanted to be able to measure their success. With this in mind, we have created the Authorpreneur Dashboard with social metrics to show them how many people are viewing their book bubbles, on which social network those views are taking place, and which online retailers readers are going to for purchases. Additionally, the Authorpreneur Dashboard gives authors a public profile, so they can share their entire body of work with readers across multiple social networks with a single click.
A number of authors were frustrated with the cost and headaches surrounding converting their manuscripts into digital formats. To address this problem, we built an ePub Creator right into the platform. This feature allows authors to see the formatted version of their manuscript appear as they write the book. They can then output the book as an ePub with a single click.
Authors told us they wanted to build an audience and capture pre-orders before they published a book.
The new ePub Creator feature allows authors to share “rough cut” book bubbles and ask readers questions right from their manuscript. There’s nothing else like it in the world. We have authors doing all kinds of cool things with this feature.
Authors have also told us they need to capture emails, so they can message fans about upcoming events and releases. In response to this request, the next feature we’re building will allow readers to sign up to “follow” authors right in the social space. Authors will then be able to email those followers through their Bublish accounts. We’re really excited about this upcoming feature.
Beth: How can Bublish help authors who want to sell more books?
Kathy: Bublish helps authors sell more books in numerous ways:
Facilitating discovery. Your book might have the potential to become the next American classic, but if no one knows it exists, that might never happen. As you can see, book bubbles are visually unique and highly shareable. They allow authors to break their books up into hundreds of small excerpts to share with readers. Sharing book bubbles across multiple social networks allows readers to sample and discover new authors where they hang out, right in their Twitter or Facebook streams.
Building trust. There are incredibly talented new voices to be found among today’s independent authors. Unfortunately, there are also many authors going to market with books that are not ready for prime time. This impacts everyone. Readers are more wary than they used to be. It’s not all about the cost of a new book, it’s about the time commitment. They want to know that an author is going to provide them with a great reading experience. Book bubbles not only allow readers to sample your book, they also let you share your “why” with readers through the author insight. Authors can now reveal what went in to creating a scene, plot, character, etc. In so doing, authors let readers know they’re devoted to creating quality books for them.
Finding new audiences. Our authors have told us about two very useful new sales channels they’ve discovered through Bublish. First, because each bubble enables authors to promote to all the retailers where their book is available, these authors are finding new audiences. In the Digital Age, readers want to buy books for the devices they use. Book bubbles allow readers to explore a writer’s work and then click directly through to the retailer they prefer, be it Amazon, Apple, Barnes & Noble, or Kobo. Some authors are realizing they have a bigger potential audience outside Amazon than they realized. Second, authors have posted book bubbles from their backlists to Bublish and found completely new audiences for their previously published books. Typically, once a reader finds and enjoys one book from author, they’ll come back to purchase other books. Sharing book bubbles from their backlist has proven to drive sales for these authors.
Building a dynamic author brand. According to extensive research, readers are much more likely to buy books written by authors they know. This isn’t surprising given the number of books and the range of quality found in today’s crowded, online book marketplace. Building a recognizable author brand isn’t easy. It takes time, planning and commitment. Bublish gives independent authors beautifully designed, simple-to-use tools that help them build a dynamic author brand to drive sales. Not only can authors share samples of their work through book bubbles, they get to share their voice, their why – both foundations of a strong author brand. This starts conversations with readers and can lead to the kind of engagement that forms connections. Ultimately, every successful brand must find its audience and build connection and loyalty.
Growing a long-term relationship with readers. The ultimate goal in building a readership is to never lose touch with them, even while you’re writing your second, fifth, or twentieth book. If you treat your readers to a great reading experience, stay in touch with them and treat them right, they’ll become life-long fans and spread the word about your work. Since the beginning of time word-of-mouth has always been the best way to sell books. Bublish give authors the tools to attract new readers, engage them and build a long-term relationship with them.
Providing marketing tutorials. We know most writers don’t love marketing. Part of that is because it can be overwhelming. There’s so much to learn. We understand, and we are constantly creating tutorials and providing resources to help authors become more effective marketers of their work and their author brand. This leads to more sales and less frustration. Just like we want authors to have long-term relationships with their readers, we’re looking to build long-term relationships with our authors. We want to be a partner to independent authors. We’ve even heard the word fun associated with creating and sharing book bubbles. You don’t hear that word mentioned often with book promotion!
Beth: How can Bublish help authors either save time or money or both?
Kathy: We are all about saving time and money. We strive to create “one-click” solutions for authors. Our goal is to automate as much as possible on the platform and make things very simple and straightforward for our authors. Once you’ve set up a profile on Bublish, you can create new bubbles in minutes. And for our Authorpreneur Dashboard subscribers, their public author profiles are automatically generated. We’ve also made Bublish affordable at only $9.99/month or $99/year (two-months free). We have a 30-day free trial available that I recommend all new authors sign up for if they want to truly experience all the features of Bublish. There’s no credit card required, and there are more than a dozen, short tutorials to show you how to use Bublish to grow your audience, build your brand and sell more books. You can sign up here: http://bublish.com/.
Beth: I see you also have services for readers. What made you decide to include them?
Kathy: Though Bublish is not a social network, we feel that wherever writers are, there should be room for readers. We continue to evolve the reader experience on Bublish. However, we never want to force readers to join Bublish to experience the work of our authors. We want to give authors the tools they need to find and engage their readers wherever those readers want to hang out. That means Bublish’s powerful tool kit will always work with all the major social networks and readers don’t have to be members of Bublish to read book bubbles, share them or buy books through them.
Beth: Let’s go beyond the press release. What are some Bublish’s challenges? What are you doing to overcome them?
Kathy: Our biggest challenge is building cool new features as fast as we can. Sitting in a white boarding session at Bublish is absolutely exhilarating. We listen to the authors and we brainstorm. We have so much we want to build. Then, we have to sit down and map out how to make these things happen. We have to stop and prioritize and abide by the systems we’ve put in place to make sure our features work smoothly in multiple browsers and on many different devices. This takes time, but it’s important. I guess what I’m saying is we’re coding as fast as we can to bring new features to our authors and readers…and we’d love to go faster.
Beth: How about limitations? What is Bublish not?
Kathy: Bublish is not a Goodreads-type platform. We’re not a social network. We have weekly events to promote our authors across all of our growing social channels (Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Pinterest.) We’re about helping authors get their work out into the social world where the readers hang out, and leading those readers toward a deeper connection with those authors. We want book bubbles to draw readers toward the author’s website and buy pages, not just bublish.com. Though we’ll always continue improving the reader experience on bublish.com, we never want to be a walled garden. We’re about empowering authorpreneurs and giving them beautifully designed, innovative, and affordable tools and resources to help them achieve their goals.
Beth: Is there anything else you wish I asked?
Kathy: I think that about covers it. The only thing I would add is that Bublish is building new features all the time, and we absolutely love to talk to authors. Don’t hesitate to reach out to me directly at email@example.com if you have questions about the Bublish platform or ideas you’d like to share for new features.
Beth: Chocolate or chips?
Kathy: Lol. Personally, I like my chocolate with sea salt, so perhaps I want a bit of both.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Kathy Meis is founder of the award-winning Bublish, a powerful suite of book creation and marketing tools. She is a professional writer, editor, ghostwriter and editorial manager with more than twenty years of experience in the media and publishing industries. She is a frequent blogger and speaker on the subject of book promotion, author branding, social media and discoverability. In 2012, the Bublish prototype won the People’s Choice Award at the Startup Showcase at O’Reilly’s Tools of Change Publishing Conference.