Mango At The Hardware Store

One of the drums I thump regularly has to do with discovery and the paths readers take to find new fiction to read.

Lots of social marketing people will try to convince you that you must blog regularly, that quality content will draw readers to your website, and that you must use good Search Engine Optimization (SEO) techniques to funnel readers to your books.

I'm not one of them. 

My stance is that readers aren't looking for fiction on Google. No sufficiently granular search string exists that will turn up your fiction on a generalized search of the web and most readers know it. Just like they don't look for mangoes at the hardware store.

They go to the bookstore to shop for books. These days, maybe GoodReads or StoryGraph for clues, if their favorite authors haven't released new work lately. They might ask on social media to see if any of their virtual friends have suggestions.

Later, once they've read your work, then they might look you up on Google. They might want to see what else you're doing, or who you are when you're at home. They might want to see if you've got any DVD extras on your site, or just find out who you're reading. There are lots of reasons why a reader might want to look you up on the web. 

They're all predicated on discovering you somewhere else first. The two largest factors for readers deciding to read a book involve knowing the author and liking their work, or a recommendation from a trusted friend. (See also: Polly Wanna Cracker)

Eric Schmidt seems to agree with me noting that – in search – Google's biggest competitor is Amazon.[1]

While it's true you can find mangoes on Amazon and a lot of the searches on the 'Zon are not for books, the lesson for fiction authors is clear.

Discovery does not happen with Google. SEO is how to fool people looking for one thing to find you instead. Trying to establish SEO to lure new readers to your work via your website is like looking for mangoes at the hardware store.

See also: A Few Notes on Discoverability