Google’s New Talk to Books

Sometimes I feel like I am beginning to live in a Science Fiction movie. The speed at which artificial intelligence (AI) is developing and becoming incorporated into our daily lives is accelerating.

Amazon’s Alexa and Google’s Assistant are now allowing individuals to have conversations with artificial intelligence. Google has even taken their AI one step further and unveiled a new program: Talk to Books.

This new AI tool provides the ability to search based on semantic (meaning of phrase or sentence) rather than on keywords. Talk to Books allows anyone to search a database of books for information at a sentence level rather than an author or topic level. Using this tool, a user can input a statement or a question and Talk to Books searches over 100,000 books for sentences that best provide a response.

As you may be aware, over the past two decades, Google has digitalized thousands of books with or without the copyright holder’s permission. By integrating their new Talk to Books tool with these digitalized books, Google is providing a powerful search engine to help anyone seeking information to find that information within the pages of these books.

Google already has a book search engine. This search engine, https://books.google.com, allows you to search books by topic, author, or title by typing in text to the search engine. Talk to Books is slightly different. Instead of looking for books by author or topic, it searches within books for passages that are related to the question asked.

For example, if I type into the Google Book Search Engine the name of a bestselling Christian author like Max Lucado, I am rewarded with a list of books that he has authored. However, if I type or speak his name into Talk to Books at https://books.google.com/talktobooks, the results show passages from books that either talk about Max Lucado or quote from one of his books.

Some publishing industry experts believe that this new Talk to Books tool by Google will boost book discoverability. In other words, when individuals use Talk to Books to find information on various issues or topics, they are exposed to passages from books, increasing these books’ discoverability by readers and increasing the likelihood that the individual exposed to these books may make a purchase.

Sadly, Google has implemented a “popularity measure” in Talk to Books. This measure gives a boost to books produced by “professional publishing houses”—sorry Indies.

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Photo courtesy of Piotr Cichosz.

Marketing Tips to Reach Each Generation

I am a GenXer, a middle-child wedged between Baby Boomers and Millennials. I embody most of the Gen X characteristics including hard working, independent, resourceful, and self-sufficient. Sadly, my generation is also known as the forgotten generation when it comes to marketing.

Few companies specifically target Generation X in their marketing efforts. Yet, if companies don’t speak to me in a way that I will listen, I won’t stand up and take notice of what they are offering.

Marketing is not a one size fits all program. Effective marketing takes knowing how to talk to each generation so they will listen. Following are some tips to effectively reach each generation with your marketing messages.

Baby Boomers

Born between 1946 and 1964, this generation makes up a significant portion of the purchasing public. Baby Boomers have longer attention spans than younger generations. After all, they did not grow up with the Internet and technology at their fingertips.

Baby Boomers are still tuned in to traditional marketing methods. As a result, radio and television ads and print ads in newspapers and magazine speak to this generation. In marketing to Baby Boomers, you can go into more depth with your information and even feature longer videos. Keep in mind that Baby Boomers are nearing or in retirement, so two big messages that this generation tunes into is how they can enjoy their leisure time and how they can save money to stretch their retirement funds.

Generation X

This generation, born between 1965 and 1980, is all about bargains. These people want to save money, time, and effort. So, in reaching this generation, offer coupons and ways for them to obtain your books and products without much effort or time invested on their part. This is a cross-over generation that can be reached through both traditional marketing and online marketing.

Millennials

Born between 1981 and 1997, this generation is on the cusp of surpassing Baby Boomers as the nation’s largest living adult generation, according to population projections from the U.S. Census Bureau. This is the texting generation. In fact, 100 percent of Millennials who own a smart phone communicate via text.

Millennials want content that is relevant and authentic. They like customized messages, not generic messages. Word-of-mouth is a driving influencer in Millennials purchases. Social proof—others talking positively about a product—is extremely important to this group. So, be sure to include testimonials in your marketing messages.

Generation Z

These are the new kids in town—those born after 1997. While young, this group is still a powerful buying force. These individuals are true digital natives. They have grown up with technology at their fingertips. This generation prefers to communicate through images rather than text. They are huge YouTube users. Use of video and images must be prominent in your marketing to reach this generation.

Generation Z is also the least churched generation in American history. This generation has grown up in a post-Christian, post-modern environment where many of them have not even been exposed to Christianity or to church.

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Are You Overlooking This Powerful Marketing Tool?

“I’m not tech savvy. Are there other ways to market a book besides social media?”

This is a question I frequently encounter, mostly from mature authors, but once in a while from younger authors who feel that social media has not been productive for them. My standard answer is always, “Yes, there are many ways to market a book, and no author should put all of their eggs in one basket.”

Social media is just one tool in an author’s marketing toolbox. There are numerous tools in that toolbox. Over reliance on one tool is not good. After all, not all situations need a screwdriver.

One often overlooked marketing tool is using articles to promote your book. Articles are an excellent means of spreading your message and introducing readers to your books. Sadly, many authors are either unaware of the power of articles for promotion or they simply omit this influential tool.

In her book Articles, Articles, Articles, Linda Gilden walks authors and potential authors through everything they need to know to write and publish articles. From information on brainstorming ideas to formatting and writing an article to submitting an article for publication, Linda’s book is a comprehensive guide on writing articles. The book covers writing articles for print magazines, e-zines, and blogs.

This book includes some wise advice from author DiAnn Mills. She says, “When I finish and send in the first draft to the editor, the next thing I do I make a list of all the blogs and articles I can write that would help and assist a reader, but it is also woven in with the theme of my book.” Linda’s chapter on brainstorming ideas for articles expounds on this idea.

Linda reminds authors that you don’t have to limit yourself to just the area of the subject matter in your book. Linda encourages you to think outside the box. Once you have exhausted the specific area of your book’s coverage for articles, go wider. Is your book your own story of overcoming depression? Then you can also interview experts on the subject for articles. You can write a piece on rehab centers for Christians experiencing depression. You might even go niche and write an article on the special issues pastors face when struggling with depression.

The great thing about articles is that most publications allow you an author byline that lets you tell the publication’s readers a little about yourself. You can use your author byline to introduce people to your book. Linda points out in her book that articles can help you build your author platform by introducing you (and your book) to thousands upon thousands of readers.

If you are interested in using articles to promote your books, I suggest that you head on over to your favorite bookstore and purchase a copy of Linda Gilden’s book Articles, Articles, Articles. It gives you all the information you need to use this influential marketing tool to introduce more readers to your books.

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Photo courtesy of Hunter Haley.

Expecting Fast Results: What A Mistake!

We live in a fast society. A Boeing 787 can fly around the world in 42 hours and 27 minutes. With Google Fiber, Internet connection speeds reach up to one gigabit per second. FedEx allows you to have a package delivered the very next day to almost any location in the world. China’s new Fuxing bullet trains travel at 350 km/h (over 200 m/hr).

We have become so accustomed to fast, that we expect it. Except not everything delivers fast results.

This is true of promotion and marketing efforts. Rarely, do these activities deliver fast results. After all, research shows that it takes on average:

  1. Seven to twelve exposures of a product before a person decides to purchase it.
  2. Nine months of regular blogging to develop a strong, loyal readership base.
  3. Seven contacts to secure a media interview.

I recently received a call from a woman who heard about a book that Christian Small Publishers Association (CSPA) represented at the CBA Unite International Retail Show last summer (in July 2017). The woman had recently talked with a gentleman who attended the show and told him of her need. He informed her that he had seen a book that met her need in CSPA’s booth at the trade show last summer.

The woman looked up CSPA on the Internet and gave us a call. She did not know that name of the book, but was able to tell me her need and I immediately identified which book the gentleman was referring to. I gave this woman the information on the book and the contact information for the publisher.

It has been six months since the 2017 CBA Unite show. Six months after viewing a book, a show attendee told this woman about a book he saw at the show that met her need.

Here’s the deal. Marketing activities usually don’t reap fast results. However, they do reap results for those who are patient.

Even though word spreads fast in today’s digitally-connected world, personal word-of-mouth can still take time. At the right moment, when faced with a need, a product or book is remembered and passed along.

Remember, marketing is all about exposure. It’s about introducing people to your books so that they know they exist. Your job is to get the word out. God’s job is to bring the harvest.

I have always said that promoting a book is a marathon, not a sprint. So, keep marketing. Keep spreading the word that your book meets a need that someone has. It may take months, but the people who need your book will hear and respond.

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The Goal of Advertising

Most independently published authors shy away from paid advertising for their books. After all, paid advertising sometimes gets a bad rap. It’s usually expensive and the benefits (sales reaped) often don’t equal the money spent.

Interestingly, a new survey from Clutch, a B2B ratings and review firm, found that advertisements influence 90% of consumers in their purchasing decisions. That makes advertising a powerful tool.

The survey also looked at which advertising mediums consumers found the most trustworthy. People find traditional advertising mediums (TV, print, radio) more trustworthy than digital advertising (online, social media).

In addition, this survey revealed that Millennials are more likely to make a purchase after seeing or hearing advertisements than Gen Xers and Baby Boomers. About 81% of millennials surveyed (those ages 18 to 34) made a purchase after seeing or hearing an advertisement in the last 30 days. The survey also found that Millennials trust advertising more than older generations.

This is good news for authors seeking to reach Millennials. If this younger generation is your target audience, you may experience more success with paid advertisements than those authors trying to reach older generations.

 

The truth is, for advertising to work the following must happen:

  1. You have to use the right vehicle to reach your target audience.
    Your target audience must match the target audience of the newspaper, magazine, website, or radio show where your advertisement is run.
  2. You have to convey the benefits of your book in your ad.
    After all, advertising is all about persuasion.
  3. You have to have repeat exposure for people to be convinced.
    People need to see or hear about a new product seven to twelve times before they decide to purchase. And it’s important to advertise through multiple mediums to engage consumers.

This quote by Mitch Leigh sums up what the purpose of advertising is:

“You can’t make money on advertising; you just have to seed the clouds. What you’re after is word of mouth.”

Whenever you decide to use paid advertisement, remember that your goal is to ultimately generate word of mouth for your book. You want the few people who purchase your book through an advertisement to love it so much that they tell all their friends and acquaintances about it. For that to happen, your book must be compelling.

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Photo courtesy of Ben White.