Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Interview With AuthorRise Co-Founder and CEO Chris Weber

1.      What is Author Rise? AuthorRise is a set of tools to help authors grow their readership and market their work more efficiently and effectively. I think that authors need two things to be really successful (other than great work!): first, information about what’s going on with their business, and second, tools to take advantage of that information. It’s insane to me that authors, and even a lot of small publishers, have so little access to good data about what’s going in terms of their marketing and sales. So we try to help answer questions like “is all of this Tweeting and Facebooking I’m doing actually selling more books?”

2.      How did you come to create it? AuthorRise came about in response to what’s really a "best of times/ worst of times” situation for authors. It’s tough because a lot of the support that used to come from publishers has evaporated. The upside is that today, an author has, in theory, the ability to sell books to every single person with an internet connection. In effect, that makes every author a business of one. And while bigger companies have lots of tools at their disposal to measure their business, authors have almost nothing. So we’re building a company whose sole focus is to build tools that empower people to make a better living doing what they love. On a personal level, literature is my first true love and my co-founder has been a journalist for 15 years. So it’s hard to imagine something more gratifying than building a business dedicated to authors. Our whole company is still only three people, all book lovers, and when we started, we all shared a requirement that if we were going to work our butts off it had to be for a worthwhile goal. 

3.      So what exactly does one do on your site? Our goal is to be the only place our authors have to go to build their business. Right now, there are two main features. First is an analytics dashboard that puts both social media and sales data in one place. Today we’re tracking Twitter and Amazon, but as we grow we're incorporating other social platforms like Facebook and other sales platforms as well. We want to give authors as complete a picture of their business as possible and that starts by trying to connect actions and outcomes. The second feature is a marketing tool. It’s called Flyers and the idea was to create a template that would make sharing content like articles, blog posts, and reviews more efficient while also connecting them directly to whatever book an author is focused on. We’re also building a great scheduling function, so you can line up months of marketing at a time. Reposting great content is one of the most powerful ways to increase reader engagement, yet most people just don’t think to do it.  The great thing about Flyers from an author’s perspective is that we can track them all the way through to a sale, so you know exactly how many people are reading your work, how many are buying your books, and where they’re coming from.

4.      How do you make money from the site, Right now we’re still beta-testing the service, so it’s totally free. As we build more services and add features we’ll be adding premium memberships for a monthly fee of $5 and $10. I feel very deeply that we should only make money if we help our authors make money. I also know budgets are tight for a lot of authors, especially those just getting of the ground, so we’ll always have a free service that’s actually useful, not just a stripped-out version of our paid plans.  We’re also building services for smaller publishers who are managing multiple authors and rely heavily on social media. These take a lot more work on our end, and so come with a fee that we work out individually based on what the publisher needs.

5.      Where do you see the future of book publishing heading? I think the old idea of how publishing works is increasingly obsolete. Publishers were originally relevant because they controlled the means of production. It was necessary to have a publisher because they literally made your book. We’re at a point now where an author can write a book and place it directly into the hands of a reader. It’s a beautiful thing and it means that if an author can find even a small loyal audience, they can make a great living. This is a big problem for publishers. When’s the last time a reader bought a book because of the publisher? It happens, but not enough. Small publishers actually do a great job of this by focusing on specific topics that readers then associate with both the publisher and the author. I think the way big publishers stay relevant in the future is by focusing on creating similarly great experiences for readers. If they can create real value for a reader, then they’re naturally attractive to authors as well. Authors write the books, readers read them; the problem that still needs to be solved isn’t production, it’s context. Context is putting the right books in front of the right readers, and this isn’t just the publishers’ problem, this is a problem for Amazon and every other online bookseller as well. Cracking the problem of context will decide the winners of the future. 

6.      What is next with social media and how it will be used in the book world? Social media will continue to be an incredibly useful tool for people striking out on their own and making a go of it. One thing I do know is that the amount of information being tossed around is only going to go up. So for the book world, and anyone else trying to use social media to grow their business, the imperative is bringing the signal above the noise. Content marketing is the best thing I’ve seen so far that aligns an author with an audience, but it’s going to be increasingly important to be very conscious about how the message is targeted to ensure it reaches the right people.


2015 Book PR & Marketing Toolkit: All New

Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer, Media Connect, the nation’s largest book promoter. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog © 2014

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