Tuesday, August 28, 2012

TUESDAY TIP Shelfari vs LibraryThing and Goodreads #pubtip #indie #selfpub

Last week, I wrapped up the little miniseries on how to use Amazon's Shelfari site, which is designed to be a community much like Goodreads while also being a book information source like LibraryThing. Today, I'll explain what I mean by that last, taking a brief fly-through LibraryThing for those who don't know what it is or have never used it. Click through the jump break to get started.



LibraryThing - for Libraries and Other Bookish Things
You may not have known this, but LibraryThing has a whole separate set of tools called LibraryThing for Libraries (LTFL). The LTFL toolbox is slightly different than what we, readers and authors, have available. For instance, the LTFL toolset includes scripts to generate a virtual shelf for each author the library lists (which is all authors the library carries for even one book, 99% of the time).




 In other words, if you have your books on LibraryThing and a library using LTFL adds even just one of your books to their system, all of your books will show up on their Virtual Shelf for you. Anytime any library patron visits the page for your book, they'll see the Virtual Shelf with all of your books. It's fantastic FREE promotion of your entire book list. Shown below is the "full screen" view of Nora Roberts's shelf. Since she has hundreds of titles, even the "full screen" view doesn't show them all but it does take over the screen (note the greyed-out areas around the shelf graphic).





Drawback #1
Just one catch: all of your books must be listed on LibraryThing if they are to show up on the Virtual Shelf generated by LTFL. The script generates the Virtual Shelf dynamically (i.e., whenever a library patron visits a page containing the Virtual Shelf script, it is built "on the fly) but your books must be added to LibraryThing MANUALLY. This is one of only two drawbacks I've found to LibraryThing so it's not that big deal in my mind.



Drawback #2
The other drawback is only relevant if (a) you're broke and need the freebie account or (b) you're an Indie Publisher or someone like Nora Roberts who has over 200 titles to her name. Why? There is a 200-title limit to the free LibraryThing accounts. You can pay to upgrade your account if you need to list over 200 titles but it won't be worth it if you're not using the whole 200 titles. Since I haven't done this, I'm not sure, but I suspect that upgraded account will also have access to LTFL tools ^_^



Who's Using LibraryThing
It doesn't take much to get access to LibraryThing. You just log in. Theoretically, anyone could use the site. When you go to http://www.librarything.com/, you have a choice to create a new user account (which I did) or you can just log in with an existing Facebook or Twitter account if you like using APIs to log in around the web. I use my Facebook to log into my SciFi Goodreads account and a standalone login for the one under my real name, and I use my Twitter accounts to log into blogs I visit under either name.




Notice that LibraryThing is promoting itself as though it's a "community" site like Goodreads. Compared to Goodreads's 10 million members, the 1.5 million number shows how young LibraryThing still is. I suspect it is used more by librarians and authors (or publishers, marketers for publishers or agents) than it is by everyday readers, but it's free to use for everyone.

Much like the little "hidden" prerequisite we had with Shelfari (where you had to first create an Amazon Author Central account before you could link it and become an official Shelfari Author), LibraryThing has a process for becoming an official LibraryThing Author.

1)  Use the LibraryThing Search to find yourself on their site. I did a search for "Sarah R. Yoffa" (my real name pen name) and was disappointed to find I did not yet exist on their site.



My sole book,  Dicky's Story, is not there either. That's not a coincidence. You have to have at least one book on the site before they'll recognize you exist. Kinda stupid but kinda makes sense. So I checked for my SciFi self, knowing that I (and one other user) had already added When Minds Collide to the LibraryThing database. Voila! There's Friday.


Notice the "(2)" after Friday's name? That indicates how many copies of this author's work have been shelved by unique LibraryThing users. If I search for Nora Roberts, there are two pages of entries with multiple works indicated.



Once you've found yourself, on the right side of the screen is  a link to click after the words "Is this you?" Click the link to submit a request to become a LibraryThing Author. If you have more than one book on the site, you can add a comment suggesting the LibraryThing Admin reviewing your request look at the additional titles for proof of your validity as an Author. Because they feed their database directly into library system catalog generation engines, LibraryThing is much more strict about who becomes an official Author. I submitted my Amazon link to my book, since that seems to validate an author's existence for LibraryThing. I tried it with Smashwords, and Friday's titles, but she is still not an official LibraryThing Author so apparently Smashwords isn't official enough for them. Seems odd.

I'd like to try submitting just my Goodreads Author account URL but they require a book first and for that, I had to use the Amazon link to Dicky's Story.

After you submit your request, a human Admin at LibraryThing reviews your existence and approves you or (I'd assume) sends you a message explaining why not. This is as far as I've gotten and seems like a good place to stop for this week's blog anyway. I'll run a few more posts by the Tuesday Tips series as and when I learn more about the usefulness of LibraryThing. For now, I'd suggest every Indie Author create an account and add your own books. At the very least, it cannot hurt.


What's Next....
Next Monday's marketing blog will be the Immutable Law of Branding 17 (for Indie Authors): Law of Color. It's the second half of a discussion started yesterday with Law 16: Law of Shape. It's a holiday weekend here in the USA but I'll still be working (on Labor Day) and publishing this blog series. I know, such a slave, I am!

Next Tuesday, I'll report back in on how my first-ever free promotion has gone. I did not use Amazon's KDP and I think I've done quite well without it. Tune in after Labor Day to hear the details!

Thanks for stopping by.

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