What’s the hoo-hah about Libboo?
August 6, 2013 | 2:03 pm
In a piece called “Testing Libboo – an author’s view,” self-published author Russ King describes his experience with Libboo, an “advocacy marketing” platform which “empowers you with behavioral data about your readers. A first-of-its-kind dashboard with real-time analytics offers insight into how, where, and why your book is shared online.”
“I joined Libboo during their beta phase,” relates King. “As a reader, I enjoyed earning high quality free books and chatting with the authors. As an author, I got good exposure for my book and some useful reviews on a variety of book-related websites. It hasn’t created a surge in sales yet, but I tend to get about six times more clicks to storefronts than from a typical Facebook campaign.”
Libboo has also attracted buy-in from more than just self-published writers and their would-be peers and fans. Publishing pro Michael Boezi, a veteran of Pearson Education and John Wiley & Sons, as well as other publishing-focused startups, recently joined Libboo as vice president and minister of strategy. “Libboo is a first-of-its-kind ‘Advocacy Marketing’ platform that uses a network to build more network,” he states. “The best marketers are and always have been peer advocates. Advocacy Marketing is based on the principle that you’re 100 times more likely to take a recommendation from a friend than from someone you don’t know. You trust your friends. You don’t trust a salesperson.”
Libboo’s other partners include Houghton Mifflin Harcourt,Wiley Publishing, Hachette Book Group, and Little, Brown & Co.
Personally, I look carefully and suspiciously at any publishing services platform covered in FutureBook, which has picked up some highly negative press from David Gaughran and others over its uncritical adoption of puff pieces supporting Penguin Random House’s notorious neo-vanity offering Author Solutions. The Bookseller and FutureBook have done their readership and industry no favors with this, as any remotely similar enterprises are now likely to be labeled as fruit of the poisonous tree. Libboo could be a perfectly useful and valuable service, and I admit to some bias against it. All the same, I advise any writers tempted to use it to read the labeling with care.
“Advocates now have a true platform to build credible social capital as an influencer, with objective measurements in comparison to their peers,” Libboo states in its “How It Works” copy. “The best influencers get publicly recognized by not only the author, but by the community too. We are, in effect, curating a community of tastemakers. Libboo not only identifies tastemakers, but seeks to understand why they are tastemakers, too. The Libboo platform uses social psychology algorithms to monitor behavior on the Libboo site. Patterns emerge, which offers insight into the “why” behind user behavior … For the first time, authors have useable insight into their audience, and can ‘tune’ their campaigns accordingly.”
As to how much it costs: “You get to choose your price, for a limited time. No risk—you get to keep your price, forever.”
“It’s early days yet and Libboo needs to grow, both in terms of authors and readers, but it will be interesting to see where my base level of sales will be in six months time,” King concludes. “In the meantime I know I can focus on writing my next novel interspersed with quick bursts of marketing, knowing that people will still be interacting with my books while I’m wrestling with my new characters.”
So that’s Libboo. My top-of-mind view is that only experienced authors who actually know how to execute a promotional campaign already should be paying for this service, as novices will simply not be able to use whatever value it can create.
That also touches on the question of whether self-published authors should ever pay for any marketing (as opposed to proofreading, design, etc.) services at all, with Kindle Direct Publishing and its rivals all geared up to provide discoverability options for them. I wouldn’t. “You pay what you want” is still paying, versus the “we make you more and take a cut” model that even the most mercenary traditional publishers and agents ostensibly operate on. But it’s your call, authors. And I’d be interested to hear from anyone else who has direct experience of, or an opinion on, Libboo.