News for Authors

A Spotlight on The StoryGraph

by Phil Stamper-Halpin & Olivia Oudinot|May, 2024

The Consumer Insights team conducts monthly surveys of avid readers to understand how their lifestyles, activities, and reading habits are impacted by current events over time. This month, we’re spotlighting The StoryGraph, a relatively new and engaging book tracking and recommendation web platform.

Please note: these insights were gathered from The Reader Lounge, A PRH Research Community, which is PRH’s in-house proprietary research panel. This panel is not nationally representative and consists of avid readers who opt-in to join the community to participate in surveys and research activities.

In this survey, we asked panelists who use The StoryGraph—also called Storygraph—to discover books for their thoughts about the site and its features in comparison to Goodreads. In this survey, we found that 9 percent of surveyed avid readers (roughly ~572) use StoryGraph to discover books.

So what is StoryGraph?

Founded in 2019, The StoryGraph is a Black woman–owned book tracking and social platform that gives readers an alternative to Goodreads. The platform allows readers to log and rate their books, but unlike Goodreads, it is driven by data, offering users detailed graphs and reports on their reading habits as well as in-depth customizable recommendations and reading goals.

Here are two unique features of StoryGraph that appeal to readers:

Genre, pacing, and mood: When a user logs a book, the focus is on the book’s key attributes. You may see a book listed as “fast-paced” or “medium-paced.” It may feature moods such as “emotional” or “hopeful” or “dark.” And genres are very detailed, such as “fiction lgbtqia + romance young adult” or “fiction historical speculative fiction.” These details better prepare readers for the book they’re reading, and also play a factor in StoryGraph’s recommendation system.

In-depth recommendation system: While recommendations are a key part of any book platform or retail site, The StoryGraph aims to go deeper. When asked “What are you in the mood for?” you can select comparable books, moods, pacing, genre, and page count.

For more features, check out The StoryGraph’s website!

Who’s on StoryGraph?

From the survey posed to The Reader Lounge consisting of avid readers, we found that younger readers, ages 18 to 34, are more likely to use StoryGraph. Additionally, surveyed avid readers are likely to use StoryGraph, especially for tracking reading stats and reading progress. They also use it for book recommendations and discovering new books.

 

Why do users like StoryGraph?

Survey respondents who use StoryGraph enjoy it for its ownership, the overall experience, and the platform’s features. Specifically, surveyed readers appreciate that:

  • It is a Black woman–owned business.
  • It has no advertisements.
  • It is easier to navigate than Goodreads, and the interface experience and search features are highlights.
  • The availability of data and the ability to track book stats are very appealing.

Additionally, those who mentioned they use StoryGraph to track book “moods” appreciate the feature and use it to gain more knowledge of their personal reading habits. Overall, we found that surveyed avid readers enjoy using this new program to track their reading stats and reading progress.

Where do authors fit in?

Unlike Goodreads, StoryGraph has no formal Author Program, no separate author profiles to maintain, and currently no way for authors to update their author page or book information. Additionally, there is currently no way to promote books, though StoryGraph is currently beta testing giveaways—so keep an eye out for more developments soon!

 

While other book cataloguing platforms aim to engage authors, StoryGraph’s focus on books can be a benefit to authors. So, authors, if you’ve long sought a platform where you can post about your own reading habits without interacting with readers or having to see their book ratings and reviews, you might want to take a closer look at this exciting new platform.

 

Phil Stamper-Halpin is Associate Director, Author Platforms at Penguin Random House.

Olivia Oudinot is Senior Manager, Community Research, Consumer Insights for Penguin Random House.

Consumer Marketing Continues Their Representing Asian Stories Campaign

by Penguin Random House|May, 2024

This May, the Consumer Marketing team is thrilled to continue our Representing Asian Stories campaign. We are observing Asian American and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander (AANHPI) Heritage Month by celebrating stories across the diaspora and will continue our efforts through June.

We are excited to promote titles by our AANHPI authors with updates to existing lists on PRH.com, including Must-Read Books by Filipino and Filipino American Authors and Must-Read Stories by Indian and Indian American Authors. We will also be adding a new piece of content focusing on children’s and adult books by Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander authors. Our promotion for these titles will include dedicated emails, social promotion, paid media support, organically searchable lists, and influencer outreach.

Our campaign this year will also include a giveaway in order to further our email acquisition efforts. We will be giving away a bundle of titles, including Real Americans by Rachel Khong and Memory Piece by Lisa Ko, as well as goods from Asian-owned brands. One lucky winner will receive a Dagne Dover backpack, a set of bowls from Wing on Wo & Co., bookends by SIN, and more!

We’re committed to inviting new and diverse readers into the Penguin Random House community by connecting with the AANHPI audience this month and throughout the year. We hope you’ll help amplify our efforts on your brand and personal social accounts using #RepresentAsianStories.

Getting the Most Out of Leading Social Media Platforms

by Jacky Bethea|May, 2024

Whether you’re an Instagram pro or a TikTok novice, every author can benefit from the free in-app tools, resources, and analytics that social media platforms make available to their users. Read on for our best tips on how to use these offerings to level up your social media presence!

 

1. Keep an eye on each platform’s official blog.

With new features added to every platform every few weeks, it can be difficult to stay up to date. Thankfully, most platforms host frequently updated blogs where users can learn about their newest tools and usability upgrades. Some platforms also keep separate blogs with tips and updates specifically for creators and businesses, whose needs may differ from those who have an account for personal use.

If you are an author looking to get more serious about your online presence, check out these creator blogs:

TikTok

TikTok’s Creator Academy blog offers product updates, monetization info, and ways to adhere to their community guidelines, among other features. Crucially, they include a lot of best practices about how to break through the infamously tricky algorithm with different types of content. Worried about keeping up with their ever-changing trend cycle? TikTok helps track trends for you in the Trend Discovery tool. If you want to take advantage of TikTok’s “anyone-can-go-viral” nature, these are great places to start.

Meta

Meta offers excellent resources for both Instagram and Facebook that authors may want to use. If you love Instagram, you should check out their creator site for more on content strategy, Reels, and reaching your target audience. Facebook also has its own creator site with broader updates on Meta and inspiration about how to show up on both platforms.

LinkedIn

LinkedIn has a number of useful features, from newsletters to audio events. Their blog LinkedIn for Creators is a great place to get the download on how best to use their tools and improve your profile for potential followers. You can also check out the LinkedIn Official Blog for product updates and news about the community.

Pinterest

Pinterest may seem like an unanticipated place to find success as an author, but it hosts very rich reader and writer communities. If you are looking to connect with those groups, create a following, or just hop on the latest trends, you may want to check out Pinterest’s creator blog. They also have a series called Content Academy, where premier creators on the platform give their advice on how to find success.

 

2. Consider switching to (or creating) a business account.

If you’ve scrolled through some of the blogs, you may have seen mentions of switching to a business account. Don’t let the word “business” scare you. A business account is an option offered by multiple social media platforms to help businesses, professionals, and creators optimize their experience with the platform and more effectively connect with their target audience. These accounts can go by different names, depending on the platform. Many of their basic features are not only free to use, but potentially very helpful to any author hoping to connect with readers. Especially if you are used to using social media for personal reasons, adding a business account is a natural first step to building your brand identity online as an author (or doctor, storyteller, comedian, advocate, etc.). The benefits can be numerous.

Credibility and Visibility

People are more likely to follow you online when they know what they can expect from you. Instagram, for example, provides a list of categories for users to choose from when they create a business account, which will display on their profile for their followers to see. The category can quickly indicate what the person behind the account is best known for, so it’s a great place to include your profession and identify yourself as an author.

One of the toughest parts about building a presence online can be figuring out how to make your content appear before more people. Meta provides a helpful solution to this for business account users. Through the Account Status feature, you can ensure that your profile and content meet the Recommendations Guidelines, so they can appear on the Explore page and in other areas where users may be shown content from profiles they aren’t already following.

Online Safety and Security

If you are concerned about online safety, a business account can help with that as well. Many apps feature special moderation tools to keep unwanted interactions out of your direct messages and comment sections. You can preprogram words you don’t want to see or prevent bot accounts from posting suspicious links. In the event of a security issue, many platforms have a team of representatives specifically for addressing the needs of business users and creators.

Creator Tools

Business accounts often come with extra perks that can be fun to experiment with and might be helpful as you promote your books. Meta allows business account users to schedule live events, and offers them better organization of replies and direct messages so you can prioritize more urgent messages from potential collaborators. Pinterest and TikTok have exclusive Creator Hubs with extra best practices for business accounts. Often platforms will beta test new features by rolling them out to specific user groups. As your following grows, you may be able to take advantage of new features before they are broadly launched across the app.

That said, there can be drawbacks to a business or professional account. For example, TikTok’s business accounts offer a Commercial Music Library with more than a million songs cleared for commercial use, but they restrict access to regular trending sounds to prevent copyright issues. On Facebook and Instagram, a business account cannot be made private. It’s certainly worthwhile to explore the offerings on each platform to ensure that they meet your needs.

Despite the drawbacks, there is still one major reason why you may want to consider a business account: analytics!

 

3. Analytics

The better you get to know your audience and their behavior, the easier it is to boost your engagement and reach. Thankfully, many social media platforms now offer in-app analytics tools to their users. These tools show how many users are viewing and engaging with your content, but they can also reveal what content your followers prefer, specific days and times they engage the most, and their demographic information such as age range, location, and gender. By tracking these closely, you can cater your content toward your following or pivot your content to reach your exact reader base.

Often this data is restricted to business account users, but some apps, like TikTok, offer analytics to everyone who has one public video posted in their Creator Center. Some platforms have specialized sites for analytics to help you consolidate the data. Creator Studio for Facebook is great for someone looking to create videos and track their performance. X (formerly Twitter) has their own analytics site, but notably stopped tracking audience demographics in January 2020. Most platforms offer access to these insights in-app. You can find instructions to locate them on Instagram, LinkedIn, and Pinterest’s respective help sites. (The still-developing Threads doesn’t track analytics quite yet.)

If you are an author transitioning your social presence from a personal one to a more public one, these tools can help you feel a bit more confident. Even if you are well-practiced at the social media game, it can be helpful to refresh your knowledge of what each platform has to offer, since they are constantly adding new resources to meet the needs of their users. Regardless of the platform you choose to represent you as an author, make sure to take advantage of these free, in-app resources, because they are made to help!

 

Jacky Bethea is the Associate of Author Development for Penguin Random House.