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Sunday, February 19, 2017

The Best (free) Way to Help Your Artist and Author Friends

So one of the really exciting advantages of the internet age is the way it has allowed so many people to get their creation out into the word. The internet has allowed you and your friends to make and distribute their own music, publish books,podcast, market and sell their own art, make video, and enrich the world in so many ways. These are absolutely things we want to celebrate and support. Of course great artists practice their craft for the love of the craft, but the fact is that getting news of their work out into the world is still pricey. Also they like to eat.

And the internet has managed to develop a great number of creative ways to facilitate the feeding of artists. We have crowd funding and patronage sites like Kickstarter, Go Fund Me, and Patreon. We have etsy, ebay, and craigslist. There are a million and one different preexisting online stores and marketplaces through which we now have fuller and fuller access to the collective creativity of humanity. And, of course, there are Vimeo and YouTube for video content and ad based revenue. This is also a great thing.
Image result for crowdfundingBut I know you only have so many resources. So many of us are now so much more empowered to create and market our art, that we are simultaneously beginning to be overwhelmed by the social need to support our friends and the aesthetic, ethical desire to support the makers of great ideas and art. These pressures can quickly begin to outstrip our budgets. 
So how do you support a product or an artist that you can't quite afford at the moment? There is actually an easy and free option: Ratings and Reviews.

One of the natural side effects of this explosion of creative output is the concomitant need to sort, rank, and recommend the right things to the right people. If you couldn't log onto Amazon or Etsy without a way to sort and functionally browse their products, you would probably leave quickly. So most of these sites have developed quite a few complex mechanisms to make sure that you are more likely to encounter products that you will enjoy—and yes some of these methods seem to be downright sinister but that is probably a question for another blog post.

Fortunately, one of the biggest, most effective and ubiquitous mechanisms is the rating and review system. Nearly always on a 5 start scale with the option for a written review, these ratings are usually the primary mechanism online marketplaces use to decide which products will and won't be seen. Even more critically, it is these reviews which determine which products many readers, listeners, watchers, and buyers will take a chance on. Finally, and probably least well known, many marketing services (particularly those geared towards independent creators) use those ratings as an outsourced quality control service. Your friends and the creators of your favorite content are probably far more dependent on those reviews and ratings than you ever realized.

My own domain is fiction writing, so let me give you and example of the importance of this from the self-publishing world:

Among self-published authors it is an open secret that their best chance of having a quality book catch on without the sort of marketing budget that major publishers have to play with is to have their book accepted by BookBub. BookBub is an online ebook marketing service (the biggest one out there) which maintains a database of subscribers who receive regular emails from BookBub alerting them about opportunities to buy discounted quality ebooks in genes of their choice. If BookBub accepts an author's book, the author will then set up a discount on that book for a particular date and on that date, BookBub will send an email to any subscribers who have indicated that they are interested in books of that genre, that the author's book is discounted or free. When those subscribers subsequently start buying and downloading the book, it's sales rank generally skyrockets and the market's algorithms tell it that people like the book and that it is therefore worth featuring the book more prominently on their site. 

Author's careers have been made by catching a BookBub promo. 

But BookBub (together with nearly every other online marketing service) uses ratings and reviews to determine which books to accept. 

And it isn't just with books. There is a reason that all of your favorite podcasts begin and/or end with a plea to rate and review the show on i-tunes. There is a reason your apps all ask you to review them in the apple or google play store. The internet has no judgement or taste so it relies entirely on yours.

My books are below (and of course I would really appreciate an honest rating and review) but the real point is to let you know how you can support the artists and work that are important to you.

Hubris Towers: The Complete First Season (Hubris Towers Season 1 Book 0) by [Faroe, Ben Y., Hoard, Bill]                                   The Dagger and the Rose by [Hoard, Bill]

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