Launching today is BuzzTrace, a new platform that helps authors find their audience and increase their book sales. BuzzTrace connects with social media platforms and provides authors with insightful analytics on how to help sell their books. The site also gives authors tips on how to grow their audience. Scott La Counte, a best selling author, said he co-founded BuzzTrace to help authors save time on marketing, so they can focus on their writing. Authors can sign up for a one-month free trial at BuzzTrace.
Read on for an interview with Scott La Counte to learn more about the platform.
S.R.: What inspired you to create BuzzTrace?
S.L.C.: Indie authors and publishers have been stuck for years with social media and marketing tools that aren’t built for them. Websites like Hootsuite can work for PR firms, but for the average person the tools are either too complicated to effectively use or simply intimidating. BuzzTrace is something built by authors and publishers for authors and publishers.
S.R.: BuzzTrace was part of the 1440 Accelerator, sponsored by the Ingram Content Group, and started with developing anti-piracy software. How did you decide to pivot and focus on social media?
S.L.C.: While in 1440 we talked to hundreds of authors and publishers. We talked a lot about their wants and needs, and piracy wasn’t high on their list. A few authors told us they were more worried about why more people weren’t stealing their work—their point being they weren’t to the point where anyone was even noticing them. So we started thinking about how we could get authors more noticed online.
S.R.: It looks like some of the anti-piracy development lived on in PiracyTrace. What can PiracyTrace do for authors?
S.L.C.: PiracyTrace still lives on in its own domain (www.PiracyTrace.com), but we do plan on integrating it into BuzzTrace. The easiest way to explain PiracyTrace is that it’s Google Alerts, but much more complicated; where Google Alerts can find common phrases or passages, PiracyTrace can search an entire book against what’s found on the web. That means when someone is lifting passages and posting them somewhere on the Internet, you’ll know right away. It’s all automated, so once you upload a book it will continue to search, and anytime it finds something, you’ll get an email.
S.R.: How is BuzzTrace different from other similar platforms that gamify social media, such as Klout, or from platforms that track book sales and reviews, such as Pronoun?
S.L.C.: Klout and Pronoun are both great platforms, but what good is knowing how popular you are or if your book has sold if you don’t know how to become more popular or how to sell more books? Authors frequently see spikes in their sales rank and can’t figure out why. With BuzzTrace authors can start getting a bigger picture of what’s happening online that has helped them sell books. We track reader reviews, blog reviews, media reviews, social mentions, and much more. We also will be introducing more features over the summer (such as giveaway tools, contest tools, and author websites).
S.R.: Which social media platforms does BuzzTrace support?
S.L.C.: Currently Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.
S.R.: BuzzTrace provides authors with daily tasks to help improve their scores and build their platform, as well as generate keywords to use. What is an example of a task BuzzTrace might give an author?
S.L.C.: When we launch there will be over 3,000 unique tasks. They’re genre based and completely randomized. That means you don’t have to worry about 1000s of writers tweeting the exact same thing as you. Here’s an example of what a health and fitness writer would see, “Write a blog post telling would-be vegetarians where they might get protein.”
S.R.: How much time would you expect a typical author to spend on BuzzTrace?
S.L.C.: I don’t believe the typical writer exists—every writer is different, and that’s the beauty of BuzzTrace. Tasks are time-based, so if you only have five minutes to spend on your social media, then you can get five minute suggestions. There’s going to be writers who have a book coming out in six months that will spend much more time than a writer that’s just dabbling in writing as a hobby.
S.R.: Not everyone agrees that social media can lead to book sales, though it can help with building an audience. How does BuzzTrace help boost sales via social media?
S.L.C.: People who say social media can’t lead to book sales are people who are doing social media all wrong. A lot of authors hear social media at a conference and they signup thinking all they have to do is post “Buy my book!” and they’ll have a bestseller. That’s not how it works. Social media takes time and work. What we have heard from a lot of authors is they know they need to be online, but they just don’t know what to post. We give authors thousands of ideas that are meant to spark engagement and conversation with their readers.
S.R.: Authors can sign up for a BuzzTrace account, and the first 30 days are free. How much does BuzzTrace cost after that?
S.L.C.: After 30 days, we will continue to have a free plan and also a $10 plan. The free plan will be a little more limited, but still perfect for newer writers who are just starting to think about social media. We want writers to grow with us—they shouldn’t have to pay for things they don’t even need yet.
S.R.: What’s the best thing BuzzTrace can do for an author?
S.L.C.: We can save authors time. Talking to authors we are always blown away by just how many tools some authors use. Some used over a dozen different tools on a regular basis, so what we did was put the most common tools in one place. We have a lot of features rolling out to save even more time. One we’re very excited about is a Chrome widget that will let authors track any book on Amazon with a click of a button, so when they’re browsing books on Amazon and see one they want to track, they don’t have to go to BuzzTrace to do it—they just click one button BuzzTrace will provide on their browser and it’s all done. We will also be introducing deeper analytic reporting, so when an author has a spike in sales, they can pull up reports to see everything that happened that day that made it happen. They’ll also soon have a better profile of who their reader actually is (i.e. how old they are, where they live, what their gender is). Finally, our tasks manager will get better with time—it will have not only what authors should post online, but what other authors in their genre have done to improve their performance (for example, what blog reviewers lead to better book sales or even when the best time of day to post is).