By Neil Balthaser
Today, one of the greatest struggles writers and publishers face is how to optimize discoverability. With the flood of content from both traditional and self-publishing areas of the industry, it has become increasingly difficult for books to find their audience and for readers to discern among the vast number of books available to them in the marketplace.
For self-publishing platforms, that challenge extends even further with multiple editions of public domain books, poorly written work, plagiarism, or mis-categorized books.
In 2012, I was tasked by Barnes & Noble to help lead the design of the software for their self-publishing platform, Nook Press. What I realized as I began working on this project is that there is a deluge of content coming in daily with little process for being able to check that information. It would be impossible to have humans analyze everything — manuscript text and provided metadata — that was uploaded.
For self-publishing platforms that are reliant on the writers themselves to input metadata correctly, if at all, it becomes even more challenging to insure that the keys for discoverability are in place.
What was needed was something that checked the content being uploaded to make sure it was accurate and to ward against poorly written work and potential plagiarism, while also providing better opportunities to take advantage of current trends and bestsellers when marketing available titles.
After leaving Nook Press, I delved deeper into that question of how publishers can manage the content and establish opportunities for discovery and founded Intellogo, a “smart content discovery” platform.
Intellogo algorithms read a block of text from any number of sources including ebooks, the internet, Wikipedia, or a selected catalogue of outlets. It then connects, predicts, and recommends content based on user criteria. The system uses a subfield of artificial intelligence called machine learning that is able to recognize ideas and literary concepts that go beyond mere keywords — such as the mood of a text or type of writing. Our tool offers a new kind of insight into content and innovative merchandising opportunities for traditional and independent publishers alike.
For self-publishers, Intellogo provides the ability to enhance metadata and analyze current bestsellers to create tailored marketing outreach to readers of similar books, such as:
Categorization: While it may be easy for traditional publishers to select BISAC codes for their titles, it is often unreasonable to ask the same of writers because they don’t have the sense of how the codes are used by bookstores and libraries. Because Intellogo understands concepts, and is not limited to keywords, the system can scan for related BISAC codes and provide enhanced metadata. The Machine Learning Insights are also programmed to understand age appropriateness, genres, and subgenres.
Maintaining quality: Because the system is able to consume text beyond simple metadata implemented, Intellogo is able to compare uploaded writing to previously published work and provide a kind of quality control and also to protect against any possible plagiarism by comparing actual lines from the book’s text. The system can monitor for mislabeled genres, explicit language or mature subject matter, all in a matter of seconds.
Author support: Intellogo’s Book Profiles provides insight into what makes a book popular by delving, chapter by chapter, into the building blocks of storytelling: what drives the plot, conflicts, characters, writer’s style, or tone of the book. Early versions of manuscripts can be then refined to suit the authors’ goals. Intellogo can recommend unexpected genres that may have better price tolerances.
Maintaining policy on appropriate content: Intellogo works with some very sophisticated filters tools and can monitor mature content before it hits the shelves. It can prevent erotica from erroneously being placed in the children’s digital bookshelves.
List Management: Many self-publishing platforms feature a number of editions of public domain titles uploaded by users. Being able to recognize content as it is being uploaded helps unclutter the list of available titles to readers.
Merchandising Capability: For self-publishing platforms, the curation of books presented to readers can be difficult to manage. With the ability to compare the tone, mood, and type of writing in addition to subject of a book, platforms are better able to take advantage of current trends or the bestseller list by matching much more similar available titles to those getting attention. Or, for example, to tie into the recent holiday season, a platform could select titles from A Christmas Carol to Little Women by focusing on certain aspects of gift-giving or holiday themes.
The goal of Intellogo is to help authors find readers through a means of better categorization, better matching of interests and content, better merchandising of books to an engaged and interested audience, and finally solve those problems of curation and discoverability.
Neil Balthaser, Founder and CEO of Intellogo, stands at the intersection of publishing and technology industries. His unique experience and perspective have put him at the forefront of innovation during his tenure at companies such as Apple, Barnes & Noble, and Adobe.