Honest signals

Honest signals

Today’s publication day for Cat Hoke’s new book, A Second Chance.

It’s been a long journey, more than a year in the making, and all of us want it to do well.

Tomorrow, when I write about her book on my main blog, thousands of people will show up to the Amazon page, where they will have their first impression of the book.

How will they decide? Who will choose to buy it, who will push off the decision to later, and who will walk away for good?

Since Amazon has become the primary point of exposure for new books, and since books still drive so much of our common conversation, it’s an essential question.

Unlike the bookstore, all the books on Amazon look pretty much the same. And thus, we’re on hyper-alert for the small things, the little signals that tell us that this one is worth more of our time or money.

There are three obvious signals available:

  1. the cover
  2. the reviews
  3. the bestseller rank

And of course, along the way, ‘growth hackers’ (using the word generously, in quotes) have tried to game the system, using dishonest signals to capture more than a fair share of attention and trust. Readers, once burned, are more careful than ever.

Yes, it’s pretty simple to game a book to bestseller status, for an hour anyway. And, while it’s not as easy as it was, there are still plenty of ways to game the reviews.

But these are the only signals we’ve got in this retail setting. If you pre-ordered the Kindle edition of Cat’s book (thank you!) you now have the book on your device. Cat and I would be truly grateful if you’d post an honest review today (it’s not an accident that Amazon puts “Verified Purchase” next to some reviews–turning questionable signals back into honest ones.)

As I’ve written previously, a book is far more than a method for monetizing an idea. In fact, in 2018, it’s a pretty lousy way to monetize an idea. But Cat’s work with Defy, the work of her team, her volunteers, the EITs… all of it is amplified by this book, by this artifact that can be shared, read and cherished.

Thank you for the work you’ve done to help support Defy’s work. It’s already making a difference. Donors have stepped up with significant financial contributions, new volunteers have joined the network and people’s lives are changing. Every day.

Wish us luck this week. But with your help, we’re already making a ruckus. Thank you.