Facebook Self Publishing Awards

In my previous post I described our new Facebook Achievements for our Outskirts Press authors. I described the five categories, achievements, and milestones. As I was doing this, the phrase “A picture is worth a thousand words” popped into my mind, so now I’m just going to present our planned achievement graphics:

The excitement level is high for the launch of these new achievement awards. It should be any day now…

Facebook Achievements for Self Publishing Authors

In my June 21st post I blogged about the new Facebook Achievements we are launching at Outskirts Press for self-publishing authors. We’ve been conducting beta tests on the functionality for about a month now, and this follows what has been about 6 months of development time (off and on).  The functionality is already “live” for new authors coming into Outskirts Press and soon we will be adding the functionality to all our current authors, too.

Our Facebook Achievements are based upon the concept of “gamification” which is the concept of motivating “action” in a user-base by providing awards and public recognition for accomplishing certain tasks — in essence, making a “game” out of something that is typically seen as more “mundane.” For most of our authors, publishing their book is one of the most exciting things they’ll ever do in their lives, so it’s not really necessary to “Reward” publication with an “Achievement Award.”  But, with every book that is published, there are numerous steps (or milestones) that must be accomplished and some of them, to be honest, are more mundane than others.   So our goal with our Facebook Achievements is to publicly acknowledge an author when he or she accomplishes important tasks in the pre-production, production, publishing, or marketing processes.

For Outskirts Press, we have divided our self publishing achievements into four categories, and the Award Graphics they can earn are “color-coded” to each category.

The first category is “Production Milestones,” which currently has 5 Achievement Awards, with a 6th one in the works. By publishing a book, every author will earn at least one award in this category and can relatively easily earn 2 out of the 6 awards. But it would require publishing at least 3 books to “Sweep” the Production Milestones category and earn all the awards.

The second category is “Production Achievements.” It is possible to publish a book without achieving a single award in this category, although from what we know of our authors, the majority of them will earn at least one (and the award they win in this category will often vary significantly depending upon the author and/or book).  There are currently 4 achievements in this category with a 6th one in the works. It’s possible, although unlikely, that an author could sweep this category (meaning, win every award within the category) with a single book.

The third category is “Publishing Awards.”  Every author who connects their Outskirts Press account with their Facebook account will receive their Published Book award once their book is published.  These are the most complicated awards to program, so we currently have just one in this category, although more are planned.

The fourth category is “Marketing Achievements” which recognizes and acknowledges marketing tactics taken by the author after publication.  We currently have 5 awards in this category, with more on the way. Many of our authors would sweep this category with relative ease because our authors already understand (or are educated on) the necessity of marketing a published book.

The final category is “Marketing Milestones,” granted when the author reaches a milestone in the marketing process by focusing on a particular area of marketing, such as publicity, Amazon, awards, book tours, or promotional materials, etc.   The “Marketing Milestones” category and “Marketing Achievements” category are designed in such a way where it is extremely unlikely for an author to sweep both. In fact, just earning each Marketing Milestone award is quite an accomplishment, much less sweeping the entire category.

It might help to see the awards, divided by each category, so I’ll reveal that next time…

Another “Facebook Achievements” Update From Brent Sampson

Here is another update from our upcoming “Facebook Achievements” functionality that we are launching soon for self publishing authors with Outskirts Press:

Last week we announced our Beta test program on our Facebook page, and then on the following Monday (last Monday), we invited 25 of those Facebook friends to add a special Award to their Outskirts Press shopping cart as part of the Beta Test.  Interestingly, even though our Alpha Test (an internal test using some of our personal Facebook accounts) worked fine, this Beta Test (an external test featuring a small number of our actual authors) didn’t work nearly as well.  But that is what is important about testing — we took that information from the initial Beta Test on Monday and our web developers made some adjustments to how Outskirts Press was “communicating” with Facebook.

We then invited those authors to test the Award again and had greater success.  One thing we learned was that a greater percentage of authors than we expected do not leave themselves “logged-in” to Facebook, but rather log-out after their session with Facebook is complete.  Our Outskirts Press functionality works nearly seamlessly when the author is logged in simultaneously with Facebook and Outskirts Press (through cookies), but otherwise, in order to receive the Achievement on Facebook, the author must first “Connect to Facebook” via the typical blue button that is becoming more prevalent on websites.

Ultimately, the beta testing was successful because we caught bugs in the programming we may have otherwise missed, which will allow us to launch this new, complicated functionality more successfully in the coming weeks. Then, our authors will be able to conveniently and automatically share their writing, publishing, and marketing milestones and achievements with all their Facebook friends.