I’ve been using StoryOrigin for about five months, in conjunction with BookFunnel. Both have similar functions, but there are things I enjoy more about StoryOrigin than BookFunnel (and vice versa). Before we get into all of that, let’s take a quick look at the main function of StoryOrigin.
What is StoryOrigin?
Ultimately StoryOrigin is an online service that allows authors to connect with readers. The authors can interact with their readers in a variety of ways. Some authors may be looking to sell books, while others are looking to build their mailing list. Some authors are looking to find reviewers, while others are looking to build their author-to-author connections. Some authors are even using this platform to track word count! While these goals all have different goals, the focus here centers around mailing lists. StoryOrigin works with a variety of mailing list providers (I am using MailChimp) to help authors in these goals.
So how does StoryOrigin achieve these goals via mailing lists?
Each method has a slightly different flavor, but the overall mechanics are the same. The author either self reports their mailing list stats (how big, how often is it opened, how often is it clicked on) or has it automatically connected up to the mailing service. I would suggest doing the automatic connection, as it provides a “verified” check mark that other authors can see. Once the mailing list is established, the author can then decide which goal they want to achieve. This is done in the “Books” area. Once they’ve built the goal, they can then put the plan into motion via the “Promotions” and “Schedules” area.
Let’s walk through this with the most common goal: building a mailing list to include more fans. The author, after connecting their mailing list, would then upload a “Reader Magnet” book. These are free books that readers can have, if they provide an email address to your mailing list. Once this “Reader Magnet” book is setup, the author then adds in when they will send out their mailing list. This is done in the “Campaign Planner” areas. At this point, the author has the foundation setup, it’s now time to start acting on the goal.
The author can then go to the “Promotions” area. Here they will have to make a decision: What mechanism do they want to use to build their mailing list? Do they want to join a group promotion or swap a single book with another author? Group promotions are groups of authors, each sharing the same promotion to their mailing lists. These are great for a trickle of new people all month long (since authors share the same promotions at different times in the month). Single newsletter swaps are “you show my book in your mailing list and I’ll show your book in my mailing list”. These can be great for a quick influx of people to a mailing list.
Once the group promotions or single newsletter swaps are setup, then you wait for the day you need to send out your mailing list. On that day, you hop back to your “campaign planner” area, click on your campaign and you have special links to use. These are important because they prove exactly how much traffic you brought to these promotions. On the flip side, you can see how much traffic was brought to your mailing list. The goal here is to build lists via sharing.
Let’s look at the basics of the other goals (beyond building a mailing list):
- You can sell books via Universal Book Links.
- You can get reviews for your books via the Review Copy Area
- You can build a storage place for your books via Direct Downloads
- You can even get audio book reviews via the Audio Review Codes Area
- Lastly you can track the word count of an effort via the Goal Trackers Area
So now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s go into my five month review:
Right now StoryOrigin is a one man effort, but that one man has been pretty constant on improving. In addition, he’s allowed people to use the service for free for a very long time. He’s built up a lot of value here that could easily be making him money at the flick of a switch. There are also things that his service does that no other service (that I’ve found) does, or at least not does as well. Let’s start with my favorite component: stats.
Why I like StoryOrigin’s stats
Let me start by saying I am not just talking about the stats area at the top of StoryOrigin. This area shows you how many sign ups, clicks, or downloads you had in the last 30 days. Truthfully, this area would be massively better if you could just change the time period. I would love to see 30 days versus a year. It would be great to see overall trends. No when I mention stats I am referring to the campaign planner area. First off, you can look at your past campaigns and see which links received the most clicks. In addition, you can see what traffic other authors (the ones you shared with) brought your way. It helps me decide if I am working with people who are legit. (You brought me 25 clicks and I brought you 26 clicks… so it was a good share!) Another great thing here is the campaign archive link, which shows you the email that was sent to the mailing list. While seeing your own is helpful, it can be massively helpful to see other people’s promotion emails. They often put together things in unique ways that may work better.
When you hop into the promotion area, you can determine the mailing list stats for each author. These are great, but what’s even more helpful is that you can see how well their mailing list blasts have been doing. That allows an author to only approach other authors who are performing and being legitimate. What I really like about all this transparency is it allows you to look at your own list with fresh eyes. Are you performing better than others in your genre? Or is your mailing list needing some cleaning out because the click/open rates are low? Are you getting the right traffic you want?
Why I like this author platform building model
Authors are told to have platforms to communicate with their readers. These platforms can be built at a lot of different places. Many social media outfits try to tell you to build your audience on their technology. What they don’t tell you is that building your platform on their technology is limiting in some key ways. The first is that if they decide, you could be “turned off” and lose your entire audience. Another method that they limit is that they don’t really have ways to segment audience. Each fan is the same as every other fan. Finally, they limit how you communicate with your audience. Some only allow short little messages, some won’t show your message to all your fans, and some social media outfits will only allow new books to be mentioned.
The great thing about building your own mailing list is that you own it. You can make it whatever you want and no one can take that away. If your mailing service decides to disappear, you can simply bring your audience to another mailing service. If you want to segment your mailing list, you can do that. Which allows you to interact with your audience however you want. Maybe you want to send a special offer to the people who have bought your book in the past; you can do that! Maybe you want to offer a freebie to entice people who haven’t been very active; you can do that! You can do whatever you want with your mailing list. In addition, you can clean and maintain your list so that it remains a health source of active fans. Many people even put funnels into place, which helps readers move from interested to raving fans.
What’s great about Story Origin is that it helps you build this platform that you truly own. No social media company owns your audience. No one can tell you how to communicate with your audience. The value you bring to them is the important thing. Even if you are a bad actor (spamming people junk), and your mailing service drops you, you can simply hop to another mailing service provider. You completely own what you build, which is how it should be! That’s what I love about this style of author platform building.
What are things StoryOrigin does that others don’t?
First off, seeing other author mailing list information is unique. Knowing how you compare to others is amazing and it helps keep everyone honest. I also think that the single newsletter swaps are done better than other competitors in the market. I also believe the audio book review area is unique in the market. Finally, I believe this service is the only one like it where you can add in your Amazon affiliate tags. That means that if you market someone else’s book on your mailing list, you can use your Amazon affiliate tags. That way if your fans buy that person’s book, you earn a small commission.
What are some things StoryOrigin doesn’t do that would be wonderful?
The first area that would be amazing is an overhaul to that stats area. I would love to be able to change the timing on that. I don’t just want to see the past 30 days, but rather months and months of work. That would be the first thing I change, if I were running this service. The next area I would change is that I would make either a public author page or a “combination set” page. That way an author could drive traffic to their overall “brand” instead of a specific book. I would love to see that option available. I would also like that available for a book series. I would love to drive someone to the first trilogy of books, where they provide something different in order to get each book free. For example, the first book could be free if they join the mailing list. The second book could be free if they left a review on the first book. The third book could be free if they perform a social media action (joining something or promoting to friends). This would be wonderful to help build funnels of actions that can help both author and fan.
I absolutely love StoryOrigin and I hope that it shows. They do so many things right and they do it for free. They help authors build platforms in a way that will last long into the future. They help connect fans with lots of great work. While there are always things that can be improved, I can say that this has been a consistent tool in my author life.