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Building Shepherd - 2021 Planning

1,018 authors have turned in a book list for Shepherd or committed to writing one(which is amazing 😃).

May 31st - June 11th.
Training + Planning The Rest Of 2021
Jessy (the new hire) is doing fantastic and helping me respond to authors faster as well as taking over the editing process. This has allowed me to finally get more time to plan out the features for the rest of the year as well as work more on marketing.
I am trying to figure out what features we can do, what order to roll them out, and how they might work. Here are the features I am playing with:
  • Improved homepage.
  • Search
  • Topic Pages
  • Book Pages (i.e. everything on that one book)
  • Author Pages (i.e. everything about that author)
  • Custom Content Pages (i.e. individual content pieces like around the world in 80 books, and other projects to increase outreach).
I am still working through these, but I should have a better idea in 2 to 4 weeks. The first step is mapping out how they would work. Then I work with a fantastic designer to mock them up and make sure everything looks great (plus seeing the page visually helps me rethink some assumptions).
Big Challenge - Book API
One of the biggest challenges is the lack of book data available via API. The best sources appear to be Ingram and Amazon.
I don’t want to use Amazon as if I use their API the only place I could refer people to buy books is Amazon (due to their rules). They also have a really bad reputation for dependability with their affiliate/sales partners, so I want to avoid anything that ties me to them.
Ingram’s API appears to be the most complete but is archaic. We vetted it earlier this year and it is kinda like browsing the web 15 years ago. It is also expensive and would probably cost $1,000 to $2,000 a month to use it.
What would I like to do with an API?
  • Pull BISAC categories for books to help relate them to topics and other books.
  • Pull Author’s other books to help show those off.
  • Pull data about the genre so I can classify things as fiction/non-fiction, children’s books, crime, fantasy, and so on.
  • Pull down what age group the children’s or YA book was written for.
For now, this is off the table as the benefits outweigh the cost to purchase access and the cost to build support for using it. If anyone has a book API to recommend please let me know.
What's next for Shepherd?
I am cleaning up a lot of the mess now that I have Jessy to help me stay on top of things. And, a lot of planning for the future and making sure I am thinking through everything. The awesome developer I work with is on vacation until July 11th and once he is back we are going to start working on big features again.
Have a great weekend!
Thanks, Ben
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Ben Fox

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