Initial feedback on discovery

Hi,

Nice to see the discovery update live! I know you’re probably working on everything I’m about to mention for upcoming updates, but I thought it would be good to make a list just in case, and others can add to it as well.

First, I have a question: how do we get ourselves added to the list of authors for a genre? I’ve gone through and made sci-fi the main genre for each of my books, but when I use my reader account to search for sci-fi authors, I don’t see my author account. There are only four authors listed.

Second, a list of things that would be lovely to have as a reader:

  • A way to select multiple subgenres
  • A way to filter out NSFW covers (I.e the bare man chests and bulging lady chests. Nothing against them existing, but I don’t want people seeing them over my shoulder and I’m not the target audience anyway)
  • A way to mark that I’m not interested in a story or author (and perhaps it doesn’t show it for me again)
  • A way to filter out any AI-generated content (including books with AI covers)
  • A way to filter by language (it’s mostly English content right now, but useful to have the option)

Finally, a possible bug: Some stories seem to be showing up twice in the search results, although they may just be different versions created by the author, so I’m not sure.

Anyway, thank you! I’m looking forwards to seeing the next changes you have planned.

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Hi there!

Thank you for your great feedback and thoughtful comments.

On the author side, please double check that all fields have been filled in for you book details. Intended audience etc. Leaving some fields blank can cause your book not to be added to the search algorithm properly.

On the reader side, this is valuable feedback, and now that Discovery 1.0 has dropped, we’ll be making the platform even more reader friendly!

Thanks again!
Bobbie
Community Support Team Lead

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Hi Bobbie! Thanks for the reply. I just checked my stories and the only fields I had unset were the tags and the diversity designations. I’ve filled the tags in now.

All my stories were showing up in the stories list anyway – it’s just the author list where I was missing. Even today there are only four authors showing there, and there are definitely sci-fi stories from more authors in the stories list.

These are the stories I see (I count at least six different authors just from this swatch, where you can also see the potential duplication issue):

But these are the only authors I see:

With the stories, if I scroll, it loads more. Trying to scroll down the author list to load more does nothing. I don’t know if I’m the only one experiencing this or if others are having the same problem?

Edit: As someone pointed out in a separate thread, the author list is generated by searching for the genre in the author name. There are two problems with this:

  1. It doesn’t really make sense for that information to be in an author name when we already have the ‘creating’ field. Searching that or just listing authors with stories in that genre would make more sense.
  2. I’m guessing it might not allow hyphens, so if you say you’re a science-fiction author, that might not show up, whereas saying you write science fiction would. I haven’t tested that specific scenario but can confirm that adding ‘science fiction’ to my author name added me to the list.
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I have many concerns about discovery, many of which were covered in this post.

But I did see on Facebook that supposedly you can exclude a genre or tag by putting a “-” in front of it.

Example: fantasy -romance

This is good info to have, although a poor user experience since there’s no guidance telling people to do this. But figured I’d share the info!

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Hmm, that exclusion syntax doesn’t seem to work for me. It does change the results I get, but I’m still getting romance books (or whatever I try to exclude) showing. Trying a ‘NOT romance’ query doesn’t work either. A list of subgenres with checkboxes on the left-hand side would be my ideal solution, with filters for subgenre, audience etc. I imagine that’s what they’d come up with anyway.

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So, I’m disappointed in Discovery 1.0. There are a few things that should have been included already from the start. @FranklyWrites mentioned the important ones but I have to really scream about erotica showing up on the page when I search sci-fi or Science fiction. I’ve heard from YA authors who are also extremely nervous about this. All that’s required is a setting on the page, or in a reader profile that toggles mature content. And it should be on “Don’t show” by default. Most sites that sell books/stories have this by default and it’s a glaring omission.

I second everything else FranklyWrites says as well, but I’d like to add it would be nice if you shared how featured stories are chosen. It’s all romance (as far as I’ve seen so far) again perpetuating the romance heavy genres and alienating readers who do NOT want romance (not saying you can’t feature romance but when it’s all of them…).

Also, what is the update frequency? I’ve updated my story info (for the ones I want searchable) earlier today but half a day later only one of my stories is showing. However, I’m seeing multiples of other authors all right next to each other. Visually it makes it seem like there isn’t a lot to choose from because it’s all one author or one series taking over. I scrolled to the “end” and got a “There are no more stories.” Yes there are. I know because mine aren’t showing (and I’ve updated all fields except content and diversity because I don’t need them). Perhaps change the text to something more positive like “Check back for more stories soon.” or “Reload to see more stories” or “Search is updated (frequency) so check back for more.” Anything that doesn’t tell readers there’s nothing to see.

One last thing, why only list two genres under the “Genres” list? Is this random? I get different things and not yet have I gotten a genre I read. Visually I’d prefer more genres with smaller graphics (the big one doesn’t make sense), with a few stories and the option to “see more”.

Ok, one final last thing. Please open these features up to a wider beta testing group to get more feedback before you launch. I don’t know how many you had, or what the variety of genres/styles/experience levels were but I think this landed hard because you didn’t get enough feedback before going live. I appreciate trying to get features out as quick as you can, but especially on one as important as this, getting buy in from the community first would have been better even if it delayed it.

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I submitted a post that hasn’t been approved yet, and I suggested the same thing (selection based filtering instead of advanced search criteria, which the majority of users are unaware of). But we also need explicit exclude functionality because romance tends to overwhelm every other genre.

It’s disappointing that the exclude didn’t work. Thanks for trying it out!

The announcement email Ream sent out said to put “no romance” as a tag, but searching “no romance” either with or without quotes still didn’t filter out the romance books.

IMO, the search should absolutely have a “mature content” toggle prominently displayed. And users should be able to choose whether it’s on/off by default when they set up their profile.

I agree with CP that you should show more than 2 genres, and doing so with smaller graphics would be preferred. It took me more than a few seconds to find the “all genres” link.

And the For You section? I follow several authors and monetarily support a couple. So the algorithm should know not to recommend romance to me (I do read romance but not on Ream), yet most of not all of my top recommendations were romance AND there was mature content within my top 10 recommended. Why?! :sob:

I have no confidence that anyone will “discover” my content, and if I was only a reader, I’d avoid Ream altogether based on my first interactions with the discovery features. I feel like I’m coming off as a prude, but I do enjoy romance and sometimes steamy stories, but only when I want to see them because of personal triggers.

I don’t want this to end up suppressing steamy authors (not that I think that’s something Ream would ever consider just based on the founders, the vision already shared, and the $$$), so I understand it’s a careful balance to consider. But I also think readers deserve better than a simple search bar that doesn’t seem to return what I want and a dashboard that bombards me with content that I don’t like at best and is potentially triggering at worst.

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Putting ‘no romance’ as a tag (which I imagine you add to your book, then it would show up in search) also feels a little odd to have to do. Like, if it genuinely has no romance, sure. But if the characters get together over the story, then it still has romance even if it couldn’t be considered in the genre or a massive part of the story. So doing that would feel disingenuous to readers who are genuinely looking for no one to hook up.

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Hey guys, I’m aware of these problems with search. Be aware, we only just released it a few days ago and there are going to be some kinks to work out.

Most of what you describe are bugs from a short term solution to a large problem we had on release. When I initially released discovery, the algorithm looked a lot different, but once everyone started adding their genres and tags, the system slowed considerably and it was because of search. I was seeing 20 second search times, unfortunately.

The best short term solution was to considerably dumb down the search so that it would be faster.

I’m currently working on a solution that will re-enable all the features the algorithm originally had while still having fast search times. Please bear with me while I am developing a solution.

Additional note:
For You will have the same problems as search as it borrows the same algorithm that search uses.

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@FranklyWrites Totally agree! For example…

My main series is a humorous science fantasy adventure. The characters will eventually end up together, but that’s a LOOOOOOOOONG way away.

It feels wrong to put no romance, but it’s definitely not a romance story!

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Yeah, I pretty much resigned myself to being buried under Romance/Erotica as soon as I read the word “algorithm.”

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This is great feedback. It is very important to remember that Discovery isn’t an overnight thing but a process and product that will take months and years of refinement. Think about YouTube, Instagram, any social platform in its early days. That’s where we are at right now. Literally day one, and we are excited to keep making it better and better with time!

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I posted this on a different (older) topic before I found this one, so apologies.

I get 0 results when I search for “billionaire”, which I assume is a bug because I’m able to search for stories by words in the title and lots of stories have the word “billionaire” in their title (including some of mine). I hope this gets fixed soon, thanks!

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Right now, the current home page of Ream makes me incredibly uncomfortable to share with my fans and readers. PLEASE take the feature off the home page until erotica doesn’t show up on default, even with mature content turned off.

I have absolutely nothing against steam/erotica and wish all the authors so much success! But that’s not me or my fans - I write YA/NA geared fantasy, no steam. I’ve been recommending Ream to so many people - readers and writers alike - and the current home page is not conducive to my community. Even if I share just my landing page, they are bound to end up on the home page. And right now, this could be a serious turn off if they weren’t expecting the content.

I know a lot of work is going into this - and I was SO excited about this launch. I just hope you can make this a priority for those of us with this particular concern.

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This is a feature request, but I’m putting it here because it goes with Discovery.

You can click on a cover to read what it’s about. If you click to read it, and it’s not for the public, there’s no where you can click to go to the author’s Ream page. It would be nice to follow authors after seeing a story that interested me.

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Yes, this, absolutely. There needs to be an intermediate step between “glance at book” and “commit to author.”

For one thing, what if Discovery lands a reader on the third book in a series? How is a reader supposed to find the first book?

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In addition to filters, we need moderation to ensure books are categorized in the correct genres.

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This is absolutely needed. That way, if the author offers public stories we could read those to decide if we like the author’s writing enough to support them.

It’d be great if there was some kind of UI element flagging which stories are free to read on an author’s page so that prospective readers could quickly find a “test story” to read before they subscribe.

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When searching for a tag, the search function appears to organize authors into blocks of their work, meaning that the top author will completely dominate the search results.

Some tweaking so that 1-3 books from a single author show up at a time before another author is included in the search results would be good for discovery of new authors.

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It’d be great if there was some kind of UI element flagging which stories are free to read on an author’s page so that prospective readers could quickly find a “test story” to read before they subscribe.

It would be great to know how much a story costs, too. At present, on the search results, I see only the cover. Then I can click on that to see the title, and sometimes a synopsis. If I like it, I can click through to the story… and then it’ll tell me what tier I need to be. But I still need another click before I find out that the tier in question is $30/month. Well, that’s more than I’m willing to pay for a story with no idea how good the author is. So I click ‘back’ a few times, and then have to type in my search terms again because for some reason you can’t go back to the search results.

I think the info cards that pop up when you click on a cover should show something like:

  • 3 public chapters
  • 21 chapters available at tier X ($3)
  • 38 chapters available at tier Y ($20)

With the tier names being links, so you can go straight to subscribe if you want. Maybe even show how many chapters are scheduled for each chapter (so they know whether or not the lower tier will be able to see the whole thing eventually); or whether the story is complete, so that readers will have a better idea of how long it will take for a story to be available before they sign up.

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