Monday, September 10, 2012

Book Marketing: My Six Month Progress Report

How I'm feeling now after another month of book marketing. (Sorry to be a downer this week!)


Background for Those Visiting for the First Time 

In April, I quit a contract job that was paying most of my bills to finish a novel I plan to send to agents next spring. At the time, I also vowed to boost my author platform by reading books and blogs, attending conferences, talking to people smarter than me, and following the advice of the experts.

Executive Summary 

Since my five-month progress report last month, I've had small but measurable increases in page views and followers for my blog, but negligible increases in new connections on social media. During the course of a week, I spend about two days on book marketing and promotion.

Upshot: I'm getting just enough encouragement to keep going, but not enough to pay for a bag of groceries. Will you throw a quarter in my cup when I'm out on the street?

What's Working and What's Not 

1) Blogging

What I'm doing:

- Blogging once a week, spending four to six hours on each blog. (Weekly seems to be fine. I couldn't do it daily. How can anyone with a full-time job blog daily?)
- To drive traffic, I'm posting links to new blogs to Social media sites (Linked in, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and bookmarking sites like Reddit, Digg, Stumbleupon.)


- Page views in June: 2,292
- Page views in July: 2,428
- Page views in August: 2,977 (most recent month)

- Blog subscribers in June: 24
- Blog subscribers in July: 48
- Blog subscribers in August: 71

Best finds:

- Groups on Facebook. I've been posting writing tips to writing groups and travel stories to travel groups. (My novel involves travel.) Note: to post to Facebook's groups, you have to use a personal account, you can't do it from your Fan Page account.
- In July, I added a sign-up box to the end of each blog post and it continues to encourage people to sign up. (To provide some benefit to subscribers, I started posting my blogs for them first and, a week later, posting to the various groups and forums. Does anyone care? Unclear.)

Biggest waste of time:

Posting to the bookmarking sites. The posting process is generally convoluted and the sites haven't produced much traffic. I no longer bother with them.

Search for Facebook Groups by entering a topic in the search box at the top of the page. The arrow on the left, shows the groups I've joined so far.

2) Social Media

a) Facebook Fan Page

What I'm doing:

- I post less frequently, maybe three times a week instead of daily.
- I quit participating in Likefests and other programs in which people agree to Like you if you Like them.  Adding people who aren't really interested in my content doesn't really interest me. Also, if they don't interact on my page, Facebook will stop showing them my content, anyway.


I'm adding Fans at a much slower rate. I've added six fans in the last month and now have 2,032 and reaching 300 to 400 people per post. (Same as last month.). Facebook's Reach statistic measures people who interact with your page, people who are interested in what you're doing, people who might actually buy a book -- once I have one.

b) Facebook Personal Page

What I'm doing:

- Nothing, I don't have time for this.
- But as noted above, I use the page to post to Facebook groups, which generate traffic to my blog.

c) Twitter

What I'm doing:

- Abandoned Tweetfests and other programs in which you Follow people who agree to Follow you.
- Posting blog links and related news once a day to Hashtags frequented by travelers.
- Commenting on and Retweeting other people's Tweets.
- Still using Hootsuite to prepost and save time.
- Following more people and Unfollowing if they don't follow me back.


- Added 17 Followers in the last month. (Now have 717, which is not a whole lot.)
- I'm getting Mentioned and Retweeted by other people a few times a week.
- Twitter is not generating a whole lot of traffic.
- Why bother with it? It seems to be a key contributor to my Klout scores. My Klout score is now a respectable 47. Does anyone -- like perhaps a prospective agent or publisher -- care about Klout scores? In case they do, I'll keep up with Twitter.

Best Find:

-I use Tweepi and its Flush feature to remove people who I'm Following who aren't Following me back.

d) Linked In

What I'm doing:

- Still posting links to my book marketing blog to author groups every week.
- Began posting links to my travel stories to travel groups. (These people are travel professionals, who I imagine influence a lot of travelers -- or that's my fantasy.)
- Using Hootsuite to post important Web news to certain groups more regularly. (The free version of Hootsuite allows me to post simultaneously to Twitter as well as four Linked In Groups.)
- Using my Web analytics tools to see which groups are generating the least traffic and dumped them. (Linked In only allows you to join 50 groups at one time.)


- Busted! Linked In no longer allows me to connect with people for whom I don't have an e-mail address. (For a couple of months I was able to connect with people from groups I belonged to. As a result, I only added 15 new connections last month. (Currently have 1,105)
- Linked In groups continue to be my biggest source of traffic. If I write a book on bookmarketing, people might be interested. Would they buy a novel I wrote? Probably not.
- Continue to connect with some nice folks. Also, nice comments from readers keep me going. (OK, so I'm another lonely, pathetic wrier -- but I've got company!)
- Links posted to travel sites are not getting a whole lot of traffic. Unclear if these folks would buy my book. Also, some weirdos: I posted two unflattering pieces about Venezuela and each time the same guy writes me in broken English and calls me a coward. Will give it another month and then move on to another target market: Erotica. (My book has some sex scenes.)
- Was contacted on Linked In by a guy running a social media business. We spoke on the phone. He seemed to know his stuff and offered some good advice. We may be able to work together in some capacity in the future.
- Was contacted by a woman who needed some editing. I don't have time, so I forwarded her to the woman who edits my stuff. Unclear what came of that.

e) Goodreads

What I'm doing:

- Adding friends as I have time. But they are mainly other writers, as opposed to readers.
- Posting links to the book marketing forum and getting some clicks. In the future will  post to travel and erotica forums.
- Question: Are there any readers on Goodreads or is it just authors flogging their books?

3) SEO

What I'm doing:

- I optimize my pages using keywords related to my posts.


- My blog appears on the first page of Google for searches on "Book Marketing," "Travel Humor," "Erotic Humor," and "Humorous Erotica." (My blogs are all optimized for these terms.) So, if I were to publish a book on one of these topics, people would find me. BUT not a lot of people search on these terms.("Erotic Humor" generated a total of 35 page views for me in August.)

4) Publications (another way to get noticed)

What I'm doing:
- I've taken scenes from my book and rewritten them as standalone stories.
- Using plus a listing of top literary journals ranked by Pushcart awards, I sent six of those stories to about 100 different publications. (Submitting online doesn't take that long.) Out of about 70 publications who have responded so far, I got two acceptances from small journals. (unfortunately, none were ranked in the top journals.) But I'll take it! One is going to pay me $20 for a piece.
- Guest posting on other blogs: I've had four of my posts republished in a daily blog by Grub Street, a writing school to which I belong; two blog links appeared on Carnival of the Indies -- it's easy to submit; and another appeared on a writing/editing site called Style Matters. These guest posts generate some traffic, but more importantly they create links back to my blog. Backlinks are supposed to be important for SEO.

5) Best Advice I've Gotten on Book Marketing

- Find stuff you like and become good at it. If I didn't enjoy fiddling with computers, I'd have bailed on a lot of this stuff by now.
- Online marketing can be a slow process. I've set aside time and money to finish my book, so I'll keep at this.
- Serendipity is an artist's best friend, so getting your work in front of as many people as possible is a good thing.
- Finishing your book is job one!

For More of My Book Marketing Tips, See:

- How to Measure Book Marketing Success

- Is Book Promotion a Waste of Time?

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