Monday, February 4, 2013

Old School Book Marketing, 10-month Progress Report

As harsh as the New England winter has been, the reality of book marketing has been even harsher. I’ve spent almost a year following the advice of book marketing experts – agents, bloggers, authors – and I’m coming to the realization that online marketing may not be the most efficient use of my time. My traffic and blog subscribers – my metrics for success -- have increased steadily, but will probably never yield the numbers I’d need to make a living or sell a lot of books.

As previously noted, my novel is not finished. If I were to get an agent and a publisher this might all change. "Might" being the operative word. If I were to self publish, I would likely not make a whole lot of money due to my current Web traffic numbers. However, I have not spent any time learning the ins and out of Amazon, Barnes and Noble and other book-selling sites, which would surely help sales, but I'm not clear by how much.

My Numbers

1) Web Traffic 

Page views (visits)
- Nov 2012.: 3,000  (2,000)
- Dec. 2012: 2,900  (1,860)
- Jan. 2013: 3,340  (2,140) My most current numbers.

Revenue from Google Ads posted on this blog:
- about $10 a month for the last two months, my highest ever, enough for two beers. (However, Google will not send me a check until my total ad revenue reaches $100. I'm currently at $55.)
- Each time you click an ad, I get some money.

Subscribers to Blog
- Nov.: 142
- Dec.: 150
- Jan.: 180

- January was my best month ever for traffic, but this is still not enough to impress an agent
- The traffic numbers have been rounded off and include traffic to this blog, my resume site, and my travel site, which I no longer update. 
- Subscribers, one of my metrics for success, continues to increase slowly but steadily. These are people who like my stuff enough to sign up, which means they would be more likely to purchase something from me. 
- Free e-book offering: 38 downloads since September. I offer this free to people who sign up. The ebook includes sample scenes from my novel in progress. In theory, having your writing circulating around the Web increases your chances of a serendipitous event -- an agent, editor, publisher, or published writer sees my stuff and thinks, "This guy is a genius, we have to sign him." I'm not holding my breath on this one.


2) Social Media

Twitter: 1,337, up about 500 from 840 in November (I'm, skipping December due to holidays.)
- I found a painless way to run up my numbers with people who are likely worthwhile. (see Tips below.)

Facebook fan page: 2.047 Likes, up 4 from 2,043 Likes in November.
- For a typical post, I reach about 150 of Likes/Fans, down from 250 in September and 400 last April. This is because Facebook is now charging to reach all your Fans, which we all know is a rip-off.
- On Jan. 6, I had one post that reached 750 people because New York Times tech columnist David Pogue commented on it, which brought some traffic from his followers. This was a fluke and not something I can reproduce at will. Actually, this is the first time this happened.

Linked In: 1,227 followers, up 60 from 1,167 in November.
- This is still where I get about 75% of my traffic, but the traffic is from other writers reading my book blog. Will other writers buy a novel? Unclear.

3) Old School Book Marketing: Readings, Lectures, Publications, and Press
- I added an events page list my appearances for the last three years and upcoming events.
- I pitched myself as a author/entertainer to a chain of sex-toy shops. We talked on the phone, but nothing has come of it yet. (I've written some humorous erotica, some of this has been published.)
- I pitched a book marketing class called "Build your platform before you finish your book" to a local writing school, an MFA program, and a local adult education center. Results: I've been selected to appear on two panels and give a lecture as part of a self-publishing class.
- I pitched a one-man show based on my novel to three fringe/theater festivals. I'll hear back at the end of the month.
- I've submitted some of my book-marketing blogs and had them published on a self-publishing tips site. (If you've got writing/marketing tips, it's easy to submit to this site. Is this a good use of your time, if your book is fiction? Probably not.)

My plan of action for 2013

Manage my online time better:

- Spend even less time on Social Media: It's just not a good use of my time and, except for Linked In, these sites do not generate much traffic.

- Spend more time finishing my novel and on old school networking activities that will get me in front of people who might help me find an agent. (Supposedly, the best way to get an agent is by having a published writer recommend you to their agent. Hence, my appearances on book-marketing panels.)

- Stop submitting my work to small literary journals that are not widely read. I've had several pieces published in little journals, so I guess I can say I'm a published fiction writer. But now it's time to try for bigger journals, mainstream newspapers and magazines -- places where I may get some real exposure. (I've been submitting to the New Yorker, New York Times "Modern Love" column, and Harper's with no luck. McSweeney's, well-respected humor site, sent me one personalized rejection -- That and $5.00 will get me a beer and not much else.)
- I had a free meeting with a small business consultant from the local office of the Small Business Administration. He specializes in artists and their money woes. (As a writer, we're all basically small businesses.) My question for him: Can I make a living writing humor and fiction? I will discuss his comments and recommendations later this month in a blog called “If you write what you love will the money follow?"


1) Twitter: 

 - Quick and easy way add Followers: 
Follow people who your followers are following. If you’re following the right people, chances are they’re following related people as well. I’ve been clicking on five to ten people a day, which takes about five seconds. (see #2) below
- Once I’m following 300 hundred more followers than I have, I use's flush tool to dump people who are not following me. You don’t want to be following too many more people than follow you or you’ll look like a loser. Also, if you follow too many more, Twitter will not be happy with you. (see #1 below)

 2) Rumors of Feedburner Disappearing (For geeks only)

- Feedburner allows blog visitors to subscribe to your blog. In October, Google killed off some features that have yet to affect me -- all I care about is providing an easy way for people to subscribe to my blog. (my sign up box below uses Feedburner). Feedburner still appears to be working.
- If you're worried about this, you can switch to another sign-up tool using advice offered here and here. (Note: I have not tried out any of these alternatives to Feedburner.)
- This whole topic makes my brain swell, so I've done the bare minimum: I've been backing up my subscriber list periodically. If I need to, I can upload the names to an e-mail management tool, such as Mailchimp, and send folks my blog that way. (I'd lose the 30 or so people who signed up via RSS.)
- Google seems to be noticeably absent from the online discussions regarding the fate of Feedburner.

- Note: if you're receiving this blog via RSS feed, you may want to sign up below using your e-mail address to assure continued delivery in the event that Google unceremoniously kills Feedburner.

More Book Marketing

- More Old School Tips


- Three Ways to Boost Blog Traffic

For Valentine's Day

- Bitter Single's Guide to Valentine's Day


- Are Men Doomed?

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Attribution for Boston Blizzard photo: Boston By Beau Wade from New York, USA [CC-BY-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons