Monday, October 1, 2012

Book Marketing: Seven Month Progress Report


Executive Summary

1) As my Web traffic goes, so do my moods:

- For the first three weeks of September, I had steady traffic and averaged about 100 page views a day, a new record. Then one of my stories was accepted by a small literary journal. I was interviewed by a local cable access TV station. I felt like I had turned some corner, a tipping point, agents and offers would soon fall from the heavens.

- The last week of the month, traffic tanked and I had several days with 30 page views. Had I angered the gods at Google? I considered forgoing red meat, giving $20 to the next homeless person I saw, and calling my parents more often.

- Yesterday, my traffic jumped above 50 page views. I blew the $20 at a local bar and watched the New England Patriots finally win a game. All is well in my world. (for now.)

2) Best New Strategy: Networking

This included:
- Posting personal notes and comments on other people's blogs.
- Retweeting properly and Tweeting other people's links with their Twitter handles.
- Talking on the phone with a couple of people I met online. (Details below)

The Numbers

1) Blog and Web Sites: Traffic Down Slightly, Subscribers Up

What I'm doing: Same as last month.

My traffic numbers include:
- This blog (95 percent of my traffic).
- A Web site called RandyRossMedia, an online resume that includes videos of me reading/performing, plus a query letter, platform details, and writing samples for agents and potential employers.
- A travel tips Web site called RossTravels, which I created a few years ago.  The site contains mainly evergreen articles that are still useful for people planning a trip around the world. I've been posting links to the site in travel groups and related Twitter hashtags.

- Page views in June: 2,292
- Page views in July: 2,428
- Page views in August: 2,977
- Page views in September: 2,774 (most recent month)

- Blog subscribers at end of June: 24
- Blog subscribers at end July: 48
- Blog subscribers at end of August: 71
- Blog subscribers at end of September: 95

2) Social Media

What I'm doing: Like last month, I'm posting links to my weekly blogs to groups and hashtags, as well as using Hootsuite every Monday to pre-schedule a week's worth of Tweets. My results:

Facebook Fan Page
- Fans: 2,037, up 5 from last month.
- Reach (the number of Fans who actual see each post): about 250, down from 400 last month. 
- I'm posting the same types of items, just not posting as frequently, which could have caused the decline in Reach. Also, Facebook may have changed something. I can't worry about it, and I'm starting to question how useful it is to have a Fan Page. But posting links into appropriate Facebook Groups continues to generate traffic.

- Followers: 746 up 29 from last month.
- I'm trying to focus on quality instead of quantity, but seem to getting neither. So, I borrowed yet another book from the library on Twitter marketing. (Did I mention that I think Twitter is just a bunch of noise?)

Linked In
- Connections: 1,127, up 22 from last month.
- I'm no longer allowed to add connections unless I have their e-mail address. If there is someone I really want to add, I go to their Web site or company's Web site and get their e-mail

Klout Score
Now 48, up 1 point from last month. (Big whoop, but at least it didn't go down.)

3) SEO
I haven't done anything new, but I continue to get several hundred page views a month from Google. My blog posts appear on the first page for Google searches for the following terms for which I have optimized my site:
- Book marketing
- Travel humor
- erotic humor
- humorous erotica

For the first time, when I search on my name, I appear at the top of the page in Google. Previously, the top spots were held by another Randy Ross, who is associated with Ross bicycles. I read somewhere that prospective agents and publishers may Google your name to check on your online presence.

4) Submissions and Publications

I had another story accepted by a small literary journal.
To date I've sent out six stories to about 115 publications. I've heard back from about 70 of the publications and have had four pieces accepted. (5.7 percent success rate.)

- Fall is when a lot of publications reopen for submissions -- do it now!
- If a publication rejects one of my stories, I immediately send them another one. (I've yet to have a publication accept a second piece after rejecting the first, but you never know.)

(resources and details in last month's progress report.)

Best New Strategy: Networking

This should be commonsense, but for me it wasn't: We're supposed to be having conversations with people online instead of constantly hurling our links at them.

So, here's what I did (results below the screen shot):

- Signed up for other people's blogs and newsletters.
- E-mailed blogs and Web sites I like and asked if they wanted to post any of my blog pieces, published stories, or videos.
- Offered advice and suggested resources to people in forums and groups.
- Commented on other people's blog and Twitter posts. I now make a point to include their Twitter handle, so they know I've mentioned them. This should have been a no-brainer, but it was something I wasn't doing.
- I set up Twitter to alert me whenever some mentions me or my links. (Here's how to do it)

Go into your Twitter Settings, then click Email Notifications to receive alerts when you get mentioned or retweeted.

- Another phone call with someone smarter than me who visited one of my sites and then proposed a phone call. He has a site offering advice for finding an agent and other services for writers. I was skeptical and expecting a sales pitch. Instead, we discussed ways of cross-promoting and he offered some good online marketing advice.
- I called a woman who runs a Web site called The Erotic Salon. Last month, I found her site on Twitter and we exchanged several e-mails. As a result of the phone call, she posted several of my videos and plans to include one of my published erotica pieces in an anthology she is publishing.
- I added a couple more people to my Blog List (see right-hand column) and they've done the same.
- Full disclosure: I also sent lots of pitches and e-mails that went no where.

*Roller Coaster Image at top of blog: Blue Streak at Cedar Point in Sandusky, OH, taken by Stratosphere.  

For More of My Book Marketing Tips, See:

- "Tips for Reading Your Writing in Public"

- "Easy, Sleazy Book Marketing Tips"

- "Is Online Book Marketing a Waste of Time?"  (My Two month progress report)

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