This week I have the privilege of sharing the same URL as author Scott Bury. If you’re not familiar with Scott, then please allow me a moment of introduction.
Scott Bury is the author of The Bones of the Earth, a fantasy adventure with many unexpected twists. He has also penned the short story Sam, the Strab Part. All the proceeds from this work go to the charity Children at Risk.
Many of you may recognize him as @ScottTheWriter from Twitter (if you’re not following him, you should…seriously). He also runs a successful blog in his spare time. You can find Scott’s Written Words here. And if you check it out this week, you might even see a post by yours truly.
It is with honor that I present the very first guest host for this site, and I am pleased beyond measure that this host is Scott Bury. (Applause)
Do social media help sell books?
When I finished writing, editing, rewriting and reviewing my book and decided to go the independent publishing route, I knew the next big challenge would be promotion and marketing. But as an independent author, I don’t have a lot of resources—money to pay a PR or advertising company.
So I looked for free ways to promote my name, brand and book. Like everybody else in the world, I turned to social media. I started to spend more time on my Facebook and LinkedIN accounts and signed up for Goodreads, Twitter and Google+. And I committed to blogging regularly. And I learned some things.
First, this kind of publicity is not free—not in cash, but in a significant amount of time.
From a strictly social media perspective, the strategy has been successful. For example, I joined Twitter in the summer of 2011. The number of my Twitter followers has grown steadily since then: 8 to 12 new followers every day, spiking sometimes at 18 or falling to 5.
(I had thought that growth would be proportional: as the number of followers and retweeters grew, the number of new followers would also grow. But no—it’s almost always 8 to 12, 60 to 70 new followers a week. As of writing, the total is 1,115.)
I started by following ten or so people—friends and business colleagues, then some interesting links of theirs. I searched for a couple of authors at first, such as Cory Doctorow, Chuck Palahniuk (he has someone tweet for him) and Umberto Eco (hardly tweets at all). But after that, I did not look for anyone else to follow. I have followed back most people who follow me (unless they’re spammers, strippers or other forms of whore. I don’t really have anything against whores, but I can’t see any benefit in following them on Twitter.)
My Goodreads Friends list is growing. I haven’t gone looking for people to follow—they tend to follow me, and I accept the Friend button (except for two members who have not listed any books on their profiles. Are you guys robots, or what?)
The number of my Facebook friends is growing slowly. I joined it a couple of years ago for research for an article I was commissioned to write, about using social media in the workplace. I haven’t paid much attention to Facebook since. I made FB friends of real-world friends and acquaintances, but never saw much commercial or other benefit.
LinkedIn has been far more useful to me. I joined a lot of groups, “met” interesting people and got valuable information and insight. As long as I add comments in various forums, more people ask to be Connections, but when I lapse, I don’t hear from anyone.
Twitter followers: 1,115
LinkedIn Connections: 98
Goodreads friends: 107
Blog followers: 96
Now, these are not stellar numbers, but given the amount of time I can devote to each one, and considering they have grown from almost nothing to where they are now in no more than seven months, I’m pretty happy with it.
For my blog, the strategy has been successful. The pageview statistics have grown steadily since last summer: from none in 2009 to nearly 5,000 per month—at least 150 every day, usually 200.
I really only started blogging regularly in 2011. In March I announced that I had finished my book and was starting to shop it around to publishers and agents. I thought I could blog about my experience in the process, and committed to writing two posts per week.
My pageview number was under 300 in May. But I kept posting twice every week, and views kept going up, slowly. I started to write guest posts for other blogs (like this one) regularly and to post entries from other bloggers on my own blog. I thought followers of those other blogs might become followers of mine. I may have been right.
The big jump came after I joined Twitter and started tweeting about my blog entries. That’s when the curve jumps steeply.
- Pageviews in August: 427
- September: 721
- October: 1867
- November: 3,027
- December: 4,252
- January, 2012: 4,860.
Most days, 150 to 200 people view some part of my blog. My “writing tips” seem to be very popular, but so are the guest blog posts.
Unfortunately, those results have not translated into book sales. Now, after six months, it’s time to reconsider the strategy. Do I need to do MORE tweeting and participating in blogs? Or should I add something else to the mix? Giveaways? Amazon’s Kindle Select program?
Blogging and other free publicity can generate results. But are they the results you want? I’d love to hear/read from other bloggers about their results.