From the desk of Tamela Buhrke
Okay, time for cold, hard facts. Many of us are out there tweeting, posting, and frantically building a presence in the internet world. So the big question is whether any of it is working? Is it selling books?
As usual, the answers are mixed. If you write a horrible book, you can market the you-know-what out of it, and your results will often (but not always) be tepid. On the other hand, the best book in the world won’t sell if no one knows it's there.
For those with a strong book and a marketing plan, there is good news. Studies show that book marketing will improve sales. According to a study by Wellesley Hills Group, authors who hired a marketing or promotion company to promote their book sold more than twice as many books as those who relied on their publisher’s marketing. The study also showed that the internet was the most successful vehicle for selling books. Getting press in a trade magazine came in second. Book signings were deemed ineffective.
So if internet marketing is the most effective, then which internet tools should we use? I don't know about you, but I sometimes feel like a hamster in a social media ball, rolling from this social network to that. Often, it is hard to know which efforts are paying off. Evidently that is true for most authors. A study by FSB Associates, which tracked the Twitter chatter of 20 authors then compared it to their Amazon sales, found mixed results. Sometimes the Twitter chatter created buzz, and the book sales soared, but just as often it didn’t work. However, there were some consistent benefits. The use of Twitter increased all the author’s website rankings on Google and often created a much stronger brand for the author. Additional research will be needed to determine why some social chatter created more sales than others.
What about online advertisements? Mashable recently did an interesting study of Facebook ads. They found that folks between 40 - 65 were the age bracket most likely to click on the ads, so if you are targeting a younger or older audience then ads might be less effective for you. Though overall, ads with products that were considered “fun” did better. So fiction would have an easier time over nonfiction.
The whole field of internet marketing is so new. It will be awhile before we have concrete answers on what techniques work best. However, studies show that, overall, internet marketing is working for authors. Use the social networks to get your name and your books into the public eye and then monitor what networks are best for your particular circumstance.
Most of all, be patient. Seth Godin, the Grand Poobah of marketing, said that "the best time to start promoting your book is three years before it comes out." Marketing takes time. If you are in this for the long-haul, then the time will be worth the effort.
“Book Marketing Statistics” Author Insider. 2006
“Study: Twitter Chatter Sells Books, Sometimes.” The Huffington Post August 11, 2010
“Do Facebook Ads Sell Books?” Book Cover Designer. March 09, 2011
"Advice for authors" Seth Godin. August 02, 2006