So what does it take for a virtually unknown author to sell books? Get an insider’s look at a book marketing campaign using social media.

July 23, 2010

 Day 39 of 365

Books sold so far (as of the end of May 2010, which is my first official month – sales reports in this industry lag big time!): 157

 In this issue:

  •  FB ad round-up – the goose egg X 3
  • Library conference networking
  • Looking for readers? Let’s get viral

 FB ad round-up – the goose egg X 3

 All three FB ads laid the big goose egg today. I don’t even want to talk about it.

 Library conference networking

Tomorrow is the big North Texas Regional Library System (NTRLS) conference and I’m very excited. This is a chance to meet the movers and shakers of all the libraries in North Texas. So, what have I done to prepare?

First, I have a table at the conference and while I can’t sell copies of my books, I am using this opportunity to promote the book AND most importantly promote myself as an author. We will do the full recap on Monday, but in the meantime, here are the things I’m doing:

  1. Handing out as many bookmarks as I can. I was going to design a bookmark suit where people could just pull off bookmarks themselves, but that would be a little too obvious on the shameless self promotion o’ meter.
  2. There are going to be several lectures and workshops and I will attend them all, acting like a sponge and trying to absorb as much info as I can. I’m especially looking forward to the social media workshop and I will post all the exciting news.
  3. Here’s a copy of the flyer I created to hand out at my table. Again, I’m not selling books here, I’m selling myself as an author in the trenches who can share his experience with others that these folks know (book club members, other writers) that I can give a lecture to. Again, talks and lectures are great ways to sell books:

 I’ve also got a signing in Denton, Texas tomorrow at Hastings from 6-8pm, so if you’re in Denton, I’ll be at the Loop Hole Tavern enjoying a beer with my chicken fried steak beforehand. Swing by before going to the signing and the first round’s on me.

 Looking for readers? Let’s get viral

 By now, some of you are probably saying, “Mark, all this work you’re doing is great, but it seems like an assload of work for not very much return. Why not do a video that goes viral with millions of views?”  Great idea. And I’m working on it. In fact, we all should. To inspire you, here are two that went viral and got millions of views:

 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tnUEcG4iH34 – Banned 2007 Super Bowl Bud commercial

 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OQSNhk5ICTI – Double Rainbow – Oh My God!!! He’s really excited about the double rainbow.

 So, what can you make that will make millions watch? Ponder that one over the weekend and we’ll talk again Monday night with results of the library conference.

 The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step,

rest easy tonight my friends, but stay hungry tomorrow…  

The Nightstand Diaries – 1 year, 5,000 books, and an (almost) anything goes approach to marketing a political thriller

July 16, 2010

Day 32 of 365

Books sold so far (as of the end of May 2010 – sales reports in this industry lag big time!): 157

In this issue:

  • FB ad round-up – a new Borders coupon means a new ad for this guy        
  • Having fun with Girls in the Stacks.  

FB ad round-up

You gotta love the big bookstores. Like waves rolling into the beach, one sale ends and another is right behind it. Borders has been good to me, letting me sell myself at their stores around the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex, so I’m sticking with them for the Facebook ads. Here’s the new one I created as part of their July 16-19 25% off sale. It incorporates last night’s video interview with the Girls in the Stacks (GITS):

Need a good book?

Check out Mark Fadden’s latest interview about his new award-winning thriller and get the promo code for 25% off his books.

I’m keeping my $20 a day budget and I did a $.49 bid CPC (cost per click).  By the way, the 25% off promo code for Borders.com is BHN7798F. Enjoy! But hurry, sale ends 7/19.

Having fun with The Girls in the Stacks

When doing an interview, you couldn’t ask for a better duo than Stacy and Nancy. The Girls in the Stacks (GITS) asked great questions and the Colleyville Borders bookstore was extremely generous in letting us use their store for the venue. Plus, Stacy used a Flip camera to film us, a way cool little gadget. If you’re not familiar with them, it’s a plug and play video camera – just record your video, flip out the USB adapter and voila! Your video’s on the Internet! Okay, there’s a few steps between those, but if I went into them, I couldn’t have used voila! Here’s the link to the video:

While we covered the items that I suggested in an email prior to the interview, they also wanted to know what’s in my “stack.” I am currently reading Heat, an awesome book about a guy who spends a year being a cook (read “slave”) in Mario Batali’s Babbo restaurant. He also tells the stories of some of the other cooks and how they dedicate themselves to their craft, (i.e. spending 6 months at a restaurant in Italy for no pay just to learn how to make pasta the right way) Anyone who cooks would love this book.

But back to the interview. Stacy sent it to me this morning and I put it up on my website ASAP. (As you’ll see, I also changed the headline of my site to reflect the new Borders coupon.) Video is extremely important, and an interview shows a more human side to you. The more people that watch you on video and see who the human is behind the name on the book cover, the more likely they are to buy a book.  Unless you come off like a complete ass, so don’t do that.

By the way, how’d you do on your homework assignment? Did you do your list of 5 uses for videos to sell your books? Did you get 10?  Nice work!

I also emailed the video to my contact at Good Morning Texas. In a previous post, I mentioned how I’m trying to get on that show, hopefully on the same day I’m doing a signing at the Dallas Uptown Borders store (can’t you just smell the cross-promotion?) Why did I do that you ask? I wanted to show her that I wouldn’t crash and burn in front of a camera.

By the way, the interview cost me nothing to do. As Stacy remarked, GITS is a “labor of love” for them. God bless ‘em.

As always, I hope I’ve presented information today that you can use. If you’d like more, or have a question, by all means send it to me at mark@markfadden.com. 

Have a great weekend. No signings this weekend, but next weekend I’ll be busier than a cow’s tongue in a salt lick. We’ll talk on Monday. Till then…

 The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step,

rest easy tonight my friends, but stay hungry tomorrow…  

The Nightstand Diaries – 1 year, 5,000 books, and an (almost) anything goes approach to marketing a political thriller.

July 15, 2010

Day 31 of 365

Books sold so far (as of the end of May 2010 – sales reports in this industry lag big time!): 157

In this issue:

  • FB ad round-up – is it getting ‘chilling’ up in here? 
  • Getting ready for the podcast, which is now a video interview 

 FB ad round-up

I think I need a jacket, ‘cause the “chillingly current novel” campaign is charging ahead like gangbusters. And yes, you do have to monitor your bid numbers, because they can change.  I had only 3 hits yesterday, but then I noticed the bid range changed from $.49-$.59, to $.72-$.92. So, when I changed it from $.50 to $.72, the number instantly rocketed up! Again, here’s the “CCN” ad:

 Chillingly current novel

Preview the year’s most controversial thriller and get a 40% off coupon at your local Borders bookstore good through July 15th.A

 So here are the numbers from the campaign:

Date Imp. Clicks CTR (%) Avg. CPC ($) Avg. CPM ($) Spent ($)
07/15/2010 154,824 27 0.02 0.70 0.12 18.94
07/14/2010 157,660 31 0.02 0.65 0.13 20.00
07/13/2010 132,073 46 0.03 0.43 0.15 20.00
Lifetime 444,557 104 0.02 0.57 0.13 58.94

104 clicks over 3 days isn’t bad. I just wish I knew if those folks bought books.

 Along those lines, I’m going to contact outside help to see if I can track down that info. More on that in tomorrow’s post.

Getting ready for the podcast, which is now a video interview

 The lovely and talented ladies from girlsinthestacks.com informed me today that the podcast is really a video interview. So I’m off to take the hedge clippers to my eyebrows in a bit. To get ready for the interview, I sent them a few suggestions of the topics we could cover. (As a freelance reporter, I find it very nice when your subject does this) I also spent some time doing research online about those topics.  So, tonight’s homework is to learn how to embed a video into tomorrow’s blog.

 Last night, we talked about how you can incorporate podcasts into your blog or site to get book sales. Well, videos are an even better way to do that. On my site, I have a book trailer on the home page that starts automatically. While it’s pretty basic, the music is really cool, very ominous and gets people in that thriller mindset.

 Try to make a list of 5 uses for videos to sell your books. Then expand that to 10. It’ll be easier than you think. Then all you need is a 17 year old to tell you how to edit and embed the thing into your blog and website and you’re good to go!

The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step,

rest easy tonight my friends, but stay hungry tomorrow…  

 

The Nightstand Diaries – 1 year, 5,000 books, and an (almost) anything goes approach to marketing a political thriller.

July 13, 2010

Day 29 of 365

Books sold so far (as of the end of May 2010 – sales reports in this industry lag big time!): 157

In this issue:

  • Hello, my name’s Mark, and I’m a FB ad-dict
  • Changes to the website 
  • Double-dip recession – will it make The Brink prophetic?  

Hello, my name’s Mark, and I’m a FB ad-dict

My day started with creating two FB ads. By tonight, I got 6 hits on one (The next James Patterson?) and zero on another. So I took out the dead weight and changed back to my most successful ad so far (Read a thriller anywhere!) and created another one. So, I’ve got three running currently. Here they are:

Chillingly current novel

Preview the year’s most controversial thriller and get a 40% off coupon at your local Borders bookstore good through July 17th.

Read a thriller anywhere!

Get the most controversial thriller of the year delivered to your desktop, laptop or smartphone in seconds for $7.13. eBooks rock!

 The next James Patterson?

“Action & heroism keep readers turning pages.” – ForeWord Review. Uncover the most staggering conspiracy of our time, & get it 28% off.

 The James Patterson ad is targeted at people that like James Patterson, about 360,000 people. The other two are targeted at people who like to read, about 4 million each.

I went on my godaddy.com (my web host company) account and tried to look at the site analytics to see if the facebook people are buying books once they leave my site, but I have yet to find information on that. UUGGHH!  Does anyone know how to get that info?

Anyway, all told, I’m in for about an hour on jacking around with these ads today, which includes creating them as well. Budget is $20/day for each. I promise I’ll let them ride until tomorrow’s post so we can analyze the numbers.

Changes to the website 

I also visited my godaddy.com search engine optimization page last night and today. What a butt whoopin’. 3 hours of slogging through the steps to get the right keywords associated with the site so that search engine “spiders” will recognize them when people search for books. You might say 3 hours seems like a lot for just coming up with keywords, but I’m old and I have to learn what the heck I’m doing before I actually do it.

I also made some changes to the site, mostly the home page to make it more like my personality. I reread some of David Meerman Scott’s The New Rules of Marketing and PR last night and today and he said that you should put some of ‘you’ into your site. So I did. Check it out and let me know what you think.   

Double-dip recession – will it make The Brink prophetic

Take a look at this recent article from Robert Reich about the probability of a double dip recession. If that happens, it will cause the U.S. government to come to the rescue with more bailouts, and that means more deficit spending and more debt.

Without giving too much away, (I already gave a huge hint as to who’s involved in the conspiracy in the book on the front cover) the double-dip resembles the ‘event’ the bad guys in the book use to begin their plan to take over the world. Funny how life resembles art, right?      

The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step,

rest easy tonight my friends, but stay hungry tomorrow…  

 

The Nightstand Diaries – 1 year, 5,000 books, and an (almost) anything goes approach to marketing a political thriller.

July 7, 2010

 It’s named “The Nightstand Diaries” because in terms of publishing a book, it doesn’t mean squat that we’re published. It doesn’t mean squat that our book is on a bookstore shelf. It’s only when someone takes our book home and reads it – as a way to relax on a lounge chair, pass time on a subway, or as the last mental exercise before putting it on the nightstand and going to bed – that we become a part of our readers’ lives. With this notion in mind, I invite you to come along as I try to do that very thing. My goal is to sell 5,000 copies of my new novel The Brink over the next year using mostly social media with a limited marketing budget. And this is an interactive blog, so if you have good marketing ideas, or want to critique mine whenever I do something stupid, let’s hear it! So, without further ado, let the book marketing madness continue…

 Day 24 of 365

 In this issue:

  • Facebook campaign changes
  • Get sales info or die tryin’
  • A cool plot device for a mystery
  • ‘Pimp My Novel’ – a blog name I wish I had thought of

 Facebook campaign changes

 I’m just going to go ahead and call July my Facebook ads month. Although I’m still flying blind as to how effective they are in the sales dept., I can see that some folks are clicking on my ads. Plus, as I change and tweak them, I can see which ones at least peak interest and which don’t so I can use them during my ‘search engine ad’ month, which will be August or September.

Here’s today’s ad campaign #s:

Campaign Run Status Last Updated Budget/day Clicks Impressions CTR (%) Avg. CPC Spent
ActivePausedDeleted
07/07/2010 1 21,669 0.005% $0.72 $0.72
ActivePausedDeleted
07/07/2010 9 54,504 0.017% $0.60 $5.43
CompletedDeleted
07/04/2010 43 196,924 0.022% $1.16 $50.00
CompletedDeleted
07/07/2010 60 354,461 0.017% $0.72 $43.04
CompletedDeleted
07/02/2010 67 218,665 0.031% $0.76 $50.92
  Totals       180 846,223 0.021% $0.83 $150.11

 

I had 9 people click on the Lewisville Borders book signing invite, but they didn’t actually RSVP. Do people normally do that on Facebook invites of people they don’t know?

 I also stopped the eBook ad and started a new ad entitled “Fiction come true.” Here’s the screenshot with it:

 

When folks click on it, they are taken directly to my homepage.

 Get sales info or die tryin’

 This title is my homage to Fitty.  Have you seen the pics of him after he got so freakin skinny for that movie role? It reminded me of the dude in the movie Seven who got strapped to the bed for a year and eventually swallowed his tongue. Christian Bale (aka Batman) also did a similar mad diet for the movie The Machinist. These guys are something else. What they’ll do for their art form.

 On the last blog, I explained how I found out how to get current sales info from barnesandnoble.com through Nielsen BookScan. Being so used to getting free information over the web, I thought it’d be gratis. Oh no. Each report is $85. Damn! And eBook sales reports aren’t available yet. I have an email into my publisher about getting some info that isn’t “historical” (i.e. month old sales reports) by Internet standards, so again, we play the waiting game.

 A cool plot device for a mystery

 I saw this article about the “Grim Sleeper” and then read about how he was eventually caught through his son’s DNA. What a cool plot device for all us mystery writers! 

 ‘Pimp My Novel’ – a blog name I wish I had thought of

 I will readily admit that Eric’s blog is waaay better than mine. He works in a sales dept. of a publishing house. A direct quote explaining his blog: “There are a lot of blogs out there that cover the agenting and editorial aspects of book publishing, but here you’ll find out what happens to your book after it’s been acquired.” Check it out, it’s a cool blog packed with good information.  

 And as always, the journey of a thousand miles begins with one step…

 Rest easy tonight my friends, but stay hungry tomorrow.  

The Nightstand Diaries – 1 year, 5,000 books, and an (almost) anything goes approach to book marketing

July 6, 2010

It’s named “The Nightstand Diaries” because in terms of publishing a book, it doesn’t mean squat that we’re published. It doesn’t mean squat that our book is on a bookstore shelf. It’s only when someone takes our book home and reads it – as a way to relax on a lounge chair, pass time on a subway, or as the last mental exercise before putting it on the nightstand and going to bed – that we become a part of our readers’ lives. With this notion in mind, I invite you to come along as I try to do that very thing. My goal is to sell 5,000 copies of my new novel The Brink over the next year using mostly social media with a limited marketing budget. And this is an interactive blog, so if you have good marketing ideas, or want to critique mine whenever I do something stupid, let’s hear it! So, without further ado, let the book marketing madness continue…

 Day 23 of 365

 In this issue:

  • A Facebook 4th
  • The Lewisville media showing the luv 
  • May 2010 sales report

 A Facebook 4th

I sincerely hope everyone’s 4th was a wonderful celebration of friends and family. We have some really cool 4th of July fireworks show in the Dallas area, with Addison’s Kaboom Town! being named one of the best in the country. (In the spirit of full disclosure, I used to work with those wonderful people and they do put on a kick-ass show year after year.)

The plan was to take the entire holiday weekend off, but I continued tweaking my Facebook ads and discovered I could “invite” people to the Lewisville Borders book signing coming up on Saturday, July 10th.

 Here’s the screenshot from FB that includes the budget info and an example of the ad itself:

  

 

You’ll notice the ad is titled “Lewisville Borders Book signing.” It was first titled just “Book signing,” but I changed it to catch people’s eye who live in or around Lewisville, Texas. On that note, I also started targeting the ad to people who live within 10 miles of Lewisville and that was going to only approximately 2,400 people. I just changed it tonight to 25 miles of Lewisville, and the audience exploded to approximately 1.4 million. With the low CTR (click through rate) percentages that FB ads typically get, it’s important to keep your audience as large as possible. As you can also see, I have yet to have anyone “RSVP” for the event, but hopefully that will change by tomorrow night.

One thing I’ve been forgetting to add on these postings is the amount of time each project takes. To find and then create the book signing invite ad took around 2 hours total. And so far, since no one has clicked on it yet, costs is 0, but I did give myself a $20 daily budget over the course of the 5 days the ad will run.

The Lewisville media showing the luv

I’ve talked before about using Google alerts to show when your name has been mentioned anywhere in cyberspace. Last week, I got three Google alerts about the Lewisville signing. Among the several news outlets I contacted about the upcoming signing, I wrote and emailed news releases to the Lewisville Leader newspaper and Dallasnews.com, which is the online version of the Dallas Morning News. They have a “GuideLive” entertainment section that gives information about all kinds of events around the DFW area. While I didn’t send a news release about it to the local TV stations, our NBC affiliate must have picked up the Dallasnews.com link, because they had it listed on their site as well.

If you haven’t signed up for Google Alerts, open up another browser window and do it now. It takes two minutes and it’s priceless. No really, it’s free. I would have never known about the three news outlets publishing my news release, and I wouldn’t have known to thank the editors responsible for doing so, if it wasn’t for Google Alerts. 

May 2010 sales report

One of the frustrating things about the book publishing business is that sales numbers lag so far behind. For example, it takes my publisher, iUniverse, a month to post sales figures. This means I just got my sales numbers from May 2010, which was my first month of sales for The Brink. The numbers are as follows:

Hard covers:                                        43

Paperbacks:                                         114

eBook version:                         didn’t come out until June 2010

 Total:                                                    157

 Total left to sell to reach 5,000:             4,843

 As far as tracking eBooks go, I may have found a way to track those in near real-time, but I’ll save that juicy morsel for hopefully tomorrow’s post as I’m waiting on some information.

 By the way, if you’re wondering how much money each sold book represents, while I can’t speak for all authors, iUniverse authors receive 20% of each hard cover and paperback sale, and 50% on eBook sales. So, based on May’s numbers, if this was my only gig, my family and I would be living under a highway overpass. But the good news is that we wouldn’t have far to commute to our jobs begging for money at the street corner.

This is another perfect example of perception. We writers tend to think of ourselves at artists. While we are, if we want to put food on the table by writing as a job, we must think of our passion as our business as well. I am, and if you have written a book and out there selling it, you are as well, starting up a business. It takes months, even years for some businesses to make money; even longer to turn a profit. The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step…

 Rest easy tonight my friends, but stay hungry tomorrow.  

The Nightstand Diaries – 1 year, 5,000 books, and an (almost) anything goes approach to book marketing

July 1, 2010

 It’s named “The Nightstand Diaries” because in terms of publishing a book, it doesn’t mean squat that we’re published. It doesn’t mean squat that our book is on a bookstore shelf. It’s only when someone takes our book home and reads it – as a way to relax on a lounge chair, pass time on a subway, or as the last mental exercise before putting it on the nightstand and going to bed – that we become a part of our readers’ lives. With this notion in mind, I invite you to come along as I try to do that very thing. My goal is to sell 5,000 copies of my new novel The Brink over the next year using mostly social media with a limited marketing budget. And this is an interactive blog, so if you have good marketing ideas, or want to critique mine whenever I do something stupid, let’s hear it! So, without further ado, let the book marketing madness continue…

Day 18 of 365 

In this issue:

  • MFFA – My First Facebook Ad – Day #4 of 5
  • Creating a Facebook invite for the Lewisville Borders signing
  • The world’s China Bet and how it relates to The Brink  
  • Reminders – get the blog emailed to you and taking July 4th off

 MFFA – My First Facebook Ad – Day #4 of 5

I guess the “Conspiracy Theory” folks on Facebook weren’t digging a novel about “the most staggering conspiracy of our time.” I got shut out today on my ad that got sent out to them. Here’s the numbers for the week so far:

Daily stats for the week of:  Jun 27  

Date Imp. Clicks CTR (%) Avg. CPC ($) Avg. CPM ($) Spent ($)
07/01/2010 2,730 0 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00
06/30/2010 94,052 25 0.03 0.80 0.21 20.00
06/29/2010 54,210 29 0.05 0.69 0.37 20.00
06/28/2010 7,555 4 0.05 1.08 0.57 4.32
Lifetime 158,547 58 0.04 0.76 0.28 44.32
             

 So, I’m going to try the “thrillers” crowd for the last day of my ad campaign. The ad will still give the title with my name and the cover shot. But I changed the rest of the text to read a snippet of the ForeWord Clarion Review, “Action and heroism keep readers turning pages. A nicely crafted thriller.” – ForeWord Clarion Review  There are 20,640 folks on Facebook who identify with the “thrillers” interest group. Let’s hope the waters are kind tomorrow and the fishing is good.

 Creating a Facebook invite for the Lewisville Borders signing

 I mentioned in a previous post that I’m flying blind as far as how well this Facebook campaign is working because beyond the number of folks who clicked on my ad to go to my website, there’s no way to know what they did from there. I installed the Google Analytics code into my website’s html programming, but I don’t think I did it right because all my numbers are at zero so far. I’ve got Go Daddy as my web host, so I’ll have to park my butt in my chair and do a little research with the Go Daddy peeps over this fourth of July weekend to see if I can track customers. I guess I’ll just light a sparkler next to my computer for my own private fireworks show. Sweet!

 One thing that I can track in real time is a Facebook invite ad that I created for my book signing next weekend at the Lewisville Borders store. I scheduled the ad to run all next week, same parameters (cost per click option at $.58, $20 a day is my budget) as my other ad. The interest group is everyone 18 and older in a 10-mile radius around Lewisville, Texas. That equates to 3,240 people. So, we’ll see what happens.

 The world’s China Bet and how it relates to The Brink 

 While my new novel, The Brink, is a political thriller that centers on an imagined (maybe or maybe not??) global conspiracy, a huge part of that conspiracy lies within our very fragile international financial system. Here’s tonight’s post from The Baseline Scenario, a great financial blog that serves as a lighthouse in the turbid sea that is the global economy. It highlights the real-world problem with America, and the world, betting on China, something that allows the conspirators to see their plan finally come to fruition in The Brink.  

 Reminders – get the blog emailed to you and taking July 4th off

Last night, I added an option if you want this blog emailed directly to you. If so, please look in the right hand column and submit your email.  

And speaking of the holiday (I know we didn’t but it makes for a good segue), let’s all take it off and enjoy it with the real flesh and blood people in our lives. My next post will be on Tuesday, July 6, 2010.  Happy and safe Fourth of July!