Here’s your chance to rip apart a book marketing campaign and caress its beating heart

July 23, 2010

 Day 42 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:

  •  The library conference – making connections the old fashioned way
  • The Hastings Incident
  • Links to the most important blogs you’ll ever read

 The library conference – making connections the old fashioned way

 “Libraries will be extinct by 2020.” That’s what North Texas Regional Library System (NTRLS) Executive Director and self-proclaimed futurist Adam Wright said during his keynote speech at the NTRLS conference in Decatur, Texas this past Saturday. He was paraphrasing what fellow futurist Richard Watson had said regarding the future of libraries. There has to be some strong opinions on this one. So here’s your chance to sound off in the comments! And speaking of extinction of things, Watson’s extinction timeline is on fellow lover of libraries Christine Rooney-Browne blog.

 As far as the conference went, I suggest, fellow book-writers, run, don’t walk to your local library, do whatever it takes to get your librarian to contact their regional local library supporters group on your behalf and wrangle up a table at their conference. There was so much good information, from using social media to promote books, to promoting things on a shoestring budget. Here’s the link to the site where they have all the presentations posted. Most of it is for library staff, but those same ideas can be used for us writers as well.

While I was at the conference (I had a table there with a display of my books, bookmarks, and a flyer titled “Have a Local Author talk to your group! Here’s the flyer pic:),

 

I used that old fashioned, outdated, and “extinct” form of communication, you know, the actually holding of another person’s hand and shaking it while I hold their gaze with my own and engage in small talk and witty conversation to build a relationship. I know, sounds crazy these days doesn’t it? But I talked to 9 different representatives of libraries and Friends of Library groups that want to have me come and talk to them about my experience as a writer. That means that 9 meetings where I can sell books.

Don’t forget about your local library when you’re putting together your marketing plan. They are a valuable resource. And I think most of them will still be around after 2020.

The Hastings Incident

Book signings are like kids – no matter how hard you try to make them turn out right, sometimes, for reasons beyond your control, they just don’t turn out the way you want them to. Okay, so that’s a little bit on the “epic” side of things, but what I’m trying to say is that sometimes book signings go bad.

Case in point, my Hastings signing in Denton, Tx was not a success. I sold one book to a nice lady who wasn’t that much into political thrillers, but I told her how there were clues to the mystery in The Brink hidden in the front cover. Actually, they aren’t hidden in the cover, they are right there plain as day, but the important thing is that she thought that was cool.

 There are two take away’s from my failure:

  1. It wasn’t actually a failure because I must have passed out 30 bookmarks. That’s 30 people who may go online and preview it then decide to buy it, or by the ebook, or pass the bookmark to a friend who likes political thrillers.  
  2. Case the joint better than I did. Hastings is primarily a music store that sells some new books, but also buys used books and sells them as well. Customers going there in a college town (University of North Texas is in Denton, Tx) are primarily college-aged, and want to buy music or a used book, not a full priced book by an author they probably haven’t heard of. I should have done my research better and I will next time I do a signing at an independent store.

 Links to the most important blogs you’ll ever read

 I’ve already linked my blog to some blogs I think share some valuable info among us writers. Here’s a few more that I’ll link to:

  1.  John Scalzi’s Utterly Useless Writing Advice
  2. The Rejectionist – today’s post is all warm and fuzzy
  3. Next Day Flyers.com blog – good info on using social media. This is the company I used for my bookmarks (5,000 for somewhere around $160 – a hell of a deal)

 Ahead this week – a library parody of the Old Spice Guy (the power of viral) – and what does Amazon now selling more ebooks than regular books mean for us writers?

The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step,

rest easy tonight my friends, but stay hungry tomorrow…  

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…  

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 22, 2010

Day 38 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 numbers look like our 401ks, new book signing ad  
  • Another fantastic literary blog (really, it’s won awards!)

FB ad round-up – the numbers look like our 401ks, new book signing ad

I won’t even bother with a fancy chart this time for the “economics” ad. It’s another goose egg today. I can’t wait to yank it tomorrow.

The other ad’s numbers are also taking a dive. I would use the term “market oversaturation” if I really knew what it meant. But I will guess that my target audience have already seen it, (it has been posted over 250,000 in 3 days to the dame group.) Here’s the ad:

Electrifying new author

Tired of the same plots & the same characters? Read the intro to this award winning thriller and never see the world the same again.

 And here are the numbers as of 10:45pm tonight:

Date Imp. Clicks CTR (%) Avg. CPC ($) Avg. CPM ($) Spent ($)
07/22/2010 14,413 3 0.02 0.62 0.13 1.86
07/21/2010 148,407 16 0.01 0.60 0.06 9.54
07/20/2010 87,886 36 0.04 0.56 0.23 20.00
Lifetime 250,706 55 0.02 0.57 0.13 31.40

36 to 16 to 3 clicks today. I still think the verbiage in the ad works, and I’m still trying to figure out how to make it work in later ads.

I’ve also got a signing in Denton, Texas this Saturday at Hastings from 6-8pm, so if you’re in Denton, swing by and we’ll have a beer before or after. I also have a booth at the North Texas Regional Library System conference that day, so Monday’s post should be filled to the brim with all kinds of interesting tidbits and networking hints that I pick up that day. I’m working on a flyer for conference attendees that I’ll post tomorrow night.

Back to the signing. I did a FB ad for the signing targeted to people who like “reading” within a 10 mile radius of Denton, TX. That’s a whopping 600 people. You might think that’s a small #, but if even 10% of those folks show up, Hastings would be way sold out and I would have to revert to the signed bookplates (large mailing stickers with an open book pic watermark and my website address on it) that I take to signings, just in case the store does run out or if someone that I talk to wants to buy a book, but doesn’t have enough scratch at the time. I sign the bookplate and hand it to them, hoping they will in fact buy the book online later and slap the bookplate inside it.

 Here’s the ad:

Local author book signing

Like thrillers? Need a unique gift? Visit Hastings in Denton this Saturday, July 24, 6-8 pm and get the year’s best thriller signed!

 It links to my appearances & reviews page. $20 daily budget on this bad boy and FB is charging my $.50 per click, so I’ll get about 10 clicks per day out of it. I know you’ll be waiting with baited breath for the results tomorrow night.

 Another fantastic literary blog (really, it’s won several awards!)

 I know last night I talked about researching search engine optimization (SEO), but the clock was against me today. I promise I’ll look at the Inc. magazine SEO article over the weekend and we’ll discuss next week.

In the meantime, I found a new blog that is a tremendous source of info to us writers. It’s by a literary agent, it’s won some industry awards, and it truly rocks. Check it out at http://blog.nathanbransford.com/2010/07/open-thread.html. I also linked my blog to it, as well as the Pimp My Novel blog, which is where I found a link to Nathan’s blog. So if I did it right, you should see those links in the right hand column on this screen. Just keep scrolling past the sales pitch ads and you’ll see them. 

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 20, 2010

Day 36 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:

  •  The Diaries get a facelift
  • FB ad round-up – Did we finally hit a winner?         
  • Making Friends work for you

 The Diaries get a facelift

You’ll probably notice that I’ve changed my blog’s appearance. I received a few comments that it was hard to read before with the light text on the dark background. I have to admit the old color scheme wasn’t my favorite either. So I hope this new look is easier on the eyes.

 FB ad round-up – Did we finally hit a winner?

Okay, so here’s the ad I created last night that went out to the “economics” crowd on FB:

 Could a novel come true?

A fugitive lawman uncovers the link between a secret society’s plot for financial Armageddon & the FED, based on REAL economic numbers.

 And here are the numbers:

Date Imp. Clicks CTR (%) Avg. CPC ($) Avg. CPM ($) Spent ($)
07/20/2010 6,613 2 0.03 0.57 0.17 1.14
07/19/2010 684 0 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00
Lifetime 7,297 2 0.03 0.57 0.16 1.14

 2 people clicked on it. God help me if the cat jumped up on the desk and made them accidentally click it. Not exactly knocking the bell off the book marketing world with that little nugget. So, while I am going to keep that winner in the rotation all week, I stopped for a second and thought about who I’m trying to reach with my ads. I am trying to reach readers, but not just readers, fans of suspense thrillers. Those folks respond to bold language. Then I thought about the thrillers that I’ve read lately. Most of them have been letdowns, all fizzle and no sizzle (oh yes, that phrase will be used in a later ad). I’m sure I’m not alone here when I say that most of the entertainment that I digest does not live up to the hype. And there it was – as marketing people will tell you, customers could care less about your product; they only care about what problem of theirs it can solve. So, I thought what problem would a suspense thriller fan have that my book could alleviate? With that in mind, I give you my pièce de résistance:

 Electrifying new author

Tired of the same plots & the same characters? Read the intro to this award winning thriller and never see the world the same again.

 I’d love to take a poll and know what you guys think, but I haven’t learned how to do that yet. But I’ll keep trying and get a poll in here sooner or later.

Again, thriller readers respond to electric language and bold declarations. That’s why they like thrillers! That’s the thing my ads have been missing. And it seems I may be right, because here are the numbers since 4:00 pm today (It’s 10:00pm now) when the ad went live:

Date Imp. Clicks CTR (%) Avg. CPC ($) Avg. CPM ($) Spent ($)
07/20/2010 72,316 34 0.05 0.56 0.26 18.95
Lifetime 72,316 34 0.05 0.56 0.26 18.95

 34 people! That’s the most clicks I’ve had in a six hour time frame by far and the highest CTR % (click through rate) of any ad I’ve done so far. So, I think we’ve hit on something here. But if I have, how can I leverage it?

 Marketers also talk about revolving an entire campaign around one message. Don’t confuse people with several messages, just deliver one and repeat it over, and over and over. If the numbers for this ad keep going like this, I may have just found the one message that finally fits.  

 Making Friends work for you

 This weekend is chock full of book marketing events. Saturday is the North Texas Conference for Library Supporters. It is an event for members of Library Boards, Friends of the Library and Library Foundations, library volunteers and other supporters, and library staff that work with any of the above. Needless to say, it’s a huge audience of book lovers and a great place for an author to network. I found out about the conference from the director of our local city library and, since I held a lecture for the Friends of the Colleyville Public Library (FCPL), which incorporated a book signing where I donated all the profits from the evening to the FCPL, my registration for the event was free. I will have a table there, and while I am not allowed to sell books, I will have a contest to give away a couple signed copies of The Brink. Contestants only need to fill out their contact info to put their ticket in the hat. (a great way to beef up the email list, no?)  

After the conference, I’m headed to the nearby Hastings in Denton, Texas for a signing from 6pm-8pm. While I performed my normal promotional duties of sending all the local press a news release, I also talked to the City of Denton director of library services about inviting their Friends group to the signing. I am offering them the same deal I did for FCPL: all profits from books they buy during the signing will go to their Friends group.  Bottom line is this: people that get involved in Friends of library groups love book and love their communities. If you’re a local author and do something nice for them, they will talk about what you did and your book to their friends and neighbors. You get that many more possible buyers that otherwise may have never heard of you. Einstein may have said that there’s no force in the universe like compound interest, but there’s no force in marketing like word of mouth.   

The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step,

rest easy tonight my friends, but stay hungry tomorrow…