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, 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 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.