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Thursday, June 9, 2011

Marketing Yourself When You're a Self-Published Author: May 2011 Numbers

If you've been reading my blog, you know that at the end of April, I reported on my social media numbers for the month. You can read that blog post here.

The reason I did this is because I think my experiences with social media can help other newbie authors. I know I spent a lot of time searching blogs for information on how to use social media effectively before I released my books out into the wild. I'm certainly no expert, but hopefully you can learn something from my successes and failures.

Enough with the prologue. Let's take at look my numbers for May:


I spent a LOT of time developing Facebook relationships in May, and my numbers reflect that. The reason I did this is because I think people spend a significant portion of their days on Facebook, more than they do on almost any other social media tool. And if these people are on Facebook, they might be on my Scott Niven - Author page, which means they might "like" or "comment" on one of the great discussions I've had with people. And if they do "like" or "comment" a discussion on my page, there's a good chance that the discussion will move up and become even more popular. Plus the discussion shows up on their page if they comment on it.

What I've enjoyed the most about Facebook is how much fun it is to engage in these discussions. We've had talks about who would win in a fight -- Gandalf or Voldemort -- as well as discussions on audiobooks, favorite books of all time, and  my current favorite topic, The Hunger Games. It's been great, and I've enjoyed making new friends.


My Twitter numbers fluctuated greatly throughout the month. Early in May, I made the decision to stop following all the automated spambots. Well, the spambots didn't like that, and over the first half of the month, I steadily lost followers. I think at my low point my follower count was down to 675. Then things bottomed out and I began gaining followers again, this time mainly other writers or people interested in fantasy/science fiction. I still don't think I'm that good at using Twitter effectively, but I have a core group of tweeps that I love chatting with on there, so I'm happy with how things are going.

My Blog

My blog views doubled from what they were in April, which was really encouraging to see. Apparently, at least a few of you are getting something out of my blog! :-)  My topics aren't always about writing, mainly because I want to share a bit of myself as a person on here. So far no one has complained, so I plan on continuing to mix it up.


I love GoodReads. When you're on that site, you know that you're surrounded by other book lovers, and many of them just happen to be authors themselves. I've steadily been adding more friends on GoodReads, and my numbers reflect that. I've also joined a number of the GoodReads groups, which are perfect for finding others with the same book interests as you.

What Worked (and What Didn't)

So now that May is over, here's what I learned:

  • Advertising on Facebook works. Advertising on GoodReads or NetworkedBlogs, not so much

    Facebook advertising allows you to invest a minimal amount each day, and to set the price you're willing to pay per click on your ad. So you can go with something low like $1 a day, perhaps, then put in a bid per click for something much lower than the (sometimes absurd) amounts that Facebook recommends and see what happens. For instance, Facebook recommended that I should try bidding $1.26 per click, but I went with $0.25 to start with, then upped it to $0.33. Both of these were successful, although the $0.33 ended up being the sweet spot for my ad. Do you see how great this is? For $1 a day, you could potentially get 3-4 clicks, which might mean more sales of your books or more friends "liking" your author page. The key thing that makes Facebook advertising great, besides the cheap price, is that you can do highly targeted advertising. One day I targeted only Kindle users and got great results, and on another day I targeted Nook users. I'll definitely use Facebook advertising again, unless the bid amount increases to where it isn't cost effective.

    I tried the same advertising strategy on GoodReads, but after 20 days I had only received 3 clicks. So I upped the amount per click and still nothing happened. I probably won't be advertising on GoodReads again until I have a novel, because I think advertising a book of short stories is a hard sell to a lot of people.

    NetworkedBlogs advertising is a flat $19.99 fee per month, and it's supposed to give your blog greater visibility in their search results, but I didn't notice any positive benefits, so I won't be doing this again either.

  • Giveaways are effective (and are fun too!)

    I gave away 84 copies of my book Sunset Lavaflies on LibraryThing. LibraryThing makes this very easy to do, especially if your book is in eBook form, so I definitely recommend you give this a try. The end result of my giveaway was that I received lots of positive critiques of my stories, made some new fans, and also made some great new friends -- some of them authors, some of them readers -- who I'm enjoying getting to know.

  • The more you use Twitter, Facebook, and your Blog, the more you benefit from cross-pollination

    I've started to notice that many of my Facebook fans are now Twitter followers. Conversely, many of my blog readers have joined me on Facebook. All three of these tools seem to work together to allow you to get more involved with your friends and fans. Plus if you enjoy social media, these tools are just plain fun to use. Twitter is great for checking in on your friends and seeing what's going on in their lives. Facebook is great for more involved discussions, while blogging is great for when you've got a lot to say or when you want to read something a bit longer on another blog.

    Shameless plug: In case you didn't catch the links in my header, here are links to my Twitter page and my Facebook page. Join me on both of them!  :-)

I guess that wraps things up for this month. Let me know if you're still finding these summaries useful and I'll continue to post them!