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Thursday, March 8, 2012

Marketing Yourself When You're a Self-Published Author: March 2012 Numbers

Longtime readers will remember that I used to show a graph each month detailing how my forays into social media were progressing. Well, it's time to bring that feature back, at least for one month. Rather than show the entire graph, I'm going to show my first month and my most recent month. Take a look:

Here are some notes about the numbers:
  • Go Viral: Almost every number across the board got a bump last month when I posted 3 mashups of Judy Blume book covers combined with elements of Star Wars. Did those mashups have much of anything to do with my writing? No. Did they bring in new readers, Facebook followers, and Twitter followers? Yes, yes, and yes. Moral of the story: If you post something and it goes viral (or if you get lucky and Judy Blume tweets about what you've done), you could suddenly find yourself with a lot of new readers and followers. I know David Kazzie has debated on his blog if his "So You Want To Write A Novel" YouTube video actually led to more book sales. Well, I can tell you for sure that the Judy Blume covers definitely led to some book sales for me.
  • If you post it, they will come. If you don't, they won't. Okay, this one is easy enough to understand. I posted very few times between September of 2011 and January of 2012. Guess what? The number of views I got on this blog dropped like a rock. The good news is that it works the other way too. Post more often and the readers will return. I'll probably never be a consistent blogger, but it's nice to know that whenever I do go into blogging mania, I'll have some readers along for the ride.
  • Twitter numbers are deceptive. Wow, look at that. I've got 5,639 followers on Twitter. But guess what? The number of followers who actually ever see or read my tweets is probably a tiny fraction of that number. The reason? Twitter static is hard to overcome. There's just so much out there, and so many people tweeting, that it's hard to stand out and get your tweets noticed. I still enjoy tweeting, and love reading other people's tweets, but if I don't get many responses to something I tweet, I never take it personally.
  • Facebook fans rock! Out of all the types of social media I'm now using, I love Facebook the best. When I post something on Facebook, I usually get lots of great responses. It's gotten to the point now where I post stuff on Facebook not because I have something to say about a topic, but rather, because I want to hear what others have to say about it. Wondering what Gandalf's job would be if he lived in our world may seem like a silly topic to some people, but we had a great time on my Facebook page discussing exactly what type of job he would find. (ZZ Top band member and Industrial Lights and Magic technician were two of my favorites.)
  • It's okay to ask...occasionally. Don't forget to occasionally ask people to join you on your social media platforms. I don't do this often because it would annoy people if I did, but letting your social media contacts know about the other ways they can follow you can be a good idea, especially if you're dabbling in a new social media platform. (I'm looking at you, Pinterest!) Oh, and by the way, here are the social media platforms I'm using the most right now. I'd love it if you'd join me on them.  :-)
To close this out, let me just say that I'm extremely pleased with these numbers. I've come to really love social media, and especially the people I've met using social media. It's been a great 12 months, and I think the next 12 months are going to be even better!


  1. One day I was looking at my Facebook newsfeed. There was a little advertisement (the ones over on the side) that caught my attention: Something about a sci-fi writer named Scott Niven (never heard of him) who had three short story ebooks on Amazon. Click like to read a selected story for free. I've been an avid sci-fi reader all my life, and am very cheap (by my own admission). The story was so well written, and the concept so unusual, that I was hooked. Since then I've read his three ebooks (yes, I paid for them - because they were that good). Thank you Scott, for putting yourself "out there" on social media - how else would I have heard of your work? (I'm very excited to read your upcoming novel)!

  2. Scott,

    Good post. And great to see you've had success turning viral-ness into sales.

    I admit, I might not be very good at the social media game -- I often wonder if I'd done something differently, I might have been able to build a bigger, more involved platform. Not to say I'm not appreciative of the platform I do have -- I am very happy with it, but I can't help but wonder if there was a missed opportunity there.

    (P.S. - great job with the Judy Blume mashup!)


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  3. Ah Twitter, I love Twitter. You're totally right though. Random tweets are often lost in the avalanche if the twitter stream. If not for my lists and trend tracking on Tweetdeck I'd never keep track of anyone.

  4. Fascinating stuff. How many hours a week would you say you spent on social media?

  5. I've been at it for over a year now and, even though I've learned a lot, I still feel like I'm a novice. Thanks for telling us about your experience. It gives me something to shoot for.

  6. Lorraine - Your comment made my day! Actually it made my night, but I wasn't able to respond last night when I first read it. Thank you so much for your kind words! :-)

    David - I think you've got a great platform, and that video really is a great jumping-on point. I think you and I were already Facebook friends before I'd seen the video, but once I saw it, I started visiting your website frequently. Your on-going post about how Amazon KDP saved your book has been very helpful, and will probably influence how I handle the publication of my next book.

    Tim - I really need to use my lists more. I've also heard good things about TweetDeck, but never used it. One thing I really wish I could do is quickly and easily place people on lists with a single click. I've got a lot of authors that I haven't put on any list yet, and I'd love it if I could add 20 or 30 of them to a list quickly. Does TweetDeck make that process easier?

    Donna - I've gone through phases where I've spent hours each week on social media, but I burn out quickly when I do that, so I try not to overdo it now. I really only interact with social media a little each week now: One or two blog posts, a few random tweets during the day, and a few Facebook posts. I do spend a lot of time reading other blogs and tweets, but that is 10 minutes here and 10 minutes there, so not sure how much it adds up to.

    Richard - You're welcome! I saw that you put BATTLES AND OTHER STORIES on sale for free today. Let me know if you see a bump in sales. I've heard good things from people who have done the same thing.

  7. I'm not self-published, but I've done my best to build an online presence. Your numbers are impressive. I'm still working on Twitter and Goodreads, but not planning to venture into Facebook. Crossed 1400 blog followers today, so I guess I'm doing something right.