This post was first published in January 2015. To make this more useful for you, I’ve added new content and tips. Thanks for reading. ~
Once you’ve published your novel, and perhaps setup a blog and started tweeting, how do you know who you’re reaching? How do you know if the content you publish is drawing them to your books and creating sales?
Without becoming a digital guru, you can discover a lot about your fans. Knowing their interests and understanding why they follow you will help you produce effective book marketing content.
If the information you uncover is surprising, then you have some work to do to attract an audience that will potentially become your raving fans. Consider that the folks reading your tweets and blog posts may be on the fence about buying your book(s) or perhaps they’re browsing a subject and your name appears in a search. They want to learn more. You can use the built-in analytics of your social media tools to learn what they want to know. Let’s take a look at Amazon Author Central, WordPress, and Twitter.
Amazon Author Central
Most often, you’re probably signing into Amazon KDP to look your sales stats. Once a month, or at least within the first two weeks after publishing your novel, login into Amazon Author Central and view your sales by Geography. You’ll see the U.S. with sections highlighted, the darker the area the more sales you have in these regions. This is calculated by Nielsen BookScan, which is estimated to cover 75% of all retail print sales.
Why is this important? Now you know where your audience lives and most importantly their time zone. This allows you to schedule blog posts, promotional tweets and content to when they will most likely see it.
Yes, I know there are other blogging sites and services out there, but the tips here should still apply. It’s not the service provider, but the data provided in your stats and dashboard that you’ll find helpful. Here are the four things you’ll want to review.
- Pull up your stats summary and make note of which days of the week are getting the most traffic. Those are the days you should be posting.
- How often are you posting? If you can look at six months to a year’s worth of site traffic you should see a natural ebb and flow of visitors. After a post has brought a boost in traffic, note how long it takes for the visitor traffic to slow down. This is your guide to how long you can pause between posts before losing repeat visitors. Aim to be on the leading edge of the timeline before your audience moves on.
- Next, migrate to your posting summary and sort by most popular posts. This is where you get insights into what your audience likes. You may have written a post two years ago, but it’s still getting random traffic from web searches. It should be easy to look at the top ranking posts and identify the similarities in content. Now you know your sweet spot and can build your audience by writing to their interests.
- If your dashboard gives a list of referrers, make note of who they are. Knowing where your traffic comes from lets you know how effective your marketing is on other sites. i.e. A lot of Twitter traffic shows your content posted there is working.
Bonus: These interests, and the comments on these posts, can help shape your fiction writing as well. Knowing who you’re writing for and weaving the story to hold their attention will help give your writing focus.
If you’re using a Twitter management program like Hootsuite or Socialoomph, then you’re familiar with their stats and dashboards. They’re very good at showing follower counts and click-throughs. However, Twitter Analytics is a robust tool that gives unique insights into your audience demographic.
To begin, log onto Twitter with a web browser and click on your icon in the upper left corner. This gives you a menu which should include Analytics. If this is missing from your menu, Google Twitter Analytics while logged in and it will bring up the same screen.
At the top you’ll have a few choices: Tweets, Followers, Twitter Cards, and Tools. We’ll just consider the first two.
Tweets gives you an overview of followers over time. Below that you’ll see each tweet, how many impressions it had, and if anyone engaged with it. Impressions are the times the tweet was viewed by someone on Twitter. You may have several thousand followers, but they are not all looking at Twitter at the same time. Also, tweets come and go quickly on timelines. This means only a limited number of people will see your content at any given time. If your tweet gets shared, you’ll see the impressions increase. This is where the engagement comes in. Engagement is when another person either clicks your link or shares your content.
Why is this important? Knowing what times of the day have the most impressions can help you schedule tweets for the most viewers. Guy Kawasaki recommends tweeting your most important content four times within a twenty-four hour period. This ensures the most reach among your followers. Keeping these two points in mind can help you fine tune your timing.
Also, knowing what garners a click can help you know what works and what doesn’t work when you’re trying to get clicks to your point of purchase or website.
The second tab, Followers, gives you a list of your follower’s top interests. This tells you exactly why your they are
following you. Interests should match your writing genre and topics. It might even give you some insights into sub-genres that could play into your fiction writing. It even takes it a step further and tells you which states and countries make up your following, as well as their gender distribution.
Why is all of this important?
Put it all together and you know the gender, interests, location, the best time of day to reach your audience, and what content resonates with them most.
Your audience is made up of fans, people who have chosen to read what you write and seek out the content you provide. They are the fans who will talk about your blog posts and recommend your novel to friends. When you write a post or share a comment on Twitter you now know who you’re talking to, and that’s where a conversation begins.
The only sure thing about marketing on social media networks is that it will keep changing. Your follower makeup will change. What works and doesn’t work will change. Data will give a you a leg up on trends and messaging so you can effectively reach your audience and when they move you can move with them.
Writing your novel is your art and craft. Selling your novel is business – be engaged. Listen, ask questions, and talk with your fans.
Have an idea or helpful insight? Leave a comment and help everyone market smarter:)
November 2015 Addendum
New resources are popping up every month with services to help you take the guesswork out of determining what readers want and make writing less stressful. Here are a few recommendations:
Buzzsumo – Check out the popularity of topics before writing your blog post. This is also helpful in seeing what new insights you can to existing trending topics.
RazorSocial – Ian Cleary’s site and newsletter is crammed with actionable marketing tips relevant to today’s authors. You’ll find information on tools that help with Content, Analytics and SEO to help your optimize your blog and author sites.
StoryboardThat – Lay out ideas, scenes or entire novels. This site helps you visualize the action.
Trello – One of my new favorites. This replaces the legal pad “To Do” list and post-it notes all around your computer. Get your tasks, goals and notes organized on a virtual board. Site supports more than one board. I have one for my work life and one for my writing life. There’s also a handy mobile app that syncs to the site. Evernote is similar – the only difference is matter of preference.
Sococo – Virtual office. How does this help? Imagine you have a team of writers for a publication that work remotely or you collaborate on novels. Sococo gives you a virtual meeting space where you can video conference face to face and share screens. When it’s on, all you have to do is talk and the other folks there can hear you, unless of course you’re in one of the private conference rooms.
Bonus Tip – Metadata counts. Whether it’s the category and product description for your book on Amazon (or other sites), or the descriptions and setting of your blog, the words that make it easy for search engines to connect readers to your site play a big part in discoverability. Take the next 20 minutes and strengthen every word, every category connection and every link that takes readers to your book.
Have a tip? An idea? A helpful new tool for writing & marketing? Leave a comment and let’s crowdsource smarter ways to reach readers.
Wired by Judith Gaines
Jade Weekes emerged from the oily wash of the Seine five years ago with no memory of her life, but an uncanny knowledge of fine art, museum security, and a knack for walking away with priceless treasures. Now she’s tracking an elusive Van Gogh with ties to an underworld struggle that will reveal her forgotten past.