Monday, January 24, 2011

Do author blogs cause book sales?

It’s a question we self-published authors often ask ourselves. Is anyone reading my blog actually buying my books? Of course, we get anecdotal confirmation when a commenter  mentions that they bought a book. But, statistically speaking, is there a correlation between blogging and sales?
I’ve already posted three times (here, here, and here) about paid advertising. I thought I should pontificate on non-paid advertising, which is what this blog is. Aside from a place to wax endlessly about charts and writing, this blog is also here to get people interested in my books. But, is that working?
Here's another spiffy chart to try to answer that question:

In the chart, the white line indicates daily views on this blog. The red line is the daily total sales of all my books. While the height of the two lines can differ significantly, there is definitely a correlation with the peaks and valleys.
Between 12/27/2010 and about 1/3/2011, the blog line seems to lag behind the sales line. Does this indicate readers who first bought my book, then found my blog? One can assume that.
But, things seem to turn around 1/5/2011. There, it looks like the blogviews and sales lines get in sync. A sales peak matches a blog peak, and the valleys line up, too.
I never expected there to be this much of a correlation. It looks like my blog is helping sales!
Or is it?
The peaks and valleys are usually right on the same day, so there is no definitive way to determine if the book caused the blogviews, or the blogviews caused the book sales.
However, since it takes more effort to get to my blog from my book, I think it’s safe to assume that the causality here is probably from blog views to book sales.
So, my advice to other authors is to start and maintain a blog. You’ll probably get more sales as your blog becomes more popular.

16 comments:

  1. Derek, I've also noticed the number of your blog followers has jumped higher this past month. You are up to 66 now, which I can only believe has helped your visibility and added to sales.

    I'll add my blog link here to try to induce a few thousand more sales of Bloated Goat.

    Manley's Bookshelf

    PS: I'll let you know if it worked. ;)

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  2. Manley, that direct link from Joe Konrath's blog got me 10 new followers in one day! Very nice.

    I hope you get a lot of new sales with that link!

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  3. Hey Derek,

    I agree that the blog has a definite corollary to book sales, and I think the more value you can add through information (like you and Joe both do) the more people start to trust you and come around and perhaps one day purchase a book or three!

    An E-Publisher's Manifesto

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  4. Derek,

    I love the chart! ;)

    I definitely think that the blog increases sales. When I buy other indie authors' books it is because I follow their blog and want to read what they are talking about, or to support them.

    From the last 2 charts you posted, it looks as though blogging has more of a correlation with sales then advertising does.

    Angeline Kace

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  5. I have a slightly different take. My author blog probably has influenced a couple of authors to buy my book. I doubt any regular readers have been influenced.

    However, my hobby blog, JiuJitsu365.wordpress.com, sends about 40 people a week to my Amazon pages according to the statistics on the site. I have had that blog since 2007 and I have put my grappling books' links on at least 50 of my most popular pages and all of my new posts. I receive about 100 visits per day to the blog so I have a steady diet of new readers who I can advertise my book to.

    I also write at Psychology Today. My psychology books are listed there. I receive thousands to tens of thousands of readers for each blog post. My books are advertised at the bottom of each post. I have noticed when I post there my sales for my "Pop Psychology" book increase.

    It seems that I am able to attract more readers to the subjects that I am very passionate about and have a blog that discusses the subject. For those subjects that I do not have a blog for (my academic books) my sales are much lower.

    I started my author's blog because I never had a forum to discuss my writing process or to discuss my other books. I will admit that my BJJ blog and psychology blog seem to bring more sales. There seems to be a positive correlation between those blogs and my sales but not they are not necessarily causal.

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  6. Free advertising, I think, is largely a matter of networking. A blog can provide a tremendous amount of information, not just about what you're writing but how and why.

    A blog follower can get a sense of your background, interests, views, voice and style. Twitter and Facebook let people know what you're working on and thinking about. Forums give them a chance to interact with you in a discussion. Interviews give people who follow the interviewer a chance to vet you and see if they're interested. A hub like Book Blogs can bring it all together.

    I've given a lot of thought to this sort of thing, and I plan to try a blitz of sorts when I get my book published.

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  7. Well, if this helps at all; I just found yoru blog through An E-Publisher's Manifest (Aaron Niz's blog) and haven't yet bought your book. Then again, I am a fellow self-pubbed author, so maybe we fall into a different category... Maybe we tend to seek out the author, then the book more than a typical consumer. Anyway I am excited to check out your book, esp finding out its scifi. I write YA Fantasy but the one I just released has some scifi elements to it. I'll check you out on Amazon.

    www.heatherhildenbrand.blogspot.com

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  8. Nice post, Derek. Love the charts and the solid info.

    Your hard work is an inspiration too. I'm going to start blogging more as soon as I meet the hard deadline I've got for next Monday.

    The interesting conundrum is in creating a consistent brand for the blog. Konrath's got it nailed. You've got a nice thing going here too. I've seen you readership growing very fast over the last couple of months. Congrats on that and well done.

    I used to write humor/opinion columns a few years ago when websites actually paid writers for content. I'd love to get back into that for my personal blog, but the issue is that my King's X series isn't funny at all. I don't want to be confusing.

    I intend to start a new series of novels before the follow up to King's X, and the new ones will be funny. So, maybe that will help me find the right tone.

    BTW, I just put up another post. It's about (what else?) new frontiers in publishing. Lol.


    [url=http://stephentharper.blogspot.com/]SharperBlog[/url]

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  9. oops. sorry about the code in that link. I couldn't get html to work either. Am I missing something easy?

    Here it is the hard way. Apologies.

    http://stephentharper.blogspot.com/

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  10. Thanks for the post. I have noticed a similar effect on my blog as well.

    I tend to blog on themes that are related to the storyline of my book, Lie Merchants, not generally on self-publishing. So, most of the time, I am commenting on news stories and including a link in my post. I can definitely see a correlation between news comment posts, blog hits and sales.

    Since I have few blog followers (not sure people want to be "seen" as following some of the more controversial topics), blog hits are more highly correlated with how active I am on posting on news sites.

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  11. Huzzah!

    Glad to see some positive news from your experiments. I'm just in the middle of writing my book (and blogging about it as I go at afewstrongwords.com). I've been following your blog for a couple of weeks now (I may have been one of those in the Konrath boat) and I really like how you are taking a close look at what works, and what doesn't in terms of promoting your book.

    For what it's worth, I've heard a lot of writers say that their blog is a great source of readers. I imagine the reason is that if you like following the blog, chances are you're going to like the book. And if your blog is about books/reading/fiction/etc., you are probably attracting more book readers than the average blog. Altogether, that should lead to higher sales.

    Anyway, very encouraging news for you - congrats! And thanks for sharing!

    ~Graham

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  12. Not sure if everyone saw Konrath guest blogger the other day Lee Goldberg. He's a midlist author who has formed a pub group with other midlist authors. I think that concept could work for self-pub authors, too, as a way of cross-promoting.

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  13. I haven't noticed any sales impact from my own blog, even though a regular part of my posting is related to my Kindle books. When gave away one free of charge, and posted on the blog first, nothing happened; when I posted on another forum, I had 200 people take advantage. On the same forum I later advertised my books for .99, and I'm on my way to a record month of sales. The blog doesn't so as much as I like, but I get good traffic, so up it stays.

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  14. I would also like to point out how frequently I will add stuff to a wish list or a shopping cart. Just because I did not buy something that day does not mean I will not go back later and buy it.

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  15. Well, Derek. Putting my blog link in my post above was a complete failure. I only received 999 sales in one day, far short of my goal of 1,000. I'm at a loss for words.

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  16. All, thanks for the kind words!

    Angeline, yes, so far it seems that the best correlation with sales comes from blog views. Ads don’t seem to be as tied in.

    Bakari, 40 clickthroughs a week from your blog to your Amazon book page sounds really good. I’ll have to keep track of that, too.

    Heather, welcome to the blog! My next book will a YA adventure with scifi elements.

    Manley, drat! Sorry the didn’t get you’re the sales you wanted! You better put the link in twice next time. ;)

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