Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Other unpaid advertising results

I’ve blogged about the sales results of paid advertising (here, here, and here) and the sales results of this blog (here).
Today, I’m going to examine the results of other free advertising options, mostly forum posts, interviews, other blogs, and reviews.
The chart below shows my total daily sales for all three of my books combined along with various reviews, interviews, posts, etc. Click the chart to enlarge it.

As you can see, this chart is a bit harder to evaluate, so let’s go over it in more detail.
KindleBoards posts. I’ve posted on Kindleboards to announce book releases and blog posts. As you can see with the green triangles, there are a few correlations between the blog posts and a spike in sales, but it’s not consistent. Of course, posting on message boards can’t hurt. But, at least for me, it doesn’t result in a huge spike in sales.
Interviews. I’ve been interviewed on three sites, but it doesn’t appear that any of them really impacted my sales immediately.
Spalding’s Racket. It looks like the biggest jump in sales came when Nick mentioned my novel, Dead Dwarves Don’t Dance, on his blog, Spalding’s Racket on January 28th. I sold 10 books that day, a very good number, and 20 the next! Nick’s blog has about 100 followers, and I’m sure that some portion of those sales were due to him. Thanks, Nick! I encourage everyone to check his blog out. He does a great job of making noise about new and independent authors.
The other thing to notice about this chart is that after the release of my 2nd and 3rd books, there was an obvious bump in average sales. Really, it seems that for consistent increases in sales, publishing more books is the best strategy.
What all this tells me is that I haven’t found a silver bullet to get me huge spikes in sales. All of these unpaid advertising options probably help me get sales over time, but there isn’t one that seems to rise above the others as a sure thing.
I could ask what would have happened if I hadn’t been posting on messageboards, getting interviewed, getting reviews, and so on. Of course, we’ll never know for sure, but I have to believe that my sales would not be growing as quickly.
So, what’s my advice for all the other self-publishing authors out there? Well, even though it’s hard to find direct correlation with unpaid marketing efforts (interviews, reviews, other blogs, etc.), you should still do your best to get them. Eventually, all those mentions will start boosting  your sales. And, you can’t sell books unless people know about them.


  1. That seems to be the same message Konrath preaches. I believe he described kind of like a pyramid game - the more titles you have out there the more you sell - assuming your writing is decent and you've got good covers.

  2. You also got 2 direct plugs in a comment thread on KindleBoards. Someone was asking for recs on sci-fi mysteries. Manley Peterson plugged your book with a link on the 28th. I seconded his rec Tuesday AM. I always figured mentions like that would be worth a spike in sales. I wonder if you should factor that in.

    Lots of variables when trying to chart who's buying and why.

  3. Good post, Derek. About how many reviewers and such have you hit up so far? I didn't get much of a bump from Spalding, but I have from other sites, so I guess it's relative to audience as well. I'm just trying to hit a lot -- if we wrote paranormal romance our lives would be easier, as there are about a million reviewers for that. I've found the best bang for my buck to be getting reviews and giving away free copies at certain times. as for multiplicity of books, I'm sure it does help, but I would never sacrifice quantity for quality. Quantity might be a better short term gain, but quality books will pay much and for far longer, I would think. Konrath had it easy in that regard, as he had a huge backlist to put up.

  4. Keep pumping out books. Sales of my first rose when I released my second; this month I'll release my third and I'm sure they'll be another spike (I sold 60 books in January, combining both titles). I'm not promoting the old stuff right now as I'm focusing on the new. Your analysis is great, by the way, and maybe a neat experiment would be to release your next without any notice at all and see what happens.

  5. Thanks for the detailed analysis, again. Fascinating stuff! I'd caution against looking for too much immediate impact from a single post. Could be that the post/link drives sample downloads, and that a month later this results in a sale. Or maybe it takes a second impression, or a third or fourth to make the sale. (I heard somewhere a reader needs to hear about a book six times before deciding to buy it.) The amazing thing is the clear, steady growth you're seeing. I'd add a trend line to show it. Congrats!

  6. Stephen, thanks for letting me know about those kindleboards mentions!

    Layton, I must abashedly admit that I have not made much effort at getting reviews at all. It’s a deficiency that I am well aware of, and I really need to get my butt in gear and send out some requests! Yes, I guess I am just assuming that quality is a given, but I should call it out.

    Djmorel, you are correct. Repetition is a valuable tool in advertising. And, that’s a good idea about a trend line!