Why book marketing is a numbers game (#IWSG Blog Hop)

Why book marketing is a numbers game

I feel like it’s the job of every high school math teacher to drone on about how no matter a student’s desired profession, they’ll need math, and it’s the job of every right-brained student, myself included, to believe that teacher is lying through their teeth. Years later, I found out that marketing is intertwined with so much math, I had to take seven courses steeped in numbers before they would give me my diploma.

In the case of book marketing, in particular for self-published authors, being able to analyze your own sales figures is one thing (how is book two selling compared to book one, how much profit is left after marketing), and I expect that a lot of authors stop there, but the next step, should you wish to embark on it, is finding industry trend data (author, publisher, or bookseller surveys; rankings; annual reports; reports on trends; anecdotal discussions, etc.) and knowing when to adjust your marketing strategy (price point, advertising, grassroots tactics, etc.) if you’re falling short of either those standards or your own targets.

And if the exact data you’re looking for doesn’t exist or is cost-prohibitive to acquire, the next best option is to search for parallel data and find a way to work with it: compare number of reviews received, compare search engine keyword rankings, search for any way to compare your numbers to that of other authors. Maybe you have author friends who would be willing to swap over-the-shoulder peeks at KDP dashboard graphs, for example.

There’s also the fact that every author is a business, and we need to have some basic grasp of financial accounting, even if we outsource our income tax work. We need to be able to decide on and balance a marketing budget, for one.

And the numbers go on! Google Analytics (the Google service that tracks data for your website), can be a walk through muck on a stormy night with hawks trying to pick you up by the hair, but their free option has lots of useful numbers.

Why book marketing is a numbers gameIn percentages, views, and clicks, most of the big social media sites provide a certain amount of free analysis of your efforts. Want more? There are ways to pay for it, whether directly through the social media site, or through intermediary service providers.

E-newsletter delivery services also have those fancy dashboards that show your performance, in numbers. Dashboards are a book marketer’s friends.

Attendance and sales at book tour events, ratio of blog reviewers solicited to yeses, ratio of hours spent writing to hours spent marketing, the list of numbers authors can concern themselves with goes on infinity.

I wrote this post for the monthly Insecure Writers Support Group blog hop. To continue hopping or to join the hop, click here. (There are more than 200 of us, and it’s fun!)

Whether in the pre- or post-publishing phase of your career, what kinds of numbers do you pay attention to? Do you think the service providers noted above provide you with enough data, or is there something else you would like access to? Please share in the comments.

72 thoughts on “Why book marketing is a numbers game (#IWSG Blog Hop)

  1. I did niche marketing in the electronic musical instrument business, and to be hoest we flew by the seat of our pants, everyone tryingt play catch-up with whoever had the lead dog product. Then I broke the mold. Something that hadn’t been done since the early days. Wecan become too concerned with where we sit in the mix as opposed to remembering who we are. If you are selling formulaic YA witch and Potter-ish, then youneed to know whose version of that is winning. Just like mac & cheese. Does it really matter if it’s Name Brand? If not, you find a way to gain shelf space. If you are selling something stream of consciousness, you need to present your material in light of what it is. What’s the story, what’s it about, what is its IDENTITY. And that’s what you market. What it is, not what it’s like. Just my .02.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Reading all that made my eyes cross a bit, lol. I use Google Analytics free but don’t pay much attention to yet. I do pay attention to my email provider data Mailerlite. .

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Yes, it is important to compare your numbers some way to see what is working and what isn’t for your marketing attempts. I’m glad I don’t have to do that yet. But I do keep watch on comments and page views as I figure out what works and doesn’t on my blog..

    Liked by 4 people

  4. I’m math literate, but right now, the only numbers I pay attention to are my word count. But echoing Tamara, someday I will need to consider these point, as well.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. It is, and I really should have had some sort of disclaimer about that up front, that this can be intimidating, but like everything else, it’s easier to learn about book marketing numbers in baby steps.


  5. Now that we’re friends, Raimey (after all, I just joined your monthly blog hop), I’m going to be honest. I did used to pay attention to numbers. I have a robust history of caring about such things. But, I quickly realized they were so inconsequential (meaning, watching that pot didn’t make it boil faster) that my time was better spent on writing. And, I have so little to spend on marketing!


    Liked by 2 people

  6. See, this right here is all good stuff, but it’s the side of the industry that I DON’T want to engage in. LOL. Do or die, eh? (Financially speaking.)

    Liked by 3 people

  7. This is all great stuff, but I struggle to keep track of much. I track my sales numbers per month with giveaway numbers, marketing efforts (all kinds) and number of blog posts. That’s as complicated as it gets and I still don’t know that I’m reading my numbers right. But I have found certain things seem to work more than others. Grassroots has been better than paid marketing so far.

    Liked by 3 people

  8. Good post! I don’t really know what numbers to look at: followers, clicks, reviews, etc.. Facebook has soooo many ways to target readers with campaigns that it makes my head spin. And so do other social media sites. The metrics for these campaigns are even more mind boggling. I think that (other than book sales) the most valuable numbers relate to website followers and/or number of email contacts. These are potential readers we can approach multiple times, and they can get to know us and our writing. Unfortunately, I am just starting to build both. Ugh!!!!!

    Liked by 3 people

  9. My head is spinning, Raimey! Whoever thought becoming a writer is just writing, was totally wrong. That being said, I see all this being important for professional writers and people who need the money from their books to survive. Believe me, I know that these numbers and the marketing strategies are important, but I think the profession or hobby has to remain fun and enjoyable. And, now you see why I (or my husband) will never make real money or aren’t good business people, despite running a business. 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

  10. Love it – but I’m a Math girl! Now I just need to find the time to polish the books and send them out into the world so I have some data to track!! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Marketing is the very reason I should never self-publish. I know I’d be horrid at it. What I need to do is get my wife (who is a whiz at analytics and numbers) on board and let her take the reigns.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. Not gonna lie, my eyes sorta glossed over. Math is not my friend and I will admit to not even tracking my own sales to see how things are doing in relation to what I’ve spent for marketing, covers, editing, etc. The thought of it makes my head spin.

    Liked by 2 people

  13. I’m still pre-publication. One step at a time! Thanks for all the useful, and a little intimidating, info, Raimey.

    Liked by 2 people

  14. I like math well-enough, but checking the facts and figures and everything else you mentioned takes more patience than I have — then my dad has to sit with me and go through the figures like he had to before a math exam. LOL. At least he has patience with me and the method works 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  15. Wow, that’s a bit mind-boggling for my self-induced maths-challenged brain. 🙂
    The only numbers I’m concentrating on is the 100words100days challenge I recently completed, and which I need to get back to in the not-too-distant-future.
    Thank you for the useful information, Raimey!

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Popped over to thank you for the recommendation of the Ursula Le Guin book. I definitely want to read the book. Sounds right up my alley. 🙂
        I phoned our local book store but they don’t have the book, and at the moment, it will be too expensive to place an order from overseas. The lady suggested waiting a few months when the price will drop, and it will become more affordable to import.
        The thing is, I prefer a hard copy. It’s the kind of book I’d want to add to my physical bookshelf.
        (Yes, how lucky was I to get a tweet from one of the authors of the book?)

        Liked by 1 person

  16. So much of this is intimidating and confusing. I can actually feel a headache coming on. 🙂

    On the plus side, by having my own blog I am learning the ins and outs of marketing. Slowly I’m getting it and by doing so I am learning the same with books.

    Thanks for posting this.

    Liked by 2 people

  17. I use Google Analytics, but I confess, I don’t check it often. I look at my Amazon reports a lot since that is where 98% of my sales are. Those are easily to read and understand. Now to figure out how to efficiently use Amazon Ads! *LOL*

    Liked by 2 people

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