We do all the obvious things. We send out press releases, we announce every new book to the news sites and magazines, we let the bloggers and tweeters know. We run the risk of annoying the hell out of our friends and family by slipping book announcements into our normal flow of witty and banal tweets and status updates. We join in online discussions to raise our virtual profiles. We do all the things everyone says you should do as an author or publisher to help raise awareness of our books as they come out. It’s a fine line to tread: we need to be pushy to make as many people aware of us as possible; but we don’t want to antagonise people.
We’ve clearly been successful so far, with five of our first twelve books hitting the top ten in their categories at Amazon.
But how do we measure the success of a particular publicity effort, though?
Sometimes it’s obvious. Jeff VanderMeer’s lovely write-up of infinity plus ebooks at Omnivoracious led to an immediate spike in sales, which lasted for a couple of weeks. And occasionally we’ll see that kind of surge elsewhere, clearly related to a mention on a prominent news site or blog.
Other than that, though, it’s very hard to determine whether all the effort that goes into publicising our books is paying off. For one thing, a sales peak at Amazon is likely to be diffused and delayed, as potential purchasers first download a free sample (we don’t get to see how many such samples are downloaded, or when). Monitoring hits to our website or blog, or click-throughs on links we’ve tweeted, can give a more immediate measure of response to a particular publicity effort, but is a doubling of hits on our website meaningful if we don’t see it converting to an increase in sales?
I’m running the risk of sounding a bit mercenary here: give us yer cash!
That’s not what it’s all about though. Like all writers, we at infinity plus want audience. We want our words to be read, we want our words to mean something to someone. And when we put a lot of effort into making people aware of those words, it’d be good if we had a more certain way to identify whether a particular campaign has worked better than another.
Until then, we have to just, well, keep plugging away.