If you’ve read much at all about promoting anything on the web – your books, business, whatever – you’ve no doubt come across articles about blogging. Blogs are all over the place. I mean, you’re reading a blog at this very moment, right? And everyone prattles on about how important they are, in one way or another.
The importance of blogging to me was driven home in a very stark way: declining book sales over the summer, starting in late July. Using the Kindle version of In Her Name (omnibus edition) as a benchmark, sales were rock steady in the 400 range for Kindle store rankings from mid-April (after the book had taken off in the wake of the release of Season of the Harvest in February) through mid-July, when they began tapering off. That slump continued until recently, when the book went on sale for a brief time at $0.99, pushing the rankings from where they’d fallen to a low of 1600 back up to around 350.
Now, you may be thinking that’s not much of a difference at all in the great scheme of things: a ranking of 1600 or so certainly isn’t bad! You’re right, it’s not. But I’m using this to illustrate my point about blogging.
You see, the only major factor that I can come up with that changed right around the time that In Her Name (omnibus edition) started slipping was that I’d stopped blogging. We were on our summer RV trip to New England and Canada, and we were so busy that I just didn’t get around to posting anything new. And when we got back, I was wrapped up in working on In Her Name: Dead Soul and sorting out all the details of leaving my day job to write full time that I never got back into it.
As far as I can tell, the other variables that I could control stayed mostly the same. For example, for the most part my activity on Twitter stayed roughly the same (which means: a lot!) and the book prices stayed the same.
Now, I know I’m not the only one to have suffered a “summer falloff.” Joe Konrath commented on this on his blog (see Ebook Sales Down?), but Joe made that post in late June, and June has been my second best month after July.
No. I think the main factor for me has been the falloff in blogging. And I also have to wonder about John Locke’s approach to blogging, which he goes over in his book How I Sold 1 Million Ebooks in 5 Months, in which he advises making few posts that tug on the readers’ heartstrings (that’s what it boils down to for me, but I don’t want to steal the man’s thunder). Now, obviously he’s doing something that’s working well for him, but he was already a millionaire businessman before he set pen to paper as an author, and I suspect he has the ability to deliver things in a way that most of the rest of us don’t. I think it’s a great idea, but I suspect that he’s the exception, rather than the rule. Just sayin’.
And if you’re thinking, “Holy cow! I don’t have time to blog!” keep this in mind: I was holding down a full-time job, was writing novels at a completion rate of around nine months per book, and was blogging at least weekly for most of the first half of this year. Was it exhausting? Hell yeah! Did it pay off? In spades: I gave up my day job in mid-August to write full-time. And I’m now convinced that blogging was a big help in getting me there.
So, the bottom line for me is that while you can hook up with people on Twitter or Facebook easily enough, I think you have to give your readers and potential fans more meaty tidbits to educate and entertain them on a steady basis to keep them coming back to your blog. It’s really all about exposure, giving them more opportunities to learn about you and – hopefully – check out your books (and get on that all-important mailing list)!