How Social Networking Can Hurt your Book Sales

- By Hajni Blasko, Online Book Publicist at Substance Books.

Montreal Canadian Book Publicist, Hajni Blasko
Montreal Canadian Book Publicist, Hajni Blasko   email Book Publicist, Hajni Blasko   network with Montreal Canadian Book Publicist, Hajni Blasko   Stay in touch Book Publicist, Hajni Blasko
Online Book Publicist
& SEO Specialist

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This article is an exploration of Social Networking behavior, patterns and the effects on online book sales, focusing on North-American online book sales figures from small and independent press. If you are an author or publisher of either, hopefully you are able to allocate at least four hours per week to your title's online publicity campaign. If you currently dedicate more than four hours on this task, feel free to still read this article and send me your observations or comments. I am keen to hear from authors who are highly involved with their title's online publicity.
If you are not able to allocate 4 hours per week to online book publicity, then why not take advantage of Substance Books, to give your title an online book publicity boost simply by submitting it right here.

Most traffic shown on your Website's statistics will be arriving from Search Engines. If your Website is hard to find by online book buyers, due to low Search Engine Ranking Position (SERP), this could jeopardize your marketing goals set for your site.
Social Networking will provide you with a great exposure on Search Engines. But is this the type of target-marketed exposure that will sell more copies? I encourage you to note a few ways, you have in the past looked for a title or information and ended-up with a recommended title. Does Social Networking make it onto your list?
I am guessing, not.

Let's examine how online book buyers look for and purchase books:
More than 80% of online traffic is driven by a few Search Engines and most book sales are made through online distributors (Amazon, B&T, etc). No matter how wonderful your Website is or how well your site's purchase path is executed, book buyers will still wish to see your title offered by at least one online distributor offering input from readers along with easy purchase options.
Sadly, in my experience, most author Websites have a poorly executed purchase path system with low usability levels. With such systems, who could blame the average book buyer opting to use well established online distributors. Online distributors have the capability to offer discounts and savings on shipping fees for multiple title orders.
You might ask. "Why should you still have a Website?" Here are my reasons, not listed in any particular order of priority:

  • Branding

  • Providing in depth information about you and your title

  • Allowing readers to communicate with you

  • Providing information about the subject matter of your title, in the case of Nonfiction books and Guides or a Fiction title covering a certain issue

  • Exposing your title to the Press & Media

  • Through an outstanding Search Engine Ranking Position "SERP", gathering potential book buyers and channeling them to your online distributor, to your book order page or in best scenario, to both.

Why do we then, as authors carry out Social Networking?
Social Networking main purpose is to connect and keep in touch with people you know or would like to meet. Naturally, there is an aspect of Social Networking that shouldn't be overlooked by authors. Social Networking groups, allowing assisting you to connect with your readers is an important aspect of your targeted marketing. Do you belong to such a group? Are you frequently posting and providing helpful advice?

It is my observation that traffic captured through Search Engines, often send potential book buyers to Social Networking platforms created for or by other authors instead of channeling ready-to-buy customers to the sites where copies are sold. The promotional power of Social Networks is very efficient. If the TOP 10 Search Engine Ranking Positions (SERP) are occupied by such networks (and by doing so pushing your essential online presence to the bottom of the page or even lower to the dreaded page #2), your book sales pay the price by lowering the Return On Investment (ROI) of your publishing venture. If you belong to too many Social Networks, the SERP rating of your own site and the site of your online distributors will suffer for it.

I am sure by now, you are guessing the real message of this article. Finding the balance through diversity will help you to achieve a favourable ROI for your publishing venture.

Example of a well balanced and diversified marketing plan. (I have listed items in order of importance, when it comes to sales.)

  • Perfectly executed presentation of your title on your distributor's Website. This should include: profile page, excellent reviews, great synopsis. Would you like me to take a look and see what could be improved?

  • Website with high usability standards, great and informative content with or without eCommerce. Would you like me to take a look and see what could be improved?

  • Search Engine Optimization Campaign of your site to achieve TOP 10 listing when searched for the sub-genre or subject matter of the title excluding your name and book title. If your Website's SERP is not at this level yet, join Substance Books to take advantage of its engine power.

  • One selected Social Networking platform for personal use (Facebook). One for professional use (LinkedIn), one to feature your product (Facebook product page), and one to receive information and to connect with industry professionals (Online Book Publicity & Marketing Network). Please be selective if book sales are your primary goal and don't let Social Networks overshadow your sale-sites.

  • Constant work on generating, gathering and distributing Search Engine Optimized Press Releases, Blogs and great content generally.
Don't neglect traditional book publicity efforts, which are not covered by online publicity either.

You might say, "but Hajni, you yourself invited me to join the Online Book Publicity and Marketing Network you created." Point well taken, but the network I created as a Search Engine Optimization Specialist, will not only give you the edge of exposure through a high SERP rating but channel all that traffic to your distributors without any affiliations. The aim of my new and free network is to reclaim "lost" traffic from Social Networks and direct it to the online distributors of our members. This is achieved by using long-tail Search Engine Marketing techniques.

This article may ruffle a few feathers! However, you might recall my previous article: How Can Blogs Hurt your Site's SERP Rating, that ignited a few howlers. A year or so ago, all the rage was about blogs. By now, most of the hype has faded and blogs remain as they are. This will happen eventually to Social Networking, when it will become one of the many tools of networking and marketing not to be overlooked or over glorified.

Montreal Canadian Book Publicist, Hajni Blasko
Montreal Canadian Book Publicist, Hajni Blasko   email Book Publicist, Hajni Blasko   network with Montreal Canadian Book Publicist, Hajni Blasko   Stay in touch Book Publicist, Hajni Blasko   free book advetising information and tips
Online Book Publicist
& SEO Specialist

Hajni has conducted workshops at BookExpo America, 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2009 on Search Engine Optimization and Online Book Publicity. She wrote a number of articles for various newsletters, blogs and publications.
Online articles:
SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and Usability Tips for Authors Looking to Sell
How Social Networking Can Hurt your Book Sales
Book Trade Show Tips
Graphic Design Tips for your Website
Articles in print:
Webrings - Book Beyond the Bookstores
Custom-Designed Websites vs. Websites Created on Social Networking Platforms - Writer Watchdog, 2009.

If you would like to meet Hajni in person, please refer to her Event Schedule.
If you are an authors or small press publisher looking for online exposure, don't hesitate to email her or to fill out the form on the right.