How to track book marketing activity and results

An author seeking advice recently said that no matter what she did to promote her book, she didn’t see results.

Her situation isn’t unusual. Sometimes authors feel like they’re doing all the right things, but they’re not seeing the results they expect. It’s frustrating.

But the thing is, they might not be doing the “right” things. Or maybe they are, but the execution is weak.

They might be hindered by other factors. Perhaps the book needs a cover re-design, or the Amazon detail page needs a makeover.

It’s also possible that they’re getting the right level of results for the activity, but their expectations aren’t realistic.

Determine what does and doesn’t work for your book

The first step in figuring out what’s going on with your book marketing is understanding what you’re doing that works and what you’re doing that doesn’t.

The first step in figuring out what's going on with your book marketing is understanding what you’re doing that works and what you’re doing that doesn’t.Click to tweet

Naturally, you’ll want to do more of what works.

Do this by tracking your marketing activities and the results. Tracking will help you see, for example, if using what you learned in that Instagram marketing course helped sell any books. (Notice that I said “Any,” not “lots.”)

Track book marketing activity with four easy steps

Tracking is easy. You might even find it rewarding. Just follow a four-step process:

  1. Execute one marketing activity at a time. Otherwise, you won’t know which tactic made a difference.
  2. Log the activity and sales results in an Excel file or a Word table — or the Google Docs equivalent, if you prefer. (See example below.)
  3. Study the outcomes to identify trends or patterns.
  4. Make any necessary changes based on what you’ve learned.

My book marketing tracking results

That’s what I did when I released the updated version of Get Your Book in the News: How to Write a Press Release That Announces Your Book. Here’s my Excel file header:

track book marketing activity 2

I recorded each book marketing tactic, the book’s Amazon category ranking, and the number of books sold.

Here’s what I discovered:

  • Everything I did sold books, but some tactics resulted in higher sales than others.
  • I sold the most books after announcing the update to my newsletter subscribers. (If you aren’t a subscriber but would like to get free book marketing advice in your inbox every week, use the form at the upper right or under this article.)
  • The second best sales source was a recommendation in colleagues’ newsletters.
  • I sold the least number of books when I shared this image with a purchase link on social media.

track book marketing activity 3

Knowing what spurred sales helped me focus further activities on those that would most likely deliver the best results.

Implement and monitor one tactic at a time

It’s particularly important to implement one tactic at a time whenever possible. If you’re implementing several simultaneously, you’ll struggle to determine which one works best.

That means you don’t want to pay for Amazon ads if you’re on a virtual book tour. If your book marketing plan relies heavily on social media, try limiting your promotional posts to just one social network at a time. Don’t do a Kindle countdown if you’re about to get a big publicity hit.

And, when you believe something doesn’t seem to be generating sales, ask yourself why before abandoning the tactic.

Is it because the tactic isn’t a good fit for the book and its target audience? Or is it because you haven’t implemented it properly or effectively? Will learning how to do it the right way make a difference?

Keep it going

Log activity and monitor results on an ongoing basis, being careful to be as specific as possible when documenting the marketing tactic. Specificity will help you zero in on the best platforms, messages, and images to use, among other things.

Continually adjust your book marketing plan as you learn more until you understand what works best for your book, not anyone else’s.

You’ll find that it’s well worth the small amount of time you put into it.

What book marketing tactic has helped you sell the most books? Please tell us in a comment. 

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