Mark Terry

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Book Marketing--The Big Hit

September 13, 2007
I've been involved in a thread on the listserv MurderMustAdvertise about AuthorBuzz and book marketing and I thought what I said today bears repeating, so here's the majority of what I said:

One of the mindsets that I struggle with and suppose I will continue to struggle with is what I think of as Big Hit Syndrome. Big Hit Syndrome is when you think, hey, I’ll do AuthorBuzz and because it reaches 285,000 people if even 10% of those people buy my book, I’ll sell 28,500 books, which would be fantastic.

Or, recently I did a cable TV interview and the show, Cult Pop, shows repeatedly in the downriver (south of Detroit) area several times a week for a month. And Big Hit Syndrome says, Hey, this is going to result in thousands of book sales!

Um, no. In most cases, it just doesn’t work that way. Just because you’re exposed to thousands of people (which for a writer is still a very good thing) doesn’t mean that will result in direct sales. It’s the most frustrating part about marketing. There’s little (if any) direct cause and effect.

Rule of thumb is people won’t remember and take action until they’ve heard the name at least 6 times. You also have to remember that in terms of books, there’s no shortage of them, people ALREADY have their favorites (or don’t read) and unless you’re stocked at Wal-Marts or at the cash register at Kmart, isn’t usually an impulse buy. Getting the reading public to buy your book is more like Chinese Water Torture: you gotta drop the book on their heads repeatedly, one way or another. And the more books you actually get published, the more likely it is to be effective.

So on that cheerful note (keep on marketing),

I would also like to point out that I have BIG HIT SYNDROME with my writing in general, as well. Although I'm pretty happy doing piecework and getting paid for it (as long as there's a lot of it), I have found I often need a BIG HIT, I need something to pay very well, or for a big project to come along. This applies to my fiction as well, although my BIG HIT SYNDROME sometimes takes, um, a big hit (reality check, folks) in the fiction world, from time to time. But I do seem to get enough BIG HITS to keep me looking for them.

Mark Terry


Blogger spyscribbler said...

The other statistic I remember (fuzzily) that a successful advertisement means 2% who saw/read your ad (or whatever) will purchase your product.

12:08 PM  
Anonymous Eric Mayer said...

Statistics can be misleading. I have encountered the attitude that if x number of people see something than, statistically speaking, y number will buy it. As if, simply because of statistics, it will automatically happen.

But in reality every person makes an individual decision and if you offer something no one wants then every single person can decide no thanks. There is no natural law that will make some folks decide to buy just to create some statistic.

I mean...5 billion people look at the web...therefore if I advertise my book on my website...well if only such and such tiny percentage look...and such and such tiny percentage buy...I'm a millionaire...!!! But, demonstrably, that doesn't happen.

12:27 PM  
Blogger Mark Terry said...

To further give us headaches, Jeff Marks, who moderates the list, commented that Facebook has been trying to figure out why their advertisements only seem to have a .0004% (I think that's the number) click-through rate.

So you end up looking at demographics, etc. It ain't easy, otherwise everyone would do it. And it varies, too. I have a friend who started running a social networking site,, years before anyone heard of blogs or social networking, and he commented to me once how advertising income came through the click-through on banners, and how over time banners got to be ineffective (actually, I believe the quote was, "banner click-throughs are in the shitter.")

12:55 PM  
Blogger Mark Terry said...

I'll just quote Jeff:

"Advertisers are currently trying to figure out why Facebook's click
through rates are .04% -- that's .0004 of the total hits.

In addition, a piece on ClickZ about email readership states that 60%
of email readers read 50% of a given message. That's pretty
depressing statistics for anyone placing an ad."

1:04 PM  
Anonymous Barbara W. Klaser said...

I used to think radio talk shows were great for selling books, because I used to listen to author interviews and write down titles of books I wanted to buy. But it turns out I would lose those slips of paper and come across them months or years later, only to realize I'd never bought the books. So much for that.

I more recently thought Amazon links online are great for selling books, but even though I click on them, and add books to my wish list frequently, actually buying from the wish list depends on a lot of ifs, having to do with mood, budget, reading interests this month as opposed to last month when I added that book, and so forth. It depends on so many things that I rarely get around to ordering more than three or four items off my wish list per year.

One place I'm guaranteed to buy a book is a bookstore, which I can't apparently walk out of without at least one book, and don't typically enter unless I know I can afford at least one book. If I pick it up off a shelf in a store, look at it, and like it IN THAT MOMENT, and know I can afford to buy it TODAY, I will.

It's such a last minute decision, I don't see how anyone can anticipate it, including me, regarding my own purchases.

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