Book Promotion by the Numbers
If you're like most authors, you've probably figured out how to use Google Analytics, or whatever metrics your web site host offers, to determine how many readers have viewed your web site and blog. That's important, because the amount of traffic you're getting helps determine how effectively your efforts to increase your reader base are working.
Engagement and Interactivity Signal Book Publicity Success
Another factor in determining how assess the success of your social network, article writing, blogging, and other online efforts, and how quickly it's helping you build a community of supporters, is to track the number of comments you've received. Engagement is important, and that's why authors put so much time into creating opportunities for interactivity when they write and post. Every time authors ask a question, request ideas, or elicit feedback, it raises the likelihood that the author has added another member to the tribe, built the community, and enhanced the readership base.
Looking at the metrics of your own book promotion activities is one way to gauge the effectiveness of those efforts. The next step is to take a look at the success of your colleagues and competitors. It's easy to keep one eye on others who write about your subject matter, and to compare the number of comments their blogs receive with the amount of engagement you've created.
In a sense, that's fair. You want to build as strong a community of supporters as possible, and comparing the number of comments on your blog to the number other authors receive has some validity. Besides, it’s greatly tempting to enter into competition with other authors and experts, and to measure your success against theirs.
Numbers Aren’t the Only Measure of Success in Building Community
However, although you are building a community and enhancing your readership, numbers aren't the only thing that matters. The types of readers with whom you engage and interact are also important.
You will notice that the loudest author expert voices usually trigger the most responses. That's a variation of the old cliché about the squeaky wheel...you know it well. Other authors and experts who are in your space might squeak a lot. Their followers might need ear plugs, in fact, to endure their rants. These authors and experts might make a practice of saying outrageous things or saying offensive things just to trigger a response of people. Whether that engagement is positive or negative isn’t their consideration. They care about the quantity of interactivity, and they enjoy their relative online fame and exposure.
Understandably, their blogs might garner more comments than yours, and their posts may elicit more interactivity. They're using one of the most valued book promotion techniques: turning controversy into a news hook, and getting attention in the same way as toddlers do. That’s sometimes okay. If you’re on a mission, and you want to pursue it with fire and brimstone, that might be appropriate for you. Just realize that some of the people who respond to a more combative discussion are as likely to disagree with you as they are to support you.
How Loud Should Authors’ Voices Be?
Certainly, the experience of engaging with outspoken authors and flashy experts who put themselves, and their opinions, out there and risk offending others is appealing for many potential readers. You can make a long list of talk show hosts and politicians who built their careers on the premise that some people are attracted by volume an danger.
If ranting and confronting are efforts in which you want to engage as part of your book promotion efforts, feel free to do so. Those behaviors tend to increase your community more quickly than will disseminating your points authoritatively, credibly, compassionately, and professionally.
However, to this book publicist, confrontational behavior is seldom the best, or wisest, choice. Building community is important, but it isn't everything. Attracting supporters and team members who want to listen to the voice of reason is, in my estimation, always the most honorable goal of any book promotion campaign. Every other type of engagement and interaction is just non-productive shouting and noise. Authors don't benefit from that. Neither does anyone else.
So keep an eye on your competitors, and compare your community to theirs...but take pride in your book promotion efforts, and feel good about what you are accomplishing. Everything else is just a distraction.