Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Is Your Book Marketing Working? Maybe It's Just a Matter of Time

Two marketing books I was re-reading this week (with nonfiction books, I initially read do a thorough read, underlining extensively. Later, I tend to re-read just my underlinings for review.) urged readers to give marketing time - a lot of time. I didn't remember this from my first read of each book, but it came at a good time for me.

Some of my marketing for Enjoy Your Money has paid off immediately (like the nice review in the Oakland Tribune), but other things I've done seem to go nowhere (like adding all those search terms to my Amazon page.) I suppose I expected that most of my marketing efforts would have some kind of immediate payoff. Bad expectation. Marketing takes time. Here's what some experts are saying:

  • "When you aim at Amazon, you need a certain amount of patience. Though a well-written and well-published book should start selling almost at once, it will generally take about a year to reach its full potential. That's because, as the book begins to succeed, its success feeds more success. Amazon's sales mechanisms and dynamics gradually lift a winner toward the top. It just takes a while." (Aiming At Amazon, by Aaron Shepard, p. 135)
  • "Generally, your book's rise on lists and in other Amazon features is very gradual, and that's why reaching full potential takes a book about a year. So, take a deep breath, sit tight, and enjoy the very...slow...ride." (Shepard, p. 141)
  • "Patience is another way of saying commitment. My advice to you is to create a sensible plan, then stick with it until it proves itself to you. How long might that take? Maybe three months, if you're lucky. Probably six months. And maybe even as long as a year. But you will never, never, never know whether the plan is working within the first sixty days. Commitment is directly related to time." (Guerrilla Marketing, Jay Conrad Levinson, p. 17)
I'm about at the three-month mark for my book being available on Amazon. I'd pretty much concluded that nobody would ever be able to find my book on Amazon by searching general terms like Personal Money Management. After all, thousands of books on that topic are on Amazon, with many of the authors being household names like Dave Ramsey and high profile authors with television shows. Why would Amazon's search algorithm allow my book to the forefront of such a general Amazon search?

But today I searched Amazon under the popular search phrase Personal Money Management and was shocked to find my book coming up #4 of over 3,000 results! How could it be? Perhaps Amazon prioritizes books that
  • sell consistently, even if it averages just about one per day.
  • get lots of 5-star reviews.
  • have people who've taken the time to type in search terms for the book on Amazon.
  • have a blog connected to the Amazon page.
  • have several sites and blogs linking to the Amazon book page.
These would all be consistent with my book. But I'm still amazed that I'm coming up #4 in a search result. I also think it's interesting that many of these things (reviews, adding search terms, etc.) were up and going the first couple of weeks that I had the book on Amazon. I'm not sure why they're seeming to take effect now, after three months. Perhaps it just takes that much time for Amazon to realize that the book is a consistent seller. Or perhaps its search engine doesn't update with new information except once a month or so.

As Levinson urges, great marketing isn't in the huge things (like hoping for a spot on Oprah); it's simply doing the little things right, consistently over time.

So if you get easily discouraged, don't give up! Some things don't make a difference immediately. Give them time.

Do you have experience with failure over the short-haul but success over time? Please let us know!

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