I am going to be curious

I am going to be curious to see how much difference not using [my Facebook page] makes in sales, because if it doesn’t make that much, being scared of losing sales is the main reason writers stay there.

Larry Correia

17 thoughts on “I am going to be curious”

  1. I haven’t talked with Larry about it (and probably should) but my engagement with contacts on a less algorithm-driven platform is far higher than on my Facebook timeline. Groups are different, and I’m still seeing a lot of engagement there, and more contacts in the groups, than I have on the other social media yet. Operative word yet. I’m working on weighting the balance so I can step away from the site that wants me to pay more (versus a small set fee) to engage my fans.

  2. I once read remarks from a reasonably successful self-pub author that the only marketing he ever did was researching and applying keywords, and identifying niche but popular sub-genres. I wish I could remember his name, but I suspect I would find he was among the first generation of Amazon successes, back in the first decade*, when the “rules” were different and the possibilities, perhaps, greater.

    *a much nicer way of referring to the “noughties” which I’ve copied from Patrick O’Brien’s Aubrey-Maturin novels.

    • One of the ongoing aspects of online marketing is that almost any fresh new idea which works very well is almost always copied by lots of other people after which it doesn’t work so well.

  3. Say what? I use FB as a communications tool with two FB pages: Profile and “Page”. The former is more personal and breezy; the latter is more author-official (and allows for ads). If I sell books because of FB, great. If not, no big deal. It’s easy to use, and as long as I’m getting Reactions (Comments, Likes, conversations, etc.), I’ll stay there.

    • Larry Correia has angered a certain group of people who have nothing better to do with their time than harass him and get him temp-banned from Facebook pretty much continuously. Seems to me he’s being pushed off the platform as much as anything else.

  4. I’ll be curious about this test, too. I don’t do Facebook, period. Partly because it’s not inherently interesting. And partly because my old paper wanted us to use our personal accounts for PR purposes, and no one who made that policy seemed aware of how the Internet is used: trolls. Stalkers. And constant stories of Facebook ruining privacy settings, as if they didn’t take the concept seriously or something.

    It’s not clear to me why Facebook, which you don’t own, is better than a blog that you do own. Or better than a newsletter. Or better than the equivalent of one of those forums set up on Baen. I genuinely don’t see how a platform you don’t own or control is better than those options.

    Anyway, this is a great time to run the experiment and I also await the results.

    • Who’s saying it’s (FB) better? Did I miss that?

      FYI: I use all those other channels/platforms, too, especially ones I own. They’re all arrows in my marketing quiver. My latest favorite is Quora.

      • Who’s saying it’s better? Oh, that was the argument at the old paper, where the naive assumption was that it was better, even though we controlled no part of it.

        Sure, a savvy person can use all of the options, but in these conversations I was usually dealing with people who used Facebook instead of the options. Hence, I wanted to know why it was “better than.” I’m aware of people who just prefer to be taken care of; for them Facebook is “better than” starting up their own newsletters and such. But I’m not actually thinking of them with this question.

        What I want to know is the business case for “better than,” so I wasn’t being rhetorical when I asked. The point is: do you really get more sales from Facebook than from blogs, newsletters, etc.? If so, then yes, Facebook is “better than” those options. It really is an Achilles heel, then, especially if it’s also hostile.

        Are you, yourself, tracking the metrics? What have you found? Quora, BookBub, Facebook, newsletters? I would imagine some of them pass the WIBBOW test better than others.

        Anyway, like I said, I really would be curious to see the results.

        • Hello Jamie. Here’s the thing—OK, a few things…

          * I like data and tracking metrics as much as the next guy/gal, but some of this is untrackable. Because I have book sales every day, there’s the signal-to-noise problem. Yes, when I send out a “new book is out” message to my email list, I see the sales bump over baseline. Sometimes immediate, sometimes delayed. Bookbub CPC ads are very trackable but only when it’s a FREE offer. Why? Because it shows up clearly in my Amzn Dashboard (I’m Amazon Exclusive at the moment); it’s even a different color! But if it’s a $0.99 deal, then it’s mixed in and I’m guessing. Amazon Ads are also trackable because they tell you which book sold for which keyword at which bid.

          * Quora is in my “soft marketing” box along with posting to Facebook groups and various other yada-yadas. With Quora, I engage with Answers and Comments and sometimes mention my books, and sometimes not. Sometimes I’m just curious and wanting some feedback about topics I’m studying. I can edit my “credentials” as needed, and figure there’s a cumulative effect. But even if not, it’s an entertaining use of my time. (TIP: Quora is great for new book ideas)

          * And then there’s the infamous black box of Amazon’s Recommendation Algorithm. Or: how many of yesterday’s XX sales (or thousands of KENP reads) were due to my cumulative marketing efforts vs. the Algo just doing its thing with Amazon’s billions of emails it sends out daily? I don’t know and am not sure if anyone does.

          * In terms of WIBBOW (Would I Be Better Off Writing), my stance is this: There’s a time for writing, and there’s a time for other things, including marketing. I’m an Indie so I’m also a publisher and need to do the other “publishing things” (which, honestly, I enjoy as much as writing). At my age and stage in my novel-writing career (a relative newcomer with 3 novels out), I like it all.

          • Hello Harald,

            Yes, I understand that some of this will be untrackable. In print media, no one knew who saw an ad; and could just wing it based on the publication subscriber base. Plus also the assumption of people seeing a magazine in the waiting room and such.

            In the web, though: first month at the old paper, a team of people trooped over to the digital desk and surrounded my editor as if he were a gazelle and they were lions. They were the advertising team, and they wanted him to “put back” an ad he’d moved from one part of the homepage to another: they could tell from click metrics that the ad was no longer being viewed when he’d moved it another part of the page.

            This revelation opened up a whole new world for the head of the digital department, and forever after we had to give a damn about metrics: When I developed web pages I had to account for browser window size, so I could place assorted ads and widgets in the “first scroll” position for the two most common orientation/sizes of browser windows our readers were using.

            FYI, “First scroll” meant the first part of a page you see before scrolling down. Imagine the browser window is 800x600px in portrait orientation, or 600 x 1200 in landscape (I think, I’m no longer being paid to remember this 🙂 The point is that readers used those sizes for their browsers, not the full window size of their desktops.

            We could tell how many people were reading a story, how far they read the story, what they clicked on, and if various elements on the page were being misinterpreted. In a story about about Iraqi refugees, readers read until the halfway point and stopped. Why halfway? Because that’s where we had a map of the part of Iraq the refugees were fleeing. Suspecting that readers thought the map was the standard ad that appears at the end of stories, we simply moved the map to the end of the story. Voila, people read all the way to the end.

            So that’s where I’m coming from. If you put a link to your book in a Facebook post (using bitly let’s say) do you have metrics on how many readers click them in a given time frame? Compared to the number of people clicking a similar trackable link in your newsletter? Your blog? Do you know which days are “high traffic days” for your blog vs. Facebook, etc.? That’s the nature of the data I was looking for.

            But it occurs to me that these might not be a fair or simple questions for any author to answer, simply because the tools to get the answers might not be readily available (especially for free).

            A lot of people don’t trust Facebook. Must authors use it, or can they skip it? It’s hard to strategize without data. But I accept that authors may just have to wing it in this case.

            • Ah, glad to see you come from print. Me, too. FYI: I was a magazine editorial director for about 10 years, and then ran a marketing communications company that dealt with a lot of print. So, been there, done that. And “above the fold” still has meaning for me 😉

              To your specific questions…

              * On FB Profile, I don’t see a way to track clicks. On FB Page, without a Boost (ad), there’s “people reached” and “engagements” (including clicks). With a Boost, I can see the clicks in real time, and also see the demographics of who’s clicking. But, in both cases, I cannot see who’s *converting* to purchase, other than seeing jumps in daily sales/reads. I’m not aware of any way to know that (let me know if you know!).

              * On my site email campaigns, I can see who’s opened the email and then who’s clicked. But again, the conversion is unknowable (to me) beyond changes to baselines.

              * “best days” are learned from experience and/or listening to what others say.

              * For me, Facebook is not about trust. It’s a communications channel. It’s easy to use, and as long as there is engagement (including drawing people to my website), I see no downside to using it. If that changes, I can stop.

              • Ah, I thought you might have such a background after I saw your post today about the grayscale test! That test is much faster than another method I use, and I’m going to use it for a project I’m doing now.

                What I used to know about Facebook analytics is hazy at this point, and I might be conflating the data we did have with the fact that we had a guy on our team who could scrape data from Facebook. With scripts he wrote. He’s the other reason I reconsidered whether my questions were fair or reasonable.

                However, if I recall correctly, Facebook offers (offered?) an Insights tool to measure engagement (including clicking on links), and an Analytics tool to go more in depth, particularly if you ran an ad campaign through the Facebook. I no longer remember how those worked, but I found a few sites talking about them.


                But you probably already use those tools? So they may not be as useful as I thought they might be. At any rate, a pragmatic, eyes-open stance is a good idea here, so you should be fine 🙂

                • Hey Jamie… yeah, I have Insights for Boosted FB ads, and I can see those things. But it cannot tell me—if I’m sending folks to Amazon—if they converted to purchase (or KENPread). Only Amazon can do that, and they’re not talkin’! ;-)))

                  BTW: on the Grayscale thing… I just do a quick mode change in Photoshop: Image > Mode > Grayscale. Keep in mind that this is down and dirty. But it’s fast.

  5. I find myself using Facebook less and less. First, the organic reach of my posts suddenly dwindled to nothing. People who follow my page never see a bloody thing unless I’m willing to pay to obtain more reach and the last few times I’ve done that I got much less bang for my buck.
    These days I just give progress updates for the tight core who always see my posts and am trying to figure out how else to engage and reach people because FB it ain’t. (at least not for me).
    I have my own domain but I need to figure out what to actually do there to draw people to me rather than have to rely on FB.

    • Hello Edmund (are you Dutch?),

      If I may…

      1. On your site, make your email signup MUCH more visible. I see it buried in your Bio. “Sign Up” or “Subscribe” should be its own button.

      2. Consider using a email service like MailerLite or MailChimp. They’re free for up to 1,000-2,000 subs (I forget). I use MailerLite. They help keep things organized. (FYI: when I click on your Subscribe links I get a 404 error (page not found))

      3. Start posting things to your site. Like a blog. Then you can promote those posts other places. Like on FB.

      Good luck!

      • Not Dutch, I’m a bit of a mutt from the USA but my heritages don’t include that nationality.

        Actually, I was in the middle of a site redesign and I think you found the one page where I forgot to update the links. Thanks, I’ve fixed those.

        Instead of just saying sign up or subscribe in most spots on my site, I use the freebie reward draw; it is front and center on the landing page and on each internal page there is a ‘get a free book’ link which takes visitors to my email signup page where they can get a free ebook as well.

        I’ve found that I get a better sign up when I offer the carrot rather than just ask people to subscribe.

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