After a couple of months of using Twitter to promote my indie author career, I can say with confidence that I’ve learned two things:
- Twitter is effective for driving traffic.
- Twitter absolutely sucks for selling books.
This may come as a surprise to the many authors I see pushing links to their Amazon book pages non-stop on Twitter, but it’s one based on some fairly solid analytics. And if you’re using Twitter without using any analytics, you’re not really using Twitter, you’re just playing with it.
The first thing you should be doing is tracking your engagement using Twitter’s own tools. Just point your browser to https://ads.twitter.com/user/[your username]. What you’ll see is a list of your tweets, along with charts showing the engagements you got: link clicks, retweets, favorites, and so on. Further, you can click any tweet and it will pop up a summary of everything that happened since it went out. Another good tool I’ve started using is Author Rise, a new initiative that lets you track your book’s sales rank against your Twitter reach.
So why do I think tweeting book links is largely a waste of effort? It’s from following this data, specifically tracking link clicks. During Wednesday’s 24-hour Twitter period, which just ended as I type this, I got 14,132 engagements—an all time high (largely because of this). That’s great!
But from that I got a whopping 25 link clicks. If you’re doing the math, that’s a 0.17% click rate. That’s not so good.
Yet if you dig a little further, it gets even worse from a sales standpoint. Pulling up my WordPress site stats, I see that I got 23 referrals from Twitter during the same period.
Read that again. 14,132 engagements, 25 link clicks, and all but two of them went to my blog.
This leads me to believe that very few people actually click Amazon book links. It’s possible that I’m an outlier, but having spent a lot of time tracking how effective certain book teasers are and changing them often, I’m convinced this is a valid observation. I’ve been watching things like this happen for weeks.
More—admittedly anecdotal—evidence came to me this past weekend, when I had the best three-day sales period for The Wizard’s Daughters so far. Yet this period coincided with a brief blacklist from Round Team, during which my engagements plummeted. I got a mere 5,130 on Sunday—which was so far the best sales day ever for that book, during which it hit #47 on the Amazon Historical Fantasy bestseller list.
There’s probably not much harm in tweeting Amazon book links. I’m just not convinced it does much of anything.
Nat Russo, whose blog I’ve recently begun following, has more in the same vein.