Guest Post by Talli Roland: Proof Social Media Sells Books

I’ve mentioned Talli Roland, Twitter friend and author of The Hating Game, on this blog before. To celebrate the release of The Hating Game in paperback, I asked Talli if she’d write a guest post for me, as her experiences with e-books and social media are well worth studying. As Talli is published by a small press and took on the mammoth task of establishing an online “author platform” herself, her story should be of interest to both traditionally published and self-published authors alike. So I thought today we’d have a Talli Tuesday!

“Everyone says writers should use social media to sell books. Okay, we get it! But what people don’t tell you is how to build relationships that will help others invest in your book’s success – and how to use your contacts to actually sell books.

As a debut novelist published by a small press with a very low marketing budget, I knew I’d be relying heavily on social media to spread the word about my novel, The Hating Game. Almost a year before the book’s planned release, I started a blog with an aim to get as many followers as I could before launch day. I blogged from Monday to Friday, and I actively sought out other blogs to follow – if someone commented on my blog, I always returned the comment on theirs. To build relationships in the blogging community, it can’t be a one-way thing; you have to consistently participate through blog fests, contests and giveaways. By visiting an average of seventy blogs daily, my follower count grew rapidly. I used the same principles for Twitter and Facebook, and when it came time to think about a launch strategy, I had a small army of around two thousand supporters behind me, as well as a whole new group of wonderful writing friends.

So now the question: how could I use those two thousand people to help my sales? I needed a specific goal to drive towards, something tangible where people could see the results of their assistance: Amazon rankings. If I could get even fifty people out of those two thousand to buy on that day, my Amazon Kindle rank would shoot up, potentially helping my book break into the top 100 Bestsellers on the day of its release.

Loathe to request my online contacts buy my book outright, I asked them all to post about my quest on the same day: December 1. By splashing my news across the Internet in a co-ordinated campaign, not only would I be generating word of mouth but also – hopefully – sales. A steady stream of bloggers, Facebookers and Tweeters signed up to let their contacts know my mission by posting a blog, Facebook status or Twitter status – all linking to my novel on Amazon.

At 6:30 am on release day, I checked my sales rank on Amazon: number 806 on Amazon.co.uk and 7,192 on Amazon.com. Crossing my fingers, I hoped The Hating Game might break into the top 200 in the UK and maybe, if I was lucky, the top 100. Over the next few hours, more and more people began tweeting about my Take On Amazon quest using #TheHatingGame hash tag, posting links to their blogs, reviews and more. People started to retweet, I could barely keep up with the hash tag and blogs being posted, and my Amazon rank began to rise. By 10 a.m., I was at number 149 in the UK Paid Kindle Store. Before 11 a.m., I’d hit number 86. I was now on the Amazon Top 100 Bestseller list!

But it didn’t stop there. The tweets, blog posts and reviews kept coming and my rank continued to rise.  At 11 am, The Hating Game was the top book on Amazon UK’s Movers and Shakers, a whopping 17,829 per cent increase in sales rank from the previous day. By 2:30 pm it reached number 25 in the UK and was starting to creep upwards on Amazon.com, too. On Twitter, one reader was even live tweeting as she read the book.

By the end of the day, The Hating Game had reached number 24 on Amazon UK and 460 on Amazon.com, with hundreds of blogs, tweets and shared Facebook links from friends and strangers alike. My debut novel was now an Amazon Kindle Bestseller on the day of its release – with no marketing money spent and masses of social media power.

Social media isn’t something you can turn to every once in awhile, then ask for support when you need it. Like anything in life, it’s a network of relationships. Sure, it takes time. But the result – in terms of friends I’ve made as well as marketing outcomes – is more than worth it.”

Congrats, Talli! And thanks so much for sharing your experience with us.

Talli blogs here, tweets here and The Hating Game is available on Amazon here.

17 thoughts on “Guest Post by Talli Roland: Proof Social Media Sells Books

  1. C.J. Archer says:

    A fascinating post, Talli, thank you for sharing your path to success. Social media can be daunting to a new author but I’ve learned it can also be fun.

  2. Talli Roland says:

    Thanks, CJ. You’re so right – one massive benefit of social media is the interaction with fellow writers! I’ve met some great people through Twitter and blogging.

  3. Andrew Culture says:

    I think I first found out about Tali’s book through a friend’s retweet, I run social media promotion as a part of my day to day work and I’m really impressed by how much Tali has managed to get out of her online exploits.

    Anything is possible with social media, just keep up the pressure, keep up the quality and above all be excellent to each other!

  4. catherineryanhoward says:

    I love Talli’s success story because it highlights the “community” aspect of social media – some publishers and authors think they can just sign up to Twitter and start asking everyone to buy their book, but that isn’t using social media, it’s abusing it. It takes time, effort and kindness to build good blogging friends, who’ll then be more than happy to help you when and if the time comes. This just proves it: Talli didn’t ASK anyone to buy her book on that day, merely to blog or tweet about it, and yet she still managed to blast her way to the top end of the Amazon sales ranks. A great, great example! 🙂

    • Ranae Rose says:

      Tally’s right – social media does sell books! I know I’ve got a list of titles I plan to buy and read that I might not have discovered if it weren’t for social media!

  5. Marcus says:

    Talli, great post. I’ve not heard of anything on this scale before, at least not initiated by a single person. Woah, seventy blogs a day. How long did you keep that up for?

    Marcus

  6. Talli Roland says:

    Thanks, everyone, for dropping by! Andrew, you’re so right – you can’t just endlessly drone out tweets and expect people to buy. It’s a relationship.

    Catherine – thanks for pointing that out. I didn’t feel comfortable asking people to buy, and that reticence seems to have worked in my favour because people didn’t see my approach as too pushy.

    Ranae – Thank you for your comment! I’ve read loads of books I might not have otherwise heard about had it not been for social media. It’s a great thing!

    Marcus – I’ve kind of limited it to 50 per night (as with 70 I was nearing mental collapse). It’s tough going sometimes but mostly fun, since I consider these people my friends now!

  7. Nas says:

    Great to read the effect of Social Media on book sales. I was not on twitter when in December, I read on one of my friend’s blog(Joanna St James) about THE HATING GAME and Talli, I went and signed up for twitter and started tweeting about Talli’s book!

    Now I blame Talli for my Twitter addiction! I have her funny tweets coming to my mobile, so 1 am, when the mobile buzzes I know it’s Talli tweeting for her coffee!

    • Erin Reel says:

      Another great example of how authors are pushing past the obstacles and making the most of their career. Inspiring post, Talli. I’m glad you put an emphasis on relationship building. And lovely blog, Catherine! My client shared this with me.

  8. Joy says:

    I heard about that feat and after reading your post on your own blog, had to follow the link here. Now, I feel like a stalker, but I’m glad I read this. It takes courage to put yourself out there and follow through on your goal. I still haven’t gotten over feeling like a pimp whenever I have to do any marketing of my novel, but experience teaches wisdom.

    Good luck and have a great day tomorrow!

  9. India Drummond says:

    Great post, Talli!

    I found your campaign truly inspired–and inspiring. It just shows you don’t have to spend big bucks to get the word out, and that investing in *relationships* is the way to go.

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