In case you missed it, Read Tuesday is an annual Black Friday type of event for book lovers on the second Tuesday of December. (Some of the books may still be on sale. Browse the catalog and check the end dates.)
The big questions are:
- Was the event successful?
- Is it worth doing again?
I’ve heard from multiple authors who saw a significant boost in sales on Read Tuesday.
I’ve heard from a couple of readers who shopped for books on Read Tuesday (including a really cool comment on Facebook). I bought several books myself.
It seems to be the nature of book sales that a small percentage get lucky and sell several copies, while a larger percentage get little or no attention. That’s true on Amazon, Kobo, B&N, and just about anywhere that books are sold, so no doubt the same principle applies to Read Tuesday. The difference here is that there are many fewer books in the Read Tuesday catalogs compared to Amazon, so the odds are extraordinarily better on Read Tuesday. Still, some covers and pitches stand out much better and grab more attention.
But even if a book sold very little on Read Tuesday, there was exposure and branding, as the pages were viewed.
Unfortunately, Amazon doesn’t publish valuable info like how many page views a product page is getting and many other stats that could help authors plan and market better. If you participated in Read Tuesday, perhaps you can learn something from these stats.
Kindle Deals was the most popular Read Tuesday catalog.
One thing to bear in mind is that most of the readers who visited the catalog pages on Dec. 9 were planning to buy books. If you get 200 views at your blog, that might hardly translate into any sales, but when you get 200 views of a catalog page by shoppers who were planning to save money on books on a special day, many of those views led to multiple purchases.
The Read Tuesday website has received about 10,000 views per event. About 15% of this comes in the last couple of days of the event. The most popular page is the home page. The blog posts get about 50 views on the website itself, but then there are sometimes reblogs and the posts also feed into Twitter and Facebook.
The Read Tuesday Facebook pages get a couple of hundred impressions each. The Read Tuesday catalog post made 40,000 impressions over at Facebook and over a thousand impressions at Twitter. It’s hard to keep track of all the retweets.
The ThunderClap promotion had about 150 supporters and a social reach of over 400,000. The #ReadTuesday hashtag peaked at about 34 per hour in the evening of Dec. 9.
Keep in mind that some customers already knew what they wanted and bypassed the Read Tuesday website. Maybe they saw the catalog early, added books to their cart, and just waited for them to go on sale. Or maybe they saw posts by their favorite authors and just bought their books when the sale came, rather than visiting the catalog here. My point is that there was more Read Tuesday traffic than is just reflected in the Read Tuesday stats.
Most of the WordPress views are from the United States, but over 10% were from the United Kingdom, 4% from Australia, 4% from South Africa, 2% from Canada, 2% from Spain, and 1% each from India, Ireland, and Brazil.
Here is a breakdown of participation:
- There were approximately 200 Kindle Deals.
- About 100 authors signed up to appear on the Meet-the-Authors page.
- There were about 60 MatchBook offers.
- There were about 50 Smashwords coupon codes.
- There were about three dozen CreateSpace discount codes.
- There were about a dozen free print book offers. (There were about 100 views of this page, which is a pretty good ratio for those few books that appeared on this page.)
I know that a few customers did utilize the MatchBook offers. I saw the green line in my reports. (On the KDP Sales Dashboard, red represents sale, blue represents borrows, and green represents free. Free MatchBook offers show up green.)
I sold a few books through my CreateSpace eStore, but judging from the page views, this wasn’t a popular option this year.
Each author can check his or her own sales, and anyone can go check the current sales ranks (but then you really need to monitor it over a period of time to have a basis for comparison).
I’ve heard from a few authors whose sales ranks improved significantly on December 9. I saw similar improvement in one of my Kindle books.
One series author who saw a Read Tuesday boost is already thinking about releasing a new book in 2015 shortly after Read Tuesday, hoping that a similar boost next year might help with the book launch.
While some books benefited from Read Tuesday, it’s the nature of book sales that probably not all books benefited from the traffic.
We offer free exposure and we help to promote the event. The opportunity is there. Some authors take advantage well, marketing in addition to listing their books on Read Tuesday, and different books have different degrees of appeal. All we can do is give the opportunity and provide free exposure. We can help drive traffic to the event, but we can’t guarantee that all books will thrive in the program.
How much should Read Tuesday grow?
Back in October, when I revived Read Tuesday, there was a great deal of interest expressed. The idea for Read Tuesday was conceived in October of 2013, and we had a successful debut in 2013, so when I saw much interest already in October of 2014, I was excited. In the end, participation among authors and readers was about the same for both 2014 and 2013.
In 2013, I sought many small opportunities for exposure for the event, and almost every one of those came through. In 2014, starting in early November, I explored a few very big opportunities for exposure. I thought that either I would get lucky or right away I would be turned down. But something else happened instead. I got my foot in the door, had some excellent conversations, went up the ladder, and Read Tuesday had potential for mega exposure. But, unfortunately, we came up a hair short. It’s like when you’re favorite team is on the verge of signing a superstar, but then another team makes a better offer at the last minute. Fizzle…
However, while the event itself didn’t land the mega exposure (too bad close doesn’t count), the earliest Read Tuesday books that signed up did get an amazing opportunity for visibility outside of Read Tuesday. A couple of Read Tuesday authors may have enjoyed some nice exposure outside of Read Tuesday, so my efforts may have led somewhere.
But then I started thinking, how big do we want Read Tuesday to get?
Do we really want Read Tuesday to get so big that Amazon is advertising Read Tuesday on their homepage like they do for Black Friday and Cyber Monday? That sounds great at first, but which books would Amazon be advertising? Most likely, traditionally published bestsellers.
Or suppose we could persuade Mark Coker at Smashwords to advertise Read Tuesday, recruiting more authors to participate and helping to find more readers. This would also attract many more books, including many top sellers. Do we want the Read Tuesday catalog to have thousands and thousands of titles? More selection and more names would help to attract more readers, but it would also make it harder to find the gems.
Read Tuesday has room to grow. There are opportunities to spread the word far and wide. For example, some stores or major retailers may embrace the idea, seeing the opportunity to boost book sales without competing against televisions and clothes, having an additional holiday sale. But could it grow too much? Imagine that we have small and even larger publishers listing books in the Read Tuesday catalog. Again, I think it would attract more readers, but it would also introduce some of the problems of navigating through thousands of books to find just the right one.
We would like more readers, for that we need more authors. We need more traffic. But how much? How big?
Read Tuesday is also free. Many popular promotional sites, like BookBub, charge hefty fees. I want to keep Read Tuesday free. There may be advertising potential at Read Tuesday, but I like that Read Tuesday is just an event, not a business. It may be possible to do fundraising for Read Tuesday, but right now it’s manageable the way it is. (And if we raised funds, what would we do, rent a billboard in NYC?) I could create an aStore at Amazon featuring all the Read Tuesday titles, but presently we don’t have any affiliate links or external advertising on Read Tuesday (we just help to give free exposure to book sales).
How big should Read Tuesday get? Do we want it to grow more? Much more? Should we seek opportunities for extensive growth? Should we just let it grow on its own? What do you want from Read Tuesday? Or is it time to quit, and say that Read Tuesday was a great idea that just didn’t pan out?
How was your Read Tuesday experience?
I sincerely hope that everyone, readers and authors, enjoyed a happy Read Tuesday.
If you browsed the Read Tuesday catalog, thank you.
If you participated in Read Tuesday as an author, thank you.
If you helped spread the word about Read Tuesday, thank you.
Thank you very, very much.
What traffic we did get at Read Tuesday and what books we did have on sale was all because of wonderful people like YOU.
Give yourselves a round of applause. Read Tuesday wouldn’t have been possible without readers and authors.
If Read Tuesday is to go forward and we’re to have a Read Tuesday, 2015, I don’t just want the site to sit here and collect cobwebs for 10 months, then try to rebuild from scratch.
One idea that I’ve been tossing around is having smaller, quarterly events, specialized in topic.
I was originally thinking monthly, but fatigue is an issue. I don’t mean my fatigue, but buyer fatigue.
We see mention of Read Tuesday plastered all over the place leading up to the big day.
If you follow Read Tuesday, or if you follow anybody who often reblogs or retweets Read Tuesday posts, you might get sick and tired of seeing mention of Read Tuesday year round, or at least start to tune it out.
This is why I’m thinking to try a smaller quarterly event. This will create a couple of months of silence to help avoid that fatigue.
Also, I’m thinking that the smaller events may not need as much noise.
I don’t think we need daily posts for weeks leading up to the day, or a ThunderClap.
I think we mainly need a call for interest, a deadline, a post for the catalog, and an announcement on the big day, not too much else. That is, I think the events can be promoted more off-site, so that Read Tuesday followers see notice of the event, but aren’t drowning in its noise. That off-site audience is where Read Tuesday can grow.
Each quarterly event would be specialized, e.g. romance-themed books for Valentine’s Day. The quarterly events would also just be for Kindle sale prices, as one catalog is much more manageable from my end. Also, Kindle is our most popular catalog.
With each quarterly event having a theme, the noise may be partly filtered, i.e. targeted to a narrower audience.
For the next big event on December 8, 2015, next time I won’t invest as much time in mega opportunities. I have more ideas for ways to better promote Read Tuesday offline next year. If Read Tuesday moves forward.
Each time we do this, I see new ways to improve it.
I thought I had the image and link problem solved. I had a plan to replace all the ASIN’s with links to Amazon, and indeed I was able to make this change in a second, but when I implemented it, inserting those direct links messed up all the images. So I had to choose between showing the covers or including direct links, and I went with the covers. Later in the day, I realized that I could add a note to the top of the page, showing customers that copy/pasting the ASIN to Amazon’s search field would make it easy to find the books at Amazon. But that’s not optimal. We also had inconsistencies in the ways that images were displaying. I plan to play with this later in December and iron out these kinks for next time.
I believe I can solve this problem for next time by editing the HTML more extensively. I take the Excel sheet from the Google Docs submission and convert that to be the catalog as a web page, and my goal is to do this automatically. My process this year was pretty simple. The catalogs could have been 10x larger and it wouldn’t have taken more time.
One thing that takes more time is manual adjustments to the catalog, as inevitably there are requests to make revisions. I wanted to reorganize the catalog better, but caught up in some of these revisions. I think it will go more smoothly next time. One thing quarterly events would help with, if we do them, is I would get a little more practice with converting from the Google Docs submissions to the catalog pages. My goal is to someday produce a very compelling catalog page.
A problem that was reported more in 2013 was books that didn’t appear to be on sale at Amazon. I only heard two complaints about that in 2014 (so far), and one was questioning the time zone (something we can try to clarify next time).
It’s the nature of the book industry. We all strive to get better.
Follow Read Tuesday so you don’t miss out on future opportunities.
Chris McMullen, founder of Read Tuesday
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