There has been an interesting conversation over at a course in miracles Market Ning Social Network concerning virtual book tours. An author was interested in finding out whether virtual book tours worked well as marketing tools and whether they really sold books.
I’m sure everyone else was wondering the very same thing.
We get the same question at Pump Up Your Book Promotion. Authors are very interested in whether their promotional dollars will be spent in a good place and I can certainly understand that.
If you are like one of those authors, let me explain what I tell them. Virtual book tours are but one vehicle to sell books, but if you choose this method to publicize your book, it’s money well spent as it will greatly increase your online presence, thus making it more available to people who search for your book online using your key search words.
It’s not rocket science, but it is a formula you must use.
So, how does this add up to book sales?
Don’t bother emailing the author because they aren’t going to know exactly unless they are self-published. If they are not self-published, there are five ways they can at least take a stab at it:
1. Amazon Rankings
Amazon is the world’s largest book store and goes by a ranking system. According to the people who think they have solved the mystery of how books are selling there, it operates by putting a ranking number in your book description. The lower the number, the better the book is selling.
If your book dips in rankings, it is assumed you have sold a book. If it does not climb quickly during the next few days, you can safely assume that the book is still selling. If it takes a nosedive under the 100,000 mark and continues to stay there or even dip lower, you can safely assume you are selling more than a few books. Stick around the #1 spot and you are really doing well as far as sales are concerned.
But, there’s no real way in telling exactly how many books are being sold and why your rankings are what they are but you can use that guide as a good ball park guess. I’ve had authors tell me their books moved during the tour, but no one can safely assume it was because of the tour or any other type of promotion they may be doing at the same time. But, a ball park guess is better than no guess at all.
Of course, if your book is not distributed through Ingrams, this won’t do you a bit of good, but there is a number you can call and their automated system will be able to tell you how many books were sold on a certain date. The number is 615-213-6803.
The problem with this method, though, is that not all the sales may be reported at the time of your call because it could take more time for the sale to get into the Ingram system. This is a fun thing to use and you could get quite obsessive over it, but it’s also not a sure-fire way to tell just how many books were sold during your tour unless you wait for weeks afterwards and call. And, then, it’s still a ballpark guess as to whether it was because of your tour or not.
3. Word of Mouth
Another surefire way of knowing if your books sold during your tour is for someone you know to tell you they bought one of your books in that time span. If your Amazon rankings have moved about this time, you can assume that this might have been why, but there’s no way of knowing this to be a fact or not. And, again, word of mouth is simply word of mouth.