Friday, March 24, 2017

Writing: Return On Investment

Before I got my first publishing contract, I figured that when that contract came it meant all I had to do was furnish a manuscript (12 point Times New Roman type, 1 inch margins, contractually specified word-length) and the publisher would do the rest. But I soon learned differently.

There were edits to respond to: a macro edit, a line edit, then proofread the galleys. I needed to give input to the artist who'd be putting together the cover. And finally I had to do what seemed like tons of blog interviews, guest posts, and other social media obligations. The good news about the latter, of course, was that my publisher would provide the books that have become an integral part of such a blog tour.

When I got serious about self-publishing, one of the facts that sort of hit me between the eyes (and this wasn't until I had two or three self-pubbed offerings under my belt) was that I had to purchase all those books. I had always done a lot of my own marketing (because, as I've said before, no one is more interested in the sale of your book than you are), but when I self-published I needed to do all of it. That included sending out copies of the book to selected reviewers. And it was then that I got serious about the initials I'd been hearing for a couple of years--ROI, or return on investment.

When you're a member of a "street team," or an "influencer" for a book, realize that the book you received was one paid for by the author. In return, there are a number of things you can do to help get the word out. (The list I send is one I adapted from the one from author Jody Hedlund). Not every influencer can do everything on the list, but the author will ultimately look at the ROI of those efforts. The same goes for blog interviews and guest blogs, with the book giveaway that goes with them. If only six people comment, that's a poor ROI--if three dozen do, it's a worthwhile ROI. See the picture?

Here's my question for you: Have you ever been an influencer or member of a street team? Have you ever been influenced to buy a book by word-of-mouth recommendation from another person? Do you think blog tours, endorsements, and other marketing tools make a difference? I'd like to know.

Tweet with a single click: "It's not mentioned a lot, but ROI figures into an author's activities." Click here to tweet.

10 comments:

Patricia Bradley said...

So with you on the 3 or 4 comments vs 15. I know I need to know more about marketing and ROI, but lately, I just do the guest blog posts and contests and send the books out when someone wins. But since I often buy books based on recommendations from friends, I tend to think it helps to get the book into the hands of new readers

Richard Mabry said...

Patricia, I'm not sure there's a right answer, but as more and more authors go the "hybrid" route, switching from a traditional publisher to self-publication, ROI has crept into our vocabulary. Thanks for chiming in.

Gail H. said...

I'm on several street teams including Jody Hedlund's. I like to think I do a good job influencing. The authors seem pleased with my efforts. And I do buy books based on reviews, blog interviews and word of mouth. The more I hear about a book and it sounds like something I'd enjoy, the more I'm inclined to add it to my want/purchase list.

Richard Mabry said...

Gail, since you're on Jody's street team, you undoubtedly note that I stole--er, adapted her letter to influencers. By the way, I'm old-fashioned enough to still use that term, while "street team" seems to be the new wording. What's the difference?
Thanks for the comment, and for promoting the work of a number of authors (including me).

Gail H. said...

Different authors use different terms I guess. I think maybe a street team is a permanent promotion group that stays as long as they want to and are able to promote each book that comes out.
Influencer is for each new book. I've been asked if I want to stay for a new book or leave. Maybe some books may not be a particular persons cup of tea. If I like the author most anything they write I enjoy. I only read books I'm pretty sure I'll like. I don't think I've given lower than a four on any one review. I choose wisely because I don't want to be negative for anyone.
Looking forward to receiving Doctors Dilemma and helping promote it!

Paula said...

I am not on a street team. I think it refers to people out on the street--- where the people are-- where the rubber meets the road! I also choose carefully what I read , most of the books because I have already read the author-- like you, Richard! There are so many books out there I rarely take a chance on a new -to -me author . But I have been branching out lately because of good reviews and recommendations.

Betti said...

I have been and am on several street or influencer teams. Usually I will accept an invitation because I have already read something by the author, and have enjoyed it. Some teams stay together, others you get asked if you would like to remain for s particular book or if you would rather wait for the next book the author publishes. I enjoy sharing on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. I will write a review and post it wherever I can. I don't have a blog, so I cannot promote that way. I love the contests run on blogs, etc., as that is how I get introduced to new authors.

Richard Mabry said...

Paula and Betti, thanks for adding your comments and information. A street team seems a bit more "permanent," while an author--at least, I do--puts together influencers for each book. Of course, thinking about ROI, a publisher can furnish books for a large street team, while an indie-published author might keep the number small.

Elise Griffith said...

I've no idea what a "street team" or "influencer" are or would do, but I've been an Amazon Vine Reviewer for years. I can get pre-publication copies of books to read and review; a review is required. When I really enjoy a book, I'll buy copies when its released to pass on to friends & family. Reviews often help me decide whether or not to purchase books from authors I'm unfamiliar with, so when writing reviews, I try to keep that in mind.

Richard Mabry said...

Elise, thanks for the reminder about Vine Reviewers. I've been fortunate enough to have some of my books reviewed by that group, and--keeping to the theme of the blog, the ROI--I seem to recall that the publisher was the one who made those books available. I appreciate the comment.