Tuesday, June 14, 2005

And the Hits Keep Coming...

WARNING: CONTROVERSIAL TOPIC
When I relaunched my website last May 15th, I installed an invisible hit counter to keep track of how many people were visiting.

I'm averaging about 200 page loads a day, which isn't bad considering I'm a newbie midlist author with about 90,000 books in print.

A few days ago, I began checking the hits this blog has been getting, and not counting all the times I re-edit it to correct numerous typos, I'm managing about 50 unique hits a day.

This information begs the question: do websites, and blogs, help sell books?

Let me state right now that selling books isn't the main point of my blog or my website. If it were, I'd have the standard five page author advertisement site, which only exists as a 24 hour link to Amazon.com.

I've tried to make my homepage more user-friendly, with some fun free stuff and some useful information.

But, ultimately, I hope that those who find the site fun, or the information useful, will buy one of my books.

Unfortunately, my hit counter only tracks people who visit the site, not people who visit the site and then run out and buy a copy of WHISKEY SOUR. And if it did, I can't help but think that I'd be disappointed by the stats.

Why are some of the most popular blogs out there written by folks who aren't huge bestsellers, even though their blogs are huge hits? Does blogging, or a good website, actually influence sales?

Even more to the point, does anything influence sales?

We've all seen advertising disasters, where authors with six-figure ad campaigns sold poorly, so clearly advertising isn't a key to success.

We've all read brilliant books that remain unknown, and crappy books that hit the bestseller list, so obviously talent isn't a key to success.

We've all seen authors who are brilliant self-promoters, or who hire brilliant publicists, and still fail to crack the NYT list, and those who do zero promotion and make the List constantly, so how well you toot your own horn isn't a key to success either.

So I direct this question to you, my 50 readers a day. Have you ever bought a book because you enjoyed a blog or a website? If not, what makes you buy a book? Seeing a big ad? Meeting the author in person? Knowing the author has a six-figure marketing campaign? Getting a postcard or bookmark in the mail? Reading a review?

Or does it ultimately come down to if the book is about a topic you normally enjoy?

Why do you buy books?