How to Market Books Online: Advice From an Analytics Expert

Thursday, June 15, 2017 9:47 AM | Andrew Doty (Administrator)

article by Alex Cruz

We are living through very interesting times, as ever-growing portions of our lives revolve around technology. This change has left few parts of our daily routines unaffected. In terms of content, the entire world’s information is only a short question away — spoken or typed.

One of the many double-edged swords surrounding technology is its cost — more specifically, the cost to use well known and “free” tools like Google and Facebook, which are common parts of most people’s lives. But a closer look reveals they may not be so “free” after all.

Google, Facebook, and others provide these free services in exchange for user data. This data is extremely valuable to advertisers. Google, Facebook, and others alike all have statistics in their earnings reports that measure how much the average user is worth. If you live in the United States, you’re worth about $14 per year to Facebook.

Facebook and Google alone now take about 75%–85% of all digital advertising revenue. We’ve come a long way from the Mad Men days.

If you are an author interested in learning more about analytics, you must first understand the world you live in.

One of the best ways to motivate yourself is to understand what's possible. A good start may be to know how technology and analytics can help you advance your career. Technology can help you communicate with thousands of your fans at once and drive book sales beyond your wildest dreams. This is all possible.

Now, just because you learn this does not mean people will buy your book. The punchline is that those who produce great content now have a shot at winning.

The traditional author goal has been to get through the gatekeepers, also known as publishers. This is no different than the music industry. But times are clearly changing. This year, for the first time ever, breakout artist Chance the Rapper won three Grammys. He won best new artist, best rap album, and best rap performance. The 23-year-old was never signed by a record label, never sold a physical album, and streamed all his music for free. He was discovered on popular streaming services SoundCloud and Spotify. He went straight to consumers and skipped the major record label process.

If you question if this is possible within the book industry, it is. A programmer recently did an “Ask Me Anything” on Reddit. Without quitting his dayjob, he wrote a sci-fi story in his spare time and made the Top 5 list on Amazon, knocking down Stephen King from the #1 spot in the horror genre. Beating out a classic by Stephen King in the Amazon ranking system is very difficult to do.

You may feel like all this technology is intimidating and daunting. In some regards it is, but if you take it one step at a time and at least begin to know why you need to understand it, you can go from there. Learn to know what you don’t know. Nobody was born learning how to use a smartphone. Nobody was born understanding how to drive a car, but most now know how to because it was important enough. Can you sit down for an hour a night and learn? How important do you think it is to adapt?

Start today with Nick Stephenson’s free resources at, including a free webinar workshop for authors ( and free e-book (

Alex is a digital marketing expert and the founder of PenPath. While attending the University of Missouri, he founded his first online publication, which reached millions of readers globally. He later started an analytics software startup that turned into what is now one of the fastest growing digital agencies in St. Louis.

Alex presented "How to Market Books Online: Advice From an Analytics Expert" at the SLPA meeting on June 14, 2017.

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