Thursday, August 03, 2006

Breaking the Top 5

I recently received an email asking how we got Deliver Us From Evelyn (written by a newcomer) into the Technorati Top 5 -- meaning that Evelyn, for one brief, shining moment, was the fifth most-discussed book on the entire World Wide Web, sitting alongside monster sellers like The Da Vinci Code and Harry Potter and The Devil Wears Prada. Here is how I explained it to him:

1) Build the network: For this event, I went to many who were part in my 2005 blog tour for Forgiving Solomon Long, because they were already acquaintances through that event. I also emailed several friends and posted on a couple of message boards. People with Web sites alone cannot do much for you in this sort of event, so you need people with blogs (including MySpace pages). I asked them to simply post the first chapter from Deliver Us From Evelyn.

One important note: You cannot develop a network like this cold. I did not contact strangers; these were all contacts with whom I had previously corresponded, or who had spoken highly of my novels in the past, or whom I had written about on my own blog.

(Now that the network is in place, we have used it for other novelists, too. Details here.)

2) Post a sample online for participating bloggers to see and copy for themselves. (And so all the pieces are in one place).

3) For Technorati to notice, everybody has to use this formula when linking a book: "". That is, "[your ISBN number]".

4) Make sure every link is “pinged” on Technorati during the event.

5) Our huge eyeball count (more than 100,000 visitors) was a result of getting both CCM and Infuze Magazine on board. We also pulled in bloggers from International Thriller Writers and Sisters in Crime.

Not everybody I contacted was able to go through with it, and not every blog registered on Technorati. But then some others saw the event as it was in progress—and joined in, posting the chapter or links on their own blog or on a message board. One person emailed the chapter to hundreds of people.

In the end, about 60 joined in. Not every one of them was counted by Technorati—which only counts blogs, and only those that use the correct code (and not even all of those)—but it still gave us a nice number, and even those Technorati ignored still got a lot of new readers to sample Deliver Us From Evelyn.

One factor you cannot plan for is what other buzz books are in the Top 30 at any given time. On that particular day, Angels and Demons had something like 145 blogs linking at one time, and the next three on the list were close behind. Against those numbers, there was no way we could get any higher than #5. However, if we had done our event a week later, our 49 blog links would have actually gotten us to the #1 slot.

The other thing to keep in mind is that this Technorati event was not designed as an end in itself; while it did bring some short-term attention and sales, it was simply the platform to position us for the August 9 event.

By the way, our June 2 event went so well that several bloggers decided to make it a monthly project. On the first day every month, we post the first chapter from a different featured novel. Today, our August book, Creston Mapes' Full Tilt, is now sitting at #5 on Technorati's most popular books.
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Die Laughing: Funny Crime and Mystery Fiction


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