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March to a Bestseller:
A Post-Mortem 



It's been a whirlwind couple of weeks here at Build Creative Writing Ideas. I was fortunate enough to host a collaborative author event here and on Facebook called March to a Bestseller. I've written about why I put together the event, now it's time to talk about how well it did and what improvements I can make in the future. 

The Numbers

From a numbers standpoint, the event was very successful. All 16 authors involved shot up in the sales rankings. We also made some waves in the Amazon bestseller lists. My web traffic was through the roof that day, hitting its highest mark of all-time, and I nearly doubled the number of people in my new mailing list. Here are some of the numbers in-depth: 

  • 640 attendees of the event (number went up and down throughout, may have been more)
  • 1,179 clicks through the Facebook event to the post with the books listed. 
  • 98 original tweets with #marchtab (many RTs as well) 
  • 360-616 clicks on each book (over 6,000 clicks in total) 
  • 1,200+ unique visitors more on BCWI than the average (on Friday alone) 
  • More than a dozen books in the Amazon top 1,000 (several flirting with the top 600) 
  • #1-#10 on the Amazon Reference-Writing Skills category
  • #1s in multiple other Amazon categories 

(an image of our books dominating the top 10 of the Amazon Reference - Writing Skills category) 

Connection

More importantly than the numbers, many of the authors who were on hand to chat during the event made some great connections. It would never have worked if the authors hadn't been so generous in providing their time and expertise. The transcript of the entire Facebook event is quite long because there were so many attendee questions answered. Often, there were half a dozen complementary answers for the same question. I imagine very few of the readers left empty-handed. 

Another part of the event I was pleased about was the giveaways. A few days before the event I had the idea to tie in the generous author giveaways with sharing posts about the event on Facebook. While I wish I'd had the idea earlier, I imagine dozens of attendees learned about the event through these shared posts. The Twitter tie-in was one of the most successful, and it has convinced me to use the free service Click to Tweet for all of my blog posts. 

Weaknesses

Nothing is perfect, however, and it's important to look at aspects of the event that didn't work so well. Not all Facebook users are savvy, and some may still have the website's original settings enabled. Those users, my dad included, received an email every time I posted a new thread on the event. One attendee cried foul during the middle of the event and claimed I was breaking every spamming law in the book. It's likely he received all those emails and assumed from the repetitive subject of "Bryan Cohen posted a new comment," that I was the only one contributing to the event. The person who made the complaint did not see how many people were contributing to the event, but I can't blame him given the Facebook settings. To avoid such spamming claims, it would serve the event well to post a disclaimer and some instructions on how to change the Facebook settings prior to the event. 

Many of the authors were great participants in the event, and carried a large load of the pre-event publicity as well. That being said, there were a few folks who were either unable to participate or could not find the time to alert their followers. One of my criteria for finding authors was that they had a large following, but their hefty subscriber count can't contribute much to the event if they don't tap into it. I don't blame any of the participants for this in the slightest. I was begging, borrowing and dealing just to get enough folks to participate at the start. I think the onus will be on me next time around to make it clear that participating authors must put forth a certain amount of publicity effort prior to and during the event.

Would I Do It Again?

Overall, the positives outweighed the negatives for the March to a Bestseller event. I learned a great deal and may even write a book on hosting indie author events to share my acquired knowledge. I'm so excited to be able to add more interaction to my marketing activities. There are parts of day-to-day social media that I enjoy, but this event was different. These weren't just Facebook posts in a vacuum that we hoped would reach people. There were hundreds of attendees and more than a dozen authors all joining together over a 12-hour period. And because of the nature of the event (with 16 discounted books) there were results to go along with the interactive efforts. 

I will run an event like this again. I already have some ideas for one in mid- to late-spring. To any of the authors and attendees reading, I want to thank you for contributing to a very fulfilling day. Without your participation and your kindness, it would not have been the same. Here's to doing it all again sometime soon.

Done with the Post-Mortem? Go back to Creative Writing Tips. 



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Written by Bryan Cohen

Bryan Cohen is the author of more than 30 books, many of which focus on creative writing and blasting through that pesky writer's block. His books have sold more than 20,000 copies. You can find him on and Facebook.

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