Guest Catherine McKenzie on
Can I make a book a bestseller?

Guest Catherine McKenzie on
Can I make a book a bestseller?

[Catherine McKenzie (Arranged, Spin) had one of those “Aha” moments that Oprah frequently talks about and, also like Oprah, she decided to recommend a few books worthy of more attention. In today’s guest post, the author explains the who, why, and where of her cause and how you can help as well as benefit too.]

Can I make a book a bestseller?

Authors these days are bombarded with a constant message: social media is the place to be to sell books. Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads etc., you’ve got to be on these sites to build awareness, and awareness = book sales.

But is this one of those truisms that nobody’s verified? And how exactly is one supposed to be on all these media? If I want to sell my book should I be on Twitter all day narrating my every action? Should I merely go on once in a while when I have a big (preferably funny) thought? Do I have to thank the person who gave my book 1 star on Goodreads for buying my book and telling the world they hated it? And do I really have to accept that Facebook friend request from the man who claims he’s an author but looks like he just escaped from lockdown?

I suspect no one really knows the answers to these questions, and there’s certainly no instruction manual. So what’s an author to do? Keep your head down and keep writing, I expect. But in the meantime, I was intrigued last year by the Facebook campaign to get Betty White to host Saturday Night Live. It’s old news by now right: someone started an “I bet” group on Facebook and hey, presto, there she was cracking wise about the very people who’d got her there a few weeks later.

And this got me thinking. Was it possible to show a direct relationship between social media and book sales? Could I “bet” a bunch of people on Facebook and make a book a bestseller? Well, sure I could try. Why the hell not?

So I did. I started a group on Facebook called “I bet we can make these books bestsellers” (I call it the Author/Reader Effect for short – a riff on the Oprah Effect), and chose two books by Wyoming author Shawn Klomparens as the first test subjects. I also started a related group on Goodreads just to cover all my social networking bases (alas Twitter only has lists, not groups – so far!)

I chose Klomparen’s books, Jessica Z. and Two Years, No Rain, because they were the best books I’d read in the last six months that hadn’t gotten the attention I think they deserve. Also, I didn’t want this experiment to be about me. I was doing this in the name of science!

So, now what? Well, the Facebook group has approximately 3,450 members including authors James Frey, Tom Perrotta, Tish Cohen, Katherine Howe and Cathy Marie Buchanan. The Goodreads group has over 400 members. This year, I’ve branched out and have been adding two new books a month and run frequent giveaways to help spread the word (in fact, we’re giving away 35 books right now! This months’ books are Husband & Wife by Leah Stewart and The Wilding by Benjamin Percy). And I’m pretty sure that I’ve introduced some great authors to some great readers. But no Oprah like powers. For now.

* * * * *

Reminder: Beginning today, March 1, 2011, MaNIC MoMMy is hosting March Madness Book-A-Day Giveaway! You’ll have an opportunity to win a book from one of many TDW authors as well as several other authors who may be new to you. Every day there’s a winner and, at the end of the month, a GRAND PRIZE WINNER. Interested? Please click the link for details.

Book Giveaway: The Divining Wand is giving away two copies of Anna Fields’ Confessions of a Rebel Debutante in a random drawing of comments left only on this specific post, Anna Fields and Confessions of a Rebel Debutante. Comments left on other posts during the week will not be eligible. The deadline is Wednesday, March 2, 2011 at 7:00 p.m. EST with the winners to be announced here in Thursday’s post. If you enter, please return Thursday to see if you’re a winner.

4 thoughts on “
Guest Catherine McKenzie on
Can I make a book a bestseller?

  1. I’ve been following Catherine and her Author/Reader Effect for quite some time, and I just LOVE the idea! I’ve learned of so many new authors because of her, not just the ones she’s promoting, but the cross-promotion via Facebook, blogs, various giveaways, Twitter, etc. I admire the fact that there is this cross-promotion, and a sense of community in writing and publishing, and not the brutal cut-throat world that I deal with during the day. Keep it up, I certainly will on my end!!

  2. That’s an amazing endeavor. I can’t imagine all the effort and energy that must go into it. Props to Catherine for being so passionate about books!

    Hmm, the same thing could be said about Larramie… 😉

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