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Feel Like You’re Running in Place? 4 Simple Ways to Track Your Book Marketing Progress

progressBoy, time flies by.

Back in April, I brought my daughter home from the hospital. I’m not going to lie: I was scared out of my mind.

Would this fragile creature ever get any bigger? Could I figure out how to change messy diapers? WILL I EVER SLEEP AGAIN?!

Some days, I feel like we haven’t really made that much progress. After all, she’s still so little!

But, then I take out photos of Olivia as a newborn, squishy and tiny in my arms. Looking at those, I can’t help but think…

Wow.

In the eight months since that first scary night, she’s grown twice as big, I change diapers like a pro and we sleep eight hours a night. Now that’s progress! 

How have you progressed in the past eight months?

Have you ever felt that way about book marketing? Like you’re running in place, putting in all of this effort, but nothing’s really changing. You may even find yourself wondering: is all the time and energy spent even worth it?

The problem, however, isn’t the lack of progress. I know you’re working hard and earning those crazy-dedicated fans. The real problem is a lack of perspective.

Just like whipping out a newborn photo of Olivia makes me realize how much I’ve accomplished as a parent, tracking your book marketing progress lets you reflect on how much you’ve accomplished as an author.

But…you can’t exactly take a picture of your current book marketing situation, right?

Wrong.

4 Simple Ways to Track Your Book Marketing Progress

Tracking your progress is essential to keeping up marketing motivation (and giving yourself a well-deserved pat on the back). Here’s how to do it:

Note: While you can use several of these methods in combination, I don’t recommend using more than 2 at a time. Tracking your progress should never (ever) become a burden! 

1. Take a Statistic Snapshot

While not as adorable as comparing old and new baby photos, taking a snapshot of your current fanbase is an effective way to show yourself how far you’ve come:

  1. Decide how often you’ll take a snapshot. I recommend monthly.
  2. Choose 3-5 numbers to track that will give you an idea of your book marketing effectiveness. Examples include:
    • Books sold. This is the biggie, right? As long as you have something for sale, this should be on your list.
    • Email subscribers. You know how we feel about email marketing! This is the best way to track the size of your fanbase.
    • Average email open rate. Sounds intimidating? It’s not! Just add up the open percentages of your last 3 emails to your list (ex, 62.5% + 55.2% + 75% = 192.7) and divide by 3 (192.7 / 3 = 64.23%).
    • Twitter/Pinterest followers, Facebook likes, Goodreads friends, etc. Choose one or two social networks where you’re most active and track your followers.
    • Website visits. Open up Google Analytics (you do have that installed, right? If not, we can help!) and record your number of visits for the past month.
    • Comments. Count the number of blog comments you’ve received in the past month.
  3. Record your numbers on a spreadsheet, text file or notebook to track your progress.

2. Use A Big Honkin’ Calendar

One of my TV rerun guilty pleasures is Seinfeld. It amazes me —  episodes from over 10 years ago still hold up!

As it turns out, Jerry Seinfeld actually has a great progress-tracking secret. If all the numbers in method #1 freak you out, give this tracking option a shot!

Ready for the secret? Here it is: don’t break the chain. It’s pretty doggone simple:

  1. Post a simple monthly wall calendar where you’ll see it daily.
  2. Procure a big, colorful marker.
  3. Every day that you do something to make progress marketing your work (even it’s a simple tweet or email), mark the calendar with a big X.
  4. Then, do the same thing the next day and keep on truckin’.

Photo: Karenkavett.comFor more on how it works, here’s Jerry himself:

 “After a few days you’ll have a chain. Just keep at it and the chain will grow longer every day. You’ll like seeing that chain, especially when you get a few weeks under your belt. Your only job next is to not break the chain. Don’t break the chain.”

Pretty cool, right? And, if your wall space is at a premium, there’s a web app that you can use to follow the same process.

3. Keep Old To-Do Lists

I have a thing for notebooks. I buy at least 2 or 3 during back-to-school time and use them to record things throughout the year.

The problem is, there’s no rhyme, reason or organization to my notes. I simply pull out a notebook as I need paper for various tasks. It’s terrible for productivity, but surprisingly useful for tracking progress. Each time I grab a notebook, it’s like opening a time capsule, featuring whatever I was working on last time I used it!

You can do the same thing with to-do lists (but with a little more organization). Instead of tossing your to-do lists in the trash, keep one every month. Tuck it into an envelope.

Each time you add a new list to the history file, go through the old ones. Notice how your tasks have changed as you’ve made progress, learned new tactics and grown your fanbase!

4. Be Geeky (Use an App)

With the rising popularity of goal-setting and efficiently getting things done, dozens of websites and smartphone apps have come onto the scene to help you track your progress and reach your goals. Here are a few of my favorites:

  • 42Goals. A simple goal tracking tool, 42Goals allows you to set a schedule for the individual tasks you’ll need to complete your goals. It allows you to easily see, at a glance, how much you’ve accomplished.
  • WeekPlan. If you’re more of a big-picture thinker (like me), weekly tasks/goals might be more your speed. With WeekPlan, you view a whole week at one time to see what you’ve done and what’s left to do.
  • Stickk. Labeling itself the “smartest way to achieve your goals,” Stickk raises the stakes to keep you on track. You can wager money (to be donated to a friend or charity of you fall off the wagon), have a referee and add friends to support you along the way.

Talk Back

No matter how you choose to “take a snapshot” of your current book marketing status, tracking your progress helps you stay motivated to promote your work and reach your marketing goals!

I can’t help but wonder: Do you track your book marketing progress?  If so, how? If not, why not? Share your perspective in the comments!

  • Ke-Yana Drake

    I do track my book marketing progress! Once a month or so I check my sales on lulu, which hasn’t been really encouraging lately, but that’s ok. I generally track my progress by my “to do” boards. I have three double sided whiteboards I use for plotting and to lists and stuff. I have one that I only use for todos, and go from one side of the board to the other and when I have to fill the other side with more things to do I get to read back what I was doing a few weeks back and what I did and did not cross off. It gives a really good sense of how much work is done. I might, however try that chain idea too! Seems like a good challenge. :)

  • These are such great suggestions. I especially like the idea of charting/tracking certain numbers like book sales, followers, etc. (I’m a numbers person. :))

  • Katharina Gerlach

    I’d like to but there are already so many things to squeeze into each day that I mostly forget.

  • I have a spreadsheet which tracks all my sales outlets and expenses and then distills them into simple Copies Sold and Profit Made for each title. Now I’m adding a page to track my snapshots as well. I don’t have to do it often, but the track record is always there to compare against.