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April 19, 2012

Tips on Thursday: User Engagement

Engagement (marketing)
Engagement (marketing) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
How many followers do you have? What is your average daily page views? What are your unique visitor and returning visitor counts? These are just a few of the questions that bloggers either are asked by others or they ask themselves. I like numbers so I thought I was the only one obsessed about the numbers for my blog. But it turns out most bloggers are concerned about their numbers.

But the number of followers, unique visitors, and returning visitors is not really important. Page views are slightly important, but only in how it relates to the the most important factor for a book blogger - user engagement. We have recently seen how important word of mouth recommendations can be in the success of a book. There have been countless number of obscure authors catching fire because someone told someone else who then told someone else and so forth.

How well do you get your followers talking and buying what you are writing  about? There are several ways to measure user engagement. Comments are a good measure of user engagement. Are you able to generate discussion? Take a look at which posts on your blog have had the greatest response based on number of comments. If only your giveaways are getting comments (because it was a stipulation to enter), then you need to work on your regular posts.

I've been hit or miss on garnering post comments. People often do not know what to say in a comment. They feel lame just saying "Great blog!". Ask thought provoking open ended questions (something that requires more than a yes or no) in your posts. Then encourage the discussion by responding to comments. Since blogger changed it commenting to allow for replies, comments to blog post have increased. Controversial points of view can also generate great discussion. Did you hate a book everyone else loved?

I didn't mean to spend so much time on comments. Comments is not the only measure of user engagement. Closely related is discussion on Twitter and Facebook. Are you tweets being re-tweeted or replied to? Do your status updates on Facebook get likes, comments, and shares? Again a simple question can lead to a great conversation (Try asking your followers what they are reading).

Probably the measurement authors and publishers are most interested in is how well do you spur your followers to action. Sales obviously comes to mind. This conversion can be difficult to measure. I like that as an Amazon Affiliate I can see what links have been clicked and what is purchased through my links. But did you know that tracking how many people have added the book to their Goodreads shelves can also give an idea of user engagement? Next time you post about a book check to see how many people add it to their shelf in the following days. Most people who put a book on their shelf are highly likely to buy (or check out from the library) the book.

Have you heard of the 80/20 rule? It states that 20% of people do 80% of the work. I think this rule applies to blogging - 20% of your followers will be doing 80% of the interactions - and serves as a good base line. With this number in mind, how high is your user engagement? Do you have less than 20% interaction (comments, retweets/replies, adding books you recommend to their shelf, etc.)?

If you are below this baseline, I encourage you this week to try one thing to increase your user engagement. This might be adding a question or two to your posts or making personal recommendations to your friends on Goodreads (I'll have a post on using Goodreads in the coming weeks if you don't know how to make recommendations). Also increasing your interactions with your followers - leaving comments on other blogs, replying/retweeting your followers on Twitter, etc. - will have a positive impact on your user engagement.

For those who have high user engagement, do you have advice or any tips to share?
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April 18, 2012

Nancy Scrofano: Author Influence (guest post)

Today, I'm happy to welcome Nancy Scrofano to Girl Who Reads. If you missed my review of her new book True Love Way, click here


Author Influence: Why I Admire Hester Browne’s Novels

There are many wonderful writers, especially in the chick lit/women’s fiction genre. One particular author influenced me so much that her novels compelled me to write chick lit, too. That author is Hester Browne. She has written five novels, including the three books in The Little Lady Agency series, The Finishing Touches, and Swept Off Her Feet.

When I read her first book, I said to myself, “This is exactly what a romantic comedy should be.” She always gets it spot on, and I’m never disappointed when I read her novels. Hester Browne expertly crafts stories that anyone can relate to. I can see myself in all of her main characters in some way, which brings me even closer to the story. I feel like I know her characters, like they could be friends of mine. The relationships in her novels are believable and written incredibly well. Browne really distinguishes her characters, conveying them with fresh, witty, heartfelt dialogue. She writes with such exquisite detail to draw readers in, making them feel like part of the characters’ world. Browne expertly develops romantic relationships in all of her novels and always delivers charming, unique stories that inspire me. Whenever I close a book written by Hester Browne, I always want more. She knows exactly how to create a happy ending that is satisfying, yet still leaves the reader wondering about the characters. Her books leave lasting impressions, an extraordinary feat for an author.

When I write, I write for myself, but I also write to entertain people and somehow affect them with the story I create. If a reader continues to think about my novel and my characters and even re-reads my novel, like I do with Browne’s novels, then I would be overjoyed. I hope that readers will connect to my novel and enjoy it as much as I enjoy Hester Browne’s novels.

While I was writing and editing my debut novel, True Love Way, I re-read The Little Lady Agency three times and Swept Off Her Feet twice. They were like guides on how to write great chick lit. I have studied Browne’s books and her writing style because I think they are the best in the genre. For anyone who wants to write chick lit or even for authors who already write in the genre, read Hester Browne’s novels. For readers who want to read fantastic romantic comedies, read Hester Browne’s novels. I know I will continue to learn from them and be inspired by them. And I can’t wait to read what she writes next!

About the Author:
Nancy Scrofano is the author of True Love Way and writes book reviews for a prestigious book review magazine. Additionally, she is the founder and managing editor of The Chick Lit Bee, a book blog that promotes and celebrates women’s fiction. Nancy is at work on her next novel. For more information, please visit http://www.nancyscrofano.com.

Enter for you chance to win a paperback or ebook copy of True Love Way by Nancy Scrofano:

April 17, 2012

Amusing: True Love Way

True Love Way by Nancy Scrofano
ebook, ARC
Published April 2012 by Simon & Fig
ISBN: 9780985352004
Read April 2012
Get it: Goodreads, Powell's Books, Amazon

What a fun read True Love Way turned out to be. I enjoy chick lit but it is always a fine line for me between the good and not so good. From the start I liked the cover and really hoped it would be funny and not a downer (though chick lit is suppose to be fluffy, sometimes it leaves me a bit depressed). I'm happy to say True Love Way is amusing. And definitely a book I'd like to read again, soon.

I loved Marlo. Her love of old television shows really endeared her to me. I grew up watching reruns of Happy Days, Brady Bunch, Three's Company, etc. It was fun to see snippets and shared memories from beloved TV shows. Oh! I almost forget Marlo idolizes Lucy so much she dyed her hair red.

True Love Way is your predictable chick lit: The love triangle-ish story line was quickly identified by all but the main character. However, this was not a negative. Instead, there was something comforting about knowing how the story would play out. (There were enough unique nuggets hidden within to keep you interest). Like a the great sitcoms of old (kind of like The Cosby Show - when Rootie was still cute).

Macaroni and cheese in a white bowl.
Macaroni and cheese in a white bowl. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Maybe I liked this book so much because I've been referencing movies and television shows so much with my book reviews. I kind of envied Marlo's vivid dreams. The best I came up with this weekend was making macaroni and cheese.

It was so comforting in fact that I'm putting it in my Get Well Kit. You know I'm single so when I'm sick I have to take care of myself (I'm sure moms have something similar for themselves). My Get Well Kit has all the essentials to make me feel better and keep me entertained while I lay on my death bed (Okay, I'm a bit melodramatic) and I keep it within easy reach so I only have to get out of bed once. My kit includes:
  • The Basics (tissues, meds, etc.)
  • Food & Drink (juice boxes so I don't have to worry about a pet knocking it over and Progresso Chicken Noodle Soup - I love the carrots)
  • Movies (Harry Potter and Don Knotts' Shakiest Gun of the West)
I've never included a book before. However, while reading True Love Way I knew it would be something that would cheer me up, but not take a lot of energy. Summer vacation is coming up and you'll want an amusing read while laying by the pool or traveling the country. Make sure you have a copy of True Love Way in your comfort kit.

Please stop back by tomorrow when I have the author Nancy Scrofano here for a guest post.

You can enter to win a paperback (US/Canada) or an ebook (International):

April 16, 2012

Vlog #12: Small Blogs, Big Dreams


As part of the True Love Way Tour and the Small Blogs, Big Dreams Blog Hop, you can win the following book:

True Love Way by Nancy Scrofano
paperback & ebook
Published April 20 by Simon & Fig
ISBN13: 9780985352004
Find it: Goodreads, Powell's Books, Amazon

Marlo Spencer relishes all things retro. Old TV shows, classic movies, and even the collectible lunch boxes to go with them. In fact, she’s quite cozy in her Malibu apartment, surrounded by her treasured knick-knacks and vintage memorabilia. It’s her best friend, Nik, who doesn’t get her fascination with all that “old junk,” as he calls it. He especially doesn’t understand why she’s so keen to get back to their hometown of Napa when her high school sweetheart, Josh, suddenly returns after twelve years in Paris and nary a single phone call, eager to reunite with her. So, when Marlo heads up north to wine country to rekindle her relationship with Josh, Nik tags along, claiming he was already planning to visit his sister, Savannah, Marlo’s gal pal. Once they reach Napa, however, dreams of a blissful reunion are shattered as old secrets and past betrayals are revealed, leaving an unsuspecting Marlo to pick up the pieces. Can she forgive and forget, or will true love find a different path to her heart?

Tour Stops at Girl Who Reads:
Tuesday - My review
Wednesday - a guest post from Nancy Scrofano


The Giveaway:
Enter to win a paperback copy (US & Canada) or an ebook (International) of True Love Way below.
Remember I also have a giveaway going on for Escape from Camp 14 by Blaine Harden.


 


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Visit other blogs in the Small Blogs, Big Dreams Blog Hop for more great giveaways.



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