Experimenting With Twitter and Smashwords

So what is this,  you ask?

This is a chart that shows how many page views LOST AND FOUND has received on smashwords.com by day.  I (incorrectly) believed that smashwords.com used page views to determine which book is a “best seller,” so I went on a twitter rampage to test my theory.

I wrote 100 unique tweets to market my book.  Some had links to my smashwords page, some had links to my amazon page, and some had links to my personal website. I used a service/app called HootSuite to schedule tweets throughout the day.  To keep my friends from “unfollowing” me on Twitter, I created a separate Twitter “book” account for most of the tweets (@emi_lost_found).  I set tweets for every ten minutes between the hours of 7am and 11pm from that account.  I found a site that said that Twitter was most popular between the hours of 9am and 3pm, but I wanted to cover more ground than that.

Most tweets used #hashtags of some sort.  Some were #twilight-related… some were #RobertPattinson-related.  Some were #amwriting-related.  Why did I choose these?  It wasn’t random.  My mission when I began LOST AND FOUND, I set out to write a more mature love story for people my age who loved Twilight.  So far, of the readers who’ve finished both the Twilight series and the EMI LOST & FOUND series, I did a great job. They’ve devoured and loved both.  As for Robert Pattinson, he is who I’d love to play Nate if there is ever a movie.  The character was kind of modeled after him.  And the writing hashtags, well, those are obvious.

Back to the campaign: on the hour, I tweet a more generic message from all three of my Twitter accounts. (Why three?  One’s for me, the “author” (@lori_otto).  One’s for me, the “fan” (@annasense).  The other was mentioned above.  I already have a lot of followers on my author and fan pages, many of them friends, so again… I don’t want to inundate their feeds with promotional things.  On the half-hour, I will tweet a lesser generic message from the book account and one of the other two accounts.

The results of this test?  Well, since I started this yesterday, I got 10 new followers on the book account; 6 new followers on the fan account; and 8 new followers on the author account.  I was also able to increase the page views from around 200 a day to more than 800.  CRAZY.

I was featured in a few daily digests that focus on writing, so that was cool, too. Retweets, baby.  😉

Did this yield any other results?  Sadly, not really.  I did get more page views on my personal site, too.  And I did sell four books on amazon.com (but three were from people I know, so not attributable to the campaign).  But as for smashwords.com, the whole reason this Twixperiment began?  Aside from the page views, there were no downloads of the sample and no book purchases.  In addition, my book went to #2 on the Women’s Fiction best seller list in the midst of the click-fest, so I determined that page views is not solely responsible for how they select best sellers.

It turns out I have no earthly idea how smashwords.com determines what book is at the top of the best seller pile.  Fifteen minutes after I slipped to #2, I was back on top… and no one had purchased or sampled LOST AND FOUND at all.  I don’t think anyone “returned” a book to the other author, either, so the system must be based on a formula of a number of things, maybe a combination of page views and downloads.

What I did decide, is that my book’s description is too generic and not interesting enough to prompt downloads.  So I rewrote it.  I have a few different versions, but settled on this:


Nate Wilson has spent the last thirteen years denying the feelings he has for his best friend, Emi Hennigan. He bides his time with other women as Emi searches fruitlessly for the love-at-first-sight fantasy that’s eluded her since college.

When Nate confesses his feelings for Emi, she is torn between her idealistic (and seemingly unrealistic) search and the more-than-friendly feelings she eventually discovers for Nate. As the friends embark upon their journey toward happiness together, destiny reveals other plans for Emi.


I’m running the campaign again today. It’s noon, and I’m at about 300 page views on smashwords.  Not bad for a Monday.  🙂

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