Google Analytics for Authors

by Nancy Humphreys on March 23, 2011

In the marketing section of, and in my forthcoming book, Marketing Your Book to Libraries: An Insider’s Guide for Authors, I advise you to start marketing your book as soon as you begin writing it.

Here is a major reason why you need to start so soon.

Google has the best-known tool for tracking who is interested in what you have to say online. This tool is called Google Analytics.

Google Analytics is a tool you have to explore in depth to get the full functionality out of it. But even if you just use its basic statistics, it can be very helpful. And best yet, Google Analytics is free.

How to use Google Analytics

The top of the page for each “website profile” you create shows a chart like this:

This line chart shows you the total number of visitors to your site each month. Each dot on the line in the chart is a day of the month. In this example, the number of visitors per day runs between 400 and 900 a day. If you wish, you can change the date parameters, and you can see the traffic for longer periods or even as short a time as one day. This chart is updated daily.

You can eyeball the chart to get a very rough idea of which of your pages and/or posts are more popular, but Google provides a more precise look with its statistical offerings that you’ll find below this chart.

Once you select your time period, you can look to see where your visitors are coming from, what page they came into your site on and what page they left from. You also get an average time they all stayed on your site too.

How to make the best use of Analytics

You can drill down into each type of statistic by clicking the “view report “or “view full report” links offered by Google. (See the figure below for an example of this link.) Help-screen links on the upper left of the page show you what the different kinds of statistics mean. Also, the help-screen links instruct you on how to set targets or benchmarks and measure your progress towards goals you set for your site if you wish to do that.

Google Analytics is a tool you use over the year(s) as you build a mailing list of potential customers to sell your book to. You build your email list by drawing people to your site by the information you have on it, having free things you give away, running contests, offering special sales of products or services, showing videos and/or “book trailers,” and any other sorts of marketing you choose.

Google Analytics tells you how many people are interested in each thing you’ve offered on your site. It also tells you how those people found your site:  i.e, via direct referrals, other referring sites, or search engines. You can even tell if your visitors are new visitors or repeat visitors.

When you set up your site for marketing your forthcoming book, you will mostly be getting direct traffic from people you tell about it. After you hire an expert to optimize your site for search engines to find it, the proportion of search engine visitors should grow, sometimes with a startling rapidity!

As you go on, there are other referring sites online that will be looking for the kind of information your site offers and they too will show up on your traffic source pie chart. Just below and to the right of the pie chart is a world map overlay showing where your visitors live on the planet.

For any statistics like these there will be a “view report” link where you get more specific details, i.e., which search engines, e.g. Google, or referring sites, e.g., AOL, Yahoo, or Facebook, are sending traffic to your site, as well as how many people they sent to what particular pages, and for how long those people stayed on each page.

In my experience, (which is not by any means that of an expert on Analytics), it takes at least year to build up any degree of traffic on a web or blog site. It is slow going at first. Everything takes time.

But the longer your site has been in existence and the more work you put into it, the more traffic to your book’s site it will build.

And this is precisely why you do not what to wait until you publish your book to begin to market it on the Web!


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Marketing Your Book to Libraries Marketing Your Books to Libraries: An Insider's Guide for Authors by former librarian Nancy K. Humphreys includes: 
  • How to tell what kind of library to target
  • Types of librarians and books they order
  • Strategies to get past the "gatekeepers" who influence librarians
  • Right ways to approach librarians most likely to order your book

Learn more »

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