Saturday, March 28, 2015

After the Thunder: Three Mistakes in Retrospect

OK, so my first Thunderclap barely made it to the minimum number of supporters in time, but it did make it, giving me a chance to see what kind of impact it would have (if any). I'm... underwhelmed. I know there's a lot of "noise" on social networks and the point of a Thunderclap is to be "heard" above that noise. Maybe it's just creating more noise.

I'll let some numbers do the talking:

  • Supporters: 101
  • Claimed reach: 542,427 (over half a million people! or not….)
  • Clicks via the Thunderclap in the first 24 hours: 21 (~0.0039% CTR)
  • Sales: 0

A click-through ratio of less than four thousandths of a percent? And zero sales (I know this is accurate because not one copy of the book has sold since the Thunderclap went out). As I said elsewhere...

Maybe a different author, different book, different reading audience... but not for me.

Could it work out better than it did? I sure hope so, for all of the writers out there trying to make it work. These are some of the things I see wrong with my Thunderclap. Some of this may apply to what others are doing:

  1. My header image design was bad. I thought it was just for recruiting people to the Thunderclap, but it goes out with the Thunderclap too. That means the message of the header image needs to be generic enough to match both uses.
  2. I tried to give away a copy of my book in exchange for participating in the Thunderclap. This was ignoring Lesson #1 in finding readers: Sell them on the story! Free doesn't matter if the story is not compelling, and for a compelling story, the price may not matter. I ignored this rule to my detriment (and worked it into mistake #1 above). Nobody cared that they could get my book for free, they weren't interested in the story the book tells. I can't blame them, I didn't sell them on the story.
  3. Noise is noise is noise. If you produce noise, people will tune you out. I fear that too many of my Thunderclap supporters have been tuned out by the people they're connected to online, because they're pumping out a lot of Thunderclaps. (Rampant hashtag overuse makes this even worse; hashtags reduce legibility and when used in bulk are treated as noise.)

    More to the point, too few of my supporters were the type of people who almost never post about a book (or post anything promotional). Those supporters are golden, because the people they're connected to are paying attention and seeing something new and different.

I may try another book-promo Thunderclap in the future, but it will be after I have a large enough reading audience that I won't need to lean (at least not too heavily) on "share for share" groups.


  1. I'm doing my first Thunderclap and it's going out March 30th. My reach is over 1 million for the campaign. I am both nervous and excited for that. Will I reach a lot people or will they just feel spammed? After, I think I will do a post like this and talk about the campaign and see if I can get input from others.

    Number 3 I agree with too. I supported a lot of campaigns because supporting was mutual and I wanted to have mine go out. Since I don't have one after this, I may be more selective of who I support so not to have an over abundance on my stream. Although, it's not too bad since I tweet regularly so the thunderclaps aren't all posting at once and are spread out. People have RT'ed them on occasion too, so I think the way Thunderclap works keeps it from being too spammy. When I see them, it's no different to me than someone who uses Tribbrr to tweet about blogs they follow.

    1. Good luck on your campaign, Patricia! I think the system of Thunderclap is a great idea, but it does depend heavily on how your supporters interact with others online. If they're well-engaged, it should be valuable. Otherwise, well, "zero sales" sums it up for me.

  2. Another mistake that I thought about after writing that post (but came to mind as I was mentioning this blog post in a private discussion group) was that the wording of the "Thunderclap-ed" message needs to not read like an advertisement. For example, mine was worded like an advertisement:

    "Extra Credit: Loyalty!" released today. What trouble is Dan Starney in now? Get it for #Kindle: 99 cents!" (followed by the TC link to Amazon)

    Anybody reading that would be able to instantly know that it was an advertisement. A story-based approach might have been something like:

    Dan was in prison for trying to overthrow the government, but now he's on the loose... by accident? (followed by the link)

    1. (I either need to hire an editor for my comments or more coffee... ergh....)

    2. Yeah. I've toyed more than once with my message, trying to find the right words.