05 October, 2009

Book Bloggers: Top Post Submissions

Book Blogging 101

Last week, I asked speculative fiction book bloggers for their most popular article in terms of hits, and a short paragraph stating why they thought the post was their most successful. The answers, below, run the range from accidental keyword traffic to meticulously thought out memes. The purpose of my survey was pretty simple: to discover what readers like and why they like it. What draws traffic to a blog? While the answer may seem obvious to some of you, the diversity of replies I received makes it anything but. There are, however, a few elements that these most popular posts share in common. Stay tuned tomorrow for a review of what works and why it works, but more importantly, a number of honest steps you can take to improve your blog traffic.

Take a minute to look at the submissions and form some ideas, and we will compare notes tomorrow. Till then!

Temple Library Reviews
Top 10: Female Hotness in Leather, Spandex, and Superpowers
A while back I had the pleasant request to post an article from AskMen.com about a top 10 rank list of the hottest female vampires to hit the screen ever. Up until know I never thought of ranking anything, but if AskMen.com can do it all the time, it’s time to kick butt here on this stage as well. So I turned to the one thing I loved so much and could rank, hot women in spandex or leather with super powers.

Grasping for the Wind
The SF/F/H Book Reviewers Linkup meme was an attempt by me to update a blog list that was several years out of date. But I also wanted to create a resource that other bloggers could also use. So I asked readers to take my existing list and "add it to your blog, and add a link to your blog on it." I would use back links to find the additions and add them to the master list. The response was overwhelming, even getting me a mention on GalleyCat, spawning a song by John Anealio, and getting one Crotchety Old Fan to review every blog on the list. It was a lot of work which was streamlined in the second editio, but worth all the time and effort, because the SF bloggin community got much more interconnected. It is still my most popualr post, though the second edition is also climbing the charts and will probaly surpass the original in a the next few months in terms of hits. I'm just glad everyone has a central place to go for new blogs, and an easy way to increase their own traffic with only a little effort.

The most popular entry page on Un:Bound, other than the main page is the interview we did with Brent Weeks. I noticed a while back I was getting a lot of referrals from his page on wikipedia, so my guess is it gets more hits because it has more exposure outside of the blogging community. Just beneath it is my review of Morgan Mandel's killer career. I know Morgan actively promotes her books and put the link about, so again , I think it's down to exposure outside the usual suspects that shot that one forward.

Stomping on Yeti
The reason why this was most popular is simple: Wil Wheaton tweeted about it. He has about 500,000 followers where as my blog had about 5 people who knew of it's existence. I talk to John over at SFSignal and he put my post in the Tidbits section where Wheaton must have been aware of it. It was an intriguing idea and I would say fairly unique but more than that the reason it was the most popular was simply distribution. It's the same reason why my interview with Cory Doctorow was so much more popular than other interviews. I haven't been around long enough to have a dedicated audience but I'm working on it. Until then, I'm only as popular as the people who link me.

The Mad Hatter's Bookshelf and Book Review
This is basically a list of Steampunk books and it has been viewed close to a 700 times in only a few months, which surprised the hell out of me. This doesn't count the people who just read it via the normal URL or scroll down. From what I can tell this is one of the more complete lists of its kind. Right now Steampunk is a growing subgenre and this list helps people to see what else is out there. With authors like Cherie Priest throwing their hat into this world I think it will be here to stay for at least a couple more years. A reader request is what lead me to starting the article. Which shows you should always listen to feedback. The article has been linked to by Jay Lake and TheGalaxyExpress.net in addition to the link being re-tweeted quite a few times. Someone also posted it on Stumble Upon as well, which has brought in a decent amount of readers. I've made a point of updating this article regularly, which I think keeps some people coming back. Also,on the left side of my site I keep a small list of popular articles. I find this helps greatly with keeping goggle traffic on my site. One thing I did want to mention is looking at my stats the posts that are long and involved a lot of formatting and not necessarily much exposition seem to do well, which goes against what I've heard from most bloggers about keeping things short. Maybe it is just because the audience for my site are book readers so they don't mind longer posts.

Both Jay Lake and Jeff VanderMeer linked to this post from their blog,
which provided a good deal of traffic. I've also gotten more links
than usual (none driving as much traffic as the 2 author's mentioned)
and I think that's because the post is just a good reference. With
Jeff's permission I posted the "recommended reading" list that was
included in the "New Weird" anthology. Everyone loves a good
recommendation and the popularity of this post is a big reason I've
been putting so much time and energy into my new SFF book
recommendation project. (http://TagShadow.com)

Neth Space
There have been somewhere over 8,300 pageviews (over 7,200 uniqe views) of my short interview with George according to google analytics, over twice the next contender which is my review index. It's also the only post to have ever gone over 1000 visits in a day (not counting RSS), which happened twice. Martin's own website is the main source, contributing over 6,100 of those visits. I think the reasons are obvious - he's a rock star in the genre with passionate fans. It was quite a day when I got that email back from George saying he was up for the interview - only a couple hours after I sent it. Whatever peoples' opinions are on the speed of his writing, George is one of the kindest and most accessible authors out there. I don't know of anyone who appreciates their fans more.

The Alternative
"Crash Gordon" is probably my most frequently hit post because it is the only book that I've ever given a six star (out of five) review. It was great fun to read and even more fun to review. It is unique and while, not quite Science Fiction, it contains elements that belong to the genre. I've been a speculative fiction fan for over thirty-five years and was impressed by Derek Swannson's mastery of the English language and the scope of this strangely enticing and admittedly bizarre first novel.

The Antick Musings of G.B.H Hornblower, Gent
The post was very widely (and unexpectedly) linked. It explained a part of publishing that most authors have little experience with or knowledge of, but which can affect their careers deeply. And it was something of a rank; those are often popular on the ‘net.

Fantasy Debut
The posts with the most hits at Fantasy Debut are either search engine
flukes or posts about me or my blog. Which is gratifying, but not what
you're looking for, I suspect. My most popular post is above. The top referrers were Google and Christianity Today, which linked to this post in one of its movie reviews.

SF Safari
The top three posts at SF Safari (my SF/F blog) are three book reviews I actually posted over at my crime fiction blog. A few weeks ago, I ran a themed book review series of classic adventure novels. I published the reviews in order of the original book publication: 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Treasure Island, King Solomon's Mines, and Tarzan of the Apes. Leaving out KSM, the top three posts are actually in reverse order, with Tarzan being the clear winner in terms of number of posts. The reason I think these posts get so many hits is that many readers discovered these stories when they were children. I didn't. I read them all for the first time this summer. Judging by the comments, adult readers enjoy reading posts about books that remind them of childhood. I'd have to say that reading these books, I felt the boundless enthusiasm of a child. And that was fantastic.

Book Love Affair
By far my most popular post was a part of the 'Urban Fantasy Awards' series of entries. The last post, the most popular one, was the giveaway/announcement portion. It ended up at 255 responses and more hits than my counter could manage. The reasons for its popularity were two-fold. Firstly, as giveaways go, it was very open and had great prizes. People would have been crazy not to. But, that was was compounded when both Seanan McGuire and C.E. Murphy contributed signed ARCs and promotional links to the post. Otherwise, I find the trend goes that giveaways tend to gain more hits, but not lasting followers. My most stable source of hits is for reviews of books that are highly anticipated or near publication date (such as On The Edge on 9/30).

Only The Best SciFi / Fantasy
The post is a voted and weekly updated list of top science fiction and fantasy books. The traffic sources are fairly diverse and trickle in form a little of everywhere. I spent a bit of time publicizing the post, but more importantly, it was until recently prominently featured on my sidebar. Curious visitors would wander over and scan the list, but only about 1 in 50 would actually cast a vote. I plan on revamping the list and making it more user friendly, so this should stay my top post for a while.

My Blog 2.0
I've had two top blog post, each with about 45 comments, Review: Twilight by Stephenie Meyer and Reviewette: Bite Anthology: One Word Answer by Charlaine Harris. What made these post significant was not the number of comments, but the traffic produced. They were significant due to the fact that they were picked up by fan sites (Twilight Fan Feed and Loving True Blood in Dallas), sometimes generating several hundred hits per day. The only other post that generated that number of hits was a promo for Hunted by PC Cast + Kristin Cast, which was picked up and listed with Stumble and Digg.

Puss Reboots
It has had 493 hits since it was posted in May but no comments. The words "naked" and "famous" bring in people via searches.

A Fantasy Reader
Sadly for my reviews, so far my post that scored the highest number of hits (143) is not a review (although some of my latest are almost on par with the map index). There's however a good reason behind this, Google image search. The main entrance source for the post is images.google.com (a post with many images links like that sure is a winner for Google). I know many fantasy readers love to take a look at a map from their beloved books (a poll I made confirmed that fact) and since some of them are only on the web (particularly better rendered maps), a map index is a nice place to spend some time. It's easier to find the right maps you're looking for in an index on a fantasy reading blog. I'll add even more of them as my blog evolves.

Dave Brendon's Fantasy and Sci-Fi Weblog
Everyone wants info on Brandon, since he was a relative unknown until the announcement was made that he would be finishing The Wheel of Time. In fact, if anyone posts something (factual, it'd have to be) about The Wheel of Time, they're sure to get thousands of visitors. :-)
Most of the traffic came from 1) the Wheel of Time-related groups on Facebook (I post WoT updates there, too, when I update the blog) and 2) the links Brandon had on his website and LJ about the interview. A close second post: A Game of Thrones HBO Pilot: News in Updates - 6382 hits. This one, too, is easy - with everyone so excited about the pilot and the actors being cast in the roles, any news about it is gold. :-) Most of my traffic comes from Google Searches on this one.

Keeping the Door
Traffic: 17,254, from all around the web, including large sites like Slashdot. Reasoning: Douglas Adams' Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy series is one of the most popular light/humourous sci-fi series of all time. The fact that Eoin Colfer is continuing the series following the author's
death was controversial enough. But fans were even more incensed to find out that one early review had flagged the book as being "not very funny".


Unknown said...

Very interesting and funny - waiting for tomorrow's post.
My takes from this list Sex sells, Sanderson is hot, and go figure on the rest.

ediFanoB said...

Great post! A lot of information.

Shellie is right: Sex sells.

Beside this it seems to be important to be linked by popular people and blogs. And don't underestimate the effect of twitter.

Look forward to tomorrow's post. Advice is always welcome.

James said...

Yep, I'll be sure to check in tomorrow. Oh, and sex sells, but never underestimate being linked by Jay Lake. :P

Dave de Burgh said...

Very cool post, muchly impressed! :-)

bloggeratf said...

The second part is up! Not that it is earth shattering or anything. Kind of tough given the limited nature of the 'data'.

Unknown said...

Sex does sell, lol. I'm with Shellie, go figure.