Buying ads to sell your book

Publishing a book and then hoping someone will stumble upon it and buy it will result in very few sales. To be successful you will need to market your book. This is an ongoing process that usually begins before you publish.

One option for marketing is to buy advertisements. There are a variety of places where you can advertise – Amazon, Goodreads, Facebooks, Book/Reader websites such as BookBub, Kindle News Daily and Ereader News Daily (and many more).

Some websites offer you a banner ad at the top of their website or perhaps a listing on their “special” or “deal section.” And some even will include your information in their e-mail newsletter. Other sites will offer advertising based on a Cost-per-Click program. This is where you have an advertisement (sometimes just copy and sometimes with an image) and you only pay for the people who click on the link in your ad.

In April, I chose to pay for adverting to promote my last KDP Select free promo for The Heir to Alexandra. I spent $15 ($5 a day) to appear on Digital Book Today’s website and $15 to appear in E-Reader News Today’s e-mail newsletter and on their website for one day. I feel that the E-Reader News ad, in particular, was especially beneficial and saw the most downloads on the day of my ad. (See all my results here.)

Of course in my instance, I was giving away a book. Advertising for a book in which someone has to part with their hard-earned dollars is quite different. Many people will download a free book if it only slightly interests them. They will not do the same when they must pay for the book. In that case, your ad must hook the reader into purchasing your book.

If you are going to purchase an ad on any of website, I would suggest you research whether this will help you reach your target market of readers. It doesn’t help to just advertise your books to readers. You need to get it in front of those that actually might read your book.

Some websites such as BookBub send out emails to those people who indicated they like a certain genre. So if you write fantasy, your ad will only go to Fantasy readers. (Click here for a review of advertising with BookBub.)

But let’s take a moment and talk about the other method of advertising – Cost-per-Click programs (CPC). Sites such as Goodreads, Facebook, Amazon, and Google all offer this type of program.

The good thing about most CPC programs is generally it is easy to target readers of your book genre. You can even narrow it by location, age, or gender. This means your ad reaches the people most likely to buy your book.

With CPC, you only pay for the ads where someone clicks on your link. Typically, you set a budget of how much you are willing to spend either per day or for the length of your campaign. Most of the places also let you decide how much you will pay per click but be warned in most cases the lower the amount you “bid” the less your ad will be displayed.

And in some cases like Goodreads, they determine how often your ad is shown based on the initial response to your ad. So if no one clicks on it, you get charged nothing but Goodreads won’t show your ad as much. The ads with more clicks in the first few hundred impressions are shown more frequently. Each ad gets a fresh start the next day.

One indie author reported her book was listed at $2.99. When she tried a bid of 10 cents per click, she didn’t get many responses and moved up to 50 cents a click which increased her click-through rate. But to break even on the cost of her advertisement, at least one person out of every four would have to buy her book. In other words, if she didn’t hook a fourth of the readers, she wouldn’t break even and certainly wouldn’t be making money from her advertising effort.

On Facebook, you can run campaigns to promote your page or to sell your book. Here is a link to a report about getting likes (and how it isn’t worth it).

You can, however, run ads to sell your book but many authors have tried this and even when trying to give a book away for free reported that advertising on Facebook didn’t do well.

Just as a note, on July 8, Facebook announced that they updated their cost per click to only include clicks to websites and apps and not include likes, shares or comments.

Amazon offers their Kindle Direct Publishing ads that will promote your book across Amazon and on Kindle E-readers. Campaigns start as low as $100 and are on the CPC plan. Your ads can appear on product pages as well as on the Kindle screen saver or as a banner on the Kindle home screen.

You can also do CPC ads on search engines such as Google, Bing and Yahoo. If you hadn’t noticed, whenever you perform a search, the top results are sometimes from paid advertisers. For tips to writing a Google Ad, click here.

google ads

Now I don’t know if any of these CPC ads help sell books or not. But if nothing else you may get some exposure. Remember that often people have to see something multiple times before they take the time to look into it and in the case of looking at books, hopefully make a purchase.

For another author’s opinion on whether pay per click ads work to sell books, click here.

 

 

Connecting with Readers: Goodreads Ask the Author

In the past, I have written about Goodreads, the world’s largest site for readers. If you need an introduction to this author tool, click here to read my introduction to Goodreads.

As much as I know it is a good place for authors to build their platform and to connect with readers, I hate to say I don’t spend a lot of time on Goodreads. But the other day, I received an emailed author newsletter from Goodreads. In it, Sarah McCoy, a New York Times best-selling author, discussed one of her favorite features on Goodreads – the Ask the Author section. She called this a stupendous opportunity for readers to submit questions and get answers in a safe, user-friendly environment.

“I approach Goodreads’ Ask the Author questions as if I’m sitting in my favorite café, having a good, strong cup of Irish Breakfast, and oh, hello, a reader pops in. “Hi, Ms. McCoy, I have a question about one of your books,” she says, and I invite her to sit down for a chat and sip,” she said. 

How it works

Readers go to an author’s profile page and can submit questions to the author in a box called “Ask the Author” (which is listed beneath the author’s books.) Authors then get an email alerting them to the question. Author answers will appear on their Author page as well as in news feeds of the author’s followers. You do not need to follow an author to ask a question. And if someone on your Facebook page or at another event asks a great questions that you would like to share with your Goodreads followers, you can simply ask yourself a question and use that question as a writing prompt.

Signing up

As an Author, signing up for Ask the Author is easy. Simply go to your Author Dashboard and switch the toggle from “off ” to “on.” All questions are private to you until you choose to answer them. This allows you to control which ones will appear on your author profile. If you don’t want to answer a question or are asked something offensive, you can simply “ignore” the question.

goodreads ask the author

Discontinuing this feature

If you change your mind about offering this feature, it is as simple as flipping the toggle back to “off.” You can still answer any questions that you haven’t answered but you won’t be receiving any new questions. And if you change your mind again, simple switch it back to “on.”

The Ask the Author feature is a great way to connect with readers. I just turned on this feature on my Goodreads Author page. If you have a question for me about my books, feel free to shoot me a question here on my blog or on Goodreads.

Goodreads: An introductory guide of authors

If you want to sell books, go where readers congregate. And that place is Goodreads. Goodreads is the world’s largest site for readers and book recommendations. Eighteen million readers and authors have registered with the site since it began in 2007. An estimated 570 million books with 24 million reviews are on the site. With numbers like those, no author should be neglecting to connect and be on Goodreads.

goodreads-logo

The people on Goodreads tend to be serious readers. These are not the people interested in collecting free ebook downloads. These are readers, book buyers, reviewers and bloggers. These are readers who want to buy, talk about and review your book.

Signing Up

If you aren’t already a member, your first order of business is to sign up for a free account. It is as simple as entering your name and email address and creating a password. Once you are a member of Goodreads, you will want to upgrade your account to an author account.  Click here for more information on creating an author account and adding your books to your page.

On your author page, you can list your author bio and photo, link to your blog and website, and add all your contact details.  In addition to your books, you can also have your book trailers on your page. Additionally, you can list the books that you are reading, have read or are on your to-be-read list. Goodreads also allows you to upload an excerpt of your book as a free preview for readers.

Groups

Goodreads groups are communities of readers who share similar interests, and they are purely meant for interacting, networking and connecting with readers. The best way to interact with these readers is to be one. Join several of the Goodreads groups and participate. Get your name out there as someone who reads the books and as someone who writes good reviews. As readers view your posts, some will be curious enough to check out your profile and discover you are an author.

Note that on Goodreads groups, direct marketing is not only looked down upon, it is often forbidden. In other words, don’t join a group to just post about how great your book is and why people should want to buy it.

Advertising

Goodreads does provide authors the opportunity to advertising. With more than 140 million page views and 19 million visitors a month, Goodreads ads can get your book information in front of a lot of readers.

goodreads-badge-medI have never paid for advertising on Goodreads. From other authors, I have heard that many of them do not see a real increase in sales from advertising on Goodreads. You can tailor your ad to reach a specific group so if you do advertise, be sure you know your target market.

One of the most effective ads is to have the “call to action” at the end of the ad something along the lines of “Add [your book] to your To-Read List” or “Enter the Goodreads Giveaway for a Free copy.” These ads tend to work better than just those that dump the reader on an Amazon sales page. Plus adding your book to a digital TBR pile or entering a contest is a lot less commitment that even a 99 cent purchase. Plus when people add books to their To Read list, it shows up in their friends’ news feeds and email digests meaning more publicity for you.

Giveaways

Goodreads makes it easy to give away a copy of your book to readers. It is as simple as setting your start and stop dates and how many copies you want to give away. Goodreads will randomly choose winners and will send you names and mailing addresses. It is your responsibility to send the books. The main drawback is this program is only for print books. If you are looking for tips on doing a Goodreads Giveaway, click here.  

Events

One way to promote book launches, tours and even giveaways of your e-book is to do a Goodreads Event. You simply create a page on your blog and organize a Goodreads Event with all the details and a link to your promotion page. In this fashion, you can actually do a giveaway of your ebook.

As an author, if you haven’t spent time building your presence on Goodreads, I strongly encourage you to do so. With millions of potential readers visiting daily, you would have to be crazy not to be a Goodreads member.