The question will come up for every indie author. It isn’t “Should I advertise?”, but “How should I go about advertising?”
After all, if no one knows your book exists, how will you get any sales? The Internet is loaded with articles about “getting the word out”. What is often omitted from these articles though, is that no matter how important your story is to you, it’s one of thousands in the great reading pool for the readers that might buy your book, IF it’s what they want to read and IF they find out it exists!
With that in mind, many indie authors have thrown money into advertising. Facebook ads, Goodreads ads, Amazon’s own advertising programs and many independent sources are all quite happy to accept your advertising money. The question is, will that advertising ever result in enough sales to cover the costs?
One of the things I pay close attention to is articles by other indie authors who have tried various advertising sites, comparing results.
I’ve been making a focused study of this over several months. I have not yet tried Bookbub, which requires a large investment, but has a report of good results. However, I’ve tested the waters on some lower commitment paid advertising.
One of the more important factors to look at when assessing a paid advertising site is whether it is right for your genre. Some sites do very well on Romance, but fail on Fantasy or Thrillers. Another site might be just the opposite. Some sites even specialise in a specific genre.
The first thing to get through your head is that there is absolutely nothing to be gained by fudging your book description to try to convince readers that your book will fit what they’re looking for if they’re actually looking for something completely different. No book has universal appeal. People looking for a high action story will only resent an author trying to dupe them into buying their Romance, just as a reader looking for a touching Romance will probably write a scathing review for a detective novel that tries to accentuate a minor romantic interest in the description for a sales site that specialises in Romance.
So the question is, how much should you spend and where? Many sites that will post promotions for free also have a paid option to guarantee listing. The cost for this averages from $5 – $30, though a few go much higher. If you’re listing your book with twenty sites, even the $5 option would add up if you paid it for all of them.
Many authors say that they can’t afford advertising, even a low cost option. It is undeniably a risk, but if you do your research, the sales royalties stand a good chance of exceeding the costs. The thing is, the landscape is constantly changing. Advertising sites comes and go; some that once did free listings start charging.
Even with free advertising, listing with many sites takes time and effort. Working out which sites actually result in sales could save a lot of wasted hours submitting information to sites that just don’t work for you.
The problem is, there is no one solution that works best for everybody. It does help to network with other authors in your genre to see which sources have worked for them. Reading author blog posts can give you the benefit of the experience of the writer, but still your mileage may vary.
I’ve tried experiments with Facebook advertising and got increased sales on one book, but zero benefit on several others. I haven’t advertised on Goodreads because from what people say in author groups, it seems to do more harm than good. Their readership tends to resent seeing ads.
I’ve also recently done a Thunderclap with zero results, yet one author in a support group for this method tells me that she does well with them. This is where genre makes a difference. The majority of authors in this group are not in my genre, so their far and wide tweets bring no results. Conversely, using the right hashtags has worked well for me in past campaigns.
When considering whether it’s worth shelling out a fiver or more for paid advertising on a specific book site, I’ve found it useful to have a look at the site with my reader hat on. Is this a site I would go to for finding my next read? Or is it set up to sell advertising to aspiring authors? There are a surprising number of those around.
Marketing is a never-ending learning process. One thing I’ve learned from my foray into Facebook advertising is that they have noted that adverts with a lot of text do less well than more pictorial presentations. It’s worth putting an appropriate hashtag into Twitter and looking at the ads that scroll down your wall. Which ones draw your eye? Can you design an advert with pictorial appeal?
I co-ordinate advertising for a small collective of authors so I see a variety of designs and we all learn from each other, as well as looking at those of other authors.
Some of the most effective advertising I’ve done has been for free. I’ve had extra sales from finding the right sites to advertise on, but the sales aren’t far enough above the cost to really justify either the money or the time spent on them. Experiments continue..
I’d love to hear from other writers, what works for you? Do you have a good advertising for a particular genre? Let’s compare notes.
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