Use these questions to see where you should spend precious book advertising dollars.
Most writers should not advertise
This list is for most writers. If you haven’t advertised before, you’re part of most writers. Start with the questions below.
But if you know you’re an outlier – perhaps your background (like mine) is in data analytics and brand management – then you’re not most writers. Or if you love, love, love the math and spreadsheets, then you’re not most writers. Or if you are already deep into an advertising plan of the kind being taught by, say, Mark Dawson – then push ahead with that, because you’re not most writers.
But most writers have not advertised before. And shouldn’t. Not if they are looking for a direct, dollar-for-dollar Return on Investment (ROI).
For most writers, advertising is a money sink where you pour dollars in, watch them circle the drain, and then see the money disappear. All without budging your book sales numbers.
This checklist is to keep that from happening.
Are you published?
Advertising dollars are a small part of the career author’s book marketing and professional development budget. To become a better writer, spend money to learn your craft and the industry.
Are Your Books Professional Quality?
No amount of marketing can sell a bad book. Hire professional editors and commission top-quality cover design.
Cover design is the best place for an indie author to spend money.
Your cover is your own billboard. It’s the book’s brand in brief. It has to carry most of the promotional load, and thus deserves most of the promotional budget.
Do You Have a Basic Author Platform?
Create your author website, a mailing list, and a presence on at least one social channel where your readers hang out. These don’t have to be expensive, but they all give you a better ROI than advertising. Here are the essentials of your author platform.
How Are You Published?
- You can’t see results. Not fast enough, certainly, and likely not at all. For advertising to be efficient, and therefore worth your money, you have to test many variations and keep only what works. You can’t do that if you can’t see results in near real-time.
- You may not even earn out your advance. If, by effective advertising, you boosted your sales from, say, earning 30% of your advance to earning out 90% of it, then your publisher recovers most the advance you already received and you’ve gained more readers (both good things), but no extra dollars come back to you. The harsh reality is that you can’t afford that math.
indie OR hybrid
Can Your eBook Be Free or Temporarily Discounted?
Apply for a BookBub Featured Deal.
This is the brass ring. This exclusive and expensive promotion will put you high in the charts and net you a strong ROI, but they accept only about 20% of submissions. If rejected, continue with this chart.
How Many Books in Your Series?
Advertising for a standalone or a 2-book series doesn’t pay. Spend your money on coffee, not ads, so that you can write more. You don’t have enough products to sell yet.
Can You Commit to Monitoring and Tweaking Your Ad Performance?
Ads are not “set it and forget it.” If monitoring the ROI and adjusting your ads to do more of what works does not appeal to you, then do other things instead. Life is too short for this headache.
What’s the Ad’s Goal?
Do you have an Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing account?
Amazon Marketing Services (AMS) Ads. This is an especially good way to introduce a series. Start with sponsored ads and a small budget – $5/day, tops. Experiment. Use many hundreds of keywords, including the titles and author names of comparables. Do not be in a hurry: results take weeks. You won’t be able to spend as much as you want here.
BookBub Pay-Per-Click Ads. Advertise the first book in your series. Use the cost-per-click option. Target by comparable authors. Go international and even consider excluding the US, as competition for your ad dollars might go much farther in Canada or Australia, for example. Experiment, including by varying your graphics.
Grow Your Mailing List
Do You Have Both a Reader Magnet and a Facebook Author Page?
Facebook Ads. Micro-target your exact reader niche, create a compelling pitch for your series, send those who click to a custom splash page on your site, and monitor closely. This is deep water: watch your budget. Sharks swim here, but so do many successful, high-volume advertisers.
RyanZee Promotions. Offer one copy of your book free as part of a multi-author book giveaway, and get lists of of hundreds of readers interested in your genre. Follow up right away with the new subscribers and cull those who don’t respond to your follow-up offers.
Final Words: Don’t Waste Your Book Advertising Budget on The Following
With so many choices about where to spend your precious book advertising budget, aim to get the best ROI by using the questions above. And with all those good choices available, you should not do any of the following.
To gain fans or followers
Grow them organically instead. Besides, your Facebook “like count” lies to you.
Although you may find some value in participating on Goodreads, there is nothing currently worth spending on there.
Authors don’t belong in this fiercely competitive marketplace.
No. No ads in trade magazines. Not radio or television. Not spreads in newspapers. Not direct mail. Just no.
What did I miss? What has worked for you? Let’s talk on Facebook.