Can you pay people to notice your books?
Yes, to some extent. Book advertising can boost visibility and drive up sales. However, not all advertising is equal. It is very easy to spend more money on ads than you get in book revenue.
Here are three things to consider before you pay for advertising:
You can figure this out by dividing the total amount spent on the ad by the total sales received.
total spent on ad / number of sales = cost per conversion
Let’s say you are traditionally published and you make about $2 per sale. You know if you spend $100 on ads, they need to result in at least 50 sales before you even break even.
Breaking even is not always a bad result for an ad. You won’t make any money, but you may increase your book’s visibility and earn more reviews. Plus, if you have a good offer in the back of your book that brings people to your site and entices them to join your email list, you have the opportunity to sell to them again in the future.
Once you know where your cost per conversions no longer result in profit, you are in a better position to evaluate your advertising.
TIP: Here's a free online advertising calculator you can use to see if your ad was worth the money you paid.
The better fit the audience is for your book, the higher your conversion rate will be.
If the audience is highly specialized and targeted, you might see a much higher rate of conversion. In that case, you could get a great result even with smaller audience size.
If the audience is more general, the conversion rate might be very low. You will need your ad to reach a large number of people in order for it to pay off.
Getting people to your book page is just the beginning. Once they get there, it’s up to you to make sure they see a compelling offer.
If you are sending your ads straight to your Amazon page, here are things to consider:
Is my cover design professional and appropriate for the audience?
How many reviews do I have?
Is my book description clear and compelling?
Are there any official reviews I can add to the page?
Did I complete my author biography section?
If you would like more control over your conversion rates, I highly recommend send your ads to your own website. You may experiment with different offers and provide a sample or free resource in exchange for joining your email list.
Let’s say you are considering a $100 ad on a website that reviews all kinds of books. The website says they get about 50,000 visitors per month.
This would be considered a general audience, but let's assume you get a fairly high click-through rate of 2%. You’ve found that once people get to your page, about 10% will buy the book. You will make $2 per book sale.
1 sale = 10 people clicked = 2,000 people who saw the ad
Let’s work backwards to see how many people need to see your ad for it to be worth the $100 spend. You know you need 50 sales to break even.
50 sales = 500 people clicked = 100,000 people who saw the ad
So, this website needs to be able to promise a minimum of 100,000 views (or “impressions”) before you even have a chance of breaking even. Your $100 ad will run for a month. During that time, they say their website will receive 50,000 visitors.
Let’s say you spend $210 to place an ad on the specialized ChickLit lists on BookBub. Bookbub actually tells you the average conversions for each of their lists. They report that this list is send to 620,000 people and usually results in 730 sales.
Because you must discount your book for BookBub, let’s say you set the price at 99 cents and you make 30 cents per sale.
30 cents x 730 sales = $219 in revenue
While you might only make $9 in profit if you choose this ad, those 730 sales will result in more reviews and a higher placement on the Amazon lists. Once the ad ends, you may still experience higher sales for a week or so due to increased visibility.
Optimize your amplification:
Schedule multiple ad channels at the same time into order to maximize impact. If you score a BookBub placement, schedule Facebook ads or or other advertising at the same time to piggyback the chart climbing momentum.
Online ads across all formats have an average click-through rate of 0.06%*. That means there is less than 1 click per 1,000 views.
Facebook ads in America have an average click-through rate of 1%*. Just because someone clicked on the ad, doesn’t mean they are going to buy. You must adjust your projections based on the conversion rate of your landing page.
*Source: Doubleclick (part of Google advertising)
Enroll in my Online Marketing for Authors Masterclass. Learn how to make your ads more effective while building a lasting audience. (Blog readers get $100 off the full course with the code BLOG100.)
Watch this quick, 2-minute video about how to improve the conversion rate of your Facebook ads.
Get this free advertising evaluation calculator I made with Google spreadsheets. Download and input your own numbers to see if you ad was worth the expense.
In a very crowded market, it may feel impossible to get your books the attention they deserve. Many authors complain that they spend incredible amounts of time on marketing, but don’t see many sales result. Worse, they don’t even have time to write!
It doesn’t need to be that difficult to find your audience and give your books the readers they deserve. Here are four steps to getting your book noticed.
1. Publish your book with a professional, compelling cover design and description. It doesn’t matter how many eyeballs you get on your book if the cover turns them off.
2. Create a compelling offer. No, “buy my book” is not a compelling offer. Imagine readers are discovering you for the very first time. What can you do to make it easier for them to take a risk with a new author? Limited time low pricing can work, but doesn’t help support your career. Can you offer a free sample? A bundle with other products? Companion material that is free for you to produce and distribute — such as guides, education, videos or audio?
3. Expand your reach. With a beautiful book and a compelling offer in place, NOW you are ready to start spreading the word about your book. Start sharing with your personal network, grow your following on social media, share your free content on sites such as LinkedIn and Medium, email your list, schedule readings and talks, offer guest posts and reach out to influencers.
Caution! If you don’t have an attractive book and a compelling offer to send all the attention to, your efforts will not have the impact you desire. Your time will be wasted.
4. Advertise. Yes, sometimes you get out what you put in. I’ve seen the best results with two particular ad channels. I love the precision and control offered with Facebook ads. I’m blown away by the reach and result achieved with BookBub ads.
While these 4 steps will help you with an individual book push, you’ll fare even better if you grow your personal audience. Perhaps you’ve heard of Kevin Kelly’s theory that an artist really only needs 1,000 true fans to support a career?
What if instead of a constant hustle, you spent your time gaining your 1,000 fans? With a solid fan base, each work has a strong launching pad that will amplify all of your efforts.
Want help with this?
Writing prompt: In SIX WORDS or fewer, write a story about a great battle.
Tip: The first time you leave a comment on my blog I manually approve it before it goes live.
After the first one, publication is instant.
Fun photo fact: A still from Princess Mononoke, one of the best films EVER.
One of the biggest complaints I heard from the authors who completed my 2016 Book Marketing Challenges survey was how easy it is to waste money on advertising.
Luckily, I've tested strategies and practices that remarkably improve ad results. This means that I've also paid good money for ads that were complete flops. Painful! These failed ads taught me very important lessons. I am happy to share my experiences so that you don't have to make the same mistakes I did.
Here is a quick 2-minute video lesson that shows how a specific change I made to my Facebook ads TRIPLED my book sales.
If you don't have time to watch the video, here's the big lesson I reveal.
Don't direct your ad directly to your Amazon book page. Instead, offer an easier "next step" such as downloading a sample of your book for free.
Insider tip: This lesson is a free preview of my Online Marketing Masterclass for authors that will be released to the public later this week.
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