About Paid Advertisements

I have read a lot about paying for ads. Most review blogs have this option. You can advertise on Goodreads, Google AdWords, or even Facebook. I know that some writers have been pleased with the results, but I don’t think paid advertising, in case of self-published books, is very helpful.

I don’t click on ads. As in never. Not on Facebook, not on any review site I visit. Not even on Amazon. This is one reason why I think paying for ads isn’t really helpful. Then there’s that ratio between the money you pay and the number of sales you make. And the tricky part is that it’s pretty difficult to trace back sales to a particular promotional effort – in this case, an ad campaign.

Think about it in this way: if you’re paying for clicks, then you’d have to have a pretty high conversion rate to be making any money. Let’s say it costs you 5 cents per click, and you’re making, like I do, 35 cents on each sale, than you’d need to have a conversion rate of 6 to one or better to be making any money. 6 to 1 is impossible. I don’t think even Stephen King sells 1 book to every 6 people who visit his Amazon page.

If you’re making 2 dollars for each sale, then you might actually make some money, given that you can afford to pay for quite a lot of clicks. That’s what you should always consider before paying for an ad.

I’ve tried two Goodreads campaigns, both of which left me with a very bitter taste. The problem is that I don’t really have something to sell. Well, not quite. I have two stories that each sell for $0.99 – the thing is that short stories don’t sell so well; even anthologies by well known authors don’t have a great market.

And then there’s the fact that I get lower royalties: only 35% from Amazon. I make a bit more on Smashwords. So right now I may be rushing to say that advertisements don’t sell, but my idea is that books have a different way in which they sale – I talked about it in yesterday’s post.

Paying for reviews by the likes of Kirkus or Foreword Clarion is just eccentric. I’ve seen books with rave reviews from Kirkus sell close to nothing. The same goes for books featured and reviewed in the Publisher’s Weekly Select Program.

The thing is that as cool as it might be to be able to put a sentence extolling your book with Publisher’s Weekly underneath it on your back cover, you’re still invisible. You have to do something to get people to see your book. To gain exposure.

There are a ton of blogs/review sites that accept self-published titles. It’s free promotion – and a great one. You can e-mail ARCs for your e-book to a thousand reviewers if you want to. Of course, it takes months, maybe more, but there’s this great thing about e-books: they never run out of print. So, like Joe Konrath said, you have forever to find an audience for your book.

And, like I said in yesterday’s post, word of mouth is still the dominant factor when it comes to a book performing well on the market. You can’t force something to go viral on the web, no matter how much money you’re willing to invest. Think about ridiculously photogenic guy – how fast the guy became famous for nothing but a smile.

I say keep your credit card safely tucked inside your wallet. You can direct a lot more traffic by paying nothing, if you’re willing to do a bit more work.

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18 comments on “About Paid Advertisements

  1. But isn't it in fact great that money doesn't necessarily buy you an audience at everything? Keep on publishing without paying for ads!

  2. M. L. Doyle says:

    I never click on ads on websites because you never know where they are going to take you. I do however, make note of the book, then go check it out on amazon to read more about it. I do that with Goodreads all the time. I'll have the GoodReads email open in one window and clicking buy in another. It all might be expensive, but for me, they sometimes work.

  3. I'm the same way. I never click on ads either. Sounds like you have a lot of experience and you have some books/short stories published. I'm impressed. But advertisements must work or they wouldn't do it. I guess it is all in how you advertise. Even if a person doesn't click, they look.

  4. I don't click on ads anywhere, either. I'm a word-of-mouth person. Befriending a bookseller or a brick and mortar bookstore is high on my list. In the U.S., Booksense, a "best picks list" from the American Booksellers Association (the national trade association for independent booksellers) can often lead to increased sales. The association selects their monthly picks from those nominated by booksellers at independent stores from around the nation.

  5. Thanks, Cristian. I'm new to your blog. I think I'm going to learn a lot from you!

  6. p2c2u says:

    So true. I never click on ads either, and it makes no sense to advertise on review blogs.

  7. tchistorygal says:

    So many people recommend good books that I can't get them all read. Agree with M.L. Doyle about ads taking you places. They close out what you want to look at, and open you to something you don't want.

  8. i happen to love short stories <3

  9. terrepruitt says:

    I don't click on ads ever either. In fact with most sites I make my window small enough so I don't even see the ads. And for those pages/websites/blogs that have the ads running through each page and/or in the middle I sometimes get annoyed with all of it and don't read it. I am sure I miss a lot of great stuff because I don't read sites with a lot of ads, but to me it is just too much. If you have something you truly want to share don't bombard me with ads. If you are just there to make money, then I can get the info somewhere else.

    My blog is about me selling . . . primarily . . . . so I don't think it would be very nice to have content that sells AND ads. So I don't do ads. Even though the information I post is stuff I want to share, my main goal is getting the word out about what I do so I think that is enough "selling".

  10. amita27 says:

    I absolutely agree. Writers write primarily because they wish to share their thoughts. Getting revenue from things that you enjoy doing is just a bonus. I love writing and am very happy WordPress has allowed me to make this a reality. Thanks!

  11. nik12766 says:

    My motto on publicity, If you pay to have it, you don't deserve it.

    And you are indeed a Great Read, as far as I read your posts. Great work.

  12. EllaDee says:

    I'm a fan of Smashwords, after being led to it by writers who have WP blogs. Yesterday I downloaded your free titles and hope to delve into them soon, and once done to be back with a few dollars for the others. I think as with so many things writers need to do a cost benefit anaylsis because their credit card/cash is the means to achieving dreams – possibly just not their own…

  13. Nate says:

    I agree if your going to pay for ads then don't bother trying to sell through them as unless you have a big budget and a skilled marketing team then you won't sell much.

    However, if your linking to your blog with a call to action for people to subscribe by email or you have a free PDF to give out then it might help as a way to give those things a bit of a traffic boost. Then you can build on that boost.

    Still I think for unknown authors content marketing is their best bet when combined with good ethical email marketing to keep reader interest.

    Also if your big into the word of mouth then I recommend you read Seth Godin's Purple Cow.

  14. If you don't already follow @bookgirl96 on Twitter, I recommend you give her a try. She's an independent book publicist.

  15. Adrianne says:

    I totally agree with you on the ads thing

    1) I practically never click on ads and when I do I've never bought anything from them

    2) I priced out a facebook ad campaign once and it was WAY more than I could ever hope to make from the results. Not practical

    I have never heard of smashwords before so thanks for the heads up – just curious on your thoughts for Kindle Direct Publishing?

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